For the last year, I've been troubled by the discrepancy between how much time I spend on Offbeat Mama vs. the revenue it produces (or DOESN'T produce, as the case may be). I ran numbers last month, and got the harsh slap in the face that Offbeat Mama generates 3% of the Empire's income, but eats 30% of my time. Each week I review pitches, write posts, edit posts, do editorial strategy, etc, and the net profit is ZERO because the site's editorial/dev operating expenses devour the small income generated. Last year, I wrote off the discrepancy as "development" … but this year, the site is mature and I have Offbeat Home to be developing.
I've tried offering incentives to my sales team to sell more Mama ads, but that hasn't had much impact. People just AREN'T BUYING. So, raising that 3% isn't happening in the near-term. WHAT TO DO?! Do I have to kill the site?!
Then I had a related aha last night as I watched a discussion about gender-neutral parenting spiral into freakouts and stupidness. I was like "God, I hate talking about parenting issues online. Who has time to argue about this bullshit!?" And yet, here I am, spending a third of my time editing a parenting blog. Maybe, instead of focusing on increasing revenue, I should focus on DECREASING my time.
AHA! Instead of changing that 3%, I'll work on changing the 30%.
I talked to Stephanie, Offbeat Mama's editor, and we agreed that moving forward I'd review her post pitches, but wouldn't actually be involved in editing the site. !!!!! I'll still be involved at a content strategy level (ie, "this week needs more posts about crafts, and less posts about babies"), and each post will still get a thorough review by the copyeditor, but I won't be actually editing posts before they go up.
Why? Because it's not worth my time AND (get this) I don't actually like parenting blogs … which means that I might actually be holding the site back editorially with my own issues about the content. Lately, I've been like "UG! These posts are all too emotional!" because I'm just not super emo about parenting. I'm all, "GAH! Why are all our submissions over-wraught emotional screeds!?" But … that's the reality of parenting for a lot of people. Just not me. Which is ok!
We'll see how it goes. Basically, I'm realizing that lots of people LOVE Offbeat Mama, and that just because A) it doesn't make money and B) parenting blogs don't float my boat shouldn't mean that the site doesn't have value. I just need to minimize my time investment and let the site do its thang without me. Realistically, this is how I originally envisioned it — like a franchise, almost. I'd just gotten super involved and forgotten, or something. Huh! We'll see how it goes.
Update: here's a follow-up post!