Offbeat Mama conundrum follow-up

A few months back, I wrote about the business challenges with Offbeat Mama. Well, I am happy to report that the solution I pitched in that post has been a big success — our editorial process shifted so that now I approve all Stephanie's pitches, but editing the posts rests on her and the copyeditor's capable shoulders.

The result? Not only do I have more time to work on non-editorial stuff, but Stephanie has TOTALLY rocked that shit. Was I micromanaging? Did I do her a huge favor by getting the fuck out of the way? Did me getting out of the way encourage her to step up? I have no idea — all I know is that posts are strong and traffic is up, so it's working!

As if that wasn't enough of a success, I also decided to join the Glam Publisher ad network — which has finally made Offbeat Mama profitable.

This was a difficult decision for me — joining Glam meant adding some truly heinous banner ads to the site. But we heard repeatedly from Offbeat Mama readers that they don't have money to spend on our sponsors' products, and these banners address this need — now readers can support Offbeat Mama just by, well, reading.

Glam's banners are what's known as "CPM" advertising, meaning that Offbeat Mama makes money based on how many people see the ads. You don't need to click them (although by all means do if you're interested). You don't need to buy anything. All you need to do is disable your ad blocker, and let the ads show up.

It was a rough decision: some of the banners are obnoxious. They're not the awesome indie brands that we love featuring as sponsors (and will continue to feature as sponsors!). But if ugly banner ads are what it takes for us to pay the bills to ensure that we can keep publishing Offbeat Mama, that's what we'll do.

We tested it out for a month and you know what? Almost two years after it launched, thanks to those ugly ads, Offbeat Mama is FINALLY breaking even. (…at least this month.) It still makes only a tiny fraction of Offbeat Bride's profits, but I'm ok with that. I don't need every site to be a cash cow. I was able to give Stephanie a 25% raise, and that's good enough for me! The Glam ads have done so well on Offbeat Mama, that I'm now adding them to Offbeat Home, as well… and am able to give Cat, the editor over there, a raise too.

Ugly ads that enable me to increase the wages I pay my editors? Worth it.

  1. Woot! Glad to hear that this worked and you found a solution for making Offbeat Mama profitable (and giving Stephanie a raise)! Gotta love follow-ups. :)

  2. Thank you for sharing that with us; knowing that there's a direct tie between that business step, and the ability to provide a better salary for a deserving staff member helps put it into perspective, too.

  3. You know, I used to always browse the internet with adblock on. It wasn't until I started researching blogs that I realized how much of a disservice I was doing to some of my favorite sites. I'm willing to deal with a few ugly ads in order to help support places like Offbeat! Especially since I sadly don't have the money to do much more for now.

    I'm glad that things are going well and strong! Keep up the good work.

  4. Yaay! I'm glad to hear that Offbeat Mama is finally profitable. And I'm really glad you were able to give Stephanie a raise, she's doing a great job!

  5. I'm excited to hear that it's working. I only sort of noticed the new adds (to be honest I'm usually just looking at the posts) so they clearly haven't hurt anything…
    I'm happy that it's working out though, since I love OBM, and certainly didn't want it to become something you dreaded working on.

  6. That is awesome to read :-) I'd noticed the ads and wondered whether you were doing them yourselves or not, but I don't think they detract from the site at all – I only noticed because they weren't your typical indie-style ads.

    Just out of interest, how much control do you get over the advertising content through Glam?

    • We have the ability to remove any ads that we don't like that appear on the site — something I've done after receiving an email from a reader about a particular banner that was expanding aggressively on hover.

      You notice on Offbeat Mama that underneath each of the Glam banners there's a little link to more info. On that page, we encourage readers to contact us if they ever seen an ad that strikes them as objectionable.

  7. Yay! I have felt bad for Stephanie ever since you shared that OBM wasn't doing so good. Since I'm not a mom (yet) I couldn't buy anything from the ads – although I am planning to buy some stuff after my friends' baby is born. So yay!

    • I want to be clear that it's never been Stephanie's job to make the site profitable. As Managing Editor, it's her job to write, edit, and produce posts — which she does beautifully. It's MY job as publisher to figure out how to make the money come in… and it took me 2 years to figure out how to do it best for Offbeat Mama!

  8. That's great! I read Offbeat articles, especially Home and Mama, from my Google Reader. I click through fairly often to comment or read comments, but unless I do that, there's no revenue from my use of the site? Does the number of RSS subscribers affect other ad sales in a good way?

  9. So happy you've found a workable way to keep the site running! A lot of us depend on our online doses of offbeatness and you guys are THE supplier!

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