The Offbeat Empire is a Seattle-based digital publishing company catered to nontraditional types working their way through the traditional passages of life — creating a home, committing to a partner, and building a family (though not always in that order). We want to help our readers find ways to express their truest, most authentic, badass selves. We aim to be inclusive and intelligent, while also keeping a sense of humor about ourselves and the world. We're all about supporting smarties worldwide as they navigate the big life transitions that are steeped in responsibility and expectation.
In other words, we're about supporting folks who are doing the same old shit in a slightly different way.
Reaching 1.5 million unique visitors each month as of January 2014, the Offbeat Empire is supported through mix of display advertising, affiliate programs, sponsored posts, paid memberships, and business listings. We aim to be transparent about how we do business, and sponsored and affiliate posts always feature a disclaimer at the top of the post. We see ourselves as part web publishers, part public relations firm — and we love that it's our business to introduce our hundreds of thousands of readers to awesome little-known indie businesses doing amazing things.
The Offbeat Empire started with Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides (Seal Press), author Ariel Meadow Stallings' book about nontraditional weddings. The book came out in late 2006, and in January of 2007, Ariel launched offbeatbride.com as a way to promote the book.
A self-funded book tour of barely-attended events and lackluster book sales made it clear to Ariel that not many people really cared about her book… while the immediate and slightly insane popularity of offbeatbride.com made it clear that readers LOVED the website. At that point, the focus of the site shifted from promoting the book to developing the website as a free-standing digital publication.
While working a day job at Microsoft, Ariel dedicated most of 2007 and 2008 to growing Offbeat Bride into a sustainable business. Her longtime conspirator, an enigmatic developer named J.M. Dodd, worked the code magic, while Ariel worked to hone the Offbeat ethos — focusing on empowerment, constructive communication, positive encouragement, and none of the snark and bitchery found in other wedding communities. She brought on an intern, and then another one, and then promoted an intern to editor.
In 2009, two months before having her first child, Ariel applied the lessons from Offbeat Bride into anther site, launching Offbeat Families (originally called Offbeat Mama). Now managing a staff of two managing editors, three contributing editors, and a developer, the business was growing in ways that made it clear this wasn't just about weddings any more. In a cheeky nod to her day job at Microsoft (jokingly known as "The Evil Empire"), Ariel started referring to her growing media business as the Offbeat Empire.
The name stuck.
Ariel left Microsoft in late 2009, and focused on growing the Offbeat Empire. Business partnerships were established, content strategies were developed, and both sites underwent a massive redesign. Through 2010, staff continued to grow, editorial processes got smoother, and monetization strategies were put into place.
In late 2010, it was time to do it all over again, and in early 2011 Offbeat Home launched. Now supporting a part-time staff of 7, the Offbeat Empire has started to feel like it almost IS a little tiny Empire. Never mind that the websites are produced by a small group of women working from home in their pajamas — we work tirelessly to bring our hundreds of thousands of monthly readers compelling, inspiring, empowering content.