2020 State of the Empire

Updated Jul 2 2020
findyourafterglow

Are you there, internet? It's me, Ariel. Founder of the Offbeat Empire, this here lil independent niche publication network that's been doing its thing for almost 15 years.

The first thing you should know about the Offbeat Empire circa 2020 is that the name is even more of a humorous misnomer than it used to be: the Offbeat Empire is just me now.

So, yeah. Hi.

I've been running the company leaner every year since 2015, and 2019 was the year I had to let my last two staffers go. The only upbeat thing I can say about having to lay off your last two people is that at least no one was surprised.

We all know the state of indie online media these days, and while saying goodbye to Catherine and Tiffany was heartbreaking (between the two of them, it'd been 13 years of working together!), that's how a boostrapped business works: when there was no money left to pay them, layoffs were the only option.

Since the layoffs, I've kept my head down, working three jobs (my role as publisher, Catherine's editorial work, and Tiffany's sales gig), to see if I could manage it in a way that felt sustainable and healthy.

The answer was "Yes… but lots of things have to change."

Offbeat Bride

Offbeat Bride isn't going anywhere. The site might not be the massive cultural juggernaut that it was in the early teens (aww, remember when I would publish a post on a Monday, completely confident that somehow the story would be on national television by Saturday?) but it's still a valuable resource used by hundreds of thousands of people every month. It's still a profitable business that supports many other profitable businesses. The advertisers I have still get great ROIs.

That said, now that the site's revenue can only support one employee (…hi! 👋) and I can only do so much, there will be shifts:

  • Less new posts (just a couple a week), with a focus on advice and tools.
  • No more stand-alone sponsored posts. I'm only doing sponsored posts as part of larger annual campaigns, and there's way less of them.
  • Homepage focusing more on tools and resources (like the new city pages!), and the site's deep archive of evergreen posts.
  • Less social media engagement (Facebook is a wasteland unless you want to pay for placement, and as pretty as Instagram is, it doesn't drive traffic or revenue.)

Offbeat Bride will continue to be my job, but I'm having to be really thoughtful about how I allocate my time.

Offbeat Home & Life

This is where the cuts will be deepest. The website will stay online, but will downshift to only a post or two a month, and just my writing. My thinking is that the site will mostly be a living archive, with a secondary strategy of funneling folks to my new book and new publication.

In coming months, I'll be converting Offbeat Home's social media properties like facebook.com/offbeathome and instagram.com/offbeathome over to my new ventures. More about that in a minute.

It's crazy to think that Offbeat Home & Life has been online for NINE YEARS and has never really been all that profitable. My goal was to keep Offbeat Bride readers around after they got married, I never quite succeeded. After nine years, I'm calling it.

My third book, From Shitshow to Afterglow

Last year I released two books (PROS BEFORE BROS, and the third edition of Offbeat Bride), and focused on writing, editing, revising, and proofing my third book — and it's finally done!

In 2020, I'll be focusing everything I've got on the release of that book, From Shitshow To Afterglow.

Shitshow will be published by Seal Press / Hachette, arriving in bookstores on summer solstice 2020. This spring I'll be working on stuff like recording the audiobook, working with Hachette to frame up and execute the marketing plan. Then this summer I'll be doing publicity, which will probably include at least one book event — for sure one in Seattle, and possibly one in San Francisco.

Even though it doesn't come out until June, Shitshow is available for pre-order now!

Also, unproofed advance reader copies are available for journalists, podcasters, other media folks. If that's you, email me.

My new venture, Find Your Afterglow (spoilers: it's not a blog)

Lookit me, burying the lede!

I'll be launching a new website in 2020 to support the release of Shitshow. The venture is called Find Your Afterglow and (get this) IT WILL NOT BE A BLOG.

findyourafterglow.com soft launches spring 2020, and here's what I can tell you about it:

  • Find Your Afterglow will not be a blog or social media feed, because I am TOTALLY OVER IT with free content
  • Find Your Afterglow will be a place where I’ll offer exclusive members-only essays, webinars, and luxe literary talismans in the same vein as PROS BEFORE BROS.
  • Find Your Afterglow will support and empower folks rebuilding their lives with intent and joy. It’s not about the shitshow… it’s about how you’re gonna glow.

tl;dr

2020 for the Offbeat Empire is going to be about cutting back (Offbeat Home), maintaining (Offbeat Bride), and launching (Shitshow book, Afterglow biz).

I'm also trying to ensure that with all my projects, the process is the product how I produce this work is as important as what I produce.

Every day, I try to sit in what a blessing it is to have had the opportunity to create conversations through this business for FIFTEEN YEARS. I'm over it with scarcity vibes and pageview chasing. If I can't do this work with love, then I don't want to do it. Go gratitude or go home, folks.

The way I see it, this is all just the universe in conversation with itself. Even as the topics shift, and the platforms evolve, and the staff have to get laid off, the conversation just keeps happening… and I love that momentum so much.

Thank you for being a part of it!

    • Thank you so much for the sweet words, Raven — and for being along for the ride! I'll be curious to see who of my Offbeat Bride vendor friends come with me over to the new venture… it's NOT wedding-related, but it's definitely life relevant. We'll see! <3

  1. I've been around since 2011 planning my 21st birthday with newly separated parents, watching the site evolve until I was ready to put all the wisdom I'd gained into action for my 2018 wedding. Thanks for always being so open about the behind the scenes of this amazing business you have facilitated and led through all its many forms. Looking forward to reading Shitshow and following your new adventures in 2020

    • Thank you, Clare! The openness sometimes comes at a cost, but it's the only way I know how to be.

      (And thank you for reporting that typo via the FIX TYPO button! I got it all cleaned up.)

  2. It's been a while since I was interacting with the Offbeat Empire on a regular basis, but I'm still following along via RSS and occasionally clicking over. A lot has changed since I found you in 2012 but I'll always appreciate all of it for helping me ease into adulthood, especially Offbeat Home! I'm not quite brave enough to look at the articles I wrote, but I spent some time with an old post this evening and seeing those familiar names and avatars in the comment section brought me back. 😀

    I also got married in 2019 and while my husband and I are way too private to submit anything, I was able to put into practice everything I had absorbed from Offbeat Bride since I started reading…well before I was even close to engaged. I'm excited to read your next book and follow your work from there. Cheers to a new era.

    • Aww, Jackie! Hi! I'm totally with you — sometimes when I'm doing post maintenance back in the archives, I scroll through old comments and see all the old familiar usernames and avatars and it's like saying hi to old friends.

      I wrestle sometimes with feeling like my biggest failing with the Offbeat Empire was that I was never able to find compelling way to keep my favorite folks around for longer… but I'm learning to let that go. Merry meet, merry part, merry meet again!

      2020 feels like it has the potential to be a year for re-meeting lots of folks who I haven't seen in for years. We've all lived some lives and done some growing up in the past few years… I'm not the only one to have made it through a shitshow, y'know?

      Thanks for being here with me. <3

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