State of the Empire, 2018

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Oh hello there, friends. It’s been a while. January 2018 marked the 11th anniversary of the Offbeat Empire, and — first, ok let’s just acknowledge that that’s a long-ass time for a digital media company to be around! Big snaps to everyone who’s been a part of this company and its growth for the last 11 years. In the interest of transparency, I figured I’d share a bit about where the business is at, and some thoughts about what might be on the horizon for both the Empire and its founder. Let’s see if I can wrap my head (or at least my mouth) around everything we’ve got on the table right now…

Running lean & mean

This year continues an ongoing trend of running the Empire super lean. Looking back, I can see that my maturation as a small business owner went from taking a lot of pride in how much I could push the company to make it grow, grow, grow. Now I’m really proud of the sustainability of running a website with an enthusiastic and loyal fan base for over a decade to make it stay, stay, stay. Incredibly successful websites have been founded, flourished, fumbled, and failed in the time that the Offbeat Empire has been chugging along. The fact that we’re surviving the Psychotic Media Bloodbath of 2018 (and even thriving, thanks to a lot of diligence around processes) is my favorite feather in my cap.

Staff gossip

The company staff includes me and a team of three: Catherine (editor), Tiffany (sales manager), Kellbot (web dev). We’ve all worked together for years, which means our processes are smooth like buttah. Several former staffers still lurk Slack because, well, we like each other. The Empire has always been more than a business, and my staff is the ultimate expression of that. 

One of the things that came up for me as part of the recent #metoo movement was a lot of self reflection about whether, as a person in a position of power, I had ever abused that power. I mean, abuses of power aren’t just about men. Y’all heard about the CEO of Thinx, right? I like to think I’m a respectful, empowering, and reliable boss, but I can look back and recognize the places where I haven’t behaved well, and I’ve spoken to my staff a lot about recognizing that personal/professional boundaries haven’t always been great at the Empire. I’m working on it.

ONWARD: My second book

Oh, ONWARD. I’ve been talking to agents and publishers about my second book. Turns out that the publishing industry is not quite sure what to do with a divorce recovery book if it’s not written by a celebrity, or structured as how-to like my first book, Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides. ONWARD: From Offbeat Wife To The Rest of Life is straight memoir. I don’t offer advice because wtf do I know? I know what worked for me, but I would never presume that the same things that helped me heal would work for others. My goal with this book is say “I did these weird things and they helped. You should figure out what your weird things are, and see if they help.” It’s meant to be an empowering, inspiring story about how you can rebuild a life after loss. I feel awesome about it!

Everything in book publishing moves at a glacial pace so I can’t tell you any specifics about a launch date and that makes my trigger finger itch. I get emails weekly from readers going through divorces, and a couple times I’ve just sent people links to the Google Drive folder that holds the completed 80k-word draft of the book. This made me consider doing a beta-reader program to let a small handful of folks read the first draft of the book, and let me know what they think.

UPDATE: Now that book is called Offbeat Resilience:

Pros Before Bros: My third book

With the Empire running relatively smoothly, I’ve taken the opportunity to branch out creatively in the form of my third book, which is called Pros Before Bros. I’m not even bothering shopping this one around, because it’s way too short, way too weird, way too personal.

This piece of nonfiction is so outside my realm of normal that I’m just like HA WTF LET’S JUST PLAY. Pros Before Bros is an erotic novelette, and I’m currently playing around with the idea of publishing it in a hyper-limited edition premium art book, each one signed and numbered and sold with jewelry that I’m designing in collaboration with one of my favorite local artisans. If you’re like “Wait wtf, the lady from Offbeat Bride is writing porn and designing jewelry, and uh this makes no sense?” just know that I’m right there with you, but have zero fucks to give about whether it makes sense or is too weird. Let’s experiment and call it the Beat-Off Empire and see what happens?



Comments on State of the Empire, 2018

  1. Wait, wtf, the lady from offbeat bride is writing porn and selling jewelry and I am ALL HERE FOR IT. I feel like this is the ultimate “you do you,” Ariel – you know what you want and it seems kind of insane, but you are going to pull it off in some awesome way.

  2. All of this!! All the years ago…there was a moment early on where you made short advice/convo videos featuring My Little Pony—they were weird and awesome and hilarious and yay for you still doing do! ((Do the Pony videos even still exist on the website in the archives??))

  3. I’d really love to read your new book ONWARD; if you have no luck with traditional printing, please look into self-publishing, or even releasing it as an ebook. I’d hate to imagine this story not being told because of reluctant publishers!

    • Thank you for saying this. I thought this book would be an easy sell given the success of Offbeat Bride, but it’s a mixed blessing… because Offbeat Bride did well, publishers want this book to be that same format, to hopefully duplicate that success. And I just don’t want to write a self-help/how-to divorce book.

      This has forced me to think carefully about why I want to publish the book at all. It’s a pretty painful chunk of writing, but I feel like damnit it would help some people! Also, for readers who’ve followed my work for a decade or more (see the previous comment, omg), the book is a pretty critical piece of my story. The year after my divorce completely changed me, and my writing changed a lot too. I look at my pre-2015 writing and my writing now and it feels really disconnected and like it doesn’t make sense how I got from there to here… and it feels like ONWARD connects those dots.

      I have a freshly divorced reader who volunteered to act as a pre-beta reader, and she just sent this feedback today: “Your book is weird, it’s so raw and it’s so not a self-help book. It’s going to freak some people out. But this is shit people need to hear. At least it’s shit I need to hear.” We’ll see what happens with it.

      • Publishing is a mess, and I hate the fact that they want all service books all the time. I’ve passed on books for the same reason: CAN’T GIVE SERVICE ADVICE ON THAT, WTF DO I KNOW. Not at sleep at night, at least. I hope it finds a home soon, because I suspect it’s a very very good book. I’ve been really looking forward to it as a pure quality read, so I’m annoyed the publishing industry is getting in the way of reading. Annoyed but not surprised.

    • Yes, I absolutely want to read your book, whether it’s a big publisher or self-published or an e-book that I read on my phone or hell, a “Venmo me $10 and get the google drive link”.

  4. I basically only read memoirs these days and I would read the fuck out of yours. I feel like we have chosen similar ways to deal with things, but also you are super rad and dynamic and unicorny and I am introverted and quiet and living vicariously. I WANT TO READ IT SO BAD!!!!!

  5. I’ve been reading the Offbeat sites since I started wedding planning 8 years ago. I have always appreciated how authentic your sites feel, Ariel, and how forthcoming you are about the choices you make in your life and regarding the decisions you make in the site itself. Even though your life has changed considerably since I started reading, your sites still feel like they’re driven by the same values and authenticity. Very few websites, especially those wedding focused, are that way. This is the only one I’m still reading. I hope your book finds a publisher as I’d love to read it!

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