A Message From The CEO/CFO
Hey there, Autostraddler,
We want this message got here with higher information, nevertheless it doesn’t. As we’re positive you’re conscious, the financial and media panorama is hell proper now. And, for the primary time in our historical past, Autostraddle is making cuts for monetary causes.
Whereas your help, through A+ and donations, has held regular this yr — and we’re eternally and endlessly grateful to you as a result of YOU are the one factor retaining us right here in any respect — our promoting income has fallen considerably from final yr’s. (Not for lack of making an attempt!) With advert corporations pulling again their budgets, I needed to make what was one of many hardest selections of my life and cut back our operations.
Because of this we each won’t be hiring a brand new Artwork Director (as an alternative these duties are being shared amongst senior group members) and we’re terminating the freelance contracts of our Topic Editors on July 31, 2023. These had been 20 hours/week unbiased contractor positions that paid a base fee of $2,000/month, with further funds for writing and modifying work past the contracted quantity. The topic editors and our group got discover of this on Could tenth, and also you may need seen that our Ro, Vanessa and Shelli have begun searching for different work. When you’ve got leads, please do be happy to share these immediately with them. Ro has elected to remain on the group as a author, however Vanessa and Shelli might be shifting on fully and we’re going to overlook them an entire hell of loads.
Throughout the pandemic we dreamed large. We began out with large, weeks-long fundraisers that examined the boundaries of our bodily and psychological power and hours within the day, particularly for Nico. We managed to keep away from cuts, due to PPP loans and advert checks from 2019. We’d hoped that the post-pandemic panorama could be gentler on our psychological/bodily well being and we’d be nimbly capable of get our advert income again up, and I took out a $200k SBA mortgage in 2022 to keep away from making funds cuts. That mortgage purchased us an additional yr with out cuts — however now we’ve to cut back or we are going to shut down. We nonetheless would possibly, however I’m doing every little thing I can to discover a new path ahead.
Before now, we had been one of many few media corporations who haven’t made cuts over the previous couple of years of economic uncertainty within the trade. I actually appreciated that about us. However it’s taking place in every single place, at media corporations with a lot deeper pockets than ours.
Because of your monetary help, each throughout our most up-to-date fundraiser and people of you who’re A+ members, we had been capable of provide Shelli, Vanessa, and Ro three months advance paid discover and hopefully, via that, a runway to seek out different work. At their request, we paid out the whole lot of the three months forward of time. Although we had no expectation they’d keep on after their closing contract date, we had been additionally capable of provide them 25% of their authentic stipend ($500) for 25% of their work. It wasn’t an irresistible provide, and it doesn’t replicate the immense worth of those editors.
These are three unbelievable individuals who have put a lot of their time and coronary heart and power into Autostraddle.
Vanessa has been right here for longer than anybody in addition to me and Laneia. Her coronary heart is stitched into our partitions. She’s unmatched in her potential to foster and construct group, to scream in help to your scorching date and your wonderful essay. Her writing is accessible and intimate, she has satisfied you to take butt selfies, sleep with your mates, and actually really perceive that you’re scorching. She taught you to be a slut and likewise up to now and likewise to get married. She has given a lot to Autostraddle and we’re so grateful for her humor and coronary heart — which have turn into intertwined with our personal.
As our Intercourse and Relationship Editor, Ro has championed bringing voices into intercourse which can be usually ignored, making an area for everybody within the queer and trans group to muff and masturbate and finger with continual ache of their fingers. Ro has coated a lot essential and extremely particular territory in their very own writing and the voices thy’ve dropped at the positioning, making use of their wealth of expertise to accessible content material about intercourse, from the epic Homosexual B C’s of intercourse to pubic hairstyles. They’ve additionally finished incredible progressive political work, humor items, and a really inspirational butt week playlist.
From the soar it was clear Shelli was particular — she was organizing dwell pandemic programming and finally hustling to get into movie festivals and pulling off unbelievable interviews. Her “Come Vibe With Me” column is certainly one of my favourite issues we’ve ever printed. Strap Week was legendary. Her writing is so alive, so humorous, and so distinctive. Each time she has 25-35 ideas on a film or tv present, I have to know each single certainly one of them.
We’re additionally so extremely devastated about dropping a robust Black voice proper now. If we may afford to maintain Shelli’s position as a Tradition Editor or any of the Topic Editor roles, we might. Shelli is a treasure. She’s a star. No person with the cash within the financial institution to maintain her in that position would ever not achieve this. Particularly us, particularly with the objectives we’ve, and all of the work Shelli has finished personally to maneuver us ahead with them.
We do wish to be clear with our Black readers and supporters that the closing of the Topic Editor position is just not a reverse course on our commitments to centering Black and different QTPOC voices and views on the core of Autostraddle. The objectives we put into place in 2019 stay, and the editors will adapt creatively as we swap extra obligations onto the Senior Crew. Now we have a tremendous group of writers of colour on our group and we’ll all be pitching in to recruit and foster and middle Black voices and experiences on our web site. Nothing, nonetheless, can exchange Shelli’s particular voice.
Throughout our final fundraiser, we requested you, our readers and funders, to purchase us a while to determine a method ahead. Previously we made different guarantees — new hires, enhancements — and up to now, we promised we might keep away from cuts. We didn’t make that promise throughout this yr’s fundraiser as a result of by the point we acquired there, I already knew cuts had been presumably on the horizon. The primary was realizing we couldn’t afford to rent one other full-time Artwork Director after Viv Lee, our earlier AD, moved to Berlin. These duties have been redistributed to all of us on the senior workers, with Viv staying on to handle our instagram as an unbiased contractor.
The fundraiser gave us a little bit extra cash to ease the ache of any potential cuts in the event that they got here, though at the moment we had been nonetheless hoping to keep away from them altogether. It was actually essential to us that we might be capable to provide anyone dropping a place — together with unbiased contractors — three months discover. Once more, due to the fundraiser, which we all know so a lot of you supported, we had been capable of provide three months of paid discover.
We stay dedicated to retaining Autostraddle round, for y’all, for rising queer and trans writers, for our readers and group — and I’m actually sorry that for all our idealism, and all the various issues we’ve tried, and the work and the tears we’ve all put in to keep away from this — that it’s come to creating cuts and scaling again financially. This can be a hurtful resolution. We’re dropping two of our greatest and most essential group members, I do know we’re chopping the positions of Topic Editors who’ve been hustling for us for years, who’ve been wonderful ambassadors for Autostraddle, constructing group and pitching in on advert campaigns and internet hosting occasions and writing and modifying unbelievable work.
I really feel that you just all may need questions in regards to the just lately profitable fundraiser, and I’m right here to reply them. That fundraiser was profitable, and it efficiently crammed up the “fundraiser” piece in our funds. However that’s just one piece of the pie — the pie additionally comprises promoting, merchandise, affiliate income and A+ memberships. We acquired additional slices in 2020 and 2021 within the type of PPP loans we didn’t need to pay again. We didn’t have that in 2022, so I took out an $200k SBA mortgage. With a view to preserve our 2022 funds in 2023, we wanted promoting to fill the opening of the mortgage, and we additionally want to start out paying again that mortgage.
After we requested you this yr to avoid wasting us from shutting down, you turned up big-time. Numerous you had been additionally asking me why we maintain operating ourselves this near the sting and why I as a CEO and CFO enable this. It was clear, to you, that our funds was too excessive for what we may moderately earn at our measurement, if we so incessantly discovered ourselves on the verge of closure. And also you had been proper. Now we have no runway. We have to begin constructing dependable, recurring income streams. Fundraising is a band-aid however now we have to fortify the ship.
So, I’ve opted to make Autostraddle smaller. Between pay cuts taken by senior group members, ending the topic editor contracts, chopping operational prices and never rehiring an Artwork Director, we’re shaving off over $200,000 in annual prices.
We’re drawing in our defenses and doing our greatest to fortify what we’ve left. We’re doing this with grief within the hope that it’s going to enable us to climate the remainder of the yr, and years to come back, in hopes we are able to construct again what’s been misplaced. I’m making an attempt to determine a sustainable path for our future and I hope that you just’ll persist with us, and that you probably have leads for Shelli, Vanessa or Ro, that you just’ll share these immediately with them. A+ members can see what our annual income streams regarded like final yr or in earlier years through our annual report.
Some have requested us why we couldn’t merely fundraise for extra. Nico brings years of expertise to it however we sadly can’t fundraise for extra or for longer with a division of 1 that additionally depends on an already maxed-out senior group for fundraising efforts. In 2021, Nico labored 100 hours per week to the purpose of bodily unwellness to maintain this place open and everybody paid via a pandemic. Any income stream that entails that many hours or results in somebody working to the purpose of bodily unwellness is just not okay with me. Nico loves this place a lot that they had been greater than prepared to do two fundraisers in 2022, however I made the choice to take out an SBA mortgage as an alternative. We are able to’t do frequent fundraisers if fundraisers require that many hours of labor, particularly Nico’s and Carmen’s. The previous two have been shorter, partially as a result of they’ve been much less frequent with smaller preliminary objectives, to avoid wasting the well being of Nico and the group. We’ve realized loads from each fundraiser about what we’re able to elevating and the way lengthy it takes to lift it.
In 2022 and 2023, we simply did one fundraiser, however every of these entailed lengthy hours from Nico and seven-day work weeks for many people main up, once more, for months. Fundraiser time is peak madness — by way of non-Nico senior workers dedication, within the leadup it’s additional work from me and the Artwork Director and in the course of the fundraiser it’s senior editors and social. It’s like one other job on high of the a number of jobs we every have already got. It’s all fingers on deck and it’s actually unhealthy for all of us. There’s simply no method for Nico and the group to place in additional effort than we already do. My workload is insurmountable on the perfect day. Frequent fundraisers current main challenges for us to fulfill our editorial and our visitors objectives and work on different recurring sources of income.
Whereas this is probably not probably the most skilled option to say this, particularly coming from a CEO’s letter, I’ve no different option to put it: This all actually sucks, and I’m actually sorry. I’ll miss Vanessa and Shelli a lot. I’m glad we’ll nonetheless have Ro within the capability that we are able to afford to pay for. All of us have taken on extra work and duty, with no pay will increase.
The elimination of those positions doesn’t imply that the work of those nice editors in service to our group received’t be finished. We’re going to proceed to publish about queer intercourse, and tradition and group, we are going to proceed to supply queer recommendation, and we are going to proceed to middle QTPOC voices and views via all of it. We’re all past exhausted, and we nonetheless plan to proceed to serve you. The trail forward is tough, however I had to select between making cuts now or Autostraddle having no future, and I selected to maintain hoping, and dealing and making an attempt for that future.
I invite you to deliver any questions you could have into the feedback of this publish. I perceive when you’re mad, annoyed or devastated by this information.
That is our first time making cuts like this. We made errors in the way in which this messaging was communicated — to the Topic Editors, to our folks on slack and externally — and have gotten a number of open-hearted suggestions in regards to the methods through which that communication was not what they’d come to anticipate from us. For instance, our message to the entire group on Slack additionally lacked the extent of transparency our group wanted from us presently, and we’re working to rectify that.
Additionally, I gave the go-ahead to Topic Editors to start out posting on social media about searching for work with out consulting with Nico, who would’ve suggested that we talk this with our members and readers earlier than you noticed it on social media. So that you ended up listening to the information from social media as an alternative. That’s my fault and I’m sorry.
Thanks for permitting us to work to offer you the transparency you deserve.
Thanks for being right here, even in these tough instances,