I’m not going to lie to you guys: running a digital media company is hard. I know that nearly every job is hard, and I by no means want to complain about the work I do every day — I consider it my ultimate privilege to get up and work with our little team of awesome women, with my awesome partner — but as someone who never intended to be a CEO or run a business, it’s often difficult for me in unexpected ways. And though I know the work of media (making it, making money off it, etc) pretty well by now, understanding the logistics of “how” doesn’t always translate into making it happen. The truth of media (and its unique difficulty) is that nearly every avenue one has in terms of revenue is either disliked or rejected by one’s audience.
Sponsored content is perceived as gauche and invasive, affiliate programs (like Amazon) are irritating or feel antithetical to the site’s mission, subscription models frustrate casual readers, display ads are intrusive and often contain jarring products (based on the viewer’s browsing history). In the constant, uphill battle to pay your team fairly and to constantly be expanding your roster of freelancers, it can feel almost like a rigged game. You can win — say, land some big campaign or something that sustains the whole team for months — and still lose, because valued readers might hate the brand, or the fact that there is even branded content to begin with. Nearly every act of monetization in digital media, largely for these reasons, feels tinged with shame. The truth is that the internet doesn’t like paying for things, no matter how much it loves them.
But TFD has been lucky, in the sense that my aforementioned partner is an incredible and prolific designer, who was well-qualified to create a store for us where our readers could shop TFD-centric products to show their support for the mission, help sustain the team, and get something beautiful in the process. The store has been a great thing for us, so much so that we’ll be doing new collections throughout the year, to keep the products fresh and the system of supporting us as readers more available. We have a lot of goals for 2017, and the work of getting young women financially literate, engaged, and self-determined is more vital than ever.
Women need to know about their healthcare, their retirement, their insurance, their career prospects, and their day-to-day budgeting. They need to protect themselves and know what is going on around them. We have always loved, from day one, the privilege of getting to help a community of young women go from “not really thinking about money” to “being good with money,” but the truth is that this work itself costs money. We have expanded our freelance roster substantially through the past several months, and our team now totals six (all paid, of course, because we do not believe in unpaid internships or “fellowships).” Our site grows in readership every day, and we cannot wait to bring you the stories in 2017 that we know you guys want to read from us.
Our promise is that we will continue to be discerning in our partnerships, and honest about how we support ourselves. (We make money through partnering with brands, showing display ads on every page, making our videos, and commissioning special projects, like a book, or a speaking engagement. We are also Amazon affiliate partners, and you can read the disclaimer at the bottom of every page if you’re interested.) But there is nothing more awesome to us than having part of that support be from the TFD community itself. We are able to grow and sustain our mission and our work with the shop money, and there is nothing that warms our hearts more than seeing you guys share pictures with a TFD mug or tote on social media.
Please check out our New Year collection on the TFD shop here, and consider grabbing something if you can afford it (and sharing a pic of it with us so we can happy dance). We promise you guys an incredible 2017, and we know that we will be able to make it exceed even our wildest dreams with your continued help.
Image via Pexels