Morning Session: The Path to Media Company with Path Leaders Danielle Smith and Riese Bernard


Riese Bernard – AutoStraddle @autowin

Riese: My path to because a media company was a first writer, then blogger for L word recaps – gather 5-6 blogging friends came together 2009 to form Autostraddle co-founder was designer and free to be more professional then we were – grew fast but income didn’t.

2009 big redesign again 2011 – started breaking -did big Indiegogo 100K to invest in coder and writers and in 2014 3.5 million 1mill unique – camp merchandise line – still struggle to pay bills – launched in NY – queer market – team is virtual all over country as are

Question: People don’t’ think lesbians buy things why RB struggles.

Riese: Don’t have solution – have used ad sales people didn’t work, use agency LGBT to help with campaigns – ads from smaller businesses and Google ads

Danielle: Different media company diff scale – I did things backwards started started at site not blog…(started backwards) people don’t come to a static site, started to do video in 2007 before early days 2007, 330 media, working round the clock doing what I could…media was the TV doing and video I was trying and books was writing –then turned blog into doing media for other companies Danielle Smith media

What a small biz media vs. small business

Small biz you are your product
Content Creation
Move beyond your properties
Multiple streams of Revenues.

Riese IS the face of her company

Riese: A media company – have a lot of team members

Audience Member: Can you talk about moving beyond your properties

Danielle: What made you come to session?

Audience Member: I have message I want to educate people.

Audience Member: Multiple channels to reach mass audience.

Audience Member: I have bunch of blogs, books and want to find a way to bring it all together.

Danielle: Riese does a lot with Tumblr how important to find your audience -- IMPOSSIBLE to be everywhere – find where your audience is …mine is on Pinterest hers is on Tumblr – imp to understand what resonates with your audience – IMP to know anyone who tells you Everywhere is lying

Audience Member: How to ID your audience …do filtering??? Curious how you started.

Audience Member: I grad from small biz ---need to be more legit as a biz move into media company

Danielle: Put your energy where – what resonates with your audience – Pinterest v Tumblr – don’t use Tumblr at all –

Riese: 50k on Tumblr – first online mag to start on Tumblr companion

Danielle: Should we grab our name on new channel – Instagram is big with brands now – for me Instagram is sep property not linked to my website – just another way to reveal the media face of who I it worth your time.

Riese: Don’t use channel if you can’t do it right don’t half ass it. Lsbian company reached out to do events – took too much time – having our name on website that advertised pool parties – didn’t get new viewers – was easier to put energy into our own events – important are your partnerships – there’s someone who own %5 who I don’t speak

Danielle: Important before partnerships – it so rarely happens that it works – the best advice – while things are good and are happy you figure out in WRITING legally what happens if you no longer to be partners – what your divorce looks like – so if things fall apart and it happens you want to protect…all of a sudden when money is involved someone on the outside questions can blow it up…. Incredibly lucky to have found book co author

Negotiating and knowing your worth – how many of you are…IMP thing to do have to know worth and what you a willing to do.

Riese: People will try to lowball you – we try to think like a man – you have to fight for it to get your worth

Audience Memver: Danielle, your point is good – you need an Operating Agreement, find template on Legal Zoom – there are tax implications…look it up – spells out how much work, how much of percent you own and be creative if someone leaves – entered into sep agreement that she transferred shares to me – we had sliding scale if I made money she would get $

Riese: As CEO keep 51% of company – you will get into really shitty partnerships that is part of process…learn how to judge people form messing up

Audience Member: Another thing that is good KEY MAN Insurance to take partners place until they can come back….sometimes people come in not vested…percent vested …they can walk away and still get part of your company

Audience Member: Review by legal counsel EXIT plan is more important than a start up plan – if you build something powerful and profitable

Audience Member: How do you determine sweat equity?

Riese: Profit all partners pay income tax on $ - it’s not always beneficial to be a partner because of liability.

Audience Member: Can you walk us thru how you because a media?

Riese: (Money Makes the World go round) – How Autostraddle makes money? –We have a double bottom-line because we are both a social cause and business - - it is super complicated – 7 revenue streams. We sell other stuff that is not content – sell LOTS of merchandise t-shirts hoodies boyshorts – do not use Café Press, Zazzle (percent paid to them is too much)- we design and print ourselves – all shipping ourselves – pay one employee $500 to just do shipping – plus annual calendar.

Audience Member: Camp & main rev streams – summer camp, conference and party – week atop mountain.18-56 – mix of deep stuff and fun stuff – radically changed community changed lives of ppl – meet staff – past 2 year
Advertising on Autostraddle – harder time –network ads, direct sale display ads, sponsored content (actually worst) – affiliate links, e.g. Amazon, babeland, modcloth

Danielle: You need to tell them how to work.

Riese: We are honest to our readers – we have an amazing community that is really responsive when with work with advertising.

Audience Member: How much do you make for CAMP - $40K profit – staff isn’t paid cover travel –camp is super fun not hard to get volunteers…rent out

Audience Member: Where are they from?

Riese: Came from all over even Brazil this --last time charged $545 all inclusive – raise prices yearly the first time was $175 – barely broke even – we offer camperships – we don’t want to raise prices to make it unaffordable – sponsorships

Audience Member: I have site $37 eBook colorboards and workshops – I don’t sell ads – you shouldn’t have people on my site…thought people shouldn’t leave site…should I?

What do you /I charge for my site 100K

Danielle: I don’t have it – could be source of rev – the more page views, more uniques the chance you have a source of revenue – you are always going to find – diff ppl have diff advice – you could be reaching out to audience in diff ways to sell products.

Riese: We don’t like to be ad heavy…. we don’t want popups…kind of depends on what you need – for us we need $ - people to pay – we take whatever we can get through affiliate links make $$

Danielle: How many people do affiliate – can’t do it in Missouri in Amazon – have not taken time to do it I know plenty of people to do ---highly diversifies in your revenue streams – like sales job – so you are not living in mentality of scarcity…you have to diversify

Audience Member: back to camp – do you ban non-lesbians – is it exclusive

Riese: We say know – first environment – that assumes your gay and the importance of having people safe space

Audience Member: How do you do your affiliate links and blend with content?

Riese: We do gift guides, fashion, book, music, holidays make $4k Amazon -$1k for other incorporate into content – great thing about Amazon – when cookie is active you get credit…

Audience Member: How to balance sponsor content vs. non paid

We are careful we will lose them – we will never work any entity that doesn’t resonant with us…

Riese: Sponsored content – start to feel weird but advertisers really want –audience is very anti-corporate

Audience Member: Up have trouble with display ads, search engine hits? Do you have problem

Riese: We’ve never talk to advertisers where the traffic comes from

Danielle: when I go to sites that I go to regularly -
they show up everywhere - I use Google Analytics and WordPress

HOW do you add?

Social sharing
How to have lesbian sex –

Danielle: Not mine – Google – go back to find phrases that links back to original post.
How to write a letter to my son – what are top posts and try bring back – hire contributing writing –not good photos of food – why I’m doing well on Pinterest.

Riese: We get traffic from other sites – big break from JEZEBEL – linked to other sites – FB Tumblr…Reddit

Do you use media outreach

Riese: No way to get that no trick – good content is kind.

Danielle: No excuse – NEED good content I will reach out – when I find something really interesting – especially when had photo in Europe- good content interests people.

Riese: Not much luck so we stop trying I get a ton a PR emails I ignore so I realized.

Riese: Reader donation s before we did camp – because autostraddle meant a lot to them
Last week launched premium = involves premium content - give out

Riese: Started personal 2006 – AS in 2009 – started with affiliate stuff – no money made until 2011 – we believed we would succeed…got a partner –got $20k – did pride parties helped – the merchandise came naturally – got tiny ad deals – first few years built readership and traffic – how we survived

Riese: Started with 9

Audience Member: Have you had a point you thought I should do something else.

Yes all the time

Danielle: 2007 didn’t know what to do? Decided didn’t want to work for anyone again. I will prove to you there is an audience for young mothers w small children – I wanted people to think Extraordinary – wanted other mothers to know if you can still hug your kids after the day – you are extraordinary…Spent a year working around clock – husband tried to get me to stop – a month later it tipped – “how do you like me know” How did it tip? Went to Blissdom, Blogher, Type A – met Stefanie Smirnoff from DeVries – she contacted me later – we would like someone to cover #140 Conf

We thought we were brilliant – and it turned out to be going Olympics covered thank you mom campaigns –that was the beginning of me showing me as a correspondents – I got to show people what I could do – I did if for free cause I knew what I could do …after that new site…

Be a spokesperson featured mag advertising, commercial campaigns, sat media tours Commercials Vera Sweeney – did Starkist – I did a Sat media tour all across country – a bulk of my income – 10 -20k – would love once a month – 2-3 a year –

Family for the Rams – we are the whole campaign – embargoed the superhero campaign = morphing us into Superheroes

Pitch yourself and relationships over time…I’m bad at it – I do struggle with it…I can see that the space is shifting and I and others have to do more of…if I was to pith myself to TV not paid…partnerships you can developed – it’s great to start to do doing local TV …show your are good at it…then you bec a go to person…there are so many things and new opportunities – approach the BRAND or PR agency hasn’t thought about it – hope photos will spark thoughts with you
Content creation is a part of it – video content for she knows – partnerships – content lives elsewhere on our properties or both …examples of other bloggers, liberty mutual …

Audience Member: I won contest for Lululemon and was guest blogger for Olympics – now food blogger for Food Network how do you get paid..

Riese: You finally get angry and violent being asked to do it for free…now that I have so many ppl to support on staff…I get to negotiate away from myself – ask if its worth it.not to be gender essentialist

Danielle: I think its Id so love to work with you but this is my rate.

Riese: Sometime we do stuff for free – we don’t have time.

Saying what you can do …serves them
Way to phrase

Audience Member: Hard to get reinspired.

Danielle: Way I decide to do it work wise – when I wrote first book – start small and grow..Laura Fitton read post – if its not a HELLYA it’s a no – whether it is if its not—its what drives – has really changed me – it’s the things that you don’t like – you’ll be up til 3 hating it
Books Webinars Spaker
I get check from YouTube – I love make video – make video the more video the more ppl see it the more $ you make. – Weather Channel called to use video of hubby reacting to daughter bikes – asked what budget?

Riese: If you don’t ask someone else will
He answered what we paid for Mother’s Day $750
Best thing the more you are searchable on YOUTUBE title, in description, add tags 10 tags at least – search for something similar online – Youtube is the #2 search enging

Audience Member: What’s the difference between videographer –

Riese: We use pro

Danielle: Pay more for pro-sometimes get to snazzy stuff – or just real stuff – they want to know what I look like produced…

Riese: Working with a team…we have a large team – everything is virtual – in Skype chat all day
It costs about 20k per month – cant pay more – vacay when want – flexible schedule – rewarding – don’t work with volunteers you won’t be willing to pay - don’t use partime when you can combine ppl

Danielle: Working Solo
All by myself, setting limits
The tipping point – knowing when to ask
Starting with a VA
The next steps – hiring other writers - $50 per post – thought I’d have 150 people apply I had 750 apply – I replied twice once with goals, once with outcome…I have huge list of people to draw upon – the reason I believe why I got so many – I told people I would pay must include original picture and can’t repost on their own site for a year…they submit ideas – assistant puts together – and I choose – I sucked social –

Riese: Hard to have a media calendar but I don’t.

Danielle: Never been great about better about it now – because we plan around holidays

The thing working myself I have to set times – summer is brutal – wrote post about hard to work at home–

Audience Member: Where did you get your contributor

On my website, and social

Riese: On my site , we want ppl familir withsite and voice

Danielle: Have submit writing samples

Riese: Wrting samples, and a pitch

Danielle: Balance is so important – I never going to be balanced – I never a staller mother when I am a stellar worker –it was I m doing I am juggling and forgive myself for forgetting for dropping ball…not going to say sorry bec I work for myself

Riese: I work for myself 60-80

You’re going to make mistakes

Danielle: Where do you go for good media training…