Here's a sample of the kind of feedback we got a LOT from last month's reader survey:
I sat and stared at this feedback for quite a while because, see… it exactly describes Offbeat Home's editor, Megan. Married, child-free, not a homeowner. She edits Offbeat Home from the exact perspective of the person who sent this feedback. I don't want to single out this one reader — we got this same feedback again and again. "I'm not a bride, not a mom, not a homeowner, so where's my site?"
Clearly we have a disconnect between who we think Offbeat Home is targeted to, and who feels welcomed here.
I've tried to be clear since before the site launched that it absolutely was NOT about home ownership, but we've made changes to get our renting and no-damage decor posts more visible (they're both in the Decor Porn drop down menu in the navigation on every page of the site).
We also got a lot of feedback asking for a place on the Empire about Career & Budgeting (we've got that!), Relationships (we've got that!), and Travel (we've got that!). The issue isn't that we don't have these things on the Empire, it's that no one seems to be looking for them here on Offbeat Home.
Ok, so what are we doing?
This year we'll be shifting the site's focus a bit to make it clear that we do, in fact, have the content that Offbeat Empire readers have requested.
These changes will be three-fold:
- NAME CHANGE. While we'll be keeping the offbeathome.com URL, we'll be changing the title of the site to Offbeat Home & Life. Timeline: NOW.
- FOCUS SHIFT. While we'll still always have home-focused posts, we'll be gradually increasing the amount of non-home content, including more stuff about relationships, work, money, travel, and style. Timeline: this week. In the meantime, check the new Life drop-down menu for a peek at all our existing Life-related content.
And now, a couple cold hard truths:
This needs to work
Offbeat Home is coming up on its second birthday next month, and the site STILL has yet to be profitable. This has to change, or else the site will not live to see 2014. Currently, the site limps along on the goodwill of myself and Offbeat Bride's managing editor Megan, who volunteered to step in and edit the site when it became clear that the site couldn't sustain the costs of a dedicated editor. By expanding the site's focus, I'm hoping the additional pageviews can finally push the site into profitability. If it doesn't, I'm going to have some hard decisions to make for 2014.
We can't make these changes without you
The bulk of this site's content is submitted by our community of readers. If you wish you saw more posts about _____________, we need you to submit it. No one's going to tell your story for you. If you want to see your life and your interests reflected on the site, stop othering yourself and start submitting.
There's lots to talk about here, obviously. I'm sure y'all are having some serious feels right about now. Mostly, just know that I'm excited and optimistic about this shift. Yes, it's a bit grim to be like "I hope this works… or else," but that's just the nature of running a business, and I know that many of you have been asking for these changes for a while. So here's to everyone getting what we want in 2013!
Update: this post was edited to reflect the fact that we're no longer planning to launch a forum, for reasons discussed here.