Offbeat Home is now Offbeat Home & LIFE!

Updated Oct 12 2015

home life header
Here's a sample of the kind of feedback we got a LOT from last month's reader survey:

I feel like there's not really anywhere I fit anymore in the Offbeat Empire. I'm not a mom or mom-to-ever-be, I'm not a homeowner yet, and I'm no longer a bride-to-be.

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 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.

    • Interesting feedback. Most of our content is intended to be relatively non-gendered — in fact, looking at the homepage right now, I don't see any posts that aren't relevant to dudes. (At least, dudes who eat burgers, have ovens, drink hard liquor, and play Mass Effect.)

      That said, as always, the site is a reflection of the submissions that come in. If you want more dude-specific content ("The best soaps for cleaning one's balls" or maybe "My Penis, My Livingroom") get submitting!

        • Seconded. Also, my fiance bitches about not being able to walk around the house naked because I like to open the blinds that face into the backyard because I like the light. I caved this year and bought him a bathrobe for Christmas and now we're all happy.

          • Gotta say, as someone who loves walking around naked, TOTALLY not the same. (Luckily my gf likes her apartment to be as dark and cave-like as possible, and I'm the one who likes the light.) But I'm glad the compromise is working for you two.

        • Man-caves? That might bring some more guys towards the site.

          Anyways, so excited about the new forum! I've been wanting a new message board to visit since I got married. =)

          Also, I promise to submit another couple posts. Maybe my yummy indoor apartment friendly bbq ribs recipe. ^_^

      • I may be able to get my Fiance to write this piece…..

        He specifically hung dark curtains in our living room so he didn't have to wear pants because "After sitting in a cruiser with body armor on for 8 hours a mans balls need some air" (He's a cop.)

        • Ha! My husband is the same! I used to be squarely anti-curtain, but he needed curtains pretty exclusively so he could "expose his junk without exposing the neighborhood children."

          As an owner of lady-bits, I've never fully understood the desire to air out one's genitals… but it appears to be fairly common desire. Or maybe I'm just the odd one out?

          • Nope,you are not alone, I am anti-curtain and anti-junk-airing as well. It was one of the adjustments I had to get my head around when he moved in with me!

          • You aren't the only one, but I LOVE to be naked in my home. My husband came from a very modest family; the complete opposite of mine. When we were very first married I was just doin' my thing and bein' myself in our apartment and he had to stop me and ask me to please wear clothes sometime. I couldn't understand why!

          • A suggestion for non-curtain lovers (like myself – I love the sunshine and the views!): depending on the window, consider installing the curtain rod in the middle. Bottom window half is covered to block nude genitalia, and top half is open to permit light and views.

          • Naked time is the best time. It's not quite the same logic behind airing out my ladybits as it is for guys though. I just hate clothing with a passion. My parents belonged to a nudist colony though, so I had a special upbringing.

          • I like to let my lady bits get some air!! I can't explain it, but sometimes I just NEED it…maybe it's because I always wear pants?

            My man and I both get naked or pretty close to naked the moment we walk in the door at the end of the day unless we have company coming over…it's nice – and I like it a lot!! I highly recommend you try it!!

  1. I'm excited about the changes! Yay changes! I might even dust the cobwebs off my word processing program and submit something ;).

  2. While the doom and gloom makes me panicky, I'm kind of pumped about some of the changes. I personally am psyched about the forum. I'm a member of the tribe and it has been an awesome place for me, but now I find myself wanting to turn there for non-wedding questions.

    I personally pledge at least 2 post submissions from my fiancΓ© and I. 2012 was super busy for us, with a deployment, a new job, grad school, and being engaged it just wasn't something we could do. The first half of 2013 equals another short deployment and our wedding but after that!!! We have been making sure to take pictures of our projects so when we have time we have things to write about! They are all home related though, because living in a 100 yr old house it has to be our hobby or it would fall down on us!

    Though the new "& Life" title already has my gears turning for a non-house submission!

      • Yep. They'll be completely separate platforms. That said, there won't be a rigorous application process for the OH&L forum* so it'll be super quick to sign up.

        *The biggest reason that the Offbeat Bride Tribe requires applying/approving new members is because so wedding vendors want to sign up and spam Tribesmaids. Since part of the whole problem with OH&L is that there seems that NO businesses are interested in reaching our readers, I'm not as worried about business folks signing up.

  3. I'm excited for the new changes, and definitely have ideas for submissions. I have kind of backed away from the sites, as my wedding planning became "just saving for the essentials" and I only pop over here occasionally to get good ideas for living in my miniscule apartment. I think the increased variety will make this my go-to website!

  4. Question: I read the blog mostly in Google Reader. Do you get page views from that, or is it more beneficial if I visit the site directly?

    I'm loving the sound of the new & improved Offbeat Empire, and I wish you the best for 2013!

    • We do not get pageviews from RSS. In the past, I've tried monetizing the RSS feed via banner ads, but they never performed very well.

      • Hmm…I bet that covers a lot of the dedicated readership, so I'm sorry to hear that our views via RSS aren't able to count for you. I typically don't click-through unless I'm going to read the comments/make a comment. Perhaps I should make a concerted effort to always click-through, so at least my views can count.

        Sounds like you have some great ideas brewing and I look forward to continuing to receive great advice and see wonderful ideas! Best of luck this year!

        • You'd be surprised at how few people use RSS. In December, had 171,928 visitors. Our RSS feed, meanwhile, has 2362 subscribers. (I'm a devoted RSS user myself — but there are actually relatively few of us!)

          That said, maybe I'll try RSS banner ads again. It can't hurt, I suppose.

          • As a daily Offbeat Empire reader, I go directly to your site while I read almost all of my other favorite websites on RSS. The reason your site is unique in bringing me to the actual URL is because the reader comments are so great. The comment board seems to be directly responsible for my daily traffic. I wonder if there is some way to use comments to drive more traffic. I guess the forum is that solution. I'm really looking forward to it and hope it works out!

  5. I have been following Off Beat Home for a while now (since the wedding is over and I no longer need to spend so much time on Off Beat Bride) and I would be so sad if it was not around. I check in all through the week to see what's new on this site.
    I will have to get busy and submit some renos we have done around our place.

  6. I'll happily pay for forum membership, even if I never use the forum just to make up for completely ignoring the adverts because I'm not in the US πŸ™‚

    (edit – and which advert did I see at the top of the page after writing that? Tesco Kitchens which is definitely a UK-friendly advert 😳 )

    With any luck, by the end of the month, I'll hopefully be at a point where I can write you some sort of comedy "Top 10 hints and tips for decorating"

    • The banner ads are Google AdSense served up based on each reader's location, so UK readers will see UK campaigns, AUS readers will see AUS campaigns, etc.

      • This is really interesting, because I'm a reader from Australia, but I only see US-centric ads. Eg, the Lush one I see all the time takes me to LushUSA, not LushAU (but that might have to do with LushAU not participating in advertising?)

  7. I'm excited about this! I'm one of those folks who got the mistaken impression that this site was for HOMEOWNERS, not for PEOPLE. How wrong I was. I have a post idea coming up soon, and I'm excited about the forum. Happy New Year!

  8. I am so stoked about the forum. I migrated here from Offbeat bride (after the wedding I just couldn't take ANYTHING wedding anymore) and I have really missed the conversation.

    I had no idea that OBH wasn't profitable πŸ™ I hope that this works so we can keep it for a long long time, I really love it and I don't think there is anywhere else quite like it on the net.

    • Sabrina, those first couple sentences describe my feelings exactly! I took OBB off my feed after a couple of weeks post-wedding and stopped reading the Tribe pretty much cold turkey — not because the writing isn't great (totally is!) but because all of a sudden it was not at all relevant to my life. I did NOT foresee that.

      I hang out at OBF as a pre-adoptive babycrackwhore (should those words even go into the same SENTENCE??) and have been loving the not-just-mama/not-just-parents posts in recent months. But I would love an offbeat forum that will stay with me as my life changes, so as soon as it's up, I am THERE.

  9. Thanks for the kick in the pants about submitting… I've got a project in the works that I think will be perfect πŸ™‚

  10. I have a question about submitting- I see that you link to guests' personal websites but not business websites. Where do you draw that line? (For example- my blog largely centers around my design work, but is also a personal blog sometimes, yadda yadda yadda…)

    • If you're an active member of the community, it's totally no problem to link to your site.

      That policy exists in response to this massive corner of the SEO industry that's all about marketers submitting spammy-guestposts in exchange for linking to their commercial websites. I get several emails a week from people representing sites like, say,, offering to write "helpful" free guests posts for us — "All I ask is a link in return!" It's a thing:

      If you're a member of the Offbeat Empire community, it's no problem for us to link to your website. If you're an SEO professional offering to write guestposts to hundreds of blogs in exchange for links to your gross spam website, then it's not ok. πŸ™‚

      • Hehe, that makes sense. I'll start havin' myself a think… hopefully by the end of the year I'll have a shiny new house to show off, our current digs are a bit… scrap pile. And not in an aesthetically pleasing way.

  11. Yay forum! I'm really excited about that!

    Also, I have a few guest-posts sitting in the back of my mind, I need to just figure out my camera situation and get something together. : )

    I'm with everyone else who loves Offbeat Home and really wants to see it profitable. I give you my eyeballs on a daily basis (seriously, it's one of the sites I check when I'm bored, so sometimes I check it five or six times in the same day…), and I'll definitely be considering subscribing to the forum…

    Best of luck in 2013!

    • Speaking of cameras… do you think that this might be holding some people back from submitting? I know I've delayed some submissions until I can take some decent photos to go with them. We tend to have a lot more professional photos of our weddings and families than our homes!

      • I know that's definitely an issue for me β€” my husband's camera is pretty old, and now has about 5min (or less) of battery-life, which makes it hard to photograph things as I go along… So I want to submit posts (I have a few DIYs sitting in the back of my mind), but until we find jobs and can buy a new camera… I just don't trust the camera on the cheap cell phone we have (not that I actually even know how to use the camera on the phone, nor how I'd get the photos off after, either…), and the actual camera we have is just too frustrating. And no, I don't really want to take pictures of my projects with my webcam, thanks.

  12. Question: Is OBH&L going to get the "Submit a copyedit" button? If so, any clue when? I'm really missing the Editz button and looking forward to the replacement…. (In the meantime, I'm just sending emails to the copyeditor…)

  13. Oh I've wanted a forum for awhile. I see posts by authors in my new hometown and think, "Man, I would love to have a non-creepy way to talk to this awesome person and maybe make a local friend!" But forum-less, there is no way to do so without a sending a creeper email.

    Soon as that forum comes up, I will totally check that out-I know there are plenty of Offbeats here in the Pacific Northwest. My partner and I need to meet Portland, OR people! Especially for our D&D group…

    • I am not Portland, OR based, BUT! I have friends with a D&D game who are! They're pretty awesome, and I think you could easily find them on OKCupid (some of them are poly) or hanging out at Baby Ketten Karaoke nights in town. I wish you could PM me so I could see about e-introducing you!

  14. Question about guest posts… Are there any topics in particular you're looking for, in regards to the new (err, formalized) "& Life" element of the site?

    I'd love to help out with a guest post, but I feel sort of lost in the woods about what would be a good topic β€” even though I'm right, smack in the middle of OBH&L's demographic. More budgeting? Something on changing career paths? Living with the Worst Credit Ever?

    • Yeah, I am having this trouble with submitting a post, too. I have interesting and unique hobbies (notably, whitewater kayaking), but I can't come up with a way to write a post that isn't just, "HERE IS A COOL THING THAT I DO, LOOK AT ME!"

      • We have a category for The Great Offbeat Outdoors, and this sounds like a perfect fit for it.

        When in doubt, you can always frame it around "If this thing I do sounds interesting, here are a few tips for getting started." Then it's less LOOKAT ME! and more LET ME EMPOWER YOU TO TRY THIS!

        • Please! I am a camping/outdoorsman n00b. Its always been something I wanted to do, but my more experienced acquaintences either act like I eould be a burden or just do everything for me so I dont learn anything. A "how to get started" post for any of that stuff would be awesome!

          • I'm not the original commenter, and I don't white-water kayak, but I've now submitted a post on "How to plan a canoe trip for novices" based around the first canoe trip me and my friends did.

            I have this impression now that OBH&L just got swamped with submissions today.

          • I have this impression now that OBH&L just got swamped with submissions today.

            Yes! It's so wonderful! Megan and I are emailing each other nonstop being like "Did you read this one? Did you see that one?" The best part is getting to know some of the stories behind the commenters whose names we know so well…

            KEEP IT UP, HOMIES!

    • More budgeting? Something on changing career paths? Living with the Worst Credit Ever?: YES. All of these.

      I'm not really in the place to give topical assignments, so my best suggestion for getting ideas is to cruise the archives and see if there's anything that makes you think "Wait, I know about this — and I have an opinion I need to share!"

      Spend some time clicking links in the the new "Life" drop down menu in the nav, and see if it gets your juices flowing!

  15. How odd. I never felt the site was geared only toward brides or moms or homeowners. I've been married 13 years so long past bride time but I still love looking at Offbeat Bride for fun. I'm never to be a mom but I am a homeowner so maybe that's skewed my perspective a bit. I appreciate that there's not a huge amount of mom stuff on here. But I bet you keep most of that in Offbeat Families, which I don't read. I stick to Bride and Home.

    • Yeah, just to clarify: I interpreted "I'm not a mom or mom-to-ever-be" as meaning "…so Offbeat Families isn't a fit for me." I don't think anyone ever thought Offbeat Home was for moms! πŸ™‚ There's very little family stuff on Offbeat Home because, as you point out, it all goes on Offbeat Families.

      The issue with home ownership, however, is definitely a misunderstanding. Our About page has always read:

      Offbeat Home is equally dedicated to showcasing:
      Funky, hand-crafted spaces
      Truly alternative shelters like buses, yurts, sheds
      Rentals and dorms
      Small urban spaces
      Surprising suburban homes
      Mobile living like busses, RVs, and trailers
      Anywhere people sleep and call home

      We're not about:
      Ogling the unattainable
      Making people feel shitty about where they live
      Propagating the American dream of home ownership

  16. I'm so excited about all the changes!!! Especially the forum.

    Even though I will probably never parent or home-own, I have always felt totally welcome on Home and Mom/Families πŸ™‚

  17. Sadly, I missed the reader survey this year. However, I would really like to see more faith-related posts. As a dedicated Christian and reader, I've noticed no one really mentions faith here. Since it's such an integral part of life, no matter what you believe is true!, it would be nice to explore all the different avenues. I know I certainly would love to broaden my horizons and view a day-in-the-life of a Buddhist, Agnostic, whatever. "Why are you the way that you are?" would be a great post series to explore.

    • Sarah, while we DO have a spirituality tag ( ) most of the posts there are about NOT being very spiritual. I know from the reader survey that almost a third of Offbeat Home readers identify as atheists (and more still identify as agnostic), which may be way there's so little faith-based content submitted.

      • Hi, I'm a newbie. I live in a cabin and I love the friendliness of this site. I've been back several times in 2 days. I was a devoted Gawker gal, but the smart-aleck snarky-ness is a bit overboard these days. That being said, it will turn me off if this site gets too religious / spiritual / faith-y / preachy in any way. You can find that on Pinterest.

        • Oh jeez, no need to worry about that. We don't do preachy — it's just not part of the Offbeat Empire brand.

          Even when we do religion on one of the sites, we don't do dogma. Here are a few examples of religious posts on other Offbeat Empire sites:

          When we belong, we belong: on raising my future children Greek Orthodox
          "It does seem strange that a progressive, Queer-positive, feminist single mother would choose to raise her daughters not only in a Christian church, but in the Greek Orthodox Church…"

          Reflections on the difficulties of pregnancy by a Roman Catholic feminist
          "Once I start brainstorming about pregnancy and religion, I quickly become overwhelmed by the number of things that could make the whole experience easier for women. There is so much that needs to change. One example? It would be a lot healthier if we adopted realistic language about pregnancy and childbirth in religious settings…"

          Is it possible to teach your kids about other religions without imposing your own beliefs?
          "We both agree that we want our children to be able to choose what works for them as far as a religion and beliefs go… but we're not well-versed in other religions. Where should we begin?"

          Why feminists can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs

          etc etc etc…

          This is all to say: welcome to the Offbeat Empire, and don't worry about dogma — religious or otherwise. That's just not our jam.

          (Oh and PS: The offbeat Christian weddings on Offbeat Bride are some of my FAVORITES: I looooves me some freaky Christians!!)

          • Let me be clear: I don't want OHL to turn into a platform whose only goal is to convert its readers to a specific faith. And if covering Christianity is too controversial, cover something else! Being offbeat includes lots of viewpoints in one's life.

            Anywho: based on the survey, that means 2/3, or the majority, of readers ascribe to some sort of faith medium. It would be nice to see that reflected.

          • Sarah, I'd love to see a couple of posts about religion here. I'm solidly Agnostic, and lean towards atheism, but every time I see the faith based, "How do I teach my kids about X" on Offbeat Families, I always want to chime in, but stop, since I'm not a mother and have no idea what to teach kids. Talking about it with adults without having to worry about the parenting angle could be interesting.

  18. Woo forum! And I'd hate to see Offbeat Home disappear; what to premium memberships run, or is there anyway to donate what we can outside of that? I'm a job seeking student currently, so I don't know how much I can put forward, but I'd love to help how I can, with the extra wrench being my current currency is in Β£ now.

  19. Other than signing up for premium forum memberships (which I will be doing even if I never use it, to help support the site) how can we help Offbeat Home become profitable? Because this is an awesome site and it would be awful to lose it!

    • 1. Click every ad you see
      2. Buy products from links featured in posts (more about how this works)
      3. Share posts often and enthusiastically via social media, email, or whatever medium you use.
      4. When you buy from indie vendors (Etsy sellers, etc) who you think Offbeat Home & Life readers would love, suggest they advertise with us:

      Ultimately, it boils down to this: the site is monetized in a lot of different ways, and for a website to be truly sustainable, you shouldn't need to DO anything you don't want to do.

      In other words, you see an ad that's interesting: click it. You see a product that's cool: buy it. You read a post you like: share it.

      Based on my business model, a site succeeds when readers just read and do what they want. If I have to beg people to click, buy, or share, the site's not actually sustainable and ultimately probably isn't a valid business.

      PS: There was LOTS of talk about this stuff over on the Offbeat Empire business blog a few months ago: If you're interested in more behind-the-scenes business stuff, you might want to check it out! πŸ™‚

      • Does clicking on the "Related Posts" give you revenue as well? I might be a little more willing to click on some of the junky mindless entertainment ones if they do.

      • Hi Ariel. I've been a fan of the Offbeat sites (and book! and tribe!) for a few years now, starting through Offbeat Bride, then graduating to Home, and as I've started a blog the Empire site is now my favourite. I'm sorry to hear that Home isn't yet turning a profit, I'll start clicking ads and sharing links today! I'll also pledge to get a submission or two in to you soon(ish), and will take the forum membership option once you've launched it. Viva the Empire! Many thanks for the brilliant blogs and best of luck with all the changes!

    • I'm not running a charity or a non-profit, so I'm not comfortable accepting donations from readers.

      90% of the Offbeat Empire's revenue comes from advertising, so the best way for readers to support the sites is to click ads and to tell indie businesses you love that they should consider advertising with us.

  20. I like this idea of 'life' rather than just 'home'.

    On which subject, how about a guest post on tips for keeping your relationship going when you work nights and your partner works days?

    • AHHH! I'm in the middle of trying to write that very post! The "& Life" thing put that idea in m head. My fiancΓ© and I had a really hard time working things out at first.

      • Its ok haha. I'm in the process of trying to get it down to under 1000 words! I'm also a terrible writer so if you don't see a post soon it's probably because it got rejected πŸ˜‰

    • OMG! Please, please write this! My SO and I were just forced to opposite shifts, and I have no idea how to cope with him being a day person.

      • Submitted it yesterday, it got accepted today!!! So hopefully you will see it soon.

        Some advice for right now though, whoever is not moving to a different shift be EXTRA patient with the person adapting to the new shift. It's super hard on their internal clock and can make them grumpy.

      • My advice, as a random shift worker: Snatch whatever time you can get together. If you're the day person, stay in bed until your SO comes home and have a quick cuddle. If you're the night person, have your breakfast while your SO is having their dinner. Small things help a surprising amount.

  21. Do our advertising clicks count nomatter our location? I know on another blog my clicks don't count as i am in Australia and the site is based in the US?

    • As far as I know, when it comes to my third-party banner ads from AdSense and Glam Media, AUS readers see AUS-based campaigns. I'm pretty sure your clicks are as good as anyone else's. Then again, I've never gotten too in-depth with stuff like this, so I could be wrong. As I said over here, I feel pretty strongly that if I have to convince readers to click ads out of a sense of charity, then the ads aren't actually any good and the website isn't actually sustainable.

      I'm just not sure if I'm comfortable with a website that's only able to stay online if readers click awful ads out of a sense of duty. No one will do that forever. (Nor would I expect them to!) It's just not a sustainable business model. Really, just click if you see something interesting. If it's not interesting, don't click. πŸ™‚

  22. So I'm curious, why are you so set against a donation model (at least as a suppliment)? I often don't want the products your advertizers provide (or more likely simply can't justify the price). However, I DO want the product that YOU provide. On a tight budget, I can't necessarily justify $20 for a product upgrade, but I am willing to throw in five bucks here and there for a product I utilize and enjoy. This is probably true of a bunch of other readers as well. Why is letting people pay for your product (especially with a pay-what-you-can approach) charity?

    I really feel this is the future of internet based business. I look at success stories like NIN most recent albums, Cards Against Humanity (especially their holiday expansion pack experiment), and what happened with the author of Something Positive (whose fans donated enough to have him quit his day job so the comic could go up on time and be spell checked). It is quite possible that we are willing to pay you to do what you do – even when we are less willing to pay someone else to pay you.

    • I agree too! I really want to hand you money, but I live in Canada, and about half the time, all the cool stuff posted on Amazon goes "But, we can't deliver that to you! We aren't sure how to get there!!" Which means I have to click around to and I think you mentioned you don't get money like that. And generally, between the extra effort and the lack of the intended effect, it just stops being worth it to order whatever it was.

    • Oh man. That's a REALLY big question. Here's the short answer:

      1. It's not sustainable in the long-run. I've watched bloggers do donation campaigns for over a decade, and while there's an initial burst of donors, donations don't continue and money runs out. Kottke is a great example.

      2. It creates a begging dynamic. When a publisher asks for donations, it shifts the relationship with readers. Suddenly I'm bugging y'all do give me money. If you're not in a place to give, you feel bad. I don't want to make you feel bad. It's just not worth it, especially considering that in my experience, donation drives never pull in that much money. (Really? I'm going to make tens of thousands of people feel bad in exchange for MAYBE a grand in donations?) Not worth it.

      3. I'm not comfortable with it, ethically. Donations should go towards non-profits who are legally bound to spend your money in the ways you want. How would you feel if you donated $20 that I went and spent on weed. (It's semi-legal here now!) You'd probably feel like, "Ew, THAT'S what she did with my money!? Gross." And you'd have every right to. When I run a for-profit business, I can spend the profits in the ways I want.

      That said, I'm hearing you guys loud and clear that you wish there were ways you could support Offbeat Home & Life. While I'm not comfortable with donations, I think the forum is going to be the way to do that. I'll make sure the pricing is set up to allow a wide range of options, from like $5 to maybe $100.

      Most importantly, thank you guys so much for caring. It means more to me than I can say.


      • Ariel, I just have to say I love your philosophy about donations, especially about not wanting your readers to feel bad. How refreshing!

        (Although I like that readers want to support you, too!)

  23. I want to see this site survive! I've been submitting stuff lately and plan to keep at it.

    Two things I've noticed on "lifestyle blogger" sites that I don't think I've seen here (or maybe you have done it and I've not noticed!):

    1. Sponsored posts that aren't business profiles, but something like "Here's how to dress for xx event" and photos of items from the business. Those posts also still keep a personal tone and often times I don't realize it's sponsored until I get to the end. I read them because they don't scream "Buy this product!" It's more like, "Hey, look at me use this product. Bet you want one, too!" Your sponsored posts are good at showing how to use the business' product, but they don't have as much of a personal tone.

    2. Giveaways. I see it a lot and it's kind of annoying when the site becomes all about giving away stuff, but if you gave away unique items from advertisers, that'd be pretty cool. I've also noticed people comment more when they have a chance to win something – not sure if that increases your site's value or not, but it does show what people are interested in – free stuff!

    Ok, my two cents done.

    • 1. We do posts sorta like that! They're all listed under the affiliate tag, and when you click one of the links and then make a purchase, we get a cut.

      2. Giveaways. Oh man, don't get me started. They are terrible, TERRIBLE for business. Typically, the publisher receives no payment from the advertiser, is liable for the product being given away, and there are even questionable legal issues with sweepstakes laws. Giveaways are really bad news. (Although we're always happy to link to an advertiser's giveaway hosted on their own site! We do that frequently on Offbeat Bride.)

      • I didn't know that about giveaways. I figured there must be some benefit to it since so many other sites do it. I have conflicting feelings about it, so I'm sorta glad you won't do it here. If I thought it'd help your site, though, I'd be all about it!

        • Yeah, Giveaways also hugely devalue blogger advertising. The mommyblogging world is filled with bloggers who will give placement away for the price of a laundry detergent sample, and so business are like "Why should I pay for placement on your site when I can get placement on this other site for the cost of a sample?" Ultimately, packets of laundry detergent don't pay my hosting bills… so giveaways are pretty bad news.

  24. I am very excited about these changes, especially the forum! Since getting married Offbeat Home has seriously become my new favourite site (since OBB isn't that relevant for me anymore) and I really hope it survives. I'll also do some serious thinking about submitting a guest post.

  25. I started over at OffBeat Bride while I was wedding planning about 2 years ago. OffBeat Home must have just been starting, but it seemed like a really natural transition to me.
    I am married, but have no plans for kids in the future, and am a serial renter.
    I love the DIY posts, and am still meaning to make that animal-head coat rack.

  26. I need to get my ass in gear to submit a lovely post about my honeymoon in Iceland since I had people who fully believed I was joking when I said we were going to Iceland for our honeymoon or looked at me like I had 12 heads. I got billions of pretty pictures to share to entice others to consider visiting.

  27. Ariel – a serious question. I love OBH and am totally committed to the community. I've submitted posts and I'm super excited to join the forum. I've also bought stuff (like cards against humanity from the AMAZING gifts post before the holidays) from posts), but here's the rub: I use AdBlock. Am I totally screwing you out of revenue? Is there a way I can make up for it without compromising my ads-free interneting? I struggle with this a a lot: I hate seeing the same vaguely sexist ads all over the internet (NOT incleding OBE), so I AdBlock to avoid them, but I know it robs my favorite free sites of their living wages. What can I do to balance those needs?

    • A script blocker might help. You can decide which sites to allow scripts on (which allow ads to show) and which not to allow scripts on. I use NoScript but allow scripts for Offbeat Empire sites.

    • Most adblockers allow you to whitelist URLs. If you use AdBlock for Chrome, just click the icon and then select "Don't run on pages on this domain."

      • Oh my goodness! Until today, it didn't occur to me how much awesomeness I was missing out on by not whitelisting the Offbeat pages! The ads are largely websites I already know and love–and now how much more I can do for you by going through here to get to them!

        I confess, I'm guilty of selecting AdBlock when I first got my laptop ages ago, then proceeding to forget about its existence altogether, to the point of being confused why I wasn't seeing these ads everyone has been mentioning on here!

      • OMG! I never knew I could do this. I to have been living with guilt surfing my favorite blogs with the addblocker on. I mostly use ad blocker because I watch most of my TV on Iplayers and my connection is so slow the adverts used to take forever.

        I will have a submission in a couple of weeks. How we completely gutted and redid our bright green, space invader kitchen for nearly no money. πŸ™‚

  28. Two posts: submitted. They may or may not fit what you guys are looking for, but I at least crossed off one thing on my to-do list for this year: submit posts to you guys because I always wanted to, but have been hesitant until now.

  29. So, this is probably something you've already thought about, because you're thorough! But I know for me, I subscribe to the email updates to make sure I don't miss any relevant posts I'd be interested in, but then I usually click to the site itself because I don't like reading the posts in email, and once I'm there, I almost always click ads because the ads are usually pretty interesting!

    Are you getting as much traffic to the main pages as you have subscribers? Or do you think you might be losing ad-viewing readership who are only reading via email or on mobile devices, missing the ads?

    At my work, when we had the full post in email, we had really small actual post views compared to the number of email subscribers. In trying to convert blog readers into consumers of our other site content, we cut the email digest down to title with link, and snippet with a read more link. That change boosted traffic to the site coming from the email subscribers, and a significant jump in non-blog page views and exit (so people were coming to the linked content from email, then leaving via different pages).

    …also, if you can find a plugin that will let you deliver ads on mobile, that might help too?

    Excited for paid forum anyway, I'd be totally in for that.

    • The Offbeat Home & Life email newsletter has 509 subscribers, while has 173,164 monthly visitors, so I'm not too worried about email subscriptions biting into pageviews.

      In addition, I've got the email newsletter monetized with little banner ads at the top and the bottom. If you click the ads and buy anything, we get a small commission!

      As for mobile, until two weeks ago (when our mobile plugin completely crapped out) we had ads! πŸ™‚ Sadly, the new version of our longtime mobile plugin causes MAJOR problems for our server (crashing it three times in a row, causing downtime across all the sites) so we need to do some troubleshooting before it'll be back…

      • Ah! So you do! Because I always just click to the articles on the site, I've never "allowed images" on my email digests, never noticed the ads there. Also don't usually read on mobile, but the one time I did was super recently and that's when I noticed there were no ads…guess I missed them!

        See, I knew you were thorough πŸ™‚

  30. Totally stoked for all of this!

    I must learn to document my projects. Every time I do one and think I should submit to Home, I invariably forget about pictures. Hoping this can kick my brain into actually doing that a bit more.

    But I am working on something to submit (then I will have collected all the blogs!).

  31. As an OBB tribe member, an OBB advertiser, and new OBH contributor (I did the wedding lights to holiday decor post), I find this change super helpful! Even though I get the advertiser digests, which encourage inter-site ads, I felt my stuff (clothing) didn't fit in at all with "home" and didn't feel comfortable advertising here. The "home and life" moniker is super helpful to me as an advertiser to know my stuff will fit now.

    Will you be offering some sweet specials to encourage more vendors? OBB can be a bit cost-prohibitive, and I know OBH is more affordable, but anything helps for those of us running one-woman businesses. πŸ™‚

  32. Oh my god. I need to start thinking of things to submit, because honestly, being an unmarried 20-something, Offbeat Home is the site I currently feel coziest on. Time to start brainstorming. I'd hate to see it go..

  33. I just wanted to let you guys know that even though my husband and I are renters who do not plan on having children any time soon, I have never felt alienated on this site. Now that I'm not planning a wedding anymore, this is where I spend a lot of my time. oddly, I never really thought about posting. I have some social anxieties that make the idea of posting or even commenting kind of scary. I'll try to get over that. Thank you.

  34. I enjoy all the OBE sites and if I need to submit posts in order to keep them running, I shall get off my ass. I call myself a writer, but I don't write much and I need to change that. I have something in the works right now. I hope you like it.

  35. I had assumed submitted posts were similar to Offbeat Bride, where you couldn't be featured on another blog. I just took a quick look and saw that isn't the case, so I'll keep it in mind when I'm updating my blog.

  36. I'm really excited for the forum! After getting married, I really miss the Offbeat Tribe's forum, especially when I really wanted to pop in to ask a couple question when I was Maid of Honor for my offbeat friend!

  37. I LOVE this change! I don't necessarily have an offbeat home, but I have had some offbeat life things I think I could contribute. Like the year I went mostly barefoot in college and joined The Society for Barefoot Living. Maybe something people would be interested in?

  38. I'm a pretty square-ish lawyer who has never been married, had kids, moved to another country, or decorated with sharks. But I stumbled across this site, read two articles (one about living in a yurt and another one about the menstrual cup TMI Adventure) and immediately bookmarked it. I love the funky fearless content and the thoughtful positive comments posted by other readers.

    Thank you for caring enough and working so hard to make this website a good place to be.

  39. First of all, I love the change of name, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable being here – and yep, I am a married homeowner…

    Probably because I am in the category of people who have never submitted as I am ashamed of my house – it is constantly messy and is not decorated anywhere close to my satisfaction.

    I do like the posts about relationships and pets, and I'd love to see more about clothes and career.

    Also I mostly read through email – it makes it easier to sneak a read at work, but it does mean I miss out on the awesome comments. Also does every single post come through in the emails or is it just a selection? My preference would be for every post so I don't miss anything!

  40. EEK! I would feel so lost without OBE. This is truly a unique place and I'm feeling like a bad friend who has taken for granted all the awesome things you have done for me! It's time to return the awesomesauce. I can't tell you how many times I have thought…"I should post this to OBH"…but haven't. That's about to change…2013 will be my year to submit!

    Thank you so much to everyone involved in the Empire. Will do all that I can to support. Click, click and submit all ova that shiet!

  41. I actually *am* married, *do* have a kid, and *do* own a house! But I'm happy for Offbeat Home to add more "life" stuff, too. I'd like to think I also have a "life", though it doesn't always feel like it.

  42. I'm excited, seeing as I technically never fit into any of the categories in the Offbeat Empire. I never was a bride or bride-to-be and I probably won't be any time soon, I don't own a home or rent, and I'm not a mom and am seriously considering being child-free. I'm in the middle of deciding what path to take in my life so my life is in flux.

    I just love the ideas and creativity of the Offbeat Empire and kept reading and sending people who were actually brides-to-be and own homes or rent to your sites. The idea of Offbeat Life is refreshing. Now I don't feel like I'm eavesdropping on some secret club of awesome (because that's what I think you guys are: awesome).

    If I can pull myself together, maybe I'll submit something. The readership here is amazing. This is one of the few places on the Internet where the comments don't depress me.

  43. Never had a problem with a Niche for home, home is wherever you are living, flat, house, caravan etc.

    I still go to Obb to check out the cool weddings, I'm not a Obmama yet but look on there sometimes and we're having building work done on a new house, so home has lots of ideas for me.

    Much as we like things to stay the same sometimes they have to change. So Good Luck OBhome for the future.

  44. One of my New Year's resolutions is to contribute more than just observe, as part of that I'm planning to submit something to OHL every month πŸ™‚ First 2 are already underway.

  45. I'm surprised to learn that this is what people think about offbeat home. I do not own a home I'm not married or engaged and I don't want kids and I see this as the perfect place for me I feel welcome on all the pages. Well I guess its all just perspective hopefully soon everybody feels included and welcome. I'll try to do my part as well and visit more often because I love ALL things offbeat.

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