by Chuck Colbert
The editor in chief of Bilerico, one of the nation’s leading LGBT blogs with dozens of contributors, has sounded a warning bell, asking readers and fans for financial support. The hope is that loyal readers will step up to the plate.
“Bilerico doesn't make money. Running a site like this is a full-time job, but it doesn't pay like one,” wrote John M. Becker in an August 13 posting, his first-ever funding appeal for the blog. “The other day I crunched the numbers, factored in the site's average monthly ad revenue and the number of hours I put in, and discovered that I'm making less than if I worked a minimum wage job. Quite frankly, that's unsustainable, especially with the sky-high cost of living here in Washington, D.C.”
As Bilerico’s founder and publisher, Bil Browning explained further in email correspondence, "Over the past 10 years, we've posted fundraising appeals a handful of times. Our readers have always done their best to help us out. They understand that running a blog is a lot of work for very little pay. Most of the larger LGBT blogs that pay a staff reasonably well are corporately owned with a big bank account behind them. There are only a handful of private blogs that make anything close to a full-time salary."
Over the year that Becker has been at the helm editing Bilerico, he said, the website’s traffic is “soaring,” its content is “up,” with “reader engagement … through the roof.”
There is little doubt that Becker enjoys his work. “I love Bilerico,” he wrote. “I want to keep bringing you the great content you enjoy every day, but I need to be able to pay the bills. Money is extremely tight right now — so tight, in fact, that I'm worried about making rent next month. So unless I'm able to turn this around ASAP, I'm going to have to find a new job and The Bilerico Project will have to close up shop for good.”
Accordingly, Becker finds himself at a “crossroads,” he said.
The Bilerico Project (www.bilerico.com) will celebrate 10th anniversary on September 25, 2014.
Websites comparable to Bilerico include The New Civil Rights Movement, Towleroad and Joe My God.
The name for Bilerico is a combination of its founder’s first name (Bil) and the first name of Browning’s college friend, Eric Muramatsu.
Altogether, “Bilerico is a type of project — an open-ended experiment in communication and cultural community building,” according to a website posting about its history and mission.
A native of Indiana, Browning’s blog at first focused on LGBT issues in that state. In 2007, however, the blog took on LGBT political issues nationally, at the same time it embraced the full spectrum of LGBT life. Browning moved from his home state to a new base in Washington, D.C.
In addition to his editorial position at Bilerico, Becker has appeared as a guest commentator on major news and political shows, including ABC’s World News Tonight, Nightline, and Good Morning America; NBC’s Today Show; CNN's Newsroom; Fox’s Alan Colmes Show; MSNBC’s Ed Schultz Show and Live with Al Sharpton; and the Associated Press Television Network. A native of Wisconsin, Becker is also an accomplished classical musician. He holds a master of music degree in vocal performance.
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