At the end of 2017, we compiled a list of our Family Members — everyone who had joined as a one-time member from the beginning of our 2017 membership drive through the end of the year, and all those members who contribute continuously, every month.
How grateful are we to those people? We owe The Bitter Southerner’s existence to them, more than any other group. They put their money where their reading habits are, and we appreciate it. They come from 46 states and the District of Columbia, as well as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. armed forces somewhere in the Pacific.
In seven U.S. states, there is actually just one Family Member per state. We hope to expand those numbers, of course. But until we do, those seven folks deserve shouts-out:
• Howdy to Sherri in Idaho.
• Hey there, Professor Meredith, up in Maine.
• Keep posting those pictures from Montana, Margaret. We love you.
• A flatlander’s hello to Mary in Nebraska.
• Hello, Sarah, we see you in Nevada.
• Much love to Wendy in New Mexico.
• And Brett, we hope you stayed cozy this winter in Vermont.
Despite support from most of the United States and a few folks beyond, our Family Members still make up only 0.15 percent of all the readers who have visited our site over the past 12 months.
To make the math easy, out of every 1,000 people who read a story on The Bitter Southerner, just 1.5 of them become Family Members. We need that number to go up.
Our journalism doesn’t sit behind a paywall and readers don’t “subscribe” to it in the traditional sense. Instead, we ask folks to join our “family,” which we name thusly because the community around this publication damn sure feels like family. The Bitter Southerner Family’s a fine one to be in: Just ask the folks who have smart, funny conversations about the South every day in our members-only Facebook group.
So, we hope you’ll decide to join the Family today.
As founders, we are deeply grateful to our partners of two years, Community Newspapers Inc. of Athens, Georgia. The people of CNI — including our publisher, Eric NeSmith — continue to give us invaluable guidance on the strategic and business fronts. Eric has done yeoman work over the last 12 months in making our General Store operations much more efficient and effective for you, our customers. CNI’s help has been neighborly and smart every time.
In February, the Willson Center for Humanities & Arts at the University of Georgia asked The Bitter Southerner to be part of a panel discussion about Southern journalism, and I represented us. When the time came to discuss various publications’ financial models, this was what I said, according to Athens alternative weekly Flagpole: “I certainly never thought I’d work for a journalistic enterprise funded primarily by the sale of T-shirts and dishtowels.”
I did say that. I never expected that to happen. But it did.
The Bitter Southerner’s three primary revenue streams, in rank order of importance, are:
1. Your purchases in our General Store.
2. Your memberships.
The money you spend with us in the General Store keeps The Bitter Southerner alive. We are grateful for your support there. It makes us happy as can be when we can design products that please you.
But now is the time of year when we ask you to become a member of what we call The Bitter Southerner Family. It feels like family, because all its members help keep each other’s dreams of a better South alive. Financially, a Family Membership produces money that can go directly into our stories. None of it is siphoned away by credit-card processing fees or the cost of shipping materials.
If this was the year you first discovered The Bitter Southerner, we invite you to join the family. Or if you’ve been reading since 2013 and never gotten around to hitting the “Support” button, we hope this is the year you do.
Over the next two weeks of this membership drive, we hope to welcome many new members. When it comes to The Bitter Southerner Family, bigger is always better.