Editor’s Letter: Black Ballad 2.0

Published: Thursday 3rd November 2016 8:02PM

Updated: Thursday 3rd November 2016 8:02PM

This is a decision that took four months to make…. 

When writing editor’s letters, I usually feel a sense of relief, passion and at times, fury. Editor’s letters have become an outlet to share my thoughts and make sense of a world that still doesn’t give black women the respect they deserve.

However, in writing this editor’s letter, I have never felt more nervous. As many of you know, Black Ballad hit the pause button in July, as we needed to figure out how to make Black Ballad a sustainable business.

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After months of agreeing and disagreeing with my co-founder, we have decided to make the website a subscription platform by launching a crowdfund. Now, in a world where the majority of content is free, this idea can at first seem unreasonable and to many, ludicrous. In fact, many have told me not to expect anyone, especially black women to pay for content when there are other free outlets on the world wide web.

I’ve had sleepless nights thinking about asking our loyal readers to trust Black Ballad enough to spend money with us, even though we have no physical product or magazine. However, after two years of delivering content with a team of over 15 creatives who freely volunteered their time, efforts and talents, we needed to think about what would be the best way to take real ownership of black British women’s space in the media.

Many may say why not go down the advertising route? Well, relying on advertising as our primary income source will have detrimental consequences on our content. For example, a natural advertiser for Black Ballad would have been Afropunk. Yet, if we had Afropunk adverts plastered all over the Black Ballad site, we would never have been able to call them out for their disgraceful choice of a headline act and play our small part in having MIA removed from the line-up.

Yes, that is a hypothetical situation, but in the first year  of running the site, a cosmetic giant took us off their mailing list and refused to send us any more products for review. Why? Because we condemned their black women foundation products for being too white. I don’t want to be dishonest or put the pockets of white men and women before the interests and needs of black women.  That’s not why I started Black Ballad and I won’t run the site in that way.

By making Black Ballad a member-focused platform, it will finally give black women full autonomy over a UK based media company. Black Ballad will only be accountable to you. We will use your feedback and preferences to make sure Black Ballad meets your expectations and produces content that is full of British black girl magic. 

I know this is a giant step and may seem an unconventional one, but after two years of publishing, I refuse to let Black Ballad fall into the pit holes that many great but late black British media companies have succumbed to. We’ve all been there, walking into WHSmiths to find that our favourite black magazine is no longer published. Or typing in the site domain of your favourite black British website to see it no longer exists.

Black Ballad doesn’t want to have a short shelf life because we’ve not put adequate measures in place to be a sustainable business. So I only have this left to say: I hope after watching the videos, reading the content and attending our first event, you take the next step with Black Ballad…

You can find out more about Black Ballad’s subscription platform and crowdfund project here

Editor's Letter: Black Ballad 2.0

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