Over the past year, Dear Damsels has been growing – both in terms of output (oh hello, two publications at the end of 2019) and ambitions. If you know us well, you’ll know Team DD consists of just two people (Abs and Bri) and that we set up DD around the time that ‘side-hustles’ became a thing. Though we have always hustled for DD, it has never been for money. We do it because we are passionate about providing a space for women’s stories to be told and heard. DD is the very definition of a passion project.

Nevertheless, DD is not self-sustaining – it takes a huge amount of energy and dedication and commitment. That’s always been the case, but we reached a point last year when we looked at each other (over video call) and said, This is too much, isn’t it? DD has always been fitted around jobs and friends and family, but it was threatening to eclipse all of that.

We have plans for how DD can support itself – and it involves more of what you love and we love, plus more print publications (more exciting news on that front to come later in the year). We love what we do and want to grow as a platform while continuing to improve on what we currently offer. But, to do this, we need the help of our wonderful collective.

Enter Patreon.

What’s Patreon?

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows users to support creative projects through monthly pledges. You can find the Dear Damsels page here.

It’s not a subscription, and we won’t be setting up a paywall. Everything we already do on Dear Damsels will remain open for everyone and anyone to access – from our bi-monthly writing themes and open submission periods, to all of the brilliant writing we publish (that’s 2–3 original pieces of fiction/non-fiction/poetry every week). Everything else we do – podcasts, blogs, and our fave DD Sunday Roundups that land in your inbox monthly – will also remain free to receive.

What will I get for my pledge?

By pledging as little as £1 a month, you will help us to do two things:

  • Improve our current offering for women writers (we’ll keeping doing what we’re doing, but more! And even better!)
  • Provide a springboard for future Dear Damsels projects and opportunities (we have about a million ideas)

Anything else?

We didn’t like the idea of taking any of the writing we publish and reserving it for a special few. DD is for all, and always will be. BUT we know from our previous crowdfunding efforts that extras are fun! To that end, we’ve thought very carefully about what we can and can’t offer as rewards for our patrons – and the extras we are offering are designed to make sure all our energy is still being channelled into what really matters: finding ways to support and champion women writers.

If you can pledge a little extra (£3/month), you’ll get access to extra writing prompts for each and every submission theme, full feedback for any submissions you send in to us, plus even more reading recommendations so you know about everything Team DD have been reading online and elsewhere – AND you’ll be first to know about DD events and projects. We might even ask you help to us choose our monthly themes!

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you might be interested in becoming a VID (Very Important Damsel, of course; £10/month) to receive all the above and more, including the opportunity to receive editorial feedback on up to 4,000 words every 6 months.

What if I need to decrease my pledge in the future?

That’s completely fine – decrease your pledge at any time! We understand circumstances change and are so grateful for any support.

Can I give you a one-off pledge?

You can – you’ll have to pledge this month and then cancel it next month, after your card is charged for the first pledge.

What is my pledge paying for? Will you be paying writers?

In the past, DD has been self-funded – by which we mean we (Abby and Bridie) pay for all the running costs of DD. This includes boring but very important things like domain fees, WordPress charges, and G-suite – but also exciting things, like print runs of The DD Annual and event venue hire. Often, if not always, we can pay ourselves back with the profits from print sales and event ticket sales, but breaking even means there is rarely any money left in the pot for our next project, and so the less-than-ideal pattern repeats. Any funds we receive through Patreon would therefore go straight towards these running costs, meaning we would no longer be limited by what we can personally afford.

It has always been our aim to get to a position where we could offer payment to writers. With the publication of Let Me Know When You’re Home, we achieved that. But the challenge of monetising online content remains; the recent closures of The Pool and Rookie have been disheartening to watch not only as readers but as publishers. With all this in mind, we have taken the decision to increase our print output, thereby increasing our paid writing opportunities. We will continue to hold bi-monthly open submissions and to publish women writers online. Regular opportunities to share your work and receive feedback are extremely hard to come by and we believe the Dear Damsels website is an important space for offering this. However, unless our financial situation dramatically changes, or we dramatically reduce our output and therefore the writing opportunities we offer, we sadly won’t be able to pay writers for pieces of writing published online.

Finally, Dear Damsels takes work. We loved producing Let Me Know When You’re Home because the Kickstarter fund allowed us to pay writers, illustrators and designers. We didn’t pay ourselves as editors, however, and we are starting to recognise that if we want to be able to keep giving 100% to DD, that needs to change. If we reach our biggest stretch goal, we hope to be able to pay ourselves each month, in order to cover some of the time it takes to read, review, and respond to submissions; to edit and publish pieces online; to write and publish the DD Roundup and DD blogs; to plan and host events; to produce and record podcasts; and to plan, edit and publish future print publications.

Why don’t you use Kickstarter for each new project?

We could not have been more thrilled by the support you gave us for LMKWYH, reaching 118% of our original funding goal. But by using Patreon we will be able to gauge the level of support for the day-to-day running of DD as well as the big projects, and be able to start planning DD’s future, rather than existing from project to project.

What happens if you don’t reach your Patreon goals?

We’d like to say that we will keep plugging away and finding new ways to keep this space for women writers functioning, but in reality we’d have to seriously consider scaling back the time we put into it and what we can continue to offer.

How can I help, if I can’t afford to pledge?

Spread the word! Share this blog with writer pals, give us a Tweet or honour us with a place on your Instagram grid (OK . . . we’ll take a shout out in your story). You could even feature us in your TinyLetter; you guys have some GREAT TinyLetters.

Mainly, just keep doing what you’re doing – we love it when you share the stories, poems and essays from the DD website that resonate with you, because it helps more women find us. Bringing the voices of women together has been the aim all along.

Dear Damsels is your collective.

We wanted to create a space on our website where you can find out what your collective is doing for you. Whether it be upcoming events, publications, projects or podcast episodes, this blog is where we communicate directly with you about what is going on in the world of DD.

Support Dear Damsels

Words are empowering – not only for the women who write them, but those who read them too.

Join our Patreon and help us continue to offer an inclusive and welcoming space for women to come together, share their words, and get a resounding response back.

Sign up to our Patreon