Anne Trubek

When I tell people I run an online magazine, the first question I often receive is, “How do you make money?”

It’s a good question. No one has to pay to read Belt online; we do not have a paywall. The economics of online journalism are such that advertising alone cannot support digital publications, no matter how large.

So where do we find the funds necessary to pay our writers, editors and staff? Like many places, we sell advertising, host events and publish books.

However, our main revenue stream may surprise you: Belt Magazine is primarily funded by you, our readers. More specifically, our membership program — which starts at $20 a year and has options for as little as $10 a month — is the main way the magazine makes money.

Why do people become members? To some, it’s to support our long, in-depth reporting on important issues–like our piece on hunger in Ohio; to others, it’s because they appreciate learning more about Rust Belt-y things, such as the prehistoric predator fish Dunkleosteus, or because we publish high-quality essays that tug at the heartstrings. Some become members to applaud our commitment to paying our writers a competitive rate, and others because they enjoy being part of our community.

“What do members get?” is often the second question I receive when describing Belt’s business model. Besides the satisfaction of supporting a woman-founded and -led startup publishing independent journalism, we offer members discounts on events, and send you free swag — such as T-shirts or prints.

Belt Magazine is not yet two years old, and our membership program (incredibly) has over 1,000 people. These readers have come together and helped this crazy experiment thrive.

Become a member today and help us continue to grow, so we can provide high-quality writing, reporting and thinking for years to come. If you do so now, you can become a lifetime member and receive 50% off anything we ever sell, forever. It’s like a golden ticket — but the offer goes away soon, so act now.

Below are even more reasons to become a member.

Why Support Belt?

  • We’re primarily funded by you, our readers. While we raise money from books, events and merchandise, our main revenue stream comes from memberships.
  • You can feel good about contributing to a good cause. By becoming a member of Belt, you’re becoming a part of a large community of individuals who care about and want to support independent journalism and storytelling.
  • You help us produce quality journalism–and pay our writers, photographers and artists. We believe that well-written articles and creative work deserves fair compensation. Your membership dollars allow us to pay our freelancers competitive rates.
  • We’re 100% independently owned and operated. When you become a Belt member, you’re helping us maintain complete editorial freedom. No corporate bosses dictating our direction!
  • You help keep Belt paywall-freeNo one has to take out a credit card to keep reading a story.
  • We’re committed to telling important Rust Belt stories. With shrinking magazine staffs and budgets, there’s a definite need for publications reporting on topics nobody else has the resources to cover. Belt strives to be one of these outlets.
  • We’re not afraid of tough questions or issues. We’re not afraid to probe important social and political issues, or examine tough realities facing the Rust Belt. Above all, we strive to take a critical (but accessible) eye to issues facing the region.
  • We entertain as well as educate. From weird things in nature to first-person essays examining modern life in the Rust Belt, Belt also isn’t afraid to look on the lighter side of life.
  • It’s easy! Sign up online, and you’ll get instant access to our membership perks.
  • It’s affordable! Memberships start at just $20 a year. Other tiers average out to less than $10 a month. No matter your financial situation, you’ll be able to support Belt.