Hello turtle riders. I’m writing this blog to you to explain to you some behind the scenes stuff that is going on that I’d like to make you all aware of, in hopes that someone might read it and offer help our guidance. It’s humbling to write something like this, as normally I’m an overly confident person, but you all should know about the issues we face moving forward.
As you know if you’ve read “I Am Turtleboy,” Turtleboy Sports and myself personally are constantly being attacked financially in order for our critics to silence us. The goal for them is simple – make sure Turtleboy the business cannot make money, or runs out of money, so that we will not be able to afford to cover our operating costs.
In 2017 things were looking good. The Facebook page had over 100,000 followers, we were making decent money with Google AdSense, we had a slate of local advertisers, and it looked like this would be a successful media company that would continue to grow.
When the critics realized that death threats against me would not stop me from using this platform to express our constitutionally protected rights, they began to come after me financially in four ways:
- Attacking our social media
- Attacking our advertisers
- Getting us blacklisted from Google AdSense
- Frivolous lawsuits
1. In hindsight losing Facebook and Twitter wasn’t even that big of a blow. We now average as many viewers a day in 2019 that we did at this point in 2017. Our audience continues to grow and expand to new areas, and more and more people access our website directly through internet browsers or the app, rather than through Facebook or Twitter. I’d like to get those pages back, but getting them back would not save the company. They are the least of my concerns at this point.
2. Mobs organized “boycotts” of our local advertisers, which were really harassment campaigns. By calling and harassing them over and over again, businesses were bothered and intimidated, and slowly we began to lose them. Since I do not have a sales team, or even a salesperson, I am not able to go knocking on doors and finding new advertisers, although I’m sure I could if I had the time. Finding a slate of advertisers in 2014 and 2015 was very easy as everyone around here knows Turtleboy and wanted to be seen on the fastest growing blog in New England. Nevertheless, that revenue source has all but disappeared for now.
3. Instead of finding local advertisers who paid a flat fee per month to be on the website, I began to use ad networks which pay you per page view to put ads on their website. Going through a middle man like this allowed me to focus on creating quality and entertaining content, and the more page views we brought in the more money we made. However, most ad networks use Google AdSense, and the trolls then began reporting us to them over and over again. Eventually they blacklisted us. This is normally a death sentence, since they drive down demand. By losing AdSense we lost about 80% of our advertising revenue. Eighty. Percent. In order to make up for that we used other ad networks like RevContent, which don’t pay nearly as well. Yesterday RevContent also told us that due to people complaining to them they are ending their relationship with us as well. We will try to find another ad network to fill the void, but that’s easier said than done. But this is why we have a donate button now – because we hardly make any money off of advertising now.
4. Anyone can file lawsuit in this country, regardless of how frivolous it is. I’ve been sued several times and never even made it to trial before the cases were dismissed. However, you are forced to hire an attorney if the company is sued, and luckily Margaret Melican has represented me in several cases pro bono. In the Rian Waters case I had to hire an attorney though, and it’s very expensive, and I will not be receiving lawyer fees from Rian Waters once that case is dismissed.
The problem now is the lawsuit filed by Jennifer Azadnia, who has unlimited resources at her disposal largely due to the wealth of her husband. She has hired Aaron Hernandez’ attorney George Leontire, who is in court today at a hearing to demand that I hand over my hard drive, iPhone, email, Facebook, and blogging passwords, so that he can read private conversations and obtain IP address information on anyone who has published content on Turtleboy Sports. Although I would hope it gets dismissed, this is time consuming and tiring for Margaret, and takes away from her ability to work on other cases for clients who are actually paying her. She can’t keep doing this on her own.
As a result of all the lost revenue from advertisers, Google AdSense, and cases like Rian Waters, this business model simply cannot continue. I cannot afford an attorney to continue the case with George Leontire and Jennifer Azadnia if Margaret is unable to continue. Jennifer is also suing Tara Winterhalter, the owner of Ritual Sweat Society, the yoga studio that she opened her business across the street from. A lot of the information that Western Mass Turtlegirl used in the blog about Jennifer Azadnia came from her own customer complaints, complaints from former employees of her’s, and the yoga studio across the street. This includes the video of Jennifer barging into Ritual Sweat Society and hurling disparaging insults at their employees. All of it was verified, and all of it was true. Nevertheless, they’ve had to shell out for an attorney and I would estimate they’ve paid upwards of $30-50,000 on this lawsuit already. When they win they will not be reimbursed by the plaintiff. This is just what people like Jennifer Azadnia and George Leontire do – sue everyone who says disparaging things about them. Jennifer has the money to do it, and George is happy to take her money and make a comfortable living attacking legitimate business owners like me and Tara Winterhalter, for daring to not give into the bullying tactics of his client
I realize that by publishing a blog like this it makes me look weak. The enemies of the blog and free speech like George Leontire will be like sharks smelling blood in the water. But I’d rather be up front and honest about what’s going on behind the scenes. At heart I’m a humble Worcester guy, although I know Turtleboy comes across as overly confident. I don’t make enough money to hire attorneys to fight frivolous lawsuits from people like Leontire and Azadnia. Margaret may have to withdraw from the case if this continues, which would basically mean the end of Turtleboy Sports, since I do not have the money to continue to fight battles like this while running a website simultaneously.
I want to continue running Turtleboy Sports because I believe in it. I know the great things that this blog has done:
- Exposed huge scandals with the state police and probation departments
- Exposed political corruption at all levels of government
- Fought for people like teachers, cops, and firefighters
- Helped find missing and stolen pets
- Helped bring countless criminals to justice by identifying them
- Helped local businesses rebound after being unfairly attacked by mobs
- Helped victims of domestic abuse like Samantha Cardin
- Raised money for the families of people who lost loved ones in tragedies
- Helped reunite mothers with their children by liberating them from people like Michael Cadena
I could go on and on. Yes, we use colorful language often, but at the end of the day we accomplish all of those things in the process.
But the fact of the matter is that we need help, which is why I’m humbly coming to you today. In order for Turtleboy to continue we could use the following:
- An attorney who truly believes in free speech and is willing to do some pro-bono work in order to fight speech bullies like George Leontire.
- A salesman to sell advertising space in various formats on Turtleboy to local businesses. This would be on a commission basis with no ceiling. We have over 75,000 people a day visit our website. A good salesperson could find a way to monetize that, since publications like Worcester Magazine, which no one reads, are filled with ads.
- Local businesses to advertise with Turtleboy. If you own a business and you want to reach a large and growing audience, AND support free speech in the process, this is the ideal place to advertise. We will defend you to the end of the earth and turtle riders will patronize your business in order to support us.
- Donate to the Turtle fund or buy something in the Turtleboy store. We have a PayPal button, and I know a lot of you reading this have already donated, so don’t feel like you owe us anything. I don’t want to do a paywall like the Boston Globe. Instead, we want people to donate to us because they value what we do and are willing to contribute to it when possible.
- Purchase the $10 a month ad free package. This is the easiest way to help us out. If 500, out of our 75,000 daily visitors (0.5% of you), purchased this package, a lot of our problems would be solved. We wouldn’t have to worry about losing advertisers and other things that are completely out of our control. It wouldn’t help us fight the lawsuits, but it would help us continue to create content.
- We’re looking for an investor as well. Someone who sees the potential in an outlet like this and wants to take it to the next level.
I want to do this for the rest of my life. I want Turtleboy to grow and spread everywhere. I think what we do is important and makes a difference in society. But ultimately it can’t happen without your support, because the people we expose are often wealthy and will use their power to try to silence us. If Turtleboy is something you’d like to see continue then we graciously appreciate any and all help turtle riders can offer. We love you all.
Please consider supporting local journalism by donating to the Turtle fund:
Hello Turtle Riders. As you know if you follow Turtleboy we are constantly getting censored and banned by Facebook for what are clearly not violations of their terms of service. Twitter has done the same, and trolls mass reported our blog to Google AdSense thousands of times, leading to demonitization. We can get by and survive, but we could really use your help. Please consider donating by hitting the PayPal button above if you’d like support free speech and what we do in the face of Silicon Valley censorship. Or just buy our award winning book about the dangers of censorship and rise of Turtleboy: