sell out

July 19, 2011 |  Category:   life rambling the biz

“Selling out” is kind of an annoying, throw away phrase, isn’t it? Like a visceral reaction to anything that goes mainstream or involves capitalism. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think when we were kids, when we were out there regularly protesting the Persian Gulf War or protesting gentrification, or animal cruelty or pretty much anything else that we could protest, we swore that we would never compromise our beliefs. We tried to live outside the mainstream as much as we could within an urban environment, be politically and socially active, and temporarily drop out of society altogether during the summer months to camp out in the woods. So when did things change? I’m not in touch with the old gang from the East Village anymore. I don’t know what’s become of everyone, but there are ways you can find snippets of information if you were really curious, and I’ve been a bit surprised to learn that some of my old friends aren’t living their lives that differently from the ideals and lifestyles that we harbored when we were teenagers and in our early 20s. Why does this surprise me? Because I don’t? Would my 19 year old self shake my head at my 41 year old self because I have a mortgage? Because I’ve worked for ad agencies hawking products that I didn’t necessarily believe in? Because I’m not a vegan anymore and I wear leather? There isn’t anything wrong with any of this, of course. Some may call it “growing up”, but it does make me confront the fact that maybe those college years for me were more about experimentation and going through some sort of phase and less about making a decision to live life according to any radical beliefs. I have to admire some of my old friends for keeping true to themselves all these years, not that I feel like I’m not, but it’s like that often quoted Talking Heads song, “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

It’s not to say that I did a complete 180 once I became an adult. I think I’ve done my best to generally avoid a corporate life and seek out projects with non profits and arts and culture clients, brief stints in ad agencies aside. But the truth is, I like buying stuff. I like wearing leather shoes (I mean I really, really like shoes). I like making money. And ok, let’s be honest, I can never camp in the woods like that ever again. Maybe for a few days, tops, but weeks would just bore me to tears.

What does this have to do with anything, you may ask? I’ve been asked why I’m so opposed to selling ads on the blog and while my strong knee-jerk reaction is “no way”, I’ve had to stop and really think about why. I guess my first thought is that advertising is literally everywhere and it’s hard to escape in the real world and online. Website, apps and blogs are resembling billboards and it gives me a headache. This is one space on the internet – my space – that I can control and keep free of advertising. This is also why if you email me to mention a product, talk about your business, donate a product for your blog giveaway, do a giveaway on my blog or write a sponsored post, I will turn you down (unless for charity in a few instances). I may occasionally write about small businesses of my friends that I want to support, but if I don’t know you then it doesn’t feel genuine to me. I want to be clear that I don’t think there is anything wrong with making money off of advertising on your blog if you have the readership to make it worthwhile, but it’s not something that feels right for me. As full disclosure, I did run a product and design blog in the mid 2000s that did make money off of ads as some of you may know, but it seemed appropriate in context there and was part of a larger network. I didn’t fully own that blog.

This decision isn’t without the occasional internal struggle, I won’t lie. My stance has been clear: no ads. But as the blog gains more readers I’m faced with a financial quandary from time to time. I will disclose that the monthly bill to host this blog on a server isn’t insignificant. It’s a real bill. As the blog attracts more readers and puts stress on the servers and I get notices from my hosting account that I’ve exceeded my bandwidth limit for yet another month and additional charges will get billed, I face the decision to upgrade servers for the 4th time which would also increase hosting costs. You might argue that the blog should be seen as a promotional vehicle for our business therefore costs should be folded into our expenses, and it is, but you and I know that this isn’t what the blog is about and I actually can’t measure how many sales are driven from blog traffic. My guess is that it’s only a few. So can I afford to keep this blog? For now, yes. In the future? I don’t know.

So I wonder sometimes, why am I so stubborn about the issue? Even though internet advertising isn’t what it used to be 5 years ago, I have a general idea of how much I could make if I sold ads on this blog. It could help pay for our health insurance. It could buy me some free time so I can focus on W&S projects that I never seem to have time for. After all, I spend so much time here. Sometimes it takes me 6 hours and lost sleep to write a single post. What is that worth?

I don’t know what the answer is, my friends. Some of you have expressed that you would be disappointed if I started selling ads. I wouldn’t worry as I still don’t think I could do it and I’d feel I was being hypocritical on something I feel pretty strongly about. I always believed if I had the ability to earn money by other means, I wouldn’t earn money through the blog. But sometimes I do wonder if I’m being stupid by turning stuff down, including a recent decision to turn down a crazy opportunity that would perhaps be a real shot at my 15 minutes of fame because it didn’t align with my beliefs.

Stupid integrity.

The girls had their first lemonade stand of the season this weekend. They made 10 dollars.

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  • dolittledesign July 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I have to disagree with you on your last remark in the post. * Stupid integrity * You may have to struggle/suffer to keep integrity but it is not stupid. I confess I will probably be one of those who will be ‘disappointed’ if you should start to put on ads here. Disappointed not necessarily for the ‘integrity’ issue that are being discussed here… but ultimately it is your blog. You have the control over what your blog should be (with ads or without ads) and your readers have the choice to read or not to read. No, you did not (and absolutely don’t need to) ask for permission to have ads here but I appreciate this honest sharing of thoughts and discussion.

  • Tee July 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I recently love and fell in love with your blog. Your photos and writing have so much substance and speak to me in a lot of ways. I would hate to lose this source of inspiration, so if that means ads, DO IT. Use the extra cash to take some of burden off yourself, get some awesome health insurance, take an extra vacation, buy TWO bottles of wine a month, get some shoes. Have fun with it. But, let’s skip ads for Walmart, Vagisil or the NRA, shall we? 😉

  • C.K. July 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Have you considered moving your blog over to Tumblr? You get custom domain mapping and they cover the hosting.

    Or, you can make it even more simple and just add a Tumblr to your existing blog (so you can keep this blog intact and perhaps move to a Tumblr for future posts) Austin Kleon’s Tumblr design is integrated to the rest of website so it’s seamless: http://www.austinkleon.com/

  • Jill July 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Oh boy can I ever relate to this post. Where to start? I absolutely agree that the financial cost of running a blog isn’t insignificant, and advertising is an easy route to take to offset the cost. Choosing to sell ads doesn’t *feel* creative, though, and I think that’s the main crux. I suspect it would feel like you’re trading on your creative capital for someone to monetize your content. (On a side note, I think it’s good to talk about these costs because omg I apparently need to contact Anna’s web hosting company.)

    On the flip side, I think there are a lot of ways creative types can use advertising methods to financially bolster their content — I am in no way offended by Amazon referral links (or any referral links, for that matter) because the people I look to as tastemakers take the time to curate content, and if I can ‘tip’ them through using their referral links, it’s my pleasure. Same goes for featured bloggers / creatives (see: Anna’s awesome rotating sidebar links which are more like gold stars).

    Personally, I’d love to see you post more links to the W&S and SFD Etsy stores and advertise your own goods on your posts! When people aggregate content in RSS readers, it’s easy to forget the links to those sites and it maybe it could make a difference on your big-traffic days to convert sales and spread the word more? (ugh, I know)

    You know, I’ve always wished there was a grassroots ‘small business directory’ for creative service professionals and indie retailers alike that helped unify exposure to fairly established businesses like yours and discover new up-and-comers. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve started searching for a web developer and thrown my hands up in frustration after searching and searching. And for creative retailers, I can’t wait until it’s easier for small businesses to use referral link technology for their own personal webstores too! (I’ve started looking into that for my future webstore… will share more hopefully soon!)

    Okay, now my head is going to explode. Thanks for this post, Jenna! Lots to chew on…

  • Julia's Bookbag July 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Girlfriend, if your blog is trafficked enough to an extent that putting in ads would net you revenue for health insurance, I think you should GO FOR IT. I recently found your blog and love it and I would love it just the same if it had ads. I’m a recent entry to the blog world and I have to admit I am stymied by the ad / no ad conundrum. I am so proud to have my one sponsor, whom I sought out purposely because I loved their inventory so much! Just my thoughts, other may disagree. Life isn’t free and professional authors get paid, does that make them sell-outs? — why should bloggers be any different? If payment comes in the form of ad revenue, and it’s tastefully done by sponsors approved by you, I just don’t see how it’s nothing but a win-win situation. KEEP UP THE AWESOME! ~Melissa

  • Misha July 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Goodness. So torn because I pride myself in having a sterling reputation in regards to my integrity, as they say, the only things that will be left in this world when we have gone are the words we spoke to others and how it made them feel and our integrity. That being said, I think Jesse really summed it up quite nicely, “Be choosy with your ads if you want, accept ads from small businesses or artists, give them a platform to meet like-minded customers while paying for your blog. Or don’t.” I think you are providing such a breath of fresh air for many people out there. You have a way with words and voice things that most people have a hard time articulating anyway. Times are changing and if it is now that you have to re-evaluate because of the changing times…well, mother knows best 🙂
    You have a fabulous blog.

  • JLF July 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve been reading for a few months and very much enjoy your posts — especially as I try to maintain a freelance career with some corporate earnings (my old job in NYC), pursue the interests I followed in grad school (education/writing classes for low-income adults: see Write Around Portland and Free Minds), and have children (2 year old boy, and surprise! twin boys on the way. Did NOT see that one coming). Like Juliet, I have been very moved and inspired by your blog over the last few months, and it’s like my treat on the Internet when I really need to be returning emails or cramming in some work. It’s also helped me feel much less alone with the discussion about earning money while juggling kids and waking up at 4 am to finish assignments. I also keep thinking about your new Zen self that didn’t freak out with the car breaking down in Carolina. I can completely identify.

    But I’m also writing to suggest a Kickstarter campaign. A project I’m involved with (the Looplore Experiment, a summer camp for adults in Oregon) recently raised $5K mostly through people we know. I think your blog is definitely an artistic project/endeavor, and I know I would donate money to help continue your blog ad-free and cover related server costs, etc. It could help buy you another year or so of blogging without eating the expenses yourself as you work on figuring all of this out… Good luck!

  • Em July 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I love your blog and totally get why you don’t want ads and I have to say it’s such a pleasure to read without all those annoying busy ads down the side. I find them distracting but that said, I LOVE your blog and would still read you.

  • Hypatia July 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and have really enjoyed it. If it’s costing you a lot of money to run the blog, then having a few ads to cover those costs doesn’t mean you’re selling out. You’re not doing it to make money, you’re doing it to cover costs, to keep going. Most of your readers will understand, and all of them would miss your blog if you decided to close it down

  • sandra July 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    you are one of the few bloggers that dont advertise and i have to say i love it. it feels like a beautiful diary and also the designer in me loves the white spaces that are not filled up with the usual noise advertising brings.

    i also think keeping it free it will become this amazing capsule you will give your daughters when they are older. keep everything so they will to be able to enjoy the woman you are in your 40’s by reading these posts.

    but alas ….if the ads can pay for healthcare then i would probably do it too.

    best of luck

  • Abby July 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    JLF’s Kickstarter idea is kind of awesome.

  • Sandy July 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    you’ll know what’s right. i love reading your blog. your photos are top notch and gorgeous. best of luck always…

  • Hannah July 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I pay for magazines, and your blog is of the same quality but we don’t pay for it. I wouldn’t mind a bit if you had some ads to help support the blog.

  • kate July 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I really struggled with putting ads on my blog for a long time, and while I’ve only done it for a few months now, it’s been a great experience. I don’t make THAT much money, but it’s helpful side cash to run my blog and help with expenses like film and server costs that totally add up. Plus I think of it as a mutual thing – someone advertising on my blog helps me, and I help their small business with exposure, and introducing people to cool things I endorse. I’ve met a lot of cool small business owners through it, and so far haven’t had to turn down anyone because only awesome people have wanted to advertise and I have strict rules about what types of ads I’ll run.

    I’m sure at some point I’ll have to run an ad I’m not crazy about, but for now it works for me, and I don’t worry about what other people think in my quest for making a living through my passions and get out of the corporate world. (oh, that word is kind of barfy, but you get me:)

  • Melanie July 19, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I guess that when I think about advertising, my mind doesn’t immediately go to the “ads are annoying” place. I mean looking through fashion magazines and having to turn 50 pages that smell like flowers before you get to an article that you want to read (or in some cases, ANY article at all) can be super annoying. But when I think about blog advertising, I think about UPPERCASE Magazine. It doesn’t have many ads and I’m actually interested in seeing the carefully curated ones that are featured because maybe I’ll learn about a cool new thing. Surely the ads will be good sources of info because I love the magazine so much. Same goes for blogs that I love. I would be interested to see ads featured on Sweet Fine Day because hey, Jenna must think they’re great and her blog is awesome. Plus, even though you do write your blog for yourself, you’re providing amazing content and a place for people to interact and make new friends and I would feel good about you receiving some sort of income from that. Just wanted share another perspective. 🙂

  • Gina July 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    This is an ad-free blog. It seems there’s always been just a hint of self-righteousness in that assertion. Urg, it kind of reminds me of the whole battle between “art” vs craft. I understand (and cherish) that your blog is a creative personal expression, and that the idea of hosting ads on your blog smacks of a kind of sleazy commercialism. But why? You hate when bands and artists are accused of selling out so why would you hold yourself to a stricter set of rules? You are an artist. You are a writer. Your blog is an expression of these talents. What you post has meaning and value–it’s worth something to a lot of us.

    Why would accepting advertising make you feel uncomfortable? Would having sponsors undermine the integrity of your writing and photography? Would ads make what you share less meaningful (and helpful to the tribe)? Would it make you feel a little embarrassed to accept money for something so personal? Would it ruin your street cred or make your expression less legitimate? I am a designer who sold out my fine art aspirations, so I understand these angst inducing sentiments. But if allowing advertising on your blog helps you to disentangle from some of your soul-crushing corporate jobs so you can concentrate on your writing and photography, it’s a no brainer. It might be a little bruising to the ego, but if sponsorship allows you to spend more time on your art (and your family) I just don’t feel like it’s selling out. And I’m right there with Juliet, I’ll read the ads, if it means I can still read your words–and see your photos.

  • Chris July 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    i will read your blog either way. i love it. having ads doesn’t affect the content right?

  • Lily July 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I wouldnt be dissapointed at all if you had ads. i love your blog too much!

  • valerie July 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I used to feel the same way as you, only on a much smaller scale, but i realized that my aversion to ads on blogs was really just an aversion to corporate ads or ads that are not in line with the content or philosophy of the blog. SouleMama, for instance, does a good job curating her ads to her own lifestyle and readership.
    Besides, many people read blogs through readers now anyway and you wouldn’t need to have them show that way. I for one, would not hold it against you, but I understand your hesitation.

  • Emma July 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I’m one of those people who talks about selling out – during my upbringing, teens/early 20s years I was all about the little guy, the worker, supporting my community and I still am. But do I shop at big supermarkets or buy big brand name items sometimes? Sure! I don’t feel good about it and while most of the time I’m an ethical consumer, it stresses me out worrying all the time about whether the item I’m buying is fair trade, organic, is supporting the environment, is animal/dolphin friendly, is supporting the community I live in, isn’t making money for a big corporation, has no additives … I become quite anxious thinking about how ethically aware we’re all expected to be now. Sometimes I just want a mars bar you know?

    I prefer not to see ads on the sites I go to but accept them because it’s a reality of the internet. Like it’s a reality that we have to pay to read more than ten articles of some online newspapers, I don’t like it, but I understand it. It costs money to run sites, that’s a fact.

    Do what feels right for you but don’t worry about your readers. They’ll come back (or some might not) as people do … I doubt ads will figure very much into it other than a minor annoyance. Your content obviously resonates with people and I’m sure that would continue.

  • Anne July 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I think ads are fine. Sure if money were no object it would be nice to have this blog be a safe haven from all of that, but I would not think less of you all for having ads. It’s not like you are selling out by say working for a company that treats it’s labor overseas horribly or working on an ad campaign for for a tobacco company. I assume from you’ll have some food buzz adds and the other stuff other foodie blogs allow. Not a big deal at all.

  • Andrea July 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Well done to your little sweethearts! I created a service as a little kid where my buddies and I would walk to our neighbors’ doors with a tray of already poured lemonade. It worked a treat but how pushy! Your thoughts would weigh on my mind too. I run a home-based business with my husband that has been a great success, but I find it a tad soul-crushing. I find that it greatly helps me to take a moment each day to stand back and look at the big picture – we can afford to buy expensive (and rising) health insurance, treat our pups to pricy and healthy dog food, sustain my own personal shoe addiction and so on. We don’t have children yet, but it is such a comfort knowing we will be able to provide the important necessities without great stress. If it were me, I would look at the new income as a lovely cherry on top of your creative outlet that many others really do enjoy 🙂

  • Jules July 19, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Just a small point to add to the discussion, but I really don’t like ads that flash and dance and move all over the page while I’m trying to read! They are really distracting and personally, I avoid blogs with ads like these. These types of ads would detract from the simple beauty and styling of your blog, photos and content – the reason we all love and admire your blog. If you can find ads that are simple and discreet, then I am totally all for you earning a bit from this site. You put the effort in everyday for us, so you should get something back if you can.

  • kate quirk July 20, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Jenna, do what you have to do. It’s ok to make life a bit easier and knowing you -you will choose ads that are aesthetically pleasing and a compliment to your blog. There is art in advertising too.

  • Heather M July 20, 2011 at 2:55 am

    So torn on this one. I hate the thought that you would turn down an opportunity to make part of your living from your writing and/or photography. Those are things worth paying for in the world, and ads seem like just an indirect way of doing that.

    At the same time – to me it’s a piece of art, and letting someone else put their tag on it in the form of an ad seems off too.

    Maybe in a situation like this, there’s a compromise – it could be the content and format and quantities of the ads make a difference. Maybe small ads from sponsors you like yourself are a way of making the blog sustainable for you, and giving us a chance to enjoy it longer than we’d be able to if you had to support it all yourself.

  • Karo July 20, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I really don’t mind ads, if the blog has substance. If you select carefully, those can be even useful to your readers. I wouldn’t see it as a loss of integrity – it does not change the content after all and I for one, will be coming back every day as I find your blog incredibly inspiring.

  • quyen huynh July 20, 2011 at 3:54 am

    jenna, i think you should do what you can to take care of the family. at the end of the day, the ads are annoying but knowing that it pays some of your bills mean it is a good thing.

    in this economic environment, i feel good that a small biz like your is striving one way or another.

    take care of your family. that is the priority. we, the readers will always adjust.

    xo,

    q

  • Chai Ling July 20, 2011 at 4:26 am

    It is good that you have the internal struggle, Jenna. That means you will ‘filter’ through all ads that come to you. For the past two years that I have been reading your blog, I have strong faith that you will only accept and post the worthwhile ads that it might pay you lower fee than the others that would pay you well.

    Honestly, I would love to know what other brands or products you use or prefer (through your ads), so that i can like it too :p I know. I am that kinda huge fan of SFD. Keep the blog and post some ads that you support and share it with us. why not? =) just some humble thoughts i have.

  • joyce July 20, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Pls. do what you have to do, but don’t end this blog. It is one of my daily fixes.

    reader from the Philippines

  • Helle (Helen) July 20, 2011 at 5:45 am

    Like I wrote under your second breadwinner blog entry, yours is one of the few blogs that make me stop and think about a lot of things. I also enjoy your photography and posts that are just about daily life. Would it bother me if there were adds? No. So many blogs have them and I really have no problem “not seeing them”. Why would making some money towards covering your costs for this blog be selling out?

  • Mary Anne July 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I have been reading your blog for almost two years and it’s my daily read! You need to look after yourself and your family, so if that means ads so be it. I dont mind ads at all. Lots of blogs have them. As a commenter said, when we read magazines there are ads – why not??? Keep up the great work. Dont worry so much about what people think…(as if I can talk LOL!!! I always care too much about what people think!!!) I think you have heaps of integrity!!! ads or no ads, it doesnt make me think differently about you! Love to you all x

  • Stéphanie July 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    😉

  • Jessica kraus July 20, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I think most of your readers are opposed to seeing adds on blogs – but that doesn’t mean we would stop reading simply because you choose to. Your blog is inspiring because of how honest and real you keep it. I doubt anything cheesy would make it’s way on here 🙂

  • Lulu July 20, 2011 at 11:00 am

    After reading this post, i went over my most favorite blogs, and the weird thing is, i did not even realize that most of my favorite blogs are ad free. I guess my attraction to these blogs are the cleanliness of their site. Would it be possible to bring in ads that would not be intrusive? I dont know, but maybe you can be the first one to try.

  • Funaek July 20, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I think you have to do what is right for you and your family and what you can be happy with. I used to be anti-ads, but you know I can’t fault someone for trying to make money from their blog, especially to maintain such an excellent blog like this one. A lot of people do a LOT worse to make money in every industry. Now I don’t really care about ads so long as they aren’t overly intrusive (like crazy pop-ups or making me click to skip ads and move onto the next page). I agree with others that I’d rather see this blog continue with ads than without. And even if you were to include ads, it wouldn’t make me think any differently about you and your integrity.

  • Aya July 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I understand and respect your stance. However, I wouldn’t be turned off by you or your blog if you had a few personally chosen, subtle ads (like A Cup of Jo…I even like seeing what she’s chosen sometimes). You’re not trying to exploit your loyal readers, just trying to cover your costs. I would rather you be able to continue your blog, and perhaps have your blog relieve some financial stress too. Do whatever you wish, but I’ll be here reading.

  • nicole July 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    i agree with many of the comments – do want you want (and need) to do. i’ve been a reader for literally years and wouldn’t give a rip if ads suddenly appeared. it’s clear that they would be well curated choices from great little businesses and obviously not a blinking Walmart banner. besides, it’s not as though blogs need to be a community service. they are in fact a form of pleasure reading – a little glimpse into someone’s life that takes time and money to produce.

  • Linda July 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    @Juliet How does your husband feel about being the stay-at-home dad? My boyfriend & I are reaching that stage in our lives where we’ll be thinking about whether or not to have kids and how we would take care of them… the way things are headed right now, the only way it would work is if I worked full-time and he scaled back & took care of the kids. I’m nervous about asking him to take on that role, of placing it on him, of him possibly ending up not being happy. I don’t know what to do, do you have any advice? How did it affect your relationship?

  • Linda July 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Jenna– I just started reading your blog and it’s already one of my favorites. Couldn’t you try out having ads on your blog and if for whatever reason you decide that it’s not right for you, take them off? I think it’s worth trying.

  • Visty July 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    For me, the problem with ads seems to be that the sudden obligation often changes the content. The blogger feels that presence, no matter how much she tries to ignore it. The blog becomes commercialized, and the content becomes commercialized. I have no problem with bloggers writing for money. Hell, what published writer doesn’t? I do think it’s a fine line, because one day you’d wake up and say, “will my readers like this?” That is one question I never ask myself, but I know I would if I depended on numbers.

  • stacy July 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    For what it’s worth, I would definately keep reading your blog if you decide to have ads. The fact that it weighs so heavy on you, and that you are placing such signifigance on the decision, shows me even further what I already thought about you: that you are a thoughtful and caring person. That you think about consequences. It really shouln’t bother someone to see ads if they enjoy the content of what they are reading. I’m quite certain that people’s decisions on whether to make money from ads are as varied as the contents of their blogs. It is one thing to have a ton of big name flashy ads soley for profit. It is another to have tasteful ads for companies you beleive in to help support your passion. You do what you need to do to help run the blog that we all enjoy visiting!

  • Jill July 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Good on you! There have been so many blogs out there who have started carrying ads that they, both the blog and the ads become distracting, aesthetically and in significance. It’s one thing to like money but it’s a whole other thing to want to make money all the time. I’d rather read about your daily triumphs and struggles than about the next big thing…. Love your blog, especially the whole small business aspect of it!

  • v July 21, 2011 at 12:38 am

    i’ve had ads on my site for about 5 years now, and i’ve never once considered myself a sell-out. i don’t post about anything i don’t believe in, and i think i stay pretty true to my nature. what you see is what you get.

    the reason i took on ads was twofold – i was primarily sick of working in advertising (ironic, huh?) and i was sick of making money for other people who were selling products i didn’t believe in – like war video games for kids. gross.

    i took on ads that helped promote indie artists, and that is still the bulk of my advertisers. i discount ads to etsy sellers and independent retailers, helping to promote small business. so for me, and i think for them, it’s a win-win. most come back month after month, and i’ve helped them to make a living doing what they love. that feels good. and that’s the second reason i took on ads. so that i can make an independent living, doing what i love, and not work for the ‘man’. i feel good about that.

    so, with all that said, if you take on the kind of ads that you can feel good about, and helps support your family, i just can’t imagine why your readers wouldn’t be okay with that. but that’s just me. you seem like one of the most honest and straightforward people i’ve encountered online. i doubt that’s going to change. ads or no ads.

  • Louise July 21, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Would other forms of income generation be as distasteful to you as advertising? Consider giving your readers the opportunity to financially support you – either voluntarily or via a required membership fee. I’ve even seen some sites make some content available for free but have a premium level that requires payment.

    You could set it at as nominal a level as you wished and generate a transparent income stream that perhaps wouldn’t feel like it had undermined your integrity in the way that advertising would. Needing money to support your family is just a reality for most of us.

  • My Brave New Life July 21, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I’ve only recently found your blog and I love it! I understand your dilemma and if it too uncomfortable for you, you shouldn’t do it. But just to let you know, I wouldn’t mind. If the ads are related to what you write about, i wouldn’t mind at all. I also think that being around so many ads all the time we are becoming better at turning off and only seeing the ones you want to see. And if it pays for health insurance…

  • dolittledesign July 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss

  • choco_marsh July 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I just stumbled upon your blog last week through Cup of Jo and was immediately hooked. I think as long as ads don’t change the quality and content of your writing, they are advertising their product – not you. We all do what we need to do, but I hope you’ll keep publishing here.

  • Kathy July 22, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Hi Jenna,
    I also started reading your blog recently after the feature on Cup of Jo. I wouldn’t mind terribly if you put up ads, but I love the clean look of your blog; it’s very refreshing to look at compared to most of the others that I read. I don’t know if I should be embarrassed by this, but I became so immediately intrigued by your blog that I read dozens of pages back to October 2009… Wow. I feel that, although I’m 21, I can relate to a lot of your posts, and I feel inspired by the others. You make me look forward to becoming a mom (hopefully someday)! I’m a second-generation Korean-American, though I never really fit in with my Korean peers, perhaps because I wasn’t “Korean enough”; I’m a senior in college in Los Angeles; I grew up with a sister 2.5 years older whom I admired almost fanatically (she was often annoyed with me for wanting to copy her all the time, but I remained her number one fan); I am applying to vet schools this summer; and I’ve been a vegetarian for 8 years now. I think those are the main “topics”/similarities I found with elements of your life (although the vet thing resonates more with your brother’s). Anyway, I didn’t want to be a complete lurker, and wanted to say hello. You have a beautiful life and a way with words that makes one pause to think about issues often swept under the rug, and confront ourselves concerning our own honest and real insecurities and fears. I’m thankful I came across your blog. Whether or not you decide you need the ads (or the other ways to make money with a blog, as suggested by the other comments), I hope you don’t ever stop writing! =)

  • Theresa July 22, 2011 at 5:45 am

    I understand the want not to have ads on you blog as it is a personal space but all things considered don’t we all advertise one thing or another every day. The clothes/shoes we wear, the car we drive etc. Then there are the items we covet and then write about on our blogs. I understand that it’s not exactly the same but come on… You have something that people want (your stories, your photos, your thoughts about life/parenting) and I therefore everyone needs to just deal with it if you decide to go for ads. But, is that what this is about, us? It is more probably about YOU and how YOU feel. You may be feeling like you are selling out. Am I right?
    While I do like and admire you for being ad free I would understand the choice to have ads. Selling out would be adapting your blog to the demands of the market or in this case the advertisers. Yes, having the ads is a change in that it is an addition but as long as you don’t modify the content of your blog (life stories, your fearlessness in truth telling, your photos, etc) then I think that you shouldn’t even give a thought to this being about selling out.

  • Natasha July 23, 2011 at 1:46 am

    My initial response was that I dislike blogs with ads because they become such messy, visually busy (ugly) spaces and I much prefer calm, uncluttered blog spaces like yours. BUT I had no idea that running a blog costs you money!!! I’m obviously a bit naive about such things…. So now my response is that you should do what you need to do. I don’t know that I would have the “integrity” to undermine my family’s financial stability for a blog. I love your blog – I’d rather read you with ads than not read you at all….

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