Why We Run Ads & Sponsored Posts

elephant in the room
source: epSos .de

Let’s talk a minute about the elephant in the room, if you will: ads and sponsored posts on a blog. This blog, in particular.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Life Your Way has more ads and sponsored posts today than we did 18 months ago when we launched, and I wanted to address why we have those, what our standards are, etc.

While it’s true that our family lives off the income from my blogs (both Life Your Way and Jungle Deals & Steals) as well as some outside consulting I do, it’s important to note that we do that by living on a budget and watching our spending, not with a lavish lifestyle (although we certainly enjoy some luxuries…like Starbucks!).

In fact, a high percentage of Life Your Way’s income goes to various expenses rather than to our personal accounts.

As you may know, we currently have more than 20 paid contributors. I’ve always believed that if I’m making any profit off the blog (and in the beginning, I wasn’t), then the contributors who help make it what it is deserve to be paid. And paid well.

My vision for Life Your Way continues to be to bring multiple voices to one site, each sharing their thoughts and ideas and inspiration in one place. Having quality contributors who really know their stuff is how we do that. But in order to attract, and keep, quality contributors, it has to be worth their time. And while there traffic to be gained from posting on other sites, that benefit really decreases for regular contributors after the first few posts.

With that in mind, we have raised the contributor post rates three times since we launched in September of 2010, and we’ve set a goal of reaching a certain level in those rates by the end of 2012 as well.

On top of contributor payments, we also have web hosting, development and project expenses.

Sponsorship Standards

While sponsorship and advertising income is an important part of our financial strategy (in order to pay contributors, expenses and still walk away with income for our family), we are very picky about which sponsorship offers we accept.

I try to choose companies that I truly believe are helpful to you, our readers, or that I have personal experience with, and I turn down many offers every week because they don’t fit that vision.

Have I made mistakes and regretted a decision to post an ad or sponsored post in the past? Yes, I have. It’s a hard balance to find that line, and I don’t always do it perfectly. But my heart is to still provide quality content even when it’s being underwritten by a sponsor.

And in some cases, like this Using Naked Binders to Get Organized post or this The Great Family Size-Question post, that content does seem to really resonate with you all (as seen in the comments), and that’s a win-win for everybody!

The Future of Life Your Way

While I know some people are turned off by ads and sponsored posts, I don’t see those going away any time soon; it’s simply not feasible for us to continue to thrive and grow without them. However, I hope this gives you a little glimpse into why we do them and some perspective when you see them on the site!

I’d love to hear your thoughts; how do you feel about ads and sponsored posts on blogs in general? How about on Life Your Way in particular?