And another thing

Since I’m apparently now asking you guys how to run my own website, I’ve got another one for you. In for a penny, in for a pound…

In the last year or two, I’ve been getting more and more approaches for advertising on I’ve always batted them away, for two good reasons:

  • I don’t need the money (well, obv it would be nice… but you know what I mean. I have an income already, for the time being. I don’t need supplements. Plus the cash on offer for small lineage ads ain’t gonna buy me a Ferrari)
  • I never intended to run a commercial website. I didn’t start it to make money, I don’t work on it for money. I do it because I love it, and believe in what I’m doing. If I recommend something to you, it’s because I genuinely believe in it. I don’t do affiliate marketing, I don’t have paid-for links anywhere. Because I don’t want you – ever – to suspect my motives or truthfulness. I fear that once I start to take cash for ads, or for links, I’m starting down a slippery slope

I mention this only because the small trickle of requests has turned into something of a flood recently. Why this changes anything, I don’t quite know. It shouldn’t. Principles are principles… right?

But somehow I feel like I should at least ask you guys what you think. Would you give the tiniest shit if I were making £58 a year from the site? Does it matter – either way? If I continue to set my face against any kind of commercial input, am I missing an opportunity to take the site in a different/better direction?

Are there some forms of money that are OK to take, but not others? For instance, is there a difference between taking cash for ads clearly marked as such… and taking cash for undeclared links (which I tend to feel are dishonest)?

Or should I just get over myself, take the cash, be bloody grateful it’s on offer, buy myself a few pina coladas and not be such a fucking diva?

18 Responses to “And another thing”

  1. Chzplz Says:

    Take the money. Google text ads and obvious banner ads are fine. Just don’t do editorial ads for sponsored products unless you clearly identify that you received compensation.

  2. The Idiot Gardener Says:

    Trust me, for the few quid it just ain’t worth the hassle.

  3. Soilman Says:

    Well, that’s my instinct TIG. I’ve already had several offers from folks offering derisory sums for rather specific ad needs (“ad must be no less than X by Y and with due prominence on such-and-such page” etc etc).

    I tend to think: “If you want to dictate to me in that kind of detail, you’ll have to pay a whole lot more than two tenths of fuck all.

    “And furthermore, go fuck yourself.”

  4. Mike Says:

    Regardless of whether or not you have any ads on your site I will continue to enjoy reading your posts and viewing your videos.

  5. carrie Says:

    I just say no thank you. Not my cup of tea and I have my own things I want to write about. But as long as a blog clearly says – ‘look I’ve been paid to review this’ and the review is honest then what the heck!

  6. Jaette Says:

    Were I in your shoes (this is and always will be a hypothetical) I wouldn’t bother to consider it until the sums were truly tempting.

    I have been following the site for a few years and I’d still continue to read it. But if you are thinking about new readers, I for one immediately dismiss those, in my view, pathetically commercial bogs with podcasts and books to hock. This includes a few on your blogroll.

    If you love working on this blog, make them pay you well enough to offset the infringement upon the freedom of expression in this space you have built for yourself. If they won’t, tell them sod off!

  7. Geek Scholar Female Parent Says:

    Hi Soilman, I have been enjoying your blog for couple of years. I like it without ads. I think they would somehow detract from your uncompromising frankness. As you say, you don’t need the money. Having said that, should your financial circumstances change, then it would make perfect sense to use advertising revenue to support your craft.

  8. Vic Says:


    You’ve got a great site here and I don’t think it would matter much to anyone whether or not you put the ads up or not. Do what YOU want to do. The folks who enjoy visiting will still come!

  9. kelzibear Says:

    Hi Soilman,
    I have only recently started reading your blog, and it wouldn’t bother me if there were adverts. If you feel funny about taking money for it perhaps consider giving it to charity instead. In Plymouth we have a charity (recently shown on Secret Millionaire) which teaches people about gardening and growing veg etc called Diggin It (I think). I’m sure there are probably similar projects all over the place. Just another option. Loving the rants! And the videos – very useful!

  10. allotofveg Says:

    Would you still be able to swear as much if you had sponsors?
    Might tip my vote…

  11. Angie Says:

    I like your blog the way it is. Every link is to something useful and educational. No slimey adverts mucking up the screen, no pop-up ads that refuse to go away no matter how many times I press X. Sure, I’m getting information for free, and I thank you for that, but if money isn’t the issue, why go there?

  12. Tanya Walton Says:

    Hi Soilman…I have been following your blog for a few years now and thoroughly enjoy it. As for Ad’s…I really couldn’t care less whether you take them or leave them. I can’t be bothered with them myself as i don’t want to be dictated to where I can put what etc…but if you decide to take on ads it won’t make any difference to me…I’ll still visit the site…I just won’t click on the ads!! After all, accepting ads isn’t going to change what you write.

  13. Jerry C. Says:

    Dear S-man,

    If small, forward-thinking EU companies similar to the US companies, Territorial Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange want to promote offerings of heirloom seed varieties why not give them an opportunity? I’d be very interested in procuring old-world Euro seeds, particularly rutabaga, melons, peas, or broccoli that are rare in the US. Same goes for some old-world food preservation equipment like crocks. And lastly, where the heck can I get those “root-trainers” that you use to set your leeks up with. The guy that makes “root-trainers” would make a fortune from US gardeners if he advertised his product on your site; we don’t have anything like that on this side of the pond…

    However, if Archer Daniels Midland or Monsanto believes you’re site is ripe for an offering of GMO corn; well, I say, tell ’em to bugger-off!

    BTW, your site is great; and if you do decide to help promote interesting, socially conscious companies, limit the number of ads and/or share space by rotating a set number through the available ad space. Me thinks if you consider this venture as a public service, rather than an enterprise, you’ll maintain the high level of integrity that you’ve composted to date.

  14. mediaOrganic Says:

    Truth be told, I have Google ads all over my site. I pay US $8.95/month to my web host for my WordPress sites and I feel that I should have a way to offset the costs of running my blogs. The money generated from click throughs right now barely covers my hosting cost, but at least I’m not losing money. I don’t use free blogging sites because they don’t afford me the range of options to allow me the design I want. Plus I get to stretch my skills with HTML, CSS and PHP in the process.

    Some words of advice, if you’re going to accept prepaid display adds (a bird in the hand, you know) you should establish an editorial policy as to the types of ads you will accept and the limitations on how and where they are to be displayed. You drive the bus. If the advertisers won’t accept them then they can “bugger off”. (Did I use that term appropriately?)

    BTW, kudos to you for your videos. I run a video production company (health care) and know how much time it takes to throw even a simple project together. You should not feel guilt over accepting compensation for your efforts. Engaging content is still engaging, with or without ads.

    So here’s another idea – go back to your sponsors and offer to insert a billboard ad for their company in one of your videos – for three times the “quid”. :~)

  15. VP Says:

    I agonised over this for absolutely ages. Then one day I calculated the costs of running my blog, likely increased costs this year and how much I’d spent going to extra things that I wouldn’t have done without the blog.

    It was quite an eye opener.

    Then like you pukka companies started getting in touch who’d actually read the blog instead of all those rubbish generic USA emails where they tell you you’re a great mom blogger (ha – no kids, so guess what, that’s going straight in the bin) who’d love to do great business with you.

    I’ve decided to go down the paid banner/text link route, so stuff is still well within my control. Everything is clearly marked as an advert and I’ve adopted the Blog With Integrity code of practice. Reviews of stuff are reserved for Sundays (though not exclusively), so the rest of the week is left clear for 3 blog posts of my own choosing. All reviews are honest ones.

    No adsense, no paid blog posts that read like advertorials. And everything in my own words and under my control. I still turn down stuff I’m not happy with too.

    I won’t earn a fortune, but it’s helping to prevent our savings from dwindling as quickly as they were until November last year.

    AND (drumroll please) at last I’m getting writing commissions too 🙂

    Happy to continue this conversation by email if you want to …

  16. Soilman Says:

    Many thanks to everyone who’s commented on this topic… and for the support many of you were so kind to offer. I was very interested to read all your views.

    After careful thought, and taking into account everything you guys said, I’ve decided to stick to my original decision.

    In the end, I feel, the only thing I would gain from taking any money would be, er, the money. Which I don’t really need. And which is unlikely ever to amount to more than a low three figures pa – at best.

    The day I see benefits over and above the small income (or my life goes tits up and I suddenly need the cash), I’ll rethink.

    But for now, remains stubbornly amateur and unfunded. And I feel oddly relieved to have moved beyond this.

  17. VP Says:

    Always good to talk these things through and if you’re relieved, then you’ve made the right decision for you 🙂

  18. Richard @ contentetc Says:

    I know you so there will be no restriction of freedom of expression. There could be the annoyance of the ads: if you can keep them confined, then take the money. Money is, after all, a universal medium: I can’t understand people who give money back to dodgy sources: you’ve liberated it, you fool. So take it.