For the last two years, I’ve been selling weekly sponsored link-posts, much like Daring Fireball’s, and they’ve done very well during most of that time, earning more than Amazon referrals and the Deck ads combined.
They were always very easy to sell, staying booked solid for months ahead of time. But in the last few months, sponsor interest vanished, despite my traffic and subscriber numbers remaining high.1 I asked around, and they all said the same thing: they stopped seeing enough clickthroughs.
I have some theories. Maybe I lost a lot of reader attention in the post-Google Reader fragmentation, or some of the Reader replacements make people less likely to click sponsored links. Maybe I’ve saturated the audience with repeat sponsors. Maybe so many similar sites started offering sponsored posts in the last couple of years that our readers are burning out on the format. But it’s probably just me and my site. Whatever the reason, they stopped working.
Saving them would probably require:
- Adding substantial value, such as by doubling the number of posts (one at the beginning of the week and one at the end). But I don’t have enough post volume to support that without being annoying to readers, the chances of making a meaningful difference are low, and this is the sort of thing you can never really roll back.
- Reducing the price by a lot. But booking, invoicing, coordinating, editing, and publishing them all have opportunity costs, and if I need to significantly reduce the price, that time is better spent on other projects.2
- Doing more proactive selling, such as by posting more often here and on Twitter about selling sponsorships. But that’s really just more reader annoyance, it takes more time, and I’m just not comfortable doing it.
The cost of saving my sponsorships is too high for my tolerance and the nature of this site, so I’ve decided to stop selling them. Thank you to all of my former sponsors for supporting this site so well for the last two years.
Generally, sponsored links have made a shockingly high amount of money compared to other ads, affiliate links, paywalls, paid memberships, and donations. (Probably combined.) I don’t expect to replace their income, but I still make decent money from the other sources,3 and I’m fortunate that I have multiple jobs. In fact, I’m looking forward to losing the tedious job of selling sponsorships: it will give me more time for Overcast and my actual writing here.
Regardless of money, I’ll continue writing this site for the same reasons, and at the same frequency, that I always have: I love writing, and I must write. This is a creative outlet first and a business second.
Maybe everyone hates the new font. ↩︎
This is probably the biggest reason why I shouldn’t make sponsorships work again. ↩︎
I’ve been planning to put up a “Store” section where I combine all of my various reviewed and recommended products into one big page with one-liner descriptions and Amazon affiliate links. Would that be useful? ↩︎