Inspiration, Small Business

Welcome Sponsors

January 9, 2007

A few blog readers really hate blog ads. They still click ’em and make purchases, but deep down inside, they wish they didn’t have to see them. I’ve read about 10 comments on this from the survey I’m currently running. I was one of haters too until I started blogging myself and realized how much of a win/win they are for both blogger and advertiser.

Welcome Sponsors
Advertisers: It’s a win for them because they’re gaining exposure for their small business. Have you ever contacted a magazine or the Daily Candy for ad prices? Into the thousands for a tiny ad, sometimes over $10,000- USD for a single placement. Sure, they reach a broader audience, and I love them all so no negative energy here, but most who advertise have the cash allocated to put themselves out there like that. I sure don’t, and I know that other small guys don’t have that kind of money to invest. Case in point: My friend launched a business recently and she barely has money to purchase supplies to create her wares. That’s very common sometimes and nothing to feel ashamed of, it’s tough to advertise when you are living on ramen noodles and just trying to make it until tomorrow.

Blogs charge so little for ad space in comparison to the major glossies. Advertisers want to be where the action is – the blog that people are turning to on a regular basis for their design fix. This is why you will continue to see more and more advertisers looking to the more popular blogs for ad space. It just makes sense for them and for the bloggers who are really churning out the posts and working hard on their sites and who are really putting themselves out there as a resource.

Bloggers: On the flipside, advertising assists bloggers like me to keep going, daily, without let up. It’s also a huge push to blog on days when I’m sick or have work or family business to take care of. Even when I was in Germany for two months, I was still here, front and center, blogging every day. Sure, my German family thought I was a bit mad, but I didn’t want to let down my readers, and I didn’t want to annoy my sponsors by slacking off.

I appreciate sponsors, and although some of you (like 10) dislike seeing the ads, I know that most of you really appreciate having their presence here on the blog because, like so many of you, they represent a small business trying to keep it real. They’re up against the big boxers and by positioning themselves on blogs, they’re attracting more customers and able to stay afloat. And that’s good.

With that, I’d like to welcome some new sponsors that I’ve been meaning to introduce you to. Some have been around for several weeks already, but here’s a list anyway.

Green Tea Design – So many gorgeous pieces to select from, I don’t know where to start. I have my eye on a few dressers that I’d love to paint teal with a lacquer finish. Mmmmm.

Nazmiyal Rugs – Based in NYC, these guys have the most gorgeous rugs ever.

Imooi – Modern, stylish accessories from handbags to amazing cufflinks.

Charming Sam – Lovely jewelry and lots of butterflies. I want it all, but have my eyes on this one and this one for Spring.

Truche – Handmade accessories, prints, and graphic design services.

With all that being said, what do you think about blog ads? Any suggestions or comments? I think it’s a worthwhile thread to start, if someone wants to throw out a few thoughts (and if it would help you in some way). I’ve had sponsors on the blog for nearly a year now, so if you have ad related questions, comment below and I’ll see if I can help answer them because I’d like to be a resource if I can. I’ve lost count of all the questions I’ve been asked concerning blog ads, so if you’ve emailed me and I’ve not replied yet, either stay tuned or comment in the space below for a quicker turn around.

(image from afo)


  • Reply Design Milk January 9, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I need advertisers to pay for the site maintenance and Flickr, etc. Otherwise, I’d be ad-free. What I admire most about publishers/bloggers is when they ensure that they have quality content and integrity and also that the ads aren’t for crap like Viagra!

  • Reply decor8 January 9, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    I know Flickr for me is only about $2 a month ($25 a year), but can you define the costs involved in “site maintenance” for your design milk? I think it would help readers understand better.

  • Reply Elaine January 9, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    I do a blog everyday without ads. But then again, I have my own company, so I guess it’s a bit different.

  • Reply Jennifer in NH January 10, 2007 at 12:51 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers felt that ads – when they’re tastefully designed, relevant to the site, and advertising quality products or services, add a bit of credibility to a blog. If these advertisers feel that a blog is worth it, maybe I’ll give the blog a chance as well.

    I often see things in sidebar ads that attract my attention … I find my favorite design blogs to be a good resource when I want to go online “window shopping” and find some new stores.

  • Reply lindsey January 10, 2007 at 1:16 am

    I like artist Keri Smith’s point of view on the subject…

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Hi Lindsey – I saw your link and I’m reading through Keri’s site now… But can you please highlight what you feel strongly about because she wrote quite a lot on the subject and not everyone will take the time to read through it all. Just post it here. Thanks Lindsey!!!

  • Reply kitkat January 10, 2007 at 1:48 am


    I read Keri’s comments on her blog. She thinks bloggers who have ads are pretty much the anti-christ.

    I did respect her views though until I noticed something. She created these black and white little owl ads that people can put on their blogs that say “Ad-Free Blog” and when you click it, the ads goes here:

    And when you scroll through that page, she links her homepage:

    where she has her online shop for selling her art, along with other things like a bio, designed to promote her work.

    That stopped me dead in my tracks.

    Are not her, seemingly innocent little owls that I see popping up on all of these websites, ads in disguise? I mean, they ultimately link back to her online store.

    How can she speak so poorly of blogads when she herself is involved in blog advertising herself? It’s a clever promotion for her – she doesn’t have to pay these bloggers to publish the little owl, but in the end, she gets to benefit from all the click throughs which can result in sales for herself.

    Does anyone else find Keri a bit double-tongued?


  • Reply susanna January 10, 2007 at 3:34 am

    I don’t really mind seeing ads on blogs and I like how your blogs are visible but discreet.

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 3:41 am

    Thanks susanna!!

    I tell my sponsors that the ads must work with my overall vibe and colors that I use on the blog – no bright reds, no solid black, nothing offensive or tacky.

  • Reply Anonymous January 10, 2007 at 7:12 am

    hmmm. ads. yours are nice and carefully hidden away compared to some sites i’ve been to. you need a little bit of compensation since this site is just like a job.

    to all the haters out there. if you don’t like the ads don’t pay attention to them. what’s so great is that you can have your own site built exactly as you like and you can ignore sites that do not meet your requirements.

    although i won’t fill out the survey (for sheer laziness) i wanted you to know that you’re doing a great job.

  • Reply Di Overton January 10, 2007 at 10:40 am

    This is the real world folks. Advertisers are not going to pay for an ad that is nice and carefully hidden, what’s the point.
    Advertising is hugely expensive – I know I used to own a ad agency but I still advertised my ecommerce site on blogs because not onnly was it cheaper but it reached the right audience.
    I am launching a new business at the end of the month and it will be advertised on blogs and will be promoted via my blog otherwise how would anyone ever know it exsisted? I know optimising a site for Google is crucial but that takes time.
    Any blogger who is threatened with money for placing some ads on their blog would be a fool not to take it so long as it wasn’t for some dubious product and advertisers will only place ads that are relevant to the blogs subject anyway.

  • Reply Jaime - design milk January 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Well, site maintenance is domain name registration and hosting. I don’t make enough on the ads to actually profit at this time. In fact, most of the ads on the site are not from paid advertisers, but affiliates like google ads or These are a great way to showcase additional links and products related to your site. They don’t pay all that well, so it’s more about helping readers find cool new stuff or related information.

  • Reply Anonymous January 10, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    well, decor8 certainly knows about putting up affiliate ads and calling them “sponsors” and about promoting her own blog all over the web, so much so that it’s obnoxious and overpowering to see her writing everywhere “HEY, COME VISIT MY REALLY GREAT BLOG!” I don’t mind people PAYING for ad space because then it goes in the appropriate place and like a previous commenter pointed out, you can ignore it if you want to. what’s really annoying and puerile is when people try to get it ad-space for FREE like decor8, and bring down the quality of comments on otherwise good blogs. if you want publicity, pay for it! and if bloggers want to rent out their space, they should! but i also respect people who don’t put up ads…

  • Reply Elaine January 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Dear Anonymous (immediately above),
    That is a little harsh towards Holly, don’t you think? Best to talk about the topic and not about the person in these comment forums. My 2 cents.

    My blog is totally free on blogger. I don’t understand what above commenters are talking about when they say “deferring costs” exactly. If you are promoting another creative venture of your own with your blog, consider it a great free way to advertise.

    For me personally, ads don’t add credibility to blogs. I have never clicked thru on a blog ad. To be totally affordable, I think Blogs should offer truly fair pricing: $1. per month. That seems like a fair price. I see blogs as more of a personal creative pursuit. Not a money making, bottom-line-based venture.

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    thanks elaine. don’t worry, i know this person – she always makes a point to comment, i’m so use to it by now that i don’t even mind anymore. she has a right to her opinion.

    many other bloggers put their sponsors and affiliate links in the same column. i have one affiliate link, 3 link exchanges, and 11 paid ads.


  • Reply Anonymous January 10, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    it doesnt seem harsh to me elaine, when it is actually the truth.

    a long time follower of design blogs.

  • Reply trudesign January 10, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I dont think that there is anything wrong with ads. Its a way for indie designers to get out there. Its a way for people to see things that people are making that are unique from Urban Outfitters and the malls. I don’t see what all the fuss is about, its a win win for the online shop and the blog that is offering advertising. If people dont like it so much, then don’t read that blog. Don’t pay attention to the ads. I have found a ton of cool artists and designers that way. Holly you rock and are doing a wonderful job!

  • Reply Laura D. January 10, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    If you’re really interested in promoting indie designers, why not just write about them on your site? It’s not like having advertisers is the only way to support small businesses.

    There’s a thin line between mentioning someone because you support small business and writing about someone because they’ve paid you to take notice.

    I don’t think anyone is evil for having ads but writing a post to create this much fuss about it and disrespecting people who don’t believe in ads is a bit much. If you have ads you’re clearly pro-ads but why go out of the way to say it? I read and enjoy this site but sometimes the ad content and self-promotion is a bit much for my taste.

    Please keep up the good design work but I’d really appreciate it if the self-promoting and self-justifiying (ad policy, etc) were kept to a minimum.


  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Laura!

    Oh, this post wasn’t about any of that. It came from my survey results. Over the next few weeks, I’m sharing some of those results here on the blog since some readers wrote in to me requesting that I do this.


  • Reply Anonymous January 10, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Geez, Anon–it is harsh. When anyone comments on one blog and then references another–how is that different from “networking” at a cocktail party, conference, etc.? Holly has an inclusive, friendly tone and an electic style sense. I’ve never found her to be a shameless self promoter. To call her obnoxious reveals more about you.
    Anon, have you not ever mentioned what you do to anyone in conversation? The idea of all these blogs being sacred islands (there are no other blogs!) and no sense of networking, idea sharing, community, etc. seems bland. For goodness’ sake, you must get something out of what Holly has to say or you wouldn’t bother to comment.
    If I had not seen Holly’s comments on another blog, who knows how long it would have been before I found my way over here and before I found the “rooms I heart” set which I LOVE. I don’t mind the ads that my favorite blogs put up–all my faves have ads and some even have their own stores or products! I pay for ad-heavy magazines and it seems like I get more inspiration from the blogs anyway. And for a small indie artist, etc., a small write up can get lost in the volume of output Holly has on this site, but the inexpensive ad will stay up longer. Holly’s only misstep may be that she wanted to get input from her readership on the ads rather than just announcing it–something regularly done on other blogs. I’ve never been asked for input on ad content.
    Carry on, Holly. You run a lovely blog.

  • Reply Sam January 10, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Holly’s only misstep is, and always has been, her agressive self-promotion. Networking is fine, but when you’re paid to do it, that’s not networking at all.

    The way that Holly promotes herself all over the internet is a bit distasteful- look around, it’s impossible to miss. In the comment sections at Domino, Apartment Therapy, Shelterrific, everywhere.

    I wish it would be more about design and less about Holly.


  • Reply Di Overton January 10, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    If we were all being honest here we would admit that blogs are not just for helping people find stuff. They are a great way for Indie designers and anyone who has a small business to promote themselves. If you have something to sell then paying someone to write a website for you is expensive. Blogs can be set up by people with no experience of writing websites. This is then a platform for them to promote their wares. Holly is a freelance writer and interior design consultant and she shouldn’t be ashamed to promote that on her blog, that’s what she does. If it brings her in extra business then good for her.
    Blogging isn’t a charity it is a way for someone to share their passions and maybe get some work along the way. We’ve all got to make a living.

  • Reply Di Overton January 10, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Sam, you just promoted your business on Holly’s blog by making a comment and including the link to your blog. Maybe you should have just been another anonymous.

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I’m sure Sam’s intentions are good, but who doesn’t comment on other blogs and not leave their names that link to their sites? I mean Sam just did that himself, right?

    I look at commenting on other sites as being supportive of their sites and showing my support. It’s like bringing your business card to an event and leaving it with others. That’s not shameless self promotion, it’s just letting people know who you are so they remember you as the “writer guy” they met at so-and-so’s house.

    Commenting on blogs is modern day networking.

  • Reply Here today, gone in 2 seconds January 10, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Geez…Maybe I should just post as anonymous next time, like half the people in blogosphere instead of using my real name!

    Anyway, I’m surprised you haven’t told people about the potential costs of running a fancy blog (i.e. not just using the blogger template), like your artwork and your coder who helped you redesign the site. A few bloggers do ad exchange for that, and some people pay for it. And you have expenses for doing your interviews.

    Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face!!!

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    I can’t really say that I put forth any money at all to maintain the site. Blogger is free, Flicker is $25 per year, and I paid my blog template designer $40/hr to revamp my blog from the standard templates blogger offers to one that has 3 columns. My banner was a gift from a good friend in Minneapolis.

  • Reply Di Overton January 10, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    You don’t have to use coders to change a blogger template, you just go to blogger for dummies and it gives you the HTML code to put into your template and hey presto it’s done.
    Anyone can do a bit of artwork these days by using Photoshop and a digital camera.
    I used to employ a team of people to write when I owned it and now I do my blog on my own due to the fact that I can change a blogger template almost anyway I choose. All you need is an eye for design which most people who write design blogs have anyway.

  • Reply Sam January 10, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    The only reason I included my work site is because it is required by Blogger. If I don’t have a Blogger account it asks for that- I don’t believe in leaving comments anonymously because there’s no sense of legitimacy with them. Anyone, including the site’s administrator, can leave a message anonymously as someone else.

  • Reply Jaime January 10, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    I saved money by designing my blog myself, but I am certainly no graphic design wizard!

    I switched from Blogger because I really wanted to have more control over my site and I found that WordPress was so flexible and had so many more options. However, I don’t see anything wrong with using Blogger.

    I am not a freelancer or designer, etc. I have a day job so I don’t have to promote myself perhaps in the way that Holly does, but she has every right to advertise her services and her blog however and wherever she wished. How else would anyone know about her? I assume this is the way we all found out about her blog.

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I agree with Sam, that’s why I don’t leave comments without a link to my blog for the sake of legitimacy. When I comment on other blogs, I always leave my link.

    Jaime, be glad you switched because Blogger (the old one) has been a bit difficult. I’m thinking of rolling over to a domain and using a blogging software that my husband swears by, provided via our ISP. I don’t hate blogger, I actually think they are amazing to allow people to create blogs for FREE, but it’s hard sometimes when they have scheduled outages or when they upgrade because it can be frustrating.

    Then again, you get what you pay for, and in this case – I pay nothing for blogger so I can’t complain I guess. :)


  • Reply Di Overton January 10, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Well said Jamie. Holly has given so many people a leg up by featuring them on her blog, including me and for that I am grateful.
    If she networks that’s to the advantage of the people she mentions as they get more hits to their sites from her larger readership.
    Christ, she does blog of the week giving lesser known blogs exposure which otherwise they wouldn’t get.
    Credit where it’s due.
    On the subject of Blogger. I have been investigating the new version and it still has a huge amount of outstanding issues that have not yet been resolved. So my advice to anyone thinking of changing is DON’T until all issues are resolved.

  • Reply decor8 January 10, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    I’d like to thank everyone for their comments on this thread, it’s great to get your opinions and I truly appreciate it. Because I want to keep the site focused on design (I didn’t know this subject was so exciting to talk about!), let’s end the discussion here and move onwards to design and all these great sites and products.


  • Reply keri smith January 13, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    for those who are interested to read in greater detail my thoughts on this subject I invite you to read the FAQ on my site. I feel I may have been a bit misunderstood by an earlier commenter. I’d appreciate a chance to clarify my position.

    a big thanks to holly for hosting this debate and for opening up the comments again to allow me to share my voice here! A thoughtful dialogue is important and I value hearing both sides.


    keri smith

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