Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Age of Capitalism

I will get right to the point of this post: I recently made the difficult decision to accept sponsors for Lovely Bicycle. The banners of the first sponsors will appear later this week.

The reason for the decision is simple: At this point it was either that, or discontinue Lovely Bicycle altogether. The blog has grown in many ways and now takes up more of my time than I can spare financially, cutting into my freelance consulting work. I have considered scaling back, but doing that would most likely make me lose interest entirely; I am not a person who can do things half-way. So the only alternative I saw was to accept sponsors, while doing my best not to sacrifice the integrity of my content. I hope that I have made the right decision.

If you are interested in sponsoring Lovely Bicycle and are not yet in contact with me, please see here for details. 

Thank you for reading, and thank you to all who decide to sponsor Lovely Bicycle!

35 comments:

  1. Good luck with this new endeavor. I think this is an interesting point of contention on the blogosphere - ad-free blogs vs. sponsored blogs. I see nothing wrong with getting sponsorship since most of us who blog on a regular basis know how much time and commitment it takes. It can still be a labor of love while being a paid labor.

    S.

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  2. Wow, that's a huge change! I understand all too well about the time suck though.

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  3. Hi there,

    I think you have made the right decision!
    I visit your blog every day to see what's new,
    and I would miss your posts very much if you stopped. I think it is a credit to you that sponsors are willing to put their name against your website - something you should be proud of.

    I have a friend who runs a paper magazine. I haven't asked him about this, but as far as I can tell he sees a clear division between what he writes and what gets advertised. The integrity of his writing stands on its own.

    John I

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  4. Thanks for the encouragement, I really do hope it works out.

    I actually don't view the blog as time-suck, because I think it is helpful - both to readers and to me. I go through stages of being embarrassed about the degree of my enthusiasm, but overall I think is a very positive thing in my life. But I view it as maybe a volunteer job - one that I enjoy, but can no longer continue on a purely volunteer basis as the job expands to cut into my paid-job time. Something has to change, or I need to give it up.

    The ad-free vs sponsored blog distinction has been a dilemma for me, because I do not want to be too aware of things like ratings, numbers of visitors, and of course worrying about the relationship between my content and my sponsors. There are blogs out there whose content seems entirely separate from sponsorship, but there are also blogs out there whose content is influenced by it - at least to the extent that they will not write negative reviews of products that are sold by a sponsor. So that is the kind of thing I will constantly be questioning myself about.

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  5. This is a wise decision that I support 100 percent as a reader. You provide a forum that has value and are entirely justified in harnessing that as you see fit. Anyone concerned about an impact on your perspective or objectivity hasn't been paying attention this past year.

    If my business were related, I'd be rushing to be first in line.

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  6. Almost all artists in recorded history required patrons in order to function. Why should you be any different?
    (I certainly seem to be cultivating mine, though I am a craftsman now.)

    I and my roadster-friends here in The Western Shire would be very sad if you packed it in. So some sort of subsidy is a must. Tip jars are unreliable.

    I think your desire to keep your content as free of influence from sponsorship is a healthy one, and quite an achievable goal.

    Corey K

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  7. Thanks Mike : )

    Corey - That is an interesting point. As an artist, I have received a few grants in the past, but they have always seemed so anonymous and detached that I hardly thought about who was behind them. Recently however, the Co-Habitant and I received a sponsorship from a fairly well-known company, and it felt so strange in comparison.

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  8. Er, that would be "I think your desire to keep your content as free of influence from sponsorship *as is possible* is a healthy one, and quite an achievable goal."

    But I see you took my meaning anyway.

    A good many of the most storied pieces of art had a wealthy patron behind then- I can think of quite a few writers of the last century for whom this applies as well.

    In any case, I can see this as a good move on your part.

    Corey K

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  9. Veloruia~ I think this could be a very positive endeavor for your blog. I think that you have a good head on your shoulders to have sponsors that will reflect the spirit of this blog. Your blog is one of a few I check on a daily basis and I'd rather see sponsors than have it gone.

    All the best,

    Fiona

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  10. While I am but a occasional visitor, your content is of quality and value. It would be saddening if you would have to give it up, or refrain from giving your full intent and heart in the writing of it. Carry on as you must, your readers will understand which you choose to do.

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  11. I support 100% as a reader, too. I do not think anyone who "knows" you will worry about your reviews being objective. No need to be a martyr to bike love. Make some money, friend.

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  12. Sell out!! (Just teasing... ;-))

    In my experience, taking on paid sponsors can be a bit of a minefield (especially if you intend to write product reviews), but I do think it's possible to reach a balance that protects the interests of both your readers and your sponsors.

    I'm guessing at least some of your sponsors will be interested in knowing what type of performance they're getting for their investment, which, like it or not, may mean doing at least a minimal amount of tracking.

    Besides providing a revenue source, sponsors sometimes provide access to industry information and new products, both of which can be a great source of fresh content for your readers.

    All the best in your new endeavor-
    Alan@EcoVelo

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  13. FULLSPEED AHEAD! If you stray too far into commerce we'll all revolt and heckle you into submission, I say do what feels genuine and I'll bet it works out fine(although if Velo Orange or anybody like that sends somebody to your house with a sackfull of 20s trying to get you to push their new cork grips with gel inserts remember your friends...)

    Your dear, dear friend Spindizzy

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  14. ok...a few questions before ads could possibly influence you (joking)...but I am actually interested in your thoughts:

    could you compare your pashley to the DL-1? I realize one is new and one is vintage (by the way, how vintage?). Do they really serve different purposes and which would you rescue from a burning building (forget price/resale)...or what are the proz/cons of each if you prefer to put it that way?

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated since it is hard to test drive those bikes side by side and owning and riding a bike are very different than a 10 minute test drive anyway.

    thanks in advance!

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  15. Anon 8:37 - I've actually written a post comparing the Pashley and the DL-1, here it is. However, this comparison was written before some key updates were made to the Pashley: namely this one and this one. Those modifications improved the handling of the Pashley what seems like 10-fold and it is now now that different in speed and agility from the DL-1.

    Now that both have coaster brakes, the only difference in purposes is that they are each other's backup - you know, in case one develops a flat or something of that nature. As for handling, the DL-1 is still a bit faster to accelerate and better on hills, whereas the Pashley is better in bad weather (rain and snow).

    From a burning building I would rescue the vintage Raleigh, as it is the rarer and more unique of the two bikes, with more history behind it.

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  16. "Besides providing a revenue source, sponsors sometimes provide access to industry information and new products, both of which can be a great source of fresh content for your readers."

    Alan, that is an excellent point and I do see it as a benefit to having sponsors. Of course in addition to the enormous, lavish sums of money I will surely be making in exchange for corrupt reviews : ))

    Spindizzy - cork grips for all! : )

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  17. Dear Velouria,

    Thank you for taking the time to point me to the right articles--my search did not turn them up. Anyway, this is precisely what I was looking for. Let the sponsorship begin and great luck with it. I don't feel that you will be corrupted in the least, though as noted above you can parcel out the excess goodies to your readers.

    The blog is a delight, not to mention enlightening. Now I just have to decide between a relatively new/good condition DL-1 and a very very vintage DL-1 that might (whom am I kidding: WILL) need more work. Sentiment and good sense are pointing in opposite directions.

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  18. Just don't have those dancing ladies that say Obama wants me to go back to college!

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  19. Bravo and congrats! I'm glad to hear that you're not going to stop/scale back on writing. I've enjoyed reading this blog and have found much inspiration here.

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  20. I'm pro-capitalism, and I think it's entirely appropriate that you should benefit from the considerable time that you devote to this blog, which has so much good advice. I read Lovely Bicycle! and EcoVelo nearly every day . I actually click on the ads at Ecovelo because I'm interested in the products and I trust the source. Congratulations!

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  21. Best of luck! You invest so much time and passion you deserve a little compensation to continue to flame my chronic case of 'cycle-envy'. I have no doubt your sponsorship will be intergrated tastefully and with integrity.

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  22. I'm very happy to hear this! Your work here is awesome and it's entirely appropriate for you to receive compensation. Lovely Bicycle benefits and inspires so many people every day, including me! I would be bummed if you had to scale back substantially.

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  23. Velouria, I totally support your decision and trust you to maintain your integrity. I've been enjoying your blog for a few months, and blog myself on a similar subject - and therefore understand the time it takes to keep a blog fresh and inspiring. It's too idealistic to expect anyone to be able to maintain that level of commitment for free in the real world. If it means more of the same in terms of your wonderful insights into the beautiful and practical quarter of cycling, then sponsorship can only be a good thing. I know you'll keep it real.

    Eddie
    http://theeverydaycyclist.wordpress.com/

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  24. so long as it doesn't jar visually, all good.

    i read ecovelo religiously, and also regularly. the ads there don't bother me a whit.

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  25. Velouria, all posts have been positive. I hope that has shown you that you have made the right decision and your readers are behind you. I too agree with your decision.

    Your writing is very good. You deserve to receive compensation for the time and skill that you put into Lovely Bicycle. I believe that all your readers believe that you will still be true to yourself and your sponsors probably appreciate your character as well and wouldn't want you to change.

    It would be a sad day for many of us if you decided otherwise.

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  26. Velouria,

    I look forward to seeing my banner on your wonderful blog :)

    Maybe you could also add a link on your blog to paypal for donations for the everyday reader. $10 or $20 can be a real nice way to show your support.

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  27. Well, as you can see the first banners are up there; I don't think it looks too distracting actually.

    Thank you again for the positive responses, I am pleasantly surprised and touched.

    Mike - I have considered that, but feel a bit self-conscious! Plus the world of online payment is so strange and murky, I am still trying to navigate it! But thanks for your suggestion, an I think your banner looks mighty nice!

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  28. Hi Velouria, What tasteful sponsors you have - I've clicked on some of them already to find out more. Taking on sponsors as an individual, rather than just letting Google find companies for you, means you have control over who you let sponsor your site; because of this the sponsors in no way detract from readers enjoying your site. Your sponsors are value-adds in this case... seems they all like Lovely Bicycles as well.

    I hope the sponsorship helps you continue this site - I love reading your posts!

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  29. My earlier comment didn't go through.

    I say, go for it. I'll read your posts and if I'm interested, I'll click on to your sponsors.

    Being a libertarian, I'm not against anyone making money for her efforts!

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  30. Hi

    As a reader I really do not want you to discontinue blogging cause you write well having a different than usual point of view and I enjoy all your articles.

    As an old blogger I wanna warn you that you may reach a point where you 'll be only after the "clicks n hits" game which eventually may make you write garbage like 90% of blogs.

    I can only wish that this move may give you more free time to write even more quality posts.

    Regards

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  31. Google adds and amazone...? That's bicycling interrest? Where is the time of AD free owl? That's a perfet exemple of what capitalism can do: changing somebody who begin something with great convictions into commercial and profit thing.
    I suppose that's unavoidable...? But dammage. Independance is a difficult way of life, often imitated, never equaled.
    Good luck with your new (capitalist) life.

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  32. iKaen - Yes, I know, and I agree it's too bad. But I think this post explains my decision pretty clearly. My new life is not any more capitalist than before and I doubt that you will find me on a private yacht purchased with the lucrative proceeds of the ads. But thanks to the ads, I am able to drop one consulting project and use that time to keep working on Lovely Bicycle.

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  33. I read your blog everyday and I so look forward to your articles, I would be so sad if you were gone. 've learned so much from you and would not probably be riding my mixte!

    Best luck with the sponsors, I do certainly understand about making hard decissions after having been unemployed over 7 months...

    By the way, already through one your sponsors I have found a vintage art deco inspired chainguard (similar to the ones from La Perle) and I'll buy as soon as it becomes available, I have been looking for months in ebay without luck!

    Buena suerte!

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  34. I am thankful that I can leave a comment even though it is probably too late in the game to have you consider it. As far as the banner ads, I'm not thrilled, but could really care less since They don't even register on the map for me. what I am worried about is all of the affiliations with sponsors that are changing blogs into lifestyle advertisements for the companies that a blogger is linked with. Blogs seemed like a place where one could avoid the reach of marketing in slick ways, but they are turning into just another vehicle for product and our lust for aesthetics and bike porn seems to be fueling it. I know things evolve and change over time and your blog is beautiful. However, I would forgo some of that beauty if it meant that a blog could avoid these affiliations and remain just what I think they need to be a place where personal thoughts are shared and where dialogue can happen without the influence of lifestyle advertisements or vehicles to launch a new career for someone.

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  35. Peter - I agree with you, but I think these things depend on the nature of the blog. Lovely Bicycle was never a personal blog; it was always about bicycles, cycling and the bicycle industry - you can see that in my very first posts. Looking back a year after I began accepting adverts, I don't think much has changed about the nature of the content. I've gained a bit more experience, the posts have become better written, and I am starting to dabble in the bicycle industry more directly via collaborations. But the basic character of the blog, to my eye, remains unchanged - including the focus on analysing and comparing bicycles and related products. Unless the writing is entirely poetic or philosophical, I do not see how one can write a blog about bicycles and bicycle design without inherently collaborating with the industry - either explicitly or implicitly. And this, in my view, is entirely different from a personal blog (with a focus on one's life events, family, friends, daily activities) that introduces commercial content.

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