Bloggety Blah Blah Blah, Meta — March 30, 2015 at 10:22 am

Walmart and me


There are several ad spaces on Eclectablog that are filled by a third party. They serve up ads based on who is paying for them and then push them out to various sites like ours. That’s why the ads change when you visit more than once.

I recently took some heat for having a Walmart ad on my site. I understand the animosity toward and even hatred of Walmart. I myself have only shopped there a couple of times when there was no other option or I was given a gift card. I hate what they represent, the damage they do to communities, and the way they benefit from our tax dollars which help subsidize the slave wages they pay when their employees are forced to go on government assistance.

So, I understand the criticism.

There are a couple of points to keep in mind, however, when you see ads on this site for groups that progressives find detestable. First, I don’t choose the ads that fill those spots. If they are offensive enough, I can have them pulled but, because they rarely appear more than once or for very long periods of time, it’s simply not worth the effort in most instances.

Second, I love the irony that groups that get bashed on this site are actually helping to fund it. In fact, if you see an ad for something you hate, CLICK IT! It costs them more when you do.

When I was in high school, I volunteered in Lansing for a youth advocacy group called the Three O’Clock Lobby. We received most of our funding from the Playboy Foundation. Yes, that Playboy Foundation. On the wall in our office we had a sign that said:

We are funded by the Playboy Foundation. If you think that’s funny, why don’t YOU give us some money???

That’s sort of the way it works here at Eclectablog. What many folks don’t realize is that all of the regular contributors here are paid. In fact, I won’t bring on new writers unless I can pay them. I reject the Huffington Post model of profiting from the creative work of others without compensating them. Their pay is, unfortunately, a nominal amount – far less than they are worth, in my opinon – because those Walmart ads don’t amount to much revenue and direct contributions, particularly in non-election years, only go so far. In 2014, I wrote over $11,000 worth of checks to our writers. In fact, two of our writers were paid more than I paid myself because, frankly, the Eclectablog bank account, after taxes, is getting near to being empty. We will hold another fundraiser party this year like the one we did last year, but, until then, I have to pinch pennies and the only recourse I have is to not take too much for myself.

I’m okay with that.

I just wanted to be clear about why we have ads on Eclectablog in the first place and why I don’t slam the door on every single ad I don’t like. And, let’s face it, most of us watch our progressive heroes on MSNBC on a regular basis and we don’t stop watching because they run an ad from some group we don’t like from time to time. We suffer through it because we know that’s the price we pay for what is essentially free television. What I ask from you is that you don’t hold a barely-paid blogger to some higher standard than you hold, for example, Rachel Maddow.

This is also why we run quarterly fundraisers, one of which is coming up next week. We have a handful of you who are loyal, dedicated contributors and I honestly don’t know how to thank you folks enough. The kind and heartfelt notes I get with your checks and in my email box keep me going and motivate me to keep trying new ways to monetize what we do here so that (a) it’s not my personal charity project, (b) we can bring on new writers, and (c) I might find a way to make this a full-time gig so that I can do it the way it deserves to be done.

A word about that last item. It’s looking less and less like I will ever be able to quit my day job to do this for a living. John Aravosis of AMERICAblog recently announced he’s leaving blogging after many years as a successful national blogger. Why? He was going broke:

Ever since the economy crashed in 2008, blogging has been a difficult business to keep afloat financially. I spent $50,000 of my own now-gone savings keeping AMERICAblog afloat over the past six years. You can only do that for so long.

The viability of blogs as a sustainable business model has been in question for a while. I gave it the college try for six years after the crash, but due to a variety of reasons it never came back sufficiently to be able put enough food on the table, and more importantly, ensure that there would be more than cat-food on the menu when I retire many years hence.

Others have given up, as well.

The sad fact is that there isn’t a viable model for this to become a career. Ad revenue is embarrassingly low. Individual contributions are helpful but not enough. And, with some notable exceptions for which I am immensely thankful, the progressive organizations whose messages we amplify and report on don’t do much to support us financially. It’s depressing but it’s the reality.

Anyway, I just wanted to get some of this off my chest and ask that, when you see an ad you don’t like, cut us some slack. I’m doing the best I can and will keep experimenting with ways to make this project work. I KNOW we’re making a difference and keeping it going is vitally important.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. If you see an ad you don’t like and would like to replace it with one of your own, I would LOVE that. I’ll happily pull the ad running in that space and replace it with yours. Click HERE for ad rates.