Sunday, November 26, 2017

Legitimate Blogs - A Dying Breed?

The first ever photo posted on this blog in 2008

This blog was started as a convenience to me so I could stop hunting through my sent items folder and forwarding friends the same emails over and over again. I never intended for it to become a second job or something that would attract millions of readers. It just happened.

Along the way when I found myself working from 10:00 PM - 4:00 AM+ Sunday through Thursday's to cover the topics my readers asked to write about, I realized that there should be something in it for me. As a result, - the email archive - became - the online review business. My goals shifted from simply writing about whatever came to mind to focusing on articles that would likely yield a return on my time investment.

During this transition I still kept to one principle - this blog would be different than most review sites in that it couldn't be bought and paid for. As a result, I resisted accepting advertising and instead rewarded products that I loved with free banner space. I resisted sponsored articles by giving the constant requests a price I knew they'd reject to make them go away for good. I resisted fake guest bloggers who wanted to write about unrelated topics just to boost their own sites, despite the fact that their presence could help push me higher in Google page rankings.

Simply put - I dismissed the games that many other sites played, and focused on only two mechanisms for income as a way to compensate my family for the grumpy guy that I'd become from lack of sleep. I accepted donations and I leveraged referrals as a mechanism to get compensated when my readers purchased products that I recommended. I thought this was fair, and despite the fact that nearly EVERY site on the web also does this - I disclosed that I was doing this.

When the holiday seasons sales would come around, I started by sharing deals because I wanted my friends to know about the deals that I honestly thought were worth sharing. However, I got flooded with requests to post deal offers and eventually became so disgusted with it that I moved to a mostly opt-in model with my deals newsletter. I got sick of the blog being a deals billboard, so I only used the blog occasionally for special deals that I felt good about posting - for my friends - and left the rest (which still about 1% of the deals I get daily in email) to my newsletter.

By not spamming you with deals, by not taking sponsored articles, and by not taking paid advertising - I lost a ton of potential earnings (to the tune of $50k+ per month from some single advertisers alone) and I lost a lot of web traffic and subsequently Google page ranking.

However, I think I won because I stuck to my principles and remained a legitimate blog - not a bought and paid for snake oil salesman - despite being sometimes accused of being just that.

For this holiday season I once again find myself with a dilemma - sacrifice thousands in earnings to keep my blog clean of more holiday sales crap, or join the crowd to avoid being assimilated.

Ara - my youngest of 4

My regular readers have probably noticed that I don't write like I used to anymore as I decided to sleep again after the birth of my daughter, Ara, in October 2015. I've returned to writing only about stuff for fun and mostly given up my second business - despite being a father of 4 and single breadwinner who certainly could use the extra income.

Taylor SHS Graduation 2017-511-Edit
Me with Taylor - My oldest of 4


This was an unplanned article that was written out of disgust of all of the holiday sales spam that I get bombarded with. While I hope people have noticed that I've been refraining from those types of activities this year, odds are you haven't given it a seconds thought. As a result, I'm pointing it out so you can take a moment to think about which blogs and influencers you can trust this holiday season and which ones are simply out to make a buck.

I wish all my remaining faithful readers a safe and happy holiday season.


Ron Martinsen

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