4.23.2012

on money

there has been the running understanding in our couplehood that nick is the more pragmatic and i the more irrational. i do before i think. nick tries to slow me down long enough so he can think before we do.  i feel quite blessed to have his balance in my life. without me we wouldn't have quit our jobs in san francisco and moved to france. but without him we wouldn't have a savings account. we wouldn't have had health insurance. we wouldn't have had a place to live. without me we wouldn't have begun farming in north carolina. but without nick we wouldn't have negotiated for hourly pay. we wouldn't have had days off.  we wouldn't have lived in the cabin on our own. without me we wouldn't be living in vermont. without nick we wouldn't have had veggie oil to run the truck and trailer. we wouldn't have fixed the hay-elevator, we would have thrown them by broken back. without nick all of my dreams would be just those.  but instead he, nick, is my thoughtful counterweight. and i am so thankful for this, even if there are times when i run screaming with my fingers in my ears from the planning and budgeting he insists upon.

one such instance was just last week. two weeks into our life in vermont and nick was --in my mind-- already trying to kill our buzz. he was going through the receipts of the weeks since our move. entering them into one of his trademark spreadsheets. asking me how exactly we spent $45 at the co-op. (maple syrup and honey). asking me why he had a 1200 draw on his account from last week (our new dairy cow, i reminded him). he entered them into the magic boxes of excel with lots of mumbling and tinkering. i tried my best to ignore him. there is only one thing i like less than making a budget. and that is realizing that we need to make much more money to have the budget work.

the problem is, you can't make money, you can't make it work. you can't pay off the dairy cow. or the ever-disappearing mason jars. you can't pay off all the yogurt, milk, eggs you give away to friends and family. you can't ever pay off your labor. for it is constant. and hard. and demanding. you can't make money selling raw milk. we knew this. but its still hard to see in the black and red of nick's spreadsheet. you can't make money selling eggs in a state where nearly everyone has a flock of chickens or a friend that does. this isn't outside of boston where such products are desperately needed and coveted and fetch high prices. this is vermont. we are in a state that grew up farming and remains a farming.

as farmers you become intimate with the dance of living this life and trying to make money at it. there are countless ways to scheme for money as a farmer. it seems the lifestyle and work foster your inner schemer. getting paid to help a farmer with milking. tilling another's garden. pasturing some old man's heifers. making hay. helping make hay. foraging for delicious wild edibles and selling them to unsuspecting cityfolk. we're throwing around ideas about milling grain. about selling hay. about making fancy cheese. about tapping trees for syrup. and i find it heartening that we aren't the only farmers dancing this dance, but it is still a scary, fast, and unfamiliar one.

in an attempt to help my more pragmatic better half i am getting in on the scheming. one way that i am trying is through my writing and photography. and that is where i want to ask you your opinions. i haven't made up my mind about how i feel about sponsorships on blogs. i don't know that anyone would be interested in sponsoring my blog, and i suppose its rather presumptuous to bring this up at all. but i'm trying to find a way to make a little bit of money at what i spend so much of my time doing. to help us pay the rent. or to cover the week's chicken feed. or pay for gas. it is me scheming. pure and simple. and i apologize for this. but i want to hear from you what you think about sponsored blogs. i'm not talking ads for walmart or amazon in between posts. but small sidebar monthly ads from even smaller businesses. from fellow farmers. or bloggers. or gardeners. or crafters. as i said. i haven't made my mind up about it. something feels very wrong about monetizing a blog. but i am curious for your opinions and ideas or other schemes :) so please share. here or at my email kathryn.maclean@gmail.com . thank you!

58 comments:

  1. Kathryn, I mainly lurk here (and live a farming lifestyle vicariously through you!) but I'm not bothered when blogs take on sponsors. Blogging is work, and many, many bloggers put a LOT of work into their blogs. And I have no problem when a blogger would like to be compensated for their time and efforts. Yes, I've run across blogs that have ads all over the place, but the majority of blogs I read aren't that way at all (I mainly stick to craft/lifestyle ones). I don't think it's unfair or greedy or "selling out" to want to earn an income, no matter how small, from the work you do here. Best of luck with whatever you decide!

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  2. I think you should sponsor the blog. you live a very different life from most of your readers, one that we are interested in learning about so that is why we come here - i think you should feel comfortable taking advantage of a method of paying yourself for the work that you put into the blog, and i think the community of people who come here to read should support that wholeheartedly.

    We are the ones in the cities buying farm eggs, just think of it in the same terms - we can't access aspects of your life, but you are still offering them to us

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  3. if it pays to feed all those cute animals of yours, I say YES!

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  5. I can imagine that asking for sponsorships is a very hard thing to do. It might change the way you think and feel about your own blog, and put some extra pressure on everything you talk about. Maybe try adding an extra angle to the whole idea by offering something that would be easy for you, in addition to sponsors. Even if it's something like, mailing out recipes or touching down a bit more with the readers while adding sponsorships to the site. i think you should totally do it, though! good luck xx ash

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  6. I think it's a good idea. I really like the things you write about and i also enjoyed reading the blogs of the guest posters a while back. I would love to get to know other blogs that you think are worth reading.

    You write about a certain way of living and people who visit your blog like to read about it, so it only seems logical that you find ways to make money to be able to keep living this lifestyle you love so much and your followers love to read about.


    Good luck making your decision!

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  7. I'm a fairly new reader to your blog, but *love* it and reading about your life experiences that are so different than mine....EXCEPT for the part about Trying To Make a Living. Look, in life, ya gotta do what you gotta do. I'm faced with the same challenges as you, made a significant life change, it's been a constant challenge, I'm surrounded by people telling me to throw in the towel, I gave it a shot, it's not working out, go back where I came from and live a NORMAL life. ACK. It's that "normal life" thing that gets me every time, gets my inner foot-stomping child up, and I think, no, NO! I woon't be normal, I WOON'T! I'll MAKE this work, I'll show THEM, blah blah blah. And for now I'm hanging in.

    I came up with the genius plan a couple weeks back that all I need to set me back on terra firma is $20,000. That's all. Ha. I just need to make earn find win beg borrow steal $20,000 and I'll be fine. The plan is shocking in its simplicity :-) The HOW-TO is a little more challenging, ha. But I've made a list, like you, of ALL the many small things I can do to grow a bank account to $20,000. I was actually up to almost $2000 saved (woohoo), but today a minor setback, my car is in the shop with a several-hundred dollar repair, so...I need to find a way to recoup that. And I will.

    And so will you. You have a GREAT resource right at your fingertips. A much-enjoyed and beloved blog...that I'm sure others would be thrilled to sponsor. So. yeah. I get it. I'm sure we all get it. I'm sure we're all pulling for you and want you to succeed and are amenable to whatever you need to do to make that happen.

    Wow, I'm a little long-winded this morning. I think it's the exhilaration of having the car break down and actually having money at-the-ready for the repair! What a concept!

    Just Do It.

    Bettye

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  8. Hello,
    I found your blog via the wonderful alys fowler and I'm absolutely revelling in your lifestyle. It's obvious that your blog time eats into your very hectic days. Sponsorship seems a sensible way of gaining a few extra pennies. Other blogs with sponsors don't bother me, but must admit I tend to avoid the ones with ads (too 'in your face'). Good luck and thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your amazing lives!

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  9. I think monetizing in the way you describe is a great idea. Small sponsorships aren't invasive and as long as they don't affect my ability to go to your site (some sites are so ad heavy they take ages to load), I say go for it. Interesting content is hard to find, and you've got it. Capitalize on it!

    P.S. I hope you're planning a book.

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  10. It won't bother me a bit! Do what you gotta do, girl!

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  11. i agree with the wise and honest commenters above -- this blog is about your life, and as a farmer, your life is your job - therefore this blog is part of your job! it should definitely be part of how you make income to pay for your life! and honestly, blogs that do the sponsorship thing "right" (i'm thinking of soulemama in particular) bring attention to other small businesses who are also struggling to do what you do - live the life you want and also afford to put food on the table. do your research on potential sponsors and make sure they align with your values; that way your readers can trust them, too - they buy stuff from the sponsors, you get paid, and its a win win for everyone ;)

    LOVE what you're doing... we're currently saving up for our own piece of farming heaven hopefully to come in the next three years! yay! :)

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  12. You should not feel at all bad about taking sponsorships. Right now my blog doesn't have any actual sponsors, but it's still a full-time job most weeks.
    I think a lot of bloggers/small businesses (including myself - so email me if you do start taking sponsors!) like to sponsor each other, not just for the sake of hopefully attracting new readers/customers, but to support each other. Any kind of small business (including farming!) is HARD and I think we all know that and like to support each other.

    Josie
    FineandFeathered.com

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  13. I think you will get value from this recent blog post at a very popular DIY/home blog - she talks about her blog story and sponsorships at length.

    http://southernhospitalityblog.com/my-blogging-story-part-5/

    Putting sponsorships here would not bother me at all - it helps point to other like-minded bloggers or writers.

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  14. I'd be interested in sponsoring, should you decide to do it. There's no reason you shouldn't get a little something for all the amazing content you put out there. We all love to read it, obviously. Surely some sponsors will be glad to be a part of it.

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  15. Of course you should run ads! Most of the blogs I read have them and I never notice them at all. I love your blog, and I would love to think that you are being fairly compensated for the time you put in to it! Onward!

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  16. i have an idea! create a book. full of your photography. so that i can sit it on my coffee table. and flip through it whenever i please. i hope that's not too selfish of an idea.

    as for sponsorships on the blog - go for it! your blog is a blessing to us, so why shouldn't you be blessed in return?

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  17. I'd love to have some 'hand picked' links to click on. Id suspect that your sponsers may very well be blogs or shops i havent heard of and would enjoy. It'd create a little microcosim of buying/selling/info that sustains 'little businesses'.
    I also believe you would do well to sell your photos, maybe an e-book or two, and then theres always moonlighting an all together different job here and there.....with ur French skills maybe there's something from home, or tutoring. The moonlighing would be temporary, to build up you guy's emergency fund and savings for when you need a new vehicle or find your own land.
    I cant remember if you've mentioned Kate Miss, but if you aren't familiar with her, she has a blog For Me-For You and has a few sponsers and has sold pics and prints before, plus sells jewerly now and then. She'd be an example of 'doing it right' in my opinion. :)
    Just my 2 cents :)
    Lana

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  18. As someone who hopes to have a farm of her own someday and a blog that is filled with stories and pictures from that farm, I say go for it, get some sponsors!!! If it's what you have to do to make your farm work right now, do it. Get some lovely small business/blog sponsors and continue doing everything that you love. :)

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  19. Definitely do sponsors! The way I see it, on small blogs like this, we're all a community, and sponsoring another blog is a way to help and support each other. So many of us already get in touch with each other to ask questions and support each other, and make new friendships. Why not help support each other financially? There's no shame in making a living doing what you love, it doesn't detract from the Truth, honesty or art of it. And I will be one of the first to contact you if you decide to do sponsors! It would be an honour to help support you!

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  20. Yes! You should absolutely get sponsors! In fact, I kind of wondered why this gorgeous blog of yours didn't already have them. I say go for it, Kate! Maybe for once you're thinking first a bit too much ;)
    -Jaime

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  21. I absolutely think you should have ads on your blog! Sponsered blogs are fine as long as it is done sensibly. I really hope it helps you out!

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  22. oooh... i'm with miss victoria up there. a book?! just the thought has me giddy.
    as for sponsors & such, you certainly have my blessing. not that you need it lady... ; )
    love. love.

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  23. As someone who has sponsored other blogs before, I say go for it! Remember that those who sponsor you benefit as well, and get viewers and "hits" that they might not have otherwise gotten. I think we all totally understand your hesitance in the matter, but as another reader said, it's not like you're throwing up ads all over the place. In the end, it is ultimately your decision, but I think it would be a smart one given the circumstance. Think of it as a to help support someone who shows us how to live the life we all dream of.

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  24. the people above me have said things more eloquently but I also say go for it! I'd not mind sponsorship at all on your blog. I'd love to buy prints of your photos. I also hope you're scheming a book at some point. I realize that isn't an immediate answer to cash flow but..

    I like the idea of knowing your sponsors or people linked here are ones you admire/like their products/are interested in..etc. Does that sound stalkerish? ha. I guess knowing you stand behind whatever those are makes me want to check them out..an endorsement, I suppose?

    Maybe at the very minimum you could even add a tip jar link of sorts here where those of us saying YES! Do it! could also drop a few coins in the jar.

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  25. Absolutely you should have sponsors. Absolutely. When done well, sponsors add to a blog, and you should be compensated (even a little) for all the beautiful, well thought out and eloquently constructed content you deliver, several times each week.

    And here's a crazy idea - why not pitch a children's book combining your photography and your love of the French language - a very sophisticated (ie interesting for parents, too) first intro to French, using the farm as the theme. I'll reserve two copies, please. And then one for every birthday party my children attend, thank you very much.

    Or just sell prints.

    OK - now more traditionally-farm-minded, have you been sussing out where there are gaps at your local Farmers' Markets? As a market manager, I could tell you a laundry list of gaps a new farm could fill for my market. Perhaps you can identify an unfilled need right where you are? (And I'm sure you can sell photo prints at your market stand, too.)

    Keep us posted, of course!

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  26. As an avid reader of your blog, I have no problem with the addition of sponsors, especially if it'll help ends meet and assist you achieving your farming dreams :)

    Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do!

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  27. Do it! If it helps you do the things you want to do, and let's face it that's why we read this lovely blog, then do it! It sounds like you have already thought of how to make it work without offending your personal integrity anyway! Good luck.....

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  28. Blogs take a lot of time and work. I think that ads are ok when they are done right. Simple ads that have to do with your content and things you love is a wonderful way to supplement your income.

    I love reading and wish you the best of luck.

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  29. I don't have my own blog, but by happening upon sponsors from other blogs that I read, I have found awesome businesses, crafters, foodies, etc. I definitely think you should allow sponsors that you deem appropriate. It is a good idea and an easy way to make some extra money.

    I like the idea of some type of farming handbook that you could make up quarterly that would give a "how to" on the seasonal aspects of farming/ranching in your area and expertise. Or you could open up an etsy shop and sell prints of your photos. I don't know if that would be worth your time, but I think you would have some buyers. ;) Okay those are my ideas.

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  30. Bring in the moo-la, no pun intended.... I'd love
    to be directed to small businesses with your same theme and interests on here.

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  31. you know my opinion on the subject. And should you decide to do it, count me among your first paying advertisers.

    Love,
    M

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  32. Kate,

    I'd pay to just read your blog each day. You soothe me - so please do whatever it takes to keep you, Nick and this lovely blog afloat.

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  33. Yes to sponsors for your lovely, inspiring blog.

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  34. I'd go for it! I share your hesitancy about advertising and blogs I started reading blogs partly to find more unique voices than you can find in magazines, and I suppose part of that is about knowing that content is genuine and not affected by the whims and wishes of advertisers or sponsors. On the other hand, many bloggers curate their sponsors/advertisers very closely, which doesn't compromise their sincerity at all... in general, I think you work hard at this and you deserve to be paid and shouldn't feel bad about it! If you had small ads for little blogs, I would definitely buy one for my own new blog!

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  35. i think it's so charming and sincere that you're asking your readers what they think about this topic. and i absolutely think you should do it. if it could help your financial situation, and your readers are willing and excited to contribute, i don't see what could be very wrong about it. we come here because we adore your words and pictures. you inspire us and we live vicariously through your efforts. you deserve to be sponsored. and in fact, i'd love to be one of the first to sponsor you. for one, i'd rather cut back on lattes and instead give that money to honest, hard-working people who provide me with warm words and insight. secondly, i've never sponsored a blog before but i'm about to embark on an organic farming journey through europe and i'd like to share my little blog with others. i couldn't imagine a better, more engaged readership than yours. the comments above are evidence enough of how much they/we care. about you and your efforts. if taking sponsors means you'll be able to continue blogging, i think there's no question.

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  36. I've been a silent reader for a while and i really love your blog. And I would be very happy for you if you can make some money out of it. I don't see what could be wrong with that as long as you stay as authentic as you are.

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  37. Sponsor! I have eyes that can swiftly move on to another image, in an age of images and technology saturation people are getting more savvy and sponsored blogs make life easier. I will gladly continue to visit and enjoy hearing about your pioneering!

    hannah

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  38. Yes girl, go get you some sponsors! You should start talking to local magazines/ papers about your photography and writing. Submit your work to them.
    I lived in VT for awhile, and you are right about everyone having their own farms. Even lil backyard ones. But have you thought about picking one thing to grow a a large amount of for restaurants? For example herbs. Whatever you do,it will be awesome! Shine On girl!

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  39. Why should you feel badly about paid for something you work hard at? I agree I don't like to see blogs with random ads plastered everywhere, but I don't think anyone would fault you for having some well placed sponsors that you have a real connection too. Go for it.

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  40. I say go for it! I would be more than happy for you to make a little off my clicks. =) There are definite ways to do tasteful sidebar buttons to your sponsors that won't interfere with the main objective of your blog and I honestly do like the links b/c sometimes when I'm bored or when a button catches my eyes, I find other cool places to visit. Some blogs don't accept kickbacks or free products for review and I think that's just silly- I value the opinion and outlook of those I read in all ways. This is one of your jobs and as a reader I appreciate logging on to see a new post so by all means, get paid for it!

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  41. I agree with everything everyone above has mentioned. Go for it. As long as they don't distract us from your beautiful content, sponsors could be a nice addition.

    Also, yes, prints, a book or children's book, Farmers Markets are all great ideas, too.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with :-)

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  42. I think it's a great idea. It wouldn't have to be anything you don't want- stick to people or small companies you truly believe in. Perhaps that will ease the transition to being paid for something you do so well. :)

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  43. "the worker deserves his wages"
    Go for it and keep writing for us city folk so we know what we're missing. A few ads never hurt anyone. Best of luck x

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  44. i read for your words and captured moments... not what is posted on your sidebar. ads would never deter my love for what you do. if by having ads aids and allows you to continue a way of life that is slipping away... please accept ads!

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  45. I'd buy photographs of your animals (especially your new mama cow and ted) :)

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  46. Definitely go for sponsors! I always say that blogging is so empowering for women and that having sponsors is a great way to allow you do what you love in life. You work hard on this blog...and earning money from it, as you should could be a gateway to helping to achieve the life you want. I have seen sponsorship open up so many doors for women on blogs. Also, I said it before that your photography would make a great book :) I would definitely buy a book or prints!

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  47. I am a new reader and oh my word I love your blog! Honestly there are people out there that are against advertising. I am not one of those people. I think it's a great way to earn some extra money for something that you are putting work into. If it's blogs you feel are worth spreading the word about I say go for it! It is good for you and it gets their names out there for people who may not know about their blogs.

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  48. I absolutely love your blog and I think you should do what you need to do to continue on with your farming and your life that you love. Ads do not bother me in the slighest! I say do it!!

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  49. GO FOR IT!!! I think it's a great idea and i don't see any reason not to. I love your blog by the way, so inspiring!

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  50. I support your idea of a sponsored blog!!

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  51. Go for it! You deserve it for doing your dreams!

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  52. I am all for sponsorships. You do a job that not many of us do, and we're curious. That, added with amazing food recipes and photos, and you could snag a sponsor in a second. I think you can do it in a way that isn't over bearing... like you don't need to try some sponsor's product (unless it works for your lifestyle) and they can just be to the side, as companies you believe in. I would still follow you!!!

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  53. I think the most important thing is that you won't let the sponsors (themselves or simply just having them there) effect your content. I've heard people say they felt obliged to post daily for their sponsors, even when they had nothing to say. You can imagine what effect this would have on your content.
    Personally I don't mind sponsors if in the form you're describing. If you pick them well (or they you), it could even be an asset for your readers. I would totally understand if you decide to do that.

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  55. How about micro-donations opposed to ads (I rarely click on them and find them most of times annoying)?.

    If making a small donation is easy and quick, I wouldn't mind spending a few bucks on something I enjoy a lot!

    (Paypal? Bank transfer?)

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  56. Yes, of course its ok to get sponsors! If you feel weird about it, maybe you could do a mix? Have fancy sponsor ads and then maybe free/cheap ads for businesses that cant afford a spot on your website? either way, youre always in control what youre "selling"! Maybe some CSAs from Boston, NYC and other major cities would want a little spot.. that way you help everyone! Or organic bread companies, etc. what about outdoor companies like rei? they might want to have a spot here? hardware companies... farming supplies. seeds and flower companies? maybe local vermont businesses, but dont forget about otehr cities too.

    sponsorship will help you so much and compared to other bloggers, your lifestyle is useful to so many newbie farmers and just so freaking inspiring! You write so much, you need to be paid. believe me, there are bloggers out there linking you to pictures from other website as a blog post and they get paid several grand a month to do that!

    I think sponsorship would be a lot more helpful to you than micro donations... As long as your content doesnt change, people dont care! readers only get annoyed when the blogger "sells out" by not doing anything, yet still getting paid. and a lot of the time i find those ads useful!

    congrats on the engagement!

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  57. I'm a fellow farmer in the same shoes who has been thinking long and hard about how to make it work lately- your post really resonates with me.
    If you're inclined to share the boat with someone, I'd love to chat and swap ideas, etc.

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  58. I love your blog and think it's a great idea to have sponsors. You can think of it as an opportunity to help others get exposure for their own endeavors! Your readers will still be here and interested in your life! Xoxo

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