I’ve received an offer to buy advertising on this site – not a hare lip charity-scam a la Greenwich Time but a local national commercial builder. I’m both flattered and tempted – money can be useful – but I don’t know – what do you guys think? I do make some good money from this site because the occasional reader becomes a client and at Greenwich prices, those commissions pay a hell of a lot more than ads for Greenwich Mom’s tricks for eliminating yellowed teeth and belly fat.

What troubles me is that, when I was a paid columnist, advertisers in the paper felt they could control me through the business manager. Didn’t happen, but it did result in my being fired by Greenwich Post and shunned by Greenwich Time. Would I cut my jib to suit their demands. Nah. But …

I suspect that the money involved here wouldn’t exactly tempt me over to the dark side – if I didn’t get my coffee money from this advertiser, I could probably find it on the floor of my Honda, but should I even try this? I’d appreciate your thoughts (probably not yours, Walt, but fire away anyway).


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51 responses to “Advertising?

  1. Objective

    keep the ads discreet and not to obtrusive and go for it… its a great site – – I am no longer in town so an occasional ad with some local flavor reminds me of the good ole’ hasbeen days…

  2. Old Coot

    Accept whatever $$$ are offered and then divvy it up amongst your regular commenters at the end of each month. 😉

  3. Peg

    Go ahead and try it! My only cautions would be these.

    Make certain your builder knows your standards for blogging and commenting – and that he’s OK with it. And – in your own mind, draw the boundaries of what matters to you, then occasionally review to discern whether or not you are “selling out.” If it seems good to go – then take in the extra cash, my fellow suffering Realtor.

  4. christopherfountain

    Old Coot, that’s probably a great idea, but I’m leaning toward my pal Peg’s advice, as it comes from a “fellow suffering Realtor”.

  5. beholden

    if you don’t need the money, don’t do it. It will forever create an appearance that you are not truly independent — something that I think many people truly enjoy about your opinions.

  6. Greenwich Ex-Pat

    Good advice, Peg. I’d also want to be sure that there’s no potential for scam or scandal on the part of the builder. For the sake of future clients, who would be attracted by Chris’s integrity, there’s a slight potential for damage to the reputation on a guilt by association basis. Something to consider.

    For example, the builder has a Chinese drywall problem, or a major quality or financing issue that comes to light later, etc. Let’s say a client decides, on the basis of the advertising relationship, to go elsewhere. Was the potential lost commission worth the advertising $$? And in a somewhat intimate market like Greenwich, I’m sure there would be a realtor or two who might make a big deal about it.

    If Chris can satisfy himself there’s no potential for danger in the relationship, I say go for it.

  7. Every once in while someone approaches me – a lender, a builder – to advertise on the site. I’ve turned them down. I think it distracts, visually and from your message & for the small change involved not worth it.

  8. Stanwich

    Don’t do it.

    Your objectivity will be compromised in some way or another and it will become more of a hassle to you than anything else. As it stands now, you can say that you are completely free of any outside pressures. Your biggest selling point to clients is that you are on the buyer’s side with no conflicts. You answered your own question — you can make far more money by claiming this purity than by selling a bit of ad space. You are in the unique position to be able to capitalize on this, why sell out and potentially harm your business model and cloud your “reputation” (brokers might not like you but buyers I’m sure have complete faith that you are on their side).

    DON’T DO IT.

  9. shifty

    might as well make a little green fo all your work? if u didnt sell out to the greenwich point i doubt u would on your own webstite no matter how tempting the offer

  10. Inagua

    Of course you should accept advertisers. Your energy, insight, and wit has attracted our eyeballs, and you deserve to get paid for our readership. Congratulations.

  11. xyzzy

    You have a list of builders who you like, if you let someone advertise on your site its going to come off like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

  12. A.O.

    I’ve never seen a WordPress blog with ads. Can you link us to one who does? I see the issue as more about who advertises with you, not if you accept ads. If it’s a restaurant you frequent, like Will Morton’s, fine. But a builder? I might assume that’s an endorsement of his work. I’ll read no matter your decision but I think it requires alot of thought.

  13. J

    I think it is a great idea. You should go for it

  14. Retired IB'er

    If the ads can benefit you ever so meagerly than do it— assuming they are not annoying pop-ups or blare at your readers.

    Beyond that, simply make certain with your lawyerly skills that all content (including comments) is under your purview.

    If you are foolish enough to pull punches for nickels and dimes from advertising (when the real money is to be made by attracting potential customers) then your blog will deservedly wither away. However, based upon your past performance (s) I would be startled if you’re “tell it as best as you see it” approach would be influenced.

  15. JJ

    Take the $$$, your objectivity is obvious. If that changes or the ads become a nuisance your regular readers will let you know pretty quickly.

  16. Wally

    Go for it. You work hard on this site, and you deserve to make $ for the readership you have built. Just keep it in balance, so your readers don’t get disgusted with too many ads (please no harelips) and stop visiting. Good luck!

  17. Sambone

    Go for it. Just don’t use ads where they make you sit through the ad, before you get to your site. I don’t always agree with you, but I keep coming back. Grab the ring and run with it, big guy!
    BTW, what does your buddy Walt say about it?

  18. Dan

    I’m no lawyer, but there might be a different view of your content once this is a profit driven website (even if the profit just pays for your coffee). Aren’t things you write viewed differently if you do it for “free” (even if some readers become clients) than if you do it for outright cash?

  19. Chief Sachem

    Selling out is selling out.

    Believe me, those twenty-four red coats for Tod’s Point (that’s anachronism) looked good at the time, too.

  20. consigliere

    If you keep your mouth shut, we can only wonder if you are a fool. Once you open it, we will know for sure.

    Once you accept advertising revenues for doing so, you bring upon yourself a whole new level of responsibility for your copyright infringements, libel, business slander, and reckless endangerment, which regularly occurs here, and entertains your loyal readership.

    How about you just let the readers pick up the tab for an occasional get-together at the bar, and we keep you out of court. We know you can handle the GAR yourself.

  21. Old School Grump

    Seems like you’re an old hand at maintaining your journalistic integrity, and given your training as a lawyer you’ll be alert to all the details in the contract, so have a go at it! My only concern would be that you’ll run afoul of some obscure GAR rule, enabling them to gleefully pounce and run you out of the guild.

  22. Way Up Valley

    I’d go a step further than Peg — suggest you dust off the law degree for an hour or three and actually craft an agreement with any advertiser that says you can (and will) say whatever you want to say including things that the advertiser may find offensive, libelous, slanderous, confusing, blasphemous, annoying or irrelevant with no liability unless you make factual assertions that are not true (“97% of first year occupants of these homes will die by choking on a frankfurter, and the other 3% will be possessed by the devil and made to assert the musical superiority of the Plastic Ono Band”). That you reserve the right to cancel the advertising at any time. And probably attach George Carlin’s list of dirty words (the long one) as an Appendix.

    On the self-management front, agree, if you find yourself doing the following:

    Walt sucks donkey balls. Buy a new Acme McMansion. The Demmerkrats are frakkin’ idiots. Buy a new Acme McMansion.

    You may want to reconsider.

    Also, I would specifically tell the advertisers that any attempt to influence you would automatically trigger a posting saying as much.

    “Gentle readers, those scumbags at Acme McMansions attempted to get me to write about how all of their houses are beautiful. Well, they are losers for so doing, the particular example at 5555 Lake is a piece of flaming crapola, like I said, but, I do recommend you consider one of their other models next time you are building.”

    But, with these provisos, go for it!

    Journey and Styx sit much more comfortably on a CD shelf next to Elvis Costello and Gang of Four than you would think.

  23. Nat

    You can always be like Don Imus in his better days – take the ads, then make fun of them.

  24. P

    YES. You’re discerning enough to refuse advertising from one whom you feel would compromise your ability to speak freely. Any builder who would advertise on a blog which points out the many follies of builders past and present clearly would not have a deleterious influence upon your writings. There are only two considerations you may wish to contemplate. The first is if this in any way compromises your position in the much-hoped for in Re. Greenwich Association of Realtors V. Fountain or however it will be stylized. The other question is if said national builder is planning to buy and subdivide in Greenwich and is cleverly trying to make nice with you first – unlikely but something to consider if and when it happens.

  25. Jack Martin

    Why not give it a try?
    If it works you end up with some extra money.
    If it doesn’t work just stop taking their money.

  26. I’m with Stanwich and the rest. Remain staunchly independent. Otherwise, your friends–and certainly your detractors–will always wonder about you.

    Keep up the good work!

  27. Arouet

    It’s a risk-reward calibration. You seem to have a lot of fun with this blog, and I think the increase in accountability may diminish that. The lawyer in you knows you’ll have to pay more attention to your content, because you have given outsiders (your adverti$ers) some skin in the game. A carefully written disclaimer may help, but it isn’t enough to restore the ad-free risk level you have now. On the other hand, everything has its price, and the question then becomes whether the offer is high enough.

  28. not so anonymous

    Of course you should, as long as you can honestly recommend the particular builders ( clients) work.Dennis Miller is no sellout and he pitches stuff..You are so notoriously outspoken, just keep it that way.Congrats.

  29. pulled up in OG

    You have a clean looking website (not counting fat broads) which is a rarity nowadays. Worth preserving.

    Hat tip to local builders, firewood, etc in right hand column a nice touch w/o being obtrusive.

  30. Anonymous

    Wouldn’t do it
    Opportunity cost of negative optics in obtaining any future buy-side mandates from cynical buyers
    Pocket change is never worth compromising one’s integrity and independence, whether in reality or even optically

  31. pulled up in OG

    Slippery slope – first the builder, then T-Mobile . . .

  32. well-heeled

    Do what “Way Up Valley” described.

    agree on terms, take the $$

    Revisit in a few months

  33. anonymous

    please, just no pop ups! that would be a huge turn off. i love your blog, but if you add on pop ups, i doubt i would read it as much.
    maybe you could add advertisers, and then let readers rate the advertisers. that would keep things unbiased. for example, if a builder advertised, your clients could give that builder a certain amount of stars if they knew their work. (i know there would be the problem of a competitor rating them as awful, so you’d have to figure out how to deal with that, but you could always have a link where people could talk about the advertisers on the sight to keep it real. ) just an idea, and then you wouldn’t have to put in your own 2 cents and piss off the advertiser that’s paying you!
    Or, you could simply put a link on your page like a yellow pages link. And businesses could pay a fee to be listed with a small ad space- categories such as builders, plumbers, landscapers, decorators, local shops, etc. If your readers needed a plumber, they could go to your link and find one. If your reader then used that plumber, they could comment on their experience for others to read. Kind of like zagat’s i guess…..

  34. Priapus

    Content, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.

    You spend hours and ours on here, be arock star, take the keesh! But if you become some Obamaniac and soften up, we’ll just leave, the readership will go to zero, and you will lose the gig anyway. Somehow, i doubt that will happen. I’m pretty sure you’ve hit a nerve or two in town by now.

  35. Anon.

    Cool! Soon all the brokers (and small businesses) in town will be fawning over better advertising location on your website- poetic justice! Maybe you will end up with the next listing for the Helmsley property, or at least, receive frequent dinners in town courtesy of the many members of the MLB!

  36. Walt

    Dude Man –
    I read this earlier, and it’s an important question, so I wanted to noodle it a bit before I gave you my sage advice. Plus, see what other readers think.
    It’s a good thing you have me, Dude, because while I am sure they all mean well, and want to help you, they are ignoring the reality of the situation. So let’s deal with facts, and reach a decision based on facts, and only facts. OK?
    Number 1 – You are a “professional real estate agent” who hasn’t cashed a commission check in who knows how long? And as a “real estate professional” you are incapable of saying no to money. That is a fact.
    Number 2 – Having established that, you need to control you have only ad’s you like on this site. We know you hate hare lip pictures. That is pretty clear. So the only question left as I see it, is what kind of ad’s to run. Dude – that is a layup.
    HOTTIES!!! With GIANT FUNBAGS!!! The bigger the better Dude. Hiram may view a spectacular set of fake ones the same as a typo, but that’s his problem, not ours, right?
    So you make a little extra scratch, and we get to look at Bar whats her name. Win – Win Dude!!
    And how much are the advertising rates? I want to post a picture of my boney ass so you can give it a kiss!!
    Your Pal,

  37. AJ

    I like the hairlip ads.

  38. Virginia Beach

    Go for it. You have great content…monetize it!

  39. Kidding Really??

    Go for the money! This is still America.

    I actually wish you make a lot of money and speak your mind more freely. Sad you have to worry about Greenwich real estate board.

  40. what are you, a noel?

    Gosh, the reader comments are far more interesting than what the blogger writes. Pay us the commenters that get through your filters, not you. This should be a journal, not a form of income. what are you a noel or a blumenthal? give me a break. DO YOU REALLY NEED THE ANSWER?, Ok , NO!!!

  41. Cos Cobber

    Dont compromise yourself one iota. Not yet anyway… Once you rival Glen Beck then cash in big.

  42. Sound Beacher

    don’t do it, do not sell out….

  43. Towny

    Make the pricks pay triple for popping your cherry or dont do it.

  44. Martha

    Hmmm, I don’t really have an opinion on advertising. Your other readers make some interesting comments. I am, however, about to send you an email introducing ourselves more formally so we can become clients. But, hubby wants me to wait ’till the bonus bucks hit the bank in a couple of weeks. Our relocation plans are still confidential and he’s a bit of a nervous nelly about it being a small world, you know?

  45. anony

    Consider becoming an affiliate of an online retailer like Amazon. Point your readers to products that you think are cool and earn a commission on every sale.

  46. Aardvark

    Do it. As long as its not to intrusive. I rarely notice ads online anyway – so it will not affect me. Love this blog…

  47. Old School Grump

    On second thought …

    you mention “an advertiser,” which which would be a problem in that having only one advertiser would really make it look as if they are your sponsor. Not a good look. Better to have at least half a dozen, with some of them in businesses not directly related to real estate. But then you become an advertising vehicle, which isn’t what you want either. Unless the near-term $ is so compelling that it’s worth trashing the blog’s franchise, maybe not a good idea after all.

  48. Don’t accept advertising…you stand out because you are independent. It would cheapen your site! Great Job!

  49. Anonymous

    if you NEED the money, of course you should take it. no one should decide to impoverish himself. if you DO NOT need the money, you should forgo it. you will almost never be able to ‘repurchase’ the gloss of integrity that will be lost once you take the first dollar from those in business that are within your free-fire zone.

  50. out looking in

    why don’t you just stand on the corner with a sign that reads “will work (hard) for free”…..of course do it- just make it clear with the builder that you will abstain from commenting on any of his past or future properties…