After fifteen years of trying to support the site with advertising, we're going in a new direction.
I started OTB as a hobby in January 2003 on the free Blogspot service. Blogging quickly became addictive, consuming much of my time, and constant frustrations with Blogspot led me to move to this domain less than three months in.
As traffic grew, expenses increased and I joined the BlogAds network circa January 2004. Over the ensuing 15 years, I’ve tried lots of different advertising services and, for a few years, managed to bring in enough income from the site to not only meet expenses but even pay semi-regular stipends to the contributing writers.
As with most online outlets, the ad revenue gradually diminished to a trickle. BlogAds has been out of the business of serving ads on blogs for years; ditto several other companies whose ads I used to run. It’s been years since I’ve paid writers. And, the last three or four years, OTB has been a tax write-off.
The major site refresh that went live last February cost a few thousand dollars. With it came a complete housecleaning of the existing ad networks, because so many of the old ones were buggy, slowing down the site considerably or even serving malware.
While the new ads performed more cleanly and were less ugly, they were bringing in a mere pittance in terms of income. So, I’ve decided to simply remove them from the site entirely, making for a cleaner user experience.
In response to community feedback, as part of the aforementioned site refresh, I implemented two features for readers who wished to donate to the site to do so: A “Become a Patron” button from Patreon, which allows people to chose to donate a steady amount ($1, $5, $10, or $25) on a monthly basis and a “One-time Contribution” button which allows people to make, well, a one-time contribution to the site’s PayPal account. They both reside atop the right sidebar. But this is the first time I’ve referenced them outside the Comments section.
Considering that I make a reasonable living in my day job, I’ve always felt rather sheepish asking people to contribute to the site. That I was also bringing in money from advertising exacerbated that. The latter of these concerns, at least, is now gone.
I’ve become convinced in recent months that we’ve created something of a community at this site and invite members of it who can afford to do so to consider contributing financially. While Patreon offers the option of segregating certain “premium” content to those who meet donation thresholds, I’ve got no interest in walling off the community on that basis. But I’d appreciate whatever support you can throw our way. Who knows, we might bring in enough to start paying writers again.
(I’m going to stick this to the top of the home page for a day or two to ensure it gets seen and then issue a reminder maybe once a month or so.)