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“WTF on the Ads, Bro???”

A fair question indeed!

Today a sponsored tweet went out on my tweetstream.

WHA?! But…you…why…just…ASSHOLE!”

There was much less backlash than I had anticipated, actually. Still, I am a pretty up-front guy and I would like to tell you what’s going on:

For about 18 months or so, I was the lone scribe on this site. I turned down sponsorships because it just seemed like people didn’t need more advertising thrown at them and I was happy to work alone for free just to provide information to readers about weird, nerdy stuff that I like. Then, the podcast happened. Again, I passed on sponsorship early on for the same reason. Now, I’m about to launch a social network for the Nerdist Community–a space where hopefully nerds will unify to create cool stuff (more on that later, but beta invites will be going out to those who want them soon).

Recently, I took on contributors because my time was becoming too splintered between working for G4, traveling & doing stand-up (I’m putting an hour together for a special), book-writing, Wired writing, and managing the various Web entities. So here’s the thing: currently, I have about 20 people working for me to help expand the Nerdist horizons who aren’t being paid a cent. Jonah, Matt, the contributors, my new editor Laurie, the social network peeps…all working for free. I explained to them up top that while 80% of my time is devoted to Nerdist-related endeavors, none of it generates any money. They still said okay.

But I feel like it’s not okay. Good Will should only have to last so long (try opening a business with “hugs” as collateral). While some of you say things like, “WTF do you need extra cash for???” I will tell you!–> I really want to give people free things but it costs money to give people free things. I am not a large corporation. I am just a dude. But it is my dream that each of these Web-based entities will one day be able to sustain themselves. If Nerdist.com generates enough money to have a paid staff with paid contributors and a paid editor, we can bring better content consistently (I don’t think anyone can dispute that the contributors have added a whole new excellent dimension to this site). It allows content creators to feel okay about the time they’re throwing into their work instead of worrying about other work that actually feeds them.

I understand where we’re at as a society. America is a fucking billboard at this point and it’s irritating. But understand that I can’t keep doing this forever unless there is a sustainable business model in place, and I certainly don’t want you shelling out cash for it. If I can get a month’s worth of quality blog posts out of my contributors just by writing a SENTENCE on Twitter, I’d be crazy not to do that. Know this: the sponsorships will not become overwhelming. On Nerdist & Node (the upcoming network) you might see a banner, on the podcast a 30 second live “brought to you by” read, and the VERY OCCASIONAL tweet (and I really do mean VERY occasional). This will allow each of these to survive and improve. If it bothers you too much then I respect your decision to disassociate yourself from me and my various bullcrappery. If you can, though, please just try to ignore it if it bothers you and appreciate the content that I provide. Know that it’s not me trying to buy a summer house but rather me trying to expand an idea and give you more stuff. Also, and this is the most important point in my opinion, I will ALWAYS tell you if something is sponsored. NEVER worry that I’m slyly trying to sell you something by recommending it. There will never be a doubt as to whether or not what you’re seeing is something I am genuinely sharing or something that is keeping this rickety boat afloat.

You have been more than generous with your time and attention, and I respect and appreciate the trust that you have given me and this blog , the podcast, and my twitterings these last 2 years. Looking ahead, I’m hoping this could actually become some kind of  professional organization or something. I might be able to hire someone to edit and prepare the podcast files (instead of poorly doing it myself)! I could produce comedy vids for the site! I may even be able to manufacture promotional swag to give away…FOR FREE!!! I am incredibly excited about the new stuff that’s going on and the potential we have for growth. I sincerely hope you’ll stick around with me to see where it goes from here.

I less than three you,

Chris

Comments

  1. Joel says:

    Chris….I don’t know of you read my tweets or comments. You’re a busy man and I don’t know why you would. Lol. But I like what you are doing and I support you! As an out of work actor I would like to offer my services in your endeavors and videos. I would be honored for the chance to work with you. Life has been kicking my ass lately and it would be great to be part of a creative process again. Just a thought I’m putting out there. PS I’m the guy who named his puppy Tardis! -Joel

  2. @sewdotcoe says:

    Dude. I am excited about this Node stuff and I’d love to help you beta it! Your podcasts are awesome (and I totally adore Jonah Ray!!!)

  3. j4zknits says:

    I completely support your descision. I want you to be able to eat, so you can continue the funny!!! Thanks for being you

  4. Veronika says:

    You have my support.

    Thank you for everything that you have done for your audiance, and your “faithful companions”. You are the Dr. Who of Nerdocracy.

  5. Kyle says:

    1- I’ve got no problem with you running a banner here or there and sending out a sponsored tweet every now and then. Your signal-to-noise ratio on twitter is so much higher than the average anyway, you can send out some useless shitvertisements and I’m not going to bat an eye.

    B- If the rest of these nerds feel the same way about your content as I do, we’ll absolutely stand up and bitch at you if you take it too far with the ads and it starts detracting from the edutainment we’ve come to expect from the Nerdist brand. As it is now, I would’ve just ignored that sponsored tweet and thought nothing of it if you hadn’t blogged about it here. Rest assured, sir, this is The Internet. If you bother us, we’ll tell you. Probably in the form of goatse ascii art made entirely from profanity or something. We’re creative like that.

    Theta- I wouldn’t be above doing a paypal donation here or there to help out if that’s an option. I don’t go much for witty t-shirts anymore and don’t have an iphone so I’ve not picked up any of your current merch, but I’d throw some money your way on a volunteer basis for the laughs you’ve provided me.

  6. Abbey says:

    I’d click through 50 ads just to visit this site alone if I had to.

    Build your empire young Hardwick. Build it and prosper.

  7. Jen says:

    I think of you as the big brother to my geekiness and the ads are the mom to my geekiness (Linda Ellerbee) giving you gas money to drive me to the mall without complaining.

  8. Nick says:

    Chris, I don’t mind the ads and totally support what you are doing and why. Keep up the good work.