Now, you're presented with an offer from Pajamas Media, and to accept the offer, you will need to give up the top four slots in your sidebar, displacing BlogAds. You are offered a set price to sign on for a year (or 18 months). You will no longer have to worry about attracting new advertisers: the company has taken on the risk. They will find the advertisers and place the ads on your blog for you. You will no longer be able to reject ads, and the ads are likely to come from advertisers of bigger commercial products rather than the kind of products that have been using BlogAds.
Should you switch to Pajamas Media? I can't answer that question for you, and not just because I'm not your lawyer. I don't know enough about you. I can't look into your heart. With Pajamas Media, they've promised to pay a set amount money, so you won't have to worry about continually attracting advertisers. BlogAds will put pressure on you to continue to write the kind of blog that people will want to visit, but it lets you increase your income if your traffic increases and allows you to continue to control how your blog looks. With BlogAds, you're an independent entrepreneur, with Pajamas, you're more like an employee (with a one-year contract).
Who would do best with the Pajamas deal? A blogger with peak traffic now, who is going into a period of decline, who sees himself tailing off, is looking for a mellow way to extract cash from the value he's already created, and who doesn't care so much about what the blog actually looks like or what products he's displaying. Perhaps Pajamas offered this blogger an amount equal to what he made on BlogAds over the past year, but his BlogAds income had already started to decline: he might want to lock in at that level and relax.
Who would do best with BlogAds? A blogger who predicts increased traffic in the future, who doesn't mind or enjoys the ongoing incentive to keep up or improve the quality of his writing, who wants to be in a position to benefit if the blog becomes more attractive to advertisers, and who wants to control which ads appear on the blog. If this blogger received a Pajamas offer equal to the amount he'd made on BlogAds over the past year, but his BlogAds income had been on the increase, so that the offer was only one third of his current BlogAds rate of income, he'd probably puzzle over how Pajamas could possibly believe they'd made a decent offer.
Which company, Pajamas or BlogAds, has the better business model? Pajamas is positioning itself to pitch to big advertisers of the sort that now advertise in mainstream media. They will aggregate the visitors of many blogs and present that attractive, large number to advertisers. But they are trusting that the bloggers, once signed on and entitled to set payments, will keep up the good work and continue to draw visitors, even though the bloggers who took the deal will be the kind of people who saw advantage to themselves in a deal like that. BlogAds might be overshadowed by Pajamas if enough bloggers take that deal, but it will still have the kind of advertisers it's had all along, who are working on a style of advertising designed for the blog environment. And it will have the advantage of keeping the bloggers who cared the most about the content of their blogs and who chose to retain the risk of their own future success.
UPDATE: Charles Johnson counts "three inaccuracies" in this post: "1) bloggers who sign up with us do have veto power over ads we place on their sites, 2) we have two plans so that people who want to continue using Blogads can do so, and 3) bloggers do not give up visual control over their sites, any more than with Blogads." Okay, I made a scrupulous effort to get the facts straight based on reading the email Pajamas Media sent me, so if I've gotten anything wrong we need to consider whether their email conveyed the information properly. If I'm going to yoke myself to an operation for a year, I need to believe they are competent, and the first evidence of their competence is the quality of the email they sent me!
Let's look at it, and you see if you can find any reference to the veto power the blogger has over the ads, Johnson's point #1. And see if you can figure out what point #3 is supposed to mean that doesn't repeat point #1. As to point #2, I didn't state anything inaccurately about that. The fact is: even the basic plan requires you to give the top four slots to Pajamas. Your BlogAds will be underneath all of their stuff, unless you clutter your blog with a second sidebar. In either case, your BlogAds are displaced and clearly will have to sell for less.[IMPORTANT UPDATE: Free Will emails and correctly points out that
Here's the email:
Dear Pajamas Media Blogger Colleague:Don't bother addressing me by name.
As we said in previous email to you, the most important goal of Pajamas Media is to extend the power and influence of weblogs. We intend to do this by formalizing the voice of bloggers as Senior and Affiliated Contributors to a Pajamas Media-led electronic media. (The name is currently being researched.)Are you going to pitch to the advertisers in language this exciting?
We wanted to thank you for your interest in joining Pajamas Media and invite you to work with our new initiative as an “Affiliated Contributor.” We have structured two different levels or options – a Standard and a more Basic Affiliated Contributor. Under each model you would be paid an amount of money for us to link and leverage your content as well as to utilize your advertising space.
First, let’s take a look at the affiliation side of the relationship:So you "are able" to do some things. You're phrasing what I'm giving you as if you are offering to do something, but you're not actually promising to do it.
If you elect to be a Standard Affiliated Contributor:
- We will work together to do a profile of you and your blog
- We are able to provide a directory link to your blog
- We are able to use occasional content on the “common” areas of our site.
- You limit your content on RSS feeds to title and or summary – but not whole story
If you elect to be a Basic Affiliated Contributor:
- We are able to provide a directory link to your blog
In other words, I'll get to be on your blogroll?
Of course we also want to ensure there is an economic aspect to the relationship that works for you – so now let’s take a look at the advertising side of the two options:I'm supposed to somehow be amazed that I could make money blogging? But I have BlogAds already, and the amount you are about to offer me is far less than I'm currently making with BlogAds. What is amazing me is that you're writing to me as if I'm a babe-in-the-woods.
As an Affiliated Contributor, you will be offered guaranteed payments!
Don’t blink twice. You are going to be paid to blog!
Earning Levels for Standard or Basic Affiliations
Your blog name is: Ann Althouse
The following is a personalized offer, based on your estimated traffic.
Standard -- [amount deleted, mostly out of embarrassment!] per year. [amount deleted] per quarter starting 4th quarter 2005 for six quarters. Plus a signing bonus of [amount deleted] payable as quickly as possible after your site is “ad ready” for a total of [amount deleted]. You will receive this if you reserve all available ad space for Pajamas for a period of 18 months.
Basic -- [amount deleted] per year. [amount deleted] per quarter starting 4th quarter 2005 for a period of 12 months. This will be paid if you reserve your Top Four ad spaces on the right or left hand column for Pajamas Media, and do not wish to display the more extensive ads referred to above.
So the Standard plan, the one that has them making some kind of attempt to promote my blog through their portal, requires me to oust BlogAds altogether, and the Basic plan forces me to give them the top four slots in the sidebar. My post is absolutely accurate with respect to the displacement of BlogAds. Yes, I realize I can still have them, if I take the Basic plan and put them under all this new material. But who's going to buy them down there -- especially with all the new commercial ads that are going to change the tone of the blog? [IMPORTANT UPDATE: As noted above, displaying BlogAds this way would actually violate the BlogAds terms of agreement.]
So there you have the plan – two options involving different degrees of content affiliation, different terms, different ad spaces, and different payment levels and mechanisms. In short – you can choose how closely you would like to be affiliated with our new journey!
Journey? Is there anything less hip than calling something a "journey"? Where exactly are we going? I'm picturing a primrose path.
The following chart sets forth the primary differences between the levels:I'm not preserving the chart form, but all the content is here:
Profile of you on the PortalStandard--YES Basic--No
Directory link from the Pajamas Portal to your WeblogStandard--YES Basic--YES
The use of content from your Blog on the Portal “Common Areas”Standard-- YES Basic--No
Pajamas has exclusive ad space on all pages (home, comment, etc) including IAB Ad UnitsStandard--YES Basic--No
Pajamas has top FOUR spaces on right or left columnStandard--YES Basic--YES
All ads will comply with BAS Standard developed by Advisors. (see below)Standard--YES Basic--YES
Pajamas gets full use of RSS feeds.Standard--YES Basic--YES
Term of AgreementStandard--18 months Basic--12 months
Did you see anything there about a power to veto ads? How about in this next part?
Because we are concerned about the quality of the advertising we place on your blog, all ads will be required to comply with our Blog Ad Standards (BAS), which will be determined by our advisory board, made up of fellow bloggers. Because technology and the marketplace keep changing, we will keep changing the BAS to ensure that all ads placed through this plan are blog-appropriate.So some board of advisors is making judgments about the ads, with whatever standards they come up with. Where's the part about me deciding? Did I miss something?
Our rough schedule is to start some preliminary advertisements in mid-August, with late September as our grand opening. However, you will receive your full payment for the 4th quarter of 2005 (Oct 1 – Dec 31) regardless of whether we are placing ads by then or not.I clicked on the link and got to a page with the choice between Standard and Basic. There was no more information there -- certainly nothing about an ad veto power. I didn't proceed any futher, so I didn't get a copy of the contract to peruse. Perhaps the elusive veto power is in there. Any inaccuracies for failure to guess what's in that part of the Pajamas Media reading material are regrettable, but scarcely my fault. The offer I received was far too terrible to accept with or without that veto power, but a competent business ought to forefront the positive aspects of a deal. It's normally the negatives that you'd squirrel away in the fine print. And you want to be my advertising agent?
How do I Sign Up?
You simply click on this link which will take you to our website:
There you may select either the Standard or Basic plan, and you may be asked to input some additional information. You will receive your contract, with instructions for signing on, by email within 5 business days of sending in your information. You are not obligated to anything until you send back the agreement.
So that’s it for now. If you have any questions, please contact
Best wishes, The Pajamas Media Team
I only have one question: how could you possibly think you've made me an offer I could accept?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots of hot discussion in the comments. Check it out. But the main thing I'm updating to say is that Ace of Spades -- whose traffic level is very similar to mine -- has the same complaint about the offer I have.
MORE: Sorry, I was wrong to think the second column approach was forbidden.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I just noticed the line "Your blog name is: Ann Althouse." My blog name isn't Ann Althouse! So they don't even get the name of my blog right. I'm guessing they made the email weirdly impersonal because they were worried about not giving off a sufficiently professional aura. But that writing quirk is, in fact, amateurish.