Last week on Offbeat Home & Life, we published a sponsored post about gender-neutral baby clothes, angled toward the gifts market. Within a couple hours, several readers commented on Facebook and the post itself that the products featured were out of their budgets — which I totally understand and respect. I also understand and respect that the format of sponsored posts can cause some friction (it’s like a post? but it’s an ad? but it’s a post? but it’s an ad?).
I’m less understanding toward readers feeling the need to post insulting comments (describing sponsors’ pricing as “laughable” and “obscene”) when they can’t afford a product. As I reminded commenters on Offbeat Home & Life: if anyone’s wondering why Offbeat Families ceased publishing new posts for lack of funds… this is why.
Back when Offbeat Families was still actively publishing and trying to support itself via sponsored posts, we had numerous instances of Offbeat Families readers being openly hostile toward our sponsors (most frequently over issues of pricing). Understandably, these businesses then stopped sponsoring the site. Understandably, the site was then unable to cover its operating costs. Understandably, I eventually made the decision to shut the site down. Understandably, this made a lot of longtime readers really sad.
I’m certainly not arguing that we should all like the products featured in sponsored posts, or like that there are sponsored posts. I completely respect that we’re all working with different budgets, especially those of us with children. The issue here is NOT that we should all be able to afford a $46 onesie — the issue is that we should respect that while if we can’t, maybe someone else can. And that if we like the content being provided for free by a publisher, we need to be aware of how our comments might impact that content continuing to be published.
Moral of the story: If you enjoy a commercial website and want it to stay online, be thoughtful when commenting on sponsored content.
- If a sponsored product isn’t a fit for you, just click over to read a different post on the site. Not every post is going to be relevant for every reader, and that’s cool!
- If you have significant concerns about the sponsored post or product (and it’s up to you whether “I can’t afford it” feels significant), directly contact the publisher or the advertiser by email to share that feedback.
Again, this advice assumes you like the website in question and want it to remain online — if you don’t like a website, THEN STOP READING IT! Your pageviews are hugely valuable. Stop giving them away to sites you don’t like.
It’s too late for Offbeat Families, but if you have other sponsor-supported websites you enjoy reading, it’s worth keeping their business models in mind. I’m not saying this for Offbeat Home & Life — I’m speaking mostly here to former Offbeat Families readers who don’t want to lose other nontraditional parenting websites they may enjoy.