Jason Snell on selling ads:
Being the sole proprietor of a web site means you’re not insulated. By accepting weekly sponsors for this site, I put myself in a position I’ve really never been in before, of having to decide if a sponsor is appropriate for my audience—and turn away business if I feel that it’s not a good fit with what I’m trying to do.
It’s a funny problem to have. My primary job at Standard Broadcast is that of curator — I don’t sell ads so much as I make sure they don’t ruin the shows on which they air. I take that role very seriously, and I have no problem turning away sponsors that don’t fit the spirit of the shows.
I also try to consider context. For Better Elevation — a video show focused on design and interaction — I only work with companies that make physical products. Partially because it makes for better visual content, but mostly because it better fits the spirit of the show: exploration and experimentation. As viewers and listeners we see lots of ads for software and services. Things we can touch and feel are different, and require different levels of thoughtfulness. For Standard’s shows, I consider the audience, what they like, and how sponsors pair up in a given episode.
Ultimately I’d argue that the sort of strong taste and editorial voice required to regularly make content of substance will also serve well in the curation of sponsorship. Whenever you’re letting someone else put their logo on your work, trust your gut. After all, whether you like it or not, ads are still part of your content.