tl;dr I'm ditching adverts on this site from next week, and switching to a weekly sponsor instead. Let me know if your company is interested in grabbing one of the exclusive sponsorship slots. More details of my thinking below, or check out how to sponsor. Thanks!
Update: There are still some sponsorship slots available for this month. Get in touch if you want to grab them!
It's 18 months since I quit my day job at Sophos and set up as an independent, working for myself. And with the start of a new year I thought it was worth spending a couple of minutes reflecting on where I've been, and where I hope to get to.
It's been an extraordinary experience running this site, and I feel like I'm learning things all the time about running my own business which I would never have had the chance to if I'd kept the desk job. It has been hard work, but it's also been a lot of fun - and I don't regret the switch.
For one thing, I've been enormously encouraged by the thousands of people who visit the site every day (in a typical week this website receives 50,000+ unique visitors, adding up to over 300,000 page views each month), the tip-offs that are sent in, and those who spend some time leaving a comment ("Hi Coyote!") or have been generous enough to write a guest article.
Of course, I have to pay for my bandwidth and some other costs. I have a "Rolls Royce" hosting firm (WPEngine) to keep my site up and running, and safe from DDoS attacks and hackers.
WPEngine is far from cheap, but - in my opinion - they're the best in the business when it comes to secure WordPress hosting. And it's a lovely feeling knowing that your site won't be busted or compromised when you wake up in the morning.
Some people have asked "How do you make any cash?".
The answer is that I give talks at company events and conferences about computer security, privacy and hacking. Surprisingly, they can be quite fun and entertaining! Well, I enjoy them at least...
I also write guest articles for various security vendors (you will see them linked to from this site, alongside the ones I write for myself).
And then there's advertising.
I must admit, like many techies, I'm not a huge fan of web advertising. I've had adverts in the sidebar of my website for a while but I've never been convinced that it's a good experience for either the advertiser or the website's visitors.
Adverts can be irritating. They can get in the way of the content you want to read, and have flashy animations which can act as a distraction.
Furthermore, clued-up web users know how easy it is to block advertising on a website through using a browser plugin. It doesn't just speed up the web, it also reduces the chances of your computer being hit by malvertising.
Finally, in my experience, graphic ads simply don't work well on smaller devices such as smartphones - where there is always tight competition for space.
I may be persuaded otherwise one day, but my feeling is that display ads on websites aren't worth the small amount of cash they bring my website, don't bring good enough value to the advertisers, and are disliked by readers.
But it would be nice to make a little money from the site, because that would free me up to do more things that folks like - such as make more videos.
So, what to do?
Introducing site sponsorship!
Next week I'll be removing the sidebar ad from my website. Instead there will be an exclusive weekly sponsor for the entire site - promoted at the top of every page.
In my opinion, the sponsorship line is less irritating than a display ad, benefits from not being animated (huzzah!) and there's no chance of an ad-blocker making any sponsors feel unloved.
Oh, and it works equally well on mobile devices.
In addition, the weekly sponsor receives an article thanking them for their sponsorship, an item in the site's RSS feed at the beginning of the week, an item in GCHQ (Graham Cluley's Security Newsletter) sent to over 5,000 subscribers, and a tweet thanking the sponsor from Graham's personal Twitter account (currently 70,859 followers).
Special thanks to GeoSurf for being my initial sponsor. I appreciate your support guys!
Of course, I won't allow site sponsorship change the independent nature of the content that is published here. Frankly, if XYZ Inc gets hacked and they happen to be a sponsor - you'll definitely still be hearing about it. :)
More details about sponsorship, including a media pack, can be found on the new sponsorship page.
All I need now are some more sponsors... ;-)
Thanks again to all the readers who make this site possible, I really appreciate you visiting every day and sharing advice and alerts with your friends, colleagues and family.
If you have any thoughts on how the site can be improved - what's working and what's not working - please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.