Editorial: I could use your advice

First of all, I wanted to thank you. For your readership and your support. And, for your continuing to pursue your side projects, your part-time projects, and your full-on entrepreneurial pursuits.

And especially for being brave enough to read a post called “I could use your advice.”

This one is a tough one for me. And I’ll apologize in advance for my rambling explanation. But here we go…

It’s no secret that I started Silicon Florist on a whim. Because I saw a gap in the news coverage. Because I saw incredibly exciting things happening in Portland that didn’t seem to garner coverage—either by local pubs or by the juggernauts of the tech industry.

In short, I’ve been humbled by the response to the blog. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your continuing to read it.

I started Silicon Florist because I thought it was a good idea. But I like to think I have a lot of good ideas. It was a side project. A passion project.

But as Silicon Florist continues to grow, it begins to slide into the “part-time gig” column. And I’m happy to see it do that, because I can confidently say that my passion for Silicon Florist and the potential it holds only continues to grow.

After talking with literally hundreds of people (with whom I would have never had contact without this blog), I can see a number of other “gaps” that could be filled. That could improve our startup community here in the Silicon Forest. That could help other folks—kids, business people, venture capitalists—get more involved in the tech industry, here. That could move help Portland and its surrounding areas take a rightful place on the technology map, again.

And that’s something I desperately want to do.

But. (There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?)

There are only so many hours in the day. And I would very much like to dedicate some of those hours before midnight to Silicon Florist pursuits. And to the greater good.

But in order to do that, I have to reduce the number of consulting hours to which I commit. And we all know what that means, don’t we?


Well, it means, I need to find another way to replace that cash that’s currently underwriting all of the Silicon Florist efforts. So that I can spend more than side-project time on Silicon Florist. And, quite honestly, to keep this burgeoning dream alive that maybe—just maybe—Silicon Florist has the potential to be a full-time gig.

So, finally, we come to my question:

What should I do?

I have some baggage about even considering this whole thing. But, someone far wiser than I told me, “The first time you covered a topic because you felt you had to cover it, rather than because you wanted to cover it, Silicon Florist stopped being your blog.” And that message has been echoed by others.

So, I feel I have logical justification. But, it’s that selfsame logical defense that also tells me that this blog belongs to you, too. So, I need some more feedback. I need to ask those of you in the silent majority who haven’t had the chance to say your piece.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal. And I see a number of potential options for getting Silicon Florist out of my basement and on its way to paying some of its own bills. But I’m also open to your feedback.

Here are some ideas I had:

  • Do nothing different from today. Keep the coverage at the same—or lower—level. Keep on keeping on, and look for other passion projects to which I can dedicate my time.
  • Introduce the OPB-esque idea of “Sustaining sponsors,” be that individuals or corporations, who provide funding to underwrite Silicon Florist projects.
  • Pursue good old fashioned Web advertising. Rest assured, I’m not talking about anything gaudy, whack-a-mole-ish, or mortgage-financing-ish. I have to look at the site, too. And ideally, it should be advertising that actually helps Silicon Forest startups and other readers. Shocking concept, I realize.
  • Come up with a more creative solution for solving the problem with which I find myself faced.
  • Or, your idea may be the right thing to do. So feel free to share your ideas in the “Other” area or via comments.

Suffice it to say, that my most important concern is that, you, as a reader do not feel put upon or alienated as a result of my pursuing this direction. Because if this blog fails to keep you interested or if you’re going to be offended, I’d rather suck it up and do nothing.

Wow. That was a lead-up if I’ve ever composed one. If you’re still awake… without further ado, is my appeal for your feedback. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. (Poll not showing? Please access the Silicon Florist poll here.)

And, as always, please feel free to use the comments to expound upon your answers.

Thank you. Sincerely. I really appreciate your advice.


  1. […] I began the conversation about making Silicon Florist a self-sustaining entity, it was because I had—and continue to have—a number of ideas for trying to help […]

  2. […] I know many of you have more than three jobs to post. And the “underwriting the Silicon Florist” survey direct me to get creative about finding ways to fund the continued development of […]

  3. @Ryan Williams I think that, for the tip jar to actually work, I need to reach for some new level of charm that is, undoubtedly, far beyond my grasp.

    You’re not freeloading. You’re participating and you’re building cool tools that I can cover. Your time is a valuable contribution. 😉

    And I hear you on the job/gig board. I think I counted upwards of 45 openings in the last PDXmindshare.

  4. I don’t have anything original to add, but I would second the vote for job listings. Have you seen the number of jobs in the pdxMindShare email these days? That along with professional service advertisers and more writers seem like good starts and if that doesn’t do the trick, then full fledged sponsorship would be reasonable. Has a tip jar every really worked? I think I’ve donated once for something on the web. I feel like such a freeloader.

  5. go for the virtual tipjar. i suggest amazon’s flexable payment system. it would take a plugin to integrate into the website (wordpress?). the tipjoy suggestion is also interesting.

  6. If you are looking at Silicon Florist as a startup, much like the startups you write about, then I find no fault in seeking funding like any business would do.

    Now the question is, would you write a post about yourself? 😉

  7. I am new here, but I have a couple of suggestions that you could explore. There are two revenue generating startups emerging from Y-Combinator this year, (http://www.tipjoy.com/ , http://snaptalent.com/ ) I believe both have great potential! Here is the descriptions ala techcrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/14/y-combinator-demo-day-roundup-for-spring-2008/):

    Tipjoy is an easy micropayment system for the web. It has been designed to cut out the steps necessary for website visitors to leave small amounts of money for content publishers, such as bloggers. The Tipjoy button placed on a website asks for only an email address and by default registers a donation of 10 cents. The service is nearing 70,000 impressions per day and the founders are exploring different models for micropayments, such as employing them to finance high definition video on the web.

    Snaptalent is an advertising network for job listings that uses IP detection to determine whether website viewers work or study at particular companies or institutions. It then displays listings from employers who want to attract workers from organizations known for their talent, such as Facebook or Harvard.

    I believe Snaptalent would have more benefit to the growing Portland startup scene, by providing both an avenue to promote local startup jobs and find local talent.

    Thank you for providing this great resource!

  8. Thanks, everyone, for continuing to chime in. This is exactly the kind of discourse I was hoping to see. Truly. Thank you.

    To all of you who have mentioned, “guest” authors: This is currently a very informal program, at this point, but one I would like to expand.

    Suffice it to say, you are always more than welcome to submit guest articles to siliconflorist@gmail.com until I come up with a more formal process for them.

    In fact, that’s part of what motivated this post originally. Managing multiple contributors—regular contributors or otherwise—will likely take as much, if not more time than writing this on my own. I’d like to be able to have the time to explore that route.

    @Matt King: Fully agree. I’d like to see some analysis of both the products and the market, too. I think some of that onus is on me. I think some of it we can get through guest editorials, as well.

    Again, to all of you, thank you. This is really helping.

  9. Rick: If you can avoid sponsorship, that would be good. I think opening up to multiple bloggers might help. I’d like to help out with that end if you decide to open up to other contributors.
    Let me know.

  10. I do enjoy reading this blog, however I would really like to see more opinion/editorial pieces. Right now I see a lot of news on new and cool stuff, but I’d like to know what the writer thinks, not just a quick paragraph summarizing what has probably already been said in the linked-to article.

  11. Love seeing all the comments! Rick, I love this blog. Honestly, it is my favorite…no joke. Much needed.

    I like the sponsorship idea, as many before me have said. I think Kevin has the best idea, service providers and not local tech companies. Stoel Rives seems to be a big supporter of the local “little guy.”

    I also like the idea of more guest posts. Keeps things fresh and takes some of the burden off of you. You can me the Michael Arrington of Silicon Florist!

    Keep up the great work and don’t be afraid to reach out for some assistance with things.

  12. I don’t think anyone would object to tasteful ads/sponsors.

    Just don’t ask me to punch the monkey or click to be the 1,000,000th visitor 🙂

  13. Rick,

    I must admit that I don`t agree with the philosophical premise that is is any way morally superior for you to provide your work for free than for you earn some money to support the value that you create. Therefore, I concur with everybody who says get some sponsors on your site! Issues of editorial balance are not new to this site, have been alive as long as media has existed and there are many people that can guide you to make the right decisions in that area.

    Keep up the good work!

  14. I think you are doing a great job with this blog and it is very much needed here. I am happy to see ads and to support.

  15. Rick – There is a big gap in Portland that must be filled by this blog and because of that you should find sustainable sponsors. In fact, I’d be happy to help you with this effort if you’d like.

  16. Rick,

    You could always accept sponsorships from service providers (accountants, consultants, attorneys, banks) that are interested in your audience but are people that you would never write about.

  17. I have not been reading SF that long, but it has value to me. This is a different side of Portland than any other traditional media outlet covers, mainly because it is deeper technically and covers the a wider range.

    The idea of a blog group is good and might be able to be combined with sponsors. Considering the content, sponsors should be those receiving benefit from the core values of the blog, those interested in social media technology and the people who either create or use the technology of social media.

    I think regular advertising would be a mistake, if not alienating some of your readers.

  18. Thank you so much, all of you, for the comments and votes. I really appreciate the advice and direction.

    And it’s always interesting to see that a number of you would like to see me get creative. 😉

    @missburrows Every time I go to a Portland event with my tip jar, someone inevitably fills it with beer and tells me to “drink up.”

    @Kevin I, too, have concerns about the objectivity of the reporting once sponsors enter the picture. For that reason, I would—ideally—seek out sponsors who had an interest in supporting the site and this market but who fell outside the coverage area.

  19. Sponsorships is probably the way to go but of course it raises ethical issues when you write about the companies that sponsor you. Also, you may have to spend time securing sponsorships.

    Perhaps Silicon Florist could become a labor of love for a group of bloggers. It shouldn’t be that difficult to recruit people to write for next to nothing.

  20. I say go for the sponsors – I’m sure there are tons of local companies that would appreciate the exposure. I don’t think it compromises the blog at all, as long as it is clearly marked as advertising.

    Keep up the great work! You deserve to be compensated for the time you put in to SF.

  21. Have you considered carrying a tip jar with you to events? Or perhaps some sort of pay-per-chat fee.

    How about a bidding war? I’d bid at least $1 and a bacon chocolate bar to not have to stand in line to wait to talk to you (it is always such a long line).

    I’m sure you will come up with some really awesome, creative, innovative idea. Have faith.

  22. Rick,

    I am loving this blog a bunch! I know myself, and several other people in the community would love to sponsor and support the blog. I would also love to help you realize your dreams of other projects in the future.

    Also, I might recommend having some other writers on the blog to take the load off you. I’m sure other passionate writers in the community wouldn’t mind writing for S-F with little or no compensation depending on what sort of income structure you come up with.

    Best of Luck!

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