AAC is Hiring—Advertising Sales Manager(s)

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Wow, AAC is actually becoming a real company rather than just a hobby that got badly out of control.

The Job

We are looking for one person, or possibly more that one, to sell advertising on the site. The position is strictly commission based and you will be a private contractor rather than an employee, but the commission is generous and continues for as long as the client continues to advertise.

This is not by any stretch of the imagination a full time job, but will provide a supplemental income for the right person, hopefully a cruiser or someone aspiring to be one.

Qualifications

We will consider you for this position if you:

  • Have a proven sales track record—sales is a lot harder than most people who have never tried it think.
  • Ideally, have experience and contacts in the marine industry—being a customer might work for this.
  • Can make rain. In other words, you will need to get out there and find clients and close-‘em. Sitting around waiting for the e-mail to ring isn’t going to cut it.
  • Have a basic understanding of invoicing and accounts receivable management. This is a polite way of saying that you gotta get the money too. So far our clients have been great payers, so this is not as onerous as it can be.
  • Are a reader of AAC who clearly understands what we do.

Ideally, one person will be able to fill these shoes, but another option would be two or more people in different exclusive territories: Europe, North America, etc.

What You Need to Do

If you are interested, take a look at our new sponsorship area, so that you understand the product, and then use our contact form to indicate your interest. We will email you back and then you can “tell us why you’re great”. (My marketing manager at my computer company used to start all employee interviews with that line. Now you know why he was in marketing and not sales: no people skills!)

Please don’t just send us a standard résumé—although that will help—we are much more interested in why you think you will be able to sell companies on sponsoring this site. In other words, prove you can sell, by selling yourself to us. Oh oh, that didn’t sound good, but you know what I mean.

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Meet the Author

John

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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22 comments … add one
  • Ed Seling Oct 5, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Firstly let me say that I would make an extremely poor advertising sales manager as the following will probably indicate. 🙂

    I have become increasingly disturbed with the commercial development of AAC.

    Let me say right off that I recognize that this is MY opinion and probably does not represent any other of your members but I feel compelled to pass it on.

    While I understand that you spend an amazing amount of time creating, editing, and developing AAC and you well deserve some compensation, you exist in the context of the larger web. The internet is becoming saturated with sites that are “in it for the money” be it with ads, information collection or heavens knows what. So with your ad for “advertising sales manager” I feel you are stepping closer to becoming part of a larger problem.

    Now I find a lot of useful information on your site even if I don’t always agree with you so you provide me with a hard choice. I hope you will tread lightly on the path to financial reward for your content so that I don’t have to make a choice.

    Please do remember that the site (for me at least and for you also I think) started with the joy of adventuring and offshore sailing.

    With greatest regard, Ed Seling “Moonshadow”

    • John Oct 5, 2013, 12:48 pm

      Hi Ed,

      A lot of good points, but there are a few things you need to know:

      • First off, currently we are barely breaking even on our out of pocket expenses. No one is getting paid here at AAC.
      • Even if we sell all the advertising spaces on the site and multiply our current membership by a factor of ten there will only be just enough to pay our writers and ourselves at an hourly rate that will be very modest indeed.
      • Phyllis and I have paid to publish this site out of our own pockets for 10 years. Thousands of dollars that even in the above rosy scenario will take over a decade to recoup.
      • Colin has written hundreds of posts sharing 50 years of hard earned experience and his total payment for that is…three pub meals. How long do you really think it will be before someone makes a writer of Colin’s caliber an offer he can’t refuse? (I’m not saying he would leave if such an offer was made, but really, why shouldn’t he, if we continue to to pay him nothing?)
      • Matt uses an engineering education that cost him thousands—probably hundreds of thousands—of dollars, to educate and entertain us. Is it really fair to expect him to do that for nothing forever?
      • What with this big push to upgrade this site and the need to publish new content every week as well as moderate and respond to thousands of comments, I alone have some 1000 hours of work in the site this year to date alone. I must be still motivated by ” joy of adventuring and offshore sailing” or I would not be putting in all that work for nothing.

      But never mind all that. Let’s look at things at a deeper level. (I know that you said we deserved some compensation, but what is that exactly?) Why should we continue to work for free or even for less than writers of our experience should be paid? Really, why? Are you and your fellow readers in some way hard luck cases that need our charity? I think not. Surely if Phyllis and I (I can’t speak for Colin and Matt) are going to work for nothing, or less than the going rate, we should focus those efforts on people that are far less fortunate than most of our readers? (Actually, one of the things we plan to do with any profits from the site is up our annual charitable giving that focuses on housing for the working poor.)

  • Bill Attwood Oct 5, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Dear John,
    Sorry to see that AAC is to become a commercial venture. It´s hard to see how you will be able to include advertorial content without compromising your independence, and there will always be the suspicion that a product which is a dog won´t get the review it deserves. Your website is unique in my experience, for the range, quality and relevance of the content, BUT a lot of this quality comes from the posts from visitors and subscribers. How will they feel if their valuable input is (part) financing AAC? In my view the website has value which is worth paying for, and I am a subscriber. Would it not be possible to up the subscription? Although this probably shoots my argument above in the foot. 😉
    Sorry for the negative input, as I understand that you need to finance the site.
    Yours aye,
    Bill Attwood

    • John Oct 5, 2013, 3:27 pm

      Hi Bill,

      Two good points, thank you.

      There is always a huge worry about the impartiality of any publication that takes advertising, justifiably. However, there is an at least partial solution to that and that is total openness about any and all benefits received. I think that if you go back through the posts you will see that we have bent over backward in that regard and we have also enshrined that in a written policy. We make it absolutely crystal clear when a post is advertorial, and there aren’t many of them—just one so far.

      You might also want to have a look at my posts and comments since we started taking advertising. I think you will find that my rather acid voice about junk is still intact!

      In fact, one of the main reasons for looking for an advertising manager is that we would like to separate advertising from editorial as much as possible.

      As to your idea of substituting more membership revenue for advertising, I like it and nothing would make me happier. However, the numbers don’t support it. To reach break even and pay our writers even a small stipend (see my above comment for the current financial situation) we need to get 1000 new members a year, minimum. But we are only just making the required number of signups per day (2.7). Putting the price up is going to result in the shrinking snowball effect, I’m pretty sure. In fact I’m fearful about what will happen when we end the current $9.99 promotion price.

      Having said all that, I absolutely assure you that if we get to the point that we have our costs covered and our writers paid at a fair hourly rate on membership revenue alone we will discontinue advertising. Fair enough?

      Your point about making money off other people’s comments (content) is a valid one and one we have thought about carefully. But, if you think about it, almost any business on the internet is doing exactly that. And at least we are not like the owners of FaceBook, Twitter, Tripadvisor who make millions on other people’s content.

      So maybe you could look at it this way. By contributing your comments to the site you are only doing what Phyllis and I have done for 12 years, Colin for 5, and Matt for a year. And, not to put too fine a point on it, we have collectively contributed several times more content and hours than all of the commenters put together!

    • Matt Oct 5, 2013, 3:33 pm

      I’m no fan of the click-baiting, ad-whoring mess that a great deal of today’s Web has become. And I don’t begrudge anyone who (like me) uses a locked-down NoScript and AdblockPlus in their browser.

      I don’t expect to ever make money from AAC; I originally came here for John’s photos and writing, and after a few years he thought I might come in useful on occasion. I did a bit of commercial Web writing back in my undergrad days and came to the conclusion that it’s just not profitable. An article that takes four hours to write, illustrate, double-check and edit will, in the absolute best case, bring in twenty or thirty bucks between now and the end of time. But- with the right community- it can be fun, which is why I’m still around.

      We can’t, however, expect Phyllis and John to pour large sums of their own money into this effort forever, as they’ve been doing for the last decade. Our time is one thing, but they’ve been paying for the server, the bandwidth, all the business overhead costs, etc. out of their own pockets, and I think it’s quite fair to offer a handful of ad spaces to respected businesses in exchange for covering those costs.

      Knowing John’s hatred of “advertorial” sliminess, I am quite sure that AAC will never see articles where a vendor pays money to get a favourable review, or content that blurs the line between advertising and journalism (this last one is actually the main reason why I, and I think John as well, have cancelled quite a few magazine subscriptions.)

  • Dick Stevenson Oct 5, 2013, 3:48 pm

    Dear Bill,
    You describe AAC’s taking on advertising as creating a situation where editorial independence is precluded (my read of “hard to see”). I believe it is possible to swim successfully in waters where “suspicion” as you put it, might be raised. However, security is not (my opinion) to be found in the structure of the institution (for ex. No Advertising), but rather in the character of the principles. Security in complex realms lie in the character of the participants (primarily John, Phyllis, Colin and Matt, but also with the readers/responders) and should not be primarily sought in attempts to structure an institution (AAC in this case) as to preclude distorted reporting or even suspicion. I for one would prefer to rely on character* and from all available evidence on this site, I am more than willing to deem their characters well worth continuing involvement and the risk, I consider slight, that increased advertising might distort reporting.
    Secondarily, but not unimportant by any measure, is the quality of the responders I have observed over time and their willingness to challenge positions: just as you have done.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John Oct 5, 2013, 5:04 pm

      Hi Dick,

      Thanks for the kind words. I love your point about the ethics monitoring of our commenters. Can you imagine me trying to slip a plug for a bad product past you, RDE, Bob T, Nick K, Erik and Eric and all the others? Wow, that wouldn’t end well!

  • Laurent Oct 5, 2013, 7:46 pm

    Personally, I think that Internet dynamics is very often based upon giving access to good or very-good level resources to a much larger audience than usual (before Internet….), which may create “snowball” effects where many people get high-level infos at low-price (often only the “price” of having a few adds on their screens…).
    Before Internet, paper publications had to choose between low-volume high-level markets with high subscription costs, or “volume” markets, which meant adressing a large public, and not getting too deep (for fear of boring them) or too incisive…..
    Internet proved that complex or incisive articles, which were supposed to be limited to a very limited audience can “sometime” reach a much larger audience if those people don’t have to pay subscribtions for that (advertisements are not an issue in this case…).
    It looks like some kind of virtous spiral may take place in those cases, because occasional, or chance, readers thad would not have paid for subscriptions or bought spêcialised magazines at bookstores, can get educated because of those occasional readings. After some delay, much more of them become usual readers of those Internet good-level sites than in the days of paper-only publications.
    My fear is that, by getting early into a paid-subscribtion model, you might get less revenue than using the classic Internet dynamics of open, or mostly-open, acess for all, plus some advertisements, because you deprive yourself of a very usual and time-proven recipe for audience-development of specialised “publications” on Internet.

    Personally, I have no objection att all about “some” advertisment on my Internet screens (I didn’t say adds quantity is never sometimes excessive….), because I think that it is a very good way of hepling the autor of those sites. Considering AAC, I think you should also consider google adds or equivalent to pay for the bills, and I guess it might be a safer or quicker path toward financial equilibrium because it would allow a better, or much better, expansion of the reader base. I think it is quite possible to limit the adds to an “honest” quantity for reader and site-owner and to preserve a complete editorial independence.

    Laurent

    • John Oct 7, 2013, 9:36 am

      Hi Laurent,

      Thanks for the thoughts. We did briefly consider Google Ads, but the problem is that with them we would surrender all control of the type of ads displayed. Worse, most ads served by Google are now dynamic and we really don’t want to turn our sidebar into “click-baiting, ad-whoring mess” as Matt so eloquently put it.

  • David Nutt Oct 6, 2013, 9:58 am

    I have think advertisers who come aboard will be advertizing products compatible with the AAC philosophy. I cannot imagine for one second that John and the others will not call out a product for what it is despite an ad running in the sidebar. Perhaps the manufacturer will even make an attempt to bring an item up to AAC standards. Also, there is no reason to click on the ad if one does not want to view it. If advertizing is what makes this site continue to expand bring it on. – And if John and Phylis get really rich doing this good on ’em.

  • Marc Dacey Oct 6, 2013, 6:25 pm

    Hmm. I could actually do this. I have managed marketing online with proven success. My wife works in a chandlery. I have contacts all over the place. Heck, I’ve even been paid to review the marketing materials of a major anchor manufacturer who shall remain nameless.

    The problem is that I’m trying to get off the dock. I already have enough time-sucks in my life fighting that ambition, even if some of them are *good* time sucks, like being a parent to a 12-year-old.

    I think it is easier to find a salesperson who can be taught how to source and approach qualified (by you) leads than trying to find an active sailor with marketing experience and the required skill set….for the simple reason that if they are an active sailor, they are probably trying to put the marketing stuff behind them!

    That said, you and Phyllis may wish to flesh out a fuller job description that outlines the parameters of who you would accept as a sponsor, and the degree to which you wish to banner up your site.

    You should also be aware, if you aren’t already, that people like me have various script disabling and ad blocking add-on in our browsers that mean we rarely ever see a banner or a pop-up. That method is a dead end as far as I can see.

    You may wish, rather than posting ads, to take a different approach, such as “partnering” to showcase gear or services for review. You will have to trade on a reputation for impartiality, but (for instance) if you cadged a free yacht shipping ride from that company that welds cradles to the decks of its semi-submersible boat transporters, you could review the experience here.

    Another method is giveaways or contests: Cruisers’ Forum is doing this, and all they list are links in threads where people have to pick which products they like once a month. Sponsors like that because they can track that the hits came from the CF thread, meaning “interested eyeballs linked to specific products.”

    I don’t disagree that you as site owners and some of your tireless contributors should get paid, but there are trust-building ways to do that, and trust-destroying. I would think it also bears consideration that it is the high quality of the discourse here as exemplified by the very experienced commenters that really sealed the deal for my signing up. This is the ONLY website I’ve ever paid for. I feel as if, in the run-up to attempting a circ, I am getting to sit in and listen to a rather exclusive conversation that helps to focus my mind on what can sometimes seem a lonely and expensive method of burning time and money.

    So if it is kept in mind that any marketer on commission would be chasing the sellers of products and services that cater to a minority (people who sail oceanically) of a minority (people who sail); or in other words, a rather tiny market, then you can figure out your ultimate prospects.

    I would imagine Pomeranian dog fanciers outnumber high-latitude metal boat voyagers by a significant margin. One has to be realistic!

  • John Oct 7, 2013, 9:44 am

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks for the thoughts but we really don’t want to expand our efforts in the advertising arena beyond what they are now, which is providing a nice adjunct to membership revenue. And so called “partnering” programs would use to much of our time and mindshare that would be better spent creating great content for our members.

    And yes, I’m aware of ad blockers, but actually very few people use them as demonstrated by our very respectable click through rate—well ahead of industry average.

    And finally our reader interest is a lot wider than just “high-latitude metal boat voyagers” which now, I would guess, probably represent about 5%. We had 200,000 visits last year which compares favourable and even exceeds that of the largest sailing magazines, indicating that we have significant mindshare right across the offshore sailing spectrum.

    Having said that, when I’m asked about our market size I always say “more people are interested in competitive tidly-winks.” 🙂

    • Marc Dacey Oct 7, 2013, 1:59 pm

      Well, it’s good to know you’ve been keeping track. And I know you get a lot of “non-specialist traffic”; it’s just that the commenters and the writers are beyond, either in actual sailing time or in the “engineering of sailing”, pretty far beyond the median.

      So I guess the challenge is to convince a motivated salesperson to work for a share of those tiddlywinks…and I hope you do.

  • Erik de Jong Oct 7, 2013, 10:07 am

    It is an eternal battle to create the perfect offshore cruising boat (high latitude or not), and I actually think that if a “sales person” would collect a bunch of manufacturers/suppliers that are willing to pay some money to put an ad on this great source of information, it would be a benefit for all.

    Not only will this site continue to exist, we will also be exposed to products and manufacturers from which we might not even have heard of if it wouldn’t be for a simple ad. Who knows what great anchor winch, storm jib or solar system you might find that you would have missed because small companies have difficulties making the world know of their existence.

    • John Oct 7, 2013, 1:40 pm

      Hi Erik,

      Wow, there’s a good point. We would love it if that was the way things evolved. What a win, win. Where else can a company get exposure to this quantity and quality of audience starting at $50/month.

      Now if it wasn’t for the fact that I know you’re a very busy engineer, I would be suggesting a new career in sales.

      • Marc Dacey Oct 7, 2013, 2:07 pm

        This is in fact the biggest challenge. I’ll give an example: I own a Voyager Windvane, which is made by one guy working with a part-time salesfellow here in Ontario. You phone him, you get him. He installs the vane on your boat if it’s within driving distance. I only ever heard of him because he showed up at a booth at the (otherwise largely useless) Toronto Boat Show, so I got to inspect his workmanship first-hand.

        A lot of marine gear companies are like this. My Bogart Pentametric meter was basement-built. If the venerable W-H Autopilots is even a three-person operation, I would be surprised. So if it’s a fifty-buck “in”, you might stand a chance of collecting a few dozen firms of this type who could NEVER afford more than a basic website.

        You should construct a hit list, perhaps supplied in part from your own readership, and partly from your sailing peers, as to worthy, tiny marine suppliers who might find value in associating themselves with AAC. I know few sailors who don’t enjoy reading “Stuff that Works” lists, particularly if said stuff has been brutally field-tested and found worthy.

  • Bill Attwood Oct 9, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Dear all,
    The comments on this thread have followed the usual pattern of fairness and open-mindeness and have persuaded me that my initial negative comment was unjustified. The loyalty and independence of the subscribers, and the breadth of their expertise (who would have guessed that a marketing expert would have piled in with advice) should provide an excellent counter-balance to any negative commercial pressures. No question that this website is unique, not just in sailing/offshore voyaging, but overall, and long may it remain so!
    Yours aye,
    Bill
    ps. it is nice to discuss things where an opposing point of view is not seen as aggression – maybe you should offer honorary membership to certain politicians.

    • John Oct 10, 2013, 8:00 am

      Hi Bill,

      What a nice comment, thank you so much.

      I also need to thank you and Ed Selling for bringing up concerns that I’m sure many others were silently worried about.

  • Tor-Kristian Jenssen Oct 21, 2013, 7:33 pm

    The whole member log in creates a worse dissonance to me than advertising.
    The original net was about sharing knowledge between universities/institutions, then the commerce , special interest, news, social media etc. joined.
    I will never pay for a web site. Not a newspaper nor a technical sailblog.
    I believe there will allways be good advice from either free blogs or forums anyway.
    I strongly believe knowledge should be shared for free, it is not a commodity, but I also understand you need to make a living.
    I run a blog myself and yes I know, to make a decent post it takes the better part of a day.
    I think it’s a much better way to go comercial (as that is what you are jumping into anyway) by advertising than subscription.
    You will get much more readers, and the readers have to decide which articles are genuine or driven by commitment to write nice of your founders, just like the rest of the sailpress.
    Btw, I hardly check in on your site anymore since almost everything now demands subscriptions.
    You used to be good.

    Regards Tor

    • John Oct 21, 2013, 9:42 pm

      Hi Tor,

      You said “I strongly believe knowledge should be shared for free, it is not a commodity.”

      I’m sorry, but that’s a deeply flawed and argument that makes exactly no sense at all. When you visit your doctor, or your lawyer, or go to school, you, or the state funded by your taxes, are paying for knowledge. In fact paying for knowledge is fundamental to a large proportion of the world’s economy.

      We are still as good as we ever were, but we have woken up to the fundamental stupidity of us paying for the privilege of putting in hundreds of hours to share information with those that only wish to take and contribute nothing.

      Perhaps if you feel that advertising is such a great idea, you might like to take on the job, which is very hard work, of selling it for us, instead of criticizing. Or perhaps you have a better idea that we can benefit from? I’m all ears.

  • Tor Oct 22, 2013, 7:15 am

    Hi again John,
    Sorry that came out a bit harsh.
    Meaning the knowledge on the net should be free.
    Numerous reasons, community, easy, don’t like spreading my credit card details etc. I just shy away from pay for content sites.
    Take it as positive critisism, I think you loose readers and income by going the pay for content route.
    I believe you are still good but I don’t get to read it.
    Panbo.com might be a good example of a site with ads that still very good on content & thrustworthy.
    Why not self author books on Kindle in addition to running an ad site?
    That would maybe cut it.
    Thanks for the job offer but I am far to busy charging clients with my knowledge as an engineer when not cruising 🙂
    Take care,

    Tor

    • John Oct 22, 2013, 8:52 am

      Hi Tor,

      Once again, your argument does not hold together. You say that we should publish and presumably charge for Kindle books but not for our Online Books. Both have exactly the same content so why is it right to charge on a Kindle and wrong to charge online? In fact if we were to go that way, you would pay for each book at say $5.00 instead of $20.00 a year for all 25. On Kindle you would also pay for each new edition.

      Also, Pambo is not a good example, because they write almost exclusively about gear and so can charge much more for advertising.

      Finally, you are wrong in your assumption: Our readership has gone up since we instituted membership.

      Now I’m going to get a bit harsh. The bottom line is that you, who happily charge for your knowledge, don’t wish to pay $20.00 a year for ours. That’s fine and that is your right, but don’t try and dress it up with a lot of weak arguments about the purity of the internet. It doesn’t play well with me after 10 years of actually paying to share my hard won experience.

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