And Now, A Word About Some Of Our Sponsors. Plus Lots Of Words About Sponsoring In General. In General, I Over-Think Things, Is What I Think.

August 28th, 2013 - filed under: Furthermore » Reviews


In Shangobrand.

I have some awesome sponsors, and I’m nervous to tell you about them.

I recently read a super interesting conversation, about what makes a blog “go bad”. You know, when you find a blog and you love it and it’s so good but then at some point you realize . . . wait, it’s really not the same anymore. Somewhere along the way, it lost the magic.

One of the major points of consensus seemed to be that a blog begins to go downhill when the blogger accepts advertising, or starts doing sponsored posts. And that . . . is something I wrestle with.

I have decided to accept sponsors here on BA. My hope is that my obvious commitment to ethics and integrity is enough to assure my readers that I would never sell my soul for a buck. Or a free tub of margarine. I hope that I’ve made it clear that I’m willing to be critical of a product or a company, even when it was gifted to me. I will give my honest opinion, always.

The thing is, I am incredibly selective when choosing which sponsors to accept and which products to review. I get emails daily, multiple emails, offering me free samples. I take maybe . . . 3%? Mostly because I don’t ever want this blog to become review after review after review. That’s just not what I’m doing here. But on the other hand, there ARE some really great products out there, and I am grateful that I can partner with a company I support, and share products I genuinely enjoy (and think you’ll enjoy, too).

So that’s where I’m at with all this ad stuff, all this monetization stuff. I’m just not very good at it, and it makes me uncomfortable, and I worry about how it will all be perceived. My integrity is everything to me – anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that – and I’ve spent waaaaay too much time thinking about all of this already.

For now I’m keeping the ads, and I’m even going to stop and tell you about some of my sponsors from time to time. Because they’re rad.


Shango Los is a looooongtime Bonzai reader, maybe one of the oldest readers who’s still around! He was even a huge part of Monday Monthly Mission #13 – Spreading the Love – with his IlluminationPositive project. Shango’s a pretty inspirational guy, and over the years we’ve become online friends. So when I found out he had started a tee-shirt company featuring homesteading-related text, I was like “DUH YES PLEASE!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Shango is awesome and I can’t imagine anyone more deserving of support in a small business venture. Lucky for us, his designs kick booty, so giving support is pretty dang easy! I love my kombucha shirt and I wear it all the time . . . I’m actually wearing it right now! Second day in a row, should I admit that? I also love the “vegan farmer” shirt (obvi!), and I’m *totally* getting the kids “microgreen” one for Waits when he’s a bit older (starts at size 6). So yeah, check it out!

My new favorite all-in-one smoothie! Shakeology is a complete shake, with a killer combination of high-quality protein (soy-free) and vegetable and fruit extracts – plus digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics. Not all the shakes are vegan, but what I totally dig about this company is that they promote their vegan options as the healthiest and most ideal. I love that!

I’ve tried the strawberry and the chocolate and they’re both delicious – perfect for those too-busy mornings. If you’re looking for a new health shake, you can learn more at

Vegan Cuts
I know I wrote about the Vegan Cuts Beauty Box earlier this week, but I just wanted to share this video that Waits and I made when we got our Snack Box last month. Vegan Cuts is just such a cool company. I’ve met the owners multiple times and they’re seriously the nicest, most down to earth folks ever. I love them and I’m always happy to support them. Plus, making videos is super fun!


So there you go, a few of my favorite August sponsors! But truth be told, I love everyone over in that side bar, so I hope you’ll check them all out. Cheers!

  • coconutandberries

    I really have no problem with sponsored posts on blogs as long as they’re relevant to the general content and give an honest opinion on the products being reviewed.
    Shangobrand looks awesome, just checked out their site, and they ship internationally!

  • Kati

    I love vegan cuts too! Never heard of Shangobrand or Shakeology but I love reading about new fun vegan things so I say keep these kinds of posts coming!

  • pumperknuckle

    The cocounut shaved ice pack flavor is amazing. I picked mine up at Whole foods. Couldn’t recommend them more. Perfect size too.

  • Jenn

    I love that you have sponsers and write review blogs. I’m newly vegan (1 yr in dec) and I have learned tons from you.

  • Sarah

    I think it’s fantastic that you’ve found sponsors and advertisers who reflect BA’s outlook and mission statement. To me, it’s a no-brainer: I want BA to continue, and you need and deserve to generate enough income to keep the blog viable and sustainable, so a few ads at the side of my page seems a worthy exchange for continuing content :)

  • bitt

    Supporting small businesses is great. If your sponsors fit the theme of your blog and its values, great we’d be happy to hear it. It’s when a blog that is all natural and local all the sudden decides to have general mills or something sponsor it or shill for an SUV is when I really question their integrity.

  • MathTutor

    If a business reflects your purpose for this blog and your own PERSONAL VALUES…there is nothing wrong with taking sponsorship. My professional engineering society recently received sponsorship from a local entreapreanural non-profit and they have standards too! They would only sponsor US because our values and purpose were aligned with theirs. I’m sure many of your sponsors are just as picky as you, why else would they chose you to review their products?
    Just my 2 cents.

  • rivula

    I just want to reassure you that you are a far cry from the bloggers GOMI was buzzing about with that post! You are one of my favorite corners of the internet, and I know you are responsible and true to yourself (and the BA mission) with your sponsors and with maintaining a work/blog balance that keeps BA going!

  • Sarah C.

    I know what you mean about blogs feeling really corporate and blah after they become “affiliates” or “ambassadors” or whatever for these major groups – but I think you can and will find a balance that will work for both you and your readers. One key, I think, is something you’ve pointed to here – small businesses and start-ups seem different to us readers than major corps. (I also read running blogs, and so many of them are all “ambassadors” for huge conglomerations and so I keep reading the same press releases repeated on different blogs and it is so annoying and really so transparent – no one is fooled by press release language). The other is balance in terms of quantity – like, if every post were some kind of review it might start to feel off-kilter, but if honest reviews of products whose companies you share values with are interspersed within life stuff/recipes/normal stuff, well, that will just feel like those product reviews are a part of normal, not like you’ve gone corporate on us. Know what I mean? Basically, I’m saying you’ll do fine and your scruples about this will guide you.

  • Cammila

    Oh, blogs. These freaking things take time, energy, and money to make happen, that’s why serious blogging is often not really sustainable in the long term without accepting some sponsorship. So while I am not the least bit surprised that you’re so contemplative, caring, and full of character that you struggle with the implications of these choices, Sayward, I’ll happily be the member of this conversation who says anybody that complains about a blogger accepting sponsorships can suck it.

    But easy for me to say. I’m a blogger. And a sponsor. ;)

  • Bianca-Vegan Crunk

    OMG! I have that same shirt from Shango and I love it (I’m even wearing it in my FB profile pic!) I feel the same way about taking ads. The only one I’ve taken is Vegan Cuts because they’re AWESOME! I’ll do product reviews for small vegan companies (and occasional bigger guys), but I’m always honest about how I feel about the products. More often than not, I love stuff…because I pretty much love most things. But if there’s a downside, I’ll always share it with my readers. But I think it’s super important to have several posts a week that are just fun, foodie, life-y stuff so, like you said, it’s not review after review after review. :-) I think you’re doing an awesome job at maintaining the balance.

  • Bliss Doubt

    No problems here. Some of my favorite blogs include reviews. The blogger will tend to be very selective about what to review, so I never see reviews of canned spaghetti & meatballs or gross things like that.

  • Ag

    The only ad I don’t like on your page is the Allison’s Gourmet because it isn’t just a still picture. It changes every few seconds which is distracting and annoying. If you end up with more ads like that I will probably stop reading because I don’t like an advertisement that keeps screaming “Look at me!” from the sidebar.

  • Sandy

    I think its great if you monetize BA!! I would rather you continue to write than feel like its not worth it.

  • Elizabeth

    Oh my gosh you guys are just too cute!

  • bohemianmatka

    I’ve tried a packet of the vegan Vanilla Shakeology… Did not care for it at all. I still have a chocolate one to try. They would be great for a convenient meal replacer or on the go (it sucks being on vacay starving with no vegan options in sight besides bottled water and the same old box of apple pie lara bars), especially with my toddler and newborn keeping me busy, but I’m not going to throw down that type of cash for something I can hardly bear swallowing. BUT I will say, after making myself down the shake in the mid morning, I seriously was full for the rest of the day.

  • katta

    I love your blog and find it more inspiring now that in the past where I would look at what I was doing/managing with my small person and be all like ‘and there she is coking raw + vegan and writing a book and going out and being fabulous and today I made coffee and porridge.’ Take whatever you need to keep your life running happily and well and let this reflect that – sponsorship helps you grow and manage your personal life – awesome! Thanks so much for your sharing and honestly. Plus the food – oh yum the food!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you, I don’t know why I’m so worried over this, but for some reason I really am. It’s good to hear that you guys understand where I’m coming from. I enjoy product reviews – from bloggers I trust – as well, so I hope most people do too. Thank you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Kati! Vegan Cuts is my fave. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yeah Waits loved it! I’ll be looking for more of those, glad to know they’re at Whole Foods.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Jenn, that’s great to hear. And congrats on a year of being vegan – you’ll have to celebrate!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Sarah, I really appreciate that.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Totally agree. And definitely don’t have to worry about me “selling out”, haha.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Totally! I agree that it’s a two-way street and I wish more companies took the time to really vet the bloggers/organizations they were willing to partner with.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Rivula. I know I’m not what they were talking about, but it WAS an interesting discussion. That place is crazy, but reading threads there has actually given me lots to think about.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I promise you that you will NEVER read a press release on Bonzai, haha. PROMISE.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    HA! Very proud to feature your banner in my side bar, lady. Always always always. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    YAY! Kombucha shirt love! And thanks Bianca – I feel the same way about you and the balance you strike on your blog.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks, and yes it’s all about being selective. If you ever see me shilling Clorox, feel free to unsubscribe. ;-D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Sandy! That’s my perspective too, I’m glad to hear that BA readers agree.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thank you Elizabeth.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Really?? Oh man, I find them so much more palatable than some of the other all-in-one shakes *cough*Vega*cough*. However I haven’t tried the vanilla, so who knows. Maybe you’ll like the chocolate one?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thanks Katta. When I was living like that, I was miserable. I’ll trade it all for authentic happiness any day. Coffee and porridge for me! =D

  • bohemianmatka

    Ok, I’m drinking the chocolate blended with 8 oz unsweet almond milk and ice right now, MUCH better :) It must have been the strawberry I tried, it doesnt look like they have a vegan vanilla option, and I know for sure it had the big V logo on the packet. I just might splurge for a month of the chocolate and try it out.

  • bohemianmatka

    You are right though; the shakeology is the third vegan shake mix I’ve tried and the first without that powdery taste to it.

  • Tara Swiger

    First – I’m so glad you’ve found a way to make this work for you!
    Second – I have SEARCHED your site (and so many others) looking for a truly vegan probiotic supplement (needed for my hub as he recovers from an intestinal bacterial infection – ew). EVERY probiotic contains lactobacillus, which, as I understand it, is grown ON dairy (even though it also occurs naturally in healthy guts of vegans!). So, Jay doesn’t want to buy it, even if the probiotic is marked “vegan”.
    We eat loads of tempeh and fermented foods, but since he just did a round of antibiotics, I really want to find a supplement.

    I’m sure you have thoughts on this, and I’d love to hear them!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    My understanding is that lactobacillus *can* be grown on other mediums. Vegan Essentials has this – – which is grown on carrots! They also have other probiotic supplements. Hope that helps!

  • Tara Swiger

    Thanks! After a bit more reading, I found this: “Lactobacillus sporogenes is entirely vegan (not sourced from dairy, animals or grown on a dairy medium) it is both more stable than dairy-based probiotics and easily tolerated by lactose intolerant, allergic and digestively compromised people.”

    (Lactobacillus acidophilus is the more common kind I’m finding, but so good to know there’s an alternative!)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Awesome, that’s good to know so thanks for sharing! =)

  • Gena Hamshaw

    Girl, please. Nothing wrong with having sponsors. While there *is* (to me) something wrong with lying about a brand or paying it lip service if you don’t support its values or mission, there is nothing wrong with teaming up with a brand that you genuinely love, and who can genuinely help you to keep your blog running.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks lady! I was just thinking about you last week – we are WAY overdue for a phone date!