Toronto blogger hopes to survive only on online sponsorship

Photo of Zach Bussey from @asponsoredlife on TwitterZach Bussey, a Toronto-area blogger, has decided to let the pitches and product reviews he receives as part of a job sustain him for the rest of 2013.

The Globe and Mail reports that Bussey, who is also a social-media consultant, has cleared his apartment of all his belongings and is attempting to go an entire year living off product reviews and advertisements posted to his blog, asponsoredlife.com.

Advertisers can buy ad space on his website, with rates dependent on the day of the year. January 1 was only $1, and by December 31, an ad will cost the buyer $365. Alternatively, companies can sponsor Bussey with food, clothing or services and get a mention on his blog.

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Bussey says that despite the sponsorships, he is still writing objectively about the products and services he receives.

“Just because a company is providing me with something does not mean that I’ll give them a favourable review,” he said to the Globe. “I have to maintain my integrity.”

Inspired by similar projects like ‘Craigslist Joe’s’ endeavour to live for a month only on things found on Craigslist, or Morgan Spurlock’s recent documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold paid for entirely by sponsorships, Bussey seems to be surviving pretty well on his meager takings so far. Five weeks into his experiment, Bussey’s latest blogpost says that recent media attention has resulted in an uptick of both interest and potential sponsors.

While there are individuals who have inquired about helping Bussey meet his goal, Bussey says he’s only accepting sponsorship or ad dollars from companies – with one notable exception. His grandmother still likes to make him dinner once a week.

“My grandmother thinks I’m pretty crazy,” Bussey said. “When I explained it to her she said, ‘Why don’t you get a nice job in manufacturing?’”

The other exception to the project was how he pays for rent and Internet service. He set aside $12,000 at the beginning of the year to cover both. At the end of his year living on ads and sponsorship, Bussey says he’ll be donating all of what he's received during the year (minus what he ate) to Toy Mountain, the Daily Bread Food Bank and Red Door Shelter.

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Bussey is far from the only person who has sought to make an unconventional living online. Seven years ago, British college student Alex Tew managed to make $1 million by selling ad space at $1 per pixel on his website, www.milliondollarhomepage.com. In another ‘life experiment,’ two people traded cities and attempted to live in Singapore and London solely on the support of others, predominantly through social media.

To follow more of Bussey’s journey, you can read his blog, listen to his podcast or watch his videos.

An earlier version of this story said only the surplus of what Bussey gets will be donated to charity. As he clarified in the comments, all of what he receives will be donated.

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