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Written by Paul D. Race for Breakthrough Communications™

Advertising on Breakthrough Communications Web Sites

Chances are you got here from one of our popular hobby, holiday, music, writing, or Bible web sites. These all grew out of one web page we started in the late 1990s to answer common questions about a single hobby. Then we found ourselves answering more questions, including questions on other topics. Sometimes it was easier to put a group of related answers onto a new web page than to squeeze them into one of our existing sites. So, the sites kept growing, and the number of sites kept growing.

However, all of our sites have several things in common:

  • They are all family-friendly.

  • They are all created and sustained by volunteers who donate all the time that goes into writing, photography, editing, site maintenance, and answering reader questions.

  • They are all overseen by Paul Race, our proprietor, lead editor, webmeister, and busiest volunteer.

  • They are all financially linked, which helps the sites that pull in a little money every year support the sites (and hobbies) that are still "getting off the ground." (Currently, our advertising pays our ever-growing internet expenses and part of the materials and transportation expenses for developing new articles. If we ever have any "profit," we'll probably use it to pay some "interns" to help us catch up on our ever-growing backlog of clerical and web maintenance work.)

  • They are written to benefit the hobbies or other interests they support.

  • They are all reader-oriented. Our "yardstick" before making any changes or additions - even to advertising - is "Will this benefit our readers?" Our readers have rewarded our faithfulness toward them with faithfulness toward us, and we try not to betray their trust, even in little things like what products we review and or advertise.

In addition, except for the BigTrainStore(tm) and the GardenTrainStore(tm), our sites are all content-intensive. That is to say, they are each overwhelmingly dominated by free, professionally-written articles that relate to the core charter of the site. Our sites' "communities" are constantly being joined by people who "Googled" a question and found twenty thousand "answers," but only one "answer" that actually answered their question.

Our Advertising Philosophy

Following the "will this benefit our readers" philosophy, the first advertisement we ran (in 2004) was for a magazine that was the chief "competitor" to our biggest site - because the magazine benefits the same hobbies we do, and their writers have great ideas, too, and they often cover topics we can't.

After that, we started accepting advertising for products that related to the content of individual pages, from vendors we felt we could trust. Our readers don't seem to mind advertisements for trains on a page about trains, or for Christmas decorations on a page about Christmas trees. In fact, they occasionally express their appreciation that we brought something to their attention that they might not have known about otherwise.

Of course, such constraints limit the number of products we can offer at any give time. Across our entire family of sites - thousands of pages - we probably promote fewer than 500 individual products at any given time. That's not because we don't get offers. Since we started advertising, we have turned down thousands of requests by advertisers, relating to millions of products. But, unfortunately, most of these:

  • Were unrelated to our site content,

  • Were poor quality,

  • Had frequent availability issues, and/or

  • Were not available from reputable suppliers.

One problem with unrelated or intrusive advertising is that it wastes our readers' time. Advertising popups, text link boobytraps that take readers to unrelated pages, fourteen-inch-high banners that force readers to scroll down four times to read a single sentence, all inconvenience people looking for answers. It's no wonder that some of those more "profitable" sites spend a fortune each year to stay near the top of Google rankings. If you see one of our sites come up on the first page of Google for relevant searches (and most of them land there consistently) know that quality, relevant content and reader word-of-mouth are the only "tricks" that got them there. We hope you can see why we're hesitant to sacrifice reader good will for a few extra dollars of income.

How This Benefits Our Advertisers

Because we are so picky about what advertising we will accept, our readers have learned that an ad on our pages is is the same thing as a personal recommendation from the authors and editors. If your product or service is approved for advertising on any of our sites, you will be part of a very small "club," and your advertisement will not be crowded out by dancing lizards advertising mortgage refinancing or whatever.

How we Advertise

If you still think there's a place for your advertisement on one or more of our pages, here are some ways you may be able to see that happen.

Affiliate Programs

Almost all of our advertising is through affiliate programs such as Amazon and Commission Junction. In a way, that takes the guessing out of the equation - we only make money if the advertiser does. This also gives us great visibility into which links are working and which are not.

If you have a product or business that you think relates to the content of one of our sites, and you have (or could set up) an affiliate program with Amazon, Commission Junction, Google, Pepperjam, or a similar intermediary, consider working that out, then getting in touch with us. Chances are that you will find a dozen other sites willing to advertise your product once you're in the system.

Other Hobby Sites

Because we are serious about supporting our hobby communities, we also look favorably on other folks who do the same thing. For that reason we often provide "free links" to other hobby sites that have beneficial content.

Mom and Pop Stores - If you're a hobbyist who also provides some product or service that will help our readers with their hobby, send us the information, including your URL. If we agree that it will benefit our readers to know about your product, we may add the link at no charge on the page(s) where it makes sense.

On the other hand, if you want to see links to your site from pages that aren't specifically related to the products you offer, that is called "ad placement" or "link placement" and that will cost you money up front (see below).

Other Informative Hobby Sites - If you have useful "how-to" or other informative articles on your site (whether or not you are selling products or services), send us the URL. If we determine that your content would be helpful to our readers, we may add the link at no charge on the page(s) where it makes sense. If quality is high, and you cover many topics, we may add several links from related pages.

This may seem like scant "support," but a single link from one of our pages has been known to move "startup" hobby pages significantly higher in the Google standings overnight. (Moving on from there depends on you, and the quality of information you provide.)

Also, our readers have learned that we don't insult their intelligence by linking to useless products and services - so when they do follow the link to your page, they are expecting to find something useful or infomative, and what more can you ask of a link?

Contributors - Over the years, we've made many friends who are as serious about supporting their hobby as we are. In several case, we have contributed to each other's sites, loaned each other collectibles for photo shoots, linking where it makes sense, and even in a few cases working together on joint "startup" sites.

In short, we believe that helping our friends support the same hobbies we support helps us, in the same way that a "rising tide lifts all boats."

Paid Advertising

For ALL paid advertising we have the following requirements:

  • The product advertised be related (in our opinion) to the content on the page where the link appears. (we are not impressed by claims that "your readers will find this useful," followed by request for a link to nose hair clippers or check-cashing services.)

  • The advertising program has to make sense (in our opinion) for the advertiser as well as for us. We have turned down real money from folks who wanted to place prepaid ads for regional "brick-and-mortar" stores that couldn't serve more than a tiny fraction of our readers even if they wanted to. In those cases, we determined that their advertising dollars could be better used elsewhere and we told them so. (Then we tried not to think about all the clerical and web maintenance work that would have paid for.)

  • The link must not (in our opinion) undercut an existing relationship with an advertiser. That doesn't mean, say, that we won't advertise the same product through two different channels. (In fact, we like doing that - it allows readers to "comparison shop" without leaving our pages.) But it does mean that we won't sacrifice a good, pre-existing relationship for the sake of a new advertiser that won't substantially benefit us or our readers.

  • The link must not be deceptive - that is it must not promise one thing through an image or key word, then take the reader to a site or product that (in our opinion) is totally unrelated, or that we have not approved in advance.

  • All prepaid advertising must be prepaid for three months at a time by PayPal or check. Advertising will not be published until the first day of the month after payment is received or, in the case of a check, the check clears.

  • If you wish to discontinue a prepaid ad for any reason, let us know, and we will take it down at the end of the current month and refund the fee for any unused months.

  • The landing page must not change substantially without notice. Changing the landing page to an unrelated or non-family-friendly product will result in immediate removal of the ad/link and forfeiture of any unused advertising fees.

You'll note that we keep saying "in our opinion." That is deliberate - our opinion is final, and yelling at us for turning down your advertising or for pulling your ad when you go from advertising Christmas music to X-Rated hip-hop won't do you any good.

Premium Ad/Link Placement

A "premium page" is any home page, any "primer" index page, and any page that appears on the first page of the most relevant Google search. If you have any questions about a particular page, please ask before you commit any resources to this project. As a rule, prepaid ad placement on a premium page will cost twice as much as the other pages.

In addition, people have asked about advertising in our e-mail newsletters, so we have included rates for each of them - the rates vary because of circulation differences.

Note: All advertising rates we have listed below (including the highest) are based on actual offers that we had to turn down for one or more of the reasons listed on this page. However we have established a discount plan for multiple ad/link placements, if you are interested. That plan is explained after the rate charts.

Rates for Prepaid Ads

A prepaid ad is a visual image that a reader may click on to go to your landing page. The graphics and or message in the ad should indicate what the reader will find on the landing page.

A 96 dot-per-inch square.Our pricing system is based on a 96-dots per inch model, in which a 96-pixel square image takes up about one square inch of screen space. (See right.) Yes, we know that 96-pixels don't make a full inch on the new high-resolution screens. But, frankly, a pretty high percentage of our target audience is using 1024x768 or lower resolution monitors, or even tablets their kids have gotten them. So for us it averages out.

Your ads don't have to be square; we'll calculate the size when we receive the image. Also, if you don't have a graphic, we can create one for an additional one-time fee.

Premium Page?Price per month per square inch (96-pixel square or 9216 pixels)Price per quarter (3 months, prepaid)
Premium Page
Standard Page
Garden Railroading Newsletter (1-off only)
Indoor and Christmas Train Newsletter (1-off only)
Christmas Lights, Decorations, and Traditions Newsletter
(1-off only)

Rates for Text Link

A text link is a key word or phrase, contained within the body of a document, that, when clicked on, causes the browser to go to another URL. that is contained within the text of a page. Like a prepaid ad, the landing page must be related to the key word(s) in the link and must not be changed without prior approval.

Premium Page?Price per month per linkPrice per quarter (3 months, prepaid)
Garden Railroading Newsletter
(1-off only)
Indoor and Christmas Train
(1-off only)
Christmas Lights, Decorations, and Traditions Newsletter (1-off only)

Discounts for Multiple Ad Purchases

You can get a 10% discount by purchasing 2 ad or link placements, a 20% discount by purchasing 3 ad placements, a 30% discount by purchasing 4 ad placements, a 40% discount by purchasing 5 or more ad placements, or a 50% discount by purchasing 10 or more ad placements. You may mix and match different ad sizes, different sites, and different placement types (ad placements and links). All other terms and conditions apply.


Once again, if you are a fellow hobbyist and want to get notice on our site, simply contact us with your URL and anything you want to say about how your site, product, or services will benefit our readers. We are always looking for folks to form mutually beneficial partnerships.

If your interest is strictly in ad or link placement, simply contact us and tell us which page or newsletter you are interested in, and what product or services you hope to advertise. If we think there is a potential for a business relationship, we will get back to you. On the other hand, partial or misleading information on your contact form will cause your request to be discarded automatically by the system, so please pay attention when you fill out the form.

Looking forward to responses, suggestions, additions, criticisms, and anything else you care to send me, I remain,

Paul Race

Breakthrough Communications

P.S. Enjoy your hobbies. And be sure to enjoy any time you have with your family in the coming weeks.

Note: Breakthrough Communications™, Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, BIG Train Store™, and Trains-N-Towns™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications ( All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.

For more information, please contact us. Or visit one of our supported web pages:
Breakthrough Communications
Family Garden Trains
Outdoor Trains,
Large Scale Trains
BIG Indoor Trains
O Gauge and On30 trains,
Holiday Villages, more
BIG Christmas Trains
Trains for Trees,
Trains for Towns
Family Christmas
- Christmas Articles,
Music, Stories,
and Craft Resources