Selling blog advertising can be a lucrative way to generate an online income from your website. However, many bloggers find it a challenge. Today we are breaking down how to make your ad space a hot commodity in your industry.
Make the First Move
In our recent post on finding products to review I advised you to not be afraid to reach out to potential sponsors on occasion. The same goes for advertisers. Visit your competitors’ blogs and see who is sitting in their advertising space. Find the contact information for those companies and send an email pitch. Sure you will get rejections. But you may get some commitments as well. Bloggers & Brands includes some great email templates you can use.
Offer More Value
Just as you looked at the existing marketplace to see what you could do better before starting your blog, do the same when you start offering advertising. What can you offer that others don’t? As an example, on one of my blogs I give new sponsors a shout-out on Facebook and a mention in my weekly newsletter when they sign up. These things are inexhaustible and therefore cost me no money. But, it is something my advertisers always look forward to.
Offer Less Ads
You may be thinking that to make the most money you need to offer an endless supply of ad opportunities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s why.
Scarcity sells. If you have only three spots available, interested advertisers are going to feel compelled to act quickly if they want a spot.
Look more desirable. If you have one “Advertise Here” spot available it conjures up those feelings of exclusivity. If you have ten “Advertise Here” spots available it makes it appear as though no one is interested in what you have to offer.
Too many options to choose from can actually turn advertisers away. It makes us as consumers indecisive.
Your content comes first. It’s a total turnoff to readers when there are more ads on a page than useful content for their consumption. If they have to dig through ads to find what they came for they are leaving and never coming back. Less traffic equals less money.
More ads equals less clicks equals less advertisers. Once a person clicks on an advertiser’s link they are gone from your site. Don’t dilute the click pool. When an advertiser is receiving a steady stream of traffic they are more apt to keep renewing their spot. That’s less selling you have to do long-term.
Offer Unique Opportunities
While sponsored posts and banner ads are the standard, there are so many other opportunities you can offer to make your blog stand out from the others. A few examples:
- Old Posts – You don’t always have to sponsor new posts, old content may be perfect for partnering with an advertiser as well. Dig through your stats. Uncover those posts that are popular month after month. Is there a brand that would match perfectly with that post – provided the post wasn’t previously sponsored, of course? Maybe you are bringing in a lot of search traffic for a specific term. Contact potential sponsors to offer these placements.
- Event Coverage – Holly Hanna from The Work at Home Woman offers social media updates during direct sales events.
- Twitter Parties – These are an incredible amount of work. If you know what you are doing however, they can provide great value to your advertisers and income to you.
I’m not talking about 50% off sales every few months. Those can get you in trouble and actually make your space less desirable. Think about it. If a store in your area regularly holds clearance sales do you go in to shop regular price or wait for the next big sale? The last thing you want to do is attract only bargain bin advertisers. If you want to offer a site-wide discount, do so only once per year and push your best placements and packages.
The discounts I do like are for long-term commitments (ex. 10% off a 6- or 12-month ad) and bundles (ex. purchase a 12-month banner spot and receive 25% off a sponsored post). Everyone loves a good upsell. Consider what you can offer without hurting your bottom line.
Spiff Up Your PR Page
Always have a PR page readily available. It should include your Media Kit and traffic stats. You should also have some great sales copy explaining what you have to offer advertisers and why your site is a good choice. Not confident making your own media kit? Here are some great ones from Etsy and Hip Media Kits:
Make the Process Automated
The longer a negotiation takes, the higher the chance an advertiser will change his or her mind. Automating your sales process can greatly increase sales. And you can be making those sales anytime, anywhere.
- Passionfruit Ads is a popular blog ad marketplace though it does have some customer service issues. The cost is $9 per month whether sales are made or not.
- BuySellAds is a site I have long used for selling the ad space on one of my sites. They do have rather high standards and take 25% of ad sales (no monthly fee).
- Adproval is recent alternative to Passionfruit Ads. They take 10% of each sale. My biggest complaint with this option is they do not use PayPal but Amazon Payments – and Amazon Payments can be a total PITA.
- OIO Publisher is available as WordPress plugin or standalone platform that automates the ad sales process. I have used it for years. It allows you to set up subscriptions, automatically sends stats and renewal emails and allows for several ad options including custom spots. The cost is a one-time fee of $47. You’ll make that back in no time.