After 5+ years of blogging, I’m finally (finally, finally) making actual money selling ad space on my blog. Sometimes I make enough to cover my rent! It took me a looooooong time to figure out how to do this. I coordinate all the ads myself -I’m not part of an ad network, I don’t use Google ad words, and I’ve been known to turn down advertisers that I don’t think are good fit. If that sounds like something you’re into - read on! If not, I’ve heard good things about Passionfruit Ads.
Include your advertisers in an actual blog post
This is the biggest thing you can do to keep your advertisers happy, drive traffic to their blogs, and keep them coming back for more. 70% of my blog readership (7,000+ people!) read Yes and Yes through an RSS feed, which means they don’t even see the ads on my sidebar. It seems unethical to charge people for a space that most readers don’t see! So each sponsor that buys a 220×100 ad space is included in a monthly sponsor post. Each sponsor shares three photos, links to three of their favorite posts/products, and up to five social media profiles. These sponsor posts go up on Saturday (a ‘slow’ internet day) so readers are happy to see fresh reading material and my sponsors get lots of traffic. Win/win!
Mention them on Twitter
If you include your sponsors in a post, @mention them on Twitter and let them know! You’re giving them an opportunity to retweet the link (so their followers will visit your site), you’re showing them that you take their sponsorship seriously, and you’re introducing them to your Twitter followers (who might be different than your blog readers.)
If you don’t include sponsors in a blog post, you could tweet a link to one of their best posts and send them traffic that way.
Let them (or encourage them to!) change up their ad images each month
Blog readers can get ‘ad blindness’, so switching up the ad images increases the likelihood that someone will click on their ad. It also keeps your sidebar looking so fresh and so clean, clean.
Remind them when their space is about to expire and offer them a price break if they renew
When my sponsors sign up, I set a Google reminder for when their ad will expire. A few days before it expires, I email them, thank them for their time on Yes and Yes and offer them a price break if they renew their ad space. Lots of people forget when their ad spaces run out and would be happy to re-up if we remind them about it!
Remind your readers each month that you’re taking new sponsors
At the end of each month, I remind my readers that I’m taking on new sponsors. I include my prices, traffic stats, testimonials and I usually include a funny video at the top of the post so even if someone’s not interested in sponsorship, they’ll enjoy the blog post.
Offer different sizes and types of advertising
Different advertisers have different needs and you’ll get more advertisers if you can meet those needs.
220×60 ad space
not included in the sponsor post
220×100 ad space
included in post with other sponsors
post tagging for SEO purposes
@mention on Twitter
220×220 ad space
top of ad column
post tagging for SEO purposes
individual sponsored post
5 links in sponsored post
1 Facebook post
This way I can help out everyone from fledgling bloggers with a tiny budget to fashion labels who want to sell cute dresses to my readers.
Get testimonials from your satisfied advertisers
Every few months email your previous advertisers and ask them about their experience advertising on your site. How much traffic did they get? How many more Facebook fans? How many people signed up for their email list? Include those testimonials (along with headshots of the advertisers and links to their sites) on your sponsorship page.
When someone does you a favor and you can’t pay them, offer them ad space instead
Maybe you’re having a tough time finding sponsors. Or you want someone to guest post for you/photograph some stuff for you/fill out a long survey for you. Offer them ad space on your site! It’ll help fill out that sidebar and keep you from being one of those jerks who expects things for free.
Whew! Tell me about your experiences with blog advertising - as either an advertiser or ad space provider!