Advertising. It seems so last century, but in some marketplaces it still works. It builds brand recognition and in some cases makes sales. This post is part 4 of a ten part series on boosting your blogging income. You can find the first three articles here:
Advertising is dead, advertising isn’t dead… you hear all kinds of stories but the only way you’ll get the right answer to whether advertising works for you is to try it out.
People are not as adblind as you might think – some bloggers do incredibly well with advertising. If you are a member of Brit Mums, you can join their Brit Mums Professionals where they will help you work with Brands. If the Mum bloggers are doing it, it’s not dead yet. So let’s explore blog advertising a bit more.
Google AdSense can be a good way to monetize your blog, but it’s not the only store in town. While it’s considered quite effective by some bloggers, many (for a multitude of reasons) decide to look beyond AdSense and try out different advertising options. I’m not that enamoured with Google Adsense, and only have one Adsense unit on Birds on the Blog. There are a number of ways to earn advertising revenue on your blog without cramming your site with AdSense adverts everywhere you look, to this the reader may be truly ad blind
There are many different ad networks that work in a similar way to AdSense. They use your blog content to post relevant ads that your readers would find interesting. One network that does this is Talkahead.com. It puts real targeted ads (RTA) into related stories on your blog.
These are small text-based ads that you can customise. The advantage is that they’re inside the content where they don’t stand out and scream ‘ads’ like Google’s do. And yes, Ads that are customised to feel like part of the blog convert better, but most bloggers (and I include myself in this) don’t bother to do this. It could be the time taken, it could be the lack of knowledge, it could be anything but the bottom line is, we don’t do it.
Over at Birds on the Blog, we’ve just installed SkimLinks. As a multi-author site with in excess of 2,000 pages it’s been hard for us to monetise in the way we’ve wanted to. To monetise thoroughly would make it a full time job for three people, and then we have the US/UK traffic issue. 70% of our traffic is US based, so how do we add US and UK Amazon affiliate links? Skimlinks is looking like the the answer to our problem.
I’ll write a more detailed analysis of Skimlinks in a months time, when I know more about it.
Some sites, like LinkBucks, give you more choice about what ads your blog shows. You can choose the sites you’d like to link to. LinkBucks gives you the option of either getting paid whenever someone clicks the link or earning referral income when you send someone to their site. LinkBucks is still in Beta, so expect some changes and I’m pretty sure if you had feedback, they’d appreciate it.
There are many alternative ad networks and all have their unique qualities that can help you monetise your blog. If you are looking at fast payouts, then Skimlinks and Linkbucks should be at the top of your to-do list. In fact, go and register with them right now, I’ll still be here when you get back.
Chitika is a popular advertising network that’s unique – it only shows ads to visitors who found your site through the search engines, which can be very handy if you don’t want to advertise to your regular readers and subscribers.
Visitors that access your blog through a social media link or by entering the URL directly don’t see the ads. I tried Chitika and didn’t like it, please note, I am what’s known as a fussy so-and-so, and Chitika works well for plenty of other bloggers. I just didn’t like it. For the record, I don’t like coffee, ice cream sodas and Cheerios. This shouldn’t stop you drinking coffee or trying something like Chitika out.
Adbrite is an ad network that includes non-English ads, so if you blog in another language this is the place for you to checkout and monetize your blog.
BuySellAds is a marketplace where you can negotiate with advertisers. They have a diverse range of monetising options such as monetising your RSS feed (also available with Skimlinks) and your site will be checked out, they do not let anyone in. They cater for all sizes, and are known for their high quality advertisers. I have an account there, but never did anything with it.
Some networks, such as Infolinks, allow you to run their ads alongside ads from other networks. Like Chitika, you can choose to show adverts to only search traffic, they also have “in tag” advertising, so if you are a tagger, this could be the advertising site for you.
Ebuzzing is my final offering here. Ebuzzing is the only place I’ve found where you can advertise videos on your blog. They also do sponsored posts, and yes, they are a pain in the backside with things you have to mention (which makes them impossible to use on a multi-author site), but if you are based in Europe or blog in French, Italian, Dutch or Spanish then check them out. The support team are really friendly and super helpful. They have a good range of advertising videos, so if you blog in a less popular niche, go and take a look.
Working Directly with Advertisers
Another option is to skip the ad networks completely and sell your own ad space directly to advertisers. This is painful. I have one international company email me on a weekly basis to find out why I missed the amazing opportunity they’ve provided for Bingo advertising… And the outreach from a lot of advertisers is truly atrocious, but if you are brave, please continue.
The main advantage of ad networks mentioned above is that they make finding advertisers easy. In most cases, all you have to do is sign up. Finding your own advertisers takes quite a bit more work, but you have total control over the entire process and the final say if you wish to carry their ads or not.
In order to attract advertisers, create a media page that describes your blog, its readership, analytics that show your level of traffic, and an outline of the benefits of advertising on your blog. Include a “media” or “advertisers” link in the footer of your site that goes directly to this page. If you have a selection of 125 x 125 ad boxes in your side bar have a plain one that says advertise here.
Tell your readers that you now accept advertising and ask them if they know anyone who is looking to advertise on blogs, referrals can be a great way of sourcing the right advertiser.
You can request that the advertiser gets in touch a specific way, place your own pricing and negotiate directly with advertisers that show interest. Expect to haggle and expect to spend some time on this. I’ve never accepted an advert yet that didn’t take at least 5 emails and some haggling over prices.
In order to approach advertisers directly, you need a good deal of traffic and it helps if there’s a high level of engagement with readers. Placing an ad on your site has to be a good value for them and remember they get unhappy if they are a bank and you post an article about porn the next day…
Other Monetization Options
Remember that ads are not the only way to monetize your blog. You can write about products for affiliate programs and sell your own information products as well. If you have information products for sale, you should advertise them in your blog’s sidebar and mention them in post, as well as in your author bio.
And finally there are Sponsored Posts to consider, this is where you write the post about a product and include a link to the website of the advertiser. The company tend to want sponsored post approval, and whine when you place sponsored post on that page and make the links “no-follow” in order to avoid a Google penalty. A sponsored post works well in a lot of cases, for all kinds of blogs, just don’t sell yourself short and get the money in your paypal account up front.
Depending on your goals for your blog and the tastes of your target marketplace, these approaches may be more profitable than selling advertising space.
The ads on this site are all from affiliates, they don’t pay to be here. I choose which products I advertise. If you have affiliate links in your posts it’s worth considering advertising some of those products. If you blog in a popular niche then make sure you have some variety to the ads that you have so you look different.
In some niches (like crafting) to advertise certain affiliates is the norm and expected – you’ve not made it as a blogger unless you are advertising these products. Advertise what you like, but if you wish to fit into the community you may find it worthwhile to bow to peer pressure. It’s not just crafting, it’s similar in transport blogging, at one point back in 2006 you didn’t have a successful courier site if you didn’t carry advertising for an insurance company and a ferry company. Rather than buck the trend, we decided to go with the flow and joined TradeDoubler. We never earned a bean, but we looked like we were expected to look
Other considerations when using advertising on your blog…
- Adverts that are relevant to the post will get better click throughs. If you are writing about gardening then the adverts that will convert the best are ones about gardening. If you write about gardening and post adverts about web tools then you are going to leave cash on the table.
- As I mentioned in a previous post 67% of people are visual, your ads could be images to attract more clicks.
- You may wish to call advertising something different like site sponsor.
- Paid advertising links should be no-follow links. People still click them, but you won’t pick up a search engine penalty.
Plugins to manage your blog’s advertising
- AdRotate plugin for WordPress – rotates adverts including banners
- WP125 again, a WordPress plugin that makes managing advertising easy for you
- oio publisher a paid WP plugin that offers complete ad management (allows ad buyers to pay, upload an image and removes ad when paid time has lapsed). I’ve not used this yet, I’ve seen it in action and its pretty impressive and hassle free.
- Tag Advertising plugin, part of a 6 pack of plugins by Acme. This plugin changes the ads according to how you tag your blog post. Really useful if you blog on a variety of topics and or have a multi author blog. I’ve tested this on a client site but not on my own. My client loves it. At $10 for 6 plugins, it’s a good buy.
The final plugin…
PS tomorrow I’ll be posting about blogging for Brands, so add me to your RSS reader.
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