Today we're going to be talking about money; the root of all evil & our very lifeline. (I know, it's the love of money that's the root of all evil, but as soon as you have it; you love it, so excuse my intentional omission!)
One of the ways bloggers make money is by selling advertisements. It's an integral part of blogging for money, yet it's one of the least talked about aspects of blogging. There are loads of ad companies (such as Gourmet Ads*) that make it easy for bloggers to display syndicated ads and earn money. But the issue with websites like this, is that they often require bloggers to meet a monthly quota of pageviews or unique visitors before welcoming them into their program.
If you're not averaging 50K or more pageviews, you may struggle to find ad companies willing to work with you, but that shouldn't exonerate you from running your own ads on your own blog. In this tutorial, we'll briefly look out how to price blog ads, including sidebar ads to sponsored posts. We'll also discuss how to pitch blog ads to business seeking advertising. This tutorial is being written with those bloggers who have less than 50K monthly pageviews in mind, but anyone could find it beneficial.
*This is not an affiliate link.
How to Price & Pitch Blog AdsWritten by: Anyonita Green on
Money, Money, Money
Every now and then, I get emailed questions from bloggers asking advice on how to pitch their blog to a potential advertiser or how much to charge after someone has agreed to purchase an ad. I love these kinds of questions, because it means that more and more people are discovering and harnessing the power of blogging and using their (figurative) pen to make a living! Even better, it means that marketing firms and business are wising up to the potential marketing smorgasbord that blogging represents and are seeing and believing in the importance of getting a foot in the door.
Before I started running syndicated ads on my blog, I went the personal route. I headhunted for companies to fill my sidebar with their advertisements and pitched my blog with vigor and energy, trying to create a buzz and whet my would-be advertiser's appetites. It worked. Up until a little over a year ago, my sidebar was a revolving door of ads: big ones, small ones; ads from other bloggers, ads from businesses; ads that ran for a month, ads that ran for six months. Because I wanted to focus on other aspects of blogging, I've since stopped doggedly going after ads and rely on ad networks instead. But I learned a lot in those years of doing it myself.
Types of Blog Ads
Websites are becoming increasingly more valuable. Well, good websites with engaged readers and users are. And just like with any commodity, there are sweet spots and dud spots. There are areas of a website where advertisers would be willing to pay premium prices to occupy, these are generally "above the fold". Ads that are above the fold mean website viewers don't have to scroll to see them, whether they are banner ads across the top of the page or are sidebar ads, this type of advertisement always performs well and is usually the most lucrative for bloggers.
Other types of advertising you could offer could come in the form of links, sponsored posts (where the company pays you or provides you with a sample product for you to write about) or articles (where the company provides you with written content for you to publish). All ads are different; have different features and formatting and will of course be in a different position, so the price will vary, and it can be confusing to figure out what to charge if you're not used to doing it.
How to Price Blog Ads
I devised a little formula back in 2011, based on things that I'd read to help me figure out the best way to price my blog ads. I'm not sure if it will work for everyone, but it's worked for me and I've found it to be the best, most efficient method for me to charge people.
As I've stated on that graphic, the price can and should increase based on the level of involvement you put in and based on the amount of real estate an ad takes up on your blog. It is generally considered best practice to avoid written work from people you don't know. Worst case scenario, if a company sends out the same verbatim blog post to 100 bloggers filled with questionable follow links and they all publish it and Google catches wind, the company and the bloggers are often penalized. (This happened around Mother's Day to a prominent floral arrangement business!) It's best to avoid this and not put yourself in a position where you could be compromised.
How to Pitch Advertising
When it comes to pitching, you really only need to know three things:
- Know who you want Knowing who you want involves doing your homework. Find the brands who have advertised on blogs that inspire you. Chances are, if they've worked with a similar blog, they'll want to work with you. Just look out for syndicated ads because companies with their ads running in a syndication don't tend to respond to cold pitching.
- Know what you wantKnowing what you want involves having a clear idea of the ad space up for offer and knowing how much money you want to receive for each ad type you offer. Only you will be able to work this out.You can use my formula as a guideline, but you might find that you need more money than the formula suggests. You'll have to make the call and determine what the best option is for you.
- Know what you can offer
Finally, knowing what you can offer is having a clear idea of who visits your blog. Yes, companies and marketers are driven by numbers, but the activity on your site is done by people. People with interests, people who can be slotted into a demographic. You need to study your analytics, and not just on your site, on your social media as well. Find out if more men or women visit your Facebook page; figure out their ages. Find out where your visitors are coming from and if there are any patterns.
For instance, I know that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 75% of all the comments I receive come from other bloggers. I know this because I run a link party on Tuesdays and on Thursdays, I post these tutorials that appeal more to my readers who are bloggers than my readers who work in different industries. That type of awareness and understanding of your readers will give you an advantage when pitching your blog. So, say I wanted to pitch to a new company that targets bloggers, in my pitch I would suggest that we run the ad for the first time on a Tuesday or Thursday. Or I would suggest that we put a link in a post on a Tuesday or Thursday, knowing that these days are saturated with their target audience members visiting my blog.
Tips for writing the pitch:
- Be yourself & write in the same voice you write in on your blog, but a bit more professional
- Be clear & honest about your stats
- Refer them to the Ts&Cs on your website & ensure that the Ts&Cs state that you cannot guarantee the number of people who will view or click through on the ads that are placed on your blog
- Be succinct when talking about money; play down the cost, but play up everything you'll offer in return
- Engage with your advertiser, especially through social media. A good way to do this would be to tweet about the new ad, tagging your advertiser in the tweet etc
- Be firm with payment and invoicing and
- Thank your advertiser and provide them with a brief summary of the figures and/or any engagement with a sponsored post
Have I left anything out? Do you have any tips or strategies for pitching to blogs or pricing your ad space?