One way to make money via your blog is to display business advertisements. However, it can take awhile to get to the level where businesses will be interested in purchasing advertisement space for your blog–my Entrepreneurial Journalist professor from last semester, who runs Jump Magazine in Philly, said we should be hitting at least 500 views per day or 1500 per week before we could even consider it. Hence why I’ve focused on growing and building your blog up until this point. This post will cover the basics of trying to reach potential advertisers for your blog, as well as ethical concerns with advertisement. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll cover other ways to make money besides advertisement (which honestly, won’t make you that much money) as well as additional ways to help grow your blog.
You’ve seen ads everywhere on websites–and I’m sure many of us find them annoying (I have AdBlock software installed on both the browsers I use), however, they are one way to make money through your blog. There are several type of advertisements out there on the web today. The most comprehensive website advertising list highlights everything from direct ads to affiliate ads (like Amazon Associates and Ebay Affiliates) and sponsored posts and reviews. There are also different ways you can get paid for ads including Pay-per-impression (how many people see it), pay-per-click (paid per how many people click on your ad–who clicks on ads?), and pay-per-action (like Amazon Affiliates, where you get paid for how many people buy something from Amazon after they’ve clicked through on your site). There’s also text link ads (which you place in posts such as Text Link Brokers) and contextual ads (like Google Adsense, which changes which ads appear based on the content and paid per click). Direct Ads are just like they sound–an Ad sold directly by the blogger to the company for a price and installed directly by the blogger.
Adsense, PayPerPost, Amazon Associates, etc.
Google Adsense allows you to easily add content related ads to your blog or website. I’d definitely recommend Adsenese to beginners looking to make their way into advertising. I used it when I had a Blogger (aka Google) blog. You get to choose where ads get placed on your site to make them as unobtrusive as you want them to be. The downside? They don’t work with WordPress.com (WordPress-hosted) blogs. In fact, WordPress bans pretty much all advertising (from PayPerPost, ReviewMe, sponsored or paid content, TextLink Ads, GoogleAdsense) and has instead offered their own program WordAds, which isn’t too impressive. Ads only appear in-between blog posts (if viewing the homepage) or at the bottom of a post (if looking an individual post).
My advice if you’ve got a WordPress.com and want to advertise? Move to being self-hosted. I’ll hopefully be making the switch in the near future and I hope to document my process in an article here.
WordPress.com will allow use of Amazon Associates however, as long as it’s not the primary content of the site (which they say they determine on a case-by-case basis). It works well on Blogger. Amazon Associates offers a wide variety of advertising options including installing ads in your sidebar with related Amazon contents, pictures and text links in posts and else where on your blog, and Amazon search boxes. The issue is that WordPress.com blogs will not let you directly copy the html coding that Amazon Associates gives you (when I ran into this problem contacted them and couldn’t get much help). However, I found a way to get some of the ads to work (text and single product photos)–contact me if you’d like a step-by-step guide of how to get them up and running. Ebay Affiliates works in a similar way, but I haven’t tested it with WordPress.com yet.
Direct Advertising has a lot of perks according to Rajeev Edmonds of Mint Blogger–you get to control which ads get placed, it allows for flexible payments, and you get to build up long-term relationships with companies. However, it is more time consuming, more difficult to find advertisers, and more risky (because an advertiser can dispute an ad). You’ll want to post an advertisement page on your blog (and perhaps even post an article about it). This should include information about what you blog is about, the statistics of your blog–page views, unique views, Alexa Ranking, Feed Subscribers, as well as demographic data about your site. You’ll also want to determine what ad sizes you want to run and where you want to place them in this section as well (Edmonds actually recommends against posting recommended prices and instead negotiating with the advertiser). Again, rates can be determined by pay-per-click, pay-per-impression, pay-per-action, flat rate (preferred by smaller bloggers), or a combination of flat rate and another. Once your site grows, you can develop a Media Kit (something I’ll cover more in depth in the future).
If you’re a new blogger, you can find advertisers in a few ways says Edmonds: visiting advertising marketplaces, checking out similar blogs, and search engines. You’ll want to send them an e-mail with a short description of your blog with the same statistics on your advertising page along with potential rates in a media kit–but prepare to be flexible when it comes to your first advertisement. Another resource to check out is PassionFruitAds, which is an easy to use marketplace (a lot of my fellow small-time bloggers use it).
Yes, making money is great, but their are some ethical issues when it comes to advertisement. While direct advertisements and contextual ad services like Adsense are pretty much universally accepted, Affiliate programs, text link ads, and sponsored programs are things you may want to think twice before using. You have to be careful of how your readers might perceive these (especially when writing posts specifically about a product that you’re paid for writing) and think of whether it’s worth deterring some readers for a little bit of cash–it’s best to put yourself in their shoes. Personally, I’m okay with some affiliate programs (I’ve used Amazon Associates to include links to my favorite dance products)–but I draw the line at barely-related sponsored posts that will turn off my readers.
What are your thoughts on writing and advertising?