Direct advertising is a great way to monetize your blog.
“Direct advertising” means that there is no intermediary between you and the advertiser: you are contacted by the company or their PR firm for product reviews, sponsorship or advertising. That means it's up to you to be the blog that gets contacted.
How can you make that happen? You won't be able to do this right out of the gate. This step is for bloggers who have the following:
- A blog with a minimum of 1000 page views per month and great engagement, or
- A large and effective social media following, i.e., 5,000 on Facebook and 5,000 on Twitter, or
- Some combination of the two.
- A clear and focused niche.
- Superior search engine positioning for your niche.
- A professional presence and appearance for your blog.
- A template or theme with space for advertising. Keep in mind that you want users to read and click but you do not want them to be so overwhelmed with ads that they stop visiting.
If you’re not there yet, learn how to attract 10,000 followers. If you are ready to start engaging direct marketers, here are some ways to attract marketers to your site.
Create a media kit.
A media kit is a one page information guide that will help prospective advertisers get to know your blog at a single glance. It should include the following:
- Links and measurement of all your social media and numbers. This means followers, fans, likes, etc. Include any engagement platforms, tools or groups you employ as well, such as Klout or Sverve scores, as well as Google page rank and Alexa rankings. For social media, list all the numbers – many brands add them up. For other scores, put your best foot forward.
- Google analytics pageviews and unique visitors. You can include information about your engagement if those numbers are low but your bounce rate is very good (less than 20%). Additionally, if you are a regional blog or want to attract local businesses, you should include the numbers you drive from local traffic.
- Search engine positioning. If you are a top result in any search engine for a keyword in your niche, please add that information as well.
- List the sort of advertising is available on your site and a rate for each item. Will you do text link ads? What about size and position of advertisements? Are you seeking sponsorship? Are you willing to write sponsored posts?
- Information about your audience and niche. Remember that you want to target both your content and advertising to match your audience. If you have a blog about social media trends, your audience is not going to want to see ads from department stores or food brands. Keep it relevant. In addition, you want prospective advertisers to know why your readers would connect with their brand and become customers.
- Your skills in driving traffic. Show what brands you have worked with, what known social media initiatives you've participated or managed, and anything else that's relevant. In addition, if you are part of a targeted group, add that information as well. For example, I'm a member of the Facebook groups Philly Social Media Moms and Eco-Warriors, which have provided strong engagement for my blog.
- A one-sheet. All of the information in your media kit should likewise be printed on a single page with at least your blog's logo on it for any live events you may attend, also called a one-sheet. You may want to print on hard stock or laminate it.
Start charging something.
This is one of the greatest pieces of advice I got early on.
Even if you are nervous about charging fees for advertising, you can start as low as $1/month for a 125×125 ad. Getting your first advertiser will give you confidence and build your credentials. After I saw this advice, I put out my first offer for advertisers at $5 / month for a 125×125 ad. I had a few bites, and then did my next round for $15/month. Eventually I had well known printing company pitch me for 1 year for $150 – a pretty solid offer only a few months after I started offering advertising.
Join a core group of bloggers.
I can't tell you how incredibly important it is to build relationships with bloggers, both inside, parallel to, and outside your niche. In addition to the support, advice and blog building that you can do with an intimate community of bloggers, you can also get to meet advertisers. Bloggers need when opportunities come up that they cannot fulfill or that require a large group. Building a strong relationship with a core group will allow you to be a possible go-to source in that event. One of the philosophies of a good blogger group is to do unto others as they would do unto you. Join in and help everyone that you can in whatever way fits your values and your brand.
Bloggers outside your niche are great for passing on opportunities you get that do not fit your brand. Bloggers in your niche may ask you to cover for them. This week, a national brand that I work with invited me to an event I was unable to attend. I reached out to my local group and found someone in that area that was thrilled to jump in and help. This was a win-win for everyone involved.
Meet the brands and engage them.
Helping small mom & pop businesses that need a hand and have a small budget is a great way to find your first advertisers. The key is to drive the appropriate traffic as you pitch them. Where can you meet advertisers? This is where in-person engagement is critical.
Expos, conferences, business events, mixers, toy fairs – all these places are where advertisers gather, expecting to engage with bloggers and vendors. In addition to events open to the general public, being a member of a quality blogger group will allow you access to smaller invitation-only events. Find out who will be there and get to know their product and history in advance, emphasizing why your blog is a good fit. You may initially be engaged for a product review or to write for them.
If that goes well, you can offer them advertising that fit their needs.
As you begin to engage customers, you will want to offer better packages and discounts. For example, you can bundle 3 months of ad space at a lower monthly cost or you can offer 6 months of advertising for the price of five. You can do freebies or even run a giveaway offering advertising as a prize, giving advertisers a “taste” of what they earn by advertising on your blog.
What can you sell?
There are a variety of standard ad sizes for web. The bigger the ad, the more you should charge. Typically, advertising is sold on a month-to-month basis. Find sizes that work for your blog. You don't want to commit to a large leaderboard at the head of your blog right away and then find it's driving visitors away.
The most common ad sizes (in pixels) are 125 x 125, 150 x 150, or 300 x 300 but there are lots of other options. Keep in mind how much real estate your are willing to give up on your blog, ad position, and length of run.
What if I’m new to this?
If you've never had an advertiser or worked with a brand before, don't think of this as a setback. In order to work with a bigger brand, you'll need to start with smaller brands. A great way to start is with blogger networking clubs. I'm a member of several clubs that work with major brands: MomCentral, Clever Girls Collective and Double Duty Divas, to name a few, many of which I learned about at blogger conferences. You may also want to start with affiliate programs or product reviews while you build your reputation. Make sure you are targeting your niche and continually working to grow your influence and, in time, success will come.
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