With the time it takes to run a blog, it is normal than more and more bloggers are looking at ways to make a living with their blog. I often meet people who asked me for advices on blog advertising at parties and conferences. To keep things simple, I will just review the basics of ad banners on this post.
The most frequent questions people asked me are: “How much traffic do I need?”, “Should I start with small advertisers?”, “Go for the big names?”, “How much should I charge?”. These are excellent questions but I will step back and ask “How much time and effort can you put on finding advertisers?”. Do you want to sell direct or to be part of an ad network? The answer is that you may want to do both initially since you probably do not have the traffic and human resources to attract big name advertisers on your own. Keep your options open by staying clear of an exclusive agreement.
Things to Consider
A fixed rate per month is the easiest way to start. Set up a rate structure based on how many ad positions you are allowing per page. Do not aim too low. A button at $50 a month is easy to sell but you will need plenty to make a living. If you prefer a cleaner look with less ads per page, this means you need to charge more per ad to make a living. Premium spots (meaning above the fold) are worth the most.
Ad sizes influence the type of advertisers who will attract. Do your blog template supports the 300×250 ad unit which is the most seeks by big name advertisers? Click here for my post on the most popular ad units. But if your blog focuses on local content, favoring local shops may be the best way for you to go. To fit their smaller budget, you need smaller ad units.
If you sell ads directly, get an ad server. Hardcoding the ads on your blog while managing the schedule is not efficient. To diminish the set up tasks, request a minimum booking of 3 months for small ads and request each month to be paid in advance through your Paypal account. If they prepay in one installment, give them a small discount.
As a publisher, I aim for ad visuals that will not hurt my brand. In fact, this is the reason I got rid of Google Adwords on At Home. The low quality of the ads on the Google Adwords inventory for my niche (home, design, food) meant that I had to constantly block ads. On the other hand, I am happier with the ad quality that Google Adwords generally delivers on On the Web. As you see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
What to Do Next?
Make a media kit where you highlight your niche, describe your audience, give traffic statistics, and the ad positions on your site with the rates. Advertisers will request that. I also publish an Advertising with Us page on my blog with a summary of the advertising opportunities I offer and how to contact me.