How to Attract Advertisers to Your Blog

By on June 17, 2008

Attract Advertisers

If you’re a blogger who is trying to make money by selling ad space, chances are you have read some tips from others about how to attract and retain advertisers. I currently have two blogs. One is about a year old and the other is about four months old. One always takes priority over the other. One has no problem keeping ad slots filled, and even generates more interest than I can accommodate. The other has struggled to attract advertisers.

Rather than just writing generic advice about selling ad space, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned through my own blogging experience. Because the two blogs are run much differently and because the results are about as opposite as they can be, I think it’s a great learning experience of what sells ad space in real world scenarios.

First to keep things from being confusing throughout the article I’ll give a brief intro to the blogs that will be referenced throughout this post. First, my primary blog that was started about a year ago is Vandelay Website Design. That blog had no advertising for about the first six months, and has sold out all ads spots for the past six months. Traffikd was launched in February with some affiliate ads, but has drawn very little interest from paid advertisers.

1. Earn Respect in Your Niche/Industry

One of the biggest differences between my two blogs is that Vandelay is fairly well-established in its niche, while Traffikd is still a relative unknown. Advertisers are most likely familiar with the top blogs in the industry that they target, but they’re not going to know the smaller ones. Advertisers make an effort to attach themselves to blogs that have earned the respect of their readers and are seen as leaders in the niche.

It sounds somewhat obvious that being a respected source of information will lead advertisers towards your blog, but it’s often kind of an afterthought when you’re reading advice about selling ads. From my experience, this is one of the major factors. Advertisers are willing to pay to be seen on leading blogs, but they’re unlikely to want to spend the time to set up an ad campaign with a smaller blog, even at a low price.

At Vandelay I’ve put in the effort to earn some respect, and the result is ads that sell. On the other hand, Traffikd has only gotten a smaller amount of time invested in it, and the result is that most people still don’t know about it, and ads that are harder to sell.

2. Get Visitors

Advertisers are drawn to those blogs that have impressive stats. I get asked about traffic levels all the time from advertisers. It’s usually the first thing they want to know, even before price. As the number of visitors to Vandelay has increased each month, the ad prices have also increased, and advertisers have continued to come in steadily.

Traffikd on the other hand is currently drawing around 8,000 unique visitors per month, which is not enough to bring consideration from many advertisers. Sure, some individual bloggers and small companies may be interested in advertising to an audience of this size, but other companies that do a lot of advertising online simply won’t feel that it’s worth their time.

From my experience, even low pricing does not make up for a lack of impressive stats. I know from my experience trying to sell ads at Traffikd and from seeing countless other bloggers running huge discounts and special on ads that attract only meager interest. Dropping prices can often show advertisers that something’s not right or you wouldn’t have to drop the price.

If you want to be able to sell ad space and charge a premium, do what it takes to build up some stats that will generate serious interest from potential advertisers.

3. Be Proactive

Selling ads isn’t all about putting up a page with your stats and prices and watching the inquiries and sales as they come flooding in. At first it’s likely that you’ll need to reach out to some potential advertisers to see if they have an interest. The first few months that I sold ads on Vandelay I generated about 40% of the ad sales from proactively contacting those that I thought might be interested. All I did was visit some other blogs in my niche with about the same size audience, click-through on their ads and found some contact information. At first I thought this might not produce results, but about half of those I contacted wound up buying an ad.

The key is to have reasonable prices (not necessarily bargain basement prices) and give them the details of your audience. If it’s a goof fit, there’s a chance they’ll buy. If I had sat back and waited only for advertisers who contact me, I would have had some empty ad spots for a few months.

With Traffikd, I’ve hardly been proactive at all. I haven’t had the time to contact advertisers (even though it only takes a few minutes) and I think the results are there to be seen. When you’re approaching potential advertisers keep your email very brief, but be sure to give relevant details. Quickly explain your audience, list some stats, and give them your various ad options with prices and payment information. I’ve never had anyone object to being approached for this reason.

Those who are running advertising campaigns are frequently searching around the internet for good places to advertisers, so you could actually be saving them some time. Also, be professional. A respectable company will not want to attach themselves to someone who is not professional.

4. Have an Identifiable Market

If you haven’t launched your blog yet, give some consideration to your target audience. If you have already started your blog but you’re having problems selling ads, you may be able to make some small adjustments to your approach that can help you to have a more distinct and discernable audience.

Advertisers want to know who they are reaching. They’re rarely interested in putting up an ad without knowing that the people seeing their ad will be well-targeted. The Vandelay blog has an audience that potential advertisers can easily identify, and they know who they’ll be reaching. This is critical.

5. Choose an Audience that has Potential Advertisers

If you hope to sell ad space on that blog that has a targeted audience, there better be some potential advertisers looking to reach that market, or you’ll struggle to sell any ad space. With Vandelay, I have an almost unlimited number of potential advertisers that are interested in reaching web designers and website owners. Even if ads aren’t selling well, there’s always plenty of people that I can proactively approach, and if I’m willing to put in some time the ads should sell.

At Traffikd I write mostly about social media, and there are fewer advertisers looking to reach this audience, although there are more than there would be in some other niches. This is fine with me, I anticipated that going in, and selling ad space wasn’t my primary motivation for starting the blog. If it was, I probably would have leaned towards a slightly different target audience.

If you’re not sure if a potential niche has willing advertisers, visit some other blogs on the niche and see who is advertising. If all you’re seeing is the same affiliate ads on each blog, it may be a sign that it’s difficult to sell direct ads in that market.

6. Post Relevant Details on an Advertising Page

If you’re serious about selling ads you should have a page set up specifically to address those who may be interested in purchasing an ad. Many bloggers will mention some of the details of their target audience as well as all the relevant stats, the different advertising options, and maybe the price. Some bloggers don’t like to publish the prices. At Vandelay I have a page set up that does list the price, and I just edit this page whenever I increase the rates. Some people don’t pay attention to this page and email me with basic questions that can be answered here, but I think it still saves me from some unnecessary emails.

On Traffikd I haven’t taken the time to set up an advertising page, and I know that is hurting my chances of selling ads. Obviously potential advertisers want to know some relevant details and stats, and some won’t make the effort to contact you if they’re not posted.

7. Respond Promptly to Inquires

When you get an email about advertising, that is coming from someone who wants to work with you. By responding promptly and answering all their questions you can show them that working with you will be a positive experience. Show them good customer service and they’ll be more likely to buy that ad spot that they’re inquiring about.

8. Be Consistent with Posting

Blog advertisers are somewhat putting themselves at your mercy. If you decide not to post very often throughout the time that they are advertising, their ad will be seen by less people than it could be otherwise. Sporadic posting patterns may concern advertisers. On the other hand, consistent posting will assure them that you’ll continue to post on a regular basis, and that means that their ad will be seen.

9. Follow Up with Current and Past Advertisers

Before your current advertisers have the ad expire, make an effort to reach out to them, thank them for being an advertiser, and ask if they would be interested in renewing the ad. Just because they don’t contact you on their own doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested in renewing.

Also, keep a list or database of your past advertisers. If you need to sell a spot at some point in the future you’ll have a list of potentials that are familiar with you and know what your blog can deliver. If they had a positive experience they may be interested in advertising again down the road. Also, if you launch another blog with a similar audience you could have some warm leads for advertisers right away.

What’s Your Experience?

Do you sell ads on your blog? What have you found to be the most important factors?

This post was written by Steven Snell.

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About Steven Snell