Adnan is a young entrepreneur from the UK and used to own the popular entrepreneurial blog Blogtrepreneur (link: http://www.blogtrepreneur.com). He is now the founder of a growing performance car (link: http://www.carthrottle.com) website called Car Throttle.
In this recession-hit economy, it is very easy to think that advertising spend from individuals, businesses and corporations has dried up completely and that there is no hope for a small-time blog looking to earn some bucks from the internet. Indeed, there was a time where any old Joe Bloggs (excuse the pun) could throw up a low-value and low-key website and draw in a handful of advertisers, enough to pay for internet bills and a meal or two out every month.
Those incidences may be harder to find today, but don’t be fooled into believing that you can’t have a slice of the virtual money-making pie too. Whilst it is true that a downturned economy does mean less advertising dollars in circulation due to companies cutting back on expenses, wise individuals will continue to spend money on ads due to lower prices, still great targeting and thus a potentially higher profit margin on their spend.
As a result, it should be your aim to target these individuals and lure them in to advertising on your own blog. It must be said beforehand that you should obviously have sufficient traffic to make it worth the advertiser’s time and money, and that your traffic should be as targeted as possible to the niche you are involved in – this will make it a win/win situation for all involved. Once you have accomplished the above, then it’s time to use the following tips and techniques to make sure you grab the attention of any advertisers and to make sure you don’t lose out on your share of the pie.
1. Become an authority in your niche
In some cases, particularly when you are a rookie blogger, you will want to actively seek out advertisers and will spend hours cold-emailing prospects hoping for that influx of income. However, this will reverse as you become more of an authority and expert within your specialised field. Yaro Starak (link: http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com) strongly advocates that you take steps to become this type of guru in his membership courses, and the best way to do this is to constantly bring out fresh, linkable and likeable content that spreads by itself over the net. This will ensure that advertisers find you and not the other way round.
2. Your reputation is everything
Sure, we’ve all heard of people who lie and cheat their way to the top, but if you want to maintain your business integrity and class, then nothing pleases prospective advertisers more than honesty and a clean reputation. Make sure that you are transparent in quoting your visitor count, and make sure that ad prices are not overly inflated just to make a quick buck. Pleased as punch advertisers will generally renew adverts if they are happy with results, and maintaining your online reputation is vital in helping you create these beneficial relationships.
3. Under-quote prices and aim for retention
One of the key statistics that internet marketers who own membership websites look for in a successful business is the attrition rate. Well-run sites will have high participation rates and small percentages of members dropping out every week or month. In a similar way, a blog owner should be looking to maintain ongoing business deals and should encourage the renewal of adverts. A good way to do this is to under-quote ad prices initially so you can start building these key relationships, and then to slowly raise prices over time. Often advertisers will stick with you as you raise prices due to the close bonds you have built.
4. Create a clear advertising page on your blog
This tip if probably one of the most vital, active things you can do to raise revenue. In fact, whilst I was in charge of Blogtrepreneur, having a defined advertising page helped me to make $506 blogging in July 2007 (link: http://www.blogtrepreneur.com/2007/08/09/how-i-made-506-blogging-in-july-2007/). There are a few things that a well-structured and enticing advertising page should have in order to make the most of your screen real-estate:
- A general description of your website and the audience that you attract
- Unique visitors, pageviews and other traffic related statistics
- Twitter followers, RSS subscribers and any other relevant metrics
- Number of posts in your Archives and comment to post ratio (this shows the level of audience participation and reader loyalty)
- Methods of advertising and their descriptions, followed by pricing and timeframes
- Methods of payment
- And finally, any other terms and conditions to protect yourself should you decide to alter prices or to warn off any untoward advertisers promoting dodgy activity!
5. Give advertisers more than one method of advertising with different price points
Advertisers will inevitably vary in stature and levels of budget that they have available to spend on your blog. As a result, having only one advertising method with only one entry-level price-point, may deter some purchasers and means that you are putting your eggs all in one basket. You could start by offering 2 types of banner advert (perhaps one in the sidebar and a larger banner at the end of each post) and by offering RSS feed links. You should however be wary of selling text links as Google does not look favourable upon these and the money you get from this may not outweigh the penalties you will get from the search engines and traffic lost as a result.
6. Communication is King
OK, so I’ve twisted the above statement a little from the original “Content is King” mantra. However as mentioned above with the transparency point, constant communication will mean peace-of-mind for the advertiser and will lead to deeper relationships developing. Make sure that you are prompt in responding to emails and that you act courteously and professionally at all times. Provide a contact form on your blog or a place where potential advertisers can get in touch with you and it should show that you are a full-on businessman, which will help money-spenders to help take you more seriously.
7. Be proactive
There is nothing worse than a beach-bum-blogger who thinks that no effort is required in running a successful blog. Whilst a very small minority can safely say that advertisers have contacted them and that they have a smooth automated system for handling everything, chances are you won’t have that luxury and instead will have to kick your blogging butt into gear.
Spend time cold-emailing prospects if you have spare inventory, offer advertising deals for bulk-purchases, offer discounts for multi-month buys, maintain a network of interested individuals who you can contact about new deals and be on your toes. Passive income is not something generally related to blogging and you may find yourself doing behind the scenes work more than you are actually typing!
The key to cracking open the money tree is to keep looking for improvement, as there is always improvement to be had. Never settle for the current level of income you are receiving, and if you are currently making a loss blogging (by paying authors and shelling out on expenses) then create a leaner blogging business and use the above tips to help you to find your break-even point and to shove your blog back into the black