There are a lot of things about maintaining a blog that are common sense and almost intuitive. Selling advertising is not one of them. If you do a Google search for how to find advertisers for your blog, or how to sell advertising, you’ll only find a handful of lame articles that aren’t very helpful. That makes me think most bloggers either aren’t selling advertising, or they think signing up for a service like BuySellAds counts as selling advertising.
I am the advertising director here at Bit Rebels, and although I can’t disclose the dollar amount in this article, I can tell you that we’ve brought in more advertising revenue than I ever thought possible in just the past year alone (and without spending any money). I’m not saying that to brag – anyone can succeed at selling advertising with the same commitment to the process that I’m about to share with you. I’m just telling you this so you know that I’m speaking through experience when I explain the procedure.
First of all, signing up for BuySellAds, BuyAds, Advertise Within, or any of the other sites like that is great. However, when it comes to advertising, you won’t reach your true potential with those sites. To really see what you can do, you have to take the bull by the horns so to speak and be proactive about selling advertising yourself. Whatever income comes in from those other sites is just a little add on, if that makes sense.
Next, as always, your readers come first. In other words, the last thing you want to do is junk up your site with a bunch of advertisers because that will interfere with and degrade the reader experience. Be careful about that. It’s very important.
And finally, before you start proactively selling advertising, you need to get three things in place.
1. Traffic (advertisers buy traffic, so you need to start building your traffic by posting high quality content consistently – preferably every day)
2. An organized list of all your advertising options/prices that you can copy and paste into any email. Different advertisers like different things, so it’s nice to offer more than just banner ads. Try to come up with at least 3 options – all at different price points. Unless you have as much traffic as Mashable, Gizmodo or TechCrunch, you don’t need a fancy media kit (I’ve never used a media kit).
3. An invoice that you can modify each time you make a sale. You’ll need to know how to put it in PDF format to email to people each time they agree to purchase something. I’m going to teach you not to post any advertising unless it’s paid in advance. And if you are going to demand that kind of professionalism from your advertisers, you need to follow it up with a real invoice for each purchase.
You can find invoice templates online. Each invoice should include the date, your blog or website name, contact information, the purchaser’s name, a description of what was purchased, the total price due and your PayPal / bank wire information (it’s good to offer two methods of payment).
Now It’s Time To Get Started
I need to warn you now that selling advertising for your blog or website is very time consuming. Full disclosure: for the highest success rate, you will need to be attached to your email all day. You don’t have to be as diligent about it as I’m going to suggest, but the more committed you can be to this process, the more advertising you’ll sell, and at a higher price.
Find a list of websites in your niche or make your own list
There is an endless supply of these lists online, so this shouldn’t cost you any money. We’ve never paid for a list. Again, unless you are a huge website with a big staff to support, it’s simply not necessary to spend money on this.
Selling advertising for your blog or website is a numbers game
Start with a list of 50 websites in your niche. Next, you are going to sit down and send a short, personalized email to each one of those 50 websites. In that email you will introduce yourself, and you’ll mention why you think it would be a good idea for that website to advertise on your blog/website. Maybe list a few stats. The key is to keep your email short and concise. Be sure you proofread it for spelling/grammar errors.
No matter how tempting it might be to automate this process, don’t do it. You are going to be contacting very smart people, and if they smell spam or automation in your email, they will delete it before they even give it a second glance. Write that email carefully. Think about your subject line too. You don’t want to appear to be a pushy salesperson. Be sure to include a link to your site. Do not send out your advertising options in that initial email. That initial email just gauges their interest. Then, based on the responses you get, you go from there.
Out of those 50 emails, you will probably get about 10 responses. The exact number will depend on how well the initial email is put together, and whether or not you sent them to good email addresses. Out of those 10 responses, you will probably be able to sell advertising to 1 – 2 people. Once you are finished with that batch of 50 – repeat, repeat, repeat.
So, bottom line, 50 contacts equals 1 sale (or if luck is on your side, 2 sales). The reason this is important is because you are going to get a lot of people who say no. You will also send a lot of carefully crafted emails that you’ll never get a response from. Don’t get frustrated. You might go 3 or 4 days and get nothing, but then on that 5th day, you’ll make 2 sales. That’s just how it goes. Just work the numbers. If you have enough numbers, you’ll make sales. That’s a fact.
Remember, while you are doing this – keep publishing fresh content every day for two reasons. First, so when the people you are sending these emails to click on the link to see your site, they’ll see you are serious about updating your content, and they’ll be impressed. Secondly, so you will continue increasing your traffic, which will allow you to charge more money for your advertising.
If you can follow this process from start to finish once a week, by the end of 2 months, you’ll be rocking and rolling like never before. At that point, you’ll have your momentum going. The thing to remember then is…don’t stop. If you feel like you are out of control, that’s when you are really in control. Keep going. Once you stop, it takes a lot of energy to get going again. Incorporate this into your week.
“The fortune is in the follow-up”
I don’t know who originally said ‘the fortune is in the follow-up,” but it’s so true. I told you that out of that batch of 50, you’ll probably get 10 responses, and you’ll probably be able to sell advertising to 1 or 2 people. Out of those 10 responses though, you will probably get some people who say ‘not now, but maybe later.’ In other words, the timing is just off, but they are interested.
It’s important to put those people into a structured follow up system that you create. I cannot stress how important this is. In addition to that, every single person who purchases advertising from you should get a follow up email every so often (you’ll find that your previous advertising clients will become your best future advertising clients). Every person who says ‘not now, but maybe later’ should also get follow up emails. Don’t send too many emails (don’t be annoying), but once every month or two is nice.
Follow up is critical, and it is very time consuming. Don’t drop the ball with that important step. Once you start building those relationships, they will become like friends, and you’ll really enjoy touching base with them every so often. You’ll notice that you’ll see things online that might remind you of one of them, and you’ll send that person a link and a quick hello to touch base. Some of the people I’ve met through this process are even on my personal Christmas card list. That’s what the relationship building is about, and it’s a lot of fun.
Here Are Two Last Tips For You
I could go on and on with more tidbits about this. I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to do it when I started, and like I said, most of the online resources pretty much suck. I learned how to do this through trial and error. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way (and so will you), but that’s just part of the process. With each new advertiser, you will learn more and sharpen your skills. You might even find that you take my system and tweak it so it’s better. That’s what it’s all about – finding what works best for you. I’ll leave you with these last two tips.
Online trust is fragile – do what you say when you say you’ll do it
Bloggers are busy. You are handling a lot more than just advertising clients. It’s easy to let a few things slide. If you want your advertisers to open their wallets for you, you have to maintain their trust. Trust in general is fragile, but online trust is even more fragile. They don’t know your true intentions.
You can solve this by doing what most people don’t do in the online world – do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. Don’t make false promises. If you are going to be late or miss something, that’s fine, we are all human – but communicate it to your advertisers immediately so they don’t have time to make their own assumptions about you.
Don’t post any advertising until it’s paid in full
This is very important. Don’t compromise your own integrity by deviating from this rule. If your blog was a clothing store, would you give someone the clothes to take home and start wearing every day before they paid for them? No. Advertising is a product. People pay for that product, and then they are delivered the goods. Period.
I could write an entire article about why this is so important. It’s your blog. You are the boss. Don’t let someone trying to pull a fast one with empty promises of payment take you for a ride. Maintain control. Once they agree to make a purchase, send them an email with their invoice attached. Let them know that as soon as payment is received, you will post the advertising. Tell them how excited you are to work with them – but don’t do anything else until you’ve received payment. If 4 or 5 days goes by and you haven’t received the payment, simply send a follow up email about it, but don’t post the advertising until it’s paid.
*The only exception to this rule is if you have made an arrangement for your advertiser to pay you based on the success of the campaign. For example, if you run a giveaway – you might agree to base the price on the number of people who sign up on Rafflecopter. Once you have enough traffic though, you won’t have to accept this type of contingency advertising.
If you have your own system for doing this, please share it in the comments below. This is what I do, and it works well. It’s not fancy, and it’s not automated. It doesn’t cost any money, but it does it cost a helluva lot of time. But, it’s also a lot of fun. You’ll get to know so many interesting people. I love selling advertising. If you want to contact me about this, you are more than welcome to email me (my email address is below). Good luck!
Image Credit: [Clients and Profits]