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Niche Site Private Advertisement Experiment – Part 1: Why?

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Niche Site Private Advertisement Experiment – Part 1: Why?

By Pat Flynn on  | 

Niche Site Private AdsMy security guard training niche site currently earns between $1,800 and $2,200 per month—99% of it coming from Google Adsense alone.

One of my goals in 2012 is to diversify the income streams coming from this site and increase its monthly income to at least $3000 per month by the end of the year.

Diversification is important because:

  1. It’s safer. It’s not smart to rely on one single income source because the moment it runs dry, you’re done for.
  2. It gives you more opportunity. The more income sources available, the more options you have to expand and grow. Instead of focusing on growing income source A, you can grow income source A, B & C at the same time.
  3. It increases the value of the site. Buyers are more likely to be attracted to a site that has several income sources.

My quest to diversify SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com has been very unsuccessful so far, due in large part to a simple lack of taking action.

This is why I formally announced diversification as a goal for 2012 because I know you’ll hold me accountable to it and at the very least, motivate me to push forward—and you already have.

More on that later in the post…

Will History Repeat Itself?

When I started monetizing my first website back in 2008, GreenExamAcademy.com, I also started with Google Adsense.

It was encouraging to see trickles of income from the ads, however because I was just laid off and was about to start a family, I put a lot of pressure on myself to quickly find another income source.

(Maybe the lack of pressure is why I waited so long this time…something to think about.)

So what was did I do next?

I learned about private advertising, or “renting” out space on your website to advertisers for a fee. The middle-man (Google) is out of the way and typically you can negotiate more than just a cost-per-click payment structure, and have banner ads in place as well.

Private advertising made sense to me because I was already tapping into the visitors who came to the website, but not into the related companies who could benefit from those visitors too.

I immediately did some research to see what companies might be interest in advertising on the site. A simple Google search for a related keyword can show you…just look at the ads that show up next to the results.

I contacted a few of them and within a week had my first advertising contract in place.

It was for one 125 x 125 pixel banner ad in the sidebar and I was so happy and excited that a company was interested, I didn’t even negotiate and took the first offer. A 125 x 125 pixel advertisement to be placed in the sidebar at $50 a month for 3 months.

Big mistake.

Why?

Because I eventually learned that I had enough targeted traffic to charged up to $300 a month, which is what I eventually did with new companies that came on board to advertise on the site.

For the LEED exam niche it was particularly easy to sell ad space because I was one of the only websites online talking about the LEED exam who had a significant amount of traffic.

At this time, according to my analytics, I was getting between 500 and 900 visitors per day (on the weekdays):

Green Exam Academy Stats

Here were the issues I had when I first tackled private advertising:

  • Setting the right price, which I already mentioned.
  • Manually placing the ads on the website. Sometimes I would spend hours just messing with CSS and html trying to figure it out. You know that guy who never asks for directions when he’s lost? That was me back then.
  • Keeping track of the number of clicks per ad.
  • Remembering when to take ads down after the various contracts expired.

But you know what? I just rolled with it and made it happen—and that was a success.

I just did it and that’s what I have to do again.

Private Advertising on Security Guard Training Headquarters

Private advertising may not work for all niches, but you definitely need some traffic in order to convince potential advertisers to work with you directly.

How much traffic exactly?

Well, that depends on a number of things such as the niche itself, how much money a potential lead is worth to a company, how much you’re charging, how good of a salesperson or copywriter you are, etc.

As far as traffic for SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, check out the numbers—they are eerily similar to GreenExamAcademy.com when I started private advertising on the site (between 400 and 800 visitors per day):

SGTHQ Stats

Lost Opportunities

Since the middle of last year I had an Advertising Page setup on securityguardtraininghq.com that simply said:

“Thank you for your interest in advertising on Security Guard Training Headquarters. For advertising options, please contact [email protected]”.

…and that’s it.

This page was setup in anticipation of some type of advertising opportunity that I knew was eventually going to happen, and I included the email to collect potential leads just in case.

And guess what?

I did get emails—at least once or twice a month, but I had nothing to offer in return.

Although this was a good litmus test as far as demand for advertising on the site, I failed in having something readily available.

I didn’t follow through, which is very unlike me.

The last straw happened last week when two separate advertising inquiries came on the same exact day! Again, with nothing to offer them in return.

The first thing I did was the same thing I always do when I realize I have failed: I don’t think about what I did to fail, I think about what I have done in the past to succeed.

A negative attitude does nothing but waste time. Having a positive attitude based on past positive experiences is always the first step to getting back on track.

So what did I think about?

  • I thought about how most of my past successes didn’t come from me waiting for things to be perfect or the timing just to be right. I just dove right in and worried about perfection later.
  • I thought about how even the toughest of tasks were always much easier after just getting started. An object at rest is a lot harder to move than one that’s already in motion.
  • I thought about how sharing what I was doing had always motivated me to start something and keep going with it.

So, I decided not to wait around anymore:

  • I purchased some advertising software that would allow me to automate the advertising process on the website. I read some reviews and just pulled the trigger and bought it.
  • I started reading the manual for the software and started to set everything up.
  • I started it with the intention of sharing my process and results publicly here on the blog, like I always do—hence, this post.

Two days after I received those two advertising inquiries the architecture for advertising is now setup on the site and ready to accept advertisers.

Now I have something to offer, and even though the copy on the advertising page isn’t perfect, the ad kit could be better, and even though I could probably explore more options for potential advertisers—it’s up, and I’m proud. I can tweak things as I go along.

I’ll soon be contacting everyone who had previously sent an email about advertising on the site, and we’ll see what happens.

Next week, in the next Private Advertisement Experiment post, I’ll talk more about the specific software I’m using (and other options that are available), setup, pricing, placement, and all the technical stuff that needs to happen before you can start looking for advertisers.

Cheers!

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