Imagine you’re a farmer who owns a good amount of land. On your land, you grow some crops, milk cows and raise pigs. Mmm…bacon. Anyways, you notice that you don’t really use all of your land. There’s a huge chunk of it that you know has really good soil, but you don’t really have the manpower or the energy to grow anything there yourself. If another farmer came up to you and said, “Hey! You have great land there. Can I use the land you’re not using to grow some of my own crops? I’ll pay you and you won’t have to worry about anything.” Would you let him do it?
Why wouldn’t you? It’s basically free money, and as long as his crops don’t ruin your own, there’s really no reason to not take the offer. The best part is – everybody’s a winner!
This is kind of like what happened to me on my blog at intheleed.com. Way back in July of 2008, I got an email that said, “I’d love to advertise on your website, what are your going rates?”
My first reaction was, “Uhh…what?” I wasn’t familiar with this kind of advertising on websites at the time, and really the only form of income I had was from Google Adsense, which handles all of the advertisements and money automatically. I never had to deal with the advertisers directly, and so I didn’t even know where to start. Honestly, I was a bit scared. After I worked it out, I now make up to an extra $750 a month for doing almost nothing. Here’s what you can do.
So, You Want to Sell Private Ad Space on Your Website
The most important thing to think about is: do you really want to sell advertisement space on your website? Yes, you’d be getting some cash for doing pretty much nothing, but if feel any advertisements you have would be a distraction from your content or annoying to your readers, then maybe it’s not for you. Your content and your readers are your most important asset, and you should never compromise your material or the loyalty of your readers for just a few dollars.
On the other hand, you may find that some advertisements may be helpful or useful to your readers, which can add value to your website. Most of the advertisements on my other blog are for services that are helpful to my readers, and they are for services and products that I trust.
How Do You Get Started?
No one will want to advertise on your website unless you’ve got at least a little bit of traffic. Without traffic, there’s no one to click on the ads, so there’s really no point. You should have some kind of web traffic tracking device for your website, whether it be Google Analytics, SiteMeter, or the infamous WordPress plugin: WordPress.com Stats, so you can first prove you indeed have traffic, and secondly, gauge how much you can charge.
Usually, when I have an advertisement inquiry, I show them the stats from my website from the last year. If you only have a couple months under your belt, that will be fine too – they will most likely look at your last month since it will give them idea of what future months will look like. Here is a screenshot from the plugin that I mentioned above showing a year’s worth of stats:
The dip at the end is this month’s traffic (February 2009). Anyways, this is really helpful information to any advertiser who just wants to make sure he or she is going getting their money’s worth.
I was lucky enough to have an advertiser find me first, but I don’t think this is usually the case. There are a few easy ways that you can find advertisers yourself:
- The Billboard Method: The billboard method is the easiest way to find advertisers because you don’t really do any gruntwork. What you do is create your own ad on your website that links to a page that explains more about advertising space on your website to anyone who is interested. You can put all of your stats on there and maybe a history of your website – it’s up to you. I mean, if you wanted to advertise on someone else’s site, what would you want to see? Note that it is in your best interest to discuss rates in private, and they should never be shown on this page – in my opinion (I’ll talk more about this later). Make sure to include a way to contact you as well. A contact form embedded on that webpage is ideal. Below is a sample ad that I once used as my “billboard ad”.
- The Headhunter Method: This is where you go out and find the advertisers for yourself. It can be a daunting task, and you may only get one or two takers for every 30 or more people you ask, but all you need is just one to get some kind of income. Just remember that you’re asking them to help them out too, just as much as you’re asking to help yourself. What you can do is email people and pitch them the idea of buying adspace on your website. Of course, if you blog about money, you don’t want to ask people who own diet blogs – that doesn’t make sense. A trick is to enter keywords for your blog into Google and see which websites come up. If you have Adsense Ads running on your website already, a handy-dandy trick is to see which websites they are pointing to (don’t click on Adsense Ads on your own webpage – that’s a no no!) and you can pitch to the owners of those websites.
In an effort to keep my blog posts a reasonable length, I will continue with private advertising in my next post. There, I’ll discuss the types of ads you can sell, how you can negotiate a reasonable price, and how to close the deal. I’ll also explain a surefire method to show your advertisers that they are getting their money’s worth, so they really have no choice but to advertise on your site. 🙂
Until next time!