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Advertise Your Blog: An Interview with a Mystery Blogger

Earlier today I posted about using paid advertising to Promote Your Blog. In the research of that post I interviewed a fellow blogger who I’ve seen use Advertising very effectively to launch numerous blogs. I asked if he’d be willing to speak publicly about his experience and he said he’d do so if he could remain anonymous. He blogs in a couple of quite competitive niches so wanted to keep his tactics under the radar for competitive reasons. I’ll call him ‘Bob’ below:

Darren: Why do you use Advertising on your blogs?

Bob: For me it’s purely as a kick start to a new blog. I find that the hardest thing about getting a blog going is finding the first readers. I’m confident with my ability to write engaging content that will grow the blog through word of mouth – but when you have no one reading your blog to start with it most difficult to start a word of mouth thing happening. Advertising brings in an influx of initial readers to kick start the blog.

Darren: What advertising methods do you use?

Bob: I used to exclusively use AdSense which enabled me to target specific search terms and other sites in my niche but have also started using both StumbleUpon (great for a quick influx of traffic to content that you feel is suited for social media sites) and most recently Facebook (good for targeting local traffic and interest groups).

Darren: What kind of budget would you put into an Advertising Campaign to promote a blog?

Bob: My campaigns have all been under $300 across all ad platforms.

Darren: Do you advertise your blogs beyond a launch period?

Bob: I have tried this but found that the most effective time to advertise was for the week or two around launch. After that I find that a more organic blog growth starts to kick in as your current readers start to pass on word of your blog to others. I do follow up the launch campaigns on occasions when I have a particularly good post for social media by running small StumbleUpon Campaigns but I would only really spend $20 or so on these. I do occasionally also target other blogs in my niche with AdSense which can help with brand awareness – but most of my efforts are around launch time of a new blog.

Darren: Do you have any tips on how to write effective ads?

Bob: Well with StumbleUpon the actual site you link the ad to is the ad itself – so make it great quality content. With Facebook and AdSense you need to target a key need or benefit that someone will be motivated by. Make your ads ‘active’ and where possible ‘personal’. Personal ads are particularly effective on AdSense where you can actually target the readers of particular sites with a message that will catch their attention and drive a response. Also you need to think about the landing page for the ad and how you’ll capture the visitor by getting them to subscribe to your blog.

Darren: What impact has advertising your blogs had in terms of traffic?

Bob: I would not launch a blog these days without some sort of advertising. As I mentioned above, the hardest part of establishing a readership is getting your first readers. By spending just a few hundred dollars on advertising I managed to get the readership of my last blog up to around 300 daily visitors and 500 RSS subscribers (this was the figure a few days after I stopped my campaign). This was partly as a result of one of my StumbleUpon campaigns ‘tipping’ into an organic rush of traffic (the real beauty of SU campaigns over others). Since that time the blog has continued to steadily grow (a few months later it’s now double those figures) and I’ve now broken even (and some) on the initial investment.

Darren: Any last tips?

Bob: Yes, one very important thing that I know you’ve mentioned in your own previous posts about advertising and that is to not spend your money all at once. You can blow money very quickly with advertising by setting up a campaign in any of the ad options I’ve mentioned and expecting it to work first time. They rarely do and you’ll burn through your money in an hour or so and not see any real benefits. Start with a $20 campaign, test how the ad performs, track how many people subscribe and then tweak your ad and the landing page. Run another small campaign and see if the results improve. Tweak it again and run another campaign. If something simply isn’t working – stop doing it. If something does work – keep tweaking til you perfect it and then do it some more.

PS: If you’ve got tips to share on how you’ve advertised your blog effectively feel free to add them in comments below. Also if you’re looking to advertise with StumbleUpon check out my tutorial – Run a StumbleUpon Advertising Campaign for Your Blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tibi Puiu says:

    Advertising can truly be a great mean of promoting your blog, but it has to be used wisely, otherwise it’s just money down the drain. Stumbleupon is great as a advertising solution because it brings so much free organic traffic alongside the paid ones, but sadly doesn’t really convert well.

  2. David Uram says:

    Hey Darren, Great post!

    You have motivated me to start my own blog and I really appreciate all the work you have done on Problogger.

    Advertising is the next step in my blog and this post has helped me out

    http://www.TheMapleInvestor.com – learn about investing in the stock market

    Thx Darren

  3. Good Advice. Getting started is hard. I started a new blog about 2 weeks ago and have 7 people signed up on the RSS feed. At this pace it is going to take forever to have a large enough readership to do anything with.

    I am going to start advertising pretty soon. I really want to make sure that I lock in my “voice” before too many people read the blog. It shouldn’t be that much longer.

    The Masked Millionaire

  4. Niklas says:

    That’s a very important point I think turns most people off. The problem with starting a new blog is not that you don’t have any content, but rather that you have no one reading any of your content. I find the initial upstart is quite frustrating but never really considered advertising as an option due to expenses.

    I think the story of a new blogger could possibly be summed up like this.You put up $5 for a domain and think your ready to start this thing. You get slapped with $200.00 hosting fees and although your taken back you still sign up for the 2 year plan to get the cheapest per month cost. Now your ready to see what all this Internet business is about but you fail to establish any significant user-base on your blog. Your already in debt $205+ and seeing how poorly adsense does in your first month are reluctant to spend any more money such as advertising.

    Even on my site where I get decent traffic my user-base is ignorant of my ads (be it placement or their content). At this rate I’m looking to break even around the one year mark so I’m reluctant to throw more money around with false hopes.

  5. Why pay Yahoo and StumbleUpon a commission, when we can buy readers directly?

    Read my post, earn a dollar! ;)

  6. Very true, the first 100-500 subscribers are the hardest to get, and I think advertising is a great way to build an audience.

    Entrecard is a cheep for of advertising I would recommend.

    And as a reply to “The Masked Millionaire”:
    You do have to remember blog growth is exponential.

  7. Thanks for the interview Darren. I haven’t used any form of paid advertising to bring in blog traffic and it’s interesting to hear how your guest used it to benefit him in the beginning.

  8. Reddy says:

    Great post. Though I dint advertise, Stumble Upon seems to be very good option.

  9. Bruce says:

    Okay…Enough Already! (Really, I want to hear more!) :o)

    Great post!!! Thanks Darren, and “Bob”.

    - And I’m using advertising to jump-start all my future blogs!!!

  10. JQK says:

    I am three months into my first blog. I believe my content is worthy and capable of sustaining a respectable readership base. However, to date, I think I am my ONLY reader!

    I’m just about to the point of having enough quality content to justify going after more readers–a sustainable base; I have been debating (with myself) all of the options open to me.

    After reading this post, paid advertising has moved up a notch or two as a viable choice.

    I will investigate, in-depth.

    Thanks, “Bob” and Darrin too.

  11. Nicole says:

    Facebook advertising seems to suck right now.

    I tried to do a Facebook campaign, but was rejected and still to this day…have no idea as to why I wasn’t able to run a campaign on there. The landing page was one of my blog posts, which makes it even more confusing. It’s not like I had spam or porn or other non-friendly content up there. I run and entertainment blog and write about films, events and television. With the young audience that takes up most of Facebook’s demographic, I would think that my campaign would be accetpable.

    Darren, it woujld be great if you could do a post specifically on running Facebook campaigns, or an interview or get someone to guest post on here about that. It would be very helpful.

    This was a great post to read as well. Thanks for doing this interview.

  12. Yulius says:

    Great interview, Darren! I think I will make posting about great interviews list. Thx to give me great idea, darren :)

  13. hi darren,
    there is something to learn from this post as well like other posts on problogger!

    cheers!!

  14. VlogHog says:

    If you want to be a pro-blogger, you must advertise.
    There are millions of blogs and websites on the net with hundreds of thousand more popping up everyday.

    Try free advertising by joining like minded groups on social sites like Stumble-Upon, Facebook or MySpace.

    Really involve yourself in these groups and have a blog that speaks to them.

    OR

    Experiment and buy ads on sites like Fark.Com, which charges about $40 dollars a week on the low end for 7 days, or Stumble Upon which charges you five cents per visitor. If you want to spend 5 dollars a day, you get to spend 5 dollars a day. (Which is about 100 visitors to your site) If you want to your total budget to be 25 dollars, Stumble Upon will only use 25 dollars.

    Buying advertising is a must in today’s internet. Back in 1994 when the net started, there were only a few thousand sites to choose from and making to the top was easier. Now, you must compete with millions of blogs, websites and forums.

    It can be done.

  15. Ryan McLean says:

    Great post, I have started using stumble upon advertising to help launch my blog, but im not sure on the results as of yet, I think I will try doing it for about a month

  16. Cory says:

    ughh so daunting. what happened to good old perseverance? no longer enough to gain a fanbase?