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Promote Your Blog by Advertising It

Blog-Promotion - AdvertisingHave you ever considered advertising your blog? Today I want to explore this idea as part of my series of posts on how I’d promote my blog if I was starting from scratch.

Most blog promotion tips that I see given are about growing your blog’s readership quite organically (something I firmly believe in) – however one strategy that I’ve seen more and more bloggers using is to pay for Advertising to give their blog a kick start (particularly in the early days of their blogs).

One of the wonderful things about the space we’re operating in at the moment is that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote your product or service (or blog) these days via advertising.

While I know that for some even a small amount will be out of the reach of some – if I were starting out today as a blogger and wanted to gather an initial audience (or was wanting to expand my audience) I’d consider experimenting with a number of different advertising campaigns.

I know that this goes against the grain for some blogging purists but my approach has always been to invest at least a portion of the money made on my blogs back into improving them – and one way to do this is to invest that money into advertising.

I’ve concentrated my own limited experimenting with advertising in three types of advertising:

  • StumbleUpon – I’ve written previously about using StumbleUpon Advertising so for an expanded post with tips I’d head there. But in short – the great thing about SU advertising it is that it can start an organic flow of StumbleUpon traffic also. The key is to get your landing page optimized so that StumbleUpon users who see it will vote it up! In this way you kick off the traffic with some cost but then scale it back as organic traffic begins.
  • AdWords – An oldie but a goodie. The reach of AdWords is enormous as it opens up places to advertise everywhere from Google results pages through to many many thousands of websites on any number of topics. Many bloggers have used this with great effect to launch their blog. Particularly useful is the ability to target specific sites that run AdSense and to develop ads that target those readers specifically. This enables you to target specific ads to specific sites (like John Chow did a year or so back when he advertised here on Problogger with personal messages to my readers).

  • Facebook Advertising – I experimented with this recently with some success. Facebook Ads allows you to run ads that target certain demographics and interest groups. Ads can either be bought on an impression basis or you can pay for them per click for as little as 0.01 cent per click. I tried both and found that paying per click was a much better way to go as at least that way you’re guaranteed some actual traffic.

Please note – there are many many other ways to advertise your blog if you have a budget. I’ve chosen these three because they allow you to have very small budgets and to target different groups of people by interest and/or demographics.There are of course many other options open to you as a blogger to pay for advertising of your blog. You could use a tool like BlogAds (something I did a few years back) or even buy ad space on another blog through a direct sponsorship deal.

Tips for Advertising Your Blog

There are many smarter people than me around that could give us all some tips on using advertising effectively (please give you tips below) but let me give a few quick tips that I’ve picked up along the way:

Landing Pages not Front Pages
I’ve found that instead of directing people clicking your ads to your blog’s front page that it’s much more effective to send them to a specifically designed landing page. The front page of your blog is a good page for regular readers to see what you’ve been writing lately – but for someone coming to your blog cold from an ad it can be a bit of a random destination. So design a page that is aimed at ‘converting’ these first time readers into regular readers. This page could highlight some of your best content, perhaps give some key selling points as to why they should subscribe and then have a call to action (a way to subscribe to your blog for example). This way you’ll not only get a new visitor to your blog – but you’ll have every chance of them coming back again and again.

Relevancy Relevancy Relevancy
I’m not just repeating myself for emphasis – but because I’ve found that three elements of your ad campaign need to have ‘relevancy’.

1. The Site Displaying Your Ad
2. Your Ad
3. Your Landing Page

The more aligned these three things are the more successful your ad will be. When people run ads that don’t relate to the sites they display on they rarely get clicked. When people click ads and then are led to a page that has little relevance to the ad they get angry and rarely take the action that you want.

Track Your Results
The last thing that I’ll say is that you can very easily spend a lot of money with little results in advertising. As a result it is essential that you know what you want to achieve from your advertising and that you have a way to measure it’s effectiveness. I also take the approach that it’s worth starting out slow with a small campaign to test the waters before pouring much cash into advertising. This enables you to optimize your results without spending much and then to ramp things up when you are confident that things will convert.

Bonus Interview Coming Soon

Later today I’ll be sharing a short interview with a blogger who I’ve seen using Advertising very effectively to launch numerous blogs. They’ll share more on how they use the above strategies to give their blogs a ‘kick start’.

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. Hannah says:

    Very good points! I especially agree with tracking results: control is one of the most important parts of a marketing campaign and are absolutely essential in making sure you’re tweaking your advertising for better results in the future.

    If you’re not analyzing, your advertising is just a waste of money in the end.

  2. Mike King says:

    Thanks Darren for a great post. I’ve been experimenting with an ad network on my site as well to help generate traffic and while it does bring in a few new visitors, its VERY low throughput on a blog that doesn’t generate a lot of traffic already.

    I will have to take your suggestions and try some targetted advertising. Reinvesting my own adsense money would likely be a good start.

    I was hoping to see some numbers on costs for these options versus what kind of readership you might expect from that. Can you base this off your current traffic to reader conversion rates?

  3. Sue says:

    What do you think about advertising (a small classified ad) in a magazine in your niche? Having an unusual subject for my blog, I have to think outside the box sometimes. And while reading a lighthouse magazine, the thought occurred to me it might be worthwhile to place a classified ad in it. Most of the people reading it would have a computer, but they’re not net savvy and have no clue what a blog is, let alone stumbleupon and other such sites.

    I’m wondering if anyone else has done this, and what the results were.

  4. NJ WebGuy says:

    People sometimes underestimate the value of an ad campaign, however small.

    I’ve seen people get involved in so many different things that cost maybe a few dozen or a few hundred dollars, whether it be starting a new site of some kind or investing in learning a new program or technique, and then wind up giving up after a short time.

    In at least some of these cases, a few more dollars to get the word out would likely have made a difference.

  5. taddict says:

    very helpful – never knew you could advertise for so little on facebook

  6. Do you also actively participate in SU and Facebook community as well or do you just use the paid advertising?

  7. How much of an advertising budget would you say is practical for new bloggers? I’d say a dozen or two for SU, and maybe $30+ for adsense depending on niche, CPC price, etc.

  8. Great post. After a few years of grubbing about in natural search (nothing wrong with that – still at it!) I have slackened my principles (and my wallet) and succumbed to a little Adwords PPC tinkering.

    Making sure that it is highly targetted at [keyword], well timed and aimed at your audience using geo targetting etc. keeps wasted costs down. (And I find that opting out of AS Content keeps the idle clickers to a minimum – shh don’t tell)

    A bit of “semi-arbitrage” doesn’t go amiss. Picking up cheap long tail clicks, getting some readers and recouping some of the cost via Adsense clicks when they leave.

    My favourite has to be sending searchers to some speciality book reviews that have a great conversion rate on my Amazon affiliate account. Cheap clicks, expensive books, extra purchases – you do the math.

    It is difficult to work out an ROI when you are talking about picking up readers. I had an idea that I would try to gauge it using Feed Subscriptions but it is hard to tell where they came from.

    Best Wishes

    Rob

  9. Husbandhood says:

    I actually tried that when I first started my parenting blog. I advertised on Dooce.com. I used both adbrite and adsense. I got twice the amount of traffic using adsense over adbrite for half the price. I had 104 clicks and 126K impressions. It cost a lot cheaper than buying ad space on her site (via federated media). The campaign ran for two weeks and cost $40 versus purchasing ad space for $90 a week.

    Unfortunately, it really had no effect on my overall traffic. I also had no increase in my feedburner stats. There could be several reasons for this. Its possible that readers of Dooce werent interested in my blogs content. But I started making a list of other parenting blogs to advertise on. Now I dont have so much time to post frequently enough to bother with it.

  10. I think advertising will work better for some blogs than others (well I guess you could say that about any marketing technique). Personally, I would not pay for advertising for two reasons. Firstly because I’m one of those ‘blogging purists’ you mentioned and I would much rather just develop the blog organically but more importantly because it’s just a personal blog – how to advertise ‘myself’? I have no benefits to offer other than “come listen to me ramble about stuff” hmmm! :)

  11. suresh says:

    Well need of advertisement is very much accepted..

    If bloggers are not making enough money they can at least try free advertising available on line.

    They at least help as back links in some cases.

  12. Rachel says:

    I have to say that reading your blog has helped me so much in the creation, and advertising of my own blog. I love that I can come here and find out basics, and not so basic things. This article is giving me some great ideas, and that is what I have been searching for some new, and creative ideas to promote my blog. Thanks so much for your blog.

  13. Sangesh says:

    I just love the way your present each and every article. It just keeps me gued to your blog. I visit your blog each and every day. Oh yes, I knew from your blog that we could also advertise from facebook too.

    Cheers.

  14. Nis says:

    Its very obious..
    Ofcourse when you advertise then you will get publicity.
    Other ways to publicize your blog is to comment on every post on blogs like this.

  15. SiteHoppers says:

    Good stuff. I’ve found a lot of free advertising on the net like Entrecard, Spottt, Nuacco, well then we have free traffic over at SiteHoppin.com too now.

  16. Once again a good post.

    I was thinking “advertising” right away. The point you made about the “snowball” effect on stumble upon is correct.

    Keep up the Great Work and I’ll keep reading and learning.

    The Masked Millionaire

  17. Anthony says:

    Very good poste….I didnt know facebook start offering advertising…

  18. What is the last hidden items on the picture? I try to guess what kinds of promotion do you mean at #4 and #5 items.

  19. t h rive says:

    The Landing Page idea is the best I’ve heard yet. I need to figure something out for my blogger page…

    Any advice? i’m not sure if I can use that type of option (separate entry page) – have to think of something similar and as effective.

  20. Retro Garden says:

    I noticed that you mentioned a landing page. Does problogger have one? Can we see it? :D

  21. Thought provoking post, thank you Darren…

  22. drixie says:

    This is probably the best post I’ve read since I subscribed too problogger.

    Vary good and pinpoint analysis. Thanks again.

  23. Sue I think you have a very good idea about running a classified ad in a highly targeted off-line media.

    Truthfully, far too many of us place too much focus on online media overlooking the value of and leaving lots of money on the table from the offline world. Big mistake!

    Plus when something catches you off guard if you don’t have both offline and online marketing campaigns you can really put a hard pinch on your business.

  24. Anthony says:

    I try the stumbleupon advertising and I cant tell you that you will received traffic, but the real question is what kind of traffic will you received? I tested it out and received a few 100 vistor in no time and they were gone in no time.

  25. t h rive says:

    @Anthony – that’s why you’ve gotta make your page Stickier. they need to see it once, then stay addicted.

    I’m still working on stickiness, and in my case it’s a lot to do with relevant and interesting commentary.

    Darren has it so easy now that lots of us read his page for relevant concerns and advice. Damn you, Darren!

  26. SiteHoppers says:

    @Anthony,

    Try http://SiteHoppin.com It’s like StumbleUpon except you can earn traffic instead of hopelessly waiting for some random people to stumble onto it.

  27. Aviatrix says:

    You could not have posted this at a better time! Thank you for the valuable introduction. It’s nice to know I can start on a small budget and move forward from there.

  28. Bruce says:

    Anthony and everyone else,

    I’ve had some recent success with StumbleUpon ads: many didn’t stay, but quite a few did.

    Like t h rive says, you’ve got to make your site stickier…and that’s what I’m working on.

    I’m also planning to use it for jump-starting my future blogs.

    Darren – Thanks for the great info. on AdWords: I’ll give that a “shot” too! :o)

  29. Stacey says:

    Thank you, your information is helpful, as I am a newbie, all though I am farily computer savvy I seem to be dense in the blogging world and adsense world. I keep reading and gathering information, but feel I have been put on over load soon as I think I understand I feel lost again.
    I look forward to your next post, as you seem to be keeping things in a better perspective for me.

    Thanks the Newbie
    Stacey

  30. Erica DeWolf says:

    Great post! I’ve wondered how Facebook Advertising was working, i’d love to give it a try!

  31. Terry says:

    Just getting started in blogging, I have quickly figured out that quality content providing real value only goes so far. If you are waiting for organic growth, it might be awhile. Based on this post, I just started an AdWords campaign. CPC was pretty cheap. Curious as to what my results will be. Thanks again for the great content.

  32. Granny Smith says:

    May I also suggest free banner exchanges that offer targeted categories? So you can select the specific category of blogs that you prefer to trade 125 x 125 ads with?

    You can expect better than a 1% click-thru ratio if you have a good quality ad, and there is no cost or visiting other bogs required.

  33. So far, I am using Entrecard to advertise my blogs on other blogs and it seems to be free, plus of course it is free.

    What I have realized on this post is the use of landing page instead of the front page. Come to think of it, you are right Darren. Let us admit, not all our posts are equal in quality that is why it is better to choose a post to promote rather than the whole blog.

    Well, I tried it here for the first time so I hope I get good results.

    Again, thanks for considering us new bloggers.

  34. Kent says:

    I love this information. I’ve used PPC advertising with Google AdWords, MSN AdCenter, and Yahoo Search Marketing in the past with varied success and through experimentation have found that:
    1. The Site Displaying Your Ad
    2. Your Ad
    3. Your Landing Page

    are great tips, but adding a 4th step:
    4. The keywords you use that are within or that relate to the Ad and landing page.

    means everything in the world to get increased traffic, lower bid costs, and targeted traffic for better conversion rates.

    I never knew that Facebook offers adversing at such low costs. I can’t wait to get my feet wet in exploring Facebook’s advertising.

    Kent
    http://www.EducationalToys4Tots.com/

  35. Ryan McLean says:

    Great post darren, keep up the good work

  36. Very nice posting about blog ads. Now know where to start to spread the word.

  37. Sean says:

    Good information here. I have been focusing on getting advertisements on my blog but I didn’t even think to go and post myself up in other places… how silly of me :)

    Thanks for the post… off to tip # 4 I go!

  38. Catherine says:

    Good info. If I had the capital I might advertise:)

  39. Anyone have thoughts on paying for a listing in the Yahoo directory for $299? While this isn’t an ongoing ad campaign, I’d still consider it advertising. Has anyone paid this and, if so, do you feel it was worth it?