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Facebook: The Lowdown on Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

Often when I float the idea of advertising amongst my blogging colleagues (including Darren) I get looks of skepticism, dismissal, and that blank empty stare of disinterest.

You might have that look on your face already.

In some ways I can understand that sentiment. As bloggers, for more than a decade we have leveraged our content as the main drawcard for attracting visitors to our blog through free means such as organic search (SEO), social media, and incoming links and referrals.

I say free a little loosely here, as yes you’re not paying money directly out of your pocket for these activities, but the time you spend on managing social and search for example stops you from doing other things. Things like crafting better content, creating a product, talking with an advertiser, etc, so it does come at some cost.

That said, this approach is a bloggers true competitive advantage, and we essentially earn money by selling ads or access to our audience to those who can’t figure out their own content strategy — we certainly don’t buy them! Right?

Well today I’m hoping to challenge that today.

You’ll never ever hear from me that advertising is a replacement for your content. Your content is the pillar and driving force behind everything you do. But what makes a blog truly valuable is the audience and community you build around it. This community is what and who you create your products and services for, it’s what appeals so much to advertisers.

Advertising when done right is a way to help you expand the community you have today. To accelerate your growth. To find new readers in different markets and to sell more of your stuff. Advertising has been around for a lot longer than blogging. And there’s a good reason for that — when done right, it works.

There are so many options when it comes to advertising your blog. You can spend (and burn) tens of thousands of dollars very quickly if you are not careful. Unless you’re in the top 5% of bloggers already, it’s just too risky to put that sort of coin on the table. That doesn’t exclude you from advertising altogether though, as there are platforms that enable you to take very small steps and grow. You can spend as little as $5 to see some value. You can then step that up to $6 when the return on investment is there and you are ready. You’re in total control and can extend you investment and your reach at your own pace.

Google Adwords and Twitter are good options for this, but the one that excites me the most at the moment is a platform you’re probably already using for ‘free’ right now, and that’s Facebook.

We’ve been using Facebook advertising for around 18 months on Digital Photography School. It started fairly haphazardly, and I felt we were more donating money to Facebook’s shareholders than delivering any real value. It was when I decided to spend the time to really understand how Facebook advertising is actually done did the penny drop and our Facebook advertising strategy was transformed. I’m hoping by sharing what we’ve learned it makes life easier for you so you’ll have the confidence you need to run successful Facebook ads yourself.

How we approach advertising on FaceBook for dPS

Now I don’t consider myself a Facebook marketing expert, and I know I have a lot to learn. I often say to Darren that I could spend an entire year tweaking and adjusting our ads and still not be done. But as I like to play with new toys, I wasn’t going to let it get the better of me, and thus our story begins …

Prepare

You’re about to spend some of your own money on advertising, even if it’s a small amount. Unless you’re cashed up, careful preparation is important to make every dollar count. When we starting looking ad advertising options, we broke down our own preparation into three groups: learn, plan, and get your house in order.

Learn

Darren and I were the first to admit to each other that Facebook advertising was a mystery to us both, but in the same breath we both knew it was an opportunity we were missing. We could either just accept that as fact or take the time to learn what it was all about. Darren had been following Jon Loomer for a while and shared with me some links. I subsequently absorbed a lot of extra content from Jon and was lucky enough to interview him in a Problogger Community Webinar recently.

My second port of call was with a person I’d know for some time, Jen Sheahan. I met her first during my time at SitePoint but she’s since gone on to create a Facebook advertising company of her own. With pretty big-name clients, she sure knows what she’s talking about.

Both Jen and Jon shared similar insight to me about how to approach my campaigns which I’ll cover more later, but one thing they both said to me clearly was to spend the time getting to know the power editor, as that’s where the gold lives. Since then the general Facebook ads manager has got a lot better, but I still tend to spend most of my time managing our campaigns in the power editor.

Some notes about the Power Editor:

Before we continue on into some real examples, there are some concepts around the power editor that I need you need to understand (or my examples won’t make any sense at all). They are:

Custom Audiences: These are collections / groups of people that you define inside the power editor. They can be saved as groups of Facebook target segments, e.g. people in the USA, female, with a house value above $500,000 who are not a fan of yours (and about a million other variations). They can also be groups that you upload yourself such as your email subscriber list, or customer list. Facebook will match the email address you provide with a Facebook user and contain them all in a group. Or it could be a user who visits your blog, or even a specific page in your blog.

Power_Editor

Campaigns: Campaigns are the starting point of your advertisement. Not only do they given them a name, they also contain your objectives eg Like, click, sale.

Ad Sets: These are the second level of your advertisements and contain all the money information. How much you want to spend (per day or single amount) and when you want to start and finish your ad.

Ads: Ads is the ‘thing’ that facebook users will see. They hold the creative, and the targeting information, and how you will pay for the ads. eg. Cost per click, cost per 1,000 impressions. These ads can be both side column ads and in newsfeed ads.

Power_Editor

Custom Audience Pixel: This is a little snippet of code you put on your site to start creating custom audiences on Facebook to people who visit. When someone visits a page you send a little message to Facebook saying add this user to a customer audience under the settings you define. You can for example create a custom audience of all visitors to your blog (that are also on facebook) or all visitors to a specific or collection of pages. Or a combination of all. You can also specify how long to keep that visitor in your list (up to 180 days). If that’s confusing, don’t stress, I’m going to share what we use as a case study for you to start with.

Power_Editor

Conversion Pixel: This is a little bit of code that tells Facebook that a visitor has successfully completed the action you wanted. It might be to buy something, or it might be to sign up to a newsletter. You put this code on the ‘success’ page in your checkout / sign up process. For example the landing page someone sees after clicking the verification link in your email confirmation.

_1__Conversion_Tracking

Lookalike Audiences: This is an audience that Facebook creates for you based off an existing custom audience. So for example if I’ve created a newsletter subscriber custom audience, Facebook can create for you a audience that is similar to that group. I can specificy how accurtate I want to that be. The less accruate the bigger the target group will be.

Power_Editor

Okay so that’s the power editor. We can move on now.

Plan

You hopefully have an idea of the different types of ways you can target users and you have an idea of what you want them to do. It’s time to start planning all the different types of campaigns you are going to run.

Think along the lines of:

  • Customer and segments (who)
  • Actions (what)
  • Budget (how much)

With dPS we are currently running 9 main campaigns:

  1. Visited any dPS page in the last 48 hours that does not like us | To like | $20 per day
  2. Verified newsletter subscriber last 7 days that does not like us | To like | $20 per day
  3. dPS eBook customer in the last 12 months | To like | $100 total
  4. Lookalike Visited any dPS page in the last 48 hours that does not like us | To like | $20 per day
  5. Lookalike Verified newsletter subscriber last 7 days that does not like us | To like | $20 per day
  6. Lookalike dPS eBook customer in the last 12 months | To like | $100 total
  7. dPS eBook customer in the last 12 months | To buy | $100 total
  8. Lookalike dPS eBook customer in the last 12 months | To buy | $100 total
  9. dPS fan | To buy | $100 total

Some other types of campaigns we have run

  • Promoted posts: We have experimented with seeing if we could get some viral momentum with updates on our feed. To day we haven’t had great success with that, but we will re-visit.
  • Promoted product announcement post: We have promoted posts that announced a new product to our fans and had amazing success. The campaign we ran for our posing guide was the most successful campaign we’ve run to date.
  • Target interest groups: We have done some target interest campaigns where we focus on people who, for example, like photography in the US. But we’ve not had a heap of success with this type of campaign.
  • Unverified newsletter subscribers: We ran campaigns to people before they confirmed their newsletter subscription but it was a lot more costly than tarting post verification so we’ve stuck with that.
  • Different combos of the 48 hours / 7 days delays: We have experimented with 1 day, 2 day, 7 days, 30 day and 90 day times on our campaigns which we then narrow that down to a couple of options.

Setting budgets

When we set budgets we tend to first run a set figure, so $10,$20,$50 after that we review and decide if we’ll run it ongoing. Only three of our 9 campaigns are set to ongoing at this stage. I also like to set budgets before I’m in the power editor as I like to see the total spend. $5 doesn’t seem like a lot when you are looking at the one campaign, but 5 X 100 campaigns you want to see up can add up pretty quickly.

Get your house in order

Once you have a plan for the types of campaigns you want to run initially it’s time to get everything set up.

Get your advertising account set up

You’ll of course need some way for Facebook to take your money so you’ll need to set up an ads account. Chances are if you’ve used the ‘donate to Facebook’, sorry, ‘boost post’ button in the past, you’ve already done this. As you create more ads over time, Facebook will allow you to spend more but you still remain in control.

Get your tracking in place

If you want to use custom audiences that include visitors from your site you’ll need to set up the tracking pixel. This was actually a little harder for me that I expected so I decided to commission a plugin to make that easier for wordpress users to install the Facebook tracking pixel. Best of all it’s free and you can download it here. Watch the video for details on how to use it.

Get your segments and custom audiences ready

Once you have your tracking pixel set up, you can start creating custom audiences. With dPS we have a lot. Audiences for all visits to the site across different time delays. Separate audiences for visits to our sale pages the list goes on. Initially keep things simple and create audiences for the campaigns you planned above. Then let your imagination run wild. Your custom audiences should include any lists you can upload as well such as your newsletter and customer list.

Once you’ve set up your audience it’s time to setup your lookalike audiences. When creating a lookalike audience you’ll be able to select your custom audience to base it off.

You would finally then create general target segments that you might use to target specific interests and types of Facebook users. Remebering that this type of segment is the one I’ve struggled most with trying to deliver value for spend. If you’ve made this work I’d love to hear more.

We now have to people to advertise to. The final preparation step is to…

Get your Facebook page in good standing

Now I’m kinda lucky here as I have a pretty savvy guy named Darren ensuring that the Digital Photography School Facebook page was in good standing. Great engagement, good visuals, and a constant stream of new content makes anything I wanted to do with advertising so much easier. Not everyone has that luxury, so you’ll need to make sure your organic activity and the setup of your Facebook page is in tip-top shape.

Create

Okay so we’re staring to round the final turn here and we’re close to setting live your first ads. Everything is set up, we have our audiences, we have our campaign plan, now it’s time to put them all into the the power editor…

Creating your first campaign

You start by giving it a name, then picking your objective and setting any custom fields you might need (dependant on the objective). You should already have most of that that in your planning. Once you have set up your campaign you then create an ad set that you link to a campaign, give that a name then set your start / finish times and your budget.

Setting up the ads

I’m sure by now you feel like you’ve come a long way, and you have. Now it’s ad setup time. You’ll need to enter:

Creative: There’s a whole different post on what creative to use on your ads and everyone has an opinion. But regardless of what others experience, experimentation is the key to finding what works for you.

Copy: There will be areas to enter limited text. Titles descriptions and buttons to your add. Again, just like copy, testing and practice makes perfect.

Placements: You’ll have to decide if you want the ads to show in the sidebar, the newsfeed, and on mobile. For a while I focused mainly on the newsfeed and mobile, but my recent webinar with Jon questioned the legitimacy of that, so I’m currently testing all options

Targeting: This is where you tell Facebook who to show the ad to. You’ve set up your target audiences already, so you don’t need to worry about all the profile stuff. Simply add your audience at the top, exclude any audiences you don’t want see the ads (and the same for fans at the bottom), and you’re good.

Charging model: The final step with your ad is to select CPC (cost per click) and big on that or CMP (cost per thousand impressions). I tend to stick with optimized CPM, but only because that’s what I was advised to, I do want to play around with that a little more.

You can run multiple ads under the one ad set, and I do that I a lot. But what I also find is that Facebook tends to decide which ad they are going to run out of the group very quickly. I think too quickly and that will result in one add showing 99.9% of the time and the rest only 0.01%. Not sure why that’s the case and the only way around that is to create multiple ad sets with single ads.

If your ad is about a click, think about your landing pages

You’re getting a very targeted click from Facebook when someone follow your link to your page. Spend time getting that landing page right for the user. We don’t send people directly to our sales pages for ‘buy’ related campaigns. We send them to a page we set up just for Facebook traffic. You can see an example of a current bundle we’re running right now.

Note about the conversion pixel: If you campaign success is conversions, Facebook will give you a tracking pixel for the campaign. As I mentioned earlier this needs to be put in your ‘success’ page for the action to be sent back to Facebook. The good news is that the Facebook plugin for wordpress you might have used for the tracking pixel also allows you to put the success pixel on any page or post of your blog. This will work only if your success page is on your own site. For example we currently use e-junkie on dPS and we can’t edit the ‘success’ page so we can’t track sales in this way.

We do however track success through analytics using the optional URL tags field in our ad setup.

By entering:

utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=promo&utm_content=us&utm_campaign=landscapebundle

It will attach campaign data (you’ll need to change landscape bundle to something else) to any sale Google Analytics records in it’s commerce area and thus we can report on a campaign level how many sales and how much revenue we make.

Power_Editor

We’re now all set up and ready to set our ads live. If your using the power editor you need to upload your changes (top of your screen). Once you do that you’ll send all the campaign data to Facebook. Facebook will review your ad and approve. I think there are two stages to this as I’ve had a few ads unapproved after being approved. Which is kinda weird.

Review your results

If you’ve set your campaigns to start straight away, you’ll actually start to see results pretty fast. You’ll want to leap to conclusions pretty quickly, but my suggestion is wait a least 24 to 48 hours for a more detailed story to be told. When you have a little more insight, that’s when you can take some action.

Reports are found in your ad manager where you’ll see what you’ve spent, your reach and depending on your campaign type, likes, clicks, reach clicks or conversions.

_1__All_Campaigns

You’ll be able to compare all your campaigns side by side to pause poor performances, increase budgets on your strong performers, edit ad creative and copy, change landing pages. These real time changes help you improve the performance of your current campaigns, but also inform you about the next campaigns you might want to run.

Darren and I will talk through campaign performance as often as we can. Trying to understand what’s working, making decisions on what to continue with and stop, and brainstorming on new ideas.

Our results:

From a ‘boost post’ perspective: The only real value we’ve seen from a boost post perspective is when we boosted a product promotion update. We had a result that was nearly a 500% return on investment in first purchase which is a phenomenal result in any anyone’s advertising book. Boosting content posts to help build a viral effect just hasn’t worked for us the handful of times we’ve attempted it. But we’re not done yet!

From a ‘like standpoint’: We’ve seen costs per likes range from 1 cent to over $1 (we stopped that one pretty quickly). On average it’s around the 7 cent mark. The impact of this is hard to gauge as the reach and traffic we get has just as much to do with the content and timing of the post as it does the volume of likes we have. So it’s difficult to know 100%. What we also notice is that when we are advertising for likes, our organic likes seem to jump as well. So in real terms that 7 cent per like might be a little understated.

From a sales standpoint: I haven’t actually run a campaign on Facebook targeting sales that hasn’t been profitable. The returns have been from $5 in sales for every $1 we spent to $1.20 in sales for every $1 we spent. We haven’t spend piles of money on the ads just yet but it’s very promising. I suspect that the more we spend the less return on investment we get, as we have to chase a wider audience but time will tell.

Expand

Once you’ve done the hard work to set everything up and your first couple of campaigns behind you, I’m sure your mind will be buzzing with ideas. Just like we were. Our approach as we look to expand our Facebook activity to fall into these principles.

Test and add budget to what’s working

Darren and I am both open to testing things in moderation. We’ll use small budgets on ideas and then add once we’re convinced it will work. We’ll keep doing that with who we target and what we ask of them.

Look for new segments and narrow the ones we have

We’ll continue to both expand into new segments, as well as be smarter in the ones we have. For example knowing what type of post you visited on dPS could inform me what type of advertisement image you’ll be receptive to, or what sort of product you might like.

Be careful on how many times you show your add

We’re also very cautious not to over-advertise to our audience. Facebook will continue to show your ads to people as long as you’re prepared to keep paying. There’s a figure in your campaign reporting you need to be looking at – ‘frequency’. That tells you the number of times an ad was shown to a user. We want to keep that to no more than five in a campaign.

_1__Campaign_Summary

You don’t have to advertise all the time

We also want to ensure we pause our ads from time to time. This not only give us a little break, we’ve found that short bursts net a better result than one steady steam of ads.

So that’s how we approach advertising on Facebook with dPS.

We feel we’re just getting started with our story here and I’m sure there will be much more to share over time. I’m sure there are a stack of personal experiences that others have had, I’d love hear. I’m learning something new every day too!

With advertising – before you give me that blank stare again, just remember, as a blogger growing your audience is important. It’s a big part of the value your blog holds. Advertising is a great way to support and help accelerate that.

There’s a reason business and people pay to reach your audience.

Shayne Tilley is the marketing guy for ProBlogger.net and Digital Photography School.  The author of the PB Guide to Online Marketing and a long time contributor to the blog.  When he’s not thinking of new and interesting ways to grow the ProBlogger sites, he’s either bashing up developers or hanging out with the swiftly.com team.

Theme Week: Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising, a Webinar with Jon Loomer

Sam Surname

Jon Loomer, the King of advanced Facebook marketing, recently stopped by ProBlogger.com to share his insight and specialist tips on all things Facebook advertising. Not just for business with big budgets, targeted Facebook ads and a little forethought can be useful for any kind of blogger wanting to reach out to readers. The full webinar is available for ProBlogger.com members (you can sign up here).

So what are the benefits of Facebook advertising for bloggers?

Jon says it’s really for anyone looking to drive traffic to a website. When you build an audience on Facebook, you’re sharing that website with people who have shown an interest in wanting to read it. As a bonus, many people who pay for advertising on Facebook also report an increase in organic reach.

Why should you pay for advertising when you can use Facebook for free?

  • It breaks through traffic plateau – go beyond the reach you’re getting now
  • If you have been working hard and not getting far, then it might be worth a try to see if you can catch a break
  • With regular sharing, you’re limited with the amount of people who will engage with your post – paying will reach people who still want to read your work – people who have been to your blog but don’t currently like your Facebook page, perhaps. It also assists in finding people with similar interests who might like your blog, but just haven’t heard of you yet
  • Helps to speed up the growth of your page
  • You’re being proactive rather than crossing your fingers and hoping to go viral

Boost Post versus Power Editor – Is one really more useful than the other?

  • The nuggets of gold in Facebook advertising and targeting are mainly found within Power Editor. but it doesn’t guarantee you success. You could still be targeting badly
  • The issue with Boost Post it is an easy button, often for real success you need to think a bit beyond doing that
  • At the end of the day, you want sales and subscribers, not just be seen in the newsfeed, so you need to use Boost Post a little bit more strategically. This is where you can use Power Editor to select a pre-chosen group to boost your post to
  • You can create and save target group lookalikes and custom audiences in Power Editor, which can then be used across Facebook advertising in all its guises
  • Learn Power Editor first, and it makes everything else easier

What about more sophisticated campaigns?

Website custom audiences are Jon’s favourite feature – it’s not just a matter of targeting anyone who visits your website, but also narrowing it down to specific pages they’ve seen, or articles they’ve read on your site.

So how does Facebook know what your readers are looking at?

Facebook provides conversion pixels, which uses cookie information from your blog. When they return to Facebook after your site, they will then see a targeted ad. Only one code is needed, but you can create many different rules that depend on visitor information. Even better, when you promote your new blog post, you can tell Facebook to exclude the readers who have already read it – effectively saving you money.

To take advantage of this, create a Website Custom Audience for every sales line you have, every landing page, every success page, every important blog post. Think about the categories of content you have that would appeal to different people, and tailor your ads to suit.

What makes a good ad?

  • Imagery, things that stand out, or that people can relate to. Faces, people their own age, professional images, proper image dimensions
  • Copy – what do you want from your ad? If you’re not selling, then you’re still being casual, useful, and wanting to get people to click on your link. Think of providing a call to action
  • Keep it short. You want to keep under character limits so Facebook doesn’t truncate your post, forcing users to click over to read the whole thing.
  • Ensuring the targeting is as relevant as possible

What else is on the webinar?

  • Jon goes into how to create a great Facebook advertising campaign and gives you steps to narrow down your needs so you can better strategise and target your audience.
  • Building a highly-relevant audience, and gaining their trust so you can market your products or services to them successfully
  • Targeting people depending on what page they’ve landed on your blog
  • Specific tips for Power Editor: how to create custom audiences, using tracking pixels
  • Links to articles that explain the complexities of Power Editor and how to harness it for your particular needs
  • How much to budget for Facebook campaigns
  • The difference between an ad set and a campaign
  • The lowdown on ad reports and how to track efficacy
  • Understanding lookalike audiences and how to target them effectively
  • Targeting fans, email lists, and anybody who has visited your website – highly-relevant people who already know who you are, but might not be following you on Facebook.
  • A discussion about the appearance of ads on Facebook in the first place. If they’re not going to go away, how best to work with them so you’re delivering useful advertising to its users, rather than irrelevant information
  • More detail on what makes a great ad.

Tune in tomorrow for our marketing ninja Shayne Tilley, who will take you through a list of Digital Photography School Facebook advertising that has seen real returns – and also the ones that didn’t do so well.

Have you tried Facebook marketing? Has it been useful for you?

All You Need to Know About Using Exclusivity for Better Product Launches

This is a contribution by our very own Shayne Tilley.

Image by Flickr user EricaStLeonards

Image by Flickr user EricaStLeonards

Launching products and campaigning can be fast-moving and complex beasts. There are so many layers, and even the best-laid plans can be scrapped in an instant as it all goes amazing well, or horrifically wrong…

Two promotional tactics we use in our product launches and special campaigns on both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School are the notion of “exclusivity“, and “limiting factors“.

I thought today I’d share with you the how and why of this approach, and what we’ve learned along the way.

So what do I mean by “exclusivity” and “limits” in the context of a launch or promotion?

Exclusivity:

Exclusivity is about creating a proposition that will not be available to the general public. It’s an offer specifically for you, because you meet some sort of criteria. It might be because you’re an existing customer. It might be because you showed early interest in a product. It might be because you are a newsletter subscriber, or a member of a community. It can be anything as long as you can define it.

By me giving you this offer I’m making you feel special. You’re acknowledged and rewarded and hopefully rightly so! This can then drive two responses:

1. the “nah-nah-na-na-nah!” response

We like to brag. Sometimes it’s about how much we paid for something, sometimes it’s about how little we did. When I make you this exclusive offer, it means when you take advantage of it, you’ll have something the chump next to you paid way more for and it’s only because you were you. It’s like winning without having to even play the game! Of course you’ll head to the checkout.

2. the IOU response

By giving you this exclusive offer you immediately think that you owe me something. I’ve taken the time to create this special offer and reward you for some reason. That I value you so much I’m willing to give you something that no-one else can have. The only way you can pay me back is take up the honour in which I bestowed upon you and head to that checkout.

An example we’ve used recently on ProBlogger.com:

We soft-launched the new ProBlogger Community in the last couple of weeks, and before making it available to all, we exclusively launched it to existing members first. We provided with exclusivity in two ways: offering members the chance get into the community early and establish themselves in addition to receiving a great price as a foundation member of the site. Why? Because no matter how great the content and site technology is, it’s the people there that make it special — and we wanted to ensure our loyal problogger.com members were part of the new site. A real win-win situation.

This idea of exclusivity has been one the tech start-up community has really embraced. Take Pinterest for example: it had an ‘invite-only’ sign up process for some time. You had to request access, and when you were given it, (because you’d been ‘approved’ by them), you are much more likely to actually use the service. There are secret back-door and referral systems built-in to make you feel even more special.  Whilst you’ll see what sound like legitimate reasons for this, trust me –  it’s a marketing tactic. One that’s designed to create an emotional debt with the product, person, or service you are using. Which makes you more likely to stick around.

And it’s quite effective.

Limited:

When limiting your campaigns, you are communicating some sort of restrictive factor. It might be stock, it might be seats, or it could be time.  By doing this, you are creating a sense of urgency. A sense that “if I don’t act now, I might miss out“. These responses are driven by our past – we’ve all missed out on something because we waited too long, and it made us feel bad.  It’s the desire you have to avoid that negative emotional trigger I’m pulling by limiting an offer in some way.

How we use this on Digital Photography School:

Every single new product launch we run will have a limit. For the most part, it’s in the form of an earlybird special. For a time-limited period, readers will receive a special discount, or a special bonus for a few weeks. Over the launch period, we up the focus on this to increase the urgency.  The first week we’ll focus on the product or offer and just mention that it’s Time-Limited.  The next week, we will announce the cut-off date with a little more prominence, and the final email we’ll send 48 hours before that date will be the core message of the product.

With this urgency we often see more sales on the last day than we did when we first announced the product. This of course goes up a new gear when we run our 12 days of Christmas Campaign, where each deal only lasts 12 hours.

It’s not about making the sale, it’s about closing it.

With both of these techniques, it’s not about making the sale. Your products benefit and the offer still needs to do that too (sorry). What limits and exclusivity will do is just give the potential customer that little extra nudge to head on through the sale process.

Digital vs Actual

These techniques have been around longer than the internet, and digital content is actually just an adaptation of what retail stores mastered a long time ago. If you’re selling a digital product, such as a book or a video course, then as long as there’s power you have an infinite amount of stock.  However if you have a service, or a course, or a physical product, you don’t just have time up your sleeve to use as a sales technique – you also have ‘While stocks last’ – just as powerful, maybe even more!

The ProBlogger team recently witnessed action that a stock/seat limitation can create. After putting a limited number of tickets (450) on sale for this years ProBlogger Event, within minutes, half of them had sold.  That creates a bigger, more urgent call-to-action, as people realised they only had a short time to make a call to attend or not. If they waited they’d miss out!

… and it snowballed.

This accumulation of momentum resulted in all tickets being sold out in 6 hours and a re-engineering of the event set-up for us to allow another 100 people to attend. Which sold out quickly again!

Time and its subtleties

If you can’t use stock as a limiting factor, then time will be your best friend – just like it is on Digital Photography School.

With time there are some subtleties in language you need to take into account.

Ends in two weeks‘ is much stronger than ‘soon

7 days only‘ is much stronger that ‘next week

In the next 48 hours‘ is stronger than ‘In the next two days‘.

When putting your copy and messaging together, you need to think about which time terms feel closer; and ensure that you are giving specific time periods rather than just writing generic terms like ‘soon’. As I mentioned earlier, we tend to get more specific and forthright as we get closer to the end.

Be prepared to shift gears

In your campaign and launch planning, you’ll have a nice start and end time for your offer. You’ll communicate that clearly as suggested above, but you also might find yourself in the situation where you need to change things up.  We’ve done so a few times when:

  • Our readers demand it: Because you have a limit and things change back to normal after it’s reached, some people will miss out.  If you have enough of them you might, ‘by popular demand’, bring it back if possible for a little while longer.
  • Because something broke: If something goes wrong, your website might crash – or in the case of us in the last product launch on dPS, our email provider went down – you’ll have people that missed out through no fault of their own.  In this case you’ll have little choice but to extend the sale for those that missed out.

Truth is better than fiction

These techniques are powerful motivators, and you might be tempted to ‘manufacture’ them. Which is essentially lying to your readers.  Now I can’t stop you doing that, but in the interests of a long-term relationship with your customers, truth is much better than fiction.

If you never intended to raise your early-bird price don’t call it an early-bird offer. If you’re thinking about putting up an out-of-stock sign on your product with a warehouse full of them, just don’t.

Eventually, people will figure it out.

When we put 450 tickets up for the ProBlogger event, we only ever intended to sell 450. As a result of what we witnessed, we were fortunately able to react quickly and find room for some more.  It’s that authenticity that help build the demand in the first place, and lying will break that over time.

So that’s my take on exclusivity and limits, and how we use there here at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I’d love to hear if you’ve used these on your own blog and how it went.

Shayne Tilley is the marketing guy for ProBlogger.net and Digital Photography School.  The author of the PB Guide to Online Marketing and a long time contributor to the blog.  When he’s not thinking of new and interesting ways to grow the ProBlogger sites, he’s either bashing up developers or hanging out with the swiftly.com team.

PPC: A Viable Alternative to Organic Traffic for Bloggers?

This is a guest contribution from Nicholas Whitmore, freelance journalist and website content editor.copy

With search engine traffic becoming increasingly difficult to rely on, it’s important for bloggers, like you, to think of different ways to drive people to your website. After all, there’s no point in blogging if no one is going to read what you write, right?

One question I’m asked a lot is whether PPC traffic is a viable alternative to organic search engine traffic, from the point of view of a blogger. It’s something I’ve looked into, experimented with and drawn my own conclusions about.

It’s not free

You didn’t need me to tell you that PPC traffic isn’t free, but I wanted to get it out of the way.

The main different between PPC and SEO is that you pay on a cost per click (CPC) or cost per mile (CPM) basis. Whereas organic traffic is served on a golden platter to your website completely free of charge, PPC traffic costs you real money. 

The fact it costs money isn’t a problem in itself. Hundreds of thousands of websites use PPC, so it is definitely worth it in a lot of situations.

A few merits of PPC

Some people point blank refuse to use PPC because they don’t like the idea of paying per click or impression. Each to their own – but here are a few reasons you might consider using PPC advertising for your blog:

  • Instant traffic: As soon as your site goes online you can drive traffic to it. Whereas organic traffic can take months to arrive, PPC traffic is nigh on instant.
  • Turn it on & off like a tap: Going on holiday? No problem! Pause your PPC campaigns and you can pick up where you left off when you get home. You can’t do that with SEO.
  • Highly targeted: Depending on the campaign settings you choose, PPC traffic can be just as targeted as organic traffic if using search networks on Bing or Google.
  • Control: You’ve got control over loads of factors including ad copy, landing pages visitors are directed to and more – it’s a great way to split test pages on your site and optimise them for conversions.
  • You’re billed after the traffic is received: If you’re really good at what you do, you can maintain a positive cash flow from day one – providing you make more money than you pay in costs.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Some bloggers I know cram their blogs full of affiliate links, adverts and sponsored editorial content. The more traffic they get the more affiliate sales they make, the more advertising revenue they receive, the more they can charge clients to publish sponsored editorials.

These aren’t your average hobby bloggers – they’re calculated people aiming to make serious cash. There’s nothing wrong with that though.

Other bloggers I know have vast sites that ooze authority and popularity – but their owners have made no effort whatsoever to monetize them. They just don’t want to for one reason or another. Their blogs are hobbies, interests – but not apparatus for making money.

It’s clear that in the former example, there’s some ROI to be calculated – the difference between the PPC expenditure and the sum of the income from various revenue streams. For the later example there is no ROI, because the blogs aren’t being monetized.

If you’re attempting to monetize your blog in any way, shape or form, it’s generally a good idea to at least dabble with PPC traffic. If you’re not going to monetize your blog at all and it’s just a hobby, there are few merits to throwing money at traffic – you’ll never make that money back, so what’s the point?

Define your goals

The original question posed in this blog is whether PPC traffic can be a viable alternative to organic traffic for bloggers.

In truth, the only person that can answer that question is you. It’s important for you to define your goals as a blogger – if you’re going to create value and generate revenue somehow then PPC will almost certainly be a traffic generation method you should use.

Examples of value generating techniques bloggers might use when driving traffic via PPC include:

  • Adverts
  • Affiliate links
  • CPA offers
  • Physical products for sale
  • Services for sale
  • Email list opt-in (addresses can be used in future email marketing campaigns)

All of the above are reasons why a blogger might pay to send traffic to their website using PPC.

Even if PPC is useful, is it really an alternative?

There’s a difference between something being useful and something being an alternative.

The problem a lot of bloggers and website owners have is that they’re overly reliant on one source of traffic. They invest all of their time and effort into that one source of traffic – when that goes belly up their interest wanes and their blog dies.

PPC isn’t an alternative to SEO traffic. The two should be used in tandem – they complement each other perfectly. They should also be used alongside traffic generation techniques like social media marketing and email marketing.

To conclude…

Most people look for an alternative to SEO because their organic traffic has come to an abrupt halt – usually due to a search engine algorithm update.

By putting all of your eggs in one basket (and focusing solely on SEO) from the outset you’re asking for trouble. If you put an equal amount of time and effort into various marketing practices like SEO, PPC, social media and email marketing, if one of your campaigns goes badly wrong, you’ve got the others to fall back on.

If you’re a hobby blogger and you make little or no money through your website, PPC is probably not something you should look to experiment with. If you’re a blogger that monetizes your website, PPC is very useful indeed.

That said, PPC shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to any other traffic source though – the most successful blogs and websites draw traffic from multiple sources including search engines and social media.

Nick is a freelance journalist and website content editor from http://www.contentwriting.org. He writes extensively about the art of blogging, as well as online marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC and SMM.

What Advertisers Want: 6 steps to Attract Advertisers to Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Brianne Bauer.

How do advertisers determine whether a blog is worth their marketing dollars? Promising blogs start out with must-have elements — interesting content, loyal readership, eye-catching design and regular updates.

But what’s missing? Here are six ways bloggers can become more attractive to advertisers.

money jumping from Laptop like blog advertising

Cross-Media Integration

Advertisers looks at many metrics when considering advertising on a blog — page views, daily visitors, average time on site, CPM, among others.

One of the growing metrics on an advertiser’s radar is a blog’s social media page. Advertisers not only look at how many followers a blog has but, more importantly, also look at the conversations being held on the blog’s page and social media channels. Can advertisers see themselves being a topic of conversation? Are open-ended questions being asked around a certain product?

When advertisers see a blog’s large following on Twitter, they see their ROI increasing. Incorporating sponsored social media posts (i.e. sponsored tweets) into your offerings will make a blog’s brand more lucrative. Outside of social media, consider other media. During the past five years, I’ve made more than 50 TV appearances that focused on blog content. As a lifestyle blogger this was a natural fit, and this is an attractive option to heighten exposure for your advertisers.

Get Advertisers Involved

Offer a variety of sponsorship opportunities other than banner ads. Polls, product spotlights and giveaways are great ways to help a blog’s aesthetic and give advertisers options to showcase their brand.

Some advertisers want to only participate in giveaways while others may only want to guest post. Guest posts are among the most common ways advertisers get involved with blogs. Guest posts are typically used by brands to build web traffic and to put readers in a purchasing frame of mind. Along with their content, guest posts typically have a byline and a link to the respective blog or website increasing their web stats.

Note that it is imperative to remain up front with readers and disclose that a special section is paid for.

Get Readers Interacting with Advertisers

This is arguably one of the most important components of a campaign. If, for example, a blogger reviews a storage product like Backup Genie review and then asks readers to weigh in with their opinions, ask them if they are already using it, plan on buying it or how it would make their lives better. Getting readers to interact with a brand is what advertisers are truly searching.

Know Your Blog Rank and How to Improve It

There are two leading ways advertisers use to measure a site’s performance: Google Page Rank and Alexa ranking. These ranking systems allow website owners to benchmark their websites and give advertisers metrics for evaluation.

Google Page Rank is an algorithm that ranks a site from 0 to 10 with a major emphasis on quality backlinks. It’s no surprise that if the Google bots don’t like something, like a broken backlink, a blog’s Page Rank score could be in jeopardy. As Page Rank (PR) is slow to update (PR is only updated every 3-4 months), it’s difficult to better your PR in a short amount of time.

If a blog is stagnating at a PR3 for a while, it could mean there are on-page issues that should be checked using Xenu. Alexa ranking is a free online directory that measures how many daily visitors a site receives, along with other traffic metrics and search analytics. Both are important to advertisers, but Page Rank is measured on your website reputation and Alexa is measured on website traffic.

Let Numbers Speak for Themselves

A media kit gives advertisers a quick glance of what they need to know. It should be updated regularly (and honestly) with the blog’s positioning, like this:

  • Google Page Rank: 4
  • MozRank: 5.25
  • July 2013 Visitors: 13,485
  • Pageview: 72,856
  • Average Time on Site: 2:02
  • Bounce Rate: 72.42

Bloggers should be forthcoming if certain stats don’t scream success. Share additional facts such as:

  • Strong niche following for Topic XYZ
  • Active in social circles (only share follower number if blog’s social media has more than 5,000 followers)
  • Blogs for two group blogs
  • Contributing blogger for major Topic XYZ website

Know Your Advertising Options

What better way to help build your brand than to hit the pavement and meet advertisers, share your inspiration for the blog and why you think they would benefit from advertising? But if being in the field isn’t your thing, let those who specialize in blog advertising help win new advertisers. Adsense and Amazon Affiliates are among the leaders but research to find a good fit for your blog.

It’s getting easier than ever to garner interest from new advertisers, but harder to weed out scammers.

The longevity of a blog is on based consistent, quality content (and ranking!) but bloggers monetize best when they deliver results to advertisers.

Brianne Bauer has garnered publicity for lifestyle brands like Paramount Pictures, and personalities such as Mariel Hemingway and Cheryl Tiegs. With a background in magazine publishing and corporate PR, she is now a freelance publicist and writer based in Minneapolis.

How to Make the Switch Between Monetizing with Ad Network to Selling Ads Directly on Your Blog

Over on Reddit today someone asked for some advice on switching from monetizing a blog using just ad networks (like AdSense) to selling advertising directly to advertisers. I found myself writing a rather long response and thought it might also be of some use to readers here.

Here’s the question:

I was reading a post about blogging and money and was wondering when in a bloggers career do the emails start coming in where companies are trying to advertise on your website? I am curious because when first starting out you don’t have a lot of traffic so no proof of presence so companies don’t really care to be shown for long periods of time on those blogs. So people get adsense or amazon ads up. Then at a certain point there are a ton of people coming in and people now want to throw ads up. This is a great point to just take down the automatic ads and go with the ad management setup.

When did you realize your traffic was high enough to switch over?

And my response (which wasn’t really written as a blog post – so I hope it is helpful):

This is a question I hear fairly regularly and I wish there was a magical number that applied for all blogs. The reality is that I’ve seen bloggers sell ads directly to advertisers before they launched and to bloggers who couldn’t sell ads directly, even with tens of thousands of visitors a day.

As with most things in blogging – there is no formula.

My own experience is that I have monetized my blogs in a variety of ways from day #1 and  that as my blogs grow this has not changed. What has changed is the type of monetization.

As your traffic and brand develops, new opportunities will open up for different types of monetization.

So for me, in the early days, I started with AdSense and a little affiliate marketing (Amazon’s program). This generated a few cents a day – but they were a few cents more than I had when I started! More importantly, I learned a lot about ad placement and design, and what type of ads worked best on my sites.

As my traffic grew, I began to realize that I might one day be able to sell ads directly to advertisers. However, these advertisers didn’t magically appear. I had to go and chase them.

While I had an ‘advertise with us’ page on the site, the only ads I was able to sell were small ads with small advertisers. I had a camera review blog and my first advertisers were small local camera stores who paid $20-$30 for a month of advertising (discounted for 12 months). It wasn’t much – but it was $20-$30 a month more than I had… and again I learned a lot from selling those ads!

As traffic and brand grows, you can command more for ads but you shouldn’t just rely upon advertisers coming to you.

Ask yourself a few questions to identify potential advertisers:

  • What is my readers intent? Why are they coming to my blog? If you can nail what this is you might just find an advertiser who matches that intent. For my camera review blog, I realized my readers were researching before they purchased a camera, so pitching to camera stores was a smart move.
  • Who are my readers? What are their demographics? Knowing who is reading your blog is golden information when finding advertisers. Surveys and polls of your readership can help work this out. Once you know that, ask ‘who is trying to reach this type of person?’
  • Who is actively advertising on my niche? Look on other blogs/sites/forums to see who is advertising. Look to see what advertisers ads are appearing on your site through the Ad Networks you use. Look to see who is advertising on Google when you type in key words related to your niche. These advertisers are in the market for readers in your niche and should be places you go to pitch your site as a place to buy ads.

As you approach advertisers you’ll see that they want certain information that you can begin to pull together into a media kit.

Information about your readers is important to include (readership numbers, demographics, reader intent etc) as well as the opportunities and costs associated with advertising.

Include what type of ads you can run (ad size and placement).

Also think about how you can offer bundles of ads. For example, you might offer ads in your newsletter, on social media or to do a giveaway to your readers. These extras could be offered either as incentives to advertisers (buy some ads and we’ll throw in XXXX) or you could use them as up-sells.

In time, you’ll see what kind of information that advertisers want. Smaller advertisers often won’t need as much but as you approach bigger advertisers (usually you need to do this through their agencies) they’ll ask for more and more information and make more demands in terms of paperwork and your pitch.

Even when your site is big, you’ll still find that you need to pitch TO advertisers more often than not. Some will come knocking but I find that these are more likely to be PR people wanting you to write about their products for little or no money or in return for product (it’s hard to live off free products).

Having said that – this depends a little on your niche and traffic. If you’re writing about something very specialized and in demand, advertisers are going to be more keen and will seek you out, even if your traffic is small.

Lastly – I’ve done many direct ad deals over the years but even though they are regular I still run some ad network ads on my blogs to fill the gaps.

I’ve also found that as your traffic, brand and reader engagement grows there are other ways to monetize by developing your own products (eBooks, courses or even physical products) as well as doing some affiliate marketing. But that’s probably another story :-)

Hope something in that helps!

10 Ways to Woo Would-be Advertisers on Your Blog

This guest post is by Anup Kayastha of MoneyMakingModes.com.

Earning money through blogging is an attractive and viable income source. But it is not possible unless your blog have relevant, current, and useful information for your readers.

That will not only help increase traffic to your blog: it will also attract advertisers to buy ads. but to make that a reality, you need to know how advertisers are evaluating your site.

What makes them think that your blog is worth their investment? What they are looking for in your blog before offering you a deal for ad posts?

Here are ten factors that would help you understand what the advertisers consider before they’ll approach you about buying ad space.

1. Announce that you accept ads

Your blog must explicitly announce to the potential advertisers that it is ready to sell ads. Use an “Advertise with us” banner or message so that the advertisers know that they can buy space with you.

For example, look at the sidebar of this blog. There’s an image link which clearly mentions that ProBlogger accepts sponsor ads.

2. Create a specific page for ad information

Having a separate page that displays the information about ad space on your blog is very important.

Include information such as the blog’s niche, ad space rates, methods of payment, and your contact details. This shows how organized—and serious—you are about helping advertisers reach their audiences.

Take a look at the advertising page of John Chow’s site. When advertises land on that page, they can easily get the required information, like site stats, banner spot and sizes, space availability, and so on.

3. Concentrate on your niche

If your blog targets a particular niche, you must stick to it in all your blogging activities. The advertisers interested in your particular niche will critically monitor this aspect of your work.

Don’t go off topic. Your advertisers want to gain targeted visits to their product sales pages. You don’t want to disappoint them with untargeted traffic.

4. Work to increase traffic

Most importantly, the advertiser will want to know about the traffic that flows to your blog. The blog readership, subscribers, and your reputation within your niche are all carefully considered by advertisers.

These factors directly impact the cost expectations of potential advertisers. Most advertisers are more interested in the traffic that a blog attracts than many other factors.

5. Assess the positioning of ads on your blog

Prospective advertisers will analyze the placement of ads on your blog, to see if those spots will suit them.

First, they’ll ask if their ads will be visible without requiring a page scroll. If the space is above the fold, you should be able to charge more for it.

They’ll also want to know if the ad space is horizontal or vertical? Horizontal space is usually more costly because if has better readability. They’ll likely review the spot’s prominence and visibility too.

My blog, Hack Tutors is a good example of this point. You can see a horizontal (468x60px) banner at the top-right header. Typically, it gets sold as soon as the previously running ad has expired.

It’s the most popular ad spot on my blog, simply because it’s above the fold, eye-catching, and easily viewable without scrolling down the page.

6. Consider costing methods

Advertisers are very careful to review the terms on which ads are sold to the advertiser.

You may offer CPC (Cost Per Click), CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions), CPA (Cost Per Action), or some other method of selling space. The advertiser may be interested in a specific costing method, so be prepared to negotiate.

If you’ve no idea how to arrive at pricing for your ad space, you can get some ideas in this post by Hesham of FamousBloggers.

7. Establish your ad posting conditions

The ad posting conditions you impose will be taken very seriously by advertisers. Ad specifications—such as formats, maximum allowable file sizes, restrictions of animations, niche appropriateness, Flash requirements, and so on—are all considered by advertisers before they’ll buy.

You may not want to display colorful, blinking ads in your blog—but maybe your advertisers want to. It’s very important to clearly communicate your ad posting conditions so that your advertisers won’t be confused. Mention these conditions in your Advertising page, like iTrailMap have.

8. Provide special offers and promotions

Some advertisers also get attracted by special ad offers made by bloggers. Introductory or special offers can give an added incentive to the advertisers to give your blog a try. You can offer to give a free week or month for an advertisement, or provide some other kind of special promotion.

For example, you can offer to promote their product by writing a free review or sending their product newsletter to your subscribers. Such offers can come in very handy when advertisers are considering on buying ads in your blog.

9. Present your blog statistics

Blog statistics (other than traffic stats) are closely considered by potential advertisers.

If you’re proud of them, include your Google Page Rank, Technorati Authority, Alexa Traffic Rank, and others on your Advertising page. These ranks cement the perceived worth of a blog, and advertisers appreciate seeing blog statistics from established third-party sources.

If you take a quick look at the Advertising page on this blog, you’ll see that these statistics are clearly mentioned.

10. Provide discount offers to guarantee long-term business

Advertisers also consider the long-term advertising opportunities provided by a blog. Their fear may be that the blog may not allow more advertisement time after ending of first contract period. For that reason, they may want to book ad space for the longer term.

Discount considerations will also become a factor in these deals. If you’re securing ad revenue for couple of years instead of months, the advertiser will naturally ask for a discount. The terms should be flexible—again, prepare to negotiate!

Final words

There are many factors about your blog that potential advertisers will consider. You can start experimenting and getting to know your advertisers’ needs. If they get some good results, they’re more likely to become long-term advertisers with your blog.

Don’t forget to ask previous advertisers to write testimonials, since most prospective advertisers will want to know if others have benefitted from advertising on your site.

Do you offer ad space on your site? What kinds of things do your advertisers want to know before they’ll buy? Tell us in the comments.

17 year old, Anup Kayastha, has 3 years of internet marketing experience and shares his tips for internet marketing, making money online and blogging in his blog MoneyMakingModes.com.

Work With Private Advertisers to Keep them Coming Back

This guest post is by John Burnside of moneyin15minutes.co.uk.

If you have a blog or website then I’m sure that you will have looked at various ways to earn a bit of money for all your blood, sweat and tears. There are so many ways to do it.

You’ve got pay per click, affiliate programs, or advertising to emailing lists, plus dozens of other methods. But if you take a look at some developed blogs within your niche, you are likely to see an Advertise With Us page in their top menus.

This is where private advertisers will come to find out prices—and where you can start earning a more stable living online.

Let’s look at a few key things you can do to target these advertisers, and start building relationships with them.

Set up your Advertise With Us page

If you don’t have one of these on your blog, you need to build one. If no one knows you’re selling advertising space, you’re not going to get any customers.

This page should include pictures of where the adverts will be placed, explain what type of ads you’re selling (e.g. text links, banner ads etc.), and provide a contact box so that would-be advertisers can contact you straight away.

I believe that you should also include the pricing for each advert slot on this page because this can smooth the communication that follows. But if you have confidence in your blog, you could simply say, “Please contact me for details on pricing.”

If you’re happy with your site’s traffic, include those details on the page too. If an advertiser knows how many views they are going to get for the price, that will give them more confidence in purchasing.

Another tip: label the ad spaces that have already been taken up by other businesses. This will show potential advertisers that your site is in demand.

Excellent Advertise With Us pages

What does a great Advertise With Us page look like? Here are a few choice examples: clear and concise pages that will attract a lot of business.

  • Mashable: If you take a look at this page you can see where your advert is going to be placed, what sizes of banner ads are on offer, and how many visitors the site attracts. The only thing not listed is the price of the adverts. For such a large site, that information is unnecessary at this point, since all advertisers know they’d reach a massive audience by advertising with this site.
  • John Chow: The first thing that’s mentioned on this advertising page is the amount of visitors the site gets. Straight away, this gives a potential customer an idea of how much value they can expect to get for their ad placement. Then, the page clearly explains how your advert will be shown—on which articles, and so on. This is a great idea to increase revenue when you are getting a lot of business on your site. It adds advertising spots when your site has physically run out of space.
  • Shoemoney: This is much the same as the other pages, including nice guides on traffic and where your ad will be placed. But this page has a nice twist: it lists all of the popular publications that the author and the blog have been mentioned on. This shows a lot of credibility and proves that the blog is popular.

Price your ad space competitively

It can seem like the biggest decision you are going to make, to decide on your pricing. But don’t spend to long wondering where the threshold is between what advertisers will pay and what is too much.

The best way to decide is to see what other people in your niche are charging and then judge your offering against theirs.

I would recommend going to at least five blogs within your niche, and checking out their ad pricing. Then use tools like Alexa.com and the social proof (amount of comments, Facebook likes, retweets, etc.) those sites are getting to judge how much traffic they are receiving.

Then you can compare those results against yours and make a decision about how much you should be charging for your ad space.

Be prepared to negotiate on price

When advertisers contact you, they usually are happy to pay the price that you have stated on your advertising page. If you haven’t stated a price, or the customer is after a bargain, then they might try and negotiate with you.

Keep in mind from the start the price that you would like to get, and your minimum price.

If you have these figures in mind, you won’t fall into the trap of going lower than you should, and devaluing your advertising space. If this happens, the next time you deal with this person they are going to expect to get the space for the discounted price again.

As you’re negotiating, keep in mind how much work this person is either likely to send you, or has sent you in the past. This is particularly important for deals where the advertiser have already tested out your website, and want to come back to you with a longer term deal.

For example, if they have tested you previously with one or two tweets and paid the full price, and now they want a series of 15-20 tweets, you may decide this is a legitimate reason for them to expect a discount.

Attracting advertisers yourself

Sometimes you think you’ve done everything right. You’ve got plenty of traffic, set up an advertising page … and yet you’re just not getting contacted by anyone.

Well, there are things you can do to attract those elusive advertisers to your blog.

The first one is a passive way to get more advertising customers, but it can be very effective in the long term: do a bit of search engine optimization on your advertising page. If you target the proper keywords, you could get organic traffic from Google specifically comprising advertisers. Perhaps go for the keyword “advertising on a (your niche) blog.” It’s a long-tail keyword, so there probably won’t be too much competition for it, but any traffic you get from it should be advertising gold.

A more immediate approach is to directly email the types of people that you feel would be interested in buying advertising on your blog. First of all, you want to contact any advertisers that have used your blog before. They represent your best chance of immediate business: you know they’re interested in your service, and hopefully they were satisfied with it. You never know—they may be looking for a site to advertise on, but have simply forgotten about you.

If you are just getting to the stage where you think your site is ready for private advertisers, you could consider doing a bit of cold emailing to people who might be interested. Not sure who’d be interested in your ad space? Let me use my blog as an example to explain.

I am in the make money online niche, and to attract new advertisers, I would contact people who have sales pages offering make money systems for sale. Look for pages that are selling products, but products that you think your readers would be interested in.

Once you have found a few sites, and the email addresses of their webmasters, it’s time to send them some tempting emails. Remember while you’re writing the email that you are selling yourself and your site. Sometimes it’s hard to do this—it seems like you’re boasting—but keep in mind that you have a really good blog that can offer quality, targeted traffic for their product. Once you get going talking about how great your blog could be for them, you won’t be able to stop!

The final way of attracting advertisers if you don’t have the time to search out products and send out emails, is to go to a site specifically designed to sell private advertising space, like Buysellads. This website advertises to a wide audience. All you have to do is place your traffic, your advertising options, your site, and your prices into your listing.

They will take a commission on your advertising space, however, so be aware of that. Once you have attracted an advertiser from this site I would heavily recommend contacting them personally so that you can cut out the middleman, and make sure you get all of the money for your advertising space.

Offer a good service

Always keep in mind throughout the whole correspondence what it is you are doing: offering a service. So, to keep your customer satisfied, you must be quick to respond and polite at all times.

I usually start off my first response to a potential advertiser with a sentence like, “Thank you for your interest in my blog.” This shows that you are humble about your accomplishments, and appreciate the advertiser. Someone who feels appreciated will feel much more comfortable contacting you again.

If they ask a question, answer it as clearly and fully as you can, and avoid being sarcastic or patronizing. This is an instant turn-off for anyone, let alone someone who you’re hoping to convince to part with their hard-earned cash.

When they have asked about advertising, send them a list of all of the services you offer on your site, along with the prices so that if they would like to take you up on one of them, they already know what you offer. If you don’t, you’ll create the impression that you aren’t sure what to charge, or that you’re trying to hide something.

Finally, if you do get work from someone, be sure that you can complete it on time and to the standard that they expect. If you under-deliver on any of your projects for them, they will never come back to you.

Make a business partner for the long term

The final goal of any blogger who offers private advertising should be to get advertisers coming back month after month to use your advertising space. The main issue in achieving this will be how much traffic you have sent to their site, but there are some other things you can do to help keep them coming back.

If they have used your site once, email them just before their time is up and ask them if they would like to renew their contract with you. You never know when you might make a recurring customer.

You might also consider offering them a discount if they sign up for a longer term contract. Everyone likes to find a bargain, and if they know you already, and feel confident that you can deliver a good service, they could well be tempted.

The most important thing to remember is that you want to build a relationship with these people. They are the ones who are going to pay for your blogging exploits, and they may well know others who are interested in advertising on your site. If you make a friend in advertising it could open up a world of possibilities for your blog that you don’t want to miss out on.

Do you allow private advertisers on your blog? Share your tips with us in the comments.

This guest post was written by John Burnside a blogger in the make money online niche. If you want to read about earning an income online then please follow his feed.

How Small Blogs Became 6-figure Income Generators (and How You Can Do the Same)

This guest post is by Patricia Rodriguez of Adsgadget.

From its early beginnings in 1993 to its inevitable rise in the last few years, blogging has become part of our daily lives. Almost everyone has a favorite blog, a blog that they read first thing in the morning while taking the coffee, or a blog they wonder off to after reading the front page of the New York Times.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the names Mashable, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, LifeHacker, and the like. These are just a few of today’s biggest blogs.

Most people have probably heard, or at least can guess that most of the big names in blogging started in 10×10 dorm rooms, small bedrooms, or a corner in the attic at the family home.

What exactly did these bloggers do to turn a hobby into six-figure income generators and, ultimately, the most visited blogs in the world? Here’s a little insight on some of the biggest blogs on the internet today—and how they got there.

Catching the wave: choosing the right topic at the right time

In 2004, when he was only 19 years old, Pete Cashmore started blogging from his parents’ home in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Pete had an interest in new technologies and how social media was increasingly changing the way people related to one another. he was particularly amazed by how certain government and police websites were combining their in-house data with Google maps to learn information on certain areas and citizens.

Nice little story, right? Pete Cashmore never went to college; instead, he founded Mashable in 2005.

How did he do it? He decided to explore a subject that was changing the world in a time when it was at its peak. Social media exploded in the early 2000s and Pete was there to ride the wave. Not only was he a great writer, he was passionate about what he wrote.

How can you do it? When you start a blog, you do it because you love what you do, because it’s a hobby you like to spend your time on. Don’t lose sight of this just because you’re looking to make a buck. Be passionate through every word you write on your blog. Write about what you like and what you know. And remember that today’s news is what will happen tomorrow.

Pete Cashmore tapped social media networking at a time when it was making its world debut. See what your era has to offer—there are new discoveries and trends springing up every day. It’s all a matter of being here now, being passionate, and writing about it.

The ad factor: Once Pete managed to create a huge community of loyal readers, he went for the big profit makers: advertisements. He subtly included Google AdSense’s banner ads throughout Mashable and reaped his revenues automatically every month.

Now, since creating a site like Mashable is not a simple thing to do, my advice to newbies and beginner bloggers would be to start small. Find self-serve ad platforms that cater to long-tail publishers’ needs. Adsgadget, AOL ads, or Twitter’s new ad platform would be good places to start.

Be cool: the blogger’s guide to creativity

Interactive designer Josh Rubin was always looking for creative inspiration and a better understanding of how people functioned. Ever heard of CoolHunting? It’s one of the biggest blogs on new designer trends, technology, art and culture. It was founded by Rubin.

Originally launched in 2003 as a designer’s reference site, CoolHunting has become an award-winning blog with a huge international audience that’s growing every day.

How did he do it?  He combined creativity, beauty, and a great idea.

For those bloggers who think content is everything, think again. Yes, interesting and fresh content is super-important, but knowing how to present it is just as important.

When visiting CoolHunting, users are greeted by a colorful, visually attractive and engaging home page, full of great photography and designer breakthroughs.

How can you do it? Be visual. No matter what the topic, don’t neglect your blog’s design and aesthetic factor. Yes, write about what you know. Yes, write about a subject that fascinates you. But present it in a way that can’t be ignored, a way that won’t make visitors move their mouse to the upper right corner of their browsers and press on that “x” to close your page.

Let’s say you decide to open a blog on recipes that you have picked up on your worldly travels. Take professional photos and post them on your homepage. Make people go “Wait… What is that? Is that food?!” Include pictures, and step by step instructions with interactive ingredients lists.

Think of new blog visitors as being like yourself the first time you went to your favorite restaurant. Regardless of how you got there, I’m sure the first thing you noticed wasn’t the ingredients written on the menu, but the way the plate looked when they put it on your table.

The ad factor: Josh Rubin got to the point where his site was bursting with organic traffic, so he decided to implement advertising and make the most of his success. When you scroll down Josh’s page you can see fashionable ads from AdRoll or AdMedia servers. These ads are targeted to his specific audience, so you can just imagine how many clicks each one gets.

Have a voice, be aggressive and be ready for criticism

Once upon a time there was a woman called Arianna Huffington. She decided to start a small website called Resignation.com. The website was a call for President Bill Clinton’s resignation and a place for conservatives to mesh together.

Needless to say, you need to be a very opinionated person and have quite a strong voice in order to even think of starting such a website. I’m sure she received her fair share of criticism but carried on nonetheless.

Ever heard of The Huffington Post? It was founded in 2005 by the same person.

How did she do it? By having a voice and not being afraid to shout it.

This is a blog with a very particular tone and a voice of its own. Though sometimes seen as being a bit too aggressive, The Huffington Post presents news in a different light. And people love it.

How can you do it? People like to hear opinionated minds, and they like well-written news with a handful of criticism on the side. They like sassy writing and bold ideas.

Find your blogger voice and shout it out. Don’t be afraid to get criticized. Learn to take in the bad, and spin it your way.

The ad factor: You guessed it—Arianna also opted for ad platforms when she started getting big on the internet. Nowadays she works with Google’s AdSense and DoubleClick platforms.

Advertising: a fast way to turn your hobby blog into a profession

Without a doubt, what pointed these internet enthusiasts in the right direction was their passion for what they were writing. Once they found their voice and attracted a good amount of loyal readers and steady site traffic, they turned to advertising.

Blogging isn’t easy, even when it’s done as a hobby. Turning that hobby into a full-time profession is even harder. It takes time, effort, patience, and most importantly, it takes passion. None of these bloggers started earning overnight. It took them a while before they found their voice and decided to go big and take risks.

All you need is to remember who you are, what you love, and go public with it. You’ll figure out the rest along the way.

Patricia is the PR manager at Adsgadget, a new self-serve ad platform for publishers worldwide. She has years of experience in the online marketing industry and has worked as a content writer for several media outlets.