When I started blogging, I never even thought about having ads on my blog. Mostly, it was because writing my blog was a passion and not a money-making endeavour. But as my blog has grown, and I've invested more time and effort into it, I've felt there needs to be more of a return. Blogging takes time away from my family, my friends, and other parts of my life - and if I could be compensated in some way for that, why not do it? Now I find taking on advertising to be a real personal choice. Some bloggers choose to go ad free while others write a blog to make money. I'm not one to judge, but I do think readers are smart enough to know what you the blogger are motivated by.
So if you do want to go the advertising route, what are your options? What are the pros and cons of each? I am by no means an expert in any of this so by all means chime in if you have something to add!
What are they: These are individual advertisements from small businesses. The advertisements I have from foc! and Tonic Living on my sidebar would fall in this category.
How they work: Either you actively seek out these advertisers or they find you. You will need to determine your ad sizes and your rates. You will also need to determine your terms - do you have a minimum signup period? Do you offer discounts for multiple months or for renewals?
Pros & Cons: Setting up these ads on your blog is fairly easy - you upload the ads as image gadgets, you collect your payments. The hard work comes in finding these businesses (who should be a fit with your blog and appeal to your audience) and constantly renewing agreements on a monthly basis. That's a lot of leg work involved! The other big hurdle is knowing what to charge. There is no "standard" rate that bloggers use, however, one average I've heard is charge $20 per month for each 1000 page views per day you receive.
What are they: Ad networks are companies that connect advertisers to people (blogs) that want to host advertisements. There are different metrics that determine what you are paid; common ones include Pay Per Click (how many times an ad is clicked) or CPM (cost per 1000 impressions. For example, a $1 CPM means $1 for 1000 ad views).
How they work: Ad networks sell your space to advertisers and in return deliver ads to you that hopefully are tailored to your audience. The biggest and easiest ad network to work with is Google Adsense. Other networks you may be familiar with include BlogHer and Federated Media.
Pros & Cons: These networks make it easy to set them up on your blog. Typically, they will provide you the coding that you need to insert into your blog so that they can start streaming ads to your blog. You can also typically determine ad size, ad placement on your blog, and to a certain extent, ad content. Receiving payments is easy too and is usually done via Paypal or a cheque mailed to you. On the con side, rates vary with whichever ad network you sign up with. The ads may aesthetically not work with the look of your blog, and comparatively, you might make more money through direct sell boutique ads for the same space.
What are they: This is a practice where a business/retailer will reward you for any customers you bring to them.
How they work: In the simplest terms, if a reader clicks on the ad or link on your blog and buys a product, you get a commission from the retailer. One popular affiliate program is that run by Amazon.
Pros & Cons: I don't know. I've never run an affiliate program on my blog. Anyone have experience with them? Are they easy to set up? Are they effective and do you generate any income from them?
What are they: They are just that - a business pays you to write a post about their product or service.
How they work: Typically, the brand will approach the blogger and ask them to write a post. They will have researched the blogger and found their blog and audience to be a fit with the business' products/services. Blogger and brand will come to an agreement on content of the post, the number of posts etc. and how much the blogger will be paid in return. Conversely, the blogger can also offer themselves up as a willing author and seek out brands interested in sponsoring posts.
Pros & Cons: These can be lucrative if you work with the right sponsor. However, some blog readers may find them misleading and question the integrity of the blogger, especially if the product/service is not one perceived as something the blogger would typically use.
So that's about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. As you can see, there is no one right to go about soliciting and using advertising on your blog. To be most effective though at attracting advertisers, you should have a Media Kit. We'll have to leave that discussion for another time.
Any questions? Have you used advertising on your blog successfully or unsuccessfully? How do you feel about advertising on blogs you read? Have you ever bought something you saw advertised on a blog?