When you start considering how to make money from your blog, advertising is probably the first thing you think of.
Somebody wants their marketing messages to appear in front of your blog readers, so they are prepared to pay for the privilege. Having adverts on your blog is a serious step. It will alter the look and feel. Your readers may not like seeing ads. Ads take up space. And depending on the type of ads and how they are delivered, you may be accountable to advertisers.
One type of advertising popular with bloggers is Google AdSense. These are targeted adverts served by Google on behalf of advertisers. The ads that appear are selected by Google based on your site’s content. In other words, they should be appropriate for visitors to your site. Basically, the way it works is that you earn a commission each time someone clicks on an ad shown on your site.
With Google AdSense, you have a certain amount of control over what ads are shown, and where they appear on the page depends on where you place the AdSense code. But you don’t have the same flexibility as you would with affiliate links. Nevertheless, AdSense is easy to manage and for some bloggers it’s pretty much a no-brainer. You don’t have to deal with the advertisers or sell the space, and nobody will be asking you about your subscriber numbers or anything else to demonstrate the size of your audience.
One of the sticking points for creative bloggers can be that AdSense ads are a little ugly and there’s not much you can do to blend them in with the aesthetics of your design. There are other ad serving networks however, one of the more unusual being Carbon, a ‘premium, invite-only’ service. Only one ad at a time appears on the publisher’s page and the emphasis is on classy, well-designed ads from a small circle of high quality advertisers.
When you start out blogging, it can take time to build an audience, so until you are regularly getting a good number of visitors to your blog, it may not be an attractive proposition to advertisers or ad serving networks. You have no choice but to work hard on attracting more readers. Back to traffic school: crank up the content, make sure your blog is optimised for search engines, and get socialising!
If you would rather not be at the mercy of an ad network, or if you would rather have complete control over who you wish to show ads for on your blog, then you could go down the route of selling your own ad space or sponsorship packages.
This can work really well in the blogosphere as it is also a great way of connecting with others in your creative niche. You would need to shop around to find out the going rates, decide what space you can offer, and the terms. If you don’t have a big audience yet, you could start by approaching similar small blogs in your niche and see if they are interested in forming a reciprocal network or blog ring, whereby you advertise for free on each others’ sites. When your visitor numbers start to build you’ll be in a better position to start charging for ads, because you will have some data on how many people have clicked on the blog ring ads. It will also appear that you already have ads on the site, which could help to reassure a prospective advertiser that yours is a good site to be on.
However, as with all kinds of advertising, it is a numbers game. Put yourself in the shoes of the advertiser. It’s natural to want to know how many visits your site gets a month. But if you can’t demonstrate high visitor numbers, don’t be disheartened. You might still have a decent click-through rate, which you could argue is just as important, if not more so, than impressions (the number of times an ad is shown).
Blogging for Creatives is Robin Houghton’s step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about how to design and profit from a beautiful blog that people will want to return to again and again. With advice on which blogging platform to choose, essential tools and accessories, and how to take your blog to the next level, whether you’re looking to create a platform for your creative trade, an inspirational journal, or a hub for people with similar tastes and interests, learn how to benefit from being part of the blogosphere in this accessible, non-techie book.