I need advice on advertising

Specifically, I need advice regarding the solicitation of advertising for this site. I mean, I’ve had lots of companies contact me about advertising here but I if I don’t like a company or it’s products, I won’t advertise it. While I do need money to underwrite this site, I don’t need the money coming from for-profit fashion school mills, half baked illustration programs or hokey label companies. You know what I mean. Anyway, I’m soliciting advice and a possible trade for someone who knows about that side of the business. How do I approach a company that I think would be a good fit, how do I find out who I need to talk to, how much do I charge etc etc. I realize ad placement is based on visitor headcount and niche. I think I have the niche defined. Headcount is running easily over 1,000 per day now with 750-950 on weekends. This topic is also being discussed in the forum so please feel free to jump in. Thanks.

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9 comments

  1. Mike C says:

    I would start with Google Adsense and see how it does.

    If you don’t like some of the companies that advertise via Adsense on your site, then you can exclude them easily via the Google interface.

    Adsense will also give you a fairly quick sense of what your rates the site can support.

  2. Jess says:

    I agree with Mike, try google adsense. It’s easy to sign up. I used that at my fontlover.com site for a while and I think it did pretty good. If I can recall I made about 20.00 a month, it paid for the site atleast, hee. I replaced them later with my own ads for my font site and other editors that contributed to the site.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Actually, I’ve heard that it’s difficult if not impossible to exclude certain types of ads from appearing on your site. Google claims you can delete these ads (as well as competitor’s ads) but if this is the case, then why do people complain about it?

    Also, I think I’d prefer to have relationships with my advertisers. For example, the kind of advertisers I’d pick could provide useful technical articles that discuss the issues of the products in question. Another thing, I’m interested in doing different features (mostly tutorials) and I’d like to get sponsors for just that project and they’d be featured in the copy. Google’s adsense is great if you just want to make some money but I’d like some redeeming value from it too, for my visitors. Is that too weird?

  4. Joe Ely says:

    Kathleen, first off, congratulations!!! To have this level of traffic is a real feather in your cap and is a testament to your engaging writing style. You are an excellent thinker and writer!

    I’d say it is up to you…it’s your blog. Only put up stuff that you have, at the gut level, comfort with. It is clearly implied that you “endorse” the product.

    The other advice you have here is useful.

    Good for you!!

  5. Mike C says:

    Actually, I’ve heard that it’s difficult if not impossible to exclude certain types of ads from appearing on your site. Google claims you can delete these ads (as well as competitor’s ads) but if this is the case, then why do people complain about it?

    I’ve got a couple of hobby sites running adsense that make a couple hundred a month when I have time to keep them updated. I’ve also run a number of affiliate blocks where I only get paid if someone purchases something on the site I link.

    Users are becoming more sophisticated and it seems unlikely that most are going to mistake an Adsense block with a personal endorsement.

    You can definitely exclude any advertisers that you want – its easy. Just enter their URL in an exclusion screen and their ads don’t show.

    Given the ease of setting it up an account, the low cost of adding it to a site (time+effort) and the rapid results it gives, I think its a mistake to dismiss it out of hand.

    As an advertiser, I can also tell you that I prefer sites that run Adsense to those that I have to negotiate with individually. With Adsense, I get a fair market price that I can renegotiate as often as I like, I can reach sites that I might not know about, and I can do it with ad copy that’s been proven in other venues. If I have to work with individual sites, I generally have to create ad blocks specifically for them and I usually have to negotiate an advertising rate before I have any idea of what the conversions are going to look like.

    All that said, even if you still don’t want to run Adsense, I would consider signing up for an Adwords account and getting a sense of what it costs to bid on the sorts of keywords that mirror the types of ads you would carry here. The prices you have to spend to get placement in the search engines will give you a reasonable idea of the expectations that advertisers have regarding costs. Its worth noting though that advertisers are typically not going to be willing to spend as much to advertise on a particular site as they are directly on a search engine.

  6. Josh says:

    I ran 2 online magazines for 6 years and was like you looking for advertisers. I never found them and the magazines never made a dime. Sometimes I wonder if searching for advertisers is the way to go but I’m not saying it can’t be done. I could get all sorts of celebrity interviews and interesting stories and it still didn’t make a difference.

    Also the number that advertisers will be scrutinizing is the “Distinct hosts served.” This is the true number of people going to your website on a daily basis.

  7. Mimi says:

    Hey… wait a second….

    Your site is an incredible act of intellectual generosity. It is YOUR blog, as you often remind us! It seems to me, if you wish to remain true to your purpose, random advertisers would have no place on your site.

    I say this for several reasons:

    Advertising is a service. You are a business person. If you are to give ad space to businesses, I assume that you would want those businesses to see an increase in sales as a result. If you have no knowledge of the types of products these companies offer, why promote them? You could use this same effort to promote yourself and your business on YOUR site!

    If your amazing site is not self-supporting, I would suggest actively soliciting donations. Plesae put this in the blog! You’ll be amazed what can happen when you just ask. Heck, your site is worth a subscription fee, yet you don’t charge one!

    Here’s my challenge – I will donate if you ask!

    I am not just giving an empty pep-talk, here. My income increased as I invested more effort, time, and thought into what I was willing to “give away”.

    Please only advertise what has meaning and value to you. It is great to have 1,000 visitors each day, and I hope that number continues to grow exponentially. However, you know the math on how many book sales come from those numbers… it takes a whole lotta visitors to translate into dollars for advertisers – not to mention that you would actually be making an effort to divert your readers’ attention to some other product with which you have no affiliation.

    Just my thoughts – if I come off as preachy, it’s because I am passionate about these things!

    -Mimi

  8. Mimi,

    She does ask for donations, I assume she doesn’t get enough to support the amount of work she does. Anyway, there is ALWAYS a donation button towards the top of the page, so why wait for her to ask again? Go donate now!

    Anyway, I haven’t asked other bloggers, but I doubt donations ever add up to the financial support Kathleen deserves.

    While I think it would be fine for Kathleen to charge a subscription service, she’s gone on record against that strategy several times.

    She never suggested she’d add “random” advertisers. I’m sure any advertising she had on the site would be win-win-win: business for the advertiser, useful resources for the bloggees, and money for Kathleen. I’m all for it. But I’m no better at asking strangers for money than Kathleen, so I’m not much use to her in getting those advertising dollars. (damnit.)

  9. I have 2 ideas,not sure how viable either are, but here goes. One is an idea I am incorporating in my own business with a couple of other websites. To preface, let me say that I have never (yet) had to pay up front for advertising. I have a very popular new product and get tons of exposure in major magazine “gear reviews”… and real testimonial advertising certainly generates more sales than ads, which no one believes (particularly on a new product without a huge “launch”.) However, I get approached almost daily to pay magazines etc. for their advertising services. I had an idea which almost no one took me up on, perhaps because the ad sales people have no authority…but I offered to give commission on every sale that came from their site but I would not pay without sales. This way, they have to “walk the walk” and not just talk about how many hits their site gets. Recently, I have had some site owners offer to take me up on this arrangement because they know their readers are my target market..so generating some income on a regular basis is better than getting one shot of my ad dollars and then never seeing me again because I am not happy with results.

    I said all that to say this: Kathleen might have a “referral” to those companies she has a relationship with, or trusts. We, the site fans, trust Kathleen and we would generally take her advice when looking for a service provider. We use a code, Kathleen gets a kickback. This only works in sites that you have a degree of trust, and I think Kathleen has earned that with her readers.

    The other idea is to have “show and tell” of the techniques in the book (making lining patterns for example). These would be filmed and downloadable, and have a small fee for downloading. Yes, they are in the book, but some readers don’t have the book and may not purchase it, but would want to buy a lesson for a certain technique. Others (myself included) learn much better by looking. What takes me an hour to learn by reading only takes a few minutes by looking at someone doing it..therefore it’s worth it for me to pay, even if I have the book. Many other “mini”lessons would be done. This would not require a big expense because everyone has a video (you tube type production). Anyway, just my 2 cents, (and I’m Canadian so thats really a bit less)
    Leslie
    http://www.wickingtowel.com

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