As we explained in the previous lesson, selling direct ads and sponsorships has both pros and cons, but it is also one of the most profitable ways to monetize a website. In this lesson we will explain how you should get started with this technique, and list the places that you can use to find direct advertisers and sponsors.
You’ve Got to Hunt Them Down
Once your blog or website becomes an authority in its niche, you will find that companies and individuals will start to approach you to inquire about advertising opportunities. Until you reach that point, however, you will need to be proactive. In simple words: you will need to hunt advertisers down.
If you have the two basic requirements in place (a large traffic and a targeted audience), you can deliver value to advertisers and sponsors. The problem is that they don’t know about it. They might not even know that your website exists, so you need to find them and explain to them why advertising on your website would benefit them.
It is also important to remember that this is a numbers game. If you approach 3 potential advertisers, it is likely that none of them will reply with a sign of interest. If you approach 30, however, you will certainly hear back from at least 1 of them. If you want to find advertisers, therefore, you need to put some effort into it.
Create an Email Template
Most of the time you will contact potential advertisers and sponsors via email. They will either have a contact form or email address listed on the website, or you will get the email address of one of their employees through other means. It is therefore important that you create an standard email template to use when approaching advertisers.
There are three main things that you need to do in your message:
- Introduce yourself and explain why you are contacting the company.
- Describe your site, including its traffic, number of subscribers, topics that it covers and the profile of your readers.
- Describe the advertising options, including the banner size, position and price.
Here is a sample email that you could use as a starting point:
My name is John Doe, and I am the editor of XYZ blog. Your product/service/website is highly relevant to our audience, and since we are opening some advertising opportunities, I decided to contact you.
Our site receives more than 200,000 monthly visitors, and it has 10,000 subscribers who read our articles every day. Most of those readers are interested in [insert your main topic or topics here], and that is why I believe your product/service/website would be a great match.
Currently we have one 125×125 ad spot available (out of 6 max). It gets displayed above the fold on the sidebar of our blog. The cost for this spot is $100 monthly, which converts to a CPM of $0.5.
Let me know if you are interested and we will work out the details.
Keep in mind that you should still customize the email template for each advertiser that you will approach. You want to communicate that you know the product or service of that company, and explain why you are sure that your audience would be interested in it. For instance, you could describe your experience with the service if you have used it in the past, or mention that many of your readers often inquire about related products.
Sending 10 customized emails to 10 potential advertisers will probably produce better results than sending the same basic email to 20 potential advertisers.
8 Places to Find Advertisers
Below you will find 8 places that you can use to find advertisers and sponsors. Depending on your niche, some will produce better results than others, but all of them are worth a try.
1. Among your readers: There are chances that some of your readers have related products or services, and they could be interested in advertising on your site. The first thing that you could do to find advertisers, therefore, is to announce on your site that you are opening some advertising opportunities. Include details about the site traffic, audience, ad spots and so on, and explain how interested people should get in touch.
2. People who contact you via the blog: Keep an eye on the people who leave comments on your blog or use your contact form. If you spot an email address from a company or website that could be interested in advertising on your site, contact that person and propose a deal. This approach increases your chances of success because the person will already be familiar with your site.
3. Companies asking for reviews: Once your site or blog becomes somewhat popular, companies will start contacting you to let you know about their new products or services. They might include a press release or a link to their website, hoping that you will check it out and write about it (without charging, obviously). If you are not interested in giving free coverage to that company, email them back stating that their product or service would be relevant to your audience, and ask whether or not they are interested in the advertising options that you have available.
4. AdWords Advertisers: Through out your search for advertisers, you will notice that many companies are not aware of the benefits of online advertising. If a certain company is already spending money on Google AdWords, however, it is very likely that it would also be open to other forms of online advertising, including direct sponsorships. Just think about some keywords related to your topic, and Google them. Check the sponsored links that appear, and get in touch with those companies. Alternatively you can check the advertisers that appear on the AdSense units of related websites.
5. Advertising Networks: While Google AdWords is by far the largest advertising network on the Internet, there are many others that could be useful for your search. Check the companies that are spending money on BuySellAds.com, AdBrite, Text-Link-Ads, BlogAds, SponsoredReviews and so on.
6. Sponsors of similar sites: If a certain company is sponsoring similar websites in your niche, there is a good chance that it would be interested in sponsoring your site, too. Just make sure you will approach the company with a good deal (i.e., make sure that your CPM rate is competitive and that ad formats and positions on your website are adequate).
7. Affiliate programs: If a company has an affiliate program, it is willing to let other people find leads and customers for it, in exchange for a commission. In other words, the company could be willing to advertising on your site if the price will justify the returns that it will get. You can find many affiliate programs on networks like Commission Junction and Clickbank.
8. The “Potential Sponsors” folder: Create a folder inside your bookmarks and call it “Potential Sponsors.” Whenever you come across a company, product or service that is relevant to your audience, bookmark it inside that folder. Then when your ad spots become available simply go through that list of potential sponsors and contact them.
How Much to Charge
The first question that comes to the mind of website owners looking for advertisers is: how much should I charge?
Unfortunately, there is no formula that you can use to determine what you should charge for your ad spots. By following the four steps listed below, however, you will be able to find the right price point for your own website.
1. Find What the Market Charges
The first thing you need to do is to find websites and blogs in your niche that are selling direct ads. Find what ad format and position they are using (e.g., 125×125 buttons on top of the sidebar or 468×60 banner on the header), and find what CPM they are charging.
If you remember well, CPM is the cost per 1,000 impressions. Many blogs will have that information listed inside their “Advertise with us” page. If they don’t, you can always email them asking what are their ad rates.
You can also use the BuySellAds.com marketplace to find this data. They have hundreds of sites listed, and you can see the number of monthly impressions that each site generates, and what price they are charging for their ad spots.
After you measure the CPM of 10 or so sites inside your niche, you will have an average CPM for the ad format and position in question. For example, it could be a CPM of $1 for the 125×125 buttons on top of the sidebar.
This means that if your blog gets 100,000 monthly impressions, you could charge $100 for each 125×125 ad block in your sidebar.
2. Adjust for Authority and Brand Awareness
A second factor that you need to consider is authority and brand awareness. These factors can influence the prices that a site can charge for its ad spots, and it is likely that the blogs that you researched are charging high because they have authority and brand awareness.
If your blog is new, therefore, you might need to start with a lower CPM compared to the market. If the market is charging a $1 CPM, for instance, you could start with $0.5, meaning that you would sell your 125×125 ad spots for $50 monthly.
3. Adjust for Ad Format and Position
If you use different ad formats and positions, you just need to adjust the CPM accordingly.
For example, if the CPM for the 125×125 on top of the sidebar is $1, but you plan to use a 300×250 banner instead, you could simply multiply the CPM by 4 to find the price you should charge for the large banner (because the 300×250 banner takes the space of 4 125×125 ads more or less).
The same is true for the ad position. If 125×125 ads on top of the sidebar are priced at a $1 CPM, the ones placed at the bottom of the sidebar should be priced lower, say at $0.5 CPM. Ads in the header should be priced higher than the ones in the sidebar, and the ones in the footer should be priced lower.
The above steps will help you to find a ball park number. The best price for your blog, however, you will find only after some experimentation.
In other words, you will need to start with a price, and see how the potential advertisers react. If you are not selling any ads at the current price point, lower it a bit until you start selling the ads.
Once you get fully booked for a long period of time, or once the demand increases a lot, you could raise the prices.
- Create a standard email template that you will use to approach advertisers. Make sure to include the three points mentioned in this lesson.
- Use the 8 places listed in this lesson to find potential advertisers. Remember that it is a numbers game, so you will need to contact many advertisers before landing a deal.
- Use the 4 steps mentioned in this lesson to figure out what price you should charge for your ad spots initially.
Previous Lesson: Direct Advertising and Sponsorships
Next Lesson: Selling Sponsorship Reviews