Sidebar ads are one of the original ways of monetising a site. If you’ve got the space on your blog to spare, you’re happy to sell the space and – most importantly! – you’re allowed* to sell that space, then why not make a little extra money on the side? (literally!)
(* Allowed? Yep! If you’re a WordPress.com user, you wont be able to sell advertising space. If you’re really that bothered about it, perhaps you should make the switch over to a self hosted WordPress set up. We recommend Dreamhost♦ – the set up is super simple)
In all the methods we talk about below, you will need to decide on a few things first before you sell anything. What sized ads you want to post, whether there will be different tiers of advertising available and whether there are any types of advertisements you would not want to post.
You’ll also need to think about what you’re going to be offering your advertisers. Why should someone place an ad on your blog? What makes your blog special? Will you be tweeting about the advertisers products when they advertise with you? Will you do specific blog posts about them to introduce them to your readers who might follow in an RSS feed reader? Decide on what you’re going to offer them and stick to it. Nothing will put off an advertiser more than feeling like they’re not getting what they paid for.
A good way to make sure you’re doing what you’ve promised is to keep a record for each sponsor (either on a spreadsheet or handwritten in a notebook – whatever works best for you!) and keep track of the various links, tweets and mentions you do of the brand as well as the clicks and views that the ad generates.
Some of the advertising networks we talk about will provide some of the analytics for you, but if you want to keep your own record (to compare) or you’re selling the ad space on your site manually, you could use something like bit.ly to keep track of the click throughs that an ad gets. (To do this, create a separate bit.ly link for each ad, then use their built in analytics to see how many times people click on your ads.)
Once an advertising campaign has ended (or in the last week), send a tidied up version of the statistics you’ve collected to the advertiser. Giving them this information can help them decide whether they want to renew their advertising with you!
There are, of course, many different ways to sell your space. First, the manual method. It’s the most simple to set up, but it can be time consuming. You will need to remember to put the ad up on the date you agree with the advertiser, and then take it down when their time is up. You’ll need to get the advertiser to send you the advertising button, upload it to your space, then link to it in your side bar.
Pros: Easy to get started, specifically designed for your site (you decide how big the ads are, etc), don’t have to pay commission to anyone else
Cons: Time consuming,relies on blogger remembering when ad goes up and comes down, potential advertisers may not find them as easily.
Another popular ad network is BlogAds.They’ve been around providing advertising since 2002 (the Internet dark ages!). If you’ve got the money to advertise, you can see your advert on some of the most heavily trafficed websites. We like that BlogAds allows you to say that you are open to doing things like sponsored posts, reviews, even skinning your site. However, BlogAds seems a lot more restrictive in what you can do with the advertising – you can only have their specific sizes of adverts (which is great for advertisers because they only need to create one ad) and you have to agree to use BlogAds for a year.
Pros: Larger exposure, ability for advertisers to search by type of method to monetise.
Cons: Contract length, paying commission, restricted ad sizes
Finally, Passionfruit Ads. This is growing in popularity with bloggers and chances are most of the blogs you see with ads on at the moment are using them. You’re able to set your own prices, sizes and duration of ads, and where they go.
Setting up Passionfruit Ads is super easy. You decide how big your ads will be, how many you want to have at a time, how long they’ll be up and (the important bit!) how much they’ll cost. (You’ll also see in this section the amount that will be taken in commission, and the amount you’ll receive You install the code to allow people to click through to complete the buying of the ads, and then the code where you want the ads to show up, and that’s it!
From an advertising perspective, Passionfruit Ads is fantastic. We’ve been placing a few ads on some of our favourite blogs (hi if you found us that way!) and it’s been so simple to find blogs that we know, that we like and that are in a price range. It can be a little frustrating to have to create a new ad for each spot because every blog is different, but that can be seen as a good thing because you can tailor the ad to attract that blogs audience better.
Pros: Ability to set own prices and sizes of ad, easy to set up, clear to see how much is taken in commission.
Cons: Paying commission on ads, no standard sizes so advertiser has to tailor ad to blog (also a pro point!)
We’re considering putting some space up for sale on this site, and think that after looking at these options, Passionfruit Ads is our best choice.
Do you use a different way to sell your ads? Share your knowledge in the comments!