The following is a guest post by Pauline who runs Reach Financial Independence, Pauline recently launched Make Money Your Way to help readers diversify their sources of income with real estate, investing, entrepreneurship and online endeavors. You can follow Pauline on Facebook.
Good morning Kim’s fans! I know a few of you own a website and other are interested in starting one, so today I would like to talk about how you can monetize your site, by attracting and retaining advertisers for your blog. Private advertising is a direct relationship you create between your blog and an online content agency, instead of selling products (your ebook, getting a commission with affiliate sales…) or putting banners which content will vary like Adsense.
Private advertisers can offer you monthly deals to rent a banner on your sidebar, a link on your homepage or a specific category, or to publish a sponsored post to promote their client’s product. I won’t go into specifics about sponsored posts, but just know that generally they are looking for a dofollow link to their client’s site, and not for exposure to your readership, and that selling links is frowned upon by Google, so by doing it you may lose your PageRank or rank lower in search engine results. Making the link nofollow and marking the post as sponsored is fine though.
Anyway, how do you get your first deal and the ones that follow?
Improve your metrics
What advertisers look at first are your site’s metrics. You need to improve them so they start noticing you.
Improve your PageRank
PageRank is a value from 0 (new site) to 10 (best site) that tells advertiser how popular your site is. And how do you define popularity online? By the number of links you get to your site, and how popular are the sites who linked to you.
In order to improve your PR, you want to increase the number of links back to your site. Having one link from a PR5 site is a much bigger deal than having 5 links from five PR1 sites, but how do you make a popular site link back to you? You can offer the site a guest post, like I am doing today :), you can become friends with the blogger by commenting or saying hi by email, and they may come over to read your stuff, feel a post is great and share it with their readers. You can participate in blog carnivals, and you can link back to interesting sites in hopes that some will return the favor. All those techniques are time consuming but will create stronger links than if you just buy a poor quality link in a link farm with 1,000 other sites, which is violating Google’s T&Cs as well.
I run a little ad network where I submit other sites to my ad reps and try to get them ad deals as well. Generally the reps won’t accept a PR0 or PR1. I landed my first ad deal as a PR0 a few months back but it was only one deal. PR2 I got a few deals but not a ton either, reps seem more interested in PR3 and up. Google used to update PRs every three months and hasn’t done it since February so those lines may be obsolete soon if they discontinue the service, but at the moment, PR is one of the metric the reps pay the most attention too. So work on your link building and hope for an update.
Improve your MozRank and Domain Authority
Domain Authority and MozRank are metrics from Moz (ex SEOMoz) who, like PageRank, determine the quality of your website. I have closed deals for DA starting around 30, but most reps prefer a DA over 40. While it is quite easy to get in the 20s, you need to put more efforts into getting higher, and the more you climb, the harder it gets to go up one digit.
A “good” MozRank used to be above 4, ideally in the 5-6 range, but there was a big jump last week, with most sites I know being boosted two points (Reach Financial Independence jumped from 5.4 to 7.23 when it had been in the 5s for months) so I am waiting for them to announce what the algorithm change was about or if this will be definitive before considering that 7 may be the new 5.
Anyway, in order to improve your DA and MozRank you need to work on your links once more, but also on your internal links. Make sure your posts are linked to each other. Try to have at least a couple of internal links in each post. If you have time, you may want to go over your old posts and add links to your newer content. This is a task you could outsource if you don’t have the time, that should give you a good return on your investment. Mozrank and DA are updated about once a month, so it is more motivating than PR to see your metrics go up quite often.
DA measures how likely your website is to appear in search engine results versus your competition. MozRank is part of several data that are aggregated to calculate your DA. Since the reps wants to buy “link juice” for their clients, and help them rank better, they will focus strongly on DA.
Improve your content
If you check out Google Analytics, you will see that there are a few searches that look like “some keyword + guest post”. Those are the queries advertisers input to land on your site. They are looking for a site who talks about cupcakes to place an ad about cupcakes. So by having more posts about cupcakes, you will rank higher in the search engine, and attract the rep to your site.
It doesn’t mean that you should start spamming your own site with cupcakes posts just so you land an ad deal. But you can use simple SEO plugins like SEO by Yoast to make sure your posts are optimized for whatever keyword you are targeting.
Don’t expect a dog grooming post on your cupcake site. But if you have several sites you can offer them all to your ad rep and they may have other campaigns for your other sites.
Something that always makes me scratch my head is how ad reps choose a site over another. In my ad network, I have had a rep who wanted to talk about expat banking services, and I have a site who always talks about travel, and relocating abroad, etc. and it was rejected. Another site, who doesn’t have such good metrics and barely never talks about anything out of the US was chosen instead. So while I know ad reps will browse your content for some keywords of interest, they still have the final decision, maybe because that site was heavy on another topic that was a deal breaker it didn’t make the cut, we’ll never know.
Keeping track of your contacts
This is something I am really bad at doing but here is what would happen in a perfect world. I receive the ad request, and answer promptly with a template email (I use gmail, you can save a few templates and save a ton of time) saying “Hi name, thank you for your inquiry, my rates are XYZ, and I am attaching my media kit with more info”. Then archive the email in a prospects folder and wait for an answer.
If they answer, great, we can agree on a price and move on.
If they don’t, I can go through my prospects folder every week or so and send another template follow up email. We all have busy lives and ad reps are no different. I have closed many deals just with that follow up email.
Once the deal is closed, I write down the details in a spreadsheet, with the price, contact details, whether it has been paid and the expiry date. A quick weekly check will then tell me whose payments I should be chasing and which deals are about to expire.
None of my deals have expired so far but a blogger who has been at it for longer told me about 25% of the advertisers will renew a deal once it is up. You can also set a calendar date every quarter just to say “Hi name, just checking in to see if you had any campaigns for my site?”. I have found that at the end of the month, reps often have deals that didn’t go live and are looking for reactive sites who can publish within 24 hours. So it pays to keep up with them, be it to renew a deal or place yourself back at the top of their head. I made at least $1,000 for the first two months of the year just chasing old contacts.
For more online money making tips and my latest blogging income report, you can check Make Money Your Way.
Kim’s Comments: Thanks for the tips. I know there are several things on this list I could be better at. Regardless of whether people want to monetize or not, we all want to increase readership, and I think following some of these tips can help anyone trying to do that.