Ad sales for the bloggy sort

by Smartie on November 17, 2010

You don't have to be a Mad Man to produce ad revenue for your blog.

I know loads of bloggers. I do PR. I’m a blogger. It kind of goes with the territory.

A lot of bloggers aren’t making money off of their blogs. (Hello Captain Obvious!) But, of course, they would like to be.

When you think about it, upstart bloggers and upstart theater companies have an awful lot in common. Both are searching for an audience. Both are eager for approval. Both want a little bit of revenue.

And as I often get approached to be a go-between for an ad buy, I think that I have some important advice to share to upstart bloggers. Or even theater companies who are interested in using a blog as a secondary source of revenue (and, I think it can be done!).

Many bloggers are going are going the ad route of traditional publishing (and we can debate this as a form of revenue in another post).  So, to build revenue, these blogs need some ad sales.

“Would you like to buy an ad” doesn’t cut it. Nor does, “but we’re cheaper than the Times” (good Lord I hope so!).

This is where, as the ad buyer, we say “prove it.”

Here’s what an ad buyer wants to know (and if you are a novice ad buyer, you’ll find this useful too):

  • Numbers

What are you monthly unique hits? And where are these hits concentrated (if my show is in NY and you get loads of LA visitors, it’s not terribly useful to me). The more you can narrow it down, the better.

  • Who is your audience

Clearly if you write about theater, we assume it’s people interested in the theater. But what kind of theater do they prefer? I know that mainstream publications believe their readers won’t dip a toe into an Off Broadway theater. Is that true for your readers?

  • Does your content reflect your audience?

If you say they are adventurous people who equally love Broadway and traveling deep into Flatbush for an avant garde oddity, but the shows you blog about don’t take place below Times Square, you’re totally fibbing.

  • Demographics matter

This sounds very old school, but demographics not only help me understand your audience but it also shows that you are professional enough to bring this information to the table. Gender, income, how often they go to the theater is just a starting point. The deeper you go, the more info you have. And info is power. You can collect this info with an old fashioned survey.

Be ready to prove that banner ads work! Do your research, cite studies. You need to prove that this money is being well spent. And right now conventional wisdom says banner ads don’t work. So defend them.

Throw a sweetner into the deal. Now I am not advocating pay-for-play here, but offer to do ticket giveaways or contests as additional promotion. A lot of the traditional publishers are throwing this in as incentive to do online ad buys.

Any bloggers out there successful in their ad sales, or want to share a tale of woe? Any ad buyers have more advice? Share in the comments!

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