For many of us with small online creative businesses, blog ads are a big part of our advertising strategy.
Rarely can we afford magazine advertising, and since our customers are online, it make sense to advertise to them online, too.
There are a number of different options available – we can use google adwords or facebook ads (the latter I would recommend) – but the most popular choice seems to be buying sidebar ad space on crafty/lifestyle blogs.
There are so many out there – and so many that offer ad space – that it can be really tricky to decide where to spend your limited ad budget.
As someone who both buys blog ads and who has sold them for years now, I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learnt about what makes for a good blog to advertise on. Specifically – which statistics should you be focussing on when making your decision?
Before you even look at the numbers, make sure the blog is somewhere you think your customers will hang out – not just your peers/colleagues. Of course, for many of us our peers are our customers, too – but make sure to think about that before you go any further.
Probably no point advertising your knitted scarf business on a blog that’s all about how to knit… because the majority of people who visit want to learn how to knit a scarf themselves rather than buy a finished product. You’re better off finding a lifestyle or more general handmade blog whose visitors like to look at (and buy!) lovely handmade things.
Let’s first outline the core numbers you may come across, and explain what they are:
- Subscribers – this might be RSS/feed subscribers, google followers, email subscribers. Subscribers are people who receive the blog posts either in their feed reader of choice, or direct to email.
- Social media subscribers – facebook, twitter, pinterest etc. These folks will find their way to the blog via links on social media – so when they read the blog post, they are actually coming to the blog to do so, as opposed to the rss/google followers who read the blog posts from their feed reader/dashboard.
- Visitors. This is the number of individual people who visit the blog in a defined time period.
- Pageviews. This is the number of times the blog is viewed by visitors in a defined time period. Some visitors might only visit once and view one page, whereas your regular readers will view many pages throughout the month.
So, which are most important to you?
Okay. I rank the above numbers in order from most important to least important as follows:
- Social media subscribers
- RSS/Feed subscribers
But wait! Why am I putting blog subscriber numbers last?
Because – as I mentioned above – people who are subscribed via RSS do not come to the blog to read the blog posts. Unless they’re a weirdo like me, who always clicks over to the blog when I see a post in my feed that I like. Most folks read blog posts right in their reader.
That means they are not seeing your ad!
If you were doing a giveaway or had a feature on the blog, I would reverse those numbers. BUT when we’re talking a sidebar blog ad, you want to focus on how many people will be seeing the ad. And that equals visitors and pageviews.
The more eyeballs on your ad, the more clicks it’s going to get. So, contrary to what you might have thought in the past, make sure to focus on visitors and pageviews rather than subscribers.
Social media subscriber numbers are important too, especially if the blogger is really great at driving people back to their blog – but, of course, anyone coming through from social media will just show up in the visitor/pageview numbers, so they really are key.
How to choose?
This is the process I follow…
First, put together a spreadsheet (hang on, stay with me here!). In the spreadsheet, list the name of the blogger, their blog url, and the range of their blog ad prices (so, if you were listing me in the days when I offered advertising over at Epheriell Designs it would be – Jess | http://EpheriellDesigns.com | $20-$65 -).
This will not only help you decide between blogs, it means you now have a handy-dandy media list that you can keep coming back to! No more thinking “gee, what was that blog I advertised on that time?”
Now, go through the advertise/sponsor page on each blog and look for the numbers I spoke about above. If the blogger doesn’t list them publicly, just email them and ask for the numbers.
If they are not willing to give them to you, run away.
Any blogger who is offering advertising should be open and honest about what you will be getting for your money.
All other considerations aside (such as the blog is your fave, it has your perfect target audience, they are a friend of yours) you want to choose the blog that has the highest visitor/pageview number with the lowest advertising cost.
That way, you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck!
Of course, you also want to consider additional perks – like, if you buy the large ad do you get a sponsor post? That’s a huge perk as it not only will go out to those RSS subscribers who might never see your ad, but it stays on the blog forever, driving traffic to you.
One final tip – when I do blog advertising, I usually choose to advertise on a whole stack of blogs at the one time (in one month, for example) rather than advertising on one or two occasionally. Most folks who read blogs in our niche will travel in similar circles, and by advertising across a number of blogs with the same image, you’re more likely to capture their interest.
If you have any further questions on this, please just leave them in the comments and I’ll reply!