Placing an ad for your blog onto another blogger's site (also known as sponsoring a blogger) is a brilliant way to help grow your audience by letting them introduce you to their readers. Any blogger can sell space for a blogger or brand to advertise themselves, and lots of bloggers have added bonuses such as including you in a monthly roundup or letting you take part in their blog giveaways. With so many blogs out there it can be daunting to know how to go about choosing a blogger to advertise with, or knowing how to get value for your money. Ultimately you want blog advertising to bring you both a flurry of incoming traffic and some new regular readers, so here's some tips for getting the most out of placing an ad, and some of the ad-placing experiences I've had.
How to choose a blog to advertise on
- Look for blogs in your niche (lifestyle/craft/health, etc) but not necessarily ones written by someone already in your circle (as with my Dorkface experience, which I'll come to)
- Get recommendations from other bloggers about good experiences they've had
- Ask yourself if the blogger's price is okay in relation to their audience size - e.g. if they have 200 page views a day, and 5,000 or less Twitter followers, £5-£10 is an okay price, if they have a huge audience of 100,000+ views a month their price of £50+ is likely to be worth it. Be wary of people with small audiences who are charging too much. An easy way to find out exact audience figures is to buy ad space through Passionfruit Ads; they tell you the blogger's monthly stats and give you real time figures on how many views and link clicks your ad gets.
- Look for good deals. If simply having your blog advertised in a sidebar is enough, go for it. But if another blogger can offer you more exposure for the same price (and the same kind of stats) it makes sense to have that little bit extra. I try to choose bloggers who have a monthly roundup (a detailed list of recommendations to their readers about their advertisers each month), or they'll include me in their email newsletter, or offer social media shoutouts in the deal.
How to make the most of advertising your blog on someone else's
- Create an eye-catching sidebar advert (I use Pic Monkey, it's free) and don't make it too fussy. Your blog title is essential, and a tagline is really useful. If you have a logo or some kind of design that summarises your blog that's also great. One of the things I really like about Passionfruit Ads is that you can change your ad at any time during your month-long advertisement: just upload a new jpeg on your Passionfruit profile and it will automatically update on the person's blog. This is useful if you feel like you're not getting enough click throughs, and it's definitely helped me get more engagement to switch ad designs.
- Don't put all your hopes on this ad changing your blog game. I've paid good money to get no clicks or very minimal clicks in the past and this could be down to several reasons; your ad is not enticing, your blog title is not appealing to anyone, the blogger is not pimping their advertisers enough, the blogger is having a downturn in traffic that month, or it's just plain bad luck. I've had a great experience on a blog that a fellow blogger told me she'd had hardly any traffic from, and I've had lacklustre results from a blog that several people raved to me about. It is what it is.
- Be ready for traffic. If you've gone to the trouble and expense to place an ad on someone's blog try and get yours in order so that it impresses people if they do click through. It makes no sense to have an untouched blog with the most recent post being from two weeks ago, and nothing in place to make sure new readers stay and look round (suggested reading posts, sidebar enticements, etc). If you're going to be in someone's monthly advertisers roundup they are probably going to look at your blog in the third week of the month and skim through your two or three most recent posts, so try and anticipate this and make them good ones. This will effect how the blogger writes about you, and what they recommend about you to their readers.
Some of my blog advertising experiences
Skunkboy - This one I did through Passionfruit Ads, it cost $88 (£59) for a month and is probably the worst ad I placed in terms of value for money. This is the one that several people had recommended to me whenever blog ads came up at blogger events, and I was keen to give her a go (it's such a beautiful blog). But for whatever reason it didn't work out well for me, getting only slightly better when I switched up my blog ad half way through the month. My ad had 75,000 views and I got fifty-four click throughs in total - not too bad, but no engagement that told me people stuck around. This is one to make a judgment call on, as other bloggers have told me they've gotten hundreds of click throughs from this blog.
Sprinkle of Glitter - In contrast to Skunkboy, this has to be my best value for money advertising. Louise has a vast audience on her blog (something like 800,000 views a month) and she's a big name on YouTube and across social media too. I just checked her blog and she doesn't seem to be accepting blog advertisers at the moment, which is not really surprising considering how much other stuff she has going on now, including her own lifestyle book and a one-woman stage show. However, keep your eye on her blog as I'd definitely recommend advertising with her if Louise continues with blog sponsors. I did have an awks moment (which I wrote about here in my top five most embarrassing blogger moments) where I had to get a refund of some of the money I'd paid for the largest ad package ($110/£75) as Louise didn't deliver all the parts of the package - but anyhoo, her medium one is around £50 and absolutely brilliant value. Louise includes you in her monthly roundup which is read by a bajillion people, I placed this ad three times, and each time I'd get over 1,000 click throughs on the day she posts that, and then a solid three hundred to five hundred each day for a week or so afterwards. I still get people coming from her blog to look at mine even though the last ad I placed there was six months ago. Louise has such huge sway on social media (one of the reasons I was disappointed to not get the shoutouts that are included in the large package) that when she retweeted my tweet saying I was excited to be one of her advertisers it got the most amount of likes and retweets I'd ever experienced, and in the space of a few hours just over two thousand people followed me on Twitter. I've had fantastic engagement from these click throughs too, I can see in my analytics that a lot of people stayed for a while and read huge chunks of my blog after coming from Louise's, and I had some nice emails and tweets from people saying they found me through Louise's monthly advertisers roundup.
Cider With Rosie - I think I waited about ten months in a queue for Rosie's 'Ultimate Advertising Package' which includes not only being in the monthly roundup, but Rosie interviews you in a whole blog post to yourself. There's also social media mentions and Rosie repeatedly tweets about the monthly roundup like a pro. It costs $105 (£70) and is unsurprisingly popular seeing as Rosie is somewhat of a legend in the lifestyle blogging world. I had 65,000 ad views and around 1500 click throughs. I still get the occasional person coming to view my blog from hers, and I had a good level of engagement from people tweeting and emailing to say they'd found me through Rosie's blog and liked what they see. Rosie also has some smaller packages, and I will definitely be buying one of those.
Oak + Oats - This is a good example of how it can sometimes pay to take a chance on a small blog. I paid $15 (£10) for a month's spot and expected around twenty clicks, but got a few hundred. Many of those who clicked spent a good deal of time on my blog, and some left comments or got in touch with me. Most of the time when I buy small ads I get small payback, and that's completely to be expected, but this was one of those surprising outcomes that gives great value for money. I don't have access to my exact view and click through figures as Elizabeth isn't on Passionfruit Ads at the moment (same as Sprinkle of Glitter), but I just checked her blog and she's selling advertising space directly now.
Helene in Between - This advertising slot turned out to be a bit of a disappointment in one respect, but I'm mentioning it because it had a great pay off on social media. I bought Helene's $50 (£34) package on Passionfruit Ads and only got 23 click throughs out of 21,000 ad views. However, Helene is a whizz on Twitter, particularly with promoting her monthly advertisers (and bloggers she just generally likes), so every time she promoted her monthly advertisers I'd get a few dozen new followers, and this went on all month. I got over three hundred Twitter followers for my fifty bucks, and most of them were American bloggers and blog readers that I still interact with on Twitter. Nice!
Dorkface - Lovely illustrator Jemma may have a relatively small blog, but she's a BNITBT (big name in the blogging Twittosphere) and is incredibly popular amongst the group of UK lifestyle, beauty and fashion bloggers who converge on Twitter for scheduled chats, general banter, and post-sharing. When she announced she was selling ad space I was so confident this would do well that I bought two month-long slots, one for £7 and the larger package for £9. Jemma kindly told me when she'd be writing her monthly roundup, and even asked if there were any particular posts I wanted mentioning - great service! I was bracing myself for a couple of hundred click throughs, and made sure I wrote a few good quality posts. I had thirteen clicks in total from Jemma's blog, including after her monthly roundup went live. I've reflected on this experience, and think that a.) it was a bit silly of me to expect more than I did with Oak + Oats, for example, and b.) the people who read her blog are mostly the same bloggers I engage with on Twitter anyway, they know my blog - heck they might even dislike it.
Although I said try and find bloggers in the same niche, I'd recommend finding them in a different blogging circle, that way you stand a chance of coming across new audiences. I also think timing is everything, Rosie from Cider With Rosie was weeks away from getting married when my spot came up, and she said she was really busy with that, not that she slacked off in any way with monthly roundup promotion, but she was of course otherwise very much preoccupied. With Jemma, she'd just launched Girl Gang, a blogging collective, and was heavily caught up in the promotion of this. It's a bloody brilliant idea to bring bloggers together, and I'm excited for her. However, on the day her monthly advertisers post went live she tweeted it once at about 2am and the rest of the day was mostly Girl Gang posts, she even took her blog down that week to work on the Girl Gang design. Remember that bloggers are actual people, with actual lives, and their own work to do - so sometimes life gets in the way. You might know what big life events the blogger has coming up, but if you don't know their blog well it might be worth dropping them an email and asking politely if it's a good time to place an ad. My experience with Dorkface also reminded me of the best thing about placing blog ads, it makes you a better blogger - you put yourself in a position where you need to be on top form to receive some guests. I worked so hard on my content that it ended up getting thousands of views anyway that week because people were sharing on Facebook and Twitter. So, yes advertising on other blogs can be great, but there's little point to it unless you're also pushing yourself to be the best blogger you possibly can be.
Edit: I should add that whether ten people or a thousand people come to your blog through an ad on someone else's blog, it's all good. That's ten people or a thousand people that didn't know about your blog but now do. There's nothing wrong with getting small click throughs, especially if it's from a small blog.