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Most of the time you can make more money selling your ads than you can make from an ad network. The problem is that selling ads can take a ton of time, and most bloggers don’t want to deal with it.

Why would you want to sell your own ads?

  • You have complete control over the ads that show up on your site. No blinky flashy corporate logos taking over your content.
  • Small busineses and independent advertisers don’t normally pay per CPM. Theses businesses see the value in a very targeted engaged audience, and are willing to pay a flat fee for promotion.
  • You can create advertising campaigns that are designed for success. Selling your own ads gives you tons of control over your brand.

I have studied dozens of successful blogs that sell their own ads and the best tool I have found is passionfruit ads.

Passionfruit is a  simple app you can integrate into your site. They charge $3-$9/month, and give you the ability to feature the ads spaces you have available, track views to the page and process all of the invoices and payments that hassle most bloggers.

You can also take a look at the prices other bloggers are charging, which give you a good benchmark for pricing your packages. 

Another good option is Adproval. They are totally free to set up, and take a 10% commission from any sales.

Once you decide what space you will sell, and the rates you will charge you can  start pitching potential advertisings.

How can you find independent advertisers?

  • Create a page on your blog for potential advertisers. Everyday potential advertisers are viewing your site, and they don’t always know you are open to running their ads. Create a page letting advertisers know they can buy space on your site, show your average reach and the costs of each space.
  • Look at other blogs in your niche. Who is selling their own ads? What companies are buying space on their site? Pitch those companies. There is a good chance they will want to feature your site as well.
  • Research relevant small businesses and startups in your niche. Find their marketing or press contact, and let them know the opportunities you have to offer.

 

chooseadnetwork

A couple of years ago I worked on an ad network project, and learned a ton about how bloggers are using ad networks. 

The truth is that most bloggers do not expect to make a ton of money from their ad network. Running ads in your sidebar takes zero time, and guarantees you a check every month. (even if it is small)

The reality is that bloggers are leaving huge amounts money on the table  by not asking the right questions.

Ad networks are a new concept, and each operates in a different way. This has left most bloggers unsure of what to do with this space. The problem is? That space is valuable.

Here is a list of questions you should use to evaluate an ad network: 

What kind of ads do you want to run on your site?

You will make the most money running video or interactive ads on your blog, but they might annoy your readers. Decide ahead of time what kind of ads you want to run, and where you want them to appear. Do you want a banner ad on the top of your site? How many ads do you want in your sidebar? Do you want ads to run between blog posts? Knowing what you are comfortable with ensures you join a network that is a good fit.

What is the CPM?

Most networks offer $1-$3 CPM, which means you make $1-$3 per 1,000 views on your site. Larger networks offer $4-$8CPM, but have much higher traffic requirements. I have heard networks promising as much as $15 CPM to highly trafficked blogs.

What is the fill rate?

Most ad networks will not guarantee you a fill rate, but will give you an average of what they sell. The fill rate is the percentage of ad inventory they will consistently fill. For example, if you have 100K impressions each month, but they only sell $10K in impressions—you would have a 10% fill rate. That means you are only making money on 10% of your ad space. The problem with networks promising huge CPMs is that it puts huge pressure on their sales teams, and most of the time they cant fill all of your ad inventory.

Do they offer a monthly guarantee?

A number of ad networks offer minimum guarantees to blogs that have a huge reach and/or a very profitable niche market. I have heard of networks promising everything from $2K/Month to $10K/Month. Of course, you need to have a very established readership to incentivize networks into a guarantee.

Do they offer sponsored post or review opportunities?

Networks typically pay very well for sponsored programs, so it is a huge bonus if you join a network that offers that. Ask if they offer sponsored programs. How often do they run these opportunities? What do they typically offer in compensation?

Do they require exclusivity?

Ad networks are a little different than blog agents in that they define exclusivity in a totally different way. Some ad networks will want exclusivity over all of your “above the fold” advertising.  This simply means you are not allowed to sell ads in the spaces they own. As long as you are comfortable with the CPM & fill rate, I think this is totally fine.

Other networks will ask for exclusivity over your sponsored content or all brand programs. This is a terrible decision. It gives a network total control over your revenue.

If needed, what would you have to do to get out of the network contract?

Good ad networks will leave you leave as soon as you wrap up programs you have already committed to.  Any ad network that requires you commit to them for any length of time is questionable. Unless they are offering a minimum guarantee, there is no reason they need you locked into a contract.

What has your experience been with advertising networks? Leave your stories in the comments.

 

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I have received tons of great feedback and questions since launching this program. Many of you have started blogging, and would like to start monetizing your blog but aren’t sure where to start.

1. Set a goal

A blog can be a launching pad for a million different career paths. If you feel frustrated that you are working a billion hours on your blog, and not making any money it is probably because you don’t have a clear goal of what you want to do with your blog.

Don’t worry, your goals will shift and change throughout your blogging career. Setting a goal is not a lifetime commitment. It is simply a step towards finding your path.

Here are some example of goals you might have:

  • Publish a memoir
  • Launching a coaching/consulting business
  • Build a part-time (or full-time) income through advertisers and sponsored posts
  • Land a full-time corporate job

2. Identify the audience you are trying to reach

Parents and teens are markets that advertisers are constantly trying to reach. If you want to monetize with advertising, think about the type of brands you are most interested in working with. If you want to publish a self-help book or launch a coaching business, identify the exact type of client you are looking to attract.

Some questions to get you started:

  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • Do they have kids?
  • What are their interests?
  • What outlets do they read currently?
  • What kind of content do they engage with?
  • How can you reach them?

3. Plan content your target would like to read

Once you understand the type of content your target reader will be interested in, you can create a content plan for attracting them. The best way to learn how to build the perfect community is to experiment with lots of different tests.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Guest post on outlets you know they read
  • Follow and engage with influencers they already follow
  • Comment on the blogs your target audience would be reading
  • Secure speaking engagements at events your target audience will be attending
  • Purchase facebook or twitter advertising
  • Engage with them on Pinterest
  • Optimize your content for SEO

Test lots of different channels. See what works and optimize the channels that work best to meet your goals.

4. WRITE, DAMMIT!

Writing is a grind.

Of course, we want to tell everyone that writing is art and we have to be inspired and blah blah blah.

The reality is (an every professional writer will tell you this) you have to WRITE! Sometimes writing sucks and sometimes it is really fun, but businesses aren’t sustainable if we only do the work when its fun.

Create a content calendar. Make a list of post ideas. Sit down everyday and write.

In the beginning, most of your posts will suck but keep going. You will notice that after a while they get better and better.

 

 

Over the past few years, established bloggers have begun hiring talent agents to manage their sponsorships and advertising deals. I have interviewed dozens of bloggers who have worked with top agents, and I have managed deals from a brands perspective. I have seen the challenges and advantages of having a blog agent first hand.

What is a blogger agent?

Blogger  agents are hired to manage all of the sponsorships programs on your site. They are in charge of pitching and securing new business, negotiating incoming pitches and helping you hit your income goals.

Sounds like a dream come true? Like every business there are pros and cons to everything.

When should you hire an agent?

Typically, blog agents require you have reached a certain level of traffic or income from your blog. Agents want to know that they will be able to generate revenue from your site, so its important that you have an established audience and/or revenue model.

The agent is in charge of finding new sponsorship opportunities for your site, and managing incoming opportunities. In exchange, they take a percentage of your revenue.

How do you find an agent?

Most bloggers either get on board with an established agency like Sway Group of IBX. Other bloggers hire freelancers or part-time employees to manage their deals directly.

Why would you hire an agent?

  • Agents can bring you opportunities that you would not be able to land yourself. Agencies love working with agents, because they can have one point of contact while managing multiple blogger programs. Being part of a group of bloggers gives you access to wider opportunities.
  • You could easily spend 40% of your time pitching sponsors, negotiating deals and managing programs. An agent takes 90% of the work off your plate, giving you time to focus on the parts of blogging you love. 

Here is what you need to know about hiring an agent to manage your blog:

  • Never ever ever (did I say never) offer an agent exclusivity. A lot of them ask for it, and it’s the worst business decision you could ever make.  I could write an entire post on why this is a bad decision, or you can just trust me.
  • Keep in contact with clients you are working with. Build direct relationships you can leverage later. Otherwise, you will forever have to rely on your agent to bring you new business. 
  • Ask for a guarantee or detailed plan. Most agents are managing programs for dozens of influencers at any given time. They are struggling to divide their time across all of sites they represent, and it is your job to make sure you get the promotion needed. Ask them to give you a monthly or quarterly guarantee to ensure the relationship is profitable. Typically, agents only offer guarantees to the influencers who bring a ton of value to the table, so you can also ask for a plan showing how they will increase your bottom line.
  • The biggest question people have about hiring someone to manage their sales is what kind of commission they should offer. I have been approached by a range of top-tier influencers for sales opportunities, and the offers ranged from 5% commission to 50%. The commission is normally based on the amount of revenue the blogger is currently earning without my assistance.
  • If an agent is going to bring you new business, offer them whatever percentage they want. It’s like getting free income! (As long as you protect your exclusivity, and negotiate fair prices for your programs.)  

What questions do you have about hiring a blogger agent? 

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I started blogging when I was a sophomore in college trying to figure out how to build a life for me and my toddler.

Over the years this blog has evolved and changed through the phases of my life. It started as a place to share my stories, ask questions and connect with a new community. It eventually became the foundation I used to build a career I love.
Last year, I came out, took a big job and deleted every blog post I had ever written. I spent a year traveling to-and-from New York, struggling to pull myself together and learning how to build a family. 
A few months ago, I slowly started republishing some of my old posts and wondering if maybe…possibly…I should get back into the blogging game…
I am so happy that I did.
This blog helped me build a career I love. It connected me with a community I so desperately needed, and allowed me to find alternative career paths that worked for my life. 
I launched my blogging business series as a way to get my feet wet in the blogging world. This program has reminded me how much value  this space has given my life, and inspired me to keep writing.

Today, I want to thank you.

Thank you for reading and commenting and supporting me when I needed it most. 

Thank you for helping me find my voice again.

Everythingyouneed

 

THIS POST IS PART OF MY BLOGGING BUSINESS SERIES.

YOU CAN REGISTER HERE. 

Let’s talk about blogger networks!

What are blogger networks?

A blogger network is a community of bloggers that is interested in partnering with relevant brands. Blogger networks offer advertisers the opportunity to be featured on a large network of blogs, rather than negotiating deals with individual influencers.

Why would I join a blogger network?

Blogger networks are a great way to get your foot in the door with advertisers. If you are a new blog or someone who is just getting started working with brands, blogger networks give you access to opportunities that you might not be able to attract on your own.

In addition, being part of a blogger network is a great way to learn about the business. You get to see first hand what advertisers care about, how your blog can help brands and how your audience responds.

Can you make money from blogger networks?

Yes and no. Most blogger networks pay a fee or offer free product in exchange for a designated number of blog posts and social media posts. Each network is different but rates range from $50-$200 per post. Of course, there are exceptions for bloggers with a larger reach.

These networks are managing huge amounts of detail to get these opportunities in front of you. They are pitching new business, managing client calls, answering your questions and tracking all of the results. Because networks have to cover the time and costs involved in executing the campaign, you receive a lower rate than you would if you sold the programs directly.

Relying on blogger network opportunities is not typically a sustainable route for monetizing your blog, but it is a great way to get started.

Here is a list of networks I highly recommend:

One2One Network: Tons of earned and paid opportunities, with a great roster of clients

Tap Influence: Earned and paid opportunities, as well as a ton of education tools for bloggers

Massive Sway: The largest network of women bloggers, with a regular offering of opportunities.

Clever Girls Collective: Paid opportunities, and a great way to get started working with Federated Media.

Mom It Forward: A diverse range of opportunities for mom bloggers

Mom Spark Media: You have to pay to join this network, but you receive access to high-paid programs and education resources that will help you grow your blog.

Other great networks: Sverve, Social Fabric and The Motherhood. For book review sites: Lit Fuse Group and Book Look Bloggers.

 What blogger networks do you recommend? 

howtofind

THIS POST IS PART OF MY BLOGGING BUSINESS SERIES.

YOU CAN REGISTER HERE. 

The key to creating a full-time income from blogging is to identify the right mix of revenue opportunities, and optimizing them so you can make the most money possible.

Here are the steps you can take to figure out the best way(s) to monetize your blog:

1. Decide how you want to spend your time

We all have different skills and interests and want to spend our time in different ways. If you love creating recipes and taking beautiful photos of food, you will HATE pitching advertisers for your blog. However, you might find creating recipes books are a great way to monetize your blog. Maybe you will love creating video content, and land your own online food show.

The best way to decide how to monetize your blog is to decide how you want to spend your time. Passive income allows you to create projects that give you small amounts of income on a regular basis, while active income is something you are constantly working towards. Take inventory of how you enjoy spending your time, and figure out what revenue streams are going to give you the best life.

Also, I highly recommend you take this myers briggs test and get your personality type. This totally changed the way I approach my business.

If you take the test and send me your personality type, I will send you my favorite fact about that type. (I am an ENTP!)

2. Determine your hourly rate

The way to ensure you hit your income goals is to tie all of your pricing to a minimum hourly rate. Figure out how much income you should make for every hour you work, and use that as a benchmark.

Don’t forget, 30% or more of your income will go to paying self-employment taxes, and make sure to include expenses your employer previously covered. (health insurance, cell-phone, etc)

Also, 60% of your time will be spent pitching new business, managing programs and handling administration details. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to this type of work. Here is a simple calculator you can use to find your hourly rate.

You may also find this post about how to survive the gig economy helpful. 

3.  Assess each opportunity against your benchmark

Here is an example of how you assess revenue opportunities against your hourly rate:

Potential Income from sponsored post:
-Each sponsored post sale earns $250 in revenue
-1 out of every 10 brands I pitch purchase a sponsored post
-It takes me 1 hour to find brands to pitch, 1 hour to pitch and answer questions and 2 hours to create the post.

In this scenario, I would make $62.50 an hour for each opportunity I sell. However, it pitching and closing these deals takes longer than I expected I will need to re-assess my pricing structure.

If you run every income opportunity against your minimum hourly rate, you will ensure that you always hit your income goals.

 

HOWTOSELL

This post is part of my blogging business series. You can register here. 

The key to selling and creating good sponsored content is aligning with brands your audience will love, and integrating them into your content in a way that makes your audience care. 

There are tons of tools that can help you land sponsored posts gigs, and we will be covering many of them this week. Today we are discussing how to sell sponsored content directly to advertisers.

1. Set income goals for your blog

Once you decide that sponsored posts are a viable revenue stream, you should create a plan for managing sponsored posts. I have see too many blogs become inundated with sponsored posts, and I have seen bloggers struggle to control their income. During busy seasons (holiday) you may receive a ton of sponsored post opportunities, but when brands are actively promoting products you lose control of your revenue. Creating a plan allows you to pace your sponsored content, and create a consistent revenue stream.

  • Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to start creating a plan:
  • How often do you post on your blog?
  • What percentage of your blog content do you want to be sponsored?
  • How many sponsored posts per month can you offer advertisers?
  • How much yearly revenue do you want to come from sponsored posts?
  • What do you charge per sponsored post?
  • How many different programs/clients do you want to manage?

Yearly income goals:

Monthly income goals:

2. Create a list of opportunities you can sell to sponsors

Once you have a clear vision of how you want to work with brands you can create packages that make sense for your site.  Make a list of the different opportunities you want to find sponsors for, and map out a plan of what you will be pitching each month.  You can break your sponsorships into two categories: 

  • Seasonal: Brands often host holiday and season specific programs, so begin by identifying the different seasonal partnership opportunities you can sell to brands.  (Examples: holiday gift guide, spring cleaning series, 30 days of summer)
  • Regular series: Create a list of the regular content series you feature on your site. (Examples: Giveaways, weekly features, video series)

Here are some examples of what other bloggers have done:

3. Create a pitching schedule

Estimate how long it takes to close each sale. Typically, it can take 4-8  to secure a new sponsors and process the payment. This means you should always be pitching opportunities 2 months in advance. Some brands have a longer planning period, so you will need to pitch them deals 4-6 months in advance. If you give yourself an 8-week window, you can plan the sponsorships ahead of time and know what revenue goals you will hit. 

Create a pitching schedule for your seasonal programs, and fill in the gaps with the regular series’s you host on your blog.

4. Write the pitch

The best way to pitch new sponsors is to create a general pitch that you can use for multi-purposes.  This allows you to send pitches out on a regular basis without creating entirely new materials for every pitch.

Here is a sample pitch you can use to create your own: 

Hi X,

I am the founder of leading (YOUR NICHE) blog, (SITE NAME) and thought there might be a way for us to work together.

(Include 2-3 sentences describing the opportunity)

We are a huge fan of (BRAND NAME), and would love to have you participate. Our sponsorship opportunities allow you to be integrated into our content and engage our readers in a meaningful way.

Let me know if this sounds like something you might be interested in.

Thanks,

(NAME)

5. Identify potential sponsors & start pitching

Make a list of the potential brands that would be interested in sponsoring. Make sure to include brands you have current relationships with, companies you love and brands that would be a good fit.

Find contact information for the brands you are interested in, and start pitching!

Additional Resources and Tools:

SPONSOREDPOST

 

The biggest question people have about sponsored posts is, “what can I charge?”  You know your content is highly valuable to brands, but you don’t know what other bloggers are charging or what kind of ROI brands are looking for.

Here is an equation you can use to find the right price to charge: 

Time spent creating content X Hourly Rate) + (Pageviews/1000 X $10) =Price per post

If I charge an hour rate of $50, and reach 25K readers per month the equation would break down like this:

(3 hours X $50/hour) + (25 X 10cpm) =$400 per post

In addition, you can charge for the additional pieces of content you are including the promotion. (tweets, pinterest, etc) Every blogger charges for sponsored 

Here is a chart of average sponsored post rates: 

SPONSORED BLOG POST PRICING CHART:

AVERAGE MONTHLY TRAFFIC PRICE PER SPONSORED POST
1K-7K $50-$150
7K-15K $150-300
15K-30K $300-$500
30K-50K $500-$750
50K-100K $750-$1,500
100K+ $1,500+

SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION PRICING CHART: 

TOTAL FOLLOWERS PRICE PER PROMOTION
0-5K $25-$50
5K-25K $50-$75
25K-50K $75-$100
50K+ $150+

 

 

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I have spent the past five years studying the many different ways bloggers monetize their platforms. In the past couple of years, there have been huge shifts in the blogging industry. No longer can you place ads in your sidebar, and cross your fingers the money rolls in.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Instead, bloggers can build a successful business by implementing many different revenue streams into your site.

After much research, (and a weekend of all nighters), I am excited to officially announce my newest program: “30 Days of Blogging Business.”

I created this program to help you explore the many ways you can monetize your audience, and choose the right path for you.

The program is totally free, and will give you access to 30 new blogging business ideas.

Each day you will receive a new blogging business model, examples of real bloggers that leverage this technique, a breakdown of the revenue you can earn, and an outline of how you can implement that model into your blog.

At the end of this 30-day program you will have:

  • A deep understanding of many different ways you can monetize your blog
  • Actionable steps for implementing these ideas into your existing business
  • All of the templates, resources and tools you need to take your blog to the next level

How can you get involved? 

To get started, here is what you need to do:

  1. Sign up: To take part in this program, simply click here and enter your name, website and email address. (its totally free) Each day you will receive an email outlining that days lesson, tasks for you to complete and exclusive tips for monetizing your blog.
  2. Connect: Introduce yourself to the other bloggers taking the challenge using the #BusinessBlogging hashtag.

Ready to get started?

Sign up now!