As an experienced interactive web producer, it’s safe to say I have a lot of experience with advertising, promoting websites and blogs, and social media marketing. It seems like a waste not to share it so I’m thinking of starting a regular series called “The Business of Blogging” where I’ll share insights into this subject we all know and love. Let me know what you think!
Q: I am finally at the point where I want to begin selling ad space to companies that make sense for my blog. I was wondering if you had any examples or insight on how to email the company and what the best way to word an email would be. Any advice and help you can send my way would be greatly appreciated.
A: Ah, the age-old question on every blogger’s mind. It’s true that selling advertising is one of the quickest and easiest ways to monetize your platform, but a lot of people aren’t sure how to get started. Here are a few tips:
1. Start small and think local. Go to some of your favorite privately-owned boutiques, shops, markets, and hair salons, etc and talk to the owners. You have to do it in person because it’s a lot harder to say no to someone in person than it is via phone or email. It doesn’t hurt to buy something either. (Just being honest!) Ask if they would be interested in running an online 300 x 250 digital ad. Call it “rich media” (to make it sound a little more impressive) and create an animated GIF that directs to their website. Or you could offer to promote a sale or special event they’re holding.
2. Offer a free monthly trial. When you’re first getting started, your audience and traffic are probably low which can make pitching advertisers difficult. So offer a free month. You benefit by getting ad spaced filled, which in turn makes you look more desirable to other potential advertisers while initiating a relationship with potential customers.
3. Bring professional props. Print up some screen shots and samples of your blog (splurge on good quality ink and paper) and put together a short presentation of sorts and throw it all in a binder with sheet protectors. Note your blog’s key themes, how often you post, readership or subscription numbers, etc. Have a pricing sheet and business cards so you look more professional. It’s all confidence.
4. Build up to bigger brands. Once you get a few local ads on your blog, then start going after the bigger companies you personally have a connection to. Write a SERIOUSLY flattering latter explaining why you love each brand and then scour the web for a web developer, a PR or media connection, or a name of anyone directing PR or social media. You want to get in touch with THIS person and express your interest in promoting their brand via an ad on your site. It doesn’t hurt to provide some analytics (via a fact sheet) since any marketing director worth his or her salt will ask. Ads usually run monthly, but you could offer an extended placement since you’re just breaking in and traffic is still growing. Above all, don’t be shy. Ask a LOT of brands and write each a really well-written, effusive letter or email and then send it off.
In the end, sometimes it just comes down to luck, but it does pay to be proactive and hustle. If you have any design skills and can create the ad, this alleviates some of the pressure on the brand you’re reaching out to and might help improve chances of a YES. Good luck!
Image credit // Lovely Cuppa shop, Folksy.com – How cute are these hand-stamped, recycled notebooks? Want!