Advertising 101: Getting Started with Ad Networks

By: Eden Hensley; Photos by Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

There may come a day when you want to transform your hobby into a full-time job. A common first step many bloggers take along this path is online advertising either with ad networks or affiliate networks. Today we will talk about ad networks; we will cover affiliate networks in the next post in this series.

Many bloggers dip their toes into advertising by signing up for an ad network. Although there are no guarantees for how to make money online, there are guaranteed steps you can take to make sure you never make more than a few cents a month. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger identifies ten steps that are guaranteed to earn little to no revenue.

How successful you will be with advertising depends on a few factors:

  • Traffic. Advertising is a numbers game. Not all of the visitors to your blog will be interested in a product or service you are advertising. How much you earn is dependent on either clicks or conversions (actual purchased products). The fewer people visiting your site, the greater percent of visitors you need to respond to the ads before you see any income.
  • Consistency. It does not matter how great your content is or how focused you are, if you publish inconsistently. When you publish infrequently, you train visitors not to return. Be realistic about how often you can publish and scale up once you know you can keep the schedule.
  • Niche. Advertisers are willing to pay more for a highly engaged audience and for relevant keywords. If you narrow your focus and it corresponds to a highly sought after keyword, cost per click will likely be higher, yielding more revenue.

Popular Ad Networks

Some advertising networks bloggers participate in are:

  • Google AdSense is an advertising network with few eligibility requirements, basically do you have a website, have you had it for at least six months, does it comply with program policies, and are you at least 18 years old.
  • Federated Media for more established blogs and social media mavens with large audiences.
  • dailybuzz for new blogs or blogs that are more of a passionate hobby.
  • Clever Girls for U.S. based blogs at least six months old with evidence of readership engagement, roughly 10,000 monthly impressions, at least 50% original (non-sponsored and non-brand-related) content, and have both a Twitter and Facebook accounts through which blog posts are amplified.
  • BlogHer for blogs written by women or with a demonstrated female audience more than 90 days old, not part of another ad network requiring “above the fold” placement, and hosted by a service that allows your own advertising.

Advertising alone will probably not make you rich. Advertising networks alone will not transform a hobby into a business. Mindy of Budget Fairy Tale publishes a monthly blogging report where she breaks down how much she earns through blogging and what portion of that is from Google Adsense. She also highlights other revenue streams.

To learn what is working now, what is not working, and what is on the horizon, join us tomorrow, this Friday, October 24th 9AM PT/12PM ET for a half-day virtual workshop, Making Money in a Changing Media Landscape, curated by Meg Keene of A Practical Wedding.

Unable to attend Friday and want more information about getting started with advertising on your blog? Check out the Advertising Basics for Bloggers series from Liz of Say Yes: