You have your contact details available on your blog inviting sponsors but no emails from interested advertisers are coming in? If you run a small site, having an “advertise here” page will not be enough to attract advertisers. You need to be more proactive and learn to “sell” your site better.
Google Adsense contextual ads may be your best friend while your readership is small and may contribute to you earning some revenue without needing to find advertisers, but what if you want more? What if Adsense doesn’t work well for your content? What if you want another source of revenue?
One option is to start directly approaching companies that are related to your content in hope of getting them to sponsor your blog. This post will include advice on finding brands to contact, writing a great outreach email that gets read and selling yourself by having a great media kit. Let’s get started.
Finding companies to work with
Here are some of my favorite ways of finding companies that may be interested in working with your blog:
- Search Google for your content keywords. Look in the “sponsored listings” and other ad areas on the search result page and see what companies spend money to advertise there.
- Social media. Do the same in social media. Have a look at who are the relevant brands to your field that spend money advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Go to your competing sites and other relevant websites and see which companies advertise on them. Who is in the sidebar? What company is featured in their mailing list? Who sponsors their podcast?
- Are there any conferences or trade shows and similar in the field that you are working in? Find the official websites of these events and look at the list at companies participating, sponsoring or attending the event.
Make the list of the most relevant of these companies. If some of these companies provide relevant products or services to your visitors, take a look at their site, learn about the company and find the contact details of their marketing department. Next up is the very important and personalized email pitch that you need to send to each brand individually.
How to optimize your email pitch
I get many emails. I get so many emails that even if and when the subject line attracts me to open the email itself, it still only takes me a second or two to scan through your email before deciding to hit delete or reply. I usually either hit delete or reply straight away as a tactic to keep my inbox as clean and as manageable as possible. There’s nothing worse for my stress levels than having an inbox full of unread emails and emails I need to reply to. Many emails that hit our inboxes are simply irrelevant or not so well targeted. Those get trashed instantly. Some emails I give a chance, but in many cases the pitches are just bland and not very interesting.
This always makes me think how best to compose emails when I am writing myself. How can I get my point across as simple and direct as possible? How can I get my emails opened? How can I get replies to my emails? Here’s a list of things that can you do and tips you should keep in mind to have a better chance of getting your advertiser outreach emails read.
- Subject line. Subject line is key to get your email opened. Think of it just as hard as you are thinking about your post headlines.
- Be relevant. You cannot imagine how many emails I get that have nothing to do with what I am working with.
- Mutual contact. Are you friend with someone that the brand knows or works with? Make sure to mention that or even better get the mutual contact to introduce you to each other.
- Be short. Writing emails is like writing posts. People are busy and you must make it easier for them to understand what you are getting at. Be clear and concise.
- Personal salutation. Many emails come without any personal salutation. Many even salute with a wrong name. You need to find the name of person you are contacting.
- Introduction. If it is the first time you are contacting the blogger, make sure to have a very brief introduction about yourself and your work.
- Be direct. Explain why you are contacting the person. Write why you choose to contact him. Tell what your goal is by connecting with the person.
- Be specific. Tell them about your site and what you can help them with. Include these details: Who are your visitors? How many unique visitors do you get? If you do, what relevant keywords do you rank high on?
- Contact info. Close the email with a signature that has your contact info. Also include a link to your website.
5 tactics to get your email pitches read
- Email after lunch
Want your email to be read? Your best chance is to send it between 1.30pm and 2.30pm. You’ll catch your target at lunch, or better still, during that ‘post lunch’ haze. I used to work in magazines, and the advertising guys told me that the period straight after lunch was known as ‘prime selling time’. It was when prospects would be zonked in front of their computers, grateful for any distraction. Sending an email after lunch is a good way to get your message read.
- Try being more fwd:
In 2008, while the world followed the 2008 US presidential campaign, I was keeping my eye on the email war being waged by the two sides. One thing I loved about both camp’s campaigns were the first-person emails. Each message would arrive with a short update, followed by a ‘Donate’ button. There’s heaps of lessons from that campaign, but one of my favorites is an email from John McCain’s team that shakes the reader into the ‘now’ with a simple trick you can apply to your campaigns. That email – urging Republicans to donate their time to cold calling voters – could easily have gone out alone. But by having Davis forward it, with his own personal memorandum attached, makes it several times more effective. It doesn’t even matter that Rick Davis isn’t a household name – just having somebody appear to ‘recommend’ the email convinced a lot of folk to read it. Next time somebody forwards you an email, notice how quickly it gets your attention, and think back to this tip. Can you think of anything you can ‘forward’ to your audience?
- Keep email columns short
One of the quickest ways to make your emails more readable is to format your text in short columns. Writing in short columns makes your email magnetic to the eye. 70 characters is the maximum length a line of text should be. Sticking to this means your players don’t have to move their eyes so far across the page and back to read the email. It makes scanning faster and easier, and means your message is far more likely to be read.
- It’s all about them
A real magic trick when you’re writing an email is to pile on the personal pronouns. What am I talking about? You, me, they, he, I, she, them, and him are all personal pronouns. It’s almost impossible to overuse the word ‘you’ in well-written copy. “Do you… Can you… Would you… Should you… Did you know..” Sprinkle personal pronouns across your copy to turn blunt, mass mailings into sharp personal communication.
- Eat your own dog food
If you aren’t literally “in bed” with your material… it’s gonna show. Did you ever watch a TV show or read a book where the characters took part in something you’re interested in? Maybe a line in Friends mentioned hockey, a passion of yours. Or perhaps (if you’re British) a walk-on patient in Casualty was injured at a music festival you go to. I bet, in some way, it seemed phoney. When somebody claims to be part of something that you’re deep into yourself, it’s like running your thumb over a photocopied bank note.
It’s okay to fake it ’till you make it, but when you’re writing for a living, you need to make sure you know your onions. That’s because otherwise, what you write will be tainted by cliche, as scenes from half-watched film and snippets from folklore creep in. As human beings, we’re great at telling when something’s missing. The last thing you want is for your copy to sound phoney. At Google, nothing leaves the door until engineers have used it themselves for a few weeks. It’s a process they call ‘dog fooding’. Whatever your niche, if you’re going to succeed, start eating your own dog food.
Example of my own conversation with a potential advertiser
Here is an example of an email I sent out recently to one potential advertiser:
I run a #your content topic here# at #your URL#. I rank high in Google for several keywords including #relevant keyword one# and #relevant keyword two#.
I was interested to hear if you would be interested in advertising on my site as I believe it could bring you some highly targeted, quality traffic.
Let me know what you think. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
The responses. Companies are usually very approachable and you can get a high response rate in many cases. Here are the responses I got on the email above:
- Open answers
Yes we may be, did you have something particular in mind?
You’ve done a nice job with your site. Tell me what you’re thinking.
- Affiliate deal answers
With reference to your email we would be very interested in appearing on your great website, I would like to suggest a cooperation with you! Would joining our affiliate programme and working on a CPA basis be something you might be interested in?
I have looked at your site and think that it would be perfect for our strategic partnership program. On becoming a strategic partner I can provide you with a white label, feed or banners all with a unique tracking code to allow you to list our inventory on to your site.
- Text link answers
Thanks for your message as received below, it has been forwarded onto me. We would be interested in advertising, specifically text links back to our relevant pages, could you let me know what the cost would be for this?
Thank you for your mail. Would it be possible for us to stick a link on URL or possibly have you create and endorsement about company name within the current content of this page? We are very interested in this page and working with you.
- Thanks, but no thanks answer
Thank you for your email. We are satisfied with the way we market our product and are not at this point looking for further outlets. Thank you for your interest in our company.
Here the ball is back in your court. Give the brand a realistic offer. Think about a long term relationship potential. Do not oversell yourself. Do not overestimate your abilities. Do not overcharge. Under promise and over deliver. Companies are looking for value. If they pay you for one month and do not get satisfying results they will not come back. Some options you can offers is a month of trial or a hybrid deal where you get a fixed fee with a CPA affiliate deal on top. Think realistically what your site can perform and offer an interesting deal which is a reasonable price for the size of your site and for their budget. One way to show what your company can do is by having a nice media kit to show to the brand. Here’s how you create one of these.
How to create a media kit to attract advertisers
Your advertising media kit should give potential sponsors the chance to learn behind-the-scenes facts and stories to supplement the content on your site. Think of the media kit as a resume for your blog. It is a package of information that introduces your site to interested advertisers and answers their questions about it. An advertising media kit is a sales tool for selling advertising on your site and it is a must-have for any blogger who wants to monetize his or her content via direct advertising contracts. Your media kit should be used to get potential advertisers excited about advertising on your site. I recommend developing an online media kit as a professional looking document that potential advertisers can download from your site, that you can send out to companies that contact you, and that you can send out to companies that you contact directly.
Remember the key practices of writing content online. Employ scannable text by using these suggestions:
- Low word count
- One idea per paragraph
- Highlight keywords and paragraphs
- Bulleted lists
What should I include in the media kit?
Your media kit should provide your potential advertisers with immediate access to advertising rates, key demographics, traffic information and your contact details. It should include everything a potential advertiser might need to know to help him decide to buy advertising space on your site.
Make sure your media kit information is accurate, consistent and up to date. Update your media kit regularly as your site grows and expands.
- Profile. Start simple by tailoring your media kit to describe your site, define your values, describe your content and you personally.
- Target audience and traffic. It is important to show the potential sponsor what they are buying. Your traffic and your target audience are two primary motivators for the advertiser. Keep working to build your traffic and be ready to share your traffic stats, number of followers / subscribers, and number of email newsletter subscribers.
- Add credibility to your site by including external, third-party references. Include links from popular websites to your content and also include links of your guest articles on other popular sites. Also include third party rankings of your site like Google PageRank and Alexa Ranking. Be prepared to back up your traffic stats with graphics from your Google Analytics account. You may also need to grant the potential advertiser the access to your Analytics report. Google Analytics features a very safe option to do that without giving away your username and password.
- Search engine rankings. When people search the Internet for keywords relevant to your potential advertiser and they end up on your site, you have a key selling point. One of the most powerful strategies of selling advertisements is to show the potential sponsor how you rank in search engines for their product / service related keywords. Compile a list of keywords that you rank for that you can include in your media kit.
- Advertising options / rates. Let the potential advertiser know what kind of advertising options you offer on your site. Include the position of ads, the size of ads, show it by including a screenshot which has the potential ad position marked. Do not forget to include pricing for each of these ads.
- Contact details. Finally make sure to include all the contact details needed to get in touch with you.
Compile all the information into a nice looking PDF or DOC file and provide access to it from your “advertise here” page. When potential advertisers look for advertising options on your site, they will be able to request you to send the media kit to them and find out anything that they might need to know.
Your content can indirectly help sell ads
You never know who is reading your post. You may write with your visitor in mind, but a potential advertiser might be reading as well trying to find new opportunities to reach their audience on. So you have the possibility to sell advertising space indirectly by just writing a post that does well and that attracts advertisers and readers alike.
Writing some strategic posts regarding the growth of your site is another way of attracting advertisers. I would recommend, no matter the topic, to share good experiences and milestones of your site with your readers. Reached 100 posts? Got 1,000 subscribers? Hit the front page of Reddit and got a great number of visitors? Share it. Your readers would like to hear about your success and you might attract some sponsors as well.
When doing this make sure to have a “contact page” with a contact form in your navigation menu so it is easy for potential advertisers to contact you. WordPress plugin like Contact Form 7 allow you to easily insert a contact form into a page. No matter what you do with the advertisement offers, in my case I have not accepted either of them, it is still a very good step forward to get advertisers directly contacting you about buying advertising space on your site.
How to setup your banner management system
If the above methods work and you do get some advertisers here’s how you can setup your banner management system. By directly approaching advertisers you work without the middlemen and you keep 100% of the revenue your site brings in. If successful with your approach, you will have sold some ad space and you will have to incorporate some banner ads into your design.
When an advertiser has decided to purchase, try offering an incentive to spend more. Discounts and bonuses both make the marginal cost of purchasing another day of advertising more attractive. Discounts reward with decreased payment for buying more, whereas bonuses reward with increased product for buying more. I prefer the idea of a bonus, because it doesn’t leave any money on the table; instead it gives the advertiser more for their money. Discounts are probably easier to administer manually, and can be in the form of percentage discount, or “daily rate: $1, monthly rate: $25, 6 months: $125” etc. Make sure you make the discounts or bonuses clear in your rate card.
There are several WordPress plugins that can help you manage your ads more efficiently, which will leave you with more time to write new content and do the promotion of your site. I have tested the best-known WordPress ad management plugins, WP Ads, UBD Block Ad, and WP125. I would recommend WP125 as a very good introduction for new bloggers into the world of ad management. WP125 is simple to setup, simple to use and great start for those who want to sell ads on their site by themselves.
As the name suggests, WP125, serves the standard banner size for online sites, 125×125. You can chose between one and two columns and you also have the option to decide the number of ad slots. There is an option to chose the ad order and WP125 also keeps track of the number of clicks on the ad. You can decide the period of time you want the ad to be served and you will get the email notification when the ad is to expire so you can get in touch with the advertiser, ask about their experience of advertising on your site, and try to renew the deal. WP125 is widget ready, so you just have to add the WP125 widget into the sidebar and the ads will start displaying.
Try encouraging your advertisers to spend more by sending a reminder when their ad is finishing, asking them to extend instead of letting it lapse. It’s also a good idea to inform the advertiser how the ad has performed (through Click-Through Rate and impressions), when asking them to extend. This is a simple contact at the point of need for the advertiser; it reminds them of your existence, and it is dead simple for them to then act upon your request.
Having direct advertisers is a very lucrative way of monetizing your site. Ads are one of the few ways in which a blogger can capitalize on existing traffic without any additional work, such as developing products like e-books or providing services like search engine optimization.