Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Buy All the Ads: Revisited

A bit more than a month ago I posted about taking my first steps into blog advertising: Buy All the Ads.

I'll wait for you to go catch up...

So I am ready to report back with my follow up on if it works!

                                                                                      Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

So does blog advertising work?

Yes/It Depends.

As you just read, I went a little nuts on black friday when all the blogs I follow were having deals on ad space.  I bought (and won!) ads on large blogs, smaller blogs, and all in between.  Eight in total for the month of December.

I started this journey with about 50 followers.  I have come a long way in just a month!

Yes it works
When I check my analytics, I definitely received page hits from side bar ads throughout the month, which is a positive.  I didn't notice my subscription rates rise all that much but page hits are good for me, and my google ad sense was earning me a bit more than usual.  Cha-ching! ;)  It is important for your own blog to be on it's A game, because with all these new visitors, you must entice them with your awesome content so they consider coming back.  There are however...

Hidden Costs
A side bar ad can run you as low as $2 to as high as $20+ depending on the size of blog you are advertising with.  Depending on the package you purchase, you get more than just placement on a sidebar.  Several (when you buy larger ads) give you options for guest posting and being part of a group giveaway along with social media shout outs.  Guest posting is neat, but really tough too.  You are giving people a glimpse of what they can expect on your blog, and if it is good, they might come over and subscribe.  So of course this added pressure stressed me out every time and it took me a long time to find a good topic and make sure it was really funny or cool.  So there is a hidden cost of time there in case you weren't following me.
Giveaways are another hidden cost that can be pretty steep depending on your generosity.  Since I do not at this time offer advertising on my own sidebar, nor am I any real amount of crafty I had to pony up a real prize costing real money.  I was glad to do it, and I wasn't put out by it but it is something you should consider if you want to get the most bang for your buck with your ad purchase.  This by far was the fuel behind the fire of my drastic increase in readership.  This is where you have to make a judgement call of if advertising is for you because...

It Depends
Who you sponsor absolutely matters.  I have mixed feelings about a few of my sponsors.  I love them all as people, and I find their blogs a delight, obviously or I won't have chosen to sponsor them.  The hard truth is that bigger bloggers are going to be less involved in the process of promoting you.  I had 100% wonderful experience with smaller blogs (who, granted, are a lot bigger than from just a month ago) because I suppose they want to form a good reputation with their early sponsors before they hit the bigtime.  I got the countless twitter and facebook shout-outs as promised, and they went above and beyond what $5 should be worth to any one person.  They even followed me back and regularly commented on my blog.  Like so good!  The bigger ones I can't say the same about. (Not all of the big ones, I currently adore one of the large blogs I sponsor and she has been lovely!)  If I wanted a twitter shout-out I'd have to seek it out (not my style.) and they don't even give me the courtesy of a follow back or occasional comment.  I know they are big and have 100 other people sponsoring them, so I guess they have earned the position they take and people still continue to fill their sidebar, so I guess I am just being too picky?  They are the people to host a giveaway with though, because a lot of their readers read every day and love to win prizes.  (don't we all?)  So really, it depends on what you want out of your month of advertising.  Buyer beware.

In Conclusion
I am coming from the point of view of a new blogger, so I can not confirm that blogvertising works long term month after month, but it did give me a good push, and as you can see I am rockin' approximately 270 subscribers which makes my jaw drop each time I log in!

If I were to give advice to my month and a half ago self, I would have done a little more due diligence rather than jump on a sale.  See all those folks on the sidebar of a blog you like?  Reach out to a few of them and find out what their experience is like, and if they plan on renewing with that person.  Also take note of their tweeting and facebook habits.  Do you see them promoting their sponsors currently?  All the information is out there to allow you to spend smart.

Also I would suggest to change it up.  There will always be your favorites that you want to renew with month after month, but I think you will cast a wider net and make more blogfriends if you advertise in different places.

I hope my candor is appreciated and I can urge some of you all who might be hesitant to spend a little to grow your blog.  And feel free to send me an email ( if you want any recommendations of some great ladies to advertise with!

PS I am guest posting on Megan's blog today, I'd love for your to stop over!
(and I didn't mention here, but last week I was a guest on Whitney's blog, if you want to check it out as well!)


Megan said...

Interesting to know. I have been starting to wonder if this is the direction that I need to go, but at the same time I am not sure that I want to. Thanks for doing some research. Now are you selling ad space of your own? Or are you just buying ad space for your blog?

Allie said...

I think this is an awesome thing for you to post. I've been so guilty of sponsoring bigger bloggers because they have huge follower numbers, but not getting a lot out of them. I've found myself 1. limiting the amount of money I spend each month on ad spots 2. doing more research to see their twitter habits. You'll learn who are good blogs to sponsor and who aren't :)

Megan said...

This is great advice Natalie! I am very picky about choosing who to sponsor (because my budget for it is tiny) and like you said I watch what they do with current sponsors. Giveaways are a great way to get followers, but are they always readers? Even though having a large number is great, I'd rather have people truly reading what I write. I too have been disappointed with some people I've sponsored because I've basically just had a button sitting on their sidebar and I paid $20 for it! I've started a little list of bloggers I think would be good to sponsor and I'll sponsor them as I earn some money.

Rachel said...

This is a very interesting experiment in blog sponsoring! I've not done much sponsoring myself, though I've won a few ad spots in giveaways--I hope the sponsors that I've had have been pleased with the way I treat them as sponsors. I always say that my policy when it comes to the people who sponsor me is that I can't guarantee that my readers will read their blog too, because I can't control what other people to, but I can guarantee that I will read their blog and get to know them and what they write well enough for me to promote them honestly!
Because I'm pretty sure that's what I'd want out of sponsoring someone--true readers!

Taylor @ Pink Heels Pink Truck said...

I'm glad you adding your thoughts on sponsoring. :) Sooo much out there and it can be so overwhelming in deciding whether or not to spend the cold hard cash to help boost your blog...and then not knowing if your return on investment will be worth it (like you mentioned the bigger bloggers not really holding up their end of the bargain.) :)

Anonymous said...

I think you also want to look at long term too - like do you just get a little spike in visitors or do they stay? Blogging is so new, and blogging as an income vs online diary is a really up and coming concept that it's really smart to test out what works and what doesn't. For my job I work with a very large company that sometimes reaches out to small bloggers for giveaways, and it's so interesting to look at both sides.

Kym Fox said...

Hey there! I see that your blog has grown by 60 GFC followers (which is wonderful!) since I've had you as an in-post sponsor. I see quite a few click throughs to your site just based off your ad placement, and there are still 15 days left to your sponsorship...with the feature and giveaway still to come. Growing your blog is certainly a process...and in my experience, sponsorship is a great way to get yourself "out there" to a variety of people who otherwise may never find your blog...but original content is always whats most important! If you focus on the numbers you will quickly burn yourself out. Remember that not everyone uses GFC, Facebook, or email to follow..I have more people who type my blog URL directly into their search bar each day than who click through from blogger or any other means of "following".

Kym Fox said...

Exactly! When I have sponsored larger blogs and participated in their giveaways I would typically lose 2-5 GFC "followers" after the giveaway had ended because those individuals hadn't won. It's ALWAYS most important to be real as a blog author so people come back to you for your original content. xo

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