How to Sell Advertising on Your Website – 5 Easy Steps

How to Sell Advertising on Your Website If you are using an ad broker, Adsense, or just about any other method to create advertising income from your site, chances are you aren’t making as much as you could be.

  • Most people believe that Google is taking a 50% cut of Adsense earnings.
  • Text-Link-Ads takes a 50% cut of link revenue
  • ReviewMe takes a 50% cut of review sales

While I honestly could care less about ‘trends’ in the make money online world (Why would I? Most of them are ridiculous), there’s one that you can’t ignore. People that are selling their own ads are making a lot more money than people who aren’t.

In this lesson, I will cover 5 steps to selling your own ads:

  1. Make room for your ads and get some up before you try to make sales
  2. Contact your competitors.
  3. Set your prices.
  4. Create a solid advertising page.
  5. Contact potential advertisers.

Step 1 – Make room for your ads and get them up.

You will have a hard time selling ads if you don’t already have ads sitting there. This means you need to create a section for the ads now.

A very popular and effective format for selling ads is the 125×125 ad banners in the sidebar. I use this ad placement and it has worked out very nicely for me. Your sidebar will need to be at least 260 pixels wide to use the 2-column placement that I have. If your sidebar isn’t wide enough, you could use a single column.

In order to make sales, your ad section will need to appear as high as possible in the sidebar. I took a look at some of the big sites in my industry and tried to match their placement.

In order to be able to charge the same amount to all of the advertisers, I knew that I would need the banners to rotate. To make them rotate, I used a plugin called Got Banners. The page I got it from no longer exists so I guess I’ll just post it here: Got Banners Download. You basically install a little piece of code in the sidebar and then manage the banners by going to Options>>Got Banners (Settings>>Got Banners in WP 2.5+) in your WordPress admin.

Some of you may want to sell advertising on your sites. This could be very effective if you do it right. Create a section where you can put the banners now, and we’ll discuss making the sale later on in this lesson. If I had a bunch of niche sites, I would probably create the section in a theme that I could use on all or most of my sites. Your enemy with that approach is wasted time, and using the same theme will save tons of time.

Another very common ad placement is the 728×60 banner like the one they use at SparkPlugging.com. They don’t sell their own ads as far as I can tell, but the placement is what we’re looking at. Again, you have to create the placement before you can make the sale.

What banners do you put in until you can make sales? I would use affiliate banners from sites like NeverBlueAds and AzoogleAds. They have all different sizes of banners that should fit in nicely on almost every site. You can also use banners that point to other sites that you are trying to establish.

Perception is everything when it comes to making these sales and you have to put your best foot forward. Trying to sell banners when you don’t have any banners in your section will be a HUGE waste of time.

Step 2 – Contact your competitors.

At this point of the process, you are NOT trying to sell advertising to your competitors. You are simply going to contact them to determine the rates they sell advertising for. Many of your competitors will have the rates published somewhere on their sites, others will have to be contacted via email or telephone. You should ask how much they charge, and how many impressions (total hits on pages the ad is on) you could expect to get per month if you were to purchase an ad spot.

Step 3 – Set your prices.

Once you have determined how much your competitors are selling advertising for, you will be able to set your prices accordingly. You should figure out exactly how much your competitors are charging per impression.

If your competitor can deliver more impressions than you each month, you will want to lower the amount you charge per impression by a slight amount, something like 10%. If you can deliver more impressions than your competitor, I would increase the amount you charge per impression by 10%. After you start selling ads it will become easier to determine whether you can sell your ads for more or not – this formula is here only to get you started.

Example: Your competitor is charging $500 per month for an ad spot and can deliver 500,000 impressions to that ad each month. That means he/she is charging $0.001 per impression. That’s 1/10th of a cent.

If you can deliver 50,000 impressions to an ad, charging the same amount per impression would give you a price of $50 per month. Lowering your rate by 10% would give you a monthly price of $45. This gives a slightly better value than your competitor, which is a trade off for not being able to deliver as many impressions.

Step 4 – Create a solid advertising page.

9 out every 10 banners I sell are sold directly from my ‘Advertise‘ page. In order to sell advertising, you will need to put your best foot forward – talk about your strengths as a site.

Possible Strengths:

  • High amount of traffic
  • Valuable traffic – maybe you don’t have that much but you have people that are looking to spend a few thousand dollars on a cosmetic surgery or something.
  • Targeted traffic
  • Solid organic traffic – Organic traffic has a longer attention span than social traffic.
  • Good rankings for solid keywords
  • Loyal traffic

I use PayPal subscription buttons to make the sales on my advertising page. That way, all of my ads are sold on subscription. During the first few months I sold my own advertising, I created a HUGE hassle for myself by not selling on subscription. I had to invoice each advertiser every month and that ended up being a major pain. Switching to the subscription method made my life a lot easier.

These subscription buttons can easily be made from your PayPal account. You simply go to ‘Merchant Services’ and then click the ‘subscribe’ link in the ‘Create Buttons’ section. It will have a simple form that you will use to create the button, and will then give you code that you will paste in on your advertising page.

Step 5 – Contact potential advertisers.

At this point you basically have two options. Firstly, you could wait around hoping that you can make advertising sales from the traffic you currently have. I’m doing this now, and am selling out my advertising almost every month. However, in the beginning I was a lot more aggressive, because I needed to be.

After I created my ad sections and set my pricing, I contacted all of the companies that were advertising on my competitors’ sites. This resulted in some sales during the first week. I didn’t have an awesome sales rate, but was able to get a few because I contacted so many people. I want to say I contacted about 30 and sold maybe 3.

When I emailed these companies about the possibility of advertising on my site, I let them know that I was offering advertising at a better rate than other sites they were advertising on.

It’s very wise to contact some sites in the beginning, because once you have some legit advertisers, it becomes a lot easier to sell to more.

One trick that I considered using (in the end I didn’t have to) was selling a few spots at a huge discount. For example, you could contact a premium advertiser in your industry and offer them an ad spot for $1 per month. That gets a high-end advertiser in your ad section and that looks great to potential advertisers. As an alternate method, you could tell them that you would like to give them free advertising for a few months. That way, you get a premium advertiser in your ad section and might be able to sell to them after the free period ends.

Conclusion

Selling your own advertising can result in a lot more profit for your online business. Making that sale will require creating a good perception and providing a little more value than your competitors. This value can be provided by either providing more impressions or a better rate per impression.

Comments 102

  1. Very nice article Court ! Recently David Peralty at Xfep also wrote such an article. I have stumbled it and bookmarked it too and will come back to this article when I plan to pitch advertisers directly of my blog. 🙂

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    2. HOLY COW BATMAN! Your article was better, NO it is better than something something flix. T

      There is so much to learn, more importantly, stick to the basics.
      I have been gearing up to make sales calls, mind you I said gearing up. Back in the day, I was CHA CHING, I used to be the STAR no one could outsell me. Then I burnt out, as stars are want to do. I went to college became a paralegal for 4 years made my attorney rick and left with peanuts. Wait I am exaggerating. There weren’t any peanuts.
      Now, I am back in the straight commission advertising world taking the big gamble on me, OMG, I sat with a giant list in front of people to call. I did the homework.
      Truth be told when it came to the phone, I was scared a bit today.
      I felt a bit rusty. I did make a few calls, drafted, and sent a couple emails. To bad, they came back. What is it with people having the dead email links? LOL
      Then, It dawned on me . The reason I was putting it/ making sales calls, off is because I do not wish to burn leads.
      Yep, that is it.
      This is where your brilliant article came in. It made me remember. It brought me back to what is REAL in the world of sales, the basics, pick up the phone say HI. The pitch will come. Heck even if one is not that great a closer just dialing the numbers, and saying Hello, how are you my name is Shannon will get me at least 3 out of 30. Minimum, There is a Court voice in my head and it says, once I get to 30 it is ON, Keep PLUGGING!!!!
      Well, again, thanks. I did put you in my favorites bar. No doubt I shall be back in the morning, before I make my first contact. You can be the gas in my tank. Perhaps, I will write back; let you know when I hit the 30 mark and what happened?
      Shannon in Charleston, S.C.

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  2. Awesome tips Court! I just recently changed my blog’s theme to include some ad spots and signed up for an affiliate program with Commission Junction. I was really looking for some advice on how to prepare and where to begin looking for advertisers, and your timing with this post could not have been better. Thanks!

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  3. Thanks for the mention Court! 🙂 We definitely sell our own ads, I have a rate card, placement guidelines, and even discount ads just for our readers.

    One of the things I learned at the b5media Blog Network Camp at SXSW in March was that they said to make it as simple and easy as possible for advertisers to buy from you. He suggested creating flat rates or simple ‘Buy Now’ packages so that media buyers, especially those from ad agencies, can make a buying decision quickly.

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  4. Hey Court, I don’t currently have or sell any ad space on my sites – what do you think about starting off with Text Link Ads first? Is it worth it? Thanks!

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  5. Vesy good article and a lot of practical advise in it!

    I am selling my own advertisement and at the same time have Adsense blocks on my blog and I can confirm that by selling my own ads I earn at least the same amount of money, if not more than Adsense or other advertising programs.

    One of the most powerful things when selling advertisement in a blog, in my opinion, is to have a very clear explanation why the ad space a blogger provides is valuable for the clients. If a blogger manages to prove that there is enough value in her offer, the ads will follow.

    Regards from Bulgaria!

  6. Good guide, but in my experience selling direct advertising on a blog that isn’t HUGE is very hard.

    First, you won’t be able to attract any big advertisers because you don’t have the scale to make buying from you worth their time. That leaves small businesses, most of which stick to PPC where they get guaranteed traffic. These business are accustomed to PPC and very weary of taking risks.

    Second, banner ads don’t work. The just plain don’t, I see the clickthroughs on my own sites and they’re terrible. Texts ads within content work the best.

    If you want to make money, I’d recommend targeting a niche with some great affiliate programs, sniping some relevant search terms, and integrating the offers into your content.

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      John my blog isn’t huge and I have done very well selling ads. I also have advertisers that have renewed each month for the last 7 months. I think you would have to agree that they believe that they’re getting their money’s worth.

  7. Very interesting and valuable article, particularly for me as I only recently started selling private ads on my community building blog. I decided against having ads in the sidebar, and instead they appear horizontally above all articles – I feel this gives them a better placement for advertisers.

    Having said that though, I refuse to allow advertising on my homepage and feel this could be putting off some potential advertisers.

    – Martin Reed

  8. Great article. I have been thinking about do this. I was starting to go toward affiliate banners to collect some commision. This sounds like a great avenue to look into though.

  9. Court, your example on setting rates talks about 500k and 50k impressions. If we’re selling space on keyword sniper sites, how many of these sites are going to see nearly that much traffic? Selling for a tenth of a penny per impression isn’t going to be worth the effort if you’re seeing much less than 50k unique visitors. What is your recommendation for price setting when basing on impressions doesn’t really work out?

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      Vinny 1/10th of a cent is an example. In another industry, you might be able to sell your banner for 10 cents per impression. This is why you have to do your research to find out what people are charging.

      With a keyword sniper approach, selling banners will often not work. Not every monetization method works with every approach. Since the keyword sniping method targets small amounts of traffic on each site, this isn’t the best fit. However, if you can get some good targeted traffic that a business could make a lot of money from (surgery comes to mind), advertisers would probably pay a premium for a very small amount of traffic.

  10. What in your opinion should be the minimum impressions a site gets, before they advertise for private ad deals?

    Is there even a minimum. I presently have private ads available but i’m not super pro-active with them. I might try contacting advertisers directly, as you mention. I think my sidebar is pretty valuable in my niche, just need to set it up more strategically.

    Good article. Thanxs!

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      Missy that’s very hard to say. If you have less than 100 uniques per day you probably need to work on traffic, but this is just an estimation. Honestly, it depends on the industry of the site.

      1. My main blog (Groovy Vegetarian) is averaging about 250-300 uniques daily. Feel free to take a look at it. Let me know what tips you have for me specifically on getting private ad deals.

        Would appreciate it. Peace, Missy.

  11. Court, your automation of the process sounds great. But do you have a process to screen advertisers that you feel are not appropriate for your site?

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      Yeah I tell them no if I don’t feel they are appropriate for my site. 🙂

      PayPal allows you to give an easy refund with no penalties.

  12. Court, if my questions are too personal please ignore my boldness and move on.

    With 8 banner ads at $100 per month and 10 sponsor link ads at $40 per month is your revenue for this site capped at $1200 per month?

    Do you make more money from a flagship blog like this one, or from a whole bunch of niche sites? And on which do you recommend spending most of your time?

    Thanks in advance for being so open with this type of information. I find this blog to be a very valuable resource and refer to it frequently as I’m trying to build my own business.

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      Soy Boy you can make great money with both options. No, my earnings are not capped at $1200 per month. I created this site to be able to find potential clients, and it has done a great job for that. While I’m not going to disclose the income of the site, I can tell you that it is many times that number.

      I also have niche sites that have given me an incredible return on my time investment.

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      My ads are actually placed in the same location as my competitors Jason. Some of them are above the fold, and some are below. It all comes down to market competition and value with this type of thing.

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  15. Court,

    first, don’t approve this comment..

    Just wanted to let you know there is a typo. 4th paragraph under the “leave room for ads” section, the first sentence says..
    ” knew that I would need to banners to ”

    maybe should say “need the banners to”?

    just wanted to give ya the heads up!
    -Ross
    http://epntips.com

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  16. Court,

    I have been considering other means of generating revenue from my site other than Adsense. This is very helpful. Many of the people in the know are using the 125 by 125 sidebar ads. I will be trying to sell ad space on a blogger blog. My question here is will the advertiser have the actual banner made already, because that’s something I don’t know how to do. Or do you create the banners?

    Thanks,
    chris

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  17. I really like your idea for an Advertise page. I’ve been a one-woman show now for over a decade and generally showcase only affiliate ads/eBay/amazon.com things on my site.

    Your article has been extremely helpful in giving me ideas about how to branch out further – thanks!

    Barbara

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  20. This is exactly the info I was looking for, and the questions I had while reading the article were sufficiently answered after reading all the comments. Thank you again for such a wealth of info. I found your site completely by accident from a tiny link on a competitor’s site in my niche, and am so very glad!
    Homemaker Barbi (Danelle Ice)

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  22. Selling directly to advertisers and cutting the exchanges like Google out can be immensely rewarding. It is easy to forget though how time consuming brokering your own ads can be. Though after your site reaches a certain size it is worth the time and the effort to go it on your own as the reward is commensurate with the effort.

  23. How do we pay the taxes from the earning from personal blogs? Do we not need to? I am a new resident in US and I wish to learn about it.

  24. Here is the new tool for making website owners meet their prospective ad buyers, check it out at SelfAdNet.com

  25. This is great information. I’ve just started up blogging and am developing a new site with the intention of earning income through advertising, but have been very unsure on where to get started (aside from AdSense). At any rate, I feel like I have a good place to start. I found everyone’s questions and your answers to be especially helpful. I’m sure I’ll be back to this page with some follow-up questions.

  26. This is very interesting. Is there any issue about one’s website page rank being diminished if you run ads without the no follow tag? I am assuming you don’t make the links no follow but have heard of websites being penalized for this. Just curious on your views.

  27. Thanks for the advice, I have been trying to sell advertising on my blog, but it’s been a failure. I am considering reducing my price and looking for a good way to show my traffic statistics.

  28. After so many weeks I am able to find a blog providing good information about the affiliate programs. I am glad to see that there are still few persons on the internet who are NOT using auto blog posters. Creating a blog like yours and maintaining it are difficult tasks but you managed it. Ok! Come to the point. However, you have tried to give good information about affiliate programs but I am still against affiliate programs. I mean fault is not in the affiliate programs but in the people. They do not want to work hard and leave the programs after some time. Now, you might be thinking, if I am against affiliate programs then why I am here at your blog. Actually I am doing some sort of research on affiliate programs and when started reading your blog, I sticked to it and could not stop myself writing comment. I am not so much against affiliate programs, but my nature is a sort of experimenting. I keep on doing experiments for making money in new ways. If you visit my website, clicking on my name in this comment then you are bound to get amazed. If, I write more about my site then you will think that I am spamming and I do not want to get my comment considered as spam. So, again from the begining, you have done a very good job! Hard work is appreciated! Well done! Thanks for providing such a nice detailed information. Keep it up!

  29. i am not sure about the fact that google keeping 50% of adsense revenue with them… do you have a any way to prove it or it just a thought of your mind……

  30. Hi
    I’m so glad I came across your blog. I am a SAHM and desperately want to be able to have a successful site. I really have no clue what I am doing, but I’m not gonna stop till I figure it out. So thank you so much for posting tis because it gives me a lot of inspiration.

    Mel

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  32. Hey really great post!

    I was just wondering if you sells ads on your website by paypal or check do you have to pay taxes on your earnings? That whole process is confusing to me so i thought i would ask. Thanks!

  33. A great post, but a little more you should tell about how to contact the companies, and where to find such companies in real. Saying is easy but doing is the real job…..

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  37. I found more informative things here, As you said me too contacted many advertisers by mail, but success rate is very low. Need to implement new trick.

  38. We’re a bunch of volunteers and beginning a new initiative in a community. Your blog offered us valuable info to work on. You might have completed a marvellous job!

  39. I think I have come to the right place for my requirement. Though not very clear this article gave some hints to me to make my site earn some income. I would like to sell ads on my site and make a begining. Thanks for the content

  40. I’ve never sold text link ads, I think it’s a dangerous practice. That said, I’m very interested in banner advertising. When I started out years ago, I sought link exchange partners and established good relationships which continues to this day. As my site grew in popularity, people began approaching me for link exchange. Unfortunately most of those sites were cloaking or not in my niche.

    About one month ago, my website was recently elevated to page rank 4 and since that time I’ve been contacting advertisers about placing banner ads on my site. I’m still waiting for replies from most of them. But today I was approaching by a company in my niche that wants to exchange links across six of their websites (unfortunately several of those websites are not in my niche). The contacting webmaster likely noticed that I have a link exchange partners tab at the top of each page of my website (a TypePad powered blog) and wants to be listed there.

    I want to get paid advertisements on my website and transition away from link exchange (but maintain the link partners that I already have). Is banner advertising considered the same as link exchange? And if there is a difference between them, what would be the most effective way to tell webmasters that I want to rent advertising space but not exchange links?

    Thanks.

  41. Great info, especially step 5. I had been thinking that telemarketing was the only way to go. I’d consider 3 sales out of 30 emails to be a very acceptable success rate to get started with.

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    1. Yes, yes it really does. It is a nice form of people like us trying to pull ourselves up by the boot straps before all of our teeth fall out.
      Sell ON.
      Shannon
      Charleston, SC

  45. I learned a few things from this blog today.
    Our website, http://www.weezoo.com generates leads for all types of service providers. I am trying to optimize our ad revenues on our site, especially on our articles ad blog pages. I estimated we are losing about $50K per month, by not optimizing our content and ad placements, plus relying on Google AdSense.
    I recently added a few ClickBank links on a few articles and am seeing some improvement, but I need a new strategy, overall.

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