Frugal Foodie Mama: It's Not Just About the Size of the Ad...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's Not Just About the Size of the Ad...

It seems like every blogger I know is selling, swapping, and using ads as giveaway booty lately.  Ads are fabulous, right?  You can gain some exposure, attract a few followers to your blog from a different follower base, increase your pageviews, and hopefully make so new bloggy friends in the process.  But, let's be real.  When we are looking to actually purchase an ad (aka, whip out the old Paypal account), we expect to receive something tangible in return, correct?  We want to leave that blog 30 days later and say yes, I have new followers because of this partnership.  Because when it really comes down to it, that is what most bloggers are going for.  We want more dedicated readers.  More Twitter followers.  More Facebook Likes. If any of those above things are not important to you and your blog (and there is nothing wrong with that), then why are you even thinking of buying an ad in the first place?

Okay, so you want to increase readership.  You are looking to step out there and buy an ad.  How do you know from which blog buying an ad will benefit you the most?  From my experience over the past couple of months, here are a few pointers...

  • It is not always about the size of the ad.  Yes, it is pretty sweet to have a large ad near the top of another blog's sidebar.  But you have to look beyond size and placement.  Let's be really real here.  How often have you yourself actually clicked on an ad of any size on a blog's sidebar?  (*This is me NOT raising my hand.*)  To be honest, I never really even look at my ad stats on Passionfruit since they only track clicks for my ads.  I know people don't click on them often because I don't.  I rely more on my Blogger Traffic Sources and my Google Analytics.
  • But it is about what perks that particular sized ad comes with.  It is the general rule that they larger the ad, the more and better the perks and exposure.  Not always, but generally.  With a larger ad, you typically get some individualized attention.  Think a guest post from you, an giveaway hosted by you on that blog (which means most of the entries for that giveaway are all about you), a sponsor spotlight, etc.  But beware of the generic sponsor spotlight.  Be sure to check back in that person's blog and read some of their other sponsor spotlight posts.  If they actually title them "Sponsor Spotlight", then that may not be a good sign.  I know a lot of bloggers do this and I don't mean to offend, but I know that I typically scroll right on past those in my blog reader. Look for creativity in how they are spotlighting their current sponsoring blogs or shops.  
  • Not all social media shout-outs are created equal.  Often an ad spot description will say something like 1-2 social media shout-outs per week.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it varies from sponsor to sponsor and it isn't a bad idea to drop the sponsor you are considering an email to ask for clarification.  I have bought ad spots where the social media shout-outs they were referring to were once a week group #FF tweets or some other group tweet.  Again, how many of us actually ever pay attention to those?  How many of us have ever actually ended up following someone because of a #FF tweet?  Now there is nothing wrong with them, and I am not condemning the bloggers who do them.  Because you could gain a new follower or two from this.  But if you are looking for more bang for your Paypal buck, I would expect some organic tweets.  Meaning they had actually read a post on your blog, liked it, and want to share it with their followers.
  • Can you hear me now?  I know it has happened to us all.  We get hooked up with an ad from a blogger (whether paid for, swapped, or won) and then well, we never really hear from them... ever.  Except if they have a group giveaway that they want sponsors for, and then that may be the first, only, and last time you hear from them that month. Communication is key to having an ad be successful, and my friends, it is a two way street.  You also have to communicate with your sponsor about link parties, giveaways, etc that you would like for them to be promoting.  Do not expect them to have Blogger ESP.  How can you know if a blogger you might want to sponsor will communicate well with you?  Well, how about you click on one of those ads in their sidebar (preferably the size ad you are considering buying), and drop that blogger or shop owner an email and just ask them?  ;)  There is no need to be shy when asking for a referral.
  • Their followers is just a number if... they don't lift a finger to promote you.  Typically bloggers with larger followings will charge more for their ads.  And it can be well worth it, if they work for you and do not just slap your ad on their sidebar.  But sometimes you have to look past the number.  I have had smaller blogs with less than 300 followers bring more traffic to my blog (and new followers!) than blogs I have had ads with that had over 1,000 followers.  Just something to ponder, friends.
  • Don't try to sell steaks to a vegetarian.  In other words, if you have a foodie blog then you may want to skip placing an ad on a strictly fashion blog.  Unless you mix some fashion posts in with your foodie posts, and are looking to expand your readership a bit.  I have never actually purchased an ad on a blog that wasn't somewhat similar to mine.  But I have won ads on blogs that were a world away from my blog.  And to be honest, not much came of those sponsorships.  The bloggers were lovely and all, but their reader base wasn't my reader base.  I can't expect to "sell" natural parenting to readers of a college-aged fashion blog, you know?  So consider the audience of the blog you are thinking about buying an ad from.  Is it similar to your own?
  • Don't be afraid to barter a little.  And no, I am not talking about haggling with a blogger about their ad prices.  What I am talking about, is trading or swapping with other bloggers.  And that can go beyond, "let's trade blog buttons".  Say you want to purchase an ad from a particular blog, but you are tapped out on your ad budget or their asking price is bit out of your price range.  But you create a mean blog planner. Or you have some blog design skills.  Or you make some pretty cool jewelry.  Don't be afraid to email that blogger and ask about a possible trade. Some spiffy new social media buttons for an ad spot?  The worst that can happen is that they say no, right? ;)
So, everything has checked out, you have weighed the options (and the price) and you feel pretty good about your possible new sponsorship?  Then I say go ahead and click the Buy Now button. :)

What has been your experiences with purchasing ads from other blogs?  Do you have any pointers to share?

*This is the first post in a 3 post series I am doing on becoming a blog sponsor.  Be looking for post #2 next Wednesday.  I do not claim to be an expert on all things blog sponsorship, so I encourage you all to also share your insights and tips in the Comments section below.