Welcome to the second part of my Monetization series! This one’s all about making money with ads.
Ads aren’t for everyone, but they might be a perfect fit for you. I’ll be sharing my experience with all the main ad revenue streams I’ve used, and give you options for beginners and advanced bloggers alike.
What Types of Ads Are There?
Let’s go back to basics.
What’s considered an ad is an image on your site that generally falls within certain dimensions, with promotional content linking externally. The most common sizes on blogs are 300×250 which you often see in the sidebar or within the content, and 728×90 which is called a leaderboard.
One thing you can do is simply sell ad space on your site, which I’ll refer to as Private Ads.
The other thing you can do is use third-party ads. For newbies, this includes Google AdSense. For more experienced bloggers, this can mean joining an Ad Network (I’m currently with an Ad Network named AdThrive). For more advanced bloggers, another option is creating your own Ad Waterfall using third-party Ad Providers.
Should I Have Ads on My Site?
Not all blogs and websites should have ads!
If you’re selling your own products, I’d stay away from having other companies’ ads on your site. Same thing if you make a lot of affiliate commission.
When you should think of getting ads is when you have a lot of traffic that’s interested in your content rather than purchasing from you.
Pros And Cons of Blog Ads
Definitely consider the inconveniances of having ads on your site, and not just the extra income.
The cons include:
- Slower loading time. Your site will be slower to load, sometimes by a lot (unless you’re using private ads). This can mean a crappy experience for your readers and a higher bounce rate.
- Driving readers away. You’re sending readers away from your site, to random locations you have no control over.
- Less affiliate link clicks. Potentially, they’re clicking ads over your own content and your affiliate links.
- Visual clutter. The more ads, the more clutter. Some ads are video ads or they expand even without hovering over them, which is annoying as balls.
The pros are:
- Good source of extra income IF AND ONLY IF it’s compatible with your traffic and blog goals.
Hopefully you’ve figured out is ad revenue is the right monetization option for you! If you’re still interested, below is the path I recommend you follow (and also what worked for me).
Google AdSense: Baby’s First Ads!
This is what you should be looking into if you’re a new blogger. As long as you have a legitimate website, you can get accepted into AdSense and start earning ad revenue. There are no traffic restrictions, but make sure to follow the AdSense rules.
They pay per click. When I used AdSense, I was making around $1 per click, and a few cents per impression.
What sucks about these ads is that they’re often totally random and unrelated to your content. But if you place them strategically on your site (I should write a post about this), you can make decent bucks.
Another pro is that they don’t slow down your site that much.
My Experience With Google Ads
You can see here I only used Google Ads for a brief period (about 4 months). It’s also important to note that I only had 1 ad on my site, so what you see here is my stats for that single ad in the sidebar.
My RPM for that ad was $0.57, meaning that for every 1,000 readers I made 57 cents. These numbers could have been higher if I placed several ads on my site, and if they were in strategic spots.
I decided to move away from AdSense when my traffic reached about 80,000 monthly pageviews, which was the minimum required pageviews at the time to join The Blogger Network (an Ad Network I’ll be talking about further down).
Private Ads: Great For Beginners
Another great option for beginners is selling ad space on your blog, but this one requires more effort than AdSense. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers do this with ads to other blogs, but you can also do it with companies.
You could even use this method instead of Google AdSense.
How do I get Private Ads?
1. Just ask! E-mail companies who have the same target audience as your blog. If you have a small blog, ask small companies. It’s a lot of work since most companies won’t be interested, but you should find someone.
2. Mention it in your media kit. Also mention your rates and ad sizes, and of course, your blog statistics.
3. Have an “Advertise” page. Create a page with all the relevant info and your contact details. Link to that page in the footer or menu. You can also make a mock-ad for the sidebar linking to your “adverise” page.
4. Mention it in your contact page. Brands are likely to click your contact page if they want to work with you, so if you’re looking for advertisers, make sure to state it clearly on your contact page.
How much do you charge?
Your rate will depend on the size of the ad and its position, but also on your blog. Ads above the fold or inside the content are more valuable than ads at the bottom of the sidebar. If your blog has a good reputation, you can charge more.
You should charge based on the number of impressions, and this could be anywhere between $0.50 to $2.00 (or more) per 1,000 impressions.
My tip is to test the waters by telling your potential advertisers your rate, and adjusting accordingly. If no one wants to purchase ad space, go a bit lower. If everyone is saying yes, charge more!
My Experience With Private Ads
I’ve had a few private ads on my blog, so I’ll share my pros and cons.
The wonderful thing about them is that you have complete control. They also don’t slow down your site at all, since you’re not using a third-party script.
That being said, I don’t think ads are very valuable anymore. Readers tend to ignore ads in general, which means that they’re valued pretty low. Companies want measurable returns, which means they not only want clicks, but also sales. Exposure and brand awareness aren’t enough for most small businesses.
In short, companies want low rates and bloggers can easily make more by joining an Ad Network. It’s not worth it for either party.
That being said, it’s still a good way of connecting with brands and making some extra income before you can join an Ad Network. Try it out!
Ad Networks: The Big Stepping Stone
I won’t lie. I have a love-hate relationship with Ad Networks, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Ad Networks take care of your ads for you. They place them on your site and manage their content. They’re a third-party, between you and the Ad Providers. They get paid by the Ad Providers and they split that income with you (generally I’ve heard that they keep around 50%).
The good thing is that they pay you per impression. The more traffic you have, the better your ad revenue.
Some popular Ad Networks:
- AdThrive (I’m with them right now)
- The Blogger Network (I was with them before)
- Mode Media
- Federated Media
For some of these, you’ll need to have at least 80,000 pageviews a month. That’s the requirement with The Blogger Network, and I also know that AdThrive requires 100,000.
I also know that BlogHer makes you sign a long contract (no thanks).
My Experience With The Blogger Network
The application process was quick and easy. It involved a phone call where they give you all the details. The best thing about TBN (they’re now called Monumetric) is that they let you insert the ad code yourself, and it’s very simple to set up.
They offer regular ads, but also in-content and in-image ads. On my blog, I didn’t want to clutter my content with ads, so my setup was very basic and I was mainly using sidebar ads.
The screenshot above is from January 2016. My RPM was $1.73 in January, but it was around $0.90 outside of the Christmas rush (and $2.96 in December at the peak). The average was not very high.
Another issue I had was crappy video ads that start playing audio on their own. Thankfully the team helped me block those ads.
After looking at other bloggers’ income reports and seeing that they’re having great results with AdThrive, I decided to switch.
My Experience With AdThrive
Getting into AdThrive was more of a pain. They have a waiting list and it took me months to get accepted. It’s a bigger network that manages more sites. There was no phone call, but their online customer service is solid. They basically hold your hand throughout the whole process, and they’re very friendly.
I’ll try not to get into the small details here, but one thing to keep in mind is that they use some sort of plugin that they control. You can’t install the ads yourself, and in my case, this made the ads look janky and I had to fix it.
Overall, minus the issues that are expected with Ad Networks, I’ve been satisfied with AdThrive. My RPM quadrupled with a very similar ad layout. I’m still very torn about using in-content ads or anything that would distract from my content and clutter my site, but my RPM has been over $4 which is good enough.
Ad Waterfalls: For Experienced Bloggers
The Ad Networks mentioned above partner with several ad providers to display their ads on your blog. But there’s a way to cut out the middle man and directly partner with those ad providers, which means you can keep ALL the ad revenue generated by your blog.
You can do that whole process yourself by creating an Ad Waterfall. This is something I’m currently looking into, but I haven’t started the process yet. An Ad Waterfall means that you’re lining up different providers for the same ad. When the ad gets an impression, it tries to display an ad from the first provider. If there’s nothing, it moves onto the next privder, and the next, until the ad is filled (resulting in a paid impression for you).
There are many pros to this other than getting to keep all the profit. For one, you have more control over your ads and which providers you choose. You can also limit the number of providers so that your site doesn’t take an eternity to load! You’re also very close to having a 100% fill rate (meaning that an ad will be displayed 100% of the time the ad loads).
If I get around to trying this method, I’ll definitely be posting my results.
I hope this post was helpful to the new (and not so new) bloggers out there! Be sure to check out more from my Monetization series if you want to know how to make more money with your blog!