Build a Badass Business Podcast #17: How to make money with a blog, Part 2 – Ads & Sponsors

Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

BABAB-PODCAST-Square_Episode-17There are a lot of ways to monetize a blog. In this series of episodes, I'm going to touch on the various approaches you can take. Today, I'm talking all about ads and sponsorships and the options and considerations to be made therein.


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Build a Badass Business: Episode #17: How to make money with a blog, Part 2 – Ads & Sponsors  

Coming to you straight from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey guys! Back with a new episode today. Today I’m going to talk about how to make money from your blog, part 2. I’m going to talk about ads and sponsorship.

First off, let me give you a little disclaimer on this. I wanted to talk about it because it’s an important and relevant topic; however, this is not a way that I make money from my blog per say, so I don’t consider myself an in depth expert on this. When I find somebody who I think is an expert in this, and this is a huge way that they make money from their site, I’ll definitely bring them on their show, talk to them about it some more, and give you guys some more inside information, background, tips and trips, etc.

So that being said, let me get into what I think are 3 issues or 3 kinds of topics to think about when you look at earning money from your blog using ads and sponsorship. The number one most important thing with regards to ads and sponsorship, and this is something that I do and I pay attention to, and it’s something I am working on actually currently right now with the rebuild for my main website, which depending on when you listen to this, you’ll go to the site and it will either have been that way for a while or from the first time you’ve been seeing it, or if you’ve been following me for a while, it’s going to launch probably by the end of July 2015. So if you’re listening after that, you’ll be seeing the new site anyway.

The number one thing to think about if you want to earn money from your website using ads or sponsorship will be traffic that you’re getting. What’s critical to the traffic that you’re getting on your website is search engine optimization, and that relates to not only the way that you set up the content that called meta content; so this is high level overarching content that search engines are able to read and use to identify what’s in your post, but also the actual content of the post. I think when we talk about blogging, and I did talk about blogging in one of the early episodes, so go back and listen to that.

When we talk about blogging, it’s critical that you do what you feel you want to do with your blog; write about topics that you want to write about; however, if you’re trying to get a lot of traffic to your site, optimizing the content for search engines is critical, and that means partially making it friendly for search engines. So you’re using key words and phrases that people might naturally type into Google and say, hey, I’m looking for information on this. But that you’re also trying to target the content that you’re writing around different topics that people do find you for.

This is something that I’ll try and get into more in depth on later. I might interview the marketing coach that I’m working with right now, and talk to him a little bit more about that to give you guys some inside information on that. But essentially, let’s say there are 5 to 7 different topics that you tend to write about most and that people find you for. So a great example of that would be healthy recipes or paleo recipes for me. Obviously, when I think about what kind of content I want to put on my blog, I don’t avoid putting up recipes, because it’s something that a huge majority of people are finding me for. I also will write things like a frequently asked questions post. I’ll write about healthy cooking fats, or tips for digestion, things like that, that people are finding my website for. So that’s part of what I’m talking about with search engine optimization.

It’s not just those super technical things; those elements of what we call meta content, but I’m going to talk about that in another second here. So really thinking about the content that you’re writing, making sure that it’s rich and it’s deep in the sense that as you write something, think about what somebody might be searching for online that you want your post to answer that question.

So let’s just say, for example, somebody is looking for a way to make a healthy fruit slushy, right? I have a blog post on my site that’s a recipe, and I’m going to make sure in the recipe post that I write out different ways that somebody might call that slushy. So maybe they spell slushy with a “Y”. Maybe they spell it with an “IE”. Maybe they write, how can I make a healthy Slurpee, because they’re used to Slurpee as a brand name from 7-11. So findings ways within the post itself to write those words out will help with the optimization of the post.

So here’s a little inside tip on something that I use on my blog, and I think a lot of other bloggers are using currently, and it’s a plug-in called Yoast, and it’s spelled like “toast” but with a Y. This will help you to optimize the posts that you have for the content that you want it to be optimized for. So you’ll pick a keyword or key phrase, and you’ll make sure that the rest of the post and the rest of the meta content aligns with that.

There’s also a way to edit and optimize what they’re calling the social meta content. So you notice, when you pull a post into Facebook to share the link, there’s certain content that appears in the title of the link, in the description and the photo, and that is stuff that you can all edit within Yoast as the plug-in. You can even have a different image that’s on your post; say for example you use a square or a long image on your blog post, but you know that Facebook prefers a rectangular image, so you can put a rectangular image in that little plug-in area. You’ll see where it is when you load it. And your blog post may not even have that picture, but then Facebook will pull that picture in. So it’s a really cool plug-in, I’ve been using it lately.

And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m what I’m going to call; I don’t know if it’s a type A or a type B. I have to decide {laughs} what type A is and type B. I think the type A business person/entrepreneur might actually be a more calculated type of person who wants to do everything really perfectly, and some of you listening may be that type. I’m not that type. I think the type B business person is the one who kind of goes full steam ahead and is like a freight train, and then looks back and goes, oh, maybe I should make sure that track is a little bit neater {laughs} because if I’m trying to run that course again, as a train running down a track; you know, a track being more guided or having a map or a route planned out might be good. So, all that to say that a lot of the search engine optimization on my own site was really not there, so I’ve had this site that’s ranking really well, that people visit very frequently, but it just hasn’t been something that I’ve but a lot of attention into, and time. And it is something that I’m doing now, so I wanted to tell you guys about that.

The one other point I want to bring up now, and there’s so much more we can talk about in terms of search engine optimization and traffic and all that stuff; again, because I don’t consider myself a high level expert on it, I don’t want to kind of get into a ton of details. But the other thing I wanted to mention here, and again this is something that I’m doing right now with my site is in order to have a site ranking better and have all of your posts ranking better, your site needs to be responsive. What it means to have a responsive website, and I think you all have experienced this, even if you don’t know this term, is that when you access a site on a mobile device, like a phone or an iPad, the website itself has a different look, and that means that the site has built in intuition to respond to the device that you’re on, and present you with a different view than you might have on the site itself.

Now, some websites are going to look really similar on a laptop, for example, and a phone or an iPad because certain people, they decide that 80% of the traffic they’re getting is from a mobile device, they don’t care that the laptop version might look more like a mobile version would look, because they’re recognizing that’s where their traffic is coming from. That’s different for everyone. I do think definitely more than 50% of traffic to most websites these days is coming from a mobile device, whether that’s a phone or an iPad. That will be different for you site, and you’ll need to look into some of the analytics on your site to find that out.

That’s something that, as I’m redesigning the new website and working with my team, I’m testing everything on my laptop because that’s where I access my site most often, but I know that I’m also going to pull up the page on my phone and see how it looks on my phone, see what that experience is like. I personally like to do it right on the phone; I don’t like to use a plug-in that shows me a sample on my laptop of how it will look on my phone, I like the experience of flicking my finger and getting that interaction there. It’s really important though, for Google especially, that your site is responsive and it will help with search engine optimization. So if you don’t have a theme that you’ve selected that’s responsive, you may want to go back and pick one that has that capability.

Quickly, how you’ll know if you’re site is responsive, when you open it on a mobile device you’ll tend to see that little square icon with what looks almost like a little paper stack and that, when you tap on it, it gives you the menu. That’s how you know the site is responsive. There are some quasi-responsive websites that change shape and are more functional on your phone than they would be if they weren’t responding at all to the device, but I don’t think that’s a truly responsive site. I think a truly responsive site has a totally different way to access the navigation and it’s much more intuitive to being on a phone.

Ok, so the second point here, once you have search engine optimization going, you have some traffic coming to your website, and you want to find a way to monetize that and make some money from it, Google AdSense is the program you’re going to want to look into. Again, I’m not going to get into all the nitty gritty and the details of it, because I honestly do believe that a lot of what you’ll do as an entrepreneur, you can totally learn and get a step by step from anyone. From myself, from someone like Amy Porterfield, who I love her podcast, but I find the most value top to bottom in you digging in and having an “I’m going to figure this out” kind of attitude. Because you’ll learn more than you would, even from listening to a podcast that tells you how to do something exactly, because there might be an element of how to do something that you would do differently than someone like Amy Porterfield. Or, your business is different in a certain way, and if you follow someone else’s formula, you’re not going to figure out or learn what might be ideal or best for you.

So I do think that investing time in that has so many immense rewards down the road. That’s something I’ve done my whole career as just an entrepreneur in general. I was figuring out how to use email marketing; I used constant contact in the very beginning when I had a jewelry business years and years ago, and figuring that out then lent itself forward to how I would use an emailing list in the future. So, following someone else’s step by step or hiring someone else for stuff if you do have the money, I don’t always recommend that. I do think that just sitting down and getting your brain wrapped around how everything works is very critical.

Again, AdSense, it’s the Google ads program. You can go into Google.com/adsense or just search AdSense; it’s A-D and then S-E-N-S-E, like senses. You’ll see how to set that up on your website, and that will go based on your traffic and based on the content that you have, there are a lot of different things that you can select about what types of ads are showing.

A caveat, or a caution here. I see a lot of websites; I don’t have AdSense on my site. It’s not a judgment or, it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it just is what it is, and it’s just not something that resonates with me. I personally don’t care for it. I don’t like visiting sites that have a lot of ads on them. So you can create ads in a way that it will be relevant content to that person; there’s a way that these ads get targeted, well let’s just say for example I go to a website, and I had previously been searching on Zappos.com for some Uggs over the winter; and it will be something that I was searching for in the last week or two generally, but the ads that show on that site will respond to me, and they’ll have user information for me. So let’s just say I visit some random recipe website; I’ll see an ad for the shoes I was just looking at.

So it’s not all random and weird, and these ads are not cool, and interesting, and relevant to the person who might be on your site. However, as a user, the experience that I have when I visit other people’s sites that have more than maybe one placement for an ad, I just don’t enjoy that experience. But I don’t have a judgment personally against, because I know that everyone needs to make money, and some of those people are probably making tons of money from those ads. They may not have something else that they’re selling that brings a lot of money in. They may put all of their content on their blog for free, and decide that earning money from ads is the number one approach for them. That’s totally fine, it’s just different for everyone.

I don’t have that commitment level to the traffic on my website. I didn’t have ideal optimization on my site before, and I have different streams of revenue that come in that are not hinging on the traffic on my website in the same way. So for me, it’s not the way that I go, but I do see tons of websites doing it, and I know that it can be a really fantastic way to generate income, so AdSense, that’s a Google product, and you can look into that.

Ok, so the third point I want to bring up here, and this does relate back to the optimization that you have, the content you have, the traffic you have, but the number three point here would be sponsorships. You can absolutely place very specific ads; just an image with a link to a certain company that you decide to engage in a sponsorship with. Now, the way that these sponsorships might be packaged or the pricing that you’ll get for them or that you’ll offer the sponsor for the ad, that’s highly, highly variable and depends on the traffic that you have. You can do some research and see what’s typical for an ad placement of a certain size and a certain location, based on the type and amount of traffic that you have to your website. This is also something that I personally feel can be highly variable.

So, if you want to charge X number of dollars, and that sponsor wants to be on your website and they know what your traffic is, and you break it down for them, there’s no rule here that says they can’t pay X amount of dollars, whatever it is you want to charge. There’s no rule that says you have to charge a certain amount, or that you shouldn’t charge a certain amount. Totally up to you. We’ll talk a little bit maybe later on about podcasting and how we work the sponsorship with the podcasting, but essentially when I first started getting sponsors for the show, I only did it to cover the cost of doing the show, which it still essentially only covers the cost. We really don’t make money on those sponsorships; it’s really just about paying for the time and the people who are doing the work behind the scenes on getting the show produced and live for everyone.

So when it comes to ads on your site that might be a sponsorship ad, this is something where you can be a lot more specific. If there’s a product or program that you love and you want to promote it; seek out, find out if they have an affiliate program, which I talked about in part 1, and that’s one way to put an ad on your site where you just link to your own affiliate link. But a sponsorship link; again, this is my opinion, I wouldn’t say there’s any rule for this, but I would recommend that people don’t double dip with a sponsorship link.

For example; if I have a sponsorship from a company like Pete’s Paleo, who’s been sponsoring the Balanced Bites podcast for a really long time. The links that I have to Pete’s Paleo from my website, from the blog post that we put up for every episode, are not affiliate links. I’m not taking money from them to place the ad, and then taking a cut of anything that we might help them sell of their meals. This is where you can kind of pick and chose; do you want to be an affiliate for someone, maybe you’re earning potential as an affiliate is much higher. Or maybe you think that company would do well just to have the brand awareness from your website. People are going to click over there, check them out, buy something, and that’s where you might work with a sponsorship.

So you can take X number of dollars, whether that’s per month, per quarter, per biannually, or per year to have an ad on your website. This is something that you would work with the company on. Maybe you just work out what you want to do for your site. Maybe you decide, ok, I want to take two or three sponsors for my website; here’s how much I would feel comfortable charging them to be on the site for a month at a time or whatever the duration is that you decide, and here’s how often I would allow them to change what I put in that ad so that might be a good thing to say, ok, seasonally we can change what’s on the graphic or make a new offering in terms of if there’s a coupon code on the graphic. Change that at a certain time.

For me, for the podcast, I went from sponsorships that were quarterly to every 6 months for 2 reasons; one, it was kind of a paperwork headache for us on the backend to have to go back and talk to the sponsors every 3 months about reupping, but quite frankly I do think that the awareness that comes from being a sponsor on our show for 6 months at a time is much better than 3 months, because I just don’t think in 3 months’ time we really give the listeners enough background and time to hear about that product, so I find that I think 6 months is better. So it really just depends on what you want to do.

If you’re really new to this, you might need to take a lot less per month for the ad, it might need to be on a monthly basis, and that company may want to see some direct sales. Maybe they have a coupon code that’s exclusive to you, and they want to see that people are using it before they reup. But I would say, I honestly think that less than 3 months at a time for an individual sponsor like that, that you’re having to work with one on one, I don’t think it’s enough time to build rapport and build a relationship with your readers, so I do think that 3 months at a time would be a good way to go.

Alright, that’s all I have for you guys today. Any questions that you have about this, please feel free to jump over to the Facebook group, ask questions. Maybe you want to post about your experience with this. Again, the in depth on how ads work and all of that stuff, I am not the number 1 expert. I am going to look for somebody who can teach you a little bit more about this so we can get an interview going, but I just wanted to illuminate these topics for you, open your eyes up to this other way of making money on your website, and hopefully kick you off in a good direction.

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