Advertising space on the sidebar is undoubtedly one of the most popular ways for bloggers to make money. You can use Google or affiliate products to fill ad spots, but it’s always my goal to actually find a sponsor – someone who wants to purchase that advertising space. I don’t have advertising on my career blog or Blog Zombies (yet), but on the blog I write anonymously, I sell anywhere from $300 to $1000 worth of advertising per month. Considering that I don’t have to do much work for that money (most companies approach me), I’d say it’s a pretty sweet deal.
That said, sometimes you have to tell an advertiser the scary n-word: NO! Here are a few situations that I’ve experienced where it was better to just walk away:
- The product would have hurt my reputation.
Most people are smart enough to realize that just because you have an ad on your sidebar doesn’t mean that you use the product/service or even recommend it. It’s a fine line to walk, though. Before you take someone’s money an slap up a banner, take a moment to check out their business. If they’re doing something shady or selling a low-quality product, your readers could get hurt or lose money, and they’ll associate those negative experiences with you. The best case scenario is always to work with companies for products you like to recommend to others, but at least make sure the advertiser isn’t going to hurt your reputation.
- You’re driving people to a competitor.
Sometimes, it can make sense to work hand-in-hand with a competitor in your field. For example, I once traded advertising with another blogger selling similar products as mine. It made sense because we both got about the same amount of traffic and offered one another a percentage of the sales. Keep in mind that it’s not always a good idea, though. If you blog about shoes, for example, and the majority of the profit you make comes from selling affiliate products, advertising a discount shoe store on your sidebar where people can go to get the same shoes you’re trying to sell, but at a cheaper price, may not make sense. Think about the potential profit you’ll be using and make sure that the amount you’re charging for the ad is at least twice as much. Otherwise, say no.
- The advertiser is difficult.
Once, I had someone contact me to ask for advertising rates and traffic information, which I more than happily shared. True story, this is the real email reply I got, name/company removed:
We think your rates are fair, but we’re a small company and need to receive a discount. We can pay $X now and a little more in two weeks to pay for the remainder of the month of advertising. How can we pay you? And don’t say paypal!
Jane, XYZ Company”
I have to read the email several times because I really couldn’t believe it. In some cases, I’m willing to negotiate a price, but to demand a discount for no reason other than the fact that you’re a small company is a little ridiculous. I’m a small company too, so does that mean I should charge more? The “And don’t say paypal!” really made me roll my eyes too. I work with almost all of my clients through this service. Sure, I’m happy to accept a check instead – but not for half a month of advertising from a company that can barely afford to pay it.
The bottom line is that this advertiser clearly showed that it would be difficult to work with her. Could I have used that extra cash? Sure! But my time really isn’t worth the headaches she would likely cause, especially considering that I’d have to deal with her every two weeks.
The bottom line is this: Yes, selling advertising on your blog is a great way to make money, but it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes, it is okay to say no to advertisers – and for your blog, advertising might be a bad idea altogether. Try to look at the big picture to ensure that advertising is going to have a positive effect on your long-term goals, not just a positive effect on your short-term wallet.