10 Steps To Monetizing A Blog With Advertising Sales

Selling advertising space is one of the most common blog monetization strategies.

And it’s easy to understand why – it’s one of the easiest strategies to implement.

But how exactly do you get started with selling advertising space on your blog? What steps do you need to take?

In this post, you’ll find a bunch of practical tips you can use to get started.

Just because advertising is one of the easier monetization strategies, doesn’t mean it’s the right option for you. Be sure to check out our article on why selling ads may not be for you.

You may find that selling digital products is more profitable – but you’ll need to create more content and you’ll need more expertise in your niche.

Then again, if you get a decent amount of traffic and need an easy way to monetize your site – selling ads may be perfect.

Let’s get started:

In order to make money selling ads on your blog, you’ll need to be able to generate a lot of traffic.

The specific amount you’ll need will vary depending on several factors, but in general, many blogs will need at least 100,000 pageviews per month in order to be able to consistently find advertisers.

Getting a large volume of traffic can be difficult (but not impossible), if your blog covers a topic that does not appeal to a large audience.

Popular topics will give you a much better chance to attract the kind of traffic that you’ll need to have success selling ad space.

The downside is that blogging in a popular industry means you’ll likely have more competition from other blogs covering similar topics.

That said, the upside of higher potential traffic is important if you want to monetize your blog with ad sales.

Not all popular topics are ideal for selling ad space, however. You’ll need to find an industry where products and services are being advertised on other websites/blogs.

Most of the companies that will want to advertise on your blog will also be advertising elsewhere, and it’s important to know that there are companies looking to reach your target audience.

You could have an extremely high traffic blog but if nobody is looking to promote their product/service to your audience, it will be a struggle to make a decent income from ad sales.

2. Double down on your SEO

Search engine traffic is critical if you want to maximize your income with ad sales.

Google has the potential to drive significant volumes of traffic to your site if you rank high.

SEO is a pretty big topic but in a nutshell, it helps to think about it like this:

If you want to rank in Google, you’ll need to publish content people are searching for. They’re looking for answers, and you need to be the go-to source for those answers (within your niche, of course).

Core areas to focus on include:

  • Blazing-fast web hosting – Think of your web host like the foundation of your website. If the foundation is weak, the entire website will buckle once you ramp up traffic. That’s why I typically go for fast web hosting like Kinsta.
  • Choose the right WordPress theme – You’ll need a lightweight and well optimized WordPress theme. There are plenty on the market, such as Astra. StudioPress themes are great too.
  • Optimize your website for page load times – Some hosts will come with their own caching solution, but there are plenty of plugins you can use to speed up WordPress.
  • Topic research – Understand which search queries (or keywords) people are searching in your niche. Use keyword research tools and then group keywords together.
  • Craft content targeting those keywords – Do your research and deliver the best content on a given topic. You’ll also need to optimize your content for those keywords.
  • Promote that content – You’ll need to spread the word about your content. Backlinks are a significant ranking factor, so you’ll need to explore link building, but you should also promote your blog (and it’s content) on as many different platforms as possible.

3. Choose your approach for managing ads

There are several ways you can go about selling and managing ads on your blog.

You can:

  • Use an ad network
  • Manage ads on your own
  • Use a WordPress plugin

Now let’s explore each in a bit more detail:

Using an ad network

One of the most popular networks for managing ads is BuySellAds.

With BuySellAds, you choose the ad sizes and locations, you set the prices, and advertisers can purchase through their platform.

BSA handle payments, recurring payments for ad renewals, wait listing, and more. This means there’s no admin work for you to do. You simply withdraw funds whenever you like.

The downside to this is that you pay them a chunk of your ad revenue (25%). That may be a deal breaker for some but it’s understandable to take that chunk considering they handle everything. And you’ll likely get advertisers directly simply because you’ve been listed on their marketplace.

For example, I’ve been using BSA for WPSuperstars.net. This has been somewhat of an experiment but I’m happy with the service. And while I have a database of contacts I can sell ads to, I haven’t needed to use it.

Selling Ads With BuySellAds

With BSA, I’ve managed to keep my ads filled for the past 12 months or so. What’s more is that I also have a queue of advertisers waiting.

I’ll be looking at other ways to develop this ad revenue – the site’s traffic has grown quite a lot and I haven’t increased ad prices, or explored other types of ads.

BSA does offer other ads such as sponsored tweets, sponsored emails, notification bars, and various other types.

Managing ads on your own

This approach is time-consuming so I’ve avoided it entirely.

It requires you to have direct contact with advertisers in order to sell ads and collect payments. You also need to ensure that ads are taken down after they are cancelled, and you’ll need to handle the banner ad graphics.

This means you’ll need to dedicated more time and effort to managing the ads. But, you won’t need to share any of that ad revenue.

Using a WordPress plugin to manage ads

Using a WordPress plugin combines some of the benefits of using a network (such as payment processing, etc) with the benefits of self-managing your ads.

This means you can semi-automate the advertising process and keep 100% of the revenue generated from ads.

You’ll need to purchase a feature-rich WordPress advertising management plugin in order to automate many of the tasks involved with managing ads.

I’d recommend a plugin like Ads Pro for this. It’s less than $50 for 6 months support but it’s a one-off fee. Ultimately, this will work out far cheaper than sharing a percentage of ad revenue.

With this plugin you can create ad zones on your blog and advertisers can purchase those ads – it’s all managed for you.

The only downside to this approach is that you’ll still need to recruit advertisers. That’s why I like the simplicity of using BuySellAds.

4. Decide on ad locations

The location and number of ads is critical in determining the price an advertiser will be willing to pay.

The most prominent locations will generally be noticed by visitors and will attract the highest prices.

Unfortunately for bloggers, these prominent locations that can bring in the most ad revenue tend to be the most intrusive to visitors. Typically, the most valuable ad location will be at the start of the content – they’ll get the most clicks so advertisers will love it.

Header ads also tend to provide advertisers with high visibility, although they will usually get fewer clicks than in-content ads.

Another good location is directly at the end of the blog post, and before comments.

Sidebar ads tend to attract fewer clicks than other locations but the location within the sidebar will have an impact too. 300×250 banners tend to be the best size to use.

The lower the ad, and the smaller it is, the less clicks it will attract which means you won’t be able to charge as much for it.

Conversely, the higher the ad, and the smaller it is, the more you’ll be able to charge for it.

If you want to make a good amount of money from ad sales, you’ll need to be prepared to display ads in prominent locations.

For example, on one of my other sites, I’ve avoided prominent locations for the moment because I make money from other sources such as affiliate links.

5. Set up an advertising page

You’re going to need to set up an advertising page on your site.

If you use BuySellAds, you’ll have a page on their site with details on things like ad impressions, sizes, and prices.

Regardless, I highly recommend you have an advertising page on your own website.

If you use BuySellAds, you can refer people to your listing. If you’re using either of the other two methods, you may want to include more details.

For example, ad prices, ad locations, basic traffic stats, audience demographics, etc.

You may want to have potential advertisers contact you for pricing details – this will allow you to tailor your advertising offering. For example you could offer a bundle where you group various ad spaces, sponsored content, ads in emails, etc.

Either way, be sure to add a simple contact form or list an email address where you can be reached.

6. Post content frequently

Since the price of your ads will be determined in large part by the amount of traffic your blog receives, you’ll need to take steps to ramp up your traffic.

Most blogs that make money from ad sales will publish at lease several new posts each week. Many will publish several each day.

Sustaining this level of content output can be difficult if you’re handling all of the content on your own, so you may want to consider hiring some freelance bloggers to write posts for you on an on-going basis. You may also want to consider hiring an editor to further streamline your content publishing process.

Large blogs typically have a team of writers and editors to ensure new content is always being published.

Don’t fall into the trap of settling for low-quality content in order to get something new on the blog. One of the secrets to maintaining high traffic levels is to ensure your blog has a reputation for quality content.

High quality content is what will earn you backlinks and social shares. This all leads back to growing your brand, your traffic, and your revenue.

Outsourcing content creation can be costly but you can offset this cost in several ways:

  • Accept guest contributors – You may be getting pitches for guest posts already. Most pitches are terrible so I prefer to do some “reverse outreach” and invite bloggers who I know to write great content.
  • Offer internships – This can provide great experience for those who are leaving school/college and want to get a job in the industry. In some countries, government grants may be available.
  • Offer a % of revenue – If you don’t have the upfront funds to hire someone part-time or full-time, you could offer a revenue split. This gives people a stake in your business, but can prove very motivational since they’re invested in the website’s success.

For many of my sites, I will occasionally reach out to other bloggers who write guest posts and invite them to contribute content.

Another challenge with maintaining content output is having a large supply of content ideas. As I mentioned earlier, keyword research is a great way to get started here, but don’t forget to look for what sort of content is performing well in your industry.

Don’t just look at blogs. Also look at what is working well on platforms like YouTube.

7. Encourage social sharing

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can be amazing sources of traffic – particularly when paired with the right sort of content.

Each time your post is shared, you’ll have the opportunity of reaching new readers and getting more traffic.

Aside from the content you publish, there are a number of ways you can encourage social sharing and increase the chances that your content will go viral.

Getting your headlines right

The most important factor is your headline. This is what gets people to your site. It needs to be engaging and interesting.

However, there is a balance to be struck. Click-bait headlines can result in plenty of traffic but they can give your site a bad reputation.

The way I like to approach take is this:

Now, there’s a lot of headline writing advice out there but what works for one industry may not work for another.

This advice should be used as a starting point only.

Don’t take someone else’s word on what will work best. Test and experiment to find what works for your own audience.

Quick tweaks you can use

There are various quick growth hacks you can implement to increase the likelihood that people will share your content.

These include:

  • Adding social share buttons to your content
  • Add media sharing to your images
  • Create tailored descriptions for certain networks
  • Add click-to-tweet buttons
  • Use OpenGraph tags
  • Use Twitter Cards
  • Create a unique Pinterest image
  • Display different social buttons (e.g. WhatsApp) on mobile
  • Displaying share counts only when they look impressive
  • Automatically reshare your older content

All these seemingly minor tweaks can give your site a serious boost.

As an example, I tried out adding media sharing to my images for a month and gained an extra 2,000 shares as a result. Sure, this was across a number of posts, but it was at a time when my main website didn’t get that much traffic.

So, how do you implement all of this?

Typically you’d need to hook together a bunch of social media tools and even some social sharing plugins.

But the simplest option would be to use an all-in-one WordPress social media plugin called Social Snap.

This plugin has all of these features loaded into it.

Maintain an active social media presence

An important part of the process is to maintain an active social media presence.

Sure, you can’t be active on every social media platform but it’s well worth picking a few key platforms that resonate with your target audience.

Set up your profile and be active every day. You’ll need to go beyond simply posting links to your own content. Communicate with others and become part of a community.

Share links to other blogs and sites that your followers will appreciate. And craft other forms of content they’ll be interested in. You could also repurpose blog posts into tips based social media posts.

8. Maximize pageviews per visitor

Ad pricing is often influenced by the number of ad impressions, not simply the number of visitors you get. So, the more pages people view, the better.

You’ve probably seen some sites using some annoying ways of doing this. Typically you’ll find a list post where there are 20+ items and you have to navigate to a new page to view each item.

While this can give you the opportunity to increase ad prices, I’m not going to recommend it. As a user, I will avoid content like this at all costs.

That said, there are several basic concepts that can increase pageviews per visitor in a more user-friendly way:

Implement user-friendly navigation

Make it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate your site as possible.

Ensure categories are labelled in a descriptive way. Consider using mega menu’s and making full use of your sidebar if you have one.

You may also want to add a site-wide search function.

Reduce your page load times

I touched upon this briefly earlier on in this post. If your website is slow then people will bounce pretty quickly. Which isn’t good for engagement metrics.

Most importantly, you need a web host that has the ability to scale to meet your traffic needs. Kinsta is one of my favourites for this because their platform is powered by Google Cloud. They can handle Shark Tank levels of traffic.

It’s also well worth implementing a content delivery network (CDN) to ensure visitors around the globe can get page load times just as fast as those that are in close proximity to your web host.

Yep, that’s right. The distance between the person accessing your site, and the physical server location impacts the speed of a website!

Include internal links in your content

Whenever relevant, be sure to include links to other posts on your website within your blog post. Ideally every post you publish should have several internal links.

Not only does this allow your visitors to find out further information, this also helps Google index your website. And has shown to have strong correlations with improved search rankings.

9. Set up a spreadsheet for managing your contacts

Even if you’re using an ad network or using a WordPress plugin, it’s well worth setting up a spreadsheet to manage your contacts.

This will enable you to keep track of potential advertisers and their contact information. For example, whenever ad space frees up on some of my sites, I can simply dig into the spreadsheet and immediately know who I can possibly sell advertising to.

If you’re managing ads yourself, you’ll want to include extra information relating to payment tracking, ad expiration dates, etc.

You can also use this as a list of target companies to pitch. Eventually you’ll have a significant list and won’t have to worry about filling ad space.

10. Proactively contact possible advertisers when needed

One of the reasons I use an ad platform like BuySellAds is because I don’t need to contact advertisers myself.

But when I first started using the platform, it did take a while to first get advertisers on board.

Even when using an ad platform, it can often make sense to contact potential advertisers. After all, empty ad space isn’t helping anyone.

So, regardless of which approach you take, it’s always worth reaching out to potential advertisers. Even if your efforts don’t pay off now, you’ll have contacts you can reach out to in the future.

Wrapping it up

It’s true: I prefer to monetize using other tactics but selling advertising can be a viable option in certain circumstances.

So, work to increase your visitors and pageviews, then take a proactive approach to finding advertisers. Eventually you’ll be able to make a decent income with ad sales.