The Basics of Making Money with Advertising

Posted by on Jun 3, 2012 in Business Development, Internet Business Ideas | Comments Off

The Basics of Making Money with Advertising

One of the most popular shows on television is Mad Men which chronicles the drama between Don Draper and friends as they try to make money with advertising between marital infidelities and interpersonal conflicts. It’s not my kind of show. I prefer science fiction (Warehouse 13) and crime dramas (The Closer), so I’ve only watched it maybe twice. But I started thinking the other day about the show’s setting, a 1960’s ad agency, and how many people are trying to make money online in this competitive field.

There are a two ways to make money with Internet advertising: as the creator of advertising campaigns (which is a service) or by selling ad space (which is a product). In this blog post, I will be talking about the latter because it’s the income opportunity I see most people struggling with.

It seems simple enough to make money with website advertising, at least in theory. You create a website, blog, or online newsletter and then find people or companies willing to pay to advertise on it. Like so many things in life, however, the application of the idea is much more complex. If you are currently trying to earn a paycheck this way or are thinking about it, here are the basics of generating an income selling Internet advertising.

You are Selling People

One of the first things to understand about selling advertising is that you are not selling ad space. You are selling something much more intangible: the benefits advertisers hope to get by putting their ads on your site. Understanding this concept is important to your success with this income source.

In most cases you are selling people, or rather their attention. A business posts advertisements on blogs and websites with the hope that the site’s readers will notice the ad, click the link, and buy something. While this is the main reason businesses buy advertising, it is not the only one. Some companies, especially SEO (search engine optimization) specialists, buy PageRank. They purchase keyword links on sites with high PageRank to help the target site rank better in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for certain keywords.

Buying PageRank is against Google’s terms of service, but this is a genie they can’t put back in the bottle despite their assorted algorithm updates. I could write a dissertation about this issue, but I’ll leave that for another time. The main thing you need to take away from this is web traffic and PageRank are the primary reasons companies will purchase advertisement on your web properties.

Make Money with Advertising by Creating Web Assets

Now that you know why individuals and companies buy Internet advertising, it’s time to get into the mechanics of generating income using this business model. The first step is to create web assets that attract people and advertisers. The type of asset you build is only limited by your skills, imagination, and the amount of effort you want to put into it. Web properties you can build include:

  • Topical blogs (Delish Fiction, Problogger)
  • Informational website (Gamasutra)
  • Online newsletter
  • Blog or website directory (BlogCatalog)
  • Article directory (Ezinearticles)
  • Forum (Digital Point, Warrior Forum)
  • Social network (Twitter, Facebook)
  • Email program (Gmail)
  • Blog hosting site (WordPress.com, Blogger.com)
  • Video/Music sharing site (YouTube, Metacafe)
  • Reference website (Wikipedia)
  • Smartphone apps
  • Social games (Angry Birds, Farmville)

The list goes on forever. It doesn’t really matter what type of asset you build as long as it is something that will catch the attention of users and potential advertisers. To keep things simple, though, I’m going to use topical blogging as an example since so many people are trying to make money with advertising using blogs.

Choose a Topic

Creating a profitable blog starts with picking a topic that people are interested in. However, there should also be advertisers that sell products or services related to that topic. You can write about anything under the sun and chances are good you’ll find a few other people interested in that topic too. You won’t make any money, though, if no one is targeting the demographic.

For example, you can create a topical blog about the common land snail that attracts snail geeks from all over the world. There aren’t many businesses catering to snail enthusiasts, unfortunately, so it’s doubtful you’ll make a lot of money in this subject space. On the other hand, weight loss is a multibillion dollar industry. If you create a popular blog about dieting, you could swing a cat and hit a hundred people interested in getting their ads on your blog.

There are a number of tools online that can help you choose a good topic for your blog. What I like to do is brainstorm some topics and then conduct keyword research to see how much interest there is in the subject. Here are a couple of articles on how to research niche topics:

1. Finding a Profitable Niche – Smart Passive Income

2. How to Choose a Niche Topic for Your Blog – Problogger

To Make Money with Advertising You Need Traffic

After you get your blog online and have created content for it, your next step is to get people reading it. This involves using a number of marketing tactics to generate website traffic. Check out my Big List of Ways to Market Online for ideas on how to get people to your website.

It is important that you start tracking your website traffic. Advertisers will want to know how many people are visiting your blog and you must be able to give them an estimate. Here is a previous article I wrote called Website Statistics You Should Track that provides some information about tracking web visitors. I prefer to use to track my web traffic, but Google Analytics is pretty good too.

Find Advertisers

Until your blog becomes well known in your particular industry, you will need to seek out potential advertisers for it. Most bloggers starting out usually sign up for Google Adsense. With this program, you install a little bit of code and advertising links automatically display on your blog. You get paid every time someone clicks on an ad. Though straightforward, it can be challenging making money with Adsense and similar pay per click advertising platforms.

There are websites devoted to bringing together advertisers and publishers. Publishers list their websites and advertisers contact those they are interested in. A few websites like this are Adbrite, BuySellAds, and TextLinkAds. I haven’t had any personal experience with any of these sites yet, so I can’t comment on their effectiveness.

One way I’ve had success finding advertisers for my blogs is to place calls for advertisers on webmaster and marketing forums like Warrior Forum and Digital Point Forums. Both of these sites (and similar ones) have a section where you can post a message that you are selling ad space. Be aware, though, that most forums require you to be an active member before you can post in their marketplace and some even charge a fee.

Lastly, you can contact potential advertisers directly. If you find a company that is a good fit for your blog, send them an email. You’ll need to provide them with information about your blog, the demographics of its audience, the amount of traffic you are receiving each month, and your ad rates. As your blog grows in popularity, eventually advertisers will start contacting you. Be sure to have information about your site ready to send to them.

Making money with advertising is a good way to generate passive income. Once you’ve completed the hard work of creating the site and developing a readership for it, you should only need to spend a few hours each month maintaining it. If you want to increase the amount of money you make, all you need to do is create more sites.

I hope this basic guide provides some assistance with your goal to make money with Internet advertising. For more ideas on making money online, check out my Big List of Ways to Make Money Online.

[image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures]

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