OK, so you have a website and you want to make a bit of money from your website. Of course! Who wouldn’t. Basically, that is how I make my income, from publishing websites and earning money from those websites in one way or another.
Oh, I’ve got e-commerce sites – sites where I sell products. Basically stores on the internet. I’ve got sites where I publish information too. On an e-commerce site, making your money is by a method that is as old as the hills. You sell a product. The product has a markup – you sell the item for more than it costs you to buy it. On the informational sites, there are plenty of ways to make money too. The most obvious way of making money is through selling advertising. There are even multiple ways of doing this.
Firstly, you can put a product like Google AdSense on your site. You don’t have to go out and beat the sidewalks finding people to pay for an ad on your site. Google, as an advertising agency, takes care of that for you. All you have to do is place the advertisements on your site. For the most part, Google AdSense is a Cost Per Click (CPC) model, where Google pays you only if people click on the ads. Google AdSense, to a limited extent, also operates on a CPM method – Cost Per Thousand – where they give you some money on some ads based on how many times you have displayed the ad. There are downsides to the Google AdSense model too, though.
- You have only a small amount of control over what ads appear on your site. You can manually veto certain ads from showing, but only on a limited basis. Thus, you may end up with ads that you don’t wish to show to your readers. Maybe a product that you don’t like, maybe a competitor of yours will take an ad out on your site to drive traffic over to his site. In the end, you will often be forced to display ads that you don’t agree with.
- As your advertising agency, of course Google takes a cut of the payment for the ad. Let’s say that an advertiser has agreed to pay $1 for every time their ad is clicked. Well, when the ad gets clicked on your site, you don’t get $1 for that, because Google gets part of it. Nothing wrong with that, Google did the work of bringing the advertiser to your site, you did the work of bringing the readers to see the ad. So, when there is money made, you and Google split it.
But, you can also cut out the middleman, be it Google or some other advertising agency. You can sell ads directly to the advertiser. Now, let’s be frank, if you are just starting out a site and have 3 or 4 articles there on your site, the odds of being able to sell advertising directly is pretty close to zero. You don’t have credibility yet. You don’t have a site that is big enough to attract huge amounts of traffic to your site, so in reality very few people will see your ad. That is why advertisers prefer to deal with a “big boy” like Google or some other ad agency. They can negotiate out a deal with Google and it will result in their ad being seen on literally millions of websites, and targeted only to sites where their ad “fits in” with the subject matter. If the advertiser were to deal directly with you, they would be very busy, because there are literally millions or tens of millions of websites out there, and it is not feasible for the advertiser to have to deal with every website individually. Now, if you are a site that has tens of thousands of readers every day, then it makes sense for the advertiser to deal directly with you. You see, by cutting out the middle man (the advertising agency) the advertiser can pay less for the ad, and the publisher (you) can make more money from the ad.
So, if you have website, and you have built up that site to have a good sized readership, the time might be right for you to sell advertising directly to companies rather than going through a middle man. In the past year or so, one of my sites has reached that critical point where I am beginning to sell a lot of advertising directly rather than relying on a middle man to do the selling for me. Oh, I still use AdSense on the site, but the truth is that AdSense has become only a small money maker compared to what I can make by directly selling the ads.
One thing that I have noticed on this front is that some other sites that are “in my radar” have also reached the point where they can sell advertising directly. Yet, when I talk with the site owners, they tell me that they have been unable to achieve any success in selling ads. When I look at their sites, though, I can see why. Poor diction. Bad grammar. Lots of misspelled words. Think about it, if an advertiser chooses to advertise directly with you, he is associating himself with you. He is, in the eyes of the public, associated with you. When one of your readers needs to buy some lumber and nails, he might have the thought that “Oh yeah, I remember that City Depot Builders Supply is advertising on old BillyBob’s website” and he may go there to spend his money.
The problem is, if a company sees that your site is in such disarray, do they really want to be associated with you? Do they want to be linked to you in the eyes of the public? Probably not.
Believe me, there is a lot of money to be made in direct ad sales, if you have the readership to support such an effort. But, you need to run your site in a professional manner. You need to present yourself as a professional publisher. You need your site to give the impression that it’s done right, and is reliable and trustworthy. If you can’t do that, the odds that you will be successful in attracting many advertisers is very, very slim.
So, if you are thinking of doing the “direct ad sales” thing, take time to closely review your site. Look in the mirror and see what is reflected there. Be honest with yourself and judge yourself as if you were an advertiser. Honestly, do you meet the grade? If not, it is not that difficult to fix these kinds of problems. And, once you fix them, you will be more successful on many fronts.
Good luck, and go sell a few ads!