// Internet Duct Tape

3 Surefire Ways to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String

People always talk about how to sell ads on your blog, but it seems that no one talks about how to buy ads for your blog.

time is money
(photo by riccardo)

Time is money.

Trite, but true. One of the handiest “life hacks” is to figure out how much money your time is worth (after taxes) and use that to as a basis for deciding if a time saving service is worth it’s cost (assuming you have disposable income). The classic example is to hire help for around the home or to go out for dinner. Compare the spent time doing it yourself to the money you’d spend paying someone to do it for you and find an acceptable ratio.

One of the greatest lies told in the blogosphere is “write better content to get more readers and more traffic.” Great content without promotion will always fail to reach wide audience. Some form of promotion is always necessarily, usually by getting links from a more popular site, or by having a reader base that promotes your content for you.

This is how I know that I’m not a writer: the best writing comes because you have something to say, not because you’re trying to achieve some level of popularity. I know I have thought “why write if no one is reading?” Obviously, I have some deep-seated issues involving being unpopular in elementary school and trying to find validation on the Internet instead of finding my own happiness inside me; consider this my cry for help.

time is money - playground nerd
(photo by peregrino)

Writing content takes time and so does marketing. I would estimate I spend more time promoting my site, networking and building relationships with other bloggers than I do writing content. My combined focusing on writing and promotion is the only reason why anyone has every read my site — not because my content attracts readers like bees to honey.

Writing and promoting leads to lost hours, but time is money. Is it possible to replace time spent on marketing with money spent on advertising?

My time is worth around $20/hour to me. Blogging is my hobby, not a money making venture. This would be purely to reduce time I already spend — not an attempt to “grow my business.” Can a small monetary investment replace my own time building links?

In an hour I can probably drive around a guaranteed minimum of 100-300 hits to a blog post by prepping it for search engines, submitting it to social networks, contacting other bloggers and plugging it in forums and blog comments.

The sums of money are small because 1) I’m not doing this as a business investment and because 2) it is harder to compare time to money with larger sums of money. I also feel that small sums are more realistic to what a blogger can afford. This is my first time trying to buy advertising so the results may be laughable — please give better advice in the comments.

Three Good Ways to Buy Blog Ads (and Two Bad Ways)

BAD: Strange Schemes – RentMyChest – $50/life

Everyone has heard of the Million Dollar Homepage due to the massive main stream media coverage it garnered. Lots (and lots) of similar ideas sprung up. Chris Pirillo came up with the oh-so-strange RentMyChest.com. Buy a linked word on his chest for $50 for life. Result: the traffic is low — less than three hits a day. Ratio has been less than 10 hits/dollar so far.

AVERAGE: Social Networks – StumbleUpon Advertising Campaign – $10/once

Any blogger who has had a post stumbled has seen the how they turn the referrer url into an ad for StumbleUpon (genius). They are the most straightforward with a direct cost per vistor of $0.05 a hit. $10 got me 200 hits, although my stats software only said 130 (my fault for having too long of a landing page). There were only three positive stumbles, which didn’t lead to any increased SU traffic once the campaign was over. Ratio is 13 hits/dollar. (It should have been 20 hits/dollar but I want to keep the metrics even with the rest.)

GOOD: Blog Advertising – Adbrite – $12/month

I chose to buy an ad on the popular blogger Violent Acres’ site because the cost was so low. I chose the “I support Violent Acres” text which made me the second most popular ad on the site with around 7-9 hits a day. When the author wrote a post directly about her advertisers that lead to an increase of around 100-180 hits for two days. Ratio was about 40 hits/dollar.

GOOD: Social Networks – StumbleUpon Sponsorship – $20/year

It is harder to measure the results of this. By becoming a sponsored StumbleUpon community member an account gets featured more often. But being a solid well-networked member of the StumbleUpon community seems to be a much bigger factor than whether or not you are a sponsor. I’ve seen StumbleUpon block users from submitting articles from certain blogs, but when contacted SU never responded.

GREAT: Group Writing Project with Prize / Contest – $15/contest

Group writing projects are a great way to get links and interactive community participation. The downside is that their success is largely a factor of how well they are promoted – Probloggers like Darren Rowse can get over 300 links in a group writing project. I got 23 links, 1000 hits and more importantly new readers because of my first contest. I consider it a resounding success. Ratio was 67 hits/dollar.

My second contest did 49 links and 1450 hits, and my third contest did 19 links and 860 hits.

Is it worth spending money to promote your blog?

I’m still divided on it. The results aren’t going to be any better than what you can build naturally through promotion, but it can be a good way to give support to other bloggers/sites you enjoy. Contests seem to be a great way to engage your readers and help build a community around your blog — but there isn’t any time savings compared to how you would normally promote a post. Running a contest is worth it for building up your community but it isn’t a short-cut (and too much self-promotion can drive away readers). Spending the same time and energy on something else other than a contest would likely get similar results.

buy and sell blog ads promotion links
(photo by greefus)

Ways to Advertise Your Blog (That I Didn’t Try)

Directory Listing

More info on SEOMoz: ” I think that this is a ton of bull. I think that you can blow a load of dough and a lot of time chasing these links – which are mostly going to be low quality – and bring you very little real traffic.”

Blog Advertising – Text Link Ads

The ads are served as part of the web content so they pass ad-blocking software and are counted by search engines. It’s like buying your way on to the blogroll. Text Link Ads would charge $69 to $83 per month for a single link on my blog — so it’s out of my “on a shoestring” price range. One thing I’ve noticed from being on many blog rolls is that they don’t usually lead to many hits. More info at SEOMoz.

Blog Advertising – Direct

Some blog owners who sell ads will allow you to negotiate direct prices. This is a better deal for both parties because there is no middle man. DailyBlogTips writes about direct sale from the seller’s point of view.

Blog Advertising – Networks

“Most blog networks allow users to purchase credits with money, and the price is really convenient. You should be able receive hundreds of visitors or to get thousands of banner impressions for less than 10 dollars. Some blog networks that sell credits include Blog Explosion, Blog Soldiers and Blog Advance.” More info at DailyBlogTips.

Blog Advertising – Sponsored Reviews

PayPerPost, ReviewMe and SponsoredReviews all let you find bloggers who are will to write about your site if you give them some cash. It could be a good way to target blogs that have the same niche, although there is no guarantee they’ll have anything nice to say about you. Blogging Tips talks about his experience buying reviews. Buying paid reviews can be a great way to promote a contest.

RSS Advertising – FeedBurner

FeedBurner has been selling ads in RSS feeds for a while, and that’s only going to increase now that they’ve been bought by Google. You are targeting people who read blogs and people who subscribe to RSS feeds. They have detailed demographics on the audiences. aVC talks about buying Feedburner ads, and how each subscriber makes him around $0.60/month on the ads he sells through FeedBurner.

Search Engines – Google AdWords

” Adwords is probably the most efficient method to generated raw traffic for your website. In order to get started you should create an account, add lots (by lots I mean hundreds if not thousands) of keywords that are related your site and set the maximum Pay-per-Click rate at $0.01. After that raise the rate by $0.01 every week or so until you start getting the desired amount of daily clicks.” More info at DailyBlogTips. You can also directly target a specific site using Google AdWords.

Social Networks – YouTube

This is like direct blog advertising, but instead you contact the creators of popular videos on YouTube and ask them to embed a watermark with your blog url for a small price. WebLogHits talks about their experience.

Social Networks – Facebook

Facebook lets you create flyers with 5000 impressions for $10. This sounds like a great ratio, except that so few of those impressions click on the ads.

Social Networks – Digg and User/Submitter

There are several underground sites that will “vote” for your site on social link sharing networks. This can lead to you getting banned from those networks, and isn’t like to be worth it in the long term. Digg seems to bring less hits and less links then it ever did before.

7 tips for buying advertising for your blog
(photo by thoth92)

7 Tips for Buying Advertising for Your Blog

  1. Niche
    • Buy ads from sites that would have a similar audience who would also appreciate your content.
  2. Deep Link
    • Instead of linking to the front page of your blog, link to a particular page that gives the reader value. Try to convert them into a regular reader.
  3. Other Blogs
    • By buying ads on other blogs not only do you support other bloggers but you are targeting an audience that already reads blogs.
  4. Choose Sites that Directly Mention Their Sponsors
    • A link in the sidebar only gets a fraction of the hits compared to a blog that directly thanks the people who have sponsored them.
  5. Mention the Site You Are Advertising On
    • Ads that mention the site they are advertising on cut through the blinders people have when reading websites.
  6. Avoid Pyramid Schemes and Pay Directories
    • They don’t work. When was the last time you clicked on a link on a million dollar homepage or on from a blog directory?
  7. Ad-blocking
    • If the ad would be blocked by ad blocking software then you might think twice about using it if you have an audience that uses ad-blocking software.

This was written as part of Daily Blog Tips “Project 3″ contest. Vote for it by linking to this article from your blog!

69 Responses

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  1. Nita said, on July 08, 2007 at 1:01 am

    I agree with you that writing good content is not enough. I have been at it for 8 months and though right now I am satisfied with the number of hits I get (800-1000 a day) I know I might not be some months from now. readership is going up very slowly…
    I am bad at self promotion and one of the reasons is that I am not at all tech savvy. This is a great great disadvantage. I took weeks to figure out how to basic things at WordPress and I am still learning. Any talk of scripts, css and html makes me flounder. Its not as it I haven’t tried to learn something about these things, but I simply cannot get it.
    I am just a writer.
    For building traffic (like you said) blog directories don’t help. Whatever traffic I have built is because people land up on my blog first because they are searching for something and then they come back.
    One of the ways to build up traffic is by getting a link from a popular/big blog (one which has content related to yours) but up till now not a single big blog has put me on their blogroll but I don’t really expect it. However I make it a point to put unknown blogs on my blogroll if I like them.
    I have tried various self promotion sites but finally I give up because I can’t do most of the things because I either don’t understand the technical stuff, or because I don’t want to spend money. I don’t even want ads on my blog, I don’t want to make money from my blog…well, not at this moment in time anyway.
    Anyway, I have probably bored you with this stuff!
    I really like your blog, even though you do a lot of self promotion and all that stuff (which I raise my eyebrows at) because you write well and you write clearly and you write things of substance.

  2. futuresheet said, on July 08, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Here’s another good way to advertise your blog on a shoestring: write a blog entry about good ways to advertise your blog on a shoestring!

  3. Mr Angry said, on July 09, 2007 at 12:30 am

    Nice tips as always. I will vouch for the accuracy of your statement about the number of hits from Digg being lower than in the past. From what I have read, about a year ago a major hit on Digg would generate up to 10 times the traffic of Reddit.

    I recently had my first major success on both Digg and Reddit (writing about people crapping oil in their pants of all things) and the hits were about even. Reddit may have even provided more hits – Digg had a higher spike on one day but Reddit delivered a more sustained number of hits over more days.

  4. letters said, on July 09, 2007 at 12:42 am

    Why is blogging so often reduced to a hit contest? I get around 60 hits a day and am more than satisfied. Who cares if I get 600 or 60-thousand? Will that make the process of writing any easier, the results better, the satisfaction greater? I don’t think so. Might help if you’re in it for the money, but I would rather write honestly about what I truly believe and reach an audience of just one than come up with a blog about nothing like I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGR, which imho is the logical conclusion of what happens when you spend all your time on SEO and zero on content. A million times zero still works out to zero.

    I also think that time is NOT money. Many get an enormous amount of satisfaction in buying, preparing and serving a great meal at home. We work full-time jobs, but MAKE the time to prepare food in our own kitchens. Sure the economists will shake their heads and say it’s not a rational decision because it would be cheaper to eat at a restaurant, but eating out all the time is a cheap way to live – again, my opinion.

    (Could be a logistics thing as well. I live in Europe, don’t own a car and find all the time to go shopping because everything is within cycling distance and I never waste time in traffic jams.)

    Same goes for cleaning the place. I would rather do all the housework myself than pay someone to do it because it makes me cringe to think that a stranger would be into my personal space in that way.

    - ian in Hamburg, Germany

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  6. Blog Project Three: Final List said, on July 09, 2007 at 9:36 am

    [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String by Engtech [...]

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  11. Johan; thinking out loud. said, on July 09, 2007 at 2:07 pm

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  12. jeremy said, on July 09, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    A lot of good ideas here. I’d never thought about contacting people on youtube. As for stumble upon, they generate a pretty large amount of traffic for me since my first stumbling. I’m getting about 1,000 referrals a day from them, and I haven’t spent a dime. I’m finding that posting pictures helps keep people’s attention, and that you can’t just post your own stuff. Crawling other stumbler’s and commenting on their pages helps a ton.

    Blog carnivals have also helped me a lot. Most of my really good advertising (the kind that keeps the traffic steady) has tended to be from word of mouth, or having other bloggers link to me. I guess it’s no different than having clicks in high school.

  13. Micahville said, on July 09, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for submitting my post on delicious. It is appreciated. I really love your blog, and you should definitely keep up the good work.

  14. [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String by Engtech [...]

  15. Friedbeef said, on July 09, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    wow.. some sensational tips here. I’ve only ever tried Adwords (Not for my blog – for another site), and was happy with the results.

  16. [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String by Engtech [...]

  17. My Top 5 Daily Blog Tips GWP Posts said, on July 10, 2007 at 10:38 am

    [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String [...]

  18. Arpit Jacob said, on July 10, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    as usual well researched and written … Man if I could churn out lengthy posts like you do :(

  19. engtech said, on July 10, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    ha… :)

    I started this one three months ago :)

  20. Top Results from the 3 Blog Project said, on July 11, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String by Engtech [...]

  21. Arpit Jacob said, on July 11, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    three months wow I need to learn from you. The problem with me is when I keep a draft and work on it for more than a month collecting stuff and researching someone else comes along and posts the same thing before I can post it. Its really annoying :(

  22. [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String by Engtech [...]

  23. [...] blog, it’s provide excellent content. How do you ensure that you’re doing that?” 3 Surefire Ways to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String “One of the greatest lies told in the blogosphere is “write better content to get more [...]

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  27. Elwyn Jenkins said, on July 14, 2007 at 12:58 am

    Good suggestions. Probably one of the best ways to get more readers is to get written up in local press for saying something that is worthy of a newspaper to promote. I got good coverage in a local newspaper that gave me around 550 readers over three days.

  28. [...] 3 Sure Fire Way to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoe String I love this guy, not only for the Social Site Submission Watchdog pipe, or because he writes good content, but because of the cute cat on top of every page!! [...]

  29. engtech said, on July 14, 2007 at 11:02 am

    @Elwyn: So very true. Mainstream advertising where you create flyers and put them in local coffee shops might be even more cost effective than any of the online advertising.

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  37. vijay said, on July 16, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Nice tips to promote the blog! By the way till now I have not spent even a single dime on blog advetising, but now i can give try for it.
    Those day’s are gone now that without promoting blog you will get readers. In today’s blogosphere millions of blogs try to get traffic every day and its not possible for all to get free traffic. You must spent for it!

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  42. Paul said, on August 09, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    That is a pretty thorough list. One other thing you can do is not just submit comments to other blogs but to actually post articles in other blogs such as articlepanda.com ..Some people also write ebooks and sell them on ebay or simply give them away for free, they may spread along with exposure of your site.

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  45. Surefire said, on August 28, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    You have a great point: even with exceptional content, you’re not guaranteed business. There must be a balance between quality content and exposure. I can think of several parallels… In case you live in the United States and saw “America’s Got Talent” during summer ’07, the winner was a ventriloquist who has an incredible act, but has been undiscovered up until winning the show. Until now, he’s been doing county fairs (probably very hard work, lots of travel, etc.) for 20 years! Although his act has probably steadily gotten better over the years, he could have benefitted with some proper exposure and marketing several years ago. On the flipside, I can think of entertainers who make tons of $, but aren’t nearly as talented as he is.

    Anyway, please forgive the rambling…I’m just trying to draw a parallel to show that you’re making a very valid point.

    Thanks for your advice!

    Justin

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  49. abhishek vyas said, on December 13, 2007 at 5:03 am

    i am agree with advertisment for selling & buying but adv. should be emotional touuch it influse more than an ordinary adv.,

  50. 3 SureFire Ways... said, on December 19, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    I would like to comment on your comment: “write better content to get more readers and more traffic.”

    Better content, of course, will increase more loyalty. It is true that this helps to gain long-term site visitors (people who will bookmark the blog and keep coming back). I am a marketer and an entertainer (my full-time job is to be an entertainer, but I would never get any business if I didn’t market myself).

    As this blog post explains, writing good content alone will not get someone site visitors. A parallel is Terry Fator, winner of last summer’s “America’s Got Talent.” The guy is an incredible impressionist and ventriloquist. He’s just now gaining national attention even though he’s had an incredible show for at least 5-6 years (maybe even longer – he’s been at it for over 20 years). Anyway, if that guy knew how to market himself, he would’ve been doing more lucrative events than county fairs in Texas over the last several years.

    In summary, the writer of this blog is right – good content alone will not get new site visitors; however, it is important that good content is still a vital part of the site…if you’re interested in helping others out and long-term, repeat customers.

    Thanks for this blog!

  51. 3 SureFire Ways... said, on December 19, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Am I going senial? I just noticed that I wrote a similar response back in August (2 entries above). Maybe I need to get my memory checked out…? (laugh out loud)

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  55. arnimation said, on May 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    i agree with your perspective on placing ads – i too is still divided. can’t really decide coz i’m also doing this as a hobby but i do envy those who made a lot of money from blogging. interesting how it turns out for them. i guess im still puzzled by it. great post by the way.

  56. Ciprian said, on June 13, 2008 at 2:22 am

    OK.. cool…But here’s (what i think is) a better way to increase your blog’s traffic:http://wwww.blogs21.com

    I use it on my blog and it’s the best i found so far…
    Anyone have any similar sites?
    This stuff is great! please submit if you have any simmilar sites!

  57. dicklogan said, on July 01, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I’ve been thinking about advertising my blog and this post was excellent in answering some of my questions, thanks.

  58. diesel said, on July 14, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    The rent-my-chest guy should have gone with his stomach instead. Not much room for expansion with your chest.

  59. chris said, on October 21, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I just can agree. It is quit hard to write good content and you can loose yourself in writing and writing. But when you forget promoting your side, even the best content will be lost.

    I have 2 main blog:
    http://www.guruk.com/makemoneyonline

    Here I give Infos about Side Traffic and MLM Stuff how to earn money. Just the Topic drive me now much more People than my Main blog:
    http://www.christian-albert-mueller.com
    where I talk about “Personal Improvement for intelligent People”

    Anyhow. Promotion is a big Deal and I can even just advice any other Blogger to give a minimum from 50% of your Time into Promotion.. just till it runs..

    greets
    chris

  60. [...] 3 Surefire Ways to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoestring [...]

  61. mehmet said, on November 04, 2008 at 11:28 am

    nice tips, specially for new starters

  62. url submission software said, on November 05, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    url submission software…

    One notable blogging tool that does not support trackback yet is Blogger.It has since been implemented in most other blogging tools….

  63. Ladyflguru said, on December 08, 2008 at 8:46 am

    I know how it can be trying to get traffic to any site let alone your blog, i also have a blog located at http://ladyflguru.blogspot.com, and im finding it difficult to get it out there!

    I also know that while its hard work trying to get anyone to your site i have tried this new program called Noobing, its been helping me with my business and i plan to add my blog when its running!

    http://www.noobing.com?sid=114

  64. muhaimin said, on January 28, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Great article. All this time we only struggle to make the best content without no one ever notice it.

  65. lindsayanng said, on February 01, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Your blog is ADDICTING. I have JUST gotten into the blogging world. i was a journalism FREAK in high school. I desperately wanted to write for a newspaper.. then i got into web design. i LOVE web design, but then i realized, theres a REALLY awesome tool out there for web designers called a BLOG. I’ve been doing websites professionally for 2 years, and only REALLY started blogging this week!!

    I am desperately trying to feel my way around the whole thing. i mean, the silly things like the difference between a page and a post. WHY post a page and WHY post a post.. All silly things. BUT, none-the-less.. i want people to READ what i have to say.. otherwise it’s not worth it.

    My blog web design for idiots is a “non technical” blog explaining the BASICS of web design in a more easy to read way..

    I think people CAN get into it.. I just need the readers..So you blog is VERY VERY inspirational..

    its 3am here and my head is spinnign and i am STILL reading your blog

  66. wildpen said, on February 03, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Great article.

    This whole blog thing seems to be a mix of hard work and black magic.

    James Miller

  67. zonk675 said, on February 10, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Looks like you’ve got a ton of spam comments…
    Nice article though.

    peace,
    zOnk.oNe

  68. Joe said, on March 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    yeah. getting the readership up is tough.

    I have tinkered at making blogs for a while now. and one of the most sure fire way to build traffic, is this…

    designite ~ Matches for the mind
    My Blog

    Post on other peoples comments and leave a link to your own for people to click.

    the way I just did it then was obtrusive, but effective.

    just make sure that when you do it, you have a reason to do it. Don’t just spam.

    and a link to a website that is not my own, but has good tips I use to build audiences is
    ProBlogger
    this link I chose is his series on “how i’d promote my blog if I were starting out again.

    ps. Good luck with your blog.
    Joe

  69. Tyson M. Gautreaux said, on February 04, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Has anyone seen the new way to make money with youtube? They make 200 videos for you, and guarentee you at least 20,000 views for your business. Check it out: http://budurl.com/feps


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