What should I charge for advertising on my blog?

by Heather Cowper on August 17, 2011

A common question that bloggers face when they start trying to make money from their blog is what to charge for advertising. Perhaps you are thinking of approaching some advertisers or you’ve already been contacted by an agency looking to place text links, widgets or banner ads. On the one hand you want to charge a fair and commercial rate that reflects your blog’s true value but on the other hand you don’t want to frighten away advertisers by overcharging. So how do you decide what to charge?

Factors that determine the price you can charge for advertising;

1. Your blog’s traffic in unique visitors or page views

The higher your traffic, the more attractive you will be to an advertiser as there will be more people viewing the advertising and potentially taking action such as clicking the link to their website. If you don’t know your blog’s traffic then install a tool such as Google Analytics, Sitemeter or one of the WordPress stats plugins.

2. Your blog’s page rank

This is most important for companies that are looking to build links as the higher your page rank the more valuable links from your site will be in the eyes of the search engines. If you want to check the page rank of any website including your own you can use a Page Rank checker like this one or add the page rank checker tool to your Google toolbar. Bear in mind that the public page rank is updated less frequently and search engines may used unpublished page rank factors to determine your blog’s true worth.

3. The size of your audience as measured through other Social Media

Your audience as measured in other ways such as Twitter followers or Facebook page likes may be important if the advertiser is more interested in promoting awareness for their brand than link building and may be relevant for less direct advertising such as sponsored posts where social media can be used to magnify the impact.

4. The size and position of the advert on your blog

You only have a certain amount of space that can be used for advertising so the bigger the size of the advert the higher your price, although those advertisers who are primarily interested in link benefit will be unlikely to pay more for a bigger ad. You may offer advertising that appears on all pages in the blog, for instance in the sidebar, or just on individual posts for which you would probably charge less. Adverts that appear ‘above the fold’ in the area of the blog that is immediately visible without scrolling down, are also more valuable.

5. What the advertiser is prepared to pay

There is an element of supply and demand and it’s no point in pitching your rates so high that you don’t get any takers. I’ll cover this in more detail below.

That’s all very well but how much should I charge for advertising?

If you overprice yourself at the beginning you may get no takers but if you undercharge you may get locked into selling your advertising space too cheaply for the next 6-12 months. There are different approaches that you can take to pricing which we’ll look at in turn;

1. What is everyone else charging?

There’s no quick place you can go to find out what other bloggers are charging and even when you find out it’s not always easy to make a direct comparison bearing in mind the variables covered above. However, with a bit of legwork you should be able to get the answers you need. Here’s the approach that I would personally use;

  • Identify 10-20 travel bloggers with whom you already have a relationship through commenting on their blog, facebook page or via Twitter, choosing those who already have advertising on their sites.
  • Check the blogs to see if there is an advertising page which gives details of the advertising rates (although you will find many bloggers prefer not to real this information too openly)
  • If not, e-mail the bloggers asking if they will help you out by telling you their typical advertising rates and also request their traffic stats in unique visitors and page views so that you can make a comparison with your own (this is why it’s better to start with bloggers with whom you already have a relationship)
  • Create a simple spreadsheet to capture the information as it comes in – you may need to make conversions for different currencies
  • Once you have answers from a few other bloggers you will get a feel for what ballpark you should be charging in. Remember that if someone has a much higher traffic or page rank than yours they can charge more for advertising, so scale back your charges in proportion.
  • To gather the same information you may be able to ask the question on any forums or Facebook groups that you are active within.

If you want to to shortcut this process, there are a couple of useful articles below which give you ballpark figures of what other people are charging;

Enrepreneurs-journey.com – Making money from your site using advertising
Travelblogchallenge.com – Travel Blog advertising survey results

The survey on Travel Blog Challenge gives a useful ballpark indication of what you might charge although there is no connection in this article between the price charged and Page rank or traffic.

I’ve also heard other bloggers use the rule of thumb that a PR2 blog can charge $20 per month per text link in the sidebar, a PR3 can charge $30, a PR4 blog can charge $40 per month and so on. For a link within an individual article you would scale down the monthly charge. Another rule of thumb I’ve seen for banner advertising is to charge $50 per month for every 500 unique visitors a day to your site – which is roughly how I base my pricing.

Craig Martin has a useful video about How much should you charge for Advertising in which he suggests that you should not charge less than $200 per year, however small you are and that you should price on the value you can offer the advertiser, not just your traffic.

If you want to know what I’m charging for advertising, take a look at my advertising page at Heatheronhertravels.com

2. What is the minimum I am prepared to accept?

You need to resist the temptation to sell advertising too cheaply, so consider what the advertising is worth to you. Think about the time you will have to spend setting up the advertising banners or widgets or perhaps what you’ll have to pay someone else to do this, if you’re not very technically minded. Consider the time you’ll need to spend dealing with e-mails from potential advertisers, invoicing them, tracking the renewal dates and requesting a renewal once the advertising has expired. All this is your time, so consider what it’s worth and decide that’s the minimum that you will accept.

3. What’s the supply v demand?

This approach is most useful once you have a few advertisers on the books and can then test the market for how much advertisers are prepared to pay. If you approaching the point when all your advertising slots are taken up and you’re still getting regular approaches arriving in your e-mail box, then it’s probably time to ease up your prices.

In the meantime your traffic may have increased, so this is another factor that will help you justify a higher price. If demand from advertisers exceeds the supply of advertising slots, you need to ease your prices up by 10-20% for the same traffic.

You’ll also know whether you’ve got it about right when some of your first advertisers are due for renewal if they are still prepared to renew at the higher price. Bearing in mind that it’s always less work to retain an existing advertiser than secure a new one you may like to offer a 5% discount for renewing advertisers if you have put prices up in the meantime.

Other things that may influence your price

If you are selling space in the sidebar which is being filled by a widget (code that the advertiser sends you) then the main purpose of this is to generate links to the advertiser’s website. In this case each link has value for the advertiser and so you may wish to charge more for multiple links. Similarly, if you are just selling text links in your sidebar or other parts of your blog, you will probably charge per link.

What should I charge for sponsored posts?

By sponsored posts I mean an article that you are paid to publish on your blog. This could be an article that has been provided by the sponsor or one that you have written yourself on a pre-agreed theme. In both cases that Sponsored post will normally contain information about the sponsor’s products and services and/or a link to their website or contextual links within the body of the article with links to appropriate pages on their website.

Not all bloggers accept sponsored posts but you can normally tell a sponsored post because it is flagged as a ‘guest post’ or ‘sponsored post’ and will contain links to a commercial website.

You can use the same approach as I’ve suggested for advertising and contact bloggers directly to ask them how much they charge and what their traffic is and there’s also information on what other travel bloggers charge on the Travel Blog Challenge survey link above. As a rule you would be able to charge more for an article that you have written yourself than one that has been provided by the sponsor.

You also need to decide whether you will charge a flat fee for the sponsored post and leave the links for ever or charge on a monthly basis for the links. Personally I feel that if the sponsor is providing the post, it’s better to charge a one off fee rather than try to extract monthly payments. If I was selling a text link in an existing article I would definitely charge on a monthly basis, as you are otherwise committed to that advertiser and limit your options to place other paid or affiliate links on that article if it becomes really popular. If I was writing an article specially for the advertiser, I would personally charge a one off fee albeit higher than if the article was written by someone else, but others might consider the option of selling the link for the first 6-12 month, with renewal thereafter.

You can see what I charge for sponsored posts on my sponsored post page at Heatheronhertravels.com

I hope this article will leave you with a clearer idea of what to consider when setting a price for your advertising so that you end up with a price that’s fair for both you and your advertisers. If you have any tips about what to charge for advertising, please do share them in the comments below.

This article is published at My Blogging Journey, where you’ll find information on how to build a better travel blog.

You’ll also find lots of great travel stories, videos and podcasts at my travel blog at Heather on her travels .

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