Sex Blogger Education: Basics of Paid Advertising
Once you’ve developed a bit of a “presence” online, with good traffic and other blog-qualifier numbers, you’re bound to get contacted by a company asking if you’ll post their text link (some will outright ask you your rate, a few will try to pawn it off as a “link exchange” which is a topic for a later date). This can all be a bit difficult to navigate until you ask the more veteran bloggers. Here’s some starting info for you:
Updated July 2013 – I’ve recently done more researching and while the rates and ideas are pulled from the more mainstream sectors of blogging, it’s the only thing we have to go on. I’ve made this into a post because of the influx of bloggers who need more information, it was currently residing as a largely overlooked page.
Updated May 2013: This was written and has been around for a long while over at e[lust], however I decided to move it all here. Sidebar advertising is not as prevalent as it once was for bloggers, especially sex bloggers, because of recent changes made by Google on calculating pagerank. In Nov 2012 I actually had my own Pagerank stripped to 0 because Google felt that I was selling my Pagerank via sponsor text links in the sidebar. I had to add “rel=nofollow” to them all in order to get my rank back. Something that more and more companies want now is a sponsored *post*. To me, sponsored post is just simply my own post but with a sentence and link and maybe even small graphic at the foot of the post saying “This post was sponsored by XYC company who is great at BLAH and you should blahblah there”. To a company, their idea of a sponsored post is basically the entire post is an advertisement for them, including a few links. I won’t do that. I also won’t accept “guest posts” from anybody but a fellow blogger.
RATES? WHAT RATES?
The first question you likely have is the first question I had: How much should I charge? And that, my friends, is not an easy answer. Because it not only is based on your page rank and overall stats, but what others similar to you are charging. And I know that some people are, IMO, underselling themselves. Added July 2013:
Basing Your Rate on your Pagerank
Companies will likely only approach you for advertising if you have a google page rank of 3 or higher. By having a text link on your sidebar it helps increase their own site’s page rank. (http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php)
So the first thing that your rate depends upon is your pagerank. And to be honest, what else it depends upon – I’m not 100% sure. It could be traffic overall, it could be your Alexa rank. Ever since I started taking on advertisers I’ve been a PR4. I don’t know how I got there, nor do I fully know how to get higher. I’ve read a few tips and tricks but none have helped. After talking to another blogger whose site was considerably better than mine I took a stab at what I thought was a fair price, $30 a month, and that has turned out to be a good price for a PR4 site to charge. Many will prefer to pay for 3, 6 or even 12 months in advance and will ask for a discount. Just because they are taking away the hassle (for you both) of paying monthly doesn’t mean you should take a drastic cut. My personal opinion is to never give a discount greater than 20% of your quoted price. (As of 2012 I dropped to a PR3 and stayed there. Again, not sure why and I can’t raise it.)
IMO for banners, you should charge more. Banners command more of a presence in your sidebar and are used for garnering traffic moreso than raising a pagerank. For a 125×125 square banner, I’d recommend adding on $10-15 per month per banner. For a larger banner, add on $20-25 per month per banner as your starting price.
WARNING: By basing it on your pagerank, though, it means you’re “selling page rank”. That’s what I got in trouble for with Google. To do things on the up and up, every place I read says to add the rel=nofollow attribute to the text link. Inform your advertisers of this, because you don’t want to do anything illegal and lose your search engine ranking. If they’re buying a link just to get pagerank, then they won’t be happy and may not advertise with you. If they’re legit, they will continue.
Basing Your Rate on Daily Visitors
One site that I was reading recommended that you base it off of your traffic, your daily traffic. If you have a stats tracker installed (which, you absolutely should) you can tell how many visitors you get per day and how many page views you get per day. Base it off of visitors. Take your average (most stats trackers will give you your daily average in a summary section) and divide it by 10. This number should represent the most you could charge per month for something in a very visible “above the fold” spot, a banner. For a banner not “above the fold” (when viewing your site on a regular computer monitor/laptop, it’s whatever space is visible without having to scroll at all), deduct 10-15% if it’s still a big banner. For a banner that is small, deduct 20%. For a text link in the sidebar, deduct as much as 40-50% depending on location. If you’re allowing them to sponsor a post, something you’ve already written that will get a decent number of views (probably not a review, since it will have affiliate links, I’d include two text links and quote the full amount based on the formula — see this example of a weekly round-up post over at The Bloggess for what I mean by a sponsored post. I’d also say that if you’ve managed to get a consistent high, daily traffic but can’t get pageranked above PR2, also consider deducting 10-20%.
NO PERMANENT LINKS
A few bloggers I’ve spoken to had done this and I’ve been asked (rarely) for what they call a permanent link. What they mean is….they pay you once, and only once, for a link on your site until your site dies. I advise to never do this. Neither you nor the advertiser knows how long you intend to keep your site, for one. Two, these types of offers are generally given to test your mettle and see if you’re a newbie to paid advertising. If you don’t know any better and don’t have a resource, you might think this offer is grand and snatch it up. I can guarantee you that there is nothing they will offer you that will make it a fair deal in the end, for you. Sure it makes life easier on you, you don’t have to remind them. But by doing this you are A: throwing off the bell curve for the rest of the bloggers and B: You are losing revenue!!
AVOID “CONTENT” POSTS
Many will try to get you to allow them to write a post for you. Please avoid this if you want to keep the respect of your peers and readers. It will be a shit article peppered with their links. They’ll also sometimes allow you to write an article. This is slightly less irritating for your readers, but if it’s a post that you would normally write anyways, at least make it informative and useful to your readers. They will again want links throughout the post, so please give a small warning *before* the post that it is sponsored and the links will lead to the sponsor.
Always, always have them prepay. I’ve known a couple bloggers who put the link up on their site and then the company didn’t pay. The companies are all going to use Paypal. If you don’t have a Paypal account, get one. I’ve had one for a long ass time and never once had a problem. I know that some people who have little experience buying/selling/doing monetary business online are a little fearful of it. Some bloggers will say that Paypal is very anti-sex and will shut you down and take your money – just use a bland-sounding email address. Most of the companies that pay you do, too. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and have never had Paypal give me a problem.
Stick to your guns. They’ll ask you to go lower half the time. Don’t go drastically low just to get their business. I’ve sacrificed advertisers before, even though money is money. Once you give them an ultra-low and unrealistic price, they’re going to use that against other bloggers. They’ll say to me: “well I’ve got a link with this other PR5 blogger and they charged me less than you!” To which I say “You got a really good deal then, because it’s worth more than that. I’m worth more than that.”. They accepted my price in the end. The thing is, the sex blogging genre is likely the most undervalued. We get shafted by traditional ad companies, so companies assume we’ll just accept any old offer. And because *some* bloggers will, because they’d rather have $10 a month than $0 a month, it drives down the overall value of the “neighborhood”.
WATCH THE CALENDAR
Set up a Google Calendar reminder; keep the info on a spreadsheet; have your husband make you a program (oh wait, that’s me) – whatever it takes to remind you to contact them about a week or so before their contract is up to remind them to renew. Check your PR before contacting them, in case it went up. If it went up, so do your prices. If you don’t hear from them in the expected timeframe (1-2 weeks for longer contracts, 1 week max for monthly renewals), remove their link from your site. Tell them you’ve done this and will put it back up once they renew their contract. You can’t have unpaid links up – it only helps them and not you.
DON’T CHANGE YOUR BLOG TO PLEASE THEM
Call your sponsors section whatever you want, don’t listen to them. They want their links to appear as if you put them there because you love the store…..not that you were paid to do so. I put my sponsor links lower in the sidebar. Places I like and support go up higher. Unless of course the sponsors are ALSO places you love and support anyways.
AFFILIATE DOES NOT EQUAL PAYMENT
I’ve been asked in the past by bloggers about companies trying to get a link by telling the blogger that they’ll be put into an affiliate program in exchange and will receive 10/15/20% of sales on a commission basis. Unless you are reviewing toys for a sex toy retailer on a regular basis and you have high site traffic (at least 10K visitors a month), the chances of you making money off of an affiliate sale are slim. It means that someone has to click that little text link in your sidebar and then buy toys from that company. Very unlikely to happen. Again, this is a tactic used to separate those new to the text advertising game and take advantage. One example: I was recently contacted by a company who makes hetero long-distance sex toys that work via the computer and are way overpriced. They didn’t outright offer ones to me to review, they just wanted me to join their affiliate program. They tried to “sweeten the deal” by giving my readers 5% off. 5% off a $190 toy ($380 if you buy both male & female version – why would you buy just one?). I know my readers, at least I’d like to think I do, and I really doubt that even 1% would purchase these items. So instead though, people will click because they don’t know what the item is, and the site will get traffic. Meanwhile, I’d likely never make a sale, especially without ever reviewing the items and giving it a glowing review. Added July 2013
ANONYMITY – BE AWARE
I’ve known this all along, but have also known that there is nothing I can do about it. When someone sends you money via Paypal, they will be given your legal name. There does not seem to be a way to circumvent this at all in Paypal. While nearly ever advertiser you will deal with will naturally understand the sensitive matter of your name, bear in mind that accidents can happen. It is a very small chance but it exists. I’m not telling you this to scare you off but merely to prepare you. I didn’t think about this until an accidental case of mistaken identity lead me to receive the real name of another blogger via a potential advertiser. I’m not going to do anything with the information and I don’t know how the other blogger feels; but what if situations were reversed and what if the person who received my personal information was not a friend and not someone nice? I could then have to deal with the worry of them outing me if they wanted to. While there are not a lot of unsavory characters in our community they still exist occasionally. I would recommend that you put in a clause in your email correspondence with potential advertisers that says something along the lines of “Your payment to me denotes acceptance of my terms, which includes that any and all personally identifying information you will receive about me shall remain in confidence.” or whatever. I’m not sure on the wording of this and how legally binding it is; this is something I’ll research further and would appreciate input on. Added Jan 2012
Please ask questions or give your own tips! Thanks!