Some time ago I wrote an article titled “Are you marketing your blog?” where I argued that there is a myth around the Internet that bloggers and webmasters should not spend money on advertising. The myth comes in great extent from the success stories of people that managed to create popular websites without spending a dime on advertising or other paid promotion techniques.
The reality is that most of those successful websites were pioneers on their niche, hence why they became popular without spending money on advertising. Now a days the market is crowded and you have thousands of websites and blogs even for small segments. As a consequence paid promotional techniques are becoming an important factor of any successful marketing strategy.
Below you will find 7 ways to promote your website or blog with a bit of money. You can use them to generate raw traffic, improve your search engine rankings, gain visibility on your niche and so on. Despite the initial investment most of those techniques will pay off on the short to medium term. If you are expecting to make money with your website there is no reason to assume that you will not need to spend some as well, right?
1. AdWords: Google make billions of dollars every year from the AdWords-AdSense combo. Why is that? Because they work. 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. Notice that at lower bids the keywords will be reported as “Inactive for Search”. Do not worry about it, it just means that your ads will not appear on the search network (Google’s search results), but they will appear on the content network (websites of people that use AdSense).
2. Site-Specific AdWords: if you pay attention to the AdSense units you will see that most of them have a link titled “Advertise on this site”. This feature enables AdWords advertisers to create customized ads that will be displayed only on specific websites. Those ads work on a CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) rather than a CPC (cost per click) basis, but they can generate a good amount of very targeted traffic since you will be in control of where the ad will be displayed and of the message. You can get even better results if you use some creativity when designing the ads, click here for some examples.
3. StumbleUpon Ads: StumbleUpon is a very innovative social bookmarking site that allows users to discover great websites by using a browser toolbar. When the user clicks on “Stumble” he will be delivered a website that people with similar interested rated positively. The user is also able to give positive and negative ratings to any website that he visits on the Internet. StumbleUpon also offers advertising campaigns, called StumbleUpon Ads, where you can deliver your website directly to those “Stumblers”. It costs $0.05 per page delivered, but since the websites that appear on StumbleUpon usually have a high quality it is very likely that part of that paid traffic will convert into regular readers.
4. Text Link Ads: if you are trying to increase your search engine rankings to leverage organic traffic you should consider buying some text link ads. While those text links can also generate direct traffic the biggest benefit you will have is an improvement on your search rankings, specially if the links are placed on authoritative and relevant websites. There are several places to buy text links, including specialized companies like Text-Link-Ads and Text Link Brokers or online forums like Digital Point’s market place.
5. Direct Banner Sales: most established websites sell banner ads or sponsorship plans directly. Those advertising deals usually are structured with weekly or monthly fees, regardless of the number of impressions or clicks that you will get. Despite this characteristic a banner placement can represent good value for money because apart from the direct traffic you will also create visibility and brand awareness. Readers of the website where you will display your banner will associate the message on the banner with your site or blog. Should they come across that banner or message two or three times it is very likely that they will get curious and decide to check what the buzz is all about. Another advantage of banner placements is the fact that people will unconsciously think that the author of the website endorses your content or product.
6. Sponsored Reviews: buying some sponsored reviews is a good way to kick-start a website. They will bring backlinks, traffic and RSS subscribers. There are many market studies confirming that “word of mouth” is the most efficient way to capture people’s attention, and that is just what you get with sponsored reviews. You can either pay a low price (sometimes as low as $5 per review) to get a large number of reviews from small sites or you can focus on large players (which can charge several hundreds of dollars for a single review) that are authorities on your niche. The best way to purchase sponsored reviews is through sites like SponsoredReviews.com, ReviewMe or PayPerPost.com.
7. Blog Networks: there are several blog networks founded around a traffic exchange principle. Basically you create an account for you blog and you earn credits by surfing other members’ blogs. Afterwards you can use those credits to make people visit your blog or to display your banners around the network. The interesting part is that most of those 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.