Six Tips for Making Ad Dollars from Your Parenting Blog

One of my day-to-day jobs at Federated Media is deciding — with input from sales and other members of the team — which parenting sites (including blogs) would be good partners for our company.

Parenting blogs are unique in that they so often start as labors of love, or just means of staying in touch with far-flung families, and later evolve into businesses. So, the first step, really, is to decide if you want to get into the advertising business. It might not be for you, because of your creative vision, your personality, or your other commitments. (One good test may be to review the following tips and see if they feel right for your site and yourself.)

So, without further ado, here are my tips for the fledgling mommy or daddy blogger with ambitions of reaping significant advertising revenue:

1. Post every day or even more often. Be consistent.

You may notice that some established bloggers don’t post every day. But the most successful are super-disciplined about churning out the content. If you really want to make your blog into a business, you need to treat it like one, rather than waiting around for inspiration to hit.

2. Cultivate your readership.

What you’re selling — to readers, to advertisers, to your advertising partners — is yourself, or your site’s brand. To build a brand in a grassroots way, you need to be out there. Engage bigger (and smaller) bloggers in their comments sections and on Twitter. Talk to your current readers when they comment on your site. Put yourself on Facebook. Consider advertising on similar sites, or doing guest posts that allow you to get your site’s name in front of larger audiences.

The first thing that advertisers and agencies look for are stats like unique users and pageviews. Next, for savvy marketers, is engagement (as measured by comments, contest entries, etc.). Numbers 1 and 2 on this list are about building up both of those key metrics.

3. Keep it PG rated.

But wait, you ask, those super-successful bloggers curse all the time, why can’t I? Controlled, contextual cursing is OK in moderation. Gratuitious f-bombs or worse are just a turn-off. Think twice before embedding that risque YouTube video. Personally, I’m all for letting it all hang out. It’s the Internet, after all. But, if you’re running a business and not pursuing a hobby, remember that advertisers want to be beside content that makes them feel safe and comfortable.

4. Think about your target advertiser.

This is probably most helpful for those just conceiving of a blog, but, when you’re defining your editorial focus, imagine what advertisers you’d like to see on your site and ask yourself if they’d be happy there. Sure, it’s great, and important, to crusade against unhealthy food or plastic toys, but realize that you may also be frightening away advertisers of such things. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just do it consciously!) Think about who the big spenders are, and about what kinds of messages they spend the big bucks on spreading. If you can align yourself with the current flow of spending, and continue to be authentic, you’re in great shape.

Be consistent with your editorial, as well. So many times, a personal blog becomes a place for anything the person happens to be interested in, at the moment. Avoid that impulse and stick to a coherent theme, so advertisers understand what they’re getting.

5. Make room for ads above the fold (fewer than 550 pixels from the top).

It may surprise you to find that some bloggers who want to make money from advertising haven’t designed their site to accommodate ads. Getting advertisers and keeping them happy means giving them exposure in a prominent place. But that doesn’t mean your site has to look junky. Anyone who has visited an ad-supported site can tell you that there are good placements (that look nice, well-designed, etc.) and bad ones (that look junky, ugly, etc.). Some of this is influenced by the ad creative itself, but the integration of the ad units makes a difference.

6. Develop sponsorable opportunities. And provide stats!

Maggie Mason has done an amazing job (in partnership with FM) finding sponsors for her Life List. But just saying, “I have a Life List” isn’t enough for advertisers/agencies. You need to be able to say, “if you sponsor my Design section for $1000, for two weeks you’ll get all of the banner ads in that section (100,000 impressions), you’ll get mentioned on the front page (20,000 pageviews/day), and I’ll tease and link to it from my Twitter feed (3,000 followers).” Think about how you can package things up to be attractive and meet advertisers’ objectives.

3 Replies to “Six Tips for Making Ad Dollars from Your Parenting Blog”

  1. This is a really smart piece, with great basic info. Alas (:D) half of those things you say not to do are actually a PART of my brand! LOL. I’ve reduced the amount of swearing I do at home as my daughter gets holder but when I withhold in the blog I get a good dozen emails asking if I’m okay. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, just saw you followed me on twitter (followed back) and really liked this entry.

    So, hi! πŸ˜€

    1. Hi, Cecily! Thanks for the note. I heard you speak at Mom 2.0, so I’m familiar with your brand πŸ˜‰ Enjoyed it a lot, by the way. What you’ve done that’s smart is that you’ve found advertisers that FIT your brand image, and that’s really fantastic. It’s limiting, perhaps, in that it’s the squeaky-clean P&Gs of the world that are spending all the money, but you are doing what’s right for your voice and your site AND making money. Perfect.

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