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.