When I got the idea for my blog back in 2007, I knew that I wanted to monetize it. Since I had no clue what I was doing, I hired a graphic designer to set up my blog, create a logo, and install a WordPress plugin to accommodate banner ads.
I figured out how much to charge for ads, wrote my advertising copy, and after 15 months of hard work, I launched The Work at Home Woman.
As a brand new blogger, I didn't yet have any advertisers or sponsors, so I filled up my ad spaces with affiliate marketing ads. This gave the impression that companies were advertising, and it allowed me to make money with the small amount of traffic that I was getting.
While I was eager to make money from my blog, my primary focus was on producing great content. Part of my content strategy was to interview other successful work-at-home women. One of those interviews was with a well-established humor blogger, Kelcey Kintner of the Mama Bird Diaries. After the interview was published, Kelcey was kind enough to post a link to the interview on her site, which led one of her readers here.
This reader liked what she saw and purchased a banner ad on my site. All in all, it took me a little over two months to get my first blog advertiser. While it may seem like my first advertiser landed in my lap, I will tell you that I was always marketing my blog, and soaking up every piece of blogging information that I could get my hands on.
It took a lot of effort to get the word out about my blog, but I was determined to make it work. I also LOVED what I was doing, so it never felt like work.
Six Other Methods I've Used to Get Blog Advertisers:
1. Make it Known
While I talked about it briefly, this is the absolute first thing you need to do to let companies know that you're open for business. Make sure that your blog is set up to host ads, and that you have a prominent page on your site discussing your advertising options. To get an idea of how you want to set up your framework, check out other blogs within your niche, as well as your favorites. To serve ads on your site, you'll need to install a plugin to allow for that functionality. I currently use AdRotate, but this post has some other good options.
You should also consider creating a media kit that goes into more detail about your demographics, stats, social media accounts, topics you cover, and what differentiates you from other bloggers. Having these details in place easily allows companies to learn more about you, and it makes you look more professional.
2. Social Media
Follow brands and companies that you're interested in working with on social media and share their content with your audience. Add thoughtful comments on their posts and authentically interact with them. I've had numerous companies contact me because I've shared their content on Twitter or Facebook, or I've interacted with them on Instagram. The more genuinely active you are on social media, the more opportunities you have to be seen by potential advertisers.
If there's a product or service that you love, create a social media post around it, and tag the brand. Often, when a brand likes what they see, they'll contact you about other opportunities.
3. Email Prospecting
Much like cold calling, but less invasive, email prospecting is where you pitch a company or brand about your advertising services via email. I personally like to combine this method with the above social media method. By interacting with them on social media, you start to build and nurture the relationship, so you're not just emailing out of the blue.
To get started with email prospecting, research companies within your niche and email them a short, sweet, and concise sponsorship proposal. I've done this numerous times with many successful outcomes. The key is to be personal and show the company what you can do for their business; remember this is not about you!
To have the most success with this method, you'll need to find the right person to contact. Sometimes this can be easily accomplished through a direct Instagram message. If the company doesn't respond on Instagram, try looking on LinkedIn for an employee that works in the marketing department. You may be able to contact them directly on LinkedIn, or they may have their email address publicly visible.
If those two methods don't work, do a Google search with the company's name and the words “press release”. If they've sent out a press release, their contact information should be listed at the bottom of it. If all else fails, you can try reaching the marketing team through a general email address on the company's website. But in my experience, this last resort doesn't yield the best results.
4. Put the Ball Back in Their Court
Over the years, I've received a lot of emails from companies asking me to add a link to their client's website, spread the word about an article they wrote, or offer discounts or coupons to my audience for free. While being asked to work for free is annoying — it can be an opportunity in disguise.
When I get these emails, and I feel like there is a good fit between our audiences, I'll send them back this response:
It's great to meet you!
Due to the overwhelming number of requests for resource and link additions, I'm unable to add any new unpaid resources to the site.
I do have some affordable and effective advertising solutions if you're interested. Please let me know if you'd like me to send over my media kit.
Thanks for reaching out,
While many tell me that they don't have a budget for paid campaigns, I'd say about 20-30 percent request additional advertising information.
5. Sign Up For Their Affiliate Program
Let me start by saying this doesn't happen a bunch, but it can happen. When I find a company that I want to work with, I check to see if they have an affiliate program. If they do, I sign up for their program and integrate their campaigns into my content. If they start seeing a decent amount of traffic, sign-ups, or sales coming from my site, they often email me to do further promotions. I've had this happen many times over the years.
6. Write About Them
If there's a brand you'd like to work with, but you haven't been able to grab their attention, you may want to write a blog post and include their brand, product, or service in it. Over the years, I've written many blog posts and included companies that are relevant to my niche. If the post does well, often the company will come to me, and say, we've been getting a lot of traffic from this post you wrote and we'd like to see what other advertising options you have. When you include a brand within a post, you may want to tag them on social media when you promote it, or you may even contact them via direct message or email to let them know about it.
How Other Bloggers Scored Their First Blog Advertiser:
Stacie Connerty, The Divine Miss Mommy
“I landed my first paying blog advertiser after six months. I had worked with the company a few times, and then I offered them ad space on an ongoing basis. They said yes right away and paid what I asked.”
Tracie Nall, From Tracie
“The first paid work I got from my blog was not something I went after or applied for; it came in the form of an email from a PR company I had never heard of, offering me money to try a hamburger and write about it. They found my blog and were able to gather all the information they needed to determine I was a good fit before they even contacted me.”
Anna Thurman, Real Ways to Earn Money
“It actually took me a year of blogging to get my first advertiser. When I first started blogging, I was hesitant to approach advertisers directly, so I waited for them to come to me — one reason why it took as long as it did. This advertiser approached me because they discovered I had written a review of their company.”
Miranda Grimm, WAH Adventures
“My first advertiser contacted me by email and offered a year contract agreement. It was over a year into blogging. I think it was about 18 months into blogging. It was so exciting and made me feel legit.”
If you want to monetize your blog with direct advertisements or blog sponsorships, you'll need to get out there and make it known. You may make some mistakes along the way, we all do, but the more you put yourself out there, the easier it gets. Also remember, as you grow your audience and page views, the more advertisers will want to work with you.
How did you get your first blog advertiser? How long did it take?
Originally published September 26, 2014. Content updated June 12, 2020.
Holly Reisem Hanna is the publisher and founder of The Work at Home Woman, which has been helping individuals find remote careers and businesses that feed their souls since 2009. Through her unconventional career path of holding over 30 jobs and obtaining two college degrees, she's been able to figure out how to find a career path that you're truly passionate about. Holly's had the pleasure of sharing her expertise on sites like CNN, MSN Money, Huffington Post, Woman's Day Magazine, as well as being recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.” Holly resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and daughter and enjoys reading, traveling, and yoga.