Sex Blog Sponsorship: How Much Should You Charge for Ads and Sponsorship?
As your sex blog traffic grows, and you start making a bit of money with affiliate sales or commissions, there may come a time when you decide you want to switch from a direct-sales model like affiliation to a more reliable and predictable one like sponsorship. But how do you decide what to offer and what to charge? How can you make the absolute most out of your awesome website, and the fact that you’re willing to sell space in your sexy online home to companies who want to flog toys and porn? Here’s how I do it…
Blog sponsorship: What to Charge
I’ll come clean up front and tell you that I didn’t do much in the way of affiliate sales when I first started blogging. I am not massively keen on the idea of doing unpaid promotion for brands, on the off-chance that I might see some cash later down the line in the form of a sales cut. It feels a little like the door-to-door sales job I held for a single day when I was about eighteen. Knocking on doors and putting work in without any guarantee of payment unless someone said, ‘Yes.’ However if you already do affiliate sales from your site, you’re in a great position to start pricing site sponsorship and ads.
The first thing to note is that if you’re asking brands to pay you a monthly fee for advertising, you’ll need to care about a few tedious acronyms. Hooray, tedious acronyms!
- CPM – Cost per mille (thousand)
- CPC – Cost per click
- ROI – Return on investment
Broadly, online advertising is charged at either CPM (if an advertiser pays £1 to get their ad shown 1,000 times, their CPM is £1) or CPC (if they pay £1 for every time someone clicks the ad, their CPC is £1). When you price up your advertising, you should be aware of roughly how many views your ads will get on the site (based on your pageviews) and how many of the people who see the ads actually click through.
To get that data, Google Analytics will track clicks on external links under ‘Behavior – Events – Top Events – Outbound Traffic.’ Or if you’re fancy like me you can set up special tracking to check ad clicks versus other outbound links. If you already run banner ads for affiliates, you have this data already: How many people per month see your affiliate ads? And how many of them click through? That’s how you’ll know your M and your C for the ‘CPM’ and ‘CPC’ part.
The key to unlocking what you should be charging per click and per mille is to work out an ROI. This is what advertisers will do when they decide whether to sponsor your site. Of the people who see the ad, how many will click? And of the clickers, how many will buy? And of the buyers, how much will they spend?
So… you show an ad for Butt Plug Ltd to 10,000 people in a month. Of those, 100 click through to the site. Of those, 3 people buy a butt plug valued at £30, of which £5 is profit for the company. The advertiser has made £15 off your ad – woo! You should be charging that company something less than £15 for the month’s advertising.
Simple, right? Wrong!
Blog sponsorship: Adding Value
Far more important than CPC and CPM and ROI is a truth that goes to the heart of all sales activity. You can price your offering perfectly, but your product is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. I could offer to sell you the pair of jeans I’m wearing now for £5,000, but they’re not actually worth £5,000 unless you cough it up. (Which I don’t recommend you do. There’s a hole in the crotch and they’re very frayed at the bottom).
If no one is willing to pay you £15 per month for ads, then no matter how neatly you can demonstrate ROI on those ads, they still aren’t worth £15 per month to a sponsor. You’re far better off sticking with an affiliation where you’ll at least make a cut of the sales money.
So when you are working out how to price blog sponsorship if you’re struggling to get brands to sign up, you need to do one of two things:
- Charge them less
- Offer them more
You won’t be surprised to learn that my strategy is to offer them more. As a general rule, I don’t want to be messing around negotiating with someone over ten or twenty quid per month, so I have a minimum spend of £200. That’s just enough to buy someone three months of site sponsorship. (Where their ads get a minimum of 90,000 pageviews per month – a CPM of 36p, fact-fans! CPC depends wildly on how effective their advertising is, but the ads which perform best at the moment are running at a CPC of around 15p). But that is not all!
How to Offer More
While I can easily work out how much value someone’s getting in terms of clicks and ad views, and justify the value provided there, I also offer extra bonuses to give even more value to the advertiser. Someone who sponsors for 3 months gets a little of this, 6 months they get a bit more, and 12 months they get all the gold-plated bells-and-whistles from the following:
- Inclusion in ‘sponsor sites’ list on Twitter, which I dip into every few days to RT relevant/interesting/fun content and discounts/offers etc
- Sponsor tweets (which I schedule on Tweetdeck to promote codes/offers etc that I think readers might like)
- Inclusion in gift guides and round-ups i.e. this one for Christmas or this one for Masturbation Month
- Competitions to boost their social followers
- A post about their product/service
- A partridge, pear tree optional
The up-side of doing this is that it strongly incentivizes sponsors to support me for a year at a time. This sucks a little financially as I make slightly less money overall. (Because I give them a discount too, and also I have to do lots of extra work.) But it is massively beneficial in that it brings in money in advance which I can rely on. It also means I spend less time hustling for sponsorship, which I absolutely hate. I can also really get to know a company over a year. This helps find other opportunities to promote them/the posts I’ve written about their products, or record some of the sexier sponsor posts as audio porn which gives them added value and keeps the sponsor happy so they’ll renew.
So if you’re thinking of running blog sponsorship, my top tip would be to price out how much your ads are worth, then work out what extras you’re willing to throw in, and use that to adjust your pricing. You’ll probably have to tweak this a little. I review my sponsor packages a couple of times a year, adjusting prices depending on site traffic, how many potential sponsors are on my waiting list (remember: your ads cost what people are willing to pay so if you have loads of people waiting for a slot it may be time to raise your prices) and whether I have decided any of the bonus extras are too much of a pain in the bum and I need to stop offering them.
Hopefully, this piece has helped you get a feel for how much you should charge, but if you’d like any more info feel free to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can share my ad pack so you can see what I send out to sponsors. I’m always happy to give tips to Smutlancers on what they may be able to charge and how to make the most of their offering to brands.
I’ll be back next month with some tips on marketing yourself to brands and choosing which brands to work with.