Alistair asks – ‘Having a niche blog means that I will never have the same amount of visitors as some of the larger technology/media blogs. This means that advertisers such as blog ads will not allow me to use their ads as they see me as having lower visitor numbers. Traditionally manufacturers in my niche are wary of the internet even though they have websites – I have contacted a few and state my visitor numbers etc but still they are unwilling to even trial. I think it is because my blog is “personal” but in my niche I can get away with that as it is classed as a diary. Any advice?’
Tough one Alistair. I could write a lot on this (and have actually asked Chad, b5media’s Ad Sales guy to write some posts for me on the topic too) but here are a few tips that come to mind. I hope you don’t mind me compiling them as a list as they’re somewhat random ideas:
1. Show them what they’re buying – one of the most powerful strategies I used in my early days of selling ads to people was to show them how I ranked in Google for their keywords. Compile a list of words that you rank for that you can pull out next time you’re talking to an advertiser. If when people search the web for information on products that they sell they end up on your site you have a key selling point.
2. Traffic is a Powerful Motivator – there’s no getting around it – to many advertisers traffic numbers are key. I hope that this trend is changing (what I saw at ad:Tech in Sydney recently confirms this as advertisers are looking to get more niche in their focus) but in the mean time it does count. Keep working to build traffic and be ready to share your numbers and back them up with graphs/tables etc.
3. Collect Demographics – every ad agency I ever spoke with about buying space on my blogs asked about the demographics of my audience. Do some surveys and collect this data as it’ll help sell your case.

4. Start with Small Advertisers – when I first started trying to sell advertising on my blogs I aimed too high. On my digital camera blog I went for Canon, Adobe etc. Of course I failed. So I decided to go to the opposite extreme and started approaching smaller digital camera stores and websites. The tactic worked – they bought up ad space at reasonable rates quite quickly. In time however traffic grew and the bigger campaigns started to appear – having advertisers already on board helped convince the big guys though.
5. Put together an Advertiser Pack - compile your stats, rates, advertising options (ie what you offer) reader demographics and any other relevant figures into a professional looking document that you can email to interested advertisers. Include your contact details and references from other advertisers if you can get them.
6. Sell the Niche Angle - the fact is that most of us will never compete with the broad publications that are out there – so don’t compete with them by trying to fool advertisers into thinking that you’re bigger than you are – sell the fact that you’re different and that you can reach a narrow and targeted group of people that makes the money an advertiser spends much more effective. ‘Spend $1 on a big site and you might reach a lot of people who are mildly interested in your topic – sell $1 on our site and you’ll reach people who are obsessed with your topic….’
7. Key Influencers – do other bloggers read your blog and pick up on what you write? If so – sell this too. You’ve got influential readers – not just passive ones!