Written By: Dangerous Lilly
Once you’ve developed a bit of a “presence” online, with good traffic and other blog-qualifier numbers, you’re bound to get contacted by a company asking if you’ll post their text link (some will outright ask you your rate, a few will try to pawn it off as a “link exchange” which is a topic for a later date). This can all be a bit difficult to navigate until you ask the more veteran bloggers. Here’s some starting info for you:
RATES? WHAT RATES?
The first question you likely have is the first question I had: How much should I charge? And that, my friends, is not an easy answer. Because it not only is based on your page rank and overall stats, but what others similar to you are charging. And I know that some people are, IMO, underselling themselves.
Companies will likely only approach you for advertising if you have a google page rank of 3 or higher. By having a text link on your sidebar it helps increase their own site’s page rank. (http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php)
So the first thing that your rate depends upon is your pagerank. And to be honest, what else it depends upon – I’m not 100% sure. It could be traffic overall, it could be your Alexa rank. Ever since I started taking on advertisers I’ve been a PR4. I don’t know how I got there, nor do I fully know how to get higher. I’ve read a few tips and tricks but none have helped. After talking to another blogger whose site was considerably better than mine I took a stab at what I thought was a fair price, $30 a month, and that has turned out to be a good price for a PR4 site to charge. Many will prefer to pay for 3, 6 or even 12 months in advance and will ask for a discount. Just because they are taking away the hassle (for you both) of paying monthly doesn’t mean you should take a drastic cut. My personal opinion is to never give a discount greater than 20% of your quoted price.
If you’ve got a PR3, my opinion would be to start off between $21-$25 a month, whatever you feel comfortable doing. If you’re PR4, start off at $30.
IMO for banners, you should charge more. Banners command more of a presence in your sidebar and are used for garnering traffic moreso than raising a pagerank. I would recommend 10-$15 more per month for banners.
NO PERMANENT LINKS
A few bloggers I’ve spoken to had done this and I’ve been asked (rarely) for what they call a permanent link. What they mean is….they pay you once, and only once, for a link on your site until your site dies. I advise to never do this. Neither you nor the advertiser knows how long you intend to keep your site, for one. Two, these types of offers are generally given to test your mettle and see if you’re a newbie to paid advertising. If you don’t know any better and don’t have a resource, you might think this offer is grand and snatch it up. I can guarantee you that there is nothing they will offer you that will make it a fair deal in the end, for you. Sure it makes life easier on you, you don’t have to remind them. But by doing this you are A: throwing off the bell curve for the rest of the bloggers and B: You are losing revenue!!
Always, always have them prepay. I’ve known a couple bloggers who put the link up on their site and then the company didn’t pay. The companies are all going to use Paypal. If you don’t have a Paypal account, get one. I’ve had one for a long ass time and never once had a problem. I know that some people who have little experience buying/selling/doing monetary business online are a little fearful of it.
Stick to your guns. They’ll ask you to go lower half the time. Don’t go drastically low just to get their business. I’ve sacrificed advertisers before, even though money is money. Once you give them an ultra-low and unrealistic price, they’re going to use that against other bloggers. They’ll say to me: “well I’ve got a link with this other PR5 blogger and they charged me less than you!” To which I say “You got a really good deal then, because it’s worth more than that. I’m worth more than that.”. They accepted my price in the end.
WATCH THE CALENDAR
Set up a Google Calendar reminder; keep the info on a spreadsheet; have your husband make you a program (oh wait, that’s me) – whatever it takes to remind you to contact them about a week or so before their contract is up to remind them to renew. Check your PR before contacting them, in case it went up. If it went up, so do your prices. If you don’t hear from them in the expected timeframe (1-2 weeks for longer contracts, 1 week max for monthly renewals), remove their link from your site. Tell them you’ve done this and will put it back up once they renew their contract. You can’t have unpaid links up – it only helps them and not you.
DON’T CHANGE YOUR BLOG TO PLEASE THEM
I’ve had advertisers try to suggest that I not call my section “Site Sponsors” or that I don’t title the link “Advertiser: XYZ”. They try to claim that Google will penalize ME. No. Google might penalize THEM if it’s found, because buying links to raise your page rank is frowned upon by the Google Gods. Never change anything about your site. Not the number of links you have, the location of your sponsor links, what you call them or what others might use as their anchor text.
AFFILIATE DOES NOT EQUAL PAYMENT
I’ve been asked in the past by bloggers about companies trying to get a link by telling the blogger that they’ll be put into an affiliate program in exchange and will receive 15/20% of sales on a commission basis. Unless you are reviewing toys for a sex toy retailer on a regular basis, the chances of you making money off of an affiliate sale are slim. It means that someone has to click that little text link in your sidebar and then buy toys from that company. Very unlikely to happen. Again, this is a tactic used to separate those new to the text advertising game and take advantage.
ANONYMITY – BE AWARE
I’ve known this all along, but have also known that there is nothing I can do about it. When someone sends you money via Paypal, they will be given your legal name. There does not seem to be a way to circumvent this at all in Paypal. While nearly ever advertiser you will deal with will naturally understand the sensitive matter of your name, bear in mind that accidents can happen. It is a very small chance but it exists. I’m not telling you this to scare you off but merely to prepare you. I didn’t think about this until an accidental case of mistaken identity lead me to receive the real name of another blogger via a potential advertiser. I’m not going to do anything with the information and I don’t know how the other blogger feels; but what if situations were reversed and what if the person who received my personal information was not a friend and not someone nice? I could then have to deal with the worry of them outing me if they wanted to. While there are not a lot of unsavory characters in our community they still exist occasionally. I would recommend that you put in a clause in your email correspondence with potential advertisers that says something along the lines of “Your payment to me denotes acceptance of my terms, which includes that any and all personally identifying information you will receive about me shall remain in confidence.” or whatever. I’m not sure on the wording of this and how legally binding it is; this is something I’ll research further and would appreciate input on. Added Jan 2012
Please ask questions or give your own tips! Thanks!