Negotiating your first sponsored link

by Bill Ferris on January 20, 2006 · 7 comments

in Making Money

I’ve received 3 emails in the last week from bloggers who were approached about advertising on their sites, and wanted some advice. Each email basically had two questions:

  1. What kind of rate should I ask for?
  2. What else should I keep in mind?

Now I hesitate to answer the first question. Partly because it is something I don’t have a ton of knowledge about because I haven’t really discussed it with other bloggers. I don’t know if I’m getting a good rate or not. Mostly though, I won’t discuss it because I don’t think that is the way to maintain a good working relationship with your advertisers.

What I will do though is give you some factors to consider when setting your price, and just in negotiating in general. I’m working under the assumption that the advertiser is a ticket broker, because that is by far the most common sponsored link I’ve seen on sports blogs. However, the bulk of the points would be applicable to any sponsor.

  • How much do you want to make from advertising? Maybe making money from your site isn’t that important to you. You may want to avoid advertising altogether, but would decide to compromise your standards if the price was right. If this is the case then you hold all the cards, and ask for the price that you want. If they say no, they say no. And if you’re not intent on making money from your blog, then you won’t have really given up anything. And who knows, maybe they’ll say yes. If they do, you know you can ask for at least that much the next time.
  • I’m guessing on this, but my supposition is that ticket brokers are more interested in buying link popularity than in generating direct sales. So your pagerank may be more important than your traffic. Let me stress again, this is just my guess. You can check your pagerank here.
  • Be clear about where the ad will appear. While sidebar is the typical location, you may want to mix them in amongst the posts. Also, how far down the sidebar will the ad go? What other information are you willing to bump to place the ad(s). This is something you’ll need to decide, and something the advertiser will want to know.
  • Think about offering exclusivity or for the top position among your sponsored links for a premium. On my Tiger site I’ve made the decision to limit the number of a given type of sponsor to 5. Ultimately I’m not maximizing my revenue potential but I also cap the amount of space that my ads will use. In the process I can ask for a little more in terms of rates because space is at a premium and the ad receives less competition.
  • Make sure you delineate the size of the ad. This could be specified in terms of lines, links, or characters.
  • Keep records. I have an Excel spreadsheet that includes the start and end date for each of my agreements, as well as the rate. First, you want to know when the ad is up and you should be talking renewal. Second, this is income which needs to be tracked and reported (at least in the US).