How To Make Direct Ad Sales

Selling your ads directly instead of thought an ad network has both advantages and disadvantages. In the end, the upside generally outweigh the downside. Here are some tips to getting more direct advertising sales for your blog.

Have Enough Traffic Before You Sell

If your blog is brand new, then it maybe best to work on developing traffic instead of developing sales. Ad sales can’t happen if you have no traffic. You can monetize the blog with Google AdSense or any of the other ad networks from the Make Money list. You may also choose not to run any advertising at all. For the first nine months of this blog’s life, there was not a single ad on it.

Put Your Ad Prices In your Advertising Page

Many time when you visit a blog advertising page, they ask you to email them for more information or for a rate card. This is fine if you have a sales staff to help out. However, if you’re a one person operation, it’s best to just spell it all out in your advertising page so the advertisers never have to contact you (unless it’s to make a buy). Dealing with direct advertisers can be time consuming. The less work you have to do, the better. Ideally, you want to automate the ad buying process. Services like OIOpublisher Direct are great for that because it’s free.

Get Rid of Google AdSense

If you are seeing a lot of Google Sitematch ads on your blog, that’s a good indication that it’s time to sell your ads directly. A sitematch ad is a Google AdSense ad targeted directly to a specific site – it only shows up on that site and no others.

Many advertisers will use Google as a back door way to get cheap advertising on a highly prized blog. For example, I was sending tons of “I Love Darren Rowse” ads to using Google Sitematch. My average cost was about $2.50 CPM, which is extremely cheap for a 300×250 spot on Problogger. However, the full $2.50 doesn’t go to Darren. Google needs to take their cut so Darren is left with $1.25 (assuming Google takes 50%).

By removing the Google ads, you stop cheap ass advertisers like me from stealing your ad space. I still have a 468 Google ad running under the first blog post and I see a bunch of Sitematch ads on it. Enjoy it while you can, guys. AdSense will run until the end of this month. Starting in September, Google AdSense will be gone from this blog. If you want to advertise on John Chow dot Com, it’s going to cost you!

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

How much should you sell your ads for? My rule of thumb is to at least double the eCPM rate you’re getting from Google AdSense. If a spot is making you $2.00 per 1000, then sell it for a minimum of $4.00 CPM. It would be stupid to sell it for anything less than double because that is what Google is selling it for (again, assuming 50% cut).

Sometimes it’s better to work on an affiliate deal than a straight ad buy. I could sell a 125×125 button to Text Link Ads for $500 but then I’ll be giving up over $2,000 in TLA affiliate income.

Really Monetize The Blog

If you’re going to monetize your blog, then really monetize it. The people who complain about too much ads on a blog will complain if there is one ad or one hundred ads. They are very vocal and if you listen to them, you wouldn’t be making any money online.

The fact of the matter is people don’t leave a site because of too much advertising and those who claim to leave, don’t. They may not visit as often, but rarely does anyone completely leave a site (most likely they will read it from the full feed RSS). Because of this, don’t be scare to push the envelope when it comes to blog monetization. The key is to monetize as much as possible while still preserving the user experience. Your traffic will tell you when you reach the tipping point.

How I Sold 8 Ad Spots In 1 Day

It was very important for me to have those eight ad button sold for the launch of the new theme. What I did was send out ten emails to past advertisers who purchased a ReviewMe review. I enclosed a screen shot of the new theme showing the ad spots available and asked if they want to be the first to sponsor the new theme. I was hoping for six sales. I ended up with eight.

The lesson to take home from that is, it’s a lot easier to sell to someone who has dealt with you than it is to make a brand new sale. When the time comes for you to go direct, start with the sites that you are currently dealing with and work out from there. You may also want to take note of the Sitematch advertisers so you can contact them after you remove Google. 😈

97 thoughts on “How To Make Direct Ad Sales”

  1. Good advice there. I’d love to monetize my blog but deep down I know I won’t make any money yet, so I’m just trying to write useful articles and build traffic and maybe in another year or so I can come back and take a second look and see where I’m at with traffic.

    You’re probably right though. People complain that there are to much ads everywhere on sites (including this one) but I’m sure they still come back for more.

    1. KingJacob says:

      Deron, You got a good blog why would you wait a year to start earning some cash?

      1. Thanks KingJacob, I appreciate that. I guess I figure that I don’t have enough traffic to really see any benefit from monetizing it right now. I don’t really want to alienate visitors either by slapping ads on their to soon. I guess I do have some very passive monetization in place in the form of affiliate links, but they haven’t made anything yet.

        What is the rule of thumb for number of pageviews/visits before you can see some decent returns on monetization strategies?

        1. KingJacob says:

          There isnt really a rule of thumb as it all depends on how you monetize ,Ive found I dont really make good money on a site with cpc,cpm or cpa unless it gets >100 uniques a day but I think for a blog 500-1000 uniques a day is a good number to shoot for. If that many people visit your blog you’re doing something right and a bit of ads isnt going to make them leave.

          1. 500-1000 uniques a day is a point already to start slowly showing ads on your site. And i mean slowly if you do not want to alienise your visitors as you said.

          2. Thanks!
            My traffic is not there yet, but it’s slowly growing.

    2. Good advice! Thanks for letting us in on your evil genius! *=)


    3. In one of his session talks at SES San Jose, Shoemoney said he never puts ads on a site until after it’s receiving at least 1000 visitors a day.

    4. Amanda says:

      I made a direct sales ad buy doing something on ppp. I did a review for 7.20 which then got me a direct sales ad for over $750
      you may never know where your next buyer will be coming from!

      1. This is so true! Good tip!

  2. Good point on “If you are seeing a lot of Google Sitematch ads on your blog, that’s a good indication that it’s time to sell your ads directly”. I never really looked at it that way before.

    1. Jack Book says:

      Oh John,
      I wish i live on canada. i would be your house keeper just to let me be able to learn from you more.
      you are really-really a Make Money Online Guru!
      Thank you for all your honest shared. i really-really appreciate it.

      1. Valentin says:

        1- JC `s house keeper job is given allready. 😛
        2- JC is not a guru, is a mogul. 👿
        3- while JC would teach you techniques and style, same time will be gone as you`ll learn by yourself. ❗
        4- with or without a teacher, some (barely 95%) will never be successfull in business, be it online or offline. 💡
        5- doing things exactly as JC do will only iutput a clone of JC way. Clones often are either punished (if ressemblance are close to copy/paste) or will often drive more traffic to original (which is something “evil” enough to make JC teach you some things for free, without the need to paint his house 😀 )

        iDevil`s Advocate ©

    2. Makes perfect sense though…people are trying to get cheap advertising 🙂

  3. As evil 😈 as some may think it is, the monetization you’ve implemented with the new theme is quite amazing. Can’t wait to see how it affects the monthly income numbers.

    1. Yeah, he really did do an outstanding job with the monetization.

      1. Simon says:

        Basically crammed every scare inch. Should make for some interesting figures though.


  4. KingJacob says:

    Exactly, why share your profits with google, TLA or any large ad network if you have the stats to sell direct.

    1. Of course, i had no doubt he will dump them one by one and keep all the revenue for himself once he gets the markets attention. Now he does, so thats what he is doing.

      I believe TLA has brought him more income with the affiliate instead of link sales.

  5. David says:

    Lots of good info…I run adsense on my sites and block most “cheap ass” advertisers by opting out of the Google Onsite Advertising…which also removes the “Advertise on this Site” link. 😈

    1. I think I read somewhere that Google only show those ads if you they make more money than from the normal network ads.

  6. israel says:

    Hey John, I just read your post. good advice. I also noticed you have “adsense” misspelled here:

    . You can monetize the blog with Google AdSese or any of the other ad networks from the Make Money list.

    Take care.

  7. SeoVibe says:

    Great ideas, especially with the adsense blocker software that is making its rounds by people who hate seeing google ads at all.

    You might also want to add google to your adsense filter, I see a google image ad about 50% of the time (on the new theme) for the 468 banner spot just under the “digg this!” of every post.

  8. Joshua says:

    Yeah, why not sell ads directly to advertisers??? That’s a great idea.










    1. Joshua says:

      Wow, I never would have thought of this. Thanks.

  9. SeoVibe says:

    One other thing, this one might be a challenge for you John, have you considered selling the space where you have car images in the header to a car manufacturer or country wide dealer?

    Exotic cars have become your trademark in a way, I’m sure you could find a match with an exotic car dealer to preserve the image but sell the prime placement too. Thought about trying that yet?

    I’d be interested to see if even the banner images can be sold without ruining the user experience.

    1. John Chow says:

      The best match would be Exotic Cars of Las Vegas. They invited me down to check out the Zonda, but it wasn’t a F.

    2. It would not make a sense to sell that ad space (at least for me). Most readers of John Chow’s blog are those that get inspired to make “few pennies” from their site. I doubt someone could actually afford to buy a exotic car..and selling also the header (as you said has became in a certain way as trademark of it would lose branding).

      And what would the Cows do next..sell their header to a farm holder? heh

  10. chinaboy says:

    BTW, Google adsense takes about 20% cut.

    1. John Chow says:

      While the annual report states Google’s share is only 20% you have to understand that Google have some very big publishers (AOL for one) with special deals. Google’s top 50 publishers probably accounts for over 80% of all AdSense income. If Google pays them 80% share and the rest of the network (you and me) 40%, the average payout would still be 80%.

      1. KingJacob says:

        John have you ever applied to be a premium publisher?

        1. John Chow says:

          Premium publisher doesn’t give you a higher rev share. It just gives you a personal account rep, which I already have.

    2. Google doesn’t share how much their cut is and as John correctly mentioned, they have some very large publishers that demand higher payout rates and they screw the little guys (us) to make up for it.

  11. Knuckles10 says:

    “If you are seeing a lot of Google Sitematch ads on your blog, that’s a good indication that it’s time to sell your ads directly”

    How can you tell you are being sitematch targeted?

    1. John Chow says:

      Sitematch ad take up the entire space. It’s one advertiser instead of 2 to 4.

      1. Steven says:

        Is it about time you up the ante on the $400 review me and also time you let in on the amount you’re going to charge for the 250×300…

        I am interested in seeing how much income you can pull off in a FULL month with this new theme. Seeing as how this took place after the middle of August, we’d all have to wait till October 1st to really see a full month’s worth of results. I am sure you’ll beat the $13k mark soon.

        The other thing I wanted to ask since you sold the 250×300 ad spot for part of August and September, are you going to pro-rate that amount as your income for the month? Or do you add the $1000 total towards August’s income? I would figure you’d pro-rate…

        1. John Chow says:

          The income will be Pro-rated.

          1. Steven says:

            I noticed you took out the TTZ ads, why? Not performing well?

          2. John Chow says:

            TTZ ads works best on tech and shopping sites.

      2. Great tip, I didn’t know that.

        I’ve just turned a $2 a day adsense spot into a $40 a day direct to advertiser spot so this appraoch can even work for us little guys.

      3. Knuckles10 says:

        Thanks John. I am getting a bunch of single ads so I’ll look into it.

    2. Click Input says:

      He linked to a previous blog post here showing you how to tell.

  12. chinaboy says:

    And I think you can sell another $1000 per month for now google adsense spot.

  13. Arleigh Cee says:

    I’m interested in how you set your ad rates. Obviously, your circulation, ahem, page views, are huge, so how do you arrive at a fair price?

    1. israel says:

      i think he said that he charges about double what hewould make with google or somethng like that.

      1. The easiest way is to start low at twice and then adjust depending on demand. If your spot sits empty fot a couple of months then lower it. You’ll notice with John’s first Adsense ad replacement that he started at $1000, it will be a lot more next time.

      2. That’s what I was thinking too…

  14. dcr says:

    Great advice to put ad prices on your advertising page. I wish more people would follow that advice.

    I think you lose potential advertisers when they have to inquire what the rates are. Many people still follow the old axiom, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

    On the other hand, too, if it is more than they can afford, then they’re wasting their own time as well as yours if they have to inquire and you have to reply.

    Much easier just to put it out there and quickly weed out the ones that can’t afford it, while attracting those who think, “hey, that’s less than I thought!”

  15. Waa…..I like the new theme You have now……..

  16. israel says:

    wow, not for nothing, but john knows what he is talking about. i implemented some of the stuff he says in his ebook and viola! i already have some traffic and people commenting on my blog, albeit 2 folks. but it was extremely rewarding to see it happen the SAME DAY!!!

    thanks john.

  17. Click Input says:

    Awesome post as always John… you really covered all the bases. The main thing is definitely having enough traffic before approaching anyone though!

  18. JC —

    After how many months of your blog’s existence did you sell an ad directly?

    1. John Chow says:

      I actually avoided direct sales for as long as possible because of the extra servicing time it takes. I have gone out to get advertisers before, they have always came to me. Those ad buttons was the first time I really went out to get the sales.

  19. John says:

    Well How much should we charge advertisers once we get them 🙂

    1. KingJacob says:

      As much as they are willing to pay

  20. john,
    I know you have changed your theme… but i wanted to dop someone in that i just found trying to completely steal your concept. same header and same sort of name:

    smash him if its not approved by you i say!

    1. Oh my, after a Cow we have a How ;)…tho i like Cows comments, he is full of sarcasm.

    2. That’s why John made a custom theme…not so easy to rip off 🙂

    3. KingJacob says:

      Technically the johnhow guy or girl isnt using anything to do with john except his old theme and a variation of his name. Who knows maybe the guys name is John How 😉

      1. Valentin says:

        Or maybe is one of the several blogs that JC has build to compete in the self-challenge “from nobody to somebody” tryout.

        My 2 cents (that makes 4, do you keep counting, JC ?)

    4. Simon says:

      Haha,, what a joke, can nobody be original anymore.


  21. Great info here John.
    Well done on new theme. Would have been nicer if the pic was of an Aston Martin 🙁

    1. I know, I was thinking that too.. possibly a DB9?

  22. Wahlau.NET says:

    wow…selling 8/10 email is great conversion…

    johncow now johnhow

    i doubt the would do a new theme unless they are getting somemoney out of their website.

  23. Geedos says:

    Good advice – but you’ve got a bit of a head start on most people John!

    Not everyone is as evil as you! 😈

  24. tonyinabox says:

    I like this advice 😳

  25. Kirenia says:

    John, a question.
    Let’s imagine I have an ad on my site linking at

    I could go to its site, find the “contact” page and write: “Hi, I am Kirenia, you are running ads on my site. Do you want a custom banner instead of a cheap adsense ad? it will cost you this much”

    Do you think it would be a good idea?

    1. I dunno if that’d work….as people are going after adsense ads to get a cheap advertisement on your site….

    2. Valentin says:

      I allways wonder why people need so many tips before go for something.
      Instead of asking JC, why don`t you just try ? What can you loose ? You think that adsense would cease showing the guy`s ad because you have made him a distinct offer ?

      Make to the guy a clean-headshoot-offer he can`t refuse and … do not gave up trying if you got a “no, thanks”.

    3. John Chow says:

      It would only work if you tell them that you’re removing AdSense because in most cases, it’ll be cheaper for them to back door you via Google than to go direct.

      1. Simon says:

        Thats true, but I think it might still be a good idea if you get rid of adsense and get enough private ads from it.


  26. Andrew says:

    very useful idea… thanks

  27. bob cobb says:

    You’re gonna take off the adsense ad right before spending increases in the fall? I’m very anxious for this, and I hope ad revenue increases in september/october

  28. ray says:

    johnchow is making that moola, and he’s not backing down!

  29. This is good advice. If you are going to make direct sales you need to have the traffic to attract buyers…

  30. sitefever says:

    Earlier this week I removed all ad networks and affiliate links from my blog and I’m out to see how much I can make doing all ad sales in-house! In the first three days, we almost hit $400. Check it out:

    I’ll never go back to ad networks again!


    1. Surely a combination of both is best, no?

      1. Depends on how much time it takes to manage your own direct to client ads? If you can get the admin down to a minimum then I’d think direct is the way to go.

        1. Simon says:

          Yeah I agree, you have to make sure that you are not spending too much time on admin.


  31. Cute Rush says:

    I read plenty of fish is doing this exact same thing.

    1. This is true, but John does it after he has all of his traffic, as most generally keep adsense or some other lower priced monitization up. Look how easy it was for him to sell those new ad spots? I bet it took him like 10 minutes!

  32. How do you find the sitematch ads from your google account???

  33. Simon says:

    Great post John. I cant wait for the day when I can try my hand at some private ad sales. Ive gotten one offer so far for a banner ad on my blog, but Im sure that was just some luck.


  34. AndyK says:

    Interesting article but I have to disagree with this point – Put Your Ad Prices In your Advertising Page. I think it is better not to do this and to ask people to email you for prices. The reason being someone might see your rates and decide that they are too high. However if they have to mail you to get your rates, you are engaging them in communication and even if they still think your rates are too high you have the opportunity to try to change their mind or drop your price.



  35. Max says:

    I Agree, you can take some advantage over Google ads such as the Darren Rose blog but it’s still very costly. Not very cost effective versus just making a blog… and having evil plans??!?? That’s another ordeal… 😈 😈

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