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How to Make Money Selling Ezine Advertising Space



Not surprisingly, the most common method of direct revenue generation among list owners is the sale of advertising space.

Advertisers find email publications very attractive, not only because rates are low compared to other media, but also because, by choosing the right e-zines, they can target their ads to the specific audiences they want. Many marketers consider e-zine advertising to be more effective today than ads on websites.

All of this being said, publishers of email newsletters have been as badly hit by the slump in online advertising spending as website publishers. Of course, not all publishers are seeing a drop in advertising revenue. Some of our clients have actually seen a substantial increase. It all comes down to how well you position yourself to advertisers.

How much money you can make by selling ads in your newsletter depends on several things. Of course, the number of subscribers you have is an important factor. (Publishers often talk of CPM - Cost Per Thousand. This refers to the rate charged for an ad for every 1000 subscribers.)

Another very important determinant is the nature of your readership. Some e-zines have general appeal and are read by all kinds of people. Others are aimed at a very specific profession or trade, people in a certain age or income group, or interested in a special subject, residents of a specific region, men or women only, etc.

To return to the example we used with affiliate programs, a producer of materials for managers will seek out newsletters targeted at business executives, and a manufacturer of gardening equipment will prefer to advertise in e-zines for gardeners.

Usually, if your newsletter caters to a specific niche market, you will be able to command higher rates from advertisers aiming at that market. At the same time, your readers are more likely to see such ads not as an intrusion, but as a service.

It follows from all this that the more information you have about your readership profile, the stronger may be your position in attracting advertisers. If run a sports e-zine you can assume your readers enjoy outdoor living, but through surveys or contests could collect additional information about their other interests and characteristics. Be careful, however, not to violate your privacy policy.

Understandably, the price you will be able to fetch for an ad will also depend on the prominence of the position it will occupy in your newsletter.

What is referred to as a “sponsorship ad” - one that appears right at the top of the issue, completely separated from other advertising material - will obviously command the highest price. You will also be able to charge better rates for similar ads that appear lower down in the issues. The cheapest ads will be the so-called “classifieds,” which usually consist of a string of different ads one after another at the bottom of the newsletter.

To decide on the right rates to charge in your particular case usually requires a certain amount of legwork - studying what similar publications charge for what type of ads, to determine the supply and demand and what the market will bear. You’ll not only want to look at competitive rates, but you’ll also want to consider what percentage of the ad space they seem to be actually selling. Many publishers charge a tidy sum for ads, but they sell very few ads at such high fees.

Although the ultimate decision on the type of ads to carry is obviously up to you, based on our own experience in this area, we recommend against including classified advertising in your newsletter. The money you will make for the time involved in administering it will simply not be worth it. In addition, we’ve found that the more ads that are included in a single newsletter - be it sponsorship or classified ads - the lower the response rate will be for individual ads. Since one of your objectives should be to encourage advertisers to book ads with you in the future or refer your newsletter to others, you will obviously want to ensure they get the highest response rate.

Once you have decided what type of ads you will carry, prices, maximum sizes and similar details, put together a media kit that will allow potential advertisers to see all the information they need at a glance.

Also include in your media kit - as concisely as possible - your USP or mission statement, your current subscriber numbers and whatever demographic information you have about them. Include how often you publish, your deadlines for receiving ads, and the methods of payment you will accept (try to offer as many options as possible).

Make your kit available by autoresponder, and also display it prominently on your website, if you have one.

If you prefer, you can outsource the sale of all or part of your advertising inventory. Several companies on the Internet offer to sell advertising on your behalf, thus saving you the work of soliciting and processing orders and collecting payments. The disadvantage, of course, is that they retain some of the proceeds. We’ve also found that most of these companies will offer a very low CPM rate as opposed to what you could get if you sold your advertising directly.

Here are a few final thoughts you’ll want to consider about advertising sales:

Š How many subscribers should you have before you consider selling advertising? This issue is debatable. We’ve placed ads on behalf of clients in newsletters with 500 subscribers that produced a better response rate than ads going out to 50,000 subscribers! As a baseline, we suggest to clients that if you are targeted a specialized niche, you should have at least 1,000 subscribers before you start to sell advertising. If you are publishing a general interest newsletter, at least 5,000 subscribers are warranted in today’s market.

Š There are a couple of dozen websites that list e-publications that sell advertising space. Once your media kit is ready, you’ll want to make sure you get listed in these. Š One very successful tactic we have used is approaching potential advertisers rather than waiting for them to come to us. How can you do this? Consider what companies are trying to reach the same type of person who subscribes to your newsletter. For instance, when we used to publish a financial newsletter, we contacted companies that offered various financial services or products.

Š Consider asking prospective advertisers to sponsor a specific article or a series of articles. The article or series topic should be closely tied to that advertiser’s product or service. One example: we ran a series about investing in the futures market that was sponsored by a company offering a software package relating to investing in futures.

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