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
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
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,
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
Here are a few final thoughts you’ll want to consider about
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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