How I set up my advertising page

One of my New Year’s blogging resolutions for 2009 was to set up my advertising page and sort out my offering for sponsors. As it’s nearly time to make some 2010 resolutions, I guess we should say better late than never. Anyway I finally got it sorted and for those of you wanting to do the same, here are a few pointers.

Different types of advertising

There are a number of different types of advertising that you can offer on your blog, and of course these are only one approach to earning money from your blog. Typical advertising mechanisms include;

  • Paid Text Links
  • Sponsored posts (which are a variation of text links)
  • Banner advertising

Text links

Many people do not sell text links, the main reason being that they are concerned that they might be penalised for doing so by Google who will downgrade their Page Rank. The Page Rank from 0-10 is the value Google gives to a web-page and is one of the factors in how much traffic Google will send you.  Lower page rank means less traffic, higher means more traffic. If you want to know what the Page Rank is of any web-page, download the Google Toolbar and look for the little green bar (you may have to enable the PageRank icon through Tools/Options/Tools) or alternatively use a checking website such as PRchecker.

Because Google uses the number of links as a measure of importance, they want them to be generated organically rather than being bought and sold. You can still offer paid text links, but if you want to comply with the Google guidelines, the links need to incorporate a No Follow Tag, which indicates that it is a paid link and will then not be used for page ranking purposes, although when clicked it will still lead to the relevant website. Read Google’s advice on Paid Links here.

What this means is that many advertisers may not want to pay for a link if it does not enhance their own Page Rank. The choice is yours, but if you sell a text link without a No Follow tag, you risk your own Page Rank being taken down a notch as a penalty, which means less traffic for your blog in the long run.

Sponsored Posts

If you choose to offer text links, you can add them to your blog in a number of ways. You may wish to have a list in your sidebar, or to add them unobtrusively to existing articles, or the sponsor may provide you with an article to post which contains their links. To comply with Google guidelines, the links in a sponsored/paid for post should have the No Follow Tag. You can read my Guest Posts Page which contains information on Sponsored Posts.

Banner Advertising

These are the small advertisments you commonly see in the sidebar of blogs. The best sizes for you will depend both on the layout of your blog and the popularity of a size with your advertisers. Popular size banner ads are;

  • 125×125 pixel squares in blocks in the sidebar
  • 300×250 pixel rectangles the width of the sidebar
  • 120×600 pixel column in the sidebar
  • 468×60 pixel rectangle in the header or at the bottom of a blog post

The most popular positions are those that can be seen immediately when the web page is first launched, such as in the header and on the top half of the page, known as “above the fold” that can be viewed without scrolling down. If you have a lot of demand for advertising (what a nice position to be in) you can also rotate different advertisers in each position, although this should be stated and priced accordingly.


The main determinants of what you can charge for banner ads are;

  • Traffic (Unique visitors & Page Views)
  • Position of the banner ad
  • Size of the banner ad
  • Reputation and style of the blog
  • Any other incentives you can offer

Pricing is always a difficult one when you’re starting out – obviously there’s an element of trial and error but you want to do your best to pitch a fair price at the outset. The rule of thumb I’ve seen used is that for every 500 unique visitors a day to your blog, you can charge $50 per ad, but I’m not sure how big an ad that would be.

The other approach is to look at what other blogs in a similar niche are charging for banner ads relative to their traffic. I spent some time looking at the Advertise pages of other travel blogs to see what they offered at what price. Most will state their Unique Visitors and Page Views, but some will not disclose their charges. However, if it’s someone you have communicated with before, they’ll probably be happy to let you know their rates if you e-mail them. The key ratio is to compare price versus blog readers for a similar size and position of ad.

If your blog doesn’t have a huge readership, you shouldn’t overlook the fact that some advertisers are looking for brand awareness rather than a huge number of click-throughs, and if your blog has the right content and feel for their market, they may still want to advertise with you.

You may also be able to give some incentives, such as discounts for booking 6 months or over, or offer additional advertising space on a secondary website if you have one, or support their product in other ways through reviews or information in blog posts.

How to make a simple banner ad

Obviously most sponsors will provide you with either an HTML link or an image and link. When you are just starting you may want to make some substitutes as an interim measure, which is easy to do. You could also make your own banners to advertise products that you offer or ones that you are selling on an affiliate basis. If you want something special, imaginitive or complex, then you can get a graphics designer to do this for you, but otherwise you can do something simple using photo editing software. I don’t have any all singing-all dancing packages like Photoshop but use Picnik, which is easy and intuitive and free if you just want to do one or two basic things.

Above you’ll see some images I out together using the Free Picnik software. Here’s what I did;

  • Uploaded one of my own images or a logo I found on the web
  • Cropped and resized it it the exact size of the banner ad required
  • Enhanced the colours if necessary
  • Using the Create function, added a Frame and some Text (you can go mad and add all sorts of other graphics)
  • Note that some of the functions are only available for Picnik Premium membership

How to get the ads on your website

There are two bits of free software that I’ve had recommended to me for adding and controlling the ads on your website. The first is Open X, but I’ve been told it is quite technical to set up and you will probably need some support from a techie to ensure everything is working properly. This is for those who are serious about monetisation or have outgrown the simpler options such as the one below.

The second option which is more suitable if you’re starting out and need to do it yourself, is a WordPress Plug-in called Max Banner Ads, which is what I’ve just started using. You can set up each size of ad and the zone and then you’ll be able to also monitor how many clicks v page impressions each ad receives. There’s lots of help on the site, but here are the basic steps once you’ve uploaded the plug-in and activated it;

  • Make sure you have ready the image and link or the HTML of the banner you are going to use
  • Choose which zone you are going to ad the banner e.g. Sidebar Widget, Within the post and click on the add banner link or the + symbol
  • Choose from the different options on where to upload the image from, browse or add the image HTML, choose the zone from the dropdown etc
  • From Advanced Options choose the No Follow Option (assuming you are following Google’s advice on Paid Links)
  • Save
  • Next click on the edit zone icon (paintbrush) to fine tune the placement of your banner ad
  • If using the sidebar widget, click More Options to decide which pages the ads will appear on and to create a block of 2, 4 or 6 banners together
  • In other zones, such as Within the Post, you can choose whether the ad appears in only some or all of the blog posts and pages and the alignment of the ad.
  • Save
  • If placing the Banner ads in your sidebar, you’ll need to go to Design/Widgets in the WordPress dashboard and add the MBAN-Sidebar Widget to your sidebar, then Save Changes
  • These are just a few basics – for more information, look at the help on the Max Banner website

My approach was to set up a few of the ad zones, to make sure they were working properly and familiarise myself with the software, before I published my advertising page. I made a couple of banners with “Your ad here” and filled the rest with my links to Youtube, Flickr etc, so it wouldn’t be too obvious if I had no advertisers. Until you get some advertisiers on board, you could also create reciprocal ads with fellow bloggers in a similar position.

Write your Advertise Page

Obviously, when advertisers come to call, it’s much more professional if you can refer them to your Advertising page, rather than continually send information by e-mail. Some bloggers prefer to keep their advertising rates private & e-mail them on request, which may also give you the option to vary the rate according to how much (or how little) you want the advertiser on board. I’ve chosen to be transparent, thinking that most people will find this stuff too boring to plough through unless they are seriously considering advertising. The things you need to have on your Advertising Page are;

  • Some welcoming remarks
  • Some text or bullet points that convince advertisers of the benefits of advertising with you, such as your reputation, traffic, target audience, what your blog covers
  • Your blog statistics stating your source, such as Unique Users, Page Views, Number of articles, Google Page Ranking, Alexa, Technorati, Subscriber numbers (You could add graphs, tables etc)
  • The Banner Ads on offer in terms of size, position, rotations, price
  • Payment terms (e.g. min 3 months, payment up front) and how they can pay (e.g. Paypal)

So those are the basics of setting up your advertising page – you can take a look at my Advertise Page now and tell me what you think.

Read some related articles

Why should anyone follow you on Twitter?
12 ways that Flickr can enhance your blog
How to optimise your Youtube channel and videos

Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

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  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    December 29, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Heather – thanks for this great info! Creating an ‘official’ ad page is on my to-do list for January; so this info is really helpful! I personally think the pricing is really difficult – I never really know what to charge…it’s like negotiating at the markets in Asia…you never quite know where to start and how far to go before people are no longer interested!
    I will def. check out the plug in you mention, it sounds really helpful!

  • Reply
    Helly (Travel by the Calendar)
    December 29, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for the very useful tips. I’ll bookmark this page for later in my blog’s life. At my stage creating content is still the most important thing. No point advertising if no one is looking at the page!
    The travel habit is an expensive one, I wish you well in your search to support it.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Hi Heather, I did not know that Google could penalize your blog for links advertising.
    I followed your instructions and I am modifying my link list.
    Thanks for saving my Google rank!!!

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    December 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    @Chris – If you’re a small blog and not overly commercial, you’ll probably get away with it, but as your blog grows it’s good to be aware of these things, even if you choose to ignore them!

    However, you should be aware that companies may not be happy to pay for links if they have a no follow, so you need to be open with them on this. With text links that have no commercial intent, you don’t need to put the no-follow, only ones that are paid for and are effectively advertising.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    December 29, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Heather, thanks for the information. This is on my to-do list for next week. Your advertising advice has been extremely helpful. Now, to go check the advertising links on my sidebar to make sure that they are no-follow.

  • Reply
    Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners
    December 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Well explained information, Heather! I’m glad you mention the Page Rank issue because so many bloggers ignore it and then wonder why they can’t rank on their keywords. It’s a risk not worth the reward.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Very comprehensive article. Advertising has been a goal of mine from the start but my priority has been to build content since my site is only 6 months old. In the interim I have put on google ads but refer back to your post in the near future. Thanks for sharing your advice.

  • Reply
    Vi @ Travel Tips
    January 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Heather, could you post a link to Google’s advice on paid links?

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    January 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    @ Vi – not sure if you meant this link, which I also embedded in the article?

    If it was something else you needed, let me know. Matt Cutts, of Google also has some advice on his blog although I don’t find all the advice completely clear.

  • Reply
    Darren Cronian
    January 10, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I “nofollow” all my banners too, a link is a link, it does not have to be a text link to be potentially penalised by Google. Think that any link that manipulates the search results, the search engines aren’t going to like it.

    The only links I do not “nofollow” are within my content, and this is because these are links that I add to assist my readers, and the page I am directing them to is useful.

    I sold links in the footer of Travel Rants in 2006-07 and was penalised in the form of Page rank reduction. Then because I did not nofollow the links, I started to see a reduction in traffic.

    As soon as I added rel=”nofollow” on all of the banners and text link ads in the footer, my PageRank and traffic came back. It was a learning experience, made a lot of money, but if you want to create a successful blog in the long term then you have to adhere to the search engines webmaster guidelines, no matter how much it affects your revenue.

    Now I sell banner links for traffic only. It’s also for this reason why more bloggers are thinking outside of the box and looking at other ways to generate revenue.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I wonder if there’s an option to remove the attribution.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    January 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    @ Darren
    It’s interesting that you add the no-follow to the banner ad links as well as paid text links as I’ve heard mixed reports on this – some people I’ve spoken to feel that if a text link or banner ad is in the side bar they don’t need to add the no-follow as opposed to paid text links in the body of an article where they do.

    I’ll be erring on the safe side & adding a no follow to any banner ads as well as paid text links

  • Reply
    Darren Cronian
    January 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Heather, it’s a difficult one to answer, it depends how much you want to push it. I put nofollow on text link ads only initially, and nothing happened. Maybe coincidence but when I put nofollow on banners, the PR and the lost traffic came back within 24 hours.

  • Reply
    Heather Carreiro
    January 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I’m just starting my site and the info about Picnik is especially helpful!

  • Reply
    Jools Stone
    August 8, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Heather, I thought I’d commented on one of your blogging journey posts but can’t find it now..
    Anyway, I wanted to say that I’ve been devouring these avidly, find them really useful as a newcomer, esp the stuff about twitter. Not found much else about that from a specific travel blogger’s perspective. I’m struggling myself with getting a good balance of personal voice and ‘useful cornerstone’ posts. I probably don’t have many of the latter at all yet really. What’s the best way to go about it? Is it better to write long, in depth information-heavy posts to begin with and leave the personal stuff for later once more people are reading or enjoy the experimentation while not many are looking? Thanks, Jools
    Jools Stone´s last blog post ..Give Amtrak a piece of your mind

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    August 9, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    @ Jools So glad you’re enjoying these posts – I haven’t done any ‘mybloggingjourney’ posts for a while but soon I’m hoping to spin of these ‘how to’ posts into a new blog on their own, so that they don’t dilute the destination articles.

    I relation to getting the balance between long well thought out posts and personal stuff I’d mix and match as the fancy takes you. If you do a longer, well researched article that’s got lots of value, then people are more likely to link to it and come back to it and also find it through the search engines. However, it’s difficult to do one of these every day or even every week.

    So I’d fill in the gaps with what ever flights of fancy you find entertaining and hope others do too. I’d say, have fun, write for yourself but try to provide value for the readers and see where it takes you. If an idea gets a good response, you can develop it into a more lengthy post.

  • Reply
    Jools Stone
    August 10, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Thanks Heather, sounds like good, sound advice to me. I’m in a tight niche I think, but facebook’s networked blogs (which I’ve just discovered) look more effective than most of these things at finding related blogs.

    Have a few more useful posts in the works and also plan to do a nice collaborative ‘tweeter’s tips’ type thing which hopefully you and others will get involved with.

    Let me know if you do move these tips, don’t wanna lose track of them!

    Oh and if you have any pics of Bristol you don’t mind lending me that would be great too! I have nice ones of Bath to swap.
    Jools Stone´s last blog post ..Give Amtrak a piece of your mind

  • Reply
    mom blog
    January 15, 2011 at 2:20 am


    With advertising, do you charge $50 per 3 months? How long was your site up and running before you were asked to advertise?
    mom blog´s last blog post ..Mom Blog- 5 Ingredient Ham Cheese Ball Recipe

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    February 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    @ Momblog – It was probably around a year ago that I really started to go for the advertising, so my site had been established around 2 years – I noticed a difference in interest when I went to PR5. You can see my latest prices on my advertise page – I review them every so often and ease them up as my traffic grows, or if I’m finding I’m getting a lot of enquiries

  • Reply
    How to set up an advertising page for your blog
    February 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    […] will help attract advertisers and bring in some revenue. This article was originally published at Heatheronhertravels here. One of my New Year’s blogging resolutions for 2010 was to set up my advertising page at my […]

  • Reply
    Tips for making great travel videos – Podcast interview with Cailin O’Neil
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  • Reply
    Edward Smith
    February 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Dear https://www.heatheronhertravels.com

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    Do you have text link advertising available? If so what are the costs?
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  • Reply
    February 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks
    aqua.nmx.free.fr´s last blog post ..aqua.nmx.free.fr

  • Reply
    booking a destination wedding
    April 8, 2013 at 10:48 am

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    booking a destination wedding´s last blog post ..booking a destination wedding

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      April 9, 2013 at 8:43 am

      @Booking I use both Hostgator for this site and Bluehost for other sites and recommend them both

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