Tips For Pricing Your Native Ads (So You're Not Living on Pennies)

Why can't anyone give you a straight answer about what you should charge for a native ad? Because there's no industry standard. In the past, pageviews and page rank were the king of all metrics, then social media exploded and it became all about how many followers you have on Twitter and the fan count on your Facebook Page. 

But now, the trendy metrics to look out for are what advertisers are calling "engagement" and "attention" metrics — a combination of unique visitors, average shares of your posts, and time on page, which is how long a visitor is staying on your post page. The theory is, if your readers are spending more time with your content, they're consuming and engaging with it, and are more likely to share it. 

Even Facebook is adding a "time with post" metric, which is further proof that the tide is turning to quality over quantity. This is awesome news for bloggers that are just starting out, or those that have been around the block but don't attract 100,000 visitors every month. 

Fact is, bloggers tend to lowball themselves when pricing the content they're creating in collaboration with brands (sponsored posts, or the new hotness, "native ads"). They're afraid that if they price too high the advertiser won't want to work with them. But if you back up your rates with the appropriate data, you're more than likely to get what you want. And besides, recent studies show that advertisers and brands are willing to pay more than you think. 

The trick to pricing your native ads with a rate that won't force you to live on vending machine snacks for the rest of your life comes in four parts: mine your metrics, produce a package, guarantee the goods, and honor your hours. I'll break down each below. 

 

Mine Your Metrics

Before you start throwing out prices, there's a few things you gotta do first, and one of them is to get super clear on your metrics. Look at your site's: 

  • Visitors per month 
  • Average visits per post 
  • Average share per post (and which networks get the most action)
  • Time spent on page (post page average, not the site as a whole)
  • Pageviews per month (as a "good-to-know" courtesy to some of the advertisers that still use this metric)
  • Social followers (total and by network) 
  • Email subscribers, average open rate and average click rate 

Then start building a story around the metrics that you excel in. If you have low visitor count but very high shares and time on page, tout that to the advertiser. If you've got a giant email list, that in itself can prove extremely profitable if you choose to open that up to advertisements, either through display ads (not recommended) or through links to your native ads (way better). Knowing how important an email list is, email may be off the table for you, but it's up to you to decide. I've had clients raise their sponsored rates 30-50% just by including email in the sponsor package price. 

 

Produce a Package

Speaking of package, creating native ad packages is an incredibly easy way to charge more for less work, and show off your creativity and professionalism to boot. For example, a blogger I've worked with in the past has an audience of 5,000 visitors per month and charged $600 for a blog post, five social posts, and guaranteed inclusion in her email newsletter. 

And this is where you can get super creative with how you wrap your income up in a bow to attract brands. Rather than just saying "I accept sponsored posts," put together a creative package that offers the advertiser a clear picture of what to expect in terms of delivery and quality. For example, a food blogger might create: 

The Amuse-Bouche
New to my site and want to test the fare? This basic package quells your hunger and prepares you for the full menu. Package includes: 

  • 1 Native ad
  • 3 Social promotions
  • Traffic guarantee

The Pre Fixe
A menu that serves up just the right amount of flavor. Package includes: 

  • 1 Native ad
  • 3 Social promotions
  • Inclusion in 1 email newsletter
  • Traffic guarantee

The French Laundry
An entire suite of offerings that creates a unique experience for the most collaborative of brands. Package includes: 

  • Series of 3 native ads
  • Original photography throughout
  • 9 social promotions
  • 1 Twitter party
  • Inclusion in 1 email newsletter
  • Live Google+ Hangout
  • Traffic guarantee

See how that's WAY more enticing that just simply stating that you can do a post? It's clear that this blogger has put some serious thought into how they'll execute on a partnership, what they'll promise, and the brand gets an idea of what to expect when working with you. This blogger is in control. Confident. Organized.

You'll notice that I didn't include banner ads in any of these scenarios. I'm a firm believer that banner ads are a waste of time given that "Banner Blindness" is a real thing and Internet users have learned where not to look on a webpage. Couple that with the fact that mobile traffic is increasing (and ads are unreadable-to-nonexistant in mobile layouts), and they become an energy-sucking format that's becoming less and less relevant. Ditch them. You didn't make that much on Adsense last month, anyway.

 

Guarantee the Goods

Another way to increase your rates is by guaranteeing a certain amount of traffic to your native ad. This lets the advertiser know that you've got some skin in the game and want to make the post the best it can possibly be. One of the fears from an advertiser's perspective (and why they lowball bloggers to begin with) is that they'll pay a good chunk of change for a post that totally tanks and the blogger does nothing to help it succeed. You can immediately put those fears to rest by promising to hit a certain traffic benchmark.

You can calculate this benchmark by tallying up the average visits your blog posts receive for the past three months (or longer if you prefer). I have advised some bloggers to slightly overestimate if their benchmark is fairly low, especially if they're including social posts and newsletter inclusion. That additional traffic should send more visits to the post, anyway. 

 

Honor Your Hours

Producing a quality blog post is hard enough, but there are other challenges that advertisers bring to the table that you may not have been expecting. Factor in additional time for reviews, feedback, and edits, capturing additional images, and additional promotion on your part to make sure your post hits your benchmark. And since you gotta start somewhere, consider giving yourself an hourly rate to start. Price your hourly rate similar to what freelance bloggers charge in your same niche, then add in the additional cost for freelance photographers and social media managers. Come up with an overall hourly rate, then estimate how long it'll take you to complete the post (always overestimate by five hours or so since I promise you, there will be reviews and feedback from the sponsor for you to factor in!).

 

Let's Talk Prices

Despite all the tips for pricing above, I know you really just want someone to give you a dollar amount that you should charge. I wish I could do that, but without knowing your personal metrics, it's impossible to give you an accurate number. I can tell you on a very (very) very basic level that lots of bloggers I've worked with have started out in the $200-$400 range and they've had around 5,000 visitors per month or less. 


But good news — I can give you a more accurate number if you want to work directly with me! For $30, I'll coach you through the pricing process. The package includes: 

  • A worksheet and questionnaire that will help me analyze your blog's stats and goals 
  • My recommendations for pricing, package structure, and a plan for the future 
  • A 20-minute one-on-one call to go over the results
  • A money back guarantee if you aren't completely satisfied with the process

Interested? Email me at hello@kristyellington.com and I'll get you set up. 

And, if you want to learn how to make even more money from your blog, check out my FREE guide, 7 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into a Moneymaking Machine. Click the button below for instant access! 

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