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Experiences & tips on sidebar advertising - Part II

February 16, 2015

Remember the first post I wrote on my personal experience with sidebar advertising back in November 2014? Well, in that post I promised to write a second post on this subject once I had dived into some more sidebar advertising adventures. And over the last three months I did just that and I would love to share my experiences with you all once again, so here we go!

After advertising on three UK based blogs through the advertising site Passionfruit Ads back in the Fall of 2014 I had to come to the conclusion that despite me paying for these ad spaces, it did nothing for my blog and Etsy shop traffic. Blog readers just don't seem to be willing to click on those sidebar ads for some reason. Which I thought was odd, since I personally like to browse through these ads in someone's sidebar to look for other inspiring blogs to read.

Anyway, I decided to give it another try and advertise in the sidebars of USA based blogs with my personal blog The Daphne Files. I thought people might be more willing to click my ad if they knew it was just a blog they could read for free instead of a link to my design shop, where they would have to pay for stuff.
I developed matching ads for my personal blog and Etsy shop (see above) and bougth advertising space on 4 USA based blogs for my personal blog and one advertising space on a USA based blog for my Etsy Shop.

Maybe I shouldn't have put my head shot in the ad image, who knows ;-) But unfortunately my conclusions from this second round of advertisements have once again be utterly disappointing. I would have liked to come up with some positive feedback here, since I worked with two bloggers that really took their advertisement space seriously and they deserve some big credit for this.

I want to give credits and a huge thank you to Summer Konicki from Coffee With Summer who reached out to me immediately after buying the ad space. Giving me the opportunity to discuss plans how to promote my blog through her social media shout outs. Same goes for Mandy Chiappini from A Sorta Fairytale. She was so welcoming from the start and I could really tell she made an effort to promote my Etsy shop. That these ladies understood their part of the deal showed itself in the amount of clicks and visits to my blog and Etsy shop. They were definitely ten times better than from the blogs that didn't go the extra mile for their sidebar advertisers.

But, despite their lovely efforts, the amount of click throughs was still too small to gain some more traffic and blog readers. And these were the two wonderful bloggers I worked with. I also had two very bad experiences amongst these 5 advertising adventures.

One blogger reached out to me right away too, even discussing the possibilities of doing a guest post on her blog (which was included in the price of the sponsorship). Then she had a baby and I never heard from her again. Of course with a new baby around you've got other things on your mind than your blog (trust me, I've had babies myself), but it might have been nice of her to mention this or offer me advertising space at a later time when things were back to normal in her household and on her blog. So I basically paid for absolutely nothing.

The other blogger made it even worse. She neglected my ad purchase on Passionfruit for three whole weeks! I reached out to her via email, via Facebook and via a contact form on her own blog, asking her to please approve my sponsorship request which I had paid for. Silence.... for three weeks. Then I had had enough and cancelled the ad. And low and behold, what do you know, the next day I get an email from her that she had been busy and was so, so sorry for not getting back to me earlier. Right... do I really have to take her and her blog sponsorship seriously after this?

I'm currently sponsoring a small artistic blogger that only asked $5 for a sidebar ad. I don't get much traffic from it, but at least the price is nice and I like the blogger and her blog very much.

After advertising on 8 different blogs I think I am able to draw one main conclusion: it just doesn't do that much for your blog or website traffic.

Will I give up on it completely? No, I guess not, because I did meet some other nice bloggers through it and I think I even got one or two new readers from it for my personal blog. But what I do know is that you really need to pay attention to some things before you decide to buy advertisement space in someone's sidebar. So here are some tips to get your started:

1. Check out a blog's stats
Does the blogger give statistics for the blog? How many page views per month, unique amount of visitors per month, etc. This will give you an indication of how many people will see your ad.

2. Check out the amount of comments
You can often see how busy a blog is by looking at the amount of comments a posts gets. If an blogger asks $30 to $50 for an advertising space but they have maybe 1 or 2 comments on every post, chances are, this blog might not be worth that amount of money.

3. Check out the blogger's writing behaviour
Really important is how many times per week a blogger writes a post. Your ad can be up for 30 days, but if the blogger only writes one new post during that period, your ad will not get much attention.

4. Check out the blogger's plans and life
This might sound weird and a little stalker-like, but if I had done my homework at this point I would have noticed that one of my bloggers was about to have a baby - AKA 'no time left to blog' in the upcoming months. Same goes for bloggers that write about moving house, going on a long vacation etc. Just ask yourself if the blogger will be around for the next 30 days that your ad will run.

5. Choose a blog that matches your own blog
This is really important. Try at least to find a blog that writes about the same subjects as you do, because the readers of that blog will more likely be interested in your stories as well. I'm a total fashion nit wit for example, I don't really care about it so you won't find posts on fashion, beauty and makeup on my blog. Advertising on a great fashion blog would therefore not be such a great idea...

6. Check the quantity of ads in the sidebar
While it may be a good sign that a blog has about 20 ads from sponsors in the sidebar you might want to think twice about advertising on such a blog. Because who's going to notice your tiny ad amongst that many advertisements?

7. Check the position of the sidebar ads
Where does the blogger place the sponsor ads in the sidebar? Is it really high up, so they are easily visible, or do you have to scroll down along the blogger's own funky gadgets for miles on end before you reach the sponsor area? You want your ad to be visible, because when readers have to scroll down really far to see it, they won't notice it at all.

8. Check the ad's extras
Some bloggers offer advertising space with social media shout outs and/or a guest post included. If you really want your mission to succeed it's probably better to pay a bit more and have these extra opportunities, because they generate more traffic than the sidebar ad in itself.

9. Start with free advertising
Yes, you read it correct. There are bloggers on Passionfruit offering free advertising space in the form of a blog ad swap. This means that they put up your ad and you put up theirs in your sidebar. A nice way to try out sidebar advertising!

10. Make your ad look appealing
Let's face it, if your ad doesn't fit the blog's sidebar and is compressed or stretched into an ugly image, not many people will click on it. Bloggers will let you know what size your ad should be. Take some time and effort to create a nice ad in that size with an image editing program.

Hopefully these tips will get you on your way with sidebar advertising if you are considering it to grow your blog's traffic. While my experiences so far have been a bit disappointing I really would love to hear from people that had great experiences with this form of advertising. So if you did, please share your story in the comments!


  1. Great post. I've never thought about advertising my blog but I wont consider it now

  2. I've been thinking about heading down the advertising route recently so it was really interesting to read your thoughts. I'd not heard of Passionfruit so will look into some ad swapping opportunities on there. Thank you!