5 Guiding Principles that Will Help You Choose the Right Advertisers

[This is a part of the “Getting Started with Blog Advertising” blog series.]

Just because it looks good...

One of the challenges that you face as a blogger who’s new into the advertising arena is when to say ‘Yes’ to the right sponsors and partners and how to say ‘No’ when ones come around that don’t quite hit the target.

The question, of course, is what exactly the “target” is for your blog as it relates to quality direct sales advertising, right?

It’s actually not too tough to make the decision once you have these 5 guiding principles in line and have helped me time and time again to feel at peace and at ease with saying ‘No’ confidently and assertively (and saying ‘Yes’ with thankfulness and gratitude when the right ones appear!):

1. Follow Your Disclosure Policy

If you haven’t already created a Disclosure Policy for your blog then you need to do that before anything else simply because it’ll help provide the right type of thinking for your acceptance of new potential advertisers.

You see, one of the elements of your Disclosure Policy is that of trust; and you want to keep that level of trust with your readers always. As a result, you’re not going to accept any advertising that might dislocate or abuse the level of trust that you have with your current readers!

As you can see from my own Disclosure Policy for TentBlogger I’ve got a few points that I make clear:

  • I never promote or endorse a product or service that does not create high value for my readers.
  • I cannot guarantee that my review of a product, service, or business will be “positive” in nature; I promise to provide a fair and valuable assessment and review to my readers first and foremost.

You can read the other points that I’ve outlined here. Again, the point here is to not say ‘Yes’ to an opportunity that will destroy the trust that you’ve worked so hard to earn!

2. High Value Only

Go for big 'impact'!

Following and expanding on one of the points that I make in my Disclosure Policy a good guiding principle to consider when being offered a sponsorship is whether or not the product or service that the business is promoting is of truly high value.

I’ve stated as well that creating “exceptionally valuable content” is not only my #1 strategy for getting traffic but also for getting sponsors and advertisers that convert well! Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Will this product really impact my readers if they choose to use them and/or buy them?
  • Is the quantitative and qualitative impact really big?
  • Is the cost appropriate for my audience and my readership?

You’re going to want to choose and say ‘Yes’ to advertisers that will only create the highest value for your readers so that you can maintain the trust that you have with them as well as create the best partner/sponsor relationship possible because of the high conversion rates that are now possible!

If only a small portion of your audience will actually care about the sponsor or advertiser then you should probably say ‘No’ to the offer. Advertising can already be pretty annoying and offensive at times so you’re not going to want to perpetuate any of those sentiments on your own blog!

Keep the quality high so that your blog’s quality stays equally high!

3. The Power of Contextualization

This one might seem obvious but it’s quite apparent that it’s not if you simply browse some of the many blogs that don’t seem to understand this guiding principle: Contextualization is not only important for your advertisers but also for your audience.

You know if it's out of place.

Most simply, this principle suggests that you should only advertise and provide sponsorship opportunities for those businesses and products that are within the same interest as your readers. For example, if you’re covering topics on your blog related to Soccer then it wouldn’t make any sense to advertise bowling balls and bowling equipment, right?

The more closely you can tie the products and services that you’re advertising to your core audience’s needs and interests you will not only have a better conversion rate for your sponsors but the advertising will no longer be seen as a gross interruption to the reading experience but a healthy additive.

Imagine that! Advertising as being valuable and helpful to your readers! It’s quite possible, especially when you contextualize your advertising wisely and strategically.

What does this mean then for helping you to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’? Simply say ‘No’ to any advertisers that aren’t in line with your content and focus of your blog! Done and done.

4. Personal Experience

I personally see this as one of the strongest ways to enter the advertising space and is one of strongest guiding principles that I follow here on TentBlogger.com. Although I currently do not offer direct sales advertising at this time I will most definitely at some point and I will only offer space to products and services that I myself either use or am very familiar with as to endorse them properly.

In fact, all of the products that I’ve showcased or shared here so far are ones that I use nearly every single day so I can speak both highly of them as well as endorse them with 100% confidence.

There are few things more powerful than personal experience. - Saul's Conversion

The reason I feel this is a powerful method of advertising is that it enables you to speak with authenticity and authority on the product and/or service’s quality. It also shows that you are willing to leverage the trust you have with your readers wisely to promote something you believe in.

What happens, as a result, is that conversion rates are significantly higher, and this makes sense, right? If your father has been buying Honda’s his entire life and has had an incredible experience with the manufacturer, then when you go to buy a car and he recommends you look into Honda and their car line, you know he’s got the experience to share that with you, right?

Conversely, if your friend doesn’t know a thing about Sony’s Playstation 3 gaming system (because he’s been an XBOX and Nintento Wii fan his entire life) and then suggests you get a Playstation 3 for your birthday you’re going to look at him funny, correct?

The power of personal experience can help you say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ or it might give you the opportunity to ask to try the product before endorsing it fully.

5. Hesitations

Finally, I generally have a good “gut” feeling when it comes to new advertisers and can quickly know if it’s the right fit or not. This may be a result of doing it for a while so I imagine that most of you will begin training yourselves and creating those boundaries as you continue to explore advertising in general.

Any 'Yellow Lights' here...?

But something that has worked well for me in the past is to pay attention to any and all “hesitations” that I may have, even if I can’t necessarily verbalize it. If I do I have historically said ‘No’ respectfully and moved on.

I might be a bit more conservative than most but I figure that if I have any hesitations on accepting this advertiser than the readers will probably pick up on that just as quickly and I’m not willing to risk the loss of trust.

One thing to remember is that if you ever find yourself motivated more about getting paid then cultivating and being a good steward of your community then you need to take a step back. That’s the reason I haven’t advertised yet on this blog as I want to spend more time building the community, developing content, and developing the strategy of my execution. Remember, the opportunity to make money through your blog is always available; establishing a firm foundation of your blog happens only once!

One last suggestion might be asking people you trust about opportunities that arise. Sometimes you can simply ask a trusted friend or even your blogging buddy whether or not this advertising sale is a “good” one. That conversation will typically reveal the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ quite easily.

[This is a part of the “Getting Started with Blog Advertising” blog series. Have you seen the other posts?]