Welcome to the August edition of Online Advertising Answers where you’ll find more questions and answers than you can shake a stick at. Presuming you can only shake a stick at 2 questions and answers at a time that is.
In this issue, I help someone who worries they’re not likeable enough for social media, reassure everyone that ad revenue is still going up, and help a noob to get started earning money from their site.
Good times. Let’s dig in.
This month’s questions are:
- How do I market/brand myself on social media if I’m not “likeable”?
- Have ad revenues been going up or down in the past few years?
- What’s PPC and how do I earn from my website?
[Click these links to skip down to the question]
Q: “How do I market/brand myself on social media if I’m not “likeable”?
What I mean is, all I keep hearing is that a business and a product are not enough on their own anymore, especially when you’re trying to be a solopreneur.
General advice is that people follow people and not brands, so one has to use themselves as their own brand representative and even mascot.
Problem is, I’m not very sociable, or likeable.
I read about how “a good brand has opinions about the world”, in my case I don’t have very many nice things to say about the world, which I don’t think is a good thing given the social media climate that exists right now.
Is it still possible at all to just build your product and hide behind your business logo or am I gonna have to make up a character or something like that?
Are there any options that I’m not seeing here?“
A: “Maybe you don’t have much positive to say about the world, but I bet you’ve got interesting and useful things to say about your niche. Focus on that. Comment on posts, say useful and interesting things, join chats, reply to DMs asking for help when you can. That sort of thing makes you “likeable and sociable” online for your niche.
Being likeable and sociable in real life isn’t the same as being likeable or sociable online. It’s also not the same when you are posting for yourself as you when you are posting to grow a business.
You say “a good brand has opinions about the world” but online you get to define what you include in your world. You don’t have to comment on politics or that thing you hate. Focus on things you like!
On Twitter, there is a trend right now for asking inane questions as they get engagement. “Do you like bread?” “What’s your favourite colour?” etc etc. These are incredibly annoying, but if you can find questions that are generic enough that lots of people will answer AND that you are actually interested in (“how do you quit a client?”) then you can do it in a way that doesn’t drive you mad.
There are endless tactics like this that you can adapt to your own personality. Another big one right now is ‘building in public’ – set goals publicly and talk about whether you hit them. Talk about what you’re doing, mistakes made, lessons learned, your hopes, your successes, all that. Make your business growth the storyline and people will follow it like a soap opera.
Before committing to something like this though (as it is a lot of work), the real question is – do you even really want this?
Being a solopreneur is hard and you’re essentially adding on a second job of becoming an influencer. People (fairly) make fun of influencers, but it is a job that requires a lot of work. On top of this, social media has a terrible ROI comparatively so it may not be your best channel for promotion.
I’ve honestly been exactly where you are and I regret spinning up social media as a channel as much as I did early on. It takes up so much of your time, it never stops, and as someone who doesn’t really love social it can be a real brain drain.
If I were to do it again I would recommend focussing on building your business, SEO, and growing an email list for right now. SEO and email marketing can both be done for free, are probably the most effective forms of digital marketing, and work long term (as long as you don’t do anything black hat).
For social I would hire a social media manager when it’s financially viable (even off of Fiverr or Upwork to start) to get your company social accounts to a good place in terms of followers. Your company’s accounts don’t need a personality per se – more just a vibe (helpful, insightful, fun, snarky, whatever – choose some terms that feel right and stick to them). I personally don’t think businesses should have opinions outside their industry but that’s another discussion.
Then when you are in a good place success-wise come in hard on your own purpose-built social accounts with “I built X company alone, here’s how I did it” type social posts and you’ll get to the level of success you want far more easily than you would now. People are drawn to success after all.
Or don’t. Many companies are successful without their founder as a mascot on social. Those people giving that advice are the ones who took that path, but it’s far from the only path. Choose your own.“
Q: “Have ad revenues been going up or down in the past few years?“
A: “Hi Yohana,
This is one of those questions where people love to answer “it depends”, as for individual websites revenue per impression may be going up or down depending on lots of factors.
However, there is an overall answer – which is that ad revenues per impression have been going up overall for the past few years.
You can find this out for yourself by looking at this helpful Ad Revenue Index provided by Ezoic: The Ad Revenue Index
If you look at the above chart you can see that the overall trend over the past five years is up. It certainly fluctuates wildly, and events (such as the pandemic) can have strong effects. Overall however the right side of the chart is higher than the left side. The trend is positive.
A quick note about Ezoic and this chart
The above index is relative – meaning it compares all the data to a high point, which it gives a score of 100. All other dates are then given scores relative to that high point (so a score of 50 means that the RPM that day was about half of the high point).
Ezoic is an ad network that places ads on websites. They get those ads from other ad networks (including two of the biggest: Google AdSense and Google Ad Exchange) and so have access to a good overview of how the ad industry is doing.
This is how they describe the Ad Revenue Index:
The Ad Revenue Index takes a statistically relevant sampling of global sites (of all sizes and demographics) and collectively indexes their ad earnings and displays them in a running real-time aggregate.
Please note: I’m not promoting Ezoic. I have used their ad network in the past, but am not using it currently and have no relationship with them. The RPM from my site does broadly follow the trends in the index however so I trust it. Especially as it captures little ad industry idiosyncracies like ad revenue going up at the end of each quarter as leftover budgets are spent.
I hope this helps,
Q: “What’s PPC and how do I earn from my website?“
A: “Hi Oko,
Pay as you click (or PPC – Pay Per Click) is a type of advertising where advertisers only pay when their ads are clicked on. It is one of the most common ways that people pay for advertising, and you can easily place ads on your site which are paid using this model.
PPC = Amount Spent ÷ Clicks
As it sounds like you are new to advertising, I would suggest starting with Google AdSense. It is an exceptionally simple advertising platform that you can add to your site and start earning pretty much immediately. It uses provides PPC ads (as well as ads using other ad models), and gives you the revenue.
How much can I make from Google AdSense?
You can expect to earn about $10 RPM from Google AdSense. This means that for every 1,000 page views your site has, you will get $10.
Note: $10 a rough average figure – every site is different and will earn different amounts. Depending on which country you are in, how your site is made, and what it is about, you might get a lot more (or less) than this amount.
If you want to work out how much you roughly could make with different levels of page views, you can use this helpful calculator.
How else can I make money from my site?
There are many other ways to make money out of your site too. These include things such as:
- affiliate marketing (selling other people’s products or services)
- eCommerce (selling your own products or services)
- sponsored posts (selling a page on your site)
- online courses
- pretty much anything you can think of
However, if your site is still small, I highly recommend just starting with adding AdSense to it. The reason is simply that while your site is small you should be spending all of your time trying to grow it. This means creating a site that works as well as possible, and with as much great content as possible.
As Google AdSense is incredibly easy to set up it takes very little of your time and can help you to start earning while you grow your site. On top of that, AdSense takes a while to optimise properly (ie find the ads which work best on your site), so the sooner you set it up, the more money you will make.
When your site gets bigger (around 25,000 page views per month perhaps), then you can look around for other ad networks that will pay more than AdSense. Until that time you should be focused on growth, however.
I hope this helps.
See you next month,