Yes. No. It depends. Any platform that has existed for more than a year or two – long enough for the scams to either become obvious or to fold – can be used to make money. The only question is, can you do it?
What Is BuySellAds?
When you own a blog and you want to make money, you have a few options. You can go insane and develop a product, make deals to manufacture it, set up a storefront, and sell it to customers. You can do all of that, but with a digital product. You can sell high-end content in the form of books, both print and digital. You can run affiliate links to products you want to recommend. You can pretend to be a storefront while operating a dropshipping business. Or you can take the easy way out and simply run pay-per-view or pay-per-click advertising on your site.
When you decide that advertising is the way to go, the first thing you discover is that there are a lot of different ad platforms you can potentially use. Most of them work the way Google’s AdSense works; you put some ad code on your site, you fill out a few simple informational boxes with the ad network, and they scan your site. Based on your content, traffic, and performance, the ad network runs advertising on your site. You get paid either per view or per click, and the amount depends on the number of people, the quality of your site, and a dozen other factors.
AdSense is the best of the available platforms, but it’s also run by Google, which means there are a lot of strict limitations on it. If you cross a line, if you break a rule, or if you’re just in the wrong niche, Google is very likely to shut down your account and basically blacklist your site.
If you can’t use AdSense, or if you’re exploring other options, one that you often come across is BuySellAds. What is it and how does it work?
When you run advertising through a traditional network like Google, they handle a lot of the work on the back end. Advertisers pay an amount set by Google based on your site, for access to a site that they might not know. You get ads running on your page, but you aren’t really given a list of all the sites advertising on your site, you just keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t fit that you can report.
BuySellAds is the kind of advertising network you might have found before Google debuted their solution. It’s more of a marketplace, a free-for-all, than it is an automatic placement network.
With BuySellAds, advertisers sign up looking for sites they can run ads on. They have an idea of their budget, they have an idea of their niche, and they have an idea of how much traffic they want to get for those figures.
Meanwhile, publishers – that’s people like you, with a blog you want to monetize – sign up with an informational box about their sites. They list the monthly traffic they get, the payments they’re looking to get, their niche, and other such vital statistics.
BuySellAds sits in the middle, linking up the advertisers with the publishers. When advertisers and publishers match on the platform, it’s like Tinder; you both swipe the right direction and go forward to make a deal. All the information, cost and niche and traffic, is presented up front. Contracts are simplified, because they go through the BuySellAds platform.
I’m simplifying it a lot here. Advertisers actually create specific ad units that publishers can choose to run, if the price is right and the niche matches and they think it won’t be disruptive. There are a whole bunch of different formats, for that matter.
The end result is a hybrid of a self-serve ad platform and an automated solution. You still have to go out and find ads to run on your site, and you need to find ads that will pay enough assuming you get clicks, and you need to find ads that fit your content enough that you WILL get clicks. It does you no good to run an ad that doesn’t pay, after all.
Publishers are able to sell specific ad slots for advertisers to come and offer to fill. In addition to traditional desktop ads, you can sell advertising space for mobile websites, mobile apps, RSS feeds, desktop apps, sponsored content, sponsored Tweets, and more. You have approval over the creative and the pricing of the ads people want to run on your sites, so nothing is ever published without your approval.
What Makes BuySellAds Less Viable?
Some people are always skeptical of large advertising platforms, and with good reason. There are a lot of advertisers looking to throw their crap up on publisher sites that haven’t added limits and don’t really care. They’ll only pay a penny or two per click, but they don’t care because it’s functionally free traffic. That said, as a publisher, you’re able to set a price threshold at a level that will block out most of the worst advertisers, and with your veto power over ad creative, you can avoid the worst content that might otherwise slip through. If you’re careless, the ads will suck, but you’re reading this blog post. You’re not the type to be careless, right?
Reasons You Could Be Rejected
There is a list of reasons why BuySellAds will reject your site.
They tend to reject any site that isn’t focused on tech, web design, development, or freelancing. Some sites outside of those topics are accepted, but they simply don’t have the advertisers to make it worthwhile for more off-the-wall niches, like fashion or construction.
- They tend to reject sites that have very low numbers of impressions per month. They like somewhere around 100,000 impressions monthly, though they’re somewhat flexible.
- They will reject sites that are under construction, incomplete, or that don’t have fresh content.
- They will reject sites that contain illegal content, questionable content, or pornography.
- They will reject sites that are not in English, though I’m not sure how bilingual sites fare. This is to simplify support, since they’re a company that operates in English.
- They often reject sites that are running a lot of ads already, especially lower quality untargeted ads.
- They reject sites on shared domains, like .wordpress.com and .blogspot.com.
So, there are some reasons you might not be able to make money from BuySellAds. If you’re in a banned topic, or if you’re outside their areas of expertise, you’re going to have a hard time. Even if you are accepted into the network, there’s still the chance that there are simply no advertisers willing to pay to advertise on your site. Can’t make money if no one is willing to pay you!
You also need to be quite careful about the price thresholds you set for your advertising. Assuming you’re accepted into the network as a publisher, you need to keep a close eye on the price minimum you set. Keep in mind that you’re “spending” time and energy on running these ads; you need to make enough to actually make it worthwhile.
Notes to First Time BuySellAds Users
If you had no ads before, the addition of ads might drive away some traffic. This is natural, but it means your previous conversion rates might drop as people leave your site or as people click through to the advertisers. This is assuming you have other ways of monetizing already, like Amazon Affiliates or direct product sales.
The idea is that if the addition of ads to your site drops the conversion rate of your book sales, you need to be making enough from the ads to make up for the loss of book sales, and then more to profit from the change. Otherwise, running the ads is just going to hurt you.
Keep in mind that, as a middleman platform, BuySellAds charges commissions. You earn 75 cents on the dollar; BuySellAds takes 25% of what you would make. I don’t actually know offhand if this is rolled into the displayed price you earn for the ads or if it’s calculated after the fact.
One of the biggest benefits of BuySellAds is simply how transparent the entire process is. You can see who is trying to buy ad space on your site, and you can reject specific ads or entire advertisers at your discretion. BuySellAds isn’t going to mandate that you accept anyone you don’t want to. Advertisers who aren’t willing to create good ads or pay to get them run aren’t going to do well on the platform.
You are also able to stack up potential advertisers. If you have, say, three ad slots on your blog posts and can rotate up to three ads through each of them on a monthly basis, that’s nine ad slots, though one advertiser might offer their bid on all three positions. You could have anywhere from three to nine advertisers paying you on a monthly basis, and you can stack up a waiting list of people who have agreed to pay for ad space on your site for a given price once it becomes available.
Be cautious about accepting a waiting list, however. If you lock in someone in a waiting list, they come with the price you decided on at the time. If you have five or six months worth of people lined up, great, you have a consistent level of advertising. However, if you notice increased demand, you can raise your price to earn more… except for those who have locked in a deal. They have a fixed price you’ve agreed upon, and you have to uphold the deal before you can try to increase the price on them.
Making Money as an Advertiser
I’ve written all of the above from the publisher perspective, but advertisers can make money from the network as well. After all, why would an advertisers bother advertising if they couldn’t turn a profit?
As an advertiser, you need to be able to make enough sales from the incoming traffic to outweigh the money you’re spending to accumulate that traffic. Ideally, you will balance out the quality of the publishers with the price you have to pay for their ad space. Running targeted, high quality ads will be the best option here.
You can make money as long as you’re willing to spend. The fact is that most publishers willing to accept less than 50 cents per click are probably not going to be great quality sites. You should be looking at spending at least $1.25 per click or per mille for ads, if not more. Depending on your niche, that can be troublesome with the profit margins of your sales.
Results May Vary
As with any advertising network, your results will depend on a lot of factors relating directly to your site. Of course you won’t be able to make money from BuySellAds if you can’t even get accepted onto their platform. If you don’t have engaged traffic – or if your engaged traffic primarily uses ad blockers – you’ll find it hard to pass traffic that is actually monetized. On the other hand, if you have a good site in a good niche with a good amount of traffic, good advertisers will be clamoring at your doorstep hoping to get in, and you can make far more per click and far more per month than you could with an automatic bidding process like AdSense.