1. Have an page about advertising on your site. Make it prominent – in your main menu bar (next to Home, About, and Contact – it’s that important). Also, link to it on your About and Contact page for the people that don’t see the word Advertise.
2. Create a jaw-dropping media kit. Make it compelling – tell them why your site is different, who your audience is, and what your advertising options are. Make it look like you had it professionally done even if you did it yourself, and if you can’t make it look professional, hire someone to do it.
3. Follow up on every advertising request. Once you have an advertising page where advertisers can learn a bit about your site and request your media kit, you actually need to respond to their requests – promptly. And, if you want to get advertising orders from those information requests, you’ll want to follow up with each potential advertiser after they’ve had time to view your media kit.
4. Have advertising options beyond banner ads. You’ll definitely want to offer banner ads, but since you should be charging more than you can make with Google Adsense or another ad network in the same spot, some companies will think they’re pricey. Think outside the 300×250 box and figure out unique ways to integrate advertising in a way that’s relevant and useful to your readers.
5. Work with advertising departments and business owners, not PR firms. Yes, you can work with PR firms enough to eventually get paid something in cash for advertising. But it’s likely going to mean an awful lot of work done for free t-shirts and $50 gift cards, when you could be investing in relationships with people that can write you a check. It may be harder to get the leads, but they’ll pay off more in the long run.
6. Clean up your site. The more advertising space you have on your site, the less valuable each site is. Figure out which positions and options convert into the most money for you, and get rid of the others. Potential advertisers are turned off by sidebars filled with banner ads – they don’t want their ad to be lost in a sea of ads, so make the spots you have stand out and they’ll sell for more, and you’ll keep them filled.
7. Have a well-defined niche. Yes: the more defined your niche is, the harder it will be to gain an audience. But, that audience will be tuned in to what you’re saying because they can’t get what you’re offering many other places. In turn, advertisers like highly targeted audiences because they are able to more highly target their campaigns. Their advertising dollars will go farther, and they’ll probably be willing to pay more when you can demonstrate that you have exactly the type of person that will be interested in their product.