First, an overview of ads and text links.

Second, a sort of “state of the ad world” for 2012. There’s been a few big changes in the past year that aren’t entirely great for bloggers.

Banner and other image based ad sales have vanished.

Widgets are still used, but less often.

Text links are drying up. It used to be that you could sell single page, home page only, site wide links but these days people are only buying “homepage only” links.

My advertising earnings have dropped slowly over the last year and right now I’m making about 50% as much as last year.

It’s getting worse every month.

Sponsored posts seem to be the last area where sales are still happening but it’s not enough to compensate for the overall drop. I used to say that if you had a PR 3 you could make $1000/mo on ads. Now I think it’s probably closer to $400-$500 a month at best.

What happened? Well, Google happened. They used to punish bloggers who sold text links but that wasn’t very effective. You’d have to manually check each blog and it was impossible to keep up with it. Now they are just punishing the sites that buy them. If your incoming links jump up by 1,000 in a day, they block you from search. The work around of course is to do these “sponsored posts” which cloaks the links in there, but advertising agencies are advising their clients to be very selective and limited in that approach.

In other words, the days of gaming Google are at the end.

On the banner and other advertising side, I think everyone has finally figured out that people have become so Ad-Blind, meaning they are used to glancing over ads, that they aren’t really worth the web space they take up. Maybe the economy is part of it too? I don’t know, but I can say that from my experience, there’s a lot less advertising money going around than there was a year or two ago.

SO IF YOU WANT TO SELL ADVERTISING…

If used to be that people would just contact you. I have a network of about 200 advertising emails but the problem is that contacting a random ad coordinator isn’t going to sell you ads. They have specific client needs and they are only sourcing one project at a time.

The best way to get in touch with advertising folks? Get yourself on a list. There’s the Invesp top blogs list(s), I’m on Babble.com top blogs, Brendan’s Adventures has a list, so do NomadicSamuel. There are many others for every niche.

Make sure your blog domain name registration is up to date with an email address you actually check. When someone contacts you about ANYTHING, write back and say, “I am currently offering these kinds of advertising, here is my ad rate sheet.”

Make an ad rate sheet. I’d probably only offer sponsored posts and homepage text links at this point.

Set a price. In the articles above I give suggestions on the range. Don’t go too low. They will try to get you to sell out for a tenth of your normal price, don’t do it.

Wait. Be patient. Slowly build contacts. Keep track of every email you receive and once a quarter send a bulk email to those people and say, “Hey just checking in, are you looking for any advertising?”

It’s not at all complicated to deal with these folks, because what I’ve found is that they are largely laid back, not super formal and just churning out emails all day trying to get sales. The end of the month seems to be especially a good because many of them work on a commission of ads placed and they might be in a rush to up their numbers.

Since the ad world is shrinking, I’d make sure to diversify, because honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a very different world in a year from now. Don’t kill yourself trying to find ad contacts either, you could email thousands of people and not get a bite. Do what you can, but then think of other ways to monetize.

VERY SORRY THIS WASN’T MORE UPBEAT!