I love blogging. I spend about half my work hours writing posts for my blog. It’s a tremendous investment of time and effort to continuously write posts that are interesting, well-researched, and valuable. I
find the process incredibly rewarding. About six months ago I acknowledged to myself that my blog needed to become an income-generating part of my business.
In response to this realization I took Sister Diane’s Monetize Your Craft Blog class, which was excellent in every way and helped me realize that I had already monetized it indirectly. Writing consistent good-quality content led to two book deals, paid freelance work, and teaching opportunities. What now? One answer was an ebook I could sell right from here so I wrote one. Another answer was to start an ad program.
Diane helped me examine my statistics and determined I had a large enough audience to go forward. I knew that if I was going to do an ad program I wanted to run it myself so that I could choose the companies I work with. I worried about how complex it would be to install the ads, and uninstall
them, each month. I worried about the work involved in invoicing advertisers and accepting payment. And I worried about how I’d go about finding advertisers each month.
Then I came across Passionfruit Ads.
Their tagline, “Start selling ads on your website in minutes,” caught my eye. Here’s what
- Advertisers use PayPal to buy the ads directly from your
site. You approve each ad before it goes live.
- Passionfruit hosts the ad images. You get a bit of code to
insert in your site and it serves your ads forever, auto-expiring and
auto-running new ads as they go live. This is awesome and so easy.
- No need to send out invoices. Passionfruit sends automatic
reminders to sponsors, thanking them and asking them to renew, removing the
awkwardness of doing that yourself.
For all of this, Passionfruit takes $1 per add. That’s it.
I felt like this was a service set up for people just like me. On the afternoon that I discovered it I sat down to set up an ad program for While She Naps. It took less than an hour. Then I wrote a blog post about
my new ad program. I had five ads running that same day.
What I didn’t know until I was actually earning money directly from my blog was how badly I needed this to happen. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that I was in tears. Here’s an email I wrote to my friend, Stacey, that afternoon, “I just had to share. Someone bought an ad! Oh my gosh! I’m so excited. I
don’t know why I’m this excited about it, but I feel like now I might be able to get paid for all of the work I do on my blog. What a relief!”
That weekend I redesigned my entire site. Instead of resenting the hours it took to fix everything, I felt compensated for my time. I could feel my approach to the blog shift from, “I should probably get off the computer and go sew or my business is going to die,” to “I should probably brainstorm names of small
business experts to write posts about.” My blog got better because of it.
To that end, I asked Jason Lynes, the founder of Passionfruit, how he came up with this business concept. “I’d been experimenting with a few ideas for a side project on how to improve online advertising, and began interviewing a few bloggers for their experiences. I realized these ‘boutique’ ads they were
selling were already a huge improvement over traditional advertising, but it was a huge pain to set up and maintain by yourself. So I began working on a tool to make it super easy to run your own ad network.”
And that he did. Using Passionfruit couldn’t be easier, but it still isn’t easy to run an ad program on a blog. At the end of every month I worry, “What if my current sponsors don’t renew? What if I can’t find new sponsors?” I write a lot of pitch emails. I’m constantly searching for businesses that would be a good
This month, though, Passionfruit solved that problem for me. Passionfruit has a marketplace on their site where businesses can come to find a blog to sponsor. Sweetbriar Sisters Patterns found me there and bought an ad. About the marketplace Jason said, “Finding advertisers is almost as hard as finding a
good blog to sponsor. There’s nothing like what Passionfruit is doing: a free-to-join, no acceptance necessary marketplace of blogs that accept advertising. Advertisers need it, and bloggers need this extra boost finding sponsors.” The Passionfruit Ads Marketplace is an effort to answer to the most enduring
and difficult part of running an online ad program: finding advertisers.
Last month I had a snafu with an ad and needed some help. Passionfruit customer service helped me quickly, but I was really struck when I saw Jason’s phone number on the site’s homepage with an encouragement to call or text him any time. When I asked him about this unusual level of access he said, “I’m the only one I know who’s doing this. I get calls and texts every day, and people are shocked to find out it’s actually my cell phone. I respond to texts after midnight and people freak out. I did it from day one. I’ve always wanted to be on hand to help with anything. Passionfruit is my baby and even though we’ve got thousands of blogs signed up, it means a lot to me to be so intimately involved. I’m on the site’s live chat every day, I run our Twitter account, our Instagram. I’ll be this involved forever I imagine.“
I can relate to that feeling. My business is my baby, too, and While She Naps is a big part of that. Thankfully it’s now financially sustainable.
Quick Update: Since this post was written, Passionfruit Ads has changed its pricing structure. It’s still affordable, though. Please take a look around their site to learn more.
I use Passionfruit Ads to run the ads on my blog and I love it, it’s sooo much easier than when I last ran ads on my blog and had to manually add them to my sidebar and spend ages emailing back and forth about payment info etc, and I know my sponsors find it really easy to use too.
Like you, having ads on my blog is helping to make my blog a more sustainable part of my business which makes me happy because I love blogging and sharing free tutorials, etc, and want to continue doing so!
That’s really helpful to hear. This is my first go at an ad program. It’s so smooth. I can only guess that it would have been much more complex previously.
Thanks for this Abby! I’m going to look into it. Sounds like Passionfruit has an answer to almost every reason that I’ve never wanted to have sponsors.
This is great. Going to share it with one of my blogging groups right now.
Thanks so much for mentioning Sweetbriar Sisters! I have had several different online businesses over the years and have been waiting for something like Passion Fruit to be invented :).
Not only is it easier for the bloggers to organize, it makes it really easy as a business to go find websites to run my ads.
Thanks for mentioning the marketplace! I have a small etsy shop and I’m going to go check that out to see if there are some good blogs for me to advertise on!
This is great, Abby! I hadn’t heard of Passionfruit before, and it sounds like a really great program. Ads are something that I’ve thought about for a long time, so I’m really happy to hear about an ad program that someone has actually used and likes. Great post!
Gwen Bortner says
Once again…EXACTLY the information I was looking for at the point I needed it! I am not quite sure how your read my mind (it is a little spooky), but I am glad you have the gift!!
Heading over to PassionFruit right now. And thanks for including the interview Jason. It just makes me all the more interested to utilize his service/business.
Glad you shared!!
It certainly was for me!
Thank you so much, Cheryl! I hope they find it interesting.
I am thrilled to have you signed on as a sponsor of my blog this month, Jessica. Thank you so much!
That’s awesome, Pepper. I hope you find a good match.
Thanks, Amy. It’s so easy to use. I think it’s certainly worth a try.
That’s awesome. I’m so glad that this post, and others I’ve put together recently, have been useful to you! I hope we get to meet in person some day.
Hey, Abby, super curious about this. Is there a way to limit the subject matter of the ads? Like keep it to crafting/family oriented ads, or is it potluck? If you’ve mentioned that already and I missed it, I do apologize!
This is a great question. While you do have the ability to approve each ad before the purchase goes through and it goes live, I dont think theres a way to limit who can potentially purchase a spot. In my experience thus far, inappropriate companies are happy to send spam, but dont go the next step if spending $$ to buy a targeted banner ad on a blog.
Thread Riding Hood says
Thanks so much for the info! I am following your blog now – found you through Sew Mama Sew on Facebook. I will check out the class and remember Passionfruit Ads – wow – they sound great! Do you know how I can find out if my blog is big enough to start serious advertising? Thanks!
It can be hard to know how big you need to be to attract advertisers. Maybe give it a try for a while and see how it goes? I do recommend Dianes class for figuring out how to monetize your craft blog. Its super.
I’m looking around on your blog and can’t seem to see sponsor ads….just well designed ads for your own easy shop and publications. (beautiful looking blog by the way.) Do you not have any up right now?
Good question! I actually changed my mind some time after this post was published and now I don’t have an ad program on my blog. I still believe that Passionfruit Ads is a great way to run an ad program if you’re going to have one, though!