If you are just finding this 3 part series on custom editorials as a potential source for blog income, start by reading Part I, then come on back!
Welcome back everyone. In part II we are going to be looking at how to prepare yourself to take advantage of custom editorials. Let me start by saying thank you to all of those that offered input on part I. Now, are you ready to put together a business plan for your custom editorial “company”?
Have a niche website.
Being niche, means focused on a specific topic, and the smaller the better. If your blog is on fly fishing, you are competing with too many other sites to really have an edge. But, if your site is on fly fishing in Casper, Wyoming, you have a niche. Another example of being too broad would be “outdoor photography”, a good niche would be photography of the Appelachan Trail. Ben Smith with AZWanderings.com has a good niche. He focuses on fly fishing streams and hunting game local to the Pheonix, AZ region only. There isn’t too much competition and he is doing well in this niche. Another example is Marc Arndt with SanDiegoHiker.net. He has established himself as the go-to-guy for hiking in and around San Diego. Very niche! So evaluate your site and determine your niche. Don’t despair if it seems a little broad. I’ll bet that most of your content is local, no matter what the name at the top is.
Gauge your writing skills.
A good gauge of your current writing skills is your traffic and if that traffic is spending more than 1-2 minutes on average on your site. If people are reading your work, then you are doing just fine. Compare your writing to the writing of other authors that you enjoy. How do you stack up? Be honest with yourself. Ask for opinions from people that you trust to give you solid feedback. Then make corrections and improvements. You don’t have to be Hemmingway, but you should be better than a “Peanuts” strip.
Write some test editorials.
This can be gear reviews, product highlights, or just writing about a favorite piece of equipment. You will need these for potential advertisers to review and get an idea of what you might be able to do for them anyway and it is a great way to wet your feet.
Decide what you will and won’t do.
Decide for yourself if you will promote only products that you have used, tested, or at least seen for yourself. Some products require this more than others. Gear is likely going to need at least an eyeball test if not more, while a virtual product like a membership might be more information based. A write up on a local lodge may be OK if you have visited and taken some photos, but not stayed for a week. It all depends on your comfort level and the willingness of the advertiser to hook you up with information. Try to remember that what ever you write about is going to be associated with you and your blog. Select wisely.
Consider creating a separate category.
By separating out your custom editorials you can segregate (to some degree) these from the rest of your content. You can also put in disclaimers and statements that protect you without affecting your other blog posts as much.
Design “custom editorial” guidelines.
Take an hour and right down some simple guidelines for you and the potential advertiser. These will come in handy after you have someone interested in a custom editorial. At the least these should include:
- The types of custom editorials that you are will to write (see part I of the series).
- Specifics on length. For example: 500-1500 words.
- Whether or not you will allow photographs and videos (or demand them).
- Timeline for completion and payment.
- The editing and final approval process, (how many back and forths you will allow).
- A policy on changes after publication (I allow 1 in the first 30 days).
- Length of front page exposure.
- Whether or not your price includes exposure through your social media outlets.
- If you are going to allow the advertiser to submit copy for you to use then you should have a statement about copyright and plagerism and the conciquences for that.
- 10. How many custom editorials you will allow on your site per month. Don’t drown your other content with too many CE’s. I recommend 1 or 2 per month.
- Decide if you will accept product in lieu of money.
Now that you are ready to go, where do you find someone willing to pay you for exposure on your site? This is where understanding your niche is really important. By knowing what your readers are coming to you to read, you will begin to be able to make a list of potential advertisers. Here are some examples:
You write about local fly fishing:
Your advertisers pool is:
Local rod builders.
Local fly makers.
Local shuttle services.
Local restaurants on the river/lake.
You run a Wisconsin photography blog:
Your advertisers pool is:
Local Frame shops where you get your best work framed.
Local photo shops or digital conversion shops.
Other local artists with galleries or collections.
Any local business that wants a write in conjunction with great photos of their business taken by you.
You write about backpacking in the Rockies:
Your advertisers pool is:
Local outdoor gear shops (not the national box stores).
Local map and guide book publishers.
Local search and rescue memberships.
Local tour oporations or guides.
You probably noticed that I used the word local in every example. This was not by mistake. Your blog is likely not big enough to entice a national gear chain or manufacturer. You would be competing with monster websites that have millions of visitors. Local businesses on the other hand want web exposure, but can’t afford the big boys. Besides, they would much rather have local, niche exposure. And they can afford you. It’s a perfect partnership! You may even already have some connections with local businesses which makes approaching them even easier. Be creative and put together a list of all kinds of potential advertisers. I have found that the ones I think will, won’t and the ones I think won’t, will.
Part II Wrap Up:
Start by determining your niche. What is it? Then right down your guidelines for writing custom editorials. Make it pretty because you will be passing it on to your advertisers. Then make a looooong list of potential LOCAL advertisers that fit with your niche. Put the ones you already know at the top. If you have trouble, pick up the yellow pages or a local outdoor publications and see who is already advertising.
Next time we will look at the statistics you will need to armed with when approaching an advertiser, how to determine what to charge, and making the sale. Also some tips on what makes a really nice custom editorial.
Till then, get out there and bring your readers something really cool.
About Home Skillet
Obsessed fly fisherman, lover of exploration, amateur videographer, web development business partner, blogger. At least those are things that Outdoor Blogger Network readers might care about 😉
Home is Bend, Oregon (heaven for a fly fisherman).
Major projects: CampingUSA.com
Minor projects: Hooked Up Films