If you're not familiar with Project Wonderful advertising, this is a must read article. Project Wonderful is a quite wonderful method of advertising that allows you to set your price and only spend as much as you have in your budget on promotion. (I couldn't resist using the word wonderful. :P) On many craft-related websites, including artisan blogs, you'll see this text under a series of graphic ads:
When you're an advertiser on Project Wonderful ad boxes, you select the amount you're willing to pay per day for that ad spot. When you have the high bid, your ad is displayed at the lowest possible cost. For example, if there is an ad box with an active advertisement at a maximum bid of 30 cents per day and I come along and bid on the same spot with a maximum of 50 cents per day, my ad will display at 40 cents per day until someone else comes along and makes a higher maximum bid. If they set a maximum bid of 40 cents, my price goes up to 50 cents/day. If they set a maximum bid of 60 cents, my ad won't be displayed until they cancel their bid, I raise my bid, or their bid expires. You can set bids up to expire when you reach a certain spending limit (limit must be $1 or more) or after a certain number of days. I hope that all made sense and is clear. If not say so in the comments, and I'll try to clarify.
So let's say someone has an ad box with no ad displaying yet (perhaps they just became a publisher) and they do not require a minimum bid. You can then come along and place a bid at a maximum of, let's say, 1 cent. Your ad will then display on the website for free. If someone comes along and makes a higher bid, your ad won't display of course, but during the time you are the high bidder you pay nothing for the traffic and views you're getting. This is one of the things that makes Project Wonderful great - if you are unable to come up with money for an advertising budget, you're still able to get some extra exposure through free advertising opportunities.
So how do you find places to advertise? When you're on your favorite blogs and websites, look for the "Your ad here, right now" text. It will give you an indication of how much you'll need to bid and will provide a link to Project Wonderful where you can sign in to your account and place that bid. There is also a search engine on the website which allows you to search for advertising opportunities in your niche. I find the search engine to be incredibly useful. For example, when I wanted to start promoting my queer pride jewelry I conducted a search for gay and lesbian websites. I came across a few blogs about gay and lesbian issues, sites featuring queer and transgender comics, etc. that had decent traffic and placed bids on those ad spots. Then my target market, LGBT consumers, had access to my advertising at a few cents per day. These are some of my best performing ads so make sure to utilize the search feature.
You can either reduce your bids manually when your funds are running low or have your ads temporarily suspended (not as consequential as it sounds) when your funds run out. This keeps you from spending more than your monthly advertising budget. You should have a variety of bids in your account ranging from more expensive ($1 or so per day) to less expensive (free) so that your ads are always being displayed somewhere regardless of how much money is in your account. You should also take advantage of the statistics feature which will show you how many page views the site gets and how many views your ad gets in the USA, Europe, and Canada separately, and the rest of the world lumped together. Stats will also show you how many visitors clicked on your ads. You can then adjust your spending so that your higher bids are on the sites where you have the most success.
Project Wonderful is really a great resource for crafters and can be a much cheaper alternative to paying $20-$50 per month on a large artisan website. I've gotten more traffic and clicks by having my ads on lots of smaller websites than I've gotten by paying the big bucks for weekly promotions on huge sites like ArtFire. Promoting on a budget is important to a lot of us, so I hope you find Project Wonderful as useful as I have.
Do you know of any other great places to get free or very cheap graphic advertising? Let us know in the comments!
Until next time,
If you need graphics/advertisements made up, The Ash Grove is the one who makes the majority of mine. She's very talented in graphic design and she's fair with her pricing. Check out her Etsy shop and send her a convo about the possibility of custom work if your own Photoshop skills are a little lacking. She'll be able to design something that fits your particular brand. For an example of her work, visit elles-beads.com. The website design and banner were all done by The Ash Grove.