Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog

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7 types of product you could sell from your blog

It took me nearly seven years of blogging to create my first products: two ebooks, one for ProBlogger and one of Digital Photography School. They made me a total of over $160,000 in 2009 alone and changed my business.

Back in 2014, I wrote about the experience … and how it nearly never happened:

My big issue was a severe lack of time. Between juggling two growing blogs and a growing family (we had just had our first child), I wasn’t sure how I’d ever write an eBook. I also had a long long list of other excuses to put it off.

I’d never written, designed, marketed a product of my own before… I didn’t have a shopping cart system… I didn’t know if my readers would buy…

In short – the dream of creating and selling an eBook of my own stayed in my head for two years until 2009. Ironically by that point I’d become even busier (we’d just had our second son and my blogs had continued to grow) but I knew if I didn’t bite the bullet and do it that I never would.

Does any of that sound familiar to you? Perhaps you’re blogging alongside a busy day job, or you’ve got young children at home, and the whole idea of creating a product seems very daunting.

You’re definitely not alone. But creating your own product – even a small, simple one – can bring in money much faster than affiliate sales or advertising: after all, your audience trust you and if they like your writing, they’ll want more from you.

In this post, I’ll take you through seven different types of product you could create. Some of these require more time and initial investment: others, you could plausibly create in a weekend.

But First … What is a “Product”?

What exactly do I mean by a “product”? It could be something virtual (like software or an ebook) or something physical (like a t-shirt or a paperback book).

A product might involve an element of ongoing commitment from you, but it isn’t only about the hours you put in – so I won’t be covering freelancing, virtual assistant roles, or other services here.

Seven Types of Product You Could Sell from Your Blog … Which One is Right For You?

The seven types of product I’m going to run through in this post are:

Ebooks: these might be positioned as “guides” or even self-study courses. Essentially, they’re written downloadables, probably in .pdf, .mobi and/or .epub format. Printables: these are designed to be printed out! They might be planners, cheat sheets, party invites, worksheets … anything that someone might buy to print and (probably) fill in. Digital subscriptions: these are normally delivered by email, and are often relatively cheap compared with some other products (making them attractive to first-time buyers). Online courses: these could be text, audio and/or video, although video is increasingly becoming the “default” expectation. Membership of a private website or group: this might be a membership site that you host yourself, or something as simple as a closed Facebook group. Software or a phone app: unless you’re a developer, this probably isn’t the product you’ll go for first … but it could be a very lucrative one to try later on. Physical products: these could be almost anything from books to t-shirts to one-off pieces of art. Unless you’ve already got a business selling them, though, they aren’t the best products to begin with.

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail. I’ll be giving examples for each one, so you can see how different bloggers are using these different types of product.

#1: Ebooks: Are They Right for You?

The first two products I created, back in 2009, were both ebooks: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (since updated) and The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography (now superseded by a range of portrait photography books)

That was almost a decade ago, which is a long time in the ebook world. Amazon had only recently launched the Kindle, and the first iPad didn’t appear for another year.

These days, there are a lot more ebooks out there, but don’t let that put you off. A well-positioned ebook can still be a great starter product. If you’re really pushed for time, you might want to compile some of your best blog posts into an ebook (that’s what I did with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog), then edit them and add some extra material.

Example: Deacon Hayes’ You Can Retire Early!

You Can Retire Early Deacon Hayes

Although many bloggers still sell ebooks via their own platforms, charging premium prices for specialised information, it may be a better fit for your audience if you sell your ebook through Amazon and/or other large e-retailers.

If your ebook has a (potentially) large audience, if they’re unlikely to pay more than $9.99 for it, and/or if they’re a bit wary about buying online, selling through a well-established ebook retailer could be the way to go.

This is what Deacon does with his ebook You Can Retire Early! – it’s sold through Amazon, but to make it a great deal and to capture his readers’ email addresses, he offers a free course for readers who email him their receipt.

If you’d like to see more examples of ebooks, we now have 23 ebooks on Digital Photography School.

#2: Printables

Printables are becoming increasingly popular. They differ from ebooks because they’re designed to be printed and used/displayed – and they’re unlikely to contain a lot of text.

Printables could be almost anything:

Planner pages Party invites Pieces of art Greetings cards Kids’ activities Calendars Gift tags Adult colouring sheets

… whatever you can think of, and whatever suits your blog and audience.

Unless you’re skilled at design, you may need to hire a professional designer to create high-quality printables for you … though it depends what you’re creating.

Example: Chelsea Lee Smith’ “Printable Pack”

Chelsea Lee Smith printables

Many of Chelsea’s printables are available for free on her blog, but this pack adds five exclusive ones … and brings everything together in one place. Most of her printables are simple and straightforward (which could be a bonus to readers not wanting to spend a fortune on ink!) She’s priced the whole pack at $4.99, making it an appealing purchase for busy parents.

#3: Digital Subscriptions

A digital subscription is information or a resource that you send out to subscribers on a regular basis. Depending on what exactly it is, they might be paying anything from a couple of dollars to a couple of hundred dollars each month.

Delivering the subscription could be as simple as adding paying members to an email list (which you can do through linking PayPal with your email provider). You won’t need to create all the content up front – though you’ll want to get ahead so that you always provide your customers with their resources on time.

Depending on the type of subscription, you could either provide all subscribers with all the same content in order (e.g. they start with week 1, then week 2, and so on) – or you could send out a weekly or monthly email to everyone at the same time, so they get the same content whether they’ve been with you for a day or a year.

Example: $5 Meal Plan, by Erin Chase  

Erin Chase 5 dollar meal plan

Erin’s product solve a problem that many parents have: how do you get a tasty meal on the table each night, quickly and cheaply … without spending hours every week writing a complicated meal plan?

This weekly subscription costs $5/month, with a 14 day free trial. Like Chelsea’s printables, above, it’s priced at a point where it’s an attractive offer for busy families. We recently had Erin on the ProBlogger podcast where you can hear more about how she started blogging and went from zero to a six-figure income in two years.

#4: Online Courses

An online course can take quite a bit of time to put together, and some bloggers feel daunted by the technology involved.

At its simplest, an online course might be essentially the same sort of content as an ebook, only split into “lessons” or “chapters” rather than modules. Many courses will include additional features, though, like:

Video content: courses that are based around videos normally have transcripts or at least summaries to help your students who prefer not to watch video or who want a recap to refer to. Audio interviews: if you don’t have the tools to create high-quality video, audio can be a good alternative (and some students prefer it to, as they can listen while commuting or exercising). Quizzes: depending on what you’re teaching, it may be helpful for students to test their knowledge at the end of each lesson or module. Interaction: you might choose to offer feedback to students, or you might have a closed Facebook group for students to join, where they can talk with one another and with you. Certification: this is more appropriate for some topics than others … but offering students some sort of certification at the end of the course can be helpful. Example: ProBlogger’s New Courses

ProBlogger Courses Example

At ProBlogger we’ve just gone through this process to launch our first ever course. We decided on the self-hosted route and use Learndash as our Learning Management System. You don’t necessarily have to host your course on your own site, though – there are plenty of online platforms like Teachable and Udemy that you can provide your course through instead.

Learndash (partnered with the Buddyboss-friendly Social Learner theme) allows us to offer all of the above features with our courses. Whilst our first course is free, we will be using the same platform to sell our first paid course, an update of my popular eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in March.

For our free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course, we are running a beta version in conjunction with our first ProBlogger International Start a Blog day on the 7th of February, so as part of the beta we’re also trialling a Facebook group. It is common for bloggers running courses to run a group for communication in conjunction with a course, but beware the amount of time and attention this requires.

We’re closing registrations to the course on the 31st of January, and after we implement suggestions from the beta group, we’ll open it up again as an evergreen course (ie people can start it at any time as a self-guided group) as well as again in the new year for the next International Start a Blog Day.

#5: Membership of a Private Website or Group

For quite a few years now, “membership sites” have been popular. These are essentially closed websites where people have to pay and sign up (almost always for a monthly fee) in order to view the content.

The content might be text-based, or (more often) it could involve audio or video. Sites might offer monthly “seminars” or “workshops”, or regular courses that members can take part in.

On a smaller scale, some bloggers offer Facebook sites with paid membership: this can be a quick and easy way to set up your product, though it’s worth remembering that if you were banned from Facebook, you’d no longer have access to your group!

Example: Copyblogger’s “Authority”

Copyblogger’s membership site Authority focuses on the community elements as well as the teaching materials provided. It’s a fairly high-end community site aimed at professional copywriters, small business owners, and so on, and also gives members the opportunity for expert coaching, in addition to peer support.

Like most membership sites, it has a monthly subscription ($55/month) – but there’s also the option to purchase a year’s membership for $550.

#6: Software or a Phone App

This is unlikely to be an option for your first product, unless you’re a developer … but creating a piece of software or a phone app could potentially be very lucrative.

There are a lot of options here, and your software/app might be anything from a business tool to something that relates to your readers’ hobby. You might have a one-time price, especially if it’s a relatively simple tool … or you might be pricing on a monthly basis (the “Software as a Service” or SaaS model, where you host the software for customers to login to).

Example: Fat Mum Slim’s Little Moments App

little moments app fat mum slim

Long-time blogger Chantelle Ellem created her fun photo editing app on the back of her viral Instagram hashtag challenge #photoaday. When she released Little Moments in 2014 it went to number one in Australia, and number seven in the USA. It was picked as the App Store’s best app for 2014 and has been Editor’s Choice {selected by the App Store worldwide}.

Whilst it’s a free app, it has in-app purchases where you can purchase packs of designs to use in the editor – either per pack or an offer to unlock everything and get all the packs.

Little Moments in-app purchases

Chantelle shares some insights here about creating the app, including being prepared for the feedback from customers and creating a community around your app.

#7: Physical Products

Finally, even though blogging life revolves around the online world … there’s nothing stopping you creating an offline, physical product. This could be almost anything you can imagine: bloggers have created board games, comic books, merchandise, artworks, and far more.

Physical products need to be created, stored and shipped, all of which will take time (and money) – so this probably won’t be the first product you’ll want to experiment with. You can sell directly from your own blog, or you can use an appropriate online marketplace: Etsy for handmade goods, for instance, or Amazon or eBay for almost any product.

Example: Kirsten and Co’s Skin Boss

Kirsten Smith Skin Boss

Personal and lifestyle blogger Kirsten Smith recently developed and launched Skin Boss, a range of facial oils in response to an issue she was experiencing with her skin. You can read the backstory here on why and how it was developed. When you create something in response to a real need and have a strong connection with your readers and other bloggers, it’s an excellent platform for the success of a new product. Kirsten has able to reach out to her network of blogging friends to get media coverage for her new product.


I know there’s a lot to take in here! All bloggers, however fancy and complex their products are now, started somewhere – often with an ebook, printables, or a simple online course.

Even if you’re pressed for time, could you set aside 15 minutes a day or maybe block out a weekend in order to create your first product?

It might just change your life.

The post Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.


[Success Story Saturday] “Just Crossed My First $1K in Commissions With This Awesome Community!”

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Destrie Monis has always dreamed of being able to earn money from home using the internet and now it looks like he’s doing exactly that! He had some encouraging words for the community within his post: “Whatever your goals are, keep at it, keep growing and I know you’ll get there!” This community. People have […]

The post [Success Story Saturday] “Just Crossed My First $1K in Commissions With This Awesome Community!” appeared first on My Lead System PRO – MyLeadSystemPRO.

9 Predictions for SEO in 2018

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Posted by randfish

For the last decade, I’ve made predictions about how the year in SEO and web marketing would go. So far, my track record is pretty decent — the correct guesses outweigh the wrong ones. But today’s the day of reckoning, to grade my performance from 2017 and, if the tally is high enough, share my list for the year ahead.

In keeping with tradition, my predictions will be graded on the following scale:

Nailed It (+2) – When a prediction is right on the money and the primary criteria are fulfilled Partially Accurate (+1) – Predictions that are in the ballpark, but are somewhat different than reality Not Completely Wrong (-1) – Those that got near the truth, but are more “incorrect” than “correct” Way Off (-2) – Guesses which didn’t come close

Breakeven or better means I make new predictions for the year ahead, and under that total means my predicting days are over. Let’s see how this shakes out… I’m not nervous… You’re nervous! This sweat on my brow… It’s because… because it was raining outside. It’s Seattle! Yeesh.

Grading Rand’s 2017 Predictions

#1: Voice search will be more than 25% of all US Google searches within 12 months. Despite this, desktop volume will stay nearly flat and mobile (non-voice) will continue to grow.

+1 – We have data for desktop and mobile search volume via Jumpshot, showing that the former did indeed stay relatively flat and the other kept growing.

But, unfortunately, we don’t know the percent of searches that are done with voice rather than keyboards or screens. My guess is 25% of all searches is too high, but until Google decides to share an updated number, all we have is the old 2016 stat that 20% of mobile searches happened via voice input.

#2: Google will remain the top referrer of website traffic by 5X+. Neither Facebook, nor any other source, will make a dent.

+2 – Nailed it! Although, to be fair, there’s no serious challenger. The social networks and e-commerce leaders of the web want people to stay on their site, not leave and go elsewhere. No surprise Google’s the only big traffic referrer left.

#3: The Marketing Technology space will not have much consolidation (fewer exits and acquisitions, by percentage, than 2015 or 2016), but there will be at least one major exit or IPO among the major SEO software providers.

+2 – As best I can tell from’s thorough database (which, BTW, deserves more attention than Crunchbase, whose data I’ve found to be of far lower quality), Martech as a whole had nearly half the number of acquisitions in 2017 (22) versus 2016 (39). 2017 did, however, see the Yext IPO, so I’m taking full credit on this one.

#4: Google will offer paid search ads in featured snippets, knowledge graph, and/or carousels.

0 – Turns out, Google had actually done a little of this prior to 2017, which I think invalidates the prediction. Thus I’m giving myself no credit either way, though Google did expand their testing and ad types in this direction last year.

#5: Amazon search will have 4% or more of Google’s web search volume by end of year.

-2 – Way off, Rand. From the Jumpshot data, it looks like Amazon’s not even at 1% of Google’s search volume yet. I was either way too early on this one, or Amazon searches may never compete, volume-wise, with how Google’s users employ their search system.

#6: Twitter will remain independent, and remain the most valuable and popular network for publishers and influencers.

+2 – I’m actually shocked that I made this prediction given the upheaval Twitter has faced in the last few years. Still, it’s good to see a real competitor (despite their much smaller size) to Facebook stay independent.

#7: The top 10 mobile apps will remain nearly static for the year ahead, with, at most, one new entrant and 4 or fewer position changes.

+1 – I was slighly aggressive on wording this prediction, though the reality is pretty accurate. The dominance of a few companies in the mobile app world remains unchallenged. Here’s 2016’s top apps, and here’s 2017’s. The only real change was Apple Music and Amazon falling a couple spots and Pandora and Snapchat sneaking into the latter half of the list.

#8: 2017 will be the year Google admits publicly they use engagement data as an input to their ranking systems, not just for training/learning

-2 – I should have realized Google will continue to use engagement data for rankings, but they’re not gonna talk about it. They have nothing to gain from being open, and a reasonable degree of risk if they invite spammers and manipulators to mimic searchers and click for rankings (a practice that, sadly, has popped up in the gray hat SEO world, and does sometimes, unfortunately, work).

Final Score: +4 — not too shabby, so let’s continue this tradition and see what 2018 holds. I’m going to be a little more cavalier with this year’s predictions, just to keep things exciting 🙂

Rand’s 9 Predictions for 2018#1: The total number of organic clicks Google refers will drop by ~5% by the end of the year

In 2017, we saw the start of a concerning trend — fewer clicks being generated by Google search on desktop and mobile. I don’t think that was a blip. In my estimation, Google’s actions around featured snippets, knowledge panels, and better instant answers in the SERPs overall, combined with more aggressive ads and slowing search growth (at least in the United States), will lead to there being slightly less SEO opportunity in 2018 than what we had in 2017.

I don’t think this trend will accelerate much long term (i.e. it’s certainly not the end for SEO, just a time of greater competition for slightly fewer click opportunities).

#2: Twitter and LinkedIn will both take active steps to reduce the amount of traffic they refer out to other sites

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all had success algorithmically or structurally limiting clicks off their platforms and growing as a result. I think in 2018, Twitter and LinkedIn are gonna take their own steps to limit content with links from doing as well, to limit the visibility of external links in their platform, and to better reward content that keeps people on their sites.

#3: One or more major SEO software providers will shutter as a result of increased pressure from Google and heavy competition

Google Search Console is, slowly but surely, getting better. Google’s getting a lot more aggressive about making rank tracking more difficult (some rank tracking folks I’m friendly with told me that Q4 2017 was particularly gut-punching), and the SEO software field is way, way more densely packed with competitors than ever before. I estimate at least ten SEO software firms are over $10 million US in annual revenue (Deepcrawl, SEMRush, Majestic, Ahrefs, Conductor, Brightedge, SISTRIX, GinzaMetrics, SEOClarity, and Moz), and I’m probably underestimating at least 4 or 5 others (in local SEO, Yext is obviously huge, and 3–4 of their competitors are also above $10mm).

I predict this combination of factors will mean that 2018 sees one or more casualties (possibly through a less-than-rewarding acquisition rather than straight-out bankruptcy) in the SEO software space.

#4: Alexa will start to take market share away from Google, especially via devices with screens like the Echo Show

Voice search devices are useful, but somewhat limited by virtue of missing a screen. The Echo Show was the first stab at solving this, and I think in 2018 we’re going to see more and better devices as well as vastly better functionality. Even just the “Alexa, show me a photo of Rodney Dangerfield from 1965.” (see, Rand, I told you he used to be handsome!) will take away a lot of the more simplistic searches that today happen on Google and Google Images (the latter of which is a silent giant in the US search world).

#5: One of the non-Google tech giants will start on a more serious competitor to YouTube

Amazon’s feud with Google and the resulting loss of YouTube on certain devices isn’t going unnoticed in major tech company discussions. I think in 2018, that turns into a full-blown decision to invest in a competitor to the hosted video platform. There’s too much money, time, attention, and opportunity for some of the big players not to at least dip a toe in the water.

Side note: If I were an investor, I’d be pouring meetings and dollars into startups that might become this. I think acquisitions are a key way for a Facebook, an Amazon, or a Microsoft to reduce their risk here.

#6: Facebook Audience Network (that lets publishers run FB ads on their own sites) will get the investment it needs and become a serious website adtech player

Facebook ads on the web should be as big or bigger than anything Google does in this realm, mostly because the web functions more like Facebook than it does like search results pages, and FB’s got the data to make those ads high quality and relevant. Unfortunately, they’ve underinvested in Audience Network the last couple years, but I think with Facebook usage in developed countries leveling out and the company seeking ways to grow their ad reach and effectiveness, it’s time.

#7: Mobile apps will fade as the default for how brands, organizations, and startups of all sizes invest in the mobile web; PWAs and mobile-first websites will largely take their place

I’m calling it. Mobile apps, for 95% of companies and organizations who want to do well on the web, are the wrong decision. Not only that, most everyone now realizes and agrees on it. PWAs (and straightforward mobile websites) are there to pick up the slack. That’s not to say the app stores won’t continue to generate downloads or make money — they will. But those installs and dollars will flow to a very few number of apps and app developers at the very top of the charts, while the long tail of apps (which never really took off), fades into obscurity.

Side note: games are probably an exception (though even there, Nintendo Switch proved in 2017 that mobile isn’t the only or best platform for games).

#8: Wordpress will continue its dominance over all other CMS’, growing its use from ~25% to 35%+ of the top few million sites on the web

While it depends what you consider “the web” to be, there’s no doubt Wordpress has dominated every other CMS in the market among the most popular few million sites on it. I think 2018 will be a year when Wordpress extends their lead, mostly because they’re getting more aggressive about investments in growth and marketing, and secondarily because no one is stepping up to be a suitable (free) alternative.

35%+ might sound like a bold step, but I’m seeing more and more folks moving off of other platforms for a host of reasons, and migrating to Wordpress for its flexibility, its cost structure, its extensibility, and its strong ecosystem of plugins, hosting providers, security options, and developers.

#9: The United States will start to feel the pain of net neutrality’s end with worse Internet connectivity, more limitations, and a less free-and-open web

Tragically, we lost the battle to maintain Title II protections on net neutrality here in the US, and the news is a steady drumbeat of awfulness around this topic. Just recently, Trump’s FCC announced that they’d be treating far slower connections as “broadband,” thus lessening requirements for what’s considered “penetration” and “access,” all the way down to mobile connection speeds.

It’s hard to notice what this means right now, but by the end of 2018, I predict we’ll be feeling the pain through even slower average speeds, restrictions on web usage (like what we saw before Title II protections with Verizon and T-Mobile blocking services and favoring sites). In fact, my guess is that some enterprising ISP is gonna try to block cryptocurrency mining, trading, or usage as an early step.

Over time, I suspect this will lead to a tiered Internet access world here in the US, where the top 10% of American earners (and those in a few cities and states that implement their own net neutrality laws) have vastly better and free-er access (probably with more competitive pricing, too).

Now it’s time for your feedback! I want to know:

Which of these predictions do you find most likely?Which do you find most outlandish?What obvious predictions do you think I’ve shamefully missed? 😉

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Google’s New Campaign Total Budget vs. Daily Budget Setting: Which Should You Use?

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The first question most advertisers must answer when planning any advertising campaign is, of course, what budget they can dedicate to their ads.

AdWords is no exception to this rule, and managing your campaign budgets can seem like a full-time job at times. Especially after Google began allowing campaigns to serve up to twice their daily budget in October, many seasoned experts admitted that they need to spend even more time monitoring their budget pacing.

Luckily, Google’s newest budgeting feature should be a relief for busy advertisers. As of late last week, advertisers now have the choice between setting up a daily budget or a campaign total budget when managing their campaigns in AdWords.

adwords campaign total budget type

Daily budgets will allow advertisers to specify how much on average you’d like a campaign to spend each day – with actual spend fluctuating up to double each day.

Campaign total budgets, however, allow you to specify the maximum amount of budget you’d like for your campaign to spend over the period in which it runs, much like Facebook’s lifetime budgets. Google will serve your ads through your campaign end date so long as your campaign has remaining budget, meaning that you won’t need to change or monitor your campaigns budget daily. Currently, this new setting is only available for video campaigns.

Per AdWords’ official explanation of campaign total budgets:

AdWords will try to spend your total budget evenly over the duration of your campaign while taking into account higher and lower traffic days to optimize your campaign’s performance. For example, let’s say your video campaign gets fewer views on Mondays and Tuesdays and more views on weekends. AdWords will optimize performance by spending more on days when your video is likely to get more views, while keeping your overall budget goals on track.

With a campaign total budget, you’ll only be billed up to the amount you enter for a campaign, even if AdWords serves more views or impressions than your budget allows.

Lifetime budgets pose an opportunity for advertisers, but now you’ll have to choose between using daily budgets and lifetime budgets.

Let’s review some of the advantages and disadvantages of both campaign budget types.

Benefits of Campaign Total Budgets Easier management of fixed budgets.

Sometimes your budget is your budget and you can’t spend more, even if your ROI is positive. If you’ve got a very fixed budget for the run of your campaign, AdWords campaign total budgets may be right for you. AdWords campaign total budgets will respect that hard budget cap and won’t overspend your budget like daily budgets will occasionally.

Less time managing your budget, more time managing your campaign.

None of us became marketers because we wanted to also become accountants, but sometimes managing budgets can take up a lot of our time. AdWords lifetime budgets frees up all the work and intricacies of managing budgets with a simple set it and forget it solution, so you can spend more time testing ads and adjusting targeting.

Disadvantages of Campaign Total Budgets Your campaigns must have an end date.

In order to set up campaign total budgets, your campaign must have a start and end date. Although your ads can run as soon as they’re approved, even the same day, your ads will stop running on the campaign end date. While your campaign is running, you can always adjust your end date, but doing so will potentially stretch your remaining budget thinner. Make sure you’re prepared for your campaigns to end, otherwise you may be in for a surprise to see your ads not showing!

Campaign Total Budgets can’t be shared budgets.

A campaign total budget must be dedicated to a campaign and cannot be used as a shared budget across campaigns. If you’re trying to juggle spend across multiple campaigns, you may need to monitor a shared budget across campaigns or revisit your campaign structure to find a better way to manage your campaigns.

Campaign Total Budgets are only available for Video campaigns.

At the moment, only video campaigns may use campaign total budgets.

Benefits to Campaign Daily Budgets More flexible budget management.

Daily budgets remain the default budget setting and used by many for the control they provide. You can adjust your budget every day and invest so long as your ROI is positive, or decrease your budget on under-performing campaigns. Your campaigns can run on any network and can run indefinitely or have a set end date.

advantages of adwords daily campaign budgets

Shared budgeting options.

Daily budgets can be shared across multiple campaigns, even if they’re running on different networks. This could potentially allow you more control over how much money your entire account or different groups of campaigns spend each day.

Disadvantages of Campaign Daily Budgets Daily budgets can vary a lot and spend up to twice their daily budget.

If your daily budget is the absolute maximum you can spend in each day, you may need to be cautious using daily budgets. Spend can vary a lot depending on the day of week or breakout searches, so you shouldn’t expect your campaigns to spend the same amount day to day. Campaigns can also spend up to twice their daily budget on any given day, which can make controlling a budget over a period difficult.

Depending on how your advertising budget works, you may find using daily campaign budgets or total campaign budgets easier. If you plan to run your AdWords campaigns indefinitely and adjust your investment so long as they’re profitable, you’ll likely want to continue using campaign daily budgets.

However, if you’ve got budget dedicated to running a temporary video campaign for a few weeks or months or if you’re just looking to create some brand lift with a set budget, campaign total budgets may be a great option for your campaigns!

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream, focused on research and training for the everchanging world of PPC. He was named the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2017 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.

232: Collaborative Blogging – How One Blogger Started a Blog with Over 200 Collaborators

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Collaborative Blogging – One Blogger Shares How She Started a Blog with over 200 Collaborators

Today’s episode is the last in our series where I handed the podcast over to you, the listeners, to tell your stories and tips of starting and growing your blogs. It was all part of our Start a Blog course, which launches tomorrow. 

232 Chrissann Nickel Start a Blog Series

Today’s episode features blogger Chrissann Nickel from Women Who Live on Rocks. She shares her challenges and insights when it comes to collaboration, not listening to critiques, and working with multiple writers.

Links and Resources for Collaborative Blogging – How One Blogger Started a Blog with Over 200 Collaborators Women Who Live on Rocks Blogger Chrissann Nickel Start a Blog Course Facebook Group Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey there, welcome to episode 232 of the ProBlogger podcast. This is the last to the series of blogger stories that we’ve been featuring since way back in 221, the 221st episode. It’s part of our Start a Blog course which launches tomorrow. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind – a blog, a podcast, event, job board, a series of ebooks, and tomorrow a course which we have designed to help you to start a blog, to grow your audience, and to make money from your blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger at You can sign up for our brand new free course at

As I said, this has been a part of a series of blogger stories that we’ve been running since episode 221. Really, this whole series has been about trying to inspire as many new bloggers as possible, and also helping those of you who are already on your journey to pick up some tips as well from other bloggers. You hear my voice every episode. We want to add in some other voices as part of this series. I’ve been loving the feedback that we’ve been getting as a result of this. We’ve featured tech bloggers, travel bloggers, recipe bloggers, nutrition bloggers, a voice coach, all kinds of bloggers over the last 10 or so episodes.

Today we’ve got a really interesting one for you. It is Chrissann Nickel. Chrissann has a blog called, which I think is just a fascinating name. Women who live on rocks got me curious. Chrissann actually talks a little bit about the name of her blog and how it’s actually been one of the things she’s been most grateful for in starting this blog. Chrissann’s blog is a collaborative blog. It’s a little bit different from some of the others that we’ve been mentioning so far. She gives some tips on that and talks a little bit about a thing about your readers. I’m going to hand over to Chrissann now.

Just a quick reminder, our Start a Blog course does launch tomorrow, the 10th of January 2018. If you’re listening after that time, you can join in any time on that course into the future. It’s really designed to help pre-bloggers to start their first blog. We’re going to talk you through the technicalities of how to set up a blog on your own domain, on your own servers in an affordable way. But we’re also going to help you make some good decisions about your blog and to think about how to build a profitable blog. Not just the technicalities of it but to make good decisions in the early days so that you set up a blog with good, strong foundations. Again, that course can be found at Please go up and sign up. It will launch tomorrow, the 10th of January. Over the next month or so we’ve got a whole lot of exciting things to share with you as part of that launch. I really can’t wait to see the hundreds, if not thousands of blogs that will come from that course.

I’m going to hand over to Chrissann now who’s going to tell you a little bit about her blog, and I will sum things up at the end of this episode.

Chrissann: Hi, my name is Chrissann Nickel. My blog is Women Who Live on Rocks. My blog is a collaboration of women writers sharing the quirks and eccentricities unique to life on a tropical island. The URL is

I started my blog in February of 2013. I’ve been living in the Caribbean for over five years already at that point and have been dying to write about my experiences. However, after being the sole writer for another blog of mine for the past couple of years, I knew I didn’t want to do it alone this time. Additionally, I wanted my new blog to cover the full arc of the island women’s experience and not just be about me and my limited perspective. When I met a fellow writer friend who expressed interest in contributing when I told her about my idea, it gave me the push I needed to officially start Women Who Live on Rocks.

My main objective in starting this site was to provide a humorous and realistic look into living on an island. It’s so much that’s written about island life is all about how it’s all paradise and sunsets. That’s partially true. There’s a whole other side to it that I felt needed to be shared. It was also my intention to begin using my blog as a space to grow a platform in the hopes of one day selling the idea to a book publisher.

When I look back, I’m most grateful that I stuck to my vision and didn’t let others who didn’t fully understand and sway me away from what I knew was best creatively. One example of that was not listening to critiques on the name of my blog. Certain people thought the name, Women Who Live on Rocks, was too obscure and that I should just go with something simple and straightforward like Island Girl Blog. That just felt so boring to me. I wanted something with an air of fun and quirkiness to it. I decided that the right audience would find me. I’d help them do so in promoting it regardless of the name. Over the years I’ve had so many people compliment me on the name. It has become a recognizable brand on its own. I’m so glad that I didn’t go with what didn’t feel right to me. I’m really proud of my site’s unique name and concept now.

I have made a few mistakes over the years. I think I probably wasted the most time by not streamlining the communication to my contributors early on. Now when people want to become a writer on the site, I have the parameters clearly listed on the website with the details on how to apply that includes everything I need. This saves me a ton of back and forth emailing that wasted a lot of my time and energy in the early years. I think my other main mistake has been not finding a way to monetize the site properly. It was never my goal to make money off the blog. The goal’s been more about getting it published, getting a publishing contract for the book. But now that it’s grown so large, it takes a ton of time and effort to maintain the flow of content and the technology behind it. I really wish it generated some income to help me maintain the website cost and gave me the ability to hire out certain responsibilities.

Beyond that, so many amazing things have come from the blog that I would have never anticipated. I now have over 200 contributors to the site and tens of thousands who follow via email and social media. It has connected me with so many amazing women on islands around the world whom I would’ve never met otherwise. I also receive notes all the time from women telling me how this site has connected them with friends in real life and how it’s helped them in their transition to move to an island. That’s really rewarding for me.

The blog has provided me with a platform to sell the island children’s book I wrote which would’ve been much harder to reach my target audience without it. I also hosted my first island writers retreat this year with 10 writers from the blog. It was an incredible bonding and learning experience that I hope to repeat again in the years to come.

My number one tip for new bloggers is to always be thinking, “What’s in it for my reader?” Every step of the way this is essential to keep in mind from blog titles to topics you write about to the general perspective in which you write your post and pages on your website such as your about page, home page, etc. There’s so much competition for people’s attention on the internet these days that in order to catch their eye, it needs to appeal to them. People want to know how content pertains to them. They’re not interested in simply reading someone else’s journal entries. This is a mistake that I see a lot of new bloggers making. If your potential reader visits your site and thinks, “Why should I even care about this?” You’ll lose them just like that.

I guess that’s about it. I just wanted to say thank you ProBlogger for all that you’ve taught me over the years. I contribute much of my success to your incredible guidance. I really appreciate the opportunity to apply for this. Thank you.

Darren: That was Chrissann Nickel from Thanks so much for sharing your story. Thank you so much to the other bloggers who’ve been a part of this series as well. We have really enjoyed featuring some different voices on the blog. I will mention that we did have a blog post go up on ProBlogger in the last week or so as well which featured five brand new blogger stories as well. If you’ve enjoyed this series, head over to the ProBlogger blog. I’ll actually link to that post in the show notes from today as well. It actually features five unedited audio stories of five brand new bloggers as well. You might want to go and listen to that.

I wanted to feature Chrissann’s story today for a number of reasons. Firstly because it’s a collaborative blog. I know some of you are thinking of starting blogs but you’re not sure if you want to be the only voice on your blog. Firstly, you might not feel like you’ve got enough to say on a topic and would want to include other perspectives as well. Maybe some of you also don’t have the confidence to start a blog but maybe doing it with someone else would be good as well.

I wanted to feature this story today because you don’t have to start a single-voice blog. ProBlogger and Digital Photography School are multi-voice blogs. Whilst I certainly started off being the only voice in both of those blogs, they very quickly became collaborative voice blogs, particularly Digital Photography School where I don’t actually write almost any content anymore at all. Occasionally I’ll do a promotional post but apart from that I don’t really write anything at all. We have a team of about 40 writers now who contribute to that site.

I wanted to include Chrissan’s story for those of you who are thinking about starting a collaborative blog, and also for those of you who maybe already have a blog and want to transition into a collaboration.

Her advice there of really streamlining that process of bringing on new writers is important advice. I certainly wasted a lot of time and energy and probably confused my new writers by not having a streamlined process at all. Today if you apply to be a writer on Digital Photography School, we actually have a sequence of emails that introduces you to the site and orients you to what’s the voice that we want you to write with and some of the technicalities as well. We’ve really worked on streamlining that process. In doing so, we end up with writers who write the kind of content that we want. They tend to stick around longer as well because they are less frustrated by the process of becoming engaged with the site. They actually feel a part of it much more quickly. We have a Facebook group now for those writers. I would encourage you to really think through how to bring on writers into your site.

I also love that whilst Chrissann makes it clear that she wishes that she’d monetize the site better and that’s probably still something that she needs to continue to work on, that she is mentioning some interesting monetization streams there, the children’s book and event for writers as well. This is something I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers starting to do over the last year, monetizing through events. I wanted to just point that one out for those of you who maybe already have a blog and are struggling to monetize. Maybe an event is a way that you can do that, a retreat, some sort of a personal experience for some of your readers. You will find that some of your readers are willing to pay for that type of experience. I just wanted to point that one out.

The last reason that I wanted to feature Chrissann in this very last episode of this series is her takeaway tip and that is to ask what’s in it for your readers, such an important thing. It’s simple. It’s something you would’ve heard before, particularly if you’ve been listening to this podcast. But as we move into this Start a Blog course, I think it’s probably the most important question that you can be asking. As you prepare to launch a blog, as you look at the blog that you’ve already got, have this question at the front of your mind again and again, “What’s in it for your readers?”

If you can be delivering benefits, if you can be enhancing the life of your readers, if you can be adding something of value into their lives, whether they be tips, whether that be stories, whether that be giving your readers a sense of belonging, whether that be giving them the latest news. If you’re enhancing the life of your reader, the listener of your podcast, the viewer of your videos, if you are enhancing people’s lives then they’ve got a reason to come back tomorrow. They’ve got a reason to stick around and dig deeper into your archives when they first show up. They’ve got a reason to share what you’re doing with other people. All of these things help you to grow your blog.

You’re also going to find it a much more satisfying experience as well if you can see that you’re creating content that is changing the world, that’s making people’s lives better. It’s satisfying for you, and it will help to sustain you, and make it a more meaningful experience for you as well. It’ll also help you to write and create content with more passion. As we wrap this series up, I hope you’ve seen that all of the people that we’ve been featuring have been considering this question, “What’s in it for my readers? What’s in it for the listeners of the podcast that we’re creating as well?” Put that question front and center.

Tomorrow, we do start the Start a Blog course. If you are thinking of starting a new blog, please go to and sign up to reserve your spot. If you’re listening to this after the 10th of January 2018, you’re welcome to head to that link as well and begin the course for yourself. We’re going to help you to make good decisions, help you to set up good foundations for a profitable blog down the track for you,

Thanks so much to Chrissann for sharing her story. We do hope to feature more of the stories that were submitted over the coming months as well. We’ve had over 130 different stories submitted. We’ve used, so far, about 20 of them including the 5 that we included on the blog the other day. There’s a lot more still to share. If we haven’t featured your story yet, we will be featuring more in the coming weeks and months both on the blog and the podcast. Do stay tuned for that. We have had such a really positive experience with this series. It’s something that we’ll probably do again in the future. Maybe on some different topics as well because this has really been focused on that Start a Blog topic but maybe we’ll do some more on other topics down the track.

The podcast will return to normal next week with some more teaching, with more of my voice. I look forward to chatting with you then in episode 233. Again, check out Start a Blog course, Today’s show notes at

How did you go with today’s episode?

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     Related Stories231: From Imposter Syndrome to Tech Influencer – One Tech Podcaster Shares His Story230: How a Blog Helped Grow My Voice Coaching Business229: 2 Finance Bloggers Share their Tips for Building Blogs from Hobby to a Full Time Business 

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ad Placement Optimization

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Let’s face it: as a marketer, you can target almost any segment imaginable through Facebook.

On top of that, the social media giant has done a fantastic job at expanding the places where your ads are shown. Over the past few years the company has invested great effort into its advertising arms race against Google, resulting in the expansion of Facebook’s advertising placements.

In this post, I’ll discuss what Facebook’s various ad placements are, how they differ, and how you can strategically optimize each one to lay the smackdown on your competition. 

Facebook Ad Placement Options

If you were to start a Facebook advertising account from scratch today, you would quickly realize that your ads are set to run on “automatic placements” and wonder what that means.

facebook ad placement options automatic vs edit 

If you’re anywhere near as cynical as me, you’ll quickly jump to the conclusion that “(Recommended)” means that Facebook wants you to spend more money. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in that assumption, but I’ll get into that topic later in the post.

If you find yourself disregarding wet paint signs, not paying parking tickets, or simply defying the recommended use of Vicks Vapor Rub when the seasonal flu strikes, you’ll click the “edit placements” button. When you do so you will witness the beautiful world of placement targeting:

facebook ads placement options and instagram ad placement options 

As you can see, there are several territories where your ads can be shown, including:

Facebook’s mobile and desktop newsfeeds Instagram The Audience Network Messenger

You may also notice that you are given three options when it comes to devices:

edit facebook ad placement 

Let’s break these down for further clarification…

Facebook Ad Placements

When it comes to serving social media ads, the Facebook placement is the original gangster.

That being said, they have added a few bells and whistles over the years to give advertisers more flexibility in the way their great-looking ads appear to audience members. Now, a key distinction that needs to be made is that, unless you choose to target both desktop and mobile at the same time, not all placement options will be available to you.

If you choose to only target Facebook users on their desktop/laptop computers, you will be limited to Facebook’s newsfeed and right column placement. The newsfeed is self-explanatory; the right column refers to those compressed versions of your ad on the side of the Facebook UI:

facebook ad desktop sidebar placement 

If you want to target only users on their mobile devices through this placement, you have the option to serve to the newsfeeds as well as Facebook’s “instant articles.” Finally, there are a couple of placement options are only available for certain campaign objectives, including in-stream videos and suggested videos:

 facebook ad placement optimization for in stream video ads

Instagram Ad Placements

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 has proven to be a smart move for the tech giant from a user-base perspective. The platform currently boasts 800 million monthly active users (many of which are also Facebook users); this allows current Facebook advertisers the ability to expand their reach on a different platform altogether.

As you might have guessed, you only have the capability to target mobile users on Instagram. That being said, you do however, need to choose between advertising within the Instagram feed, or within Instagram’s “stories”.

instagram story ad placement optimization 

Now, if you aren’t fully in the loop, Instagram’s “stories” are similar to Snapchat’s “stories.” They are time-based images, videos, and gifs where people can record their existences for the viewing pleasure of an engaged(?) audience.

Facebook Audience Network Ad Placements

The Audience Network gives you a way to extend your reach away from social media entirely and into mobile apps and websites. Your ad can be displayed as either native, banner, or interstitial:

facebook audience network ad placement optimization 

If your campaigns have a video-related objective you also have the option to run in-stream videos and rewarded videos.

I know what you’re thinking – “I sell professional things to professional people: I don’t want my ad showing up on Tinder amongst the sea of singles who all claim to love puppies and adventure!” Well, you are in luck you saasy B2B marketer you. You can exclude specific catagories of apps and websites from the audience network, reducing the amount of wasted clicks. The good news is that these categories and block lists also apply to instant article and in-stream video placements as well:

facebook ads exclude audience network specific content and publishers

This also applies to religious and political categories. Boom, there you go!

Pro Tip: If you visit the website of a business with a remarketing pixel and then visit the website of someone you don’t agree with but is also a part of an ad network (i.e Google or Facebook), by default, the advertiser did not choose for their ads to be on the specific website that you chose to visit and revile so much. It is most often not the advertisers fault because many of them do not have the expertise to be able to exclude these sites specifically. You are visiting the site and the ads are following you #knowledge #blessed. 

Facebook Messenger Ad Placements

The Facebook messenger placement has two options available for advertisers to choose from: Messenger home, and sponsored messages. The home option is self-explanatory, and is essentially a banner ad that is served in the home menu:

facebook messenger ad placement  

The sponsored messages ads appear if you choose the “Messenger” objective at the campaign level. This placement allows targeted, in-context ads to re-engage people who have an existing conversation with your business.

facebook messenger ad sponsored message optimization 

Now that I’ve outlined what the available placements are, I will show you how to effectively optimize your campaigns around them to receive the best value for your dollar.

Optimizing Your Facebook Ad Placements

The truth is, not every placement works with every campaign objective and, in my experience, it’s a better idea to cut some out altogether. There are two approaches to placement optimization you can take right out of the gate – trial & error and goal-centric.

The “trial and error” approach to Facebook ad placements

This approach requires you to set up a campaign (we’ll use the example of a conversions objective).

Take a designated period that you would like to run your ads to a given audience on automatic placements. After the period is over and the data is collected, you’ll want to take a look at the performance in ads manager. To do this, select the ad set or target audience that you ran the test with and open the performance tab on the right-hand side of the screen:

edit facebook ad placements in facebook ads manager 

Once that is opened, select the placements tab on the top right:

 measure facebook ad performance based on ad placement

As you can see from this example, the placements were set to automatic and Facebook’s algorithm was able to learn and optimize for the placement that yielded the most results for the lowest cost in concordance with my bidding strategy.

Through this method you can methodically go into the ad set and pause down placements that are not performing well. Even though Facebook’s algorithm “optimizes” for the best one, it will still spend your money on others to some extent. Going in and cleaning them up will ensure your money is being spent in the best place as often as possible.

The “goal centric” approach to Facebook ad placements

Quick confessions: I wasn’t entirely truthful in my previous example and before you go and get your ad sets in a bunch let me explain myself.

I mentioned that I had set the ad set to “automatic placements” for the test. The example being used was a conversions campaign for eBook downloads and the part where I mislead you was that I didn’t run all the placements “automatically”. In reality, I paused down the audience network from the start and did so for good reason.

After years of advertising on Facebook and managing accounts for a variety of clients, I have become extremely weary of the audience network as a placement in general. When included in conversion-based campaigns I have noticed that, although it underperforms, Facebook insists on serving it to audiences over better performing and more desirable placements like the newsfeed. I have witnessed a similar phenomenon in many website click campaigns, where a large portion of the budget was being allocated for cheap clicks through this placement. This example was in fact set to “automatic placement”:

facebook audience network optimization based on performance visualized  

On the surface, one would think this isn’t all too bad. Cheaper clicks, more volume, bar graphs that ascend in a stereotypical stock photo manner. Life is good! Right?


I have found that, especially when running ads for my personal site, these audience network clicks are often accidental and don’t yield interested users who visit other parts of your site (or convert for that matter). They often bounce immediately: damn their clumsy thumbs! That being said, if you’re one of those “I need to see it to believe it” type folks then be my guest. Try it out for yourself.

Anyway, when I said, “goal centric” earlier (as opposed to trial and error), I meant whenever you create a new campaign in Facebook, the first thing you want to do is clearly define what your advertising objective is. When you do this, you want to devote a good amount of thought to what the user’s experience with your ad will be. If you are marketing a free eBook download, do you think people are going to stop playing Candy Crush to download it? Probably not, unless it’s an eBook on how to hack the game. To which I would applaud your hyper-specific targeting strategy.

And so, with that…

Facebook Ad Placements by Campaign Goal

Let’s look at the optimum Facebook ad placements for each available campaign goal.

Awareness Campaigns

If you’re running a brand awareness campaign, any placement will work. This is all about brand recognition and the key to lock on that door is frequency. If you want to devote considerable budget to this campaign objective I suggest making several relatively small audiences with high daily budgets. This will increase the frequency of your ads across platforms to a point where folks won’t be able to close their eyes without seeing your ad. Not annoying at all!

If your goal is reach—advertising to more people as opposed to more often— you’re performing what equates to a traditional media buy. Keep an eye on your frequency capping (so you don’t waste your budget berating the same people with your creative), but feel free to use as many placements as you see fit.

Consideration Campaigns

Consideration campaigns come in significantly more flavors than awareness campaigns, so let’s look at placement options for each one:

Traffic – Traffic or link clicks campaigns are good to go on all placements with the exclusion of the audience network (optional). Over time I would suggest analyzing placement performance to make further optimizations based on the types of content you are promoting.

Engagement – Automatic placements – optimize over time.

App Installs – You are restricted to mobile only placements here. I personally treat app installs the same as lower funnel conversions and for that reason place high value on them. Unless you are extremely confident in the relevancy of your audience, then I would exclude the audience network. You may find that users are more likely to download an app when they aren’t already in one.

pied piper facebook ads 

Video Views – This objective is available for all placement networks except for Messenger. If it’s only video views you are looking for I would stick with automatic placements. You could also break out the video-specific placements into their own ad set and test them against the others.

Lead Generation – Depending on the nature of your offer and form, I would say exclude the audience network for this one. You want people to take an action in submitting information, whether on a landing page or through a Facebook lead ad. They will be more likely to do so within the newsfeeds. From my experience even limiting to only the newsfeeds, will give you a more optimal CPL.

Messages – You are limited to the messenger placements for this one, which is fine because that’s why it’s here.

Conversion Campaigns

Conversions – Everything but the audience network. Seriously – kill it with fire. Some of my peers also hate Instagram as a conversion placement; I personally love it and have witnessed great results and CPA’s from it. Don’t listen to the haters.

Product Catalog sales – I would set automatic with this one, yet watch it very closely. With ecommerce, you need to be very strict with your CPA’s to be profitable. Break out placements when necessary and bid accordingly.

Store visits – Set to automatic and review results; remove costly placements as they pop up.

facebook ads for driving store visits 

Device-Specific Facebook Ad Placement Optimization

If you want to get even more methodical with your approach to placement targeting I would suggest breaking out each and testing them against each other with their own budgets. To do this you simply clone an ad set for as many placements you feel necessary to break out. You then exclude all other placements than the one you want to target individually.

Another common practice involves breaking down an audience between mobile and desktop users. This can be particularly valuable for conversion campaigns for you to assess where your best CPA is achieved and then manually devote a larger portion of your budget to the more profitable device.

Don’t Just “Set it and Forget it”

If you are to take away anything from this blog post (aside from excluding the audience network), it’s that the details of Facebook ad placements too often go overlooked.

If you are running campaigns on Facebook, leveraging lookalike audiences to find new, qualified leads, you owe it to yourself to get in there and clean things up. Too many advertisers shut down campaigns or ad sets prematurely with the belief that they just “don’t work.” In reality, they just weren’t ensuring that their ads were served in the right places.

About the Author

Brett McHale is a paid marketing and lead generation expert. Formerly the Sr. Paid Specialist on WordStream’s marketing team, Brett now consults and manages the paid search and social media marketing strategies for an array of B2B tech startups.

Connect with him on LinkedIn

Follow him on Twitter

Visit his site

New, FREE Facebook Analytics Tools from WordStream

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January is a time for resolutions, self-improvement, goals…it’s daunting! Plus, the solutions can be expensive: gym memberships, financial planners, therapists…

But not every path to betterment needs to cost a lot of money. Enter your friends at WordStream with a brand new simple and free way to act on your digital marketing resolutions – the Facebook Ads Grader!

free facebook analytics tools

Introducing the Facebook Ads Grader

The Facebook Ads Grader is the newest member in our club of free analytics tools built to help you understand exactly where you stand with your online advertising efforts.

For those unfamiliar with our other graders, the Facebook Ads Grader (FBG) is a report-based tool that analyzes your Facebook Business account performance. It uses a combination of best practices and recent performance data (including account activity, performance by audience and ad performance) and compares your results against those of other Facebook advertisers in similar industries, with similar monthly budgets. That earns you your grade, but more importantly, identifies existing inefficiencies and surfaces new opportunities.

Use your report’s insights to find out where you stand today; then optimize your Facebook account so you can earn more sales and leads through your Facebook Advertising!

The Facebook Ads Grader:

Shows you how well your Facebook campaigns are actually performing Gives you a sense of how you fit into the competitive landscape Provides advice for improving your score and your results

Check out this sample report below:

facebook ads grader report

Why did we build the Facebook Ads Grader?

We know Facebook’s ad platform gives you a wealth of information on your potential customers and dozens of ways to reach them. It’s a great place to introduce your business to prospects you’d never have found otherwise, as well as sell to the ones who already love your brand.

Heck, we’ve been believers in Facebook for a long time – that’s why we built our OG free Facebook tool, the FB Opportunity Calculator, to prove its value to advertisers and agencies. We think you’re sold on the value.

But Facebook is certainly not without its challenges. With its growing number of targeting options and ad types, and an ever-changing interface, Facebook ads can be frustrating, especially for novices. It’s easier than you’d think to waste your advertising spend, chalk it up as a failed experiment and walk away from all that potential.

We don’t want to see you miss out on an opportunity to grow your business by confidently leveraging this platform. That’s why we created the Facebook Ads Grader, to help any business using Facebook ads run a quick and free audit on their account.

How does it work?

The Facebook Ads Grader is designed to help advertisers and agencies better understand their Facebook performance. From ad sets to audience creation, conversion tracking to bid optimization, this free analytics tool provides a baseline for both current account health and future optimization.

If you’re currently advertising on Facebook, we can securely access and assess your activity (with your permission) to generate a report that details the areas in which you’re succeeding and where your account could use some work.

Points of analysis include:

Account activity – AKA how often are you making changes in your Facebook ads account?

facebook ad account analysis

Performance by audience – How much do your Key Performance Indicators differ based on who you’re advertising to? Ad performance – What are your best and worst performing ads, and how do they stack up to your competition?

analysis tools for facebook ads

Wasted spend – Are your Facebook ads being over-served to the wrong people? Are you paying too much per click? Best practices – Do your campaigns, ad sets, and ads adhere to the industry standards established by Facebook? Are you making the most of your Facebook budget?

You’ll see a score in each of these five areas, with each section’s score contributing to a single, overall report score that summarizes the health of your Facebook account.

Throughout the report, we also provide competitors’ average performance data based on other advertisers in your industry with similar budgets. This will help you see how your Facebook campaigns stack up against other advertisers targeting similar potential customers.

The Facebook Ads Grader integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, making it easy to share results with your team or brag to your frenemies.

BTW: WordStream will only use your personal information and Facebook credentials to analyze your account, and we will never share your Facebook data for any reason (see our Privacy Policy).

Try it today and tell us what you think!

I can go on and on (and I have) about the Facebook Ads Grader, but the best way to learn about it is to try it for yourself! It’s a fast, easy and FREE way to audit and analyze your Facebook ads account and find any mistakes you could be making.

Simply connect your Facebook Ads account to get started on those New Year’s resolutions today! Oh, and then tell me what you think at

Happy grading in the New Year!

229: 2 Finance Bloggers Share their Tips for Building Blogs from Hobby to a Full Time Business

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2 Finance Bloggers Share their Tips for Taking Blogs from a Hobby to a Full Time Business

Once again we’re handing the podcast over to you, the listeners, to tell your stories and tips of starting and growing your blogs.

229 Two Finance Bloggers Start a Blog Series

Since episode 221 we’ve been hearing from our listeners about their blogs as a lead up to our new (and completely free) ‘Start a Blog course’, which goes live on 10 January 2018. You can sign up to reserve  your spot in the course at

Today we’re we’re featuring another two bloggers from the same niche. In this case, they’re both finance bloggers.

I met both these guys for the first time at our SuccessIncubator event in 2017. In fact, they both spoke and did great sessions.

Links and Resources for 2 Finance Bloggers Share their Tips for Building Blogs from Hobby to a Full Time Business Well Kept Wallet Blogger Deacon Hayes Wallet Hacks Blogger Jim Wang HARO – Help a Reporter Out Start a Blog Course Facebook Group Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 229 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, and to build profit around that blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at

In today’s episode, we’re continuing this series of blogger stories where we’re hearing from readers of ProBlogger and listeners of this podcast telling their stories of starting a blog and some of the opportunities that that blog has opened up for them. They’re also sharing some of their mistakes and tips for those of you who are starting out. But also you’ll hear today tips that I think are really relevant for those who are along the way with their blogging as well, particularly today, we’ve got a couple of tips that I think are particularly relevant for bloggers who’ve been around for a while, bloggers who maybe had been blogging maybe for a few years and things haven’t quite worked. Today is really relevant for both new bloggers and older bloggers as well.

This series started back in episode 221. If you haven’t heard them, we’ve been pumping them out on a daily basis for the last week, there’s quite a few there now. We’re hearing from DIY bloggers, travel bloggers, recipe bloggers, nutritional bloggers, all kinds of bloggers. Today, we are hearing from two bloggers both from the same niche. They’re both finance bloggers and both of these guys who I met for the first time in 2017 in person, I met them at our Success Incubator event in Dallas. Both of these guys, a lot of fun, they both actually spoke at the event and did amazing sessions. There’s a lot of wisdom behind both the men. I do encourage you to check out their blogs.

You can find today’s show notes with links to their blogs as well as a few things that they mention along the way over at and you can also leave a comment there. Remember, all of this is a part of our launch sequence for our new course for those of you who wanna start a blog. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, head over to I’m gonna come back between these stories to just make a few comments, throw out a few points, and then at the end I wanna tell you something new that I haven’t told you yet about the Start A Blog course, so stay tuned right to the end today.

The first blogger I wanna introduce you to today is Deacon Hayes from He’s got an inspirational story. He’s gone from being a wood flooring salesperson to full time blogger over the last few years and has some really useful tips. As I mentioned at the top of the show, some of these are quite relevant for those of you who’ve been blogging for a while now. I’m gonna hand it over to Deacon.

Deacon: Hi, my name is Deacon Hayes from where we help people save money, make money, and pay off debt. Back in 2009, my wife and I got married and we decided we’re gonna combine our finances. We did that. We realized we had $52,000 in debt which, for us, in our 20s, was a lot. This was outside of mortgage debt and we’re severely in the negative. We knew we need to put together a plan to pay it off in a short period of time. Hence, created as kind of a way to track our journey, hold us accountable, but also to help other people that were trying to pay off debt by giving tips on how to save money, make money, strategies to pay off debt.

Originally, that was the idea. But we were able to pay off all of our debt in 18 months which was amazing. We set this goal, we hit it, and now I was like, “Wow, this would be so much more fun than selling wood flooring,” which is what I was doing at the time. Then, it led me on a journey to kinda figure out, “How could I make money with the blog?” Turned that into a full time job and that’s what I’ve done today.

When I first started out, one of the things I was most grateful for was learning SEO, search engine optimization. Because initially when I started the blog, no one was reading it. I would tell my friends about it and it was It wasn’t a legit site but then I learned SEO, I put it on, started ranking for some really competitive keywords, getting traffic, and then figuring out how to monetize it. Really encourage people that start out to kind of learn those different ways to drive traffic early on so you’re not just writing content that doesn’t get read.

I did make some mistakes along the way. One of the things was I would just write just to write, not with any kind of intent. I had an audience of five people or whatever, and I’m like, “I have to publish content.” There were short articles, they weren’t thorough. It just really didn’t do the job. Now, we write articles with purpose and don’t write just to write. I really encourage people that are starting out to do that. Along the way, we had a lot of cool opportunities, been featured on US News World Report, Yahoo Finance, and even my wife and I were on the homepage of CNN Money one day for our worst money mistake as newly weds or something. It wasn’t the most glorious thing but the tips were very helpful, I think, for people. That was just a good way to get exposure. We used HARO for that which is Help A Reporter Out and reach out to these different publications, share our story and we found that to be super helpful.

Now, we get over 700,000 page views a month which is crazy. Because last year, we’re getting a fraction of that. Now the blog is not a hobby anymore. It’s a full fledged business, makes six-figures a year. It’s an awesome opportunity, never would have thought I would be at this place with it.

One of the things that I really encourage people that are starting out to do is to really narrow down your focus. What do you wanna write about? When I first started, I had 40 different categories. I would just think of something, I categorize it, and then they just start adding up. Now, we have three. We kind of edge outside of that a little bit but really those three dictate the type of content that we write. You can’t be good at everything. You have to focus in on, “What are you really good at?” Like, “Well, I was good at figuring out how to save money, going through a budget line by line, and figuring out how to save the most money. I was really good at making money on the side, I’d go to garage sales and flip stuff online. I drive for pizza delivery.”

There’s all these things that I was doing to basically help kind of move the needle forward. Those were the categories that we stuck with. I really encourage you if you start now to look for those categories that you’re really good at, that really could add value to your readers. Think about less is more. Don’t write just to write. Write with purpose.

Darren: That was Deacon Hayes from Love that story and it’s one that I’ve heard echoed, I guess, in many stories over the years. I wanted to share it for a few reason today. Firstly, as we heard in yesterday’s episode from Joanna Penn, the power of search engine optimization. Deacon mentioned that he was grateful that he learned SEO. Actually, at our Success Incubator, he did a whole session on SEO. It was one of the main reasons that his blog went from a hobby, something that he did on the side, to becoming a full time thing. SEO really changed the trajectory of his business. Learning that is such a powerful thing.

The mistakes that Deacon mentioned, he used to write just to write. He used to write short and non-thorough articles, and now, he writes with purpose. I really wanna hammer that home. Write with purpose, it’s such a powerful thing. Actually, every post you write has the potential to build your brand, to change the life of your reader, to make a connection with them. Every post you write has the potential to be shared by your readers as well and help you to grow your blog. None of those things is gonna happen if you just write just to write. If you’re just creating content because you wanna publish content, then it’s not actually gonna make any difference.

In many ways, you’re wasting your time but if you’re writing with purpose, if you’re thinking about who is searching for the content that you’re writing, what questions they have, how you can change their life in some way, everytime you publish something, you’re going to publish something that can build your business and that is gonna make the world a better place in some way as well. That’s why Deacon’s blog is now 700,000 page views a month, that’s why he has a full time income, it’s because he writes with purpose.

Deacon mentioned there HARO. I just wanna mention that again. I’ll link to it in the show notes today., this is a service that will hook you up with reporters, with journalists who are looking for people to quote in their articles. This is what got Deacon on the television, this is what got him featured in a variety of websites. It’s a great service. If you are looking to build your audience through mainstream media, you might wanna check that one out.

The last thing I’ll just emphasize there is something that we’ve heard numerous times over this series already. I didn’t really intend for us to go down this path. I didn’t realize how many people are gonna say the same thing but narrow down your focus, narrow down your niche. He said he went from 40 categories to 3. I think that is really well worth saying. I think that this is a really good tip not only for new bloggers but for established bloggers as well. This is an advice that we’ve heard from our tech bloggers in Episode 222, we saw it in the Orlando dating ideas blogger that we had in 226, episode 226, and even Kris in the travel episode as well who said, “Think about who you’re not going to serve and be really intentional about just serving a narrow niche of people.” This is great advice.

Really, if you have had a blog for a while now, I wanna encourage you to think about what categories do you have. What are you writing about that’s not getting the traction? Deacon’s advice there was to really think back about what you’re good at. Identify what you’re good at writing about, identify where you are adding the most value to your readers, and focus upon those topics. I’m sure Deacon goes slightly off topic from time to time but going from 40 to 3 categories to me is a really smart move. If you are starting a blog, really think about narrowing that focus down, becoming the expert in a smaller topic. Unless you’ve got a lot of time and energy on your hands, you’re probably going to find a lot more traction doing it that way.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, great advice as well. As we go into 2018, what did you write about last year that really didn’t get the traction and that really didn’t add much value? Maybe you strip out some of those categories for a while and just focus on the things that are really getting the traction. Thank you so much, Deacon, for your story.

I wanna move now to Jim Wang from Jim is another person that I met this year in Dallas and we actually rode mechanical bulls together. But that’s a whole other story. I’ll leave you to go for a hunt for the video evidence of that. I think you’ll find it in my Instagram account if you really are desperate but we had a great time in Dallas. Jim has got a great story, well, some similarities with Deacon’s story as well. He’s obviously a finance blogger too but I’ll hand it over to Jim and then I’ll wrap things up towards the end.

Jim: Hi, my name is Jim Wang, I write Wallet Hacks, It’s a personal finance blog that I started about two years ago and I share the strategies I use to get ahead financially and in life. It’s actually the second blog that I started. I started one in 2004 called Bargaineering, also about personal finance and it grew to a point where I was able to sell it a bunch of years later for a significant sum.

I started blogging back then not because I wanted to start a business but because I just had no idea how to manage my money. I started my first day of work, they handed me this employee manual, I had to make all these decisions about… I have to start at $401k, what do you wanna invest in, here are the fees, it was just a big mess. I thought to myself if I’m having trouble at this, maybe other people are. I’ve always loved the internet. 2004, blogs weren’t really a huge thing. They had only just started becoming popular and I thought to myself, “I can start a blog. It’d be a fun little hobby.” If nothing else, I can connect with other people and we can learn from each other in a way that was better than me just trying to read a manual or read things online not really knowing whether or not I was right or wrong.

My friends, they weren’t really that interested in talking about it. As often as the case, people don’t talk about money in person. But on the internet, you can talk about anything. I thought I’d start a blog, and over time, it sort of grew in popularity. I learned that I was the only one writing about money. I started networking, and emailing, and instant messaging other bloggers. There were maybe around a dozen of us back then. Nowadays, personal finance blogging is huge, there are thousands of blogs out there. Back then, it was a much, much smaller community. We all knew each other, we shared ideas, it was really great.

I just wanted to just learn more and it wasn’t to start a business. When I think back to it, what I’m always grateful for in starting the business is the fact that I started it. Back then, since blogging wasn’t as big, there weren’t a lot of blogs about blogging. Actually, ProBlogger was one of the ones that I read that really gave me the confidence to think, “Hey, you know what, there are people out there doing these things and making a little bit of money.”

If I were to look back and think of some mistakes, it was that I treated it like a hobby for far too long. Started a blog, people started showing up, didn’t really feel like a business so I treated it like a hobby. I didn’t invest in the things that I should have, like investing in technology, investing in people, investing in tools, and all the other things that a business does in order to grow it bigger than a one-man operation. It wasn’t until a couple years into it that I started doing that. It really paid off dividends down the road. If I were to think back to mistakes, it’s really the investment aspect of it.

There are a lot of good things that have happened as a result of starting a blog. First off is that I learned a lot about managing money because I write about it all the time. Our finances are relatively strong as a result of just being responsible. A blog also keeps you accountable to your readers, some who you know and are friends with you in person, some who are complete strangers but it’s all the same. You’re sharing your story and people will call you out if you’re inconsistent or if you’re faking it. That accountability is very honest and very good.

The other good thing is that when I started the blog, I was working a corporate job full time. Now, I work for myself running Wallet Hacks and that’s in part because I start a business and it gave us the financial freedom to build or pursue the things that we want. That’s always floating out there for folks that are wanting to start business. If you reach success, that’s a good thing because that means you can focus more of your time and energy on this.

A lot of folks will say, “Well, I start a blog. I don’t wanna make money. I don’t want it to be about money.” I would say stop thinking about it in those terms. It’s not about making money is bad, making money is a noble good. Think about it like this, if you’re doing this on the side and you really love what you’re doing and your readers really love what you’re doing but you’re not getting paid, you still have to work a job to pay the bills. If this project can earn you a living, that means you can spend more of your time and energy pursuing the things that you enjoy and the things that your readership wants you to pursue. Think about it in those terms and you might not be so worried about making money from your project.

If I were to come up with a tip for new bloggers, it will be just to start. Just get into it, reach out to as many people as you can. You wanna find folks that are roughly at your level in terms of blog knowledge and maturity so that you guys can learn together and grow together, make some of the same mistakes. You wanna reach out to potential mentors that maybe, a year ahead of you, two years ahead of you, in terms of size and development. That way, they can point you in some of the good directions. I would avoid trying to reach out to superstars, in part because they may not remember what it’s like to grow a blog from 0 to 10 people a day to 100 people a day. They may not be current on what the trends are today to grow it to that size.

You wanna kinda build a mastermind group or a little cohort of folks that you can just talk to who are just dealing with the same struggles that you are, that way, you can both commiserate, give each other confidence, and learn from the mistakes that each of you are making. Most importantly is don’t give up. I’ve seen so many blogs over the years, I’ve been doing this since 2004. I’ve seen hundreds of blogs that have started that I thought were really good but for whatever reason, they failed, they stopped. Life got in the way sometimes. They start a family, the hobby time that they had after work or before work that was once there is no longer there. Try to persevere, and if you do, you’ll look back and you’ll be amazed at what you’ve been able to accomplish. Thanks for letting me share my story with you and I hope you learned something from it. Bye.

Darren: That was Jim Wang from Great voice for radio or for podcasting, Jim. Thanks for sharing your story. A few things there in Jim’s story. Again, some similarities, I guess, in terms of why he started blogging to Deacon. But I really wanna draw out what he was talking about with the mistakes that he made of treating it as a hobby for too long and not investing into the business as if it was a business. This really echoes from my story as well. For me, first couple of years of my blogging, it was a hobby, and I treated it maybe as a business one day but I didn’t actually treat it as a business today. Really for me I saw exactly the same thing when I started to treat my blog as a business and invested more time and started to invest a little bit of money into the business, it really did pay off for me.

I wouldn’t suggest you invest tens of thousands of dollars from day one but begin to think about investing and getting serious about your business. It’s more of the intent and the amount of time, and the intentionality. Writing with purpose as we heard in Deacon’s story. That is part of the investment that you bring, but gradually over time being able to invest in the technology, getting some better tools, and people as well.

This, again, is a great tip for those of you maybe who’ve been blogging for a couple of years now. Maybe not quite getting that traction. Maybe it’s time to begin to ramp things up in terms of some of the investment that you can do because, really for me, for Jim, and for many other bloggers, this is something that we’d look back on with, I guess, gratitude, that we did take those steps, that we pushed rather than just coasted.

Also, just the advice of starting. It sounds like the most simple advice that you can give someone. But so many people need to hear that advice. Maybe you’ve been thinking about having that blog for a long time. This is the moment to really do that, to get started, make a commitment to do that. This is a great time to do it because we’ve got this opportunity of the course that’s gonna walk you through it.

I do wanna, I guess, offer you an extra little opportunity for those of you who are thinking about starting a blog. Jim’s advice there is to get a cohort, to get a group of people around you, and to work with people at your own level. That’s a very powerful tip and many people try and reach out to the superstar blogger in their niche. That’s not always the best person to help you. Because, as Jim says, they are on a different level. But they are also getting pitched a lot of times everyday. They’re hearing from a lot of people who want their help. You’re much more likely to get help from people at your own level or people just ahead of you.

As part of our Start A Blog course, we wanna give you an opportunity to get together with a cohort of people at the same level as you. We’re actually starting a Facebook group purely for people who are starting a blog. We’ve got a Facebook group for those of you who are already going. If you haven’t joined that already, just do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Community. You’d find a cohort of, I think, we’re up over 10,000 bloggers now who are blogging already but we wanna start a smaller group just for people working through the Start A Blog course. If you sign up for the Start A Blog course which is completely free, just go to, we will send you some details. And as part of that, you’ll also get an invitation to the Start A Blog Facebook group as well.

That will be a place where we can work through the course together, where you can ask questions, where you can interact with other bloggers at a similar level to you, and also you can make suggestions on how we can improve that course along the way as well. Because this is the first version of it, and we do want to continue to improve it and make it better, and better, and better.

We already had, as I’m recording this in December, this is going live on the 4th or 5th I think of January. This is going on the 4th.. Even at two weeks before this episode goes live, we’ve already have almost 500 people sign up for the course. There’s gonna be a lot of people going through it together. The advantage of that is that we’re gonna be able to promote each other’s blogs. That’s what we want this group to be about as well. It’s not just about the learning together but we’re also gonna try and find some creative ways of promoting each other’s brand new blogs.

We wanna help you not only to set up your blog, but we wanna help you to find some readers for that blog through this process. One of the ways that we’re gonna do that is through the Facebook group where you have opportunity to share your blog with the rest of the community and perhaps even begin to link to one another.

Thanks for listening today. Thanks so much to Deacon, to Jim, for sharing your stories, very inspirational there. I hope those of you who are wanting to start a finance blog have appreciated that but also others of you as well. We’ve got three more stories coming up, one tomorrow, one on the 5th of January, we’re gonna hear from someone who’s got a completely different niche. I’ve never even knew that there was a blog on this particular topic, voice coaching. That blogger has an interesting story to tell, you’re actually gonna hear a little bit of singing in that episode as well.

Next week, we’ve got two more bloggers as well. We’ve got another tech blogger story. Then we’re gonna hear from a blogger who is writing another slightly unusual topic. I didn’t know there were blogs about it but it’s a blog for women who live on islands. They’re the three upcoming episodes before we get this course launched. Again, if you wanna start back at the start of the series of bloggers stories, go back to to hear the first in the series and there’s been quite a few since. Thanks for listening today. Today’s show notes are at Thanks for listening, chat tomorrow.

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The post 229: 2 Finance Bloggers Share their Tips for Building Blogs from Hobby to a Full Time Business appeared first on ProBlogger.

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How to Find & Eliminate 90%+ of Click Fraud in the Google Display Network

Originally published on:

Believe it or not, click fraud in PPC marketing really does exist.

Unfortunately, every display ad network on the planet has fraudulent website placements designed to drain ad budgets from unsuspecting advertisers. You need to get these placements out of your campaigns so your money is spent on clicks that actually do something for your business!

In my article today, I’ll show you how to find the sites responsible for most of the click fraud in your Google Display Network campaigns, plus share some concrete steps you can take to eliminate it.

Finding the Click Fraud in Your Google Display Campaigns

To find the fraudulent display ad clicks you’re paying for, go to “Display campaigns” à “Display Network” à Placements.

Here you’ll see all the websites in the Google Display Network that yielded one or more impressions.

how to eliminate display network click fraud

First notice that the display ads here are showing up on 48,639 different websites:

click fraud in the display network

And if you look at the sites that are generating spend and conversions, you’ll notice that most of them are fake websites.

Take for example “” (link omitted intentionally). This site has spent $139.58 to drive 251 clicks, 22 conversions at an average cost of $6.34 per conversion cost – which is an amazing conversion rate of 8.76%!

display network placements

This sounds fantastic! Almost too good to be true.

And guess what? When you look at the site that drove all the conversions, you see that it’s a fake site.

This website isn’t a real website that people actually visit – it was designed specifically to drain budgets.

How to Identify a Fake Website

Here are the tell-tale signs of a fake website:

Extremely thin content Employs a template with little customization Domain registered in the last few days Unusually high number of ads per page

Take a look at our #1 conversion driver:

fake website click fraud

Does it seem likely that this website drove 22 conversions at an 8.76% conversion rate?


Or how about this one?

display click fraud

Totally fake. You get the idea.

These are not highly effective premium display network sites. It’s just click fraud.

How Fake Sites Pull Off Click Fraud

Here’s how these sites work: First, they employ bots to visit your site, so that they can trigger your remarketing ads. Next, the operators of these sites don’t just click on your ads, they also employ people and/or bots fill out your landing pages, to generate fake conversions.

Why on earth would a bot go through the trouble to register a fake conversion on your site?

It’s because Google’s automated bid algorithms allocate even more traffic to these fake sites, if it believes that they are high performers (thank you, machine learning!!).

It’s a vicious cycle.

What can be done?

Dumb Spam Reduction Idea: Exclude Placements

The conventional wisdom around eliminating spam placements on the GDN is to exclude them manually by adding them to an exclusion list, like this:

excluding display network placements

The problem with this approach is that it’s a suicide mission.

Remember, in this example, there were 48,639 different placements to review and more than 90% of them were fake.

That will take forever – I know this because I’ve tried:

display campaign placement exclusions

But worse, even after combing through the entire list, thousands of new fake sites keep showing up in your placement report every month.

So, what should you do?

Stop using automatic placements!

Rather than trying to manually exclude potentially millions of random sites in the GDN, it’s much easier to just be explicit and hand-pick a few dozen or hundred sites that you know are real – like or or (etc.) – legitimate sites and that real people actually visit (i.e. they are not just made for bot traffic!).

Using Managed Placements in the Google Display Network

To explicitly specify a list of websites you’d like to have your display/remarketing ads show up on, go to “Display Network” à “Targeting” à “Placements” à “Add Multiple Placements” and add your list of websites.

control click fraud

Important note: Make sure to choose “Target and bid” which ensures your ads only show up on the websites you specified.

Finally, make sure you un-select the “Let AdWords automatically find new customers” option, which is selected by default.

aggressive targeting on display network

Otherwise, Google will automatically try to find conversions on all those sites you were trying to exclude in the first place.

How to Find a List of Managed Placements

For starters, don’t use the display planner tool. Why? Because it’s just an index of the millions of sites in the GDN, which includes a considerable number of fake sites!

using managed placements on the google display network

Instead use a tool like SEMrush to search for sites by topic. It shows you the most linked-to sites, which are more likely to be real than most listings in the Display ad planner.

most linked to sites

How to Defeat the Bots & Stop Paying for Fake Clicks

Let’s recap.

Spam sites can suck up tons of clicks and spend from your display ad campaigns, because they register fake conversions, which Google’s algorithms reward by serving your ads there even more.

The solution is to try to never place your conversion pixel on an “easy” conversion, like a lead form, which can be easily faked by a bot.

Instead, only fire your conversion pixel if you’re darn sure that a real conversion has occurred – for example, if a sale has occurred and you’ve billed the customer’s credit card.

Alternatively, if you are collecting leads, fire the conversion pixel on some lower-funnel activity, like activating their trial subscription.

Closing Thoughts

By making this the one small change, we:

Reduced fake conversions and costs by 90% Dramatically improved sales productivity: They were initially upset due to loss of leads, but later warmed up to the change when they realized they could make the same number of sales in 1/10 the time (due to not having to chase fake leads). Got much more accurate campaign data: The true campaign performance metrics were worse than we originally thought (since both CTR and conversion metrics were artificially inflated by bots); however, it led us to realize that our ads and landing pages were actually under-performing, so we made some big changes there, too.

Make the changes described in this tutorial to ensure that your valuable display ad budget only gets served to the best (real) sites in the ad network!