It's easy, lazy and super convenient to join an advertising network such as Google AdSense or Media.net or something similar. You can create an account in minutes, get ads immediately and see earnings within a week or so. It's boring and anyone can do it. But if your site is big enough from the get-go it may be easy money and work fine for your purposes.
The real fun starts when you sell your own ad spaces. That leaves you in control and with AdRotate and AdRotate Pro you can easily manage which advert goes where and for how long. You make the rules and, within reason, you decide what happens. And that's not a bad thing at all.
Why sell adverts if I can use something like Adsense
As mentioned, advertising networks are 'effortless'. Tell the network what you have to offer, they give you bits of code that you can easily manage with AdRotate or AdRotate Pro. Meanwhile they do some metric-magic-nonsense and poof, adverts appear. If you're lucky, money follows after a few days or weeks and once you've saved up a few bucks (Usually about $50-65USD) you get paid.
It is that simple. And in practice that's pretty much how it should happen. But unfortunately that's not always the case.
Take Google AdSense as an example
Google AdSense is the biggest, best and worst ad network in the world. They have the most ads available, and usually something relevant for your visitors. It's great! And again, effortless. This effortlessness comes at a cost though. The network takes away a lot of control and freedom from your adverts and by proxy, your website. Some adverts are placed willy-nilly where they think it's relevant and you have no say in where they appear. Sometimes you can't even control how many or how big those adverts are.
In other setups the adverts are blinking, moving or are downright ugly. And you have very little control over that.
And worst of all... If your site is low quality, or you get only a few visitors. You don't get paid. A few pennies per day... It's terrible and absolutely not what you want. Pennies don't pay the rent...
Sell your own ads and get rich quicker
When you sell your own adverts, you make the rules. You set the price. And if you play your cards right you have a semi-fixed income per month or season or whatever timeframe makes sense. Advertisers often pay up-front. A couple of bucks here, several hundred there. It quickly adds up. Some sites charge as low as $50USD/month, others as much as $3500USD/month for a single advert. And anything in between. As long as you bring value to the business that you run the advert for, they'll keep throwing money at you for as long as it makes sense to them.
Realistically you can expect to sell a bunch of adverts, supplement the gaps with adverts from an advertising network and throw in some affiliate ads for good measure and hopefully you'll earn a steady income with potential for growth over time. You just have to find that opportunity.
This means, that there is a great potential for all the pennies per day... And that, does pay the rent.
How to sell adverts from your website
Before you can start selling ad spaces you have to determine what you can and want to sell. Start with figuring out the best locations on your site where you want to place adverts. You also have to figure out what those locations are worth.
With AdRotate and AdRotate Pro you can place adverts pretty much anywhere on your site with widgets, shortcodes or Post Injection. This means that an advert in the header is often easily set up. And ad space in the sidebar is a matter of minutes to set up! And that's a great start.
You can also add PHP code directly in theme files for a deeper integration, but that's optional and often not required.
Once you have ad spaces figured out, you can start selling them. To make this more easy, it is smart to set up a page selling your ad spaces. Pages like this often include some stats about how many visitors per month or week your website attracts. It can be beneficial to include some graphs to look more convincing. And it is important to make a clear description of the ad spaces that you have available. Include things like the size, exact location, how many adverts can go there, etc.
And, perhaps most important, you need a hassle free way for businesses to contact you.
Affiliates are barely worth it
But they are worth it... Sometimes. For example - if you happen to recommend a ton of products that are available through Amazon. Become an Amazon affiliate. Earn those percentages with your reviews and recommendations.
But keep in mind, not every affiliate program pays money. Some give you services, like Dropbox does. They give you free storage space. Which is nice, but it doesn't pay the bills...
There are thousands of affiliate programs to find and check out, many businesses have some kind of compensation plan in exchange for customers.
Who wants to advertise on your site
This depends on what kind of content and website you run. But generally you should look for businesses that have something your visitors want or may be interested in.
If you sell air conditioning units you may want to talk to your distributor or talk to businesses that install AC units and have them advertise on your site with relevant services or products that benefit your customers.
If you write about food and cooking. Talk to restaurants or grocery stores and such and show them how relevant their ads are for your visitors. Car blogs probably want to advertise dealerships, accessories and other car related products and services. So look for companies that can provide that. And so on...
How you'd approach those businesses is up to you. You can sit and wait for phone calls to come ringing, but you can also contact them and be pro-active. Discuss what you have to offer, hear what they have to say and formulate a strong sales pitch as you go along.
How much should I charge
How much do you want or need to earn? Try to put a value on your ad spaces and determine the price based on that. More visible locations are worth more. More popular pages are worth more. Less visible locations and less visited pages are worth less. But also consider your websites brand and popularity.
Another strategy is to sell impressions, where the advert is disabled once it's been shown a number of times on the site. You can also sell clicks, but that's a bit old fashioned these days.
So should you use an advertising network or sell your own adverts? It depends on how much effort you want to put in. But it also depends on how quickly you can expect a return.
If you manage to sell a bunch of adverts yourself you have cash in hand quicker than with a network.
The best option probably is to use a bit of everything and along the way figure out which route works best for you and your wallet.