Today I have interviewed Todd Garland from BuySellAds.com. Todd is the founder of BuySellAds, and has worked on many other web projects. BuySellAds is an advertising network that makes it easy for both publishers to sell ads, and advertisers to purchase ad spots. Its a win win situation. Publishers just sign up, register their site, create their ad placements and insert the code within their website, and BuySellAds sells their adverts, so publishers can focus more on site content. Todd has worked very hard to make BuySellAds what is is today, so read below to find out about Todd’s story.
Ps – Even we use BuySellAds! Check out our page, more ad spots coming soon!
Let’s see… well, I’m 28, happily married, I have a trusty dog, and I live in Boston. I’m from Maine originally, and I once lived in Porto Alegre, Brazil for a year. If I’m not in front of the computer you can usually find me relaxing with my wife and family. I really love to surf, but we just don’t have easy access to good waves here in Boston. Before BuySellAds.com I was Lead Designer and SEO Guru at HubSpot.com (hubspot.com), an internet marketing company. And before HubSpot I was a partner at a Boston based interactive agency Mindfire (mindfire.com). I love startups, and I love trying to build stuff that is actually useful. There’s no greater reward than being able to make a person’s life easier with a software app or interaction.
My job at BSA is to make sure that people are happy, that we continue to grow, and that we are constantly providing value for our users. In terms of actual day-to-day tasks it’s really just about managing the business. I interact with users daily through escalated support cases, coordinate development efforts with our lead engineer, work on development spec’s and design for some projects we have in the works, interface with advertisers directly and create custom proposals, etc. So while the site does run itself pretty well, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make a users experience *special*. We’re really trying to push the envelope on some new development efforts and we’re not on cruise control by any means. I can’t wait for the day when I can finally go to bed at a normal hour.
I started BSA because I was frustrated. I was running two design related sites as a hobby, and selling and buying ads for those sites. The entire buying and selling process took way too long and was really inefficient. A solution like BSA didn’t exist for me (a small to medium sized publisher). Sure, there were ad networks like AdBrite.com, but I thought that I could do it better. I also didn’t have any money at the time, and saw this as an opportunity to make at living at something I am truly passionate about.
The initial site development took roughly 6 months if I remember correctly. I had been working on it off and on, and not full time, but from initial commitment to the idea until it was essentially ready to launch was roughly 6 months. As simple as the site may appear, the entire payment processing, ad serving, etc, was actually hard to get *right*. That was the first version of BSA. The second version, which was a complete re-write from scratch (crazy, I know), actually only took about 4 months and a decent amount of that time was in making sure that we were able to transition from the old version to the new version while re-architecting the entire system.
I took a grass-roots approach. I contacted site owners who I had known from running my other two sites. That and I just did good honest business. The initial approach was to just earn peoples trust, make them more money (which was easy because they had awesome websites), and continue to improve the BuySellAds.com site. Keep in mind, all of these people are trusting us with their money, so it’s important that we do this right. The other way we attracted people was by having a reasonable commission structure, no other ad network can boast a 25% commission fee that includes any and ALL related fees (credit card processing fees, PayPal fees, payment fees, etc). I think it also helps to have a personality and be a real person too, which can be rare online sometimes. The thing about BSA is that we actually do care and are trying to create long term relationships with our users. Being a real person online goes a long way these days. We can also make our publishers more money and put higher quality and better targeted ads on their site than most ad networks. Quality is definitely one of our advantages.
I think it depends who you talk to. In our case we are young, growing strong, and haven’t noticed any slowdown from the recession. But if you look at someone on a larger scale like DoubleClick or AdSense they’re definitely feeling some pain as evidenced by Google’s Q1 revenues. The internet as a whole, yeah, I’m sure that sales are down in general, but I actually think it’s a good thing. It forces us to really focus and figure out new opportunities. It forces advertisers to get smarter, and ad networks to innovate.
Our plan is to keep pushing. There is still a lot of opportunity for us in the web design and development space. Some other verticals in our network have started to grow a little bit, but we’re still focused on the web design and development niche. We’re continuously improving our application, and working on ways to innovate in our space. There are some projects we’ve had in the works since launching version 2 of the app in April, and we’re just now getting close to launching some of these efforts. There is also something particularly interesting that will be launched in a couple sprint’s that people should look out for, too.
Do what you do best, write content that drives readership and improves your site. Let people like us at BuySellAds.com do your dirty work and handle your advertising. Any time spent managing advertisers, responding to requests, etc. is time that could be better spent creating new content. We’re at a point now where we can really leverage the reach of our network and provide larger advertisers with decent volume. Chances of them reaching out to you directly isn’t big. Additionally, I have always been a firm believer that you need to build up your readership before you start selling ads. If you start selling ads from day 1 you’re not going to earn their trust and respect as easily if there are no ads on the site. Once you have “proven” yourself to them and earned their reader loyalty, chances are we can then add value to your site by putting quality advertisers on there for you.
The absolute best way to add value for advertisers is to continue to publish great content that attracts more visitors to your site who might click on their ads. And, remember, it’s not just about clicks, it’s about conversions. So, you want to be sure that you are writing quality articles that attract new readers for your site and not a bunch of stumbles or a bunch of half page loads from being on the Digg front page. I would also recommend that they too check out what their advertisers have to offer. Since I monitor all of the ads that are sold at BSA this is often how I find out about cool new products that I might be interested in using myself. Test out their products, and if you like them, write a review or give them a shout-out or something.
Today, I am giving away Web Design Riches, the ultimate guide on how to run a profitable web design business. Enter your name and email below to get instant access.