I’d like to introduce a fellow blogger and finance guru who owns The Ways To Wealth, R.J. Weiss! R.J. and I met recently as both of our websites crossed paths, as we talked I learned that R.J. has successfully run Facebook Ad campaigns for his website (he’s spent over $90k in Facebook ads). I asked R.J. to share his journey with Facebook ad’s and information that readers can use to start their own successful campaigns.
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R.J., take it away!
I started The Ways To Wealth on August 26, 2016. Like most blogs, I got off to a slow start.
I didn’t have much of a strategy. And with no strategy came little traffic. In the image below, you can see the traffic has been on The Ways to Wealth from the beginning. It wasn’t until May 2017 that I started to get some serious traffic.
After a few months of struggle, I started to figure out Pinterest. I then launched my first Facebook traffic ad on October 6th, 2017. As you can see, this is where the blog took off.
All the while I had some big changes happening in my life.
For 10 years I had worked at one company– an insurance and financial services company. In early 2017 the decision was made to sell the company. So, it was decision time. I had a job with the large public company that was acquiring us. Or, I could give this blogging thing a real-shot. I chose the later. September 30th, 2017 was my last day.
I have an income report posted for September of 2017, which shows I brought in over $3,000 that month. While I was proud of what I accomplished, this amount of money couldn’t support my family long-term. I needed to find a way to increase the income I was earning fast.
That’s where Facebook Ads comes in.
I started with Facebook Ads in October of 2017. That first month was a lot of learning, testing, and setting systems and procedures. In November of 2017, TW2W brought in $10,153.20 in revenue while spending $3,436.32 on Facebook Ads.
A net income of $6,716.88 (before other expenses such as hosting, email software, etc…).
This was the exact type of jump I needed (and my wife as well) to know that I had made the right choice–foregoing a steady salary to run The Ways to Wealth full-time.
From here, things really got interesting. In January of 2018, my fourth month running Facebook Ads, revenue minus ad costs was $11,475.4 (see the income report). As of November 1st, 2018, I’ve spent over $93,000 on Facebook.
A Missed Opportunity
Many blogs forego growing their blog using Facebook ads. Instead, they focus all their efforts on free traffic sources like SEO and Pinterest. As The Ways to Wealth is my primary source of income, I view it as a business. As such, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I should and shouldn’t do. As a business, if I wasn’t running Facebook Ads, I would be missing a great opportunity to grow.
And that doesn’t mean I forego other sources of traffic like Google and Pinterest. Actually, I spend a lot of time growing these channels.
It does mean that I see Facebook Ads as a traffic source more bloggers can consider.
Is it right for you? Let’s get into the details…
Launching Your First Facebook Traffic Ad
Step # 1 – Understand Your Monetization Strategy
The idea with Facebook Traffic Ads is to put $1 in and receive more than $1 back. In other words, you’re optimizing for profit or ROI. How you do that will depend on how you monetize your website.
I like to divide my different monetization strategies into two buckets:
- Short-Term (Less than 30-Days)
- Long-Term (Greater than 30-Days)
My goal is to make a short-term profit, i.e. for every dollar I spend on advertising I’m seeing an immediate positive return. Plus, I use Facebook Ads to help generate a long-term profit. For example, to build my email list.
My short-term buckets consist of:
- Advertising revenue
- Affiliate revenue
My long-term buckets consist of:
- Growing my email list
- Growing traffic to attract more partnership opportunities
For example, one campaign I run is 65 Hobbies That Make Money.
If you take a look at the post, you’ll find both short and long-term monetization strategies.
For example, Survey Junkie is a (Cost Per Acquisition) offer. All someone has to do is sign up through my link for my site to earn a commission.
I’ve found these quick type actions earn a decent EPC (Earnings Per Click).
On the other side, you’ll see long-term strategies as well.
Another example, signing up for my free course on rewards travel doesn’t generate immediate revenue. However, this builds a targeted email list of people who are interested in rewards travel.
This is a very valuable target market. Although, it may be a full-year before a person generates revenue.
Step # 2 – Using Data To Decide What To Post
When deciding on what post to use I find it best to work backwards. What’s impossible is to make a post popular that nobody is interested in. That’s why it’s best to start with posts on your website that are already generating good traffic.
Here are three places to look for potential posts:
Option # 1 – Using Click Through Data From Your Facebook Posts
This is by far my favorite way to see what posts I should and shouldn’t advertise.
Step # 1 – Go To Your Blog’s Facebook Page
Head over to your blog’s Facebook Page
Step # 2 – Click The People Reached Link
One any of your posts, click the number of people reached:
Step # 3 – Reviewing Performance of Post
Once you click the link, up will pop up the performance of the post. Since the goal is traffic to your website, what you’re looking at is the amount of people reached compared to the number of clicks to your website:
So, for this particular post, my CTR is 122/1,847 or 6.6%.
Step # 4 – Record CTR (Click Through Rate) In Excel Spreadsheet
Now go through all your Facebook posts and record the CTRs in a spreadsheet.
(Don’t bother recording if the CTR is really low).
The goal is to identify the organic posts on your Facebook Page that generated the highest CTR to your website. I’ve found the magic number to be around 8%. If it’s 8% or above it’s worth testing.
This may be different for you though based on the size and mix of your Facebook Page’s audience. That’s why it’s important to record and compare CTRs from different posts on your blog. Ideally, you’ll have 3-5 ads that really stood out among the others.
Option # 2 – Using Google Analytics or Social Media Share Counts
Another option, while not as precise, is starting with your most popular posts according to Google Analytics. It’s your most viewed posts that people have gone out of their way to read. As such, they probably have a few characteristics that make for good campaigns:
- Valuable content that people want to read
- Have been shared by others
- Quality headline
Understanding Facebook’s Guidelines
In order to develop a sound Facebook Ads strategy, it’s important to understand what you can and can’t do. Facebook has very specific guidelines about what they allow.
These are known as Facebook’s Advertising Policies. You’ll want to get familiar with these policies.
Many people have gotten their account banned not following Facebook’s rules. In many cases, their businesses vanished overnight as they had no other source of traffic. Many others have gotten suspended (myself included) for a short-period of time. This isn’t fun and it takes some work to recover from.
A few things I’ll highlight here:
- Many markets are simply not allowed. These include unsafe supplements, cryptocurrencies, payday loans, MLM, and
- You can not make unrealistic claims inside your ad. For example, the ad that got my account suspended was this post on “33 Legit Online Jobs Where You Can Make $40,000 Or More A Year From Home”. Facebook considered the disclaimer $40K per year a red flag and suspended my account.
- You can not use an image in your ad with greater than 20% text. Tip: If you’re using text, before you publish the ad, check to see if the image qualifies with Facebook’s Text Overlay Tool.
- Facebook doesn’t want its users thinking their personal information is exposed. As you’ll learn, there are ways to reach very specific groups of people on Facebook. However, you don’t want to freak people out by being too specific in your copy.
To summarize, read the guidelines, avoid the big mistakes I listed, focus on offering value, and your account will be fine.
Step # 3 – Launching Your Campaign
Now that you have a few posts to test, you can launch your first campaign. There are dozens of different choices you have when it comes to launching your campaign. What you choose, depends entirely on your goals. As my goal is traffic, whenever I create a campaign I optimize for landing page views.
Under the Quick Creation Option, this would be traffic:
Creating The Adset
Once the campaign is launched, I’ll create an adset. I start my campaigns with the following:
- $5.00 daily budget
- Audience: 2% lookalike of visitors of that specific page
- Automatic placements
- Optimized for landing page views
- No bid-cap
Create the Ad
If I’m using a previous organic post that did well on my Facebook page, I’ll just insert the Post ID to create the ad. What’s nice here is the previous likes and comments are included in the ad, which adds social proof.
If not, I’ll create an ad from scratch.
From there, I’ll launch the ad the next day at 12:01. This gives the ad a full day to run.
Step # 4 – Testing the ROI
The KPIs of my ads are:
- The cost per landing page view
- Revenue per view
While Facebook gives you the cost per landing page view, calculating your revenue per visitor (RPV) is more difficult and depends on your monetization method. In my case, I monetize with both advertising and affiliate revenue. Revenue earned from advertising is fairly simple to calculate.
Advertising Revenue = Revenue Per Session * Landing Page Views
The affiliate tracking can get more complex. I track both EPC (Earnings Per Click) and Total Revenue Per Visitor of each affiliate. Earnings per click are tracked through sub ids through the different partners I have. I also track total revenue per visitor for the specific affiliate.
The combination of these two allows me to know which affiliates are working for that specific campaign.
Step # 5 – Testing the Ad
With proper testing, you can lower your ad costs over time. There are two ways to do this:
- Optimize your ad
- Make your content easier to share
When it comes to ad optimization, you want to test different elements of your ad. If one ad performs better than the other, you’ll then want to scale that ad, while pausing the other.
On a weekly basis, I alternate between testing:
While Facebook allows you to do this with dynamic testing, I’ve found the easiest way is to create a separate adset for each test. The key is only testing one different variable at a time. When you test more than one, you won’t know for sure what made the specific ad a winner (or loser).
The other tip to lowering your ad costs is to make your content shareable. You definitely want to cover the basics such as having proper share buttons on your site. But the best way to do this is to write something that’s valuable for a specific type of person.
For example, a campaign I did for ways to make money for people who love to read did well because a lot of people have a friend that loves to read. In the post on hobbies that make money, I share a tip for people who love beer.
When creating my content, I try to think of not only the reader but the type of friends the reader has. Having a post that’s not only valuable to the reader but to the readers friend (and is therefore shared) is how to keep costs down.
Are Facebook Ads Right For You?
Facebook Ads have helped me grow The Ways to Wealth faster than I expected. However, I still don’t believe they’re for every blog.
As I ran digital marketing for the company I worked at, I had a fair amount of experience running ads, split-testing, landing page optimization, etc…
Even with this experience, there was a long learning curve with Facebook Traffic Ads. More so, Facebook Ad costs have trended up and look to stay that way. I’m paying nearly double on a lot of campaigns than I was a year ago.
Last, if you’re considering Facebook Ads, expect to lose money upfront. Or maybe better stated, you should have money to lose. Not only do you have to pay for ad costs upfront, but affiliates may also take 90 days or longer to pay you. If you’re relying on your blog for income, this creates a very difficult cash flow situation.
The good news is you can start very small and increase only when it makes sense. From there, continue to optimize and only scale when you have a positive ROI. Good luck!
(Have a question? Let me know in the comments)