Here we go.
When I look at a place to advertise, I look at a few things before I decide to definitely advertise. The cost of the advertising is the last thing on my mind most of the time. So, for example. I hear about a blog that's offering advertising. What is my process before my decision?
I look at their layout first and foremost. You do NOT want to advertise with someone who doesn't have their advertisers as close to the top of their blog as possible. If they're putting advertisers even half way down their blog, I likely will not consider them. The goal in advertising is to get a lot of views on your site, and hope those views get you sales. If their list of sponsors/advertisers is at the bottom... views are going to likely be bad. I learned this the hard way. If views are bad, this means sales will be bad, which also means you've likely just wasted some of your precious hard earned money.
Next I look to see if they offer giveaways. As I've said before. Giveaways are THE best form of advertising a blog can offer. It's that 'In Your Face' form of advertising. Think of it this way. You're looking through a magazine. There are TONS of magazine ads in them, right? But I bet most of you at least glance at them if not read them, right? The only difference to me between a magazine ad and a blog giveaway is that the magazine isn't offering something free... usually. :) And obviously, most magazines get more views than your average blog, but that's beside the point. haha. Anyway. Magazine ads are 'In Your Face' advertising too. Most of the time, you find yourself looking. A giveaway will tell you if that site was worth advertising at or not.
Now, I not only look to see if giveaways are offered, I look at that blog's past giveaway comments. You'd ideally like to see a lot of comments there. A lot of comments is totally your opinion. Everyone is going to think differently on what's a lot and what's not.
Now, if giveaways are not offered, then I will ask the blog owner if they at least announce their new sponsors. If they do not. I will not advertise there. Not usually anyway. If the blog owner doesn't offer giveaways, and isn't even willing to let his/her readers know about the new advertisers, then it's not worth it to me. My goal with advertising is ultimately to get sales. And since nowadays so many people subscribe to people's blogs via Google Reader, Bloglines and other places, the ads are not seen all that often. So, at least by announcing advertisers and doing giveaways, your store will get the attention you want.
This brings me to the most popular question in the advertising category. How do you know when to pull your ad down?
There are a lot of different opinions of this out there. But, since you're on my blog, here is my opinion. If after 30 days you notice you're not getting many views even after your giveaway, and your sales from that site are pretty low. PULL YOUR AD! Sorry for the caps, but I feel like this is so important. So many people think that leaving your ad up for multiple months is the only way to get sales and get yourself known. I could not disagree more! Why spend your money on a blog that's only giving you maybe 1 sale a week and is not bringing you many hits/views? The first month of advertising is key. That is when you will normally do your giveaway, be announced, etc etc. That's when you're "fresh meat". Sorry for the lame term, but it's true. ;) Now, if you're still getting several sales a week and quite a few hits a week several days/weeks after your giveaway, then make your decision from there. I will pull my ad after 30 days without a thought if my views and sales are bad with that site. It's business, and you have to think about what's best for you. Plus, you'll be able to try another place to advertise. Also remember... Hits on your site don't mean much of anything if they're not generating sales. You could be getting 50 million hits on your site, but getting 0 sales. So to me, hits are a great way of knowing how many are visiting, but that doesn't mean sales are going to happen.
Now, once you've established or feel you've established yourself with advertising, do you stop? No way!! Keep on advertising! There are an endless amount of places to advertise out there. The sky is the limit. Now, if you want to keep your business at a slow pace, definitely don't go advertising at a ton of different places at once. Slowly branch out to new places as you feel comfortable.
So go on... advertise yourself! You'll likely be glad you did.