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I am back to blogging after a long weekend of being sick. I still managed to attend a writing conference in Boston, since all I had to do was sit there and listen. And listen I did! There were some great speakers, including the guy who wrote this book on Facebook ads. I took tons of notes and even asked a question, which was surprisingly scary, for reasons I may explore in another post (hello imposter syndrome!).
(Note: I definitely recommend his book f you’re not sure how to get started on Facebook ads. For AMS ads, this is the book I’ve read and used to set things up. While these two books aren’t the only resources out there, if you haven’t read any books or blogs on Facebook/AMS ads, then the rest of this post may not make very much sense!)
The thing I circled and highlighted like crazy while taking notes was that no more than 10-15% of sales should be used for advertising. The past few months, I have been running Facebook ads nonstop for my book in a joint YA romance series, and tested a few for my adult romance. I also did a few low-cost paid newsletters for the release of the adult romance, and two more expensive ones for a free run of the YA. In 3 months for all of my books I earned just over $1000 in sales, and I spent $775 on ads.
While investing in advertising is important, it should be pretty clear that spending $725 to make $1000 is not really a good business model. I obviously have other expenses besides ads, so I am still very much in the negative for 2018, despite my ads being “profitable”. This kind of super slim profit margin is not sustainable over a long period of time.
However, I think for a short period of time this kind of extra spending can really help you figure out what is working and what isn’t. This is easier said than done, and I definitely kept spending money on things that didn’t work for way too long.
Why? Because it’s still so unknown. Why does this ad work? Is it the image? Well, here’s the same image with a different audience. Oops, doesn’t work. Holiday weekends can be huge sometimes and others there’s nothing. Random Tuesdays can be amazing for no apparent reason.
I did my best to test a few different variables (audience, image, blurb), but there are so many others that I can’t test for. It can be extremely hard to stop something, even when it’s not making money, for the simple reason that maybe it could tomorrow.
AMS ads have been harder for me to test but they tend to be a little cheaper. One good thing I did was run both FB and AMS for the new romance series. Spending more money? How is that a good idea? When I saw that FB wasn’t giving me the expected results (which shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise since it’s a totally different genre and release schedule) I stopped it and focused on AMS. And wouldn’t you know it, nearly every sale seems to have come from the AMS ad. That is the one nice thing about AMS is that even if the reporting is a little delayed, unlike FB, it can actually tell you what keyword someone clicked on who then bought your book.
The big thing about any advertising that people will talk about it the read through rate for your series. I have one book in a series of 3, and we were all spending what we could on our own books. For the month of June, we will be joining forces financially to focus on promoting book 1. We looked at the numbers and our read through looks pretty good. So we have stopped all other ads except for those on book 1. While we might get a little less in sales, the profit margin will hopefully be higher for all of us.
A few final takeaways from the conference and looking at my own data:
3 day maximum for Facebook ad tests. I have enough data to know what CPC rates I could be getting. If it’s above that, I need to stop it and go back to the cheaper ones. This is the hardest thing for me to do, but looking back at what I’ve spent so far, $5 a day can quickly turn into the price of a new book cover! So for every bad ad I stop, I’ll tell myself that’s $5 I can use to do something else.
Frequency is important, but not the most critical. Look at how long your ad has been running. Don’t instantly worry if you see a frequency over 2. If someone saw your ad twice in 6 months, that’s probably okay. If it’s only been running a week and it’s at 2, then that’s probably getting annoying for the audience.
Keep trying AMS ads. With a small budget they cost less than $1 a day. $30 is the 10% of $300 in sales I’m supposed to be aiming for, instead of the $150 for a month of Facebook ads. If I make less than $300 in June, then I know I’ll need to figure out something else.
While there is no magic bullet and you just have to keep testing until you find something that works, as soon as you find what isn’t working, stop doing it! It’s so tempting to think that maybe it will just be better tomorrow… but once three or four “tomorrows” have come and gone with no change, it’s time to move on to something else.