Making Project Wonderful Work for You

A few months back, in my blog about “Getting the Digital Word Out” about your comic (or book or ebook or magazine or whatever), I discussed a nifty site called Project Wonderful.

I’ve had a few requests for more info about how to use the PW site to share ads for your comic or book or website, and even host ads on your own website, so here’s my take on how to best use it.

First, Give Readers a Place to Go

You need a website where you’re selling you comic or books, sort of your headquarters. This is the web address you’ll use for all your ads.

But if you don’t have a site yet, go to WordPress and make one for free, or use some other site to get youtself up and running.

Are You an Advertiser or a Publisher, or BOTH?

To get started with Project Wonderful, you’ll need to register at the site. Then you can create ads promoting your comics (as an advertiser) or host ads on your website (as a publisher).

Or you can do like we do for IN MAPS & LEGENDS and do both — check out the two spots we have set up for Project Wonderful ads under “Sponsors” at the bottom of our MAPS site (be sure to disable any ad-blocking software you may have running).

MAPS skyscraper ad

In PW’s words: “Let’s say you’re an advertiser, and you want to put your ad on a site. To do this, you place a bid in that site’s auction, which is done by telling us what you want to pay, and when you want to pay it.”

We’re advertisers on PW for the most part — we’re trying to get our various ads listed on like-minded, similar websites, so we bid on the opportunity to run our ads on those sites. Yep, it’s like an auction. Highest bidder gets to run his or her ad at the selected site for two weeks (if you’re paying a daily rate) or two days (if your bid was $0).

As for publishers, PW says: “As a publisher, you decide how and where want ads to appear on your site. You can choose the type of ads you want (graphical, text, animated, static) and their size (banner ads, skyscraper ads, and so on).”

So, if you wanna be a publisher, you’ll be hosting a range of ads at your own website, and people will be bidding for the option to run their ads on your site. As your site gets more hits, the amount of money people will pay you to run those ads goes up.

All you have to do is follow a few steps and embed some code generated by PW into your site, and you’re ready to host some ads.

About Those Ads…

MAPS button ad

Ads come in all sizes, and the focus here is on eye-catching, not squint-inducing. You may not get much text at all, unless you go big, like with a banner. Ads range in size from a 117×30 pixel “button” (pictured on the right) to a 160×600 “skyscraper” ad.

This page lists the various ad sizes. Of course, the bigger the ad, the more you may have to pay to run it at someone’s site. Just make sure people can read any text on your ad, and try to make the ad “pop” on a site that may be filled with other ads.

But… there are ways around that whole paying-for-your-ads thing.

Getting Your Ads Out There (as an Advertiser)

MAPS square ad, with animation!

You can set up graphic ads of all sizes to run on participating Project Wonderful sites, such as other comics sites or writing sites, and people can click the ads to come to your site.

Some ads cost a tiny bit per day, but the cool thing is that you can run your ads on many, many sites for free. It takes a bit to figure out the interface, but if you just do some searching and experimenting with bids of $0 for your ad, you can get some free advertising pretty quickly.

How to set up a $0 bid:

  1. At the Project Wonderful site, click Advertising > Find new advertising.
  2. Click the bidding filter and type 0 for both “Current bid” fields, and 0 again for both “Minimum bids” fields. Yes, four zeroes. Don’t worry about “Average historical bid.”
  3. Select in each region from the “Return results meeting these criteria in” drop-down.
  4. Optionally, filter the list of advertisers even more by selecting ad sizes and categories on the sizes and categories tab, as well as tweaking the options on the site description tab. You’ll figure out soon enough which filters you’ll want to use on a regular basis — just experiment and see what results you get.
  5. Click the Search! button.
  6. Now — the fun part. Go through the list of publishers who are looking for ads to run at their site, and bid on each site, one by one. How to bid?
    1. Click the blue text for the name of the site, and that site will display, with a voting pane at the top.
    2. In the $ field, I always type 0 for a free ad (in other words, I don’t want to pay anything to run my ad at this site). You can type any amount, but remember that amount is charged to you every day your ad runs there.
    3. The PW site lets you know immediately if you’ve been outbid, or if you’re the new high bidder. Success!
  7. Continue bidding on ads with as many sites as you want, up to 200 bids total at a time.
  8. If you’re using non-paying bids, remember that those bids only last two days. So after two days, come back and do the whole process all over again. It goes faster the more you do it, I promise!

And That’s It

Want some more help? Here’s the tutorial from Project Wonderful. It’s a great jumping-off point, but it left a little something to be desired for me in the conceptual department.

Every two days I have to go back in and update my bids, but it’s a small price to pay for free ads. It takes me maybe ten minutes now to get 50-60 winning bids in place, and each ad helps spread the word about our comic, one website at a time.

Meanwhile, as a publisher, I set the option to automatically approve bids for the two ads at the bottom of our MAPS site, and I don’t have to do a thing. New ads pop up every few days, paying us a couple pennies each day.

Good luck and happy bidding! Any questions, let me know in the Comments section.

I  hope all  this info helps, and let me know if you have any PW tips to share!As always, if you found this info helpful, you can say thanks by snagging the latest issue of IN MAPS & LEGENDS in pretty much any digital format you’d like.

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13 thoughts on “Making Project Wonderful Work for You

  1. What kind of clickthrough do you get from these free ads though? I imagine they are all low traffic sites, hence the price. Though it’s not costing you money it’s costing you a little time to perform the actual bidding. Are you getting enough in return?

    Just curious. I’ve been running a lot of PW ads recently and trying to figure out the best method for gaining the most new readers for my money.

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    1. It’s not a huge number of clicks (and I don’t have any concrete numbers other than what I can get from a quick glance at Statcounter), but it’s more a way to get the word out, get our comic’s name out there, and see what happens. Lots of comic creators and readers are familiar w/ PW (I believe it was created by a comics person).

      It only cost me about 30 minutes a week, nothing more, so it’s cheaper than buying a $15 ad at TopWebcomics or or other sites. Maybe not as effective as a paid ad, but it’s just another tool to get the word out. From what I’ve heard, Facebook ads aren’t all that effective either, so… Always worth a try.

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    2. I think it varies quite a bit on where you place things. While PW campaigns help you sort of scatter your ad about, I find that most often picking sites that have similar ads/audiences works better. (I notice some sites are markedly higher because we have similar themed works.)

      Do you use Google Analytics along with PW though? PW doesn’t tell you anything except about clickthroughs, but Analytics tells you about how long they spend at your site once there, how many pages they view, and a whole lot more. I have some places that “Look good” from the sense that they drive traffic, but because of an audience mismatch, they often leave after a minute or less, or read just one page.

      I’ve used the Analytics tool to sometimes retain sites that were low traffic generators (because people spend a lot of time on my site once there) . Conversely, I’ve also axed other ads spots for being a poor match.

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      1. SgL – we don’t use Google Analytics, just Statcounter. Honestly, I don’t worry too much about tracking hits and the like — I just try to get our ads on a range of sites — focusing on webcomics, comics, technology, gaming, and books sites (all topics you can filter on in PW).

        I probably don’t spend as much time on promo as I should, but there’s only so much time in the day, and more issues and books and stories to write! 🙂

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  2. Why dont you try guys Project wonderful in your website? We could not also deny that Adsense is better than PW but atleast your earning a little in PW compared to adsense. In my case, I joined both of them and they really works on adding few dollars in my account. Try to use and maximize 5 rectangular adboxes in your site and beloved me , your earning also good espif you have a good traffic in your website. Try it!

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  3. Hey Michael,

    Thank you for posting this article a few years back. I made a 3-part PW tutorial series to help out a friend of mine who was having a tough time starting out, and your work had a huge influence on what I shared with him. Here are the results: http://velvetrasput.info/2014/03/23/project-wonderful-tricks-that-you-probably-didnt-know-about-part-1/

    Anyway, I wanted to give credit where credit was due and to express my gratitude

    Cheers,
    Vas

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  4. I found Project Wonderful so confusing and this explained it PERFECTLY. Thank you. Any thoughts on cheap, not $0, bid strategies for maximum bang for the buck?

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    1. Allen – thanks for the note! I’m glad my blog article helped with PW.

      Unfortunately, I haven’t used PW in the past few years, so I have no suggestions for ya. Take care.

      Mike

      Like

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