How to sell beats with Google Ads—my personal journey. with selling beats via Google Ads began in June 2018. I had just quit my office job, finally fed up with the 9-5 grind and seeking new ways to generate money by selling my beats ASAP.
At the time, I was desperately trying (and failing) to find ways to market my beatstore that I had just freshly created. I’d tried everything to make that first beat sale:
- Spending hours messaging artists on SoundCloud, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Uploading beats to YouTube, hoping visitors would click “buy” in the description.
- Trying to understand Google’s organic SEO ranking system so my website would appear first in searches for keyphrases like “rap beats for sale.”
None of these strategies worked. DMing artists proved extremely time-consuming, and I was unable to scale. Despite my efforts to optimize keywords and metadata for my YouTube videos, I just wasn’t getting the views, let alone the sales.
As for chasing sales via SEO, in addition to it being overly complicated, if you lack the correct strategy and skillset then it takes forever to move up the rankings.
Exploring Google Ads
However, I then learned about the potential of running Google Ads after speaking to a friend of mine, who shared their own experiences and personal success.
My friend was attempting to get a DIY wedding flower business off the ground. Last I had spoken to him, he had experienced struggles quite similar to my own. Needless to say, when he then pulled up his Shopify dashboard to reveal thousands of dollars worth of sales, I was shocked. What had changed?
I listened in fascination as he explained that after months of trial and error, wasting thousands in the process, he finally figured out the mechanics of running Google Ads. With the code cracked, he successfully scaled his business from zero to five figures within a month. The more he talked, the more my excitement grew.
My Plan of Attack
Personally, alongside my newly unemployed status, I was also facing the obstacles of having no music-industry connections, no social media clout, and nothing else to fall back on if my commitment to selling beats didn’t work out.
I needed a plan of attack. Something to tip the scales in my favour. Otherwise, I’d be returning to a soul-crushing sales job faster than you can say “Drake-type beat.”
So, when I heard of my friend’s success story with Google Ads, I wondered: would this also work when it comes to selling beats?
Well, this article will show you how. But it certainly wasn’t what I expected, and neither was it easy. There were many times along the way that I pondered on giving up my battle with the Google algorithms.
Fortunately, I didn’t. And today, I can proudly say that Google Ads has contributed hugely to the success of my business. I’ve made over $100k in revenue from selling beats, and Google Ads is placed right in the centre of this success. It also helped me reach 1 million plays on BeatStars. Above all else, I’ve avoided returning to a 9-5 job.
Who Am I
My name is Luke, aka. luke4pres. My journey had its fair share of twists and turns. I’ve been many things in my life: a child star by the age of four, and washed-up has-been by the age of eight. Personal trainer, apparel entrepreneur, and most recently, a corporate slave.
Along the way, I fell in love with rap, while also trying to suppress that little voice in my head telling me to channel my creativity into music. Until one day, I couldn’t silence it any longer. I downloaded Logic and was immediately enthralled by the process of making beats. Working a normal job after that didn’t make any sense. I was too obsessed with music to do anything else.
I’ve worked every day since then to build a sustainable beat-selling business, so I could live off my passion and answer to no one. In addition to mastering Google Ads, Robin’s HEATE Academy greatly aided me on this quest, informing me on all of the specifics of selling beats online. Without this resource, I might not be where I am today: making a full time living from selling beats on my website.
I’ve now partnered with Robin and his team at HEATE to share my story and emphasize the important role that digital marketing plays in building a successful beat business.
Selling beats using Google Ads is not easy — that I’ve learned. But hopefully, with this guide, I can share some gems and help you speed up the process of going from ground zero to getting consistent beat sales. At the very least, I can prevent you from making the same (many) mistakes that I’ve made along the way.
How to sell beats with Google Ads: The Basics
Before we dive into the specifics, let’s start with the basics. Google provides you with different ad types to choose from. I’ve tried and tested them all but ultimately, they don’t all work equally well for selling beats. This will become more clear as you read the rest of this guide.
There are three main ways to advertise using Google’s platform:
- Search ads
- Video ads via YouTube
- Display ads
Below, I’ll tell you a little more about each one and give you an example of how you can use them for selling beats.
How to use Google Search Ads for selling beats?
Google search ads are the ads you see at the top of the page whenever you type a search query into Google. Google search ads can be used to rank for highly competitive keywords such as “Drake type beat” or ”Trap Beats”.
You can tell an ad from an organic search result by the emboldened word “Ad” to the left of the URL:
How to use Google Video Ads for selling beats?
Google video ads – also known as YouTube ads — are the ads you see pop up before, during and after a YouTube video. These ads can be used to promote your “type beat” videos to viewers who may be interested in your musicrap music.
You can include a purchase link in the description of these videos, leading people back to your beat store where they can buy the beat from you. Google purchased YouTube in 2006 and has since integrated the video streaming giant into their Google Ads manager. You set up and run YouTube ads directly through the Google Ads dashboard.
How to use Google Display Ads for selling beats?
Google display ads are the image-based ads you may notice off to the side or at the bottom of a webpage that you happen to be visiting. Often they might be advertising items or websites that you have previously visited (also known as retargeting ads).
If you have compelling branding and imagery for your beat-selling business, you can use this to your advantage with Google display ads, enticing people to click and listen to your beats.
Launching my first Google Ads Campaign
I chose to start my Google Ads experience using only search ads, as this was the type of ad that my friend used to grow his wedding flower business. I thought about using YouTube video ads, though I decidedthough decided against it as my channel was still in its early days.
Since I’m selling an audio product, display ads didn’t make much sense either. Unless you’ve been sipping ayahuasca, you probably can’t “hear” images, right?
Also, they don’t let you choose which websites your display ads will appear on, so you’ll just have to trust that Google’s almighty algorithm isn’t showing your trap beats to a suburban soccer mom shopping for candles.
(I’ll note that I have experimented with both video and display ads at certain points in the years since I started using Google Ads, though my initial hunch remains correct.)
Search Ads were the way to go. Time to set up my campaign budget.
In the beginning, I didn’t have much money to invest, but my friend assured me that I could start small and work my way up over time.
In fact — for most paid advertising, including Facebook and Instagram ads, it’s recommended to start with small budgets and scale your budget as you go.
So, on June 15th, 2018 — I prepared my first campaign with the humble budget of $10 a day, instructing Google to send the traffic to my newly-created Beatstars Pro Page website.
I checked if I had everything filled in correctly. Then checked again. And again. And finally, I hit Publish — ready to get those beat sales!
The next day I woke up, eager to see how my ads had performed. I logged into my Google Ads account and found out that I only had 13 clicks and spent over $18 to get them — Definitely not what I expected…
Even worse, I still had zero sales. Not the best start, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I pressed onward.
Selling My First Beat Through a Google Ad
I quickly learned that Google Ads success would not come quickly. It involved an ongoing process of analyzing and optimising campaigns.
In the initial two weeks of my first campaign, I spent a total of $145.66, good for 155 clicks and generating a grand total of… drum roll please…
One single $19.99 sale!
Not exactly what you’d call a slam dunk. But I was undeterred. In fact, I was ecstatic. A human being actually gave me real United States dollars for a rap beat that I made out of thin air!
I had my proof of concept. If one person would pay me, why not 10? 100? 1,000? This could work!
I just had to figure out how to optimize my campaign to become profitable. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, little did I know how difficult that would be…
My first profitable month selling beats with Google Ads
The next month, I watched my campaign closely, adding and removing keywords based on performance data that I received from the Google Ads dashboard. The result was a $314.24 ad spend that generated 395 clicks and six sales, worth $129.94!
Obviously still not in the green, but hey, huge companies like Uber still haven’t turned a profit, so I wasn’t about to give up that quickly.
I kept plugging away, slowly upping my daily budget as more and more sales started to roll in. Then finally, in February 2019, it happened.
Eight months after I started running Google Ads, I had my first profitable month! It may have only been $320, but it might as well have been $1 million.
What did I do differently this month?
Well, in addition to adding bulk deals and an FAQ page to my website, I optimized my Google Ads campaign by adding several negative keywords to prevent “bad” traffic from landing on my site.
Per Google, a negative keyword is a type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase.
For example, I make trap beats. I wouldn’t want someone looking for old school boom bap type beats to find my site. They’d be disappointed with my selection and probably bounce from the site right away, negatively impacting my site’s SEO value in the eyes of Google.
So, I went in and added search terms like “boom-bap beats for sale” to my negative keywords list. I’ve found that doing this periodically really enhances the quality of the traffic that your Google Ads brings in, and increases the chances of getting a sale.
My first profitable month proved to me that it was possible to make money selling beats online with Google Ads. My dream of never having a boss again felt real for the first time.
I finished out 2019 spending slightly more money than I brought in for the year, but I had more than enough data and positive signs to keep going.
The valuable lessons I learned alongside running my Google Ads campaigns
2020 was a good year. Not just for my Google Ads campaigns, but also for learning about the different ways of selling beats. This year, I spent over $35k on Google AdsGoogle ads and profited roughly $15k.
This was also the year I reached 1MM plays on BeatStars.
The year, however, was very inconsistent. Some months, I’d make thousands of selling beats. Other months, it was much less. Possibly could have something to do with the pandemic, but I’m not sure.
The fact that I’m “not sure” is troubling…
I started looking into other ways to sell beats and I reviewed the lessons of The Constant Conversion Strategy masterclass, provided by HEATE. In this course, I learned how to make the most out of the traffic that I was generating and turn customers into returning customers.
As a result, I started seeing more sales coming from returning customers. That’s a good thing. But those sales could no longer be attributed to Google Ads. Basically, I had already paid for acquiring this customer the first time they clicked on one of my ads.
In other words: cross-referencing my monthly BeatStars sales vs. the Ad-spend is NOT the way to run Google Campaigns. For all you know, you could be spending thousands of dollars on ads, while half of your profit could be attributed to other ways your marketing beats.
The BeatStars pixel feature didn’t help out much with that either. Many times, it wasn’t showing the proper data that I needed to analyze my results. Conversion-tracking remains a headache when using Googlegoogle Ads in combination with a Pro Page.
During this year, I’ve gone from spending $70 a day to $200 a day — to eventually reducing it again to $70.
The most valuable lesson I learned from 2020, is that running Google Ads is only a means to boost your traffic. It sure helped me kickstart my business. But if your music isn’t good enough, or — more importantly — your landing pages aren’t optimized to boost sales conversions, it can become a difficult task to manage.
The bottom line is that you need to be very aware of “What” you do with the traffic that you’re paying to bring to your site.
This brings me to the Pros and cons of running Google Ads for selling beats.
The Pros And Cons Of Running Google Ads for Selling Beats
Using Google Ads to sell beats online is a tricky thing to master, even after spending close to three years on the platform. While it’s converting well enough for me to keep it going, the results can be wildly inconsistent from month to month.
Through my daily use of the platform, certain pros and cons have emerged quite clearly:
- It gets you to the top of the Google search results
- Since you can narrow down the keywords, it brings in highly targeted traffic.
- Lots of people who find me from my Google Adsads end up converting to returningreturn customers. Almost 30% of my sales today are from returningreturn customers. When you factor that in, the potentially high cost of Google Ads becomes more palatable.
- Google Ads is still relatively overlooked within the producer community, as more attention goes to Facebook and Instagram ads. Thus, Google Ads provides producers with the opportunity to advertise their beats with less competition than they’d encounter on other platforms.
- The cost can add up fast and it can take several months to break even or turn a profit. This means you need money to simply “buy data” first which you can then use to optimise your campaigns.
- There’s a learning curve to understanding the mechanics behind running Google Ads and optimizing the campaigns. You also need to get in a daily routine of tracking your progress and conversions.
- Accurate conversion tracking can be extremely difficult if you use a platform like Beatstars, which doesn’t allow for the Google Ads pixel to be placed on their sites (Beatstars alternative Soundee might be worth looking into, as they have recently enabled conversion tracking for Google Ads.)
- If you run into any problems, Google Ads support can be both unhelpful and difficult to understand, as most of the reps are based in India. They also tend to encourage changes to your campaign that result in you spending more money, without necessarily bringing better results.
I feel it’s important to weigh these pros and cons carefully before investing a ton of money in Google Ads.
Additionally, I’ll add that Google Search Ads have by far proved the most effective method of driving beat sales out of the three options available.
In my opinion, this is because of how much control you’re offered over your campaign. You can choose the exact keywords that a person must enter in their search to trigger your ad. So if you set it up correctly, Google search ads provide you with hyper-targeted traffic that is literally searching for exactly what you’re selling at that very moment.
Conclusion: Should You Run Google Ads For Your Beat Selling Business?
Despite my ups and downs, I think the answer is yes, but only if you go into it with managed expectations and the right perspective. Hopefully, my story has given you that.
Don’t expect to get sales on day one. Understand that you will most likely spend more money than you make at first. Every entrepreneur goes through that growth phase when they’re first starting out. Remember, it took me several months to finally turn a profit.
Be prepared to continuously optimize your campaign, as Google Ads is definitely not a passive endeavor. You can’t just set it and forget it. Periodically check the search queries to make sure that the right traffic is reaching your site. Add negative keywords as well, to prevent your ads from showing up on unrelated search queries. Adjust the bid for individual keywords based on how many clicks they’re getting.
You can also save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation by not repeating some of the mistakes that I made early on. I ended up wasting thousands of dollars on YouTube video ads that brought me vanity metrics like views and subscribers but resulted in no sales. Display ads were equally ineffective, bringing in cheap clicks but ultimately increasing my site’s bounce rate.
Am I rich off beats yet? No. Have I made the same amount of money as the top online producers with huge followings on YouTube and social media yet? No.
But Google Ads has allowed me to stay afloat while I work to build up my social media numbers and bolster my network of music industry connections. And perhaps most importantly, it has sustained me in my quest to escape the office grind. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
On a final note, I would like to thank Robin and his company HEATE for allowing me to share my journey on their platform. I think they are doing an important job providing this kind of information to a new generation of producers who are selling beats online. In this continuously developing industry, it is much-needed. I’m looking forward to collaborating with them more in the near future.