Should You Seek Out Free Traffic or Opt for Paid Traffic?

There are so many wonderful methods of driving traffic out there. A point of confusion for many web marketers is whether they should use free or paid traffic.

Free is great! There are so many wonderful opportunities to promote your business and get traffic to your web properties by using free traffic. I want you to realize, though, that there’s a cost for using “free” methods. You pay with your time, including the fact that free methods can take a lot longer to take hold.

Sometimes, such as with Facebook, you’ll get to choose whether you want to use free traffic, paid traffic, or both. Ideally, you’ll end up using both.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that many people are mostly attracted to the free traffic methods. I understand that, as we all want to get things for free. Also, some of the free traffic methods are completely amazing and can produce even better results than some of the paid methods—you just have to know what to use and when.

With certain paid methods, you can literally set up an ad and receive traffic within minutes. This allows you to test conversions and start making money right away. Of course, you have to know what you’re doing so you don’t lose your shirt.

If you spend days, weeks, and months on free traffic methods that you hope will pay off… but it’s a bad campaign or it’s not targeted right or something else happens, there’s a huge opportunity cost there. You could have set up an ad and had your answer as to whether that squeeze page (or whatever) was going to work or not within a few hours.

Hours vs. months… no competition, right? How much is your time worth, anyway? Once you know the paid ad is working you can expand out into free ads. That’s the best way to drive traffic, in my opinion.

Please don’t just pay attention to the free traffic methods and ignore the paid traffic methods, and vice versa. It is important to invest in your business, and that means investing with both your money and your time.

If you’re short on cash, you can certainly start out with free methods and then move to paid methods once you have some cash to work with. If you do have the money, start out slowly with paid traffic and work your way up as you gain more experience. For example, spending $5-$10 a day on Facebook ads can give you some great results and isn’t overly risky at all. Then, you can work your way up to spending $500+ a day once you know what you’re doing, for some extremely big profits.

Think about it, if you could get $10 income for a $5 investment, and then scaled that up to a $10 investment and made $20, and kept going until you were investing $500 and earning $1000, wouldn’t you do that?

With free traffic, there’s a limit about how much you can get based on how your site is ranked on the search engines, and that can change overnight (up or down, but often it’s down).

If you’ve read my “5 Bucks a Day” book, you know that I talked there about the fact that I used paid traffic to send visitors to pages, and I was spending at the peak around $1,000 a day. However I didn’t unleash that budget until I was sure of my conversions, and knew exactly how much each visitor to my site was worth on average.

Once I realized that each visitor was worth 20 to 25 cents, and I knew that I could pay 10 cents per visitor, it was as easy a decision to make as it would be to buy $20 bills for $10 each, and be willing to take as many as someone was willing to sell me.

Obviously, you have to be sure of your costs, your conversions, and your visitor value before you undertake a plan like that, but it’s certainly possible.

If I had to rely on free traffic for the campaign that made me a profit of $38,000 in around 6 weeks, I would have probably made nothing, because I would have had to work and wait for the pages to rise to the first page on Google, and since it was an extremely competitive set of keywords that I was targeting, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

Free and Paid Traffic—Perfect In Combination

I urge you to take advantage of paid traffic opportunities as soon as you can. If you have the money when you first start out, go ahead and engage in paid traffic right away. You’ll be able to test and track results much more quickly. The results you get with paid traffic can then be translated to organic, free traffic methods.

The opposite is also true. If you find a free traffic method that works with a certain group in your niche, you should ramp your efforts up with paid traffic. If you’re already getting traffic one way and earning money one way, you may as well find multiple ways so you can earn even more. Also, when you pay for traffic, you’ll spend a lot less time on your marketing.

By the way, some of your paid traffic generation techniques will actually funnel into your organic traffic techniques. For instance, you might pay for Facebook ads that funnel people to your Facebook pages, and/or to your email list, and then your email broadcasts become free traffic.

It is totally free to create a Facebook page, but it can take a lot of time and effort to grow that Facebook page organically. When you pay for traffic, you’ll see instant growth. Incidentally, paying for ads to a Facebook page can also dramatically increase the number of organic likes you receive since the friends of all those paid clicks will see your page now, too.

It all works hand-in-hand. I don’t recommend you ever use just one way of driving traffic. Maybe you specialize in one traffic generation technique. That’s great! With that said, you should never put all of your eggs in one basket. Use a variety of techniques, including free and paid. Your free techniques will help your paid techniques. Your paid techniques will help your free techniques.

For example, if you’re marketing your own product, and you have affiliates, once you have established that your site is performing well as far as conversions, affiliates will be much more likely to promote for you, and that’s free traffic.

Whether you’re using paid or free techniques, you always want to drive traffic to your list. Getting that email address will cement your success forever. You never want to market to people just one time—especially if you paid for their click. You don’t want them to visit your site just one time. You want to get them into your traffic funnel for the long term.

Always consider this when you pay for traffic. You want to get the most for your money. That means getting people on your list, liking and following your social media properties, and so on. Many, many people pay for traffic, get one sale or some passing interest, and nothing else.

Any traffic you pay for or work for the organic way should be the start of something long term. In general, this means driving people to an email opt-in form. Build a relationship with them there and you can get them to visit you on social media, read all of your blog posts, buy the products you release, watch your videos, subscribe to your podcast, consider your affiliate product recommendations, and so on.