I’m not the biggest proponent of solo ads.
Too often, the odds of turning these things into profits require high risk and most services that offer them are scams.
My methods of getting paid type traffic to my site that is highly targeted and far cheaper and while I will be explaining what that method is, I will also explain why I don’t recommend using ANY solo ad services.
What are Solo Ads?
It’s a method of marketing where you pay someone who has an email list of subscribers to advertise your site or offer to their subscribers. It can be a great way of getting massive exposure and traffic very quickly (but not necessarily sales).
Generally solo ads are used primarily to build up an email list and then sell something to that email list.
An example of how solo ads work:
- Let’s say I have a website on weight loss which collects emails and then sells people who subscribe to me weight loss products from which I make money of.
- I go to a Solo Ad network (there are quite a few, including Udimi.) and find people with email lists pertaining to the weight loss subject and niche.
- I pay them to send out an email to their subscribers and advertise my site.
- Once they do, I can get their subscribers to visit my page and hopefully sign up to my email list.
- I can gather a huge email list and eventually sell them products related to weight loss.
That in a nutshell is how Solo Ads work.
But do Solo ads work?
Well let’s give them a fair look from both sides to find out:
Pros of using Solo Ads:
1) You can potentially get and grow a huge email list very quickly.
Some people swear by this and say that list building is where all the money is in. I personally am not one of these people, but there is truth to this. It’s not uncommon to build email lists of 100’s and even 1,000’s of subscribers in days.
2) Building up a huge email list can provide excellent rewards in the short and even long run.
Because you can keep selling to that email list. But there is a flip side to this as I’ll get into soon.
3) Besides just selling, you can actually use this email list for SEO purposes.
And instead of just selling. For example, if I had a huge email list of weight loss enthusiasts, instead of selling them products, I could make a blog, send them there each time, offer value and this could lead to great SEO benefits. This is my personal view and some may find it counterproductive.
4) You can technically make a lot of money very quickly (if your new subscribers buy from you).
I won’t deny there is certainly massive financial potential behind Solo Ads, although my advice on it is more geared towards long term trust as I will be explaining below).
Cons of using Solo Ads:
1) It will cost you a lot of money to try.
A lot can range from $20-$100’s, but people who will allow you to advertise on their lists do not want to have just anyone do it, at least not for free. Keep in mind that when you advertise to someone else’s list, it’s their reputation that is more so on the line than yours so it’s natural that they will charge you for this.
My advice on Solo Ads is not to try it if you’re on a tight budget. Not only because it costs money, but also…
2) There is no guarantee that the list you collect will convert.
Generally sign up rates via Solo Ads can be pretty good. When you buy Solo Ads, you are guaranteed in some cases a certain number of clicks and visitors to your site.
BUT how many of those clicks translate into subscribers, plus how many subscribers then translate into sales, PLUS how many subscribers who buy then translate into long term buyers is a whole other story. And naturally as we progress further down, the conversion rate will drop severely, especially if you just shamelessly promote products over and over.
I’d had email lists which I unsubscribed from because the person/s just kept advertising offers to me and NEVER offering quality content that I wanted to know about. This is not how the way to do it.
3) You have to earn trust with your new subscribers before they will buy from you.
Most people who are new to Solo Ads read up on their potential and think if they collect an email list, the money will come pouring in. This is simply not true. Here is a more realistic approach:
A) Before you can even get to that point, you need to first get subscribers.
B) Then you need to offer those subscribers excellent value. Basically this means provide them with content that is helpful and has them wanting to know more. This is what builds up trust and credibility and can lead to sales down the line as well as re-occurring sales.
C) Then and only then can you expect to profit of Solo Ads.
4) A lot of Solo Ad networks ban the use of promoting certain products.
There have been many places in the past (and present) who tell you to use Solo Ad networks to promote products on and sell them. Places like:
- Big Idea Mastermind.
- Academy of Online Success.
- Empower Network.
- Internet Traffic Formula.
- Partner With Anthony.
- And MANY more.
The problem is that many of these places are not the most legitimate (they are scams basically) and many networks have begun to ban the ability to promote these organizations simply because promoting them on other people’s email lists looks like spam and it’s gotten a bad rep.
This isn’t exactly a con of Solo Ads, but is important to keep in mind. If you have a specific product you want to sell to your subscribers via Solo Ads, check to make sure the network you’re advertising on allows the specific product to be promoted.
5) Generally, unless you’re experienced with list building, don’t waste money on solo ads.
While many people sell their email lists out via solo ads, the truth is most of these people have cold leads that will never open up your email.
There is extremely little control over the quality of the lead you’re getting through solo ads (despite solo ad sellers saying otherwise) so unless you can find an established solo ad provider who truly sells quality solo ads, forget this method altogether.
My final thoughts on Solo Ads:
Can they work? If you’re advanced, have money and know how to filter and extract highly relevant leads from masses of cold/broad email lists, then sure! But most people’s impression as well as approach on this subject is short term. They want to build a list and sell to that list, neglecting an important piece of that equation that will lead to success: Building trust & credibility with your subscribers via offering them quality content.
That is why if I were to Solo Ads, I wouldn’t focus on initially selling, but building trust. I’d even go further with this and link my email list to blog posts on my site related to the email list’s interests and have them leave comments of questions. This from my point of view has several benefits:
1) I build trust and credibility by offering quality content to them. This is the most important piece.
2) I get benefits of sending traffic to my site. If people leave comments and/or share the site on social networks, I can also improve that site’s SEO results.
3) I can also eventually sell directly to my email list after I’ve built up trust.
I am personally going to be experimenting with Solo Ads somewhere in the near future and will be documenting my experiences with it. Again, if you’re going to use Solo Ads, do it if you have money to spare and consider it from a long term point of view, not trying to make a quick buck, because in my opinion that will lead to failure and a waste of money.
If you are new to online marketing, I would also not recommend doing Solo Ads. I would instead start with a program called Wealthy Affiliate. They taught me the necessary skills to create an online business that drives targeted leads to my site and offers.
Do you have a personal story to share about Solo ads? Did it work/not work for you? Let me hear what you have to say!
Update: If you needed more reason not to use solo ads:
I wrote an updated article on solo ads here and frankly, if this current article didn’t make a strong enough case to avoid this, this one will. And it shows how I use PPC networks to pay 10x less for highly targeted traffic. This saves me a lot of money and right away gives me the best leads, making the need to buy them from solo ads, useless.
8 thoughts on “Are All Solo Ads a Scam? Why I Don’t Use Them.”
In my opinion, it really all comes down to the niche, product and the promo strategy you use. It’s just like any other traffic source but can be slightly cheaper since it comes from a person’s email list. No two lists are the same, it all depends on how the traffic provider built his lists. Some do email swaps, some do PPC, and some do organic sources. As a result, their CPC varies and so does the quality.
Hi Harsh, thanks for commenting on this topic of solo ads. I can see you have your own site promoting them, and I do agree with 1 point you made:
Here it is: I do agree it that comes down to the niche and if you have a website that truly targets one and can find someone with an email list whose audience is perfectly aligned, meaning the person has the SAME EXACT niche audience on their list and they are doing solo ads, yeah it can work.
But on everything else, I’ve got to respectfully disagree and allow me to state my specific reasons for it:
1) Most solo ad providers have either garbage or cold leads in MOST cases.
Finding that perfect niche audience from someone’s solo ad (email list) is RARE unless you personally know that person. If you go through places like Udimi, even though they are legit, you’re most likely going to find cold audiences in my opinion.
2) In my opinion, a person who truly has a valuable email list that is niche specific and a buyer audience will likely not sell that list to people unless they pay big and I would argue that it would be better for that person to promote to that email list and NOT sell that list to others. I think it’s self destructive is an email marketer sells his/her leads to others because then it inevitably leads to that list being spammed by other email marketers who buy that list, and the reputation of the original person is destroyed.
3) In terms of costs, I think traditional PPC networks will be less risky to use in terms of costs (and conversions) vs solo ads. For conversions, if I’m going onto a PPC network like Bing, YT or Google ads, I can literally specify the type of audience I want. With a solo ad, I am gambling basically because I don’t know for sure if the clicks I am getting are specific.
4) In terms of costs, PPC networks can cost several times LESS than solo ads. I’ll give you 2 examples:
A) When I use PPC networks like Bing Ads, I will target specific keywords and only pay about $0.10 at BEST. And I will also get the best targeted traffic from that. With solo ads, I have never seen any cost per lead be lower than $0.40. Some even cost DOLLARS per lead.
B) Even in rare cases when I target broader terms like making money online and try to get leads from PPC networks, I will still pay less than $0.50 per click and I would venture in those cases, this will either get me a cold lead and/or warm lead, but it’s still safer than a solo ad click in my opinion.
But I’d love to hear your viewpoint on these examples I mentioned Harsh!
Hi Vitaliy. Those are valid points, I definitely agree on a few points you mentioned but I’d like to throw some counter points too.
1) I can agree on the cold leads part for sure. If I’m just a middleman between an opportunity seeker and someone who has a biz op (my customers), I don’t really need to have a strong relationship with the leads. I do send value emails though, but not as many as an affiliate marketer would whose sole goal is to give value and eventually sell their products.
Garbage leads – not really. I use SEO to build my lists, Bing ads and sometimes other solo ads (once every 35-45 days or so). Again solo ads are not a magic pill, it’s just like any other source out there. It also depends on how good the product is and how good your promo strategy is.
2) If I have leads who signed up to my email list through a very specific make money online capture page, I definitely know they are biz op seekers. I can either put in the time and efforts to write a followup sequence, find products and create my promo strategy and make anything between 30 cents per lead to $10 per lead or sell them at a fixed CPC and make a guaranteed 70-80 cents (depending on the traffic package).
Just because I’m a SEO guy and can get all the high quality traffic in the world does not mean I must monetize it with affiliate marketing. You have a decent looking blog, you can either promote your own products or sell banner ads and make money that way, it’s all about your strategy really. 🙂
3) I can’t speak for other vendors like what they do but if my subscribers came from my very specific IM niche funnel (which collects their first name and emails), they are definitely targeted and you’d be paying a fixed cost per click for sure. It definitely can be higher/lower compared to PPC depending on your targeting options (age, demographics, KW etc) with Google ads for example.
4) I love PPC too – specially Google ads and bing. For several keywords you can get leads for pennies but it all comes down to the type of product. Solo ads work with some niches, but not for all niches. If you tried Google ads, you’d pay a higher cpc for exact match keywords (the ones enclosed in  operators), and lower for broad match. I’d say every traffic source works and is unique but whatever yields the best ROI for you is the best one for you because that’s what really matters in the end.
Hey Harsh, great points overall. I think we just have a different style. I like to focus on the most specific laser targeted niche/keywords to get leads, opt ins and sales.
Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be more for broadening out your targeting strategies, collecting a list and then offering value to get the lead to turn into a buyer.
I am still of the position that solo ads are mostly a money waster if you don’t have someone who truly possesses a valuable list and isn’t afraid to share your content/sales funnels with them and that SEO and PPC networks like the ones we both use are better for traffic generation, lead generation and all those other things.
Do you use solo ads to build your list? Have you seen success?
If we decide to use solo ads, how can we increase conversions from those clicks?
Should we write the article with those clicks in mind, and offer various content upgrades?
Basically: how can you set yourself up for success with solo ads if you choose to run them?
Hi Anthony, there’s a lot of untangle in these questions, and while I cannot give you a full answer here, I would advise looking any my other articles, most particularly, the one on Wealthy Affiliate as it basically encapsulates all the stuff you asked about and shows you how to be successful with it.
But to answer your questions: I do not do Solo Ads, because I feel their cost effectiveness is not good. I use Bing Ads instead.
Regarding your second question, I assume you meant writing an opt-in page in which you’re looking to get more sign ups. If that’s the case, then yes, offer upgrades, but honestly, just give people a reason to sign up for free, give them a list of things they’ll get.
And for your final question, success with Solo Ads begins with your website, the niche target, and the offer you bring to the table to help the niche audience, then it doesn’t matter if you use Solo Ads or Bing Ads or SEO, if the right traffic comes to the site, they’ll sign up and buy from you.
Thank you Vitality for teaching me about solo ads. I appreciate your emphasis on being realistic and the importance of building trust. I find that focusing on quality content and helping people gets the job done in any kind of business or career. This seems to be your heartfelt purpose and I believe your willingness to get in someone else’s shoes as they explore the decision of solo ads is the way to go.
I am 3 months into affiliate marketing and I don’t think solo ads are for me yet..but if I do it I will be following your recommendations of blogging leading to traffic..because that’s what matters and gets results long term. Besides, people want that more than being sold stuff…I know I do.
If I were to pursue this, how is it actually done? I sign up with a provider and then am I responsible for a graphically laid out ad or do most create the ad they send out? Glad I read this post and thanks again!
Hi Nancy, generally you head over to a website that provides solo ad listings or buy them directly of someone who sells them. Then they give your site a plug, by sending it out to their email list with a link. That link generally should point back to an opt in page you made that is ready to receive the traffic.