Free Traffic Sources – You’re wasting your time and harming your business

This post might upset a few people.

It’s the online equivalent of being told you’ve got bad breath or your partner is cheating on you.

It’s bad news I’m afraid.

At first glance anyway.

Once it sinks in and you’ve looked past the despair you initially feel then maybe, like me, you’ll see it as a blessing and start changing some aspects of your business for the better.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this please remember this is JUST MY OPINION.

(I’m bloody right though!)


If you base your business on free traffic you’ll die of old age before you see the results you want, or at least your business will.

I’m talking about traffic from making forum posts, SEO (unless you’re an expert), Facebook, giving away free viral reports, article marketing, Squidoo, Craiglist and most other things you can think of.

On the WHOLE it just doesn’t work for most marketers. Me included.

Now let me qualify that.

It doesn’t work as much as you need it to.

You WILL get SOME success from free traffic sources, but speaking as someone who’s tried ALL of the above for YEARS, let me tell you it’s BLOODY HARD WORK.

Too much for me anyway.

It’s an uphill struggle every day, and basing your business on free traffic like this is the quickest way to get grey hair and an empty bank balance.

Now I know I’ve recommended most of the methods above in the past but I have two points to make about that:

1. Show me someone who doesn’t change their opinions as they get older and more experienced and I’ll show you a complete tit

2. I’ve tried them (and the alternative which I’m about to mention) and they simply don’t allow your business to grow fast enough or to the levels of success you need.

Free traffic isn’t consistent enough.

It’s not reliable, controllable or targeted enough for what most marketers REALLY need.

So what’s the answer?

Well many of you already know the answer to this, and many more will groan inwardly at the next line:

Paid Traffic.

Buy it.

The weird thing is that paid traffic can actually be FREE if you track your conversions, set up an effective sales funnel and then mail out to your new list a couple of times a week.

I’ve tried both and buying traffic – in the form of banner advertising, paid solo mailings, paid ads on other people’s sites and various CPA and PPC campaigns – and it’s SO much easier and much more profitable.

I KNOW a lot of you just don’t want to hear this.

You’ve no real budget, you don’t know how to go about buying traffic and even if you did, you’re sure you’d just ‘blow’ the money.

And I won’t lie to you, getting your head round making paid traffic work for your particluar business takes work.

But to be honest it’s probably the ONLY real solution if you’re serious about your business rather than just playing pretty at the computer every day.

The ideal solution is to make your sales funnel pay for the traffic at the point of entry (when they come into your funnel) but sometimes that’s not possible.

I’m quite happy paying $1.10 per subscriber at the moment. So for example to get 500 new subscribers costs me $550

Because I know what the average subscriber is worth to me and I know I’ll make the money back and more over their ‘lifetime’ as one of my subscribers.

The art to paid traffic is to get the most targeted possible for the lowest price possible.

And the whole point is to build a list that you can send promos to and make money.

You’d be amazed how many people spend a fortune on paid traffic to build a list then just don’t mail to them.

It’s like paying for a new car then not driving it.

I estimate that 80% (at least) of new marketers NEVER pay for traffic. No wonder so many people don’t suceed!

It’s impossible to see how well your products convert when you’re working with trickles of untargeted free traffic from Facebook and article marketing. And that’s without mentioning the crazy amount of time most people spend generating free traffic.

I’m not blaming anyone though.

I used free traffic sources for a LONG time and pretty successfully too. I’m pretty good at viral marketing and a lot of money came in, but it never really felt …..dunno, suppose ‘secure’ is the right word. The traffic always felt as though it would vanish overnight.

Paid traffic doesn’t do that.

It’s there WHENEVER you need it. Constantly.

But I understand fully why many marketers concentrate solely on free traffic. It’s because as marketers we’re brought up on a diet of ‘quick fix’ solutions and products. Pie in the sky.

The thing is, building your business on free traffic is JUST as pie in the sky as the latest Clickbank scammy software.

Listen – there IS obviously a place in your business for free traffic sources. I use them. The thing is they MUST be cost effective and must must MUST be time-effective. If you’re spending three hours every day on Facebook to drive traffic you don’t have a business. Or if you outsource it and it doesn’t cover the costs of paying the outsourcers then you’re getting it WRONG.

Likewise with paid traffic – if you can’t work out how to spend $1.00 to make $1.75 you probably shouldn’t be in this business.

If your budget won’t stretch to buying a few $100 solo mailings to test your conversion rates then you DEFINITELY shouldn’t.

Sorry if this stings a little. If it’s any consolation it stung me too when I realised the same thing.

Obviously there are exceptions to the free traffic rule, so if anyone’s making $10k a month solely from ree traffic sources please comment below and prove me wrong.

And the rest of you guys – I’d LOVE to hear what you think about this. Please leave your comments below. I expect a lot of differing opinions on this – let’s see if I’m right πŸ™‚


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30 responses to “Free Traffic Sources – You’re wasting your time and harming your business

  1. OK Tony

    You are a man of great experience but and obviously know about these things from your own hard earned trial and errors over the years…

    But surely for a beginner marketer who is just starting out releasing his first products there is no option than the ‘free traffic route’ unless he has a bit of capital to inject into his business ??

    How far into the business would you recommend paying for the traffic ?

    Thanks for the good advice πŸ™‚



  2. Hi Tony

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve had a lot of success with paid traffic – and since I’ve switched to using more and more of it my results are getting better all the time.

    I still use some free traffic methods however. Things like viral marketing, blog commenting and forum posting are still worthwhile for other reasons too, such as building relationships and getting your name ‘out there.’

    Interesting post. I’m sure it’s going to get a lot of people thinking!



  3. sean

    Hi Tony,
    Long time no speak… beautifully put, couldn’t have said it better myself lol πŸ™‚


  4. Tony Shepherd

    Hi Dan – I know you’ve had some well deserved success mate, thanks for sharing.

    And I agree that there’s definitely room for both. I just think paid traffic is far more controllable and easier to work with


  5. Tony Shepherd

    Carl – not sure I agree with you bud.

    You wouldn’t say that you could afford hosting, or buy a domain name because your budget was limited because these are vital to your business.

    Buying traffic is the same and frees up the time to let you work on your biz.

    I strongly believe that NOT paying for traffic enough in my early days slowed down my progress.

    When should you do it?

    As soon as you want to make sales.

    Thanks for posting Carl – your comments are always welcome and invaluable. I think many more people will agree with you that agree with me on this one πŸ™‚


  6. Tony Shepherd

    Thanks for commenting Sean.

    You still selling solo ads?


  7. Spot on Tony (as ever).

    Whenever I launch a new product or funnel paid traffic is always my first activity.

    It allows you to prove your conversions and EPCs (vital for attracting the better affiliates) and if you create your funnels in the right way, it should be free (or pretty close to free) with a solid ROI.

    I think the biggest think here is that you are in control of your business and you’re not nervously waiting to see what happens next time google finds another animal in it’s children’s encyclopedia and decide to switch up their algorithms again!

  8. I love your blog posts Tone, they always have a very helpful & meaningful theme – all wrapped up of course, in your signatory light hearted banter! πŸ˜€

    The line where you say “(im bloody right though)” had me in stitches from the start, as did the rest of this important post!

    Always both an honorable, and very enlightening reading experience to learn from the Master. πŸ˜€

    Thanks again mate.

    Keep well.

  9. Tony Shepherd

    AJ – couldn’t be more right! Thanks for posting.

    Guys – read AJ’s comment above for probably the two main reasons for using paid traffic


  10. Tony Shepherd

    Thanks Kevin – keep on posting mate, your comments are always welcome.


  11. Great post! I just love the “punch to the face” approach – straight to the point!
    I totally agree with your assumption – paid traffic is it!
    The phrase that I really like is “Likewise with paid traffic – if you can’t work out how to spend $1.00 to make $1.75 you probably shouldn’t be in this business.”

    Sometimes marketers tend to forget that IM is a business, not a hobby, you have to invest but need to make a profit!

    Thank you Tony.


  12. Hi Tony,

    I totally agree. Unfortunately it took me way too many years to learn this!


  13. I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I’ve come to similar conclusions. This is why I think we as IM tend to focus too much on free traffic:

    1.- Most people don’t treat their work as IM as a business. And if you don’t have $200 to invest in your business… you don’t have a business.

    2.- People don’t realize how EXPENSIVE FREE traffic is. If people tracked how much time they spend trying to get free traffic and they multiplied it by an average hourly rate… They would be shocked at the cost of that “free” traffic.

    It funny that we expect local business owners to pay us to get traffic for them… but we can’t think of paying for traffic.

    I think everyone should use as many traffic systems as possible (not all eggs in one basket) but I would recommend to start with paid traffic because:

    1.- You can quickly test what traffic converts and what not.

    2.- You work hard to improve your conversion rate because otherwise you could lose your shirt. When you rely on free traffic you tend to test less and not optimize conversion… because the traffic is free anyways!

    3.- Once you have done your test with paid traffic and discovered your winners, you can focus on “free” traffic knowing what it is going to convert. It is discouraging to battle to the #1 page of Goggle to see that the KW you were targeting doesn’t convert…

  14. Thank you Tony.

    You are right, I didn’t like it but at last there is somebody telling the truth. Whether we want to hear it or not.

    Absolutely spot on. Having been told by all the Gurus that free traffic is the way to go and that paid traffic is a minefield best left to the experts, it frightens me to think of the wasted hours I have spent trying to drive the small amounts of traffic received on my sites. How much has it really cost me?

    I am going to invest some money following your recommended methods and see where it goes. Can’t lose really as my traffic is nowhere at the moment.

    Thank you.

  15. Tony Shepherd

    I’m quite surprised that so many people agree with me here. I’m VERY glad they do though.

    My challenge still stand though – anyone here who makes $10k or more a month purely through free traffic, we’d love to hear from you.

    Thanks for commenting guys andthanks for coming.

    Feel free to respond to any of the commentors on the blog too


  16. Yes of course your right Tony. I became frightened of using paid sources after losing money on Adwords and various other PPC ads, but with the regular Google algorithm updates, I’ve found myself spending more time on SEO than making money.

    As the saying goes; “You need to speculate to accumulate.”

    Thanks for a great post,

  17. OK Guys

    There’s some great comment here for us beginners in ingest πŸ™‚

    So if you were releasing your first product, what would be your recommendation for the first steps to getting paid traffic to get the best traffic for your product??

    Where would you go and who would you approach?



  18. I bow before the wisdom of Tony and commentators!

    Sort of makes common sense really!

    I agree that there is still a place for free traffic though, since, for example, (helpful!)article marketing, blogging, networking can help to build trust between you and (potential) clients.

    By the way Tony, is there ever really an ‘Ultimate’ Marketing Method!

    Great post as ever…

  19. I already knew that using adwords would save me a lot of the time spent on other methods such as article marketing, commenting on other sites etc but was scared off of even trying by many dire warnings … but being told today by you Tony that those unpaid methods are not effective at all really is shocking!

    On the other hand I trust that you really want to help your readers and I’m kind of glad to have someone of your caliber encourage me to try paid traffic. With your blessing it doesn’t seem so scary anymore and i already have
    your – The Ultimate Internet Marketing Method – to help me along.

    As Daniel says above there are rewards such as getting one’s name out and creating community for doing some blog commenting, forum posting so I will keep on doing those activities.


  20. DannyMcConnell

    If only I had understood this before I spent all my money on courses designed to teach me how to use free traffic…

    Then again – everything in it’s time. You only hear what you want to hear until it’s time. And all that money was still cheap school. I learned a lot that is sure to stand me in good stead.


  21. Kevin

    Hey Tony,

    Just wondering which is the better course for getting started with list building, “The Ultimate Internet Marketing Method” or “Tribe Profits”? What’s the difference between the two, other than price?

    As for paid versus free, if you can afford it, paid is definitely the way to go. Not there’s anything wrong with free, it just takes longer, and it isn’t reliable. But some folks have more time than money, so “free” is their only option.

  22. Ade

    I’ve tried to post comments to your blog before and they never show up…it’s just happened again….mucho frustrating. Do you know why this is happening ? Usually it goes to comment being moderated and you can at least see the fruits of your labour but with your blog nothing…what’s up Duderino ?

  23. Tony Shepherd

    Hi Kevin – Tribe Profits needs an overhaul and updating. The Ultimate Internet Marketing Method is better in my opinion


  24. Tony Shepherd

    Ade – Comments are moderated mate, that’s why it takes a little while for them to show.


  25. John Higgins

    Hi Tony,

    It’s not often that I make response to a post but I must do so today so that struggling marketers learn from my mistakes.

    You are right – free traffic sources are just too much work. Sure, you will get the occasional person who has had success with them but for the vast majority of us they are not worth it.

    I tried article marketing until I was blue in the face, and spent as much time studying and testing SEO as most people spend on completing their University Degree. One book I read and studied about SEO was nearly 600 pages of relatively small print. I carried out backlinking by hand, using software, etc, etc, etc. I could write a book about all of the free traffic systems I’ve tried and I dread to think about how much time I wasted.

    I got hardly any traffic as a result.

    The funny thing is that I started out using Google Ads years ago – I just wish I had stuck to it! You can track, test , tweak and learn what works using paid traffic.

    Learn from my mistakes and listen to Tony.

    Good luck to everyone in all your efforts.


  26. Kevin

    Thanks, Tony, I’ll have to check it out.

  27. I tried paid traffic with sites like POF Google adwords and facebook but never got the results I wanted and was never able to generate conversions with it while spending hundred of euros. Followed some blueprints but what worked for others did not seem to work for me. But I was always lucky with free traffic . t this moment adsense doesn’t work anymore as it did a few years back so I lost focus on that area. What works for me at this moment is using video marketing to promote Clickbank products, but I must say that the most important part is selecting a product that will convince those seeing it, and that obscure things like a video interview done a Rachel Ray or any other show converts much better that all those silly animoto slideshows. And I can create as much videos as I want, if some of them don’t take up no problem, but I have some videos that “CONSISTENTLY” send me between 30 and 300$ each day , and that is all for free. The advantage of paid traffic is that if you have something converting you can sell, but you need to know your numbers, which is not a real necessitiy with free traffic.

  28. Tony Shepherd

    Thanks for sharing David – always exceptions.

    Very good to hear about too!

    Looking at your link I’d say you were earning through CPA? Getting clicks to the men/women opt in site and
    getting paid for it?

    How do you get on with the copyright for the TV clip on Youtube?

    Interesting stuff


  29. Hannam

    So that’s probably why I haven’t made anything in all my 7 years of trying! Okay will look at the links to the paid advertising you gave and maybe set aside myself a good budget of $50 to start! Why do many seemingly HONEST MLM gurus not tell you this as a beginner? Thanks! Going to pay more attention to YOU in the future!

  30. Hannam

    Would you be able to tell us which free ones are good and which ones just suck? If not here,can you give me your e-mail so I can write you and ask?

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