Digital Prosperity Blog

Free Traffic VS Paid Traffic - Which Is Best?

It's funny really...

The typical "IM" beginner will nearly always seek out as much free traffic as possible, whereas the successful marketers will usually go after paid traffic.

But overall, which one will get you the best results?

There are 4 things we need to consider...

1) Effort

Using paid traffic is often just a matter of setting up your ads, then spending an hour or two per week maintaining the ads. So it's pretty simple and requires VERY little effort.

However, most free traffic sources require to you exchange your time and effort for results.

For example, one popular free traffic strategy is posting replies on forums, another is bowing to the whims of Google's search algorithms, another is writing guest posts for other popular websites, and so on.

All of these require you to put in a LOT of time and effort upfront (we're talking days, weeks and sometimes even months) before you see any kind of results.

And sure, you can outsource this work to somebody else, but then you're still indirectly paying for traffic, so you could have instead gotten a guaranteed amount of paid traffic for the same price without the effort!

So free traffic scores a 2/10 for this one, while paid traffic scores an 8/10.

2) Quality

With free traffic, you aren't really in control of who clicks on your links to your website. For example, if somebody is reading one of your blog posts, they could be from anywhere in the world and may not be your ideal customer.

However, all paid traffic sources allow you to narrow down onto your ideal customers by setting your targeting, e.g. age, gender, country, what they're interested in or searching for, and more.

This means you're always in control of who is going through your sales funnel and because of the better connection between your sales funnel and your prospects, your results are increased.

Due to the lack of control, free traffic scores a 5/10, while paid traffic scores a 9/10 due to the precise targeting options available.

3) Scalability

When posting on forums or writing content to generate free traffic, the only way you can scale up is by putting in more effort by writing more content or distributing it more widely around the web.

When you're trying to hit 7 figures in sales, that's an awful lot of content creation!

But when using paid traffic, all it takes is a slight adjustment to your daily ad budget and you'll instantly get more traffic (and therefore more sales at a greater ROI).

Plus, just using Facebook Ads alone allows you to target one third of the internet's traffic. So you never really encounter any issues with hitting a glass ceiling. And even if you do, you can simply use an additional paid traffic network 🙂 .

For these reasons, paid traffic gets a 9/10, while free traffic gets a 5/10 (providing you're willing to put in the extra work!).

4) Cost

The obvious downside to paid traffic is that it's, erm... paid. So it'll require a budget to begin with. However from a business standpoint, as long as your sales funnel is built using proven strategies and is generating a positive return on investment (ROI), a budget doesn't really apply, as you invest as much money as possible to get even more back out again.

Plus the traffic is always affordable, and you can always regulate your daily budget depending on what you're comfortable investing.

Price is the major benefit to free traffic, as it doesn't cost a dime - apart from your time and effort. So if we're talking financial cost, it's 100% free. But physically and mentally it's a hard, ongoing struggle to keep the traffic flowing.

So free traffic gets a 8/10 when it comes to the cost, whereas paid traffic gets a 4/10 due to the affordability and budgeting features.

Final Verdict

Free traffic - 20/40
Paid traffic - 30/40

From my own perspective, I've always found paid traffic to be much more effective at generating better, reliable and scalable results. But what do you think?

Let me know in the comments section below 🙂

Have a great day!
- James Francis.

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5 Responses

  1. Paid traffic makes more sense if you are trying to build an online business quickly...another option also that wasn't mentioned is joint venture launches...where you send an offer to an affiliate's email list..which is I think paid traffic as well since you pay your partner a percentage of anything their list buys...

    1. Yeah that's true David, although it's not really as scalable or reliable as the traditional forms of paid traffic, as you're pretty much always begging for people to promote your stuff. It's definitely worth having it as a part of your overall strategy though 🙂

      - James.

  2. Hey James, great stuff, great information you're the one. I always love to read your articles when I have the time, because you're well versed in the business of Internet Marketing. I'm not as talented, but I'm trying (that's what my wife keeps telling me) I have only been at it for 2 years. Please check out my web site Some of it is plr content and the rest is my own or tweaked together. I work full time, therefore I don't have a whole lot of time to do this type of work on a 5 dollar budget. That is why I'm replying to your Post, It is a lot of work to build up an audience on social sites, Google and Bing. I'm trying to get traffic with traffic exchange sites, but it only gives me what I put into it, which isn't much on such a low budget and time. I would be open to suggestions if you have any, I'm sure you do.

    Best Regards,

  3. I prefer paid traffic with one exception. I need to start out by saying I do not like SEO and worrying about Google's latest changes to how things rank. However, there are some real buying keywords like reviews of products that really pay if you get to page one. I have a couple of reviews for some real niche products that everyone doesn't go after on page 1 and I get payments for them day after day. But I don't recommend going after big launches for reviews. Find some less well known but high converting offers that are probably not in the IM niche. If someone is looking for a review of the product they are really close to buying.

  4. It seems to me that the SEO process of information marketing is as old as ATARI systems now. Sure you could take hours and hours to make sure your blog articles are just full enough of specific keywords (if that they still make sense when read), to rank for a searched phrase. It's pretty much similar to gambling with no real guarantee that you'll be on the 1st page, let alone the 1st link. And there's always the Google dance when they tweak the algorithm and all efforts put you on page 257. Yes, paid advertising is the way to go for all the reasons you mentioned above James. Even for someone starting out, the outlay of dollars doesn't have to exceed your budget. When you make that 1st sale, you just roll that profit back into the advertising and your business will soon pay off.

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