The Only Paid Traffic Source That Works For me

Businessman pull web trafficI think most of us have at one time or another bought traffic. Over the years I have bought tons of traffic from just about every source available. Most of the time I have lost money and I even managed to get myself banned from Google Adwords and Facebook ads simply for promoting an IM related type of product. It was probably a blessing in disguise anyway as I never seemed to be able to get my ads to show a profit.

Because of this I’ve learned to generate my own traffic, in fact 99.9% of the traffic I receive to all of my websites is completely free. However, over the last few months I have been having a play around with one form of paid traffic that I have actually managed to turn a profit from, do you want to know what this traffic source is?

Solo Ads.

Just in case you are wondering what a solo ad is it’s just a way to get someone to mail your offer to their list. You pay them to deliver X amount of clicks to your offer. This is usually an opt-in page where you collect subscribers, if done right you can build your list very fast indeed.

Now I want to point out I am no expert when it comes to buying Solo Ad’s but I want to share with you a few things I have learned.

Take things slow at first.
Don’t go spending thousands of dollars on clicks when you are starting out, take things slow and get used to how things work before you go spending crazy amounts of money on ads because if you do this wrong you can lose a lot of money very quickly indeed.

Buy ads in small chunks.
If you want to buy 1000 clicks buy them in 20 sets of 50 clicks from different providers instead of buying 1000 clicks from one vendor, by doing this you will minimize the risk of getting scammed from an unscrupulous vendor. Not only that but you will receive more traffic. You see most Solo Ad vendors over deliver by around 10-20 clicks. So if you bought 1000 clicks you could expect to receive 1020 clicks, but if you buy 50 clicks you can expect 60-70 clicks. Multiply that by 20 and you have 1200 – 1400 clicks, a lot more for you money.

Don’t expect Solo Ad lists to convert like a regular list.
One thing I noticed was the fact my Solo Ad list didn’t convert as well as my regular list(s) did. Without detailed testing there is no sure way to determine why but my guess is a lot of the people on Solo Ad lists are freebie seekers who are getting passed from Solo Ad provider to Solo Ad provider. Just remember that any subscribers you gain from Solo Ad’s are not likely to convert as well as a regular subscriber.

Test test test test, then test some more.
The only true way to get any form of paid traffic to work is by testing. You should know your metrics so you can work out how much it costs to gain each subscriber. As you can expect to pay $50+ for 100 clicks you need to be sure you are at the very least getting most of that $50 back. So know how your squeeze page converts, how many people will buy from your funnel and how many people will buy from your recommendations. This is something I wasn’t doing in the early days and something I quickly realized I needed to do so I could be sure I wasn’t wasting money.

Only use recommended sources.
This is the big one, just because someone can deliver 100 clicks doesn’t mean the traffic is genuine. There are a lot of scammers out there who will deliver false clicks or worse still take your money and run. Even if you use a reputable source such as Safe Swaps be sure to research each provider and as I said earlier only buy in small chunks. For the record the only source I have purchased Solo Ad’s from so far is Safe Swaps, my advice would be to start there and do your research before buying any ads.

You must have a killer free offer that converts.
First of all most Solo Ad providers will only promote free offers, in fact I quickly found out that getting people to promote a paid offer is almost impossible. So if you want to start paying for Solo Ad’s make sure you have a killer squeeze page that converts well. You should be looking at converting at least 40% of your traffic into subscribers. This is the free offer I am sending Solo Ad traffic to at the moment.

You must have a killer sales funnel that converts.
As most Solo Ad providers will only promote free offers we need to try to monetize our site from our sales funnel so make sure you have a killer funnel in place that converts. This usually means making sure that any upsells are directly related to your free offer. You don’t want to have people opt-in for a traffic product only to upsell them with an eBay related product.

TIP! If you can just earn enough to pay for your ads or even run at a slight loss from your funnel you’ve cracked it as this means you are building a list for free or at a very low cost, now you just need to ramp things up.

Here’s my sales funnel in all it’s glory

Free Offer – Traffic Package

This traffic package is a collection of free material from Simple Traffic Solutions, it consists of an eBook, MindMap and Worksheet. This free offer provides incredible value.

Upgrade – Simple Traffic Solutions

When you consume the free offer you are regularly given the chance to upgrade, I also use a membership script that locks you out from the paid for content. This shows people what they are missing.

When you try to access paid for content such as training videos.


 This message appears.


I also push my upgrade offer via autoresponder email. I am constantly mentioning the benefits of upgrading your membership. Here’s an example email I send out 24 hours after registration, note how I offer support and start to form a relationship with the subscriber?

Hi {!firstname_fix},

I hope you are enjoying your Simple Traffic Solutions traffic

Please remember that if you need any help you can contact my
support desk here.

I also want to make sure you are aware that the Simple Traffic
Solutions traffic package covers just a fraction of what is
covered in the full program.

For the price of a small pizza investment you can upgrade your
membership to the full package and receive a ton of additional
training material.

To upgrade your membership simply go here.

Until next time…

John Thornhill

And it doesn’t stop there, here’s the email that goes out the next day.

Hi {!firstname_fix},

I hope that you have had time to go through all of your Simple
Traffic Solutions traffic package.

Be sure to check out the Mindmap and Worksheets as these give
you instant traffic methods that will help you drive more traffic
to your websites.

I also want to remind you that for a tiny investment you can
upgrade your membership to the full package and receive a ton
of additional training material.

This includes:-

# Over 50 video training modules covering every
traffic method in great detail.

# My unique traffic rating system that reveals the best traffic
methods for you.

# Even more PDF training modules

# Advanced training revealing my most closely guarded traffic

# Access to the Simple Traffic Solutions Secret Facebook Group.

# Ongoing training.

And much much more.

To upgrade your membership and receive instant access to all
of the extra materials simply go here.

Until next time…

John Thornhill

P.S. Remember that your investment is covered by my 60 day no
questions asked money back guarantee so there is absolutely no

Once again it doesn’t stop there, I keep pushing the upgrade and once someone buys the upgrade offer they are then removed from the free traffic list and added to the paid traffic list where I make further offers. Here’s an outline of the whole funnel that consists of various products and services I offer.





This funnel has generated over $200,000 in sales in just over 6 months, and since I started running solo ads I’ve managed to add thousands of extra subscribers to my list and generate even more sales. As I have already stated I am no Solo Ad expert but I have manage to turn a profit. Once again my advice if you want to try this is to start with Safe Swaps and take things easy to start with.

Let me help you build a list from Solo Ad’s for free.

I know that you may be reading this blog post and you may not have a product of your own or a funnel that can bring the same sort of results. Well the good news is I have a system set up that will enable you to promote the funnel above as an affiliate while you build your list for free.

That’s right, I can help you build your list while you earn an affiliate income at the same time.

To find out more simply go here and watch the 2 minute video where all is explained.

As always your comments are more than welcome. If you have had any success with Solo Ads and can add some more advice please do so.


  • Randy Smith

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Yep – I already have your offer set up John :)
    As well as a few of my own.

    My challenge is to remember to go and book some more ads at regular intervals…lol
    I tend to go into safeswaps and book 5 or 6 and then forget about it til someone like you mentions it again… haha

    You didn’t mention – but obviosuly show – You should always have an upsell in place that is related to and compliments the initial free offer!
    As your funnel does :)


    • John Thornhill

      Reply Reply July 23, 2013

      “This usually means making sure that any upsells are directly related to your free offer. You don’t want to have people opt-in for a traffic product only to upsell them with an eBay related product”

      :-) :-) :-)

  • Terry Chestnutt

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Looks real good, John, honestly. I have considered solo ads but was not sure, but you seem like a reliable source of advice, judging by your track record. No one can argue with success. And the offer looks good too. I hope to step my way through the video instruction today. Thanks tons.

  • Rieke

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John,

    love your exhausting explanations on solo ads which arrived the right moment for me :) You are really very generous to talk about this here.

    Did I understand well that the ‘free offer’ is your tool?! This tool is great as it is very neutral and in fact able to put other products (than those mentioned by you) in the sales funnel. Make it a PLR product for your loved subscribers so that they can use it for their own funnel… or give it to them as a Christmas gift :)

    So far my thoughts on “The only paid source that works for me”!

  • Robert Corrigan

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John,

    I had not really considered solo ads but as you say if you get back what you paid then it is essentially free traffic, thanks for illustrating how important the sales funnel is in the process.



  • Laura Raisanen

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Thanks John, this is brilliant advice, I especially like the part where you advice to buy ads in small chunks. You really will end up with more clicks that way, as solo ad vendors do indeed always over deliver based on my experience of buying solos.

    Safe Swaps has a great feedback system and as well as looking for reported opt-ins, I always also look for reported sales – this shows that the vendor’s list actually includes buyers.

  • Julie Fletcher

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John,

    I am just starting out with solo ads and have just set up my first funnel, so this comes just at the right time for me, I booked my first solo earlier today and am looking forward to seeing the results and booking up some more.

    I will also check out your video.



  • Ted

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hey John,
    Great points about solo ads here. I agree totally with the testing, you must test to find out what works and what doesn’t, it’s the only way to improve your process.

    I’ve used solos in the past and it’s a great way to add subscribers. I felt so strogly about the effedctiveness of solos that I wrote a report about my experiences to document everything!

    One question I hear lots of people ask is at what point you draw the line as far as what a subscriber would cost to add. The magic number I hear is $1.00, so if your math shows that subscribers are costing you more than that to add, you may want to adjust your optin freebie to be more enticing.

    I was wondering what your thoughts on that are?

    As well, your points on starting with smaller click numbers and using Safe Swaps are very good info.

    Thanks for laying out your funnel so completely. You always over-deliver!!


    Ted Begnoche

  • Steve eMailSmith

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hey John,
    Great sum-up, mate…

    I have to be honest, I didn’t know you weren’t using solo ads until recently?.. But once you get started, it gets a little bit addictive, isn’t it? :)

    Anyway, just wanted to chime in and support your TIP with my same type of experience.
    It is always better to buy multiple smaller solos, than a larger one from a single source.
    And at the very least, if one decides to take a large solo offer due to its discounted fee, then do not repeat the purchase for a while, until that solo ads provider have had a chance to replenish/renew his/her own lists…

    Another thing to note is to use single optin for this source of traffic and then qualify the new subscribers through other methods, in order to get the most ‘bang on the buck’ as they say – in other words, a better R.O.I. (Return on Investment)

    Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
    # Chief Editor # eMail Tips Daily Newsletter

  • Erwin

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve tried Solo Ads before and I had some success. So it also worked for me but as you’ve said John we have be careful from who we buy that traffic.

    Thank you for this post John and I think this is the only paid traffic source which you can profit from, too.

    See you on top.



  • Martin

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    As usual fantastic over delivery for free. Quality understandable step by step sequence. Win Win for everybody.

  • Mark Burrows

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John

    Awesome post, Ive thought about doing Solo Ads on numerous occasions but always had second thoughts.

    Your well written post has cleared up some of my nagging doubts and i’m definately going to have a stab at it.

    One question for you if I may. I love the look of your funnel system how difficult is it to set up if I signed up to use it as an affiliate. The technical things are the biggest thing that holds me back in my business.

    Kind regards

    Mark Burrows

    • John Thornhill

      Reply Reply July 23, 2013

      Hi Mark,

      My videos walk you through everything you need to do step by step. It should only take you around 30 minutes to set everything up.

      If you have any problems let me know.


  • George Nieves

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John,
    Great post! I think this will work very well with a project I am working on now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ian

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Without being negative here. I have bought solo ads a few times now from safe-swaps and as expected the solo ads delivered the clicks they promised (they all actually over delivered). I was happy with the fact that I actually got subscribers from the solos I did, I used double opt in for my first 2 solos. I got a few subscribers. I got better results without double opt in and got 3 times more subs. The downside in my experience is that when I have mailed these subscribers I find them non responsive ie 2% open rates on average – no buyers. In my opinion its a lucky dip. Also I’m sure That an established marketer like John Thornhill Is sure to get his Swipe sent to a more responsive segment of any other marketer’s list he is trading with than little old me.
    Without a doubt solo’s work and ad swaps is a great platform to use.
    It didn’t work for me.

    • Tega

      Reply Reply July 23, 2013

      Hi Ian,
      I have found this to be true for me aswell i have built up a moderate list using solos, but after the initial mailing where they get the freebie, the open rate drops like crazy, i think it might be because i am only buying like 50 -100 clicks at a time from different solo vendors. I think once you test and find a vendor that is gives you a decent result then scale up with that vendor and test test test your evey aspect of funnel that is what i am working on now. This is a very excellent post by John aswell, it definately clears up some of the things that have been obscuring my end goals when working with solo vendors. Thanks for sharing Mr Thornhill greatly appreciated

  • Tony Matos

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John,

    I really enjoy your post I haven’t yet use solo ads yet but I’m planning do it soon, I been a little busy with my site but I been a fan of your work for a while, I will go over the videos I see that it contains great information.

    So John thanks again, and have a great day!!!


  • Dave Whitworth

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    I can 100% agree with your sentiments about solo ads. It is really a case of buyer beware.

    I have been buying lots of solo ads for myself and for a friend of mine who helped me out in my first product launch.

    I recently started to work closely with him. His name is Stuart Stirling and I know you both have promoted each others stuff in the past.

    I have been buying a lot of solos for him and it really is a minefield.

    You can join Facebook and Skype groups where solos are offered but don’t just trust everything you read.

    Even Safe Swaps is not immune from fraudsters. I took out a solo for myself from there a while ago and got plenty of freebie seekers and now I am not short of friends in Jakarta.

    You can get plenty of freebie seekers at adfly at a fraction of the cost of solo ads.

    What you have to be aware of is that a lot of the leads are all coming from the same pool.

    Like anything else that is successful it will reach saturation point.

    You give plenty of good advice in your post and anyone reading it should take heed!

  • Clive

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Some great advice here about solo ads John. Thanks for showing the funnewl and the follow ups it really is a help with planning this out.

    Many thanks

    Clive :)

  • Robert Watkins

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John!

    I’ve been a member of Safe Swaps for nearly a year. In that time I’ve bought 127 solos. I’ve been scammed only twice, and on both occasions had my money back from PayPal. (Tip: Tell PayPal it was “a service”)… And only twice have I had slightly fewer clicks than what I’d paid for.

    I usually buy 100 clicks at a time because, as you rightly say, most solo ad sellers over-deliver… Some WAY over-deliver. So you end up getting far more clicks for your money!

    Again, I agree with what you say regarding “freebie seekers”. The majority of people on solo ad sellers’ lists don’t like spending money and will hit “unsubscribe” as soon as you try to sell them something…

    I’ve noticed that this has become worse over the last six months or so as the sellers’ lists become more and more “diluted”.

    I use single opt-in and you MUST regularly check your autoresponder stats and delete all your unsubscribes, undeliverables, and no-opens to get rid of the “dead wood”.

    Bottom line… I still buy solos from Safe Swaps. But you must not expect miracles… Once the freebie seeker is on your list you’ve got to turn him/her into a buyer.


  • Bob Gilson

    Reply Reply July 23, 2013

    Hi John,
    I found this post to be extremely helpful. I do have a question however. My initial thought was to change my squeeze page a little with each buy of 50 – test, test, test. But I was wondering – is that to small a sample for testing? How many 50 click buys should I use before I change something?

    Thank, again.
    Bob Gilson

  • Kelly Provost

    Reply Reply July 24, 2013

    Great info John, I feel like I should be paying for this post in itself.

    Thank you


  • Rich

    Reply Reply July 24, 2013

    As a total noob who is about to start my first site after 6 weeks of watching and listening where most solo ads fail is a cheesy splash page (thinking sunsets beaches etc) a useless freebie (10 free WordPress plugins from 2009 with some nice graphics isn’t worthy) and a clear description of what the freebie offers that’s beneficial and not some random earnings to get the opt in. Make that freebie memorable and you will have a guest and then a customer for life. You only have 1 shot so make it worthwhile. 95% of solo ads fail with most of those points.

  • Jan

    Reply Reply July 27, 2013

    Hi John,

    Thanks for this great post..I totally agree, Solo Ads is the way to go as long as you take it slow & easy you’ll bank those clicks. Just watch out who you buy from, do your research.If you follow the Great ones,you should do alright.

    Watch..Learn and do as they do..
    Thanks again.

  • Mark McKnight

    Reply Reply August 20, 2013

    Hi John,

    Loved the tip about buying ads in small chunks. I’d never thought about that before. Makes sense!

    I’m also going to use the Simple Traffic Solutions affiliate package on my site for a few weeks until I get my new ‘free report’ ready. Just watching the videos now on how to set it up.

    I have a question about the Solo ads. I was reading on Warrior Forum about buying solo ads and various people recommend tracking to make sure you get the right amount of links you’ve bought, but didn’t go into detail. How do you go about tracking the clicks you receive?

    Another quick question. How do you move someone from a free list to a paid list? Does Wishlist do this?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Cheryl

    Reply Reply October 22, 2013

    Hi John!

    It’s so strange; people seem completely divided when it comes to solo ads. Some swear by them, and others swear them off. However, for those who have made it work, it seems to work very well for them! 😀

    I was sort of on the fence about ever using solo ads, but you’ve convinced me that it probably wouldn’t hurt to at least experiment a little when I have the funds to spare. ^_^

    I’m going to go back and reread this blog post a few times, and let it all sink in!

    Thank you so much for all of the useful information! 😀


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