Traffic

Free targeted traffic mistake that kept me broke for 3 years

Free targeted traffic is a myth.

It’s a turd in a candy wrapper you’re being fed since day one in internet marketing.

It’s the sole cause of misery for tens of thousands of marketers who put in 40-60 hours a week into their online businesses without a return.

Eventually you find out there’s no such thing as “free” in this business.

No such thing as free help.

No such thing as free education.

And yes.. No such thing as free targeted traffic.

The free tools you’re using for productivity are restricted and buggy. The coach that promises to help you for free is misinforming you so bad it slums another 2 years on your learning curve. Worst part – he doesn’t even know he’s misinforming you because it’s blind leading the blind kinda thang. And the free targeted traffic technique you learned in a YouTube tutorial? Its taking so much time to set up and manage it’s not worth it even if you make less than min wage. Plus, by the time you’re done, there’s 14,563 other people trying to do the same thing so it doesn’t work.

Of course, yours unruly had to learn all this the hard way.

My first business opportunity was Global Domains International. The $10 per month GDI membership and a $9 per month GetResponse account was all a broke teenager could afford at the time.

Since I sunk all the money I had in getting positioned, I didn’t even bother with paid targeted traffic techniques.

Frankly, even if I had the money, I’d try free targeted traffic methods first anyway. When you get started online you don’t feel you’re qualified to use paid advertising. As if you have to be initiated into an inner circle of worthy marketers who are allowed to do this sort of voodoo magic. Of course, there’s no initiation rituals or board of council. No one can give you permission to use paid traffic. It isn’t given or taken by anyone but you. But more about that later.

The first free targeted traffic technique I tried was MySpace. Don’t scoff. We’re talking 2008-2009 here. MySpace is all the rage. Facebook is still in its infancy. Twitter’s only starting to make noise.

For the next 2 months I did nothing but create fake MySpace profiles that told my “fake it ‘till I make it” story. I had no idea what I was doing. I was just copying off my idols Budd and Dillard.

MySpace was a waste of time in terms of getting any actual traffic to my GDI affiliate link. But I learned a lot.

Next, I got bit by the Web 2.0 bug. I created Squidoo lenses (whatever happened to that site?), I posted my articles on EzineArticles dot com, I put up Google diary pages (what a fiasco that was) and even posted on Hubpages. I then turned my articles into YouTube videos by talking out what I wrote to a camera. Then I’d tweet all these links fingers crossed someone finds my rambling useful and shares it. That was my plan for getting rich quick.

Without even realizing I became a content-generation machine.

I was producing more content weekly than most Pro Bloggers bothered to write in a month. Yet, I wasn’t making progress. Besides an occasional pat on the back from my upline Jodie Thompson, all I got was getting myself banned from 3 internet marketing forums for spamming.

Free targeted traffic was already costing me tens of thousands of dollars in missed opportunities, time investment and misery. But I’m a determined SOB when I really want something, so I pushed on.

Right about that time auto-tweets became a new fad. I bought a software that automatically followed people (so they would follow me back). I could also schedule my tweets which meant I could tweet when I’m at work, pooping or playing FIFA.

Reflecting on this time, I can’t help but see the irony in buying a software to get free targeted traffic. But such is internet marketing. It’s ironic and it’s never free. It wasn’t long before I did the same thing on Facebook. I’ve had 5 profiles maxed out with 5,000 friends each. 3 of those profiles got banned for auto posting. I dropped the automation idea altogether.

At this point I’m thinking something’s wrong with me. I couldn’t possibly be wrong about free targeted traffic, can I? I mean, so many people enjoy free automated traffic doing the same thing. Why can’t I?

Something must be missing. But what? Oh, I know! It’s blogging.

At this point I can write an article about my neighbor’s kidney transplant or pretty much anything in 30-45 minutes. It wouldn’t be a very good article. But it’d be good enough to pose as valuable content on a web 2.0 site. So if I’m that proficient at producing content why not build an authority site doing it?

That day I set off an 8-months journey into the blogging world. I publish new unique content every day. I buy a domain, hosting and an actual WordPress theme. Hell, I even buy a search engine optimization course for $997 and go through it in a day. I pull no punches. Within just 4 months my blog starts ranking on the SERPs.

I’m getting visitors. Lots of ‘em. But the problem is nobody’s buying anything. I check Google Analytics and discover I’m not ranking for any of the keywords I’ve optimized for. Instead, I rank for a bunch of weird keywords. Keyword that could never result in buyer traffic. Turns out, the keywords I was targeting were too competitive.

Nothing a bunch of organic backlinks can’t fix, right?

Off I go guest posting on Daily Blogger and a bunch of other B-grade internet marketing blogs. And the weirdest thing happens.

I’m still getting visitors that don’t convert. I’m still broke and I’m still overworked trying to juggle a real job and my blog. But now I’m being perceived as somewhat of a gooroo by my readers. I get fan mail. I get coaching requests and I get JV proposals.

My excitement was short-lived, because as much as I’ve tried I couldn’t deposit my newly-found fame into my checking account. After having tried every free targeted traffic method there was, I finally gave in and turned to the dark side of paid traffic generation.

The hardest part was to break away from the belief I wasn’t qualified to run paid traffic for my business. That it wasn’t my birthright to play at the big boys’ poker table, so to speak. It kept me from even looking into paid traffic for years.

I decided to take it slow. I must’ve bought half a dozen paid traffic courses before pulling the plunge on my first paid campaign. Within just 3 weeks I knew everything there was to know about Google AdWords, Yahoo PPC (it’s called Bing Ads now), Pay Per View marketing and even CPA (cost per acquisition) marketing.

AdWords was the first thing I tried. Everyone was doing it at the time. AdWords was the Facebook ads of the 2000s. These days everyone has abandoned Google for the greener Facebook pastures. They’re wrong, of course. Facebook is way too competitive, ineffective and time consuming of a marketing strategy to be ranked even in the same category as AdWords. I’ll leave this argument for another time.

It took Google 27 hours to ban me.

I violated some kind of close in the user agreement (that I frankly never read – who does?). They didn’t bother explaining or warning me. They just kicked me out. So I tried Pay Per View marketing. Those were the fastest $200 I ever lost. Not because it was bad traffic. Probably, because I didn’t know what I was doing.

But it was a start. My first bump on the long road. I mastered paid traffic (solo ads primarily) over the next year. First, I relied heavily on PPV. But when solo ads came around, although they were pricier and it took me a while to figure out how solo ads work, I moved all my marketing dollars there. The rest is history.

The pursuit of free targeted traffic cost me three and a half years.

I lost money too. But it’s the time I can never get back. It was the most expensive lesson I’ll never forget. And neither should you.

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Solo Ads

Do solo ads work for anyone besides people selling them?

Do Solo Ads Work

Do solo ads really work? If not, why is everyone talking about them? If they do, how do you know if they’ll work for you without dropping thousands of dollars on traffic tests?

Solo ads are sort of like the hot girl in the office. She’s funny, intelligent and has a great body, but you’re not sure if you should hit on her.  If you do, it may make things awkward if she doesn’t feel the same way about you.

This idea won’t let you sleep at night. On one hand, you don’t want to look stupid and push her away. On the other hand, she may be the girl you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Decisions decisions.

That’s the tug of war almost every marketer deals with when they consider to use Solo ads as a source of new customers for their online business.

And it gets even more confusing after they run a couple of cheap solo ads that don’t convert.

Is it my offer? Is it this specific solo ad seller? Perhaps solo ads just don’t work and I’m wasting my time? Does anyone even make money with solo ads besides the people selling them?

I’d like to tackle this question once and for all to eliminate any confusion you may have about whether or not solo ads work and whether or not they can work for you.

But keep in mind that I’m biased. After all, I run world’s most trusted solo ad agency.

Yes, solo ads work. But they’re not for everyone. Solo ads have the potential to become a fast and easy source of new buyers for marketers who promote products in wide-appeal markets.

The markets where you should at least consider testing solo ads are business opportunity/work from home, personal development, weight loss, forex, binary options, dating and survival.

If you’re selling clothes, souvenirs or chicken coops (don’t laugh, it’s a pretty big niche) – solo ads are definitely not for you. If you’re a consultant looking for clients for your marketing agency or you’re a web design freelancer – solo ads are not for you. And if you’re promoting a local business – solo ads are also not for you.

The more niche targeting your offer requires – the less likely solo ads are to work for you.

It seems like the demand for solo ad traffic in any specific niche is directly proportionate to how hard it is to run PPC ads in that market. For example: you can’t run PPC ads on Facebook for a weight loss offer or a dating info product. You just can’t. You’ll get banned. Zuckerberg geeks don’t like marketers who make claims. And you can’t sell either one without making some pretty outrageous claims.

Forex and Binary is even worse. Nobody will let you come anywhere near PPC networks if you’re promoting that stuff.

Note: I’m not here to judge whether or not what you’re marketing is good, bad or ethical. This article observes whether you should or shouldn’t attempt to use solo ads as a primary source of traffic for your online business. That’s it. You can sell candy to diabetics for all I care.

You may also be considering free traffic. If you are – read this article about free vs paid biz opp traffic. My solo ad agency specializes in business opportunity/internet marketing/make money from home traffic. Incidentally, this niche is also taboo on PPC. The moment you make an income claim or make a vague promise (even if your website is sowed with disclaimers) – you’re either kicked off the network or your cost per click soars.

In which case, you should definitely consider Solo ads.

Why? Several reasons.

Cost of solo ads

Compared to the kind of CPC you’re paying on FB ads and Google Adwords for competitive keywords and targeting – solo ads are much more affordable. You could optimize your solo ad campaigns to get you email subscribers at under $2.00. These numbers aren’t realistic in Adwords and FB ads in these niches.

The Facebook Slap

Several years ago I was selling a high ticket list building coaching program. I was driving traffic primarily through Facebook ads. I was spending $2,000.00 per day averaging $8.00 for every $1.00 I invested. Until one day I woke up and saw that my Facebook Ads account was gone. The famous Facebook slap. What happened? Facebook didn’t like my ad copy.

In spite of me being a highly profitable customer for them, they kicked me out without warning or a 2nd chance.

Why would they do that? Because while they make all their money from selling ads, Facebook’s customer is not the marketer. It’s the user. Ask any advertiser in the niches above who makes more than $10,000 per month and they’ll tell you their own version of the Facebook slap story. We all had it happen to us. And if it still hasn’t happened to you – it will.

And that will never happen to you with solo ads. There’s no rep chasing you with a torch and a pitchfork because you’re a marketer. In fact, the solo seller is interested in you scaling, because they’ll make more money.

This creates a different problem to watch out for, of course. The one where they’ll tell you anything you want to hear just to get you to buy some clicks. Here’s a great example of what can happen to you if you’re not careful.

This is by far the most important reason why you should try solo ads if you’re marketing wide-appeal products, courses and programs. You can’t get banned no matter the ad copy you use, no matter your landing pages, no matter your offer.

How to scale solo ads

Ever tried scaling a PPC ad that’s performing well? I did. It should be as simple as increasing your daily budget. But it’s not. Weird things happen when you increase your daily budget by more than 10% on Facebook ads. The ad you spent weeks dialing in suddenly doesn’t work anymore.

With solo ads it’s a totally different story. Just buy more clicks.

So far I make it sound like solo ads are the best thing since picture-in-picture TV. But they’ve got their own downsides. Here’s a couple things you need to have in place to have a reason to expect for solo ads to work for you.

What Do You Need To Make Solo Ads Work For You

High Ticket Offer

You can’t get rich selling $10 reports. It’s fine to offer a low ticket front end but a high ticket back end offer has to follow. It’s the slack-adjuster you need to make your solo ad buys profitable. I see marketers get stuck all the time because they run out of money. But they don’t have a money problem. They’ve got an offer problem.

Deep Funnel

In addition to a high ticket offer in your funnel, you should also offer upsells and cross sells to increase your lifetime customer value.

Reputable Vendor

I can’t emphasize this enough. Avoid buying traffic on a solo ad marketplace. Buy only from a trusted, reputable vendor.

Aggressive Email Follow Up

Most people approach solo ads with an instant-conversion mindset. They expect to see sales the same day they run the solo ad or at least within 48 hours. That’s a huge misconception. While some prospects will act right away, because they’re irrational junkies, most people require more wining and dining. They’ll need at least 30 exposures to your offer before they’ll say yes. It means you have to follow up with them every single day. We use email to do that.

Just like any other form of traffic, you have to test, track and optimize your marketing when you run solo ads. Good news is that you will save a lot of time and money by using a reliable solo ad provider who knows what they’re doing. They’ll be able to tell you upfront whether or not you’re wasting time and what to change if you don’t get the results you’re looking for.

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Solo Ads

Why you should avoid buying traffic on a solo ad marketplace

Solo Ad Marketplace

When I started buying solo ads, there was no solo ad marketplace.

When you Googled “solo ads” nothing came up.

There were just a bunch of safelists and traffic exchanges selling fake email drops.

The only way to get clicks was to be invited into a secret Skype room where a handful of solo ad sellers hung out and sold clicks to each other.

There was no Fiverr, no Udimi, no solo ad directories.

Nothing.

Just the secret Skype rooms with less than 100 members. It was an elite society of highly advanced email marketers who exploited every loophole ISPs still haven’t sealed to squeeze thousands of clicks out of lists as small as 3,000 prospects.

I’m not joking.

Back then you could make $10,000-$30,000 per month promoting affiliate offers to a list of 5,000 free optins (not customers!). The subscribers were much more responsive because they checked their email on their computers and not on their smartphones on their way to the urinal.

Major autoresponder companies still haven’t begun their war on marketers.

Aweber and GetResponse welcomed affiliate marketers. It was the golden era of email marketing where Inboxing was simple. It didn’t require marketers to get creative.

I could load an email swipe less than 150 words long full of spam-triggering words and inbox twice a day.

I consider myself lucky to have somehow come across these secret Skype rooms.

The marketers who hung out there knew how to get a lot of clicks for you. They allowed you to promote to their lists for pennies compared to what marketers were paying on Adwords.

And best part…

It was such a tight-knit community, there was almost no chance you got scammed buying solo ad traffic.

Why?

Because the word would spread faster than California wildfire and who ever sold you bad clicks would get expelled from the tribe.

They’d never be able to sell solo ads ever again.

And many were expelled, matter of fact, because they got greedy and tried selling crap traffic to people.

Being barred from this group for an email marketer was like being kicked out of Harvard if you’re a lawyer.

It came with a cost.

And some even tried sneaking back in under a pen name with little luck.

The reason they wanted to get in so bad is because nobody knew what solo ads were. If you were competing for a spot on the leaderboards in a program like MOBE or Empower Network, you possessed an unfair advantage that shot you up the rankings overnight.

But that wasn’t going to last. Nothing does.

Eventually, Solo ads went mainstream.

I saw it coming early on and that’s why I decided to become one of the major contributors to making that happen.

In fact, alongside guys like John Cornetta, who was considered the King of Solo Ads at the time, I became the leading authority on solo ads within a couple of months.

John since got bored with solo ads. He moved on to eCommerce. That was way before eCommerce became a thing. He always had a knack for spotting marketing trends before they occur. But I digress…

I took a huge part in spreading the word about Solo Ads. I created several information products and I even ran a Solo Ad coaching program where I taught people how to sell solo ads.

Of course, first I had to teach how to build a list using solo ads, which has become harder over the years compared to what it has been when I started. The click prices started rising. There were new solo ad sellers popping up every single day. The solo ad industry was booming.

Around this time another part of the industry boomed – the solo ad scams.

Conmen and women who noticed this giant wave of people looking for traffic to promote their online business started creating low-class one-page websites and fake Facebook profiles. They offered clicks at dirt-cheap prices luring newbies with bargain clicks. Soon the market was flooded with scam artists selling fake traffic.

Anyway, I was busy coaching people how to buy and sell solo ads, so I didn’t pay much attention to where the solo ad marketplace was going.

Eventually, however, I got tired of coaching and invested my time and resources into building Igor Solo Ads into world’s most trusted Solo Ad Agency it is today.

Once solo ads gone mainstream a whole bunch of Solo Ad Marketplaces sprouted online. They all offered the same thing:

They encouraged people not to buy solo ads from independent traffic vendors and use the solo ad marketplace rating system to quickly pin point the best solo ad sources and buy only from the best.

I’m talking about sites like Udimi (ex safe swaps), solochecker and others.

But this promise is flawed.

Why?

Because other than price, there’s no real way to tell who’s sending you good clicks.

The rating systems are inherently biased.

They could be easily manipulated by sophisticated scam artists and mediocre traffic pushers who offer great customer support and are willing to send couple hundred extra clicks to keep customers from complaining or worse – from posting their real results.

There’s no real way to differentiate between sellers on these marketplaces. Not even their pricing.

Let me explain:

The sellers who charge an extra 15%-20% per click have been caught re-selling traffic through the solo ad marketplace to cheaper sources and pocket the difference.

And some sellers start several profiles with different pricing creating false sense of choice.

Does it mean you should never buy through a solo ad marketplace?

No.

There’s some good traffic on those marketplaces.

It’s just you’re going to have to plow through dozens of bad sellers in disguise to find one decent source.

When you shop for clicks, you should keep in mind that you’re gambling and they got the house advantage.

You got no control besides posting a bad review that’s only valid in the solo ad marketplace and is not visible to the general public. This review could also be easily removed if the solo ad seller is in good standing with the network owner who wants the seller to sell more clicks because he’s getting a cut of every transaction.

Yes, that’s another big reason not to trust the solo ad marketplace websites.

The owners are always “in” on the transactions.

That’s how they make money.

The more orders occur on the network, the more the network owner makes.

Which naturally tips the scales of solo ad justice, so to speak.

In short, you’re putting your hard-earned money at risk when you rely on the internal tracking and rating systems.

A way to minimize your risk to a bare min is to get traffic from an established time-tested and top-earner-approved source. Someone your team leader or team mate recommends. A source that’s listed in more than one rolodex. A source that’s open to having a conversation with you before you order.

And best of all – someone who offers a guarantee on their traffic.

The worst thing you can do is chase cheap clicks. That’s a recipe for getting scammed and building a dead list. With solo ads you always get what you pay for. Wherever you get your clicks from, keep that in mind, because the scammers will always try to bribe you with a sweet deal!

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Solo Ads

Biz opp traffic – Should I pay for it or get it free?

Biz Opp Traffic

Affiliate marketing is awesome.

Its probably one of the best businesses you can build online.

You don’t have to create products, do customer support or even think about tracking. Office space? Employees? Forget about it! It’s the best way to live the laptop lifestyle.

Just send lots of targeted biz opp traffic to your affiliate links and you’re good to go!

And this is where the only challenge with affiliate marketing lies – how do you get good traffic?

Fast, targeted and scalable traffic to boot.

When I first stumbled into this challenge I had no idea where to start.

After initial research I learned there’s traffic you can buy by running a Pay Per Click ad on Google, Facebook or a 3rd party website. And there’s traffic you can get for free by optimizing your website to rank on Google.

Like every marketing rookie faced with the same dilemma I chose free biz opp traffic.

Why would I spend money on getting clicks to my affiliate links if I could get them free, right?

Turned out there was a hidden price no one told me about.

Time.

For the next 3 years I jumped from one failing free traffic strategy to another

– Flooded MySpace with fake profiles I created using an automated software.

– Shot 5 videos a week and uploaded them on YouTube. I shared these videos on my social media profiles to get views.

– Started several twitter accounts and followed hundreds of people a day in hopes they’ll follow me back thanks to the priciple of reciprocity.

– Blogged daily targeting low competition keywords.

– Built link-wheels and link-sharing networks with other affiliate marketers to boost my sites up the SERPs. It was all a big waste of my time.

All these strategies were time consuming. They were slow to yield any results and they were making me lose precious time I didn’t have. I had to wake up early before work to write an article for my blog and stay up until 2 am in the morning after work to do social media marketing.

I wasn’t stuck in the rat race. It was way worse

Ironically, after realizing how time consuming free traffic become, I started spending money on tools and services to increase my productivity.

One of the first tools I invested in was a social site bookmark creator. It would grab an article on my blog and automatically submit it to social bookmark sites such as digg.com and stumbleupon.com.

The idea was to create as many social bookmarks as possible to get indexed faster.

Another tool I got was an automatic posting software for my social media accounts.

It allowed me to submit a message and have it posted across all my social media accounts and platforms. I could also schedule my updates which allowed me to pre-submit them a month ahead and not worry about having to post manually.

But you know what was the worst part with all this leg work I was doing?

Free biz opp traffic didn’t yield any results.

The trickles of visitors I got from Social Media sites were either bored, not targeted or window shopping. It took me a long time before I realized why social media traffic didn’t work.

People get on Facebook and Twitter when they’re bored.

They don’t scroll through their feed to buy products.

Okay, Igor, it means your search engine optimization efforts paid off!

Nope.

My search engine optimization efforts were non existent.

In spite of investing a lot of time and a ton of money in educating myself in up to date SEO strategies I was only able to get my site to 100-150 visitors per day.

And be those targeted buyers, I’d do well. I’d be hitting those leaderboards in no time!

But these weren’t buyers. These were lurkers and trolls. They consumed the content I was putting out, but they weren’t buying anything.

I used to wake up in the morning, go to the living room and fire up my laptop. I’d be sitting on my couch in my underwear checking my Google Analytics stats. Excited seeing visitors, I checked my affiliate earnings on ClickBank and with several other affiliate marketing programs I worked at the time.

Nothing. Zilch. Not a single frigging sale!

I sacrificed all the free time I had left before and after work to build up a free traffic network that supplied me with deadbeat clicks.

In fact, I’ve built a thousand person optin list using my blog and I had to trash it. The first and last time I emailed it I got 13 opens and 3 clicks. It took me 34 week to build this “dead” list.

It was the last straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

I was finally convinced that free biz opp traffic is a waste of time for affiliate marketers. But I couldn’t jump into paid traffic. There were two challenges.

First, no paid biz opp traffic network like Adwords or Facebook Ads likes marketers. It’s catch 22. They make money by selling advertising, but their focus is on the end user. They work hard to create an experience for the consumer, because they want consumers on their sites as much as possible. And they believe certain types of ads and marketing lingo prevents that.

In other words, if you wanted to run Adwords, you couldn’t use a squeeze page or sales page. You had to run the traffic to your blog full of high quality content and hope the customer sticks around.

This goes against direct response marketing.

But these are the rules you had to play by if you wanted to be in the game.

Oh, and this was before they invented retargeting. You couldn’t place a pixel or do anything sneaky to your visitors. There was no way of capturing your clicks and recycling them.

But that’s just one side of it.

The other challenge was way-way worse – insane click cost.

If you’re an affiliate marketer (and they haven’t “slapped” you yet) in a cash-rich market such as internet marketing, make money online, biz opp, weight loss or dating  – you’re punished with an obscenely high cost per click on your ads.

While you could get clicks as low as $0.05-$0.20 cents in other niches, internet marketers paid $5.00-$15.00 per click on Adwords.

Facebook was cheaper, but only for a short while. They followed Google quickly raising their prices, changes terms of service and slapping marketers left, right and center.

In short – you needed deep pockets to play the paid advertising game with the networks. So I lost before I could start.

I ran out of doors to knock on and I was beat.

Right around this time a new biz opp traffic source started emerging. This traffic source was mainly talked about in Skype chatrooms and internet marketing forums. It was cheaper than PPC. Faster than free traffic. Offered better targeting and faster results.

What was this mysterious biz opp traffic source?

Solo ads.

Solo ads is a pay per click traffic source. It allows you to rent someone else’s email list.

Imagine if you could run an email ad to a list of people who fit your target audience (e.g. people who want to make money online, women who can’t get a date, males over 40 who want to get rid of the beer belly, etc) and that these targeted clicks would cost you less than Adwords or FB ads.

That’s exactly what solo ads are.

And that’s exactly what I needed to find my big break as an affiliate marketer.

Don’t get me wrong, Solo ads got downsides too! They’re not perfect.

When it comes to solo ads you’re basically on your own. There’s no three letter acronym agency to protect you. Not even the FTC. The market is awash with solo ad scam artists who take advantage of people. They sell biz opp traffic and never deliver the clicks. Some sell fake clicks that look like they’re real visitors, but instead it’s parked domain traffic or fraudulent clicks.

You have to be careful with choosing the right solo ad providers for you. And you have to have to test dozens until you find one that’s any good.

But let me tell you… When you find the one that works – you’ll be able to scale quickly, affordably and without a hitch. Best part – you won’t get slapped! The solo ad seller won’t jack up his prices because of some ToS or refuse to run your offer because you’re making far fetched claims.

You’re free to market to their audience as you see fit

It’s not uncommon to witness marketing beginners build 1000, 3000 and even 10000 optin lists in their first months using solo ads. It’s a fast and simple process, because there’s no learning curve.

You don’t need to be a skilled marketing veteran to track your solo ads and scale them. You can quickly determine the winning sources with tests under $100-$300. Sometimes even less than that.

Important caveat. The age-old wisdom of “you get what you pay for” applies. As a rule of thumb expect poor performance from cheap solo ads.

The reason they’re cheap, with a few exceptions, is because the list owner knows it’s a dead list and they can’t make money mailing it with offers. So they sell clicks instead. They know there’s people out there who are going to pay them to mail. They build dead lists with no buyer potential to sell solo ads.

You’ll find tons of these solo sellers on various solo ad marketplaces and by running a simple Google search.

Some will even make outrageous claims promoting sales… But when you dig deeper will hide behind fine print disclaimers asking to run at least 10,000 clicks and test 15 landing pages and only if your offer is a $1 trial and a bunch of other nonsense like that.

In short – solo ads are definitely NOT a silver bullet

But they blow SEO, PPC and Social Media marketing out of the water. They’re faster, they’re cheaper, they produce higher ROI (when done right, of course) and they’re automated. All in all, you could say that they’re the best biz opp traffic source around right now.

They’re also dangerous, because it’s like the wild-wild west and you’re not protected by any authorities against things like a solo ad scam. You can easily be duped into buying fake clicks or your solo ad could be resold to another list owner without you even knowing it.

This is why you have to test each source with a small click package of anywhere between 200 and 500 clicks.

If you’re not sure if solo ads are for you, take this short quiz to find out if you should give solo ads a shot.

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Solo Ads

How I got scammed by a two-face solo ad scam artist

Nobody’s safe from solo ad traffic SCAMs.

Even grizzled marketing vet like me walks into traffic trap every now and again.

It happens because the Solo Ad marketplace is like the wild-wild west. It’s not regulated. There’s no agency or big brother to watch over everyone’s shoulder. There’s no rules of conduct.

But most importantly – there’s no Justice.

A newbie can walk into the scene, get scammed for $2,000 and there’s no one she can talk to about punishing the wrongdoers.

Almost everyone who gets started with solo ads gets sold bogus clicks at least once.

I’m no exception.

One time when I bought over $10,000 worth of clicks from a solo ad seller I met at the Orlando Solo Ad Summit back in August 2014.

At the time I was no spring chicken.

I was already making more with Solo ads per month than most people make per year on their jobs. My lists were in the hundreds of thousands. I’ve had several programs on the market and my agency was becoming the go-to traffic source for top earners and newbies alike.

Like a smart traffic consumer would do, I started with a small buy of 1,000 clicks.

It seemed to have went well at first.

So I scaled.

Over the course of the next 3 months I bought over $10,000 worth of traffic from this fella.

I trusted him so much I didn’t even check my stats for some time.

But one day I noticed sales plummeted.

The first thing I did was to check my traffic sources.

There were some that were doing 50%-70% breakeven.

Some were producing a 20%-40% profit within a week.

And there was one traffic source that was plain awful. I was losing $170-$250 every day I let this source run.

It was him. This is when I discovered that this con man hasn’t produced a single sale in weeks. I’m not sure why I didn’t track his stats closer. I guess I got comfortable. But fact is – something was off with this guy’s traffic and I had to find out exactly what was wrong.

Before confronting him head on, I first checked the Hotjar recordings.

Hotjar is a screen capture software which records your visitors’ activity so you can see how your site works and how to improve it.

And you know what this guy’s traffic showed on Hotjar?

There were thousands of visitors who behaved exactly the same way when they hit my squeeze page.

They opted in, moved to the sales page and then scrolled all the way down within 1.5 seconds and closed the page.

I’ve never seen prospects behave this way in my life.

Even the most skeptical and untargeted visitors invest more effort into reading my sales pages!

But that’s not the weirdest part…

In Hotjar I was also able to see the screen dimensions of my visitors.

A normal computer screen is about 1280×800 and a mobile resolution is 750×1334. It varies. But almost all of them are in that range.

Now get this…

The traffic the scam artist solo ad seller was sending me had screen resolution of 2×100.

He was sending me Robocop screen dimension traffic

This is when I knew immediately he was sending fake clicks.

There’s no web browsing device with such dimensions.

And even if there was, it would only be >2% of traffic. The rest should have been normal.

But I wanted to run another check before rubbing his face in these fake clicks.

I logged into my Aweber account, exported my list and ran it through a list cleaner.

85% FAKE EMAILS!

This douche bag traffic seller has been sending FAKE LEADS for weeks. He established trust first, sent some real traffic and then switched his source to a bunch of fake bots and revved up the engine to the max.

The story ended when I confronted this a-hole and demanded a full refund on all the clicks he ever bought from him or I’d release video proof to the whole wide world to see.

As you’d expect, he pretended not to know what’s going on.

He apologized profusely and said it couldn’t be true.

He said he must have received a bad batch from his supplied and promised to investigate.

I wasn’t listening.

I’ve heard these excuses a million times before.

I got my money back eventually.

And I learned an important lesson in BOT TRAFFIC.

Since then I haven’t ran a single solo ad without Hotjar. And I even warned solo ad providers I was using a screen capture software to record evidence of the traffic they were sending me, just in case they planned to run some garbage through my funnel.

This scammer doesn’t sell traffic anymore.

But there’s a ton of scammers still out there… lurking in the shadows looking for their next victim.

Luckily for there’s tools you can use to protect yourself.

Hotjar being one.

Another tool I recommend is VerifyShark. It verifies the emails you’re getting in real time, blocking fake emails and spam traps from getting on your list.

This way you’re paying only for real emails, not fakes ones.

In spite of everyone being aware of the traffic scamming that’s been going on lately with solo ads, 99.99% of marketers buy solo ads without protection.

Hell… most aren’t even aware of the real danger of buying FAKE LEADS.

Which is why we have developed a real-time email verification script for our landing pages. It doesn’t guarantee we won’t be scammed, but at least they won’t be able to stuff our email list with fake optins.

If solo ads are that risky, why bother?

Can you really break even with solo ads or even profit? Why not drop solo ads and move to better and safer traffic sources like Facebook ads?

Many reasons.

First, Facebook ads don’t allow certain types of offers such as: make money online, business opportunity, forex, dating, weight loss or anything that makes claims of any kind. Facebook is not marketer’s friend. Facebook’s customer is the end user and they’ll do anything to protect them against the evil of advertising, in spite of advertising being their #1 income stream.

Facebook is now primarily an e-commerce and education advertising platform. It’s off limits for hardcore marketers who want to penetrate profit-rich markets I mention above.

Solo ads is the only unregulated (e.g. you can’t get banned) and highly scalable traffic source for internet marketers and business opportunity marketers. It’s also cheaper than Facebook ads. It’s also much more targeted and effective!

This painful learning experience has taught me how to protect myself against solo ad scams. It allowed me to scale my monthly lead generation to tens of thousands of new leads while FB ad and Instagram marketers are trailing behind generating a fraction of that paying 5x-12x per optin.

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Solo Ads

Why an average solo ad conversion rate doesn’t exist

Conversion Rate

One of the most annoying questions that I get as a traffic provider is “What’s the average conversion rate for <insert offer here>?”

People think I’m supposed to know this stuff.

But worse, they believe there is such a thing as an average conversion rate.

Here’s why you’re dooming yourself to failure by asking such question:
Anyone who clings to the idea of an average conversion rate is looking for reassurance. They need to know their offer converts before they put money on traffic. Otherwise they may lose a lot of money (which many of them don’t even have!).

They’re looking for safety in numbers.

It’s a habit that’s rooted deep in our childhood. The system that grooms us for adult life teaches us to be average, to seek average and to avoid risk. I’d argue it’s exactly why so many people fail to run a successful marketing business. They sign up for a business opportunity based on how many people make money with it. They take themselves out of the equation. They think it’s a numbers game that has nothing to do with who they are and how they market and position themselves.

The average marketer, according to a recent survey conducted by Vick Strizheus from the 4Percent group says:
“An average marketer makes less than $500 per month. Most less than $100 per month.”

On the other end of that spectrum you got the 4% of people who make $1,000 or more. Majority in the $1,000-$10,000 range. And about a handful who are multi millionaires. The “average” marketers that make next to nothing outnumber those who do well by a significant margin. So significant, in fact, they bring down the average to a measly $700 per month.

Does that mean you should expect to make at least that much when starting an online business?

Of course not.

The same is true with conversions for business opportunities. There is always going to be a handful of people who convert like crazy and most people who will not convert at all. Not because of the traffic (although that’s important too), but mostly due to their weak marketing, follow up and positioning.

Why do marketers cling to averages?

Almost every business opportunity sells its own system. They’ll give you average optin rates, average sales conversions and they’ll even tell you how many clicks should produce your first sign up.
Of course, they won’t ever tell you they’re giving you the numbers from their best affiliate. They’ll hide the fact these numbers are far fetched for 90% of the company’s affiliates. And that they begong to a blue-blooded veteran with a giant list they nurtured for years.

Why would they do that?

Because they’re giving people what they want – reassurance they can do it.

They’re attempting to create the illusion of safety in the unpredictable entrepreneurial journey. But they’re doing their members a disservice by presenting these numbers because entrepreneur’s journey is slippery by default.

The only one place that you can expect an average is the average min wage you get when you work for someone else. That’s the only way to predict your income. But this safety comes at a steep price. It cements you into a low wage job and a boring life.

You won’t have to guess how much you’ll make or risk your neck. But you also won’t get to enjoy your life or write your own checks.
You have to accept that employee thinking (looking for averages) doesn’t work online. It only works in the Matrix. By making a decision to get out of the Matrix, you leave the comfort of averages.

You can’t be thinking like an employee and expect to run a profitable business.
One cannot expect to convert like a top earner if they think like an employee.
You have to let go of what makes you an employee and you have to adapt a whole new set of life rules.

Otherwise you’re inviting struggle.

How To Find A Winning Business Opportunity

Often, after an unsuccessful promotion, marketers jump opportunities.

They trade their old opportunity they failed with for a new and exciting one that may convert better.

They believe the opportunity is what is going to make the difference for them.

This is not an exception. This is the norm.

There are always going to be people who jump opportunities. That’s why they call them biz opp junkies. Because they jump from one program to another sometimes within the same week.

They look for the winning program that’s going to make them rich.

But it won’t.

Most top earners I’ve observed never jumped opportunities to make sales. They do well with any program they join. Often with several programs at once. They only reason they jump opportunities is to create an influx of sales from their list.

Here’s the thing though – none of them talk about average conversion rates.

Sure. If you ask them what their average conversion rate, they will tell you. But their averages mean nothing to you.

The averages don’t matter.

Calculating an average conversion rate for your opportunity is a waste of time.

Instead, you should seek out the people who convert your opportunity (you’ll see their names on your company’s leaderboards) and reverse engineer how they do it.

What does their personal sales funnel look like?
What’s their unique selling proposition?
How are they executing their positioning?
What is their value stack strategy?
Are they closing on the phone, via chat or email?

That’s what you ought to be doing to make sales.

That’s what I’ve done for years to bring myself up from my knees in the internet marketing industry. While my peers jumped on the latest fads, I watched the gurus.  I watched them. I didn’t listen to a word they were saying. I observed their actions. I studied their sales pages. I funnel hacked their sales funnels and email follow up. The last thing I’ve done was to change my traffic source. Early on that made no sense. After all, I was using the same traffic sources they used.

The greatest advantage over your competitors is to never assume infallibility.

So if you’re not converting, before switching your traffic source or your opportunity…

Question yourself.

Question your positioning. Question your email follow up. Question your closing skills. Question your sales page. Question your leadership skills. Question everything within your locus of control.

Because that’s what top earners do.

So next time you’re facing a conversion challenge don’t seek safety in numbers.

Doing that is an attempt to justify failure upfront. What you’re doing is you’re saying, “Okay this is what I’m supposed to get and if I don’t get this then the system is broken and it is not my fault.”

Instead take extreme ownership for your own numbers. Ask yourself what am I not doing that can improve my conversions by 10% in the next 30 days? This will lead you to answers unavailable to infallable marketers.

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Sales

Why most people don’t break even with solo ads

Break Even

There’s two schools of thought when it comes to buying solo ads.

#1 – Get a good sales funnel and expect to make some of your money back quickly using a low ticket front end offer, while banking on getting the rest over the long haul through your email follow up sequence.

#2 -If you’re not making all of your advertising dollars back immediately, don’t waste your time tweaking, because you’ve been sold bad traffic.

I agree with neither.

Both schools of thought are dead wrong.

Truth is…

Most marketers have the wrong idea about what it takes to breakeven with solo ads.

The secret to breaking even and pocketing a huge profit on your solo ads lies in one of the single most overlooked and forgotten elements of your entire business.

The Holy Grail of online marketing – getting traffic and having it pay for itself – is easier than you think. But it’s hard for most marketers to believe because it goes against what they’ve been taught.

It all comes down to executing several key strategies.

Push The Money To The Top Of The Pyramid

One of my whale-clients, an amazing person and a well-known and well-respected leader in our community approached me and he said that his advertising budget got cut by like 60%. That’s a lot. This guy used to buy anywhere from 8,000 to 18,000 clicks per month from me. And suddenly he’s cutting that down to just a couple of thousand each month.

He was forced to cut his advertising budget because of reasons not in his control.

He asked me about other ways of driving traffic which weren’t paid traffic. I told him that that’s the wrong question to ask, because all he needed to do was to change his backend approach. Close more backend sales and create more cash flow.

Imagine your business is a pyramid. It’s wide at the bottom and narrow at the top.

Most people try to collect the money at the bottom. They do so because it’s the lowest hanging fruit.

There’s some money at the bottom. Most of the money is at the top. You have to push money to the top of the pyramid by offering a high ticket backend.

That’s the only way you can ever afford to buy your leads in the marketplace with an ever increasing lead generation costs.

The way you break even and make money with solo ads is not through expecting tons and tons and tons of sales on the frontend.

I often get these clients who reach out to me promoting a $7 information product or something like a WSO or maybe JVZoo product.

They get a quote and they’re like..

Dude, to break even with solo ads I need to make 15 frontend sales. This is never going to work. You need to drop your price!

My response:

No, dude, you’ve just got it all backwards, because you’re the one who needs to build a decent back end.

In the restaurant industry, if the restaurant owner runs an ad in the newspaper, he never breaks even on the very first visit. He doesn’t make money when you respond to the ad by coming in to check out the lunch specials.

The restaurant owner can recoups and makes money on the ad campaign weeks or months later, when you come back the second time, maybe with a friend.

There’s also a great chance of you recommending the place to a friend and him getting a free customer in the next 6 months.

So he’s actually forced to wait at least 90-180 days to break even or make money on the ad.

Most marketers these days, with the internet false-changing the time and results paradigm, can’t wait 90 seconds to breakeven.

So they’re basically playing a losing game.

Build (Or Borrow) A Back End

The only way to break even is by building (or borrowing) a backend.

If you’re promoting your business opportunity choose to partner with the opportunity that has a deep backend.

You’re looking for a product line ranging from low entry item of $27-$97 and a back end graduation model with $497, $997, $1997, $4997 and $9997 products.

Refer just one sale and you’ve quadrupled your margins!

All my successful clients at Igor Solo Ads run such offers. The backend is where they create cash flow which they reinvest back in traffic which is now paid out of their profits, not their pockets.

Because remember, there’s no magic bullets. The formula to creating cash flow is good traffic and high converting offer with a scalable backend. You won’t breakeven selling $7 widgets. High backend margins not only allow you to buy more ads but also gives you much larger error margins. It also puts you ahead of your competitors who can’t buy leads because their funnels don’t produce enough cash flow no matter the traffic source they’re using.

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