Free or paid traffic? (no fighting!)

by Heath Sanchez 46 replies
Hey warriors!

Let's shed some light on the great debate.

Which is better FREE or PAID traffic?
#main internet marketing discussion forum #fighting #free #paid #traffic
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  • Profile picture of the author PPC-Coach
    Yee haw first vote.

    (I went with free of course...)

    LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author nathanj
    I prefer FREE due to the fact that 'anyone' has the chance to benefit from it.

    People new to the industry can be very skeptical... so it is a great way to see if they have what it takes. A lot of people don't want to spend money on something they don't know much about.

    It also helps to get their hands into the nitty gritty stuff to see how things work.

    Nath

    P.S. Paid traffic through PPC etc. is still a great option but many people won't want to compete in areas with high CPC charges. So free traffic gives them the opportunity to enter a market without high expenses.

    But it can be a catch22... as many people want the short/sharp n fast solution. So I'm sure many consumers go for PPC etc just for that aspect.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Dillon
    if your broke FREE, but if your rich PAID every time.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Dominic
      This is an easy answer. FREE traffic! Why would I want to pay for traffic?

      Even though I make a lot with various paid traffic methods, there is nothing better than knowing that I'm making a lot of money from my free traffic methods.

      It might be a little more effort, but it's definitely worth it.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
        No vote, because I don't see a button for doing both. I like to take advantage of both. Balance.
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        • Profile picture of the author Michael Ellis
          Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

          No vote, because I don't see a button for doing both. I like to take advantage of both. Balance.
          Damn, Kevin, you beat me to the punch.
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          • Profile picture of the author Adeel_Chowdhry
            Okay...

            Quality has to be a factor here.

            Low quality (untargeted) Free and Paid traffic (for your offer) isn't worth anything since it will not convert. If it doesn't convert, you don't get the desired action you want, i.e. lead or sale.

            Assuming the quality (targeted) is there, many people would, as I see, opt for free traffic...no objections there.

            Getting tons of free traffic to your site can take time to achieve so certainly it isn't an overnight deal.

            Paid traffic on the other hand, can be delivered to you almost instantly, along with it being high in quality (targeted prospect).

            - Adeel
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            • Profile picture of the author privateye2500
              Free. Pretty much EVERY body these days knows what a *paid* link is...and think of it like an ad on T.V.

              I don't know about you, but I don't run out and buy Mr. Clean because I saw his bald head on the tube. I don't even buy it later. I buy what I like or I think is the best and I dern well know that ad's LIE. We ALL know that ads lie.

              Just my take on it.

              Melanie
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              • Profile picture of the author Adeel_Chowdhry
                Originally Posted by privateye2500 View Post

                Free. Pretty much EVERY body these days knows what a *paid* link is...and think of it like an ad on T.V.

                I don't know about you, but I don't run out and buy Mr. Clean because I saw his bald head on the tube. I don't even buy it later. I buy what I like or I think is the best and I dern well know that ad's LIE. We ALL know that ads lie.

                Just my take on it.

                Melanie
                That's the thing Melanie...you are told what the best is...your decisions probably aren't even your own.

                These ads are effective. Repetative bombardment of ads do work, whether you believe it or not.

                They enter your subconcious mind after continous periods of exposure.

                So whatever cleaner (for example) that you buy...was already sold to you in one form of marketing or another.

                - Adeel
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                • Profile picture of the author privateye2500
                  Originally Posted by Adeel_Chowdhry View Post

                  That's the thing Melanie...you are told what the best is...your decisions probably aren't even your own.

                  These ads are effective. Repetative bombardment of ads do work, whether you believe it or not.

                  They enter your subconcious mind after continous periods of exposure.

                  So whatever cleaner (for example) that you buy...was already sold to you in one form of marketing or another.

                  - Adeel
                  Yep, Vinegar and water and newspaper. Saw a BIG ad on that the other day! LOL - Repetative bombardment does nothing but piss me off AND my subconcious mind too - probably more so.

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              • Profile picture of the author Dan Maloney
                Originally Posted by privateye2500 View Post

                Free. Pretty much EVERY body these days knows what a *paid* link is...and think of it like an ad on T.V.

                I don't know about you, but I don't run out and buy Mr. Clean because I saw his bald head on the tube. I don't even buy it later. I buy what I like or I think is the best and I dern well know that ad's LIE. We ALL know that ads lie.
                You also assume everyone else out there has the same level of awareness as you. People in IM work with ad copy and emotional tactics every day, and we pretty much have the savvy to find out what an affiliate link is. I don't think this is true for the general population.

                I don't want to say most people are dumb, because I prefer to believe in people. But if advertising tactics didn't work (such as time-limited offers), people wouldn't be using them. Me looking at so much web copy I see the tactics. They seem transparent. But for most people, they aren't.
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                • Profile picture of the author TimS
                  I have nothing against paid traffic, as long as it is paying me in return. Still, my vote is for free since I could not choose both.
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                • Profile picture of the author Lance K
                  I vote for...

                  C. Targeted Traffic
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                  • Profile picture of the author ali_ravians
                    I think no one hates free stuff but if it is costing a lot of time, then you got to do a bit of decision making
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                    • Profile picture of the author martinp
                      I use both - if I had to choose I'd probably say free as I've had great success with SEO, article marketing etc BUT although I've never been into PPC in a huge way I've seen some success with it too.
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                    • Profile picture of the author TOPGUN08
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                      • Profile picture of the author MoaddinFM
                        that question is somewhat silly

                        If you knew, that your paid traffic is converting, you would only use paid traffic again and again as long as there is a positive ROI.

                        Just my 2 cents.

                        Martin

                        P.S.: I voted for free traffic, but only, because there is no guarantee the investment in paid traffic will be a good one and so there has to be an alternative way -> free traffic obviously
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                        • Profile picture of the author eugie17
                          I prefer free traffic because its like you own the traffic, while paid is just like rented house you will be paying forever and mistakes will cost you alot
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                          • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
                            For the sake of a poll....I'll say FREE...

                            BUT..

                            It isn't FREE, it's a time switch for money.. so provided I can generate enough revenue with my "free traffic" creating efforts.. then it's all good.

                            I probably have a 50/50 mix in my business of both, I prefer the free element, because although I do invest my time, I have found that the value of my time is worth a lot, but I can use that time VERY wisely with some smart thinking and working...

                            Jay
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                            • Profile picture of the author Mr.P
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                              • Profile picture of the author Heath Sanchez
                                Good to see everyone agrees!
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                                • Profile picture of the author Scott Burton
                                  I heavily prefer free traffic, only because many of the methods allow you to keep it going with minimal effort.

                                  If you want immediate traffic, paid works. But it gets costly. If you convert 20% of your paid traffic, and you spend $0.10 per paid visitor, then you pay $0.50 per conversion. If you're getting back from them more than $0.50 then that's great.

                                  On the other hand if you are spending $2.00 per paid visitor (some markets this does happen in) then you're spending $10 per conversion.

                                  On the other hand if you are paying no money per visitor, and convert 3% of your visitors, you can keep the free traffic method going even if money is tight.

                                  If you are getting significantly more back per conversion than your cost per conversion, then by all means, you can keep running with paid traffic. But he day you stop paying is the day your traffic dries up. With free traffic, you could conceivably stop today, and still see trickles of conversions/sales well after the fact.

                                  I still get hits and the occasional conversion now from something I put out in late 2004. When I search for backlinks, I still have about a dozen such backlinks from the same on past free traffic effort.

                                  If you spend a dime to make a dollar, and I spend 10 minutes to make over $95 dollars over the course of 3 years and still have a trickle of traffic and thus income going today from it. How much is that free traffic worth?

                                  Free is slow, but if done right lasts longer than many paid methods.

                                  Paid is almost instantaneous, but tends to dry up once you stop paying.

                                  So my vote goes to free on principle.

                                  Scott Burton
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                                  • Profile picture of the author Mr.P
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                                    • Profile picture of the author jasonl70
                                      If I invest $1, and get back $1.10, the first question in my mind is:
                                      "how much more money can I throw at this!?!"

                                      heck, even if I broke even, I'd throw money at it! Why? because I'm building a targeted list for free.
                                      Honestly - I would even accept a loss! How much is a targeted list of 5,000 people worth to you? In Frank Kerns case, it was worth millions of dollars.

                                      oh yeah - I am certainly a fan of ppc.
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                                      -Jason

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                                      • Profile picture of the author Jason Moffatt
                                        Personally I think the smartest thing to do is pay for traffic really quickly and find out what is converting.

                                        I never understood why someone would spend the time doing keyword research, building blogs and websites, and then finding out if it's going to convert into $$$$.

                                        A much easier method is just to run some adwords, find out the best converting phrases, and then go after the free traffic once you know what's worth optimizing for.
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                                        • Profile picture of the author Heath Sanchez
                                          Originally Posted by Jason Moffatt View Post

                                          Personally I think the smartest thing to do is pay for traffic really quickly and find out what is converting.

                                          I never understood why someone would spend the time doing keyword research, building blogs and websites, and then finding out if it's going to convert into $$$$.

                                          A much easier method is just to run some adwords, find out the best converting phrases, and then go after the free traffic once you know what's worth optimizing for.
                                          Excellent advice Jason. Simple but effective. Thanks for sharing.
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                                          • Profile picture of the author Kenneth L
                                            It's gotta be paid traffic - providing it converts!

                                            Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day so there's only so much you can do using free traffic.

                                            However, paying people to do the free traffic methods on your behalf is a really good idea!
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                                            • Profile picture of the author SimonHodgkinson
                                              Here's a snippet from one of my books - I hope it helps...

                                              Many online marketers rely on free traffic to build their business. There's nothing wrong with free traffic - if used in conjunction with other methods.

                                              It becomes problematic when people rely solely on free traffic.

                                              Why?

                                              Consider this: If you invest a small amount of money in your business, you'll get a small return. You can then re-invest the original amount plus the profits. You can keep doing this over and over, watching your investment grow like crazy.

                                              The more money you make, the more you have to invest, and the more quickly your business grows.

                                              Now, what happens if instead of investing money you invest time?

                                              Do you get some of your time back?

                                              Does your "time" grow when you invest it?

                                              Of course not. When you spend time, you never get it back. Ever.

                                              And it's your most-precious asset.

                                              So, what do you get in return for your time?

                                              You get a small return of cash. And if you keep on investing more and more of your time, you'll get more cash. But you'll never see your investment grow as rapidly as it would have if you'd invested money rather than time.

                                              In addition, even free methods of traffic generation have their hidden costs. While you think you are only spending time - which we've already determined is your most-precious asset - in all likelihood you're spending money as well.

                                              Case in point....

                                              Organic Search Engine Results

                                              One of the biggest problems with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is that you’re at the whim of the search engine’s engineers. You may spend weeks, even months, fine-tuning your site to send a few pages to the top of the search engines. But if the engineers change the algorithm, your site could disappear from the rankings completely.

                                              And it happens - For example, several years ago Google’s “Florida Update” sent top-ranked sites to the bottom of the search engine results. And some sites seemed to disappear altogether… along with all the time webmasters spend optimizing and tweaking to achieve those results.

                                              Aside from that, there are other reasons you may want to think twice before spending massive amounts of time – and money – on Search Engine Optimization. Specifically, we’re talking about the hidden costs of Search Engine Optimization.

                                              Consider this…

                                              Search Engine Optimization is NOT a “set it and forget it’ method of traffic generation, especially if you’re competing with other webmasters for high-traffic keywords.

                                              In these cases, you need to be constantly tweaking your keyword-rich pages and doing link campaigns. The results – either positive or negative – might not show up for weeks or even months.

                                              If you’re not competing for the top keywords, you’ll spend just as much time and perhaps money getting your results – and you might even spend more!

                                              You see, one of the most common search engine strategies is to “pick the low-hanging fruit.”

                                              Instead of going after the most competitive keywords that get the most traffic, you instead optimize for lower-traffic keywords. In doing so you’ll probably get into the top results because not many other webmasters are competing in the search engines for those words.

                                              You can just imagine the hidden costs of this method…

                                              First, you need how to learn how to optimize for the search engines. Either this is going to take a lot of time, or it’s going to take a lot of money, or both.

                                              You may spend hours scouring forums, reading blogs, and reading free Search Engine Optimization books.

                                              If you have more money than time, you’ll likely buy Search Engine Optimization resources such as books, videos, audio interviews with experts, packages, and membership sites.

                                              Either way, you then need to spend a lot of time reading and studying these resources.

                                              Next, you need to search for the free tools of the trade or buy into the better tools. Most notably, these include keyword tools that help you choose the best keywords to use. Other tools – such as those that help you do link campaigns – also come into play.

                                              Next, you need to go through the work of researching keywords, researching the competition, and then creating content around your chosen keywords.

                                              This means creating hundreds if not thousands of articles for all the different keywords you may be targeting on your site. You’ll either spend the time to do it yourself, or you’ll need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to hire someone else to do the research and create the content.

                                              You’ve spent a lot of time and money so far and probably haven’t seen any results yet – especially if your site is new and not indexed yet.

                                              ...

                                              personally I think believing 'FREE TRAFFIC' is actually 'FREE' is what keeps so many potentially good businesses down and condemns a lot of people to little or no profit.


                                              Simon
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                                              • Profile picture of the author Anup Mahajan
                                                I would prefer FREE targeted traffic.

                                                Free traffic is great for newbies who do not have much money to spend on PPC. As one gains experience they can move to free + paid traffic model to get more exposure.

                                                Cheers,
                                                Anup
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                                                • Profile picture of the author bluehannah
                                                  I would go for free traffic, if you're only interested to learn you can achieve your goal same as in paid traffic. But if you have the budget, then why not.
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                                              • Profile picture of the author Heath Sanchez
                                                Originally Posted by SimonHodgkinson View Post

                                                Here's a snippet from one of my books - I hope it helps...

                                                Many online marketers rely on free traffic to build their business. There's nothing wrong with free traffic - if used in conjunction with other methods.

                                                It becomes problematic when people rely solely on free traffic.

                                                Why?

                                                Consider this: If you invest a small amount of money in your business, you'll get a small return. You can then re-invest the original amount plus the profits. You can keep doing this over and over, watching your investment grow like crazy.

                                                The more money you make, the more you have to invest, and the more quickly your business grows.

                                                Now, what happens if instead of investing money you invest time?

                                                Do you get some of your time back?

                                                Does your "time" grow when you invest it?

                                                Of course not. When you spend time, you never get it back. Ever.

                                                And it's your most-precious asset.

                                                So, what do you get in return for your time?

                                                You get a small return of cash. And if you keep on investing more and more of your time, you'll get more cash. But you'll never see your investment grow as rapidly as it would have if you'd invested money rather than time.

                                                In addition, even free methods of traffic generation have their hidden costs. While you think you are only spending time - which we've already determined is your most-precious asset - in all likelihood you're spending money as well.

                                                Case in point....

                                                Organic Search Engine Results

                                                One of the biggest problems with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is that you’re at the whim of the search engine’s engineers. You may spend weeks, even months, fine-tuning your site to send a few pages to the top of the search engines. But if the engineers change the algorithm, your site could disappear from the rankings completely.

                                                And it happens - For example, several years ago Google’s “Florida Update” sent top-ranked sites to the bottom of the search engine results. And some sites seemed to disappear altogether… along with all the time webmasters spend optimizing and tweaking to achieve those results.

                                                Aside from that, there are other reasons you may want to think twice before spending massive amounts of time – and money – on Search Engine Optimization. Specifically, we’re talking about the hidden costs of Search Engine Optimization.

                                                Consider this…

                                                Search Engine Optimization is NOT a “set it and forget it’ method of traffic generation, especially if you’re competing with other webmasters for high-traffic keywords.

                                                In these cases, you need to be constantly tweaking your keyword-rich pages and doing link campaigns. The results – either positive or negative – might not show up for weeks or even months.

                                                If you’re not competing for the top keywords, you’ll spend just as much time and perhaps money getting your results – and you might even spend more!

                                                You see, one of the most common search engine strategies is to “pick the low-hanging fruit.”

                                                Instead of going after the most competitive keywords that get the most traffic, you instead optimize for lower-traffic keywords. In doing so you’ll probably get into the top results because not many other webmasters are competing in the search engines for those words.

                                                You can just imagine the hidden costs of this method…

                                                First, you need how to learn how to optimize for the search engines. Either this is going to take a lot of time, or it’s going to take a lot of money, or both.

                                                You may spend hours scouring forums, reading blogs, and reading free Search Engine Optimization books.

                                                If you have more money than time, you’ll likely buy Search Engine Optimization resources such as books, videos, audio interviews with experts, packages, and membership sites.

                                                Either way, you then need to spend a lot of time reading and studying these resources.

                                                Next, you need to search for the free tools of the trade or buy into the better tools. Most notably, these include keyword tools that help you choose the best keywords to use. Other tools – such as those that help you do link campaigns – also come into play.

                                                Next, you need to go through the work of researching keywords, researching the competition, and then creating content around your chosen keywords.

                                                This means creating hundreds if not thousands of articles for all the different keywords you may be targeting on your site. You’ll either spend the time to do it yourself, or you’ll need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to hire someone else to do the research and create the content.

                                                You’ve spent a lot of time and money so far and probably haven’t seen any results yet – especially if your site is new and not indexed yet.

                                                ...

                                                personally I think believing 'FREE TRAFFIC' is actually 'FREE' is what keeps so many potentially good businesses down and condemns a lot of people to little or no profit.


                                                Simon
                                                Great post Simon, where do we find your book?
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                                                • Profile picture of the author X
                                                  Free traffic kept me broke.

                                                  You get what you pay for.

                                                  NOTE: I don't consider affiliate traffic
                                                  "free" traffic.
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                                                  • Profile picture of the author Heath Sanchez
                                                    Originally Posted by X View Post

                                                    Free traffic kept me broke.

                                                    You get what you pay for.

                                                    NOTE: I don't consider affiliate traffic
                                                    "free" traffic.
                                                    Hey X,

                                                    Are you saying that your free traffic wouldn't convert? Where was it coming from?
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                                                    • Profile picture of the author Michael Mason
                                                      These poll results are pretty much what I expected. There are some successful paid advertisers, but the majority of newbies, and some pros, use free methods. Since I'm new and don't have money to pay for PPC, then I am sticking with bum traffic, but eventually I'd like to experiment more with paid ads.
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                                            • Profile picture of the author Heath Sanchez
                                              Originally Posted by KLindsay View Post

                                              However, paying people to do the free traffic methods on your behalf is a really good idea!
                                              I agree that paying people to generate free traffic is a really good idea. Your time is worth good money, so out-task the stuff that anyone can do.
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                                    • Profile picture of the author HeySal
                                      Free traffic - because I am so cheap that I squeak. Um....also because I feel that you don't get quality traffic from anyone who is not clicking just because they are interested in your site/product. Organic for me - don't like GE.
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        • Profile picture of the author lakshaybehl
          Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

          No vote, because I don't see a button for doing both. I like to take advantage of both. Balance.
          smart!

          I agree...

          But for the newbie's sake I'd say start with free traffic...

          And Please Free traffic is not SEO only..

          Its a lot more..

          1. blogging
          2. Articles (WF fav)
          3. Lensing
          4. Hubbing
          5. Social Mediating
          6. SEO
          7. LSI (I'm sure you didn't know this and I'll do a WSO on LSI)
          8. Video Marketing
          9. Market domination traffic (Nothing Like it)
          10. Brand Traffic (Once you become a lil celeb in the IM arena)
          11. repeat traffic (And this is more than just list building)
          12. Viral Campaigns (A little difficult to carry out)
          13. Social Bookmarking
          14. Digging
          15. Stumbling
          16. Podcasting
          17. Tweeting
          18. Forum-ming

          These are just A FEW free traffic methods.
          .
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          • Profile picture of the author Jelasco
            They are free only if you value your time at zero.

            I vote for any traffic that brings in more than it costs, basically same thought as Kevin.
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            • Profile picture of the author lakshaybehl
              Originally Posted by Jelasco View Post

              They are free only if you value your time at zero.

              I vote for any traffic that brings in more than it costs, basically same thought as Kevin.
              As far as newbies are concerned, they generally have more time than money.

              Yes, overtime it does change!
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            • Profile picture of the author Eric Louviere
              Originally Posted by Jelasco View Post

              They are free only if you value your time at zero.
              Amen, thank you very much... case closed, no more further questions your honor!
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              • Profile picture of the author Eric Louviere
                Free traffic is great, but does it convert as well as paid traffic?

                For me, and what I've done, and I can only speak for myself, paid traffic has 100% DEMOLISHED any kind of free traffic I've ever received in my life.... except for ONE type of free traffic and that's..........................



                ...........




                ........... Recommended traffic (JV/affiliates)


                The rest either did not result in good conversions.... not good referrers... or click troughs... etc The stats were nice... the optins were nice... but the $$$ were not. But, that's just me. I cant speak for everyone of course.

                You know what I'd recommend....

                Pay for the traffic and make sure it converts. Then, spend time and effort on free traffic methods... target those same key word phrases that converted for you, etc. Why waste all that time on free traffic methods if your stuff does not convert?

                I learned that the hard way. Time & effort = money

                Eric
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                • Profile picture of the author Dan Maloney
                  Both have good and bad points.

                  -- Free if you want longevity and repeat business

                  -- Paid if you want easier control and higher quality traffic
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            • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
              Originally Posted by Jelasco View Post

              They are free only if you value your time at zero.

              I vote for any traffic that brings in more than it costs, basically same thought as Kevin.
              We're definitely on the same page this time, Jelasco...
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          • Profile picture of the author Douglas Munsie
            My vote is for paid.

            In my opinion nothing is 'FREE', you either pay with time,effort or money (or a combination thereof).

            Originally Posted by lakshaybehl View Post

            smart!

            I agree...

            But for the newbie's sake I'd say start with free traffic...

            And Please Free traffic is not SEO only..

            Its a lot more..

            1. blogging
            2. Articles (WF fav)
            3. Lensing
            4. Hubbing
            5. Social Mediating
            6. SEO
            7. LSI (I'm sure you didn't know this and I'll do a WSO on LSI)
            8. Video Marketing
            9. Market domination traffic (Nothing Like it)
            10. Brand Traffic (Once you become a lil celeb in the IM arena)
            11. repeat traffic (And this is more than just list building)
            12. Viral Campaigns (A little difficult to carry out)
            13. Social Bookmarking
            14. Digging
            15. Stumbling
            16. Podcasting
            17. Tweeting
            18. Forum-ming

            These are just A FEW free traffic methods.
            .

            Yeah, I think I'll just outsource that...
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      • Profile picture of the author Michael Ellis
        I assume by 'free traffic' you mean organic seo?

        It depends on how much time and money you have.... I tend to use paid traffic to provide me with demand and conversion metrics for whatever campaign I'm running... then I use that data to decide whether I should start an organic seo effort, or continue with both.

        Why stop at one when you can make money with both?
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