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Paid Traffic Vs Free Traffic

  • 4 min read

Nobody wants to pay for something if they can get it for free! Unfortunately paid traffic and free traffic are not equal. I’m not saying one is better than the other but they both have a cost and it’s up to you to decide which cost works best for you.

When I started marketing I went with paid traffic but the cheapest I could find and believe me you get what you pay for. For just a few dollars you can get hundreds or thousands of clicks but these are mostly bots or very cold traffic. After I learned my lesson I upped my budget but you have to work hard to make every cent and penny count.
After I went fulltime working for myself online I decided to try some free traffic (namely SEO). You might be surprised to learn that free isn’t really free. Apart from the hours of work involved I had to spend money on link building, content creation, hosting etc. so my free marketing ended out using all my time and it wasn’t anywhere near free.

It is possible to build 100% free traffic but it takes a lot of work and a lot of trial and error. I see a massive need for a guide on how to build traffic with no budget so I’m documenting my processes so I can write such a guide. Feel free to email me if you want to get notified when it’s ready.

Free Traffic

As I mentioned, free traffic isn’t always free. There are times when an automated tool is required to cut out hundreds of hours of work.


  • Traffic generated can be very warm as people are searching when they find your content
  • As customers find you they are less on guard as you have what they want
  • Some free traffic sources can have a very long life and even get stronger with age
  • A great ROI can be possible as you do the job only once and get traffic for months or even years


  • A great free source of traffic that you worked hard to build can be wiped out instantly (Google update, page removal, website closure etc.)
  • All the highest traffic sources have massive competition from other marketers with big budgets
  • Constant learning – free traffic generation techniques change much quicker than paid advertising
  • Slow ROI – it can take months of work to build up a free traffic source

Paid Traffic

Paid traffic has much higher risk and much quicker reward than free traffic. With paid traffic you can build a successful business very rapidly but you can also lose your shirt just as quickly. With that said paid traffic is a proven method, that’s easy to learn. Free traffic on the other hand can be very hit and miss with many hours wasted on non-profit making activities.


  • Near instant ROI – some good campaigns can pay for themselves while they are running
  • Ability to scale quickly (invest $100 earn $200, invest $200 earn $400, invest $400 etc.)
  • Better planning is possible because you know exactly how much time/money is required for each campaign
  • Quick to learn – it’s very easy to run an ad campaign for a low investment, examine the results, make some changes and repeat until you’re getting a good ROI


  • Startup capital is required and it doesn’t guarantee a return on your investment
  • Margins can be very tight if profit on your end product is low
  • Still requires an investment in time in order to plan, create, analyze and optimize all your paid campaigns
  • If done wrong you can lose a lot of hard earned money


I’ve gone through both the good and bad sides of free and paid traffic. In my view paid traffic is the best way to build any online business as there is less guess work and it’s possible to get consistent results very quickly. With that said I don’t think anybody should ignore free traffic, I have found free traffic to require less marketing to as the people who find you already know what they want.

You can view free traffic like wind powered electricity. It’s great because it is so cheap but on a day with no wind you’re dead in the water. Having another more reliable source of electricity will make sure you never have a dip in power! So the ideal solution for a business is to have a mix of both paid and free advertising, in many instances the two can work together with paid traffic adding authority to your free traffic (retargeting, increased website traffic, increased video views etc.)

1 thought on “Paid Traffic Vs Free Traffic”

  1. Great post! It’s very true that most “free” traffic isn’t really free. In fact I’ve found that the “Free” methods actually end up costing even more than paid traffic at times.

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