Solo Ads – The Good Horrible Traffic Source [Case Study]

Solo Ads are one of those great, horrible….exciting, scary…expensive, economical….good, bad ways of getting traffic.

Everyone has an opinion about solo ads and whether they are a serious option for getting good traffic.  There are enough marketers and products out there that say solo ads are a good way to build a list, so I decided to buy some solo ads and test things for myself.  My results are below.


I first educated myself by buying some products.  Some were good and some were not.  Here’s a couple of good ones:

Paul Nicholls’ Solo Ad Professor – The eight videos explained solo ads and how to buy them.  The OTO (one time offer) has a rolodex of solo ad sellers Paul recommends.  The videos are great but the rolodex is just a list of sellers.  It doesn’t tell you how they performed.

Rob Stafford’s Inner Circle Solo Ads 4.0 – Rob’s product is less about teaching what solo ads are and more about providing resources for getting the most out of solo ads.  He discusses resources to optimize conversion, track solo ad buys, squeeze page templates and other such resources.  The great thing about this product is he gives you a spreadsheet that shows his top 10 solo ad sellers that he’s used and how he did with each of them.  Great Resource.

Matt Bacak’s Solo Ad Black book – This is a rolodex of about 80 solo ad sellers Matt has used and about the same number of people he’s worked with for safe swaps.  Each seller is listed and Matt has scored them based on how they performed.  Another great resource.

I also educated myself on email marketing… but that discussion is for another post.

First Big Mistake

OK, so I had a squeeze page to collect name and email.  I was offering a free gift.  I used free Clixtrac to track impressions and clicks on my download page.  Solo ad sellers provided me with the of clicks on squeeze  page.

I had AWeber, my auto responder, setup as double opt-in.  HUGE MISTAKE.  DO NOT DO DOUBLE OPT-IN if you are buying solo ads.  I had 49 opt-ins with my first solo ad purchase with Kirill.  Only 9 did the confirmation on the opt-in!

So although in my table above, I show 49 opt-ins, only 9 people were added to my list.  OUCH!

Kirill gave me additional clicks to see if we could get any more to confirm but it was all for nothing.  Kirill was great to work with.

My download page also had an affiliate offer on it, but I received no sales.

Changes For My Opt-Ins

So, based on what I learned with this first solo ad purchase and some discussions I had with people on Facebook, I made one  change before I bought my second solo.

I changed my auto responder to single opt-in and then…

Round Two

Both Kirill and Zach were on Matt Bacak’s and Rob Stafford’s rolodex of solo ad sellers.  They were both rated high.  I also knew of Zach from a Facebook group.  So that is how I decided to buy from Kirill and Zach.

I did not ask any questions, I just bought from them.  Now on any training you see on Solo Ads, they talk about the questions you should ask.  I didn’t… I went with referrals from people I trusted.

My experience with Zach was very good…added 50 people to my list but still made no sales of my affiliate offer.

 Another Big Mistake

I changed my sales funnel to make my affiliate offer more prominent.  I was trying to figure out why I was getting no sales. Based on something I read, I had people that opted in go directly to my offer.  I removed it from my download page.

My next solo ad buy was from Ed and it was a complete disaster.

I only received 12 subscribers.  Ed gave me some additional clicks, so I ended up with 21 people added to my list.

After having a discussion with Ed, he mentioned that most of his list was MLM and probably not interested in blogging (my free gift).  WHAAAAAAT!

Here is where those questions I should have asked come in.  It definitely gives you a piece of mind when you get a solo ad seller from someone you know and trust.  BUT…you still need to know what you are getting from them.  ASK QUESTIONS!

I had the same offer all 3 solo ad purchases and did not make a sale.  Good product from John Thornhill on getting traffic.  Not sure why it didn’t convert but yes, I’ll be changing my offer going forward and see if it makes a difference.

Watcha Think?

So there you have it…my adventure with the great, horrible….exciting, scary…expensive, economical….good, bad solo ads.  My opinion?  I think they are definitely worth doing.  I did get some people on my list, so I’ll probably do them again taking into account what I learned.

As for the three sellers… I’d recommend all of them (remember Ed is more MLM).  They were all great guys to work with.  All three of them did my swipe file.  I thought that was better since they knew their list.  Maybe that should change on my next go round?


 Big Tip:  Mike From Maine has a list of solo ads he bought with his results.  Now the results are from the end of 2013 but they are FREE on his blog.  Click here to see his results!


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24 thoughts on “Solo Ads – The Good Horrible Traffic Source [Case Study]

  1. I’m still mostly clueless about solo ads, so thanks for this Leslie.

    I’m not sure that I’m ready to try them yet though.
    Catherine recently posted…Welcome to the Future.My Profile

    1. Catherine,
      I was too, up until about a month ago. I’ve learned a lot since then.

      If there is anything you need, let me know. I’ll do what I can to help.


  2. Great to see your results. I did it once in June and got 17 optins out of $60

    1. Yeah Keyur,

      It can be frustrating. But like anything, I think you have to try it…adjust… try it… adjust….

      You do need to have a bit of money to spend.

      Don’t give up on solos. Give it another try.


    1. Thanks for the compliment Gordon. Glad it was helpful.


  3. Thanks for this fascinating solo ad study; my partner Richard and I are also exploring this complex marketing angle with our new venture . We keep a constantly updated spreadsheet going to try to keep track of solo ad performance and we are finding it helpful to do that.We will definitely follow this interesting thread, thanks very much, fellow Interneteer!
    Averil Davies

    1. Yeah Averil,

      The spreadsheet is the only way to go. Even with only doing 3 solos, my numbers started running together.

      I also add notes to the spreadsheet since each solo ad is different and it helps me to remember what happened.

      Good luck with your solo ads!


  4. Almost everybody talks about the ‘why’ tracking, but there’s very little explanation on ‘how’. We’re probably all aware of and putting the ‘+’ symbol at the end of your shortened URL link to see the statistics and obviously Google analytics on the landing page, or should that be the thank you page? What are the advantages of the other services that are available?

    Some food for thought though.
    Steven Lucas recently posted…Building The Brand of ‘Me’My Profile

    1. Steven,

      It all depends on what you want to track.

      Bitly and track raw clicks…how many times was a link clicked on.

      With the product I was using, clixtrac, I could track impressions and clicks on each page in my funnel. So it gave me a conversion number. ex. How many times was my squeeze page shown and how many people actually clicked submit.

      I can do the same on my download page and see which links were clicked compared to how many times that page was brought up.

      That way, at some point in the future, I can try different pages and see which gets the highest conversion (split testing).

      I hope this answers your questions.


  5. What an excellent article on your adventures and lessons on solo ads. Personally not an avid user of spreadsheets, but do use my text edit program for the same purpose.

    Was your download page an actual download page combined with a sales letter (in other words, did they download directly from that page)? Or, did you design a sales page that began something like, “You can find the download link below, but before you go…)?

    Sometimes, if your optin offer is free (and I don’t know if yours was), you are better off waiting to “sell.” Your follow-up mails can warm them up to the offer.

    You did great and are learning and building your list at the same time. So give yourself a huge hug!
    Dawn recently posted…By: Dawn ThompsonMy Profile

    1. Dawn,

      After the opt in page, I took the subscriber to a page that says your download will be in your email box, but here’s something I thought you might like and it is the affiliate offer I mentioned in my post.

      That was how my funnel was after I adjusted it.

      Before that…after the opt in page, I took the subscriber to a download page and on that I had the offer along with the download info.

      Again the offer was highlighted with I thought you might be interested in this…

      I hope that helps.


  6. Hi Lesliez,

    Sounds like you had quite an adventure! I completely know the feeling that you have from buying solo ad’s myself. It is a love/hate relationship, just like you describe!

    This is a great little case study, and it gives a lot of valuable information. Solo ads are a tricky business because there are so many vendors and so many different reviews!

    I look forward to seeing how you continue to tweak your optin and sales pages to see how it works out for you!

    Best of luck!
    Jeff Sollee
    Jeff Sollee recently posted…You Have to Crawl Before You WalkMy Profile

    1. Thanks Jeff. I will continue to buy solo ads, but will also start using Facebook ads also.

      I did talk to some marketers who were “do NOT use solo ads” while others said “it is a great way to start a list that doesn’t cost a ton”.

      Based on that split decision is why I decided to buy a few products and educate myself.

      Still did some dumb things…but I’m a whole lot smarter now 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!


  7. Hey there Leslie great post
    Yes solo ads can be tricky and you really need your funnel set up right. The most important thing you learnt the hard way and that was to have single optin. The second and most important thing you need to know is that there are a lot of solo ad vendors out there that have two lists. The first is their buyers list which they treat like gold and probably do not send solo ads to it and then they have a seperate list of people that may not be interested in their offers or who are freebie seekers. It is vitally important that you check the vendors sales pages and look to see that his customers have been getting sales and that the testimonials are current. You will still get sales from these leads you just have to have a great followup series. Now tge other thing you can do is have some pay per lead links on your download/thankyou page. These are usually free offers and when people sign up for tgem you get paid once they confirm their ail. The payments range from 10c per click all the way up to 2.80 per click. This way you could get some of your solo ad investment back
    Solo ads can be scary but if you think about the amount of effort it takes to get people to see your blog and get leads solo ads provide almost instant traffic
    Lastly and most important ask the questions. Especially as what the vendors list is most responsive to and how long since their list has seen your type of offer previously.
    Hope that enlightens you a little
    Jenelle Livet recently posted…Getting the Hangout AdvantageMy Profile

    1. Jenelle,
      Thanks for the great insight on solo ads.

      Yes, many of the vendor ads I saw talked about a buyers list and some also had that their list is constantly updated.

      The ad I had once the person signed up to my list was a lower cost one but was not CPA, where you get paid per click. That is definitely something to think about since my ad was clicked but nothing bought.

      Thanks again for your helpful commment.


  8. Cool Leslie, this excellent post gave me better understanding to how solo works. What I also appreciate here is that the 3 vendors gave you extra clicks at no extra cost right? That’s nice gesture and certainly helped boost your morale I bet n in return gave them better credibility. Look firward to your updates on subsequent solo adventurrs. Till then.. have fun! ;D

    To your Abundance,
    Sandy Tan recently posted…Why I am excited about this new initiativeMy Profile

    1. Sandy,
      Yes the 3 vendors did give extra clicks at no extra cost.

      All three vendors were pretty helpful. I just need to make sure to do my homework and ask questions of the vendors so I don’t get caught again like I did with the third vendor.

      I’ll keep you posted as I do more solo ads.


    1. Glad I could help out Reg.


  9. Great article Leslie!

    And full of real world educational meat, just the way I prefer it!

    You offer two extremely powerful lessons as far as I’m concerned!

    1.) First, you officially made the leap from book theory to the real world!

    And those lessons, no matter how much their initial and actual monetary costs are!

    They’re simply worth their weight in gold! Don’t you agree?

    2.) Now you are most definitely qualified to take any beginner and or intermediate, that has yet to actually do what you’ve done and discovered!

    And walk them (step by step) through the paces! And be compensated for doing so!

    So believe it or not, you’re currently sitting on (either) a free or paid opt in 1-5 part “how to” buy and get real world result type of a solo ad buying course!

    Or may be inexpensively test creating a free opt in lead generation give away entitled:

    X number of questions you’d better know the answers to!Before you spend a dime on any solo ads!

    (Or else you’ve all but thrown your hard earned money down the drain!)

    Or you could do free 30-45 webinar and or Google Hangout and then offer your paid hourly one on one consulting guidance on the back end, to help your students decide who and where to purchase their their solo ads from!

    And as a really cool (real world) bonus product. You could also include your exclusive;

    7 (or X) serious questions you’d better get satisfactory answers to! Before you spend a dime on any solo ads!

    Or something along those lines. But hopefully you get my drift, right?

    Great job Leslie! Although is my very first visit to your blog! I love your real world, the good, the bad and the ugly truth revealing approach!

    I will definitely be back!
    Mark recently posted…What To Do Even When Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies Still Leave A Really Bad Taste In Your Mouth!My Profile

    1. Mark,
      Thank you so much and Wow! You bring up some amazing ideas. Most if not all of which I had not thought of. I’m still working my mind through my solo ads was a failure not look at everything I learned and what I can teach you.

      That is something I’m definitely going to chew on and put one or more of those ideas into action.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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