Free vs Paid Traffic for Affiliate Marketing

With the plethora of money making strategies available online today, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best for you.

One of the top choices to consider is affiliate marketing. Many prefer this as a source of passive income for various reasons, including:

  • Eliminates the process of product creation
  • Highly profitable
  • Low risk investment

When you become an affiliate marketer, promoting another person’s products and services, you no longer have to go through the grueling process of product research, creation and distribution. All you need to do is to promote an existing product, and for every sale you make, you get to earn a commission.

It’s a highly profitable online business, with commissions ranging from 20 to 70 percent of the total sale. And since you won’t be creating the products yourself, you don’t need a big capital to get started. You just need to set up your own blog or website, and fill it up with high quality content related to the product you are thinking of promoting.

Of course, affiliate marketing success does not happen instantly. There are many things that you need to do to get things running.

A crucial facet of this business is traffic.

As with any online business, your success depends on your customers. If you don’t have anyone buying the products you’re promoting, you’re not going to earn anything. And for you to get customers to buy your affiliate products, you need to drive traffic to your affiliate website.

Now the question is, which should you go for: free traffic or paid traffic?

To answer this question, we must first understand the difference between the two.

What is Free Traffic?

As the term implies, this is the traffic that you get for free. You don’t need to pay for anything to use these traffic sources to increase the number of people visiting your site.

Free traffic is usually generated through the following sources:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website content in order to land a higher ranking in the search engine. The higher your rank in the search engine results is, the easier it is for people to find and visit your website. Producing high quality content with the right keywords and links is the most common SEO practice for affiliate marketers. There are free keyword research and SEO tools that you can use such as Moz, SEMrush, and Google AdWords.
  • Social media – Building your online presence and driving traffic to your affiliate website is so much easier with the existence of many social media sites today. Millions of people use social media every day and having an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other top networks enables you to have a much wider reach. And you can sign up for these social media sites for free.
  • Forums – Believe it or not, there’s practically a forum for every topic you can imagine. And you can join these forums for free. It’s a highly effective way to drive people to visit your site. Sharing expert tips on forums can also help you gain authority in your niche.
  • Online groups – Another excellent source of free traffic are online groups. Similar to forums, groups also help you connect and engage with the people who belong to your niche.
  • YouTube – More and more people are using YouTube to drive more traffic to their website. Posting video tutorials, product demos and reviews can certainly help you increase the number of website visitors.

Pros and Cons of Free Traffic

Free traffic offers many advantages, including the following:

  • It’s free! You don’t have to pay for anything.
  • It’s less demanding. Since you’re not paying for anything, you’re not compelled to monitor how your campaigns are doing.
  • It continues for a long time, even after you’ve stopped working on it.

As for the disadvantages, watch out for these:

  • It may take a long time to generate significant traffic
  • It is not easy to monitor
  • It takes a while to determine if you’re campaign is working or not

What is Paid Traffic?

Like free traffic, this one is also self-explanatory. Paid traffic is traffic that you pay for.

Here are some examples of paid traffic sources:

  • Google Ads – The most popular option for pay per click (PPC) advertising is Google Ads. When you make a search on Google, you’ll notice some ads are displayed along with the search results. When you avail PPC ads, you bid on the keywords, and place your ads in the search engine results. As many online experts agree, this is one of the fastest ways to generate targeted traffic to your site.
  • Facebook Ads – Now when it comes to social media ads, Facebook ads reign supreme. The reason it’s very popular is that you can target specific demographics including age, gender, interests and so on. Facebook gets all these pieces of information from the members’ Facebook profiles.
  • Ad space – It’s also possible to generate traffic by buying an ad space such as a banner spot or a text link on another website that belongs to the same niche as you.
  • Ad Network – If you don’t want to go through the tedious process of looking for websites where you can buy space for your ads, you can simply avail the services of an advertising network that will do this job for you. Some of the best ad networks to use include Propeller Ads, Adsterra and Info Links.

Pros and Cons of Paid Traffic

Paid traffic has both pros and cons that you need to weigh carefully as well.

Its advantages include:

  • It gets you lots of traffic quickly
  • It’s easier to test offers and determine conversion rates
  • It lets you generate targeted traffic

The only disadvantage is:

  • It can get expensive

So which one is the better choice: free traffic or paid traffic?

Most online experts would recommend using both methods. Use free traffic as much as you can when you’re starting out and you have limited budget. As your online income grows, you can start investing in paid traffic sources but be sure to research extensively about the method you plan to use so you can maximize its benefits.