How Not To Make Money With Solo Ads Business

Updated: December 7, 2016
by Ray Alexander

Individual online business owners are often kept out by barriers to entry into the solo ad market. The setting up costs are high and the required knowledge is specific. You make money by sending traffic to someone else's sales page. So it's not about the content of your site, it's all about your buyer's. No keywords, no SEO, in fact what's expected from a solo ad business is completely opposite of what's expected from content marketing.

"The Money Is In The List" is a phrase content marketers often use. Get the visitors to sign up with you, it's important to build up a list of subscribers and to create a unique relationship with them. Subscribers are potential customers... Whereas with solo ad business, a list of subscribers is the starting point. The list is your asset and, the relationship between you and your subscribers can be generic and quite superficial. That's because they're not your main customers, your buyers are.

How Not To Make Money With Solo Ads Business

The Money Is The List

​You need at least 5,000 subscribers to be able to start sending out solo ads - some say you can start with as few as 3,000, some say a lot more. Your subscribers are collected via opt-in form in your sales page (website), and therefore you need a lot of traffic to the page in the beginning. It essentially means you start as a buyer - pay other solo ad vendors to send traffics to your site - before becoming a seller.

The cost of traffic is $0.40 - $0.60 per visit to your page, and the average opt-in rate is 40-50%. Take the lower rates for now. In order to collect 5,000 subscribers, it will cost you: 5,000 x 100/40 x 40 cents = $5,000.

To rephrase it by working backwards;

  • ​You need 12,500 visitors to your sales page.
  • 40% of the visitors will opt-in and become your subscribers. 40% x 12,500 = 5,000 subscribers.
  • To send 12,500 visitors to your page, it will cost 40 cents x 12,500 = $5,000.

It means you need to invest $5,000 to start a solo ad business. And the set of 5,000 subscribers will be your asset. The money is the list, and the list is (going to be) the money.

Some solo ad coaches may say you don't have to spend as much. Start with smaller list of subscribers, start selling small numbers while buying more traffic to build up your subscribers. And scale up gradually. Yes if you have a dynamic personality, it may be possible. 

"Bizopp / MMO"

The "Evergreen Big 3 Niches" apply with majority of the solo ad market, that are;

  1. Bizopp (Business opportunities) / MMO (make money online)
  2. Diet / beauty products
  3. Love & relationship​

Bizopp/MMO category is especially popular as it applies to anyone who's looking to get rich. Whereas other two can be gender/sexuality/age specific, for example scented anti-ageing cream, weight-loss workout for men, gay relationship.

Average "Open Rate" and "Clickthrough Rate"

So you send out your solo ad swipe (email) to your subscribers with a hyperlink. The link​ is to your buyer's sales page. Now, only a very small percentage of your subscribers will actually open your email especially for MMO category. Most of them delete it, never notice it, or your email's landed in their junk mail folder and will never be seen.

The average open rate of swipes that solo ad vendors can produce is said around 3-6%. It's good if you maintain over 4% every time. The open rate indicates how much the subject line of your email grabbed the subscribers' attention. measurement for you to judge the subject line in your email is effective. Good subject line that grabs attention will obviously give a bette open rate.

Never use the word "free" anywhere in your email broadcast. It will likely to be marked spam. Say "F-R-E-E" or "Nothing to Pay" instead.

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What's most important is the clickthrough rate. When your subscriber opens your email and clicks the link, he/she will be taken to your buyer's website. And it counts as one click, which you sell for 40 cents. You need to write an interesting email swipe enough for as many readers (subscribers) to click the link by one email shot.

The click rate that MMO solo ad vendors can produce is said from around 0.5% - 1% of the total subscribers. Great if it's more than 1.5% and fantastic if it goes over 2%.​

So you see what I mean, if you only had 3,000 subscribers, sent out an email broadcast every day, 1% of them clicked the link...that would be 30 clicks per day. If you sold it for 40 cents per clicks, your daily income would only be 30 x 0.40c = $12.

Majority of buyers would expect faster delivery than that. 50-100 a day at least. You would have to send out your email more than once a day to risk being marked as a spam in great deal. There would be a great chance that many would unsubscribe from your list or complain.

How Long Will It Take To Break Even?

So it's not exactly cheap to become a solo ad vendor. Let's go back to the number 5,000... You invest $5,000 to collect 5,000 subscribers, and start selling traffics. You're out of pocket by $5k right now and the first goal is to break even.

  • To sell $5,000 = 40 cents x 12,500 clicks (visits).
Make a profit with solo ads

You'll only start making profits after you've sold the first 12,500 clicks. How long will it take? As a newbie it's difficult to find buyers to start with, get them to trust you is another one. People will buy 100 clicks from you to start with you and, you'll be extremely good if you can deliver 100 clicks a day.

So if you can deliver 100 clicks per day by your solo ads, it will take you 125 days to break even. But that's very optimistic. ​Deliver 50 clicks per day and it will take you 250 days... Over 8 months!

Sales Funnel Clicks

Above figures are still totally theoretical based on the fact that you're only selling traffic by pure solo ads. The reality is your subscribers continuously leave you (i.e. unsubscribe) one by one by one, you need to keep buying traffic to gain fresh subscribers while selling.

Solo ad coaches often say "reinvest 40% of your income on new subscribers"​. Means for every $100 income, spend $40 to buy more traffic. Means 2/5 of your income should be re-spent. Although there's no evidence as to why it should be 40%... I suppose 40% is just psychologically a nice number. You get to keep more than half of your income, then solo-ads may sound like a feasible business to try.

The goal of a solo ad is to invite people to your buyer's sales (squeeze) page. So when you're buying & selling at the same time, it only makes sense that you place their link in your sales funnel. As per the diagram shown below;

  1. You're buying clicks from another solo ad vendor. Traffic is coming in to your sales ("squeeze") page, and the average of 40-50% will opt in to become your subscriber, as explained earlier.
  2. Your new subscriber will see your funnel page ("thank you for signing up, here are some special offers for you" page) with a link to your buyer's sales page.
  3. Your new subscriber has clicked the button and is now directed to your buyer's sales page.

Around 70% of your new subscribers will click the link in your funnel ("thank you") page, and this is an essential method for you to deliver extra "clicks" to your buyers at the same time.


I get confused number-wise as I write this. So to revise it all;

  • You're $5,000 out of pocket right now.
  • You can deliver 50 clicks per day until you're able to write good email swipes.​ Means your daily income will be 50 x 40 cents =$20.
  • Reinvest 40% of your solo ad income (buy more traffic to gain new subscribers). 40% x $20 = $8 to spend per day. You'll receive 40% x 50 clicks = 20 clicks to your site per day.
  • Of 20 clicks, 40% will opt in and become your new subscribers. 40% x 20 = 8 new subscribers.
  • Of the 8 new subscribers, 70% will click the "thank you" page link. 70% x 8 = 5.60. Say 6. so you can deliver 50 solo ad clicks + 6 funnel clicks = 56 clicks per day.
  • .....Loop.
  • ...your daily income will be 56 x 40 cents = $22.40. Less 40% investment $8.96 = profit of $13.44 per day...

If you're constantly making a profit of $15 per day, it will still take 333 days to get to the breakeven point ($5,000 x 1/15). The good news are the number of your subscribers are growing as you buy more clicks, and your copywriting skill should improve as you keep publishing email swipes and will be able to deliver more clicks,  hence sell a little faster. The bad news is you lose subscribers over time. They either unsubscribe or never open your emails. 

Solo ad business. How easy is that?​

About the author 

Ray Alexander

ASD. Recovering alcoholic. LGBTQ+ advocate. Semi-retired. 15+ years of web-designing experience. 10+ years affiliate marketing. Ex-accountant. I'm nice and real. Ask me if you need any help in starting up your home business.

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  1. Great post! I would recommend Udimi as it is a great place to buy and sell solo ads. High quality clicks with high conversion rates.

  2. I personally use Udimi. Here I can buy quality solo ads that are quickly converted. On Udimi you can find traffic for any niche. The result you are surprised.

    1. Hi Dion, thanks for sharing your experience with Udimi. Yes the good thing about it is there are a variety of sellers, it is possible to find sellers who have a list of subscribers in a particular niche, e.g. weight loss. Good luck with continued success!

  3. Hi Ray, this was a really very informative post which you made more appealing with practical numbers. I was wondering what if the optin rate is less than 40%, say 20% for example.

    What does your experience say about solo ads optin rates, are they as good as 40%. What should one do if the optin rate is lower.

    1. Hi Abhishek, as a buyer if your optin rate is lower, there are only 2 factors; (1) your squeeze page (lead capture page) is not good or (2) the seller is sending low-quality traffic.

      (1) Your squeeze page should be;

        1. Simple and clear, good, short headline and no more than a few lines of sentences. No jargons! Many users don’t know words such as “leads”, “SEO” or “traffic”
        2. Everything should be fit in above-the-fold, so that users don’t have to scroll down the page.
        3. Optin form should be only collecting user’s email address (and the name if you want, but NOT first name & surname separately, or phone number) to make it simple for users.
        4. Your website speed is adequate.

      The optin rates depend on your niche, but my niche is about “making money online” and my pages usually receive 40-45% optins. Because I know my optin rates from my usual experiences, (2) if a seller gives me significantly low rate, I know he/she is sending me a low-quality (partly fake) traffic. Then I’ll complain.
      I would say;
      “I think something’s wrong with your traffic. My page usually receive around 40-45% optins. In fact I’m receiving that rate from another seller right now. Can you check your traffic, please?”

      Hopefully the seller will give you more extra clicks to compensate the bad optins!

      I hope this helps a little – if you need more clarification please don’t hesitate to get back to me. Thank you for your comment!

  4. Hey Ray,
    Firstly I would like to say thank you for this post, it’s vey helpful!
    I am using Udimi as a buyer for almost a year, and used to work with many sellers. If you are new on Udimi – you should better buy solos from a promoted seller, and you should ask him/her about your niche 🙂 I mean does the seller work with your niche or not, it is very important

    1. Hi Ricco, thank you for your comment! I agree with you, the “promoted” sellers pay extra to promote themselves which means they’re power sellers. It means they have good subscriber turnover rates, hence generally (though not necessarily) they’re able to deliver a lot of fresh leads. And it’s important to ask them about your niche because some sellers accept your order regardless and end up delivering wrong type of subscribers.

      Thanks for your input Ricco, I appreciate it. I wish you the best of luck with continuing success!

  5. I think that your should understand that it depends on your niche FIRSTLY.
    I used to work with diferent platforms that provide solo, but most of them are too stupid to recognize some bots that provide traffic, or some cheap click services! Udimi platform. I did understood it once I bought my first solo’s on Udimi, and the price was 35 or 45 cents per visitor. After 200 click’s I got 2 sales and 57 optins. So I can confirm that it works.

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for your comment. The post is about how to become a solo ad vendor, but yes as you say, there are many trustworthy vendors on Udimi who’ve been in the business for years, so I too believe Udimi works. On the other hand, the solo ad market is infested with bots and if we don’t monitor the traffic closely using the right filtering systems, they’ll circulate more & more aggressively. I witness many new solo ad sellers sell bot traffic without realising it in many occasions.

  6. I bought Solo ads for $200 on Udimi, and increased my sales in 2 weeks! So I would say that this thing is really works 🙂

    1. Hi Raymond, that’s great to hear that! There are many pretty good sellers on Udimi, and its filtering system is trustworthy. Not just bots but abusers (who only click away for 5 seconds and do nothing) or VPN users who mask their identity are all excluded from your traffic. So only people who have a potential to purchase your products will visit your site.

      Thanks for sharing your experience Raymond, I wish you the best of luck with continuing success!

  7. Hi,
    This is an interesting post. You explained quite a lot. It was pretty extensive and it made me realize by the time I finished reading it that I would not be doing solo ads!
    However, thanks for a good read and all the information I now know more than I did!

    1. Thanks Cynthia for your comment. Yeah I think I’ve thrown in too many numbers, sorry! My intention was to explain what the solo ad business is, and how hard it can be (like any other online businesses). I never intended to discourage anyone to consider – there are many success people there!

  8. Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the solo ad post. I found it interesting and made me realize solo ads for me are not the way to go.

    I like generating organic sales through the major social sites. I am spending very little money on generating followers to my niche. I utilize Hootsuite. It is a very powerful tool for social media.

    You are right about having to spend a lot on solo ads to generate a small amount of sales.

    Thanks again for your post.


    1. Hi Tim, thanks for your comment. But not to be confused! I’m talking about running a solo ad business, not advertising your site using solo ads.

      I too use Hootsuite along with other social media schedulers, but they’re just to co-ordinate your social engagement on a daily basis. If you’re making enough sales from that, that’s great for you. But depending on your niche and how your opt-in page looks like, advertising your site using solo ads can be very effective to boost your sales.

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