How Not To Make Money With Solo Ads Business

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.

Solo Ads

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.

Click to Tweet

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?​

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Ray Alexander

Hi! I’m Ray. Over the past 15+ years I have been involved with web designing, programming and online marketing. I work from home and have a passion for exploring new tools, services and programs in order to make money online. I’m here to help you succeed in building a profitable business by sharing my experiences. Any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

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