Paid Traffic vs Free Traffic for Affiliate Marketing

In our previous article, we discussed the different kinds of affiliate networks that exist and how to join them. If you’ve been following this series on how to make money online, you should have a website set up for your particular niche by now. Now what good is a website if no one is seeing it? In this lesson we will go over how to send visitors to your website using paid and free methods.

One of the most important components for affiliate marketing and business in general is your audience. You have to cater to a very specific demographic that is looking for something. In the case of affiliate marketing, you do not want to send random traffic to your website. You want to send laser targeted people to your website where you will give them what they are looking for. Just remember that when you match a niche demographic to a product/service that is in need, you are almost always guaranteed to make money.  It’s as simple as if someone goes to Foot Locker looking for running shoes.

Types of Traffic

The major difference between paid and free traffic is that with paid traffic, you are leveraging off someone else. Not only that, most of the time paid traffic is traffic that works almost instantly, meaning there is no waiting period for traffic to kick in. For example, someone buying advertising space on a website could be considered paid traffic. It is also considered paid traffic is less hands-on in a sense that it’s a set it and forget it tactic that involves tweeking here and there. On the other hand, free traffic is any kind of traffic you send to your website by any means whether its through the search engines or using guerilla tactics. If you participate on forums and have a link to your website in the signature then that is free traffic. The trade off is that free traffic usually requires lots of time.

Since you can send traffic to your website using tons of techniques, we’ve split the two types of traffic between free and paid:


Google Ads – The big kahuna in online paid advertising is through Pay Per Click (PPC), with Google Adwords being the dominant player. You probably noticed these ads are displayed right along the search results. With PPC you bid on the keyword and position of your ad where it is displayed. This is by far one of the fastest ways to send targeted traffic to your website but can quickly blow through your wallet if not done correctly.

Facebook Ads – Facebook ads have increased in popularity due to the fact you can target very specific demographics. Facebook takes note of everything you put in your profile from interests to activities to associations. With this information you can run Facebook ads that will only show to these ideal demographics. Like Google Adwords, start small, set up a budget, and watch your wallet.

Ad Space – A simple and old form of getting traffic, buying ad space is basically buying a text link or banner spot on another website. As always make sure you buy ad space on a relevant and closely matching website. It is highly recommended to set up a clause in your contract to be able to pull out within 72 hours if things do not seem as if it is going well. Many web masters will inflat their numbers such as traffic hits.

Ad Network – A lot of people don’t want to go through the trouble of finding websites to buy ad space on so they simple just go through an advertising network that is basically a middle man between you and the website offering advertising space. There are tons out there such as Adbrite, BuySellAds, or Chitika.


Search Engine Optimization – SEO is the processing of optimizing your website to appear in the search engines, preferably at the top. This is one of our favorite methods as it is relatively cheaper than paid advertising and has a higher return on investment usually. There’s a whole long process to this that would take us days to cover but it’s something to consider.

Social Media – Social media is on the rise with the birth of Facebook and Twitter. They both allow you to build profiles, groups, or pages. Building these up will allow you to create a following as well as a presence online where you can share content from your website to these users. We use it for Secret and get thousands of hits a day.

Forums – As discussed in a previous article, there’s virtually a forum for everything out there. Go out there and find these forums within your niche. By providing great value and interacting with other members, you will gain respect and be able to share your website.

Online Groups -Yahoo groups, Google groups, Ning, email groups, or Yahoo Answers; they’re all similar. Very similar to forums but using a different type of platform for conversation. Get engaged and you’ll be able to get hits to your website.

Youtube – Tons of people are utilizing Youtube to send traffic to their website. Not only is it a great spot to find tutorial and how-to videos, Youtube and other video marketing sites often have their videos appear in the search engine results.

Blogs – There’s a blog for everything out there and luckily for you there are niche blogs. Webmasters love for people to guest blog on their website. The trade off is that you will be able to link back to your website at the very end.

What We Recommend

Now if you have money to burn then of course paid advertising is the quickest way to go. But we want to keep affiliate marketing relatively low investment so we would recommend using guerilla methods for free traffic. Never depend on one traffic source just like how you wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Let’s say you’re getting a ton of relevant hits to your website from just a Youtube video you uploaded then Youtube decides to take it down citing that you used copyright material. The moment that happens you will no longer get any hits which means you are not getting any sales. Our advice is to get out there, get involved in different communities, and make a presence known. By doing this you become to guru and go-to website.

Ready to make money? Check out our Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing eBook, a complete step-by-step guide to making your first dollar online!