When it comes to growing a successful online shop or blog, you definitely need some people to visit your website (a.k.a. traffic). The big challenge comes in figuring out how to actually get those people on your site. You can create the most amazing blog post in the world, but that alone won’t have readers flocking to your site. You also have to get the word out to your target audience that your content is available, or it will just sit there unread.
There are two basic ways to get the word out about your product or blog. You can get traffic organically, meaning you get people to your site without paying for advertising (by using your own social media accounts or by getting featured on another blog or another big blogger just choosing to share your content, etc). You can also pay for traffic, meaning you invest in something like Facebook ads. In that case, you pay to put your ad in front of people and they can choose whether or not to click over and take action.
Before I go any further, I want to note that there are some shady ways to pay for traffic, and I’m not talking about that at all in the post. I’m talking about legit paid advertising like Facebook ads, Instagram ads, promoted pins, an ad on a blog, etc. I’m definitely not talking about directly paying people to land on your site or buying social media followers or anything like that.
Is it okay to pay for advertising or is it a waste of money? Is that traffic less loyal and of lesser quality than organic traffic? Is paying for advertising selling out? Is organic traffic always better than paid traffic?
When I first started blogging, I thought paid advertising was “bad” and that you should always get traffic organically using free methods. However, as time went on, I asked myself why paid traffic was “bad”, and I really couldn’t come up with any good reasons! After a year or two of blogging, I started to experiment with paid advertising, and I was amazed at the results!
Here’s my advice if you’re interested in trying out some advertising (or are still wondering if it’s okay):
- Most bloggers get traffic strategically, even if they don’t pay a dime for advertising. What I mean is that even “organic” traffic really isn’t completely unintentional or natural. For example, most bloggers pin content very strategically by pinning a lot of their own content many times onto many boards which is very different from how they would pin if they were just pinning for fun. Same with Facebook and other social media. Paying for traffic is just taking that strategy to the next level and taking more control over who gets to see your content.
- I haven’t found that traffic I get from a paid ad is any different than any other traffic. When I pay for ads, all I’m doing is getting that ad in front of someone. It’s still totally up to them if they are interested and click on the ad. In some ways the traffic may be even more interested because they clicked on it knowing it was an ad. The one caveat to this is that I do find a slightly higher rate of customer service issues when I send cold Facebook traffic (meaning people who have never heard of me, my blog, or my product) straight to a sales page and they purchase. I think this is because the people buy without knowing me, my blog, or my product at all so they’re less connected when they purchase and more likely to be confused about what the product is.
- It is totally possible to run a successful online business without ever paying a dime for advertising. Lots of people have done and are doing it. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the budget for advertising or just don’t want to try it right now. I would say if you don’t pay for advertising and you want to grow pretty quickly, you’ll need to make up for it by really networking with bigger influencers and getting them to talk about your blog or product.
- Don’t rely on paid advertising alone. I use it in combination with other organic methods of getting the word out.
- Start small and proceed with caution. When you try paid ads, I would advise starting pretty small as you are learning. The last thing you want to do is spend a thousand dollars and realize that you didn’t get any return. You’ll also need to have a good handle on your business finances and have a decent way to measure your return on investment.
- Paying for advertising is NOT a get rich quick thing. Running a successful ad campaign takes just as much time and effort as any other method of getting the word out. You really have to invest a lot of time to make it worthwhile. When I run a big ad campaign, I test out several different ads to several different audiences and monitor 2-3 times daily. It’s not uncommon for me to spend a solid 8 hours before things are really up and running.
- Paid ads really puts the ball more in your court! This is what I love about it. You can control who and how many people see your content. You can also test out lots of different content and get to know your audience even better.
I hope that advice helps you or at least gets you thinking. Let me know in the comments below your thoughts about paid advertising. Do you think it’s good? Have you tried it?
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