Is Organic Traffic Better Than Paid Traffic?
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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Mary Rettig Says
I am on the fence with using paid ads for my free offers. I do not have an income yet or a big list.
LauraJane SaysPost author
I would wait until you have something to sell (or at least are close to it), so you can recoup your investment.
Laura! Thank you for this post. Paying for ads is very scary and I haven’t taken that jump yet. After reading your post I am going to give it a try! Thank you! Gayle
jackie pippin Says
Although I am early into blogging, I have wondered about this. I had thought that paying for ads would probably be necessary. It’s good to know that it may not be necessary and if I choose to do it to start out slowly.
Beth Ingle Says
I so needed this post Laura! I am so new to blogging (I have two but only one is live!) and really have hesitated to pay for more traffic to my facebook page, but after reading your post I feel more confident that I should take the leap. Well, at least make a plan to take the leap – it’s not cheap! Thanks so much for the post!
I actually found you through one of your Facebook ads. I’m just starting a blog & it was perfect timing!
Thank you! This is great advice 🙂 We’ve found paid advertising works wonders for driving traffic to our Facebook page. And you’re right; only people who are genuinely interested in what we do bother to click through. Thanks for your post!
Thanks Laura, I’ve been hesitant to use ads as I don’t wanna appear sleazy, which is my perception of blog websites that are top heavy in ads. I appreciate the clarification!
Thank you for sharing this great content. Just started my blog a few months ago and gearing up to begin a product line in October, so the info is very valuable to me. I’m still working on advertising strategies and at this level it is ALL freebie stuff. Great info to help me in the future. Thank You!
My question is how do you know which post to promote or advertise (assuming you don’t have a product to sell)? Do you go with one that’s already popular and seems to resonate with people or one that promotes an affiliate product in the hopes of recouping your costs?
P.S. I don’t think I’ve commented before, but I love your blog! Found you through MoneySavingMom.
LauraJane SaysPost author
I would promote an opt in freebie to get people to sign up for your e-mail list. Either that or a post that promotes an affiliate product. I don’t usual promote just regular posts because there’s not a lot of return on that (unless it had a really great content upgrade that converted really well although you’ll probably have a lot more success getting e-mail sign ups by sending people directly to a landing page.)
Lee Ann Says
This is a really good post. I was happy tor read what felt like legit opinion on paid advertising. I always figured as far as paid goes that people will or won’t be interested which to me is the same as organic traffic. Right now I only use free mehtods but am considering paying for advertising in the future. Thanks for the great post! 🙂