The Complete And Uncensored Truth About Solo-Ads


The Solo-Ad “industry” is a strange phenomenon in the Internet Marketing world. It is operated by a relatively few number of people, but it used by many. Although of the many who use it, a minority really fully understand it. As I explained in an earlier blog, I have operated on “both sides of the fence” and I set out below my full and honest opinion of its good, and not so good points.

There are several different aspects within the solo-ad industry, and I will explain all four of them in more detail detail below. These different aspects are:

  • Buying Solo-ads
  • Selling Solo-ads
  • Click Banking (not to be confused with the affiliate selling site “”
  • Click Swapping (very rare these days)

However, before I delve into the specifics, let me give you a general overview of the Solo-ad industry.

Solo-ads are simply emails sent by a person who has a list of subscribers to his subscribers on behalf of a third party in return for payment, either money or by the third party duplicating the first list-holders actions either simultaneously or, more frequently, at a later date. These emails will contain a link or links to at least one offer, usually some kind of affiliate offer, which will require the prospective client to opt-in to the third party’s list. Solo-ads are sent out in batches, which normally vary between 100 clicks and 500 clicks. It is important to understand that the third party is paying, one way or another, for a set number of clicks on a link. NOT the number of opt-ins, (or sales) he or she may get from those clicks. The number of opt-ins received is very much dependent on the quality of the third party’s squeeze page and the number of sales is very much dependent on the quality of the product together with the copy-writing skills of the designer of the sales copy. Neither of these are under the control of the Solo-ad provider.

To operate within the Solo-ad space, the following specialized pieces of software are required:

  • A click tracker to keep track of the number of clicks being sent and received, allocated to the vendor’s, clients or partners who are sending or receiving the clicks. Around 2014 a new feature was introduced which divided clicks into one of three categories. Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. Commonly shortened to T1, T2, and T3. These categories allocate the clicks depending on their country of origin. The most important tier is T1 which consists of the main English speaking counties of the world. United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Ireland is sometimes included, but so few clicks originate from Ireland, that its inclusion, or not, as a T1 country is largely immaterial. Obviously more sales are going to be generated from these countries compared to say a third world country, and it is now normal practice for vendors and buyers and banking partners to agree beforehand that a batch of clicks must contain at least a minimum percentage of clicks that have been made in T1 countries. That minimum percentage is normally set at between 70% to 80%, but I have seen it go as high as 100%.
  • A rotator, which enables senders of emails to include links that have the ability to send people who click on the links to different destinations. For example, if you have four different URL’s in your rotator, which itself has one URL, which is inserted in the email, anyone who clicks on the rotator’s link, can be taken to any one of the 4 URL’s which are in your rotator. I will explain the reasoning behind the need for a rotator, and the possibility of misusing it, later in this blog. However, nowadays, rotator’s are normally packaged up with click trackers in the same piece of software, whilst, in the past they were sometimes separate. The most commonly used click tracker / rotator at the time of writing, is a software package called “Click Magick”, although it is very strict, and, in my opinion, often unfairly so, when it comes to counting what are real clicks and what are what are called “bots”. My recommendation for cheap, easy combined software with a one off payment and no monthly fee is either “My Click Boss” or “Quality Click Control”
  • An autoresponder which is an essential piece of software that you must have if you want to build your own list of subscribers. However, be very careful how you use them. Many people have had their lists taken from them without notice, for using badly worded emails and, especially, header lines. Avoid profanities, overt sexual references and the suggestion that something nice “WILL” result. Use words like “SHOULD”, “PROBABLY”, etc. When mentioning monetary rewards don’t categorically state a figure but use words like “APPROXIMATELY”, “UP TO” and “IN THE REGION OF” a lot. Watch the number of complaints you get. (Unsubscribes are just part of the game and will not affect your ability to keep your autoresponder company happy). However they have a very strict policy on complaints and any more than the occasional one or two could land you in trouble. Back up your list or lists onto .csv files frequently and delete unsubscribers and people who haven’t clicked on a link for six months or more (after emailing them to check that they don’t want to be associated with you any more) regularly. The most frequently used autoresponders are “Aweber” and “Get Response”, although they both suffer from intermittent problems. The third biggest autoresponder out there is probably “Mailchimp” but that is known not to like having Internet Marketers as it clients, so if your chosen niche is Internet Marketing, you would be well advised to stay away from Mailchimp. More than occasionally you will see systems advertised with a low initial cost and no monthly fees. in the first instance these seem like an attractive proposition, but you will find that you will need a SMPT server like “Sendgrid” to do the actual sending of the emails. SMPT servers charge by the email sent and if you have a list of any size which you send emails to several times a day the cost soon mounts up and, even although there are no monthly fees, the total fee will soon dwarf the monthly fees of the likes of “Aweber” and “Get Response”.

Returning to the 4 main aspects of the Solo-ad industry, as mentioned above, I will now elaborate on each aspect in turn.

  • Buying Solo-ads


    It can’t be emphasized enough, just how risky buying Solo-ads is. The buyer must put his or her complete faith in the vendor. The main reason is that there is no way that the buyer can know exactly how the vendor will conduct his sale so the selection of a vendor is not only of paramount importance, but is an exceedingly difficult thing to do, and cannot be an exact science.

    In theory Solo-ads should be sold on their own. (That’s where the term “Solo” came from). They should be sold via a link or links in a specially prepared email, written by either the buyer of the batch of sales, or the seller, the owner of the list whose subscribers are being targeted. However, in practice, the owner of the list may send out two of the specially prepared emails and, if the required number of clicks has not been reached by that time, he or she may just throw the link into the rotator to compete with the other links in there using a generic email. (See later section). On occasions, this can actually be just as effective as a “true” Solo-ad. But if you really want your link to be broadcast “under its own steam” you can instruct the owner of the list to send it out individually until the quota is completed, but there is no way that I know of that the buyer can be certain that his or her instructions have been adhered to.

    Things To Agree In Writing Before Investing In A Solo-ad Purchase

    • The Price. Prices vary from $30 per 100 clicks to over $1 per 100 clicks. But there’s no guarantee that the more you pay, the better your results will be. The list owner always has that iron-clad comeback of “the poor results were caused by your poor squeeze page”. However, if I was still purchasing Solo-ads, which I’m not (nor selling them either), I would never pay over $40 per 100 clicks. If I was offered 90% to 100% Tier 1 clicks for $50, I may consider it, but certainly no more
    • The tier percentage. In the $30 to $40 per 100 click price range the set minimum T1 percentage should be between 70% and 80%. If you are willing to pay a bit more, insist on somewhere above 90% T1.
    • Time Frame. I have always been suspicious of list owners who can produce 100 clicks in 24 hours or less. If it takes a week, let it take a week. Two if necessary. Obviously you don’t want to be hanging around for months, but speed isn’t the issue here, it’s quality.
    • Niche. Be sure to make sure that the niche the seller’s list is interested in is the same niche as your offer. No matter how good your email and squeeze page are, you will find it very difficult to get people who are mainly interested in needlework to sign up for your news letter about body building, Lol.

    General Guidance On Buying Sol-Ads

    • Where to find sellers. There are many Facebook Groups dedicated to all aspects of the Solo-ad industry. To save time I’ve included a link below to a spreadsheet which will help you find Solo-Ad Facebook groups of all sorts, not only those that specialize in buying and selling. I suggest that you click the “Enable Editing” button at the top before saving the spreadsheet on your hard drive somewhere where you will remember where to find it again. You will probably have to apply to join each group that takes your fancy, but that is normally nothing but a formality.

      Click Here To Download A Spreadsheet Containing The Addresses Of 60 Solo Ad Groups

    • Buying From A Vendor For The First Time. Never buy more than 100 clicks from a seller you haven’t dealt with before.
    • Keeping Records. It is essential that you keep records of each vendor’s performance. Remember that he or she must charge $40 or less per 100 clicks for tier 1 rates up to 80% and nothing over $50 for tier 1 rates above 80%. Opt-in rates must be 30% or above (with a proven sales page), and you should get at least 5% over-delivery. When I was a buyer my “limit of acceptability” was a cost of $1 per opt-in, and cost per opt-in is a good way to rate and compare different vendors.
    • Frequency Of Purchasing From A Good Quality Vendor. Although good vendors regularly renew their lists by buying Solo-ads themselves, or by click banking (see below), avoid deluging one particular vendor’s list with your same offer, by over-purchasing from the same vendor. It’s a bit arbitrary where you should “draw the line” but I wouldn’t buy more than 200 clicks from a single vendor in a single month. It’s okay to buy 200 from him or her every month, but 200 per vendor per month is where I drew the line. This might be a little unfair on some vendors, but a line has to be drawn somewhere. Vendors, of course, will always try to get you to buy more, and will often offer a bulk discount, but please try to set a reasonable limit and stick to it. I shudder when I read Facebook posts informing me that someone has just bought a batch of 1,000 clicks. Good luck dummy, is all I can think when I see that happening.
    • The Quality Of Purchased Solo-Ads. The biggest drawback to Solo-ads as a means of getting cheap traffic, (you’ll not find many sources where you can acquire targeted traffic for $1 per lead) is that it’s “cold” traffic. No “cold” is the wrong word for it; it’s “freezing traffic. What do I mean by “cold” traffic? You may ask. “Cold” traffic is where the subscriber doesn’t know you from Adam. You could be the biggest swindler on the net, for all he or she knows. They are as likely to buy something from you as they are to win big on the lottery. A few, addicted “shiny object” buyers may buy your front-end offer, but there’s no chance that any of them would go on to buy the more expensive up-sells and high ticket items you hopefully have in your sales funnel. So, what do you do? The answer is that you have to build a relationship with your list. Get them to know, like and trust you. Get them to recognize you as the “go-to” person they seek advice from when they have Internet Marketing problems. The answers to most problems can easily be found by a simple Google search anyway. How to ‘warm” up a “cold” list is far to big a subject to be covered here, in fact it is far too big a subject to be covered in a single blog, but I will try my best in my next blog, which, hopefully I can finish within the next week or two.
  • Selling Solo-Ads


    Making money by selling Solo-ads, that is by sending out emails to your own list which contain links to the offers of third parties, sounds as if it should be easy and profitable, but, in fact, it is difficult, time consuming and hardly worth the effort. There are people who are very good at it and who do make a handsome living from it, but it’s not for me. That doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t give it a go, if you feel inclined to. Perhaps you are one of the few that take to it naturally. But before you do, here are some of the things that you will have to consider before you start:

    • Required List Size. I would not recommend that anybody tries to start selling until they have a list, in a single niche of at least 3,000, which is an absolute minimum. It has become the norm that most buyers expect a batch of 100 clicks to be delivered in 48 hours maximum, so make sure you are able to do that on a regular basis.
    • Maintaining Your List Size. It is an unfortunate fact of Solo-ad vendors’ lives that almost every time they send out an email, they will get some “unsubscribes” when a few of their subscribers will click the “unsubscribe” link which must, by law, be displayed somewhere in the email. Usually at the bottom. Therefore to keep their list numbers up to an acceptable level, or, hopefully to see it slowly grow, every seller must be constantly replenishing his list, ether by buying more clicks, which, of course eats into any profit made, or by click banking or click swapping. (See last 2 sections). The most common choice is click banking but with that comes a dilemma, which will be explained in the next section.
    • Who Writes The Email? The Vendor Or The Buyer. Obviously, if you are the vendor, it saves you a lot of time and effort if the buyer writes his or her own email to contain his or her links for you to send to your list. Most vendors ask for the buyers to compose the email, with the proviso that it can be amended at the whim of the seller. Unfortunately, most seller’s draft emails are enticing as a wild grizzly bear at a picnic, and, if the 100 clicks in 48 hours “rule” has to be adhered to, the email will have to be re-written in any case. Hopefully the squeeze page is acceptable, but, on more than one occasion, during my short selling career, I have had to ask the seller to replace it. On one occasion, I was given a picture of a full-frontal naked lady, legs apart, holding a board which read something like, “Would you like to be able to afford me every night”. That was one potential customer who got a refund in a hurry.
    • How Is The Transaction Set Up And How Does The Seller Get Paid? The normal way arrange a transaction, and agree on all of the details is by Facebook Private Messages. Some people use The Skype written message board, but Facebook is the more common method. The usual way to receive and make payments in the Solo-ads industry is to transfer money directly from the buyer’s Paypal account to the seller’s Paypal account using the seller’s Paypal email address. Using this method the seller is charged a small fee, but it is free for the buyer. This transaction is done BEFORE the seller starts to send out the emails.
    • How Does A Seller Get Started With No Testimonials. At the start of a selling career, you have to sell as cheaply as possible, $30 per 100 clicks maximum. But make sure that you advert spells out the fact that you are a newbie and expect a testimonial in return. Make sure you over-deliver by at least 20% and give at least 80% T1. There are many Facebook groups designated entirely to the giving and receiving of testimonials. There are several of them in the downloadable Excel spreadsheet with the link above. Take screenshots of all testimonials received, even after your initial reduced price campaign, (or at least the good ones) so you can easily show them to all of your prospective clients in the future.
    • As a seller, what tracker should I use?. As much as I hate the product, and think it should be banned for misrepresentation, it grieves me to have to say that, at the moment, I can’t see how anybody could operate as a seller without using Click Magick, not withstanding that, without realizing it he or she is probably sending out almost double the clicks than they need to. If the seller used any other tracker, they would be constantly arguing with buyers who did use Click Magick about the number of clicks sent and the whole thing would become a nightmare. The advent of Click Magick was the main reason that I gave up selling Solo-ads to pursue more lucrative ways of making money on the internet.
  • Click Banking

    Click Banking, which is two words, unlike the affiliate web-site,, is a free system of increasing the size of your list, while maintaining the possibility of achieving some affiliate commissions along the way. Like with selling, it is recommended that to start click banking you should have a list of around 3,000 subscribers, though, because there is less time restraint it may be possible to start with a little less than 3,000. Click banking operators simply swap clicks with each other. One party goes first, and delivers a set amount of clicks with a specified minimum T1 percentage, to his or her list using the link given to him or her by the second party. This link would lead to the second party’s squeeze page, where, hopefully, the first party’s subscriber will opt-in to the second party’s list as well, and then, maybe go on to invest in whatever product the second party is promoting. After the agreed number of clicks have been delivered, the two parties change rolls and the second party sends out emails to his or her list containing a link to the first party’s squeeze page. When the two “sends” have been completed to their joint satisfaction, bearing in mind that the two results will rarely, if ever, be exactly the same, the parties will either go their separate ways, usually still on speaking terms, or will start another round as partners together. The following points are pertinent to how click banking works in practice:

    • The Setting Up Of The Agreement. As in buying and selling (see above) the initial contact between two potential partners is usually made via one of the Facebook groups set out in the Excel spreadsheet, which there is a link to above. The subsequent details of the contract are then discussed and, hopefully, finally agreed through Facebook Personal Messages. The most important of the many details that have to be ironed out before a contract can proceed is, which party is to send first. The party that sends first is the one that takes all the risks, as he or she is dependent on the second party to reciprocate after the first batch of clicks has been completed. It is therefore common practice for the first party to demand to see some testimonials from the party delivering second, before the contract starts.
    • The Use Of Click Trackers. Because there is no money involved, the necessity of using Click Magick is not so great when banking as it is when selling. As most of you will have realized by now, i would never contaminate my hard drive by installing Click Magick and when I was click banking I always insisted in going first when my partner was a CM user, even although, as explained in the previous paragraph, it is the riskier of the two options. If my partner complained that, according to his Click Magick stats, he had received only 160 of the 210 clicks I had sent my reply would simply be, “I’m not arguing, just send me back 160 clicks and we’ll call it quits.” Frequently, at the end of his or her send, I would get a link to the CM stats, which showed me they had returned what CM thought was 160 clicks but, according to my tracker I actually received 180. It’s a strange bit of software alright.
    • The Use Of Rotators. It is normal practice for click bankers to have more than one partner at the same time. This is done by the use of what are called “rotators”. Rotators used to be separate pieces of software but nowadays they are usually “rolled in” with click trackers in the same piece of software. Rotators can hold a limitless number of separate links, although I don’t think I ever had more than 6 in mine, but the rotator itself also has a unique link, which is the link that is placed in the email which is sent out to perform the click banking. All rotators can be set up in one of two ways, which can be changed at will. These are called “Series” (or something similar) and “Rotate” (or something similar). Some rotators have a third option, which is ‘Random”. With the system set to “series, everybody who clicks the link in an email will be directed to the first link in the rotator, unless he or she has clicked the link before on the same day. If this is the case, the clicker will operate the second link, and then the third etc. If the rotator is set to “rotate” then, everybody who clicks the link in the email will be taken to the destination of the link after the one that was most recently clicked by somebody else. Obviously, after the last link is activated, the next link to be activated will be the first link in the rotator. If the rotator is set to “random, anybody who clicks on a link will be taken to any one of the destinations of the links in the rotator. The usual setting is “rotate” which enables an operator to have more than one banking partner at a time. maximizing his click through rate while minimizing the difference between the number of “raw” clicks and the number of “unique” clicks. However, if the operator is also selling clicks and, because a sale has not reached its quota in two or three emails, and so he or she puts the link to the offer for sale into a rotator, it should go at the top and the rotator’s function should be changed to “series”.
    • Generic Emails. By far the most difficult part about click banking is the question “what the heck do I write in the email”? Every email must be interesting and appealing but you are trying to sell half a dozen products at once, you’ve probably got no idea what they are, and, even worse you’ve no idea which of the products the reader will be directed to, after they click on a link. There is also the autoresponer’s view of the headers you use and the wording in the body of the emails which needs to be taken into account. You don’t want to lose your list by botching up a few bad emails that you write in your first attempt at click banking. Over the years I have written 150 emails, each with 4 header lines, which seem to work fairly well, and which Aweber has never had any complaints with. They are all in the “make money online” niche, and when I was creating them I kept 4 words uppermost in my mind. They were, “Cheap”, “Easy”, “Profits”, “Quickly”.
    • Click Swapping

      Click swapping is very similar to click banking, with two major differences. Firstly, in click swapping, both partners send out the agreed quota of clicks simultaneously, instead of one after the other, and secondly the expected time frame is much quicker when click swapping than it is when click banking. With click swapping, partners are expected to provide 100 clicks in 24 hours. With click banking, 100 clicks in a week is usually acceptable. I can see no reason for the great haste, as you should be hoping, once they are “warmed up”, to keep all subscribers obtained for a lifetime. So what do a few extra hours, days, or even a week matter in the whole scheme of things? People are beginning to realize this and, together with the recent noticeable decline in the delivery rates of the major autoresponers the popularity of click swapping has reduced remarkably in favor of click banking.


    Below, I have set out a summary of the good and bad points of Solo-ads, both for the operators and the users. These points are in no particular order and I will type them down in the order they enter my befuddled head.

    • Solo-ads are a cheap source of paid, targeted traffic. $1 per subscriber, (not click) should be possible.
    • After a list of around 2,500 to 3,000 subscribers have been collected, the use of click banking can be utilized to continue to grow the list for free, although the writing of the necessary generic emails can be difficult and time consuming.
    • After the 3,000 mark has been passed list holders could branch into selling, but this too, is difficult, time consuming, and highly competitive.
    • Solo-ad traffic is very cod traffic which has been bombarded with offer, after offer, after offer, together with many many enticements to join many many lists. If you are a buyer of Solo-ads or use click banking or click swapping to attract subscribers you have to be very good at “warming up” your subscribers so that you stand out from the many other lists that every one of your subscribers will be a member of.
    • Solo-ad traffic is not noted for its loyalty. They often join, grab whatever “freebies” you may be offering and then unsubscribe, before you have had a chance to “warm them up”.
    • Subscribers from Solo-d traffic are noy known to be big buyers. A few may buy your front-end product, but few, if any, will buy any up-sells you may have, never mind the high-end products at the sharp end of your funnel

    For these reasons, among others, I have decided to switch my primary source of traffic to my iPro based business, away from click banked Solo-ads to other methods of traffic generation.

    Please comment, share, and ask any questions you may have regarding the Solo-ad industry below.

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  • 3 thoughts on “The Complete And Uncensored Truth About Solo-Ads”

    1. Thank you for an extremely detailed and informative description of Solo-Ads.
      I now feel I understand them a little bit better – enough to decide that I am not yet ready try buying them myself. As an iPro novice, I am building my brand through blogging and Facebook fan page. Your blog sets a great example and I look forward to learning more from you.
      Best Regards

    2. Thank you for your kind words, John. They are very much appreciated. I have not been very well recently and my recent progress with iPro has been virtually non-existent. But I hope to become more active in the near future.

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