Authority Website Income

Paid Traffic to a Content Site. Does Online Arbitrage Still Exist?

Dev can always be relied on to provide some amazing insights and this post is no different.

One of the great parts of the six figure challenge is hearing about all the new ideas that people in the group are using to make their site successful!

Have a look at Deven’s post and enjoy!


Dev here with another (hopefully helpful) guest post on Authority Website Income.

Today I wanted to touch on one solution to one of the biggest pain point’s I’ve had as a part of the six figure challenge – and that is finding a scalable way of getting more engaged readers to my site.

One of the toughest parts of being a new publisher is having no one show up to your site, no read that content you’ve spent so much time on, and no one commenting on your comment board, facebook page, or twitter accounts.

Once you’ve exhausted inviting your coworkers, your mom, and your friends from elementary school, how do you get more people onto your site, engaging with your content – and you do you do so cost effectively (or even better – at a profit).

Unfortunately – Long gone are the easy days of Adwords arbitrage. I fondly remember the days where you could buy long tail traffic on google for the minimum bid (often $0.01/click) and then through some good conversion optimization (also known as plastering your site with high cpcadsense ads) create a profitable little money machine.

Although those days are over, you can still drive paid (aka SCALABLE) traffic to your content sites as long as you shift your thinking and strategy to transactionvaluevs advertising value.

Not to be Captain Obvious, but the best way to have sustainable value as a content site is to sell something targeted to your user base.  And the best way to sell something is to first get ownership of your audience by having them opt-in to your mailing list so you can mail them new content and prime them for your best sales offers.

So, lets turn our attention to how to scalably and profitably get a bunch of email addresses of interested readers:

There are 3 things you need to succeed with this strategy:

  1. Dirt Cheap Traffic
  2. A Content Page That Collects Emails Like A Champ
  3. A Revenue Generating Email Offer

Lets go through each steps and talk through some specifics of how to make your scalable reader acquisition strategy

  1. Dirt Cheap Traffic

Cheap, high quality, traffic is crux of this strategy. And there is no better, cheaper traffic than content ads – especially on Outbrain.

You’ve probably seen outbrain ads on large media sites like and may have even clicked on a few of these articles:

more stories

They’re the ads you see as sponsored content below the actual posts.

The great things about these ads is that they the readers (clickers Are already in the mood for reading content and are in prime position to be wowed by your inspirational content and prose).

The even greater thing about these ads is that the minimum cpcs are as low as $.03.  That’s right, $0.03 cents. For less than the cost of a double cheeseburger ($1.00 for you non-americans), you can get 33 people to visit our site and read your best content.

OK, so you have them on your page, how do you make the most of them.

Since we’ve established that lifetime value is the key to all this, we don’t want to churn these folks by having obnoxious popups (which will create a huge bounce rate) or an aggressive content squeeze page. Instead, we want to wow them with content and have them begging us for more.

That’s why we’ll now focus on #2:

  1. A Content Page That Collects Emails Like A Champ

The best way to we’ve found to capture emails is to provide value and have your readers asking for more.  Structurally, we’ve tried everything from downloadable checklists, to 50 page ebooks, to discount codes, to ambiguously titled vip clubs.  The absolute best thing we’ve found are article specific social lockers.

That means offering a value add download that corresponds directly to the specific article you are sending traffic to.

What we’ve also learned is that you don’t need to target traffic to a ton of content, 1 or 2 articles will do… and creating additional downloads for these articles isn’t too much work at all.  Things we’ve used (and seen used) as add-on downloads include:

  • Downloadable spreadsheets of raw data
  • PDF downloads of articles
  • Video or audio versions of the content
  • Exclusive interviews with industry experts in your space

A great tool to manage your social locker downloads (that was already covered by Jon here) is WPSharely.  I’d suggest just allowing emails to unlock the content, and not facebook shares or tweets (which in our experience are less valuable).

Our best page/locker combos have gotten up to 5% conversion.  This leads to about $0.60 per email.  Not bad, but still  not free by any means.

OK, this is where we come to monetization.   This is, and will be an entire series of posts I’m sure, but for now, lets just talk about the philosophy of how to pay for reader acquisition.

  1. A Revenue Generating Email Offer

As every marketing blogger you’ve ever signed up for will demonstrate, selling products (whether they’re your own or you act as an affiliate) are a fantastic way to monetize your blog.  Depending on your niche, there are a ton of ways you can generate an initial revenue event/transaction that will help offset your email subscribe acquisition cost.  This can include:

  • An affiliate offer for an information product from a platform like Clickbank
  • An affiliate offer for a (higher priced) product on Amazon
  • An ecourse that you create (obviously takes more work)

Depending on your conversion rates, here’s a quick formula to determine the contribution margin (profit) you need from your initial sale to break even on your customer acquisition strategy.  Improve your conversion rates or your revenue and you’ll actually end up making a profit while adding more readers.


Email Acquisition Profitability Calculator
Cost Per Click (Content Network) $0.03
Click to Email Conversion 3.0%
Cost/Email Acquisition $1.00
Email To Purchase Conversion Rate 2.0%
Cost/Customer Acquisition $50.00
eCourse or Affiliate Offer $ $50.00
Positive Contribution Margin $0.00


The best sequence we’ve found to initiate these sales is an email autoresponder sequence as follows

  • Day 1 Email – Mention that you’ll be having an offer (and mention date)
  • Day 2 Email – Introduce product
  • Day 3 Email – List key benefits and soft sell
  • Day 4 Email – Hard sell
  • Day 5 Email – Last chance email

That’s it for now.  Getting this funnel to work (on a break even or better basis) will do wonders for your reader acquisition strategy and will help you access a potentially unlimited number of readers.




About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Jyoti Chauhan says April 17, 2015

Hi Jon,

What a amazing post! I feel like I have blessed being here. I use only free methods to drive traffic to my blog. After going through your whole post, I am thinking to use Outbrain. It is very cheap and we can easily get lots of targeted traffic easily.


    Robert says April 19, 2015

    Nice Post Jon . I agree with you that we should buy Paid Traffic. How about a newbie, it’s difficult to apply, but Its useful if you understand the game. As you told its is great who are running there Email Campaign.

    Very good. Learn a lot! Thank you.

Anisul Islam says April 17, 2015

Short and to the point post Dev! Do you have experience with using any other platform other than outbrain ? such as taboola etc.

Philip says April 17, 2015

In wpsharely I don’t see an option for email, how are you doing this?

Matthew Allen says April 17, 2015

Interesting strategy Dev. I’ve been wanting to try something like this for quite awhile. Sick of waiting around for “free” Google traffic. Being able to buy traffic and profit from it has always intrigued me. Thanks for the tip on Outbrain. I’ll have to check that out.

5% conversions with the content locker method sounds unacceptable to me. I’ve been getting much higher conversion rates using the content upgrade method to grow my email lists. But then again, I’ve never tried paid traffic. Could be different. Plus I’m terrible at monetizing my lists. But using LeadPages and the content upgrade method is working amazingly well to capture emails.

Gaurav says April 18, 2015

Thanks for sharing this. You’ve broken it down into a ‘do-able’ process (without the information overload).

Quinton Hamp says April 18, 2015

Really good strategy, here. I, too am interested in how to monetize paid traffic… simply because it seems that when we optimize for converting paid traffic, the entire site is improved.

We need more legs to stand on and this is a great write-up on how to monetize one of those legs!

Alex says April 20, 2015

Going to give this a try in the next few weeks.

Derek Smith says May 5, 2015


How do you compare the traffic and costs that you get from Outbox compared to driving traffic to your site from Facebook Ads? I am thinking that if you get an interesting niche that FB is one of the quickest ways to build an audience.

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