1. What are solo ads?
If you have an active email list - regardless of the size - you can sell solo ads. By definition, they are an advertisement which you sell to another entrepreneur in your industry. For an agreed-upon lump-sum of money, you typically dedicate an entire email (provided by the buyer) to his or her purchased advertisement. Sometimes clicks are guaranteed by the seller while at other times they are not (however you can usually predict a ballpark range for the amount of people that will see and click on the advertisement based on your list size and engagement).
2. Should you sell them?
This is obviously a great way to generate revenue for your business. You agree upon a particular amount of money and once you receive the payment you send the email. This is risk-free compared to other methods of making money off your email list, such as selling affiliate products which can often be unpredictable.
However, anything that is risk-free undoubtedly always comes with a catch. The issue is, you never know and understand exactly who the person you're selling to is and what value they'll provide to your subscribers. Chances are, you may be selling to some guy who provides incredibly low value products and spams the crap out of your subscribers. Remember, a solo ad is a recommendation, and if you recommend a spammer or a product with low value, your subscribers will stop trusting you.
Therefore, although you may make a decent sum of money upfront by selling a solo ad, it may cost you a lot more in the long run.
But, although you are risking your reputation by selling them, there are ways to effectively sell solo ads without killing your reputation or getting your subscribers to hate you. It's called...
It's easier said than done, but it can be done. Here's the model we use for heavily reducing the risk of selling an ad to a spammer who could ruin your reputation. (Important to note that even if you take all these precautions, you still run the risk of selling ads to a spammer, BUT, what it does is seriously reduce the risk)
1. Free Offers Only
Our first piece of criteria is that we will only sell to people who initially offer a free product to our customers, in exchange for their email. We do not promote paid products. This is for a few reasons. First of all, the burden for something "valuable" is far smaller on a free product than a paid one. That's because subscribers only give away their time, instead of their hard-earned money, in order to get the product. Therefore, if we still an ad to a person who offers an "average product" (in terms of value), our subscribers won't hate us if it's free. They may not love the recommendation, but they certainly won't hate us for it. On the other hand, if we recommend a paid product that is mediocre, the trust between our subscribers and us will be broken. That's something very difficult to repair.
2. Valuable Products
Not only do we require that advertisers hand over a free product to our customers, we also require that the free product they give is genuinely valuable. When we recommend a valuable product to our customers, the opposite reaction is experienced from our subscribers - they actually like us more for it. It builds more trust, and improves our relationship. They will look forward to our next email.
It's important that you're only giving value to your customers. Although you'll find that not all advertisers have a valuable (and free) product, it will be extremely beneficial for you to run advertisements only from the select few that truly offer value. It will harness a relationship with your list to the point that they'll trust you enough to buy products from you.
3. Minimal upsells
Although a lot of people offer a free product upfront, they also hassle customers through a horrendous and torturous sales funnel. They have upsell after upsell, with videos that cannot be skipped and 20 page sales letters - just ridiculous stuff. I make sure that each of my advertisers has zero upsells or has no more than one upsell, and the criteria for that upsell is very specific.
- It must provide more value than the free product they are initially offering
- It must not be expensive (under $50)
- There must be a clear "No Thanks" link or button on that upsell page so my subscribers can receive their free product if they don't like
Many marketers choose to hide the "No Thanks" link. If my subscribers can't find the no thanks link then we've got a problem. My subscribers won't get what were promised and what they wasted their time for. That's an issue because it looks bad on me.
It's okay to sell solo ads. They aren't the end of the word. You won't necessarily ruin the relationship between you and your subscribers. However, you must do it right. Make sure you screen potential advertisers and do NOT accept every single advertising offer you get. Do your due diligence and keep your eye on your long term goal of building an exquisite relationship with your subscribers.