What Are Solo Ads and Ad Swaps?

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swap barter or trade solo ads

Solo Ads & Ad Swaps
Technique for Internet Marketing List Growth

Several of the social media communities I’m involved with are just starting to dip their toes into classical internet marketing…

A fundamental component for making money online with internet marketing is list building. The adage that “the money is in the list” is incredibly true!

(Technically the money is in your relationship with your list, but that’s a different soap box!)

If you’re still not sure about this whole list building thing, or why can be an important part of monetizing online, be sure to check out List Building Basics.

With that has came a lot of discussion of Solo Ads and Ad Swaps.

What Are Solo Ads and Ad Swaps?

In super basic terms, a “Solo Ad” is when you (generally) pay someone to mail THEIR email list, on your behalf, with a recommendation and link to your free optin offer squeeze page.

An “Ad Swap” is the same idea only two people do it in exchange with each other to help each other out. (If one has a much larger list than the other, the one with the smaller list may need to mail twice, to send a fair amount of traffic.)

These two are basically the same, except that one is paying with an exchange and the other is paying with cash.

This type of advertising takes advantage of the relationship a marketer has with their list… that their list KLT’s (knows, likes and trusts) them… to get some optins for the other person.

This can be an incredibly powerful form of list building although there are a lot of variables that go into how good the results will be.

What Is Needed To Participate In Ad Swaps?

To start with, before you can do ANYTHING you have to have a few things in place….

1. Hosting – your squeeze/optin page has to be hosted somewhere on the internet

2. Autoresponder – this service allows you to capture a list and get good deliverability when you later send emails to them

3. A “Ethical Bribe” – this is the freebie you are exchanging with the visitor for his/her name and email address. Can be your own product/ebook or a PLR you have giveaway rights too.

4. A squeeze page (aka optin page) for the other person to send traffic to for you.



1. Money to pay for a Solo Ad.


2. An existing double  optin list you have a good relationship with to be able to mail an ad for the other person. (If the other person has a larger list than you do, you may also need to leverage your ability to promote to your twitter followers/etc although these are technically not a list.)

Where to Find Ad Swaps and Solo Ads?

There are a number of places in the internet marketing world online that one can find potential people to do business with. The Warrior Forum often has lots of people either looking for/ offering ad swaps, or selling Solo Ads. Definitely be careful in there as you MUST find someone that has a good reputation or you could end up out some money.

One of the best ways however is within your own preexisting communities.

For example many of the tribe syndication communities are currently attempting to facilitate ad swaps among their members.

Often within your own niche and own private communities you can find groups offering ad swaps.

It is ALWAYS best to start these swaps in your existing communities (or communities you trust) so that the trust level is high and you feel comfortable promoting the other person.


Have your squeeze page together and need help finding an ad swap partner? Feel free to talk to other people that reply to this thread and see if they wouldn’t make good partners!

Want to learn more about Solo Ads? Pick up a copy of Solo Ad Revolution which I found really helpful.

Also, check out a breakdown of a Solo Ad/Ad Swap mailing I did for a friend and show you how simple it was and all of the numbers!

I appreciate all you’re comments, shares and tweets!

PS: Yeah you guessed it… some of those links are my affiliate links. If you purchase through them, they have to buy me a cheeseburger! (Maybe you can sweet talk them into giving me a Mt. Dew while they’re at it eh?)

Premium Solo Ads By Kim

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  1. says

    As always, valuable information teaching me things I haven’t come across before. Thanks for keeping me up with all that’s important to expand my marketing experience. As I have only just begunm selling products, also doing some guest posting, will have to come back to this and see how I can apply it to my small niche blog. Thanks for sharing Kimberley.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • says

      Patricia I agree, I will have to come back to this! There is so much gems in one post, I thought I was going to get a simple definition of solo ads, but Kim totally over delivered here. Thanks for taking so much time and energy to give such a valuable lesson here.

  2. says

    Ad swaps can be effective as long as they are within the same or very similar niche and targeted properly. I’ve had great success by always making sure the other person really has the same or bigger list size or site traffic.

  3. says

    It is a pleasure seeing someone speaking about solo ads, and while your setting is more along the lines of communities, for more than a decade ezine ad co-ops have been (and remain) a standard go-to spot for running solo ads (and other forms of online advertising).

    I’ve been helping people for the past 10 years, and this resource is still hanging in there (where so many other things come and go).

    Thanks for calling attention to viable ways to help people spread the word :)

  4. says

    Hey Kim, Great Post!

    I don’t have much experience with Ad Swaps but it is something that I will look into in the near future for sure! I agree that Warrior is a great community and I will look into starting some Ad Swaps with some of the good folk there! I look forward to reading some of your future posts Kim!

  5. says

    You’ve explained that very well Kim. I’m not into list building so it’s not of any use to me but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the read, because it was. It’s like I’ve always said, learning is never a waste of time.

  6. says

    Hey Kim,

    Great info on Solo Ads and Ad Swaps. I had heard of this before but not really understood what it was or the power of it. How have you used this in your marketing and what success have you had?

    Thanks for sharing with us all.

    Make it a great day!
    God Bless,
    The GREAT Edward!

  7. says

    You say, “Have your squeeze page together and need help finding an ad swap partner? Give me a shout and I can likely help you out.” I do have a good page set up but only about 10 names on my list. Another person has suggested emailing 10 JV people saying, “I’m just starting out & don’t have a list yet. Could you mail a small segment of your list & in exchange I will promote your offer on my thank you page & put a couple of messages in your follow up sequence.” The only problem here is where to find these people.

    Any help you could give would be appreciated.

  8. says

    Hi Kim,
    That’s an awesome post. Almost covered every aspects of list building. I started list building a bit late. But as soon as I started, I learnt two things – It improves a mentality of sharing or giving away and this is the best and the easiest way to earn money online. I started my list building giving away wonderful plr resources. And it’s still bringing me luck. I want to share my link to your readers. Any body downloads this, is absolutely free to share them, sell them and do anything and everything with them. Thanks a lot.
    By the way, my WF username is shawoon98. See you there sometimes.
    – M. Bari.

  9. says

    Thank you Kim for writing this post. I am starting to explore into solo ads recently, this is a resource that has been overlooked because I’ve always think that it is so old school! It is a loss not to try!

    • says

      Kent, its amusing timing that you commented on this post since it’s a little old (but not out of date). Interesting timing though because I’m just finishing up a Solo Ad Training that I got from David Eisner that was really useful. It has a table/index/list of sources for solo ads thats incredibly helpful to me as well as some decent training. I’ve finished the first part and am working on the second part now. Check it out if you like. If you have any questions about Solos give me a shout. I’m not super experienced with them but am in the learning phase so always happy to brainstorm with someone.

      • says

        Thanks Kim, appreciate that. Actually I’ve been asking around recently, but it seems that not many people knows about solo ads accept experienced marketers, but even when it comes to marketers the majority does not use or sell solo ads. Do you have any recommendation to reliable solo ad sources?


    • says

      Hey Tim! Thanks for letting me know I’m ranking for something cool! I actually recently delved back into this topic and purchased a cool list of IM-industry adswap providers. Good stuff, I’ll probably be mentioning it soon as I’ve enjoyed it. Good to see you again!

  10. Cheryl says

    Hi Kim,

    Would you offer to run solo ads on my behalf & i’ll pay for the sales generated from the incoming traffic?

    Thanks for your early favourable reply!

    • says

      Cheryl, I do not run solo’s to my list. Also if I did, you would pay for it AS a solo ad which would be per clicks not per sales. A per sale percentage is an affiliate promotion and a different creature. If you want to learn more about solo ads as well as get a really good list of people in the internet marketing field that (with IM based lists) that DO sell solo ads (pay per traffic, not per sale) you should check out this package which I enjoyed.

  11. says

    Hi Kim,

    Found this page through Google search. Thanks for a great post about solo ads and ad-swaps. Now I understand better =)


  12. says

    Solo advertising and ad swaping is definitely the thing you want to do if you have no list or if you’re on a budget. It’s cheaper than PPC and more effective at the moment than Facebook PPC. The Directory of Ezines is probably the best for learning the ropes to solo advertising, although they’re a bit expensive if you’re on a tight budget. Thanks for the article and the David Eisner link.

  13. says

    Excellent post.

    I just started to build a list on my site (link in my profile) in the IM niche and I’m still blind in terms of traffic and lead generation.

    For a new list (currently under 20 subs in 7 days), I guess solos are the way to go, but how do we check which are good and which are junk traffic/clicks?

    There are quite a few providers on WF, but how do we judge which is offering a legit deal and how do we quantify? Thank you so much!

    Dave T

  14. Rick says

    I have seen people grow their lists fast doing ad swaps.

    That is the good.

    The bad is your list is not going to be as good a list as it can be because you aren’t providing good content when you are just sending ads every day to your list.

  15. says

    Hey Kim,

    I have yet to really get deep into solo ads. This is my next big journey i want to get into. There is so much potential in a list and a good opt in page :)

    Thanks for the share!

  16. says

    Great article on Solo Ads! I have been learning about this more lately on my internet marketing and social media craze. Maybe it’s time to do an ad swap in the near future to grow my list faster.

  17. says

    very cool. yes solo ads are a great way to build your email list. I’ve found that you can find some relatively cheap solo ads but their effectiveness depends entirely upon the other persons relationship with their list. My advice, stay away from fiverr. I’ve had some bad experiences there.

  18. says

    Hi Kim,

    Isn’t it funny a how we spend so much time stumbling around on the internet asking people what certain terms mean. Well cheers for actually wording it in a such a simple to understand way.

    Solo Ads & Ad Swaps, afer all my searching, THAT’S what they mean !!! :-)

    Thank You

    • says

      Marilyn, while I use Solo Ad Revolution for a database of solo ad providers, you are right that most of those will not allow biz op posts. The way around that is to do something more generic, such as offering an ebook about how to do XYZ, that would appeal to a similar audience and let you back-end the biz op info. Then you can mail to these lists.

  19. says

    Hi Kim, as a provider myself I simply do not understand the avoidance of MLM offers by solo ad providers… We have the ability to screen the ads and cull those that are inappropriate. MLM marketers seem to be treated as outcasts but the reality is that all business segments are subject to fraud. I consider it my job to inform the marketers contracting my services how to best evaluate the program or product they have interest in before making an investment in the business.

  20. says

    What a clear concise way of presenting the real way to market online… Been online since 1997 and that is what is successful for me as well. As for conversions email still outperforms both search and social combined.

    This is THE tutorial for solo ads and ad swaps! Great job Kim…

    • says

      Awww, thank you for your kind words Gina. Solo Ads and Ad Swaps still seem to get that cloak of mystery yet when it turns out they’re very simple and yet important concepts. Thanks for stopping in,

  21. says

    Hi Kim, I know this post is not that new, but it is still valuable information. I haven’t really gotten into building lists or ad swaps at this time. I was reading a article and saw some comments about this so I wanted to do some research. So I searched for ad swaps and you came up. Thanks for the informative post, I did leave here with a general understanding and that means you did a good job.

    Please feel free to drop by my site, just cleaned up all the garbage comments and there is space for good informative replies. Good PR too ;-)

  22. says

    Hey Kim,

    I was aware of adswaps, but solo ads were all new to me. I learned that from Raena, which when I get caught up will be using. Thanks I will look at the Warrior, however a lot of stuff I see there is so insanely spammy though. I will test out the other one though! Do you have any new ones to ad to the list for Adswaps?


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