The TRUE cost of “free” organic list-building methods

One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) as an online business owner is that there’s NO such thing as FREE traffic or marketing.

There’s organic, and then there’s paid. But “organic” doesn’t mean “free.”

Here’s how I calculate whether it’s worth doing organic marketing vs paid marketing to grow my email list:

First, I analyze my potential hourly rate if I were to get a part-time job.

For example, I could realistically get paid $20+ an hour as a lifeguard if I updated my certifications.

Okay, that’s not 100% true. I’m no longer in shape like I used to be. So I could work at the mall or something for minimum wage ($14.25 in Quebec, which is equivalent to $10.73 USD).

So let’s say I want at least 200 new subscribers per month on my email list.

To get there organically, I estimate I’d need to spend:

  • 5 hours per week on creating blog content
  • 5 hours per week working on organic Pinterest marketing
  • 5 hours per week of outreach and social media content creation

That’s about 60 hours per month in total.

How did I come up with those numbers? Based on my experience, I know how much content and how much work you need to do to average a certain amount of traffic.

So how does this compare to paid traffic?

To get 200 leads at my current cost-per-lead using Facebook ads ($3.75) , it would cost me $750 USD.

That’s 69 hours of minimum wage work for 200 leads.

I’d rather just do the organic work myself instead of spending on ads. 60 hours per month working on my own business is MUCH better than 69 hours of minimum wage work for some rando at the mall.

However, that’s no longer the case for me. I don’t HAVE to get a minimum wage job.

Instead, I can just take some extra email writing work, which gives me an average hourly rate of $100 USD per hour.

Now, if I want to afford those 200 new leads, I only need to work an extra 7.5 hours per month.

That’s WAY less than the 60 hours I’d need to invest if I wanted the same results organically.

In my case, I still plan on playing around with organic Pinterest marketing because I thoroughly enjoy blogging.

But instead of doing everything myself, I’m hiring someone on my team to help out.

It’ll be a bit more expensive than ads…

… but it’ll diversify my sources of traffic — AND it gives me an optional service to offer to clients who don’t want to run ads.

Do you see how you can apply the same logic for your own list-building efforts?

In short, you have more than just a few options.

Depending on your situation, it may make sense to start a side-gig to pay for your ad spend. OR, it may make more sense to do everything organically.

It all depends on:

  • Your skills and what type of work you can get with them
  • Your home situation (how much free time you have)
  • The availability of jobs near you
  • What your short-term and long-term goals look like

Let me know what you’re considering and if you’re debating the best option for you — and I can help guide you in the right direction!