Assuming all other bills are covered; web hosting, list building, affiliate programs, your own ezine, etc., you only have $150 a month to spend specifically on advertising. What are the best ways to stretch that dollar to its fullest potential? Glad you asked.
You will find article after article endlessly covering six free ways (except for one) to advertise. They include: Submitting articles to directories, submitting your ezine (which you need to have) to directories, exchanging links, posting in forums, announcement lists, and pay per clicks. This is not another one of those articles. To read one, go here - http://www.cerebuswebmaster.com/onsite/newsletter/issue4.html (Scroll down to “A Crash Course in Website Promotion”).
Some of these ideas listed below are free, while some require an investment. With a limited monthly budget (and even without one), research before you spend anything, to make sure your money will be doing exactly what you want it to. Keep track of all expenses in real time, and when the funds run out, stop until next month.
The best way to compensate for lack of money is a lot of time. Think of time as your reserves. Since you do not a have a lot of money to spend, you need lots of time to research, plan, and execute. Until you have made enough money to use other forms of promotion, time is your greatest asset.
There are numerous websites that have free advertising (of course, they want you to upgrade for a fee, but the free version works just fine), and each has their own way to advertise to others. Most of them use some sort of credit system. Five are listed here.
The problem with the free advertising sites is that they promise visibility, but not necessarily traffic to your site. At http://www.trafficaccount.com, you pay between $1.99 and $3.99 per one thousand visitors.
If classifieds are more your forte, http://www.qualitybooks.com/tenad.htm lists the best websites to place your classifieds for free. However, usually they are not as popular as the paid ad sites.
If you are going to spend money at a classified site, do your homework before you pay. Many free-for-alls are only visited by people placing ads and not seeking them. When researching, find out how many hits it gets, make sure your ad stays on the page and will not be pushed off when other ads come in, and that there is some worth to the site and not just inundated with ads. Visitors quickly leave websites with nothing offer.
You can always post classifieds offline, too. Some newspapers will not charge for the ad if the item you are selling is under $100.
Including signatures in everything is an often over-looked tool to promote your website to your network of friends and contacts. On every e-mail you send, forum you post in, sheet you fax, or article you write, at the very least always include your business name and website, and maybe a promotional tagline. Giving your address and phone numbers makes you look more legitimate to potential customers. The trust factor between business owners and consumers can make or break your online business.
Writing and Branding eBooks
Depending on your business, this may take some adapting to fit your personal business mold, but many people have made a lot of money by writing an ebook that promotes the heck out of your service, and giving it away to as many people as possible. Befriend other online capitalists that can promote and your book to their list. Submit your ebook to websites with free ebook directories.
You could also find ebooks with subjects or information that is very close to your niche or product. Read them, and if you can find a way that your product would benefit the reader of that book, pitch your product to the author, and if he agrees to include your product in an updated version of the book, split the profits of the traffic that came through the book.
If designing your business model or even promoting your business lacks structure and coherence, the Marketing Dashboard ($59.95) at http://www.Getitgoing.com organizes everything for you. From your marketing vision to your profit plan, stats tracking and task organizing, it keeps your business plan focused.
This is more for the traffic you have already achieved. Give away a web toolbar (which can be made at http://www.webtoolbars.com) that is tailor-made to promote your business. It allows you to inform anyone that downloads the toolbar of updates to your website, new products you have to sell, forum topics, etc. This will keep people from forgetting about your website and makes them much more likely to visit again. The Basic is $5 and the Pro is $45.
Many online entrepreneurs forget that advertising offline can be just as powerful as online. Never miss an opportunity to plug your business. You never know who you might bump in to. Definitely invest in some business cards. You can also purchase magnetic signs to place on your car, fliers to pass out at high traffic areas (be it people or cars), rubber stamps for all your letters. The possibilities are endless. You can buy all of these products at http://www.iprint.com .
As you can see, there are still many avenues to promote your site very cheaply. Most of these are free, and none of the above have residual costs. As your business slowly makes more money, you can eventually start placing well-tested ads in extremely high-traffic sites. Until then, use these ways to get your feet off the ground.