Bootstrappers – great news! This article will show you how to promote your small business online for less, even free – with quality, of course! Everything shared here is my own blueprint for you to benefit from… so be sure to share this to your network so they can also benefit from this post.
Are you ready? Here we go:
1. Social bookmarking
How: Bookmark your stories and get views, as well as votes from fellow members.
Views, obviously, bring you traffic, but what you need to focus on are votes. For a certain number of votes, you will get featured on the homepage – big exposure for your business page!
Most social bookmarking services are free. There are some services offering ‘Pro’ plan, but if you are a regular user, the free plan is all you need.
Logically, you want your page/update to be bookmarked on as many social bookmarking sites as possible. However, following the 80/20 principles, you should only choose the ones which will give you the best impact for your effort.
Need some recommendations, especially business-related ones? BizSugar (great community,) Digg (well-trafficked,) StumbleUpon (get ready for traffic avalanche!) Blokube (mostly on blogging,) BlogEngage (offer paid plans only, but great value added marketing service for higher plans.)
2. Social networking
How: Setup an account (fan page, business page, etc.), get social fans and followers and engage them with great content, contests and fans/followers-only promo.
Social networking is where the community – and your target market – hanging out. Be sure you establish your small business presence on major social networking sites to reach out to social-savvy people!
Now, about choices: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Chime.in, … the list can go on and on. What you need to do is to focus on a handful of social networking site and customize your campaign for each, as every social site has its own characteristics and different demographics.
If you wish to network with fellow business owners, you should use LinkedIn, StartupNation, Biznik, and Manta. Those social sites will let you network with business owners, leaders and… prospects!
Most – if not all – of those social networking sites are free to use, but certain perks will be given to premium members. For instance, when you sign up with Biznik’s premium plans, you will be able to add more sites to your profile and add more links on your published discussions and so on.
How: Blog about your industry-related topics and promote your blog posts to get more readers – and convert them into leads – and eventually, buyers.
Perhaps the most underrated business promotion strategy is blogging. Today, content is now only for giving information only. It’s now also act as a marketing tool: Blogs are becoming more effective in driving traffic to your main site.
Blogging is increasingly important in getting the words out about your business. Why? It’s because blog posts are highly shareable, and the better quality of your blog posts, the more shares, views and buzz you will get. You can then drive the traffic you get from your blogs to your products/services.
Getting started is easy – and free. Just install WordPress from WordPress.org or any other blogging platforms, set things up and start blogging – right away. If you want simplicity, try hosted blog solutions, like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and so on – available for you free of charge (unless you want to link your blog to your own domain name.) There is also a much-anticipated blogging platform yet to launch, Ghost.
4. Hire Freelancers
How: Hire someone to promote your small business for you.
Okay – perhaps you have heard too much about how freelancers ruin a business. But just like hiring any other kinds of employees, hiring a freelancer should go through various steps: Interview, communication, test order, and so on.
Freelancers are typically offering you the best value for your money – if you discovered the right ones, that is.
Let’s take Fiverr for example. For me, Fiverr rocks because there are some hidden gems inside – people who offer insanely high quality of work at $5.
Want to get exposure for your small business? Why don’t you hire a Press Release writer for $5 and get the PR published for $5 ($10 in total)? How about tweeting your message to Fiverr member with legitimate Twitter accounts and plenty of followers – for $5? How about creating weird/funny video with your message embedded in it – for $5 – plus promoting the video on video sites for an additional $5 ($10 in total)?
How about crowdsourcing using Freelancer.com or oDesk.com and get your small business promoted to many eyeballs for just $50?
The possibilities are limitless!
5. Use various web publishing services
How: Use third-party publishing platforms to boost your business brand and deliver traffic to your main business website.
There are some very good services on the web for your publishing needs – mostly available free of charge.
Let’s take Slideshare, for example. You can create and share your presentation/slides on Slideshare and have your brand and website embedded in your presentation. How big is the impact of Slideshare on your end? How about 30,000 presentation views in one day – and get that views translated into 1,000’s of views to your business website, not mentioning the all the branding you get? Of course, Slideshare is not the only service available: How about DocStoc? Prezi?
You can also try list-making apps, like List.ly. Build a list of things (i.e. Top 10 small business tools…) and get your brand and link published along with the list. Things work pretty similar with Slideshare and Co.: More views on your list means more traffic to your website. Cool?
How about web newspaper maker app, like Paper.li? Create an online newspaper for free, choose the news sources you want to include, and brand the newspaper however you like when you sign up with its premium service at $10/month.
How about publishing your video on YouTube, Vimeo and so on – and get views, branding and traffic?
A fan of infographics? You can publish yours on Visual.ly and get views, branding and links to your business website. Do you prefer to create one? Try Infogr.am – and don’t forget to embed your logo/brand on your infographic!
Don’t forget to explore emerging buzz marketing platforms, like crowdfunding platforms – Kickstarters, IndieGoGo, and so on.
As you can see, those 5 ways and dozens of tools I mention are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other affordable – even free – ways to promote your small business online… all you need to do is to find for ideas AND, of course, take action.
I’m sure you have been using other tools than what I mentioned here – please share the tools you use so we can all benefit from them.
Photo credit: quantumlars via photopin cc
Nice roundup for promotion ideas, Ivan; thanks for including Traffic Generation Café!
Thanks for dropping by, Ana!
Hey Ivan, I looked around for your twitter ID (since your twitter plugin seems to have forgotten it) so I could tweet ya but couldn’t come up with it. So I’ll just say good collection! I use most of these methods myself (although no freelancers) and they play an important part in my content marketing strategy.
Many thanks for dropping by! I’m sorry that you are having difficulty finding my Twitter ID. It’s @BizPenguin and on-site, it’s located on the top-right of the page.
Anyway, you mentioned that you haven’t hired any freelancers. Any considerations why you haven’t hired one?
I handle a lot of technical stuff that is often easier to do myself than find someone competent to do the work. When I want something to round out work I’m doing – or idea joggers to get me started – I start from a PLR foundation and rewrite and/or build upon until I have something of higher quality than most PLR provides. PLR has the advantage of letting me see the final product, at the point of sale, without having to gamble on someones technical competencies or lack there of.
I agree with you on that – I’m taking care a lot of technical stuff myself and outsource the least-important-but-must-do tasks.
Ah yes, I am always interested in what you have in mind with regard to PLR. I once use PLR to drive traffic and generate income… I did manage to generate income out of PLR content but I obviously did things wrong – I was publishing PLR content on some of my blogs and they got slapped by Google for duplicate content 😀
Ivan, great tips!
I’m using most myself and have experienced first hand the benefits of a business blog. I only started blogging little over a year ago. It has positioned me as an expert in my field and drives traffic regularly, has created new leads and brought me new customers.
One year to an expert status – wow. Any tips to share?
Consistency! Be consistent with writing great content that is specific to your target audience, not to other industry leaders or professionals.
One very valuable tip, Ian! Thanks for sharing…