by Diane Standish
The number one request I receive, hands down, is 'How do I market this?', or better yet, 'How do I market this for free?'. Notwithstanding the books that have been written on the subject, and the fact that any one of these topics is bookworthy, following are my top ten picks for marketing your site for free, or nearly free, without spamming. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and advertising for free is going to mean you will spend your time (and a lot of it), not your money. If you want free, you have to be incredibly persistent.
- WRITE and SUBMIT ARTICLES.
Take a subject that you know well and write a clear and concise article about it. Keep it under 3 pages, proofread it, have a friend proofread it, then submit it to newsletters, resource sites, or try the World Wide Information Outlet at http://certificate.net/wwio/.
Just be sure you don't spend 10,000 words promoting your product. You are providing information, not giving a sales pitch. You should get name, email and/or site credits on your submittals.
- SWAP LINKS.
Start surfing and find sites that will enhance what you offer your visitors. Write a short message asking for an exchange of links, include your name, site URL, product or service, and email address. Then email the webmaster or contact person. Make the message personal ("Hello Diane") instead of "To Whom It May Concern". Don't be afraid to swap with competitors!
- POST ADS IN LINKS PAGES.
Yes, you do have to re-submit ads constantly, but you will get exposure, and visitors DO click on headlines that grab their attention. Do a search on Free Links Pages (you'll find thousands) or check sites as you visit them for a Free Links Page. If ads change before your very eyes, don't waste your time posting. Those sites are linked with search engine submission services and your ad will only be online for a few minutes before it's replaced. Your headline is your only chance here - make it work.
- START YOUR OWN CLASSIFIED ADS SITE.
It's Free, quick and completely painless. It takes a minute to sign up and a few more to set it up. Then just place a link to it on your home page, and post ads in free links pages or other free classifieds sites to advertise.
- ADVERTISE IN YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE FILE.
Every time you send out email include your name, site name and URL, slogan (if your site name isn't self-explanatory), email address, and a brief ad for your product, service or perhaps your new classified ad site.
- PRESS RELEASES.
All too overlooked, press releases are an unbeatable source of free exposure. For information on writing and submitting your own (rather than paying an editor to do it) logon to:
PR Web at http://www.prweb.com/
For tips on what to do and what not to do, logon:
Be aware, however, that 'just another PR piece' won't get published.
- BANNER EXCHANGES.
The old staple, still going strong. Join: Link Exchange - http://www.linkexchange.com
SmartClicks - http://www.smartclicks.com
Banner Co-op - http://www.bannerco-op.com for starters.
- START YOU OWN MAILING LIST.
Keeping contact with your visitors and customers is the Number One goal of any marketer. It is absolutely paramount! And the Internet lends itself perfectly to that goal. Start your own mailing list and keep your visitors up-to-date on your services, offer 'members only' discounts, launch a new product, etc.
- SWAP CLASSIFIED ADS.
Contact publishers of newsletters and offer an ad swap. Put their ad in your publication and ask to put your ad in theirs. Look for publications that are close in number to yours so the reciprocal arrangement will be beneficial to you both. For information on ezines logon to John Labovitz's E-ZINE-LIST at http://www.meer.net/~johnl/e-zine-list/ or search in your favorite search engine.
- SEARCH ENGINE SUBMISSION.
The best source of free advertising. The traffic you receive will supplement all of the other sources you use to promote your business. Search engines are the starting point for many surfers, particularly those new to the Internet. A good placement will make a difference.
One more for good measure:
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY.
Get your site's name and URL public whenever you can by joining and posting messages in appropriate forums, discussion groups, surveys, lists, anything that will give you exposure. Appropriate is the key.
Keep in mind, through all of the above, you need to give serious thought to attention-grabbing headlines. Work on them constantly. Headlines are your lifeline on the Net.