Strategies to Make the Most of Free Advertising
I gleefully fired up my expensive classified ad submission software and posted hundreds of free ads. What an opportunity! By using this software I was able to post ads automatically – I just started up the software, gave it the ad I wanted to post, and it did all the rest.
Faithfully I repeated this process every day for over a month. After all, the advertising was FREE – and what netrepreneur wouldn’t love some free advertising?
Hah. The reward for my frenzied efforts was this: I ended up on every spammers list in the universe. I was bombarded with offers to make $10,000 in one week, to lose 50 pounds with no dieting or exercise, to get in on the “ground- floor” of every MLM in existence … To make it even worse, I didn’t make a single penny in sales.
Free classifieds, Free-For-All (FFA) sites, free link exchanges, free banner exchanges … There are countless free resources available to all the hopeful netrepreneurs trying to make a buck online.
But the unfortunate truth of the matter is that some of these free resources appeal more to netrepreneurs than they do to potential customers. How often do you visit FFA sites to search for a product, service, or opportunity?
This isn’t to say all free advertising is bad. To the contrary, there are several excellent methods that can yield great results:
Link Exchanges with Other Webmasters
Try negotiating a link exchange with another webmaster. All this means is that you place a link to their site, and in return, they place a link to your site. That way you both have the potential of getting extra visitors.
Look for someone who has about the same amount of traffic as you (or more), and whose business *complements* yours rather than directly competes with it.
TIP: Try visiting HitBox, http://www.hitbox.com/ . Search for websites that cater to the same target audience as yours, and contact those that interest you. But please be professional: approach the other webmaster with a reasonable and fair proposal.
Start Your Own Opt-In Email Newsletter
There’s nothing like your own newsletter to develop a relationship with your visitors. Make it your goal to provide honest opinions and quality information. *Listen* to your subscriber’s comments, good or bad, and then take steps to improve what you offer. Your readers will come to trust you … so when you recommend a particular resource, they’re more likely to consider it.
Search Engines and Major Indexes
These are probably THE best method for free advertising. Some search engines, such as GoTo.com, are already charging for listings. So while the major search engines are still free you should be taking advantage of them.
It does take time and effort to learn how to properly use the search engines. You need to learn how they work (what they look for on your web page) and how to improve your ranking. For example, if you want people who are searching for “wholesale directories” to find YOUR website, then you need to be ranked within the first 30 (preferably first 10) listings. It’s no good to be listing #138475 out of 1437593 others; no one will ever find you.
That being said, search engines can bring in a HUGE amount of traffic – and all for free! Because people are looking for something specific when they use search engines, those that click through to your website already have an interest in what you have to offer. This is free, targeted advertising at its best.
TIP: The bestselling eBook, ‘Make Your Site Sell!’ has comprehensive, step-by-step instructions on how to get traffic from search engines. Read more at /myss.html.
Next to search engines and major indexes, I’ve found ezine advertising to be the best method for generating traffic and sales.
Ezine advertising is so effective because you can advertise in those that cater specifically to your target audience. So if you’re selling pet accessories, you would find an ezine that caters to pet lovers, who are naturally more receptive to your product.
Keep in mind that the placement of your ad plays a big part in what kind of response you get. If you place an ad that’s crammed in with 50 others in a “classifieds” section at the end of the ezine, people are most likely to skip that section entirely.
But if you place an ad by itself at the top of an ezine, there is a much greater likelihood that people will read it.
TIP 1: There are a number of ezines that offer free ads. Visit The Free Directory of Ezines to find them, http://www.freezineweb.com/ .
TIP 2: Track your advertising campaign! You’ll never know which ezines work best for your target audience, or what ads pull best, unless you track each campaign. An ad tracker is included free with the Ezine Tactics guide to starting and profiting from your own newsletter. You can find them at /tactics.html.
TIP 3: You can get excellent exposure in an ezine by submitting content-rich, targeted articles to ezine publishers. At the end of the article, simply add a small resource box with your URL and email address. Use the Free Directory of Ezines (Tip 1) to find ezines that accept articles.
Ad Swaps with Ezine Publishers
For those of you with your own newsletters, ask to swap ads with another ezine publisher with the appropriate target audience. You don’t even have to necessarily look for an ezine with the same number of subscribers. If your ezine has 1000 subscribers and the other ezine only has 500, you can propose to run their ad in one issue of your ezine. In return, the other publisher runs your ad in two issues of their ezine.
TIP 1: To find other publishers who will swap ads, once again you can visit The Free Directory of Ezines at http://www.freezineweb.com/ .
TIP 2: If you don’t have an ezine of your own, you can still swap ads. Try swapping an ad or a link on your website in exchange for an ad published in an ezine.
In summary, not all free advertising is created equal. The methods that tend to be far less effective than others include:
Concentrate on learning to make the most of the free methods that will yield results, such as:
The beauty of the Internet is that it allows you to run a business with very little money. The “secret” is knowing which of the available free resources are worth your time!
Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical, down-to-earth guide to building an Internet business on a beginner’s budget. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love the book! Visit http://www.onlinebusinessbasics.com or request a series of 10 free reports to get you started.