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I spend $0 on online marketing. Here's how

Updated: May 31

Here come more sales with no marketing price tag. And it's never been so easy.


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There are a lot of online marketing tools out there that can help you reach more customers and grow your business. But, the mistake that most people make is in having the mindset that they'll have to spend a lot of money for their marketing budget to get started. In fact I made this very same mistake when we first started StaffNet.


Read more: Story of a naive entrepreneur: my 20K mistake

In this post, I'm going to show you a strategy on how to leverage free online marketing tools and how to run various marketing campaigns in your startup for just $0. Let's dive in!


First we'll take a peak at what a marketing budget for a new small business can easily look like.


Based on our community's feedback, we've gathered that the average small business content marketing budget is:


-Content Creation: $100-$200 per month

-Content Promotion: $50-$100 per month

-Social Media Advertising: $50-$100 per month

-Google Ads: $100-$200 per month

-Email Marketing: $50-$100 per month

-Total: $350-$700 per month


As you can see it adds up quickly! Especially when you have little to no marketing budget and limited resources.


But if done well, and the marketing was on point, the return on average was around the $1000-$1500 mark. Considering the small scale of this budget and the return, it's not bad at all.


So, what's the issue?


Well, there's two issues:

  1. When you're just starting out as a solopreneur or maybe a team of a few there are major marketing growing pains to figure out in terms of which type of content your target audience receives, likes, and interacts with. Always best to keep it in-house initially

  2. $350-$700 can be a costly monthly investment within a startup for the possibility of your marketing efforts falling flat


Here's the juice you've been waiting for: how can we effectively market your business online without paying a dime?


Here are the top seven ways we leverage free marketing + breakdown below:

  1. Guest posting for online publications/ forums

  2. Guest on a podcast

  3. Blogging + SEO

  4. Referrals & reviews

  5. Subscriptions/ opt-ins on your website

  6. Content creation on social platforms

  7. Networking: collaborations & endorsements*

Now, let's hold hands and walk through this.


Note: we have zero affiliation to any of the links provided. Our goal is only to share the knowledge we've gathered over the years to save you time, money and a whole lot of headaches.


Guest posting

Guest posting is when you take your content idea and pitch it to an editor for literally any online publication. Seriously. Any of them.



$0 online marketing

The publications you'll want to target are the places your customers hangs out or reads everyday.


Best way to find the email of the editor of your favourite publication category? Use Rocket Reach here.



Here's the template of the pitch I use:


"Hi X,


I’m an avid reader of (insert name). My name is X and (insert a quick note about who you are and what you do).


I have a great story idea that I think would be a perfect fit for X section and would really resonate with your audience: (insert topic idea).


(Now you'll add what you touch points you'll address. Keep this brief and light).


Please let me know if you’re interested or would like more information. Thanks so much for your consideration – I look forward to hearing from you!


Sign off"


It's truly a numbers game, and there can be many pitches landing in these editor's inboxes, so don't become discouraged if and when someone doesn't reply.


Note: you don't actually have to write the content before pitching, just come up with a story and work the rest out later.


Pro Tip:

  1. If you're already writing for your personal blog feel free to pitch those ideas! Heck you've already done the work, you may as well extend your reach and leverage the work you've already done

  2. Set a reminder to follow-up with your pitch incase yours wasn't seen the first time around. Don't become too stalkery and follow-up no more than two times

Action Items:

  1. Write a list of 5-10 publications you enjoy/ where your audience would be

  2. Find the emails of the editors of these publications

  3. Send out your pitches


Read more: What are the 10 top millionaire success habits?

Guest on a podcast

Again, much like reaching out to your favourite publications, we'll need to network and pitch to the podcasts that your target audience will be listening to.


The best and easiest place to reach as many podcast hosts we've found is in this platform called MatchMaker check them out here.


Once you've targeted where your key audience would be tuning in, here the template of the pitch I use:


"Hi X,


I’m X, and I’m a (job title) at (insert business w/ a quick note about who you are and what you do).


I was drawn to your podcast because much like you, I believe in (insert value or similar belief).


Overall, I really enjoyed the episode where you discussed (enter a topic discussed). I noticed that the topic of (insert the topic you'd like to discuss) hasn't been explored enough, and I believe I could bring some valuable content to you and your audience on just this.


I'm messaging here to see if you'd be interested in having me on (insert podcast name)?

I'd love to discuss:

  1. (brief point)

  2. (brief point)

  3. (brief point)

I hope we can connect, and please do let me know if you'd like to schedule something in the coming weeks.


Sign off"


It's a numbers game as well, but keep on messaging & networking!


Pro Tip: Work on making your profile compelling and interesting. While you can pitch the podcast hosts, they can also contact you as well!


Action Items:

  1. Create a free account on MatchMaker

  2. Search the category of podcast where your perfect client would be tuning in

  3. Pitch away

Blogging + SEO


$0 online marketing

Your blog is a living a breathing piece of your website.


Blogging will put your website on the map. Let me rephrase that: consistent blogging and constant TLC on your blog posts will put your website on the map in the Google-verse.


How does a blog post affect your website?


Based on the keywords you're competing for, the backlinks from other sites to your piece, and an ever evolving and blog post makes for a free way to making your website seen on the first page of google.


This is not an easy task though. Google doesn't quite know, like or trust you - yet.


How do we convince Google we're the expert? Keyword research.


This is the part where you'll need to niche down and down and down until you find a low competition keyword to compete for and become the expert in that area.


For example, if I'm blogging about camping equipment and I want to niche down, I could niche down to the best cookware for camping. Then going even a step further I could niche down to the best cookware for camping to bbq.


For keyword research there are many paid options, but we're all about the freemium up in this blog post so here are the top resources to save in your favourite tabs when looking for content ideas:

  1. Answer the public - type in the topic idea you have and you'll have several types of variations of topics about your idea based on real & recent Google searches by the public

  2. Google Trends - quick and easy overview of the top searched topics that day, month, year by areas within the world

  3. Using Google autofill in the search bar - "How to...", "What to...", "Why do..." using these prompts + your topic idea to see what people are searching will give you an idea on the direction to go and how to niche down

If you're always creating content and updating the existing you already have on your blog posts, you will reap the rewards down the line. Stay consistent and wait for the magic to happen.


Pro Tips:

  1. Take your time with the research phase of your keyword. If you get in on a keyword early it can make your article/ blog go viral.

  2. Take your blog to another channel for posting - try using Medium to gain further exposure and gain/ direct a new audience to your blog

Action Items:

  1. Research some keywords & jot them down

  2. Write your article and cross post on your blog/ another platforms (i.e. LinkedIn, Medium, Reddit, etc.) and backlink to your blog from those wherever you post


Read more: How to start a side business - tips from a real estate investor


Referrals & Reviews

It's simple: create an amazing product that your clients are dying to share with their friends and family. Oh and don't forget strangers too!


Anywhere from word of mouth, to a quick review on yelp or Google and comment on any social platform. They all count and matter.


It's no secret that we love being the first in on the best "secret", "hack" or "deal", so encourage your audience to share just that.


If your product is genuinely good, people will want to rave about it and share it.


Pro Tip: Don't be shy to ask for the review. People are busy. A simple prompt or reminder can go a long way.


Action Items:

  1. Create a referral promotion

  2. Reach out to five customers this week for an honest review (ps; while I'm the queen of automation, it's recommended that a review comes from a real person behind the email.)


Subscriptions/ opt-ins on your website

Not everyone is in a buying window the moment they land on your website, however the best way to capture this lead and to nurture it to fruition is to have an opt-in pop up for a weekly/ monthly email subscription or a free resource (lead magnet) for your audience to give their email on your website.


By consistently showing up in your emails (whatever cadence you choose) and providing great applicable and non-spammy content, this will build your know, like, trust factor and turn your cold lead into a hot one.


The beauty of weekly emailing is that you're able to easily recycle content you've already created to use in your email. Just wrote a blog? Give a teaser in the email and link to your blog to have them read more. Really excited about a promotion you're running on social media? Post it in there and be sure to link back to the areas you're promoting.


And lastly, always make sure you have a clear call to action for what you'd like you audience to do next from the email; if it's your blog, then guide them back to your blog, and be clear that their next step is to message, click a button, share, like, etc. Whatever you choose make the next step as simple as clicking on a link or button.


Pro Tip: Find a free master class for email marketing. These master classes are a gateway to opt-in for a paid course, but generally cover the basics of what you need to know for $0.


Action Item: Create an opt-in pop up on your website for your audience to subscribe to YOU! Need inspiration what what to say or how it should look? Turn to the very same websites that have enticed you to opt-in and mimic that.


Content creation for social media

One great way to market your business is through content marketing. Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing content that is relevant to your target audience/ niche in order to attract and convert them into customers. And one of the best things about content marketing is that with a bit of creative thinking, you can do it with little to no budget at all!


Content creation + social media is the ability to share your brand with the entire world for literally $0.


How in the world can you create content for all of your social media? Organize, recycle & reuse and repost.

  1. Organize: get organized and plan your month ahead. Use our social media content calendar here.

  2. Recycle & reuse: what posts did really well in the past? Reuse them! If there was a really great tip you shared and people loved it, share it in a video instead of using a photo again. Same content, just repurposed, and looks brand new!

  3. Repost: who do you follow that's absolutely crushing it? What's a post that you saw on another page and you loved the message? If you think it would be relevant to your audience, then repost the article. Just always, 1000% of the time to give credit to the content owner within the caption of the post.

  4. Bonus: have your audience create content for you. This is a hybrid between a public referral and repost. By creating a branded hashtag or a fun challenge for your audience to participate with on social platforms. You can potentially have 100's to 1000's of customers creating content for you. One great example of how a business does this is Healthish. This water bottle business creates minimal content for themselves and just reposts the content created by the community of happy customers they've served!

Want a great resource to create amazing social media content that looks sharp, professional and doesn't cost a dime? A great tool I'd recommend is Canva's freebie account.


Pro Tips:

  1. Batch your work. Create a plan in your content calendar for the month and execute this plan in one day. Seems like a lot but trust us, once you get into a flow you'll be grooving.

  2. Automate your posts! Have your posts to your social automatically post while you're busy wearing your many other business hats. Using Agorapulse's freebie account will allow for you to automate your social posts to go up anytime.

Action Item: download and fill out the content calendar here.


Read more: PSA: you're not good at multi-tasking & why you should quit


Networking: collaborations & endorsements*

This one is sooo much fun! Why? Because in finding community, you find your people.


You'll meet some pretty awesome people in your business community and via these connections you can leverage collaborations within business products and/or services that compliment each other or via an endorsement from someone with a larger platform than yours.


By reaching audiences beyond yours through these methods, you'll be able to build your know, like, trust factor much faster because their audience has already established this with them.


Where can you find these types of relationships? Social media! LinkedIn is a great resource if used in a genuine and non-spammy way.


Why did we write endorsements* above? This can be $0 but it could end up costing you money if you choose to offer free products and/or services in lieu of their ongoing public support and endorsement.


Pro Tip: be mindful of the collaborations you see on the daily, and analyze the relationship between the person and product. What type of strategy and relationship appeals to you?


Action Items:

  1. Write a list (a realistic one of the relationships within reach) of the people you'd love to have endorse your product

  2. Send these people a message to start the conversation!

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Voila - your marketing budget for $0.


These are the methods & strategies we have found success in using for our organic marketing campaigns and if applied properly you can as well.


However, we don't recommend starting by doing ALL of the things simultaneously because you will literally combust.


Try focusing on the one strategy at a time and work that into your campaigns, and add on as you see fit.


Companies are built by creating brand awareness, so truly the more you do and explore to get your business' name out there will bring you your dream customers.


With a bit of creativity, planning, and organization you'll soon be spending $0 on marketing and reaping the rewards in sales.


In success,

Jenna

Looking for more business tips? Check out one of my favourite interviews with the successful Alvin Wong on How to start a side business - tips from a real estate investor that will help you plan and organize your business so you can get the most out of your daily efforts and investments.


Did you find this post helpful? Let me know in the comments below & share without the first person who comes to mind!


ps; I love hearing from my readers. :) And, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or email me here as well. I'm happy to help however I can!


And, if you liked this post, be sure to subscribe below so you never miss a post! I publish new posts every week on content marketing, social media, and running an online business.


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