It’s hard to allocate where your money should be spent when you’re a startup and you sometimes have to stretch every dollar. Bootstrapping doesn’t have to be hard though. If you decide to promote your own company, read on for nearly free fifteen do-it-yourself tactics and get ahead of your competition!
1. Write interesting articles. Writing articles is a great way to establish credibility and drive traffic to your site. Check out this outline if you’re not sure of the layout or for some more ideas. The key here is to make sure your articles end up benefiting the person reading it. Some ideas include:
- Talking about the social benefits of your service.
- Providing advice on pitfalls you fell into when starting your business with examples on how you overcame them.
- Creating a case study on a client.
After you put it together, setup a Google alert for the topic you discussed and leave comments on relevant posts with a link back to your site so visitors can find you. Another recommendation is to guest post on someone else's site and link back to your post to drive more visitors. When you're first getting started, you're basically shouting to an empty room. Leverage guest posts and contribute to other sites before investing too much time building content on your site. Or at least have a way to be found.
Other important aspects to take into account are to make sure your headline is thought-provoking and to include a byline at the end of article. Your headline should draw people in – make sure it’s short, funny, and/or engaging. Sometimes writing it last works best. Check out this great post by Copyblogger for other headline ideas.
Finally, your byline should give readers a brief background of yourself and your company. Be sure to include a link to your site readers can click on. If you have analytics software installed on your site, track which sites are bringing the most traffic and concentrate your future efforts in submitting articles to those sites.
2. Blog about it. Don’t have a blog? Get one! If you’re worried about the cost, you can sign up for a free account at blogger.com or blog.com. The title of your blog should be relevant to your product/service – you can also make it catchy or creative depending on the industry you’re in.
When writing your posts, take considerable time in writing your headline. In addition, make sure to include keywords that relate to your post. These keywords will be instrumental in helping readers find your post. Once you’ve published your post, submit it to bookmarking tools such as stumbleupon, delicious, and digg. For a great list of social media sites you can submit your post to, check out this entry by Tropical SEO. These tools will help drive traffic to your site.
3. Send an e-newsletter. This implies you have a mailing list. If you don’t have one, start building it now. Include all the current contacts you have and be sure you have an opt in button on your site so you can collect more contacts. Another way to build your mailing list is by asking people at networking events if you can add them to it.
The next step is to write your newsletter. In it, you can talk about news in your company, recent hires, etc. Always make sure you include news your readers can use – there has to be at least one post that will benefit your readers directly. For example, in our last newsletter, we talked about leveraging social media for your business. Use an e-mail campaign service such as Constant Contact and iContact. For other alternatives, check out our previous post where we go indepth comaparing the most popular solutions. Be sure to include an opt-out option or you will be violating the CAN-SPAM Act.
4. Submit a Press Release. Write a noteworthy press release in third person and submit it yourself at free online sites such as prweb.com. For other sites, click here. You can also send the press release to the local media around your area. To gain a better chance of getting it picked up, include a cover letter that showcases how the information in your release benefits your local community.
It’s important to also note that it may prove worthwhile to pay for one PR service if you have truly newsworthy information. We’ve used Businesswire.com with great success.
5. Profile your company in Wikipedia. It’s important to build an online presence and adding an entry in Wikipedia can help you accomplish that (even with the new nofollow attribute). Check out how other companies profile themselves and use the same format. Be sure to include links to your site so people can find you (We’re working on ours now!). Note: Wikipedia is stringent on who can submit a profile. You'll need to build a name for yourself to be included.