You don’t need a massive budget to successfully market your business. There are an array of free and nearly free resources you can use. Here’s how to build your own website, manage PR, and more.
Whether you’re offering goods, services, or freelance work, your website is easily the most important digital tool for promoting yourself and your brand. It’s the foundation that all your sales efforts are built upon: social media, blog posts, list building, and contact information will live on your site and provide a snapshot of the type of business you run.
There are hundreds of free templates to choose from on Wix, and if you’re new to website building, the simple drag-and-drop design software will be easy to master. Wix’s app market allows for endless customization: e-commerce widgets, blog pages, appointment calendars, and social media feeds are just a few options. Upgrades are available for data storage, wider bandwidth, and SEO boosts — but for now, just put yourself out there and get started for free.
2. Mailing list
While a mailing list may not be one of the first things you consider for your business, trust me, it’s essential. A mailing list helps you capture contact information of potential and current customers who want to hear from you.
Be sure to incorporate an easy-to-spot sign-up form on your homepage. Note: It’s poor form to simply add your contacts’ email addresses to your list. Your list should include only those who willingly submit their information and express interest in receiving updates.
For entrepreneurs with fewer than 2,000 names on their email list, MailChimp is completely free. For business owners with more than 2,000, MailChimp offers packages starting at $40 with options to upgrade as necessary.
MailChimp’s features include sign-up form generators and email marketing newsletters; choose one of its many templates or take a stab at designing your own. The analytics reporting allows you to gain valuable customer insights — like readership statistics, click-through rates, and revenue reports — to market your business better.
3. Design software
We’ve all been there — finding yourself in a social media black hole, clicking through one perfectly designed image to the next, as you fall in love with brands that seem to effortlessly nail their identities. Luckily, there are amazing, free sites that help you create these types of graphics.
Canva is one of those (free!) resources you find and then wonder how you ever managed without. It provides templates for almost any collateral you may need: menus, posters, brochures, business cards — plus there’s an option to customize each one. And if you want to up your prowess, Canva’s Design School has dozens of tutorials on how to design like a pro.
4. Social media management and analytics
Facebook statuses, Instagram filters, Twitter hashtags … social media is more vital than ever, helping to generate business, boost your buzz, and garner brand recognition and loyalty.
Try: Sprout Social
Sprout Social is simple to use and provides tons of analytical reporting so you know whether your posts are resonating. It lets you draft and schedule content for all your platforms in one place, and streams any comments, questions, and feedback from your social audiences in one feed for easy screening and effective management.
Track the success of posts with Sprout Social’s comprehensive analytics reporting, all of which can be saved and shared as a presentation-worthy report for no extra charge. Bonus: The first month is free. Prices begin at $59 per month thereafter.
5. Public relations
As your business starts to flourish, you’ll want to organically get the word out about your offerings and expertise. There’s no better way to do this than to secure press coverage in publications that target your audience. Advertising without paying ad rates is a beautiful thing.
Try: HARO or PRWeb
Do yourself a favor and sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out). When writers are looking for a source or an expert for their story, they’ll post a query. HARO will then send you a roundup of the day’s queries. A quick skim will make you aware of press opportunities and show you the kinds of stories reporters are looking for and working on.
PRWeb is another helpful resource. While it does cost money to distribute a press release (albeit much less than an agency would charge; prices range from $99 to $499 per release), the site features plenty of how-to guides and resources on PR and marketing. Sign up for a free account and visit the Learning page to study up.