As a writer, I never gave much thought to marketing techniques when I first started writing online. Yes, I had some vague idea that you needed to promote the stuff you write in order for people to read it, but honestly, I didn’t have a clue how to do that. Anyone who knows me knows that I am way too cheap to pay for marketing if there is any way I can do it myself. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t ever pay for it, but it mostly means that I am too broke to be messing with paid marketing just yet.
Whether you have a book, an infoproduct, or a physical product to sell, free marketing techniques can help you boost your product’s exposure and earn you more money. You may not be able to make a living selling your stuff just using free techniques, but if you apply them consistently, you can make a huge difference in your sales.
Facebook and Twitter are my favorite social media platforms, because you can dip in and out throughout the day, which is particularly useful if you are chasing your three-year-old around all day. I have been experimenting very slightly with pre-writing and scheduling posts and tweets using the free version of Hootsuite, but honestly, I am disorganized and forget to schedule ahead of time.
Instagram is another amazing outlet, especially if you have a physical product to sell. People love quick, visual stuff, and Instagram is catching on like wildfire among internet marketers and writers. It’s great for networking, too, as are the other social media platforms. Get social, get networking, get more sales.
If you’ve ever received a personal email from me, you’ll probably have seen a link to my children’s book page in the signature. This simple little line goes out with most of the emails I send, to friends, family, my kids’ teachers, my doctor’s office, etc. All the people who get my emails also have a link to my product right there in front of them. While I can’t be sure how much of the traffic to my site actually comes from this simple move, I do know that it costs me nothing to do, and could result in sales, too. Win, win, if you ask me.
Do you have a children’s book to sell? Ask the local schools if you can do an author visit, and read some or all of your book to the kids. This can be a really great way to build a relationship with your target audience, and impress the school with your willingness to donate your time. Bonus points if you happen to have a few copies of your book lying around that you can sign and donate to the school.
Ask the school if you can give the children information on how to order a copy of your book. If they agree, you could collect the orders from the school yourself before your visit, get the books from your publisher, and sign them all to give to the students on the day of your reading. I saw an author do this at my son’s previous elementary school, and I was so impressed. The kids felt as though they were getting something really special, and the author made a nice bit of money, too.
What if you don’t have a children’s book? Ask your local bookstore if you can do something similar. No book to promote? Look at the industry in which your product is based, and try networking within that industry. Networking and making professional contacts costs nothing, and can bring you big business. If you are a freelance writer, consider visiting local businesses and offer to write for them. Don’t do it for free, of course, but maybe offer to give them a discount if they recommend you to other businesses.
Find popular blogs in your niche and offer helpful comments in their comment section. Don’t spam them with “buy this, visit my site” kind of comments, but be helpful and friendly. Many comments sections let you put a link to your site anyway, so the least you can do is offer up a helpful comment.
The same goes for forums, go find a few that relate to what you do or sell, and interact. Marketing and networking are all about mixing with people, which can feel like a foreign concept if you spend most of your working life in front of a computer, but really, it’s all about the people.
Use Free Classifieds
Who would have thought that Craigslist was good for more than getting murdered? You can post free classified ads on places like Craigslist and eBay Classifieds and get traffic to your site or product that way. You can also use regular old newspaper classifieds, if your town offers free listings. I have never tried the offline paper ads, but have used CL once or twice. Again, I can’t say how much of a difference in traffic I saw, because I don’t watch my traffic as closely as I should, but it costs you nothing and could earn you some money.
Use these ideas as a springboard to coming up with your own unique ways to get your business or product seen, then please share them in the comments section! I love seeing how other people market themselves, because it inspires me to do more of my own free marketing.