I've never done paid advertising for any of the sites I had owned in the past.
I do what I call "Repetition" I would take one day and I would submit to directories only then I would take another day and do something else. It gets tiring but you know that it needs to be done to get your site ranked. I'm already use to it so is like second nature to me now.
It's necessary to use both, usually in life paid>free all the time, but in marketing that's not always true. There are lots of ways to advertise your business, some are free, for some you have to pay. You need to pick your niche that can bring attention to your business, keep mixing free and paid methods for promotion. You have to do this in order to be successful.
I would stick clear of the social media paid advertising unless you have deep pockets, as its not very helpful or useful unless you invest thousands into it. Facebook tends to send illegitimate traffic 99% of the time (from our results) so it's a complete waste. And if you google about it, you will see others say the same. I'd suggest banner or text advertising on sites where there are people who would have interest in your services. As for free marketing, just post around on forums and help people. They will see your signature and sometimes turn into a sale.
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Free is not free as you are spending your precious time but chances are that you might have a method to get free traffic wherein you won't feel the need for paid traffic. Your targeting options are not upto the mark when you are going the free route as opposed to paid marketing where you can target them according the prospects age, location etc.
Here are some free marketing tools to get you started:
- Collect email addresses on a list and send an eBlast or newsletter.
- Post a link to your blog on social media.
- Be a resource to your clients. Offer to answer questions on a forum.
-Find an article that might interest your readers. Comment about it and post a link on social media.
- Join a local meetup and network.
- Present a short talk/class at your local small business center.
- Offer subscribers a free gift, write a blog with your top ideas in exchange for email addresses.