Attention Broke Marketers: 10 Ways To Market Your Website When You Have No Money For Advertising
Jul 04 2018
14 min read
14 min read
No money for advertising to fund your online business? No worries. Here's 10 ways (with proof) that you can build a successful business without a budget.
Table of Contents
- What You'll Learn in This Post
- Understand the Time, Money, and Effort Equation
- 1. Target Well Defined Problems of a Very Specific Niche
- 2. Take Advantage of Free Tools To Get Data and Insights
- 3. Create a Tripwire Sales Funnel To Fund Your Business
- 4. Get Links and Traffic By Creating 10x Better Content Than Your Competitors
- 5. Grow a Loyal Fanbase Using Facebook Groups
- 6. Leverage Guest Blogging To Grow Your Audience
- 7. Invite Guest Contributors To Your Blog
- 8. Repurpose Your Content on Medium, Quora, and Other Relevant Platforms
- 9. Build Relationships With Influencers in Your Niche
- 10. Use Visual Content To Drive More Social Media Traffic
- It’s Time To Take Action
It feels like a sad, dark, and hopeless world sometimes, right? It seems like everyone else around you is moving forward in life, succeeding at online marketing, growing their wealth, traveling the world, and living the lives of their dreams.
You, on the other hand, are stuck because you don't have the budget to fund an expensive online marketing business and the advertising costs.
You know what works, you know how to make it work, you know it’ll work if you had some money to get started.
But you can’t take the first step because you don’t have enough money to start.
And without money you can’t start an online business, right?
Well, not really.
Many top affiliate marketers that you follow today had nothing when they started. But they still made it big because they were prepared to learn the tricks of the trade and work hard for their goals.
When Stuart decided to build an online business he was a minimum wage call center employee with more than $30,000 in debt. He started his online ventures with just $100 in his bank account as he figured he had nothing to lose.
When Pat Flynn started SmartPassiveIncome he was laid off from his corporate job, had next to nothing in his bank, with a family to support.
When Jeremy Shoemaker got into affiliate marketing he was severely overweight, living in a friend’s house, and was more than $50,000 in debt.
But all of them are financially stable and successful affiliate marketers today.
So it can be done.
You can succeed at online marketing even if you have no money.
To get the answer, keep reading.
What You'll Learn in This Post
The simple way to use paid advertising without spending money
How to create an unlimited supply of quality leads from Facebook
A smart way to create quality content without hiring writers
How to create content that gets links and higher rankings
Using visual content to open floodgates of potential customers from social media
Understand the Time, Money, and Effort Equation
You can become a successful online marketer even if you’re broke.
But you still have to pay for it (with something else)
When you have money, you can hire people to do the work for you and save yourself from tiring work and invest your time in something else.
But when you’re broke, you have to be prepared to use some good old elbow grease. From niche research and website set up to content creation and marketing, you need to do everything yourself.
It’s a hard grind at the start, but you have no other choice.
This is how 99% of all successful affiliate marketers start.
They’re not millionaires by birth.
But they’re determined to change their lives which is why they spend countless hours in front of their laptops putting in the hard yards.
There’s no secret shortcut or loophole, sorry.
But this, of course, doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel.
You can learn from their experiences, save time, and spend your energy only on the things that actually work and take you closer to your goal of becoming a profitable affiliate marketer.
With this mandatory disclaimer out of the way, here’s how you can kick off your affiliate marketing journey with empty pockets.
1. Target Well Defined Problems of a Very Specific Niche
Targeting a very specific niche is important even if you have a huge marketing budget.
But when you’re broke, it’s an absolute necessity because you don’t have the money to experiment. You can’t throw a dozen things on a wall to see what sticks.
You have to be precise because selling is about being precise.
Being precise about the needs of your audience, coming up with precise solutions, and crafting precise messaging to drive action.
So start by choosing a niche to target.
And by niche, I don’t mean a topic.
A niche is a zoomed-in version of a broad topic or industry. It’s basically a question or a need targeted to a very specific person.
For example, health and fitness are not a niche. It’s a broad topic.
Health and fitness tips for middle-aged men are a niche. But you need to go deeper.
Healthy living tips for heart patients over 50 sounds good.
Got the point?
Thankfully for you, we have already researched hundreds of such well-defined niches for you. Our niche research reports have everything from the actual needs of the buyers and their demographics to the best performing products and high traffic keywords.
This alone can save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of research.
2. Take Advantage of Free Tools To Get Data and Insights
To be a successful marketer you need to make well-informed decisions.
For that, you need to use the right online tools so that you can get in-depth data and insights into the demands of your audience and how you can fulfill them.
But you don't have the money to invest in the right tools.
There are many free tools that can help you get started.
For example, you can use SEMRush for free (with a daily limit of 10 searches) to analyze your competitors, find their best-performing content, and track their top keywords and backlinks.
Or you could use a more advanced tool like Ahrefs which gives you a 7 day trial for just $7.
BuzzSumo is another free tool (with a daily limit) that can help you find the most popular content of your competitors and track the influencers who're sharing their content on social media.
SimilarWeb is another tool that gives you awesome insights for free.
For email marketing and setting up autoresponders, you can use MailChimp which is free for marketers with less than 2000 email subscribers.
And how could you forget Sumo, one of the best free marketing tools on the web?
There are many other marketing tools that you can either access for free or get a trial version with limited features.
Make the most use of them to analyze your competitors, find content ideas, and identify new angles for your marketing strategy.
Before you start your free trials with these tools (especially tools like SEMRush, BuzzSumo, AHREFs, etc) plan out what data you want to get from each so you make full use of your free trials and can get enough data and insights to last you for months.
3. Create a Tripwire Sales Funnel To Fund Your Business
Okay, this is where it gets interesting.
To build a sustainable and long-term online business, you need to build an email list.
Yes, even as an affiliate marketer.
Ask Pat Flynn.
He considers not building an email list from day 1 one of his biggest regrets.
To build an email list fast, you need to create a lead magnet and promote it using paid advertising.
A lead magnet doesn’t immediately earn you any money but it allows you to attract leads, build a relationship with your subscribers and send them relevant content and affiliate offers to make money later.
But hang on, you’re broke, aren’t you?
So you can’t just spend money on advertising without making anything back.
You have two options then.
Create a lead magnet and drive organic traffic to it by publishing great content. You should do this all the time, but it’s a slow process and will take months before you have a sizable subscriber base.
The second option is to use a tripwire in addition to a lead magnet. Promote your lead magnet using paid advertising and when someone signs up to your list, pitch them your tripwire offer. This would not only allow you to build your list fast but also help you to fund the whole lead magnet advertising campaign. Let me explain the second option in more detail because this is what you need.
A tripwire is a low-priced item or resource that is designed specifically for two purposes.
To turn subscribers into paying customers because once a subscriber trusts you with his money (no matter how little the amount) he’s much more likely to buy from you again in the future.
To fund your advertising campaign.
Here’s an example of a tripwire offer by Russell Brunson
Source: Expert Secrets
He’s offering his latest book for free. You just have to pay for shipping which is between $7 to $20 depending on your location.
In reality, though, he’s using this money to fund his campaign.
Here’s a lead magnet offer by GuestBlogging.com
When a visitor subscribes to this offer, he’s immediately redirected to the tripwire offer which is a database of editor emails of dozens of famous publications that accept guest posts.
Subscribers can buy it for $7.
Notice the alignment between the lead magnet and the tripwire offer.
But the tripwire also has to be aligned with the core needs of your audience so that you’re able to build a relevant buyer base.
So for example, if you’re promoting fitness equipment as an Amazon affiliate, you could write a small eBook sharing ways to effectively use the equipment you’re promoting to achieve maximum fitness.
This way you’ll be able to build a buyer base quickly without actually spending anything.
AuthorityHacker applied this exact strategy when they launched one of their courses.
Look at their results.
They tested a tripwire offer on a small audience and acquired 301 email addresses in 30 days. But these weren't just subscribers. These were buyers who actually paid for the tripwire to opt-in to their list.
They priced the tripwire at $9 and generated $298.5 from tripwire sales which more than what it cost them to market the campaign on Facebook.
Which means they had to pay NOTHING for advertising.
That’s what you want, right?
Let me just quickly recap this one for you
Create a lead magnet that fulfills one core need of your audience.
Create a low-priced tripwire offer that is aligned with your lead magnet and your core product offer. Its main purpose is to cover your advertising costs and build your list.
Promote your lead magnet by setting up a Facebook advertising campaign
There you have it.
Tripwire marketing is an often neglected but super effective way to build a sizeable audience that’s ready to buy your core product offers.
Once you have a big email list, you can keep on promoting new affiliate offers whenever you want.
If you want to build a complete sales funnel around a tripwire, click here for the step-by-step process in much more detail.
4. Get Links and Traffic By Creating 10x Better Content Than Your Competitors
You don’t have much money to invest in paid traffic acquisition channels.
So you’ll be relying heavily on search engine traffic for your affiliate site.
To get organic search traffic you need links.
Research shows that the more relevant links you have, the higher you’ll rank.
One way to get links is to simply buy them.
But a study by Ahrefs found that the average cost of buying backlinks is $377.
I know you don’t have that sort of money to spend on backlinks.
This is why your only real option is to create MUCH MORE useful, actionable, and eye-catching content than your competitors.
That’s also the only sustainable way to build links no matter how much money you have.
Once again be prepared to work hard.
Creating above-average content takes a lot of time and effort.
To give you an idea, Peep Laja of ConversionXL (one of my favorite blogs) routinely takes 15+ hours to create a single blog post.
But every one of his posts is linked dozens (even hundreds) of times by other high authority sites.
Most of the posts here on NicheHacks took 10-12+ hours to research and publish.
That’s just the way link-worthy content is.
It takes time to create.
So what makes content link-worthy?
Here are a few factors.
Content-based on new/original research that hasn’t been published before attracts links like honey attracts bees. Here’s a good example from Buzzsumo
Old Data New Layout
There are lots of poorly presented studies, research papers, and surveys published on the internet. If you can give them a new layout and present them in an attractive way, you can get links like crazy. Brian Dean did exactly that with his Google Ranking Factors blog post.
Infographics get links like ice cream sells on a hot sunny morning. Neil Patel used infographics to skyrocket the number of backlinks pointed to his site QuickSprout.
Interviews and Quotes
An easy way to get links is by interviewing an influencer or a group of influencers in your niche. Whenever someone quotes them, they’ll link back to the original post.
Who doesn’t like an original, authentic and engaging case study? When written the right way, case studies can get you hundreds of links
There are so many other things that make content link-worthy
Visually appealing posts
Product trials and personal accounts
I can keep expanding this list.
But the core factor that makes content link-worthy is its usefulness.
It needs to be so useful that other websites interested in the topic are compelled to link to it.
So go ahead and analyze your competitors’ content.
Identify the posts that you can improve on and then create 10x better content than your competitors.
For example, if a competitor’s article shares 7 tips for doing XYZ, you should publish 27 tips.
If the post has 1 image, use 10 in yours.
If the post has little or no data, use data references for each of your arguments.
Make it more visually appealing and present it better.
Just improve on it from every angle.
In short, follow Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique.
5. Grow a Loyal Fanbase Using Facebook Groups
Facebook might be in trouble for privacy-related issues, but it’s still the world’s most popular social network and any marketer’s dream platform.
Facebook now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, hundreds of millions of which are active users of different Facebook groups
With the decline of Facebook Pages in terms of organic reach, Facebook Groups have now become one of the favorite ways for marketers to grow their audience and build engaging communities around their brands.
For broke marketers like you, it’s a real blessing.
Again, it takes time and effort to grow and manage a Facebook Group. If you want to build a high-quality group that’s really useful for all the members, you’ll need to engage them in different discussions, encourage them to participate but at the same time keep an eye on spammers and low-quality content.
The secret to growing a Facebook Group is in understanding why people join groups. Most people join Facebook Groups to get answers or engage with people with similar interests.
To grow your group around problems and needs, not around your blog or affiliate products. As the group admin, you’ll have a great opportunity to position yourself as a niche expert by answering questions and kicking off meaningful discussions.
6. Leverage Guest Blogging To Grow Your Audience
Guest blogging is one of my favorite ways to drive traffic, get links and quickly build a solid brand image in any niche.
You know why?
Because I was a broke marketer like you 5 years ago.
I didn’t have money to drive traffic to my blog and capture leads.
So I started guest blogging for some of the top blogs in my niche. I ended up writing for HubSpot, Adweek, MarketingProfs, Problogger, SocialMediaToday, JeffBullas, and dozens of other A-list blogs.
Even 3-4-year-old guest posts routinely send me clients every month.
So I know guest blogging works (here’s a detailed guide).
You can easily find blogs for guest blogging in any niche with these search queries
Niche keyword+write for us
Niche keyword+guest blogging
Niche keyword+guest author
Twitter is another great place to find guest blogging opportunities because most guest authors gladly share their guest posts on Twitter.
And if a blog has published one guest post, it’s surely open for more.
But to make guest blogging work for you, you must have clear goals and a clear strategy.
Why do you want to guest blog?
For links/SEO? Traffic? Exposure? Lead generation?
The blogs you choose to write for will depend on your goals.
For example, many of the top blogs no longer offer do-follow backlinks in guest posts.
So if your objective is to get links, writing for Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes, etc. is useless because they’ll tag your links as no-follow.
But if you want to generate leads to your lead magnet and add more subscribers to your funnel, these sites are ideal.
Got my point?
I personally recommend guest blogging for two reasons.
It builds you up as a niche expert very quickly because once people see your name on authority blogs they start respecting you and consider you an expert.
Secondly, it’s a great way to build your email list and grow your audience which ultimately leads to more affiliate sales.
But it’s a painfully slow process to get approved for high-traffic blogs because of their standards and long approval queues.
But your choices are already limited.
So make the most of this method.
7. Invite Guest Contributors To Your Blog
Hiring quality freelance writers for your site requires money.
But there is a way to get reasonably good content for free.
Simply flip the conventional guest blogging model upside down and start accepting guest posts.
This strategy would work well if your site has been around for some time.
Because the primary motivation for most guest bloggers is to get backlinks.
By allowing them a single do-follow link in their content, you can get them to write 1200-1500 word posts for you free of cost.
But be prepared to receive a LOT of junk and spam content.
Very few guest bloggers are actually prepared to spend hours crafting a good-quality article.
To minimize the junk, create detailed guest blogging guidelines for your site.
List everything that you need in an article.
For example, you could set the minimum word count to 1200 words, require at least 1 image, and absolutely no duplicate content. You can even give them topics to write on.
I know many niche blogs that only publish guest posts now because they’ve been in business for a while.
It’s an easy way to have lots of content in no time.
8. Repurpose Your Content on Medium, Quora, and Other Relevant Platforms
A week or two after publishing content on your own blog, you can republish it on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn, Quora, etc. to reach new audiences.
Medium, in particular, has become a giant content platform where you can find publishers from every niche
It’s an open platform where you can republish your blog content and drive new visitors to your site.
Quora is another one of my favorite third-party content platforms.
Look for relevant discussions and questions on Quora.
Answer them in detail and at the end of your answer share a link to any of your blog posts that have more details.
There are so many other places where you can republish and repurpose your content.
But it’s a strategy that needs consistency to really give you results.
So don’t give up quickly.
9. Build Relationships With Influencers in Your Niche
Your network is your net worth.
This is as true on the internet as it is in the real world.
Knowing the right people in your niche can literally skyrocket your growth and save you years of time.
But relationship building is different from the spammy outreach emails people send these days. I receive so many every week that follows the same template. Some of them even don’t bother changing the names
If that’s what you think relationship building is, please don’t do it.
Building your network takes time because it requires genuine interactions between real people.
But it can be accelerated if you follow a well-defined process (here’s a really good post that explains the process)
Let me quickly give you a few pointers
Identify the people you want to connect with
Follow their social profiles
Subscribe to their blogs
Leave detailed and genuine comments on their blog posts (even better, ask a question)
Share their content (don’t forget to tag them)
Interact with them on Twitter by responding to their Tweets, and asking questions about their content.
Feature them in your content and be sure to let them know.
Once you’ve done this for a while, send them an email and tell them you’re the same freak who follows them on social media
Don’t ask for favors in your first few interactions
Just stay in touch
The goal of relationships is not to get a tweet or a comment.
Relationships pay off over time.
Just by staying on their radar, you can use influencers to market your business when you really need them.
It’s not an easy task, but it is doable.
Just look at some of the testimonials Stuart has received
So invest in building relationships from day 1.
It takes time, but it pays off big time.
10. Use Visual Content To Drive More Social Media Traffic
No matter what niche you’re in, social media is always going to among your top traffic sources.
But sharing content on social media isn’t enough.
If you really want to benefit from the ever-increasing social media user base, you need to share as much visual content as possible.
You already know about Facebook and Twitter, but don’t underestimate Pinterest.
Pinterest, in my opinion, is the likeliest of all social networks to drive sales for you.
And I have the stats to back my claim.
$80 average order value.
But that’s not all, Pinterest also drives more referral traffic to e-commerce sites than any other social network.
People simply love buying through Pinterest.
Source: Pinterest for Business
If you’re into a physical product niche, Pin as many product photos as possible. Most Pinterest users actually use the network to find products.
Give them what they want.
Also, don’t forget Instagram.
These visual social networks can be game-changers for your affiliate marketing business.
It’s Time To Take Action
If you’re broke today it doesn’t mean you have to stay this way forever.
If you’re ready to take action, there are still plenty of ways you can kick off your marketing journey and earn enough money to invest more in your business to achieve a higher ground.
So stop making excuses and give it a serious shot.
Which of these 10 points will you try next and why? Comment below and tell me...