Periodically there will be requests on the Virtual Assistant forums asking about free advertising. In fact you find requests for free almost everything.
I’m a believer of that old saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’ and the fact is if you’re in business, you should expect that you’re going to have a number of taxable expenses. It goes with the territory. However, given that, there are a number of low cost or free options for a number of things in business and if you can save money, then that’s a good thing.
One VA recently posted this question at a forum:
Does anyone know of any free internet advertising services for my secretarial service?
Answers included the following:
http://www.ebayclassifieds.com is a great place to advertise and it’s free. I have ads running all the time in my local city.
Register your website with Google, Yahoo and other search engine. Also, register with Google Places. Blog and update it frequently and use Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter too. Participate in online groups or forums where potential clients may be too.
My response was:
Do you have a website? If so, add it to your signature at the bottom of EVERY email you send out.
If you don’t – then get one. Domain names don’t cost much these days and webhosting can be quite low too. What you want (if you don’t know how to design a site) is WordPress – not wordpress.com as you can’t use that for commercial purposes but wordpress.org. To use that you need your own paid hosting (not free hosting as it will carry adverts on it that detracts from your site). You can get a domain name + webhosting for a full year for around $150UAD or less per year. You’re in business so this is a taxable expense and one you should be considering.
Now, if you have a website already that’s great. Develop a signature block, add your phone number, web address and anything else you want to add.
Are you on LinkedIn.com? That provides a facility for an online bio/outline of your experience and will give you a profile page web address you can also use – particularly if you don’t have, or don’t want, a website for now. That is free. You can participate in forum discussions there that will bring you in front of potential clients. It’s the participation that’s important as people won’t know you exist if you don’t speak up.
There are tons of forums at yahoogroups.com. Look for forums that have your hobby listed, or topics of interest and join. For example I’ve joined authors groups as I’m interested in writing but that has also provided me opportunity to gain work with authors. Same for professional speakers and business coaches. I’ve joined local networks (local to where I live where I go and meet them face-to-face) and participated in online forums.
Networking is a really important and often overlooked form of marketing which is a very effective way of getting people to notice you.
Look for local networks close to your home where other business people meet and congregate and make sure you always have business cards with you.
Business cards are important offline and your signature block is your online business card.
When you participate at VA forums you can learn a lot about what others have done to successfully get the word out there about their businesses, whether free, low cost or at higher cost. They’ll let you know what has worked and what hasn’t worked. It makes sense to learn from the experience of others.