You have recently started a business, but don’t have a huge budget for all things IT?
Here are 17 free or inexpensive tools that will help you to establish your online presence and spread the word.
1. Create a Facebook webpage for your business. (Not a group, though; only people who are on Facebook can see a group and participate in it, while a Facebook page can be seen by anyone.) Become a fan (there is a button for it) and ask all your Facebook friends to become fans, too. Cost: free
2. Create your company’s profile on LinkedIn. Cost: free
3. Blog! Blog a lot. Write something interesting and useful, so people want to come back for more. Write often, to become a habit with your readers. Cost: free
4. Microblog! Post on Twitter. (Take care and do not overspam your followers; post something they will find useful – information about freebies, discounts, promotions, news and events, for example.) “Live tweet” events on Twitter. Cost: free
5. Get yourself a good domain name – short and meaningful. Avoid acronyms. Speak to your reader. “YourNews.info” is better than “MyNews.com”. Cost: as low as $9 per year.
6. GoogleApps will give you a free hosting (but you will need your own domain name, see above). Cost: free
7. A business e-mail on hotmail does not look cool. You can get a free business e-mail from Google (but you will need your own domain name, see above). Cost: free
8. You can create your own professional-looking website on a blog platform, choosing one of a million freely available styles. Check out WordPress 2.7 – WordPress has recently grown into a full-scale content management system. Check out Blogspot, too. With Blogspot, you can redirect your domain name to your blog-based website for free, so it has a “grown-up” url and not a third-tier domain name. Blogspot, however, offers fewer features if you want to develop a full-scale website. You can use your own domain name with WordPress, too, but in this case you will have to pay a small amount to WordPress for the redirection (something like $15 a year). Decisions, decisions. Cost: free to $15.
9. TikiWiki is another powerful and free content management system and groupware. It is open source and free, and you can find hosting for as low as 0.95 per month. Cost: from $0.95 per month
10. Attend meetups and various camps: there is DemoCamp, Barcamp, CloudCamp, BookCamp, Podcamp and millions of others. When you register, insert a link to your website and blog. (Many event management systems, like Eventbrite, have this feature.) Cost: free
11. Search Engine Optimization. Check this great document from Google. Cost: free.
12. Use Google Analytics and Google AdWords to find out who is visiting your website and what they expect to find there. Cost: free.
13. Create videos and post them on YouTube. Create responses to other people’s videos. This simple and short presentation was viewed almost 800,000 times: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY
14. Inbound marketing. Create a toolkit, give people something they would want to use. Cost: free.
15. Turn your PowerPoint presentation into a Slideshare slide show. Cost: free.
16. Post your ads on kijiji and Craigslist. Cost: free.
17. Give people an opportunity to contribute. For example, create a wiki where people can share their experience and information about your product or service. Cost: priceless. People love to share, and you will contribute to the community building.