Advertising on a Budget: How to Get Exposure without Going Broke

behind the scenes budgeting.I laugh when I think about my first attempts at paying for advertising.  My web host offered me a few $50 ad coupons and I thought I was just a few clicks away from raking in tons of sales.  I set up my first Adwords PPC ads with great excitement and was certain that I was just minutes away from my first sale.

Thirty minutes passed.  Nothing!  …an hour… Nothing! A day passed and not only had I used up my $50 coupon, but I probably owed an additional $50 – not at all what I had in mind!  I was quite frustrated because at the time, I hadn’t budgeted for advertising and it came at time, when I was hoping to make more money – not pay more money.

Needless to say, I developed a quick aversion to PPC ads.  I didn’t want to ever pay for advertising again.  I had a lot to learn and as I gained more wisdom about what works and what doesn’t, I came to realize that in some cases advertising really can enhance what you’re trying to do with your blog.

Advertising on a budget

In the beginning, I failed to budget appropriately for advertising and made many mistakes that I can obviously see now, but couldn’t then.  I eventually gained an appreciation for advertising after I learned how leverage it.

It’s not always easy to determine what advertising methods will bring you the exact results you’re looking for, but there are tons of affordable ways to get the word out.  I consider advertising an investment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Done wrong, it can become an unnecessary financial burden – done right and it could be the very thing that brings about your financial freedom.

The first things you should ask yourself before you decide to create any ads are:

  • What kind of blog do I have?
  • What do I hope to accomplish?  More subscribers? More sales?

Not all blogs are going to benefit from the same types of ads.  Some blogs are more appropriate for referring sales than others – some will do better just trying to get more subscribers who may convert to clients or customers later.

Another question you should consider:

  • What kind of customers/clients are you trying to attract?

If you are running a blog that focuses on your local area then any ads you purchase should target that area.  If you have a product which can be sold locally then you should connect with local newspapers and TV channels.  You should also check the list of the available media; you can also advertise your product with flyers that you can distribute yourself or by hiring someone to help.

I got connected with a local free magazine when I first moved to the area and started serving as a regular writer.  When I was ready to market my books to the local area, all I had to do was pass them on to the editor who was more than happy to publish reviews and provide free ad space. 

Social Media Advertising Outlets

Facebook offers promoted posts and pages.  Twitter offers sponsored/featured tweets.  I’m sure Google+ will soon follow with something.  Because social media has such a large audience that can be targeted, it’s possible to reach your target audience even if you don’t have a huge following of your own.  Facebook offers several different options – I’ve used the promoted posts feature whenever I wanted to get a lot of views on a particular post.  I can’t attest to higher sales, but I did reach new readers who eventually became loyal subscribers.

Of course, Craigslist is still free.  You can post ads fairly quickly and easily.  Obviously, it works better for some things than others, but it never hurts to try.  If you’re in India, you might want to try out Ads in Bangalore, it’s a site that is similar to craigslist and is gaining popularity in that area.

Try offering your ebook or products you are selling to bloggers for free in return for a review.  Reviews can be powerful and at times can be more effective than banners or other types of ads.  If you can’t get them to do a review for free, try purchasing a sponsored review on popular blogs.  If you don’t know where to start, check out, it’s a site that connects advertisers with bloggers who own high ranking sites.

High end advertising:

Most of the methods I’ve mentioned above have a relatively low budget when you consider the hundreds of dollars it can cost for print ads in a newspaper or with a local TV or radio station.  But if you have a higher ad budget and you are ready to expand nationally or internationally, then mixed media ads might be worth the investment. TV or radio ads are wonderful way to convey the message to a huge audience of people at one time.  I’ve thought about purchasing a few months of digital Lamar Outdoor ad space that is located on a high trafficked part of the interstate – I’m always reading that sign as I make my way home every day and I wonder how many others are doing the same. 

Which methods worked?

It’s not always possible to conduct a huge market survey to find out how people arrived on your blog.  But whenever possible, when you do make a sale, try to find out how those customers found you or who referred them.  Send a thank you email that kindly asks if they will disclose how they ended up on your site.  This way you’ll know what to focus your energies on in the future.  You’ll especially want to do this if you purchased high end ads – you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a decent return on that investment.

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