Marketing Your Small Business For Under $5 Per Month (Phase 1)

When it comes to marketing your business online, many small businesses have no idea where to start. Chances are, they have heard of SEO, PPC, Social Media, etc, but it’s confusing and they just don’t have the time to learn how to do it. My post today is to show small business how to start marketing their business online for under five dollars per month and it all revolves around blogging.

Blogging is an amazing way for any business, large or small, to start to generate some visibility online. Take SEOmoz for example, although the roots of the company go way back to 1981 when Rand’s mother started a marketing business, SEOmoz got it’s start in 2004 when Rand started blogging about his “thoughts, struggles, and discoveries” in SEO. From there they started doing SEO consulting, then eventually transitioned into one of the greatest SEO toolsets you can find online. You too can get your start online just by starting a blog and writing/publishing great content on a regular basis. The whole process starts with picking a domain name, so let’s jump in.

Picking Your Domain Name

Picking your domain name should be pretty easy if you have already decided on your business name. I say “should” because if you are picking a domain name that is in line with your business name, you have pretty good chances that it is going to be available. I”m often asked the question, should I purchase a domain name that is rich with my target keywords? To be completely honest, three years ago, I would have answered heck yes! Today, not so much. I would pick a domain name that is one, easy to remember, and two, is brandable. So what’s the cost of a domain name? About $11.00 per year. Not too shabby.

Monthly Cost: $0.89

Finding A Web Host

Picking your web host is a little more difficult than picking a domain name, at least I think so. There are so many web hosts our there to choose from that it is hard to know which one is the best. I’m really scared to start listing web hosts in this post because there’s always going to be someone who has had a bad experience and will most likely comment negatively. Personally, I really like Host Monster, but it is a little more expensive if you are on a budget. If you are looking for a cheap web host, I would go with Name Cheap hosting. I’ve use them before, and they are pretty good for the price. Regardless of price, you will want to find a host that uses cPanel and has one click install for WordPress to keep things as simple as possible. Hosting through Name Cheap will cost you about $48.00 per year. Also, not to shabby.

cpanel web hosting

Monthly Cost: $3.95

Installing WordPress

As I mentioned above, you will want to find a web host that offers a one click install for WordPress. I’m not the most technical person in the world and I’ll bet that most small business owners are not either, so this makes it really easy. The beautiful thing about using WordPress to run your blog is that is is FREE! No cost to you whatsoever! They also offer a huge support community to help you with any problems you might encounter along the way.

Monthly Cost: Free

Installing Your SEO & Social Plugins

WordPress out of the box is pretty SEO friendly, but there is always more you can do to make it more friendly to the search engines, especially for small businesses trying to do SEO. I’m not going to go into great detail about what plugins you should be installing to help you SEO or to make your blog more social because some of my colleagues have already written about it in previous posts. So, check out the linked posts below to get a better idea of which plugins you can install to get you going. One thing to keep in mind is that not all WordPress plugins are free, but most are. All of the plugins recommended in the posts below are free to the end user.

The Top Three SEO Plugins

The Top Eight SEO Plugins Used By SEO.com

Monthly Cost: Free

Picking A Theme

Just like plugins, there are many themes out there on the internet that are free. Honestly, a lot of the themes out there are pure crap, which is why I always purchase themes or have them built for me, but if you are on a budget, you can find a good theme or two by doing some research. If you don’t want to go the free route, you can check out WooThemes.com or StudioPress.com. I’ve used both and like them a lot. If you are going to go the free route, here are a few resources to help you get started.

Free Themes From WordPress.org

WordPress Theme Gallery

Free WP Themes

Monthly Cost: Free

Writing Your Content

Now that you have your domain, have a functioning blog that is pretty and optimized for the search engines, you need to start writing content. Obviously, the cost of writing your content is free, but it does take some time. When writing, make sure that you are including keywords that are being searched on by your potential customers. You can do some quick keyword research by heading over to The Google and simply start typing your target keywords in the search bar, for this example, I used they keyword wedding dresses.

As you can see in the image below, Google’s auto complete feature gives me some related searches to my keyword. If I sold wedding dresses online, I could blog about modest wedding dresses and make sure to use that keyword in the title of the post and throughout the content.

auto complete

In my next image below, we are going to be looking at Google’s related searches feature. This can be accessed by clicking on related searches in the left sidebar. This gives me even more topic/keyword ideas to write about than auto complete. I could also write about designer wedding dresses, wedding dresses perfect for beach weddings, and many others also making sure to include the target keywords in the appropriate places mentioned above.

related searches

Monthly Cost: Free

As you can see, it is really easy (and affordable) to start building your online business through starting a blog. In my next post (probably next month), I’m going to talk about easy and affordable ways to start building links and driving traffic to your blog once you start pounding out some content. If you have any other additional resources that relate to this post, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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11 Comments

  1. Bill Treloar says

    Great ideas to reduce out of pocket costs. Of course another cost is time and effort, but for a brand new startup with not enough actual work to keep you busy, those may quite available resources.
    For those with a business that doesn’t leave you much time for developing your WordPress pages and writing your content it may be necessary to hire a web designer and/or copywriter to help with that.

    • Greg Shuey says

      Absolutely Bill. The next step when you run out of time would be to hire a copywriter. I find that interns make great writers and they are also very affordable.

  2. Rachelle says

    Hi there Greg,
    I could also throw in – ad targeting. Amazon and Google both do it, why not SMBs? there are many companies (including my own, Spinnakr.com) which offer tools to help businesses identify what customers are looking for and where they are coming from, then respond with better curated content.

  3. Robby says

    This is good information and I agree with Bill if the time to fully operate these idea is an important addition. What most small business owners do not realize is that they have to work at their online presence continuously.

  4. Anil Singh says

    One important point you have missed on this post. Although blogging is a great way to generate business/traffic, it would be of no use unless it is exposed to the world of internet.

    With the increasing competition on the internet, there may be millions on people writing about “modest wedding dresses” but your content will only be visible if you have good quality links from various websites of your niches.

    In the long run when the website becomes credible, there might not be need to create links as the big G will automatically give your articles priority.

    • Greg Shuey says

      I agree Anil, which is why in the second part of this post (Phase 2) I’m going to talk about ways for a small business owner to start building links that provide credibility and can also drive targeted visitors to their blog.

  5. Larry Manningham says

    I saw this post title and thought, “What’s the gimmick?” But yeah, no gimmick to be found :)

    Obviously, a lot of the free stuff takes time. Granted, it’s time well spent.

    Thinking about time & money made me think of this thing I heard Tom Waits say once. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Fast, cheap and good. You can have two, but you never have all three.”

    • Greg Shuey says

      Yes! Amazing words to live by!

      If you want it cheap and fast… it isn’t going to be good

      If you want it cheap and good… it isn’t going to be fast

      If you want it good and fast… it isn’t going to be cheap

  6. Matt Walker says

    I believe that WordPress is the most powerful CMS solution for people looking to start up a small business website.

    • Joesph Gerardot says

      Hi Greg, Thanks for these points. I think folks really tend to ‘pole vault’ over small stuff when starting and don’t know how inexpensive things are. Of course all the scammy stuff online won’t tell you that. This of course includes Go Daddy (yep I said it) upselling and nickeling and diming you to death and other exploitive services.

      This post was really useful. I am sharing it with several of my friends that are starting out.

      Thanks for sharing! :))

      Joe <<

  7. Magali says

    Hi Greg, These tips are priceless to the guy/gal who is just starting out. Too many times people are led around a lliteral labrynth of options and with no discernment whatsoever. Thanks for putting this out there.

    Much appreciated,

    Magali

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