How To Build Your Successful Home-based Business On A Budget

Don’t worry. Almost everyone starts at the bottom or close to it. But, don’t let that become an excuse for you. Your lack of initial capital for marketing does not have to be a deal breaker for you. You just have to look at marketing in a bit of a different light. There are many ways to build a tremendous business from very little money. And the good news is that the strategies that I am going to share with you do not have to include holding meetings in your home, dropping business cards on cars (which by the way can get you into big trouble in many states) or cold calling genealogy lists. Sure, if you want to do those things, go right ahead, but I believe that you will find some of those methods outdated and extremely time consuming without the return that you probably are looking for. The internet affords you tremendous leverage to reach the masses that it really doesn’t make much sense to stray far from the comfort of your computer screen.

Before I review some of the strategies available for you to build your business, I first suggest that you decide on one strategy first. Pick one that seems to resonate with you and that you think that you would really like to become an expert at. After you have mastered one low cost marketing strategy, then pick another and master that. Fairly soon, you will have a bit of capitol that you can then reinvest back into your business and into your marketing. At that point, you may want to delve into a more expensive pay per click campaign with Google, Yahoo or MSN, or you may want to consider some direct mailings. But I do strongly suggest that you not leave your original low-cost online business strategy.

I know many, many people who only market in Ezines (electronic magazines) Craig’s List or they spend their time writing and publishing articles (like the one you are reading!) and happen to be top producers in their given industry. I have found that it is best to have a nice mix of 3 or so solid marketing strategies in place in any given time. The more fishing poles with good bait you have out in the ocean, the more good fish you are going to catch.

Without further ado, the first strategy that I would like for you to consider is Craig’s List. Did you know that Craigslist.org is the world’s largest website where you can place free ads in various cities across the United States and generate interest for your product, service or opportunity? Craig’s list is ranked as the 65th most visited websites in the world and has about 10 million (yes million!) visitors every month. This translates to a huge, free opportunity for you in building your business. While the upside to mastering Craig’s, List is huge for you, there are a few tricks that you really need to know before you delve into placing ads on Craig’s list. You will need to know these tricks, or the likelihood of you getting your advertisement bumped on Craig’s List is high.

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First, you must know that Craigslist runs its site like a community site. They want to see ads that are from whatever community (city) that you choose. Because of this you cannot put the same ad in every city that you want to advertise in. If you do this. You will be black listed. I promise you.

The first step will be to create unique accounts. You will want to create a unique account for every 2-3 cities that you post in. If you try to post more cities to each account, your likelihood of being flagged goes up. In the beginning play it safe and post on a couple of cities with each unique account. It is easy to set up unique accounts. All you need is an e-mail address and a unique password. Go to any free email servers and get different emails. You may want to mix up your servers to show as much diversity as possible. Free email providers are Gmail, Hotmail and inbox, to name just a few.

Setting up your accounts will allow you to automate the posting process. You will create your unique email address and password and then you will be directed to select the city and state that you would like to advertise in. Click on the “My Account” link and then you will provide your unique email and password you have gotten for that city. To finalize the setting up of your account, you will click on the verification link in the account confirmation. You will then receive an email in confirmation from craigslist.org

Now that you have your unique account you can identify which cities you would like to advertise in. If you want to advertise in 10 cities you will need to set up 3 or 4 unique accounts, and get 3 or 4 unique emailing accounts.

You are now ready to post your ad. Of course, you have your unique headline for every ad that you post. Do not get lazy about this or you will be flagged. You will also want to test your headlines in a spam filter. You can use spam check. site sell. The lower the spam rating the better.

Craig lists list likes image ad (no plain text), so you will create a unique image ad and a unique image name for every ad that you post. Again, we need to remember that Craig’s list does not like duplication, so everything that you create for each city must be unique.

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To find stock images you can go to iStock photo. You will then want to use an image editing program such as photoshop, paint corral, or photo programs. With these programs you can combine your text with your image. In your text you want to include, just like in any form of advertising, your unique headline, benefits, call to action and then your website URL. Once you are done laying your text over your image you will want to save your image as a” image name”. jpg.

You will then host your ads on an image hosting site. A few places to host your images are SmugMug or Photo Bucket. Finally, you will need HTML code to link your image ad and your hosting site should be able to give that to you. If they won’t e/mail me at Jen@JBSCommunications.com and I will try to get that link for you.

The last thought on Craigslist for you today is that you will want to mask your IP address by using a US proxy server or wireless card. This way your computer address constantly changes and Craig’s list will not be able to see from the IP address that it is actually your computer that is generating several ads each and every day in multiple cities.

To recap the do’s and the don’ts with Craigslist: Only post 2-3 ads per unique email account. Post only 1 ad per e/mail account per day. Remember if you have multiple email accounts you can post one on each email account per day. Mask your IP address. Host your image ads on your own unique hosting account. Take your headline copy through a spam filter. Use only image ads with text laid over it. 

I realize that mastering Craig’s list might be a bit daunting. Start slow with only a few postings and as you gain confidence grow a little each and every day. Craig’s list can be a terrific and huge source of leads and mastering the ins and outs of Craig’s List will be a tremendous pay-out for you. Knowing a few of these tips sets you light years ahead of most marketers starting out in Craig’s List. Take action be consistent and go for it!

The second strategy for you to consider is Article Marketing. I believe that one of the biggest benefits to article marketing is that it establishes you as an expert and builds trust in the field that you are marketing. People buy from people that they trust and who they think that they can learn from.

Articles Must Be Content Driven And Not Sales Driven

You do not want to write a sales piece, you want to write an article that gives good, informative content, but one that relates to your products and/or services indirectly. For example, if you are marketing a product for weight loss, you may want to write an article on the benefits how losing weight can lower blood pressure or cholesterol.

After you pick a topic that will provide good content to your reader, create a magnetic title that will grab the attention of your reader and make them want to click and read your article. While your content is important, a magnetic title/headline is the most important part of your article that you need to craft.

After you have decided on your magnetic headline, the rest is straightforward. Make a short list of benefit driven subheadings and then give a brief review as to why the subheadings are beneficial or a description of the subheadings, much like I am doing here. Create a conclusion and finally create a powerful resource box. Next to a magnetic headline, if you don’t craft a powerful resource box, your article is for naught.

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What Is A Resource Box?

 A resource box in an article is the one place where you can toot your horn and tell who you are. It is at the end of your article and is typically 3-4 lines. Make sure you have a website to direct your reader to and give them the directive and reason to go to your website. The number one reason why people do not get responses from their articles is because they do not have a good response box. Make sure you have one!

Finally, publish your work and publish consistently. If you cannot publish on a weekly basis, then do it on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, just do it consistently. There are several ways that you can do this. Your first strategy will be to publish in article directorie

s. There are many article directories, but one of the top directories is Ezines Articles. You will want to find at least 3-4 directories to publish in.

You can also publish in various Ezines. Find out which Ezine accepts articles, base the Ezine on your target audience and forward your articles to them. One Ezine directory you might want to check out is Charlie Pages’ Directory of Ezines @ The Directory of Ezines. This resource is one of the most complete directories available. You can publish articles with this directory and it will also list for you specific Ezines based on industry and whether or not they accept articles. You will need to pay on a monthly basis for most of these services, but they do have a reasonable lifetime membership available to you, which in the long term might be a good investment into your business.

You say you don’t know where to start in writing an article or you don’t feel that you can write an article? I will tell you that eventually you will want to learn to write. Copywriting is one of the most critical trades that you can master. But, to get yourself up and running quickly, you can go to upwork.com and hire a writer. In many instances you will be able to hire someone to write articles on whatever topic you would like to write about for approximately $100.00, for 10 articles. You may want to tweak the articles to make them more to your personality, or you may like them just as they are. They are yours for the editing. Regardless of where you get your article DO NOT forget your resource box.

The Third Strategy For You To Consider Is Ezine Marketing

This strategy is not completely free, but can be relatively inexpensive and can piggy back nicely to your article marketing.

You will want to first research which Ezines will be most profitable for you to advertise. Decide and define your target market and then advertise in Ezines that are in your targeted market. You may have several markets to target. That’s terrific. Pick your Ezine accordingly and then write your ad according to your audience.

There are several areas that you can advertise in an Ezine. In many Ezines, they do have Free advertising, which is much like your classified ads. Since it is a free mode of advertising, go ahead and do this, but I wouldn’t make it your only means of advertising.

There is typically a classified ads section, which is usually at the end of the Ezine and not surrounded by any content, so they aren’t as readily read, however they are the least expensive way of advertising in an Ezine. The next section of advertising is a bottom, middle or top ad, which is your basic classified ad but they are mixed in with the content and are typically seen and read more often. The top ad is where you get your greatest exposure and biggest bang for your buck and if you can afford this type of placement that is where you want to be.

You can also run Solo ads. Solo ads are exactly that…the Ezine runs your ad as a solo advertisement. In most instances you have more lines to write your advertisement and depending upon the Ezine you can use your article format, make it a bit more sales driven and away you can go. This, of course, is the most expensive mode of advertising in Ezine marketing, but it does give you the best exclusive exposure.

You may want to start out with a top ad in a few Ezines and if you see some good leads coming your way from that Ezine, then graduate up to a Solo ad in that same Ezine. Typically, if a top ad is working for you in a particular Ezine, then a Solo ad should do even better.

If you write articles always ask if you can submit your article for publication in the Ezine. This is terrific exposure, especially if you are advertising in that Ezine as well. And it’s free. And finally, like all forms of advertising, be consistent. Do not run just a few ads here and there and if they don’t give you immediate results pull them. Patience and persistence are a virtue. Give your runs at least a month or two. Readers like to see consistency to know that you are the real deal.

There are, of course many other forms of free advertising: blogging, YouTube, Myspace, Press Releases to name a few more. Research what is going to be best for you, become an expert at what you choose and pursue with passion. You will find that building your business on a budget is more doable and successful than you once thought. Have fun and be profitable!

Make it a terrific, profitable and action-packed week. Until next time…

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