As we talked about in the previous article, How to Start an Online Business from Scratch, there are multiple ways you can start an online business without a ton of money and just a lot of passion and commitment. Shoot, you really can make money doing anything if you know how to get in front of your target audience and monetize your platforms. With any business though, the main problem most people struggle with is “How do I get more traffic/customers to my site without spending a ton of advertising money?!”
When I first started the ABS Protein Pancakes business in 2014, I was working about 25-30 hours a work as a personal trainer with private clients and the other 15+ hours figuring out a way to start an online supplement or food brand without a clue of where to even begin. I had an idea and loved pancakes and went straight to google for hours researching and trying to understand this process. In the beginning, I knew nothing about FaceBook Ads, retargeting ad campaigns, affiliate marketing and what not so none of this was an option for me to get traffic. I also wasn’t sure if selling a pre-packaged food product online was even legal (which thankfully it was and still is) or how you package something to ship to a customer half way across the country.
After literally about 3 weeks of telling everyone I knew that I was going to start a protein pancake business, I had the amazing opportunity to go on my local ABC news station for 4th of July weekend to talk about my product thanks to my boyfriend Josh McClelland having a connection.
4th of July Prime Time news spot for my new ABS Protein Pancakes?! Sounds incredible right?
I had no website, no packaging, no store or online shopping cart process, no labels and ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. As a matter of fact, this picture below is what I went on air with to talk about my “product” that really only existed in my head at the time. I used a food saver bag from Target to “package” my protein pancake mix and a label that I printed off at a local FedEx/Kinko’s office. Talk about quality and being full prepared for this!
After the news episode air, I got a ton of emails from people wanting to know where and how to purchase this amazing ABS Protein Pancakes product except I had no where to send them. I took as many manual orders as possible and the rest I just had to let go. What a waste of Free advertising and lots of traffic right?
No. Because even though I had no email capture or sales funnel or a clue of what I was doing it gave me inspiration and hope that people actually wanted to buy this product and idea that for a while was just a dream in my head.
After that news airing, I got a web developer to put up my very first ever Shopify store which is the same store you still see the ABS Protein Pancakes brand on to finally actually have a platform to send customers to…wait, what customers? A month had gone by and nobody even remembered my 4th of July debut and I had to figure out a way to get in front of more people but I also was definitely start up working my butt off as a personal trainer and had $0 and zero knowledge for advertising.
However, that first month that I launched my ABS Pancakes on Shopify I had $4,600 in sales with no advertising!
Here is a screenshot directly from my reports below showing the sales in the back end of shopify.
Now that we have the proof, let’s go through the process of How to Get Free Traffic To Your New Store Or Website!
- Social Sharing. Too many new business owners under value the benefits of consistent social sharing of valuable content. As mentioned in the previous post about starting your business from scratch, when you are consistently delivering value and content that people actually want you will start to gain organic traction. The main point here is knowing your target audience and where they spend the most time then continually sharing all of your awesome content with them (I recommend at least 3x a week but the more you can do the better to really get things off the ground). When you first starting sharing your website or products, I think sharing them everywhere is the best strategy. Do all of it! Post it on FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube and any other platform that you can think of. After a few months of doing this, you will start to see which platforms you get the most engagement from which is where your target audience spends the most amount of time with content like yours. Once you understand which platform is generating the most engagement, put all of your energy and focus into this platform and use the others as icing on the cake. For example, when I first started an online business it was geared towards Women’s Fitness so I posted articles on leg workouts, nutrition, recipes, etc and posted everywhere. After about 3 months of doing this, I saw a traffic spike from one huge source which is pretty much the hub of stuff like this…Pinterest. Now, I know if I want to reach that audience I will see a better return on my time and content by going directly to my audience’s favorite place and sharing on there then using 5 different platforms. (You can track where your biggest traffic sources are coming from by simply adding your website into a Google Analytics account that will show you where every single visitor to your site comes from…and it’s FREE!).
- Friends and Family Share. Everyone who has ever had an online business or product knows that the very first sale or subscriber you ever get is probably going to be your mom, dad or grandma…family and friends want to support you! Even though it’d be great if your very first subscriber ever was your favorite celebrity, more than likely family and friends will step up for this. Instead of letting it get you down, be grateful you have awesome people who want to support your goals and then ask-for-help! Reach out to your closest friends and family and simply ask them if you write a great article or share something awesome if they would mind also sharing it on their platforms as well to help you get in front of more people.
- Social Media Hashtags. This one if my favorite because a lot of people make fun of the hashtag came, but I will tell you when it comes to building a business I challenge you to make a post on Instagram without hashtags and wait an hour, then add hashtags in there and watch how much more engagement you get in just 20 minutes! When you see what these hashtags do for your website traffic, you won’t be so skeptical about using them. No matter what industry your blog or product is in there are free sites that will show you the top trending hashtags for that industry to help you know which ones specifically to use for your audience. Here is a free website Hashtag IG POST, that I have used for fitness post in the past. When making a post on a platform like Instagram, to keep a clean and attractive IG page, put your hashtags in the comments of your post instead of the body text this way people aren’t seeing a long list of hashtags while trying to read what the post is about. If you go to anyone of my post @AshleyDrummonds or @ABS_ProteinPancakes on IG you will see what I am referring to. The same process is also true for Twitter. While you are limited to a character limit, throwing a hashtag symbol in front of one or two words will change your website traffic from 5 followers to 50 so utilize this free form of advertising.
- Guests Articles and Posts. There are thousands of online blogs and businesses out there that are responsible for producing daily content that absolutely get burnt out on coming up with new ideas and new information to send out to their visitors…reach out to these businesses and first compliment them and tell them how awesome they are, then do them a favor by offering to create free content for them (obviously make sure it is on a topic that relates to their website but also that you are knowledgeable in) and have them share the article or post for you to immediately get in front of your demographic. For example, if you were creating an online blog all about Chocolate Chip Cookies and you knew way more than the average human about cookies, you could reach out to a larger cookie blog or even a cookie brand like Neslte, Nabisco, etc and ask them if you can write an article or review for them for their site. Not only does this give them a break for a day from creating content, but it also allows you to get in front of their entire audience which is your exact demographic. Again, FREE and produces serious results. The way I do this with the ABS Protein Pancakes brand is by connecting with other food brands out there to do a recipe together with both of our products like this one to where both brands are sharing the recipe on their websites and social media platforms which is helping out BOTH businesses.
- Ambassadors and Influencers. I can’t tell you how incredibly grateful I am for the ABS Ambassadors and Influencers that love and support the brand. Not only do you have the chance to connect with amazing people, but you also get real life testimonies and people who believe in your brand to help you grow your reach. An Ambassador or Influencer is someone who has a website, social media page, email list, or some sort of following/audience, that fits your website or business industry who helps promote your brand in exchange for something. Depending on what your business or product is will determine what the “in exchange for something is”. If you have a digital product like a 12 week fitness program, then you would connect with different influencers or ambassadors and give them your program for free in exchange for them simply posting and talking about the product on their website. It benefits them because they get an awesome product that they are interested in and it benefits you because you immediately get a raving fan to talk about your product which will then get more people interested to check out your site or business. If you have a tangible or consumable product, you can offer to give an ambassador a free package of your product in exchange that every time they use it they make a post about it. If you take the time to build a relationship with the right people (especially on social media), this will take your brand and website to an entirely new level. Think about it, giving away one person your product for free who has 50,000 followers on a social media platform who is a fan of what you do will immediately put who you are in front of those 50,000 followers thanks to someone they already trust who says great things about you and your business. It is a win-win for both businesses in this situation.
- Keywords and SEO. Now, I am not going to bash any of the “SEO Experts” out there as I know this is something that people pay a lot of money for and maybe some of it is legit, but I will say that for the most part SEO can be done by using the Google Keyword tool to find out what keywords are being searched the most then making sure you include those words in your articles and post so that google “pings” your site for having information related to that topic. Again, the more you are involved in the above 5 steps of sharing your stuff like crazy, the more you will see your stuff pop up on google searches because it is showing up in other places on the web. Take this blog post for example, tons of business people every day are googling “How to get Free Traffic”, “How to get Free Customers”, “Free Business Advertising”, and now I have an entire article on this to help people like yourself grow their reach and Google is also happy because I am providing content that helps their visitors with a specific topic.
I know you may be thinking, “Holy crap this is a lot of work!” and to that I say….YEP! Starting out building an online business when nobody knows your name is a lot of work, but the consistency and effort will pay off when you stick with it.
You don’t necessarily have to do all of these things, you may pick maybe 2 or 3 of them that you can execute regularly without getting overwhelmed and that’s perfectly fine. Do what works for your goals and your schedule!
- The good news is that when you pick a product or business that is centered around something you are extremely passionate and excited about, your passion and the purpose behind what you’re doing will keep fueling your forward and all this “work” will simply turn into a passion project I promise you that. Half the time I am working, I can honestly say that it sometimes makes me laugh that this is what I do every day just because I am passionate about helping people and creating things that add value to the world.
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