Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Marketing Online Without Breaking The Bank

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One of the most common questions I receive is, "How do I market my business online without breaking my budget?"

Networking and making business contacts is one of the toughest aspects of running a home-based business, but also one of the most successful ways to develop your business. One must constantly find creative ways to meet new people and introduce them to your product. If you are working from home with small children around this becomes even more difficult. Networking online may be the answer.

There are several ways to network online. One of the most inexpensive is to visit message boards (for an example of a message board, visit www.cwahm.com/messageboard). You can register on message boards for free and post about your products, business or any topic on the board that interests you. This is a good way to meet other Christians who also work from home and to develop Christian business relationships.

It may also be possible to become a "moderator" on one of the message boards that you join. A moderator is usually in charge of one forum and helps to generate conversation; delete posts that may not belong in the forum and answer any questions people my have about the forum/topic. This is a win-win situation for both you and the message board owner. They are receiving help in maintaining their message board and you are making contacts and building relationships.

Another way to make business contacts online is through networking websites such as Ryze (http://www.ryze.com/). On Ryze, you can create your own page describing yourself and your business. You can also join various networks and meet people virtually who may be interested in your product or business. This not only allows you to build business relationships, but friendships as well. There are many Christian networks on Ryze, such as the Christian Business Women’s Network (CBWN). The CBWN network exists to bring Christian women together to help one another succeed in the work at home world.

For a small fee you can also create your own network on Ryze. If you have a unique product or business opportunity, it may benefit you to create a network where others can come to find information. You may also use a network to create a community environment if you have a team of people that you support in your work-at-home business. Your team can work together and find information easily all in one place.

Kelly McCausey, host of Women by Grace Radio, had this to say about Ryze, "Ryze has been an incredible source of networking for me. I have made at least two of my most valuable business relationships on the networks there. I enjoy the variety of possibilities and the ease of making connections."

There are also networking groups on websites like Yahoo, Google and MSN. You can search for groups on these sites by topic and join for free. There are countless Christian groups as well as work-at-home networks to be found on these sites. These groups generally are email based, so you will receive emails from the group that will be formatted similarly to Message Board posts. This allows you the flexibility to read them when you have the time and choose the topics that interest you from the subject line. Many groups will allow you to place ads and generate conversation about your home-based business. Just check their guidelines before posting and watch the group a couple days before becoming active. You can then get a general feel for how that group works.

Another way to network and build relationships online is to visit blogs. You can search for Christian blogs or blogs that may relate to your product or service. Take the time to read some of the blog entries and leave a comment for the blog owner with your website address. Blogging is a great new trend in the work-at-home world and many people are learning to blog as a way to increase awareness of their business.

One very important, and often overlooked, way to make online contacts is to include your business name and website address in the signature of every email that you send. This makes people aware of your business and allows them to easily visit your website. Including your website link (and maybe a catchy slogan also) will catch the readers eye and give them easy access to your website. If you send emails 15 times during a day that is 15 more people that you have marketed your business to. An email signature is also a way to ensure that your current customers can effortlessly find your website. It is important that customers can find your website with minimal searching and an email signature is one of the easiest ways to achieve this.
Networking online is a great way to meet people without having to leave your home. The internet is one of the best resources available to home-based business owners. Once you have an idea of how and where to network online you will be well on your way to a successful new form of marketing.

About the Author:
Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com. Hart is also the co-author of the upcoming book, Home Based Blessings, due out in November 2006 for Christian moms who want to work at home. Hart and her husband, Allen of CWAHD.com (Christian Work at Home Dads) reside in Nebraska with their two children.

1 comment:

Kelsey aka MamaSpice said...

Funny you mention Ryze - I just joined there the other day and have yet to really delve in and check it out. Seems like a great community from what little I've investigated so far.