- Small Business Trends - https://smallbiztrends.com -

Where Can You Advertise for Free?

advertise for free

You’ve heard the old saying. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And some would argue the same thing goes for small business advertising. But is it possible to advertise for free?  

What about free social media and other sites where your business can get listed and gain visibility, for free?  Can you really promote your products, services and brand for free online? Well, yes … and no.

Indeed, there are places where small businesses can advertise for free by getting free listings and free visibility, and we’ll give you a nice long list at the end of this section.  But before we get to that list, it’s important to understand these five limitations when it comes to free business advertising:

Things to Remember if You Want to Advertise for Free

1. The more popular the free business advertising platform, the harder it is to stand out.  Yes, you can advertise for free but some sites such as social media sites have so much noise that it may be hard to stand out. And some sites throttle back visibility to your own followers, unless you pay to “boost” your post. Or the site may not give much visibility unless you buy a “featured listing.”
2. You have to invest time to see results — and time is money. Social media is a perfect example of this.  You may have to devote paid staff time or hire a contractor to find content, locate and customize images, post updates, monitor replies, and participate in conversations. While not a paid ad placement, it still costs you. Smart businesses get software tools to cut down on some of the labor, but even tools can cost money.
3. Free platforms may start out as free, then evolve into paid platforms.  If you start out using the free service, eventually you may have to pay to continue to get the same features. You can’t blame the platform for wanting to get compensated for its technology and usage.  Examples are content curation platforms such as RebelMouse and Scoop.it, which evolved toward the paid model especially for business users. So while you may not pay for advertising, you have to pay to use the technology tool.  
4. Free business advertising platforms may perform so-so.  Some free platforms may be great for building  brand recognition and overall presence (all very valuable, albeit longer term). But if you need customers right now,  advertising may be a more immediate and direct route to getting sales or leads. And some free listing sites and platforms may not be able to deliver the reach you need.
5. Free platforms may be more powerful when combined with advertising.  In other words, don’t look at free sites or paid advertising as “either – or.”  Think of them as complementary parts of an overall marketing strategy that often work best together.  Paid and free options can amplify the effect of the other.

If you are looking for “free advertising sites,” look at the following:

Free Social Media

There are hundreds of sites that could be called “social media.”  But the following are the most popular and good places for advertising your business free:

B2B social media

The following social media platforms are typically best for B2B (i.e., those businesses that sell to other businesses). Advertising your business free is possible on:

Local Business Listings and Review Sites

If you own a local business — restaurant, motel or coffee shop — these sites will help you attract local customers and collect positive reviews. Consider these for advertising your business free.

Industry Sites

The following sites are places that offer a way to advertise your business for free.  Many also have paid or featured listings, but the basic, free business advertising listing is no charge:

For more free business advertising listings — including some paid — see:  Business Guides: A Comprehensive Overview [31]

For additional ways to get visibility online, see our list of PR Tools for Small Businesses [32].  Some help you promote your business for free. And some require a fee.

Read the complete Small Business Advertising Guide:

Photo via Shutterstock [43]