Issue #355

Growing Without Paying For Ads

So, here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately…

Growing traffic and building the email list up reliably, but without paying for Google ads or Facebooks ads.

This is something I know a lot of people want. Mainly because they don’t want to spend money on the ads. And, frankly, those ads have gotten more expensive.

I am not opposed to using paid ads, but for me it is more of a matter of not giving money to Google and Facebook unless I absolutely have to.

I’ve got big ethical problems with both companies. I’m not an absolutist about it and I use both when needed. They’re so big they’re hard to avoid. But if I can avoid giving them money, I will.

At the very least, if I’m going to start using Google ads or Facebook ads again, I’m going to ensure the other avenues at my disposal are optimized first.

So, it comes down to good, old-fashioned content marketing. And some things to help magnify and incentivize growth, but while working with people directly and not going through these big tech companies.

So, here’s some strategies…

#1 – Effective Blogging

From the “no sh*t” department, we have blogging. Like, duh, right? 😉

But, it needs to be strategic.

Post topics geared toward chosen keyword phrases. Optimized for those keyword phrases. Optimized with effective calls to action. It is about structuring the blog for effective SEO, having a good internal link strategy, using redwood posts and setting up a hub-and-spoke linking model to optimize them.

This isn’t blogging about whatever comes to mind. This is purposeful. Intentional. There’s thought that goes into the overall plan before just writing.

You’re most definitely working with Google here. Because you’re optimizing for their search engine. You’re spending a lot of time in your Google search console. You’re working the tools.

But, you’re not paying them. 😇

#2 – Effective Multimedia

The word “blogging” is usually associated with writing. But, truth is, you really need to be working other media today, too.

This is why you’re seeing almost every post I create these days have a video at the top. These are, of course, distributed by Youtube. Youtube is a massive, massive search engine. And it is where you need to be.

Of course, for the purposes of business sovereignty, it is good to have your videos elsewhere, too. Don’t be 100% reliant on Youtube. But, you definitely cannot avoid Youtube.

Let’s not forget podcasting, too. It is very effective. But, obviously you need to take into account your time. I know podcasting is effective, but I’m not doing it right now. Mainly for focus purposes. And if you have to choose between podcasting and videos, go with videos. They’re more effective overall.

#3 – Incentivized Referrals

All that great content just has to sit there and slowly gain momentum in search. There’s no doubt it is a process and can take some time.

The way to magnify it is through referral and distribution by other people. This provides the viral multiplier to help magnify things. For instance:

  • Setting aside some time each week specifically to do link building, reaching out to other sites and seeking opportunities for links (without being annoying, of course).
  • Creating contests or other systems that incentivize people to share on social media and tell others

You can even build in incentives via an affiliate program. If you are running sales through Wordpress, then you can run AffiliateWP. And with AffiliateWP, you can actually enable affiliates to link to ANY page of your site (even blog posts), complete with your full URL (so it is a valid backlink), but they will get affiliate credit toward anything that happens on the site.

(NOTE: Yes, for those who are interested, I am bringing the affiliate program back for BMA really soon here. It is going to work so much better now that my sites are all under one roof again. It will be open to all members.)

Point here is simple…

We want others to spread the word for us. You want to do such a great job with your content that people want to do that naturally. But… it helps to provide a little incentive, too. 🤑

#4 – Creative Joint Ventures

There are most likely a lot of other sites in the same niche as you. So, here’s the idea…

Look into options to create a partnership with them that helps both parties.

One option is to take a product that you usually sell… and offer it to their audience for free. Let them send it out to their list or something as a free product. So as not to minimize the perceived value of the offer, keep the price tag on it but give them a coupon code they can share to mark the price down to zero.

Here’s the cool part…

It makes them look great for their audience since they’re giving something of obvious value and an “insider discount” kind of thing. YOU are building your list. Not only that, you are building that list with an immediate value built in because they just saw the product is usually paid.

You can even return the favor.


It is most definitely possible to build up your business without paid advertising. But, it is work. It does require strategy and some foresight.

Last week, I talked about the sovereign business (see EDGE #354). It is the idea of purposely building your business not to be reliant on outside services.

Well, being reliant on Google or Facebook ads to have reliable traffic and leads is indeed a form of dependence.

It can work really well, of course. And, it can be a massive shortcut to revenue and building funnels that convert. I am most definitely not anti-advertising.

But, I don’t really want to use Google/Facebook ads if I can avoid it. For me, it isn’t about cost as much as it is not wanting to give those companies money. I just have reservations about them both.

Good thing is, by wanting to avoid giving them money, it forces me not to be lazy about how I do things in-house and makes me better at my job. 😎

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