How to market your small business—for free!

Getting valuable customers into your business without spending a dimeID-100187418

Venturing out into the world of owning your own small business can seem daunting. There is so much to consider, so much to pay for and so many decisions to make. Owning your own business isn’t for everyone, but if you have even the slightest desire to do it, I fully would encourage you to try it out in some way, even if you start small.

Want to get started? 5 Steps to turning your business idea into a reality 

As most of you know, Liz recently announced she’s starting her own tax prep business. My husband has actually worked for himself for many years now, so I thought it’d be fun to share the various ways we advertise for free.

4 Ways to market your business for free

My husband runs a painting and handyman business. He started his business in Arizona 8 years ago and has now been growing his business here in North Carolina for the past 5 months. He had to start from scratch in building his clients, so we had to start from scratch with advertising. Since we’re on a budget, we seek out various ways to advertise for free. Some of those ways, along with a few others, include:


Craigslist is not just for buying and selling used items, but it’s also a great source for finding jobs. For starters, it’s free to post an ad and you can post multiple job ads per day. This is our main source of advertising. John has a few different ads that would apply to different types of clients. Since jobs come and go rather quickly and new ones are popping up every second, you have to be diligent about posting ads daily. We’ve found it works best to post early in the morning, mid-morning, during lunch hour and in the evening. Of course, depending on your type of business this could vary.


Our second biggest group of clients is from referral business. Referral business can come in one of two ways – either a customer refers you to someone else (this is the easiest way as it requires no work on your part) or you have to ask the customer for a referral. When my husband completes a job, he almost always asks the customer if they know anyone else who may need his services. More often than not, he gets a name and a number.

Social media

We’re in the process of building my husband a website so he can have a presence online. Even though his business is conducted offline, developing an online presence is pertinent if you wish to be a successful business owner. It’s no longer an option to advertise via social media, but a must. Social media advertising is especially useful if you can do your work remotely, such as running a web design business or a consulting business.

Everyday life

One of the things we’ve really improved on since moving to North Carolina is giving my husband’s business card to almost everyone we meet. I meet moms at parks and libraries weekly and carry a few of my husband’s cards with me so I can pass them on. We give his business cards to neighbors we meet, people we meet at the grocery store and more. You never know when someone is looking for a handyman. And even if they’re not, they can save his card for later if they ever do need his services or pass the card along to a friend. Word of mouth is by far one the best forms of advertising in the world, and it’s free!

Do you run a small business? What is one of your most effective free ways of advertising? Share in the comments below!

About the author: Sarah Brooks is a personal finance blogger at The Frugal Millionaire. She’s a wife, mom to two little girls and recent transplant to Charlotte, NC. She loves spending time outdoors, baking and being with her family.

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  1. I have hired a number of companies off of Craigslist and have never had a bad experience. Of course I do my research first to make sure it’s not a scam. It’s a great place to look! I have used moving companies, subcontractors for my home, a photographer and a graphic designer.
    Kristin recently posted…Monthly Car and Transportation ExpensesMy Profile

  2. I especially agree with social media! Personally, I love browsing through Facebook and Instagram and I have discovered quite number of businesses through it..

  3. I actually use my blog quite a bit to promote my business and have gotten clients from it. I am also a big fan of social media for getting your name out there. If you can get beyond the “chatter” it’s a great cheap way to promote yourself.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – 9 to 5My Profile

  4. That’s great to know!! Craigslist sometimes gets a bad rep, but like you said – if you do your research you can actually find really great people in the service industry!! We’ve purchased (and sold) a bunch of items off Craigslist and have never had a problem. Everyone has always been very friendly and legit!
    Sarah recently posted…Our first week at daycare: Is it worth it?My Profile

  5. Social media like Facebook. I use it for my small cafe business. I actually ask my friends to share it and to like my business page. And I also use word of mouth. Now, it seems like my business has gained some space in their interest and they just like to try our coffee out. Now, I am using Instagram and Facebook, planning to use Pinterest.
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…What to Do When You’ve Had Enough of Work?My Profile

  6. I agree that social media is a awesome tool to get business. What’s cool about it is that you don’t have to be a pro to break out from the crowd. Also having a great business card is always a plus. I am always impressed when someone hands me their business card.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…5 Time Wasters to Avoid While BloggingMy Profile

  7. I advertise for tenant on a regular basis. Postlets, Craig’s list, sometimes text my existing tenants. I have even used a bulletin board at the grocery store.

    If you look around, there are a lot of ways.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted…February – March 2015 Rental Cash FlowMy Profile

  8. Social Media would be at the top for me! It’s a great way to network your business to friends and acquaintances first to be able to test the waters.

  9. Thanks for sharing..! These all above are really pretty ideas about small business marketing. Actually, it is the most favorite and useful ways for promote the small business, especially we could save our money. LOL.

    Well, I am agree with you, social media, referral, and business card are really the best for free business marketing. Also, it is the best ways for grow the business effectively.

    I never try Craigslist, but I am going to learn more about this.
    Kimsea Sok recently posted…Complete SEO Writing Tips and Tricks for Better ContentMy Profile

  10. Yes, it’s definitely very true that there are many ways to market your small business for free. Of course, I prefer to call it *earned* marketing rather than free marketing because I definitely have to work for it 🙂
    Mario recently posted…Why I’ve decided to stop apologizing for being an ambitious womanMy Profile