In the last few posts, I have been sharing business models you can use to make money online without having to spend any money first (or ever, if you don’t want to).
If you missed my previous posts in this series, you can find them here (all links open in a new window)…
Today, I want to share another No-Cost Business Model… list building.
In simple terms, this is where you set out to create and grow a list of email addresses of people interested in a particular subject or ‘niche’.
Now some would argue that this is not a business model in its own right since there is no point in building a list unless you have a way of ‘monetising’ (making money from) it.
I would respectfully differ. Once you have a list, you can monetise it in any way you like.
You can offer it your own products or affiliate products… anything that is relevant and valuable to people in your niche.
The product is NOT your business. Your business is the list of customers and potential customers you have access to… and continually and methodically growing that list.
Once you have grasped that concept, you will be ahead of 95% of would-be marketers who fixate on the product.
Assuming we are now on the same page, is it possible to build a list with no cost?
Despite the recent online obsession with paid traffic, the answer is a resounding “Yes”.
And, what’s more, free traffic (done in the right way) can be faster and far more targeted than paid traffic.
The mechanics of list building are very simple…
1) Identify a group of people with a particular problem, wish or desire
2) Create a simple ‘free gift’ that helps these people solve their problem or fulfil their wish or desire
3) Set up a ‘squeeze’ page offering the free gift in exchange for people giving you their email addresses and joining your list
4) Link the squeeze page to an ‘autoresponder’ that will capture email addresses, manage your list and allow you to send emails out to your subscribers
5) Set up a ‘thank you’ page where new subscribers can access the free gift after they have joined your list
6) Send people or ‘traffic’ to the squeeze page
All of this can be done for free.
a) Search Google for forums in your niche (‘[niche] forum’). Look for topics that come up again and again. Pick one and use the forum or other online resources to identify an effective solution. You should aim for ‘one problem – one solution’.
b) Create a short report as your free gift using Open Office. You type up your content and then export it in the industry standard PDF format. The report need not be more than a few pages, so long as it offers true value.
d) Get yourself a free autoresponder. ListWire is a good choice, but there are others.
e) Create an optin form in the autoresponder and add it to a squeeze page you create in your free website.
f) Create a simple ‘thank you’ page on your website that gives access to your report after people join your list.
That really is all there is to it.
Now it’s a case of sending traffic to your squeeze page.
There are dozens of no-cost ways of doing this and I can’t hope to cover them all here.
One of my favourites and one of the easiest for ‘newbies’ to pick up is forum marketing.
You have already identified forums in your niche when you were researching your free gift.
Most of these forums will allow you to add a ‘signature’ to any posts you make on the forum. You include a link to your squeeze page in this signature along with some words like “To find out how to solve [problem] quickly and painlessly, visit [squeeze page address] for our free [report title] report”.
Now you immerse yourself in the forum. You respond to posts with some helpful advice. If people find what you say useful, they will click through to your squeeze page to find out more.
You may be thinking that you won’t get much traffic this way. And you would be right.
You don’t get hoards of visitors but the ones you do get are going to be very, very targeted and very, very likely to sign up for what you have to offer.
Think about it… you know these people are passionate about the niche because they have gone to the trouble of joining and participating in a forum on the subject.
One visitor you get from a forum is going to be worth 10, 20 or even 100 visitors from far less qualified sources.
I know of many marketers who make very nice livings using no traffic method other than forum marketing. And some of those use just one forum.
Yes, it will take a little time to get your name known in the forum but, once that happens, you can expect a constant stream of targeted traffic for doing little more than 20 or 30 minutes of commenting on forums every day or every other day.
And the beauty of forum marketing is that anyone can do it. You may not know much about the topic to start with but you will ‘learn as you earn’.
So why not give it a try?