When it comes to marketing something as close and personal, and important, as your own business, you may feel confused or even hesitant in how to start and how much to spend.

There’s nothing wrong with starting out with a small business and not having the wherewithal to spend great gobs of money on marketing — sometimes the best ideas come when you’re forced to work with a shoestring budget.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Even a few hundred dollars, spent wisely and well, can give you a marketing campaign that will bring results, and customers. Here are some of the best hacks around for getting your marketing campaign(s) up and running on very little money, or even no money at all.

#1 - Cohesive Social Media

There’s really no limit to the number of social media venues you can use to advertise your business. But however many you decide to use, always remember to keep your postings fresh, and to make sure that all your channels are interconnected. In other words, make sure that people reading your blog can click right to your Facebook and Twitter and Instagram accounts as well. Use those hashtags, baby! And remember, if you’re groaning over the time this will take at the office, that all of this can be done on mobile devices like your smartphone or tablet. You can handle just about all of your social media, and other marketing maneuvers, on the run.

#2 - Create An Amazing Blog

Setting up a blog is virtually free, and if you supply the content yourself you don’t have to pay any writers. What’s not to like about that kind of setup? Even if you have hardly any skills with online posting, getting a blog up and running today is so user friendly that it can be done in as little as fifteen minutes.

What you need to remember is that with blogging, Content is King. Don’t go for length or vast detail, go for an easy joke to begin and then either make a very brief pitch for your product or service, or give the reader a valid and valuable piece of information or advice — something that will make them want to come back to your blog again. You can make it interactive by asking for comments, and when you do get comments make sure you always respond in a positive and professional manner.

Engaging viewers in an ongoing dialogue is marketing gold, when it comes to blogging. And if you just can’t come up with two hundred words of your own, ask a friend or family member or just about anybody if you can use their own words, their own recommendations and praise of your product, on your blog. You’ll be surprised how often people will be happy to do this — it gives them a feeling of importance, a feeling that their voice counts.

As you get better at blogging you can add graphics and all sorts of bells and whistles that are easy to set up — all at no cost. And here is the Prime Directive when it comes to blogging: Keep It Fresh. Update your blog at least several times a week. That, more than anything else, will keep potential customers coming back to see what you’re up to.

#3 - Take Advantage of Google Business

To insure that your business shows up on local searches you’ve got to use Google My Business. Again, this is a very user-friendly app that can be set up in just a few minutes. It will guarantee that your business information will show up on SEO and on Google Maps and Google Plus. This is especially important for a brand new business, one that’s trying to find its niche in a competitive market.

#4 - {Insider Secret} HARO

It stands for Help A Reporter Out. This brilliant combination of business and journalism can give you not just local, but even national and international marketing publicity. Say you run an online fishing rod store. When a reporter is looking for information for an article on what kind of fishing rod is best for what kind of fishing, you are able to contact said reporter and let them decide if they want to use your expertise. If they do, then you and your company’s name will be part of the article, which may be syndicated and read around the world. Maybe you think that’s a long shot — but in today’s voracious media market an original quote from an original source is something reporters lust after — it gives their stories more body and human interest.

#5 - Build A Robust Email List

Once you’ve established a customer base, you need to keep those valuable people informed about upcoming sales and special programs that may interest them. The best way to do this is by using an email list. Mass emailing doesn’t have to be terribly expensive. In fact, you can use an app like MailChimp to email up to 2 thousand subscribers for absolutely nothing. Spend a few hours each week creating some interesting and informative messages, and then let the app do all the rest of the work. Again, what you’re really doing is telling customers and potential customers that you care about them and want to keep in touch. People who feel like they’re being treated as individuals, and not just a number on a sales graph, are the ones you can rely on for repeat business.

#6 - Facebook Groups

Facebook groups have quickly become a hotbed for niche discussions.  So much so, that Facebook is pouring in tons of money in marketing this feature.

But it makes sense.  Great and manage groups for people who share a similar interest.  These groups can become very popular with just 500 of so people in them.  And if there isn't a group for you, create one, post content, get people engaged, and then when the time is right, offer your product.  Share it, and you'll be surprised how effective it can be.

#7 - Reddit

Similar to Facebook Groups there are Reddit channels.  Custom pages created solely for discussions along those topics.  Both have rules, but Reddit seems to be a bit more strict with what your posting, so make sure that you read them before you post.  If you post goes viral the amount of extra traffic you bring to your site can be significantly impactful. 

#8 - Networking

And last but not least, networking.  Good old fashioned getting in front of people and talking about your product.  A simple search in either EventBrite or Facebook Events will provide you with a great list of events in your neighborhood.  But this may be limited given where you live. Larger cities like New York or Los Angeles provide tons of events to attend daily.  

Getting out there in front people in person will always be the most effective way to utilize free marketing. But using a combination of the following will provide you with the best results.