Advertising puts your business in front of its target audience, influencing them to buy the product or service you’re promoting.
While most platforms charge entrepreneurs to reach their audience, it’s possible to get free advertising for your business. Tactics like word-of-mouth campaigns, online directory listings, and email newsletters make it possible to reach potential customers without spending a dollar.
Unsure of where to start? These 9 free advertising sites can spread the word about your business to get the ball rolling.
What is free advertising?
Free advertising is what you think it is—a strategy to help your small business get in front of your audience. You can reach your audience by using online directories, guest blogging, and word-of-mouth campaigns—all without spending a dollar on advertising.
Free online advertising strategies help entrepreneurs combat rising advertising costs. Studies show the cost per click (CPC) for paid search ads increased by 15% between the second and third quarters of 2021 alone. Alternative (free) channels to reach your customers don’t force your business to compete in an expensive race to the bottom.
Related: Marketing vs. Advertising: How Are They Different?
9 Free advertising sites
Craigslist is a classified advertising website that allows people to list products and services for free. Popular categories include furniture, clothing, and motorcycle parts.
As the fastest growing consumer-to-consumer buy and sell marketplace app, some 18% of shoppers say it's their preferred platform for secondhand products.
To advertise your products for free, hit the “Create a posting” button, select the geographic location you want to advertise to, and choose the category it fits within. Upload basic information about the product or service, including its price, title, and description. Review the information and press Submit for your advertisement to go live.
ClassifiedAds.com is another website entrepreneurs can use to advertise their products and services for free. It’s popular in the US, India, and the UAE, amassing 580,000 visitors per month.
For free business listings on ClassifiedAds.com, choose the thing you’re selling, choose a subcategory, and add basic details such as the price, location, and ad title. Then, select when you want the listing to expire.
Boasting 1.9 million monthly visitors, Locanto is a free advertising website for small businesses to sell anything from arts and crafts to electronics. Reach people in your local area by posting a free classified ad.
Simply enter the name of your product, confirm a suggested category, and add details to the listing.
With more than 2.91 billion active users, Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world. With this type of reach, more than a third of users plan to make a purchase directly through the platform this year. Even as the Facebook advertising platform is becoming more expensive, you can use Facebook’s suite of free marketing tools to advertise your business:
Oodle allows entrepreneurs to upload free classified ads. Founded in 2004, the marketplace-style website attracts 1.7 million monthly visitors, largely between the ages of 45 and 64.
An active Facebook account allows you to create an Oodle account, choose a geographic location you want to advertise to, and upload your product details.
Yelp is a free crowd-sourced local business review site. It’s the most visited public record and directory site in the world, attracting 205 million visitors per month.
It’s free to create a Yelp listing and is best suited to businesses with a physical location, such as an in-person shop, gym, or restaurant. Work on getting reviews from previous customers and be within reach of appearing in the top 10 results for your target market’s Yelp search.
OLX has a range of marketplaces in more than 30 countries, including Brazil, India, Portugal, and South Africa. It’s free for small business owners to create a listing to advertise anything from cars to apartments.
8. Google Business Profile
Formerly known as Google My Business, a Google Business Profile helps small businesses appear in Google search results—where 81% of shoppers evaluate local businesses (up from 63% from the year prior).
Claim your free Google Business Profile and upload information about your business, including its operating hours, locations, and phone number. An optimized profile will appear on both the search engine results page and Google Maps when local shoppers search for businesses like yours.
9. Local independent chambers of commerce
States all over the US have local chambers of commerce. It’s the world’s largest business organization, acting as a referral source for entrepreneurs.
A chamber of commerce offers a membership that starts at $295 a year. Part of that membership may include free advertising, networking opportunities, and a monthly email blast to more than 30,000 contacts.
What free advertising idea will you choose?
There's plenty of free advertising ideas above to help your business get off the ground. Some may worker better for your business model or industry. Fierce competition and industry over-saturation doesn’t mean your small business has to pay for advertising to be seen.
Free advertising FAQ
Why should I use free advertising?
The rising costs of paid advertising channels means small business owners are competing for brand visibility. Free online advertising strategies help entrepreneurs combat rising advertising costs and gives business owners the ability to experiment with channels and audience engagement as they grow.
What are some free advertising tactics?
Some free advertising tactics are word-of-mouth campaigns, online directory listings, and email newsletters. These channels make it possible to reach potential customers without spending a dollar.
What’s the most important thing about these free advertising tactics?
The most important thing about these free advertising tactics is they are proven to get your business in front of an audience. Once you’re there, make sure they know why you stand out from your competitors.