Doing your part to promote your personal or business website offline.
Your site has been up for a few months but the expected deluge of visitors has not happened yet…
A recurring scenario - new website owners usually assume that once their site is on the World Wide Web, it will turn out to be a powerful magnet, attracting thousands of visitors each day. This couldn't be further from the truth, as the Internet is vast (8,745,000 sites as of March 2002) and therefore significant traffic will not happen by chance. Unless you have invested in an efficient SEO (Search Engine Optimization) exercise - in which case you should be very happy with the response you are getting, you should do everything within your means to promote your site both online and offline.
Some easy-to-do inexpensive ways of promoting your website.
A) Re-print all your stationery to include your new e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and website addresses. Your calling card is a powerful advertising instrument - so it must have your website URL on it. Also make it a point to draw attention to the URL on your card when you present it. A "Please visit my new website for more information" or "I would really appreciate any feedback" will in most cases get the recipient of your card to visit your site.
B) A small classified ad that appears periodically in a newspaper or a magazine that compliments your business or area of interest is worth the investment. At first you'll probably think that's not such a good idea (how many times have you looked at this section in the recent past? Not too many times I'm sure), but believe me when somebody is looking for something in particular, this is where he/she is going to look.
C) Everybody likes a free gift. A T-shirt with an eye-catching design or slogan with your website URL prominently integrated with the graphics, is a great promotional device. These are not too expensive to get done and even a few distributed among friends and ex-colleagues will generate a significant interest in your site.
D) Newspaper inserts are another inexpensive way of advertising your website to people in your community. To ensure you get a cost advantage on the offset printing we suggest you print a large quantity (5000-10000) at the outset though you may not use all in one go. Keep 1/3 of the space on these inserts blank so that you can print topical messages like offers etc. (in a single colour) and distribute these at different times in the year.
E) Is your site newsworthy? Are you offering unique content about a specific subject which will be of interest to many? If you think so, consider contacting your newspaper. Editors are always on the look out for material to publish and if they think your site is interesting enough, you will have got your site a lot of free publicity and traffic.
F) Another point where you can advertise your site is the corner/video rental store or any such place in your locality where you are a regular customer. If you are friendly with the proprietor, you can convince him/her to stack a few of your flyers (or newspaper inserts) on the counter. The point to remember when doing this is, the type of outlet you choose should ideally compliment the content on your site as this will bring you visitors with similar interests or requirements - people who are pre-sold on what you are offering and therefore more likely to buy or participate in what you are promoting.
There are many such things you can do to promote your site and grow traffic. You just have to consciously and continuously evaluate opportunities that you come across every day and convert these to your advantage. A good way to achieve this is to ask your self, "What have I done to promote my site today?"
NOTE: Do not forget to include a 'Recommend This Site' page on your website. This is an essential mechanism that can get a lot of your website visitors to advertise your site for free. This is especially true if your site has original, interesting and informative content.