How to market yourself with any budget

Four tiers of spending and what they can add to your marketing machine.

Strapped for cash? Rolling in the pennies? No matter your budget, whether you're a freelancer or running a small business, you need to get the word out that you're available for work. Unless you can afford to fork out for billboard advertising, you are more likely to be in the market for affordable solutions such as flyer templates – but how do you ensure that your voice is heard above the hundreds of competitors?

Here, we suggest a few ways you can market yourself under the scope of four different budgets.

01. £0-50

market yourself with any budget

Seek out the free marketing tools that only cost time

There are lots of ways to promote yourself where the only cost is your time: contributing to blogs and forums, sharing tips with other designers, posting works in progress on Instagram, self-publishing eBooks or videos.

You'll also find free services useful such as MailChimp's email management service, WordPress/Medium blog hosting and visual social networks such as Pinterest and Tumblr. Don’t forget free ads to local businesses on Craigslist or Gumtree too.

02. £50-150

market yourself with any budget

Move into print promotion with a few more pennies

You'll find many forms of printed promotion sitting in this price bracket, and if you get friendly with your local independent print shop or spend plenty of time comparing online prices you'll find that you can produce a lot of good quality printed promo material for a folded fifty or two.

This bracket is where you'll find paid advertising in business directories, local newspapers, local organisations' fundraising magazines and so on. It's also where you’ll find small-scale leaflet distribution if you want to save your own shoe leather

03. £150-300

market yourself with any budget

Branch out into creating products to promote yourself

Costs start to rise if your promotional items are intricate, quirky or just extremely expensive to make, and they'll also rise if you're making physical products you intend to sell.

For actual products you've got two choices here: you can throw your lot in with a print-on-demand service and accept the higher selling prices and lower margins that inevitably result from the low-risk approach, or you can risk your own cash on getting the items made and hope you sell enough to recover your costs.

04. £300-plus

market yourself with any budget

A bike rider? A helium balloon? The sky's the limit

Inevitably, moving up the cost scale allows you to really stretch your creative muscles. For something really off the wall, you could hire a postabike (that's a bike with big posters on the back) to tour your target city.

The posters will set you back £150, and hiring the bike and rider comes in at £365 (alternative-advertising.co.uk). If you've got that sort of money, professional grade podcasting is also an option. To give your project a pro feel you'll need editing software, a microphone and also a sound-proofed recording booth.

Finally, proving the sky is the limit, you can hire a blimp for £350 a day (minimum hire two days). Helium canisters are £150 each.

Illustrations: Becca Allen

These tips originally featured in Computer Arts issue 240.

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