The 5 Most Dangerous Mistakes You’re Making With “Free Marketing” – And What To Do About Them

Here Are The Top Five Reasons People Fail To Get Free Internet Marketing Results — And How To Make Sure YOU Avoid Every One Of These Deadly Common Mistakes

We all want big Internet marketing results without paying for them. Don’t you want…

  • Facebook likes, comments and shares– without buying Facebook Ads?
  • Google traffic– without buying Google Ads?
  • Twitter replies and retweets– without buying Twitter Ads?
  • Quality leads and actual sales– from free traffic?

The good news is there are proven ways to get free marketing results and you can start today.

What follows are the five biggest mistakes I’ve made trying to get free marketing results, and how you can avoid each and every one of them.

What’s in this post?

  • You can read the whole blog post… and that’s where the links to other resources are.
  • There’s a summary chart at the bottom of the blog post.
  • I made a video going through the chart if you’d rather listen than read, and that’s right here:



Ever had to wait on someone for something so you could finish your work? It sucks. It’s so much easier when you can do it all yourself.

We can get a lot done SOLO. That works for a while, and will take you a ways.

But there’s a limit to how far we can go by ourselves.

No one is an island. And no company is either.

Partner up.

  • Write guest posts for free. This gets you traffic and lends you credibility that begins to create trust.
  • Write ebooks for pay. Propose an ebook idea to someone at a company that outsources some of their content marketing. More and more companies do that, every day.
  • Interview people for your podcast or blog post or your own lead gen ebook.

Those activities will grow your business in ways you’ll never predict.

It’s not just freelancers who make the DOING IT ALONE mistake…

I also made this mistake when I was a marketer in a bigger company. We were focused only on OUR website or blog. We interacted only with people in OUR company. We weren’t looking for partnerships or peers or mentors. As a result, we were an ISLAND that people didn’t KNOW or CARE about.

Marketers at larger companies can neglect partnership and miss out on new exposure and opportunities because we think we don’t need it, or it will be too complicated to get approval for it. True, it’s easier to get approval if it’s the kind of thing you already do, or other companies already do.

So, encourage employees to apply to speak at conferences. Put on webinars. You just need to partner with event planners and subject matter experts to make that happen. These may not be 100% free, but they’re close to it, and relative to advertising costs for large companies, might as well be free.

Non-profits and charities have raise money with Twitter and Kickstarter campaigns. In 2008, along with a number of other influencers, I helped Epic Change promote their first Tweetsgiving (which raised $10,000 to build a school in Africa).

Amanda Palmer raised $1.1 million and did a cool TED talk about asking with vulnerability. Check it out.

Asking for stuff will get you shares, retweets and MONEY.

Do it.



AllFacebook-Expo-2013My accountant recently reviewed where our business came from over the last three years. It was mostly from networking and conferences. A handful of key people have each referred us more than $10,000 of business. One person, in 2013, indirectly got us more than $100,000 in business.

When I met these people, I didn’t know which ones were going to be so valuable to our business.

Meeting people and getting to know them has turned into speaking gigs, working on big brands like Dramamine and Chloraseptic, writing ebooks for Marketo and Microsoft and others. Those came directly or indirectly from meeting with real people in real life– not just blogging or emailing people.

For example:

I met Derrick Wheeler at Pubcon, a conference I was speaking at (but not being paid). We both had a weird Zoolander sense of humor, so at the techno club event, we had a dance-off. He thinks he won. I think I won. But that doesn’t matter. We became friends, and a few years later, Derrick asked me to keynote the social media day at a Microsoft SEO Conference. It was a real speaking gig where I got paid and they paid for airfare, hotel and expenses. It led to connecting with another guy in their Partner Hosting Network, which led to a ton of other work, more connections and more companies to work for. That whole string of connections and work, already worth nearly $50,000 still hasn’t ended. All from just being a goofball at an event.

In email marketing they say the money is in your list. That’s true. And on a larger scale, the money is in your network.

Who do you know? Who knows you?

Reach out and connect, and it will pay off for you.

I phone with interesting people to see if we can help each other. I trade consulting with a PR expert. Recently, I got into my first mastermind group (these are groups that get together to share and help each other move forward). It’s already helped me (and in fact led to me writing this post). All of these have helped me improve my business and marketing, and some have led to paid work.

Grow your network and nurture it weekly. It can take years, but it pays off big.

MISTAKE #3. Self-Centered Posting


dumbpeople everyehereIt can take us years to understand that…

What our AUDIENCE AND CUSTOMERS like and share with other people is often NOT THE SAME as what WE want to write and post about.

“My audience is dumb,” we sometimes think. Oh really? Then how come we aren’t getting bigger results?

Or “This thing we’re posting is really important!” Oh really? Then why aren’t more people interacting with it?

“The boss said we had to post this. But no one interacts with it, so it hurts our Facebook visibility and our relationships with our prospects.” I hear you. I’ve been there.

Everybody at times thinks, “My boss doesn’t get it.” How can we overcome that? Make sure when you report on which social posts and blog posts and videos WORKED that the boss understands what the success METRIC is, and how those “important posts” performed compared to the others.

Show the boss (in private where you’re not making their ideas look dumb to everyone) what the top performers and bottom performers look like. What do the BEST performers have in common? What do the WORST ones have in common? Write it down. Keep track.

In most cases, this will decrease how often they ask you to do posts. It might even help your boss come up with better post ideas!

Study the titles of posts that get a lot of shares with BuzzSumo, a search engine for super-shared content. I did that for this post- looking to see how many mistakes are in the most shared “mistakes” posts. It looked like five was best. I originally had three, but as I wrote I found one more and realized the first two needed to be divided anyway, so I had five!

Doing the ebook on Contagious Content for Marketo helped me discover the six things you should do for more Facebook and the four things you should never do– and those lessons work for tweets and blog post and video ideas too.

If you haven’t used graph search to see what your fans (or fans of the biggest page in your niche) like, do that. You’ll get a much better idea who they are than you have right now.

MISTAKE #4. Website Neglect


email pop up testsThere were years where I wrote my best blog posts on other people’s sites.

That’s ok (and I recommend some of that), but it doesn’t make the cash register ring as fast as a really amazing post on your own site.

I was almost exclusively contributing to building authority for OTHER people’s sites instead of my own!

I wrote hundreds of posts for years on Blogger blogs. That was smart when it gave me the #1 Google ranking for “AdWords Consultant”. But it also kept me from getting the amazing results people get from installing WordPress on their own domain.

I’ve had probably four main websites in the last 15 years- but I neglected them.

  • I didn’t blog regularly.
  • I didn’t improve my branding enough.
  • I didn’t hire a real designing or branding person to take it to the next level.
  • I didn’t install really good WordPress plugins to more quickly ramp up my email lists and social shares.

I finally really changed that about two months ago.

Here’s what I’ve done to ramp up my free traffic, social interaction, leads and business opportunities:

  • I merged my two websites into one (and did all that good 301 redirect stuff to keep my search engine authority).
  • I moved to a better WordPress theme and redid my graphics.
  • I hired a branding person (doesn’t really fit into this article- but the point is I am investing in my own brand).
  • I added plugins like Pippity, vCita Contact and KingSumo headlines to boost my emails, my leads and the virality of my blog post titles. These aren’t free but there are free alternatives.
    • Pippity allows me to split-test email pop-ups; and that has helped me get 300% more email sign ups than I would have with the worst design. My worst email pop-up only got 1.9% of visitors to opt in. My best one gets 8.6% of people to opt in. you only get a certain amount of traffic every week- get as many email addresses as you can out of that. Pippity isn’t free- so if you want a free one, check out opt-in revolution or pop-up alley.
    • vCita Contact is good for freelancers who want people to be able to contact them or schedule appointments. Many WordPress themes have a contact page template you can use. If yours doesn’t, then for a free alternative, check out Contact Form 7.
    • KingSumo’s Headlines allows me to write 3-5 headlines for each blog post, and it tests which ones people click on the most, then it settles on the best one for the long-term. Since titles are the biggest determining factor in whether people click, share or retweet, you should be investing good time into headline writing and testing. This will multiply all of your traffic, leads and sales. There don’t appear to be any up-to-date free headline testing WordPress plugins, but you can change your blog post title weekly and manually check to see which worked best.

MISTAKE #5. Shy Posting


Do you ever worry that you’re posting too much?

Turns out, we could post a heck of a lot more than most of us think. And more posting means more traffic, leads, sales… so posting too little is a big missed opportunity.

The fact is, most people aren’t seeing most of our social posts.

Here are the FACTS:

  • The research shows that most Facebook posts get most of their interaction within 30 minutes.
  • Facebook admits that only 16% of your fans see your posts.
  • Few people have studied what percentage of their Twitter followers are looking at their streams when you tweet any one tweet- but it’s likely less than 11%, because that’s roughly the MOST of your followers who are active on Twitter during any one hour.
  • The most interacted with Twitter profiles tweet 20-25 times a day.

So we shouldn’t be afraid of overwhelming our friends and fans and followers. They aren’t seeing most of our stuff!

One of the first Facebook pages I studied, before writing The Like Economy, was They were getting real ecommerce profits from Facebook in 2011. And at that time everyone recommended posting once a day, max. Superherostuff was posting eight times a day. Four interaction posts and four sales posts. And they doubled their revenue just from their first year going onto Facebook. I always hold them up as an example of being willing to break the rules and see what works. It’s hard to argue with profits, especially when such a small percentage of Facebook pages are profitable.

The facts above mean:

  • We could Facebook post every hour. And if people around the world are your audience, that could be 24 hours a day. That’s 24 Facebook posts a day.
  • We can tweet at least 20-25 times a day.
  • Let’s say you post the same things to Facebook and Twitter- that’s roughly 20 times seven days = 140 pieces of content.

Now that’s a lot of content. Most of us can only create a few new original pieces of blog content a week, if that! And creating a GOOD post once a day on Facebook is hard enough, right?

So how could we possibly post 140 times a week???

Curation, my friend.

Curating means using tools like BuzzsumoBufferPostPlanner and Rignite to find and post other people’s content.

But won’t that send traffic to other websites, not ours? Yes- but there are ways to get something out of it. With PostPlanner, you can set up a sharebar that shows your info at the top of the page, above whatever you’ve shared.

Even if you’re not curating- you have great content on your site or blog- are you continuing to tweet and Facebook about it, or did you only do that once? If the content is still good, keep posting about it so more people can see it! Every good blog post needs a social post campaign scheduled ahead. Rignite is great for this- here are some of my results.


If I had only posted about those once, I would have missed at least 95% of those clicks you see above.

The free option for FINDING posts is Buzzsumo. For SCHEDULING posts it’s HootSuite. Once you find all the content you want to share, you can manually schedule it all ahead of time. But this is time consuming. I think there’s a real trade off here- $10 a month to Buffer is worth it, in my opinion, for the extra exposure, clicks and time savings on what I’d have to do to find all that content and set it up to post repeatedly.

Here’s a summary graphic!