Got 500 big ones burning a hole in your pocket? 

This isn’t a boring list with things like ‘do market research’ or ‘buy facebooks/ads’.

This is the stuff that I’ve done personally or at least researched to death on some dark, cold Canadian night. 

And, unless you get really lucky, not one of these things will be a silver bullet. However, with a few of them combined together, you will probably make a pretty significant impact. 

So without further keywords crammed into the intro, I presented to you in no particular order:

21 ways to market your startup for under $500.

# 1 ‘LinkWhisper’ your site

Linkwhisper is a WordPress/Shopify plugin that drastically speeds up the process of internal linking to help you rank better in SERPs.

It’s really just that easy. 

There is some sort of machine learning going on under the hood that connects keywords/anchor text to the correct pages on your site.

I use it on this site and others to create inbound internal links for new content, as well as to identify and fix orphaned pages. 

Internal linking is probably a very important factor for Google – this is how you make sure it’s done correctly/properly/quickly. 

Cost: $77

Get it/learn more here:

# 2 ‘MarketMuse’ your content

MarketMuse is a hell of a good tool.

Recently, they released new pricing, giving businesses with smaller marketing budgets access to their inventory and optimization tools.

I’ll let their site do the selling, but I will tell you that we (okwrite) have used MarketMuse to optimize upwards of 25 websites at this point, each and every single time the client has seen significant results in SERP rankings and organic traffic.

Cost: $79-$499/m (depending on the number of pages your website has)

Get it/learn more here:

# 3 ‘QuuuPromote’ it

QuuuPromote is 2 things:

Thing 1: a free tool for businesses to 100% automate social media content. Businesses can do this by selecting their relevant ‘interests’ and connecting their social media channels within the Quuu platform. Each day (or whatever the user configures), Quuu will automatically post ‘hand-curated’ content to their social channel.

so…. hmmm….how does Quuu “hand-curate” content?

Thing 2:  – the opposite of the first thing. Basically, you pay to have your content ‘hand-curated’ and inserted into the feed.

Now, we’ve been using this for a while – they are pretty strict and they do review everything we submit. I had a post denied because it sounded too promotional.

Absolutely worth the cost, we get between 50-100 Twitter mentions each day just from this tool.

Cost: $50 – $75/m

Get it/learn more here:

# 4 ‘okgrow’ blog posts

Hey… that’s us!


For $500 we can write you a month or two of really solid blog posts. It’s pretty obvious how that’s helpful.

Take a look at our marketing site at least.

Cost: $200-$500

Get it/learn more here:

# 5 Affiliates

A couple of reasons why affiliates are great:

  1. They sell your product or at least direct traffic to it.
  2. They create a ton of backlinks for your marketing site.
  3. Usually, they’re pretty smart people that are willing to have educated/valuable conversations about your product and its positioning.

There is obviously more than $500 worth of effort to really get a good affiliate program running for your product. But the tools you’ll need will cost you between $75-$200.

We use for our affiliate program (even though I really hate their pricing packages).

Cost: $149

Get it/learn more here:

#6 Press Release

Let’s be real on this one though. Probably a lot of us don’t really have news that we think would qualify for a ‘press release’.

But seriously, don’t let that stop you –

Even the most mundane crap we put out gets picked up by quite a few sites, creating backlinks and exposure for us.

And who knows, maybe one day something will get picked up by the NYT or something. Not going to happen if we don’t put out the releases!

I like – fair pricing and good service. But there are 100s of companies out there depending on your budget.

Cost: $399

Get it/learn more here:

#7 Customer ‘bribes’

Give your 5 best customers a $100 Amazon gift card for an hour of their time.

We did something similar and the feedback we got was pretty intense. It’s actually part of the reason this website exists.

Cost: $500

Get it/learn more here: ?

#8 Guest post

Now I have very mixed feelings about guest posts. There’s a correct way and a very incorrect way to do them.

Correct way: Identify a brand in your industry that shares the same audience but does not compete with you. Reach out, build a relationship, and exchange some content aka ‘guest posts’ with the goal of exposure to a new segment of your audience, not a backlink.

Very incorrect way: Blast out 500 cold emails a day asking a random database of companies for guest posts and then supply the unlucky few who reply to you with awful content for their site, with the sole goal of a backlink.

The outreach should be natural for you. Good content for their site should cost you between $200-$400

Cost: $200-$400

Get it/learn more here:

#9 Charity

Anonymously give that $500 to a charity. A lot of people are hungry, living in fear, and dying.

Cost: $500+

Get it/learn more here: Google

#10 Pitch night

Hold a local startup pitch night in your area (sponsored by your company), and the winning pitch gets $500 cash.

This is just straight up fun, gives a little back to your community, has an obvious promotional value to it, and is a great networking experience.

Try to do it regularly, every 1 or 3 months.

Cost: $500+

Get it/learn more here:

#11 Blog magazine-ify

Turn your 10-20 best blog posts of all time into a magazine or coffee table book.

Send that magazine or book to prospects, customers, partners, leave it doctors offices, or VC waiting rooms… you’ll figure it out

Cost: $5.99/print

Get it/learn more here:

#12 Hide and seek

I’ve never done this but I always thought it was a cool/interesting idea to generate some local buzz.

Hide $500 cash somewhere in your city and leave clues to its location on your social media channels.

Kind of like what does. The only thing that’s ever stopped me from doing this is the liability of injury, but I’m sure you could figure that out if you wanted to.

Cost: $500+

Get it/learn more here:

#13 Prospect ‘bribes’

I’ll admit this is pretty aggressive and maybe not for everyone, but as the owner of a start-up myself, I would react to this positively.

Pick out your top 5 prospects for the quarter. UPS each of the 5 decision-makers an Amazon gift card with a note attached, the note should say something like:

“Hello, DecisionMaker,

Please find enclosed a gift card for Right now, the card has no value (so please don’t try to use it). But, I’ll gladly add $100 to it!

All I ask in return is 30 minutes of your time this month for a presentation on how we can help you ______.

You’ll get the gift card regardless of what happens after the sales call…..”

Cost: $500+

Get it/learn more here:

#14 YouTube sponsor

Find a small-ish channel in your niche that has an audience and is creating great and educational content.

Reach out to them, and ask if they will either:

  1. Review your product (for a free product or cash)
  2. Let you sponsor a video (you pay them to spend the first 30-60 seconds of a video talking to their audience about you)

The trick is to find a channel that has a couple thousand dedicated followers, don’t waste your time right now going after bigger or small channels.

You can sort and read youtube channel data on Lots of great info out there on how to do this properly.

Cost: $100-$500

Get it/learn more here:

#15 Podcast sponsor

Exactly the same as #14, but like, with Podcasts, man

Cost: $100-$500

Get it/learn more here:

#16 Team swag

Print t-shirts, hats, mugs, stickers, tote bags, socks, pins, water bottles, pens, and whatever else you can think of for your team.

Turn those boring employees into walking/talking/drooling billboards! (*Note to editor, just kidding 🙂 )  *editors note: “What the hell, Jesse?”

Cost: $100-$500

Get it/learn more here: find your favorite

#17 Blog video-fy

Add ‘blog summary’ videos to your blog posts using a bit of machine learning.

Lumen5 is the product we use (you can see an example here:

Not only do these look great on social, but we also suspect that Google is beginning to put more weight on video content. Meaning that if all else is considered equal between 2 blog posts, the one with the video should win.

Lumen5 is a super-easy way to do it

Cost: $59-$149/m

Get it/learn more here:

#18 Minigame

This is definitely one I haven’t tried but is for sure on my to-do list.

These guys have a catalog of white-label ‘flash’ style games that you can add your brand assets to.

Sounds kinda lame, but it’s not.

Take a look at what they offer and maybe and it will get those marketing gears spinning.

Cost: $119/m (I think…)

Get it/learn more here:

#19 User test

Of course what good are all these other ideas if your marketing site sucks?

Userbrain is a service that connects your website to independent reviewers who then give honest feedback about your website in the form of a video.

Set some basic reviewer criteria (location, gender, etc.), set up a few questions you want to be answered, and then in 24ish hours, you should have some pretty serious information about how your brand/marketing website is perceived.

Here are the questions I asked the reviewers:

— What’s the first thing you notice?
— What can you do on this site?
— What products or services are offered on this site?
— Who is this site intended for?

At the time of writing this, Userbrain will let you do one user test for free – check it out

Cost: $19 – $29 / user test

Get it/learn more here:

#19 Email sigs

Standardize all the email signatures of everyone on your team.

Sounds boring, but wait! It gets slightly less boring!

If you use a service like Newoldstamp, you can update all the email signatures at once from one location.

Meaning you can dynamically insert the newest blog posts, ebooks, or conferences in all of your team’s email signatures at once.

On top of all that, everyone loves a super professional-looking email signature.

Cost: $36-$99/m

Get it/learn more here:

#20 Remove bad links

Not all backlinks are good, in fact, a lot of them are quite bad.

Buy a month of SEMrush or ahrefs and use that time to review your backlinks and ‘disavow’ the shady ones. Don’t worry, the software will tell you which ones are probably shady and make the disavowing easy.

I’ve done this a few times and the results are definitely noticeable, especially on ‘aged’ websites.

Cost: $99

Get it/learn more here: or

#21 Referral

“Businesses with referral programs in place experience an average of 69% faster time to close. Furthermore, they also get a 59% higher lifetime value and 71% higher conversion rates of their clients”

Pretty great stats!

Referralcandy lets you ‘quickly‘ and ‘easily‘ set up a customer referral program that rewards customers for referring your product/service.

What else do you need to know?

Cost: $49/m

Get it/learn more here:

This post is about 2000 words and took me about 8 hours to complete from conception to publishing (including research). It also took an editor about 1 hour to correct all the grammar.

If had written this post it would have cost me around $200 and I would have saved 9 hours of time (and probably got a better end product).

Learn more about what we do here at okgrow

Published On: November 14th, 2020 / Categories: Marketing / Tags: , , /

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