SEOish interviewed seven "big guns" of SEO to ask how they would market a site on just $100. (Actually, the question really involved $100, $250, or $500). While each of the SEOs gave some interesting answers, it was Andy Beal's quote, "Not a lot you can do with $100", that caused me to write this post. And there was at least the hidden implication that many of the guys probably felt the same way, but they didn't actually say it out loud.
My response (had I been asked) would have been, "What? Doesn't everyone market a site on $100 or less. I always have."
With one exception*, I've never spent more than $100 on any site. That's right, folks. I kid you not. If I can't make a site work for less than $100, then that site ends up in the "dead and forgotten" pile.
Now, if time equates to money, then certainly I could say I spend more than $100 worth of time on any site. But cold, hard cash? Nope. Here's a breakdown of the actual cash I spend on a site.
Domain Name: $8.99
Hosting: $15.00. This is a little difficult to determine exactly, since I just throw all new sites on my server, but I'd say it probably breaks down to about $15/year/site. I guess eventually that would bring a site's cost to over $100, but it'll take a few years at that rate, so I don't really count that.
Graphics: $12.00. I usually buy a couple of graphics from istockphoto.com, using up 10 credits, which is worth $12.00.
Directory Submission Fees and Outsourcing: $45.00. Most of the time this would actually be $0.00, but once in a while I'll outsource this task, or purchase a premium directory listing, so I threw the cost in for those occasions.
That's it. The rest of the marketing all boils down to my time and effort at that point. How much that is worth is anyone's guess, but no more than $100 comes out of my pocket for any given site at any given time, with the one exception* I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Obviously, this means I don't do PPC or purchase advertising of any sort.* I've always maintained that I'm an organic kind of gal (in terms of SEO anyway), so I don't need to spend money on sponsored listings. No indeed, I like chasing those organic listings. What could be finer than a top 10 listing in the organic SERPs?
Anyone and everyone can market a site for less than $100. I do it all the time. Are there any themes that might require a larger investment? Certainly, but those are narrow in scope, and even within these themes, you can probably find niches that can successfully be marketed for under $100. The vast majority of webmasters, however, can easily market a site for less than $100. All it takes is time, and skill, but not much money.
*Caveat: Actually, there is one site I own that would not fit into this category, simply because the software to run the site initially cost more than $100, and I've got it running on an expensive high-end dedicated server. However, it started out on a low-end shared server, and only moved up to the dedicated server when the traffic and income justified the move. Also, I would probably not choose the software for any future sites, preferring to use open source alternatives instead.
In addition, I've dipped into PPC and paid advertising once just to have the experience, but a one-off experiment doesn't count either.