No Cost Online Marketing Plan

By Duncan Carver – In Association With Popup Domination –

Hi Duncan. Pretty much any time I am asked to submit a question about how to generate traffic, the person asking me has some preconceived ideas about what to do. Or, more often, he/she has a huge list so the question of where they get traffic from is academic. But for someone like me who has been trying to succeed (but not doing so) on the Internet for a few years now because I still have no list, the question is not so academic.

So, rather than asking a question, I am going to propose a scenario. I would like you to be the character in the scenario and then tell me what you would do to generate lots of traffic AND build a list. Because I definitely know that building a list is paramount. I’ve tried most things. The systems that gurus say can’t fail (they can and do fail, I know to my cost). I even tried buying so called guaranteed visitors but soon realized that the scammer who was selling the so called leads had a bot that “visited” my site.

Anyway, here is the scenario. It may seem a little strange. But it isn’t really. Because we are all like our hero here when we first start trying to build our list.

“Robinson Crusoe (that’s you, in this scenario) is sitting all alone on the beach of his little island (he hasn’t met Friday yet) when, just imagine. A laptop computer washes up on the shore. And the laptop is still working. As is its Internet connection. Robinson fires up the computer and, again just imagine, there is a product he finds on (say) Clickbank) that will pay him 75% commission if he makes some sales of the product.”

BTW, I can’t say what Robinson will do with his affiliate earnings. Establish a bigger store of coconuts maybe? I really do hope you can provide a logical response to my question / scenario.” ~ John

Now here you are, Robinson. You have been on your island for years. You have not spoken to anyone in that time. You don’t have a list of potential buyers for the product you want to promote. Yet, surprise, surprise, you do know how to use a computer and you do know that the Internet exists and can be used for e-commerce. But the Internet was in its infancy when you arrived on your island. You have no experience in Internet based affiliate marketing. So you are a beginner marketer.  You don’t have a website of any kind. But you also find a program on the laptop that shows you how to build your own website. So you build yourself a pretty simple website. Not much SEO on it because you don’t know too much about that at all.

What you do not have, is any idea of how to get lots of people to visit your website (landing page) and, from there, go to the site where they can actually buy the product that you want to promote. What you do have is a burning desire to succeed as an Internet affiliate marketer.

So! What would you do to locate real, human being type, people who might be prepared to go to your landing page? And then get them to actually visit your landing page?

BTW, I can’t say what Robinson will do with his affiliate earnings. Establish a bigger store of coconuts maybe? I really do hope you can provide a logical response to my question / scenario.” ~ John

Hi John,

I really like this question because it comes down to the absolute basics that, for various reasons, can elude most people, sometimes for many years.

First things first, I admire your determination to succeed.

I also want to point out that I’m not going to sugar coat any of my answer. I like to be a straight up guy. If I use any specific examples or make statements that might resonate with you (or any other reader) in a negative way don’t please don’t take it personally.

I’ve got no additional information about what you’ve tried or haven’t (might be doing right now, or not doing right now) other than the information in the question you’ve presented above.

So with that being said lets get stuck in.


Before I even found the product/s I wanted to recommend I would sit down and work out exactly what I was passionate about and would be happy spending (potentially) 8+ hours per day focusing my entire attention on for the next year.

I would need to be as passionate about the subject material (or at least have a reasonable interest in it) as I was about potentially making money from recommending products or services related to it. I would need to honestly feel it would benefit the person I’ve recommended associated products to. I would need to know I could sleep easy at night and feel good for being able to earn an income from really helping people.

For me (and most people I would think) – if I were to have to get up and write content for a website every morning about “colon cleansing” or “mesothelioma suffers” I would loose interest pretty fast.  I would find it hard to produce good, interesting, and most importantly valuable content – not only because I don’t have any real interest here, but because I don’t have any real knowledge or passion about these things.

This lack of enthusiasm WILL show through in any relationships you’re trying to develop with people that are actually interested in such areas.

You’re going to develop that relationship by providing high quality unique content with value. On your own website, by distributing it out to third party sources where your target audience is, and by sending it regularly to that mailing list you’re going to build.

SIDENOTE: As an example we have a website about keeping backyard chickens. I live in an apartment, and I can’t honestly say that I’m really passionate about keeping chickens right now. I do have a slight interest however and it might be a possibility if I were to move somewhere with some grass ;-0.

So we outsource the content production for this project to someone passionate about the topic that actually keeps chickens and runs a small farm. You can feel the passion come through in every article this person writes. Not only do we get that passion, but so do the newsletter readers and that’s what’s important.

Once I’ve got a list of things I’m passionate about (or at least have some sort of interest in) I would then investigate those potential markets one by one to look to see where the opportunities were…

  • I would sit down and look to see what keyword terms people were searching on related to that specific niche topic. The Google External Keyword Tool is perfectly fine for this.
  • I would look to see how many people were searching on those terms. I would look at broad match search numbers for an overview, and exact match search numbers for a more accurate representation of true traffic volumes.
  • I would look to see what related terms people are searching on (to ensure I’m not focusing on the wrong keyword terms based on my own assumptions) – basically developing a better picture of the overall market.
  • I would search Google to see how many AdWords advertisers are advertising for those keyword terms. I would do this for many keyword terms. If there are few or no advertisers these are either the wrong keyword terms or the market is not popular and it *could be* an indication there’s little money to be made.
  • I would look to see what products and services those people are offering in their ads to see what potential income opportunities exist.  I’d make a list of those that appealed to me and formulate an overview of what I would like to potentially offer. This would include information products on (a how to manual perhaps) and both information and physical products on Amazon to see what’s being offered. I would look to Amazon specifically to see what the best selling items are related to those keyword terms and the overall broader market, and what “related products” customers are buying.
  • I would do this process for every passion (for me perhaps something related to football, fishing, some specific area of gardening and /or the outdoors, animals and the environment – you get the idea and I can’t tell anyone else what they’re passionate about or at least have an interested in) and make notes about all these things as reference material.
  • I would then compare the results of the keyword research, advertising opportunities, product opportunities, and from all of them select just one to really focus on as the first project I would create.

If you’re reading this and expecting me to give you a specific niche market here (or anyone else for that matter), it really can’t be done – no one is going to hand someone else a highly profitable niche market they are in (or more importantly vertical within a niche market) on a silver platter.

The closest you’re going to get is to evaluate as they are the most popular ecommerce website online and are extremely transparent in what their best selling products are, what related products people buy, and you’ll often get several hundred feedback responses from real customers.

In addition to that again, it largely comes down to your individual passions and interests because that will be the driving force in encouraging you to preserve, even if you go for an entire week or month without making a single sale or commission.

For arguments sake lets say I was interested in “deep sea fishing”, I had done my keyword research, evaluated the advertisements etc.

I would plug that term into the search box to see what products are on offer. I would then sort by department “sports and outdoors” perhaps – then sort the results by “best selling products”. I would look at all of those individual products and then see what “related products” customers have purchased.

This might include, DVD’s, books (on different interest areas within the broader “deep sea fishing” niche), equipment such as fishing lures, rods and reels, and so on. This is more to evaluate the potential overall market – ultimately you will only be offering 2-3 products to your audience to begin with to ensure you remain totally focused and lead your visitors down a call to action path to purchase those products.


The next thing I would do is to set up the website…

  • I would purchase a keyword rich domain name that is very relevant to the information and advice I would be providing from the website. Ideally this would also be an exact match search term but that is not essential if it’s not going to make much sense to the overall website you’re developing which might be slightly broader i.e. “John’s Deep Sea Fishing Adventures” or whatever.
  • I would get hosting sorted, and setup a WordPress blog. I would also get a mailing list management system setup – perhaps or alternative.
  • I would then create a focused home page that explains in a clear and conscience manner exactly what kind of information you’re offering. The home page should not be a standard WP blog home page (containing the 5 latest posts) – it should be a single page with a clearly defined purpose. This would lead to a call to action to subscribe to the newsletter at any and all stop points (on the home page and throughout the entire blog). These stop points are generally at the bottom of any page when the visitor has finished reading said content. This should not sell people on products – it should sell them on the issues, problems, experiences your audience needs help with.
  • I would setup 5 other pages as a starting point and write nice valuable content and advice related to the topic. This is simply to give any visitors that aren’t convinced about joining your mailing list a chance to evaluate “your quality advice” to change their minds and take the call to action at the bottom of those pages as well. These might be tips on targeting a specific species of fish, how to extend the life of your equipment and so on and so forth. This would also (in the future) be a starting point for search engine optimization (but that’s not how we’re going to drive traffic right now).


A mailing list for the sake of a mailing list isn’t worth much if you don’t have a clearly defined focus for this as well.

This could be a regular newsletter providing deep sea fishing tips, advice, and stories.

Here you will be developing a personal relationship with readers with every mailing via your individual personality and the valuable advice you provide. Understand however that publishing a newsletter does take a regular commitment and to begin with (and even in the future) you’re not going to make income from every mailing you send.

This could also be a pre-defined set of messages – i.e. a 21 day mini email course on getting maximum enjoyment out of your deep sea fishing experience.  This could also include tips on extending the life of your equipment, how to catch more fish, what sort of bait is better for which sort of fish etc and so forth. It might include stories of your personal fishing charter experiences.

All of these things do have associated commission earning products attached to them which can be recommended as appendages to the value in the actual content / information your offering. There is also long term room for business growth – offering leads to fishing charter companies and so forth.

An automated mini e course can be an attractive alternative for many as it doesn’t tie you into a regularly weekly newsletter commitment and yet you still get to develop a good relationship overtime with multiple emails. You can also send regular emails after the course has finished as well.

But understand that just because you’ve got someone’s email address, they’re not going to buy simply because you send them an “I recommend this fishing lure you can buy it here” email.

The information provided should stand on its own two feet with or without the product recommendation – the product recommendation should only enhance the value of the information presented in the first place. This is the relationship building aspect that will help to drive sales because you’re not going to be a “car sales man”.

SIDENOTE: When you have a better relationship with your audience you can get away with more “hard selling”, but to begin with you need to focus on the relationship by offering real value.  You can also do more hard selling to your “customer list” as it grows as these people are already doing business with you.

You should have all of this defined and clearly outlined before you start building your mailing list, because you’ll be building that relationship from day one of the first subscriber signing up and they could become your first potential customer.

KEYPOINT 1: Any information you provide should tie into a related product for maximum conversions. You’ll get more sales offering a specific type of fishing lure if you’re just given a “fishing lure” tip in your message than you would if you were to advertise a “boat for sale”. Also remember, that not every email you send has to include an “advertisement” or a call to action.

KEYPOINT 2: Stay focused. Rather than trying to sell every “deep sea fishing” product under the sun and competing with pick 1-3 primary products to focus on promoting. Do honest reviews and includes the pros and cons of the product, what you like and what you don’t like.  The more you show how much you respect these products, the more inclined the reader will be to stand up and take notice as they will value your opinion based on all of the quality relationship building advice and information you’re providing.


Perhaps you’re asking me this question from a low investment point of view like many people do – I’m assuming I’ve washed up on this beach with little cash.

Trouble is, a website business is like any other business. It requires capital expenditure. Sure there are low cost ways to do things, but the trade off is time. And if you’re not prepared to invest capital into your online business, you’re going to have to invest A LOT of time.

Regardless, if you do have investment I would split it in two and use half for a Google Adwords campaign. This will drive immediate traffic to the website to give you an idea of how well your “call to action” is converting (how many people are joining your mailing list). It might also produce a few sales too which is good.

The second half I would use to invest in outsourcing some of the following content production – which is the exact same technique I would use if I had NO investment.

The only difference being that I would do all the content production work personally.

This is the “hard work part” that requires consistent work and effort and it’s where most people fall down.

If you want to make serious income online, you need to do as much and generally MUCH MORE work than you would otherwise be doing working a 9-5 J.O.B.

Anyway, to generate this traffic I would write a series of high quality unique articles.

These are NOT going to be submitted to

I’m talking about “High Quality Article Marketing” here.

You are going to find the 10-20 biggest websites within your niche (and you can also get broader i.e. if you’re niche is “growing tomatoes indoors” then a popular “vegetable gardening” website / publication is fine as no doubt much of the audience will be interested in the subject).

These websites should publish email newsletters.

You will then approach these publications directly and offer them your articles as unique content to publish for the benefit of their audience.

You will go in order of popularity of website.

Approach the first and offer them sole and exclusive first publishing rights.

That is an important selling point – every publication wants to be seen as the “exclusive source” of the information. So offering exclusive publishing rights as almost a must these days.

If they don’t want to publish your content be sure to ask them why and see what they’re looking for as you might be able to give them other content.

If you just can’t get a foot in the door, then approach the second with the first set of articles and do the same and so forth working on down your list of publications.

However just don’t sit back and wait for something to happen whilst you’re waiting for responses. Write enough content to be distributed to multiple sources at the same time, and re-offer content to others that the initial people you’ve offered it to aren’t interested in.

Obviously the quality of content is extremely important here.

These articles should not be a sales pitch – in fact you shouldn’t include any links back to your website, other than in your “author biography” attached to the end of the article. You are just providing value and high quality advice.

You are trying to get published in newsletters with as big an audience as possible here. i.e. 100k+ readers. You want to get your name out to that audience, position yourself as an authority on the subject material.

Those people that are interested will click through to your website from within the newsletter to find out more about you and the information you’re offering.

The biggest benefit is that your relationship building began before these prospects even arrived at your website via the advice you’ve helped them with in your featured content. This will mean higher opt-in rates to your newsletter and more overall receptive visitors all-round.

An article published in a “quality” newsletter of credibility with 100k readers can produce as many as 500+ unique visitors from a single feature.  More if you’re lucky.

From personal experience it’s entirely possible to generate 1-2k unique visitors over the space of a week from just one feature article.

Those same visitors might cost you a several hundred dollars on Adwords. Not only that but getting published will open up many opportunities. I’ve been approached for book deals, hit up with JV offers, been contacted by venture capitalists, and obviously picked up clients and customers.

You’re then going to repeat this process over and over again.

The more you become published, the more visitors you’re going to generate.

You can work to publish regularly for the same publications AND even if you are – you can also work to get published in other newsletters.

SIDENOTE: You can even go offline and approach offline magazines in your niche and do the exact same process although I would defiantly stay focused online first until you get a good feel for things.

If you’re having trouble getting published – evaluate the content you’re providing, and ask for feedback from the people you’re offering it to so you know where you falling down, and just stick with it.

If you just can’t get a foot in the door with the big publications, take a step down the notch and do the exact same thing with the medium to smaller sized publications until you’ve got some traction going.

The key is to keep at it and stay focused.

This technique obviously requires you producing high quality content on a regular basis (or outsourcing it) but this is EXACTLY what I did when I started getting serious online, more than 10 years ago now.

It’s EXACTLY what I would do if I were in the situation you presented in your question.

That’s particularly true if I had little to no money to invest in paid advertising techniques – and that also includes “organic search engine optimization” because you do need to make a reasonable investment in the structures and resources to make that happen as well, and it’s a longer term traffic generation plan.

The technique above will produce immediate traffic every time you get published (almost guaranteed) and they will be high quality receptive visitors that like you!

KEYNOTE: The reason why we focus on these large publications is because, not only are we getting exposure to a larger audience, but it’s just as much as about us being proactive. If you submit an article to you’re doing passive marketing and hoping to get picked up by a publisher that stumbles across your article (and you can be sure as heck that most of the high quality publications AREN’T spending their time trolling through looking for content to publish).

Business online is about relationships and that means dealing with people so you need to get out there and be proactive about things. And unless a publication tells you flat out they’re not interested in publishing 3rd party content – continue to make them regular offers with more unique content to let them know you’re serious. One is bound to catch their eye eventually.


A few key phrases within your original question really stood out to me (and they are common amongst people that seem to struggle)…

  • “…a huge list…”
  • “…then tell me what you would do to generate lots of traffic…”
  • “…get lots of people to visit…”

…you need to keep things REAL.

99% of all websites online would generate less than 50 unique visitors per day. Don’t quote me on that, I just made it up, and I’m sure there are some more accurate “estimated” statistics out there somewhere.

It might be more, it’s probably much less!

If you’re able to generate 500 – 2,000k+ visitors per week from your high quality article marketing campaigns you’ll be doing better than 99% of every other website out there.

It’s not about how many visitors, but about how receptive those visitors are.

Also people that have “big lists” have worked VERY hard to generate those assets.

They’ve either had to invest a lot of money or (actually more likely AND) a lot of time to make that happen. Unless they’ve had really big budgets, meet the right people, or just plain old “got lucky” and “fluked something” chances are it would take most people a massive consistent effort at the marketing plan described above to build themselves a mailing list of 10,000 readers.

It could take an entire year working 4-8 hours per day to do that.

The biggest question you need to ask yourself is “are you prepared to do that”?

Are you prepared to sit down, and spend at least 30-90 days, working 8 hours per day, writing (or having written if you can afford it) 10 unique high quality articles per week, and putting up with the frustrations of trying to get them published?

Have you actually ever done something that specifically focused and with that much effort and for that length or time?

Are you prepared to do that with the possibility of making $0 for the effort but still come up with an ever growing highly focused mailing lists and asset at the end of it which you’ll be able to make a long term future income with?

You WILL see frustrations. You WILL have your expectations tested when you’re featured in a mailing list of 250,000 readers and only generate 100 click throughs from your article. This is all part of doing business.

Sure, there are other marketing techniques that might generate traffic. Everyone under the sun seems to be offering some technique – Facebook, Twitter, SEO, PPC.

The key however is to stay focused on one plan that you’ve proven to work for you to generate traffic, grow your mailing lists and potentially generate sales.

If you just focus 80% of your “working time” doing the above high quality article marketing plan – with the goal to produce at least 5-10 unique articles for distribution purposes every week (in addition to what you will be adding to your website and sending out in your newsletter) – and the aim to be published at least once per week *somewhere* then results WILL start to happen.

At the end of the day if one featured article generates you 500 visitors, and your opt-in form converts at 20% then you’re going to generate about 100 new readers to you newsletter every time you get published (although everything is totally subjective here and NO online business has consistently accurate stats like that).

That’s 100 new people you’re going to start building that relationship with every week from that point forward and it will grow as you continue.

Once your mailing list is at a few thousand people you can then look to start potentially doing “JV’s” and “Ad Swaps” (I don’t like that last term as it sounds cheap and like you’re whoring out your mailing list – a better term would be cross promotion) and open things up from there with “other possibilities”.

At the same time I would suggest you close off all other distractions.

If you’re a marketing related “discussion forum junky” – force yourself not to visit the forum for at least 90 days then notice how productive you’ve been at actually “doing” during that time.

Do you really care that much what other people are doing? Do you really want to get caught up in everyone else’s problems, opinions, and advice (which is usually unqualified or at best applicable to an entirely different marketing plan as your own)?

The best thing I ever did was to shut out all the “noise” and just knuckle down.

Finally you also need to keep things real and in perspective in terms of sales and income generation. If you’re going to be recommending a $10 fishing lure and earning $1 per sale – you’re going to need to sell a lot of fishing lures.

Heck, even the product creators and wholesalers margins are tiny, the profit in volume, so is a $1 commission per sale going to pay your bills? Probably not.

So you do need at least one product that is going to produce a decent commission per sale for yourself. It also helps (but is not always entirely possible in the less popular markets) to be offering a recurring product with recurring commissions.

You’re going to also need to be prepared to do all of this and figure out the selling process as you go and for very little income initially. Seriously – initially and on a “no budget” marketing plan – it could take you an entire month or more before you hit your first sale. It might take you a lot longer.

Sure, that’s not going to pay the bills during that time – but it’s what you learn from the process of getting to the sale and learning to refine and replicate that process yourself, consistently and with real “work effort” and “ethics” that will see you grow and expand from there.

I should also mention that if you’re not making sales from a certain product you’ve been pushing for a month to your now established mailing list of 1,000 people – try something else. Even the people with HUGE lists of 100k+ run into issues with selling and offers that “flop” and there are SOOOO many reasons why.

That’s also why most people you’ve asked this question to find it hard to answer.

The simple fact is no “system” or “marketing plan” is totally full proof – even for the people that follow or create those systems.

I get asked this question in one format or another every few weeks – and whilst I’ve tried to given you the most logical easy to follow “structure” above – there are many variables along the way.

Those that go on to success are those that stay focused, put in the hard grind for little return initially, and “learn” from their own actions in what they are doing.

Article By Duncan Carver: Brought to you in association with Popup Domination – Find out how to get 500% more email subscribers right now – more than 15,000 customers have maximized their list growth by 500% overnight…. Click To Find Out How