8 great ways to drive traffic to your website for free

1. Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is the process that helps you in improving your search engine ranking to drive increased traffic to your site. You need to add good content to your website because content is king in SEO.  Having chosen the keywords you wish to be found on in search engines, scatter them throughout the content of your pages. This increases the relevancy of your site and thus the ranking in the various search engines like Yahoo, Google and MSN.  Keywords are most powerful when they are placed in titles, headers, urls, and image names.

2. Submit an Online Press Release:

Issuing press releases online is one of the best ways that exists to spread the word about your business for absolutely free.  Take some time and put together an interesting piece and forward it to the many online press release companies. A good story quite often gets picked up by bigger news agencies and publications, so your business can get really good coverage – you could be amazed at the results.

3. Article Writing

Website owners and email publishers are often looking for original content. By writing industry specific articles, not only do you get the reputation of an expert, but you also get great exposure. Always include a link back to your web site in the article. Articles written for specific websites that your target audience views can be highly effective.

4. Start a Blog

Starting a blog is a great way of engaging your existing audience as well as attracting new customers. Using free software from WordPress (www.WordPress.com), Blogger (www.Blogger.com) or other companies, you can develop and publish a simple blog in just a few hours. When you publish a great post, you’ll not only get your name out there and get a nice SEO benefit, you’ll also drive interest to your business to learn more about where all your awesome ideas came from.

5. Social Media

Social media is a great way of engaging your existing audience as well as attracting new customers. Rather than merely selling to your customers, social media (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc) allows you to communicate with them and opens the door for them to communicate with you. The more relationships with people interested in your niche, the more sales you’ll inevitably make. Your website should be linked to your social networking sites and vice-versa.

6. Participate in Forums

Online forums are used and viewed by hundreds of people, so keep an eye out for forum posts based around your industry. Participate in these forums through making relevant posts, giving advice and answering questions. Wherever possible add your web address to the end of your post. The more you participate and share your experience, the more people gain trust and go to you for questions.

7. Launch an Affiliate Programme

Offer rewards (financial or other) to existing users or companies in a similar space who refer new members to your site.

8. Cross Promotion:

Find non-competing companies in your industry and suggest doing reciprocal mailouts or adding links on your websites to drive traffic both ways.  However, make sure it’s a service or product your clients will be genuinely interested in or they’ll just think it’s spam.  Also, be careful not to send too many mailouts or you’ll start to irritate your members. For links, avoid link farms and link exchanges with non-relevant sites.

We always welcome your comments? Which marketing techniques been particularly successful for your business?

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Business Plans & Pitching

  • Harvard have put together a nice little tool that walks you through the process of writing an elevator pitch: http://bit.ly/mkDio5
  • Video: Women for Hire CEO Tory Johnson on the steps to writing a business plan for a small business: http://bit.ly/jQhC0K
  • Startup Business Plan – How an Investor will Evaluate your Plan: http://bit.ly/iXTgaL
  • 10 Rules For Writing a Powerful Executive Summary: http://bit.ly/kBAgzq

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Read anything interesting? Feel free to add links to any articles or resources you’d like to share with the angel community.

Angel Investment Network’s Weekly Funding Roundup

A roundup of some of the recent seed-stage and angel deals from around the world: 

  • NoiseToys, a developer of social media applications that include Hitmaker and Apptitude, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding
  • COLOURlovers (www.colourlovers.com), a startup whose products let you easily express yourself using shapes and colors, has raised $1 million
  • Gigwalk (www.gigwalk.com), who turn the world’s iPhones into an instant mobile workforce, has raised $1.7m in seed funding
  • graFighters, an online fighting game that allows users to create a character by uploading a hand drawn image, closes $200k seed funding
  • Mobile photo-sharing startup TuiTu wins angel funding from Wang Feng – former senior VP of Kingsoft and founder of game maker Linekong
  • SwaddleKeeper, whose Baby Sleep System offers a swaddling blanket system and infant blanket sleeper, has won $135,000 in angel funding
  • Group buying navigation website 1000tuan.com recently won investment of nearly CNY 10 million from well-known angel investor Xu Xiaoping.
  • Trustnode, whose interactive education platform eliminates the complexity of insurance education, has won funding from The Band of Angels
  • Innovatient Solutions raises $1m from the state and investors for its system to improve communications between care providers & patients.
  • Newtopia Inc has received seed funding from the Business Development Bank of Canada, which made the investment through its VC division
  • Mumbai Angels, a group of 120 investors, has invested in MVS Efarm, which provides logistic & consulting services to the agriculture sector
  • Discovery Bay Games has raised $12 million from angel investors to create a new class of iPad accessories
  • Semasio, a Hamburg, Germany-based online advertising technology company, has received €500K seed funding from High-Tech Gruenderfonds
  • Clipta Inc. (www.clipta.com), a Web video search start-up, has secured a $500,000 angel investment
  • Grubwithus, a startup aiming to bring strangers together for meals, has secured $1.6 million in funding
  • musiXmatch, the leading digital lyrics API, has raised $3.7m in Series A funding from leading investor Francesco Micheli Associati
  • Nevolution (www.nevolution.com), the developer of an app store for Windows mobile device users, has raised $450,000 in angel funding
  • Energy management and storage startup VCharge has won $150,000 in seed-stage funding from the Slater Technology Fund, an early-stage fund

To stay updated, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network.

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VCs invest 20% more funds into fewer deals

Investments are up while deals are down, according to a report from Dow Jones VentureSource, which found that venture capitalists invested $9.8 billion into 967 deals for companies around the world during the first quarter of 2011, representing a 20% increase in investment but a 7% decline in the number of deals from the same period in 2010. By comparison, in Q1 2010, companies around the world received $8.2 billion in venture capital across 1,038 deals.

Image source: DowJones.com

Creating an Early Stage Pitch Deck

A picture from the white board at Ryan Spoon’s presentation on creating early stage pitch decks (primarily focused on the seed round).

Please take this for what it’s worth: just one investor’s opinion. As is true with everything – the best answer is “it depends”. It depends on your background, your company, your raise, and your audience.

Why do some start ups fail?

For every business that makes it, there are hundreds of brilliant ideas that never see the light of day. We see dozens of startups register each week in search of help to accelerate their business. Many of these have great ideas, so why do so few startups ever make it. Here is a short list of a few possible reasons.

1. Right Product – Wrong Time

Being the first to market is not always best. In 2004, serial entrepreneur David Cohen launched the beta version of iContact, a social network for mobile phones. After 18 months of trying to get phone carriers to distribute his software, he had to shut iContact down and return 80% of his investors’ money. What happened? David, along with many others, thought that mobile and GPS were at their tipping point of acceptance and that mobile carriers would jump at the chance. Unfortunately, they didn’t and his timing turned out to be 4 years too early.Right Product – Wrong Time.

2. Need some help

Every entrepreneur needs a mentor. They have been in your situation before; they can provide access to valuable contacts, and help to keep you on track. That being said, a single mentor is not enough. Entrepreneurs need to find several (at least 2-3) business advisors that can help them strategically think through critical decisions for the business and challenge them when needed. The best advisors will be an honest sounding board for entrepreneurs, providing their expertise and applying their experience to your business in a way that benefits both your startup and their own professional development.

3. Keep the costs down

Overhead is the one area where a small business owner actually has control. So why does this consistently become a challenge for so many? One of the primary ways that startup businesses get into trouble is the need to have enough inventory or people “just in case” demand suddenly rises. The cost of holding excess parts or unnecessary labor can add up fast. If £20,000 is spent on inventory, and that inventory sits in a warehouse for several months, that’s £20,000 that could have been spent on other aspects of your business.

4. Rush to show revenue

Warren Buffet has been known to say that he has two rules of investing: “Rule one – never lose money. Rule two – never forget rule one.” Understandably, an entrepreneur may feel pressure to put up big revenue numbers to prove to investor(s) that they have made a solid investment. Be realistic. All new businesses go through stages of growth, and a good investor knows this. The birth of a new business involves a lot of giving without expecting anything in return (at least in the beginning). Entrepreneurs need to come up with reasonable annual goals with milestones they should hit along the way toward reaching those goals. Communication to investors about progress against those plans is critical. Keep your eye on the big picture and focus on the present.

This list can easily be expanded and argued. It’s not easy to succeed as an entrepreneur. If there was a fail-safe success plan to starting a new business, a lot more brilliant ideas would make it to market and there would be many more amazing success stories than the ones we hear about. But, as we know history is likely to repeat itself. So entrepreneurs, learn from the failures of those who have gone before you and apply those lessons (such as those above) to your own startup.

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To stay updated, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network

Angel Investment Network’s Weekly Twitter Roundup

Angel Investment News

Business Plans & Pitching

Fund Raising

Marketing & Social Media

Start-Up & Entrepreneurship

To stay updated, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network