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Lesson #24



In this lesson, we will discuss in more detail the process of finding effective places to place free ads. If you have not already done so, please read Lesson 23 first. Lesson 23 covers the preparations you need to make before placing fee ads.


Recall from our last lesson that finding locations to place free ads is a continuing process. The Internet is not static. The Internet changes every day. Sites that may work for you for a while may lose their effectiveness. New sites with lots of potential are published all of the time. The more practice you have looking for sites, the more efficient you will become with the process. It is a fun and exciting process if you accept the challenge and apply a little creativity to it.


Let me also say this one more time (because it is so important). Do not just look for a list of sites that someone else is using. Like the blackberry bushes from the last lesson or a good fishing hole, a good free ad site only works when a few people use it at a time. Learn the process to find your own free advertising sites.

In fact, I would suggest this: Go ahead and find all the lists of free ads sites you can find. Talk to everyone and get all their suggestions and add them to your list as well. Search for "free classifieds" on a major search engine and write down all the links that show up on the first three pages. Then use this list as a list of places NOT to place ads on at first! (You will eventually want to place ads on some of these sites, but make it a point to not do so at first.)

Why do I make such an outrageous suggestion? Two reasons. First, I suggest this because it will save you a great deal of time in your searching process. If you see that you have found one of these recommended sites, move on. You are not there to be searching for the obvious. You are there to be searching for the hidden treasure. This will help to keep the process moving quickly for you. Secondly, I suggest this because it will save you frustration and maybe even save you from giving up on affiliate marketing altogether. Far too many people spend countless hours posting to these obvious and frequently listed free ad sites. Then, after those long hours of work, they become discouraged when the ads produce no results. They decide that affiliate marketing doesn't work and they quit. I don't want that to happen to you. I want you to post your first few ads on effective sites, so you will know that affiliate marketing does work. It will take a little more time to find these sites, but you will save that much time and more in the time spent posting ads.


The way most people approach the process is to use the Search Engines.

If you are an advertiser, you have a product or service to sell or you are attempting to recruit people to your affiliate program. We will discuss the products or services later and focus now on recruiting affiliates.

In SFI, the primary method of recruiting new affiliates is by offering free information. In the process of receiving that free information, the prospects are given an opportunity to sign up for the SFI affiliate program. The ads that you have available from SFI are good at presenting the free information in an attractive way. Your job is to get those ads in front of live humans beings--but not just any human beings. You will prefer to get your ad in front of those people who have a pre-existing interest in starting their own home-based business or joining a multi-tier affiliate program. You can use the Search Engines to find the Websites that these people may be visiting.

Many affiliates, in searching for sites to place free ads, just search for "home-based business," "work at home," "work from home," or similar key phrases. This works to a certain extent. It is better to be a bit more creative, however. Try to think of search terms that are not quite as obvious, but are still likely to be used by your target market. Then, search for these phrases on the major search engines and look for places to place free ads.


Before we go any further, however, let me make this important point. The Internet can be a black hole that consumes all your time if you do not approach it with discipline. If you do not have a definite plan and stick to it relentlessly, you will soon be lost somewhere out in cyberspace, not even remembering what you were trying to do. When you search for ad sites, stay focused. Keep your objective constantly in mind. You are looking for Websites which allow free ads to be posted. Move through the results of your searches quickly and do not allow yourself to be distracted. Since you, yourself, are interested in the subject of home business and affiliate programs, it will be tempting to turn this time into browsing time. Don't do it. During this time you are not there to learn or to find new opportunities or to sign up for traffic generation programs. Save that for later. For now, you are looking for free ad sites--and that is all that you are doing.

Only go through the first three or four pages of the results for any search. Move through the results quickly. Look first at the links on the site, not the content. Free ads are almost always in the form of classifieds or FFA (add your link) pages. If you don't see a "classifieds" link, a "list your program" link, a "post your URL" or similar link on a Website, move on quickly.

It's OK to follow other links from these sites for your stated purpose of finding good free ad sites. (In fact, many of the good new sites may not have made it into the search engine rankings yet, but have been noticed and linked to Webmasters of some of the established sites.) The point is, if you do follow a link, do so for the purpose of evaluating the linked-to site as a free ad site. Look at the links on this site for "classifieds," etc. Do not get bogged down reading and evaluating new programs and products on these sites. If you do, you will lose focus on what you are trying to accomplish.


A common obstacle is that many sites allow you to submit for "possible inclusion" and have very strict and sometimes complicated rules about the types of submissions they will accept. Let me give you an example.

Using the search phrase "my own home business," I searched on Google. It didn't lead to anything promising until the third page where I encountered a link that led to a page with a "Submit Your Home Business" link. Problem was that right on the form it stated that you must own all the rights to the information that you were submitting and the Website you listed. Since I don't own all rights to the SFI furnished ads or the SFI Gateways, I could not have used this site if I did not have my own domain name and my own personally created ads for my own domain.

Some of the sites get pretty tedious with their rules and restrictions. For each site, you have to make a judgment whether it is appropriate to post your ad there and whether it is even worth the trouble to read and learn their rules and fill out their complicated forms.

It is a good idea to take notes as you go through the process. If a site looks like it might be promising but is too tedious in its rules and forms, jot down the URL and perhaps come back to it later. The point is to keep the process moving.

Another obstacle is that many sites will allow you to add your URL, but require a reciprocal link in return. Many require a special button or banner be displayed on your site and in a certain way. If you are just using SFI Gateways, you cannot add links to your site. Even if you have your own Website, you could not use very many of these because you would not have room for all the buttons and banners at the places they required them to be placed on your site. You want to keep control over the design of your own site. You definitely do not want it cluttered with all these buttons and banners to other sites. So, these sites you must also pass over, just making a note that it might be worth coming back for a second look later.

(Reciprocal links are a good idea, but they must be done in the right way. Only agree to reciprocal links when you can put the other site's link on your "Links" page--as opposed to your home page. Searching for reciprocal link sites is a different process from searching for free ad sites, though. Don't try to do both at the same time--other than making quick notes if you find something promising. Come back to it when you are searching for reciprocal link sites.)

Here's a tip that will save you some time: Many of the classified sites are just front ends for a limited number of back-end classified databases. That is, there are a few companies that provide the opportunity for Webmasters to include classified ads on their Websites. The sites are customized by each Webmaster and look to be part of their own Website, but in fact they just tie into the classifieds database of the providing company. When you post to one of these sites, your ad will show up on all of them. So, there is no need to post on the other Websites that use the same database. To determine if this is the case, look for a "powered by" or similar graphic on the classified site. If you find one, you can see the ultimate database in which your classified will be posted. When you see this same "powered by" graphic on other sites, you do not need to post there also.

Yet another catch to this process is that many sites limit the free listings to "non-commercial" ads. The notion is that if you are advertising a yard sale or trying to sell your old guitar online, it's OK to post for free. If you are an affiliate selling Internet Service or Cell Phones or recruiting other affiliates, it will be considered "commercial." You can often get around this problem if you have your own Website and advertise it as providing free information.


Now back to the task of coming up with Search terms to use to find effective free ad sites.

A friend of mine recently decided to look for ways to work from home. Without my knowledge, she spent three days searching on the Internet for opportunities to work from home. When I found out about this, I inquired as to how often she had seen the SFI opportunity and what she thought of it. To my surprise, she said she had not seen a single SFI site!

This clearly tells me that the Internet is NOT saturated with SFI affiliate advertisements. Indeed, us old-timers are slacking! Some affiliates, who keep looking in the same old places over and over again, believe that the opportunity is saturated. The Internet is bigger than we think it is. It is so vast that it truly boggles the mind to try to comprehend it. The Internet changes every day. There is still plenty of opportunity for the new SFI affiliate--as my friend's search proved.

The task of coming up with search terms to use in searching for free ad sites is simply this: Put yourself in the shoes of someone like my friend. Try to figure out the terms she was using in the search engines. Then use those terms and find sites that allow free ads. Upon further questioning, my friend told me that, for the most part, she approached her search in this fashion: She used terms describing her office skills and looked for jobs or employment opportunities that would allow her to work from home. She had not really contemplated starting her own business or taking up affiliate marketing, but she was open to the idea.

On this point, it is important that you not misrepresent what you have to offer, either by the wording of your ads or by the placement of your ads. Some people want a job where they will be paid for their time--and that is all they want. They are not interested in a business opportunity, even when there is no financial investment required. We should not slow these people down in their searches with our ads for business opportunities or affiliate programs by disguising our ads as job openings. That is neither ethical nor fair to these people looking for jobs. But, there are areas where these searches overlap and if your ad is honest about what you have to offer, it can be useful to you and to the people searching.

Here's another angle. Many SFI affiliates think of SFI as a home business, which it is, of course. But that business is in large part an Internet affiliate program. People who are looking for profitable affiliate programs (who do not really even think of it as a "home business") would be great additions to your SFI team. They may be searching for affiliate programs offering specific products. They will include the product type in their search terms--along with such terms as "affiliate program" or "reseller" or "partner program." (For example, a search that I just performed for "nutritional supplements reseller programs" yielded a promising place to put a free link and took me less than ten minutes to find. )

There are many other angles. Be creative! Put yourself in the shoes of people you want on your team who may be searching the Internet. Think of the search terms they may be using. Use those same terms to search for free ad sites.


Lesson 3 of this course points out ways, other than the search engines, that people use to find sites on the Internet. For example, go to the very popular Websites and follow links from their pages that may lead you to relevant sites. Use this method of searching for free ad sites also.


In addition to building your team of affiliates, your ultimate task is to sell products. This can also be done with free ads. In this case, you put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for the product that you have to sell. Or better yet, put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for information about products in this category. Come up with terms that they will be using on the search engines to search for information or products. Then, search those same terms looking for classifieds or other free ads sites to place your product specific ad. When you begin to make retail sales of the products, you know you are on your way to success.


Finding locations on which to place free ads is a continuing process. Nothing worthwhile is entirely easy, but it can be a fun and rewarding process if you apply a little creativity. Put yourself in the shoes of people you are trying to reach. Anticipate what they will search for on the search engines. Search with those same terms and look for sites that allow you to place free ads. Stay focused and keep the process moving. Keep notes of anything interesting you find that would be too time consuming now and come back to it later. Look at the links on sites for an indication whether they allow free advertising. Do not confuse free ads with reciprocal links--they are somewhat different animals. In coming up with search terms to use, be creative and use your imagination.


Stay tuned to upcoming lessons in the Internet Income Course for detailed discussions of timely and important topics in Internet Marketing.

by George Little
Copyright (year) Panhandle On-Line, Inc.
License granted to Carson Services, Inc. for distribution to SFI affiliates. No part of this work may be republished, redistributed, or sold without written permission of the author.

For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see

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