It’s no secret, paying someone for marketing can get pricey and 9 times out of 10, startups don’t have money to just throw around. That’s why we bring to you the bootstrapped guide to startup marketing.

With this guide, we hope to get you to a point where it makes sense to start paying for more advanced marketing strategies. After all, you need to stay focused on what you do best, building and growing your business! These 5 steps should help you bridge the gap between boots-trapped startup and a growing successful venture.

These 5 steps will help get you started and ensure that when you are ready to hire an agency or freelancer to help with your marketing, they have a strong foundation on which to build. These 5 steps should not take much time but will require attention and upkeep. It is recommended that you set time aside every week to work on these to ensure you make progress consistently.

1. Start With A Clean Online Presence

First and foremost, you want to make sure you have claimed your Google My Business, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles and make sure the profile picture and header image are consistent across all of the platforms.

Setting up the free accounts and creating brand consistency will instantly make your company look more polished and professional.

While we are on the subject, you will want to do the same for your personal social media accounts as your prospective clients are certainly going to google you in addition to your business.

2. Follow SEO Best Practices For Your Website

Make sure your website is Google and mobile-friendly. You can check this using free tools like websitegrader.com. Take the advice they offer and make the fixes, if you can’t, find someone who can.

If you need help with these fixes you can usually find a how-to video on YouTube or helpful advice on forums and blogs. Most of the updates required do not require technical skills and can be completed with a Google search and an afternoon.

If you get stuck, ask around, and if no one knows anyone that can help check out services like Upwork and Envato Studio.

3. Network Your Ass Off

If you are just getting started in business, your network is going to make or break you, well this is actually true even for seasoned vets. No one is going to know about you and what your business does for the first several weeks, months, or even years in some cases, so you will rely heavily on people you know. Get out there and market yourself and your company.

Find local Meetup groups, join a space like ours, attend conferences, reach out to your network on LinkedIn, find mentors that have successfully pulled off what you want to, ask for introductions, and just get out there. An introvert? You will need to step outside of your comfort zone, but I can assure you there are several others at any event and they would be happy to network with other introverts.

4. Turn Your Clients Into Referral Machines

Now that you have a solid online foundation and have been networking your tail off, it is time to start selling your product and/or service. Once you have landed your first client or round of clients, you should first blow their minds with your product or service. Once their minds are blown, ask them for a review on Google, then ask them for a referral on LinkedIn, then an introduction to someone they know could use your product.

Don’t be shy about this, you’d be amazed how many referrals you can get just by asking. If you know you delivered value, they will be thrilled to recommend you to someone they know. And the kicker is that referral leads convert soooo much higher than cold leads.

5. Turn Your Clients Into Case Studies

The moment you build a success story for your first round of clients, turn them into case studies and then go sell using the case studies as your opener. “Hey company X, we just killed it for company Y doing A, B, and C. How about we do that for you?”

The case studies may take some time to create, but they will be the best way to prove you are good at what you do. Bonus points if you create a series of case studies for a certain industry, and then use them to sell to other companies in the same industry. People love to work with other people who “get” their industry.

Moral of the story, don’t worry about marketing yourself until you have a finely tuned machine, the only way to tune your machine is to do the work. Get to work, then the marketing will take care of itself.

This post was originally written for the Atlanta Tech Village as a guest post.