Self-Marketing for small businesses

This morning I spent quite a bit of time on reddit responding to questions about self-publishing. Someone asked about using Facebook for promoting their books. It occurred to me that people may have questions about buying ad campaigns. So, let me tell about my experience with Facebook and online marketing in general.

For this post, I’ll be covering music promotion since this is where most of my experience stems from. I’m still researching the best platforms for promoting books and online services. In this post, I’ll primarily focus on Marketing. Make sure to follow up on networking for small businesses here.

man wearing suit jacket sitting on chair in front of woman wearing eyeglasses


Initial Investment – Business Start Up 

Back in around 2013, I was pretty intent on making music a full time gig. It didn’t pan out. I’m just living in the wrong city for that. Well actually. The truth is I hate appearing on camera. Detest it. I’m just not that outgoing. I’m pretty introverted and even though I’m social media, I’m a pretty private person. This is why a career in writing appeals to me so much.

Back around 2013 when I quit my soul-sucking high paying corporate job (I felt like a slave and I hated it). I used a good chunk of my savings to invest in a new home studio. This was my “start up” cost for my home business. My ultimate plan was to “do” music full time.

Digital Piano:  $1,500.00

New Laptop:   $2,200.00 (it lasted me 7 years)

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): $600.00

Gear (mics, monitors, headphones, etc): $1,000.00

Total initial investment: roughly $5,000.00

Next – came promotional campaigns and social media networking.

Bandzoogle (for musicians)

I built a website using Bandzoogle which cost at the time $17.00 per month. It wasn’t until this year that I realized if you are a member with SOCAN Canada, you can actually get a discount for BandZoogle.

Mindblown. I could have saved myself a lot of money.

Annual cost: $204.00 (roughly)


My next purchase was a full membership at Reverbnation. While I saw some success at the beginning – a few hundred followers and paid reviews of my work – I found that the people who were following me weren’t exactly the high level caliber that I wanted reviewing my music.

Total cost at the time of membership: $29.95 per month

Annual Cost: $359.40

Reverbnation lost me when it came to the amount of spam the site produces. Even after opting out of all the notification settings, I still received daily emails. To the point that I had to contact Reverbnation and have them add me to a do not contact list. I would never recommend Reverb to anyone. There are better alternatives.


Next – I discovered the website Orfium. It is a free platform for musicians to use and promote their music. The site was pretty cool but I found the interface was hard to follow. And uploading to the site was painful at times. Even with high speed internet. The site isn’t very well known so traffic is minimal.


Soundcloud at one time was the top site to sign up for if you were a musician. But somehow, over the years, the site has become overrun by spam bots. I swear, every time I upload a new song I get two or three likes. And they’re all by fake accounts or someone promoting free likes.

Don’t ever buy free likes. It’s a waste of money. It will kill your algorithm. Trust me.

Soundcloud is still one of the larger sites for music – I still use it. But I find the options for playlists very limiting.

Facebook Marketing Campaigns

Next came the Facebook promos. Once I learned how to work with facebook ad campaigns – I was on a role. I put in about $1000 of my own money into ad campaigns.

I don’t remember what my reach was – but within a month of solid ads, I had gained almost 10,000 followers. And this was when Facebook was still pretty popular and widely used.

I connected with many fans around the globe and was receiving a lot of positive feedback. Likes, comments, shares happened almost daily.

I got into other things – art and photography. And the page exploded.

access app application apps

And then something happened. Facebook messed with the algorithms. The site was loaded with spam and constant reminders to promote your post. Suddenly, Facebook wanted you to pay for EVERY post – if you wanted a larger reach.

When I really dived into the analytics – I realized what a rip off it had been.

Out of nearly 10,000 followers – maybe 50-60 people would actually see my posts. A far cry from what it started. When I first started advertising, I would maybe 500-1000 views and maybe a 100 engagements with one post.

I tried different things. I tried posting at different times of the day. I tried using different hash tags. I even posted content from other artists to share and promote their work.

I watched with dismay as the numbers continued to dwindle.

Now, if I’m lucky, I make a post a week – or every other week on my music page. I’ve kind of given up on it. I’m lucky if 20-30 people see my post. Even with 9,300 followers. I’m posting similar content to what I did in 2013. And I’m lucky, if I get a couple of likes and shares. Even with using relevant hashtags.


I’ve had marginal (very marginal) success with Instagram promotions. It’s a great tool for networking. I mostly use it to stalk my favorite celebrities. (I’m looking at YOU, Chris Hemsworth).

blur display electronics hand
Photo by on

Pros: great way to connect with people you are interested in

Cons: limited in control of who can contact you – way too much spam.

This weekend I got hit by a lot of spam on Instagram. I don’t know if it’s because I am female but I find most of the DM’s I receive are gross. I always have a look at the sender’s account before accepting the chat. Usually, the account is new, with just a handful of posts. To me this screams scammer. Which I have been hit with a lot of times on Facebook. Just the other day I had someone contact me pretending to be Mark Knopfler. Only – I knew a lot more about Mark than the poser did!

If you’re going to try and pretend to be someone you’re not – at least learn more about them. Duh.

It’s to the point now I’m going to delete my business Instagram account and just keep my personal one to stalk celebrities (Hemsworth!) and post the odd selfie or picture of what I’m eating. Yep, that’s me on Instagram.


I know a lot of people love this site. I just can’t get into it. I’ll pass on this one. But a lot of authors have recommended it to promote new books. I’m not a millennial. I just don’t get it.


I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. My original music account had about 3,500 followers. But I made the mistake of going through a rebranding phase. When I tried to change back to my original brand name – someone had stolen my name (damn you!) and used it on their account. When I reported this to Twitter (about a thousand times), I was told that there was nothing they could do about it.

So I stupidly – deleted my Legacy YouTube channel associated with the name. Sigh. So stupid. Don’t delete your Legacy channels!! That was back when you could customize your own channel URL without restriction.

I like Twitter for networking, but I really dislike the 150 character limit. It’s hard to be witty in just 150 characters.


YouTube is clearly the winner for all kinds of promotions. If you aren’t camera shy just pick up your phone and start recording. Network with other people in your niche. Start creating how-to videos. Do reviews of your favorite products (in your genre). If you’re a writer – give reviews on your favorite books. Tell people why you loved the books. Keep the videos fairly short 5-10 minutes, at least until you build a larger audience.

apple blur business communication
Photo by Pixabay on


Final Points

  • Be consistent in your promotions.
  • Decide on a great business name and stick with it.
  • Use the same business name on all platforms.
  • Design a logo or hire a pro to do it for you.
  • Learn programs like Affinity, Adobe Photoshop, or Canva (free) and start creating your own headers, and channel art.
  • Make sure your fans have a way to contact you.
  • Create an email list or subscription list for fans to sign up
  • Create a professional and informative website or hire someone to do the work for you. Don’t overload your website with pop ups or ads. I’ve exited out of many websites for this reason – easy way to pick up a virus.
  • Create a PayPal account associated with your business and use it to accept donations or “buy me a coffee” link on your website or blog.
  • Keep track of all your business related expenses. If you run multiple businesses – organize by your business name.
  • Find something you are passionate about and write about it.

I think that about covers it for now. While I focused on music in this post, you can use a lot of this information for pretty much every start up business.

Have you used Facebook ads? Have you used any of the sites I mentioned above? If so – let me know in the comments!






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