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How to Build a Business Without Social Media (16 Ways)

How do you build a business without social media? 

You’ve come to the right place. Today, you’ll learn how to grow a successful business – without having to stay active on social media.

Want to learn more? Read on!

How to grow your business without social media: 

1. Ask for referrals

2. Network

3. Collaborate 

4. Guest post

5. Pitch podcast

6. Build thought leadership

7. Build relationships

8. Attend in-person events

9. Get speaking gigs

10. Use paid advertising

11. Use email marketing

12. Create a lead magnet

13. Scale on Pinterest

14. Use SEO

15. Blog

16. Use PR

Can a business survive without social media?

In a word? Yes.

Social media can be a great marketing tool for your business, especially in the beginning when you’re just getting started. But it’s not the only way to reach your target audience. 

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Of course, social media is huge, which means there’s a huge pool of potential customers there. Just take Instagram, Reddit, Facebook…there are billions of people on these platforms.  

But at the same time, social media requires you to be on all the time. 

You have to constantly create and publish new posts – which doesn’t exactly allow you to build freedom and flexibility with your business. 

Don’t worry, though. You don’t absolutely need social media to run your small business successfully

There are other marketing channels you can use as you start to scale. I’ve personally used them to flip my business from relying on ads and social media to getting people to find me, not the other way around.  

These days, I get thousands of website visits every day, and most of those don’t come from social media. 

Screenshot of website traffic growth

But what are some good promotion alternatives to social media? That’s what we’ll look at next. 

How can you promote your business without social media?

Here are 16 marketing strategies to help you get started. Don’t rush into all of them at once, though – pick one or two, use them successfully, and then expand to more strategies. 

Otherwise, your marketing efforts won’t amount to much. 

I’ve categorized each strategy according to difficulty level. If you have no clients just yet (or very few), go for the beginner strategies. If you have more clients, go for the advanced strategies. 

Let’s jump right in.

1. Ask for referrals

*Beginner strategy*

When you’re in the early stages of scaling your business (but already have existing customers under your belt), asking for referrals is a great way to connect with more people who need what you’re offering. 

In fact, 78% of marketers say referral marketing results in either “good” or “excellent” leads. 

So, how do you go about asking for a referral?

Whether you ask by email or in person, your request should be short, without sounding pushy or needy. A good idea is to offer a commission to incentivize referrals (10% is a standard commission for services, whereas products typically have a 30-70% commission). 

Here’s a sample email you can customize to fit your needs:

Hi [blank],

I hope you’re doing well!

I’m reaching out because I know you appreciate the quality of my work, and I’m currently bringing on more customers. Space is limited, but if you know someone who needs [specific task], I would be happy to help. I’m offering a 10% commission for every successful referral.

Please feel free to pass on my contact info. They can reach me at [contact info].

Thank you!

Best,

[Your name]

Referrals are a goldmine, but only 11% of sales professionals request them. So, if you do, you’ll be ahead of the game.

2. Network

*Beginner strategy*

Your network can be an ideal place to find new clients. How do I know? Because I leveraged my own network to start my first online business. A few of my coworkers asked me for career advice, and that’s how I signed on my first clients.

So, don’t underestimate how powerful reaching out to people in your circle can be. Chances are, you already know at least one person who needs what you offer.

Here’s a message you can use: 

“Hey NAME,

I’m starting a new business that helps people with [blank].

If you know someone who would be interested in this, please let me know.

I’m happy to offer them a free coaching call so that they can get to know me and start getting some great results. If they’re interested, I’ll share more about how I can help them further, but if not, they’ll still get great value out of the free session.”

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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3. Collaborate with other business owners

*Beginner strategy*

Collaborating with other businesses is a great way to help each other grow. The idea is simple: You join forces to share valuable information with your audiences through a webinar, for example. 

That way, people who already know about the other business can discover yours, too – and vice versa. 

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t collaborate with direct competitors. So, find businesses that are complementary but still different. 

For example: 

A website designer wouldn’t collaborate with a fellow website designer. A copywriter, on the other hand, would be an ideal match. 

You can find people to collaborate with by googling your niche, looking at who you have in your network, and meeting people in relevant, online groups. 

4. Publish guest posts

*Beginner strategy*

Guest posts help you get in front of audiences and build trust fast. You’ll build your authority and brand by writing for well-known websites. 

For example, I’ve had my work published on a lot of big sites, like Business Insider.

Business-insider-article

To get guest post opportunities, use a template similar to this one: 

“Hi NAME OF EDITOR,

My name is (your name) and I am (include something relevant about yourself). 

I’d love to submit a guest post to (name of publication). I researched topics that would do great on your site:

  • Topic suggestion 1
  • Topic suggestion 2
  • Topic suggestion 3

I’ve previously written guest posts for (include a few sites if you’ve previously written guest posts): 

  • Link to example 1
  • Link to example 2
  • Link to example 3

Let me know if these look interesting to (name of publication)? 

Best,

YOUR NAME”

5. Get interviewed on podcasts

*Beginner strategy*

Relevant podcasts are a great tool to use for promoting your business. I know this first hand because I’ve been interviewed on big podcasts like So Money, which has over 25 million downloads. 

So Money podcast image

Yes, that’s a lot of downloads, which means that’s also a lot of exposure. 

But ultimately, the key here is to find and pitch to podcasts that attract people in YOUR niche. Don’t worry about the size of the podcast at first. It’s more important to speak to the right people rather than to a lot of random people. 

So, when pitching to podcast hosts, share a little about your work and credentials and how an interview would benefit THEM. That way, you’ll increase your chances of landing an interview.

Here’s a script you can use: 

“Hi NAME OF PODCASTER,

My name is (your name) and I am (include something relevant about yourself so the podcaster understands why YOU are the right person to feature on their show). 

I’d love to set up an interview for (name of the podcast). Here are a few topics that I think your audience would love:

  • Podcast topic suggestion 1
  • Podcast topic suggestion 2
  • Podcast topic suggestion 3

Let me know if these would be interesting to (name of the podcast) listeners? 

Best,

YOUR NAME”

6. Build thought leadership

*Beginner strategy*

If you’re an expert in your niche, a great way to grow your business is to share advice on a platform like LinkedIn. 

(Yes, LinkedIn is technically social media. But there’s a key difference between using LinkedIn or a platform like Instagram: 

As a thought leader, people will follow you because of your expertise. In other words, you’re not chasing potential customers – they’re coming to YOU.) 

That’s what many of my students have done, like Emily, a career coach who landed her first clients on LinkedIn.

Screenshot of Cultivitae website

7. Build relationships

*Beginner strategy*

Building relationships is incredibly important, no matter what your industry is. So, one way to expand your circle is to offer to solve people’s problems – without asking for anything in return. You’ll learn a lot by doing this, and you’ll also build valuable connections. 

You can reach out to people in online groups you’re a part of or on a platform like LinkedIn to hop on a call.

Most importantly: 

Offer a free coaching/consulting call to help them with some of their most pressing problems. That’s how you slowly but surely expand your network. 

This leads to my next tip, which is:

8. Attend in-person events

*Beginner strategy*

This marketing strategy is for you if you’re the type of person who thrives in in-person settings. Go to conferences, trade shows, and any relevant events you can think of. 

One benefit of being physically present and having conversations with people? They’ll be much more likely to remember your business compared to just seeing business posts in their Instagram feed. Take advantage of that by following up and building the relationship after the event. 

9. Get speaking gigs

*Advanced strategy*

If you’re a confident public speaker, getting speaking gigs is another way to get more business. For example, I once gave a talk at one of Gary V’s events in London.

Image from Gary V live

What’s more, speaking gigs are often paid as you progress as a speaker. So it’s another arm you can build for your business. 

*Advanced strategy*

Online advertising is a highly scalable strategy to grow an audience. What makes advertising like Google ads so powerful is that you use the platform’s data to target the right people. 

With that said, prices are increasing across platforms, and it can be easy to waste money if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, work with a few clients, understand your target audience and their needs, and then switch to paid marketing campaigns when you’re ready to scale. 

I talk more about this here:

11. Use email marketing

*Advanced strategy* 

Look: Email marketing is incredibly powerful if you know how to use it. Did you know that for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $42? That’s a huge ROI. 

But why is email particularly effective? 

99% of people who have email accounts check them every day. In other words? If you can gain people’s trust and get them to sign up for your email list, making sales becomes much easier.

I talk more about email marketing here: 

12. Create a lead magnet

*Advanced strategy* 

A lead magnet is a valuable freebie (like a digital download) that incentivizes people to sign up for your email list. 

So, for example, if you’re a health coach, a helpful lead magnet might be a short guide on the top 5 mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. 

Ultimately, the goal is to provide enough value that people will want to hear from you – and, eventually, buy from you. 

13. Scale on Pinterest

*Advanced strategy* 

Yes, Pinterest, like LinkedIn, technically counts as a social media platform. 

BUT here’s how you can use it differently to your advantage: With a tool like Tailwind, you can automate your pinning and repost your content there with links to your website. 

That way, you can take advantage of Pinterest’s size to drive more organic traffic straight to your site – using valuable content you create anyway. 

Screenshot of Pinterest pin
One of my own Pinterest pins.

14. Search engine optimize your website

*Advanced strategy* 

One of the most effective ways to market your business? Rank your website in search engines. 

You see, 53.3% of all online traffic comes from search engine results. SEO drives 1,000%+ more traffic than organic social. 

Having great SEO is one of the best ways to have new customers come to YOU. With that said, optimizing your website to drive traffic is a long-term strategy, so you shouldn’t expect immediate results.

Here’s how I use SEO to grow my own business: 

15. Build a blog

*Advanced strategy* 

Starting a blog is a great way to build a successful business.

Having your own blog can make it easier for ideal clients to find you, and you can use search engine optimization and other channels like Pinterest to promote to your audience. 

Bottom line: To grow a successful blog, define a specific niche, focus on offering incredible value in every blog post, and post consistently. Check out this article on blog promotion for the exact steps to take.

16. Use public relations

*Advanced strategy* 

Once your business is established, getting featured in different media outlets is a great way to extend your reach and establish your credibility. 

I’ve personally been featured on sites like Forbes, Money, and Inc. – and getting these features really does help your brand. 

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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Ultimately, using PR can help you take advantage of a potentially large, targeted audience to successfully grow your business without social media platforms. 

Over to you!

So, there you have it. As you can see, there are plenty of effective marketing strategies to build a successful business without social media. 

Now I’d love to know: 

What’s the #1 reason you want to grow your business without social media? 

Let me know in the comments below!

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Luisa,
    Every day is a learning day. I am a 64 year old paddling in the sea of social media, looking for the other ways forwards. This article of yours is the clearest most helpful business directional advice I remember reading, ever. 🙂
    Fast read this morning, I will study further in detail and watch your videos when it’s quiet.
    Our business is niche, we teach people to shoot safely and well. My wife does all the office and tech stuff and I am guilty of not embracing the vital aspects of management and marketing enough.
    Thank you for reaching out to the world with your clear, intelligent and well laid out thoughts and experience in marketing and business growth.
    Best wishes, Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew,

      So happy you found this article so helpful! And thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment.

      Wishing you and your wife the best of luck with your continued growth – there’s definitely a lot to learn and do, but it’s so worth it. Especially when you’re providing such a valuable service/training!

      Warmly,
      Luisa

  2. Thank you for this valuable advice and direction. I’ve been struggling with IG for the last 3 to 4 years and getting no where. Actually, I don’t enjoy it. I rather spend my time writing. I am going to focus my efforts on blog posts, Pinterest, Linked In and soliciting podcasts going forward.

    Thanks again.

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