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How to market your website if you’re not trying to sell anything

By Alexandra Gavril - April 1, 2017

If you thought online marketing is only for businesses, think again. Even if you’re not selling anything and are just looking to get more volunteers or players for your local kids’ football club or entice more people to read and share your travel blog, promoting your website and cause is similar to promoting any other business.

In other words, if you want people to know who you are, what you’re passionate about and what you need to thrive, you can’t be humble or introverted. It’s a crowded world out there so if you want to achieve your goals, you need to first let people know you exist. This is where an online marketing strategy comes in.

You may be thinking now: “But I don’t have a marketing budget”.

Don’t fret because there are lots of creative opportunities out there to promote your website, even if you have little to no money to invest in online marketing. In fact, the more creative you are with your marketing, the less you’ll have to spend.

So in this post we’ll show you some great ways to promote your website – whether it’s a chess club, a church group or a personal recipe blog.

Let’s get started!

What goals do you want to accomplish?

The first step is to clarify what success looks like to you. This means defining your needs and goals.

So, what do you aim to achieve by promoting your site online? Here are a few ideas:

  • Draw more interested people to your site, where they can learn more about what you’re doing
  • Engage existing supporters so more of them become active participants
  • Entice more people to share your content or events via their own site, blog or social media
  • Increase number of email subscribers
  • Get more funding, sponsorships or donors for a particular event

Each goal requires a different strategy, so decide what you want first and then you can plan on how to get there.

Let’s take an example so you get a better idea of what your goals and objectives should look like.

Say you’re running a weekly kids’ chess club. You want to attract more volunteers who may not yet be familiar with your local club, and get more players to sign up for your weekly games. You may also want more people to sign up for your mailing list so you can send them information about future events and what’s new at the club.

In a table like the one below you can outline your different audiences and which actions you’d like them to take as a result of your outreach:

Target audienceDesired action
Families with kids aged 6 to 12Visit your website and enrol their children & become volunteers
Local families unfamiliar with your clubVisit your website and sign up for your newsletter
One-time volunteersBecome regular volunteers
DonorsGive financial support for a summer chess camp

Outlining the audiences and actions in this manner can help you to determine which steps to take so you can reach your goals successfully.

Now, whatever your goals, make sure they’re realistic and specific. For example:

  • Add 50 more participants to your club within six months
  • Increase annual donations by 30%
  • Increase website visits by 30% within 12 months
  • Increase existing media coverage to include five feature stories in local publications
  • Raise £10,000 through six special events during the year

But how can you achieve these goals?

How to market your website to accomplish your goals

If you have a local kids’ football club website, how can you get more players or more people to volunteer to help out on match days? If you have a travel or a recipe blog, how can you promote it and entice more people to sign up to receive your email newsletter?

Here are a few ideas to get you started with promoting your website.

Identify the brand evangelists within your community

Ashley and Marjolein are the faces of Revolve, a cycling club for women. Their personal story on how they met and came up with the idea to start a cycling club has even been turned into a TED Talk. The idea to turn that story into a TED Talk and help promote their club is brilliant.

The reason this type of strategy works is because people like to associate faces with any company or organisation, as it makes them seem more human and relatable.

How can you apply this? 

Identify who can be the public face of your company. It doesn’t have to be the founder of the club. It can just be a member or a volunteer or someone who is actively involved and passionate about what you do. It also should be someone who probably will be there for a long time.

Ideally this person embodies what you stand for, and is happy to promote your club through their personal social media channels.

Harness the power of storytelling

The Akron Free church has an entire section on their site dedicated to stories. And what makes their stories so powerful is the use of video combined with a very personal style of preaching.

Their videos are a great example of how to use storytelling to communicate a message and inspire people:

How can you apply this?

Make storytelling a central part of your marketing efforts. Tell your story and your members’ stories through testimonials. Use powerful photos and video to complement each narrative as much as possible.

You can also weave storytelling into your blog content. Using the example of a church club, you could write a post detailing the struggles and obstacles you’ve managed to overcome thanks to your faith and the support of the community you’re part of.

But not all stories need to be in the form of blog posts or testimonials. Akron Free’s Facebook content shows how you can tell stories in just a few sentences, like in the post below:

No matter what type of content you create, whether it’s blog posts, testimonials or videos, make sure to encourage visitors to share it with their networks on social media. A simple and quick way to do that is by adding retweet and share buttons next to your content.

A tool like sharethis allows you to add share buttons for the most popular social networks.

Make use of social media

Your website can only benefit from more exposure – and social media is the perfect platform.

So make sure people know where they can find you on social media. You can do this by adding social media icons in your fixed header so that no matter what page of your site someone may be on, they can always see it.

No matter what social networks you’re using to promote your website, make sure you’re active. This means sharing useful and interesting content and engaging with your audience.

Here’s what else you can do on social media to promote your website and achieve your online marketing goals:

  • Use Facebook Events to spread the word. Facebook allows you to promote your events for free, and make it easy for people to share them with their friends. So if you’re planning an event or a get together, create an event on Facebook, set it as Public so anyone can see and share it.

Here’s a bit more information about creating a Facebook event.

The great thing about this feature is that when someone clicks “attending” or “interested” on the event page, their friends will see it too. In addition, people attending will be able to check in at the event in question, thus promoting it even further.

  • Tag volunteers. Whenever you have an event or an activity with your club members or community, take photos. You can then publish them on your Facebook page and tag members to thank them for being there. This helps increase your reach as the photos will be seen by each member’s Facebook friends, and that can entice more people to join your future events and activities.
  • Use Facebook Live, Snapchat and other real-time apps for live updates on projects and events. This is a fantastic way to let people see you in action in real time.

Akron Free is very skilled at this:

Improve your website

Here’s the thing: no matter what you do to promote your website, you won’t succeed in achieving your goals unless your site is built to convert.

So here are some things your website needs to have in order to entice visitors to become members or volunteers, to donate, or to join your events.

  • Information for members, volunteers and donors. If you run a kids’ chess club and are looking for more players or volunteers, or even donors to sponsor a specific event, then you’ll need to provide information on the benefits of joining your club and what being a player, a volunteer or a donor involves.

Here’s a great example from Big Apple Greeter, a service that offers free tours to visitors of New York:

Apart from a great choice of photos and testimonials from existing volunteers, their call-to-action (CTA) buttons are hard to miss. So if you want to encourage people to volunteer or to donate, make sure your CTA buttons are in a visible place.

  • A calendar with events so visitors know what’s on.


  • Email sign up. You might be surprised how many people are open and willing to give their time to a cause, even if they don’t have the financial resources to donate. If spreading awareness and recruiting volunteers is on your list of priorities, then make sure you have a “sign up to email” button on your website. This will help you get more people involved and keep them in the loop.

Email is a great way to keep interested people informed about what you’re doing and when.

To get started with email marketing, we’d suggest taking our free training course on the subject – it’s primarily aimed at businesses, but it can be applied to all kinds of websites.

Monitoring your goals

Now you’ve got an understanding of the kind of goals you should be setting, and the sort of marketing techniques you can use, it’s time to combine the two.

For example, you might decide you want to increase website visits by 30% in 12 months using social media. (If you need more help setting goals, then check out this guide.)

But how can you tell if you’ve met that goal?

The answer here is Google Analytics – a great free tool that allows you to really understand what’s going on with your website. It covers how many visitors you’re getting, where they’re coming from and more besides.

If you haven’t got Google Analytics installed, then check out this guide.

We also have a free Google Analytics training course to help you get to grips with the tool.

Understanding who is visiting your site and what they’re doing on it is vital, so don’t delay.

Summing up

These are just the starting points for marketing your website, and while these tactics won’t cost you much, you will need to be willing to invest your time.

Often, non-business websites can feel that marketing isn’t for them. But in reality, most marketing techniques can be applied to any kind of website. So get out there and start experimenting.