Marketing Just having a vacation or cottage rental website isn’t going to get you visitors. It requires a lot of work to attract people to your site, to get it seen in a Google search and encourage your potential guests to take a look. Spending on search engine optimisation and advertising works but it affects your bottom line so it’s worth exploring methods of getting plenty of visitors for free. Here’s 10 ideas for driving traffic to your vacation rental website. Comment on a blog Commenting on high traffic blogs can be very effective particularly in niche areas. Look for those that allow a link to your listing or web site URL. Read this article on How to Make My Blog for more ideas Get active in a forum When I first started this blog I joined Lay My Hat and started posting there. Not advertising or marketing – just contributing thoughts and adding replies to questions other people posted. This is a great way of gaining some loyal followers who will ultimately do the marketing for you. Pick out a couple of forums in a niche that is relevant to your market – perhaps they attract skiers, birdwatchers, kayakers, hikers etc., and get comfortable with the way established members post. Include a link to your site or listing in your signature but take some time to get involved before mentioning your property. Use Twitter This is a great method of networking with people who will then network for you. As with all other social media opportunities, don’t wade in with heavy marketing and promotion. Balance your contributions with comments on other Tweets; observations; links to great web sites or blog posts; photos of something interesting in your area etc. Make it fun for people to follow you and they will follow you back and put you on their lists, which are then followed by others……..and on and on. Build a Facebook Page There’s no better way of marketing for free. You can spend money if you like on a flashy custom page design but it’s not necessary. Think seriously about creating a page and not just using your personal profile, particularly if you play games. You want people to Like your page so it will spread out to their fans too, and if you have a ton of Farmville updates, you won’t be taken seriously. Here’s 10 ideas to get your page liked from Social Media Examiner Create a Youtube video Give your listing or web site a human side and make a Welcome video. Get in front of the camera and tell viewers why they should rent your place. Take this a step further and create a Youtube channel Post your listing on Second Porch Second Porch is growing and their community is beginning to really gain some traction. Post your listing on there and share it with friends on Facebook Post to your own blog regularly Having your own blog is a great way of driving traffic back to your web site or listing, but to get visitors in the first place you need to post regularly, and make it interesting for people to add to their RSS feeds. Take a look at Rebecca Winke’s blog about her Brigolante Apartments for an example of how to blog interesting topics. Write a guest post Offering to write a guest post on someone else’s blog can be a great traffic-driver as long as their blog has high traffic numbers. Most bloggers welcome guest posters so select a few to target and write a letter introducing yourself and saying why your post could be useful to them. Hey, you can write one for me!! I love publishing guest posts Use Ezine Articles This is a great method of getting your message out. Write short articles on events and attractions on your area(500 -750 words is a good length); use your keywords for optimization; spend some time on a signature block that has your URL, and wait for your article to by syndicated on sites that are looking for content. To check this out, Google the phrase ‘travel insurance for vacation rentals’ and you’ll find an article I wrote in 2006 on the first page. I have never promoted the article – just wrote it and posted it on Ezine Articles and they did the rest. Offline Don’t forget off-line promotion. Create business cards and brochures online ; get them printed by Vista Print, and distribute them. Always carry them with you – I regularly get into conversations with people in supermarket line-ups and can always steer the talk around to my cottage and give them a business card. This works as I’ve had several bookings from this method of promotion.