5 Ways to Support Small Businesses that Don’t Require Money

It’s common to think that the only way to support small businesses and indie creators is to purchase their products or services. While most of these entrepreneurs and creators would certainly benefit from additional sales, this isn’t the only form of support that they need.

Here are 5 ways that you can support your favorite businesses and creators that won’t cost you a dime.

1. Leave a detailed and enthusiastic review.

Finding new customers is consistently one of the top challenges reported by small businesses and the cost of finding them is rapidly increasing. We can help our favorite businesses lower these costs by simply writing a review. When we write a customer review, search engines like Google register this as a sign that others may be interested in this business too and will begin bumping them up in search results. This doesn’t just apply to Google. Reviews are a critical factor for ranking sellers on large ecommerce sites like Amazon and Etsy. So the next time you purchase a product or service, or find yourself with a few minutes to spare, take the time to leave a review. Need some pointers? Check out these 5 tips for writing a good customer review.

2. Leverage your social media accounts.

Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube will share a creator’s or business’s content with more people if you like their posts/videos and leave comments. Greater visibility means there’s a greater chance that more people will discover and begin following them. This can eventually help bolster sales.

Liking and commenting on content is also just a great way to boost the confidence of entrepreneurs and indie creators. It lets them know that you appreciate the content that you share and continue to support their work.

3. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters.

Blogs and newsletters are a popular way for indie creators and small businesses to share news about their latest projects, products and services. These mediums are especially important for indie writers and podcasters who can potentially receive a commission for the products that their readers purchase. They can also show brands how many followers they have to request sponsorships for their content. This could benefit us as supporters through the discounts they can share.

Even if your favorite businesses do not sell a product or share affiliate links, take some time to click through their links and explore all of the content they’re sharing. This helps to improve their stats and ranking in search algorithms which may help them find opportunities to monetize their content later on. I’m not recommending that we just start clicking on links willy-nilly (this hurts creators). What I am suggesting is that we take the time to actually read through their blogs and newsletters. This will give us time to follow and explore any links that we may be interested in.

4. Turn off ad blockers when you engage with an indie creator’s content.

It can be super annoying to sit through advertisements but, oftentimes, this is the sole source of revenue for many creators, especially when they’re unsponsored. For example, around 3% of YouTube creators receive 90% of the total views and creators need at least 1,000 subscribers to become eligible for advertising. Among those who are eligible for monetization, the vast majority earn less than $100 a year. If they’re using Google Adsense, $100 is the minimum bar that a creator must reach before they can even cash out their earnings. This can take a long time. My mother-in-law blogged for 15 years before hitting this threshold. It clearly takes dedicated effort to earn money from creative projects.

Clip art of white right hand in red shield.
Source: Wikimedia

Part of the reason why earnings are low is because  half of all consumers use ad blocking technology. If you’re one of these people, consider turning your ad blocker off when you’re on a creator’s website or watching their videos. Alternatively, we can whitelist specific websites to allow advertising (view instructions forAdBlock on Google Chrome or instructions for your specific browser if you use the AdBlock Plus extension). The process is a bit more complicated for YouTube depending on the browser you use but it’s still doable (see instructions from Techwiser).

The point is that creators spend a lot of time producing content that we enjoy for free. Show them a little appreciation and help them support themselves by turning off your ad blockers.

5. Share products and content from your favorite creators and entrepreneurs with your network.

Another way that we can help people discover talented creators and amazing businesses is by recommending and sharing their products and content with people in our network. This doesn’t mean that we have to awkwardly market something to our friends and family members. It can be as simple as sharing a link on social media or directly through a text message. For example, did you read an informative article written by an indie writer? Share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. Come across a photo or illustration that made you laugh or smile? Share it in a text message with a friend or pin it on Pinterest. There’s no need to develop a sales pitch, just get in the habit of sharing. You never know, our simple act of sharing may ultimately help a creator keep the lights on for another month or even lead to their big break.

Key takeaways

Unless we’re super wealthy, it’s not always possible to financially support the small businesses and indie creators that we love. Luckily, there are other ways that we can support them that don’t require us to reach into our wallets. We can help lower customer acquisition costs by leaving reviews and sharing content and products with others. This helps others discover them by improving their search rankings and increase their visibility on social media sites. We can also indirectly pay them by engaging with their content with ad blockers turned off. Sitting through an ad is a relatively small inconvenience for the time and effort that these creators put into the content that we enjoy for free.

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