I know this may sound silly, but I really can't answer this question. Some websites/blogs don't spend a cent on advertising, and it ends up being astonishingly popular with a huge fan base. I'm aware of the fact that great content gets noticed easily, but you can't deny that getting lost on the internet happens daily to millions of websites. So my question is: how does an independent website acquire its fan base without getting lost on the internet and without spending money on advertising? How does a website find its audience?
Why does 1 object sink while a nearly identical object – just a fraction of an ounce lighter – floats effortlessly to the top?
Because there's a critical threshold above which you're expanding and below which you're losing ground. There needn't be any qualitative difference between the 2 outcomes. It may be simply be a small difference – a bit more of the same stuff.
That's why it's important to work hard on every aspect of your project – because neglecting any area might cost you your buoyancy.
Think about everything – content quality, types of media, publication pacing, social sharing, email list segmentation, return visit rates, user interface design, cross-marketing, SEM, link building, branding, yadda yadda yadda.
Spending money on marketing/advertising is really about paying someone to do things that you don't want to put the time or effort into doing yourself.
Almost everything the successful sites do follow a formula, and if you know it you can get similar results.
You have to know who to target, what words to use, when to do it, produce worthwhile content, blast every platform, and be available around the clock.
If you aren't producing interesting content though, you aren't going to hit.
There is so much that goes into answering this question. I'll keep it short for the sake of time.
When a website draws allot of traffic and becomes popular without spending any money in advertising is called Organic. To achieve organic traffic has to do with Marketing (non-paid) and SEO.
When we start a project with our clients that are seeking organic results we always start with improving their marketing efforts. Posting on social media profiles, being active members of forums, and groups. We push our marketing content on every platform that we believe will yield the desired results.
With SEO, its not just about content, sure that is a huge factor, but so is the design the website in question, what code is it written in. Are we using the best keywords, are we using the H meta tags correctly, does every image named to represent our targeted keywords? The next step would be to build a link campaign, find other websites that are equal or greater page rank that will exchange links with you.
I hope this helps.
This is the $64,000 question.....There are so many factors that come into play here - competition, relevance, SEO, SEM, content marketing, and the list goes on....The bottom line is that "if you build it they will come" never ever works. A rule of thumb, whatever your development budget is, double it for marketing. You have to tell your story on multiple channels to educate, inspire and engage your audience. So many companies fail because they spend all their budget on development and forget about marketing.... my .02 cents....