Marketing and advertising is going to be at least half of your business, if not more. After all, without effective advertising, you can't successfully run a business much less an online business. You could spend thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing your business, but you should know that there are some great ways to promote your business online, for free. Setting up your own website on a free server and getting it into the search engine rankings is the most common way to get free promotion. However, there are many more ways you can get exposure at no cost.
One great way to promote your business online is to use public message boards and blogs. By finding topics that relate to your business, you can pose as a consumer and post comments that are relevant, and suggestive towards a link to your website. You have to be careful, though. Most blog and forum moderators don't appreciate shameless self-promoters, so you need to really look like you're just another person adding useful information to the conversation. If you come off as too pushy or just stuff your links into comments, your postings will get deleted and all your work will be for nothing.
Another free marketing tool that many people don't think of is social networking sites. You can sign up and create a webpage for your business at places like Myspace, Facebook, and Xanga, all for free. You can create custom pages, blogs about your business, and other advertisements to attract people. Depending on your business, these might not be the best choice for your needs, though. For a small home business that isn't excessively professional, these companies are great. If you're running a 100K+ business, however, social networks may be slightly on the juvenile side of things.
If you have friends, use them. You can build a website on a free server for your business, and get it into the search listings for many major search engines absolutely free. For a nice $49.95 a year .com address might be more professional or get you more business. Most search engines allow you to add your website to their listings for free. So you can take advantage of that to get your business more visibility.
One final trick for free advertising is Craig's List. This site is like a giant, free classifieds board. You can advertise in many different areas of the board, and in many cities around the world. There's no cost to sign up, advertise, or post anything, ever. Check it out and see if it might work for your business.
No matter how you decide to market your website, it's important that you find means of effective advertising. There are plenty of ways to promote your business for free, or at a nominal cost as compared to the advertising costs you would normally bear. It doesn't really matter what you decide to do, as long as you take the marketing of your business seriously, your business can succeed.