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Any advice on where to go from here? It appears to me that if I want online promotion, I am going to have to pay for it. I have very little knowledge of paid methods except for the obvious banner ads, and the "pay per click" search engines I have heard a lot about on this board. I have also wondered if I should look into getting some good targeted email lists (although I have no idea where). Another thing to consider is that my site is very regional and I think offline promotion methods (i.e. direct mail) might be very effective. Any hints would be much appreciated.
Have you considered using search engine optimization to get free listings in the search engines?
Lots of webmasters do build info sites and later switch them to commercial, after building their link popularity.
One thing you can do is to e-mail other webmasters and ask if they would like to exchange links.