It amazes me, people still believe that all they have to do is build it and they will come. I promise that is the only movie quote that I will use. Having personally developed well over 100 websites since 1997 I am always stunned by people complaining that there website is a failure and blaming the person who built it. Having a website is only half the battle! You must promote, promote, and then promote some more. No matter how great your product is no one can buy it unless they know about it.
First let me say that having someone develop a custom website for you is very important. Go cheap and buy a prefab website is usually a prelude to failure. Yes they are affordable and I know you are on a tight budget but never forget You Get What You Pay For.
Now to the point. There is a simple formula for success. Spend money = make money. Sounds easy right?
First figure out what you can afford to pay a developer for your website, if you have a product to sell you should be thinking in the $1000 range. Also find a developer who believes in web standards, trust me this is important.
Next figure out a monthly advertising budget and spend it wisely. This is by far the most import advice I can give. Your website is not going to shoot to the top of the search engines or miraculously develop visitors all on its own. While we are on the topic of search engines, keep in mind that a person on the web only has a 4% chance of winding up on your website through a search engine. Most likely they will find your site while browsing on another website. Your best bet, if you can afford it, is to hire a reputable firm to promote your website. They will know what will work and what is a waste of money. If you can not afford to hire a firm, do your do diligence before spending your money. Only advertise on websites that are relevant to your product otherwise you are wasting your money.
This leads to our third point. Believe in the power of link exchange. I do not care what it will do for you in the search engines. The more links you have out their the greater the likely hood that someone will click that link and wind up on your website. If you are on a tight budget this is the best way to promote your website.
This article only covers the basics. Keep an eye out for part two which will have more detail about internet promotion.