The popular phrase, “You have to spend money to make money” gets thrown around so often in the world of internet marketing that it’s practically accepted as law.
But here’s the thing… While you will need to cough up some money for a domain name and web hosting plan (more on that in a minute), nearly everything else that you’ll need to do to build, launch and run successful affiliate marketing websites can be done for free. In fact, spending too much money – especially if you aren’t making any money yet – is one of the fastest ways to sink your fledgling business.
Here’s what you need to know to save money on your internet marketing business and keep yourself afloat from the start:
Tip #1 – Web hosting
When you’re first starting out with internet marketing, sign up for the smallest web hosting package you can. Hostgator, BlueHost and most of the other major web hosting companies offer beginning plans that will allow you to host multiple domains on a single account, for just a few dollars a month. As your business grows, then you can upgrade to larger plans, reseller accounts or even VPS services – but if you don’t truly need the features these accounts provide, why pay extra for them?!
Of course, when it comes to web hosting, don’t fall into the trap of free hosting. Too many beginning marketers want to cut costs by hosting their first websites on free blogging platforms (like Blogspot, Weebly or WordPress.com) or on free traditional hosting services offered by less-than-reputable providers.
The problem here is that you’re building your website on shaky ground. Most free blogging platforms contain anti-commerce clauses that prohibit sites built with commercial intent. All it takes is one whiff of profit-generating activities and your site could be shut down without warning. The same goes for building your pages on “fly by night” hosts, who can cut their services without notice at any time, erasing all your hard work in an instance.
Instead of trying to cut corners here, do yourself a favor and set up a small hosting account from a reputable, traditional web hosting provider at the start of your internet marketing career.
Tip #2 – Domain registration
Truly, the only two expenses you must pay for at the start of your internet marketing career are a web hosting account and a domain name. But while you have quite a bit of flexibility in choosing the right hosting account for your needs, buying domains is much more straightforward.
Typically, domain registration costs range from $8-$20 for a .com/.org/.net domain and even less for a .us/.biz/.info name. There are other TLDs on the market, though most people will find the best SEO results from using one of these domain extensions.
To save money on your domain registrations, take the following steps:
- Whenever you purchase a new hosting account, you’re typically offered one free domain name, so be sure to take advantage of this perk.
- Most of the major domain name registrars (including Namecheap, eNom and Name.com) offer newsletters that promote occasional sales or registration coupon codes. Join as many of these lists as possible. Since you can point any domain at any hosting account, take advantage of the best deals wherever and whenever you find them.
- Consider bulk registration services. If you get to the point in your business where you’re registering multiple domains at once, look for providers (like GoDaddy) that offer a discount for bulk registrations.
Tip #3 – Internet marketing courses
Internet marketing products typically come in two varieties – valuable information and outright scams. But unfortunately, any decent copywriter can make the bad apples look good, making it incredibly difficult to weed out the good from the bad.
The result? Too many beginning internet marketers get conned into buy crap products at expensive prices. When the methods they’ve learned in these rip-off reports don’t work, they conclude that internet marketing is a scam that’s too expensive to pursue – preventing themselves from ever experiencing the success that a legitimate affiliate marketing business can create.
So instead of wasting money on scam courses, ask yourself to weed out the good products from the bad:
1. Is this product recommended by someone I trust? Anyone can buy testimonials, so don’t put too much stock in those. Instead, find a few marketers you trust to promote good products and only consider the products they’ve recommended.
2. Can this information be found for free? Often, if you’re looking for “how to” information (for example, “How to install WordPress”), you can find it online for free by running a Google search for your question. Instead, spend your money on strategic information that will teach you techniques other people have tested and developed.
3. Does this information relate to my specific business model? Sales letters can be quite persuasive, and it’s easy to get caught up in the promise of the new programs they sell. Unfortunately, if you take advantage of too many of these (say, buying a PPC course when your business model calls for SEO promotion), you’ll be too caught up in learning new systems to ever make any forward progress.
Tip #4 – Website building tools
One final area where beginning marketers tend to overspend is with website building tools. Keep in mind that – no matter what the sales letters floating around out there will tell you – nearly all website building activities can be done for free. Remember, keyword research can be done using Google’s External Keyword Tool, websites can be built using WordPress and free themes, and links can be built manually.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for professional tools. Investing in a good keyword research tool or link building program can help save you time that can be used to work on other, higher priority areas of your business, leading to greater profits overall.
However, for most new marketers, it’s a good idea to wait until your websites are generating some income that can be reinvested into the business in the form of time-saving tools. If you have to put your purchase on a credit card, or if you’re justifying the purchase costs based on how much money the new tool will make you, you aren’t making responsible financial decisions.
By being sure your underlying business model is sound before making significant financial investments into it, you’ll protect yourself financially and give your affiliate marketing sites the time and resources they need to grow.