Thursday, December 14, 2006

Low Budget Affiliate Marketing

by: Ian Simpson

You want to start an online business, but don't have your own product to sell. But you do have the option of starting with affiliate marketing - selling other peoples' products for a commission. Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money. In just the last few years, affiliate marketing has become a very powerful force in ecommerce. Everyday, thousands, if not millions, of merchants rely on affiliate marketing to drive their businesses.

So, is online affiliate marketing right for you? Well, you will never know unless you take the necessary steps. If you don't try, then you cannot expect to succeed. Make today the day that you commit to changing the direction of your life. However, like any other business, whether it's online or off line, affiliate marketing cannot guarantee you success unless you work at it.

As with any business start up, and affiliate marketing is no excpetion, you will need to spend some money on the basics to get you started. However, through proper budgeting, your initial outlay can be reduced. So, you need to decide how much money you can afford to invest in your affiliate marketing business. There are some expenses that you will have if you want to be successful and there are others that you can put off until the time that you start earning income from your affiliate products. Some items that you will need to budget for are:

Domain Name. The domain name should relate to the subject and keep your domain name simple and easy to remember. There is quite a span between the low-cost and the high-end cost of domain names. If you shop around, you may even be able to find something less expensive. But make sure it's a well-established company! You don't want to lose your domain name once you have decided on it! You will likely get a better deal if you register your domain name for two or more years in advance. Namecheap.com and Godaddy.com are both excellent domain providers.

Website Hosting. Web hosting fees will vary dramatically between hosting providers. Set up a comparison chart and write down each company you are considering. Some companies offer rates as low as $2 a month, while others charge over $100. The highest rates don't always translate into the best service. Some of the lower-priced hosts offer a reliable, stable environment that allows your website to be accessed around the clock for years. Hostgator.com provide quality hosting at reasonable prices. Shop carefully and if possible avoid free hosting which can be unreliable.

Merchant Account. You don’t have to invest thousands of dollars to open a merchant account. Find a merchant account vendor through a local financial institution, like a bank, and discuss the possibilities that will best suit your business and your customers. A merchant account will let you start accepting credit card payments for customer purchases, which will enhance the shopping experience for most customers and earn your company a progressive reputation. Never assume you will have extravagant monthly charges when you open a merchant account. Shop around, ask questions, and compare costs to get the best low cost merchant account available for your business. Your customers will thank you with repeat and additional business.

Software. You will need to track your expenses and income from your affiliate business and the simplist way is to use Miscrosoft Excel or similar program. Seeing your expenses for the whole year is a great way to keep them under control. What is the final total? Does that seem extreme? Remember, this is for an entire year. Keep it in perspective. If you intend to have a real business, you must treat it as a real business.

Advertising. The best marketing tip you will ever hear is to advertise your product or business. In today's market, anyone in business knows that advertising is the backbone to their success. Even with the greatest product on the planet, a product that you know everyone needs and wants, without advertising, it's just an idea going nowhere. Make sure you check out the best ways to advertise your business. It can be a fun, profitable, and easy experience with the right tools.

Education. Ongoing education is going to be extremely important to your affiliate marketing success. You will not have to purchase a lot of educational materials if you don't want to. There are many free resources, such as newsletters, that you can study. Sign up for a few newsletters and use the information to gain experience.

Affiliate marketing can be a a great way to create a business on the internet but you will need to learn and understand the basics before you set off on your online adventure. Choose your affiliate programs carefully and make sure that you get the support and backup from the affiliate program.

About The Author

Ian Simpson reviews and writes about software and informational products on the internet. Further affiliate business advice can be found at http://information4income.com/sfpr.

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