Is it Expensive to Run an Affiliate Marketing Business?
On the surface, affiliate marketing one of the best start-up businesses around, as it requires very little in the way of capital investment and all you really need to get started are a computer, electricity, and an Internet connection (all of which most of us already have). Plus a lot of elbow grease and creativity, especially in the early days.
You can definitely bootstrap your way into the world of affiliate marketing, especially at the very early stages. Some affiliate programs (including potentially lucrative ones like poker affiliate programs) don't require that you have a dedicated domain to sign up with their program, so you can create an affiliate account and use their banners and links on free hosting sites or free blogging platforms like Wordpress or Blogger.
Plenty of affiliates have gotten their start that way, as it lets you learn the ropes and how the world of affiliate marketing works without investing a penny of your own money. Slowly but surely you learn what works as far as the correct mixture of content, topics, and ads. Most affiliates start part-time as they already have a day job, so you excitedly rush home from work to noodle with your site, breathlessly checking your stats to see if someone, anyone bought something and made you money (and doing your most awesomest air guitar victory solo when you make your first money as an affiliate).
At a certain point you graduate to the next step up, which is paying for a basic hosting account and registering a dedicated domain name. A lot of affiliate programs require that you have your own hosting, so setting up a domain on your own Web hosting account opens up more possibilities as far as the affiliate programs you can promote, plus it frees you from having to use standard layouts and designs provided by the free services.
With basic hosting packages costing $10/month or less, getting your own hosting package is a no-brainer at a certain stage as you can easily justify the cost based on the profits you're pulling in. Sure, $10 is a lot to spend if you're only making $50/month as a fledgling affiliate, but it isn't really your money anyway, as it's all pure profit.
Running your own domain also opens up scripting and other software possibilities, as now you can install various widgets and programs that let you incorporate things such as forums into your affiliate sites, add social networking tools, and other cool toys that help you develop and market your site.
Before you know it, you find yourself saying: "Ah, this is easy. My blue widget site is ruling the world. What I need to do now is expand and start a new site about purple blodgets." So you do. As well as a site about yellow flidgets, and another about blue stupaks.
Suddenly you're running 100+ affiliate sites and upgrading to a dedicated server hosting package, while trying to find freelancers to write content for you, and a graphic designer, and an accountant, as you're too busy managing your affiliate business, testing campaigns, and negotiating deals with affiliate networks. In the blink of an eye you're writing bigger checks to pay your overhead each month than you made in the entire first year as an affiliate marketer.
To actually answer the question: no; but hopefully some day yes, yes it will be.
Contributing writer Jonas Adamson runs AffiliateTips.com: a guide to affiliate marketing. AffiliateTips has been in the affiliate business since 1999 and is one of the most experienced affiliate guides out there.
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