Your first thought on seeing the title of this article is probably, "I'm not going to need a budget because I'm not going to spend any money." I'm sorry, but that's not how it works. If you don't want to spend ANYTHING, you are not going to succeed.
Now that you know you must spend some money, it's time 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. There are others that you can put off until the time you start earning income from your affiliate products. The below suggestions are not carved in stone - they are just a guide. This is an Annual Budget - for the first year of business. Some items that will need to be budgeted for are:
* Domain Name. There is quite a span between the low-cost and the high end cost of domain names. Why does Network Solutions charge $35 when you can get your domain name for much less elsewhere? I don't know, but when I got my first domain name, I went through them because I didn't know any better. Now, I get my domains through http://godaddy.com. They're a big enough company that they're not likely to "go under" and their charges for domain name registration is only $8.95 per year. 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.
* Website Hosting. Here again, fees for web hosting can vary dramatically from company to company. Set up a comparison chart and write down each company you are considering, with columns for Company Name, Price, Disk Space, and Bandwidth. Go to http://google.com and add the first twenty that come up to your chart with costs, etc. When you actually get to the point when you will be purchasing your web hosting, you will drill down further to see what each company offers. Hosting fees will run from $7.00 to $25.00 per month or more. Shop carefully.
* Merchant Account. You probably won't need a Merchant Account, as such, unless you are selling
digital products or products you'll be shipping to a customer. It is a good idea to set up an account with http://paypal.com because a lot of affiliate managers are using PayPal to make payments to affiliates. There is no charge for using PayPal.
* Software and Scripts. You will need, at the least, some kind of spreadsheet to track your expenses and income from your affiliate business. Eventually, you will need a more robust program like QuickBooks or Microsoft Money. If you don't have a spreadsheet software application, you can get one free from http://openoffice.org. This is a suite of tools that works like Microsoft Office. You may or may not need website scripts - depending on how elaborate you want your website to be. Examples would be article management or "tell a friend" scripts. Let's just set at cost at $50 just in case.
* Advertising. For the first few weeks, you will not be spending money on advertising or promotion. But since we are working on an "Annual" budget, let's estimate it at $50 per month or $600. I know that sounds like a lot, but if you want to get the word out, you'll need to set money aside for pay-per-click search engines and ezine advertising.
* 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. For now, we'll set a zero budget, but allow a certain amount later for ebook or how-to videos.
What is the final total? Approximately $800.00. Does that seem extreme? Remember, this is for an entire year. Where else but on the Internet can you start a business for under $1,000? Keep it in perspective. If you intend to have a "real" business, you must treat it as a real business - which includes real expenses.
About the Author
----------------------------------------------------- Jude Wright has been an Internet Marketer for three years. She has just created a product that will help other Internet Marketers keep all their marketing information in one database. Check it out at: http://i-marketingorganizer.com/organizer.htm