Don't Pay Too Much
Having been involved in Affiliate marketing for while I have seen a number of ‘newbies’ start out on their ‘online adventure’ paying far too much for basic Internet facilities. Every now and then, I feel an overwhelming need to make a couple of important things known to the thousands who, every day, make their first step towards Affiliate Marketing or other Home Based Business.
It seems, as with many things in life, the new, uninitiated or young tend to give in to excitement and their urge to 'get moving' by using or buying the first facility that comes along. A fatal and costly mistake, especially on the Internet, where there are so many who are comfortable with selling something for more than it is worth compared to other options available.
To begin with, you need an Internet presence to be online at all, so the first thing is a Domain name. Domains (the 'address' of your website - like a phone number) can be chosen by using one of the many facilities available to see if your choice is available (experience shows shorter domain names are more 'user friendly' and more easily remembered, obviously).
To check the availability of a suitable domain name, go to: http://www.mydiscountdomains.com and select a domain name which is available.
As a home based businessperson, it doesn't matter if you use the .com, .net, .biz or any of the other types of domains. You just can't use those like '.gov' that are reserved for specific types of website (.gov is obviously for Government concerns and Departments etc). At this time, I recommend '.biz' as it still has the largest number of domain names available compared to '.com' or '.net'. A basic domain should not cost more than $20, but can be as little as $8, so shop around.
Having done this, you need to get your domain onto a Host Server. This basically means you have to have it 'installed' onto a public access server (not the same as your Internet Service Provider like AOL - ISP's just supply access to the Net - they don't 'host' domains) so people can access it or 'dial' it up. You need a Web Hosting company to do this and these offer a myriad of different plans and prices for all the different needs of the industry. As a Home Based Business just starting out, you don't need a terrible lot of anything to begin with, so the plan you choose should be quite reasonably priced. As little as $3 per month will get you up and running easily, with all the features you're likely to need.
The first consideration is 'Disk space'. This is the same as the room on you PC's hard drive, in that it simply means the amount of space you will have available on the server to put your website, with it's different pages and images etc. To start with, you don't need any more than 100 - 200 megabytes (each average web page takes about 20 - 40kb plus images, which are often used on many different pages, like your logo, 'header image’ or navigation buttons).
The second consideration is 'Bandwidth'. This is the amount of information (in the form of the web pages and images you build your website with) that the server will send to people visiting your website. You see, each time a website is visited, the person looking at it is actually downloading to their browser (as opposed to ‘downloading to disk’) that is, they are being sent all the information that makes up the web page being viewed. This all adds up to bandwidth and in a hosting plan it is referred to in Gigabytes (1 Gb =1000 Mb) per month. Starting out, you will find 5 - 10Gb per month absolutely plenty. You can generally update or increase these limits easily and cheaply.
Other considerations regarding the needs of your home business website are more complex and involve things like how many email accounts you can have, as you will no longer need to rely on your ISP email or free accounts with MSN or Yahoo etc. You will have your own domain and will have email addresses which you will name, like 'email@example.com. This is far more impressive and professional than the 'dime a dozen' free email accounts that everyone has.
Other facilities you may have or want available for your home based business website are Guestbooks, Forums, Databases, SSL (secure socket layer), Shopping Cart, FrontpageÒ Extensions (allowing you to use the popular MicrosoftÒ website building and editing program FrontpageÒ). There are so many options, most of which you may not understand or need at all, ever, but some you will.
One specific option which a home business website, especially Affiliate related, should have available is the ability to create FREE and either unlimited or numerous 'Sub-Domains'. This facility allows you to create mini websites (although they may not be so small) within you main Domain. For instance, if your domain name is a 'generic' name like www.online-plus.biz and you are marketing brooms, you can create a separate website with a URL, which will look like this www.brooms.online-plus.biz . You can do this as many times as you are allowed sub-domains and it is extremely handy and cost saving for Affiliates and those who wish to 'diversify' but not have to get a new domain for every product. This is why it is wise to choose a domain name which is 'generic', which means it has no specific meaning and can be combined with anything and not look out of place. For instance, if you choose www.brooms.biz, then you can hardly use it in a website which deals with Viagra!! (www.viagra.brooms.biz ??? ). Although, there are some strange looking domain names out there??!!
About the Author
Stephen Brennan runs the 'Home Based Business and Affiliate Center' - http://www.online-plus.biz, is publisher of 'Home Based Biz' newsletter and is the author of 'The Affiliate Guide Book' - The Definitive guide to becoming a successful Internet Affiliate (at little or no cost) - available at http://www.ebooks.online-plus.biz