How to Save Money on Your Affiliate Marketing Business

How to Save Money on Your Affiliate Marketing Business

One of the mistakes that I see over and over again with new affiliate marketers is overspending when it isn’t necessary to do so. And it’s a particularly sensitive subject for me, because it’s a trap I fell into (and still do occasionally) when I was first starting out.

Here’s the thing…

If you have to put that fancy new research tool on a credit card, you can’t really afford it.

If you’re making the choice between putting food on the table and buying the latest course put out by your favorite affiliate marketing guru, you better darn well go with the groceries.

And if you justify signing on for a high dollar coaching program because you’re just sure that your business income will soon be enough to cover its cost, there’s a good chance you’re just kidding yourself.

I’m not saying this to be harsh. Certainly, there are justifications to be made for using credit responsibly and for investing financially in your education. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

What I’m talking about is the kind of blind overspending without direction that shoots so many affiliate marketers in the foot before they even have a chance to let their businesses grow. Think about it this way – if you invest thousands of dollars in affiliate marketing right off the bat and don’t see results right away, how long are you going to continue to pursue your dreams?

Not long, right? No one wants to get stuck losing side of a business venture gone wrong. Instead, you’re probably going to cut your losses and walk away from what could have been a solid business if you had just managed your expenses sustainably.

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So here’s the real deal on affiliate marketing expenses…

When you’re first getting started, there are only two things you need to buy: a domain name and a hosting account. Everything else – from keyword research to graphics creation to education – can be done for free with a little extra legwork.

(And no, you can’t start an affiliate marketing website for free using Blogspot or Blogger. Free blogs with commercial content on them violate these services’ Terms of Service and can get you kicked off. Don’t put all that work into something you don’t own outright and can’t control!)

As your business grows, you can start to add things that make your life easier – whether it’s adding a commercial keyword research tool that helps you speed up your niche research or an outsourced VA to handle some of your tasks. The key here is that these expenses aren’t necessary to get started, and that you shouldn’t invest money in them if you can’t afford to do so.

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The following are a few ways to keep your spending in check while launching your affiliate marketing business:

Lesson #1 – Only spend money on the projects you’re currently working on.

What’s the point in signing up for an autoresponder program if you aren’t planning to sign up leads or engage in email marketing? Sure, an Aweber account at $19/month to start doesn’t sound like much, but if you aren’t going to use it, that’s $228/year down the drain.

There are so many great resources and products out there that it’s easy to get sidetracked into spending money on things that aren’t immediately relevant to your business. Before you make any big purchases, wait a day or two in order to objectively analyze whether or not the item is something you really need.

Lesson #2 – Keep your expenses in line with your income.

If you have extra capital to invest in your business upfront, that’s great. Go wild and get the best tools on the market. But if you’re like the rest of us – growing your business from the ground up, one day at a time – it’s important to keep your expenses on par with your income.

I’m not saying that you have to break even or make a profit every month – only that if your income is $50-100/month, you shouldn’t be spending $1,000+/month on new tools and educational resources. To keep an eye on this, it’s important to develop a way to track expenses. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet, but there are tons of other business software programs you can use for this purpose.

Lesson #3 – Avoid situations that trigger unnecessary spending.

I know that if I wander into the “Warrior Special Offer” section of the Warrior Forum, I’m going to wind up buying some “great new product” for $37 (or $27, or $17, or some other random price ending in “7”). That’s why I don’t go there anymore, unless I have a very clear idea of what I’m looking for.

If you find yourself getting sucked into long form sales letters, click away from them before you have a chance to read. Or if there’s a particular marketer who’s always convincing you to buy things you don’t need, unsubscribe from his or her list. If you don’t put yourself in a tempting position, you won’t wind up over your head in business expenses.

Are there any business purchases that you have trouble avoiding? Or do you have any tips on how to keep your costs down while launching an affiliate marketing business? Leave them in the comments!

Image: EpSos

23 Responses to How to Save Money on Your Affiliate Marketing Business

  1. Michael says:

    Great post Sarah. Entrepreneurship is about being creative with the resources you have and building your business. Thanks for the reminder to be frugal until your business profits justify the expenditures.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Michael! One of the things I love about affiliate marketing is that *anyone* can do it. You don’t need a fancy office with all the latest technology – you’re right that it’s about working with what you’ve got :)

  2. Jon says:

    Sarah,

    This is a fantastic question:

    “What’s the point in signing up for an autoresponder program if you aren’t planning to sign up leads or engage in email marketing?”

    So often we fall prey to the savvy marketing of the latest offer. In some cases, the product is good and useful. But most times, we just convince ourselves that we’ll find a use for it because “they” are offering so much value.

    If the product isn’t consistent with serving our current project goals; skip it.

    But I just keep a close eye on the projects I’m working on. If there is a tool to reduce time-consuming activities; I’ll consider it. If it’s something that I just can’t code on my own; I buy it (or outsource a small job). Your suggestion here was well illustrated and I don’t think many people place enough emphasis on focus.

    I will say that I keep my “tools and widgets” to a minimum. However, I really can’t help myself when the team at Copyblogger sells something. It’s my weakness; I buy THEM.

    A $2k course? Bought it. Developer licenses for a high-end form generator? Bought it. Premium WordPress theme? Owned. And yet, just last night I bought their latest release: Premise.

    In my defense I’ve used, and continue to use, each and every tool or lesson that I’ve purchased through Copyblogger.

    So, I hear you on having those danger zones like WSO. Thanks!

    Jon

    • Sarah says:

      Jon – There’s always going to be a balance between using time and money. If you’ve got extra money to spend, that’s great and good for you.

      But if you don’t, just don’t kid yourself into thinking that you absolutely must have these tools to succeed. Just about anything can be done for free :)

  3. Adrienne says:

    Great post Sarah,

    You really pointed out very important steps when getting started. We have all fallen into information overload, me included. And spending money on what we believe will be the answer to all of those questions we have.

    One thing I will add is I have now heard 2 testimonials from some bloggers that I know that MailChimp is a great free autoresponder service. They are very impressed with it so far. If you are just starting out and can’t yet afford the monthly charge of an Aweber account, try that one on for size. The only thing I can say is that they don’t support affiliate links so that’s why the domain names are extremely important.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome information. I know it will help a lot of people just starting out.

    Adrienne

    • Sarah says:

      Adrienne – Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve heard good things about MailChimp, but haven’t used it myself, so I can’t recommend it personally.

      You bring up a good point that we (or at least most beginning affiliate marketers) spend money to answer the questions that we have, when we’d learn so much more by just going out and doing things ourselves, or putting a little extra effort into finding the answers for free.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Peggy Baron says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Great lessons that need to be learned with affiliate marketing. It’s funny, though, many of us are attracted to affiliate marketing because the entrance fee is so low… and then we proceed to spend and spend, thus overthrowing the original reason why we started affiliate marketing. :)

    I hear you about WSOs! I don’t go into that section anymore unless I first put a keyword in the search funcion to find just what I’m looking for and not get attacked by all the things that are grabbing at my wallet. lol

    Peggy

    • Sarah says:

      Hahaha – Peggy, two excellent points here :)

      Really, as much as I might preach financial responsibility, I have to remind myself all the time that I don’t actually *need* all the fancy new tools and courses :)

      And yeah, using the WarriorPlus “WSO Tracker” has helped cut down my WSO overspending somewhat, but it’s picked back up again since I started doing one of the Talk Marketing Now shows…

      Can’t win ‘em all, I guess :)

  5. Sarah! I think I have been on your blog before but this is the first time I’ve stopped to comment.

    This is an Excellent topic! I don’t think I’ve seen many people give light to this topic. In fact, I personally dont think I’ve seen ANYONE actually talk about how not to spend as much money on your business. Usually everyone talks about the same chatter “How to make money” – so I commend you for doing so.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Before I really discovered my WHY (why I had become and Internet Entrepreneur in the first place – and I don’t mean “to make money” because that’s just a result of a WHY), thought that if I would buy that SEO training course or the next best coaching program I would be able to quit my job in no time and be a full time internet entrepreneur.

    Boy was I wrong! I invested quote a bit of my savings into my affiliate memberships and training and in the end I was left with tons of courses and coaching programs.

    You made a great point and that is to only invest in projects, course or tools you will be using at the present time. I had an aweber account that I was paying for, for 5 months before I actually set up my marketing campaigns – That money was wasted and could have been put to good use somewhere else.

    I believe that the reason most newbies spend tons of money right from the start is because spending money on your business gives you the false impression that you’re actually accomplishing something. How do you think I know that!? ;)

    And that in fact, could not be farther from the truth. I personally know a handful of people that spend very little in marketing on their internet businesses and depend on word of mouth marketing to continue succeeding.

    Now don’t get me wrong. You have to be able to invest money. Let’s be frank, we’re running businesses not charities but we should know or at least be keen in how and where we are investing our money.

    Great topic. I think you may have just inspired a post on my blog! :)

    • Sarah says:

      Hector – This is my *exact* story right here… Someone made the comment in my Monday night chat group – “My harddrive is much more educated than me when it comes to IM” and that’s absolutely the case for me.

      If I could recoup all the money I invested unnecessarily in courses and coaching, and so on – well, I’d be writing this comment from somewhere much warmer and sunnier than Wisconsin… :)

  6. Jon says:

    Hi Hector! Long time no see ;) I look forward to reading that post Sarah inspired you to write.

  7. […] so I have to admit that I wasn’t all that excited about Tuesday’s “How to Save Money on Your Affiliate Marketing Business” post.  For some reason, it didn’t seem to *pop* for me and I didn’t think it was going to […]

  8. Great post and one that I hope all beginners read 10 times over. I fell into this trap a few years ago starting out. To add to this established affiliate marketers should keep tabs on expenses as well.

    I’ve just been going over my books and noticed I’m spending close to $800 bucks a month on hosting. I have an idea where all the accounts are but I’m also pretty sure I can cut that in half.

    Being fiscally responsible is important for affiliate marketers just as it is for brick and mortar companies.

    • Sarah says:

      Ian – Thank you so much for reading!

      Even though expenses in affiliate marketing can be kept pretty low, they can add up if you aren’t keeping track. Just between hosting, autoresponders and other tools, I can easily spend a few hundred dollars each month on necessary expenses. Add educational products and random outsourced projects, and the costs add up.

      Thanks for the reminder to regularly evaluate what we’re spending – even on the so-called “necessary” expenses :)

  9. […] so I have to admit that I wasn’t all that excited about Tuesday’s “How to Save Money on Your Affiliate Marketing Business” post.  For some reason, it didn’t seem to *pop* for me and I didn’t think it was going to […]

  10. Kent Chow says:

    :) So true that I am attracted to WSO Sales pages and ended up buying a few $7 offers this month.

    They are great for reading and motivating, but don’t really help my core business focus.

    I get to watch out how I spend before making some profit online. Thanks for your friendly reminder. They are all true and applied to myself too.

    I love reading and training. I think executing and focusing persistently is the key to succeed.

    • Sarah says:

      Kent – Like I said, it’s important to know your triggers. A big one for me just happens to be those damn WSOs… They’re usually great content, but too much time educating yourself and not enough time actually executing is a recipe for disaster.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. […] affiliate marketing websites isn’t easy. There are a lot of different steps that go into it, from researching […]

  12. […] tasks. Even simple web businesses have administrative requirements and a VA can help you to track expenses, email new contacts, approve comments on your blog and […]

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