Most internet marketers who are just starting out don’t have a large budget to work with. Until you start turning a nice monthly profit that you can plow back into your business bootstrapping is your best way to go.
It may sound crazy but starting your online business without much funding is usually preferable to starting with deep pockets. Why? Because it makes you scrutinize every single decision you make and forces due diligence that increases your chances of success. Frugality eliminates waste and drives you to find ways to make every penny count.
Three years after I launched my natural anti-anxiety product Panicyl a new competitor entered my niche market. I quickly noticed that despite being new and completely unknown they appeared in the number one slot in Google Adwords for most of the market keywords. They aggressively outbid the PPC ads of all their competitors (including mine) to get those top spots. I thought this rather odd since they had zero market share, zero branding recognition, and were clearly overbidding for these ad positions.
After only a year this new company disappeared from the search engines, removed their website, and closed shop forever. Clearly they had solid funding but foolishly wasted most of those funds without thinking their long-term strategy through. This is a perfect example of what happens sometimes when you have too much money to spend and care less about where it all goes.
So how do you bootstrap as an affiliate marketer?
Meticulously Plan And Budget: Planning is vital to your success especially if your budget is tight. You need to write down your plan of action including where you’ll spend the money you do have. The key is to start making a profit before your money runs out and your online business dies. Its a race against time so the longer you make your money last the better your odds of success online are.
Use Free Tools And Spend Strategically: Fortunately affiliate marketing requires very little capital up front to get started. There is little overhead and you can get into the game using mostly free tools. You really only need a domain name and a website. A domain name is still dirt cheap but what you cannot skimp on, in my opinion, is your website. There are free website platforms out there but they come with serious limitations that will become a nightmare later once your business takes off. So the one thing you need to spend money on is a hosting account for your website to avoid these problems. I have a step-by-step ridiculously-detailed tutorial on building your first website here: build an affiliate website.
Be Prepared To Put In A Lot Of Sweat Equity: Since you’re probably not equipped to pay for outsourcing yet you’ll need to do the majority of work yourself. It’s not hard but it takes time and dedication when you’re first starting. For the tasks you don’t think you can do well the best place for you to find professional help cheap is on Fiverr. Most outsourcing jobs there are only five bucks and its surprising how much work people are willing to do for that amount of money.
Master Free Traffic Methods: Don’t make the same mistake the supplement company made that I described before. DO NOT jump into PPC advertising until you know what you’re doing. It’s expensive and if you’re not careful it can kill your budget in a very short amount of time. Instead focus initially on all of the free traffic methods: Craigslist ads, blog comments, search engine optimization, and about a million social media options are available for you to drive free traffic to your site and your offers. PPC advertising is an art in itself so leave that until later when you’re ready to put in the time to learn it and test it properly.
Retain A Tight Focus: Start with one website in one niche and learn the business while keeping a laser focus on only your first site. Don’t dilute your efforts by trying to build five sites in five different niches. You’ll have plenty of time for expansion later on.
Be Passionate And Have Fun: No amount of startup capital can make up for a lack of passion. Affiliate marketing is really fun but only if you pick a niche that you truly enjoy. Put your own unique spin on your topic and give people a reason to come back to your website time and time again. If you truly believe in your idea, take the risk and dive in. There is plenty of room for you here.
Form Friendships, Partnerships, Masterminds, And Joint Ventures: This is vital. The people who succeed in affiliate marketing are the ones who never fear competition. This is relationship marketing so make friends, share ideas, and form partnerships in your niche. Your ultimate goal should be to become the go-to person in your niche.
Affiliate bootstrapping is easy. The affiliate marketing community is a very generous one so once you establish your own online dynasty make sure you give back too.
Photo Credit: @jbedrina Flickr via Compfightcc