Getting started online feels like a relief to many newbies because it signifies your journey to financial independence. But many people are shocked when the people they trust to teach them continually tell them they have to invest exorbitant amounts of money to get started.
The truth is, there’s a path for every budget. Whether you have plenty of money and are doing this for personal fulfillment or you don’t have a penny to spare, you can start marketing as an online entrepreneur and build a business from the ground up.
The most common way newbies approach it is to have a very limited budget, where you’re paying a very small sum of money in the beginning. Let’s cover both free and low-cost strategies and tools you can use to become a successful Internet marketer.
Setting Up a Site for Peanuts
When you take a course as a newbie that’s supposed to teach you the basics, you may feel disheartened when you read something like, “Set up your site.” There’s often no more guidance than that, and you can bet the companies are relying on your lack of information to pick your pockets in the process.
What happens next is a newbie goes to a site to buy a domain and doesn’t know how to navigate the purchasing process. At every turn, they’re asked if they want to add on things like emails, site builders and more – things they don’t need, but don’t know they don’t need.
You can easily create an email in your cPanel and even forward it to whatever email address you use most frequently, such as a Gmail. You don’t need to pay for emails through a domain registrar.
Likewise, you don’t need to pay for site building tools. Are they cool to own once you have a budget for it? Yes! But they’re not a necessity and you not owning them at first will in no way hamper your ability to be competitive in your niche.
You can use a free WordPress installation to build your website out and it’s extremely easy. You’ll even be able to install whatever theme you want so your site looks the way you imagined it would be, and you can customize and tailor it to your brand.
Aside from domains and site builders, you may also find companies twisting your arm to get more hosting than you need. You’ll be urged to get something based on your fear of site crashes, but the reality is, you can level up at any time, so there’s no need to pay for it early on in your endeavors.
Start out with a simple one-site hosting plan, like the Hatchling plan, which will only cost you $2.75 a month if you prepay for 36 months. Or, go with a monthly Baby plan that will allow multiple sites for under $10 a month.
Don’t get carried away adding on extra security features, email accounts or SEO services that you don’t need in the beginning. No company is going to say you have to buy it now or never, but they will push you into making the purchase, hoping you don’t know any better.
Free Tools to Brand Your Business
When you start marketing your site, and building a name for yourself in this business, you’ll want to have ways of branding that don’t cost an arm and a leg. There are people who spend a small fortune trying to get the phony label “as seen on TV” but that’s not what consumers are drawn to.
They care about niche leaders who step up and serve their needs, but there does have to be some form of recognizability on your behalf to get your name or company known in those circles.
There are free and small cost tools that can help you. Some have free versions, with paid options you can invest in at a later time. First, if you’re using any form of video marketing, make sure you’re using YouTube.
There are other paid business accounts, such as with Vimeo, but when you’re struggling for money, you may not want to spend over $200 a year to upload your videos. YouTube is fine, but always keep copies in case your account is ever banned.
If you’re editing videos, you don’t have to spend a lot on video editing software. Camtasia is one paid tool many marketers use, but there’s a good freeware version called CamStudio that will work when you’re limited in funds.
For those who are making headshot videos, don’t worry about buying a professional microphone, lighting, background or green screens. You don’t need all of that. Just have good basic lighting (even the sun works) and a clean background, like a blank wall or nice space outside.
To increase the engagement with your online content – on your blog, inside your info products or on social networking sites, you’ll want to use a variety of images. Don’t bother paying for a pricey tool to do this in the beginning.
Canva has a free level where you can use their templates to make eye-catching images and presentations (so no need to buy PowerPoint, either). You can log in, create what you need, and download it – all without a watermark.
You can add your name and URL to these creations and use them in all of your online marketing efforts. If you see something like an effect or element you’d like to use, you can pay for it individually without having to pay for an ongoing membership.
Affiliate Marketing to Eliminate Expenses
There are various business models you’re going to be give the opportunity to pursue. Be careful when choosing on because some require more time and money than others do.
Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to get going with your own online business. You’re basically acting as a middleman – connecting hungry buyers with the vendors who sell what they need and want.
Even if you’re on an extremely tight budget and can’t afford to own a domain or hosting, you can use free social media sites to start earning money so that you can then reinvest the profits into your business for your own site.
All you have to do is review and recommend products to others to earn a commission. There are many products and tools you can promote – from hosting and digital courses to tangible items like toys, fitness gear and more.
One of the great things about being an affiliate for digital products like courses is that vendors will sometimes give you a free review copy, especially if you’ve proven to create good, high-converting review videos or blog posts.
So you won’t need to purchase a copy of everything you’re promoting. You can also promote it even if you don’t have a copy. Sometimes, consumers just want the information on the sales page distilled down to the exact benefits they’ll receive if they purchase it.
You can remove the hype and explain what the product is, how it’s supposed to work, and what it will do for them if they get it through your link. You can do the same with tangible products you promote on sites like Amazon, Share-a-Sale and Commission Junction.
There are other business models you can earn money from. You can use a simple Word program to write an eBook, format it as a PDF and upload it to a site like Warrior Plus – but you’ll need a domain and hosting so you can have a sales page.
You can also act as a service provider for other marketers if you want to take that route. Some freelancer sites allow you to have limited access to their bidding capabilities, while paying members get to bid on more jobs.
You could also start selling things on Fiverr – from services as a ghostwriter or graphic designer, to readymade products like private label rights. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up, but they do take a cut of your earnings.
Free Traffic Sources to Generate Revenue
You can use your phone to record videos and upload them to YouTube. On YouTube, you’re allowed to use affiliate links, so not only can the live, clickable link in the description work well for you, but you can use it in the video, too.
You can also use Pinterest now with affiliate links. So you could create a pin about the bestselling toys, fitness gear or marketing courses using a free tool like Canva and then add your affiliate link to the bestsellers page to your Pins to earn money.
Facebook also allows you to use affiliate links. So you can start earning money by using this social site where you engage your target audience and connect them to the products that will best serve their needs.
Instagram allows an affiliate link, too. You can have the bio link or links in your stories and use it to generate revenue from your online activities there. It won’t cost you a dime to use it, but the profits can begin streaming in!
Twitter is another site that allows affiliate links. You can use plain text there or embed images and videos that talk about products you’re promoting as an affiliate. You can then follow and get followed by the people who are your target audience.
You also might be able to use your affiliate link in some forums where you’ve signed up to interact with your prospective buyers. Using the strategic signature file space below your comments, you might be able to drive buyers through your links to certain products you recommend – but every site is different, so double check the terms of service before you go this route.
Networking with others is a great way to generate traffic through your promotions. When you start befriending fellow niche marketers, they will often share the posts you make on social media with their own followers – especially if they’re not in direct competition with you for the sale.
Another way networking can help you is that if you can position yourself as a niche leader, other marketers will sometimes want to introduce you as an authority figure to their subscribers.
So they might invite you to do an interview or webinar with them. Some prefer something more along the lines of a guest blog post that you do – and they’ll usually agree to include a link for you in exchange for the content.
Of course, if you have the type of small budget where you can afford a domain (look for $0.99 GoDaddy coupons) and the most basic hosting, then you can start creating blog posts and capturing the name and email addresses of subscribers.
Use a free listing building tool like MailChimp and build a list whenever someone lands on your blog. You can level up to a paid list building tool later when you can reinvest in your business.
When you’re able to achieve list building, it opens the door for you to be able to promote to people time and time again, rather than once and having them disappear weeks later when you have a new promotion.
Affordable Freelancers to Help with Your Tasks
Sometimes, it helps to have an extra set of hands to handle tasks you either don’t have the time to do, or the knowledge to do on your own. But as a newbie on a budget, you probably feel like you can’t afford help because freelancers are expensive.
That’s true, but when you think about it from a freelancer’s perspective, their main goal is to be competitive for the best jobs, clients and money. When they’re new in that line of business, they often charge a lot less to accumulate feedback, ratings and ongoing income.
When you go on sites posting projects for people to bid on, don’t shy away from those with no track record. These are the people who often undercut their prices so they can get traction on the site.
If you’re hiring someone as a ghostwriter, the main thing you want to look for is the quality of their portfolio. Seeing the work they’re capable of will put you at ease and you’ll pay a lot less than you would for the services of a proven freelancer who has plenty of projects lined up.
Bartering is also an option on the table for you. Once you begin networking with others in this business, you’ll see how some people have opposite skills than you possess. They may know how to create graphics quickly and professionally while you can write like the wind.
You might approach them and offer to create a deal where you exchange services instead of any money passing hands. This works well when both of you are up and coming marketers on a budget.
As you embark on your career as an online marketer, do it cautiously and carefully so that you don’t make any panic buying or pressure decisions. Ask around and see what the alternatives are before blowing your budget on things you don’t need in order to succeed.