In this post I'm going to talk about some of my own monthly expenditures with affiliate marketing so that you'll get some insight into the ongoing costs that this kind of business could have for you.
I'm also going to cover the things you NEED, the things you SHOULD PROBABLY HAVE, and cover some of the things you bloody well might want.
A lot of business online (and I'm sure offline businesses have it too) will be a case of time vs money. You can write your own content (time) or you can hire someone else to do it (money).
Since time = money, then technically all of these are expenses. However, I'm just going to go over the things that actually cost hard earned cash.
Things You Absolutely Need
I'm going to assume at this point that you've got a site set up. Whether you paid us to do it for you, built it yourself from scratch, or a mixture of the two, I am assuming that you have the basic content, the domain name, some images, and the site is basically “done” (though no site is every truly finished).
You'll need hosting. This can cost around $100 a month or more. I usually recommend people to Bluehost, which costs about $75 for a year at the time of writing (cheaper if you pay for 2 years at once).
Let's call this one $75.
I pay a lot more because I have faster, higher quality hosting over at KnownHost, but this isn't something everyone will need.
Of course if you've got one of our sites we will have done substantial keyword research for you, but it's always good to have one of your own, and for those of you reading this who are not our customers, a tool is essential.
I've recommend long-tail pro to more people than I can remember. It's one of those things where the expense will pay for itself time and time again.
LTP is a $97 one-off fee.
Things You Probably Want To Have
Now those above are the only things you absolutely NEED to pay for, because a lot of the other things you can choose to do them yourself to keep costs down.
I used to spend hours trying to find good free images that I could use legally. Even when I did, the site never looked very professional.
I've been using a fotolia subscription for close to two years now and never looked back. My expenses are pretty high there (close to $100 a month), but most of you only need images occasionally or on demand.
Let's say your expenses would be about $20 a month, give or take $10.
These are only “probably should have” expenses because you can do them yourself if you want to save money. I would say you should be paying $10 to $20 an article for 1,000 words.
Yeah, you can probably find some for less, but it is so painstaking to weed through the poorer quality writers that I wouldn't recommend it to first timers. This is also why I created my own seo article service.
Assuming you are outsourcing quality articles, I'm going to chalk this up to $20-100 per month, depending on the quantity and frequency you publish.
Email Autoresponder Service
I know, a lot of you will put this in the “Must have” list, and I would normally as well. The reason it's made it into the “probably” list is because you don't 100% need an email list to make money from your website.
Sure, you'll make a lot more if you learn email marketing, but it's not an absolute must.
You can get started with Aweber for free, but after your first month it is $19 a month. I don't recommend going with MailChimp or other free service providers, because they don't permit affiliate marketing.
If you want to start capturing email address to use with the above service, you'll need an optin plugin. The free forms Aweber gives you are “Ok”, but using something like Thrive Leads or OptinMonster is just going to get you A LOT more results.
Thrive leads is $59 (one off fee).
Other Things I Pay For
As well as all of the above, what follows are things I've paid (or continue to pay) for.
For some of my niche sites I've used The Hoth's back linking services with a good deal of success. Back links alone aren't going to get you success, but they remain a big part of the formula.
There are a lot of different ways of getting back links but a lot of them waste my time. I've gone into more details about the Hoth here.
Generally a package costs from $60-250.
Thrive Content Builder
Let's face it, the WordPress visual editor is a pain. You can do more things with Word than you can with WP.
The thrive visual editor takes a lot of this pain away, and you can create some very attractive pages with ease. Once the learning curve is gone, your sites will never look amateur again.
TCB costs $59, or you can buy the membership to get the themes, leads optin and content builder all in one.
There are lots of different premium themes available. I have a membership to both WPZoom and Thrive (yep, them again.) I pay for the developer's license since I use them on my custom sites.
You would only need a one time fee.
As well as WPZoom and thrive, I have bought genesis and elegant themes in the past.
Basically, get yourself a premium theme, no matter where it comes from.
I bought this because it was almost a no-brainer for anyone involved in Amazon sites. Researching niches, keywords, and finding the best sellers is important to any Amazon site.
Amasuite (read my review) not only gives you fantastic tools to do this (tools not many other places seem to have), but Chris also has created a ton of training videos to go along with them.
This is a very specific product that I would only recommend to people interested in Amazon review sites.
At $297 it isn't cheap, but the value is well worth it and they have a smaller payment plan.
Recently signed up to this as a way of tracking the keywords of many of my and my customers' sites. It also helps you discover new keywords you can rank for, which is a useful plus.
I'm on the $19 per month plan.
Again, I'd recommend this if you have multiple sites but probably not necessary otherwise.
You can do a few checks for free, but I felt the need to pay for majestic as the trust flow and topic flow is very insightful.
This is something most people won't need to even think about in the early days, but I'm listing it to show what tools I use.
I paid £29.99 monthly, which is pretty high for most people but fine for me as it's necessary for the business.
Obviously with the services I run, I have a lot more staff than most people will ever need. In fact most of you will definitely want to start off by doing it all yourself.
If you do need staff, a general VA is probably your first hire. This virtual assistant will do the things you don't have time to do, such as uploading articles, keyword research, or outreach.
Odesk (now called upwork) is the place I go for staff like this, and a good VA might cost you anywhere from $5 to $15 an hour.
Here's an article I wrote about hiring staff on Odesk.
Also you may want to outsource the odd job to fiverr. This is a fairly good place to find logos, or other graphic design work. Be careful of the SEO stuff there (basically: avoid it).
Adding It All Up
So once your site is set up, the mandatory costs are pretty small.
If you went with what most people do (premium theme, premium option plugin, auto responder service, hosting) you'd be looking at about $250 plus the ongoing costs of hosting and auto responder (less than $30 a month).
With the actual set up costs, it's more a case of investing time over money.
Of course, the sites I set up come with a lot of these extras included, and don't take you any time or initial work.