Why do I need my own website?
Most online businesses or affiliate marketing programs offer you personal referral links leading to free landing pages/gateways for customers to sign up or buy products, paying the affiliate a commission.
Many affiliates, especially those who are new to affiliate marketing, mistakenly, perhaps naively, think this is all they need and they are going to make their fortune by posting their referral link all over social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
But it will not take long to face problems doing it this way.
Firstly, social media sites block most affiliate links, because they just overload the site with thousands of affiliates ‘spamming’ groups and people’s pages.
Secondly, it will often result in you being sent to ‘Facebook Jail’ or even having your social media account terminated.
Thirdly, it really is not an effective use of your time and effort. It is highly unlikely to get you anywhere near the results you need.
Remember that social media is primarily set up for people to socialise and network, to connect with other people, and they remain free for users because the site generates its revenue from selling advertising. So if you are doing business, it is understandable that the site will want you to pay to advertise your business.
How does having your own website solve these problems?
Social media and search engines hate spam, they hate it because their users hate it, understandably. Do you get annoyed by masses of junk mail coming in your letterbox and cluttering up your home? Well, that is what thousands of the same old, same old adverts do. They also hate it because it costs them money, it costs them to store it and it costs them to get rid of it. Would you like it if your whole street dumped their garbage in your trash and it cost you to get rid of it? That is what spam is like. When the same domain name, with referral links in it, is posted thousands of times, in a very short time period, the social media platform will mark it as ‘spam’, regardless of how legitimate the program or product you are advertising.
On the other hand, they LOVE individuality. They embrace creativity and reward uniqueness. They love it when their users like finding articles they enjoy reading, that they find genuinely interesting and helpful. That is what you can use your own website for.
Think about what you yourself enjoy reading on the internet – do you want to be bombarded with adverts all the time? Or do you want to read material that really helps you in some aspect of your life?
Having your own website allows you to really connect with people, based on shared interests. It affords you the opportunity to build a relationship with people. People are naturally cautious, and rightly so, particularly on the internet, where fraud and scams are rife. Because of this, people will generally only buy from someone, or accept the recommendations of someone, they grow to know, like and trust.
Relationship-building takes time, and you need a way to keep connecting with people, to keep them interested in what you have to offer. That does not happen if you are just posting ads on a FB group or social media site – those ads are simply glossed over and forgotten in the blink of an eye, or people have just become ‘blind’ to them and avoid those pages altogether. So all your work in posting them is wasted. At best, your ad may be seen once and then get buried in a heap more spam that follows it.
Your time is far better spent in writing your own articles, or blog posts, on subjects people really want to read or know about, that entertain or satisfy a need, like knowledge. People don’t want you to sell them a product, they want you to help them solve a problem! Your website helps you to describe the problem they might be having, connecting you with a common purpose, making them relate to you, and then you can offer them the solution.
These subjects are called ‘niches’. You have seen these kinds of websites, often called ‘blogs. They may be about gardening, camping and caravanning, food and recipes, arts and crafts, business and technology, health and beauty. When you write a great article on whatever subject you are passionate about, and then you share that in various places, you will attract people with similar interests to read it. They will have friends interested in the same subjects, so they will share it. They will do your advertising for you! Also, they will probably keep coming back to read more! They may also comment on your website. All of these hits, shares and comments add value to your website and, in time, that gets you ranked higher in search engines such as Google.
Also, as your site develops and grows, your older posts will still be visible and get more views, they will also rank in Google, especially as you learn SEO (search engine optimization) skills. You will learn more new skills, like how to grow a subscriber list, so the same people will keep coming back to your site because they get notified when you publish new posts. You will learn how to build a ‘list’. These extra skills are outside the scope of this article, but are you beginning to see how an online business grows?
But how do I make money from just writing about whatever I like?
Go to Facebook and find a website article that one of your friends has shared – not a newspaper or magazine story, but an interesting article written by an individual person, perhaps a recipe or a ‘how to’ article.
Study that article. Look out for these elements
- a problem is identified and a solution is suggested
- links in the text to show you where or how you can buy something the writer is describing
- banners and adverts in the sidebars
- a popup box inviting people to register for a newsletter, or a subscribe box somewhere on the page asking you for your email address
All of these elements are ways that the writer is monetizing their website.
- The content is providing the attraction for the reader to visit the website.
- The links may lead to a shopping site, from where the writer is earning affiliate commissions. The banners and adverts will also generate income.
- And the newsletter and/or subscribe options will allow the ‘blogger’ to invite readers back to future articles on the site, and will allow them to promote products in their newsletter.
I don’t know how to build a website or blog. And what will it cost?
Learning how to build a website is just like learning how to do anything else. You don’t know how to do it until you decide to commit to educating yourself, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Does a surgeon attend one class of medical school and consider themselves qualified to perform surgery?
Thankfully, building a website is so much easier and far less dangerous than performing unqualified surgery. It is also soooo much easier than it was years ago, the designs and templates are built for you, you just customize them to your needs. Your own website will be constantly evolving as you add to it, and learn new skills in the process. However, it is certainly possible to have one up and running within an hour or two.
Fortunately, there is so much help available to you, most of it absolutely free, if you really want to learn.
You can get your own website very cheaply, even for free, however there are pros and cons to using a free website hosting service, and as the investment for a paid self-hosted website is very small (starting from $1/month) it is a wise choice to realise your future business is worth that investment.
Two of the leading free website providers are Wix.com and WordPress.com.
They loan you some space on their servers, and you can choose a name, however your website address will be formatted like this http://yourname.wix.com/sitename or http://yourname.wordpress.com. Some people find this off-putting as it can be considered less professional than http://www.yourname.com.
They both have templates designed for you to start from, and customise to your own needs.
They run their own advertisements on the website you create.
Wix is very user-friendly and easy to set up. You can have a website up and running within 15 minutes.
Here is a video to show you just how easy it is to setup a Wix website. If you do not speak English, you can change the subtitles in the video to your own language
- Wix.com allows you to place your own affiliate links and banners.
- Unlimited access to all of the Wix Support step-by-step walk-throughs, articles, video tutorials, and more
- As your business grows, you may need to upgrade your website. Upgrades may include needing or wanting to:
- Increase your bandwidth and storage
- Connecting your own domain name
- Removing Wix logo
- Your Wix website cannot be moved (migrated) to WordPress platform at a later date.
WordPress is certainly the most popular and versatile website and blogging platform, with lots of free tools available.
However, WordPress.com is very restrictive about monetizing your website. I remember when I had my first blog a few years ago. I spent six months building it up, writing articles almost daily, and promoting it. However, when I learned how and began using affiliate links, one day I logged in to find my site had been suspended! All that work went down the drain, I was not happy, in fact I was devastated! I did get my website reinstated, with a warning that it was not to be used for affiliate marketing, but for me, I realised that if I wanted the potential of making an income from my website I could not rely on free WordPress.com.
There is an upgraded version of WordPress.com but that can work out more expensive than getting self-hosted WordPress from the start.
However, if you are completely new to WordPress, it is a great place to get a website and have a practise before investing in self-hosted WordPress. Your website can be backed-up and moved across to your new hosting provider.
Paid (self-hosted) WordPress websites
If you can afford the few dollars each month to invest in your business, this option really does make the most sense.
You will have complete control over your website, and you will have your own domain name of http://www.yourname.com. A domain name of your choice is usually a free extra bonus when you sign up for your hosting account. You will need to renew it after a year, but this is very cheap, around $10 per year.
Also, you will be get emails addresses at your own domain, e.g. email@example.com. This helps to make your business more professional, and later when you set up your email list, that type of email is less likely to end up in your subscribers’ spam folders.
I highly recommend this free video course on Udemy Learn how to quickly build websites using WordPress. Delivered by Chris Du Toit , he explains everything very clearly and basically for an absolute newbie to understand. It starts with the very basics, he walks you right through the process.
I do hope you find this useful.
Challenge for my team
If you are already on my SFI team and you do not yet have your own website, I would like to set you a challenge – perhaps you can set it as your monthly goal – please use the examples I have given here to set up your first website. It does not matter whether it is a free or paid one. I would just love to see you take a step in the direction of achieving the better lifestyle you desire.
When you have it set up, however basic, but personalised for yourself, please send me your website address. I will be happy to see it. If you need any further advice, please email me or send me a private message in SFI.