More often than not, I am asked by a reader of my blog about the cheapest online business to start. Affiliate marketing still remains one of the lowest-cost online businesses that you can start. It doesn’t require much more than a domain name, blog, and web hosting. Getting started shouldn’t cost much more than $12 a year for a domain name and $5 per month for web hosting.
I will share why I feel affiliate marketing is a cheap business to start and why it has unlimited earning potential. Anyone can get started quickly and easily. With consistent effort, you can create a new stream of online income that can help you transition from working a 9-to-5 to working for yourself (if you want).
Why a Niche Blog is the Cheapest Business to Start Online
There are several types of online businesses that you can start. However, none are probably as low-cost as starting a blog. Blogs have been around forever. Starting a blog is the easiest business to start up around.
Anyone can start a blog—completely for free. Yet, if your goal is to earn income with your blog, you’ll need to invest a small sum to get going.
Free blogging platforms are limiting in terms of the income that you can make. The various services will place their own ads on your blog and prevent you from placing any ads of your own.
Besides that, it is not the best idea to leave your content in the hands of a free service that can shut down your account at any time for any reason they want.
Therefore, in order to make money with your blog, you have to treat it as a business from the start. That means spending a little cash. It doesn’t cost a lot to own your own blog.
Here is a breakdown of what you can expect in terms of expenses:
- Your own domain name ($12 average a year)
- Web hosting ($5 or less per month = $60 per year)
- WordPress website software (Free)
They also have outstanding customer service which is a huge plus for me.
If you were to pay for a year of web hosting and your domain name up front, you would spend less than $80 for your own blog.
It is difficult to think of another type of online business that is equivalent in low start-up costs besides a dropshipping business.
Affiliate Marketing – The Best Business to Start with Little Money?
When I’m asked about the best online business to start with no money, I always say affiliate marketing. Of course, many people have no idea what affiliate marketing is.
You may find yourself in the same boat. Do not fear. I will explain what you need to know in the easiest way that I know how.
Affiliate marketing is nothing more than a recommendation. Has anyone ever asked you what is a good restaurant to eat at in your city?
What about a good dentist? Or the best place to get an oil change? Chances are you were able to rattle off at least two good recommendations based on your own experience.
That is affiliate marketing. The only difference is that you weren’t paid for your recommendations. With affiliate marketing, you are paid for every recommendation that someone takes you up on.
How Affiliate Marketing Works On a Blog
There are numerous ways in which you can monetize your blog. However, I prefer and recommend affiliate marketing as my monetization method of choice.
Why? Well, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate programs that you can become a part of. Find a product or service related to your blog’s niche and you’re in business.
Most affiliate programs are generous with their commission structures. I am part of programs in which the commissions range anywhere from 25% to 50% of the sale.
If you promote a product or service that you have experience with and feel your readers will benefit from, it is a win-win for all parties involved: your readers, the company you’re affiliated with, and yourself.
Here is a flowchart of how affiliate marketing works on a blog:
What that graphic is stating is that it all begins with a (1) visitor searching the web for information.
The content on your blog ranks in the search results which visitors then click on to visit your blog. Your blog has the content that is engaging to your visitor.
(2) With your content, you share helpful information as well as product recommendations to help your readers. Those product recommendation links are your affiliate links (the merchant provides you with these special affiliate links to place on your blog.)
(3) Affiliate links are special links that have tracking IDs to give you credit when a visitor makes a purchase on a merchant’s website referred by your affiliate link.
When a purchase is made based on your referral, (4) you receive a commission (a percentage of the sale), which earns you income.
As your blog grows and your posts begin to rank higher, the more traffic you generate, which means the potential for more sales.
My Tips for Starting Your Online Business
If you have read this far, you are likely serious about starting an online business with as little money as possible.
I understand because when I started my own online business, I didn’t have much money to invest so blogging was my ideal choice.
I understood that it would be a lot of work up front but the payoff would be worth it in the long run. Here are my personal tips for getting started:
Choose a Niche You REALLY Like
- Make sure that you have a genuine interest in the topic that you choose for your blog. Since you will be the one creating all of your content, you need to pick a topic (niche) that you can talk about day in and day out without becoming bored. Otherwise, you will eventually give up on your blog. Blogging can be a fun and exciting process if you really enjoy your topic.
Recommend Good Products and Services
- Just because there are thousands of affiliate programs that you can join doesn’t mean that you should recommend any and every product or service out there simply to earn a commission. It’s not fair to the company you’re affiliated with and it really isn’t fair to your readers. I prefer to recommend products that I’ve used myself or that I feel will benefit my readers. When you recommend products that you have experience with, your recommendations will be genuine and easier to write about. Thus, your readers will get your honest opinion and can judge for themselves whether to use the same product or service.
Get Yourself Good Web Hosting (Save Yourself Lots of Hassles)
- Nothing is more troublesome than lousy web hosting. If your website is constantly down, you lose visitors which means losing potential income. Yes, web hosting providers come a dime a dozen and I’ve used my fair share. SiteGround has become my web hosting service of choice due to their quality and most awesome customer service. I have used their live chat support on a couple of occasions and they solved my problems quickly.
Blog Often and Put Your Readers First
- A blog isn’t a blog if you’re not posting content on a regular basis. Creating content often sends a signal to the search engines that your blog is updated on a consistent basis. It is also great for your readers as they notice that you post often which keeps them coming back for more. When you create content, don’t focus only on what will rank (keywords), but create content that will help your visitors. Always put your readers first. Ranking in the search engines will happen on its own.
Be Patient and Win
- Many people are seeking out the cheapest online business to start. When they come across starting a blog, they are often turned off by the process. Writing and waiting is not fun when you’re eager to make some money. No business is an overnight success so you shouldn’t think of a blog as being a “slow” way to earn income online. Like any business, it takes time to develop. It will pay off if you do not give up. The key is being patient. Ask any successful blogger online how long it took before they earned a steady income with their blogs. I guarantee some will say it took several months to a year. It takes time but you can win in the end.
Although blogging is one of the lowest-cost businesses that you can start, it is also one that has an unlimited earning potential.
Find affiliate programs related to your niche that have mid to high commissions (also that you can personally recommend) and your blog can easily develop into your full-time income.