Ask almost any affiliate marketer about publishing monetized web content and the advice they will give you is almost certain to be – “get your own web space!” – and lets face it, with hosting deals like my own favourite service – Just Host – starting from $3.45 per month, it really is such good value it comes close to being free! Certainly features like the unlimited bandwidth and ability to host multiple sites from within the same account, mean that it should not be too long before you at least make it pay for itself.
I too would most definitely give the same advice to sign up for your own web space as early in your affiliate career as you possibly can, but what if you can’t stretch to it just yet, what alternatives do you have for publishing content with your own affiliate links?
Free Blog Hosting Accounts
If you can’t sign up for a hosting account, or maybe you just want to dip your toe in the water before investing, then the first step for many is to set up a blog using one of the free blogging services. Two of the most popular of these being Blogger.com and WordPress.com.
To deal with WordPress.com first, they do operate fairly strict policies on what affiliate links you are allowed to display on blogs hosted there. You can read more here: WordPress.com Forum but in short, this policy is likely to be much too restrictive for the majority of people who want to pursue an affiliate marketing career. It is obviously fine for non-commercial blogs and for learning the ropes in blogging, but probably best to look elsewhere if you have plans to make money from your blog.
Blogger.com has a much more open policy, and you can use your own Google AdSense code and publish other affiliate adverts with no problem. There are plenty of free blog templates available for Blogger too, so you don’t have to just stick with the limited choice provided as standard when you open an account. Blogger.com is considered by many to be a “bad neighbourhood” which should be avoided, and this may limit the number of people willing to backlink to you and possibly your search engine rankings (although I have seen enough high PR blogs on Blogger to wonder if this is actually the case), but it is a great way to get started with zero outlay. I actually still have one of my own Blogger blogs which I still post to occasionally. I’ve considered moving it, but never got round to it as it seems to do just fine where it is!
Free Web Space Accounts
A quick Google search will throw up numerous hosting companies that will give you a certain amount of free web space, and will usually allow you to host a single web site from your account. Some even have more advanced features such as site builders, web statistics, Frontpage support etc. There are two major downsides to most of these services, you will not have much control over your domain name, and they will probably put their own AdSense adverts at the top and bottom of each page of your site which you cannot remove.
I obviously don’t have experience of every free web hosting service, so if you are aware of any good ones that don’t have the same limitations, then please feel free to add a comment below. My own experience, based on a service called Lycos Tripod, which is now Multimania, is that the add placings are so intrusive that it is not easily possible to build a nice looking site. Unfortunately, that is the way they make their money and is just something you have to put up with in exchange for the free service they provide. I still have the account with them but for the above reason, I have to say I’ve not used it for a long time.
In conclusion, I would say that if I was unable to go for my own web hosting account, I would probably stick with setting up Blogger blogs. This will offer you a good deal of scope for on-line earning, and of course the more people who set up good blogs on Blogger, the more chance they will have of shaking off the “bad neighbourhood” tag!
Clearly, the information provided in this post and my other Free Affiliate Tools articles, is aimed at those just starting out in affiliate marketing, but I’d love to hear feedback from my more experienced readers too. How did you start out on-line? Did you use free hosting services at first? How long was it before you signed up for a paid web hosting account?
Free Affiliate Tools Series