Even if you use an online site builder or a content management system such as WordPress, at some stage in your affiliate marketing career (probably sooner rather than later!) a little knowledge of HTML is going to be needed. After you’ve mastered some HTML, or started building your own pages, a knowledge of using FTP applications will also be most useful.
So in part five of my – Free Affiliate Tools – series we are going to take a look at what free resources are available as a reference for Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), what free HTML editors are available, and I will also point you towards some free File Transfer Protocol (FTP) applications.
Even if you don’t aspire to writing entire sites using HTML, you will certainly need to learn a few HTML tags in order to insert links into articles or to add features to Squidoo lenses etc. A lot of people find HTML a bit scary, but in essence it is only a syntax to tell web browsers how to display information. I have to say I’m far from an expert at it myself, and keep a well thumbed copy of HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference at the side of my PC! But armed with this and a few useful reference sites on the web I can pretty much cope with all the HTML I need to for my affiliate marketing projects.
One of my favourite online HTML reference guides is w3schools.com. This lists all the available HTML tags, which you can click on to provide further details on the elements and attributes that are allowed for that tag. It also provides an example using each HTML tag which you can try out and experiment with.
One of the great things about HTML is that it is a piece of cake to play around with and test, just open a Notepad document, cut and paste the example HTML code from w3schools into the document, and then save it with a .html extension in place of the normal .txt extension. Now go your web browser, select file – open-file and navigate to where you have saved your test .html file and the browser will display the results of your work. Make modifications in Notepad, save and then hit F5 in your browser to see if your changes worked!
Another very useful area of the w3schools site is the colour picker. Every colour that a web browser can display has an associated Hex value, therefore a reference to these values is essential to get your site or elements of your articles looking the way you want.
Here’s a simple example of what I’m talking about above using the HTML “table” tag:
First, save a file in Notepad with the HTML code you see below.
Browse to that file in IE or Firefox and you will see the table below displayed.
In this second example I’ve added the attribute “bgcolor” and assigned it a hex value.
This has diplayed a green background colour across the top row of the table.
The above was just a simple example, but hopefully it illustrates how easy and painless it is to do a bit of experimentation with HTML, and mastering just a few commonly used tags should prove really useful to you.
Free HTML Editors
There is no getting away from the fact that professional site building tools such as Dreamweaver and MS Frontpage require a fairly large investment in cash, particularly if you are just starting out or you are not sure if you want to build your own sites from scratch in the long run.
For the most part, I myself either use the free site building tools provided by my web host or I use WordPress. However, it’s still a good thing to have a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor available to you when you need it. I use a free HTML editor called Kompozer and so far it seems to do everything I ask of it, although I’m sure a more serious web developer could find things to criticise. As with any HTML editor, it will take a little time to get your head around, but with a little effort it is pretty straightforward to produce simple web sites.
Kompozer certainly isn’t the only free HTML editor available, so you may want to try out some others. The Free Country is a good resource to find descriptions and links to some of these applications.
Free FTP Applications
Once you have mastered building HTML pages with your new free HTML editor, you might be wondering how you get those files across to your web host’s server for publication. That’s where File Transfer Protocol (FTP) comes in, and although HTML editors like Kompozer do have built in FTP utilities, you will be better served by something that gives greater visibility of what is going on.
The other important use for FTP utilities is to allow you to back up your web files independently from the backups your web provider carries out. This is vital, once you’ve established yourself as an affiliate marketer, those files are the life blood of your business. What would happen if your web provider went bankrupt? Would you be able to access your files? How would you transfer them to a new provider? Best to make sure you always have your own backups to hand just in case the worst happens.
FileZilla is my current favourite, but there are many other popular FTP applications. FTP Commander comes to mind as one I’ve personally used in the past. However, the Free Country lists several different free ones for you to try out.
The image below is a screen grab from File Zilla, it shows the login window at the top, for which you will need the FTP host name, username and password that your web hosting company supplied to you. Below that, the display is split into two halves, one showing your local PC’s files, and the other the files on your web server. This makes it simple to select files to upload to the web server, or to backup to your own PC. It is barely any more complex than handling files using Windows Explorer.
So that concludes part 5 of my – Free Affiliate Tools – series. I hope it has given you a small insight into the free tools and resources available for producing HTML and for managing files on your sites using FTP. In the sixth and final post of – Free Affiliate Tools – we will look at free affiliate marketing reports and guides that you can use to get your affiliate marketing career kick started for the minimum outlay.
Free Affiliate Tools Series