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My First Affiliate Website – Contributed By Steven Marwick, http://www.virtualcards.co.uk

Getting Started

One of the most important things to remember when starting in affiliate marketing is that you will be able to create a better, more informative and ultimately more successful website if you are basing it around a subject you have some knowledge about. If, for example, you consider yourself a bit of an armchair football pundit you should consider using this as the topic of your website. Not only will this ensure that your enthusiasm levels for the project remain high for longer, it should also help you to write better content and persuade visitors to return.

People come to affiliate marketing from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds. Some new affiliates might already have been working in the new media sector and have a handle on the more technical aspects of website building already but many are completely new to website building and feel confused about where to start.

Deciding on a web address

The first step to a successful career in affiliate marketing is to decide upon a web address. Before you decide on a name, remember that this is one of the most important decisions you will make with your new website. The web address is often the first impression that people get about you so make sure the impression it gives is a professional one.

Furthermore, the web address should reflect the kind of products you are promoting so if your website was promoting website design software you might look at registering www.websitedesignsoftware.co.uk

It is good to choose a domain name that “does exactly what is says on the tin” like in the example above as it helps people to find you for the first time. Using appropriate keywords in your domain name is very important as many of the search engines including Google, Yahoo and MSN give greater importance, and hence a better search engine position to websites whose domain names match the search terms typed in by the user.

If you are having trouble finding a domain name consisting of your chosen keywords that is not already taken, it is worth remembering that you can include hyphens in the name. It is also worth remembering that in order to make your domain name memorable to users who visit your website you should not include too many words in the name. Three words is the optimum length.

For example http://www.website-design-software.com

This gives you three keywords and any combination of these entered into a search engine should bring up your website more prominently once your site has been indexed, provided that you follow the other tips on optimising for search engines which will be mentioned in later articles.

It is actually often preferable to use a hyphenated domain name like the one above, as opposed to having the words run together. This is because Google et al see the hyphens between the words as spaces and therefore know that you are using the keywords “website design software” rather than “websited esigns oftware” for example.

Choosing a web hosting company.

As well as selecting a domain name to use, you must select a company to “host” your website. This is a critical decision which can either make running a website extremely easy or a living hell, depending on the quality of the company you decide on. My advice would be to ask around other people who have similar web hosting needs to yourself, see who they are with and whether they recommend them. Remember to find out what you will be getting for your money as there are lots of packages around with wildly varying specifications.

It can all seem a bit confusing at first with all the different terms used as well. One of the most important of these is “Bandwidth”. Bandwidth is a measure of how much traffic your website can handle. Many companies will charge you extra if you go over the agreed bandwidth limit in any given month so it is worth ensuring from the start that you have enough, not just for now but for when your site becomes more popular. Generally speaking, the more bandwidth the better is a good motto to go with. It is measured in Gigabytes (GB) and if you have a choice between more bandwidth and more web space, I would advise you to go for bandwidth.

Web space.

Different web hosts will offer you varying amounts of web space. It is worth remembering that it is extremely unlikely, even if your site grows a lot, that you will need hundreds or thousands of megabytes (MB) of web space.

There are some companies that come with a very good reputation already established and perhaps the foremost of these is 1&1 They are offering six months of free business hosting at the moment and are most certainly worth a look.

To have a more in-depth look at some of the web hosting terms and types of package available, you can skip to the “web hosting: further info” page. This may be too much detail for most readers as it is quite an in-depth piece. For that reason, it is in a separate section, further on in this ebook.

If you have hired a web designer to work on your website, it may be worth leaving the selection of a web host to them as experienced designers will be able to recommend a reliable host that they have used themselves and for clients in the past. Indeed, they may even host it on their own web servers, depending on how large their business is.

Designing your website

Now that you have your domain name and web space, it is time to think about actually designing your website. Some of you may be thinking that your skill as an artist will give you easily transferable skills when it comes to designing your website. Alternatively, you may think that designing a website is totally beyond your capabilities.

Whatever your experience of website design, I would recommend purchasing the latest version of Dreamweaver as it simplifies the process and allows you to build a website without having to delve into complicated code. A basic knowledge of html is certainly useful but by no means required. Other website design programs are NetObjects Fusion and Microsoft Frontpage. Whilst these aren’t as fully featured as Dreamweaver, they are perhaps easier to understand for the novice user.

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