Site-Building Challenge, Day 2: Getting started in affiliate marketingIf you’ve gotten this far, you probably know what affiliate marketing is, and what we mean by our Site Building Challenge.

So it’s probably safe to assume that you’re interested in learning more about affiliate marketing and how you can find great affiliate programs and start building your site.

Now it’s time to get the equipment you need to get started.

Start with a desk and computer

First, you’ll need a place to work. If you want to work out of your house, make sure you’ve got a room with a door that closes and locks from the inside. This will minimize distractions and let you work in peace and quiet. If you’re able to work behind a closed door, you’ll get much more done in a lot less time.

Next you’ll need a computer. Make sure you’ve got a relatively new computer, Mac or PC, that runs the most current version of Mac OS or Windows. If you have a good, private office space that you’ll work from, you can get a desktop computer. If you don’t have a private office space and think you’ll need to go to a coffee shop to work, invest in a quality laptop you can take with you.

Business software you’ll need

Software like Microsoft’s Office Suite is a necessity. But if you don’t already own it, it can be a substantial investment. The good news is you can use similar free, open-source programs as part of a suite called Open Office.

Another option is Google Docs. Google Docs is a free, web-based software suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool. With these applications, all of your files are stored online with Google, but are accessible only to you and anyone you choose to share them with.

FTP program

You’ll definitely need an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program if you’re planning on building your own website. This is the software that allows you to move files from your computer to the server where your website is hosted. Most newer Windows operating systems include a “network” that allows you to browse the files on your website’s server through an FTP protocol. It allows you to upload and download files using the comfortable, well-known Windows format.

For the Mac and PC there’s also a great free FTP program called Cyberduck.

In addition, many website hosting companies include an web-based FTP application in their control panels. Since they don’t require you to do any setup, this is an easy, turnkey option.

Email program

Your computer likely came with a built-in email program, or “client.” for Windows, this is likely Outlook or Outlook Express. For the Mac, it’s likely you’ll have Apple Mail or Outlook for Mac.

However, there are multiple options for email.

A very good free email program is Mozilla Thunderbird. You might also want to consider using a web-based email service like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail. Web-based applications are nice if you plan on traveling or accessing email and files from more than one computer (i.e., when you first get started and you want to check on your affiliate sales while you’re still at work!).

Keyword Research Tool

And the final basic of setting up your affiliate business will be the tool you use to research keywords. If you don’t already know, keywords are the terms people type into search engines, like Google, when they’re looking for things online. The Google Keyword Tool is a great, free resource that can help you build an effective keyword list.

However, we often recommend Wordtracker to new affiliates, because it has a very easy to use interface and makes it much easier to find great keywords when you’re getting started.

Action Items

In conclusion, let’s review the items you’ll need to do before moving on:

  • Secure a desk and private workspace;
  • Purchase a computer (Mac or PC);
  • Install Office or sign up for Google Docs;
  • Install FTP Program (Just install it for now, you can set it up later);
  • Install and configure email client or set up web-based email; and
  • Check out Google’s Keyword Tool or sign up for WordTracker.

That’s it for today. Check back tomorrow, when we’ll show you how to do keyword research for your new affiliate site.