Business Startup Tips

Starting a Travel Affiliate business can range from being as easy as starting a blog, to as difficult as creating a portal.

Here are several ‘how to’ suggestions based on our experience In the travel affiliate space:

Determine your focus (see our “Niches to Consider” page for suggestions) before you begin your research – product research, keyword research, competitor research, etc.

Choose a domain name that is relevant, and if possible, contains your primary keyword or keyword phrase.  There are literally hundreds of Domain Registrars out there.  We use Moniker for their great pricing, and since they’ve been in business a long time, are stable, reliable, easy to use, and have great support.

Choose your website hosting company; it’s not necessary to have your domain registrar and hosting company be one and the same.  We advise shopping around to find the best combination of price and features – along with 24×7 telephone tech support – for your site hosting.  We use 1&1 for site hosting on most of our sites.

Planning your site – many successful Affiliates have just a single “sales” page site to pitch their product, others use a content-heavy, multi-page site with carefully placed ads. Study your most successful competitors and decide exactly what approach you want to take before you begin building anything.

Building your web site – unless you have deep, deep pockets, consider starting small and grow your technical sophistication in parallel with your revenue growth, and even then only as needed.  If you’re not a web designer/developer, there are free tools available such as WordPress or 1st Page that you can use to get a site up quickly that looks professional.

For email hosting, it’s imperative to be accessible – if your customers can’t reach you, they won’t trust you.  If they don’t trust you, they won’t buy what you’re selling.

Have your preferred method for how you wish your customers contact you prominently displayed on your site (preferably a couple of email addresses – for sales questions, website tech support, etc), and be sure to answer your email promptly.

Pretty much every website hosting company offers email hosting for your domain, but in this day and age of overwhelming spam, occasionally site hosting companies email servers can get blacklisted – which will effect your email.  First, make sure YOU’RE not the problem – you wouldn’t send unsolicited bulk mail to folks who have not opted-in, would you?   Should you encounter these types of internal or vendor problems, there are independent email-only companies you can use, like MailTrust.

AutoResponders – every incoming mail should get a quick response, something along the lines of: “Thanks! We’ve received your email and will respond promptly.”  Often this can be set up right at your hosting company’s configuration panel for email.  If your hosting company doesn’t offer an auto-response, there are a number of online and PC-based tools.  We use FollowUpExpert, which is both inexpensive and feature-rich.

Email Services are an important element of any online business’ value.  In addition to its central role in your business’ revenue stream, there is significant (and in many cases untapped) value in your subscriber list.  Many independent studies clearly show that regular contact with your best customers will improve your sales.  If you offer fresh, interesting content on a regular basis, then it’s not hard to build a subscriber list.  There are a wide variety of methods and tools available to assist you in this area, beginning with simple newsletter tools like Constant Contact and AWeber, to RSS and Email blog feeds like Feedburner.

Get a phone number, preferably a Toll Free Vanity Number, which is easy for your customers to remember, and which will help build the value of your business.  If at all possible, the number should spell your product, domain, or top keyword, and be easy to find on your site.  Again, it’s about building trust – when customers know how to reach you they are more likely to trust you.

If you are building your sites to sell be sure to read our page “Building a Website to Sell“.