When I first started my online business, I did everything I could to save a little money -- I didn't want a domain name, not even for a mere $35/year (it was expensive back then!), and I certainly didn't want to pay recurring monthly fees for a web host.
That was a mistake. What I came to realize was simply that if I wasn't willing to make these small investments -- well, I just wasn't in position to be starting a business. Sometimes truth hurts!
I came to accept that I could learn from experiences of successful online entrepreneurs. From them, I learned that it just doesn't help to try to 'cut corners' on certain things. So what are some of things you need to get started on 'net?
= Your own domain. At GoDaddy, http://www.godaddy.com/ , you can register a domain for a mere $8.95/year. There is NO excuse not to have your own domain at these rock- bottom prices! Your own domain will help your business build credibility -- plus, it's easier to remember a simple www.yourcompany.com then something like, www.afreedomain.com/userpages/~yourname/homedir !
= Web hosting. Don't skimp on it, but don't get a whole bunch of features you don't need, either. Be willing to spend money for a reliable web host with a great uptime record, one that can offer you excellent customer service. Start your research at TopHosts, http://www.tophosts.com/ .
= Website stats. Knowing who your visitors are, how they're finding your site, which pages they're viewing most, etc. will help you to refine your site and your marketing efforts. Check with your web host first to see what type of website stats or demographics they offer with your hosting package. Other options include AXS Visitor Tracking System, http://www.xav.com/scripts/axs/ , and WebLog, http://awsd.com/scripts/weblog/index.shtml Both are currently free.
= Ad tracker. An ad tracker will help you to see which one of your marketing campaigns is giving you best results. For example, how much response are you getting from your ad on a website? How much interest did your article generate? You can then focus your efforts on marketing techniques that are giving you results you want -- and dump those that aren't. 'AdTrackz' is one excellent ad tracker, and is available from http://buildyourhomebiz.com/rd/adtrackz.html .