What Does Internet Marketing Cost, Really?

Internet Marketing is Claimed to be Free

The cost of setting up a business and marketing on the internet is often said to be free or almost free.   Youtube abounds with video marketers claiming that they will show you how to build an internet business  that will make you a 6 figure income for scarcely more than the cost of their training materials. They claim that social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be used for free advertising.

I don’t think so.

Way Cheaper Than MacDonald’s

Down below is a list of what I’ve found are fairly typical expenses for internet marketing.  In most cases the dollar values I give are at the low end of the spectrum.  Some services charge according to the length of your prospect list, so the costs will rise as your business grows.  But note that many of these costs, though they appear low, are monthly fees.  You can easily find yourself spending upwards of $300 per month to keep a small internet business going.  While that’s nothing like the cost of a MacDonald’s franchise ($250k cash up front to get started), it’s not what I would call nothing.  More realistically, if you figure in good quality training, consulting and coaching, the figure can be upwards of $5k for the first year.  If you go for really high end training and coaching, with lots of individual attention, you could find yourself spending $25k or more.

The Real Costs

To give you a sense of what’s involved, here’s my list.  Let me know if I’ve missed anything. Please note that these are rough, average figures from my personal experience. Your mileage may vary.

  1. Nice websites cost money to have built. Expect upwards of $500, and considerably more if the site is complicated.
  2. Domain names are typically $10/year.
    Can be more or less depending on added services.
  3. Hosting a blog is usually about $10/month, but can be more or a little less.
  4. Autoresponder service costs from $15/month upward.
  5. Good training costs a lot of money.
    The lowest I know of is Renegade Professional at approximately $50/month for an extensive set of self-study training videos. However, you can spend anywhere from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars on training. The low end of this price range gets you self-study materials. The high end gets you lots of individualized attention and coaching. One leading Adwords expert said that he has had years when he spent $30k to $40k on his own education. This figure is not unusual for some of the top trainers, who invest heavily in their own education. Investing in your education is money well spent.
  6. It costs money to get traffic to your site.
    Yes, there are ways to get traffic almost free, but the faster you want the traffic to grow, the more you may want to pay. Here’s just a few examples.

    • With Adwords you pay for each click on your ad.
      This can cost anywhere from $500 dollars per month to a few thousand per month depending on how many clicks you request and how much competition there is for your keywords.
    • If you use a service to help you get more Twitter followers, you can pay $6.95 at the low end, to $39.95 per month or more. Incidently, The higher price does not necessarily get you better targeted results.
    • Even if you advertise on Craigslist, it will still cost you money for an automated service to renew the ads every week in all 27 major cities.
    • Press releases cost $80 per release or more.
    • Article submission packages typically start at around $100 for submission of one article to approximately 50-70 well-ranked sites.
  7. It costs money to have a shopping cart and merchant account. Expect $34/month or more for the shopping cart.
  8. Coaching costs money.
    I know of one program at $25k per year. Another one I’m familiar with runs at $3k. You can get coaching for as little as $25/hour.
  9. Split testing ultimately costs money because you’re paying for clicks on the bad ads as well as the ads that end up working. Most ads or sales pages don’t work all that well. But the one ad that does work makes up for it. Finding ads that work for your niche and your population is a trial and error process. Split testing is easy to do with Google Adwords because Google provides great tools that you’re paying for as part of the clicks you’re buying. There may be free ways to do split testing, but doing it well would be enormously difficult.
  10. If you use Elance.com or some other service to help you with writing, the cost can be anywhere from $10/hour to $35/hour and up. Even if you’re a good writer, and even a good copywriter, you may want to farm out some of the writing chores to free you up for other tasks.
  11. Having your blog or website optimized for the major search engines will cost money unless you do it yourself. Prices vary widely, but are typical of consulting services.

Time vs. Money

One thing I haven’t mentioned is your time. Generally speaking, you can trade time for money with internet marketing. For example, if you can’t afford to hire someone to do Search Engine Optimization for your site, you can do it yourself. I don’t consider this totally free, though. You need to invest time and perhaps money to get training in SEO. Yes, you can find good SEO articles on the web, but you’re still investing your time. It’s always a choice whether you want to spend time or money on any individual item.

The thing to keep in mind is that the more you decide to do yourself, the longer it will take you to reach profitability. Then again, the more you learn to do yourself, the more valuable you’ll be as a coach or consultant. It’ll just take you longer to get there.

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