Before we begin, I just wanted to preface everything by saying that this discussion is not meant to be a definitive guide to financing your website, but a quick-and-handy list of simple tips for new webmasters to budget their new endeavor, with a list of real examples and experiences from my own personal life.

Experienced administrators are welcome to share their own tips with personal anecdotes!

1. Buy free

It's hard to launch your first website with not a lot of money, but no worries! The Internet is filled with tons of stuff that's given away freely (free porn, anyone?) and forum software is no different, with quite a few free solutions such as Simple Machines Forum or MyBB that are well-developed and supported by a large community. If you're just starting out, using a free forum software is a great way to frugally launch your community without investing anything besides your own time. With most free form software, you'll find lots of themes, modifications and even support offered for the amazing price of free! Even if you have a premium software, you'll often be able to find free add-ons or extensions.

If you're starting up a content management site, you can use the free WordPress.

If you're starting up a blog, you can use the free Google Blogger.

2. Use discounts or coupon codes

Search online for discounts and coupon codes. This is especially true for web hosting, where you'll find a pretty big discount between the 'normal' price and the discounted price.

For example, with a large and popular beginner webhost like FatCow, you can pay:
Normal price: $4.08 / mo
Discount price: $3.15 / mo
This is a 22% discount off their normal price!

3. Comparison shop for services

I'm one of those window shoppers who just loves to go into a store to get a retail price, then rushes back home to see how much cheaper I can buy it somewhere else. Always comparison shop for similar specifications. Web hosting and web services are becoming cheaper and cheaper commodities, so create a checklist of your specs and start shopping!

For example, I thought I was ready to go with a popular backup solution (Backupsy). Turns out their owner started up another website (VPSDime) that offered a very similar "high storage" solution for backups. For similar specs, I saved myself 13%!

4. Don't be afraid to negotiate or ask for discounts

Don't be afraid to directly ask the sales team for a discount. I always ask for a special discount for new customers -- in the worst case, you'll pay the same; in the best case, you'll be able to snag a great deal from the beginning!

As a personal story, I asked my forum software company for a discount to switch over to them. The sales team said that while they didn't offer any ongoing discounts, I *might* be able to try a certain code (wink wink nudge nudge). That code saved me 15% off my final purchase price.

5. Lock in lower rates by buying longer-term or in bulk

This one is a no-brainer. Most services offer cheaper prices if you lock in a longer-term rate, or maybe they offer discounts if you buy more.

As an example, my forum software offered 'bundled discounts' that gave more discounts the more applications you bought. I knew from the beginning exactly what I wanted to buy, so I bought everything all at once and saved myself 20%.

My only caveat to new administrators is that, in the beginning, it may be in your favor to be a little more cautious and only pay month-by-month. Once you're comfortable with a longer term view, you can begin locking in longer-term rates.

6. Prowl administrator websites

One of the best things you can do is to constantly browse administrator websites like The Admin Zone. Once in a while, you'll come across a gem. For example, the other day I found a reference to a new domain registrar that was cheaper than the one I was currently using. Score!


I hope you enjoyed this list of quick tips to help out your wallet. Remember, you can spend your time to save your money. ;)