Joel's Quick Tips to Save Money on your Website!

Joel R

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Joel R submitted a new Article:

Joel's Quick Tips to Save Money on your Website!

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!

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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...

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Joel R

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Part II: Saving 'Mo Money

This is the second part to my guide on saving money! You should already be a thrifty webmaster-in-training after reading my basics in Part 1, but here are some more ways to save money on your web project.

These are all very simple concepts to understand and pick-up, but they're often hard to do. We're encouraged to splurge, buy on impulse, and shop 'til you drop in our consumer-driven society so it's difficult to curb those psychological impulses. Don't worry though, this second guide offers methods for you to save money with concrete plans of actions that I used for my own website.
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7. Slim Down


Did you wake up one day and realize your closet is overflowing with extra clothes or the attic is cluttered from a lifetime of collecting junk? Don't worry, you're not the worst. The same problem applies to your website. You've probably 'collected' more than enough items for your website, so take a step back and pare back the purchases you've made for your community. Conduct an audit of what you own:
  • Do you have extra domains?
  • Do you have extra forum licenses?
  • Do you have extra add-ons?
  • Do you have extra services?
You'll be surprised at how much you can quickly eliminate. In the past three months, I shed three extra domains, an extra forum license, and too many add-ons to name! This will save me an estimated $250 / yr.

(If you're really smart, don't just drop those services. See if you can sell them for a quick buck on classified sections like the one on TAZ.)

8. Fun Money is Serious Business

Easy to do, hard to follow: Set aside a certain amount of money for "discretionary" or fun purchases, and don't spend the money until you've saved up enough. There are certain costs that are "necessities" (eg. like your domain and hosting) that you have to pay to keep your website online, so you should plan on always paying those. But for everything else, only buy things once you've 'earned' enough money, which forces you to not overspend.

As an example, I give myself $20 / mo for discretionary funds. That means if I want an add-on that costs $35, I need to wait at least two months before I buy it. This is a great way of giving yourself some fun money to explore and play around with new add-ons, but making sure my purchases are reasonable!

9. Pause Before You Purchase

I absolutely love customizing and tweaking and adding-on to my community -- who doesn't? But that becomes an expensive habit when browsing in my community's marketplace becomes a weekly shopping trip! I discovered one of the biggest drains on my money was those weekly purchases of add-ons or plug-ins that I thought looked cool or interesting at the time. If I had been given more time to 'cool off', I may not have made the same decision to buy.

Before you click on the "Purchase" button, give yourself some time to mull over the decision some more. It could be 24 hours or simply overnight. But think on your purchase and save the link, and if you still want to buy it the next day, go ahead.

10. If You Build It

Oftentimes as an administrator, you'll come across an add-on / plugin / skin that looks so awesome that your community must have it! Or so you think.

You'll be surprised at how very little it takes, at least in terms of extra money, to create a well-run community. All of the important functions are already built in to the software; anything above and beyond that is extra demand by you -- and sometimes that demand isn't the same demand from your community. Unlike the ancient adage of "if you build it, they will come," just because you offer something doesn't mean people are going to immediately use it. Do you really need another premium skin, or a custom set of emoticons, or that new social plugin? If your community doesn't need it right now, then that means you don't need it either right now. Gauge the demand ahead of time by trying these tips:
  • Run a poll on the website
  • Ask trusted members to objectively review the plugin
  • See how the mod works on other websites, and ask other admins how they utilize the mod
If you build it, your members might just say 'meh' and ignore it. Mine sure did!

11. Be a Follower

Technology is constantly changing, and people react to it in different ways. In the theory of the diffusion of innovation, there are certain kinds of people who adopt technology at different stages: the early adopters or the followers. You want to know how I define those folks? People who get burned versus people who don't get burned.

The newest release of the software may be the shiniest and newest thing on the Internet, and you're dying to get your hands on it since it's what everybody is talking about! But do you really want an unproven, untested, and untried software? There's a high price to pay for being an early adopter. Follow the wisdom of the crowds and be a follower:
  • When searching for add-ons or modifications, sort by most popular
  • When buying a software that's recently undergone a major update, wait for the next major release
Sometimes being a follower in technology is being a prudent leader for your community. Let other people suffer through pages of bug fixes, security flaws, and unpolished features. Only buy when you're certain the software is sufficiently mature for your needs.

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Joel R

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For those in need they are indeed good tips ..
Even for those who are doing well financially with their website it's always prudent to pay attention to how much money is being spent!
 
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