The first step to getting connected to the world wide web is to find an affordable ISP in your area. Prices for an internet connection to your home or office can range from $8.95/mo. for dial-up to $59.95/mo. for blazing fast DSL or broadband. In remote areas of the world internet connectivity is available from sattelite providers like HughesNet. The sky is the limit and there is no reason you can't be connected no matter where on earth you live.
The next step in joining the online community is staking your claim to a domain name. A domain name becomes your address on the web, your email will go through your domain name and your website will reside at www.YourDomain.com. You can register a domain name for as little as $5.95 per year with registrars like GoDaddy or Yahoo! Domains. While the .com domains are still the most popular addresses, there are many other extensions available like .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us and more. The key is to get your domain name registered before someone else does.
After you have registered your domain you will need to find a good web host. A web hosting provider will host the your website and store your data for you for a small monthly fee. Most reputable web hosting companies offer ample storage space and other services like email accounts, blogs, ecommerce, website templates and more. You can expect to pay between $4.95 and $19.95 per month. Be aware that most web hosting companies prefer to bill on an annual basis in order to simplify the renewal process. Some hosting plans include a free domain name registration.
Once you have a domain name and a website up and running you will want to get people to visit your site. One of the most cost effective means of marketing your web site is through pay per click search engines where you pay a set amount for every visitor they refer to your site. This can be a great tool as you can bid on specific keywords that are geared to your business or site content. Google adwords is one of the most popular PPC search engines but Yahoo Sponsered Search is quickly becoming a better option. Recently MSN.com announced their entrance into the PPC advertising arena, so they will be one to watch this year.
One of the major reasons for having a website is to make money. Affiliate programs are the most popular method of monetizing your website traffic. You can display banners or advertising related to your site content and you get paid a commission when one of your users clicks the ad and makes a purchase. Nearly every online retailer has an active affiliate program so it's easy to find new programs. Another way to find great affiliate programs is by searching on affiliate directories where they list the best affiliate programs. Affiliate networks like CJ.com and LinkShare act as a middle man between affiliates and website owners.
One of the most popular affiliate programs today are ones that involve VOIP or Voice over IP telephone service like Vonage.com. VOIP uses your internet connection to carry phone calls eliminating the need for a traditional telephone bill. The voice quality is nearly perfect and the handsets available are very cool. Some business VOIP services even let you use your existing telephones and integrate with your cell phone. To top it all off, long distance charges are a thing of the past with voice over IP phone service as many have FREE long distance.
One of the first financial industries to jump on the internet bandwagon was the credit card industries. At first, they only had online applications advertising instant approvals. Then, as time went on the credit card companies warmed up to the internet and began really pushing credit card offers online with low interest rates and sometimes 0 APR. The real winner here was the consumer as the competition heated up, rewards got better and better and interest rates became more competitive.
Of course, today the internet is a real mecca for e-commerce and online shopping. At the heart of the internet commerce are the merchant account providers that allow online retailers to accept credit card payments online. If you own a small business or retail store and you have a website, you need an online merchant account to be able to accept credit card payments. Most merchant account providers offer competitive startup plans with low fees.
With the boom of internet shopping and online retailers like Amazon and eBay it became easier and easier for consumers to get buried in debt. For new consumers it made establishing credit much easier. Whichever crowd you fit in, FREE online credit reports are extremely useful for seeing what your credit score is. Most people couldn't even tell you what their credit score is. Watch out for the up-sells though, they gotta make money somehow.
As internet shopping gains more and more popularity each day and as interest rates continued to drop more people got into debt. The result was an increase in americans filing for bankruptcy. Debt consolidation companies offer an alternative to bankruptcy and debt management services help you avoid getting buried in debt in the first place. The simple lesson in debt management, don't spend more money than you earn.
Anyone who has ever applied for a mortgage loan can agree that the process is painful and quite intimidating. The application process being the most troublesome part, the internet made online loan applications available and hence simplified the process. Some mortgage loan application sites will shop your information around to a few of the top lenders to make sure you get the best rates and the lowest origination fees. Auto loans for your new car are also much easier to obtain with the advent of the online loan app. Now you can get a loan for that new Porsche while in your pajamas watching the evening news or Saturday morning cartoons.
Insurance companies were another big winner when it came to applying online. Consumers can use insurance quote services like Geico or Progressive. The process is easy and you don't have to meet with a slimy insurance salesman. Just enter your information in the online application forms and somebody will call you back with a quote. Progressive even goes so far to show you the quotes of their competitors so you know you are getting the very best deal. You can apply for anything from simple car or life insurance policies to boat or RV insurance.