In a perfect virtual world, building your Web site would be cheap and easy. Updating and maintaining it wouldn't take much effort. And, of course, you would make money.

Ah, were it that easy.

Practical and profitable Web sites are hard to come by. If you're not careful, your Web site can become a financial drain. But crafty entrepreneurs sidestep the potential money pit and bootstrap well-oiled sites whose start-up and maintenance costs don't dwarf potential returns. These entrepreneurs devise clever ways to build their sites on the cheap. They take advantage of low-cost marketing strategies to get the word out. And they use free and almost free tools to keep their sites running smoothly.

Here are more tips on how to improve your site without spending a fortune.

Penny-Pinching Your Way through Web Development

Penny-Wise, Site-Foolish
Don't scrimp when you pick a Web host -- unless you like greeting customers with "Site not found."
Working with Student Contractors
Save money using student contrators to help meet your Web design needs.
Build It Yourself or Hire Someone?
Inc.com Internet in Business mentor Bradley Feld responds to a reader's question on the best way to build a Web site.
Master Your Domains
The right domain extension can make a difference for your business. Learn what .tv, .biz and others can do for (or against) you.
Taking Business Online
When Jackie Monticup discovered that foot traffic to her store, the Magic Trick Shop, was beginning to disappear, she decided to take the business online. Here's her 12-step program to building an e-commerce website.
Turnkey Web Sites: The Key to Success?
Do you have little time and money to spend on the latest and greatest in technology? A turnkey solution, which is a ready-built Web site with nominal flexibility, is one option to consider.
Hire Overseas, Come in under Budget
Did you know you can save cash by hiring a Web designer in a foreign country?

Improve Your Site Inexpensively

Less Is More -- and Less Money
Simplicity, focus, and practicality are the keys to a successful Web site. And they don't have to cost too much.
Can Visitors Navigate Your Site?
Usability testing -- analysis of your site's navigation, speed, and effectiveness -- isn't as expensive as you think.

Build Your Online Store without Breaking the Bank

David vs. Goliath: Four Lessons
So you think you're too small to sell on the Web? One Internet entrepreneur offers strategies for effectively -- and inexpensively -- competing with the big guys.
Come In. I've Been Expecting You
Here's how inexpensive tools can make every site visitor feel like an audience of one.
Almost Free E-Commerce
The Net has recently been flooded with low-cost e-commerce services. Here's what you should know about them.

Web Marketing on the Cheap

In Praise of E-Mail
You may take e-mail for granted, but it just might be the simplest, most effective weapon in the marketer's arsenal.
E-Mail: Your E-Commerce Ally
E-mail remains one of the cheapest and most effective ways to promote your site -- if you know how to target your message.
Stretch Your Marketing Dollars
Here's how one entrepreneur grew an e-commerce business with ingenious, inexpensive marketing techniques.
Climb onto the Web, Painlessly
A well-written e-mail newsletter can be one of the most economical ways to generate buzz for your brand on the Net.