Am I bias about this dilemma… well the truth is that sometimes a free (“Do-It-Yourself”) website is a good thing. But understand there are things you need to watch out for when using sites that offer low cost or free websites or web hosting.
Free websites are best for those who don’t have a budget and just want to get a simple web presence. If you just want an online presence that helps customers find you in the real world, you’ll be fine with a free site. Free is very good if you don’t have the time or inclination to “design” a site that best suits your product/service; especially if you find a design that looks and functions the way you need it to. But don’t get duped.
Watch out for:
- Be wary of the content you get from these “free” website sites. Many times you lose the photos, graphics, or content you used while hosting your site there; once you chose to move you will have to replace these things. In other words, if you build a good customer base with certain photos and other copyrighted content, you may not be able to take some or all of them with you. And you could lose some of those customers if they see a site very different from the one you had with the “free” service. Yeah, you can put a big “New Site, New Design” on the front page; but folks not everyone comes to your front page first! And if you buy the content and publish it on the “free” service; do they get to use it any way they want? Check those site terms!
- If you are going to count on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) a lot, instead of other forms of marketing; “free” sites rarely offer any real SEO because it is too time consuming.
- Some site’s nickel and dime you after you sign up. So understand what you get with “free”. Sometimes that theme that looks just right for your “free” website costs. Or having more than one page, costs extra.
- Many website platforms (even WordPress, Blogger, etc.) are free IF… you don’t use it for commercial reasons. If you just want to blog, or have a personal website this website is perfect.
- Make sure the domain name is yours! It is best for you to register your domain name first, then look into building your free site on one of these sites.
If you are ready to upgrade from a free site, have the time and effort to put forth on a new site, you now have to decide which type of site… which platform. This depends on the purpose and/or function of your site. Do you want to create content for customers (CMS platform or content management system), sell all sorts of items (e-commerce system), or go with a free, pre-built site platform that offers less flexibility yet gets you online quickly and within budget.
And please, Be Safe with Freelancers.
Contact me for budget friendly help with your website or web presence: Management, Maintenance, or Marketing.