The thought of using a free website provider is tempting, but what’s the catch? Why doesn’t everyone have a free site? Below, we share 10 reasons why having a free site is probably not a good idea and something that you should try to dodge.
1: Free websites are SLOW
Multiple free providers (and even some paid ones) put hundreds of sites on the same server. Often, the systems driving these websites don’t have the resources to keep up, causing everything to be extremely slow. Even if you get on one of the more mainstream providers, there’s little to no way to optimize your site for speed beyond what they already provide. That’s not good for you, your website or for SEO.
2: Unprofessional address
Websites with addresses like mybusiness.freesitehost.com do not look professional at all, and customers will likely not take you seriously. While some free hosting providers do offer custom domains, the cost is usually much higher than it should be and, in most cases, the provider is the one who owns your domain, not you. This means if you ever want to move to something bigger and better, you don’t get to keep your name.
3: Hidden costs
Like any other business, these companies need to make money too. Some of them charge for additional features like FTP access, email, bandwidth, etc. This is fine, but make sure you know about these limitations before investing your time (and your brand) into a service like this! It’s easy to get into, but tough to get out of.
4: The host owns your data
People who start with a free site and then want to move to something bigger usually find themselves locked in. These providers often do not offer any tools to help migrate your site away from them, and the tools they do offer frequently don’t do the job very well.
5: Advertisements on your site
Some free website services are supported by ads. You create content and build your site, but they’re the ones who get paid. We’ve all seen sites like these; the ads are distracting, intrusive, and look ugly.
The worst part is, sometimes your savvy competitors can then pay these free website hosting companies to advertise on YOUR site.
6: No control
The terms and conditions of these providers almost always say that they can shut down your site at any time without providing you a reason. When they shut down a website, they ordinarily don’t give you your data, or give you a way to save your content. These companies can also vanish at any time. Running a free hosting business is difficult, and one that may seem legitimate at the time can simply shut their servers down leaving you with nothing.
7: They can sell your information
Any time a company is giving you something for free, then YOU are the product. Remember, these services need to make money to stay in business. These companies will sell your email address, personal information, and your website address to other businesses.
8: Limited design choices
Unlike WordPress where you can choose from thousands of WordPress themes (or hiring a design agency who can give you anything under the sun), free sites offer only a handful of templates. Nine times out of ten, you can’t use your own design or any other design you find online. Many of these free services promise the ability to build a fully-functioning site with widgets, but in practice sites like these never perform well.
9: No help or customer service
The vast majority of free site hosts offer zero support. Those that do take days or weeks to give you a non-answer and even the upper-crust providers like Wix or Squarespace don’t have the best track record. You’re likely on your own, with only the host’s knowledge base to help you along.
While some hosts do provide decent service if you’re looking for something simple and self-managed, you get very little control over the end result. No customization, no additional functionality and limited control over the design.
The best alternative here is, of course, a website you hire someone else to build and host. While the up-front cost is of course higher, the value it provides is even greater.
At Monkey Webdesign, we provide start-to-finished development, launch and hosting for your site. We’ll work with you to find the BEST solution for your goals, even if that means recommending someone else. We’re here for you, so drop us a line today!