Beware of Free websites – they are not as cheap as you might think!
For the last year or so, I have been helping small business owners and people who want to become self-employed with their websites. I have heard some horror stories about people being ripped off or just plain misled.
Many of my clients are small businesses who have limited budgets and think when they see an offer of a free website that they should grab it with both hands. Please read this post before you make up your mind whether or not a free website is good value for money.
Lots of companies offer free websites, Godaddy, 123Reg, 1&1, wix etc. On the face of it, this sounds like a great offer. It means that you can get your website up and running without having to pay out lots of money for someone to design it, you don’t have to worry about domains and hosting services and you don’t have to worry about paying monthly direct debits to keep it running – or do you?
When you get your free website you will have very limited options about what you can do with it. Some have the hosts name in with your domain name ie firstname.lastname@example.org. This is not a very good way to show your credibility to your customers. It would be much better to have your own domain name ie www.myshop.co.uk as this shows that you have your own domain and that you have invested in your business rather than taken a free option. Perception is important in business. If your customers see that you have not invested a small amount in your own domain then you are probably a very small company and therefore they might not risk paying any money to you online in case you don’t really exist or you are a scam company.
You will also have limited options on things such as themes for your website and will have to use the templates that are provided by your hosts (which can be quite complicated and clunky). You may well be able to create your own website but does it look how you want it to look, and does it do what you want it to do? Chances are the answer will be a resounding NO!
I have also had to deal with one of my clients sites being hacked with ransom-wear and her hosts wouldn’t do anything to help her and more shockingly, didn’t even provide a back up service as part of their free package. We have had to create a whole new site for her which has been a hassle she could have well done without when she is trying to concentrate on building her business and growing her customer base.
Also, and here’s the catch, when you want to develop your free site further you will need to upgrade to a paid package. These packages cost anything upwards of £4.99 per month which is around £60 per year. That’s not too bad I hear you say, and no it isn’t if you can get it for that amount. Most of my clients are being charged around £7.99 per month to upgrade which is just under £100 per year. So, how much is that free website costing you now?
My clients are really shocked when I tell them that I can get them a domain name and get that domain hosted for as little as £20 per year. This means that they get their website created, choose their own theme, add as many pages as they like, have their site backed up every night in case of disasters, have it available and online 24/7 365 days of the year and have someone to talk to if they get stuck or confused with anything while creating their sites, as there is a great service department available to UK users from between 7am and midnight every single day of the year.
For the clients that I work with who have not yet signed up to a free website company, they can learn how to develop their own site with easy to use WordPress or Joomla themes. I can teach them how to create pages, menus, blogs and add plug-ins that help them to create the site they really want – or, if they are not bothered about learning I can do it for them in just a few hours. For those that have already signed up, I can get their sites moved to another host, but this can be quite complicated and can also take a couple of days which means their site is not online while it is being transferred.
Please consider very carefully what impression you are hoping to give to your customers before you decide on going down the free website route, and also consider what it will cost you in the long run. Spending just a little now could save you a lot more in the future.
I hope this post has given you food for thought and that you won’t rush to get a free website. If you are interested in the hosting company I mention in this post you can follow my affiliate link here as they pay me a small commission for referrals. I could be an affiliate for godaddy, 1&1 or any of the other hosts so that is not why I am recommending them. I recommend them because I have found them to be the cheapest and best value for money around and I have used them myself for the last 4 years.
I have also included a pdf here to give you step by step instructions on how to get your domain and hosting service set up so there is no excuse. Just click on the link and follow the instructions.
If you would like me to help you with the process then please feel free to contact me by any of the methods below for a free and no obligation chat.
Business and Life Coach