Anyone can get a free website or blog and put whatever information they like on the internet. You may not get much help but it’s free, so that’s the trade-off. All it costs you is the time it takes you to learn how things work.
Well actually there are a couple of things wrong with that argument – and they’re important things too. First, you may not be able to put up whatever information you like and second, it might cost you more than your time – it might cost you your site.
When you’ve got a free website you’ve got no control. Someone else sets the rules. Someone else decides, ultimately, what you can put on there and what you can’t. If you spend a lot of time building a personal website it can be extremely upsetting to discover it’s gone one day. If you’re running a business, that scenario is absolutely disastrous.
Are those just scare tactics? Not at all. If you search online you’ll find hundreds of examples that illustrate that danger exactly. Case after case where people have spent weeks building something then tried to log into their free website or free blog one day only to find it’s been taken down – and that they have no right of appeal!
It’s a horrible situation to face – and so easy to avoid. Even for those on a limited budget the costs are minimal. The investment required is what’s often called “pizza money”: you can get your monthly hosting for less than you’d pay for a family pizza.
When you compare the pros and cons it makes even more sense not to go for a free website.
What you can and can’t do is important, but even if you comply exactly with all the rules you still face problems. Free websites are notorious for the lack of space and lack of professional services they provide. Because choices are limited they tend to all look like they were designed by the same people. Often you can’t have the social things that would engage your visitor, such as chat rooms and forums.
It gets worse. You don’t get a recognizable domain name. Instead of your http://www.yoursite.com you get http://yoursite.thefreewebsitecompany.com- or something like that. Not easy to remember and, if you’re running a business, not very professional either. To many people it simply says you don’t care.
We’re not finished though. Depending on your provider you could get pop-up adverts over which you have zero control. They might be entirely inappropriate for your audience. Tough. Then there’s your chances of getting ranked well in the search engines: low at best. Rightly or wrongly you get labeled with all the hundreds of scam sites out there. Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. might eventually list you in their indexes but it doesn’t matter how much work you put in, you’re consigned to the lesser pages.
Any web expert will tell you that going “pro” is the only sensible option if you’re serious about your website. Your own domain name will cost you a little over ten bucks a year at most. Monthly fees for a fully-supported website – well as we’ve already said, pizza money.
For that you don’t just get somewhere to put your website that’s reliable and secure, you also get knowledgeable support so it stays that way. You have someone to call on if you have any difficulties and even quite experienced webmasters run into things they don’t understand from time to time. You get lots of space to grow, and if you exceed that you get an easy upgrade path.
If there’s advertising on your site, it’s you who chose to put it there and you that profits. You don’t have someone telling you you can’t incorporate affiliate programs or other potential revenue sources. Your site can look exactly how you want it to. How it’s managed and developed will be entirely up to you to decide. Your visitors will get a slick, professional site that loads quickly and is there whenever they want It.
Yes, you pay for having complete control, but from a business point of view that outlay is almost negligible. It’s even tax deductible. If you don’t invest in your website or blog, the alternative could be that you lose everything.