FREE versus PAID

choose wisely

Websites: Free Versus Paid

Small business owners or people who are looking to start a business often feel that a website may be one of the pieces to a successful business, and thats true for many big and small businesses. A website (if used and built properly) can literally bring customers from around the world to your front door. They also increase your companies image and authority in your prospective fields.

But inevitably the question of cost becomes part of the equation. And that line of thinking leads us to todays comparison of Free vs Paid website providers. So here things to consider when choosing which way you’ll go, Free or Paid web hosting.

*3 things to consider for free or paid sites

  1. Domain Names: They may or may not be included in your package. So read carefully. If domain names (like www.yoursite.com) are not included, you have to register and pay for you domain name. If you want to track data through tools like Google Analytics you need a registered domain name. If your free sites url address looks like www.freewebhostname/yourwebsitename/ you wont be able to use the conventional tools of tracking and monitoring website traffic.
  2. Time: It will take time to see if your site will actually generate traffic or  new customers. I would think at least 3-6 months of initial strategy, execution and adjustment is needed for any site.
  3. Create Content: You will still need to create initial content, and some type of new content on a consistent basis.
  4. Precedence: None of the top companies in the world use free websites. I threw that in to keep it real. But there are successful small business sites that are hosted on free sties.

FREE WEBSITE BUILDERS

*My definition of a free website or website builder. These would be companies like Wix, and WordPress that are just what they said, 100% free. These sites offer easy setup and have proprietary web builders. Meaning you cant transfer your site to another company if you decide you want to go somewhere else. Sites are template driven. Some have thousands of combinations while other may have 50 to choose from. They usually have a lower limit on how much space is allocated for data like images and video. And usually 100% free mean your url will be a subdomain like www.wordpress.com/yoursitename/. Some even have e-comerce options too.

You can find reviews on the top 10 web builders at https://www.top10bestwebsitebuilders.com they have reviews and pricing. Be aware that not all these website builders are free. But even the paid sites are very reasonable. 

I’m not endorsing and site in particular but if I were to try a free web builder I would start with Wix or WordPress just because I trust the name brand that those companies have established.

Ok, here we go!

#1 Its Free!

One of the scary parts about investing is the fear of losing your investment or getting zero ROE. Well a free site might just be the thing you need to dip your business toe in the digital ocean. Most free sites have no contracts and offer reasonable looking sties. Some even look great.
*But as I wrote in a earlier post “Small Business Website Strategies“, you need to make sure your free site will service the website strategy you laid out. Some won’t support e-commerce or business transactions. And yet others will have limited layouts options. So if you really like the way looks and works, great. If not you might want to reconsider the free deal.

#2 There’s Such Thing as Free!

Whaat! But you just said its free? You have to remember that companies offering free websites have an agenda, and usually its to make money. So how would they make money by offering free stuff? One of most popular ways is to advertise on your free website. So if ads are deal breaker for your business image free may not be for you. But if your ok with ads some of the free sites offer some pretty good looking templates.
Also be aware and read the fine print. Some site are free for a limited time. So after 3 months you may have to start paying. And you need a minimum of 3 months to see if your site will gain traction and reach the goals you set for it.

#3 They work if you don’t need much.

If your site is info based or blog based, meaning your site is just a way to convey information, then free might be the way to go for you. If your main function for your site is to post info or content so customers can email or give you a call then free might be the way to go for you.

Paid Web Hosting

*My definition of a paid, or traditional website.
Paid websites traditionally have two parts that make up a website, and both have a cost to them.
The First Part is your Domain Name. This is the address for your website and is usually start with www.yourbusinessname.com or something like that. Its also called a URL. To get one you have to first check if the domain name you want is available. If it is then you can register that name as yours, and paid a yearly fee. usually its somewhere between $15-$30 a year. Not a very big cost considering that a good name might help you generate income.
The Second Part is Web Hosting. Web hosting is the actual servers or computers that will store that data that makes your website. You connect your domain name to the web hosting server and voila! You have a website, well, theres a little more to it.
Hosting cost really depend on what your website needs are. Again your website strategy comes into play. Think of the Domain name as home address, and the web host as your lot that your house is located on. A house with address is hard to find, conversely if you have and address but no house… well you get it.
Hosting cost are things like security, site backup, updates, domain email address, and speed. Web hosting cost start around $15 a month depending on what you want from your web site needs. I would say on average you’ll pay around $25 to $35 a month for web hosting. You can also pay per year which will usually save you some cost too.

Ok, so here’s what you get on your paid sites

#1 Customization: This is by far one of the biggest differences with paid sites. You can choose from literally thousands of free and paid template many of which are fully customizable. So you are are to end up with a web site that looks and works the way you want it to.

#2 Scalability: As your business grows and your website’s needs will also grow. You will need more data space, better security, better e-commerce functionality all of which your paid web host should be able to provide.

#3 Movable: A another word would be transferable. In the event you out grow you web host, or find a better host that suites your needs, you can move your web site to another company. Free web hosting site either can’t due to the proprietary software used to build your site, or wont allow you to move your site.

#2 SEO (Search engine optimization and adjustment): Again another aspect of customization. Having a paid site really allows you to adjust so that if your strategy isn’t getting you the search results you want, you can adjust easily. In the section above “*Things to consider for free or paid sites” I mentioned that unless you have a registered domain name like www.yourname.com, you won’t be able to fully analyze your sites data. Analytics gives you Information like number of visits, what pages are being looked at, demographics, and the location of your visitors to name a few.

In Conclusion

The choice really comes down to the strategy or vision you’ve laid out for your site. Decide which one meets the expectations of performance and design for your business. So read all the information and try one. Or contact us if you need more information or a free consultation.