Have you ever heard of the statement that "you should not set up shop on someone else's land"?
Okay. So maybe I am probably totally jacking up the statement. But I am sure that you get my drift on this one.
Today's blog post is probably going to hit a nerve for a few – but I felt compelled to write this post up for you all expressing my concerns with free hosting services.
For many of you, I understand that in the initial stages of starting a business money is tight. But…. for growths sake, you want to create a website of some sorts for your small business.
So what usually ends up happening is that you opt for the free route.
But here's something that you may not know: free sites and blogging platforms (while it will save you money in the beginning phases of your business to use these platforms) may end up costing you in the end.
The Allure of Using Free Website Hosting Services + Blog Platforms
Years ago when I started building and creating websites, I searched online for information that would help me create a site quickly with low to no costs associated.
Sometime later, I stumbled across some info about setting up shop using FREE website and blogging platforms.
As you can imagine, I was stoked + pumped to get started.
I signed up and created an account on one of the most popular platforms (one that I will not name).
I was all set to start building my new site until I started digging into the FREE stuff a little more.
I started reading comments in forums about some of the issues that folks were having with using free blog and hosting platforms.
Then I stumbled across a post from one of my favorite bloggers – Lisa Irby of 2 Create a Website that made me rethink this decision.
In this post, Lisa share's an email from one of her loyal readers.
In this email, Lisa's fan outlines the issues that she encountered with using a free platform to host her blog:
I don't know about you, but if I put in all of the work that goes into building a site, only to have it taken down, I would be highly PO'd. (pardon my French).
The Problems You May Encounter with Using a Free Site Website Hosting + Blogging Platforms
As I've stated previously FREE comes with a price. Here are some of the main drawbacks of using free hosting platforms:
- Little to no customer support. Um…no thank you! If something is going on with my blog or site, I want assistance pronto
- You are limited to the features that you can add to your site or blog (payment buttons, opt in forms, widgets and etc.,)
- The templates that they offer are not very attractive and aesthetically pleasing
- Site load times are slow and sluggish
- Your pages will show advertisements from the hosting company on them
- You will not be able to use a branded domain name for your website
- Your prospects and potential clients may doubt your credibility
- You do not own your website; You are renting on land that someone else owns
- You do not have complete ownership of your content
Why You Should Use a Self-Hosted Website or Blog for your Small Business
There are plenty of reasons to use a self-hosted website or blogging platform for your business. Here's a few of them:
- You own your domain and can use a branded domain name for your site
- You have complete ownership of your own content
- You will have complete ownership of your website
- You can add more features to your blog or website (a store, opt in forms, widgets, etc.,)
- You will have complete autonomy over the design, look and feel of your site
- Your self-hosted website will inspire trust with your prospects + establish credibility for your business
- Access to a ton of website + blog themes that you can use to spice up the design of your site
- Access to customer support in case issues crop up
4 Investments that You Should Make at a Minimum to Jump Start Your Brand Online
If you really want to make an impact on the web and you only had $100 to spend, at a minimum you could make the following investments in your business:
1. Get a domain name for your business.
It just looks more professional to use a domain that represents your brand as in >>>>>> www.yourcompany.com versus a free site or blog domain that looks like this one: www.mycompany.ieatgrapes.hotspot.com
Okay so I went a little overboard, but do you see the difference? A branded domain name is easier to remember and it just looks better.
Investment: $ 0 – $10
2. Invest in hosting for your site or blog.
Again, free seems enticing, but remember, it may cost you in the end. Siteground is a reputable company that offers inexpensive web hosting plans.
Investment: $5 per month
3. Use a CMS (content management system) like WordPress to build your site or blog.
WordPress is the most popular CMS platform that peeps are using to setup websites and blogs with.
Because it's easy to setup, use, modify and make changes to on the fly. It is the platform that I am using to run this site.
Investment: $ FREE
4. Invest in a professional looking theme for your site
The beauty of using WordPress is that they have a very large selection of nice looking themes that you can style up your blog or website with.
I mentioned in my previous guide to Launching a Brand and web Presence that Matters, Themeforest and Creative Market are two of my favorite sites to purchase WordPress themes from.
In total, you would be investing approximately >>>> $70.00 to jump start your business….
I Would Love To Here Your Thoughts and Experience
So now over to you peeps. I would love to know your thoughts on this topic + your experiences as well.
Have any of you used free hosting services for your sites and if so, what has your experience been with them? Would you recommend them to others or not?