The offer is tempting. Getting your website for free! Sounds simple and who would argue with the price?! I’ve come across numerous sites that offer free website design, free hosting and free domains. I was curious how they could offer so much for nothing. It doesn’t sound like a very solid business plan and I worked for a dotcom at one time so I know about dubious business plans. (There were so many dotcoms giving everything away for free back in the late 90’s—that’s the main reason so many didn’t last.) So how do they do it and are you running any risks?
I find when I look further into these types of free website offers is there’s usually a catch. It might be free initially, but after a trial period there’s a monthly maintenance cost. In most cases, this price is usually higher than normal. If you added a credit card during signup, then they can charge you without giving you any warning.
Look at it this way, if you are not paying for it, then you are the product. Companies will find ways to make money which could mean selling your email address, personal information, and your website address to third parties.
Some companies put advertisements on your free site, their branding and/or another third-party. Are you aware that your competitors can then pay these free website companies to advertise on your website? Imagine having your competitor’s ads running on your website. Talk about sabotaging your business.
Free websites might be a sub-domain of the company’s site so you don’t have your own URL. Not having your own domain name doesn’t look very professional. A visitor may wonder why you weren’t savvy enough to get your own domain. If you decide to buy your own domain through them you’ll most likely end up paying a premium. They have to make money somehow.
Often you’ll find there are limitations to disk space, bandwidth and email accounts. A slow website results in a bad user experience.
I’ve also noticed that the support these companies offer depends on how much you’re willing to pay. Have the most expensive plan and you become a priority. Speaking about those website pricing plans, what happened to getting your website for free?
Sometimes you can find a free website builder to design your site. Free websites plans have only a handful of templates to choose from for your site. Often you cannot use your own designs or another company’s template. A free design but you still have to pay monthly for the website hosting service.
What’s behind getting your website for free, really?
Always do your research, often what sounds like a great offer of free website design isn’t so great once you scratch the surface. These services need to make money to be able to remain in business. Look at it this way, if you are not paying for it, then you are the product. Companies will find ways to make money which could mean selling your email address, personal information, and your website address to third parties. If you think they can’t do that, those terms and conditions which you like most of us didn’t really read provide them total legal immunity. Getting your website for free is not worth your privacy.