Dangers of Free Websites
Published: March 06, 2019
So, you have a limited marketing budget or no marketing budget at all. You’re a homegrown start-up entrepreneur with aspirations of owning a success company one day that will pay for your retirement home, but you’ve got to start somewhere right?
Websites are no longer just “real-estate on the web”. I’m pretty sure this phase was coined by advertising companies just trying to get the small business on the web so they have a platform to advertise for them. I’ve had this phase mentioned to me by several advertising companies, and it’s simply not true.
Websites are more than just property, they are living, breathing, evolving marketing powerhouses for the businesses, organizations, bloggers and hobbyists that owns them and consistently poor blood, sweat and tears into them to make them what they are.
Now it’s true, White Whale Web Design is an advertising company and we are a web development company, but before you click the back button, hear me out. We have a lot of business owners that ask us about getting a free website in the beginning to advertise for, then once the website is bringing in the customers, upgrading them to paid websites. This is simple a bad idea and below are 5 reasons why.
Unprofessional Domain Name
Before you jump into building a free website, take this into consideration. The company providing you the free product wants something in return for there free gift to you and that’s brand awareness. They do this by providing you with a unique web address that ends with their brands name – www.example.freewebsitecompany.com.
If your just blogging and have no ambition to share your creation to the word, then this web address is perfect for you, however then you might as well go blog on a platform designed for blogging and sidestep the website creation process. But, if you want to use your website to gain business and provide growth, then there is nothing more unprofessional than referring people to a www.example.freewebsitecompany.com website. Not only is it complicated, but it also tells others that you are not investing in your company, which makes them not want to invest in it either.
On top of that, who stands to benefit from your free website? The Free Website Company! By using their free domain name, you are advertising for them and not earning any commission for being their glorified salesman.
Snail Pace Website Speed
There is more to developing websites, business owners are also subject to domain name fees and yearly hosting fees. Hosting fees are the actual “real-estate” you pay for to have your website housed on a server that can then be accessed when the user types your web address into the URL bar. This is extremely important because the decision you make here will largely affect how fast your website loads. The problem with a free website is, you’re not paying a hosting fee, so the company is essentially paying that fee for you and do you think they are hosting you on a fast server or an incredibly slow cheap one? If you guessed the cheap one, then your correct!
So, why does this matter? Well, Google’s guidelines suggest all websites load in less than 1 second on desktop devices and less than 3 seconds on mobile devices. Now when Google publishes a guideline, that’s basically like your mother “suggesting” you clean your room or your friend “suggesting” you’ve have had too much to drink – you can sense that if you don’t comply there will be real unwanted consequences. When Google “suggests” that websites load in less than a second, they are really saying “if you want us to send traffic to your website, it better load fast”.
With free websites, you don’t have control over the speed of the website because you’re not paying for it. That means, your free website may be on the web, but nobodies naturally seeing it because it has terrible search engine optimization.
So, if you’re not paying for your website, somebody is and most of the time it’s through advertisements. Have you ever been to a website that had a flashy irrelevant advertisement on the sidebar or in the header? This is an advertisement not necessarily set up by the developer of the website, but the owner of the website to drive profits up.
When you’re not paying for your website, the owner of the platform is still determined to make money and they do this by allowing third-party companies to advertise on your website. Not only is this unprofessional, but imagine if your competition was advertising on your website!? Chances are, they are at least going to compare prices, if not services and now the website you’ve created is still benefiting everybody else, but you.
Your Data is No Longer Yours
When you sign up for a free website, any data you input to the platform is no longer owned by you, it’s owned by the company offering you the free website. This includes your name, email address, your services, prices, address, blogs and anything else you willingly hand over to the free website company.
Why does this matter? It matters because it provides the free website company another opportunity to profit on your behalf! The company will most likely sell your name, phone number and email address to scam companies and they could even sell your blogs as while-labeled creations that then suddenly appear on hundreds of other websites for the low rate of $9.99. As you may have already guessed, you won’t see a dime of those profits, because you willingly gave that information to the free website company.
They End Up Costing You Money, Instead of Saving You
At the end of the day, whether its through domain name brand awareness, advertisements or data selling the free website company ends up making a lot of money off of your need for a free website. But if that’s not enough, the free website company will eventually start charging you for your free product. That’s right, the free website ends up not being free after all!
Most free website companies are free for 30, 60, 90 days and then they start charging $19.99/month, $29.99/month or even $59.00/month and of course if you choose to then have a developer design you a website, you start from scratch because you’ve lost all of your website data when you close the account.
It’s clear to see that free websites are nothing more than a carefully crafted scam preying on small business owners. I hope for your sake; this article was the advice your needed to stay away from free websites and to invest in your company and your greatest asset – yourself.