Free Is Not Free After All
The year is winding down fast and it’s been some good months since you took up that tempting free offer to start your blog/website. Naturally, you are totally loving the idea of having a space that finally allows you to say your piece. A medium to have your voice heard and you are busy plugging away for hours on end.
Congratulations. That’s certainly a step in the right direction, but I must burst a little part of your bubble with some hard truth about ‘free sites,’ that’s the wrong direction.
There’s a CATCH to this free bait and if possible, you must AVOID it at all costs.
Many beginner bloggers/writers start their site with the thought of keeping their costs down to spending nothing at all, therefore they plunge into the choppy waters of the internet with glee and a feeling of smartness until reality slaps them in the face real hard.
Short of telling you that it’s a dumb idea to accept free hosting – no offense meant, the internet is popping full of companies that offer free hosting that you have to exercise caution before accepting such invitation to treat and if you know someone who plans to do same, just hold their hands and ask them to press pause on that right there.
Here’s why I say so
How would you like to wake up five months after you’ve worked hard on that blog, posting your book chapter by chapter, writing your witty articles, connecting with people from all walks of life and all the stuff that people do on blogs only to find out that you can no longer access your site? It’s been deleted due to spamming!
Such miserable moment is better left imagined. I know a blogger whose site went forever 404 on her and all attempt made to contact the service provider to restore it received no attention. There was no help desk or anyone to connect to, to navigate through this challenge.
Things are rough out there and it’s natural for anyone to want to build their website at a low-cost, but please avoid free – no exceptions here. Except self-inflicted heartache is your kind of thing, don’t take such shortcuts especially these days when Web-hosting is cheap that it’s worth that little investment to gain ownership of your site. When you put this cost in perspective, it does not amount to the cost of a box of Dunkin Donuts or a McDonald’s’ burger or whatever it is you indulge in eating.
In order to grow your audience, it requires a lot of social media networking, traffic, and social engagement and search engines attach more trust and credibility to paid domains. You won’t even be able to add your blog to certain services because you need to prove ownership of your site which you don’t have.
I know how many times that I’ve had to prove ownership of my site with an advertiser before I could get on their programs and when your site is a free site the perception is different.
- Unprofessional looking address
Owning a website that its name reads something like ‘mylittlecorner.Simplecheapandfreesite.com’ looks dreadful and unprofessional. There’s a lot to say in a name and your visitors will definitely notice this. At the end of the day when you figure out that you want to buy a domain name that would have cost you less, the free site company ends up charging you twice that amount.
You have jumped in and you now find out that there’s absolutely no helping hands in the free site kingdom. No connection whatsoever. Free site companies don’t give any support services to users. You are left to swim through the overwhelming process of setting up your site with limited documentation, good luck with that.
Using free websites is simply setting yourself up for bad user experience. Most of these companies that offer free sites don’t have the support for it. Running sites costs money and servers are expensive, so they simply lump hundreds of websites on a server which slows down the sites loading to such a snail speed that makes a web page difficult to discover.
- Lack of website building tools and limited space for your web pages.
In most cases, these companies will not let you install WordPress on your free site because to run WordPress would cost them more and they lack the facility to offer that. Even when you install WordPress on their platform, you’ll meet loads of errors and downtime. Your pages and building tools are limited that to get anything more to improve your experience would need a paid upgrade. At the end of the day, it comes down to the same thing – possibly spending more money than you bargained for.
- Poor backup support, hacking, and security
Having backup support on free sites is a pipe dream and if something goes wrong with your site per chance, you stand a good chance of losing your entire data because they are unable to restore it. Free website companies are a thriving ground for malware and they are vulnerable to frequent hack attempts due to poor security practice.
People will often say, ‘let me start with the free one, then I’ll upgrade when I make some money.‘ No, you won’t make money on a free site, secondly, you’ll discover that when you do want to migrate your data from a free site to a paid one it becomes tedious because free website companies don’t have the tools to do this easily. At the end of the day, you’ll either end up leaving the data behind or seeking the services of someone with the know-how to manually move your data and the cost is not cheap.
- You can’t monetize your blog and they place their independent ads on your pages
If it’s part of your dream to earn from your free site, let me give you a pat on your back now and tell you to shelve that thought ’cause it’s not gonna happen. Remember that these companies exist to make money, so you create the content and the company, however, capitalize on it and plant their intrusive advertisements all over your pages. You simply have no control. To get this slice of pie, you’ve got to go get a proper site.
- They could close shop and that’s it
There are no guarantees on the longevity of some of these companies. Some are one-trick ponies that could decide to simply shut down their servers and pack up their business for a myriad of reasons and because the terms of their modus operandi cover them legally, they are fully protected.
- No protection of your information which could be sold
Always ask yourself what the catch is. In this case, most of these free website companies collect email addresses and sell them to other marketing companies as a way of making money.
- Lack of responsive designs and support for mobile devices
Most free website companies don’t offer responsive designs that work on mobiles phones because what they offer are often too old to support the fluidity of mobile devices, thus your dashboard is restricted to desktop which infers that you would not be able to update your site from your phone, neither can mobile phone visitors find you and you must remember that handheld device is part of everyday life today and it drives a reasonable amount of traffic that you would not get.
- There are no contact forms or branded emails
Your contact form and about page are one of the first things that you put up on a good site. It’s through your contact form that you would most probably receive business requests – if your site is business driven and other requests. Most free sites don’t have a way to add a custom contact form neither can you create an email account name with your domain name if you are interested in doing so.
- Difficult to get rid of your site and data
Peradventure you decide to cut ties with the free website company, it’s almost impossible to drop your site from their server because they deliberately make it difficult to do so since most times they use the content created by free users to earn money.
- Limited upload features and poor statistics
Paid hosting buys you the benefit of uploading unlimited files to your site using the media uploader that’s on WordPress, but with free site companies, you only get a web interface that’s slow where you can only upload one file at a time to a restricted amount. On the other hand, you are in no way able to install traffic counters such as google to gain an understanding of your sites stats.
- You are investing so much of your time for nothing
You are working as hard if not even harder than the paid user and it all amounts to nothing. Blogging takes up a lot of one’s time and as is often said, your time is your money and you have to choose how you invest it wisely.
There are reputable sites that offer free plans, but they are few and far between. If your aim is to build something tenable and serious online, then you should never start with a free site. Without mincing words, it’s a waste of time, it’s unsafe, unreliable, could be a harrowing experience and your growth potentials are seriously hindered.
There are better ways
My recommendation is that you register your domain name and build your site. You won’t wake up tomorrow to find that it has vanished into thin air. There are top-notch hosting companies that offer WordPress open software hosting at a decent cost and they will help you with the support that you need to meet this.
I hope you’ll make a smart business decision today and ditch free hosting because free is not free after all.
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