Many people often ask me if it's okay to use free website builders. My answer is always that it depends. It depends on many factors including the reason you're building your site, your budget, your design ability, and your target market.
Many people do just fine with free builders such as Weebly, Go Daddy's Website Tonight, or the blogging platforms like Blogger, or Wordpress. Oftentimes, these free services announce to the world that they are free, and they put ugly ads on your website. In addition, many of the free platforms do not like it when you use them for your business website. So check your terms of service.
First of all, let me define what I mean when I am talking about "free services" basically we are talking about free hosting. It's actually fine to use free website builders, free templates, and other free things to build your web presence but it's not really a good idea to use free hosting services most of the time.
When to use a free service
- It meets the terms of service (TOS) guidelines -- Many types of websites violate TOS guidelines of free hosting services. Make sure you read the fine print.
- It's a personal site not related to your business -- Personal sites can put forth a more casual personality than a business website.
- You do not plan to earn money from the website -- No one is going to want to give you money if you're not willing to pay five dollars a month for hosting.
- It is for personal for family use -- Many families use blogs to share information, pictures, and other items such as this easily and as long as this is not against the TOS, go for it.
- You do not expect to make money or even become very popular -- Many free hosting services have limits on the amount of traffic, as well as limits on business activities such as placing Google ads or other money making ads.
- It's okay with you to lose it -- If your site was discontinued and all your hard work disappeared you'd be okay with that. Many free sites go out of business, or close down, or just randomly delete information without warning.
When to use a paid service
- Your site is for business -- If your website is for a business and you want to put forward a very professional personality.
- You do not want other people's ads on your site -- Using a paid hosting service will remove the advertisements as well as the little advertising button for your free hosting too. you don't want ads on a business or service site anyway, much less ads you have no control over and will not earn revenue from.
- You want more control -- You can control every aspect of your site if you pay for hosting. Since hosting is inexpensive there is no reason not to pay so that you can maintain complete control over your content and information.
- You don't want to lose everything -- Free hosting sites practically own your content, therefore they can choose to shut you out and delete you whenever they feel like it.
- You desire more functionality-- If you purchase your own hosting you can easily add all the functionality to your website that you desire. You can build the largest site you want, with forums, chats, and more.
As you can see there are many reasons to go ahead and pay for hosting and there are very few reasons to use free hosting since the cost is minuscule and the benefits to paying for hosting are so great.