How free websites work (2020)

by | Jan 24, 2020 | Website design

free website image

Anyone looking to get a website has probably stumbled on ‘free website’ offers online. They promise featureful and speedy websites with excellent support for the price of nothing! However, the devil is usually in the detail and as you read on, we will go over what free website services are, how they make money despite offering free websites and why you should avoid free website services.

What are free website services?

Free website services are businesses (Keep this in mind) that offer you a business website or blog without the need to pay for anything. There are quite a number of such services. The most popular ones are probably Wix, WordPress, and Blogspot. Even Google has its own free website platform. Do a quick search on your browser and you’ll be presented with an endless list of free website offers.

How do free website services make money?

Remember, these are businesses. They are in it to turn a profit. Here are some of the ways they make money:

1. They offer pricier hosting

If you’re getting a website then you need to get web hosting too. Which is also largely a paid service. Some free website service providers will offer you a website at no cost as long as you buy hosting from them as well. In such cases, the hosting they offer you is priced higher than if you had your own website.

free website cost

A screenshot from a free website service provider’s terms and conditions. Note that they limit you to their choice of hosting.

This offer makes sense in the beginning. The price of web hosting is usually far much lower than the price of a website. However, hosting is usually renewed in monthly or yearly cycles making it possible for the business to recoup its lost revenue.

2. Your data is valuable

Some of these free website businesses have been known to sell user data to third parties who later use it for various purposes like marketing.

3. Market their own services

Have you ever visited a website and notices wordpress.com or wix.com at the end of the domain, such as example.wordpress.com or example.wix.com? If so, just know the website is on one of their free plans. This is one of the reasons WordPress and Wix are so popular. Visitors on websites on their free plans have seen those names on website links to the point that it just sticks. The result of this is more customers to their platform, some of whom will pay for their higher plans.

Why you should avoid free website services

1. Limited functionality

The free website you get might be limited in terms of the number of pages, features like a missing contact form or no embedding of a map to show your office location. The website might also lack e-commerce functionality and might not be optimized for speed – learn more about website speed.

2. No support

A common practice in the service industry is that higher-paying clients tend to get better support. Same for free website services, support will probably be based on how many requests they get from paying clients leaving you to fend for yourself.

3. Provided and use as is

Some free websites services offer their websites ‘as is’. Meaning if you ever need some changes to the layout or something else altered, you will be requested to pay up. Hence, the majority of the time you have to settle for a website that just doesn’t fully fit your business.

4. May negatively impact your business

This is a matter of reputation. Imagine trying to marketing to prospects about the quality of your products and maybe even trying to get them to pay a premium. Only for them to land on your website and realize you are on a free website platform. It won’t make any sense that you are charging a price for your products yet you don’t want to incur any cost yourself.

5. Can’t move in the future

When you are getting a website and web hosting, you can freely choose which service provider to work with. As well as move your website to a different host if need be. In the case of free website providers, they limit you to their own hosting. So, if you ever need to move your site, it most likely means starting from scratch and fresh design.

free website limitations

A screenshot from a free website service provider’s terms and conditions. Note that you cannot move your website. Doing so means losing it.

Can I get a genuinely free website?

Yes! Absolutely. However, you should note that it is extremely rare to get the website of your choice for free. In most cases, there will be some premium features left out. If your business is just starting or still young, you probably don’t need those premium features anyway and you’ll do just fine.

The idea here is not to search for a ‘free website’ but rather to be on the lookout for genuine offers from website design agencies. Genuine offers may be rare due to the nature of the work but they do appear. Websites are worth the investment. You don’t need to break the bank while you start but also a little effort goes a long way.

Let’s get your website off the ground.

Tell us about your project and we’ll send you a free quote!

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