If you are tempted to use a free web hosting service as a way to trim expenses when first starting up a blog or page for your business, think again. While free services seem attractive because they allow you to save your pennies and spend them in other places where the return on investment might seem more worthwhile, there are hidden pitfalls to be aware of that might, in fact, make those free sites end up costing you time, money, and credibility. If you set up a site that reflects your personal brand or business, an upfront investment can pay off down the line by allowing you to avoid some of the common headaches associated with free hosting services.
The first problem with free hosting sites is that nothing in life is free: if they aren’t making money from you, the customer, then they must be making money from some other source. What’s the most likely source? Advertising. Most free sites require you to agree to prominently feature a whole variety of ads and logos that aren’t your own somewhere on your page.
These ads, in turn, tempt people who find their way to your page to click through – and click away from – the content you are providing. The site has an incentive to lure your potential audience away, in fact. The more people who click through, the more advertising revenue they can generate. In this particular instance, your interests and the site hosting service’s interests are not at all compatible, and if enough people follow the ads, your potential audience can decline, perhaps significantly.
Paid sites not only put the primary focus on the content you want to provide, but that monthly or annual fee also buys you a higher level of service, reliability, and professionalism. If you are building a blog to brand yourself or a website to market your company to the public, isn’t it worth a few dollars upfront to present the most professional, competent face possible?
Technology malfunctions and when that happens – when servers go down, or order forms malfunction or something else goes awry; you risk undermining your reputation and credibility with your audience if your potential customers get frustrated with your site and take their business elsewhere. If that happens, it’s more likely that you will get prompt and courteous attention and troubleshooting from a service that cares about keeping you as a customer.
If your dollars make up their revenue, the company behind the service will do what it takes to retain your business. A free hosting site with great reviews on the other hand, doesn’t care if you walk out the door and grab your business with you because you weren’t paying them anyway. And if you have to walk out the door and start over again with a different hosting service entirely, well, that’s additional time lost, and opportunities missed to connect to the audience you want to reach. All of a sudden, what seemed to be a good deal may end up looking quite costly when all is said and done, and, in a nutshell, is why free hosting isn’t good.