When an offer mentions the word “free,” it is not uncommon for a small business owner to get excited – particularly when free means something of value to them and their small business (such as website improvements and/or online marketing assistance). There have been countless free website builders that have come and gone, and that’s one of the main reasons why you will want to be careful in choosing a free website builder.
This blog idea was submitted to us by one of our office-space tenants who spent months cleaning up the problems he had after using a “Free Website Builder.” They told us that they now believe the only thing free they can count on as being truly free, is the free coffee, tea or filtered water they get at our office space. So, we decided to look into the problem with free website builders and share it with our other clients and followers.
Yes, the idea of having no costs involved in building your small business website with a Free Website Builder may sound great, but have you looked at the true costs to your business? The first is that your small business may be getting a website the looks unprofessional and does not match the standards that your customer is expecting. If your product or service is that good, why are you using a free website builder site?
Your potential customers may doubt your credibility when the see that you are trying to run a business from a free website. Consider this: Would you ever think of doing business with a company that has its website on a free website-builder platform? Probably not, because you would think it was a fly-by-night operation or even worse, a scam. When working with a free website builder that has a limited number of quality templates, chances are that your customer has seen almost the same site look somewhere else. Spending money on a premium, exclusive or customized template is your best choice.
When you do a Google search for “free website” you will access plenty of pages of results with various types of offers. What many of these services do you not tell you are the premium services you must pay for to keep your small business website free of ads – and to be able to use your own domain name. They will not warn you about the limited the amount of traffic, bandwidth or disk space that you can have in any given month.
Also, free website builders do not offer free support. Whether it is by chat, email or telephone, technical support has to be done by a real human being – it is not free. If you get stuck when building your site, you will either have to find a way to hack your way through the problem, or pay for premium support. When you decide to move your site to another hosting service, you could lose all of your SEO rankings that you had built over time and be faced with starting all over again because of the drastic changes to your site design.
With free website builders, you can also lose ownership of your content. Using a free website service is like leasing a car instead of buying it, except you are not even paying the leasing fee! While you can add lots of great content to your website and make it look beautiful, you may never really own it – the free website provider does (read their terms of service). Even when you try to move your content to a different provider, search engines might see it as duplicate content and it could affect your rankings.
Just like any other decision you make for your small business, make it an informed decision. Do your homework and read the small print when looking at free or low-cost website builders. The more you know going into an offer that sounds good, the better. Read about what other business owners have to say about the services that are being offered.