Internet continues to be the most important part of doing business. To compete and boost revenues, business owners now realize how essential a website is to promote their offline business. The problem is that most small businesses often try to “save money” by taking the bait of free website offers—a bad way to start an online business.
While it is possible to create an ecommerce website with little or no monetary investment, there are some compromises that you will have to make, and oftentimes you must spend more money, than you anticipated, on building an actual website.
Here are the top 10 reasons why it is a bad idea to accept a “free” website offer for your ecommerce business:
1. Free websites may include hidden charges
For paid web services, you always know the upfront charges for all basic features, and you can pick and choose any additional features you may need. These so-called “free” services have many restrictions and hidden costs you may not be aware of. Once you’re sucked in, they will begin to ask additional fees to access more features, pages, storage, and other services. You will soon realize that the freebie features are not enough and will need to pay more for features that are important for your business.
2. Cannot acquire 100% Control of your website
You can’t run advertisements or make affiliate money on your “own” website. Before signing up for any free website services, you need to know the restrictions. Free websites can limit from displaying AdSense or affiliate links. Even the most important google analytics tracking codes may not be allowed. They are often contract-free, and your website’s data won’t be fully protected. They can even sell your information without your permission.
3. Malware distribution malware
“Free website” services are notorious for distributing malware. Your website may be prone to successful hacking attempts because you don’t have the right to install security software or plugins. So, your site could be hacked if you do not have adequate protection and if you don’t have a backup of your website, you’re out of luck. You may have to start all over again. Imagine the headaches if you have over 100 products or images.
4. Restricted Design Choices
You have no control over your hosting account. As a result, free websites offer only a handful of design templates, and you can’t be fully customized to fit your personality. Self-hosted websites using WordPress have thousands of design options and growing.
5. Free Websites Runs Adverts
The host of a free website can run irrelevant advertisements on your “own” website. If you are running a website on the free web host, your web visitors may constantly be interrupted with pop-up advertisements that interfere with user-experience. These ads may come from less trustworthy sources and can slow down your web speed and performance. Also, the content of these disruptive ads may be identical to the content of your products and services thereby competing with your online business and taking away potential revenues from your business or services.
6. Excessively prolonged loading time
Your website’s long loading times can affect the user experience and negatively impact business. Free hosting providers usually host multiple websites on one server. This means that free websites will load extremely slowly.
7. Non-professional URLs
Having a domain name like “onlinebusiness-freewebhost dot com” will negatively affect your credibility of your ecommerce business. Your competitor could take advantage of this awkward URL by buying the real domain name your business could have used. For instance, if your business name is “xyz Enterprises” and your online store is called “xyzEnterprises-freewebhost dot com,” your competition could explore this ignorance by buying a domain name called “xyzEnterprises dot com” forever taking away your right to this domain name again that identifies with your business. They will rather pay the minimal annual fees, so you don’t have access to domain name again. Online visitors will always trust a professional-looking domain name more than a sub domain name of a free web hosting company.
8. Difficult to Migrate Data
Small business owners that start a website with free services to save time and money often move to paid ones. Unfortunately, you don’t own your content so when you do want to migrate to paid services, free website service providers can lock them down your content preventing you to migrate them to another platform or server. In addition, due to the complexity of managing a free website, it could cost you additional unplanned money to hire an IT professional to migrate your data manually.
9. Insufficient Disk Capacity for Your Business
Free website companies host hundreds of websites that share the same server which most likely you will be limited in storage capacity. You will often be asked to pay another hidden fee for storage when you exceed the limit set for a free service. For example, your bandwidth is limited to 5GB per month. This means the site will cease responding the moment users have downloaded 5GB worth of data. This means that your site could be limited to a certain number of visitors per day which can affect your potential revenues and your bottom line.
10. No customer Support
Companies can disappear at any time, and you lose your data. Support services are often limited or non-existence for free website services. Therefore, web maintenance is in your hand, and you are on your own if anything breaks down or if your visitors are having trouble navigating certain features on your website. You will need to identify the root cause of any bugs or errors or hire a web developer or designer to fix them. This will cost you customers who may be trying to engage with you on the site and are not able to. If you don’t have a system to notify you of any errors, broken site, or when you reach your allocated disk storage, you may lose potential sales or business connections.
Investing time on “free website” is not a good business practice. While free websites may offer appealing benefits, you must clarify your ask questions before accepting a freebie website. The free services may not be the best long-term option to grow your ecommerce business. While it is tempting to get a website for free, they are not the best way to get traffic to your website and definitely not the best way to compete in this ecommerce world.