Can you create a website for free?

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A website is the hub of your business. It’s usually where people go to find out more about you and what you have to offer. But when you are first starting out the cost of a website can seem even more overwhelming than the tech involved. You may be wondering if you can build a website for free.

Free options for websites

Make sure when you looking for free options that they are truly free and not just a free trial. There is nothing worse than spending 2 weeks to create your website, only to find that your free trial is over.

Here are some free website options:

WIX

WIX is a popular website builder. You can build a complete website on their platform for free.

WordPress.com

Not to be confused with WordPress.org, WordPress.com is another free website platform.

MailerLite

MailerLite allows you to create a website with their drag and drop editor, even on it’s free plan. 

What you miss with the free options

Now that we’ve established that you can build a website for free, let’s look at some reasons that you probably don’t want to.

You won’t have your own domain. With WIX your site will be something like yourname.wixsite.yoursite.com. Your WordPress.com site will have WordPress in the domain. With MailerLite your site would be named ????. There are a few reasons you don’t want this:

  • it looks unprofessional
  • It doesn’t work for SEO. That means that if someone is searching on Google for what you have to offer, your site likely won’t come up
  • You won’t be able to have branded email addresses if you don’t own the domain
  • Your site will display ads that you have no control over. MailerLite is the only one of these options that does not display ads on your site.
  • The storage is limited, which means you won’t have much space for your images and other content.


Who are free sites for

In general free sites should only be for personal use and not for business use.  Because you don’t control the ads, the domain or the hosting, they should only be used when you are first getting started. And only if you’re not reliant on traffic from outside sources.

Some cost effective options

There are three main parts to the cost of having a website:

  • Domain registration
  • Site hosting
  • Website builder
  • Themes and plugins


If you use a website company like Wix or Squarespace these might all be included in the price.  For a paid site with your own domain and no advertising this starts at around $120 per year.

Domain registration is done with a company like GoDaddy or NameCheap. It can also be done with your website host. Some include the domain registration with the cost of the hosting. Domain registration for a .com site is usually less than $10 for the original registration and less than $15 per year.

The cost of hosting for the first year is quite cheap - less than $50 for the entire year. It will go up to around $100 - $150 per year after the first year.

If you use WordPress you can build your website for free. You can also start with a free theme and you should be able to get by with the free versions of plugins.

Keep in mind that the different hosts and website platforms differ on what they include with their plans. Some include email addresses while others you may have to pay extra for. Some will charge more for things like payment processing.

What are other options?

If you are not ready to pay for a website, then I suggest waiting until you are ready rather than the free options. But there are some other options:

MemberVault sites - you can start up a MemberVault site for free with only a limit on the number of users and the number of products (at the time of this writing 100 users, 3 products). MemberVault allows you to have public facing aspects of your site. They’ve also announced a pages and blog option that is coming soon. No word on how much will be available on the free site. The free site does limit you to using the .vipmembervault domain. But this does give you an easy to set up hub for your business.

Start with one of the free options and upgrade to a paid option when you are ready. In this case you will miss out on gaining SEO juice early on. To make it easier for migration, try to pick the place you plan to be on later on.

Use social media. I don’t recommend that this is your only presence because you are on borrowed land, but a free website is also borrowed land. However it can be a good place to get started with getting content out, testing ideas and starting to develop an online presence. You can use social media to host video content, host challenges and even host paid programs.

Make use of your email service provider. As I mentioned earlier MailerLite allows you to build a website, but there are other ways to make use of your email service provider. Use it to grow your audience, send lead magnets, run challenges and communicate with group program members. 

Make use of your client management system. If you’re using a system like PT Distinction for your fitness clients or practice better for you nutrition clients you can wait to create a website. 

Getting someone to do it for you

You might be thinking this is not the most cost effective option, but if you consider the time it takes to set up a website for your business, you might decide that it’s actually more cost effective to get someone to do it for you. This is especially true if you are considering a WordPress website. While WordPress websites can be the most cost effective they are also the most difficult to create and manage. I’m currently offering introductory pricing for my website creation and management services.


Summary

You can create a free website, but don’t expect it to be a long term option for your business. For the most part I think you’re probably better off waiting to create a website than spending time and effort creating a free website.

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