You’re just starting out with your business so you don’t have a lot of money to throw around. You start scratching your head thinking about where you can cut costs. This gets you looking at your website.
Can you get by with using free WordPress hosting? It’s easy to use, pretty reliable, and so many people use it that it has to be worth it right? You might want to rethink this a little because the things that are truly worth it in life aren’t typically free.
While WordPress’s free version may be able to you get by for a bit, you will probably have to upgrade eventually. To help you weigh your options here is everything that you need to know about free hosting.
The good things in life are never free. WordPress and many other hosting sites use a sort of freemium package. This means that you get some options that you can play around with but all of the features you really want are going to be locked behind a premium package.
For example, WordPress has plugins that you can use to build your site. These will be essential to your website but there is a very small amount available to you unless you sign up for the VIP program.
These limitations will eventually force you to upgrade anyway so you may as well just go ahead bite the bullet so to speak. It will be more money but at least you get all the best features right from the start so you won’t lose traffic due to limitations.
All free hosting sites have certain terms and conditions. If you break any of these you could try and get on your site one day just to find out that WordPress has taken it down. These terms and conditions are usually displayed when you sign up so you’ll be aware of them, but accidents do happen.
When you have the paid version you’re slightly safe from this because you’ll have options to back up your site but if you have the free version you won’t be as lucky. You’ll have to start back to square one with everything, including your SEO rank because your backlinks are now worthless.
Speaking of terms and conditions, if you read the fine print you’ll come to realize that you don’t actually own your site at all. This means that if you wake up one day and decide that you no longer want it, you’re out of luck. You won’t be able to sell it or transfer it to anyone else.
Again with the small print thing, you’ll come to realize that not only do you not own your site, but you also don’t own some of the content at all. So if you’re using your site to display your writing or artwork this may trouble you a little bit.
Say a post on your site takes off and brings a bunch of traffic to your site. Ideally, you want this to happen but if it does, you will quickly use up your bandwidth limit. This means while someone is reading the post, it could just go down and pull the reader away from your site.
Take this one person and multiply them. When nobody in the world can get to your site because the servers are flooded this will bring your reputation down along with your site.
If you go with the VIP version from the start you won’t have to worry about this because you’ll have a lot more bandwidth to work with.
When it comes to any free web hosting your site will most likely look like a cluttered mess unless you use the paid version. With WordPress, not only can you not turn the ads off but you’re also limited to their free themes which are pretty basic.
Even though the free themes are basic, the ones on WordPress aren’t as bad as some hosting sites are. We’re going to go over both the pros and the cons.
When you’re using the completely free version of WordPress your viewers will see tons of ads. These ads will make your site cluttered and worst of all, slow your site down because their computer is trying to load too much.
The worst part of these ads is that you don’t choose what they are and you don’t get paid for them at all so they’re annoying and they don’t bring you any profit.
You will have a very limited number of themes to choose from but it’s not all bad. There are a few pros from the free themes.
The biggest pro is the fact that they are free. If you’re just starting out it saves you from having to hire a skilled designer that you can’t exactly afford. One of the other pros is that each of the themes goes through a very strict review.
This means they are tested to make sure that they will work for one and that there is no chance for any security breaches for two.
While you can certainly get by with a free theme you may want to consider upgrading due to the cons. The first one is that you don’t exactly have support options. While the theme developers will give you some guidance through forums, it’s not going to be the biggest help in the world.
Most of the free themes are highly limited in terms of functionality. For example, you won’t have access to the shortcodes or creation buttons that you would if you were using the premium themes.
Due to the fact that these themes are free, they can be seen on a lot of different blogs so people won’t exactly be seeing anything fresh or new visually on your site. There are customization options sure, but not enough to make your site stand out from the crowd of others using a similar theme.
Most of the premium themes have a warranty which means if something goes terribly wrong, WordPress will be obligated to fix it. The free themes don’t come with such a warranty so if something goes south, you’ll be left to figure out how to fix it on your own.
Staying with the themes bandwaggon a little bit, say you want to make your own custom theme to get around having to pay for one. You have an idea in your head and you’re ready to bring in someone who can make it.
You won’t be able to use it for your WordPress site. The free version of WordPress restricts you from uploading custom themes.
After your site has been up for a while, you will start to receive feedback from users. This is feedback that you can use to improve the quality of your site and show the users that you’re trying to fix things. Good luck doing this if you’re using the free version of WordPress.
If you want to upgrade your site then you’ll need plugins to do it. Again, with the free version of WordPress, you won’t have access to any of these plugins so it will be hard to improve your site over time.
Say your site starts getting hits so you want to start selling merchandise, you can’t do that without a plugin. We’ll get into making money a little later on.
It will be hard for you to gain any sort of web traffic with the domain name that the free version of WordPress gives you. It will be a “powered by WordPress” link which doesn’t exactly look all that professional so users might not take you seriously.
You also might not like the idea of you not actually owning your own domain name just for the fact that if one day WordPress shuts down for whatever reason, your site, all of your hard work and your free domain name will go down with it.
If you upgrade to the paid or business version this link will go away so it will be your domain name and look as such. You can also host your own site if you want a unique domain name.
If you decide to host your own site rather than using WordPress at all it will be pretty easy, cheap, and look a lot more professional.
While you can certainly move all of your content to a different web host if you want, the free version of WordPress doesn’t exactly make this easy. You’ll probably end up caving and buying the free version just so you won’t toss your computer across the room.
While the paid version of a hosting site may or may not make this process easier, with the amount of great stuff you’ll get from it you may not feel like you even have to switch.
If you have a free site, Google is automatically going to consider it to not be very high quality. This means that it’s going to be very hard for you to rank. Most users don’t go past the first page of search results so you can imagine that this will seriously bring your traffic down.
There is also the matter of keywords. It’s harder to rank with them on a free site vs. a paid one. You also won’t have access to Google Analytics unless you upgrade.
This means that you can’t even track the traffic coming to your site. Well, you can but you have to use the WordPress version which is not near as good.
You can’t earn money with the free version of WordPress. You can’t sell ads unless your website gets a ton of traffic in which case you can download WordAds and sell them. Keep in mind part of the revenue will go to WordPress.
If you upgrade then you’ll have access to WordAds right from the start. If you want to sell things on your site you can’t do it without a plugin so you’ll have to upgrade to add a method in which you can receive payment.
With all of the bad things, we’ve talked about you may be questioning if there are any benefits at all from using free WordPress other than saving money when you’re first starting out. There are actually quite a few of them.
For example, if you aren’t exactly good at webpage design, WordPress basically walks you through it. It’s very user-friendly.
So unless you want to sell things you’ll save money because you won’t have to hire someone to make your site. It’s because of this that WordPress is very popular for hobby blogs.
When you’re first starting out it can be very tempting to go with free WordPress hosting for your site. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. You’ll have a few basic features which are fine unless you’re trying to run a business.
If you are trying to run a business, you won’t be able to make any money with the free version of WordPress alone. At the end of the day, the only one who can decide if it’s worth it or not is you.
Have you tried WordPress’s free version and it’s just not working for you? Contact us to see if we could be a better option.