There is no single argument or answer as to whether you should use free or paid web hosting. I will say that for businesses just starting a website, most should use paid websites and the main reason is because of cost. The price of a starter web hosting service is generally no more than $10 per month. Most people can afford that within their personal budgets so most businesses can certainly afford that. What are the advantages of paying for a website?
- No ads. I can’t stress the value of this. If you get a free site you usually have no control of what ads are displayed. Have you ever gone to a website that had a lot of ads or a few ads that were unsavory? What impression do you have. A business should control their image and allowing association with what is often the worst of the internet is not a good move.
- Better options for quality of the website. Here the style and layout can be up to whatever level you need for your business. Would you go to a formal sales meeting in blue jeans and a t-shirt if your prospects were in business formal? Same thing with your website.
- Disk space and network bandwidth. Paid services usually provide greater capacity therefore allowing you to not be restricted by what you want to put up and how much. This includes images and videos. You’re more likely to have faster load times on the sites pages. Remember how you react when a web page takes a long time to load.
- There are even issues between templates in the free vs paid space.
Some downsides to paid website:
- Initial development costs are often higher. Think you want something nice? You may need WordPress or some custom PHP code and this requires technical skills.
- Maintenance is harder. Longer wait times to modify information because you depend upon a website designer. This one irritates me so much I make it a point to get login information for the back-end so I can make changes.
Free websites have some upsides (consider Weebly, I like Google Sites but read my other post on Google Apps). They usually have existing templates that allow you to build your own site without the help of a 3rd party. This keeps development costs down and maintenance simple. Remember though, you get what you pay for so the look of the site is often a bit stiff and home-made. There are some small businesses where this is appropriate. Evaluate and understand what your needs are and most importantly put on your marketing cap. What should you be doing not just what is good enough.