Free web hosting has become a very common thing these days.
Free is always attractive, right? Who doesn’t like free? I’ll be honest – I like free stuff.
But you cannot always opt for free, right? Especially when it comes to serious business, you cannot rely on free stuff!
When you want to start an online business, the number one thing you need is an online space – a website! And, there are various ways in which you start a website. We can broadly categorize them into “Free” and “Paid” ways!
As I said, “free” sounds attractive especially when you are starting out an online business – you might have a pretty thin wallet coz you are just starting out. And at this time, anything that appears to help your business for free will sound promising for sure. A good example of this is free web hosting.
There are free web hosting options like Blogger, WordPress.com, Typepad, Tumblr and many others on one hand. And, on the other hand you have the option to self-host your websites.
What is a self-hosted website?
A self hosted website is where you host your website files on a server which is yours – well, not fully. It depends. If you choose a shared hosting plan, you pay for a small portion of space and resources of a server that you share with the others like you.
If you choose the dedicated server option, you pay for a server that is totally yours!
In any case, you pay for the space where you host your website files which is why it is called “self-hosted” – you host it for yourself.
So what’s wrong with free hosting?
There’s nothing wrong with it. But here are some reasons why you shouldn’t choose free web hosting as an option for your business!
If you don’t host it you don’t own it!
Well, with free hosting platforms like Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, etc. they host your website files for you, for free! This means that the hosting space is not yours and so those files are not yours too.
It is their space, so they can do whatever they please.
You think I’m exaggerating? Let me write my most popular start up story that I’ve talked at various interviews here:
I stumbled upon blogging accidentally when I wanted to cope with home sick while I was away from home for my Ph. D, in the UK. When I realized the potential of blogging, I started two blogs on Blogger platform.
I was basically publishing random stuff – I was not very particular about monetizing the site. I treated it as a hobby! But the content I put there was precious; I invested serious time in creating that content and I had already built a nice community around that blog.
One fine day, those two blogs were deleted, yes DELETED by Blogger with no prior notice or anything. I was shocked and I contacted blogger many times and I got no response.
All the content I created by putting in time and effort was gone just like that! I still don’t know “why” my sites were deleted. I simply had no choice but to forget about those two sites and move on.
It is only after that I started to take my business seriously. I realized that anything that I don’t host is not mine. Even if I have written the content myself and even if I claim that to be “my” website, it is not mine in reality.
If you don’t host it you don’t own it![Click to tweet this!]
Limitations, limitations on free web hosting!
Free always comes with a catch. You might have experienced this in various other free stuff that you come across every day. If “free” is totally free, nobody will be making any money and every body will be getting everything for free – and God knows what will bridge the flow of money between people who offer free and people/businesses that receive free stuff!
So in reality, free does come with a catch. By offering you with free web hosting, popular platforms like Blogger or WordPress.com are making money in some other way.
They run ads on your blog – you create content, you do the marketing, you work hard to gain traffic to your blog; but then your “free” web hosting platform will run their ads on your blog and make money from your traffic (and drive your traffic away too!).
Most platforms have limitations on you putting up your own ads. Some platforms absolutely don’t allow you to put your own ads on your (own!) blog. Some platforms want you to have a certain number of visitors per day or per month before you can start putting up your own ads.
You might have to pay them to take away the ads so you can show a clean site for your visitors – see, there’s no free really?
And you don’t have total freedom on how your website looks. You may not make custom changes to design beyond a certain level.
In the name of free, the popular free hosting platforms actually make you play by their rules.
Your hands are tied with free web hosting [Click to tweet this!]
You fail to demonstrate seriousness and professionalism to your clients
If you cannot invest in your core asset – your website – then it is pretty clear that you are not serious about your business. And you will demonstrate that to your clients/customers/prospects as well.
If your website dwells on one of the free platforms like Blogger, WordPress.com or Typepad, then your website url will look something like
and this doesn’t look professional, does it?
Of course, you have the option to add your custom domain name where you can remove this feature, but then you have to pay for it (see, there’s no free really?).
It is not hard, even with a custom domain name, to find out if your site is self-hosted or hosted on any of the free platforms. And once your prospects see this fact, they won’t take you very seriously!
If you are serious about your business pay for your hosting! [Click to tweet this!]
Forget free web hosting: Go for the self-hosted website option
Going for a self-hosted website is the wise decision you can make for the sake of your company/business. You are serious about your business, aren’t you? You want to make money from your business, don’t you?
If so, then you should take your website pretty seriously too. Your website is your online presence; it is your asset. So don’t take it lightly.
Have you had any bad experiences with free web hosting platforms? What are the “fears” that hold you from going for a self-hosted website?