I recently had an opportunity to briefly sit and chat with a state law enforcement officer and after talking with him for a few minutes about what I do he quietly asked, ” so is it possible to create a website for free?”
As I told the officer and now sharing with you, yes, you can absolutely create websites for free and here are a few I would recommend however there are some tradeoffs.
Free to create a WordPress.Com account and create a WordPress.com domain. So the URL will look like this: yourbusinessname.wordpress.com. You do have the option to use an existing domain, but it will cost you anywhere between $13 – 20 a year. With WordPress.Com you have access to hundreds of free themes or templates to use for your website. Since the blog/website is being hosted by WordPress.Com you are limited in functionality and tools. In my opinion, WordPress.Com is good for a simple blog, or a starter, getting to know WordPress type of website, not a business website.
Blogger is owned by Google so you will need to create a Google account. Similar to WordPress.Com, Blogger allows you to map an existing domain to your blogger website. So instead of going to yourbusinessname.blogspot.com which would affect perceptions and your brand, it will point to yourbusinessname.com. Blogger has similar functionality as WordPress.Com but better usability in that you have drag and drop user interface to select elements of your blog. You can customize for colors and layout and choose templates.
Obviously by the name, it is also a Google product, and seems to be in direct competition with its other product Blogger. Leave it to Google. Although the functionality is the same, templates, drag and drop, etc. The interface is quite different. It takes you through a step by step process to create your website. As with Blogger, creating a Google site, you must create a Google account, and by doing so allows you to use all of the Google tools. Such as free domain mapping. The Google sites, is again, good as a starter website, or creating a site to collaborate on a project for school or work.
About.me is a good one page “getting to know you” type of website. You create the background, and short bio with links to various social networks, and websites.The page url would be about.me/yourname. For example here is my About.Me page. There is an option to upgrade your About.me account to $4 per month which would remove the About.me branding and allow to have a custom domain (ex. yourname.me). I would recommend getting an about.me page. I think of it as a “Getting Started” page with links to my eBook and other social networks.
Although the above mentioned services are free the tradeoffs are:
- limited functionality,
- limited ability for branding
- limited customization and
- limited storage space for files and images
These limitations can be costly to your brand and business.
Highly Recommend WordPress.org – self -hosted
As many of you may know either through consultations, casual chatting or blog posts, I’m a big proponent of self-hosted WordPress. Self-hosted means that you or your hosting provider install WordPress on your domain. Most hosting providers have a simple to use interface that all you need to do is click a button and WordPress will install. You can install WordPress to be your entire website or use it just for the blog.
The versatility of manipulating the style, easily creating content and extending your brand, setting up child themes, widgets, not to mention the plethora of free (and for pay) plugins and themes to keep your WordPress website fresh, unique to your brand, and somewhat protected, are just a few of the options for using self-hosted WordPress.
Yes, there is a small investment for the domain, web hosting, and the optional email setup (about $100 or less) but in my opinion, it is one of the easiest ways a person with limited to no knowledge of web programming to create and maintain a business website.
In The End
In the end, despite the limitations you can’t afford to not be found online, so go start looking at any of these available tools and start sharing information about you and your business.