For many small business owners, the cost of business web hosting may seem prohibitive, especially once you discover there is such a thing as free web hosting. However there is a reason why reputable, established businesses don’t use free hosting plans! If you are considering free hosting, be sure to read this first so that you are sure to make an educated decision about which hosting plan to choose.
Although free hosting does have its advantages, these plans are designed more for personal websites than for companies that need to present a professional appearance. The first and most important reason that free hosting isn’t a good solution for small businesses is that it is usually paid for with ads that the hosting provider puts on your side. Often this means that there is a wide banner at the top of the page that is devoted entirely to ads, shifting your website down on the screen. Just imagine that. If someone is browsing your website on a netbook, which tend to have fairly small screens, the banner may shift your website right off the screen!
Regardless of where the ads are placed on your site, however, the result will be a website that feels cluttered. Too many items on the page, not to mention the busy layout that you usually get when you combine the hosting company’s ads with your website design, tends to overwhelm the viewer and negatively influence their experience of your website.
Besides the aesthetic concerns of ad-driven hosting, it is also important to remember that free hosting tends to damage your professional image. First of all, you are sending a message that you are too cheap to pay for business web hosting, which is going to invite potential customers to question how successful your business is. Are you too cheap because you aren’t making enough in profits to be able to afford to pay for hosting? Your customers are going to naturally wonder whether your business model is a very good one if you can’t spare the money for a website. Consumers like to buy from companies that they know will be around for a while.
Finally, you will find that you can’t do as much with free hosting as you can with business web hosting. For instance, most free hosting plans don’t offer as much server space. If you have a large website or need to be able to host a lot of large files (such as pictures) you will need a higher quality hosting plan. Also, if you are trying to set up an ecommerce site with a shopping cart and checkout system you will likely find that you need to upgrade in order to enable these features. Don’t forget the tongue-in-cheek wisdom of generations before us who said that you get what you pay for. If you pay nothing how great do you really think the service that you get will be?
As you can see, if you are tempted by free hosting it really pays to do your research first. For some, these drawbacks might be perfectly fine but if your company’s professionalism and your visitors’ first impressions of your website are important to you then you will probably want to go with a business web hosting plan instead. Your website can have a huge impact on the success of your business, especially now that so many people are doing business online. Don’t cut corners on something that is this important!