Free website builder tools from companies like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and Jimdo all have their place, but not for professionals. If you intend to run an actual business and generate leads on the internet, then these tools aren’t even partial solutions.
In fact, a “free website” can end up costing you significantly. When you add together what you end up having to pay for all the things missing from your “free” package, then using a professional developer or more in-depth tools emerges as the better deal.
Your cost/benefit analysis should also include all your opportunity costs. Since having a barely workable site and an unprofessional look can hurt your ability to attract and convert leads, your “free” site can honestly cost you thousands in terms of lost business.
So, if you’re considering using a free website builder tool, go ahead and remember to add all these items to your tab before you consider bypassing the checkout.
No Such Thing as a “Free Website” Since You’ll Need Hosting and a Domain
The first thing to recognize is that there is absolutely no such thing as a “free website.”
Instead, what you are really building is a free design for your home page (and maybe a few side pages).
You aren’t even purchasing free HTML code! Many website builder tools lock you out of the true source code behind your page. Without access to these files, you can’t take your initial design as a springboard to build off of. Instead, you are stuck with the exact version you are able to create within the tool.
All this aside, even a completely free website design cannot function on its own. You will need a way to host your website, which requires high-capacity servers. Otherwise, a huge volume of people accessing your page at once will knock your website offline.
You also need to register your own domain. Some free website providers may offer a domain to go along with your page for no or minimal cost, but it will have the company branding embedded within. So, instead of nameofyourbusiness.com you end up with nameofyourbusiness.wix.com, or something similar. Not exactly a professional look!
Add-Ons All Add Costs (And You’re Still Compromising)
With most website builders, you are going to be missing some or all of the following features unless you are willing to pay additional costs:
- Use of more than five pages
- Ecommerce integration
- The ability to add landing pages or lead capture forms
- The ability to direct traffic from ads or social media posts to special tracking URLs
- “Contact Us” page forms
- Integrated features like chat widgets
- Control over how your site looks on mobile through responsive design
- Much more
In addition, you are stuck with the layouts they provide to free users. Customizable layouts or ones not in the free category all cost extra. So, you’re not only missing a lot of what you need to run a viable website, but you’re also compromising on your site in general.
Your Marketing Funnel Ends Up Broken
Without the ability to capture user information or track referral URLs, then you lack a huge amount of information that would otherwise help you boost business.
For instance, without the ability to ask visitors for their email addresses, you can’t add them to your email marketing list. Without customizable social media share buttons, you can’t let people quickly share your content with friends and peers.
In fact, with many free website builders, you can’t even have a blog!
All of these aspects are components of a well-formed and complete digital marketing strategy that builds leads from multiple sources. Using a free website forces you to give up all of these things or accept that they will never be integrated into your site.
As a result, you lose out on countless leads and potential revenue.
People See Your Website and Think “…Nah!”
Let’s say you accept all of the above as a sacrifice you are willing to make. “I just need a website,” you tell yourself. “I’m nowhere near the point where I’m worrying about email marketing or getting leads online.”
Even if this is the case, you still hurt the image of your brand and your business by using a free website builder. Many tools plaster your site with ads or disclaimers that “This Site Was Built in ____!”
All of these elements are not only distracting, they are off-putting to most visitors. Someone sees them and assumes you aren’t a serious business.
After all, given the choice between a website covered in ads for some other service and one with complete, cohesive branding, which would you choose?
Build a Website on a Budget Without Sacrificing Brand Integrity or Business
You always have options for building a website within your budget that don’t include free tools. While these tools may be tempting to use, they charge a high hidden price that most people are not willing to pay.
Choosing a more premium service or a custom website also brings in revenue and other returns over time. So, a small upfront investment can pay off in a big way — all while helping you grow and evolve your brand!
If you want advice on how to design your own website using great looking templates or completely from scratch, Optimized Scribes is here for you! We offer audits, consulting, website building strategies, and custom website design and development to suit your needs.
See what a fully-fledged website can do for your business when you contact us today.