It is easy to understand that in a world where we are trying to save as much money as we can (hopefully keeping it in our bank account for other purposes) that free hosting (web hosting) becomes a viable option.
It was the same way, even 20 years ago. I even tried free web hosting. While it probably wasn’t the most horrible thing, it wasn’t the best thing, either. And, back then, the banner advertising is what did it for me. It wasn’t professional to try to obtain clients when they were distracted by the banner advertising and wondered why I couldn’t pay the $5 for regular hosting instead. So, I opted for professional hosting.
I also have a bit of a stake in the topic. Back, almost 20 years ago, we (my husband and I) ran a hosting company ourselves. The only reason we got out of the business was that because of my experience, Corporate America called and I went into full-time business as head of an IT department for a notable financial company in Los Angeles. Out of fairness for our clients, we closed up shop as a hosting company.
We knew, as a company, that we needed to give everything to our clients. That means that we burned out a bit on our end. But, our clients loved us because we were there for them 24/7. That is also why we closed up shop was because we could no longer give that level of support. We did everything for our clients, even helping a bit in tweaking the HTML when they were having problems. Now, that is not something that you should expect from hosting companies, but we were there for our clients, almost to a fault, giving too much of ourselves.
So, we know a bit about hosting, from the other side of the coin!
For this article, we are going to try to set our bias aside and talk a bit about free web hosting.
The Basics of Free Web Hosting
We already know that one of the most obvious advantages, as compared to paid hosting, of free hosting is that it doesn’t cost anything. But, there are also some other advantages. For example, free hosting generally includes templates. But, to be fair, even with paid hostings, you have the option of free templates with something like WordPress.
Some people may say that there is a requirement for knowledge of how to design when using paid hosting but that isn’t the same as it used to be, in years past. Yes, 20 years ago, you had to either know how to work with HTML or hire a web designer. That was ok with us because when we weren’t running the hosting company, we were designing websites and often, the clients that hosted with us needed web designers and vice versa.
However, it is fair to say that these days and for quite a few years now (at least a decade) with the use of the free WordPress that people no longer have to understand HTML from the most base level as they can install WordPress themselves, hire someone to do it, or obtain paid hosting that has a click-button installation process for WordPress and after that, have access to free WordPress templates. Sure, the paid templates may be more impressive but the reality is that you do not have to be a web designer to have a professional looking site. You can do it with the free WordPress and free WordPress website templates. One is pictured below, and it comes with WordPress!
A few detrimental aspects of free hosting, compared to paid hosting, include:
- overcrowding (because it is free) which affects the server and results in slower load times;
- components (i.e. email) that are less than desirable compared to what is provided in a paid hosting situation;
- basically no customer service.
Creative Uses of the Free Hosting
One creative use for free web hosting would be to use it to develop creative designs to attract visitors and give them a link to your website on the paid host. By doing so, you benefit in the following ways:
- testing the design and format concepts on a new audience;
- tracking the design and format concepts on your audience (before applying it to the site on the paid host);
- free space in exchange for the advertising (i.e. posting your images and using as a content delivery network, though it takes a bit of your speed to access the images – topic for another day).
Before we go, we decided to save the best for last. One great thing about the free hosting is that you can roll the traffic over to your paid site. So, while you are using the space for free and trying out the new design and format for free, you are linking to your paid site. This provides another linking opportunity and another traffic source. If, for some reason, your free site does better in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), you do not lose the traffic because you are redirecting it to your main site.
Now, how does that sound? Well, be sure to stay tuned for more, eh? 🙂