PART 1 OF 2
FREE WEBSITE? Danger! Danger! Run Will Robinson!
Many startup business and charity organizations attempt to cut initial costs by “buying in” to a “free website.” Please be aware, free websites are never free and can be more detrimental than helpful. (The term “free website” should not be confused with a free website builder tool.)
In this article you will learn the serious drawbacks of an advertised “free” site, to insure an informed decision and, most importantly, to stay out of trouble.
The initial point that I need to bring up is that the majority of reviews on free website services are negative. Take a minute to search out some reviews on the provider, off their own websites, before you sign on to the service.
Have answers to these questions before you proceed.
- Will this decision save me thousands or cost me thousands?
- Who owns the domain name (URL) if I leave the “free” service?
- Will the domain name include the provider’s business name?
- Who owns the design?
- If the products are free initially, how much are they later?
- When do fees kick in?
- Will the provider be selling ads on my site?
- Have I researched (and taken to heart) multiple reviews of the company?
- Do I have the time and energy to design and maintain my own site?
- If they build it for me, who owns the design?
- If they build it for me, how long will it take to make updates, alterations, etc.?
YOUR DOMAIN NAME
At the top of the priority list with any website is your Domain Name, also called a URL, your website’s online address. In an effort to be thorough I’ll explain further. A domain name will always begin with a “www.” followed by your chosen web name. The variety of extensions, or endings, that are available for business sites are expanding. Some common extensions include “.com”, “.net”, “.co”, and newly added extensions like “.graphics”, “.guru”, etc. are now available for business listings. Many extensions are reserved for certain organizations, (i.e., “.gov” for government sites and “.org” for non-profits).
Keep in mind, with many free services, the providers name is included in the domain name you’ve chosen, (i.e., username.wix.com/sitename, sitename.wordpress.com). This is “free” advertising for them, but your domain is then less unique and more difficult to remember.
Before you accept a free website, be sure to do some research about ownership of your domain name. If you don’t register the domain yourself, who owns it when you decide to leave the “free” web service? Will the domain that you’ve been advertising to clients and had printed on your business cards, letterhead, etc. still be yours? How much will it eventually cost you to keep it? Do not take comfort when told that you can transfer it out any time. They have complete control if your name is not on the registration. They can “sell” it back to you for whatever price they set.
A short time ago I was looking for a new domain. I liked www.cg.co, which is available for $75,000. This is perfectly legal. If you own a domain name, you can put any price you desire on it. I have a client that didn’t renew her domain name in time. Someone else quickly registered it and is now offering it back for $2095. Be positively sure that you alone control your URL. Auto-renew is a great feature for small businesses when it comes to domain names, alleviating costly missed renewals.
THIS ARTICLE IS CONTINUED IN MY NEXT BLOG.
My goal is to educate, inform and protect small business owners from scams and misinformation. I hope you’ll check out my portfolio site, ChelsiGraphics.com.