Maybe you own a small business or you’re a newbie to blogging and have thought about starting your first online blog. It sounds exciting getting to talk about your services, blog about things that you’re interested in and advertise your products for sale to the world.
You might also be tempted to start your first blog with a free host such as WordPress.com. After all, it’s just a test and you don’t really want to commit to a paid host, makes sense right? No, not really, and you’ll see why in a minute.
There’s free WordPress hosting?
It’s common practice for a web-hosting company to offer free services to promote their business. Free services draw quite a crowd and give hosting companies a way to market their services to as many people as possible.
Free WordPress hosting sites may offer a cost-free solution for starting your business or personal site, but it comes with more than a few compromises, which could likely derail your first steps into WordPress webmastering…
4 Very Good Reasons Not to Use Free WordPress Hosting
You can’t get an unbranded domain name or email address
Think “www.myawesomewebsite.com” sounds like a great name for your site?
If you choose free hosting, you’re out of luck. For example, if you choose WordPress.com to host your site free people visiting your site will be directed to “awesomewebsite.wordpress.com,” which looks and sounds like a mouthful. This long Web address doesn’t promote a professional image or make you look serious about your business.
You also don’t get the added benefit of having a branded email address with a free hosted site. To present a professional image you really want your email to be [email protected]
You’re subject to their TOS conditions
Terms of Service – every company has them in some form or another. However, free hosting sites have TOS conditions that include pulling the plug on your website with or without any cause. According to the WordPress.com TOS for instance your site could be terminated at any time “with or without notice, effective immediately.”
Even if it’s a simple mistake on your part, you can lose everything that you’ve built without warning.
You miss out on all the cool features
Having a WordPress site means getting to use all the plug-ins, free or paid, that can help make your website even better. You can get a plug-in to help improve search engine optimization, create a membership site, offer a newsletter optin or increase your website’s speed.
Better yet, there’s no coding involved; just add the plug-in to your site, and enjoy the benefits. Unfortunately, free Web hosts block the use of third-party plug-ins because of security and maintenance reasons, meaning you can’t take advantage of all the really cool features that could actually make or break your website.
You can’t customize your website’s theme
When you start a new blog or a website with a free host, you can select a WordPress-approved theme that suits your style.
What if you like the theme but want to change the location of a few elements like the name or the social media icons? With a free host you can’t change your site’s layout because WordPress.com and other free hosts don’t allow you to customize the theme’s underlying code or structure.
Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of beautiful off the shelf themes available, you just can’t customize these.
Free is Not Always Better
You’re are compromised in a few important ways with a free WordPress host.
By self-hosting your own site, you can do most anything, from adding plug-ins and custom themes to having as many email addresses as you want. You get a branded domain, can publish whatever content you wish and get unlimited storage space for your site.
Solve all those issues with WordPress hosting for <$5/mth
If you have been considering a free host, my strong recommendation is to go with one of the cheap shared WordPress hosting plans.
You can get really great quality hosting for less than $5/mth. Given the limitations of a free host I think you’d be crazy not to spend the few bucks a month to have much more control and have a site that can grow with you as your site becomes more popular.
For much less than your weekly coffee budget you can build a site that will give you the flexibility to experiment and test strategies and tools to grow you site in a way you just can’t do on a free host.
2 thoughts on “The Problem with Free WordPress Hosting”
It *might* be worth mentioning the wordpress.com upgrades. The “Premium” plan includes custom CSS (whereby a savvy coder might gain granular theme control), and no advertising. It also includes domain-pointing: WordPress will either register a domain or allow “pointing” a domain registered elsewhere. (One might in addition, for example, point the email records registere elsewhere to an email host such as Gmail.) I tallied all the costs of going via WordPress.com Premium: $99 yearly. Versus (my) privately hosted (shared) host: $76 yearly. Just a bit. (Of course if you have blisters in your ears from money flow, you could be like Time and CNN and pay $20K yearly for *very special* WordPress.com treatment!)
Thanks Jesse, good points all.