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The Real Cost of Using “Free” Website Builders

Erik Allen Design & Marketing Logo

Written and posted by Erik Allen

on December 1, 2019

I’m sure you all have thought about building your own website for your business in order to cut costs. Sites like Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace, and other free website builders make it look so easy. I mean, how hard can it be, right? You’re smart! Just drag a picture here, edit text there, BAM! Website finished. Now, the business will just roll in and you won’t know what to do with all your new clients who fell in love with the new website YOU designed all by yourself. A gold star and a pat on the back for you.

Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not that easy… not by a longshot. Nor is it free like they tell you. It’s all a bunch of hootenanny and we are here to shine the light on those shady bastards that tell you it’s so easy. Keep reading, because we are here to save you valuable time and money. You’re welcome.

“Free” Doesn’t Really Mean Free

What sites like Wix don’t tell you is that the version of your site you want isn’t free. Just like anything worthwhile in life, it costs money. When you type a web address into the little bar at the top of your browser, it takes you that website. What sites like Wix don’t tell you, is that you can’t use your vanity domain name for free on their system.

Confused? Let us explain.

Let’s use our plumber friend, John Smith as an example. John purchased the domain johnsplumbing.com and he has decided to build his website on Wix because it’s free. So, John creates an account with username John Smith and as the commercials said, opts for the “free” version of his website. Unfortunately, Wix won’t allow John to use his vanity domain name. On the free version, he is assigned the address johnsmith.wixsite.com/johnsplumbing.

Sounds dumb, doesn’t it? You know who else thinks it’s dumb… John’s customers!

Here is an Example

In order for John to use johnsplumbing.com for his Wix website, he needs to upgrade his account to one of 4 different Premium Plans. As of this writing, prices range from $13 – $39/mo, depending on the options needed. If you want to sell something, e-commerce plans cost even more. Also, none of their plans come with website updates (like ours do), and if you ever need to add, remove or update content… you’re still on your own.

Oh, and did you know that you never actually own your website? That’s right… you literally rent your website with popular free site builders. So when you get your website just right and then ever decide to leave, you walk away with nothing! Wix websites only work on their servers. GoDaddy only works on GoDaddy servers, Squarespace on Squarespace servers, and Shopify on Shopify servers. Sucks, doesn’t it?

We’re going to ask you just 3 simple questions and we want you to answer them truthfully. No cheating! The only person who you will be cheating is yourself and your business if you do. Hopefully, after reading this, you should be able to better gauge whether or not you should tackle the task of building your own “free website” or if it’s best for you to just hire a professional website designer instead.

Question #1 – Do you really possess the technical skills to build your own website?

Remember, be truthful. This question basically comes down to how computer savvy you are. Some of you are awesome on a computer and some of you have laptops that double as paperweights. Are you the type of person that can hop onto a computer and dive right into image editing in Photoshop and manipulate CSS to suit your needs? Are you familiar with code languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript? What about CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla?

If you answered yes, then you definitely possess the technical knowledge to bang out your own website using a free website builder. But why would you want a Free builder if you know all of that… build a WordPress website instead! Anyways, you’re not out of the woods just yet…

Question #2 – Do you actually have the time to build your own website?

Building websites take time… even for us, who have over 25 years of professional website design experience. Even if you are computer savvy but have never built a website before, there is a pretty large learning curve. If you still decide to move forward on your own, do you know where to start?

  • Do you have a domain name yet?
  • What about a hosting company?
  • Have you figured out what platform you will be building on?
  • What size and format should your logo be in?
  • Have you wire-framed your website into sections?
  • Do you know what images found on the web are legal to use on your site (if not, it can cost you thousands in lawsuits)?
  • And don’t even get us started on building it with SEO best practices! That’s a rabbit hole you don’t want to go down.

These are all questions that you will have to ask, answer, and then learn about before you even start on your free website. As a successful business owner, don’t you have better things to do with your time?

Question #3 – Are you sure this isn’t about your pride?

This is the toughest one to be truthful on, but please, try to. I get it, you’re a smart person, right? You figured out how to fix the leaky faucet in the kitchen last week without hiring a plumber at $150/hr. You changed your own oil instead of running to Jiffy Lube, and you also installed the stereo in your vehicle without hiring an installer. If other people have done it, why can’t you?

Well, the answer is simple. You probably can!

We can almost always guarantee that a professional would have done it better and faster, every time. Most people don’t want to waste their time doing something themselves, only for the end result to turn out like doo-doo. So we choose to buy furniture instead of making it and we choose to call a plumber for leaky toilets instead of taking it apart ourselves.

Don’t Feel Bad

It all boils down to furniture designers are good at designing furniture. Plumbers are good at fixing toilets, and mechanics are good at repairing cars. And guess what… you’re good at whatever it is you are good at… isn’t that why you opened your business in the first place? Us… we are good at building affordable business websites.

In Conclusion

Free is NEVER free. Everything comes at a price and your time and frustration are certainly worth something. If you’re in the market for a new website for your business or need your current one updated, we only charge $349 for a professionally designed, 3-page business website and our hosting, maintenance, security plans start at only $29/mo. If you need something a little more elaborate, it will cost a little more, but again, what is your time worth? If you would like to get an instant quote on your website, head on over to our Website Cost Estimator and plug in all of the options you want. We will build you a wonderful website that will blow your competition away. And unlike Wix, if you ever feel like leaving, it’s your website… do what you want with it.

Thanks for your interest in Erik Allen Design & Marketing. If you would like to start a project with us, or would like more information about a potential project, please fill out the form below. We will get back to you as quickly as possible and we truly appreciate the opportunity to earn your business!