The Real Cost of Using "Free" Website Builders

By Erik on December 11, 2020

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.

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 getting your website to work the way you envisioned, 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 to that website. What sites like Wix don't tell you, is that you can't use your (custom) 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 the 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 on your own.

Oh, and did you know that you never actually own your website?

That's right... you literally rent your website with these 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, Shopify on Shopify servers, and so on.

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 and doorstops.

Are you the type of person that can hop onto a computer and dive right into creating and editing images in Photoshop, optimizing and compressing images for speed, write CSS code to suit your needs, etc? 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. But if you're that savvy, then you would know not to use Wix or GoDaddy because if you know that if you build your website in WordPress, it's much more powerful, has access to an enormous library of plugins, and you can keep what you build. But you already knew that, right?

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

Building websites take time... even for us, who have been doing so for over 25 years. Even if you are computer savvy, building a website is still a pretty decent learning curve. If you still decide to move forward on your own, do you know where to start? If not, use this checklist:

  • Do you know which hosting company is best for your application?
  • Have you figured out what platform you will be building on?
  • Have you purchased your domain name yet?
  • What size and format should your graphics and logo should be in?
  • Have you optimized your images for speed?
  • Have you set up security measures to prevent hack attempts?
  • Do you know what images found on the web are legal to use on your site? (pssst... 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 just some questions that you will have to ask, answer, and then learn about before you even start on your 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 $100/hr. You change your own oil for $25 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, you probably can!

But the reality is that most people don't want to waste their time doing something themselves, only for the end result to turn out like doo-doo. It's almost guaranteed that a professional would have done it both better and faster.

Don't Feel Bad

It all boils down to furniture designers are good at designing and building furniture. Plumbers are good at fixing leaky pipes and toilets. Mechanics are good at changing your oil and repairing cars.

And guess what... you're good at whatever it is you do. Isn't that why you opened your business in the first place?

Us... well, 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.

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