A FEW TIPS AND TRICKS THAT’LL HELP YOU GET YOUR SITE UP AND RUNNING WITHOUT SPENDING ANY/MUCH MONEY.
Sometimes I’m asked about how to make a free website or if I can build free a website for an idea or upcoming business. I usually can’t do that, but there are ways to do make a decent functional website without the budget so I hope this post helps hit on some of the why’s, why not’s, and how’s.
If you’re just starting out on this journey, don’t worry because I was just as clueless as you might be right now! And before I got into web development back in 2004 I probably knew way less than you do today.
First things first, most likely you’ll need a domain name to represent yourself or your business. Domain names end in a dot something and as of 2020 there are many extensions to choose from. Registrars like Namecheap and GoDaddy are paid options and you can buy them from for a yearly fee usually ranging from $6 to $60.
But, fear not grasshopper because there is a free-ish service out there. The site won’t really be indexed by Google very nicely and the domain name probably won’t be very memorable, but beggars can’t be choosers. Go sign up for an account at WordPress.com, they’ll give you a free domain that’ll look something like your-unique-company-name.wordpress.com.
A lot of folks who are just starting out with the idea of building a website think that domain names and hosting are the same thing, but a domain name simply points to where your website is hosted – you’ll also need a place to store the files of your site.
Companies such as HostGator, DreamHost, and BlueHost will run you around $70 a year and are reasonably trustworthy – I’ve used Siteground in the past, they’re affordable and stable. Now I use WPEngine!
WordPress will they give you a maximum amount of 3gb of storage for absolutely free which is more than enough space for most brochure sites.
As with any free services, there are limitations; you’re restricted on the types of files allowed to upload and you can only manage files from within the backend of their UI.
Design & Development
All hope is not lost, there are ways to get design and development services free or very low cost.
When a new web designer or developer is trying to build their portfolio they may offer their services for free. I’ve used Volunteer Match a few times in the past and had poor to mediocre success, the clients are usually ill-prepared / needy and volunteers are scarce but it’s a good way to get work done for nothing besides some praise and a link at the bottom of your site crediting the developer.
I love WordPress, it’s a great tool for creating professional websites and quick admin experiences. It’s an open source tool, so the core system is completely free. There are also templates that work out-of-the-box to make a site look sexy fresh from the start.
If you don’t mind a little bit of elbow grease and getting into HTML code, a free WordPress site that looks good and performs well is not too far-fetched in terms of a free website.
Enter at your own risk. Websites created in Wix, Squarespace, and other site builders have problems such as blasé search engine optimization, upgrades and purchases which would normally be free, amongst the negative aura from web developers who work diligently to make custom websites that can be found on Google.
They’ve got nice looking templates and sweet advertisements but my advice is to consider avoiding these services because they’re not built with your success in mind, your purchase is a quick buck for dull results and no concern about ROI.