Tips & Tricks: How to Make a Free Website
‘make free website’, ‘free domain name’, ‘free beer’
..are these keyphrases that you’re searching for? Well I do not run a pro-bono charity web designer business here, but let’s go through a few tips and tricks that’ll help you get your site up and running without spending money.
A few times a month I’m contacted by people asking me to build a free website for their idea or business. These quick conversations usually end shortly after I hear the following lines:
- “If I make money, I’ll give you part ownership of the company”
- “It’s only three pages really and it totally won’t take long”
- “I’ll pay you when I get my next tax return this coming April”
No, um no, and yea no lol – but how to make a free website is a very broad generalized question and there actually are ways to do it so I hope this post helps hit on 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! And before I got into web development back in 2004 I probably knew way less than you do today. You might now be asking “Okay man, but what do I need first to build a website.”
First things first dude, most likely you’ll need a domain name to represent yourself or your business. Domain names end in a dot something and as of 2017 there are many extensions to choose from. Registrars like Namecheap and GoDaddy are paid options and you can buy these babies from for a yearly fee usually ranging from $6 to $60.
But, fear not young (or very old) grasshopper because there is a service out there that kinda offer sorta free okay domain names. What!? Okay, it won’t really be indexed by Google nicely and it probably won’t be very memorable, but hey you’re the one looking for free stuff. Go sign up for an account at WordPress.com, they’ll give you a free domain that looks something like your-company-name.wordpress.com.
A lot of folks who are just starting out with the idea of building a website seem to think that domain names and hosting are the same thing, but sadly the domain name simply points to where your website is hosted and you’ll also need a place to store the files of your site.
If you’re trying to keep your expenses to a minimum maybe try.. HostKoala, holy shit their plans start at $5 a year! Companies such as HostGator, DreamHost, and BlueHost will run you around $70 a year and are reasonably trustworthy – but they suck.
Back to WordPress though, they give you a maximum amount of 3gb of storage for absolutely free which is more than enough space for most sites.
Of course 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.
I offer free hosting with my WordPress support and maintenance plan for only $10 a month! It includes security updates and patches, Google indexing, and more – contact me for more information!
Design & Development
All hope is not lost! Even though I’ve been building my own damn skillset over the past decade to charge cold hard cash for professional web design – there are ways to get it 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 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.
You know.. I love WordPress, it’s my favorite tool for creating professional websites and awesome 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 pretty 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.
Wix / Squarespace
Enter at your own risk. Websites created in Wix, Squarespace, and other site builders have problems such as horrible 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.