Having a website is important to most businesses, and you can start one for free using various web-based services available. These services are free, though have premium add-ons that can enhance your website for a fee.
Here’s a rundown of some of the more popular free website providers and what features they offer, as well as some idea of costs and benefits of the upsells.
WordPress.com – https://wordpress.com
This is the “hosted” version of the popular website publishing platform. The free versions of WordPress.com provides hundreds of themes, 1 GB of storage space for images, videos and other files, and basic design customizations. The free version will automatically place ads in the pages, and the URL will be a subdomain of wordpress.com, so it will be something like your-business-name.wordpress.com. To remove the ads, get your own domain and more customization options, there is a $48/year plan. WordPress.com has additional plans with more customization options for $96/year and $300/year. But for most new businesses, the free or $48/year plans will suffice.
Weebly – https://weebly.com
Weebly’s free plan includes their drag and drop builder and e-commerce if you need it. The free version will include Weebly ads, as well as using a weebly.com subdomain. For their $120/year personal plan, you get your own domain and you get more e-commerce features. There are additional tiers of plans, at $144/year and $312/year, that feature more robust ecommerce, more page-building features as well as better support and removal of the ads.
Wix – https://wix.com
Like Weebly, Wix also offers a free plan with an easy website builder and 500 MB of storage. The free version will include Wix ads, as well as using a wix.com subdomain. Wix’s basic “Combo” tier costs $192/year and lets you use your own domain name (purchased separately, either at Wix or somewhere else). Additional plans at $264/year, $324/year and $540/year provide more features as well as vouchers for online ads.
Other website solutions
In addition to these popular website providers, there are many other solutions you could consider using for your business’ first website. SquareSpace is a popular website service, though they no longer provide free websites – their plans now start at $192/year. Another solution is to get a website hosting service (i.e., BlueHost, DreamHost, GoDaddy among many others), with basic hosting plans starting at under $50/year. Then you would build your website using free, open-source software, for example, from WordPress.org or Drupal.org. These open-source solutions provide great flexibility in building a website and adding features, but likely will require some technical skills for setup and maintenance.