We had a client actually bring this question up in a presentation recently.

We’ve been doing some research, and we’ve found quite a few places that offer free websites. Can you tell us why we should or shouldn’t use them?

We were a little shocked to be honest. To us, this a ridiculous question. You are an expert at what you do. People come to you to buy your products or services because they know they’re going to be happy with the product or service you provide. Moral: You get what you pay for. How many great products or services are free? Exactly!

free picThe same exact rule applies to web design and internet marketing. Sure, there are a lot of free resources out there, and they’re great for putting people in data collection farms unknowingly. How often do you read the Terms of Service on these offerings. I bet you never do. Here’s an excerpt of what you’d find in their terms of service.

With respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the “yyy” Website, the Content shall be deemed and considered as license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such User Content on such publicly accessible areas of the “yyy” Website and Service, and might also be accessible from other websites. With respect to Content you submit or make available for editing by other users of the “yyy” Website, the uploading of such Content shall be deemed and considered as license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on such publicly accessible areas of the “yyy” Website and Service and might also be accessible from other websites.

That excerpt is from one of the largest, if not the largest, free online website builder service. If you read that, and you don’t understand what it means, allow us to explain in a few short words. What this excerpt is saying, is that by using their service and uploading content (either by you, or by user submission), they have the right to use the information gathered.

In other words, if you have a form on your website, “yyy” is basically telling you that they have full rights over that content/data and can use it any way they want. This means, they’re going to sell your content or leads to other businesses. Not just other businesses. Your competitors!

IS THAT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT? You want to do all this hard work and then have the leads, the fruits of your labor, be sold to your competitors who did nothing but write a check to steal your customers. If so, by all means, have fun with your so called “free websites”.

Folks, how do you think these places are making money? By giving you free stuff? Com’on? Are you serious? The people who own these platforms/services are making piles, and we mean piles, of money by selling your leads, your content, your images, your designs, your entire website if they want, to anyone who’s willing to pay for it.

Sure, by saying “no thank you”, you’ll now have to pay for a website, but at least you know you’ll own the website, the content on the website, the leads it produces and the integrity of the server it lives on. Let us explain that last bit for you. When you sign up for a free website builder, you’re sharing your webspace with hundreds, maybe even thousands of other websites. You don’t know what they’re doing on their websites that may harm the integrity of the web server itself. One of them may be spam site, or even worse, pornography. It would be like living in an apartment building with a thousand people you don’t know, but could be penalized just the same for the crimes they commit.

Do yourself, and your business a favor, hire a professional to build and market your website. You’ll be extremely happy that you did.