On free sites vs self-hosted, functionality and trust

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Yesterday, on a free consulting call with a new LEAP subscriber, the issue of websites came up.

Many people can’t or won’t invest in a professional site, and choose to go with free options, such as Google’s Blogger.com platform.

Other options are sites hosted by Vistaprint, or Typepad, and also WordPress has a free site service at WordPress.com.

There are some advantages to using that type of solution, in that, well, it’ free.

It’s also (in most cases) fairly easy to set up and configure.

But there are some disadvantages too, and that’s why I’d never recommend using a free service.

For one thing, if your site address – the URL – reads something like ‘watercolour-artist-johnny.wordpress.com’, it makes you look unprofessional.

“Huh, they don’t even have their own website? Weird”.

You’d think that it doesn’t matter, but it does.

It gives out the message that you don’t invest in your art-business, and in terms of psychology, that simply means that people won’t take you quite as seriously.

It matters more than you think: people buy something when they have a strong enough feeling of trust, and the more professional someone behaves and looks, the more we trust them.

So you’ll always want to have your own domain name (i.e. watercolour-artist-johnny.com).

As a temporary solution at the start, a free site can be useful, but the very moment you can afford to invest in a proper site, you should make the switch.

Doesn’t even have to be very expensive: $20 a month should set you right – and it’s well worth the investment.

Another major disadvantage of free sites is the limited functionality they offer.

There’s always limitations to what you can do, in terms of design and formatting.

Not only that: once you start getting serious about your business, you will want to add in functionality.

An optin form, for example, is something that you can’t put on a free WordPress site.

Kinda sucks, given that building your own permission-based list of email addresses is task number 1 in any business.

So if you haven’t got a site yet: start out right, start with a site where you can use the domain name that you choose.

And if you’re on a free-hosting platform, seriously consider moving to your own hosting as soon as you can.

It’s good for business.



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