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Can You Make A Website For Free? (4 Steps)

It may come as a surprise, but you can actually create a website and quickly get it up online without paying a penny. Of course, nothing is completely free and so there are certain disadvantages of opting for an unpaid website package. But can you really make a website for free?

You can make a website for free, using any of a multitude of free website builders out there, but they won’t be suitable for every website. They tend to offer limited features when compared to paid options. However, you definitely still can make a website for free.

The 4 steps to making a website for free are:

  1. Prepare the content for your site
  2. Set up a free account with a website builder
  3. Start designing your free website
  4. Publish your free website

However, if you’re just getting started with a blogging project or dipping your toes into the digital space for the first time, then it’s a good way to build up your confidence and begin to learn the ropes of establishing a solid online presence. Below, we go into more detail about building a website for free. But first, who is this guide for?

 

Who Should Build a Free Website?

Creating a free website is far from ideal for many small businesses and entrepreneurs. But for artists, writers, photographers and videographers who want to make a free portfolio, it can be a great idea.

It’s also a good idea if you want to produce a free website for your personal writing, poems, blogs, journal entries or other projects that you will share directly with your audience.

There can be issues with monetizing your website in the future if you build a free site. So, bear that in mind if it’s a website you plan to make money from in the future. It can also look amateur and may not engender trust in a broader audience. This means it’s not the best option for established businesses.

Nonetheless, a free website is a fantastic way to get started in the online ecosystem. And, for people who are hesitant as to whether or not to take the leap, it’s an ideal way to get your foot in the door. So, how do you prepare to make a website for free?

 

Make a Website for Free – Everything You Need to Know

Setting up a website without paying for it is much easier than you might imagine. In fact, website builder platforms make it as easy as possible for you in the hope that you will be impressed by their services and eventually sign up for a more functional paid service. So even if you don’t have any web design experience, creating a free website is well within your reach.

Why Make a Free Website?

Building a free website is the best way to create an online presence without risking any money on the project. You will have to invest your time in building the site. However, modern website builders are extremely intuitive and easy to use, with great interfaces and in-house step by step guides to help you through the process.

Some of the benefits of making a free website are:

  • No need to risk money on your project if you use a free package
  • Development time is much shorter than a more complex custom-built site
  • A free website is perfect for a small project
  • A free website is a good option if you need your site up and running as soon as possible
  • There’s an excellent selection of website builder platforms that you can use to make your free website

 

4 Steps to Make a Website for Free

1. Prepare the Content for Your Site

Before you get started you need to put together the content that you want to put on your site for its launch. The exact content that you need to prepare will depend on the type of project that you are setting up. It might include a logo, a few blog posts, a contact page, a list of your services, as well as relevant images and videos.

Remember, first impressions count. Especially in the online ecosystem where a new visitor who isn’t impressed with your site will simply click away to find one they prefer. You should therefore take the time to consider your overall branding and the way you want to project yourself in the digital world. This is particularly important if you’re setting up a new business. You will want to start creating your brand from the very moment you launch your site.

Colour Schemes & Design

Think carefully about the colour schemes you’ll use, the types of images and even the fonts. You can collate your content for the website on a word processor and then copy and paste it to your site as you build it. You really should have your content ready before you start building your website, at least in a draft form, so you can concentrate on the design work.

It’s worth keeping in mind that if you’re going to be using a free package on the website builder you will be limited in terms of the templates, fonts, and styles that you can choose from. However, with a little creativity you can still produce a well-crafted site.

Some Useful Resources

For an interesting overview of how you can go about selecting an impactful and effective colour scheme for your website, this free Colour Style Guide produced by 99Designs is a good place to start. For more information about how to select the best fonts for your website, you can read through this Font Style Guide, also created by 99Designs.

Web design, colour theory and choosing the right fonts is a huge topic. If your budget allows, it’s often worth paying a professional graphic designer to give you a hand. But if you have the budget for that, you may be better off with a paid website builder. Alternatively, if you have a creative flair, you can certainly handle it yourself to keep your website entirely free to produce.

Finding Free Images

When you’re looking for images and icons there are plenty of free stock image websites that you can use to source what you’re looking for, including Pixabay and Unsplash.

You can also use free, open-source graphic design programs, such as GIMP, to modify and personalise any graphics that you download. However, it’s worth remembering that if you’ve never used a graphic design program, the learning curve can be fairly steep at first.

 

2. Set Up a Free Account With a Website Builder

Once you gather your content together, you’re ready to set up your free website! The first thing you’ll have to do is to choose a website builder. Before you make a decision, you should check out the online reviews, explore the features that the platform offers. Also look through some examples of other sites built using their free service.

When you’re choosing a free website builder, be very careful to check exactly what that means! In some cases, you can create an account for free but will then have to pay for basic functionality later on in the design process. In other cases, you may have a free service for a limited period of time or find out that plugins that you need to use are behind a paywall.

Make Sure Free Means Free

You also need to pay special attention to the way that the website builder offers you hosting and domain names. Are they really free? Or will you have to pay for the hosting later on?

After you’ve selected a website builder you need to create an account. This should only take a few minutes and will involve supplying some basic information, including a username, email address and a password to launch your account.

 

3. Start Designing Your Free Website

Modern website builders are very easy to use and will walk you through the necessary steps involved in getting your site up online. The best website builders offer you a range of simple templates that you can modify to suit your brand and personal requirements. Most website builders incorporate intuitive ‘drag and drop’ and/or ‘point and click’ interfaces. So, you usually don’t need any coding or previous web design experience.

When you are choosing a template, pay attention to what the website builder suggests that it’s best used for. For instance, a template may be labelled as a ‘photography portfolio’ or an ‘ecommerce shop’. These categories can be a useful general guide if you’re not sure which template to use.

 

4. Publish Your Free Website

This is where it can get a little tricky to get a completely free website up online. Every website needs to have a unique ‘domain name’, which refers to the internet address you see in the search bar at the top of the screen (e.g. ‘sophicalcontent.com’).

Many free website builders will require you to already have a domain name, which you can then attach to the site you’ve built on their platform. You can buy a domain name from services like Hostinger. Domain names can be purchased for as little as £0.99, but for more popular domain extensions like .com and .co.uk, you’ll have to pay more.

Some website builders do actually offer you a completely free domain name that you can use for your site. However, there is a catch! The domain name that you are given for free will likely include the website builder’s name.

There’s a Catch

For instance, if you used Wix to build your free website, you’ll get a subdomain like ‘yoursitename.wix.com’. While this may be free it does look unprofessional and may prevent potential customers from taking your site seriously.

You may also need to host third party adverts on your site which can be distracting for visitors and take away from your own branding efforts.

 

The Top 10 Free Website Builders

The top 10 free website builders are:

  1. WordPress – Ideal for bloggers, small ecommerce stores and portfolios
  2. Wix – Decent free website builder for most purposes
  3. GoDaddy – Provides a quick and effective platform to build a simple site
  4. Weebly – Great for small ecommerce stores and businesses
  5. Strikingly – Designed for entrepreneurs with an easy-to-use interface
  6. Jimdo – Good for a simple online store front
  7. Ucraft – Designed for multilingual websites and projects
  8. SimpleSite – Built for basic mobile responsive websites
  9. Webflow – Created for designers and is easy to scale
  10. Webnode – Excellent templates with intuitive interface

 

3 Options to Make a Website for Free

Although most people and guides will tell you to use the giant website builders, some of the less well-known platforms actually provide a better free service for their users. You can always upgrade your package later, but these free packages are great for getting started.

1. Webnode – Stylish and Easy to Use

Webnode is used by more than 40 million people worldwide and it provides a super simple interface to build your own free website in minutes. You don’t need any past experience to put together a lovely website that you can host for free on a Webnode subdomain.

The 4 steps to make a free website on Webnode are:

  1. Sign up for your free Webnode account. This will take a few moments and all you need is your basic information including name, email, and a password for your account.
  2. Select a design that you want to use for your website. There’s a nice selection to choose from to suit all types of projects and enterprises.
  3. Add your own content and images to the template.
  4. Publish your site.

 

2. Webflow – Made for Designers and New Entrepreneurs

To get started with Webflow, you just need a free account. You can launch your site for free using a Webflow subdomain. However, a free account only provides up to two static pages to get you started.

The 6 steps to make a website for free with Webflow are:

  1. Sign up for your free Webflow account by clicking on the ‘Get Started – it’s Free’ button. You will then be guided through the steps of creating your website.
  2. Fill in the form and answer a few questions. This will be used by the Webflow site builder to tailor their services to your requirements. You’ll be asked what your role is, who you are designing the site for, how much experience you have in designing websites, and what type of site you are setting up.
  3. Choose a template that suits your brand. Once you’ve filled out your details, click the ‘New Project’ button to start customizing your site. To see your site as you work on it you can click the ‘Preview’ button any time. If you are building a free website you also need to click the ‘Use for Free’ button after you’re happy with the template you’ve chosen.
  4. Give your website a name. This will be incorporated within the free Webflow subdomain.
  5. Customize your website. Now that you’ve chosen a template and named your site, it’s time to start adding images, text and other content.
  6. Once you’ve finished customizing your free website, you can preview it and publish it live online by pressing the spaceship icon at the top right-hand corner of the screen.

 

3. SimpleSite – Free 30-day Trial

Simplesite was designed to help people with no previous web design experience to get their website online fast. It just takes a few minutes to get your site ready and published using the site’s built-in design wizard and pre-made templates.

The 5 steps to make a free website with SimpleSite are:

  1. Sign up for your free account with SimpleSite.
  2. Choose the type of website that you want from the list of options. You can choose between a ‘Business’, ‘Personal’ or ‘Other’ website.
  3. Use the design wizard to quickly and easily customize your site to fit your personal requirements.
  4. Fill in the brief forms with your basic information.
  5. Publish your free website.

 

How to Make a Free Website and Earn Money

One of the main reasons people set up a website is to make money selling products or services to online customers. You can sell almost anything you can imagine using your website, so there’s a broad scope of possibilities to suit all skill sets and business ambitions.

Some of the ways you can make money from a free website include:

  • Promoting affiliate products
  • Reviewing products and services
  • Selling products or services
  • Selling handmade arts and crafts
  • Building up an email list and promoting offers
  • Selling courses, training modules and personal coaching
  • Accepting donations and support from visitors to your website

However, there are some serious limitations of using a free website as opposed to a paid package in terms of monetization. A free website usually lacks the functionality, security and storage space to build up a large ecommerce business, and you may also find that vital features or plugins are not available unless you pay for them.

It’s definitely possible to create a website for free, and although it might seem like a good financial move, in the end it won’t necessarily serve you as well as a paid package will. Even though it might be tempting to try to build your new website completely for free, as a general rule you will normally get a better overall service when you pay for it.

Remember that your competition will likely have spent money to create their websites, and this will show to customers who are comparing what’s available on the market. But what are the other downsides of making a free website?

 

The 9 Downsides of Making a Free Website

1. Slow Loading and Caching Speeds

If you choose to build a free website, chances are that it will be relatively slow to load and cache. This can be a serious problem for your website, especially if you are hoping to attract and retain new customers to your brand. According to research conducted by Website Builder Expert, if a customer has to wait more than a few seconds for the website to load, 40% of them will click away to find a faster loading alternative.

Therefore, having a website that loads quickly and smoothly is vital to getting traction in the highly competitive digital ecosystem. This is not just because it will disappoint your site’s users, but also because it will negatively impact your SEO.

2. A Free Web Address Looks Amateur

When you use a free website builder that gives you a subdomain with their company name in the address, it instantly looks unprofessional to customers and visitors to your site. People often take note of the web address when making a decision about their perceptions of the website, and seeing a free subdomain will impact their impression of your brand.

Paid for domains with .com, .co.uk and .org always seem more professional than a site with an address like mybusiness.wix.com. Unfortunately, the only way around this problem is to pay for your own unique domain name. However, the price of a domain name is fairly affordable, so you shouldn’t let it hold you back simply to save a few dollars.

3. Hidden Charges

Once you’ve signed up for a free website package, you’ll often find that there are a whole host of hidden charges that you’ll have to pay later. These hidden charges will cover various aspects of the site’s essential functionality, such as a dedicated email account, image hosting and ecommerce options.

This is obviously going to be frustrating to discover halfway through your design process! However, on top of the frustration, you’ll find that these hidden costs will sometimes be much higher than if you had just paid for a basic package that included them from the beginning.

4. There May Be Irrelevant Adverts on Your Website

When you sign up for a ‘free’ website builder, you’ll often have to accept that the website builder places ads on your site. This is because the website builder platforms have to make an income somehow, and they may do this by hosting adverts that they get paid for.

This not only looks unprofessional for your site, but it’s also distracting and intrusive for your visitors. In some cases, you may even see adverts for competing websites on your website. This is certainly one of the worst-case scenarios if you’ve signed up for a free account, so always check if the site builder says they’ll place ads on your site before you sign up.

5. Your Website is Not Safe

If you carefully read the terms of service for a free website, you’ll normally see that the platform can shut it down at any time without a reason. Since you’ve not paid for the service, you aren’t entitled to the types of data protection that you normally would be.

This means that if your site is shut down you may not be able to get your content back. Another problem that may arise if your site is unexpectedly shut down is that you’ll lose your subdomain and will find it hard to re-route your customers to your new web address. This is why it’s key to always choose a reputable website builder.

6. Your Personal Information Is Not Safe

It’s not just the site itself which is at risk if you use a free service. There’s an old adage that says, ‘if you’re not paying for a service then you are probably the product’.

According to the terms and conditions of many website builders, they can legally sell your personal information to third parties, including your email address, your website details, or any other personal information that you’ve provided.

7. Limited Functionality

Free website builders have very limited functionality compared to the paid alternatives. This may seem obvious, but the degree to which you’ll be losing out may only become clear after you’ve put quite a lot of work into your site.

Generally, the few tools that you do have at your disposal with a free option will make your site look amateur and prevent you from making the most of your project idea, both in terms of potential financial returns and the website’s reach.

8. Poor Security and Malware Issues

Some free website services have been known to distribute malware through their platforms. In most cases this is simply due to poor security measures, but in some instances it could be a way for the free website service to make a little extra income.

If malware is distributed through your website, it will severely damage your SEO and could ruin your reputation with your customers and site visitors.

Since the security on a free website can be relatively poor, your site may be wide open to hackers who might steal your information or cause other serious problems for your business.

9. Limited Bandwidth and Storage Space

When you use a free website builder, you will have a very limited amount of bandwidth and storage space. This puts a limit on the number of pages, images, and other multimedia that you can upload, as well as delivering slower loading speeds for your site.

This may not be an issue for simple websites, but for more ambitious projects it can become a major problem.

 

Should You Make a Website for Free?

The hard truth about free websites is that, despite the apparent advantages, they really aren’t worth it in the long run. This is especially true if you’re trying to build a serious online business or long-term blog.

Free websites are a fantastic option if you want to set up a small personal blog, art portfolio, or other small scale personal project. In these cases, the amateur domain names and limited services won’t be too much of a problem, especially if you’re personally sending people the link instead of relying on SEO or other commercial means to drive traffic to your site.

A free website is a great option when you’re at the very start of your brand’s online journey, or if you just want to try out a website builder to see if you like its interface. In the digital space, a website is one of your most valuable assets. So, it’s usually going to be worth spending a little bit of money to make sure it represents the best of what you have to offer the world.

So, for most entrepreneurs and business startups, a paid-for website is going to serve you far better than a free alternative.

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