As consumers increasingly turn to the Web for information, it's becoming vital to have an online presence. The good news is creating a Web page is no longer an expensive proposition. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) offer free Web hosting as part of the subscription package, and a host of blogging services and social networking sites allow users to create free Web pages.
But the bad news is that free services usually curtail the amount of memory and pages you can use on your site, restricting your ability to post video, audio, or in some cases, pictures and lengthy text. It's also usually not possible to use your Web site for e-commerce unless you pay for Web hosting services.
When deciding whether to use a free Web site hosting service, consider the following factors:
- Will potential customers look for your business online?
- Do you intend to sell goods online?
- Do you want to include video, audio or other large files on your site?
Go with a portalSome large online media companies, like AOL and Google, now offer free Web site hosting, but on a limited basis.
Go with a social networking siteSocial networking sites like MySpace offer users the ability to create free Web sites. These types of sites probably are most useful if your business is very small, or a sole proprietorship, and you want to use your site to spread information about yourself instead of advertising your services. Networking sites often only allow users to create sites for noncommercial purposes, and don't permit companies to advertise or collect user names or email addresses for the purpose of sending ads.
Go with a blog serviceA blog is a regularly updated Web site built from standard tools. Many blogging services will allow you to create free blogs, where you can post information and/or pictures about yourself and company.
- Free Web sites through ISPs or social networking sites work best for very small businesses that don't intend to engage in e-commerce.
- Some networking companies will prohibit you from advertising on a free site or from collecting email addresses of potential customers.