Free Domains Worth about that Much

Here's a lesson that too many webmasters have learned the hard way. Free domain names and Web site hosts are worth precisely what you pay for them.

Several years ago, I placed a recently completed site on the latest and greatest free web host. While I disliked the banner ads above and below my pages, I understood that was how the company made their money and the price I paid for the space.

So, my new site is up and I'm submitting it to the search engines to bring in some traffic. My efforts start to pay off and pretty soon the money is rolling in. Cool! I start working on new projects.

Time goes by and one day I notice that the site has stopped generating revenue.

I check to see whether the site is offline or if perhaps the sales links are broken.

I type in my URL and in the browser I see a different site. Thinking I've entered the address incorrectly, I type it in again. The same strange page comes up instead of mine. So I try it again... and again.

Nope, right URL, DIFFERENT site. My site was gone. In its place was a full page of advertising.

Why was this done? Well, of course I never found out, no one responded to my queries. Granted, this was a scam of the worst kind. Get suckers like me to build a site and bring in visitors, then steal their traffic.

Although the established free hosts like Geocities and Hypermart wouldn't pull such a stunt, here are six more drawbacks to hosting your site on free servers.

• Lose Credibility - Would YOU buy from a business that can't afford $7.95 per month to host its own web site? I wouldn't. My impression of businesses on free servers is akin to street vending. I might buy an inexpensive little trinket, but never anything of value.

• Banner Advertising on Your Pages - Nothing is really free. In exchange for space on their servers, the host places their own banner advertising on your pages. Their banners detract from your business.

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• Funky Long Address - Which address will your visitors remember? or

• Lack of Features - Free hosts generally restrict the amount of space you can take up on their servers. The sites offer few, if any, of the most basic features necessary to run an ecommerce site, e.g. cgi-bins and shopping carts.

• Slow Loading Pages - Most free server pages load very slowly. Slow loading pages are the primary reason people cite for failing to complete online order placement. Let's not chase our visitors away before they have a chance to become customers.

• Customer Service - Non-existent. Your site is down? Tough luck!

Although mine was a highly unusual circumstance, I learned a valuable lesson. You get what you pay for.

So I pass the lesson on to you. Register your own domain name and pay for a good hosting service. Both are relatively inexpensive, and they put your business on the right track from the start.

In the section below, "Web Hosting - A Home for Your Domain", I recommend several good web hosts for you to consider.

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