True Costs of Free Web Hosting

If you’re starting up a small-scale online business (say, as a publisher and/or affiliate salesperson) and you are completely risk-averse – you can always choose to operate solely from free web hosting services.

The advantage is obvious – you don’t put any cash/physical capital up front. The only thing you can really lose is the time and effort you put into the online project, and even that offers a minimum return of gained knowledge & experience.

However, don’t think that “free hosting” is completely free of costs. In determining economic profit, we must also consider opportunity costs of free hosting services. There are plenty:

  • Editorial Control – Free hosting services tend to have more restrictions on the types of content allowed on the server. Now, I’m not even talking about illegal things – things that are perfectly legal aren’t allowed on a lot of free hosting servers. Some types of sites might hurt other types of sites just by association. Maybe they’re just trying to build a family environment, and maybe they just don’t want to deal with the cut-throat types of competition that pop up in those niches. Even some shared servers have their limits above and beyond the letter of the law – so always make sure to read the fine print before getting started.
  • File and Database backups – You can always save a copy of the content on your site, but can you zip up and download whole backups of not just the files but also the database entries? A prolific writer working on a Blogger or WordPress hosted website might have a hard time keeping all of that backup information organized.
  • Total Advertising Control – While Blogspot hosted domains have a lot of freedom in advertising policies, some of the other free hosting services aren’t quite so hands-off. Some free hosting sites put their own ads in parts of the page that you can’t edit – some don’t allow advertisements of any kind anywhere on their domains. Heck, some won’t even let you link too often to your other websites because of some unexplainable phobia of all things related to promotion.

Fact is, “You get what you pay for” and that means that even free services have costs attached. A website – a domain name and an established online presence is a valuable commodity. Don’t leave it at someone else’s whims because you’re afraid to spend a few bucks a month.

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