Your Website, Your Way! (Part 3)
Your Website, Free?
Free Websites Can Be Professional Too!
Having your own .com website always looks more professional and is the ultimate aim of any individual or business looking to establish themselves online in the long-term. However free websites are a good place to get started online and if nothing else, in using these one can get an overall idea of the look and feel of the site one is comfortable with and then utilise this format when upgrading to a paid-for site or package. Doing this saves a lot of money in the long run.
Oft-times, those who try free sites find they are happy enough to stay with such–and why not, it is a sensible way to go, particularly for individuals or small, fledgling or hobby type businesses. Why waste money when you simply don’t need to? A website, after all, is not a business in itself, (though it can be!) but rather an online advertisement or window display which directs your customers to the service, skills or products you have on offer. Spending many thousands of dollars or even many hundreds of dollars on what is in effect an online advertisement of your wares is a ludicrous and impossible idea for most individuals, hobbyists, independent creative and small business owners. So often does one hear; ‘Oh we don’t spend money on advertising; it’s just not viable for us’ – or – ’I don’t need to advertise’; yet these very same people will slap several thousand dollars into a website which they then find in both the short and long-term sends less business their way than an advertisement in the local telephone directory. One must be sensible with such things.
Establishing one’s own website, just like building your dream home, is about compromise; all must work to a budget that is financially viable for a feasible end result which all parties are happy with and able to produce.
Some claim that in utilising standard formats provided by free web hosting, one is limited and restricted in what can be done with the site. This is true, to some extent as it is not always possible using standardised, free templates to attain the end result one has in mind for the overall look and feel of one’s desired website. However, it is nigh on impossible not to get what you want near to perfect if you are prepared to take the time and put in the hours experimenting with various formats and various web hosts until you find just what it is you are after.
Build On Baby Steps!
The best recommendation when beginning a new website is to start out small and build. Have an overall idea of the end result you want, find a free site which has an upgrade option to expand both your space and the number of pages you have available; trial the free option for as long as needed and when happy, upgrade and expand your website in small stages as your online business needs grow.
There are many websites and web-hosts which allow you to do this, in your own way, at your own pace and to your own budget. Three highly recommended; (each completely different to the other and each with its own little quirks, benefits, annoyances, limitations and delights!) are;
A German based free website builder. Fear not, they do speak English and the site is in English. Set up requires only an email and your elected user name. Website title reads: yourwebsitename.beep.com
Domain names can be purchased with upgrades. Emails can also be purchased. Unfortunately at this stage these options are only available to German users, however domain redirecting can easily be done to their site if you already have a .com address.
Beep is easy to use and offers very affordable upgrades which can be taken a stage at a time as your business builds. If you elect not to continue your upgrade your site automatically converts to a free site again. You don’t lose your data, just your increased capabilities to display it. With each new upgrade unused credit is carried over so no money is lost in any upgrade process. Upgrades are purchased in six month blocks, starting at around $2 Au per month for a basic space upgrade. Options to upgrade to unlimited space and format options are available.
Adding an online e-store starts at around $10 Au per month. Customer service is excellent, even to free site users. Blog options are inclusive on your site in addition to a separate, free blog site using the same name; yourwebsitename.beeplog.com
Beep’s free sites provide a contact form, password protected photo albums (40 images on a free site), allows unlimited weblinks, html coded links, affiliate links and all manner of widgets, including Paypal. Beep provides Paypal buttons and other widgets which enable those with only a basic Paypal account to sell directly from their website by filling in the blanks; without the need for a shopping cart or the expense of upgrading to an e-shop.
Your website can be expanded to entail anything and everything you require with their top of the range, no worries package, which costs around 
A free blog site. Your blog title will read; yourdomainname.wordpress.com . This name can be changed once you’ve set up your blog but it is a bit of a hassle, so it is recommended you choose your username carefully. Username can be upgraded from .wordpress.com to .com (or other extension) domain name; I.e. yourdomainname.com for a cost of around $25 Au per year. Be aware this changes nothing about your site except the name. It is still a blog site with a domain name that is your own. To make your wordpress blog look like a proper website you will need some web-building knowledge or to pay for more upgrades to the same end. If you do have basic editing web knowledge, certain settings can be [ insert link altered, disabled & enabled, (such as removing comments on web Pages) to give your blog that professional ’website’ appearance to go with the domain name you have purchased. If you have no basic website editing knowledge or experience and need to expand your site, utilising WordPress.com can very quickly become a very costly enterprise.
There is one simply way around this potentially costly dilemma, however, (if you have both time and patience at your disposal). So many others have walked this web-building road before you and it is always best to learn from other mistakes and experiences. When adapting your WordPress.com blog into a website, the best advice possible it to learn how to do it yourself by typing into your preferred search engine the words; ‘how do I…’ followed by your issue or question, then follow the advises you find until something works! It is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get your WordPress hosted blog looking like a professional website.
WordPress.com do not allow for affiliate linking, advertising or marketing until you upgrade to a .com site. They do not allow Paypal widgets on free blog sites. They do, however allow unlimited web-links and blog content is completely up to you.
Opening or installing a shop on WordPress requires another paid upgrade in addition to the domain name upgrade. Your website can be expanded to anything and everything you require, if you have the budget.
Having once trialed WordPress, those who have a larger budget to play with, may prefer to move directly to WP Engine, the biggest possible WordPress upgrade which encompasses anything and everything one could want in a website–if one has the budget for such.
A free website builder which, as it claims, is so simple to use your grandma could do it. Free website name reads; yourdomainname.webnode.com It takes literally only half an hour to get a free site going, with upgrade options to your own domain name (or redirection) starting at around $5 Au per month. Webnode offer free websites, blogs and e-stores.
Webnode.com is an excellent place to start if you are looking only to establish an online shop. A professional looking shop featuring ten items is free and upgrades which provide increased space and additional product listings start at around $10 Au per month, increasing in increments, depending on the number of items one is ultimately looking to sell.
One advantage of a Webnode shop is that the shop is in itself is actually a website; one is provided with an all-inclusive (and free) package featuring a blog-style ‘Latest news’ section, a ‘Specials’ page, ‘Contact’ page and ‘About Us’ page, with ample space for ads, affiliate marketing ads and html widgets, all of which they allow on a free site. Webnode is an excellent option for those heavily involved in affiliate marketing. A Webnode shop upgrade also includes the option to register your own domain name.
The shop operates using your own ‘basic’, free Paypal account. It has a back section where you can keep track of orders, clients, edit shipping methods and prices, inclusive of tracking codes. Items listed in the store are automatically given an item order number and many more details can be added, including a lengthy description of your item, if desired. You can name categories and add and delete products at your leisure, selecting with a click of a button which categories to place your products in; one or multiple. This is a very simple, easy to use site for anyone looking to test the waters to start selling online as no initial financial outlay is required. Upgrades are very affordable, even if making only minimal sales. Visit Webnode and check it out!
Free Websites Galore!
These are just a few examples of many hundreds of available free options online. We have listed these not only to save you spending precious hours hunting them down, but also to give you an idea of what free websites are about and get you started on your path to developing your own website!
To find other free website providers simply type ‘free website’ into your favourite or multiple search engines and you will be presented with a long list of many, many more!
Have a browse, have a play and if you get stuck, give we, us & co. here at Tezi Magazine a holler! We’re sure to be able to help you because we’ve been there and done that too! And if we can’t help or don‘t have the answers you seek, we’ll find someone who does!
Coming up in Tezi Magazine: ‘Your Website, Your Way’, Part 4! We go right back to basics and let you know how to get started online by establishing your own initial online presence, without a website at no initial expense whatsoever!
‘Your Website, Your Way’ (Part 3) [You’re Here!]
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