Free Websites and Blogs – Bad For Business

by AJ Farro

 

Free websites and blogs can only take a serious entrepreneur so far.  They’re a great sandbox for getting your feet wet and figuring things out, but they’re full of advertisements, gaudy templates and themes that reek of “free”.  It’s like doing business out of the back seat of your car – with a Hannah Montana sticker on the bumper.  Few people, if anyone, will take you seriously.

 

If you build your business on free sites, you risk losing everything because you do not own the site and it can be taken away from you for any reason.

In May 2009, Facebook disabled accounts with, what it “assumed”, were fictitious names.  People with legitimate accounts that have spent years building personal or business relationships had everything disappear in the blink of an eye.

When I first started using free blogs, Blogger shut down one of my blogs and to this day I don’t know the exact reason why.  It could have been because I was using it to pre-sell affiliate products.  It could also be because I hyperlinked every occurrence of my main keyword to my main website and they considered that spammy.  What did I know, I was a noob.  I couldn’t get back into the blog to fix it.  No amount of contacting them ever got an answer and I was forced to abandon it.  Can you imagine if I had built an entire business around that blog? 

I also know that using free WordPress.com blogs for business purposes is a violation of their terms and they will shut you down, too.

Many people starting out don’t know that because they never read the terms of service.  Stay away from free blogs.  You need to own your own blog or website.  Always remain in control of your business.

Before you can run your own website or blog you need your own domain name and web hosting.  The good news is, it’s cheap to get started and I’m going to give you my personal tips for doing it.

Warning:  Do not take advantage of “free domain names for life” when you buy web hosting.  They are only free if you keep your hosting account with them.  Plus, you will not own the name, the web hosting company will.  Always remain in control of your business.

Domain Registration

I’m not going to get real deep into selecting a domain name because that’s beyond the scope of this material.  However, I will leave you with a few guidelines. 

If you want to be found in the search engines, it only makes sense to include a keyword or two that people are using to find what it is you’re selling.  So if you’re an affiliate selling outdoor furniture, incorporating “outdoor furniture” into your domain name is nothing but beneficial.  BestOutdoorFurniture.com beats TomsDeals.com.  No one is going to be searching for outdoor furniture using the words “toms deals”, but they will be searching with “outdoor furniture”, even “best outdoor furniture”.

Only use a .com name.  Stay away from .net, .biz, .info and all the other dots if you can help it.  People don’t remember extensions so when they type in your domain name they will be typing your domain name and automatically adding .com to it.  So get found.  Don’t be invisible. 

Make a list of several domain names because the chances of finding something that isn’t already taken is going to be slim.  Oh, and to stay out of legal hot water, do not use trademarked names in your domain name. 

A great example of that is new businesses that come on board at Commission Junction or other affiliate networks frequently have no restrictions on their name.  Then affiliates will go hog wild snapping up domain names with the vendor’s name in them and spend weeks or months promoting and establishing an online presence.  Then sooner or later the vendor modifies its terms and suddenly bans the use of trademarked names.  It’s happened to me more than once.  It’s a knife to the core of your business.   

Hot Buying Tip

  • Get your domain name at NameCheap.com
  • $9.69 for a .com name, but use the coupon code and get it for $8.81.
  • They don’t sneak stuff into the shopping cart during checkout like other registrars.
  • They have a very easy to use Domain Manager interface.
  • NameCheap is a great domain registrar, but don’t buy web hosting there because you pay too much.  Just get a domain name.
  • Be sure to enable the free privacy manager on the domain.  It will hide your personal details from spammers.  goDaddy charges $8.99/year for privacy protection.  At NameCheap, it’s free for the first year and renews at only $2.88/year after that. 

Web Hosting

In order for your new domain name to be seen online, you need to have it hosted by a web hosting company.  It pains me to see web hosting companies take advantage of their customers, so I will only recommend companies with outstanding customer service and reliability.  I also wouldn’t recommend something I don’t use myself.

Hot Buying Tip

I have accounts at both of these places and both are very reliable. 

iPage Hosting– Unlimited green hosting with an easy-to-use control panel.  Their “anytime guarantee” is the best in the business.  Customer service is outstanding.  Server response time is super.  Free Carbonite PC backups.  Easy blog installation.

SuperGreen Hosting– Unlimited green hosting with cPanel.  Very reliable.  My WordPress blogs run at lightning speed and customer service is quick and courteous.  Easy blog setup.

I hope you found these tips helpful for getting your business off on the right foot.

 

 

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