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This category is for free hosting and free website creation tools. We’ve combined them because they are often offered together. Note: some portfolio sites for artists, photographers and musicians are also free, but we’ve included them in our e-commerce category instead.
If you plan on paying for hosting, keep in mind almost every host offers a “website builder” for free (please don’t ever pay for one). However, most people paying for hosting that need help building a website would choose WordPress as the tutorials online are much better than anything a host could offer.
Why pick a free host?
You would use these services if you want a set-it-and-forget-it type of page. Free hosts usually don’t let you use a domain name and have limitations on the bandwidth you get and over the look and feel of your site, making them look unprofessional at time. For that reason alone, most people go with their own domain name and paid hosting.
A free host would be a good fit for an informal businesses or side gig, where a web presence is expected but not usually the way you get clients. In fact, if most of your business comes from referrals, a free host/website is the perfect tool.
A good example will be someone’s dad who does plumbing and gets all his jobs from referrals but occasionally people try to find him online and they can’t. You can set him up with a free Google website and forget about it, without worrying about ongoing hosting fees or paying for a domain.
Another example would be a software developer who does consulting. Just set up a CV/portfolio site on GitHub pages. Most of your clients will hear from you from other clients or contacts, but they have somewhere to check you out for legitimacy.
Even if you use a free host, you can still buy a domain name and use it for emailing, which can help to look more professional. We show you the easiest way on our blog here.
Free Hosts & Website Creation
- Weebly or Wix: both offer free plans and have some great design templates. You have to pay to remove ads or connect your domain.
- WordPress.com: there is a free plan with some simple themes. Anything more complicated will require you to pay, but this is the easiest free WordPress site.
- Google My Business: My Business allows you to create a website for free. Since it also integrates with Google Maps to get you on the map, this would be a good fit for a very local business who gets their customers through referrals and just needs a web presence to look official and to provide contact information (and appear on Google Maps when people search). Plumbers, electricians, contractors, pressure washers, parking lot asphalters and other people who might not care about the web much, this is exactly the solution for you.
- Facebook/Instagram: now that both Facebook and Instagram have shops with checkouts, you can sell things with just a page on those sites. If you buy a domain name separately, you can forward it to your Facebook page and also set up free email hosting with Zoho (scroll down for the free plan) to have an email name that matches your business.
- GitHub Pages: a free website from GitHub, it requires technical ability to set up. If you don’t know what GitHub is or what a git is, this is probably not for you. It is a great option for a static site such as a software developer’s portfolio or CV site. Has an option for connecting a custom domain name. Can use Hugo.
- Neocities.org: a free website host supported by donations, it has a fun old school vibe (but you can chose an updated look as well). This is a perfect tool for setting up a side gig/resume page. Use it for businesses that typically don’t get a lot of visitors and just need to show some background/CV/resume/portfolio work. Since you can’t associate a domain name, it’s only a good fit for where people expect to see a less formal business, such as academic editing, piano lessons, tutoring, freelance coding, writing, copyrighting, DJ’s, the sort of set it and forget it page that you want running while you pick up side gigs but don’t want it to cost you anything.
- Netlify: another option for web developers or technical people.
- Medium & Substack: These are writing platforms that help you get paid for your writing.
- Almost free: AWS free tier. About $.50 cents a month if you stay within the limits, but technical ability required.
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