Free websites have their uses, but like all things there is a time and a place. It’s perfectly fine to make use of a free website if you are setting up a centralized place to post information for say, a family reunion, a party of some sort, or some other type of casual event. They’re even okay to use as an informal way to share personal information like sharing photos with friends and family. BUT—and you know there’s always a but—they should NEVER be used to share PROFESSIONAL information.
As an author, you are a professional and should present yourself as such. There are many reasons you should avoid free websites as a means to promote your work. I’m going to focus on what I consider to be the top four reasons.
1. Writing is your career. Your website should show your work is a top priority for you. A professional looking website is an investment in your future. It says to your readers that you take your work seriously and that it’s not merely a hobby. When you use a free website to showcase your work, it gives you an unprofessional appearance. Why should readers be willing to invest in you and your work when you’re not?
2. The various hosting sites have to have a way to be able to offer the free websites. They’re a business and, of course, are there to make money. So in order to make that money, they sell ad space. The ads are generally placed on the top, bottom, and sides of the page or pages of your website. People come to your website to view your books and to learn more about you. Do you really think they want to see an ad for the latest toothpaste or the latest get rich quick scheme?
3. Another annoying hazard of freebie websites is pop ups. Pop ups are another form of advertising the hosting sites use to pay for that free hosting they’re offering. You have no control over what type of ads will pop up. Imagine what your fans will think when they click a link to view an excerpt of your newest book only to have a huge ad pop up enticing them to play at the newest online casino.
4. Finally, the whole point of having a web presence is to allow people to find you and your work easily. This isn’t possible with a free website. I don’t know of any hosting site that offers free services while allowing you to use only your own domain name. Generally the URL pointing to your free website will have the hosting name listed first followed by your chosen name.
One of the most important things you should always keep in mind is this: Your website is a direct reflection of you. Make sure you put forth the image you want portrayed to others, whether those others are readers, fans, other authors, publishers, or even agents.
Rene Walden is the owner of BG Designs, a graphic design company specializing in websites and cover art. Rene has worked with Vinspire Publishing since 2006.