Is Free WordPress Hosting Worth It?
With so many hosting plans out there, finding the right hosting provider for your site isn’t an easy call. Most hosting packages require a monthly charge, but WordPress hosting is free.
So, should you really be paying for web hosting? Is free WordPress hosting worth it, or will the price be paid in other ways?
Free Hosting: Some Obvious Drawbacks
Free hosting is available with several web hosting providers, and it usually permits a very basic website.
This limits the functionality of the site in terms of performance and in terms of the content that can be put on the site. The drawbacks include:
- Limited bandwidth. This refers to the amount of data that can be transferred at one time. If it’s a high-traffic website or an ecommerce business, high bandwidth is a must. If the site is only pulling in a few visitors a month, this shouldn’t be a major priority.
- Limited storage. This refers to the actual amount of data that can be stored on a site, typically measured in gigabytes. For instance, the free WordPress.com plan allows up to 3GB worth of data. If the site is mostly text and medium-resolution photos, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if the plan is to host a weekly podcast on the site, a plan with more storage will be needed.
- A subdomain instead of a unique domain. An example would be mysite.wordpress.com. If using your own domain name (like mysite.com) is something to consider, you’ll have to pay to register the domain and connect it to the website.
- Limited email accounts. Many premium hosting plans will include free email accounts. So for a few dollars, you could get firstname.lastname@example.org along with a variety of other email addresses for everyone involved with a website. This usually isn’t possible with a free hosting plan. After all, you don’t even have your own domain.
It’s not likely to find free WordPress hosting with domain customization.
To connect a domain to a WordPress.com site, you’ll need to pay for a WordPress personal account or choose another hosting provider that supports WordPress installations.
There are hosting platforms like eHost that will actually give you a free domain for life.
Just pay the monthly hosting fee, which is as little as $2.75 per month and offers unrestricted use of the WordPress platform.
You also get unmetered storage and bandwidth as an added bonus.
We advise against running a business from a subdomain site like mycompany.wordpress.com – it appears unprofessional and untrustworthy.
In addition, subdomains are bad for SEO (search engine optimization).
That’s because top-level domains carry more authority with search engines, and therefore, it’s easier to achieve prominent search engine rankings if you have a personal domain.
If you run a business or are concerned with driving organic (e.g. Google) web traffic, consider getting your own domain.
However, if you simply need space to publish non-commercial text or media for friends and family, free hosting should be just fine.
Hidden ‘Costs’ With Free WordPress Hosting
Web hosts need to make money. After all, they’re running a business.
With free hosting, the site’s appearance may be compromised by third-party advertisements.
It’s a bit like having your own TV show, with the website hosting provider as the producer. They have a say in how a website looks since they’re got getting paid.
If you’re looking for free WordPress hosting with no ads, you’re in luck.
WordPress does require having a “powered/hosted by” label at the bottom of the page, but they are especially good at keeping their branding subtle even with their free website hosting option.
Other providers put banners or pop-up ads on free sites.
These are much less attractive to users since such advertising can be bothersome. When hosting a business website, this can be especially damaging.
In addition, free hosting providers will often prevent the site owner from posting their own banner ads.
In fact, WordPress expressly forbids third-party advertising for any website hosted on WordPress.com.
Affiliate marketing is OK, but if making money through Google AdSense or another form of pay-per-click advertising is a goal, an upgrade to a self-hosted plan will be needed.
There are some companies that promise free WordPress hosting with no ads and no strings attached, but be cautious before signing up with one of these providers.
Some of these companies use bait-and-switch tactics such as:
- Offering such limited storage and bandwidth mean to almost immediately be forced to upgrade to a paid account
- Aggressively upselling every time you log into the control panel
- Selling your email address and other personal information (hey, they have to make their money somehow)
We’re not saying that all of these companies are deceptive, but we do encourage reading all of the fine print and carefully review consumer reviews before signing up with one of them.
What Type of Website Can Have Free Hosting?
Free WordPress hosting is usually aimed at websites that don’t require a great deal of content. WordPress allows up to 3GB of storage, which is excellent for most personal websites but might not be adequate for large businesses or users with hefty multimedia requirements (such as those who need to host podcasts or music libraries).
It can also be used by new website owners to test run their websites. Others who may benefit from free WordPress hosting include:
- Teachers looking to post homework assignments and curriculum for students
- Individuals looking to establish a photo archive for their family
- Kids looking to build their first website
- Anyone interested in learning and practicing the basics of website building
Free-hosted websites are usually on a shared hosting plan. This means that lots of similar websites are all powered by the same server, cutting costs and improving the environment.
If one site is taking up too many resources, however, it negatively affects the other sites.
It’s also worth noting that downloading plug-ins isn’t an option with a free WordPress.com account.
So, if you’re looking for free WordPress hosting with plug-ins, you’re out of luck.
The good news is that sites like BlueHost offer unrestricted WordPress hosting for as little as $3.95 per month.
It’s incredibly affordable, all plug-ins are included, and even beginners will feel comfortable navigating the user-friendly interface.
Is Free WordPress Hosting Right for You?
If you’re still on the fence about free hosting with WordPress, just try it out.
It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up and start building a website.
You should discover very quickly whether the platform is right and whether or not the free hosting tier offers all of the features that are needed.
If it has been decided that the free version just isn’t cutting it, you can find premium self-hosted packages that cost less than a cup of coffee and offer all of the top-level features that will be needed.
For instance, WordPress hosting is available through iPage for as little as $1.99 per month.
Free WordPress hosting is readily available, and it’s an excellent choice for those seeking a simple, streamlined solution.
Features are definitely limited, so users looking to grow their websites may ultimately want to expand to a premium or self-hosted account with their own domain.
Are you ready to take the plunge and sign up for a reliable hosting plan? Check out the best providers of WordPress hosting.