Larry BraunerI was surprised to learn from the Google Keyword Tool that a large number of people are searching on Google for free web sites, despite the ease of buying low-cost domain names and web hosting that can avert the shortcomings associated with free web sites.

Disadvantages of Free Web Sites

The three main shortcomings of free websites are:

  1. Lack of Control - You have less control of both the feature set and the security of free web sites than those hosted on paid web hosting services. For example, few free website providers will permit you to use your own domain name or obtain a dedicated IP address. On top of that, free web site hosts can delete your web site capriciously and without notice, leaving you with little recourse.
  2. Service Limitations - Free web sites may overly restrict allotted storage capacity, bandwidth, number of pages, etc.
  3. Host Advertising - In many cases, free web sites contain the host’s ads, making free web sites look cheap and unprofessional.

Valid Uses for Free Web Sites

Despite my reservations about free web sites, there are free web sites and free web pages I consider quite valuable.

At the hub of your web presence and social media, you ought to have web sites or blog sites that you control, as I asserted in Not Ready for Social Media Marketing.

However, extending out from your hub can be many outposts on free web sites that extend your marketing reach. Here are types of free web sites that enable you to extend your web presence far beyond your core web sites:

  • Social Networking Sites - Your member profiles on Twitter and social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are free web pages on free web sites that help you connect with people.
  • Micro-Blogging Sites - Tumblr, Posterous and Amplify are free micro-blogging web sites for adding text, photo and video content that’s search engine friendly and accessible to users who follow you.
  • Social Bookmarking Sites - Many social bookmarking sites, such as StumbleUpon and Business Exchange, let you create profiles that are free web pages on free web sites and that tend to rank well in search engines.
  • Content Sites - Free content sites like Squidoo and Hubpages are communities of free web pages that behave somewhat like free web sites.

WeeblyAnd yes, there are free web sites that you fashion more or less as you like. Hosts for these free web sites include Build Free, Google Sites, Weebly, Webs and Yola, as well as a long list of others.

WebsFree web sites make sense if used in the right context. They should only be used as part of your marketing hub if you can’t afford to pay about US$100 per year to host web sites that you own, and you control.

What are your experience with free web sites?

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Larry Brauner

In Creating a Home for Your Blog I discussed blogging platforms and stated my preference for starting a WordPress.org free-standing blog for greatest control and flexibility. Review that post to decide what’s best for you at the present time.

Blogging communities such as Blogger.com or Wordpress.com, and social networking sites such as MySpace and Yuwie will host a blog for you.

However, if you decide on WordPress.org or another free-standing blogging platform, you must set up an account with a web hosting company.

Make sure to select Linux shared web hosting and not Microsoft hosting.

Here is a partial list of web hosting companies to consider for your blog:

Each web hosting company has its own features and pricing structure. All these hosting companies are mainstream. They’re listed in alphabetical order. Choose the one that best fits your plans.

If you choose a WordPress.org blog, and you have never used WordPress before, ask a freind or colleague to help. You can also contact me, and I will provide you with personal help for a very modest fee.

One side note: If you’re looking to buy domain names, 1&1 Internet offers .com domains with private registration for $6.99 per year.

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Larry BraunerI was away yesterday with my family. About once a month we all spend a day in a group home for multiply handicapped girls. Our hope is that they will enjoy, at least for a brief time, a warm family environment.

When I arrived home I found three pleasant surprises.

  • Another reader had registered as a user of my blog bringing the total to 105.
  • My blog had moved up to #8 in Google for the keywords online social networking. I’m back to #51 today, but it felt good to receive validation, however temporary, from Google.
  • An envelope had arrived by Priority Mail with my very own copy of Mike Dillard’s Building on a Budget.

Today I’m feeling jetlagged from the advance to Daylight Savings Time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve already read Mike’s book cover-to-cover. Here is my feedback.

My book review of Building on a Budget is mixed.

The advertising promises to show network marketers how to leverage a one-time cash outlay of about $500 to acquire new skills and resources and generate a continuous stream of leads without further expense.

Building on a Budget outlines an excellent marketing approach and provides great tips that all marketers could learn from — not just network marketers. The Internet and social media marketing concepts presented in the book are explained very clearly and concisely.

The book discusses one pre-requisite and five marketing strategies which are more effective than the strategies that most marketers currently employ. There’s a chapter each for lead capture pages, Craigslist classified ads, video marketing, press releases, blogging and funded proposals. I feel that these are all excellent choices.

Social networking sites are mentioned but only in passing.

Here are my reservations about Building on a Budget.

I have the knowledge and the resources to implement Mike Dillard’s suggestions. I’m already using several of these techniques in my online marketing, but what about a newbie?

Let’s say that our enthusiastic new marketer decides to follow the book’s instructions. He or she sets up web hosting, domain names and an autoresponder, all absolutely essential tools, and purchases Magnetic Sponsoring, MLM Traffic Formula, Black Belt Recruiting, a camcorder, Camtasia Studio, and one or two other items. The $500 figure can very easily top $1,000, and paid third-party assistance might still be needed.

I have spent much more than that to educate and equip myself to market effectively in today’s environment, and I’m a former IT professional with more than ten years network marketing experience.

I don’t regret it at all.

What I object to is an unrealistic $500 price point established by Building on a Budget. And not only is it unrealistic, the book itself is a powerful sales letter — not an academic marketing text. It’s written to sell information and recruit affiliates. Mike points out that he’s a great copywriter. I totally agree. However, I don’t fault him one bit.

I will make good use of Building on a Budget. It’s a compact reference that I will want at my fingertips. You may find it useful too. However, please be careful about your expectations.

Oh, before I forget to mention it. I will schedule conference calls to help. So if you purchased the book, expect to hear from me.

I welcome questions and comments about the book, but please, keep them upbeat.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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