To Pay Or Not To Pay - That is the question.
The downsides of free sites and "mini websites"

Many people I speak to tell me they have a website, but when I go onto the internet to find them, I discover that what they have is one or a couple of pages that have been created within someone elses site. Some of them look quite good too, depending on the overall layout of the host site.

Just to clarify... there is a vast difference between a host site and a hosting company. The former is an existing site that encourages other people to create a web presence within their portals, which gives them added strength on the internet. The latter is an organisation that allows you to host your site as an entity independent of all other sites.

While having your site inside someone elses gives you the benefit of all their marketing efforts, this should be in addition to having your own site, not instead of. Why? there are various reasons.

The best web addresses are the ones that are short, describe your business and roll off the tongue. They must be easy to remember and should also look good in print. (If your web address is not on all your stationary and correspondence, you are throwing away a powerful marketing opportunity.)

Sites that are hosted by other sites end up looking something like this: Let's try that with an actual address. See the problem? It can get even worse. Have a look at this variation:

For a bit of fun with a personal website, there's nothing wrong with this at all, but for a business hoping to stand out from the crowd, be remembered and easy to access, I think the problem here is evident. If they cannot easily speak it, they're not going to remember it.

Second problem with piggy-backing on someone elses site is that some of the top search engines and directories, as well as many of the major resource sites, will not allow you to list with them unless you have your own independent website.

For as long as you do not have your own website, you cannot be master of your own destiny. Someone else does the marketing and you are stuck with it - the good, the bad and the ugly. What if you decide to run your own special promotion? - I have not yet found any host sites that can accomodate this.

There are also certain promotional sites on the internet that have a fair bit of power in terms of reaching your target market, but which rank businesses with websites in front of businesses without. If you don't have your own site and the opposition does ... guess who will be getting the enquiries.

Lastly, and speaking of enquiries, as long as you do not have your own website it means you also do not have your own email address. An email which is stands out way ahead of one that is @some other email It's a matter of looking professional and your email address may be one of the first impressions someone gets of your business. What is the message you are sending? - That Joe's Cafe is an established and professional establishment? ... or that poor Joe is really just running a spaza out of his garage.

In a nutshell, if you want to be using the web for your business, you need to create a serious business identity and presence. Sometimes no impression at all is far kinder than a bad one.


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