Paid vs. Free Website Services: Which One Do I Choose?

Anyone who owns or manages a website is familiar with the fact that there is an overwhelming array of website services to choose from. These services can help ensure the success of your website, enabling you to manage your site as efficiently and effectively as possible. The range of services, however, can be mind-boggling in itself, the price difference between the various services only adds to the confusion when trying to determine which website services will best meet your needs. Services range from free, to affordable, to costly. How do you know which service to choose? Here are some things to keep in mind before you make a decision based on price alone – a decision that could cost you quite a bit in the long run.

1. No One Offers Website Services Out of the Kindness of their Hearts

The first thing to understand when looking into free website services is that while you may not be paying for those services up front, the company is making its money somehow. They may do it by adding unwanted advertisements on your site. They may harvest your email to sell to other services who will then email you trying to sell you what they have to offer. The bottom line is that all online businesses exist to make money and no one is truly giving away quality website services and not getting a thing in return. You need to ask yourself how they are profiting and how their profit strategy is going to impact your website if you do utilize the service.

2. You Get What You Pay For

When dealing with website services, as with many things, you usually get what you pay for. If you pay nothing for a service, you can’t expect to get much in return. Let’s take website monitoring services as an example. A free service may only check your site every hour or so and if downtime does occur, they may only notify you via email. If your site goes down in the middle of the night, you’re not going to know about it until you wake up and see the email that had been sitting there for hours waiting for you to open it.

When dealing with a quality website monitoring service, your site can be checked every few seconds and you can receive notification of downtime via not only email, but also via phone calls and SMS text messages, ensuring the downtime is caught the moment it occurs. This allows you to get to work as soon as possible to get your site back up and running. Since every minute of downtime equates to profits lost, the money that a quality website monitoring service saves you by minimizing profit loss means the service more than pays for itself. 

3. Sometimes Free Services Offer Nothing but Bait and Switch

One thing you need to realize is that sometimes a website service really will offer a free service plan, but that plan is a bare-bones plan that probably won’t meet your needs. You don’t realize until you have everything in place and set up, however, that you actually need an upgraded version of the plan. Worse yet, the plan that you do need isn’t free after all. Rather than starting the search for a service provider all over again, you simply upgrade to the plan that you need to save time and reduce headaches. The problem is that when this happens, you may end up paying more for the service than you would have had you made an apples-to-apples comparison to begin with rather than shopping for a service based on price (or lack of a price) all along. 

4. Properly Research Which Service and Which Service Plan Will Meet Your Specific Needs

As mentioned above, shopping for website services based on price alone isn’t a good idea. In fact, price shouldn’t even be your first priority when comparing one website service to another. Instead, you should make a list of the features you want and need, determine which website services can best meet those needs, and then (and only then) compare the prices of the services that make the cut.