Free site builders are easy to use and can save a new start-up a lot of money. But there are times when your inability to make those necessary changes on behalf of your business will cost you more in the long run
Coding is a No-no
With free web builders you're limited to the range of templates they have in stock. They can't be customized or altered so your web store will look like many others, and that doesn't help your uniqueness. In addition to the lack of differentiation, they are often poorly designed and coded. You won't be able to touch any of the code to change the design or add your logo properly because you are working within a structure that's limited in flexibility.
Being able to monetize your site through pay per click advertising or other tools is not going to happen because any attempt to add banner code will be erased. As a free subsidiary, you will only be allowed to have the advertising the company has, and you may not get a piece of that ad revenue. With the limited control and features you have available from a free website maker, it's like putting your business in a cramped and unattractive box.
Your Brand Could Suffer
The minute you're starting your business, you're establishing a brand. Done right, your brand can be used to build online currency in the form of trust and credibility. While a free site builder offers you the ability to create a site quickly, the fact that you don't own your own business name may affect a user's buying decision primarily because you've decided not to invest in your own business identity. Top level domains offer more recognition and are easier to remember than subdomains.
You're able to track marketing results a lot better using your own hosted domain name. One of the best ways to optimize and improve your site is knowing where customers came from and what keywords they used to find your site.
Possible Hidden Fees
Most free builders offer to remove their advertising for a charge but that doesn't help to expand your flexibility because you still may not be able to add your own advertising. Another way they try to get money from site owners is by up selling and not being upfront with special deals. Some sites will try to up sell you with pre-filled check boxes and special hosting packages. Unless you're paying close attention to the writing, you may wind up paying for a special feature you don't need or know anything about.
One of the most serious cautions about using free site builders is in regards to hosting. While there are quite a few who do have strong traffic and the servers to handle it, if you're being hosted by a company that tends to slow down or crash when it's running over capacity, your search engine ranking, the primary means visibility to potential consumers, will suffer from the downtime.
Customers who are looking for your product or service but can't find your site will find your competition's offerings a lot easier.
On the surface, saving money by building a free website seems like a good move, but it will wind up costing you a lot more than it will benefit you. Keep control of your business identity by finding the right site builder and host.