Free or Paid Web Hosting
A website goes hand-in-hand with small business. Since your website is often the first thing that people will see, it's important that your site runs smoothly. Further, it's vital that your site has a clean interface that works well, and an e-commerce tool that's easy to use. Setting up shop with the right web hosting site is the best way to achieve all of these goals.
What to Look For
What should you look for in a web hosting solution? Start with the basics: storage, support, upgrades, and domain name selections. Then, move onto the more complex details like sorting out ads and other specifics.
Most free sites offer storage limits of 150MB to 10GB. For the most part, simple websites won't surpass these storage limits. However, if your site receives an unexpected number of hits or if you offer popular downloads, it can be very easy to go over those marks. In which case, you will have to ensure that upgrades are available.
Typically, free sites don't offer upgrade options. If you do go for a free site to start with, you may find yourself at a loss when it comes to needing an upgrade. Switching from a free site to a paid hosting site may also mean asking your users to switch sites, and many people will become confused or lost in the shuffle. A better solution is to look for a paid hosting site with storage upgrade options if you plan on growing a large site.
Domain Name Options
Want a specific domain name? Get ready to pay for it. A free site comes with a URL that directs to that site, so you'll be stuck with something like http://www.freesitehere/yourname.com. You can purchase a domain name from another site, though, and use that name in conjunction with a free host option.
Unless you are a technical genius, you will need some form of technical support. The problem here is that many free sites don't offer technical support at all, so you'll likely be searching for answers to technical problems online instead of picking up the phone and getting a direct answer. More often than not, you won't need tech help. But, you never know.
You can expect your site to be filled with advertisements if you go the free web hosting route. These companies have to generate revenue somehow, and that means revenue through advertisements. Don't want to deal with ads? Look for a paid web hosting site instead.
Free or Paid Web Hosting: Options, Options, Options
There are a ton of excellent free web hosting sites out there. You can even find sites that offer some kind of green or social incentive (like the sites listed here).
Just keep in mind that you will have to pay attention to upgrade possibilities, advertisement options, storage limits, technical support availability, and domain name services.
Most small businesses can get away with using a free site for awhile, but do keep in mind that you will need more storage the more your site grows.