On The Web, Free Is Never Free

“Free” is a word we love but never trust. Is anything free of charge; complimentary; without obligation? Not much can be described in those terms, and certainly not Open Source websites. Yes, you can build them and launch them without paying, but there is always a catch. Maybe there is no monetary exchange, but Open Source is fettered in a different sense.

What Part of Open Source Is Free?

Consumers who do not know code or who can but prefer not to are able to build websites using WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and others without paying a dime. They create an account and get started. Within the hour, one could be staring at a homemade website — sort of. It has been built from a template, so there is a little bit of cheating involved in the creative process. Nonetheless, this is now a useful site from which to launch a blog about what you did on your holidays, to connect with family members around the world prior to a big reunion, to share images and stories from a recent wedding, or to run a business. Blog writers run businesses using their writing skills. Companies promote their products. All of these consumers can make an impact on the internet without paying a cent to get started.

The Catch

What part of this isn’t free? It sounds great; just click on features you want for a website, write stuff, load photos, and get going. That’s fine if you don’t mind the limitations to this system. One of them is that you can only use the free template-building elements to create a site. Add-ons (caching, selected languages, and video tutorials, for example) cost extra.

It might be surprising to the average person how many of the features on a site actually cost more because they are plug-ins and add-ons. You need one to make a site mobile-friendly or to enable comments or live chat. Some of the fun features cost money too, like daily quotes.

Also, web hosting has to be paid for somehow. In order to pay for your free ride, Open Source companies advertise along the sidebars of their clients’ websites. They advertise what they want, not what you want. Although it’s in their best interest to choose appropriate, related content to advertise in order to enhance their reputation, it’s really your SEO ratings that suffer if backlinks, PPC ads, and banners don’t match the content of your site.

If you are writing a blog to make money, affiliate codes, banners, and PPC ads are important to you and you need control over what is planted on the site. Meanwhile, the website extension isn’t one of Google’s favorites; you lose SEO points.

Take Control

How does a blog writer or company owner take over and decide which companies get to advertise on their sites? They pay for web hosting. Start by checking out web hosts that offer website building templates. Next, determine what you get for the cost, either managed or unmanaged hosting services. Finally, choose a company and build a page.

The building part is still simple. The costly part is where you pay monthly for hosting services, but you will make that money back with well-placed ads and content that features good use of keywords. You can now add the affiliate coupon codes, capitalizing on reader interest in good deals by earning commission when they buy things.

Also, e-commerce is now viable. It’s not safe on an Open Source site you have no control over. With web hosting, some security is already provided, but you can add more. Ensure customers are protected and enhance your reputation as well as SEO rankings. The site can grow too with add-ons for caching to keep speed up, video features, and interactive elements.