As a new author or an author that’s just starting to build momentum around your books, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated author website. However, in the beginning it’s advisable not to spend too much money so that you don’t get yourself into debt over your head while trying to promote and advertise your books. One of the ways you can control your costs is by choosing a free web hosting package at one of the many free hosting providers, like Weebly, Joomla Launch, Wix and Infinity Free. While free accounts are limited, they typically provide enough options for the beginning website.
Weebly is probably one of the best known, if not the best known, free web hosting companies out there. The free Weebly plan offers quite a few features, including up to 10 webpages, autoindexing in Google Webmaster, 500mb of storage, a free weebly.com subdomain and SSL security. Sites that are located on Weebly can actually rank quite high in search engine results, which means that subdomain isn’t as damaging as it could be for site authenticity. This is probably because Weebly has a good reputation and is a reliable hosting provider. The free account does have some drawbacks. You won’t be able to change the favicon, and you won’t be able to attach a dedicated domain unless you purchase one of the paid options. You’ll also have Weebly ads on your site and an obnoxious partial banner on the bottom. However, you can use Google ads to monetize your site. Weebly’s paid hosting plans get pretty pricey very quickly. The Pro version is $12 a month or $144 a year. The business account is $25 per month or $300 a year. I recommend this site for its free version, especially if you’re a new author who simply needs to build his or her web presence. However, I do recommend that you keep backup copies on your computer of everything you post on Weebly and keep it well organized. Weebly offers no easy solution for getting your content off the site if you decide to change hosts.
The paid options weren’t viable for me because I don’t like drag and drop builders, and I felt like the options for design and layout were very limited, so when I was ready to move to a dedicated site with a real domain, I chose IONOS.
If you like the Joomla CMS, Joomla.org with its new Joomla Launch web hosting may be the ideal solution for your new, free author website. I seriously considered Joomla Launch once I realized I had outgrown my free Weebly website. The reason was simple. I wanted a website with the Joomla CMS, which I find to be extremely versatile and scalable. Your website can be as big or small as you want, and you can add optional extensions to give it more features. If you are familiar with previous Joomla versions, you are probably familiar with failed updates and extensions that corrupt the entire installation. This no longer happens. Joomla is an extremely stable CMS, and it offers semi-automatic updates. The CMS system alerts you to the fact that you have updates available, and you can install them at your leisure.
When it comes to the free Joomla Launch website, you will get a website that has Joomla installed. The service is hosted on Cloudaccess.net. The free version includes 500MB of disc space, and you can build a fully functional Joomla website with extensions. This means that you can download and install AkeebaBackup, which you’ll need to run in order to create backups of your website. you’ll also need it to port your Joomla website to a new hosting provider if you ever decide to change providers. The downside to the Joomla Launch website is that you’ll have to remember to login to the site and click “renew” once every 30 days, or your website will be deleted. You also do not have the option to add a dedicated domain name. You’re going to be stuck with the subdomain for as long as you have the free account. Paid accounts start at $5 a month, which is cheaper than the paid Weebly accounts, and buying a paid plan eliminates the 30-day requirement and allows you do add a dedicated domain name.
The reason I did not choose this option was because of the 30-day renew requirement. I easily saw myself getting the website done and starting on site maintenance and article creation and forgetting to click that renew button. The risk for having my website deleted after hours and hours of development was too great.
3. Free Hosting
Free Hosting provides free website hosting. Free Hosting is semi-unique in that you can use your own paid domain name or buy a domain name and use it with your free website. This means that you don’t have to have a website that says: authorname.freehosting.com, which is a big bonus. The free site is also good for as long as you want it. There’s no risk of it being deleted after a certain period of inactivity or for failing to click any “renew” buttons. The site also offers unlimited bandwidth, and you can choose the CMS of your choice, which means if you like Joomla, Drupal or WordPress, you can install them because the site offers Linux hosting with Apache, PHP and MySQL. If you wish to add options to your free website, you can pay for those options, and you won’t keep paying for those options. Each one is a one-time bill. Free Hosting does offer a paid hosting plan for $7.99, but it’s unclear if that’s $7.99 per month or $7.99 per year or a one-time free of $7.99. If I were to guess, I’d say it’s $7.99 per month, which prices it right between Joomla Launch and Weebly.
Webs does offer a free hosting plan, but it’s difficult to ascertain what’s included. Clicking the Pricing Menu option only provides information for the paid plans, which start at $5.99 a month. The only thing I can say for certain is that the free website is going to have Webs branding all over it.
Wix is another web hosting provider that offers a drag and drop website builder. Individuals get to choose from more than 300 templates, and the site is optimized for mobile devices, which is good. It’s estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of all website traffic comes from high end mobile phones and devices. Unfortunately, while they do offer free signup and a free plan, it’s not readily apparent what that free plan includes. The only plans for which they list details are their Premium Plans, which start at $11 a month.
Yola offers a free hosting plan that includes up to three pages and 1GB each of bandwidth and storage. Individuals on the free plan will also get a free yola subdomain. Compared to Weebly, Yola’s free option is extremely limited. While they offer more storage, they offer less bandwidth and fewer pages, which may make it difficult to create a fully functional website with plenty of information. However, if you’re just starting out, you may only need a homepage, a blog page and a contact page.
7. Infinity Free
Infinity Free offers an impressive free hosting package. They boast the fastest load times of any free hosting provider, a 99.9 percent uptime and unlimited storage and disk space. They also do not force ads on their free websites, and you can use your own dedicated domain name. You’ll also have the option to install the CMS of your choice, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, MyBB, PrestaShop and phpBB. If you don’t want to buy a domain name, Infinity Free offers free subdomains. If you ever outgrow your free account, you can choose paid options that start at $3.99 per month, which in this day and age is pretty darned affordable.
Addendum to Infinity Free - I tried to create a free account on this website. They only offer 2 subdomains, and they both make the website look illegitimate I think the subdomains were epx and fg.dm. If they weren't those two, it was close to those two. Just forget that. I have a feeling that's going to impact page rank scores and people's desire to click on those links. The second major issue is that Infinity Free does not have the CMS's ready to install. You have to download your preferred CMS to your computer. Then, upload it to the account, which is not user-friendly. If you do manage to get to the correct location in the control panel, attempting to upload the CMS, results in being directed to an FTP login that is not protected by SSL. I stopped right there. The normal process for installing a CMS is that you click on the CMS you want and the site automatically installs it. Barring that, uploading the CMS should result in an automatic installation process. I wouldn't use this free hosting provider if hell froze over first.