The Myth of Free: Why Your Free Lunch Comes with a Bill

We’ve simplified the hosting plans. Website hosting is complicated enough, so we have removed the 3 tier structure entirely (it was simple really, but not simple enough it seems.) We have replaced it with wait for it – a single paid plan.

The good news is that we are keeping the basic free tier as before and the price for the single site on the single paid plan for new customers and anyone who is not on a standing order will go up by £3 per annum! Laughably cheap at half the price, as the oxymoron goes.

After years of building small websites for small businesses and not for profits and developing their digital competences, I still find a deep suspicion among a high proportion of clients to want to pay for this sort of stuff. There’s so many apparently free options and platforms for promoting yourself out there, and for so long, that everyone seems to have been infected with viral resentment at having to fork out for your thinking time, design time, content management, all that digital wiring, which even after hours of explaining they still claim not to understand etc.

But because it is Saturday I thought I would get a friendly AI to write the the rest of this article, because I really cannot be bothered.

The prompt was Write me an article entitled “Free is not really free” elaborating why it is a false economy and daft proposition to expect digital services to be gratis. ;-)

In today’s digital age, the siren call of “free” echoes everywhere. From social media platforms to cloud storage, everyone’s offering you the world for the grand total of zero. There is a wide-eyed optimism among new and old clients who believe they can build their digital ant hills without spending a dime. Let’s dive into why this notion is about as sound as building sandcastles at high tide.

The Allure of Free Services

Picture this: You’re strolling down the virtual aisle of the internet supermarket, and there it is – the glittering “free” sign. Free website builders, free email marketing tools, free social media platforms. It’s like Christmas morning every day, right? Well, not quite.

When Free Really Means Hidden Costs

Remember that time you found a free sofa on the curb, only to realize you needed a team of 4 to move it to the other side of town and up 3 floors? Free online services are pretty similar. Sure, they lure you in with no upfront cost, but soon you’re knee-deep in hidden expenses and compromises.

  1. Customization? What’s That? Free website builders are the digital equivalent of IKEA furniture. You get the basics, but good luck creating something unique without splurging on add-ons. Need a custom domain or extra storage? Fork over some cash. Want to remove that obnoxious ad banner? Ker-ching.
  2. Support? Not in the Budget Ever tried calling customer support for a free service? The hold music is longer than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. When you finally get through, the “support” is usually as helpful as a chocolate teapot. Paying for professional services means you get experts who can fix issues faster than you can say, “I should’ve hired a professional.”
  3. Security? We Barely Know Her Free services often skimp on security. You wouldn’t leave your shop’s door wide open overnight, so why do the digital equivalent? Investing in professional web design means robust security measures to protect your site from cyber gremlins.
  4. Your Data, Their Rules If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. Free services often monetize your data, bombarding you with ads and selling your info to third parties. It’s like letting a nosy neighbor read your diary – not exactly a recipe for peace of mind.

The Value of Professional Services

Consider professional web design like hiring a skilled chef. Sure, you could attempt to whip up a gourmet meal using free recipes and YouTube tutorials, but will it be as good as a chef’s creation? Unlikely. Professional services bring expertise, creativity, and reliability to the table.

  1. Tailored Solutions Pros don’t just throw together a website; they craft a digital experience tailored to your business’s unique needs. It’s the difference between a cookie-cutter flyer and a bespoke marketing campaign.
  2. Time is Money DIY means diverting your time from core business activities to struggle with design tools and coding. Professionals handle it efficiently, freeing you to focus on what you do best – running your business.
  3. Future-Proofing Technology evolves faster than you can say “update.” Professionals keep your site current, ensuring it adapts to new trends and technologies, unlike free services that leave you stuck in the digital Stone Age.

Conclusion: Embrace the Inevitable

In the end, opting for free services is like buying a cheap umbrella. It works fine until the first gust of wind turns it inside out. Investing in professional web design and content management may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it’s a safeguard against the unpredictable storms of the digital world.

So, next time you’re tempted by that gleaming “free” sign, remember: even the free lunch comes with a bill – you just haven’t seen it yet.

Drafting assistance provided by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI, which I have monthly subscription for which exceeds our single paid plan.

By @ourlocality

Publishing Locally in East Lothian since 2010