I often see newcomers wondering if they will really be able to get any success at all with a free site. I can safely say yes. The biggest site I own in terms of traffic started out as a free site and had many page one rankings within three months of its creation.
I didn't even really know what I was doing back then (further proof that just writing content is more important than fretting over SEO).
As of writing, www.askawesomequestions.com (Note: Site has since gone offline) receives 800-1000 visitors per day. One month ago it was the free site http://www.askthemquestions.siterubix.com and was receiving 300 visitors per day in only its fourth month of existence.
Here you can see the daily traffic for my site when it was still a free siterubix site. Further down the page you can see what happened after I switched it to an owned domain.
The traffic has more than doubled since I bought a domain and transferred the site over from siterubix, but none of that would have been possible if I hadn't first built the foundations on a free site.
Why Start Out On A Free Site?
I was still a complete beginner when askthemquestions was born and had already bought three domains that weren't doing so well. I felt like I had to stop the spending until I had earned something more substantial or had at least proven that I knew what I was doing.
You should consider starting out with a free site if:
- You don't have a large budget
- You don't have confidence in your abilities
- You are testing an idea or niche
- You are building your first site
It's a lot easier to shrug and abandon a free site if things don't pan out. Don't let that de-motivate you though; you are doing all this for a reason after all.
Testing and Learning
As mentioned above, free sites are great for testing niches. I still use either siterubix or squidoo to test new niche ideas. If you can earn some money with a free site then think what can happen when you switch to an owned domain.
Ranking is faster, higher (usually) and more sustainable with owned domains and that means traffic and conversions will be higher too, but all of this is achievable on a smaller scale with a free site.
Which free sites work?
You shouldn't put too much weight on this, but there are definitely some sites that have benefits.
This is google's own free blogging platform and it used to be one of the easiest to rank for free (google loves its own products) but since it is generally the realm of the ameteur, there is not so much weight given to the .blogspot extension anymore.
I also think it is a bit of a limited platform, fine for a personal blog or a hobby page, but not something that serious marketers should be looking at.
WordPress has a decent free platform that is where I learned how to build sites on, but it has similar limitation to blogger in terms of what is available (no plugins or much customization available).
It is fine for learning the ropes about publishing and editing and so on, but why use WordPress.com's basic platform when you can instead use WordPress express?
WordPress via Siterubix
The full-blown version of WordPress with all the buttons, gimmicks and customization is actually available for free with a Siterubix extension as part of the free Wealthy Affiliate starter membership. I am convinced that the strength of this platform is what enabled me to build a high ranking site.
The unique thing about Siterubix is that it's made for affiliate marketing and online business. Most free websites generate income for the parent companies, not for you. In fact, many free website platforms specifically do NOT allow you to create promotions on your website! Siterubix was created for affiliate marketers.
More importantly, by sticking adverts on the site and having the freedom to position them how I wanted, I was able to earn more than enough to buy a domain name and contribute to my wealthy affiliate premium membership.
[Video] Build a free Siterubix site in 45 Seconds.
Making The Switch
Then I switched to an owned domain and the site really took off.
When it came to switching over my domain, I employed a simple technique using 301 redirects. I built the new site using the new domain, copied all the contents over from the siterubix site and installed a 301 redirect plugin onto the siterubix site (wouldn't have been possible with blogger or standard free WordPress). After that I just manually told every page at siterubix to redirect the user (and search engines) to the owned domain.
Do You Need To Upgrade?
Of course you don't, you could just stay using a free site forever. However, once you've seen that the site/model works, why would you NOT want to upgrade? Your costs will increase a little bit, but your earnings should increase massively.
As I explained earlier, Ask Questions more than doubled its visitors when I made the switch, and another domain I own had similar results including a massive jump in search engine rankings when I made the switch. See below:
Having an owned domain is definitely the way to go, but when starting out using a free domain is a very viable option.
Get two websites 100% for free! Use the Siterubix tool below to see if the domain you want is available. Then start building your website (also free). Start your path to success today!
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