Should authors use free website providers like blogger.com or wordpress.com or pay for their own Hosting and hire someone to customize their site more? What are pros and cons of each? Here is an overview of free vs paid websites.
Free options (WordPress.com (WP hosts it), blogger.com or Wix.com)
Their pros would be no price, decent looking designs (possible, but some blogger.com sites do look bad if not updated with a modern theme) and fast set up.
Cons would be less flexibility in terms of additional things you can do (no ecommerce, no plug ins that expand sites or add security layer etc). WIX doesn’t have plug ins at all, blogger.com while it’s fine, doesn’t have most modern designs often and uses general blog layout. Even WordPress.com is less flexible and powerful than it’s Self-Hosted version at WordPress.org.
But the biggest negative about these would be the fact that you don’t host and own the website itself. You’re basically renting it, instead of being a full owner of it. You can own a domain name and point it to the site but if Blogger or WP.com decides to delete it for some reason you might have trouble. While it’s not a dealbreaker for some, some find it a big issue. Personally, I’m more of a control-seeker so I’ve stayed away from them because of that reason alone.
Paid options (WordPress.org – the self-hosted version, Joomla/Drupal and hand-coded, very customized websites)
Pros are the total control of your website and it’s future. You can choose whichever Content Management System you want (WP, Joomla, Droopal..), since having your own Hosting account would allow that flexibility and control. Another pro is much much more designs to choose from for your WordPress site or custom-coded HTML/CSS website. You also have plug ins available for free and for fee which add flexibility to the site (ecommerce, security, portfolios, galleries, contact forms etc) and very big community of designer/developers that can work on your site if needed.
Cons would be fees for hosting ($60-100 a year) , domain ($9 a year) and little more work when setting the site up (altho totally possible to do for an author himself too). Deciding to learn to code would be a great help but would take a ton of time and practice. Having someone else set up and design/develop website will cost anywhere from $100 to $20.000 depending on the customization and features needed.
When making a decision about which options to use, consider these pros and cons, consider how much time you have, how much control and options you want. None will be worse than having no website!