As a business owner, I sincerely wish that writing this page was not necessary, but it is. Most importantly though, free is not bad, and cheap is not evil. There are great opportunities in both categories.
If you are considering Doing Your Own Web Site, be sure to review our recommendations on how to be successful.
My company provides a lot of free extras and consultation to add value to our web design services and web content writing services and strengthen business relationships. In fact, the best clients are the ones who ask a lot of questions. I want you to ask, because in my experience, I have been able to offer insights that have spared business people of mistakes I have either seen made, read about, or, dare I say it, made myself before I knew better.
The seemingly overwhelming task of understanding the Internet and web marketing has given rise to some opportunists who just want to make a quick buck from uninformed or misinformed buyers.
On that note, be wary of anyone who makes it sound quick and easy. Getting decently listed with search engines for example takes time and effort. It usually takes 30-90 days or longer to make any significant progress. Aside from some paid advertising, I have never seen any shortcuts, and those paid listings only provide the paid ads themselves, not search engine results. Here is my advice, question everything!
With most of the schemes, you are dealing with small amounts because it is easier to extract $19 to $99 from a lot of people, than larger amounts which you are more likely to question. Ask an expert before spending money. Many of these deals are worse than throwing money away, some can seriously harm your business and/or your web site.
Here is one I view as being particularly dangerous and it can happen with an innocent-looking freebie. Watch out for free domain names and free hosting with a web design package. If the company giving you this “generous offer” puts their name on the domain registration instead of yours, they own it. If you become dissatisfied, you might be able to cancel, but they still own your domain name and site. Now imagine all the effort wasted promoting a site you don't really own.
If you want to check your domain name, go to the whois directory and put in your domain name. If your name and contact information is not on that domain name as the registrant, you may have a problem.
The purpose here is not to outline every scam, I just want to lay out a principle so you can exercise caution. Call it a public service. As a small business owner myself, it's the least I can do.