I design .

I'm Ketan ‐ A Melbourne web designer and developer
with over 20 years of industry experience.

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Host your business website or blog for free

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The cost of hosting your website can quickly add up when you start putting things together; the server, the database, the domain, and the SSL certificate. All these components are needed to ensure your website runs correctly. But, did you know that you can actually host your website for free?

When I say free, it’s practically free but you’d still need to pay for your domain.

I don’t pay anything for the website you are reading right now, and it’s been that way for a few years. And, compared to other sites on paid hosting, it loads super fast.

Some caveats

Okay, so there is really only one caveat to getting your website hosted for free, and that is you can’t use WordPress or any other cms that require a database.

Most businesses have basic websites which might include a blog or a news section. If you are doing something more specific with your WordPress or CMS website that requires a database, then I advise you to continue with paid hosting. That said, it’s always a good idea to revisit the services you use as you might find something much cheaper - Google Cloud Platform is my go-to for paid hosting services as it gives you complete control.

So, why no WordPress? Well, it’s as simple as free hosting doesn’t permit PHP, the language that WordPress is written in, and there is no database available. But, you don’t need any of these and there are many benefits for not using these, with speed being the main one.

You would have a static website that you can still update yourself using a file-based CMS.

Still interested? Then let’s continue.

How do static websites work?

Unlike WordPress websites, static websites are made up of raw HTML and CSS files. These files are generated from plaintext/markdown files using a static site generator like Jekyll or Hugo.

When a visitor comes to your website, they are served an HTML file. There are no database connections and queries involved or server language parsing, it’s just straight-up HTML, so pages load instantly which Google loves.

Free hosting using Netlify, Github and Jekyll.

In this post, I’m not going to show you exactly how to set things up, but just know that it can be done. I’ll tell you the tools you need to set up your static website.

GitHub

First off you’ll need a GitHub account. GitHub is where your files will be stored, in a repository. The repo keeps a record of all changes that are made. It’ll also handle publishing your website, so you don’t need to do anything.

Netlify

Netlify is a service that serves static websites. They have a free account which would be enough for most business websites. Your domain would need to be changed to point to Netlify’s servers. Netlify links to your Github repository and automates the deployment of any website updates.

Jekyll

Jekyll is a simple blog-aware, static site generator. It converts plaintext, markdown, liquid, HTML and CSS into a working site. Once you’ve built your site, you’d commit it to Github and let Netlify do its stuff automatically. Similar to WordPress, Jekyll has plenty of themes available so you can find something suitable or code your own.

So what about editing content?

To finish things off, Forestry.io is the free CMS that would link directly to Github. You can add new pages, and blog posts or tweak your content whenever you like. I’ve been using Forestry for a while now and had no issues. It allows you to publish content, upload images, and videos and even draft blog posts.

Also, if you need to make a design change to your website, this process will automatically rebuild your website files so every page is updated correctly.

Need help?

I appreciate I’ve simplified the process above and made it sound easier than it seems! If you like the sound of having a static website for your business and your hosting costs are absurdly high, feel free to get in touch to discuss.


Sketch sitemap library available for US$14 on Gumroad.