The best of both worlds — your own domain and a free Weebly website

I specialize in helping small businesses and nonprofits design websites on Squarespace and Weebly. I chose those two website builders because they are easy to use and clients can save money by maintaining and updating their websites after I help them over the hurdle of designing them.

The Weebly Connect plan balances professionalism with cost savings

What I liked about adding Weebly to the mix of choices I give clients is that it has a totally free option, which can be an easier path for new businesses if they are really cash-strapped and want to see how their business develops before investing more into a website.

Up until recently, I thought the only way to have a free Weebly website was to settle for a free subdomain name based on the weebly.com domain, such as mysuperbusiness.weebly.com. But subdomain names don't do as well in search results and don't look as professional as a domain name devoted to your business, such as mysuperbusiness.com. What I learned from Weebly Support is that there is another way that costs a little more, but gives you the professional benefits of a custom domain name with the ease of a free Weebly website. Weebly calls this the Connect plan and you won't find it on their pricing list

Start by creating a free website on Weebly, then upgrade to the Connect plan

To take advantage of this setup, you always start by creating a free website on Weebly. Then you opt to upgrade to the Connect plan. When you upgrade, you can either purchase a new domain from Weebly for $19.95 a year or connect and keep a domain that you've purchased from another company like GoDaddy, Google, or Bluehost. Your website will then run on Weebly using your unique domain name. The features you get with a free website are the same as those listed on the Free plan, which has the "Weebly-powered" logo as the footer for every page.

 Kerry A. Thompson Blog - The Weebly Connect plan gives you a free website with a custom domain

Downgrading to the Weebly Connect Plan is also possible

You can also downgrade from a paid Weebly site to a free site, while keeping the domain name you've been using. You'll need to be in touch with Support to carry out this transaction, but I did it recently for a personal website, sustainablegreenlife.com. That website was costing $96 a year to run on the Weebly Starter plan. I didn't need any fancy features and I was fine with having the "Weebly-powered" logo on each page, so I asked Weebly to keep my domain and change the website to a Connect plan instead, which will save me almost $100 a year!

The Connect Plan is a good compromise for personal websites and business websites

I'm pretty excited that I've stumbled on a good compromise that will work for several types of clients, including those who want free wedding, hobby, or community group websites, those who just want to test the waters of a do-it-yourself website, or those who will never need the full features of a paid Weebly plan. 

Maybe it will work for you too?