Five free website builders with custom domain support
All the five free website builders listed in this article have the following features:
- Free hosting is included.
- A free subdomain name
- An ability to connect a domain you have bought (we call it a "Custom Domain" throughout this article, which is not the same as a subdomain specific to a platform)
- Mandatory Sign up requirement
These platforms help you create a website for your business, learning, professional requirements, non profits and more, including starting a side project selling online for free or are useful for small businesses and individuals for full time selling.
Website creators which allow you to connect a domain that you already own
1. Google Sites
Google sites is a free website builder and hosting platform for creating websites with unlimited pages for small businesses, students, teachers, parents etc. where you can find templates for the following categories:
- Small Business: Dog Walker, Christmas Party, Photo Portfolio, Restaurant, Salon
- Education: Class, Club, Student Portfolio
- Personal: Portfolio
- Work: Event, Help Centre, Project, Team
Besides these, you can also create your own template, create pages, change the page layout, insert Google Maps, image carousels, sliders, forms, Google Docs, embed videos, slide shows, and more. Your finished site will not contain any ads but a small icon at the bottom left of the site, clicking on which displays a link to Google Sites.
To use Google Sites, you need to have a Google account. This site builder allows you to connect up to five custom domains to one website, and you can restrict the site to being viewed by selected people only or anyone.
There is a website created by Kim Clark and Marcia Torgrude using Google Sites that contains tutorials for building websites using this tool. Another site made using this website creator is a South Dakota-based math resource site.
Limitations include a limited number of categories and pre-made templates to customize.
2. Big Cartel
If you need an absolutely free website builder for creating an online store, then bigcartel has a free plan where you will be able to connect your custom domain and display it to your customers. There are even instructions on linking a domain bought from domain providers like Godaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator, Google Domains, NameCheap and others.
The only limitation with this plan is that you can only sell five products, but this should also be acceptable to you if you have fewer products to offer. Or even if you have more products to sell, you can start with 5 products and as your grow, you can buy a premium plan.
This platform, established in 2005 and used by millions of users, is best for creating websites for:
- Small businesses
- Artists and makers including film makers
- illustrators etc.
You can sell products such as prints, jewellery, soap, art, candles and more. There is no need to provide your credit card details and there are no monthly fees, commissions or transaction fees in the free plan.
You can offer discounts & run promos on your site with this website creator having Stripe and PayPal as payment acceptance options. It is also possible to import your product listings from other site-building platforms such as Shopify, Etsy and Squarespace if you have used them previously.
There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android that allow you to manage your store from anywhere. From this site maker, you can view stats such as visitors, orders, conversions and revenue from the admin dashboard. Note that the online shopping website created for free with Bigcartel has a non sticky logo in the footer.
Limitations: Only 5 products are available in the free plan
GetResponse`s website builder is a free-for-life platform where you can create a single website for your business or personal use, but you have to buy a paid plan to make an e-commerce site.
The account creation requirement to use the free website builder on this inbound marketing software platform is somewhat strict as compared to other websites listed here where you have to enter your name, address, phone numbers, etc. and have to activate and verify your account by entering the activation link sent to your email and the verification code sent to your phone.
But the templates are nice, whether you are a small business owner looking to get your business on the web, making a portfolio website, for nonprofits, schools, or for anyone wanting to use the power of the internet by having a website.
There are two options for building websites at GetResponse: customizing pre-made templates by using a drag-and-drop editor or using an AI-powered builder where you have to answer a few questions about your business to generate a personalized site in the following industries:
- Real estate
- Arts & Entertainment
- Portfolio and more
One nice thing about the sites created with this website creator tool is that there are no watermarks or links to the branding of GetResponse on your website and you can access premium features for 30 days.
Limitations: Only 5GB bandwidth is available.
Gumroad is a platform founded by Sahil Lavingia on the idea that anyone, mainly creators, online entrepreneurs, and artists, should be able to sell products such as books, podcasts, icons, etc., directly to their customers with ease. Hence, it is the best online service to sell digital products such as SaaS and memberships, but you can also sell physical products such as paintings, t-shirts, offer films for rentals, license key- based software, offer subscription based payments for your customers etc.
There are no monthly fees but a commission ranging from 2.9% + 30 cents to 9% + 30 cents depending on the revenue. A number of communities are available here, such as Crafts & DIY, Podcasts & Audiobooks, Education, Photography, Drawing & Painting, Music & Sound Design, Books & writing, and others, where you are able to sell downloads, courses, or anything and to anywhere.
You can chose to sell any of the three types of products, viz.,
- Classic: To begin selling right away
- Pre-order: To sell before the official release date .
- Membership: To charge on a recurring basis
There are two payment methods: direct deposits, which are available for countries like the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and others; and PayPal, depending on the country. You need to reach a balance of at least $10 to be paid out for your sales.
Limitations: Each sale is subject to a 9% + 30 cent transaction fee.
If you are looking for a free website maker to create an online shopping website where all the features are free and for as long as you wish, without any monthly fees, where you are also able to list unlimited products and earn unlimited revenue, then a UK-based website maker called Payhip might be your best choice, which also makes it possible to create blog posts.
There is a 5% cut on every sale you make, and they can optionally handle everything related to EU VAT for you. A store can be created for selling digital, physical or subscription products such as digital downloads like music, ebooks, clothes, arts, presets, printables (stickers, calendars), memberships, etc. and be integrated with a PayPal or Stripe account into your store.
You can connect a domain already owned by you to your store by following step-by-step instructions given for various domain providers. Furthermore, linking the store to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is also easier from the dashboard. The store can be offered in Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Dutch, and Japanese, in addition to English.
You can also get an option to place product page links, checkout links, or "Buy Now" buttons on the Payhip store if you already have an existing website. Your visitors will see "Powered by Payhip" text in the footer of the store created with this site builder tool.
In the builder`s dashboard, you can create coupon codes and discounts, manage your affiliates, view affiliate sales report, set up mailing lists, add cross-selling, create referrals, add upgrades to your products, view subscribers, create email updates, and view analytics data such as views, sales, orders, visitor sources, conversions, and so on.
Limitations: 5% commission (is it really a limitation or an advantage? If there are no sales, there will be no commission!)
Free website builders that do not allow you to connect your own domain
To add more, if you do not need to connect your own domain to your newly created website, then you can also consider to use following site creators:
- Square online
- There is no custom domain.
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
- List as many products as you want
- Features like Book appointments, take orders or sell them.
- Not an ecommerce website
- It is good for small businesses and other websites
- There are no advertisements on websites.
- Sticky watermark at the bottom of the site
- Website builder with drag-and-drop functionality for portfolios and online stores.
- Many payment methods to receive instant payments
- Los Angeles-based company
- Unlimited bandwidth
- The maximum number of pages that can be created is 15.
- Add sections like sliders, appointment bookings, etc.
- With free hosting, you can create a free online store
- The annual turnover limit is $30,000
- You can stay for as long as you want.
- Products can be listed indefinitely.
- Add Discount codes
- There is no custom domain mapping in the free plan.
- Need to upgrade to remove the wordPress branding (you can change the default text with just a small WordPress logo though)
- Best for beginners, small businesses, classroom websites for teachers, etc.
- No custom domain support
- Limit of 10 products
- Plan that is free for life
- my online store
- Basic electronic store
- No custom domain support
- Listing limit: 10 products
- Free forever
- For US residents only
- Create completely free online store
- Unlimited products
- Discounts or Coupons
- For students, artists, and non profits , the Xprs website is completely free.
- Create an online store
- Custom domain
- No ads
- In the footer, there is a sticky wix branding link
- You can not chose the whole sub domain name on your own, only last part
- Good for websites for real estate, photography, music, creative arts, portfolio & CV, Video, education, communities (religion, non-profit), arts blog
- The free plan is unsuitable for running an online store, but the paid plan is ideal.
- You need to upgrade to edit the footer (and to remove the sticky Weebly link in footer
- No choice for your desired sub domain name (only the end part)
- Ideal for small businesses, students, teachers
- Drag and drop
- If you are using a free plan, it is not recommended for online stores, but it is a good option for paid plans.
Other than these, you can also read our article on free hosting providers where most of the listed services offer free website builders too.