As the owner of a 20 year old web design, marketing and hosting company on the internet, I have seen it all. The one offer that stays around is the free web site. It is used, of course, to get you to sign up and get a free simple web site. It is a great opportunity for the beginner or is it? The biggest issue with these types of site is it a “do it yourself” set up. “Great!” you say but is it? These types of sites are templates that add the code in the background for you. The problem is this type of code is very heavy with extra coding because it is a templated site that builds on its own. A designer writes page coding to be simple and easy to read and change. OK, so now you have this site, it looks good and you are pushing traffic to it. A chance of being found as an unbranded product or service is tough. Yup, they all say they will promote it for you. Ask any internet marketing person and they will tell you that it is a consistent updating process to satisfy the major search engines. And if you are trying to get more than local exposure it is much tougher.
Generally, the next step, if you want results or if the free site after a year is no longer free, you decide it is time to move to a more professional hosting company. Here is where it gets a little tougher. Trying to do it yourself can be a real hassle. You must be sure to move to the same platform and depending on the type of template and coding, it may not move well at all. This, of course, means a redesign to some degree by a professional who can modify the existing site.
All in all, if you are serious then the best way to do it is to start with a professional design. It may not be free but chances are expanding, marketing and moving become much easier and cheaper.