Why hire a Web Developer over using a free website builder?

Recently I have been focusing on developing websites for small businesses; the mom and pops.  Generally in my location I’ve found that many of these businesses either have no website, or an outdated website that’s not mobile friendly.   Recently, free website builders such as Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace have been increasing their marketing efforts to target small businesses.
Often the questions I get from small business owners is why should they pay someone to build their website when they can do it for free on one of these sites?  What do you offer over these free sites?
 
Obviously there are pro’s and con’s.  I’m not here to say everyone should hire a professional web developer to make their site.  I’m not here to shoot down these companies.  I’m just trying to offer some insight as to why you should choose one over the other.
 
Let’s start with the basics.  Building your website, like any other service, you can do yourself or you can pay someone to do it for you.  Personally I try to do as many things as possible myself.  I love programming, developing websites, building computers, designing products, and just tinkering with things in general.  On the other hand there are many things I can’t do as well as professionals.  Sure, I can change my oil, but if my engine is dying I don’t have the knowledge to fix it like a mechanic would.  I could research it online but the results won’t be the same.  Anyone can do their own taxes on TurboTax, but it takes time (especially for business owners) and you might miss a few things that a professional accountant will not.  The main issue is time.  If you own your own business, chances are you are working more than the average person.  Building a good website takes a lot of time and it isn’t time you can afford to take off from your business.  There are web standards to adhere to, ever changing best-practices for site optimizations, and advanced techniques that a professional web developer is going to be able to take care of for you.
 
Now these free website builders do make it easy to create a very simple site.  To be honest, if you are short on cash and just need to make an extremely basic cookie cutter website for something like your portfolio, a side project, or a simple personal blog you can go that route.  For a professional project, if you are trying to create a name for your business, you should consider hiring a professional web developer.  Your customers will be able to tell the difference between a professional website and something put together on a Sunday afternoon.
 
Your website should be more than just a simple brochure for you business.  Using one of the free site builders you are essentially letting them choose how your website will look and feel.  Hiring a developer, on the other hand, will take your vision and have your company brand in mind to create the website you want.  Professionals will talk to you and make sure everything is built to your liking while making sure everything is running smoothly 24/7.  They can also usually offer more than just websites for you.  Need logos?  Animations?  Video content? Marketing strategy? Perhaps a reservation system for your Restaurant?  A web store?  We have you covered.
 
Lastly and perhaps most importantly is marketing your business using SEO, SEM, PPC, Email Marketing, etc. You need that to generate traffic to your site.  You want your company name high up on a Google search.  You can have a pretty website but if nobody can find it that’s a big problem.  A professional will take care of that.  Do these free sites have SEO options?  Yes, absolutely.  What they have is generalized though and while they may follow some standards, a lot of search marketing falls outside just the development.  A professional in SEO can give you custom-tailored advice for your business, and help bring you closer to your search marketing goals.
 
Like I said before you shouldn’t totally write off these free sites.  They are very popular for a reason and for certain situations they do work well for little to no cost.  If you aren’t a professional, and you aren’t running a company, you are most likely going to want to go for the free option.  On the other hand, if you have a company and you are serious about your business you should be serious about your website.  Your website will be your number one marketing tool and it is not something you can afford to cut corners on.