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Is Squarespace free? Everything you need to know

We explain Squarespace’s free tier and everything else you need to know about getting started without paying a penny

Squarespace is one of the best known names on the net. At nearly twenty years old, it was formed in a college dorm at the University of Maryland and is now one of the largest hosts on the web. You’ve almost certainly visited a Squarespace site in the not-too-distant past, even if you didn’t realise it – or perhaps you’ve even considered signing up yourself.

Squarespace competes with WordPress,, and other hosts that focus on template-driven design. Several of these, including WordPress, let you get started for free, and either stick with that entry-level offering for good, or upgrade to more fully featured packages over time.

The question is: can you do the same with Squarespace? Let us explain.

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What is Squarespace?

Squarespace operates what’s known as Software as a Service (or SaaS). That’s a fancy way of saying that it’s a web app that runs through the browser, rather than solely on a stand-alone PC, tablet, or smartphone. Website owners can start with a template, then use the web app to drag and drop objects like text, images, and forms onto their pages. Once they’ve finished, they can publish them directly without having to manually upload the results or paying separately for their design software.

By rolling everything into one package – hosting, design tools and domain registration – Squarespace has made it easy for first time publishers, or anyone who prefers to think more about the content of their site than its mechanics, to get online with the least hassle.

Is Squarespace free?

You can get started for free, but you will have to pay over the longer term. You can sign up for a free trial account with your email address or using your Google, Apple, or Facebook account, and familiarise yourself with the system through which you’ll build and manage your site.

When your trial ends, Squarespace will send an email notifying you, and offering a one-time, seven-day extension. Click the ‘Extend your trial by seven days’ link if you’re still not ready to commit, and you’ll receive one extra week to play with the system and make sure it’s right for you.

If you choose to continue using the service after that time, you’ll need to sign up for one of the four paid plans. These are:

1. Personal

£144 a year, or £16 a month (equivalent to £192 per year)

This plan which lets you sign up two contributors, who can design your site using templates. At this level, you don’t have the ability to customise it using CSS and Javascript, you’ll miss out on a year’s free professional email hosting through Google, and won’t be able to sell through an on-site store.

2. Business

£204 a year, or £24 a month (equivalent to £288 per year)

This builds on the Personal plan by allowing you to enrol an unlimited number of contributors, customise templates using CSS and Javascript, use pop-ups and banners to advertise promotions on your site, and sell an unlimited number of products, subject to a 3% transaction fee on each sale. You’ll also benefit from advanced website analytics that can help you better understand how visitors are using your site.

3. Basic Commerce

£276 a year, or £28 a month (equivalent to £336 per year)

Basic Commerce gives you everything in the Business plan, without the transaction fee for online sales (although you will still be charged for processing by your credit card processor). As well as cutting your sales costs, the Basic Commerce plan gives you several powerful tools for increasing sales, like the ability to include product reviews, set up customer accounts, sell on Facebook and Instagram, and host a checkout on your own domain for a more professional image overall.

4. Advanced Commerce

£420 a year, or £43 a month (equivalent to £516 per year)

Building on the features of the Basic Commerce plan, Advanced Commerce gives you the tools you need to sell subscriptions, offer free shipping and automatic discounts, and build custom integrations to third-party systems that can handle inventory management, order fulfilment and more.

View offers at SquareSpace

How long do you need to commit for?

That’s up to you. Unlike a lot of web hosts that require at least a year’s commitment, Squarespace lets you sign up for a month at a time. However, there are two key benefits to opting for an annual plan.

First, if you sign up for at least twelve months, you can choose a domain and register it for free. After your first year, this will renew at the prevailing rate (between £16 and £56 per year depending on the extension). It’s a tempting proposition if you don’t already have a domain you’d like to use. If you ever close your site, you can continue to renew the domain through Squarespace, let it lapse, or transfer it to an alternative host.

If you do have a domain that’s ready to roll, you can attach it to any Squarespace plan – and, if you have more than one, you can point them all at your Squarespace site should you choose. This can be an effective way to make sure people find you, even if they frequently misspell your site address.

Second, by paying for a year up-front you’ll enjoy a significant discount on the overall cost of the Personal, Business, Basic Commerce, and Advanced Commerce plans. The discounts range from 17% on the Basic Commerce tier, to a generous 29% on the Business tier.

Is there a charge for setting up a Squarespace store?

Not as such, but you will need to opt at least for the Business tier if you want to take payments from your visitors. At this level, Squarespace will charge a 3% transaction fee on every sale to cover its own costs. If you upgrade to either Basic or Advanced Commerce, there are no transaction fees aside from those charged by your credit card processor.

Do I have to pay for Squarespace templates?

No. When you sign up to Squarespace, you can choose from a range of built-in templates. These are starting points, which you can customise until you’re happy with the overall look and feel of your site.

However, you can also design your own template or, if you don’t have the necessary skills, buy one from a template shop. In that case, there will be a fee.

Stores like Squaremuse and SquareRefresh specialise in Squarespace templates and plugins, as their names suggest, and they’re not the only ones: a wide range of developers have produced targeted templates for photographers, wedding planners, businesses, and more. Prices range from just a few pounds, to several hundred.

If you buy a template from a third-party outlet, make sure it’s compatible with the version of Squarespace you’re using. The latest release is Squarespace 7.1.

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