A common mistake professionals make is to use a free email account or host their site on a free server. It's quite common to see contact email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Many people also use free web sites with domains such as www.yourisp.com/user/johnsmith.
There is nothing wrong on using free services but the downside is that this immediately gives prospective clients the impression that you're not serious about your business. How much confidence would you place with a professional who isn't willing to invest a few pounds a month for hosting and a domain name?
Free email accounts also convey a degree of anonymity and are also associated with spam. Many corporations specifically block emails originating from free accounts to avoid spam and viruses.
An additional problem with email addresses provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is that they are not permanent. If you decide to move from your AOL dial up service to broadband DSL connection, you will lose your AOL email address. Even if you are happy with your current ISP, they may go bankrupt as did AT&T, DirectTV DSL, and dozens of others. The last thing you want is for your clients to not be able to reach you when you change your email address.
Using a free web host without your own domain name will also result in very poor search engine rankings. Search engines group and list sites by their top-level domains if there is more than one page within the domain that matches the search phrase. So if you have your own domain like www.yourdomain.co.uk chance are that your web site will be in time found and ranked from the search engines and your website will get traffic and so business. This is not the case if you have your business website under another domain typically www.yourisp.com/user/johnsmith in this way you are not only losing your credibility but in the meantime the chance to get traffic and ranking from search engines are very limited.
Same result you will get if you totally rely on social networks like Facebook and Twitter just to name two of the most popular. They can definitely help but there's no comparison when you can show your prospects that you have your own domain, website and an email address that include your domain name after the @.
Studies show that 81% of your traffic will come from search engines. Saving a few pounds here is not a wise choice. With domain names and hosting being so inexpensive, it's really quite silly to use these free services for your business. By registering a domain name for your web site and using it for your email address, you deliver a consistent image and make it as easy as possible for your clients/customers to find you.