>> If you can't afford $5-$20 a month on hosting, you shouldn't be running a business in the first place.
It isn't always about running a business. Enthusiasts are all over the web and they provide information about stuff that just isn't available from a business. Indeed most (>90%) of the valuable information I've come across on the web over the past 18 years wasn't from a business, but from individuals and people passionate about a topic.
Either way, we started out on an ISP-based web site in the early days, then a free virtual avenue account back in the late 90s and when the time came, we moved to a web host (actually, a telecom sponsored us) and then shortly thereafter, we got our first dedicated server. Now, we run several servers across the globe and it would have never been possible without the possibility to grow from those first free services.
We still aren't an 'affiliate site' and we provide useful information to our visitors. This would have never become possible without starting off as a rather small hobby site back in the day.
Actually, without these free web hosts like ISPs and providers like Virtual Ave and Geocities back in the day, I highly doubt that anyone would have found anything useful with Google search results and thus Google would have had a lesser chance of being a success.