When starting out a new business, it might seem overwhelming to do everything yourself, so when it comes to your website and all that it entails, it might seem like a relief to have a website development company willing to register your domain name for you. It might seem counterintuitive to refuse such help, but one thing you should never, ever let anyone else or any website development firm purchase on your behalf is your business’s domain name. Your businesses domain name is a major part of your business’s brand and if under the name of someone else, you could risk losing it or having to pay an exorbitant price to have it transferred to your name later on. To help explain how absolutely important this is, I’m going to use some real-life examples of a few situations I have personally been in with clients to stress how vital it is that you hold onto this crucial part of your brand.
Scenario #1: The Big Website Development Firms
I have a client who’s original website was built by one of those big, international firms that promises they have a large, internationally trained team to help build your website fast and cheap. Usually these type of deals involve paying a small, more manageable monthly fee instead of a lump sum for your website. This fee is paid out as long as you have your website with them, so it’s in their interest to ensure they keep you as their client for as long as possible. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long as the website wasn’t built to the clients standards nor was it doing its part to help her business grow. Since they registered the domain name though, and they were about to lose out on the $100/month plan they had her on, they decided to make up their losses by by charging her $300 to have her use her domain name outside of their system. Now a simple domain name only costs about $12, so you can imagine the amount of profit they stood to gain by holding her domain name hostage like that. In the end, as a new business owner already over her head in costs, she decided to purchase something else instead, meaning she had to change her domain name on all her marketing materials as well, either way, loose loose.
Scenario #2: The Disappearing Solopreneur
Another one of my clients had a website built by a solopreneur, some time later they needed to make some major changes to the site, but alas, their website developer was nowhere to be found. She had fallen on some major medical issues and was completely incapacitated and was’t setup to allow people to access their files and sites incase anything were to happen to her. Not being able to wait on making some major changes to their online presence, and not having access to the domain name and hosting, my client, like the previous one, had to give up their domain name and start everything from scratch. No amount of talking to the registrar and proving ownership of the business would move them transfer the domain to him, leaving the client completely locked out of their business website and any systems that would allow access to it. Again, this resulted in the business having to change its domain name and all their marketing materials to reflect the change.
Scenario #3: Happy Ending With a Bumpy Ride
Similarly to scenario 2, scenario 3 dealt with a solopreneur who was hard to get in touch with. We were eventually able to get the domain name after several weeks of requests, but it pushed the project completion back as we waited to be able to transfer the new website to its final home.
All three of these situations could have been avoided had the client spent just 10 minutes and $12-$15/year registering their own domain name. There is absolutely nothing technical about registering a domain name, it’s just like making a purchase on Amazon or any other online shopping platform. One major advantage of registering your domain name yourself is that you have complete authority over who can build your website and when. Even if you don’t host your website yourself (another key thing to do if you’re a fan of complete control over your business assets) you can always change the domains nameservers and have a new company build or rebuild your website if there are any issues (don’t worry, any knowledgeable website developer can quickly do this for you). This way, if a website developer does a poor job at building your website or disappears, you can always walk away with one of the most important elements of your brand in hand.
What to do if your domain has already been registered by someone else:
Get in touch with them ASAP and request the domain name be transferred to yours or the businesses name. Depending on who registered it, it may come at a cost, but if it’s something you can afford, the peace of mind it will bring far outweighs the cost. If it’s something you can’t afford at the moment, at least you know the cost and can save towards getting it as soon as you’re able to.
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