If you have a website on your own hosting account then you have a domain name. The domain name is the address to your website. We don’t actually own our domains. A more accurate description is that we rent our domain names.
No two domain names are the same, and they have to be paid for on a yearly basis. As long as you want to “own” your domain name you will never pay it off. You can pay for up to 10 years at a time, but you are still paying by the year.
There is one group that is in charge of all domain names. This is how it is sure that there is only one of each. Then there are hundreds of companies that resell domain names. Many companies that “sell” domain names also offer hosting so you have a place to put your domain name, the files that make up your website and possibly an email address containing that domain name.
There are also many website designers who will include a domain name when they develop your website, and hosting companies that will include one year for free for a domain name when you use their service.
The issue comes in with the ownership of the domain name. When a domain name is registered contact information is asked for. Usually there are up to four sets of contact information: registrant information, Admin information, technology information and billing information.
Your information should be in as many of these spots as possible, no matter who registers the domain name for you. The technology information can be for your website designer. But all of the other ones should be you, not your designer and not your hosting company.
If your domain has their information in these spots instead of your information then YOU do not own your domain name. They do.
At first this may not seem like an issue. But heaven forbid they close their business for some reason. Or maybe you decide for whatever reason to stop working with them. Legally you do not own the domain name, which means if things get sticky you will lose it.
It doesn’t matter if the domain name is your name or the name of your company. It doesn’t matter if you have a business card with that domain name on it or even if it was your credit card that paid the fees.
What matters is the contact information attached to the domain. If they decide not to give it to you, no matter who you call you will have the same result.
I have seen it happen more times than I care to count.
In fact there are some unsavory web designers out there that will do this on purpose to keep you dependent on them. They will even include a line or two in the small print of their contract saying they own the domain name they provide you with.
If you are not sure if you actually own your domain name or not then you should check. Your can go to http://whois.sc and enter your domain name. This will show you the contact information associated with your domain name unless extra was paid to hide this information.
You should also have a username and password and know where your domain name is registered. It is not necessarily the same place you host your website, although for most people they are the same company.
If you do not have this information then you need to contact your web person right away and get it. And you also need to test the information to make sure the username and password you are given work. Just to be sure you have the right, current information.
If you discover you do not own your domain name then you need to address the issue right away. By addressing it now, you will head off any issues in the future. If someone you are working with refuses to provide you with all usernames and passwords to these things then it may be time to look into working with a new person.
About The Author:
Cindy Clemens is a mom, Best Selling author, marketing consultant, website and Infusionsoft implementation specialist and Co-Founder of Your Marketing University. Her goal is to teach marketing in a simple easy to understand format businesses can use to help gain marketing ideas & market their businesses to boost sales.
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