Own Your Website Or Someone Else Will

bank-safeOwn your content, your domain name, your links. In fact, Own Everything

I have worked with a number of clients that didn’t own their domain names, hosting account, and in some cases didn’t even know their credentials. Many of you don’t own your own content or assets related to your online presence, and that’s a HUGE mistake.

While the idea of truly “controlling” anything online is a bit of a misnomer, to the extent you can exercise ownership you should.

Your Domain

I’ve recently worked with several clients who didn’t have control over their domain name. It was under an account owned by the developer (once an ex-boyfriend) that had initially built their site, or someone that used to work for the company but was no longer there, and that is a problem for several reasons:

  1. You are at the mercy of whoever controls it. If they want to shut your site off or redirect it to wherever (use your imagination) there is nothing you can do to stop it.
  2. If you ever need to change things, and you will, such your host, but can’t get ahold of the domain owner, the process of getting control back can be a nightmare and is potentially fraught with legal messiness.

Make sure you know:

  • Who the domain is registered with (e.g. GoDaddy, Hover, Network Solutions, etc…)
  • What your credentials are for that account
  • Who the contacts are for the domain (Owner, Billing, and Technical)
  • Contact Info is up-to-date

If a developer registers a domain name for you make sure it’s done under a registrar account that you control or is transferred to an account you control as soon as the developer is done with their work.

Note: I recommend GoDaddy or Hover for domain registration. Whoever you use, go with a big name to be sure you get total DNS control. Many smaller “mom-and-pop” domain registrars don’t provide full control over DNS and that can be problematic.


Not the same thing as your domain, hosting is where your domain (website) lives. Sometimes the same place that registers your domain name is also where you host your site, but that isn’t always the case. All of my sites are registered with GoDaddy & Hover but hosted on WPEngine or LiquidWeb.

Many of our customers also host on StudioPress Sites.

The main things to know about your hosting account are:

  • Who is your host
  • What are your hosting account credentials
  • What are your FTP credentials
  • What type of hosting you have

Make sure hosting is in your name if you own the site so you can exercise changes to the site and provide the necessary information to your web developer or site administrators.

If a developer sets up hosting for you make sure it’s done under a hosting account that you control or is transferred to an account you control.

Hosting is exceedingly important for a lot of reasons so don’t overlook good hosting.

Service and Site Credentials

Make sure that the business credentials are also under your ownership. Google Analytics, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook logins are all good examples of things that, in many small businesses, may be set up or run by different people. If you don’t manage those credentials things can get challenging when someone leaves the business or changes need to be made.

Other accounts you’ll want to track info for may include:

  • Social Media Accounts
  • Analytics accounts such as Woopra or Google Analytics
  • Email Hosting accounts and related info (SMTP, POP, etc…)

Get The Ownership Checklist

A little organization such as a simple spreadsheet or text file can make keeping track of these things much easier and prevents unnecessary delay when working with others. It will also keep you out of harm’s way by allowing you to make changes, including passwords, as people come and go in your business.

For passwords, I don’t recommend keeping them in the spreadsheet. Use another tool that is more secure. There are several free options for password management, but I personally use Common Key for team passwords and 1Password for personal.

Your website, domain name and other facets of your online presence are assets, so treat them as you would any other investment and they’ll pay dividends for a long time. Ignore them, and they’ll take care of someone else.

Download the Ownership Checklist

1 Comment

  1. tim on March 14, 2011 at 2:28 am

    i rate godaddy too. thanks for the tips

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