Do you have a website? Who bought the domain name? If its you, no problem. If your web designer bought it, you might be in the soup I am in right now. Read on.
You have this beautiful business idea. You have beaten inertia. The business is off the ground. And someone advises you to get a website. You contact a web-designer and after negotiaing, money leaves your account for his. Within two weeks, the site is ready. You are elated. You visit the website everyday and the journey begins. Thus the online branding for your business begins. If you do not cover the domain name basics, trouble might come knocking soon.
How all it started
Some years ago, I started a business and within a few months, we had become a very strong brand. However, before that, I contacted this gentleman who was a web designer then. Lets call his name Bayo (not his real name). He was very gracious and created the website without a down payment. We paid him after it was all done. As at then, I did not know the difference between a domain name and a domitory name.
We paid too much
He charged us a lot of money for “hosting” and domain name renewal every year. It was always to the tune of close to N30,000 (about $150 then). Anyways, as technology advanced, so did I. I now understoo1d what a domain name is and what hosting is. I even began to buy domain names and create other business name. Thanks to Al and Laura Ries’ book, The Origin of Brands, I began to understand the power of a business name and how that I must ensure that if I must pick a name for my brand, it must also be available on the world wide web.
I got wiser and bigger
Over the years, I have started many businesses. And each of these businesses needs a website. So, I own a bunch of domain names. As a result of that, I bought an “Unlimited Hosting Plan” for all the websites. One day, I noticed that this particular website was down. I called Bayo and he said that my hosting and domain name has expired. He said I should pay a very exorbitant rate for it. There is no way I am consuming space that worths that much. Meanwhile, I have to always delete mails because the quota he assigned my domain was very low. Imagine losing so many emails. Moreover, what he was asking me to pay for just one website was almost up to the amount I paid for hosting over 8 website, all of them having unlimited email storage space.
Can I have “my” damain name now?
When he told me that, I told him that I now have an unlimited hosting plan and would like to transfer “my” domain to my hosting account. Every time I tried to tranfer, I was told to ask him to give us a little more quota so we can have access to move the database. He didn’t agree. I understood. Imagine attempting to deprive someone of his expected annual income. I thought he will warm up to the fact that this slave now knows his right. But I was wrong. When he finally suspended the hosting for the website, I requested for a transfer key. He sent me one. Every time my hosting company tried to do the transfer, they failed. After investigating they said the domain name is still locked by Bayo.
The moment of truth
I tried to entreat him but have still not been able to get my domain name back. That was when it finally dawned on me that the domain name does not actually belong to me. I own the name at the Nigerian company and business registration agency, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). But on the internet domain, it does not belong to me. I have to wait till he decides to release it on his volition. Or for it to expire and then buy it. I have not given up the domain name yet. I will try other methods to get it from him.
What to do with this information
I have written this so that you will not make the same mistake. When next you want to create a website, take the following steps to safeguide your domain name.
- Go to any domain registrar and register. I use name.com. You can click here to use them.
- Search for the name you want on the space provided for that,
- If its available, buy it,
- If it is not available, keep tweaking till you get something cool,
- Buy a hosting plan,
- After this, contact your web designer.
If your domain name is already in existence and someone registered it for you, start politely asking for it to get transfered to you.
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