The deadbeat designer.

I keep hearing this story: a small business owner pays someone to design a website for their business. After working with the designer for a while they get ghosted. It becomes impossible to get them to do any new work on the website. When the SBO reaches out to the web designer saying they want to take their website elsewhere they finally hear back from the designer and it’s not great news. To get the domain, the files and everything out of the database it’s going to cost them thousands of dollars, even more than the SBO paid to have the site developed. Their site is being held for ransom by someone who was supposed to help them and they feel powerless. At that point they have to decide if they are going to walk away from the domain and the site or sue the designer. Both options are highly unfavorable. Deadbeat designers have ruined the industry that I love and it doesn’t have to be that way!

If this is happening to you, contact us immediately. I have had three local clients tell me a similar story and they all walked away from their site and their domain or paid the fee. It is sadly very common. And the worst part is that avoiding this problem is not expensive or difficult at all. The only secret is to buy the domain and pay for hosting yourself. It sounds tricky but it is as easy as buying items on amazon. If you find a web designer worth their salt they will actually help you set this up. Ownership puts you in total control of your brand online no matter who is working on your site. If you follow these tips you’re sure to have a great experience with your site even if a deadbeat designer flakes out on you.

Buy your own domain.

Always buy your own domain. Don’t ever let someone else buy your domain for you. Use your own credit card. Use the same account for every additional domain that you buy. Most people buy their .com (or .org) from godaddy or namecheap. These are both great options that are really inexpensive. for less than $20 bucks a year you can have peace of mind that no one can steal your business URL from you. The liability of protecting your domain is shared with the domain host that you choose so even if you do not know exactly what you are doing you are always a phone call away from a technician who can help you figure out exactly how to handle any problem. You can let your web designer have access to your domain to make basic changes if they must but do not give them your username and password.

A domain is not a website. Just because you own a domain does not mean you can build a site. It’s like owning a phone number without a phone—to have a website you do need to have both a domain and hosting but they are separate issues. You can change phones at any time but your number stays with you. Likewise, you can change hosts at any time but your domain stays with you.

Pay for your own hosting.

Typically hosting costs you $100-$200 a year, depending on the specs. You do not need to buy hosting at the same time as you buy your domain. In fact, you should wait to buy hosting until you talk to your web designer. If your web designer tells you that you they will host the site for you, even if they tell you they will host it for free, DECLINE THEIR OFFER. DO NOT LET YOUR DESIGNER HOST YOUR SITE FOR YOU.

Many web designers and even agencies won’t work with you unless they can host your site for you. Do you know why? Because they want total control of your site (and the money you put toward it). But guess what, in 2018 technology has evolved to the point where you can give a web designer all the access to your site that they could ever need without giving them ownership. And giving access without giving them ownership means that when the time comes to get rid of a deadbeat web designer all you have to do is delete their access. That’s it, you click a button and they are gone, and you still have total ownership of your site.

Chances are your web designer can tell you where to buy hosting, and you should seriously consider that. You want your web designer to feel comfortable with the hosting company you choose. They should be able to navigate around the hosting tools easily. If your web designer tells you that they only host with Dreamhost (who we use), for example, then by all means go with Dreamhost—but again, PAY FOR HOSTING YOURSELF and give your web designer access later, with their own login credentials, once the account is set up.

But it’s too late, my domain and hosting are already owned by someone else.

No, it’s not too late. If you feel stuck with a deadbeat designer give us a shout. We will work with you to get unstuck and to take back control of your online presence. Sometimes that hefty ransom is easier to negotiate by someone who is well-versed in how websites work.

It’s so easy to buy your own domain and pay for your own hosting, even if you’ve never done it before. Call it fear of the unknown, call it ignorance, call it laziness. Better yet, call us!


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