The advice people give on hosting your own domain (www.yourdomain.com, rather than www. yourdomain.wordpress.com) is solid. Using a hosting service means that your blog sits square on your own piece of real estate.
That’s all good. But sometimes bloggers think they own their own domain name (you know, the name you renew each year) and they find out that they don’t. Or they never find out that they don’t.
That is, until something happens. You may be like hundreds, if not thousands of other people out there, and have bought a domain, or several domains to hold onto, in case you ever need them. Or maybe you bought that one domain that is the one and you have used it forever.
But does it belong to you technically, legally? Maybe. Maybe not.
Here’s a true story. I got a new client once. Let’s call her Jane. She needed a website built. So she looked around at samples, asked about pricing, timelines and such, and decided on her choice.
So far, so good. “Do you have a domain?” the designer said.
“No, not yet.”
“Well, let me see if your company name is available,” designer guy said.
A few days later she got an email. “That domain is available. I’ll go ahead and register it for you. In fact I’ll just throw that into the design package.”
Now Jane was excited. “Yes! My domain is available!” she said. “What are the chances of that? Please, do register it for me.”
And so the process moved forward.
Until things got sticky. Shortly after starting the project, the web designer suddenly became sick and said he wouldn’t be able to do the site for her.
“Okay, I will get another designer,” Jane said. “And how do we handle the domain name?”
“I’d be happy to sell it to you for $200,” designer guy said.
The story goes south from here. Jane did not have an extra $200 lying around and because of a dishonest, unethical designer who mark up the $10 he had purchased the domain for by tenfold, she was out of luck.
Some people might have said, “Hey, these things happen. It’s the cost of doing business. I’ll just have to suck it up.”
What is my advice? If you know and trust your designer, and they ask you if you want them to register it for you, say yes, but ask that it be registered in your name. And only if you know and trust them.
If you really want to be safe about it, if you are thinking of hiring someone to build a blog or website for you, go to the hosting service you have selected (bluehost.com, for instance) and check for yourself to see if the domain is available. If it is, you can register it. Just type in the name you want and they will tell you if it’s free or taken.
One last note. I knew someone who had confirmed the availability of their dream domain name. They talked to someone about a possible web design, but decided not to use them. Unfortunately, they shared the name of the domain they were going to purchase. And by the time they went in to register it, it was taken. No proof here of who did it, but you can only wonder: devious web designer or strange coincidence?
Just be careful out there, friends.