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:~: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 :~:

A tip on domain names...

... so you won't make the same mistake I did.

For those of you with a website hosted with your unique domain name (like www.joanswan.com, not a tripod or aol sub-domain), take this as an opportunity to learn from my mistake.

Don't let your domain name renewal lapse.

Simple advice, yes. But, valuable.

I've been a professional web designer in the past. I've worked independently building and setting up sites for companies and individuals. I've worked on payroll for several small firms. At the pinnicle of my web design career, I spent years at Hewlett Packard designing and implementing aspects of both their internal and external sites.

But I never knew what happened when you let a domain name lapse after the 30-day grace period.

I assumed (eye roll, smacking my forehead) that the name went back into the available pool from which you could simply puchase again.

I was wrong.

Let's say your domain name is paid for through June 30th, and you didn't renew. From July 1st to July 30th you have a grace period during which time you can renew your domain for the regular price (my registrar charges $7.99 for the year). If you don't pay by July 30th, your domain slips into the "redemption grace period".

This is another 30 day grace period where you may pay to have the domain retrieved and renewed, but only by your registrar--to the outrageous tune of anywhere between $80 and $250+. My registrar charges $150 for this service.

I couldn't believe the utter manipulation of this situation, so, I investigated my options and found that sure enough, I have three choices:

1) I can give up the name all together, which means giving up any name recognition I'd built, changing any links I have on other sites, moving everything off that server and onto another server of whatever new name I buy, etc.

2) I can pay the absorbidant fee and have my name renewed.

3) I can wait for the 30-day redemption grace period to expire, wait for the domain to be released back into the open pool where I can then buy it again for my $7.99.

Now, number 3 doesn't sound too bad, considering. Yeah, I'd have to live without the site for a month, but at this point in my career, not a big deal.

But then I discover...and this is where they get you...all names ready for release into the open pool are first offered for sale to select companies who pay a subscription fee. These companies are informed of the upcoming names going out into the open pool, and they decide which would be beneficial to buy (at a bulk registration rate of about $3-$4 a name for the first year). They will then, of course, turn around and offer to sell the name back to its original owner at an unGodly price.

Depending on how badly that person wants or needs the name, they might very well buy it back. Evidently, many do or these companies wouldn't remain in business.

So, if I don't pay the $150 fee, I risk some anonymous company buying it. And of course, since I wouldn't buy it from them, they would own it for the next year and I'd be out of luck.

But what are the chances someone would see joanswan.com and buy it? I don't know. On the one hand, it wouldn't benefit anyone but someone named Joan Swan. On the other, that might be the very reason it's valuable...there's only one and that might just make them think I'd want it back bad enough to pay. (I wouldn't, but they don't know that.)

Additionally, I'm sure these companies do research on the domains before they decide which to gamble on. And if they google my previous site, the site itself is down, but the information on search engines says I'm an Award-winning romantic suspense author. Little do they know how insignificant I am in the industry...like...in the negative zone. They probably figure if I'm going to want it back.

As I said, for me, at this point in my career, I'd simply change the domain to use my middle initial or something. But consider those who are already published, those of you who already have a following with readers and a fan base. We all know how important a website, email and even our blogs are to marketing. For an established author, this could be potentially damning.

So...don't make this mistake! If your registrar has an automated renewal service, give them your payment information and let them renew for you! If they don't, renew your domain the SAME day you get that renewal notice!

5Comments:

Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oh, geez, Joan. That stinks.

As for waiting the 30 days...a writer friend of mind did this. And you know what? Her name was snatched up the day it came open and she didn't get it. She had to change everything.

I wish I knew what to tell you to do. :(

9:27 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

Now, I have to go look at my documents to see when I need to renew! Thanks for the head's up!

7:53 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

Oh, my gosh. E's right . . . this does stink.

I think . . . I *hope* mine automatically renews!

6:31 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Joan! I already can't get lauriewood.com, and have to reserve something else. And I'm not pubbed yet, either, but it doesn't hurt to look ahead....I never would have known about the 30 days if I hadn't linked to your blog.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Cool, Laurie, glad it helped! I'd hate for that to happen to someone else when it doesn't have to.

6:24 PM  

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