Consciously Uncoupling: Keeping Ownership of Your Website Assets
Recently, Oozle Media had a potential client who was unhappy with the services their web marketer provided. They were considering switching to Oozle. In an effort to pressure the client into signing another contract, their marketing company shut off the client’s website.
We’ve seen this many times. With the promise of making everything “easier”, this 3rd party company winds up with ownership over your website files, your website’s domain, or even your email. It becomes impossible to cancel marketing services without risking your online brand.
Protect Your Company’s Assets
Almost everyone has good intentions, and most companies won’t take advantage of this relationship. But there is still the occasional company that will phrase their contracts poorly, or who will simply leverage their control over your property to prevent you from canceling. So there are a few things you should always do to protect your assets.
Keep Your Domain
This is the most important thing you can do for your business. It would be hard to replace your website, of course. But if you lose your domain, you lose all of your branding online. Your domain will usually contain your actual business name (such as ours, at oozlemedia.com or oozlethemes.com) and losing this can be catastrophic for your online branding.
It’s the difference between “Welcome to our new website!” and being forced to replace all of your advertising/marketing collateral, having to notify all your existing clients of the change, and hoping that your previous domain doesn’t wind up being used for something unsavory.
Make sure your domain is in an account that belongs exclusively to your company. It should never be in any kind of “joint” account belonging to an employee, or one belonging to a 3rd party. Never allow your marketing company to purchase a domain on your behalf – ask them for help, if necessary, but the domain itself should always be under your complete control.
Oh – and keep up with domain renewals! If you get an email from Godaddy (or wherever you register your domain) warning you that your domain is expiring, don’t ignore it! Letting your domain expire is one of the worst things you can do for your online presence. You may lose it forever. In fact, to be safe, renew it for several years at a time.
Own Your Website Files & Content
Don’t sign contracts that don’t ultimately give you ownership of your site. Once you’ve paid for your site, it should belong to your company for good. Don’t let a web developer hold you hostage! No matter what they say, they’re never the only ones who can work on your site. You should always have full access to all of your site files and databases.
Beware of website companies that promise cheap, easy, pre-built websites. We’ve had many clients who paid a monthly fee for their site for years, tried to cancel services, only to find that they didn’t own any of their content or site files.
Purchase Your Own Hosting
Once the contract is complete, purchase your own hosting for your website. Your company should always have complete control and ownership over these files. Don’t tie your hosting to your marketing contract.
Keep Track Of Your Passwords
Although this step is forgotten on a regular basis, it’s also one of the most vital things you can do for your company – know your own logins and stay on top of your billing! Put these logins somewhere safe where they can be accessed in the future, know who you’re paying for your hosting and domains, and don’t let things expire.
Frequently we have clients who have no idea who is hosting their site, or where their domains are registered. This can become a nightmare if they ever decide to update their site – or, worse, if they lose track and allow their domain to expire. Client sites go down often because of this, and the best case scenario is that it takes a few hours to figure out where everything is. That’s wasted time for which you may have to pay your web marketing company.
In the case of our potential client mentioned at the beginning of this post, Oozle Media was able to help resolve the situation for both client and marketer. We retrieved the site files, launched them to new hosting that belonged exclusively to the client, and helped to mediate with the previous company in transferring over any remaining property to the client, who then signed a new contract with us. We were fortunate that the previous marketing company wasn’t malicious, although much of this could have been avoided had the client known to follow the guidelines above.
Are you already in a contract? Do you need advice on untangling your business’s brand from your marketing company? The most vital thing you can do for your business is have experienced experts in your corner. Contact Oozle Media and let us help you regain control of your online branding.