The Website Hostage Takeover

I was chatting with a local veterinarian the other day and got to talking about her business. She had recently opened up a clinic and I asked, ‘Oh! What’s your website address?’ – to which she replied, “oh, well, it’s not on right this second because there was a hiccup in billing and the website developer has it turned off…

To this, I said – ‘WHAT?’

Turns out this business owner bought into a marketing program that was all about the web company making a profit and her being in a website hostage situation.

In this day and age, most businesses understand the importance of a website. There is, however, a huge gap between businesses that understand the importance of a website, and those who know how to get online.

It is in this gap that we find our veterinarian…

Now, this scenario happens more often than not, and it’s always with businesses’ who don’t understand the facets of getting a website online.

But, in their defense, it’s not totally their fault.

They wanted to get online; they knew the importance of a website; they looked at a few web developers; they probably even shopped around for the best price point, and then, bought a package promising a complete website.

In our veterinarian’s case, she actually bundled her marketing services, adding a website through a package she bought with her local media company.

The package included a complete website with social integration and a few listings in a directory.

There are many packages like this – turnkey website design and hosting with social sound fantastic, and are! But, you must ensure the setup is done right – otherwise, you will find yourself in a hostage situation. See, the veterinarian isn’t in the website industry. She’s an animal lover and knows how to deliver a cow or horse – provide healthcare for your dog or cat – she doesn’t get the INS and out of online website development, and frankly, doesn’t feel she should. That’s why she hires a professional!

But, many packages selling companies out there KNOW that. They know a lot of businesses don’t understand how hosting actually works – they just know they want to be online!

For many who may not know, web hosting is a server space where you store your website’s files so they are accessible 24/7 by browsing your domain name. The company providing this service for you is known as your host.

In the veterinarian’s case, the media company had set up her website on THEIR hosting account.

Now, why do they do this? Well, there are a few reasons…

  1. It saves them a step. Instead of having a separate account for the client, they can simply log in and manage all their projects under one hosting account.
  2. They can charge their customers for hosting and make a profit. Many hosting products include unlimited websites – this means, you pay one fee (like $99/year) for hosting, but, can host as many websites as you want. So, let’s say they are paying for their company’s hosting…if they package out let’s say $20/month on a hosting package, they are receiving $240/year on that client – thus yielding them a profit of $141/year per client.

Now, many companies also use this as a means of hanging on to clients once a contract is up. OF course, should the contract not renew, technically, the business still owns the domain – however, a transfer would have to be made, thus, a hosting package would STILL be needed.

So, why not simply start a hosting account for clients from the get-go? Well, convenience and money, of course. The fact is a lot of businesses are set up this way. Whether it’s through a media company or a web developer – if you weren’t asked, at some point, to work with your web developer to set up your OWN hosting account, you are probably being housed under theirs.

But! Don’t freak out just yet – there is a way to fix this.
  1. The first step is you need to shop around for the best hosting option to suit your business needs.
    1. Some hosting options allow you to house more than one website.
    2. Some have email included; others have certain website development options.
The best thing to do is determine what you need, then, see which company matches up best with you and your budget.
  1. Once you have a hosting company picked out, you can then go to your current web hosting contact and inform them that you will be transferring your website to your own hosting account.
    1. There are a few details, such as IP addresses that you will need to know.
    2. Also, note that your domain name will also need to be transferred since they probably also have that set under their account.
    3. The transfer can typically take anywhere from 24-48 hours.

Moving your hosting account feels as scary as moving into a new house. It affects your business and your online brand; so of course, you want it done correctly to avoid any costly mistakes. Fortunately, most hosting companies have great customer support and help you through the entire process which can be done quickly and easily, thus leaving YOU in control of YOUR website.

Bottom line; don’t set yourself up to be a hostage. Owning your own domain and hosting prevents that from happening. Even if you have a wonderful relationship with your web developer or IT contact. The fact is if one day their policies change or they no longer even exist, this would inevitably have to occur in order for your website to be online. Take the extra steps now to move forward more securely and you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing what the heck is going on with your website.

Have you ever been held hostage in your business? Share your experiences by commenting below!
About the Author Lysa Greer

Lysa is a seasoned Business Strategist and Service Designer with a profound commitment to crafting holistic, valued experiences. Her specialization lies in optimizing offers to empower service-based entrepreneurs in realizing their business visions. Drawing from 24 years of multifaceted experience in broadcast and digital media, Lysa offers an array of opportunities for collaboration with diverse clients and teams, fostering connections in both virtual and in-person settings.

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