Don’t unnecessarily make yourself a victim! If you don’t own your domain in your name now; make it a mission critical task to get this done immediately.
While helping artists is my main passion, I find my day gig to be a good job with great benefits. As such, I work my blogging and consulting in around my full-time hours. A trade-off I'm willing to make for now. One trade-off I will never make is letting another company own my domain names.
Insight from My Day Job
I never mention my employer’s name so as to not have to provide the required disclaimer about my opinions being my own … blah, blah, blah, legal mumbo jumbo. I can say I work in support, sales and consulting for a high tech firm that is huge in the Internet domain market. The experience does let me see common avoidable mistakes made by small business owners. One we see regularly is domain name ownership.
You Must Own Your Domain Name
Not a day goes by without me making this admonition to my customers calling in for help or to purchase products. The advice is simple: “You must own your domain name.” Without that ownership and control, you are in a potentially precarious and unpleasant position.
Custom websites also should be hosted in an account you own
I believe artists who have custom websites should also have the hosting for that website in an account they control. For example, you have a WordPress site, or something built by a web developer using an html editor program such as Dreaweaver, which is then hosted on some third-party hosting account. There is no reason for you not have control of who has access to the hosting. How do you part company with your web developer when they own the hosting with your site on it?
Exceptions to the rule on hosting ownership
If, on the other hand, you are with one of the fine providers of artists’ websites such as FASO (Fine Art Studios Online), FolioTwist.com, Beautiful Artist’s Websites, or any of the many others you can find listed under the Website Services for Artists & Photographers, which can be found at GicleeBusiness.com, then owning your hosting does not apply as your website is being professionally hosted and managed. In this case, I still believe you should control your domain ownership.
The reasons I insist on you owning your domain name are foremost it is your intellectual property, and thus should not be controlled by anyone else. Also, should anything happen to the relationship between you and another party owning your name, you are faced with a huge and potentially expensive problem trying to get it back, if you are fortunate to get it back at all.
The ramifications of someone else owning your domain name are not good
It might be a domain with your name in it and pointing to a website with content relating to your business, but if you don’t own it, no domain registrar is just going to hand it over to you. Without cooperation from the existing owner, you likely are looking at legal maneuvers to try and get back something you should have never let go in the first place.
Think it won’t happen to you? We get numerous calls every day from frantic business owners who have seen their domains expire in someone else’s account, which causes their website to go down. Or, they are in a disagreement over monies owed and services provided. Or, the current owner has disappeared or has been hospitalized. It doesn’t matter, the outcome is if the business owner had the domain name in their account, they would not be calling.
When you own the domain, you control where it is hosted
If you own the domain name, you can point the nameservers away from an existing hosting provider and reconstruct the hosting account. Not a pleasant or inexpensive scenario, but at least one where your customers can find you.
If you don’t know who owns your domain name, you can look it up on a publicly available whois database such as www.who.is. Unless there is privacy on the domain, you will see the contact information for the registered owner and you can learn what domain registrar it is registered with.
Don't wait, act now to get your domain name in your account
The first step is to contact the present owner and request your domain name to be transferred to you. If you have an account with the same registrar, it is normally a quick process with no payment required by the registrar. If you want it registered in an account with a different registrar, you purchase a domain transfer from that company and follow its instructions to complete the transfer.
If you have an uncooperative owner, then you may have an inclination there are potential problems already brewing. Clearly, the current owner wants to control things in ways not favorable to you. In this case, you likely will need to consult an attorney to determine your next course of action. It the current owner is unresponsive, you can contact the current registrar to determine if it can provide any advice to help you secure ownership of your domain, but that is an action without good odds on the outcome for you.
Don't unnecessarily make yourself a victim! If you don’t own your domain in your name now; make it a mission critical task to get this done immediately.