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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Keep Your Website or Blog From Exploding

©Stina Lindenblatt

One of the first pieces of advice I received when I started writing, with the goal of publication, was to buy my domain name. It doesn’t matter if you won’t be published for several more years. You don’t want someone in the meantime to swoop down and nab it.

So that’s what I did.

And every year, without fail, I would pay the fee when I received the renewal notice.

I was happy. And as time passed, my follower numbers grew and grew and grew. I’ll admit they weren’t all my target audience. They were mostly writers. And my target audience? Most wouldn’t care about my writing posts.  

And then the worst thing that could possibly happen did. Google sent me my annual renewal notice last month, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t access my Google Admin Console. I eventually asked for help. All I got were a symphony of crickets. Jimmy Cricket and the Blue Fairy would have at least been nice, but even they didn’t come to my assistance.

I tried to transfer my domain to another provider, but I couldn’t access my domain EPP and password. My happy feelings were rapidly declining, to be replaced by frustration and a clawing fear.

Last week, I woke up one morning to find my blog had vanished. In its place was a bogus company page. At first I thought someone had swept in and was holding my domain for an exorbitant fee. Yes, apparently there are individuals who do that. Turns out Google had put a freeze on my domain name and if I wanted it back, I had to pay a hefty fee. I’ve heard the same story from several other writers, and not all were with Google.

In the end, I viewed the disastrous tale to be a sign from the Goggle gods. I now have a new blog (at a blogspot url address this time), which focuses on my target audience. My real target audience. I also have a new domain name from a different service provider (I haven’t done anything with it yet).

How to avoid this from happening to you

1. Before you buy a domain, get recommendations for a service provider (and be prepared for conflicting advice).

2. Make sure it will be easy to transfer your domain to another provider if you decide to go with someone else later on. For example, will you be able to transfer it to Wordpress if you decide to create a website through them?

3. Ensure the provider has a solid customer service. You don’t want to end up with nothing but crickets serenading you when you need help. Trust me on that one.

4. If you decide to transfer your domain to another provider, do this well in advance of your contract expiration date. It takes at least 14 days for the transfer to happen. It will be more expensive if you’ve fallen into your so-called grace period (and after that, it will be very expensive to get it back).

5. Diversify when it comes to your social media sites. Because I have Twitter and Facebook profiles, I was able to get the message out that I had lost my domain name and therefore my blog. My friends were able to find me again, and many posted on Facebook and Twitter what had happened. If I hadn’t been involved in these other forms of social media, I would have had a tougher time getting the message out.

Have you registered your domain name? Do you have any nightmarish tales to tell?

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Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes Young Adult and New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website.  She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance, WIDE AWAKE, will be released 2014 (Carina Press).


James Garcia Jr said...

Hi, Stina. I'm really sorry to hear of this. I actually heard this bad news over at another blogger's site earlier in the week about what happened to you. Here's hoping that was the end of the bad news, and that down the road it will end up being a good thing...somehow.
Best of luck to you as you move forward.


Hardygirl said...

This is AWFUL!! I will say that I have had great service with GoDaddy. My domain has been with them for years (I actually bought up a few names with my book title and a couple of different spellings of my name). Up until last year my website was hosted with a different company, and when I switched to another hosting company (not GoDaddy ... yet). GoDaddy talked me through the switch--yes!! on the phone with a real person.

A few months ago I went ahead and put everything with GoDaddy, and I have had a positive experience. No glitches. No problems. Great customer service.

And they bombard me with emails starting a couple of months before my domain names are about to expire. I'd have to be living in a hole to miss them.

I absolutely HATE their Super Bowl commercials, though. :-)

Sarah Frances

Cellophane Queen said...

I had a similar experience. I obtained my domain name through Microsoft free. A couple years later, they said I had to pay an annual feed. Okay, fine. I started to pay. Then, they told us we had to migrate our websites to a difference system. It all had to be done manually. No conversion tools at all. I dropped Microsoft (I didn't like their new design) intending to use my domain elsewhere.

It was then in the hands of an Australian company. I could never get my new site registered to the domain name, so I finally just quit paying them. They kept asking me for the annual, and I continued to ignore them. Eventually, they gave up.

I no longer own my domain name, but if somebody else has any use for marvadasef.com, I'd be highly surprised.

I am using a Google website now, even though I couldn't get the domain name attached to it. Still, it's free (for now). I created a tinyurl for the site and use that in my promo materials.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's so sad what happened to you. Especially right before you posted your big news.

Thanks for the great advice. I think diversifying your social media is really a good thing to do. In the next month, I will join Twitter.

Mart Ramirez said...

Great advice (esp customer service must) and love your title. I am so very sorry this happened to you, Stina. It still pains me to think about it. :-( So sooooorrrryyy.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Ouch, Stina! What a nightmare. No, I have not registered a domain name. But I thought once you did, it was yours. Why should it matter who the provider is? I don't get it. This is the part I hate. No, despise. Thanks for the warning and turning me into a bigger worrywart than I already am!