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Is Your Website Being Held Hostage?


Here are two questions you should be able to answer: Where is your website hosted, and how do you access the hosting account? If you don't know, your website and related accounts may be in more danger than you think.

The first few years I was in business, I would build websites for clients, host their site, register their domains, manage their Google AdWords, Analytics, and Webmaster Tools all through MY accounts. It was just part of the service I offered. However, as time went on, I realized that I was actually doing my clients a big dis-service, and by having control of their website and accounts, I was essentially forcing them to rely on me throughout all eternity. Now, from a business perspective, that may sound like a good thing for me, but it goes against my goal of helping small businesses become successful, independent companies. If you want to be able to work with any web designer, marketing company, track website data over time, and protect your website and the data it produces, you MUST set up your own website hosting and online accounts.

Real-life Hosting Hostage Situation
Last year, I started working with a client, "Mr. RD" who had his website hosted with a small web company. While things started out ok, they went downhill quickly. First, the owner of the hosting company did not pay the fees that allowed him to host all his clients websites, and ALL of those sites went down for a while until he paid, including "Mr. RD's" website. Then, the web company stopped making progress on the new website, and wasn't responding to emails or phone calls. So, "Mr. RD" wanted to pull his site away from that company. However, the web company wouldn't give "Mr. RD" access to his website files and wouldn't move it to another company. So, "Mr. RD" had to pay to have a whole new website built.  AND, since "Mr. RD" had the web company register several domains on his behalf, he was never able to get access to the domains for his own use because technically, there was no record of him buying them.

Additionally, I have a client who was working with a web designer locally. While they hosted her website files, and were generally helpful when she needed work they could charge for, they didn't host her site in a manner that would give her access to her actual website files because all their websites were under their own account. To give her access to her files would have meant she could get to ALL their other websites. So, if she needed updates to her website, wanted to add email accounts, or needed special security or troubleshooting work done, she was forced to work through them. 

The Benefits of Hosting Your Own Website
When you have your own hosting account:

  • You have control and access to your website files, and usually your email and email addresses, the database, and more
  • You control whether or not your hosting company gets paid appropriately, and therefore you ensure your site stays active
  • You can easily control who has access to the behind-the -scenes files for your website and your account - from website designers and coders, to online marketing companies. Should you decide you don't want to work with your web designer at some point, or should they become unavailable for any reason, you can revoke their privileges and assign someone else to the job. 

Setting up a hosting account is easy, and most website hosts today will move your site for little to no charge. If you have a Wordpress site, and want the easiest maintenance process, I suggest opening a Managed Hosting Account through WPEngine. They run $29/mo. but are worth it for the reduced headaches that are sometimes present with standard website hosting. Wordpress is still my favorite website platform but it requires a lot of on-going updates and maintenance, so Managed Hosting is the way to go. BUT, if you want to take your chances, or if you have access to a good techy person, InMotion has cost-efficient hosting and excellent customer service.

Other Accounts That Should Be In Your Name

Aside from setting up their own hosting, I now encourage my clients to set up a Gmail account that is specifically for their business and web use. This will allow you to associate many helpful accounts related to your website, while giving you full control over access and data. Other accounts I recommend you open for your website and associated online activities include:

  • Gmail/Google Account including
    • Google Analytics
    • Google Webmaster Tools
    • YouTube Channel
    • Google+
    • Google AdWords
  • WooCommerce (If you use this for online sales)
  • EnvatoMarket - So you own and have access to the themes, plugins, and other tools used in your website
  • Domain Registrar - For simplicity sake, I generally suggest you register your domains through your hosting company. But, that isn't always the most cost-effective way to go. So, find a domain registrar with good rates, and then use them anytime you buy a new domain so you can keep them all in one place.
  • Security - Many agencies will set up your security but what happens if you leave that agency? Set up your own account through someone like Sucuri, they will even help you if you move your site!

In general, if you need something for your website or online presence, set up the account using yourself rather than having your webmaster or marketing agency do it. This will save you a lot of strife should you decide to work with someone else, the company go under, or should something happen to the person managing your account(s) and you don't have the passwords or access you need. You wouldn't give away the keys to your office would you? Don't give away the keys to your website and online presence, either.


Check out this post to learn more about website hosting and what you can/should expect from your hosting service.