This blog post is a cautionary tale and a word of warning on how important it is to not let your domain name expire. I have experienced first hand the unfortunate reality of letting your domain expire. Though I let it expire out of choice, I learned a lesson on why that isn't necessarily a clever idea.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the string of numbers and letters you have to type into your web browser to go to a website. Example: the domain of this website is philwhitford.com. Well, known domains are amazon.com, apple.com, etc. This is unique to your business and once you buy it no one else can use it. But of course, you never truly own it. You can only rent it on a year by year basis. This is where the danger of letting your domain expires happens and it isn't as uncommon as you think!
Keep control of your domain
Lots of people lose control of their domains for various reasons. The most common are the following:
- Forgetting to renew it
- Not turning on auto-renew
- Not updating payment details
- Missing/Ignoring the renewal notifications
- Letting a 3rd party manage their domain
The most common reason that I have come across with my customers is letting a third party manage it for them. Letting their previous website developer manage their domain, then they forget to renew to it or the third party holds it to ransom. Yes, you heard right. I've had one customer that their previous web developer wouldn't hand over the domain unless they got paid a certain amount of money for it. Unbelievable. I always take the time to set my customers up with an account with a domain seller, usually NameCheap.com, and ensure that they own the account and have domain renewal set to auto-renew.
The cautionary tale of domain name expiration
So let me tell you a short story. I used to run my business under my full name 'Philip Whitford' and so coincidentally I used the domain 'philipwhitford.com'., Once I went back into full employment I ran down my business and let the domain expire... that's the mistake. My thinking was that I was bored being all formal using my full name when everyone calls me Phil, hence this website is philwhitford.com.
Well, I went back to check on my old website and to renew the domain after it had expired, just so i can set up my old email address again to catch any of my old emails.. and there to my surprise.. someone had bought my old domain. Now I thought oh, someone with my name, though rare it is is, might have wanted it for their own uses.. no. It's now a website about bondage. I KID YOU NOT. Specifically, as the subheading of the site says it's about 'BDSM, Kink and Sex Toys'. What are the chances? You see, every website I built I linked it back to my website to promote it. So someone thought they would be clever and buy my domain as they thought it had value in the traffic that it was getting. So I had to go to all the websites that I built and redirect them to this website. Though it didn't work out for the new owner, it's still rather embarrassing that previous clients go to my old website first and see a website about sex. Marvellous. This is why you need to renew your website. Especially if it is your name. You never know what the future holds.