And by “website shit” I mean own your domain. Own your hosting. Own your themes and plugins. Own it all.
I cannot stress this enough. You, the business owner or individual, need to own all of your own digital assets. Regardless of whether you know what to do with your domain once you buy it or have a clue what a host is or does… make sure when you acquire these things, they are IN YOUR NAME.
In the last month, I’ve had two new clients with existing websites and social media sites… and with zero access because they do not own their own shit and their super “cool” (NOT COOL) former website person isn’t cooperating. This can literally happen to anyone, including you.
The topic of ownership of digital assets really fires me up because at the root of most of these issues… is someone who is being an asshole. Plain and simple. Protect yourself against assholes. I don’t care if you are working with your bestie, your Hunny, or your mommy – make sure no one gets to be an asshole about your hard work and your business.
Here are the top 5 reasons you need to own all your digital shit.
1. Because I said so, that’s why. Seriously, you NEED to own it.
If it is not currently in your name, you do not own it. This means even though your name is Jane Smith, you do not own JaneSmith.com unless it is registered to YOU.
Many times people who are not web savvy will hire someone to set up their website, social channels, etc. and just say “handle it!” The person they hire will purchase everything under their own accounts. This makes life for your web person much easier but as your business outgrows them, it will make your life MUCH harder to try to get your stuff back. Hard as in almost impossible if they choose to be… an asshole. And if it comes down to them not getting money anymore from you, it is a high probability that assholery will abound.
If you do not own your digital assets, I urge you to please talk to whoever does and try to get it transferred over. It is devastating to lose your domain and or access to your own channels. Also – super red flag if they give you push back.
2. Accidents happen
I hate to use this as a talking point…but it’s true. People die or have terrible things happen to them. That’s life whether we want to chat about it or not.
If you don’t own your digital accounts… they will die with them too. Or be in limbo if they are recovering from an accident. I’m sure you don’t want to be THAT asshole while someone is in the hospital, calling up and asking them to sign into a website because you locked yourself out and don’t have access to reset the password. Not a great look.
I know this sounds incredibly insensitive but your business is your livelihood and an unexpected tragedy should not take it down.
3. It gives you flexibility
Let me tell you a little story.
In 2006, I was a fresh-faced college grad ready to show my online portfolio to the world and get a job. Once I got that job… I promptly let my domain lapse and it’s pretty much lost forever.
$1,500 for JackieZimmerman.com? I’d rather change my name than succumb to domain squatting like that.
All of this is to say that while my priorities changed once I got that job, I really wish I still had that domain now for other purposes. You never know when things will shift, or new opportunities will come along. This is especially true if your domain is your name.
You’d be surprised how many of your “good ideas” for website names are already taken. So whether you are ready for it or not, I’d swoop on that name instead of risking some internet asshole trying to squeeze you later on.
4. You want to make changes
If your business name ever changes, or you are totally ready to evolve your business and you want people to see your cringy but genuine beginnings or maybe you want to merge your established shit with the business you’ve been dreaming about, it’s super helpful (read: critical) to direct the traffic from one business to your new site.
Guess what you sweet summer child? You need access to the domains to redirect them.
If you decide your website is too slow and want to change the host… you need access to your current host
If you decide your website needs to be redesigned… you need access to both!
Are you seeing a pattern here??
You cannot change ANYTHING about your site if you don’t have these logins
5. People Suck
The underlying theme here is that sometimes you trust someone to manage this information and these accounts for you and they do you dirty.
I do not understand designers and developers that withhold access to these things for petty reasons but alas, they do. Money, clout, personal issues – just jump onto a YouTube drama channel if you want to see how fast people can turn or how Petty LaBelle they can get.
They say not to mix family or friends with business, but a large number of people (especially entrepreneurs) do it. DNA and love don’t give immunity to assholery.
So to save yourself from some disgruntled former employee, or exploding family drama, put everything in your name from the start.
On most platforms, there are user role settings that allow you to create logins for other people but don’t allow them to take ownership. This is especially important on social channels.