Does your web designer own your business? If so here is how you take it back
I want to share in this post an experience we went through with a new client. The client, a small business owner, had asked his past webmaster to close his account because he was not getting the results he was expecting. His webmaster, who is a local web design service, denied him the access to his domain name until the client pays off all that remain in his contract.
Now if you ever signed up for a gym membership you know that you must complete your contract even if you want to cancel early, this is what I first thought when I heard the story, until I heard the client side...
During the time of his service the client never received a copy of the contract he signed, he never saw any reports that showed the progress of his website and he never got access to his business online accounts.
As a business owner you could understand what the clients is going through. After spending thousands of dollars investing in an online presence and now have nothing to show for when his past agency shutdown his website and deny access to his email accounts. The client was never told how to access his domain registration account because the domain was registered using the webmasters email address, blocking him to make a change to a new website provider. On top of that his old webmaster verified online profiles using his email address so now the client also does not have access to his Google page, Facebook page, twitter among others.
Learning this made me really upset because as an internet marketing professional I hold small business as something sacred, his past webmaster doesn’t seem to care that every day the client has no website he is losing clients that are looking for him from business cards, and other marketing materials he has invested on. The point I am trying to make is that if you let your webmaster own all your business online accounts he will own your business. Regardless of having a legitimate claim to a contract, the client could have put himself in a position where he was not risking his whole operation by hiring a webmaster.
So how do we prevent this?
First of all, if you are a business owner and you have someone to help you with your website make sure you own the accounts used for the purpose of marketing your business. More specifically you need to make sure to keep the username and password to access the domain registration account.
My 2 cents…
1.Open a Master Gmail account
Nowadays is impossible to do internet marketing without a Gmail account. It is used to verify your business on google maps, and access important google applications such as Google Analytics and Google AdWords. Always ask your webmaster to either open a master Gmail account to control all Google applications or you can also ask him to use a Gmail account you currently use.
If your webmaster in return tells you that he might be limited to access and help you manage the Google applications for your business, then you should respond with “if you are so good at what you do then you should know how to add additional accounts to access my Google applications”, or something like that. You see if you ever used Google Drive for sharing documents then you know that multiple Gmail accounts can share access to an application. Google follows this same principle on all its platforms, this means that you can grant access to anyone and they can log in using their own Gmail accounts.
2. Use the master account to sign up for all other important business profiles
Going back to the root cause of the problem the client had, you should make sure your domain name is register with an email you can access anytime. This way if you ever need to reset the password of the account you will be able to do so without needing your webmaster. Follow this advice for other business profiles such as a Twitter account for your business.
3. Set up your email and hosting service
A hosting service is what makes your website accessible for people on the web, most people believe a hosting service is only the disk server where all your files are saved, and while there is some true to that statement it is possible to have an external server that points to a specific host. In other words you can have your own hosting service and ask your webmaster to point their server to your hosting. This way they can continue to manage your website should there be any problems but you have the ability to point the hosting of your domain to which ever server you want. A hosting service for this purpose usually runs for a few dollars a year, it can be very inexpensive. Finally as the hosting service is now yours you can get a third party system to set up your business emails; i.e. Microsoft Outlook, Zoho Mail, Google apps for work, among others. This way if you stop using your webmasters server you can still access your email accounts.
In conclusion, when hiring a webmaster remember that he is there to help you set things up for you and that you are not renting this things from him. Keep in mind your business needs to always grow so make good business relations that work with your business best interests.
I trust this article has been helpful for you, if you have any comments or questions feel free to share them with us using the comment section below.
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