Don’t Let Your Web Designer Hold You Hostage

Every week, without exception, I run across someone who is being held hostage by their web designer. And this is what I mean by “being held hostage”.

Let’s say, for example, you become dissatisfied with your web designer. They are not returning your phone calls, not doing the work as quickly as you would like, or whatever the case may be. And you want someone else to take over the site.

Do you have access to all your usernames, passwords, and all your other online assets so you can do this? Or do you have to go through your web designer?

Unfortunately, what usually happens is you have to go through your web designer, and they will not let you have your stuff. If that is the case, your only option is to start from scratch with a new web designer, which can cost more money and more time.

Here is the typical scenario … the business owner lets a web designer come in and “do everything for them”. The web designer sets up the business owner’s domain name, hosting, designs the website, builds the website and the business owner is happy. The business owner can go in and make changes to their website and everything is going great for a year or so.

Then one day the business owner has a few issues with their website and can’t get in touch with their web designer. They find out their web designer is no longer building websites. Their (former) web designer is selling furniture instead. The designer tells the business owner he is no longer building websites and isn’t willing to share the information the business owner needs to either move their site to another hosting plan, make changes to their website, or do anything else. Now the business owner has to hire another web designer and build a new website incurring thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense to do so. (This is a real story from a real client.)

Be wary of any web designer who says, “Oh, I’ll take care of that for you” or “You own everything”. If you do not have access to usernames, passwords, hosting account, ftp information … then you do not truly own anything.

So how can you avoid what I just described? First set up everything in your name so you actually own all your online assets. It’s okay to get someone to build your site and manage it for you. But they do it using the accounts you set up.

Here is an overview of the steps to take:

Step 1. Register your domain name through GoDaddy. Create your own GoDaddy account. Do not use the web designer’s account.Go to my GoDaddy affiliate link at to set up an account with GoDaddy. (When you do this, it’s the same as if you went to to set up your account. I do not have access to your account unless you give me your login credentials. I am a GoDaddy affiliate and get a few cents when you set it up through my affiliate link.)

Step 2. Set up a hosting account on GoDaddy. Same applies here. Create your own hosting account. Do not use the web designer’s hosting account. Go to my GoDaddy affiliate link at to set up a hosting account with GoDaddy.

Step 3. Install a WordPress theme. You can do a search on, for example, “hair salon wordpress theme” to find pre-built theme to use for your website. You will find both free and paid themes. You can go to, or to find paid themes. Using WordPress to build your website gives you more flexibility and there are WordPress web designers everywhere. Keep in mind you will still need some amount of technical knowledge to build your site using one of these themes.

Step 4. Install a sign-up form on your website so you can collect visitors’ name and email address in exchange for a free report, ebook, or something else of value to your prospect. You will need to sign up with a professional email service provider such as Constant Contact or AWeber. They will provide you with the information you need to do this.

Step 5. Create great content for your website.

Step 6. A blogging platform is built into your WordPress theme, so I highly recommend using this functionality and blogging on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This is a great way to implement an Authority Marketing strategy in your business by sharing your knowledge and becoming a category of one in your marketplace.

One other bit of information you will need is FTP info. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and allows you to access your files online. You use FTP to upload or download files. If your web designer refuses to give you this info, find someone else to do your website. Your web designer should give you a sheet with the following information: usernames and passwords for everything (domain name, hosting, WordPress login, etc.) and FTP information.

Follow the six steps listed above to ensure you don’t experience the nightmare so many business owners experience by not having total control of their website.

I have just given you a high level overview of what you need to know and do to start developing your online presence. But as with everything in marketing, there is more to consider when building your website. For example, do you need a full-blown website, or do you just need a one page landing page? You could start with a one-page landing page with information about your business and a way to collect visitors’ name and email address so you can follow up with them. This will keep your initial costs down and you can expand it into a full-blown website later.

Take responsibility for your business early in the process to avoid pain and heartache later. There is no excuse for not doing the things I outlined above. You do not need to be a “techie”. You just have to be aware of what’s going on in your business and take total responsibility for your business. It’s YOUR business!

And if you are unsure about what you should do, turn to a trusted advisor who can point you in the right direction before spending your hard-earned dollars. Email me at or call 615-308-8078 if there is anything I can do to assist you in the process of developing your online presence.