Some financial planners are unaware that they don’t actually own their website – their web designer does. In many cases these advisers are essentially ‘renting’ their website from their designer – they pay an annual fee in exchange for the site and hosting.

In this article we’ll look at the different options and explain why it’s best (and easy) to own your site.

For Rent

Imagine this scenario.

You’ve got a website for your financial planning business that you’re happy with. It’s a basic site that you set up a few years ago.  It didn’t cost much to do, and you pay an annual licence fee to the website provider that covers the cost of hosting the site and their maintenance.

But now you want to make some changes. You’ve learnt about Search Engine Optimization and want to change some of the content to help your site rank better in the search engines. You want to add a blog so you can communicate in a different manner with your clients.  You also want to add an email signup form so you can capture email addresses of your prospects.

But for whatever reason, you don’t want to use your original web designer to do this new work. So you look for a new designer to do this new work.

But during this process you learn that you don’t actually own the content of your website. Your designer does.

When you look at the original contract you signed for the site, you discover that your original designer owns the site design, photos and all the files. To make things worse, your original designer registered your domain name in their name, so technically they also own that.

Does this sound too far-fetched? It does happen in real life, and it could happen to you.

So what’s the answer? Simple. Make sure you own your site.

When you’re setting up or re-designing a website you’ll probably talk with a few designers to get a feel for how much it will cost and to get some ideas on what to do.  It’s at this stage that you discuss who will own what.

Discuss who will own the designs and the templates. If your designer wants to own them, is it possible for you to pay a bit more to purchase them as well?

Things to consider include:

  • Domain name. This should be owned by you and registered in your name (or the name of the business entity).
  • Domain hosting. Your website is hosted on the web by a hosting company. In many cases your web hosting has been set up by your designer.  This is ok as long as you’re able to transfer hosts when you need to, and have access to your files.
  • FTP access. Without getting too technical, FTP access allows you to get access to all the files that make up your web site.  You can download them, add to them etc.  You should have details of your username and password.
  • Ownership of the design. In many cases your web designer will spend a bit of time on the design of your site. This is one of the main reasons you employ a good designer.  But who should own the result they come up with – you or them? It’s their creative work, but you’re paying them.  A good win-win is for you to own the content, but provide a link back to their site.
  • The break up. What happens if you want to part ways with your existing web designer? Can you still continue to use their designs? Can you move to a new host?

There’s a range of things to consider when it comes to setting up a web site.

In our opinion, you should own the content of your site. We can arrange hosting and domain registration, but this is always done in your name so you have control over it. If you ever want to go elsewhere, you can.

There’s a trade-off in the different models.

In a rental model, you may pay less initially for your website. But you don’t own it.

In the ownership model, you’ll probably pay a bit more initially. But you’ll own the end result.

Which do you prefer? Personally I prefer the ownership model, but I can see why for some people the rental model may be preferable.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Editor B