Keys to your Castle

In the last two weeks we’ve had three clients admit that they do not have the keys to their website and / or to their domain name and / or social media. Imagine not having a set of keys to your own home. Not having access to your website and domain names is far worse. If you can’t get into your home, you call a locksmith, show your ID, and a few bucks later you’re in. But getting into your domain name settings, or logging into the back-end of your website (when you don’t have the keys) is a ton more difficult, and sometimes, impossible.

With churches and schools, what usually happens is a well-meaning parent/parishioner says, “I can help you make a website, and I will be the webmaster!” Fast forward a couple of years, and the webmaster has moved, is out of town, is grumpy, etc. The parish or school really needs to make big updates to the website but can’t get it. “Jim used to do that for us, but we can’t get in touch with him,” they say. We hear it all the time. All. The. Time.

What’s even worse is when Jim the Webmaster also registered the domain name to his own personal mailing address, with his own credit card. Basically, he owns it. And the church’s hands are completely tied without Jim’s help.

So here’s what you need to do right now:

  • Find out whose name is on your domain name registration. Go online and do a WHOIS search to get the data. If you’re the owner, great. Find out when your domain name expires and make sure your contact info is on file for renewal notices. Go ahead and renew for 5 years. If the parish / school is NOT the domain name owner, contact the domain registrar and ask to establish a new account so that you can eventually transfer the domain name to your account. Contact the owner of the domain name and very nicely let the domain owner know that you need to move the domain name to your own account.
  • Find out the username and password to your website’s admin area. Most modern websites can have multiple administrators. Ask the webmaster to create a new top-level admin account for you. Log into your account and create at least one more account for a trusted colleague in your office.
  • At all times, at least two people in your office need to have direct admin access to be able to update all areas of your website. You need two, just in case one of you is sick or unable to perform.
  • Learn how to make basic updates to your own site.
  • Obtain similar access to your group’s social media outlets.