GASP!!! What’s happened to my website???

picture of smarmy tartJust the other day I clicked on the link to my website that I’ve got set up on my browser – and got the shock of my life. Instead of my sexy spaceship-and-planet header I got a picture of her (left). With MY name all over the website that wasn’t mine. It’s not a good feeling.

Yes, of course I panicked. Need you ask? My first thought was that my URL had been redirected or somehow hijacked, so I asked the first computer-savvy person I could think of on Facebook (as you do). It wasn’t until somebody said ‘but if you own the domain how can they do that?’ that the awful truth started to percolate into my fevered brain.

Like many people, I have several email accounts. The one I rarely used was the one to which the reminder notices were sent about my imminently expiring ownership. Sure enough, the domain had expired. Bummer. Expletives deleted. Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to pay any pirate money to get my name back. I girded my loins (how do you do that?) and changed from gretavanderrol.com to gretavanderrol.net. So there. Easy peasy.

Er… no.

I’d have to go around to every site I belonged to that had a profile and change the link. Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Author page, Goodreads, Savvy, TRR, Smashwords, Manic Readers… who else?

Then I’d have to contact everybody who had ever hosted a blog post of mine and then I’d have to contact anybody who had a post on my site (the link back to my site wouldn’t work any longer, you see). Then I’d have to contact owners of sites where I couldn’t update the info myself and ask them to make the change.

I was lucky; an online friend told me the smarmy tart at top left is a spambot that latches onto expired domain names and that the domain name itself was probably still hanging around with the people I bought it from and would remain so for a few month. Thanks to her, I went and recovered gretavanderrol.com and I also have gretavanderrol.net.

I’ve learnt a valuable lesson.

I’m off to document my online network. I have a spreadsheet where I record email addresses and resulting page references for sites where I have done guest blogs. I shall expand that SS to include every site where I have a profile and every guest post I host.

Take a tip from me – DON’T let your domain name expire. Even for a little author’s blog like mine, the amount of work in changing is much larger than you could possibly imagine.

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About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 11 November 2011, in Life and things and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. The person who set up my website for me is no longer in contact with me; he owns the domain name and won’t answer emails or anything. Not only have I lost my website, but a friend I trusted.
    Thankfully more people know me from my blog, and in fact his controlling the website meant I could never get him to do anything to it, and so I didn’t tend to refer anyone to it.
    I’m glad you got yours back.

    • Sounds like you should set up a new website, Viv, and give your ‘friend’ the flick.

      • With your domains, you will have the option with most good hosts to set ‘auto-renew’ which is very handy for author websites you intend on keeping. This is one way to make sure it doesn’t happen.

        The best way is to control the process yourself, from purchasing your domain, hosting, site setup and so forth. I have a popular post here that takes you through 3 key considerations for setting up your website, including recommendations on where to go.
        http://www.bookcovercafe.com/building-a-professional-author-website/

        If you have any questions feel free to ask via the Facebook wall, twitter or email me at the website. Website setup can be a pickle, but only if you don’t ask questions.:)

  2. Greta, what a great lesson! Thanks for sharing and tweeting about it.

  3. What a nightmare! I’m glad you were able to get your domain name back. Thanks for the great advice.

    • I think we all of us underestimate the way our networks grow and how complex they become. I’m not surprised that people are prepared to pay exorbitant money to buy their sites back from unscrupulous people.

  4. Glad you got your domain back. I have my domain locked. And set to auto-renew for registration and for hosting. This actually happened to a bakery where I live too. I recognize that girl!

  5. I realised the enormity of the job when I set up a website for my last novel. I’d read some marketing guru saying you should create a ‘landing page’ for your book (where people can find out about it and buy it) and ‘funnel’ readers to it from all your other sites. It wasn’t until I started listing them that I discovered what a huge job this was going to be. (And it didn’t work, either. As far as I can tell, the funnel let to very few extra sales, if any.)

    • Yes, I’m sure none us really realises how far we’ve expanded our virtual horizons. Let alone the sites we’ve forgotten we signed up with.

    • Funnels do work, but a clear strategy needs to be in place. With landing pages the most crucial part is the ‘copy-writing’ on the page itself. This is the main converter for leads (from traffic coming in) to sales. It’s best to seek advice from someone who has had experience in this area of using words/language to sell. It’s very effective if you plan for it in advance as part of your marketing campaign.

      Then it’s also important to put in place a stat tracker so you can see what’s working and what isn’t and make the necessary changes to improve conversions.

      Anthony
      Book Cover Cafe

  6. Thanks for the story and all the useful details, Greta. I’m glad it all worked out. Not the kind of bird I usually see in your (far superior) photos…

  7. Perfect timing. I got my notifications about domains expiring this month, so I’m ready.
    Glad you fixed the problem but I can understand your frustration. Hope all continues to go well for you.

  8. thanks for sharing your experience Greta. it provides a good warning for all of us. including my chapter.

  9. I had the exact same thing happen to me two years ago and they now want $1200 for my original domain name! That’s why I have a .net instead of a .coma nd I now have it on automatic renewal.

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