Shane's Blog

Shane Gramling is a husband and father of three, web & print communications design expert, worship leader, photographer, cyclist, and flintoid

Domain Name Danger: BONUS

by Shane Gramling on February 5, 2013

Yesterday I wrapped up a four-part series on domain name dangers, but there’s one last thing I want to talk about: If I send email to an expired domain name, where does the email go?

It goes nowhere, unless someone else registers your domain – then that person can receive email from any site you signed up with using your domain.

This can be a huge problem for a large company, or for anyone in business for that matter.

Let’s say five years back you registered yourcompany.com. You hired five full time employees and gave them an email @yourcompany.com.

Now over the course of five years, they have used their email address to log into various accounts. Some of which may be corporate web accounts, domain registration accounts and hosting, social media accounts, and even retirement and personal banking accounts.

Now let’s say after five years you let that domain expire. Maybe you’re out of business, maybe you changed your name, or maybe you just acquired a simpler domain name.

That domain is going to go back on the market and someone is going to have the option to buy it at auction, or re-register the name once it’s released. Once the domain is in their hands, all they have to do is create, whats is called a catch-all email account. This takes any email sent to yourcompany.com and receives in an inbox. They can start receiving regular news emails from any accounts your employees had signed up for.

The danger shows it’s face when you realize that all they have to do is click on the “I forgot my password” to have a password reset emailed to the catchall inbox. From there, they can take full control over your facebook account, web hosting account, or any other service that any of your employees signed up for.

So before you let your domain expire, be sure to remove your email addresses from any related online accounts. Now if you’re running a large company make sure you have a strict email policy in place so all employees know not to use their email to create accounts anywhere on the web unless they get it approved through you.

Okay – I promise, this is the last episode of domain name danger!

 

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Domain Name Danger, Part 4: Domain Auctions (4 of 4)

by Shane Gramling on February 4, 2013

Registering a domain name is a simple and easy process, BUT there are a number of dangers involved with it. In this series of videos I’ll shine some light these dangers to help keep you better informed.

Never let a domain name expire, unless you’re okay with someone else owning it and doing with it anything they please.

Today we’re looking at a beast called domain name auctions. There are generally two types of domain auctions. One where someone is selling a highly valued domain, something like cars.com or shoes.com and another where a domain has expired and before its released back to the market, the domain registrar places it into an auction, and for good reason on their part.

So why in the world would MY domain be placed in an auction?

First off, you probably registered your domain name a few years back, and placed unique content on the site. This is the first piece of value because search engines and directories have indexed your site and linked up different keywords with your domain name. Second, you’ve probably done a bit of promotion and that leads to gaining links form other websites to your site. We call those “back links” and they can be very valuable because they provide absolutely free traffic.

So now you should have a fairly good idea as to why your domain holds value, and why your domain registrar might try to auction your domain after you let it expire.

So who bids on these domains?

There are typically three kinds of people who buy expired domains.

The first and most common bidder I’ve found is someone who will take an expired domain, and build on it, a small site with related content – but with ad placements. These sites can generate a few dollars a month – do this a few thousand times, and you’ve got yourself a full time job.

The second type of bidder is someone who assumes you lost the domain name by accident – and you want it back. They buy it at auction for ten bucks, and attempt to resell it to you for a few hundred. Someone only has to sell 20-30 of these per month and they’re instantly making easy money.

The last type of bidder I’ve found is going to be your competitor. If your superawesomeshoes.com site is going out of business, you better believe that they guy who runs supercoolshoes.com is going to be interested in bidding on your domain name.

So the moral of today’s story is: Don’t let your domain expire, unless you don’t mind someone else owning.

That wraps up the final episode in this four-part series on Domain Name Danger – check the box below for links to the other videos.

I’m publishing videos every weekday so make sure you subscribe!

See you tomorrow!

 

 

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Domain Name Danger, Part 3: Registration Length (3 of 4)

by Shane Gramling on January 31, 2013

Registering a domain name is a simple and easy process, BUT there are a number of dangers involved with it. In this series of videos I’ll shine some light these dangers to help keep you better informed.

Always register your domain for multiple years – ideally, exactly 9 years and renew for one year once the registration drops to 8 years.

When registering a domain name, you pay on a per-year bases. Typically you can register your domain for up to 10 years, and with some registrars you can choose a 100-year option. Note that with the 100 year option, the domain registrars will have to renew it themselves every ten years, so that full 100 year registration will not show up in the official registration database.

Now before you go cheap and register for only a few years, there’re a few things you need to know.

First off – if you only register for a year, when your domain comes up for renewal, there’s a chance that you won’t catch the notification email in time. Do not expect your registrar to send you a physical mail reminder either – I’ve never received one in the mail – ever. Unless it’s from a scamming company trying to get me to renew my domain though I haven’t done any business with them in the past. Bottom line – registering for a short period increases your risk of losing the domain to expiration. If your domain does expire, you risk it going back to the market, or an auction – I’ll explain auctions in the fourth segment of this series.

Also – and this has not been proven – but many SEO buffs teach that if you register your domain for only a few years, then search engines are less likely to trust your website than if you were to register for multiple years, say 5-10. Now in theory, this makes total sense, registering for multiple years show’s that you’re invested. You look less-like a spam site to the search engine – yet another benefit to registering or multiple years at a time.

Before you register for the full 10, you need to be aware of one small stipulation. If you register a domain for 10 years, you will not (in nearly all cases) be able to transfer ownership of the domain because the person receiving the domain is buying a transfer, which is in-part, adding a year, but a year cannot be added past 10 – and that is what makes the transfer impossible for a domain that’s been registered for 10 years. You will simply need to wait until the first year expires, and then make the transfer.

Now for those of you who own valuable domain, this additional transfer prevention can be a real help, especially if you’re worried about people hacking your account and stealing your domain – simply keep it topped off at 10 years at all times and that will act as a second level of security.

 

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Domain Name Danger, Part 2: Ownership (2 of 4)

by Shane Gramling on January 31, 2013

Registering a domain name is a simple and easy process, BUT there are a number of dangers involved with it. In this series of videos I’ll shine some light these dangers to help keep you better informed.

Always make sure YOU handle domain name ownership and registration. Do not transfer ownership to any designer or agency you’re working with – there is simply no need for this.

When a domain name is registered, and individual is going to have ownership over it. Now that could be you, your web design/developer, or your cousin is he helped you put the site together.

This can be a very touch area because when a client hires someone to build a website, they person or agency will very often register the domain name for the client. The client will not know that an individual will be associated with this domain. Ownership and control will ultimately be in this persons hands.

Last week I received a phone call from a potential client whom I quoted a website for about a year back, and they ultimately chose someone else for their project. Unfortunately they are in a sticky situation now where their web contract is coming up for renewal and they want to look at other options for maintaining the site because they feel like they’ve been paying too much. However, after talking with the client for a while, I learned that the client originally owned the domain name. Now when the project started, the freelancer requested a domain transfer from the client to the freelancer. Do not do this! Fortunately this client had a good working relationship with the freelancer so they simply asked for the transfer and everything is good now.

However, every once and a while I have the unfortunate job of contacting another freelancer and prying a domain out of their hands on behalf of one of my clients. If you find yourself in this situation where someones holding a domain name which you’ve hired in the past, and you want to pull it and have full ownership, and they’re not budging on it, then the best action you can take is to have an attorney draft a letter to them directly. This will almost ALWAYS get them to budge.

If someone else is holding registration for your domain name and they fail to renew it, your domain is going to go one of two places. One – it could go back on the market, which is great for you because you can simply re-register the domain and you’re back in business. Two – it could go to auction, in which case you may have to bid to get your domain back. I’ll cover auctions in part four of this series so stay tuned for that.

 

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Domain Name Danger, Part 1: Privacy (1 of 4)

by Shane Gramling on January 30, 2013

Registering a domain name is a simple and easy process, BUT there are a number of dangers involved with it. In this series of videos I’ll shine some light these dangers to help keep you better informed.

Always select the additional option to have your personal information protected when registering a domain name.

Today I want to talk specifically about privacy. When you register a domain name you usually are given the option to have your personal information hidden. This is somehtingI recommend you do all the time every time for any domain you purchase.

Here’s why: There’s this ‘little’ non-profit called ICANN. That stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers. Now part of what they do is require you to keep your personal contact information accurate on any domain that you own. If you fail to comply, they can out-right cancel your domain at which point your domain will either go back on the market, or to an auction. I’ll cover domain auctions in the last part  of this series. So this requirement by ICANN to keep your info up to date does a number of things but for the most part it help determine the responsible party should any legal issues arise.

The downside is that by default, all of this contact information, which you must keep accurate, is published to the web. Anyone can now search and find your name, phone, mailing address – even your email address, unless you choose to protect your information through your domain registrar.

If you choose to save a couple bucks and NOT hide your personal information, then get ready to receive invoices in the mail from domain name registrars whom you;re not doing business with. They will attempt to bill you for your domain every year – it’s their sneaky way of gaining “customers”.  In addition to these domain name specific invoices, you’re also going to get a few additional pounds of junk mail each month since your mailing address is published out there in relation to your domain.

Make sure you go with the private registration option for your domains – every time.

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Nasty Facebook Cover Photos – NO MORE

by Shane Gramling on January 24, 2013

As a brand, your cover photo is the most important image on Facebook. The problem with placing an image in the “cover” space is that Facebook compresses your image greatly, but I’ve got a solution that will give you a clean, sharp cover photo.

The size of the space displayed on Facebook is 850 x 315 pixels – BUT – if you design a header that size and upload it, you’ll notice some SERIOUS image compression which degrades the quality of the image quite a bit.

The key to getting the most out of your cover photo is simple:
DOUBLE the resolution to 1700 x 630 pixels.

Also, when outputting the jpeg make sure you turn off these options:
Progressive, Optimized, Embed Color Profile, and Convert to sRGB. Be sure to set the jpeg quality type to BICUPIC and you’ll be on your way to a sharper cover photo!

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Vitamin Water, Or Fodder

by Shane Gramling on January 7, 2013

I see a lot of people drinking Vitamin Water on a regular bases, and it seems they’re misguided on two specific points: 1.) They’re drinking water, and 2.) They’re getting lots of good-for-you vitamins. The absolute truth is, it’s just fancy kool-aid, and it contains more sugar than a 12 ounce can of Coke.

What’s in a Name?
It’s all in the name – a product named Vitamin Water with words such as “balance” and “charge” surely must be good for you on some level, right?

Divided Numbers
The serving size listed on the label is 2.5x. Everyone I know, drinks a bottle down at a time, so take that calorie count and start multiplying by two and a half times.

Renaming Sugar
The ingredient “Crystalline Fructose” is their way of saying SUGAR. Don’t be misguided. It’s the second most used ingredient in the drink aside from water.

Sales
It’s all about selling, not about your health. The company is tricking consumers into choosing a seeming “healthy” choice. Sure, it’s better than soda, but is in no way compatible to water.

Drinks that are full of sugar like this only continue to dehydrate your body, no matter how much water content is involved. If you want to be smart, and healthy, then snag a non-sugary drink the next time you get thirsty.

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Less Is More < What Matters

by Shane Gramling on January 4, 2013

Okay, maybe the title is crummy. But when attempting to keep it simple, when does less, become not enough, exactly? Where do you draw that line?

I’m working on a marketing piece this morning for a company in NYC who’s throwing an event to celebrate a new partnership. At the last minute my client realized they had left out a blurb about refreshments being served and asked my opinion about if we should add it.

The answer is simple: Will it hurt in any way to leave it off?

After you’ve understood that too much information makes your work useless, and you know you need to simplify, you have to then ask yourself “do I need this, or that” when working on any marketing/advertising piece. If you leave out this particular piece of information, will it affect attendance? Increase or decrease sales this month? Cause a traffic boost or reduction?

You wouldn’t work up a business card with just your name on it. There’s some bits of additional information you need to provide, and there’s plenty of info that you don’t need – like your life story.

Keep in mind always, what really matters, and you’ll master the fine dance of form versus function.

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30 Day Push – Day 3: Select Your Top Ten Goals

by Shane Gramling on January 4, 2013

The following post is a review of the content provided through a 30-day challenge by Chalene Johnson to master organization and achieve your goals. >> Click here to see all my posts for each day of the review.

Now is when things get scary (for me at least) because I’ve set a goals list in the past, and watched it fly away with the wind. However, I didn’t review it until 12 months later. Big mistake! I see it now. So, Chelene says to select the top ten goals for this year, based upon your top three priorities selected from the previous.

She says to write down only if it’s a dreamy idea, something that you want to happen that is AWESOME. Set a list of tough goals!

Chalene mentions to pretend that the “stars are aligned” If you had the education, financing etc. for anything to happen, what 10 things would you want to happen this year? Think on multiple levels: financial, personal, relationships, happiness, how you want top spend your time, personal organization etc.

Don’t Put…
Don’t put anything on your list if you don’t have any control over – such as your kid’s grades or a spouses. Choose only things that you have full control over.

She also asks you to rewrite these goals weekly. WEEKLY! Thats insane! But, I see the logic. It helps keep things fresh, which is what I need for sure. I like it. Chalene also notes not to look back at the previous week about what you wrote. Over time you’ll be able to identity which goals are really most important. She says 4-5 of them will remain constant, and the others will change often.

Homework: Write the 10 goals, also decide which ONE of the 10 makes all of the other goals possible.

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Web Projects Are Highly Interdependent

by Shane Gramling on January 4, 2013

A lot of people think they can hire a web designer, and that choice alone will get them a website. What those people usually end up with is a big, pretty, interactive…..empty container.

Unfortunately, much like many multi-phase projects, hiring someone to design and build the site is only part of the puzzle. Completing a well-rounded site requires interdependent efforts from both the client and the designer/developer.

In order to build and launch a highly effective website, you the client, will be putting in a lot of your own time. Your web designer/developer’s job will be to create a cross-platform compatible website that represents your brand well and converts traffic into measurable results. What’s not mentioned here, or in most web design contracts, is the source of the content, and this is where your efforts must come into play.

So before you dive into a web project, get ready to roll up your sleeves and put in as much, or more time as your website developer. Start planning what you want to say, and how you will want to say it, or plan on hiring a marketing professional and copywriter to cover these tasks for you.

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