To have a Website, you need a catchy and descriptive domain name. And to find the perfect domain name for your company or services, you have to spend some time researching available names and picking just the right one for your online identity.
So once you get that domain name, then you definitely want to protect it like it's a bar of gold in a crowded public place because if you let up your guard for even a moment, those domain names can disappear as quickly as you can say "I forgot to renew my domain registration renewal fees!"
That's what happened to me, and I'm telling you this tale so I can help you avoid the panic, grief and aggravation that I had to go through.
It all began in December 2013 when I forgot to renew the domain registrations on the three domain names I had reserved for a "TechManTalking" Website I plan to create for my freelance technology writing. TechManTalking is the handle I have used since my first gig as a freelance tech writer in January 2009 when I was hired by the very cool and long-gone startup, Lexy.com. The Lexy folks brought me in to wander the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where I created special voice reports on what I saw to share with listeners through Lexy.
Eventually, I liked the TechManTalking handle that I had created for the Lexy gig so much that I registered the .com, .org and .net domain names for it so I could use them for a future Website.
That brings us to February 2014 when I was finally ready to get those long-awaited Website plans into gear. I realized that I hadn't renewed the domain registrations when they came due two months before, so I quickly went online. Luckily, I was able to renew my TechManTalking.org and .net domains, but I was stunned to find that my TechManTalking.com domain had been scooped up by HugeDomains.com, a company that sells popular domain names for prices way higher than typical registration fees of $10 to $30 per year.
That's when I called and emailed the co-founder of HugeDomains.com, Andrew Reberry, and told him about my predicament. I explained how I accidentally forgot to renew my TechManTalking.com domain and I asked him for help in getting it back—without having to pay the $1,795 fee that the company was seeking for my scooped-up domain. HugeDomains and companies like it buy up unregistered domain names at low prices and then resell them at much higher prices, which often leads to many angry words from prospective buyers and forgetful former domain holders. Google the subject and read the many posts available on this topic.
It took two months of emails and occasional phone discussions, but Reberry kindly did release my domain name earlier in April, which allowed me to get it back and renew my registration through a traditional domain registrar. That cost me under $20 for a year.
"Yes, we will agree to transfer this domain back to you given there is little chance anyone else would want to use this domain," Reberry explained in an email just before he performed the official transfer.
I really appreciated his help in retrieving my domain name, but it serves as a warning to all of us—if your domain names are critical to you and your business, then don't neglect them. They are a part of your personal and corporate identity and they should be watched over and maintained regularly to protect your operations.
I was lucky. I was able to get my domain name back, but I might not be so lucky next time.
So when was the last time you looked at the expiration dates on your domain name registrations?
Go do it today. You can thank me later.