When you hire someone to do work for you – when that person owns a business and presents herself as a professional – you expect professionalism and results. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen, as is the case with this website and blog. I’ll give you the short version of the story, then tell you what I’ve learned.
In 2014 I met a web designer. She seemed nice enough. Being a local business owner, I wanted to support her local business, so I met with her to discuss what I needed: to expand my original website (karinbeery.com) into two websites (karinbeery.com and writenow-editing.com). Having run my original site for several years, I wanted her to create this site for me: register the domain, design the graphics, and set up the pages I needed.
Several weeks later, she had minimally designed a live page that said Write Now Editing and Copy-writing Services (yes, a typo on an editor’s website). The page also didn’t look anything like what I’d asked her to design. I emailed several times and never heard back from her. Having no idea what was going on – I had not seen any designs, had no idea what work was done, and didn’t know when she’d be finished – I fired her.
Though I’d already paid half of her fee, I refused to pay for anything else, as I didn’t even know what/if she was working on anything. I hired a new designer and moved on.
Then my website went down. She’d put my domain in her name. I had no access to it. I asked her to transfer it to me so I could pay the registration, but she refused. Instead, she paid the fee and kept ownership of my site. Life got busy and I forgot about things until my site went down again. This time she didn’t pay the hosting, so my site again disappeared. I contacted her again requesting that she transfer the domain to me. She still owns it.
It’s been almost two years now. I’ve consulted another web designer, done my own research, consulted an attorney, and called Go Daddy several times. The consensus is clear: she’s either completely incompetent (at this point even I know how to transfer a domain) or she’s vengeful, refusing to give me ownership of my website because I fired her/upset her/annoyed her – I’m not really sure.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Put it in writing. No matter how much you like someone – no matter how much you know someone – put everything in writing. Because we met in person and didn’t work out a contract, I have nothing to prove that the original agreement was for her to buy the domain for me, not keep it forever. Put everything in writing.
- When it comes to websites, register the domain and hosting yourself. It’s incredibly difficult (without a written agreement) to prove ownership of a website. If your designer turns out to be untrustworthy, as in this case, you may be forced to essentially shut down your business and start over.
Save yourself some headaches (and sleepless nights). Let my struggle be your cautionary tale.