Domains, hosting and websites explained for small business

I love the educational portion of my job – sitting down with small business people and giving them maybe their first lesson in what the internet is and isn’t and what exactly is entailed with creating and running their own website. Generally small business owners are very, very clever people – they’ve worked out exactly what they’re good at and make a living out of that knowledge. But techie talk, even when I really try to explain it from the very first principles often leaves them cold. When it comes to understanding the concepts of domains, hosting and websites many small businesses are still in the dark ages.

understanding-domains-hosting-etcSo I was very happy when I came across this great analogy the other day from a social media/web person I follow Kimberly Castleberry of Just Ask Kim. I’ve expanded on Kim’s words just so that I can reprint and use for my own benefit when I next sit down with a new client.

  1. You never own your domain. Think of domain registration as renting an address (www.yourcompanysite.com) as you would rent a PO Box from the post office (the domain register). As long as you pay the rent you get to keep the address – once you stop paying the address becomes available to somebody else.renting-a-mailbox
  2. You then need to rent a plot of land (hosting) from a hosting provider. Again you’re unlikely to ever outright own the land (unless you buy the whole server) but as long as you keep paying the rent the land is yours.
  3. On this land you build your house (your website). In fact not even a house, more like an RV or mobile home that’s 100% your property but that you are free to move to another rented plot of land (another hosting company) should you so desire.
  4. Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter will never be “yours” in the same way that your website will be “yours”. You have complete control over your site – the social media guys can change their mind on a whim and you could lose everything you’ve built there.

Still have questions? Give me a call at 973-234-5623 and I’ll try to answer them.

Posted by John Tully
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