08 Apr

Changing our Domain Registration Partner

Many moons ago (circa 2000), when we first started offering web hosting services to friends and family, some of those friends and family inquired “Can I get a domain from you as well?“, and we were ashamed to have to say, “No, you can’t, sorry.

There were a number of reasons for it at the time.   The financial implications of becoming a fully ICANN accredited domain registrar were problematic for our size and our goals at the time.  The pricing margins on domains being what they were at the time, we estimated we’d need to sell roughly 10,000 domains a year at the going rate just to make it a viable proposition.  That would be a dream for another day.

So our friends and family, we would point towards one of the big domain registration providers, and that was that.

But when discussions about offering our shared linux webhosting platform with the world at large started, the question came up again.  Was there some way we could offer domain registrations to our clients in a way that was cost effective for both client and ourselves?

We needed something that was easy to implement, decently priced, and wouldn’t require a huge capital outlay up-front from us, just to be prudent in case this whole thing didn’t work out.

Enter Dotster, and their “Instant Reseller” program.   It was really more of a souped-up affiliate program.   We would place their links on our site, and refer clients there.  The links in turn would serve up Pure Energy branded websites where clients could register any type of domain Dotster offered, at a price slightly below regular Dotster pricing.   Dotster would handle the registration, the backend, and any billing and associated fees.  We would be the front line of support inquiries, have the ability to “see and adjust” domains our clients had registered, and we would accept a small token of a referral fee from each registration from Dotster.

It worked pretty well for a while.  The financial impact for us never amounted to much in the larger scheme of things (again, thin margins on domains), but some clients liked having one point of contact for both their hosting and their domains, so we just considered the whole offering to be for our clients sake, not profit.

But over the years we started to run into issues…  I don’t want to get into all the various issues from over the 12 years, but it mainly boils down to this, over the years, the ability of what we could do for clients without having to involve Dotster support dwindled more and more.  On top of that, the Instant Reseller plan would frequently be broken during some backend change on their end, and, well, to be honest, the impression from the outside looking in is that they really just didn’t want to be bothered with the program any more.

In fact, looking now, I can’t find any tell or mention of the Dotster Instant Reseller program on their site at all.  I assume at some point they just discontinued it entirely, or maybe just just stopped promoting it entirely.  I don’t recall ever seeing even an email letting us know, but hey, what can you do?

Well, it turns out that over the last 12 years, the domain industry has opened up a bit, there’s numerous registrars who are happy to partner up with a hosting firm to provide for their domain registration needs.  So we’re moving on.

If you are reading this, then our new website has launched, and with it, our new Domain Registration platform as well.  Our new domain offering will feature a number of benefits over the old platform:

  • Better integration with our (new) client portal.  You’ll be able to manage both your hosting and your domains from one centralized portal.
  • Wider range of Domain TLDs.   Of course we’ll have the standard .com/.net/.org available at launch, but in addition to those, our new registration partner has over 250 TLDs we can offer.   Some of them are a little.. niche. (Anyone up for <yoursite>.fishing?) but over time we intend to offer up as many of them as possible for registration.
  • Better pricing.   The business dynamics of our relationship are little different this time around, and our costs are more dynamic (per TLD), but our initial analysis shows that we should be able to offer all but one TLD at a price lower than we could offer before.  At this time it appears that .net will stay $14.95/year however.

 

So anyway, I guess the point of the story is this, going forward our domain registration service is going to be a little more full featured, a little better priced, and hopefully, much easier for us to support our clients with.

Now, if you are an existing client who already has a domain that you registered with us via the Dotster program (pre-2018), you can still reach out to us with questions, and we’ll do our best to help, but there’s not very much we can do from our side these days.  We can’t even access an updated list of folks who registered domains with Dotster through us on their portal any longer. :/   The good news is that your domain username/password will allow you to log in directly at Dotster’s own website at-least, so you can make changes to the domain there directly.

One thing we hope to work out very shortly, is offering a discount code for existing “via Dotster” folks, to give them a great deal on transferring their existing domain off Dotster and into our new platform.  Obviously you can always stick with Dotster, or transfer your domain anywhere else for that matter, but for those clients who wish to transfer from Dotster to the new platform, we want to do something a little special to say both Thanks (for continuing to trust us with your business) and We’re Sorry (for the past issues), even if that means we take a loss on the transfers themselves.