Episode 347: Ethics When Handing Over Digital Assets With Ryan Waterbury

Show Summary

Rob Cairns and Ryan Waterbury talk about Ethics in handing over digital assets.

Show Highlights:

  1. Tips for clients to protect themselves.
  2. Clients should own their digital assets.
  3. The proper way to manage digital assets for clients.

Show Notes

Hey everybody, Rob Cairns with the SDM show and in today’s podcast, I’m here with my monthly Cohost, Mr. Ryan Waterbury. How are you today, Ryan?

Oh, it’s fantastic. Days are getting shorter, mornings are cooler, fall is upon us.

Yeah, I think so and not officially till September, but it’s, you know in Toronto follows upon you when we get to the August long weekend, which it is. And then you’ve got the Canadian National Exhibition 2 weeks after that and it really starts to get cooled down by Lake Ontario. So yeah, it’s that time of year. How are you doing?

I busy and you know, I think that’s what spurred the topic of the show this week. Just a lot of little things that popped up from other providers and their policies and how they treat their clients and especially when they offboard them.

So true and but before we jump into other providers, one of the things that providers do is they tend to register domains for clients. And that’s a problem. And I’m a big believer that a client needs to own all its digital assets. These are not the property of the providers to the property of the client and my contracts. I’ll say that and frankly, at the end of the day, I’ve been through this mess as well, so. Clients, at least on your domain names please. Like even if the provider has to create a Gmail account, register them for you and give you the Gmail account and the and the access to the domain registration account you own knows there’s no way your provider should own your domain.

I yeah, and that extends to all the properties. You know, your Google business profile. Analytics, I mean, right, right, down to your web content. And I mean that’s that’s why we use WordPress you know. So you own your, your, your content and your assets, but what I ran into and this is less popular, but the smaller agencies that kind of. Came out of. Maybe hosting and telecommunications out in the the late 10s and mid teens where it was popular to resell domains, hosting e-mail, do web design do SEO? Just one package for everything and you know. And starting to see some of those clients, you know, come around and? Then like I need to. Do something for. My site my traffic’s down and. Finding out that they don’t own their domain name. You know their provider had it and you know, I’ve seen that more and more where? Providers own too many things and. You know, it might seem like a nice thing to do, especially I have a lot of non tech savvy clients, but that is one thing that I won’t do if I have to register the domain name. I’m transferring it to them as soon as possible. Well, I’ll we’ll hop on a video call. I’ll put in their credit card information, get them set up as the owner and then move me to the the technical contact on the account. There’s just no other way that I’d have it if they ever want to leave. If, God forbid, I get hit. By a bus. They they can, you know. Keep their business alive and control their assets.

Yeah, it’s so true you were tweeting about that this week. You went through it with. A client and. I’ll share a similar story. That’s we’re telling I had a a political client when I first started my agency. I did a website for. We went to do the domain and the previous web developer wouldn’t give them their domain, they registered it. And they so I I immediately filed an appeal with I can the strong way to go and I can within 30 days release that domain, but we had to hold back a new website for 30 days because this web developer did it. Now the web developer. Can it do themselves any good because no local area? This was the party of record and there were people on that committee that had a lot of influence. That’s problem number one and the other problem is what we’re talking about owning assets and domains is please don’t take a free domain. From an A web host because you don’t own that domain, the web host actually owns that domain, not you.

Yeah, that’s absolutely correct. And. That that incidence came up today. I just launched the site with a client on Friday of last week, and they’re thrilled they’re they have a couple of dozen new leads. They’re much easier collecting there and I said. Before you forget. That we need to follow up and figure out what to do about your domain. Really nice local business, really astute guy. He’s around my age, maybe a little younger. Did a DIY site integration where they sold the domain Google Workspace. Same kind of a deal? I mean it’s great when people start out but I said we need to really think about when you get ready to transfer your domain you’re going. To have to jump through a few hoops. Now being being that they they own it, they still load and transfer it. But I found out the release fee and it’s not cheap and it it it’s kind of a bite you in the rear when it comes to that. So it’s it’s been a series of gotchas within the past six months that. Kind of brought it up. I try and do right by my clients and make sure that they’re set up for success, whether it’s with me or another provider, and you know, I’m finding out that. You know, especially in the the website where we saw this in the marketing where there’s a lot of shady and unethical things that, you know, give people bad names and. And why small businesses didn’t want to work with marketers for a while, and you know, I’m starting to see little things in the web industry that, you know, I really hadn’t seen for a while that just kind of question, you know what, what we do as providers and and. How we can do better by our clients?

Yeah, I think I think the best way is opening communication. The other thing I always do when I set up a new website. Is the first thing I do because I don’t want assets going to an account that I don’t have access to, and I don’t want asset. I don’t want to ask client for access to their e-mail account. I always set up a e-mail account to go with that website. So typically a Gmail account and then any assets are registered. Will you know will be tied to that account just because of we’ve been transparency. And then when I hand it over, I hand over the site and all the assets and the Gmail account. So the clients got everything. And then and I’ll do things like analytics. We’ll go there, things like that. So that you don’t have to worry about saying your client, can you check this for me? Can you check that for me just? Do it and be done with it.

Right. That question kind of came up in an SEO Group A few years ago. Question was how many e-mail addresses you know, have you registered? And I saw a few 100 and. You were just like what? And I do the same thing every time. I would spin up a new client, I would set up a Gmail account and register all their assets, set up all their Google properties with it, and then give them access to that account. After I’ve added all of our other relevant accounts so they can delete the e-mail account. They need. Issue, but at least it’s a neutral place to register items that I don’t own specifically that the client can have access to. It’s easier to transfer. It’s the right thing to do and you know, because there’s so many delegate access points now in the registrars and. You know, the other tools that we have today, I find myself doing that less. But you know, I always tell my Co. And only give access to other people up to the level that they need. And this includes. Your website, just for security sake.

Q That is here. Here we we are in this mode and I come out of an enterprise background to spent years in healthcare and we didn’t give a nurse access to every patient in the hospital. We gave them access to the selected areas. They worked it. So why? The the when clients come to us and they demand admin rights to we cave over as as devs and designers and security guys and say here’s admin rights. I just don’t do. That 99% of clients never need administrative rights to a website. So yeah, give them access to what they need. Thank. Thanks for mentioning that. It’s really OK.

I yeah. Recently I’ve had a few clients. Like well I. Don’t have access to the plugins I said when that’s the last time. You installed one. Well, I haven’t. There you go and I limit access, you know, to my clients on on their site mainly you know, so that they can’t break the site. The few that I have, you know allowed to retain admin access. I have caused some problems for security and and conflicts. I’m working through one today. It’s not a major one, but it turned out to be a plug in install and we’re going to have a chat about minimizing that in the future. But this goes for not just clients, but you know other vendors when they. They need to come in and do things and I see this with SEO professionals a lot. They want admin access. To the website to do things and frankly I do SEO and you do not need that level of access to do your job.

I had an. SEO professional one for a client that I I fired I should say. And he demanded C panel access on my server and my contracts don’t allow for that and the client ******* and said, well, your contract says Ohh that I have full access to all my stuff and I’m like yeah, but an SEO professional doesn’t need C panel access. They they ask for the moon because they think they do. They need the moon. You don’t realize that they’re tinkering and then they cause other problems, so. I’m not a big fan.


Over a given.

The the only the only access that you would need there is a Google, Microsoft or maybe a gendex verification code to be placed in the DNS record and I’m happy to do that for someone else because the only thing that needs to happen and there’s a lot of damage.

Yeah, me too.

You can do so again. Open communication working with your clients, making sure that they own you, know the appropriate assets is a really big deal and you know just. Being ethical about being a a good provider. It helps everyone in the industry and helps build trust with businesses out there.

I I agree. I I think part of the problem with people do what we do is they’re out of sight, out of mind too. And that’s where the trust factor drops. So one of the things. Providers don’t do a good job of is communicating and I and I will say that. And I will say that and I will say that and then and then at the end of the year, you get a bill that says, you know, thanks for. Being a client. Here’s your. Renewal and go away and it’s like. Why haven’t you communicated with your clients all year in the newsletter and e-mail or check in why I mean I do both, I send out some as you know global emails I have one that go. Later on that. And then I send out client specific emails one and one out this morning that actually said. And by the way, remember Monday is a statutory holiday in Ontario, so we are not open. Things like I normally do security updates on Mondays and Thursdays next week I’m doing Tuesday and Friday, and one of the reason, frankly is the word press release cycle too. We’re doing an update. And just telling clients what’s coming down the road like then it’s not out of sight out of mind either.

Oh, absolutely. Speaking of newsletters, I try and share in my newsletters stories about my business and and as a small business owner, how I. Grown and overcome some issues and then I also share, you know, security news, SEO news and little tidbits to help them. I can tell you that I get so many thank yous from my clients and after almost every newsletter. Where they it’s kind of a prompt that they need to take action and just keeping that touch point out and reminding them that. One in my last newsletter, a big one was a website. It’s never finished, it’s just abandoned and that and that SEO is a process and it starts before your site launches and it doesn’t stop until Google says we’re out of business.

Are you going?

And and you know how many abandoned websites there are on servers out there that are security nightmares waiting to happen? I don’t even want to talk about it. I was reading some stats last week. It’s it’s pretty incredible, Ryan, you know, so.

So yeah, go ahead.

How else do you do you kind of deal with former providers that are unethical?

You know, a lot of times it’s just communication and. Sometimes it’s the clients aren’t communicating what they need appropriately to their providers, and I found that when I’ve reached out directly and said here, here’s what we’re what they want to do, I just. Want to help them and. You know they’ve. They’ve turned around and and become better about releasing things and done it the right way. Part of it was because I asked for the things and intelligent manner and I. Knew what I. Was asking for where the client did not, so they were. Frustrated or being? Held hostage a little bit, but honestly. It really does come down to communication and sometimes, like you said, it’s communicating with ICAN. And taking legal action or action with committees that control actions, some of those things, because they won’t let them go and. So yeah, in the in the past and just my past issue that I had talked about and tweeted just reaching out to that provider explaining what had happened and what needed to happen really went miles and I got everything I needed within a. Couple of days. This I did have. To to Ping a few times and say hey, I still need this, but they knew that they needed to release the things and they did. And they’ve been. Mostly cooperative about it and said OK, we’ll, we’ll work with you because you’re you were going to take on all the responsibility and the work. Of transferring this out, which is fine, and that’s what I signed up for. But providers that hold on to these things and make it extremely difficult. One, it frustrates me and frustrates my client and sometimes it’s business downtime where and and this isn’t necessarily an ethical piece, but one of the sites that I took over had been hacked and was. On a multiple blacklist with Google, McAfee ran down the line, but it caused their Google business profiles to be blacklisted, and when her site wasn’t up and she stopped getting phone calls through her Google listing for a week. She kind of freaked out and said this is my livelihood. When I get three to new, three to five new clients and it that comes through my website and Google My Business when they don’t have these things out there. You’re done. I mean, that’s your for a lot of people, that’s their whole business. So when a provider holds them hostage and takes it down or or hinders improving or building new site, that’s really detrimental to the client. And I have serious. Problems with that?

No, it’s so true. Yeah, it’s a big issue. The problem the problem too, is holding on this stuff. Is not the way to get reoccurring business like people. There are some providers out there who think, oh, this is the way I should do it. I own it. I did all the work and I’m like, that’s not the way to get trust in the community. When people talk and they don’t understand. That that you’re far better off being upfront and doing the right things and and going on from there. Else, would you suggest the business owner kind of future proofs their ability besides one I’ll throw it there is don’t have your domain and you’re hosting with the same company. I think that’s a really. Bad idea, but was.

Right. I mean, I like to. To register domain. Yeah, obviously I used to do Google Workspace and Google domains, which actually was the entities, but you know and that’s why they spun off Google domains. So now I actually recommend that. And this is for enough time. And you know, security thing too, is that registered domain with either game, cheaper cloud flare. Have your e-mail with another provider. I have several depending on your needs and and then you hosting in another location. Find a trusted web care or security partner. There’s you absolutely have to have someone that has your back and is looking out for your website so you can go out and run your business or your nonprofit. So you know, those are the big things. Really finding a partner that you can communicate with. I’ve had two instances in the past year where I did web design work. The client felt that my ongoing hosting charge was a little high. They went somewhere else for a few months, had terrible service because I was open and communicated through the whole process. They came back and got on a web care plan. Two of them. So yeah, just being open, good communicator responsible. And being good to your clients will win you back more business than you lose.

And what I would say is your web host is your partner, not a vendor. And when web professors are treating web hosts as partners, not vendors, then it’s a big difference on how you deal with them. I mean, I’m pretty lucky from, you know, being known in the in the space. I’ve got partnerships at most of the big web hosts, so I don’t run into problems. I host my own. In your data center, in the middle of nowhere as well. So that helps. But yeah, in the far, far away line somewhere. But but you you get what I’m saying, right? You got to you got to treat it as as a as a partnership. I think that’s really important.

Yeah, absolutely. And you know I my clients, I enjoy working with me. If they ever have any issues, they they reach out to me first and say, hey, can you help me out here even if it’s not something on their web care plan sometimes is it? It’s just answering. And the fact that I built those relationships goes a long way. You know, to that trust factor.

It does. Is there anything else you want to add on how to protect the coin or kind of or we kind of cover?

I I think we I think we covered. It you know, just on the things that were. On my mind. You know, own your domain name with your registrar. Make sure that you have access to your backups. Work with the trusted provider that. Is willing to work with you and if you want to leave, they understand. They need to hand everything. Over when you need it.

You know so true. Ryan, if somebody wants to get a. Hold of you. How is the best way?

I would say every major social media network, but you know there are few I don’t. Do anymore, but you can. Look for me out there at one dog solutions on all the major ones and find me at my website. One dog dot solutions or e-mail me at Ryan dot Waterbury at one dog.

And I think Ryan must have given his new office managers A tranquilizer cause I have not heard. Them today.

So the the AC is on, we had it’s it’s raining season for fall so at 6:00 AM the alarm went off and by 6:30 we were out running and doing trails. So they’re they’re wiped out right now they’re they’re not going pumps anymore.

That’s a good thing, Ryan. Thanks so much. Have a wonderful day as always, my friend.

You as well.

This podcast is brought to you by stunning digital marketing, the digital marketing agency for all your business needs. We are also your WordPress security experts, having over 14 years of experience locking down, backing up, and protecting WordPress websites. Go to stunningdigitalmarketing.com for more info or stunning digitalmarketing.info for links to everywhere we can be found on the web. A very special thank you to Ryan Waterbury for joining me on this edition of the STM show. This podcast is dedicated to my late father Bruce Karens. I miss you very much. I love you and I think about you every day. For more information about stunning digital marketing. Your digital marketing experts go to stunningdigitalmarketing.com or go to stunningdigitalmarketing.info to find out all the great places that Rob Karens can be found on the web.


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