300 Seconds

300 Seconds: When does your domain name expire?

File this one under 'lesson learned.' A couple of weeks ago I was asked if my website was up-to-date. Not booksandwhatnot.com, but my personal site. You see, I create art when I allow myself some time, and I had been asked to be the featured artist for a fundraiser. Since my work was going to be showcased so prominently in the campaign, it was suggested that I update my website, bethgolay.com. I hadn't captured images of all of my work, but I updated a few items and decided to do more the next day. But when I returned to the site the next morning, bethgolay.com was nowhere to be found. I sent a message immediately to Kenton:

"Did my bethgolay.com domain name expire?"


"It looks like it. I can renew it if you want."

I did. He did. And it was back up that day. I completed my updates, but something in the back of my mind was bothering me. Then I remembered the day we bought bethgolay.com. It was 3 years ago, and we were trying to come up with the name for Books & Whatnot. We bought several domain names around that time. We owned grassandvanilla.com (the smell of old books). We really wanted marginalia.com, which was to expire in a few days.  (We failed.) And I remember when Kenton told me, "I just bought bethgolay.com for you. Everybody should own their own URL name." Nagging feeling identified, I sent another message to Kenton:

"Do I need to check when booksandwhatnot.com expires? I think we bought bethgolay.com around the same time."

This time I didn't receive a reply and I forgot about it. Until I tried to log in three days later and was rewarded a painful reminder. Beth to Kenton:

"booksandwhatnot.com is down."



My domain name expiration truly was 'whoops' caliber. But if you have eCommerce associated with your domain name, you can't afford to have any 'whoops' moments. Today, spend however many 300 Second sessions you need to determine when your domain name expires. I caught Kenton in his car and forced him to talk-tech with me for a moment and made him outline the steps for how to do this. I've included our conversation below, but it basically boils down to these steps:
  1. Know who maintains your domain.
  2. Make sure you have a login so you can maintain that domain yourself.
  3. If you do not trust the person/organization who has access to your domain, you can request a domain name transfer. (Kenton has offered to help with this public service. He can be reached here, assuming the domain name hasn't expired.)
  4. When you login to the registrar, it will tell you exactly when it expires. Not only that, you can at any point in time extend your existing contract. You do not have to wait for it to expire.
  5. If your registrar has an auto-renewal option, select it.
  6. If you do not select auto-renew, you should receive an email reminder about 1 month before your domain name is set to expire. Don't delete this email. Act on it.
  7. Go ahead and set a back-up reminder in your calendar, so you will not forget.
Important note: If you have an eCommerce site through the ABA, according to their website, ABA does not register domain names. In order to keep your web address, you will need to renew your domain when the time comes. Also, ABA should never be listed as the registrant on your domain, only the Technical & Administrative Contact on your Whois information.

300 Seconds: Synthetic Only, Please

Even though this is an appropriate season for cobwebs and other creepy crawlies, I'm afraid you'll only be forgiven by your customers if those in your store are synthetic. Now, I know how difficult it is to keep on top of this chore. I know that sometimes those little suckers will show up overnight. And I know how horrible it feels when you catch someone looking at a cobweb, a dusty shelf, or an expired bug along the baseboard. I know. It's true that when you become so comfortable with your surroundings, you don't see them as a periodic visitor would. This is why I occasionally repeat this gentle reminder. So take 300 seconds today and look up, look down, look all around. We're looking for cobwebs, dust and debris. Or we're looking at the floor under the trash can. Or we're looking at scraps around the gift-wrap area. Wherever you've become comfortable, I want to remove you from that comfort zone. (But just for 300 seconds.)

300 Seconds: Change Your Receipt Message

I tend to talk about changing receipt messages often because receipts seem to have some staying power with me. Last week I stumbled upon a wallet I hadn't used in a while. In fact, according to the receipts inside, I hadn't used it since 2002. Many of the receipts were printed on thermal paper, so the ink has been gone for a while. But the two I could read brought back such nice memories. You see, years ago I bought some lantana plants that were identified as 'perennials' at the nursery. I treated them as perennials, and, especially after I had to wrestle their 4" diameter roots out of the ground to fix some drainage issues, I didn't doubt that they were perennials. But friends and family sure did. I'm still mocked every time I mention missing my 'perennial' lantanas. Yet today, with a receipt clearly marking my 'perennial' purchases, I am happy. Because not only do I feel a bit vindicated, I also remember the roasted chilies I bought that weekend, as I was encouraged to do through the message at the bottom of the receipt. I'm also happy because the other receipt reminded me of two books--Clothesline and Back to the Table--both purchased for my mother. And not only did Watermark Books state they appreciated my business through their receipt message, they circled the printed message in red ink. These receipts were discovered in my abandoned wallet. And through the years I've found many, many more that have served as bookmarks. And when I find these receipts, I always like to look at the date and try to figure out where I was in my life at the time. Today, take 300 seconds to replace the message on your store receipts. Encourage customers to attend upcoming events; promote a future sale; remind folks about holiday items. Or just say thank you... and mean it. And maybe 14 years from now they'll find that receipt and remember that amazing day they spent in your store. Lantana, roasted chilies, and books. Gosh, I miss 2002.

300 Seconds: And your email, too?

Earlier this week in Can I Get Your Number? I encouraged you spend 5 minutes making sure your phone number is clearly visible on your store website, and also that it's more readily available in your email signature. I received several responses from readers who appreciated (and immediately implemented) this suggestion. And this I received this response from the publisher perspective:
One other pet peeve, please put your email address in your signature. I love to be able to copy and paste, and having to make a fake reply so I can see your address is a time suck. And we hate those!
Having created many 'fake' replies so I can glean an email address, I can relate. So today, spend those 300 marketing seconds adding an email address to that signature. And if you really want a time suck, check this out.

300 Seconds: Can I get your number?

I walked into a meeting yesterday to find the person with whom I was meeting peering through her reading glasses at a computer screen, intermittent mouse clicks filling the silence as I waited for my presence to be acknowledged. Without looking up, she said, "I just need to make a quick phone call." Click. Click. ... Click. Just as I was thinking Well, make the phone call already, she said, "I hate these places that hide their phone number." What a good reminder. Even in this digital world, there are many who prefer a phone call to email or texting. I'm one of them. (We like to hold books in our hands, too.) To make sure your customers have ready access to your bookstore, take 300 seconds today to make sure the phone number for your store is visible on your website. I also think it's a good idea to include it in your email signature. That way when someone receives an email from you that they don't quite understand, your phone number will be in front of them should they want immediate clarification.