Save Money and Let Go of a Dormant Squarespace Site

Recorded on August 21st, 2016

The other day I heard Gabe and Jeff discuss budget experiments on Nerds on Draft. These were hypothetical “What-if-I-lost-my-job” and “How-little-do-we-need-to-be-happy” scenarios. Of course they broached the touchy subject of subscriptions to services like Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync, Netflix, Hulu, etc. The more they talked, the more I thought about all the regular subscriptions I had just seen in our own YNAB budget. The most painful, non-value-added one for me is Squarespace. A year ago last May, I had some brilliant idea for a new website, and in the heat of inspiration, signed up for a Squarespace site for it. That was a fine thing to do until the days and weeks of not actually finishing that site turned into 15 months of waste. Over $96 dollars worth.

Squarespace is awesome, and is the go-to method to quickly get a site up if you’re not a designer/developer and don’t want to mess with WordPress. They have a dead-simple CMS, gorgeous templates, and a rock-solid back end. Every podcast I love has had them as a sponsor at some point. They’re doing something right.

But judging from the one data point that is me, I believe Squarespace sites could easily be the new incarnation of well-intended domain-squatting. You know: you get a great idea, you register a domain before anyone else gets it, and then you pay $11-$15 a year for the privilege of knowing that you could make a site at that URL if you wanted to, but, hey, you have more important things to do right now. Only with Squarespace you’re actually squatting on hosting and the cost per year is much higher.

I felt bad the more I listened to Gabe and Jeff talk about the leaks in their budgets. It was time to be honest with myself about the site shell I had created and admit that it wasn’t going to be a priority for me, at least during the next year. I’d rather have the money back. The only problem was that the domain was registered through Squarepsace, and wouldn’t that be a pain to deal with?

No. Squarespace has instructions for transferring a domain out of their ecosystem. It’s easy.

Today, I exported to XML the small amount of text and structure I had created in that shell site and then transferred the domain to Hover. It took 10 minutes at the most. Notice how I didn’t say that domain-squatting was bad — it’s just that paying for an idle domain at a registrar is a much less egregious waste of money than paying for actual hosting of that idle website.

If you have a Squarespace site you’re hiding under a bushel, don’t let it just renew repeatedly because you want to keep the domain name. Be honest: are you not going to do anything with the site for a year? If not, export the content, save your images to your computer, and transfer the domain to Hover. You’ll get to keep the domain name, Hover is great, it’s a fast process to get through, and you’ll save a bunch of money over time. You can always sign up for Squarespace again once you’re ready to commit to keeping the site going.

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