Blogger, the blogging service offered by Google, used to have a really neat feature: The ability to reserve and pay for a custom domain through the Blogger interface to replace the default blogspot.com domain that Google provides. For reasons that are not clear, Google removed this feature in 2013. It’s still possible to get a custom domain, but users have to do it on their own through registrars such as GoDaddy or eNom and then point the domain to Google’s Blogger servers (if anyone is interested in setting up a simple business website using this method, consider Google Blogger For Small Businesses In 30 Minutes).
When Google turned off custom domains registration in Blogger, however, they didn’t think through an important process: How existing customers could renew their custom domains. Because customers never dealt directly with the registrars when they set up the domains, the renewal process is supposed to take place through Google Apps. This is a big problem, because many users never registered their Google Apps account or were never assigned an email address associated with their accounts. So, when the renewal email is sent to the backup email address, it’s not clear how to get into the Google Apps account to update billing information or perform other important functions. Fortunately, I found a partial solution for some users, which I will share below.
First, here’s what the renewal email looks like:
While my Dropbox guide is currently associated with a new URL, the old Blogger-based book website still gets a fair amount of traffic so I definitely wanted to renew the domain to prevent it from expiring. I clicked the button in the email, but was brought through a hellish runaround. I knew the default email address for the Blogger domains is email@example.com, but no password combination worked to access it, and the only account recovery method the help screens said I could use involved changing the c name record at the registrar (eNom) so Google could verify that I owned the domain. But this was impossible, because I never dealt directly with eNom — all of the administration took place through the Blogger interface, and Google Wallet/Google Checkout.
Eventually, by following another set of help links, I was able to fill out a Google Apps help form that let me tell Google Apps what the problem was. Here’s what I wrote:
Subject: Unable to get into my Google Apps account which I registered as a Blogger custom domain
I received a warning via email (via my backup email address) that my domain will not be renewed. It is impossible using normal methods for me to get into the Google Apps domain management panel for the Dropbox In 30 Minutes domain. I used my backup email address, the bloggeradmin@ email address, and every password I could remember but nothing works. I am also unable to use the c name method because Google/Blogger custom domains do not allow me to log into the registrar’s management panel (enom).
The help form said I would need to wait for up to 7 days, but I received a reply in about 1 hour. Here’s what it said:
Thank you for your message. I understand you have no access to your account Admin interface to renew your domain registration. I will be more than happy to help you with that.
Please note that at this time, all Google customers for any product are being moved to a new Billing system. In order to comply with its requirements, they need to manage their account through a Google Apps Admin console. You must have received an email message with this information. However, if you haven’t or didn’t go through the information to get access to it, you can use the following link to reset the password and gain access https://admin.google.com/xxxxxx/ForgotAdminAccountInfo (where xxxxxx is the name of the domain in question).
The reset link should be coming to this Gmail. Once you login, it will take you through setting up Billing to enable the auto renew option for your domain registration.
Sure enough, I was able to send a new password to my backup gmail account (thank goodness I had set that up) and get into the domain control panel to update the billing information. Mission accomplished!
Now, I know there are lots of other people with similar problems, but I don’t want to guarantee this method. For instance, if you never set up a backup email recovery account or waited too long to take care of the problem, you may be out of luck. But if any other readers try this method and it works, please share your story (and tips) below!