Global Domains International has gained mixed reputations mainly due to the referral compensation plan. The majority of the GDI users seem to solely promote the MLM side of it, while others seem to disapprove it, some even call it a scam because of it. I've been invited quite a few times in the past but the outdated design of the site just put me off. Finally I decided to look into it and, my honest opinion? I don't think the actual tool - website.ws - is too bad, despite the old design and clumsy navigation menu. Today, my Global Domains International review will reveal what exactly it is, and discuss whether it's worth joining in.
What Is Global Domains International?
Global Domains International (GDI) is a domain name registration and web hosting service that has been around for 20 years. It started with exclusively selling a top domain level ".ws", as in "WebSite" although .ws is was an internet country code for Western Samoa. The TLD has never taken off as big as .com or .org a the GDI proprietors hoped it to be, but it's been steadily popular among some affiliate marketers because of the multi-level referral commission plan that it offers.
The GDI site and the members' dashboard don't look like they've been updated for at least a decade and the majority of promotional materials have outdated design. But it allows you to use WordPress, that's one good thing.
It's been criticized "for selling a Pyramid scheme" because the affiliates are often seen promoting it as a way of making money, without explaining the core service of GDI, which is a web hosting service.
How Much Does It Cost?
$10 per month including a .ws domain name, site builder, and web hosting. But only if you're referred by an affiliate.
Whereas if you simply go to the homepage (www.website.ws), you'll find the official pricing plan which is a lot higher. A domain name ($35 per year) + site builder ($99 per year) + web hosting ($239 per year) = $373 per year, or $31 per month.
This tells you that the GDI's primary focus is the compensation plan, to encourage new and existing users to spread the word and get more people to join in. Well, as a web hosting, GDI doesn't provide SSL certificate (https) or extra security. $10 per month seems pretty reasonable-ish for a beginner website owner, while I think $31 would be definitely overpriced. How many subdomains you can create is unclear; I have created 4 so far. But if you want to create more than one website (different URLs) then you'll simply be paying the number of sites x $10 per month.
Site Builder and WordPress
GDI enables you to use both the in-house site builder as well as WordPress. It also allows you to set up subdomains (e.g. blog.yoursite.ws), so you could create your main site using the GDI site builder and create your subdomain sites using WordPress...
...However, I find the site builder templates far too outdated. The design is embarrassingly old and tacky, the editor loads too slowly, and most importantly, the webpage using any of the site builder templates won't be mobile-responsive. Frankly, it's unusable.
So you'd have no option but to use WordPress, I've tested it and it works fine. You can set it up with one-click and it automatically comes with the latest version of WordPress (5.5 at the time of writing this). You can install any themes and plugins as normal. There were a few things I've noticed;
- The site does not have an SSL certificate.
- The set-up is not immediate - when I create a subdomain and "enable WordPress", I seem to have to wait up to an hour for the WordPress admin screen to appear (until then, it will show as "service unavailable"). I'm not sure why it takes so long...unless the people behind it are manually operating it!
- The instruction videos are ancient (from 2011). Still useful, better than no instruction, but it does show that the service hasn't been maintained up to scratch.
- The hosting storage space is provided only up to 100Mb. This is tiny - you won't be able to install many plugins, and you can only manage a small site with it.
You can also use Drupal on your .ws website. You can build your main site with WordPress and build a subdomain site using Drupal, for instance.
I'm just saying this because Drupal is the 6th most popular content management system with 630k+ live sites according to WebsiteSetup.org. I've played around with it (for like 10 minutes - no idea!) I've noticed the version that's installed is 6.19, which is really old (?) This is what it says on my screen, in case you're interested to use Drupal.
Usability, Help and Support
Like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of information that's not been updated for years. The whole members' area looks old and not mobile-responsive. The social-share icons are old logos, webinar page is blank/returns error, etc.
When I sent a support ticket (because it had taken too long for my WordPress to set up) and received the response within 6 hours. I was pleasantly surprised because my expectation had been pretty low (not being sarcastic!) considering the factors I've mentioned. Reply within 6 hours - still wouldn't be quick enough though if you encountered some critical errors on your site.
Is WebSite.ws Worth Considering?
Before moving on to talk about the compensation plan, I'd like to discuss if it's worth building a website with website.ws (GDI). There are a few things to consider;
#1 Your website would have to be WordPress
Not the other "site builder" version, as I explained earlier. You can set up a WordPress site at a click of a button, and this is great because in case you want to leave GDI, you can take the site with you (export the entire site easily and have it hosted by a different company). No problem with that.
#2 Your top-level domain would have to be .ws
According to moz.com, .ws is considered as a low-quality TLD. Moz advises you to avoid non-.com TLDs, which I personally agree with from my experience. But Google confirmed back in 2015 that all the TLDs are treated the same by its algorithm.
I can't help but have a biased opinion towards .ws site because of the way many affiliates promote GDI. Every time I see a URL with .ws in the end, it makes me wonder if the site is "serious" or just there to promote the compensation plan.
#3 You pay your $10 fee monthly (plus 7-day free trial)
This is good. When you look at some decent web hosting services in the cheapest price range, such as Bluehost and Godaddy, they do charge slightly cheaper around $8 per month based on 12 months' contract. Means you'd have to pay $100 in advance, plus a domain registration fee of around $10-12 per year.
So the price that GDI offers is very competitive. It offers a 7-day free trial period, and whenever you want to cancel, you can stop the payment, take a backup of your site and leave.
Considering all the elements, I think it's "okay" to build a website with Global Domains International (website.ws). But if you simply want to try out a WordPress site, you can always get a subdomain for free (Wealthy Affiliate offers it) and move on to get a decent domain name when you're confident. There are so many TLDs available, and there's no reason why you should be using the .ws extension, you know.
Now, as if what I've discussed so far is irrelevant to what GDI is about...
A pyramid scheme, where members recruit others by promising the return without selling products or services, is illegal in many countries. Global Domains International operates the business lawfully because it does provide a website service, but the way it officially promotes itself - purely focusing on the multi-level compensation plan - is very close to a pyramid scheme, in my opinion.
Over the past years, I've been invited to join GDI by a number of affiliates, but every single one of them has advocated the compensation plan and none of them has ever explained the benefits of using this particular web hosting service to me.
It's misleading, and it's deceptive, you know what I mean? Not everyone is interested in building their own website, and these affiliates target a random audience and say "if you refer your friend to GDI and your friend refers their friends, you'll be making multiple commissions..."
For example, when I look at the testimonial site (testimonials.ws), all I can find them say is "the best affiliate opportunity", "it generates residual income", "financial independence" etc, and I never find anyone actually recommends the core of the business - domain registration and web hosting service.
I don't personally endorse the fact that what they're promoting is actually a pyramid scheme - make money for the sake of making money, because it will create "victims" down the line. There will be people who are persuaded to pay $10 per month for nothing and don't get any returns from it.
The Compensation Plan
Anyway, the compensation plan is simple and straightforward, but "50% Payout" can be misleading. It pays out a flat rate of 10% referral commission across 5 levels, so every time whoever your downline up to the 5th tier successfully invites someone in, you'll receive 10% of the monthly fee of $10 = $1.
The diagram shown in the promotional video is the most optimistic scenario; if you referred 5 people to GDI and those 5 people referred 5 people each, and so on up to the 5th level, your income would be $3,905 per month. It would only work this way if every person in your downline is a network marketer.
I've always said this and I'll say it again - as an MLM, this is just what it is and there's no right or wrong. But as a niche affiliate marketer, you make a certain amount of commission each time you convince someone to buy a product that you recommend. But it doesn't make sense when you also make the same amount of commission when your downline recommends it to someone else - the person you have no connection with. Because that's not the reward as a result of your effort, someone who made the effort just happened to be your referral.
If I compare GDI with Bluehost again, the Bluehost's affiliate program offers to pay $65 per sign up. I personally think it's more rewarding to genuinely recommend a decent web hosting company to one person and receive $65, rather than to hope to get 65 people to sign up with GDI to earn the same amount.
You can cancel your GDI account at any time by contacting the support via your dashboard. GDI will not refund any of the latest monthly fees that you've already paid, but will simply stop taking the future payments. If there's an outstanding referral commission due to you and you cancel the account, the commission payment will be forfeited. Yeah, I think that's fair enough.
Global Domains International Pros and Cons
Global Domains International Review - Conclusion:
Although I can list up the equal number of pros and cons, the disadvantages of using GDI is greater than the advantages, in my opinion. There are too many areas of improvement. I would keep the membership and recommend Global Domains International if it started to offer other TLDs and focused on web hosting maintenance more. I don't recommend it, unfortunately.
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