Custom domain setup
Custom domains are only available to paid plans (see Functionality by billing plan).
When you create a Wild Apricot account, you are provided with a free website address. If you already have your own custom domain address, you can use your custom domain name in place of your free Wild Apricot address. For example, instead of using a free Wild Apricot address like nycs.wildapricot.org, you can use www.nycs.net.
Wild Apricot does not provide nameservers. You must use the default nameservers provided by your domain name provider.
Correctly setting up your domain can be tricky, and this is further complicated by the fact that domain setup process is different from one domain registrar to another. We have provided an overview of the process and key instructions – if you need any assistance with it, you should contact your domain name registrar.
1. Choose and register Your domain name
Choose a domain name registrar. There are many companies that offer this service. From our experience, Hover.com and NetworkSolutions.com offer a competitive price and all the necessary capabilities for domain management.
Make sure that your selected domain name registrar offers online self-service for DNS management. This will give you direct control over the DNS records for your domain, and the ability to create and modify A, CNAME, and SPF records as needed. (Most registrars offer this as part of the basic domain registration, but there are still a few that do not.)
2. Set up your custom domain
Setting up with your domain name provider's assistance
Contact your domain name provider directly and ask for their assistance with the setup.
Don't know who your domain name provider is? Click here then enter your domain name in the field and click the Search button. Within the search results – or further down in the raw details – look for the name of your domain name provider in the Registrar field.
Use the following email template – just copy and paste it, and adjust as required.
Please assist me with my domain name setup <MYDOMAIN.COM> by modifying / adding the following DNS records to it: 1) CNAME Name: www Value: sites.wildapricot.org 2) CNAME Name: default._domainkey.yourdomain.org Value: dkim.wildapricot.org 3) A record Name: yourdomain.org Value: 126.96.36.199 4) TXT record Name: yourdomain.org Value: v=spf1 mx include:wildapricot.org ~all
Within your email, replace all occurrences of yourdomain.org with your custom domain name. With some domain registrars, the name is not required.
Setting it up yourself
If you want to set up your custom domain yourself, follow the instructions below.
We have also provided more detailed examples for two domain registrars – see GoDaddy DNS setup instructions and Network Solutions DNS Setup instructions. Even if you are using a different domain registrar, you might still find these two examples helpful.
CNAME record for www
Set up the following CNAME record to point the www version of your domain to sites.wildapricot.org.
Name: www Value: sites.wildapricot.org
Copy this code exactly as shown above – do not replace sites.wildapricot.org with anything else (except the legacy domain memberlodge.org).
This only sets up www.yourdomain.org and not yourdomain.org.
If you want yourdomain.org (without the leading www) to work as well, you need to set up an A-record for yourdomain.org to point to our server IP address 188.8.131.52.
Name: @ Value: 184.108.40.206
The required value of Name could vary from provider to provider. In most cases, you would use @ or yourdomain.org. It may also not be required, in which case it would be blank. Follow up with your domain provider support for more details.
CNAME record for DKIM
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a method of authenticating emails sent from your domain, reducing the chance of your messages being identified as spam or junk. DKIM associates your domain name with your messages, thereby vouching for its authenticity.
You need to set up DKIM authentication only for your primary domain, minus the www if you're using the www version of your domain as the primary domain (since email addresses never use www).
To set up DKIM authentication for your domain, add the following CNAME record:
Name: default._domainkey.yourdomain.org Value: dkim.wildapricot.org
and replace yourdomain.org with your primary domain name (minus the www if you're using the www version of your domain as the primary domain).
On the Domain name management screen, ignore any Incomplete warnings that suggest your DKIM setup is invalid because a CName record doesn't exist for the www version of your domain name.
You need to create a TXT record for your domain (this is usually in the SPF setup section). This specifies that Wild Apricot servers are allowed to send emails on your behalf. Without a TXT record, the From email address will be automatically generated from the free sub-domain we provide you, and you will not be able to create a custom From address that is based on your custom domain. (For more information, see Organization details.)
If your domain currently does not have an SPF record, you should add one as follows:
Name: @ Value: v=spf1 mx include:wildapricot.org ~all
Copy the code exactly as shown above – do not replace wildapricot.org with anything else (except the legacy domain memberlodge.org), and make sure there's a space between wildapricot.org and ~all.
If you are using a subdomain, enter your subdomain name in place of @ in the Host or Name field.
If you already have a TXT record then simply modify it by adding include:wildapricot.org before ~all. For example:
v=spf1 include:wildapricot.org include:_spf.google.com ~all
With some domain registrars, the name is not required, or it can be set to your domain (e.g. yourdomain.org).
If you are already using an email hosting service to handle emails from your domain, you need to merge the include statements for both Wild Apricot and your email host. For instructions, click here.
AAAA (IPv6) record
If you have an AAAA (IPv6) DNS record specified, you should remove it as it would prevent Wild Apricot from being able to install a security certificate on your domain.
3. Add your custom domain to your Wild Apricot account
To add your custom domain name to your Wild Apricot account, follow these steps:
- Click the Settings tab.
- Under Site settings, click Domain name management.
- Click the Add custom domain name button.
- Enter your domain name, then click the Save button.
- If you add a custom domain name without the www prefix, we will automatically add domains both with and without the www prefix. If you don't want to use both domains, you can remove one by clicking the Remove button beside the appropriate entry. If you want to keep both, you must designate one at the primary domain by clicking the Set as primary link beside the domain name.
While the process on Wild Apricot's end takes only a few minutes to complete, the process on your registrar's end can take 24-48 hours. During this time, your free Wild Apricot can function as a backup option.
4. Secure your domain
To secure your custom domain, you need to obtain a custom security certificate that Wild Apricot staff can install on your site. After that, you can set your traffic encryption to Always.
If you use a custom domain without purchasing a security certificate, visitors who access your site by manually entering https will typically see a security warning displayed by their browser (e.g. "not secure" or "connection not private").
For details on obtaining a free custom security certificate from Wild Apricot, click here.
Subdomain is a type of domain address. For example, if you have an existing website at www.abc.org, you can set up Wild Apricot on a subdomain like memberarea.abc.org. For more information on how to set this up, contact your domain name provider.
Wild Apricot does not include email hosting so if you are using your own domain, you have to set it up so that web traffic is sent to our servers while email traffic is sent to your email hosting company. You can use free email hosting, for example from Google (see Using email hosting services).
Wild Apricot provides free encrypted access to wildapricot.org domains. You can use the secure wildapricot.org domain in addition to your regular website address, or you can switch your website to the wildapricot.org domain. For custom domains, you can also use the wildapricot.org domain for secure access, or we can install a security certificate on your custom domain.
For example, if your custom domain is http://www.abc.org, a free secure URL for your account would be https://abc.wildapricot.org. Your own secure custom URL would be https://www.abc.org.
Do not enable traffic encryption for a custom domain without an installed custom security certificate. If you do, visitors will be warned of a possible security issue with your site.
Here are solutions to common issues with custom domain setup.
Browser displays a security warning when visitors access your site
If traffic encryption is enabled for a custom domain without an installed custom security certificate, visitors will be warned of a possible security issue when they try to access your site. To resolve this, you can get a security certificate installed, or set your traffic encryption options to Payments only.
How to access your site when custom domain malfunctions
Your Wild Apricot account comes with a free domain (e.g. nycs.memberlodge.org) that can always be used to access your account if your account's custom domain name malfunctions. This domain is always available, it cannot be removed but you can rename it if required (see Domain name management). If you do not remember this domain name, you can always find it in the emails that were sent to you when you first opened your Wild Apricot account.
Check your DNS records
On average, it might take up to 48 hours for DNS records on the Internet to pick up your new settings (though usually it happens much faster). If it is not working after this period you might need to check your settings. As a first step, check that your DNS records are showing correct information. For more details and help on this contact your domain name host.
Check your setup
It is important that you follow setup steps, see Custom domain setup, since it is the only correct way to set up your Wild Apricot account to work with your custom domain name. Make sure to avoid the following mistakes:
- One of the most common mistakes for custom domain setup is a domain redirect to your Wild Apricot domain.
- Also, avoid setting up your custom domain by putting Wild Apricot site within an iframe (aka domain masking).
- Make sure that you add a custom domain to the domain list and set it as primary. See: Domain name management
These mistakes can create all kinds of problems, including the following: PayPal payment problems, reset password problem, broken registration links etc.
We do not provide DNS servers ourselves since most domain registrars already provide this service at no charge for every domain (e.g. godaddy.com registrar in our example). However, if you have registered your domain through one of small reseller domain registrars you might not have direct access to your DNS settings, just the ability to change your DNS servers. Here are your options in this case:
- Contact your domain registrar and ask if they can set it up manually for you - use their domain servers to point your domain to our server (via CNAME or IP address). This is the best option as many domain registrars can do this even if they do not provide web-based self-service interface for you to do it. The biggest challenge is to get hold of a knowledgeable service rep at the domain registrar - since this is a relatively rare situation, many service reps will have a hard time understanding what you need them to do.
- Contact your hosting company (the one whose DNS servers you currently use) and ask them to change their name server settings to point website to us. Whether they would do it or not - and what would they charge - depends on a particular hosting company. This is the option to follow if you will still use the hosting company for email hosting.
- Transfer your domain to another registrar which provides DNS servers and online access to their settings. This takes a few days and incurs a one-time charge (depends on each registrar).
Be careful regarding your email. We do not provide email hosting with Wild Apricot account so make sure not to change the email settings for your domain. Your email should work in exactly the same way it worked before you make the website domain change above.