If you’ve read 31 Days to Boost Your Business Online Presence presentation or attended a workshop, you’ll know I’m all about the blog. Blogging is a great benefit for many business websites; it provides search benefits, drives traffic to your site, builds authority and credibility in your industry, and provides content to share on social media. But it can be time consuming, sometimes stressful, and requires a real commitment, so I realize it’s not for everyone.
Recently I’ve read 2 articles on why you don’t need to blog or “blogging is dumb”. I’m not that extreme but I recognize that there are some alternatives. The bad part about these posts I read is that the told you all the reasons why you don’t need to blog but they neglected to share what you can do to replace and still get the benefits, so in this post I’m sharing some of my alternate recommendations to blogging. The great thing about these alternatives is you can use them if you don’t blog and incorporate them even if you do blog.
1. Guest Blog
In 31 Days to Boost Your Business Online Presence, talk about this to too. Guest blogging is the #1 way to expand your audience and build authority and credibility. I believe everyone should get off their blog and share their knowledge with someone else. If you don’t have time to run your own blog reach out to related industries blog and see if you can write a post as a Subject Matter Expert for their blog. A great example is a post I recently published by attorney Merissa Grayson, 5 Legal Notices you need on your Website today, Merissa shared her legal expertise on website notices with our audience here at AKZMe Designs and this has been one of my most visited and shared post for the few weeks when it was published,
2. Get experts to be your bloggers.
Take the stress out of the need to write every post by inviting others to contribute to your blog. Every industry has small, medium, and large experts. You may not get Seth Goodin (although it doesn’t hurt to try) but maybe the president of your local chamber of commerce or the go to business coach in your area. Look for other leaders in your industry and ask them if they’d contribute to your site, either by writing a blog post, doing an interview, or even giving a top ten list of helpful tips. Here are a few tips on getting the perfect contributors don’t be afraid to ask, make sure you are already familiar with their work, and make it easy for them to contribute send potential topics, interview questions, if you’re at an event ask for a few minutes to get their thoughts and record the information they give you.
3. Make it a resource page.
You’ve got a few good post ideas but you don’t have time or energy for daily or even weekly writing or even you have great links to information you’d like to share. Don’t toss away the good content you already have, remove the dates from the post and rename the blog Resource Page. A resource page can have 1 or two post/topics or multiple topics. The great thing about a resource page, is the expectation isn’t that you will continuously add to it so it’s a lot less pressure than maintaining a blog. You can provide helpful information that readers interested in your business or organization may also find interesting which helps establish as a source for information and the additional content provides great SEO (search engine optimization) benefits. Here’s an example of a list resource page I did for a non-profit client http://www.dtdsicklecell.org/nj-sickle-cell-resources; I highly recommend resource pages for all of my non-profit and subject matter expert clients who don’t have the time blog.
So here you have it Guest Blog, Get Experts, and Make a Resource page; 3 great ways you can still get the traffic, search boost, and other benefits of blogging without the blog. I hope these tips help take the pressure out of the need to produce a blog post ever week and HAPPY NON-BLOGGING!!!!
AKZMe Designs’ Akilah Thompkins-Robinson and Author Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid is Michael Port’s personal system on getting clients and getting paid to do the work you love. Book Yourself Solid has grown from 1 book he published in 2006 to now on it 4th Edition the latest one an illustrated version, to a major movement with a school of coaches an alliance of coaching students around the world and it even has an app. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending training in Philadelphia with Michael Port author of Book Yourself Solid and some of his elite Book Yourself Solid Coaches. This live event was amazing, the first of its kind that Michael has done in about 7 years. It wasn’t one of those events where the headline person talks to the group for 30 mins and then hands it over to trainers. Michael spent the entire day 9-5 working with me and about 100 other attendees, explaining various sections, helping us with the exercises and best of all answer.
We spent the day learning about the Book Yourself Solid:
Red Carpet policy- Choosing your target market and only working with your ideal client. Michael teaches that by focusing on the clients you really want you do your best work which in turn yields more clients. Break out the NO! sign
Creating the sales funnel- This is different than the traditional sales funnel where potentials start at the top an trickle down, Instead this sales funnel allows flexibility where there is always opening for someone to enter at any stage
Always have something to invite them to strategy- this was one of my favorites having regular sessions or event to invite people to help introduce them to you, NOT your product but you
Creating products for all levels- we did a great exercise on identifying your target client, where to find the clients, and determine what information or product they need. With that information you create products that attract clients and varying levels on entry (ie you can create your freebie, $19.95 book, slightly higher group sessions, and then your premium one on one products.
He also went into detail about the 4 steps to Building Trust and Credibility and The 6 Core Self Promotion Strategies 2 key modules covered in the book.
I could write a mini book about all of the great information I learned on Saturday, I can’t wait to go step by step through each exercise and put everything into practices (hint hint look out for big changes here at AKZMe Designs)
Aside from the great content the other thing I loved about the Book Yourself Solid book is the style used to teach the information. This book is more than just a bunch of text and another Expert telling you how they did it and what you should do. Instead this book is more of a lesson a mini class, in every chapter there are multiple exercises for you to pull out pen and pad and really put what you read to word for you and step by step take you through the process and get booked solid. The latest illustrated version is even better because it has space right in the book to work through the exercises and has hundreds of illustrations and diagrams to help you visualize the lesson.
And now for the fun part, the giveaway
I didn’t spend the great day with Michael Port and forget about you all of my fans and followers back home. Instead I brought you back an amazing gift. I’ve got 2 Autographed copies of Michael Port’s latest edition of Book Yourself Solid, Book Yourself Solid Illustrated. You can read the full reviews here on Amazon , but you don’t have buy now sign up below and be entered to win one of the autographed copies I got from Michael himself.
Social media marketing is a great way to remind people about your products and services, show new items, and get sales. I have a lot of clients who advertise their products on Facebook and other social media sites. One of the things I see many of them do is upload the photo to Facebook albums and rewrite the information for the product. In this video I show a much simpler way to post products on Facebook. Not only is this a faster method but it also drives traffic to your site.
The advantages of posting to Facebook using this method are:
Traffic on the site are more likely to buy additional products
Users know where to return to make additional purchases
Eliminates the need for inbox and email to complete the sales
Is your website meeting legal guidelines? Do you know what legal notices you should have on your website, to ensure you and your site are protected? Many website owners skip adding legal notices to their site because they aren’t sure that is needed and/or what it should say, today our Guest Blogger and Attorney Merissa V. Grayson from The Law Office of Merissa V. Grayson, is sharing with us the 5 Legal notices you should have on any website.
In today’s society, there have been so many major technological advances over the last decade. We have gone from the pen and paper world, to the computer world, from classified newspapers and the yellow pages in the phone book, to the internet.
I know I know…it’s a bit confusing. But, here are some of the standard notices all website owners should consider:
Disclaimer- A disclaimer is a statement about how people can use and access the information on your site. The purpose is to limit your liability for site visitors’ use of the information or services provided by your site. Disclaimers are often used by those who have a lot of information and resources on their site such as blogs, articles, external links, etc. Common disclaimers include:
Site content: If your site is informational (such as a blog), a disclaimer can inform users that the information on your site is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.
User posted content: If your site contains a forum or other means for visitors to submit comments or other content, a disclaimer can warn site visitors that the forum/contents are not monitored and may contain content that is not endorsed by you.
External Link: If you and/or site users link to any outside websites or resources, a disclaimer can be used to clarify that you are not responsible for the site’s accuracy, not endorsing the site and that the information in it is not your own.
Terms and Conditions-Most websites should contain terms and conditions. Terms and conditions let site visitors know your site rules. This is how you let users know how they can and cannot use your website such as:
How to credit content and/or pictures if they use it (i.e. crediting images, links back to the site, etc.)
Whether site membership is required to post comments or other content
Who can use your site: Age restrictions that (i.e. underage 15 requires adult permission), Geographical restrictions (i.e. If you are only licensed to conduct business in specific states/countries, etc.)
Rights to use or remove-Situations that may result in users comments/comments being deleted (i.e. “spamming is not tolerated and will result in removal of your comments).
Right to re-use or reproduce- lets users acknowledge that any content they submit to your site doesn’t infringe on intellectual property laws and that they give you permission to re-use or reproduce it.
Intellectual Property Notices- Your copyrights, patents, and trademarks are your intellectual property. It’s important to have Intellectual property notices on your site so your visitors will know who owns the rights to information, slogans, logos, etc. on your site and how they may use that information. (i.e. “any content downloaded/obtained from this site may be used for non-commercial use only”). These notices can also be used to let users know if you plan to claim the rights to any content posted by them to your site.
Legal Jurisdiction- Stating the state, country, etc. your website originates in and is associated with lets visitors know what laws you are operating under. It puts them on notice as to where they should file a lawsuit against you (not that anyone would want to sue you right?) and could prevent you from being sued in foreign jurisdictions where the laws are different than those your site operates under.
More Tips to keep your Website protected:
If you are unsure on what notices you need, you should consult with an attorney. In the meantime, it’s better to be safe than sorry: it makes more sense to have a notice that is not required than to not have one that is required.
Make sure your legal notices are placed in an obvious place on your website.
Make sure you and all your staff members, including volunteers, understand the notices
Merissa V. Grayson is the principal attorney at The Law Office of Merissa V. Grayson. Her firm focuses on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Small Business & Entertainment. The Small Business & Entertainment division of the firm helps those pursuing entrepreneurship or a career in the entertainment industry make choices that are best for them to ensure that their career and/or business is fully protected and aligned with their objectives. www.merissagraysonlaw.com /www.justsouknow.info.
If you own a WordPress site you may have received an email from your web hosting company about a new WordPress brute force attack. I run dozens of sites in one day I’ve received 4 from different host; they almost read like spam, but don’t disregard this is a very real threat. Instead of reinventing the wheel and rewriting what all of the experts are writing, I thought I’d take this post to share my research and information I’ve gathered from some of the most reputable folks in the WordPress community.
Before I dive right into the research let’s review some of the basic FAQ:
What is a brute force attack?
A bot (program to search the internet) attempt to login to your WordPress admin page using common usernames like Admin, and common passwords. They call it brute force because they don’t just try 1 or 2 times, the try 10,000s times until they’ve exhausted all attempts.
What can you do to protect your WordPress site?
If you are using the Username Admin, STOP NOW!!! Avoid other common names too like your name or the name of your site. Also use a strong password numbers, letters, and special character combination is best; and again avoid common words and words linked to you.
I have a strong username and password, so I am safe right?
Yes and no. The attacks may not get into your site but the volume of attacks on your host’s servers could cause an overload and brief interruptions in service.
How do I know if I’ve been attacked ?
Unless you are look at your logs and can see the volume of attacks you won’t (see the Sucuri post below for examples). The best thing is to change your password just in case. Even if the attack was successful they may not use the information they have gathered now, so it’s best to change your information to avoid future use.
Can these attacks only happen to WordPress? Do I need a new type of site?
Brute force attacks can happen to any type of site, with a username and password log-on including c-panels. The NextWeb article below even reports some Joomla sites were attacked too. WordPress site are just easier targets because they are millions of WordPress users both experienced and new to WordPress; and many WordPress users don’t change the default set up username Admin and choose simplistic password. So no you don’t need a new site just tighten the protections on the one you have.
Now that we’ve got the quick basic stuff out the way, here’s more of the research I’ve gathered to give you a better understanding what’s happening and how to protect your website:
I hope this information has helped you understand those scary emails from your host, just a little bit better. If you have any great research you’ve found regarding the recent brute force attacks share the link below, the more we now about these attacks the better we can protect our site.
Meme’s are cute and really growing in popularity thanks to social media and easy editing tools like Instagram Frames App. “An internet meme is a cultural phenomenon, spreading like a virus, traveling from one person to another swiftly until it takes on a life of its own. “Meme’ is pronounced as ‘meem’, which rhymes with ‘seem’ or ‘team’. Meme is a term coined by Richard Dawkins.”
So this weekend I made one of my own and found a few others poking fun at people like me, Web Designers.
Here’s the one I put together “Keep Calm and Hire a Web designer”, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t already one out there
(for my fellow designers the Keep Calm Font I used was Gill Sans MT)
And here are some other I found around the web, I love the creativity and the laughs
….and reasons why it’s critical to watch what you put on the internet
As an artist I understand that a creative professional’s design work, photography, website, etc. are like our babies, we work really hard making them perfect and then you birth them into the world and hold your breath as they grow. Sometimes the work is used effectively and you get see it at its fullest potential meeting the clients highest expectations, and sometimes you see it used, misused, altered, and floating around the internet. But this post isn’t just for creative professionals; the same can go for any industry with products, services, etc. Whatever you produce is your baby until it meets the world..
Putting your work online is a gamble.
I was reminded of this ‘your work is your baby’ analogy by a recent exchange on Facebook. A photographer’s work was snatched from their blog, doctored by adding text, and then posted on Facebook. The photographer and the subjects of the photo did not want it on Social media and photographer was pretty upset when she saw the post. I won’t mention names or repost the photo, but it became a very sensitive/ heated conversation. If you saw a cute out take photo of the baby sleeping on dad as he served as the prop, then you know what I’m talking about.
Either way the conversation took a number of twist and turns, but the bottom line was the photographer did not understand how and why someone would do this to her work without permission. She even went on to threaten legal action, site copyright laws, etc. I am in no way defending the person who did this, but the #1 rule of the internet is once your work hits the net it takes on a life of its own. Much like letting a kid loose in the playground; children go out and play meet other children, run to the slide, swing on the swing, and enjoy life. The good thing about kids and playgrounds is they don’t go far and they always comeback, unfortunately the internet is not so forgiving.
Have your images or work ever been “Catfished”?
Every designer, artist, musician, photographer, etc. has experienced the “borrowing”, destruction, misuse, and downright disrespect of their work; it’s one of those occupational hazards we deal with. With the boom of social media, internet, instagram, snap chat, and other tools that make it even easier for the average user to save a picture, make changes, and repost as their own these incidents have increased greatly. Remember the ugly face picture of Beyonce from the Super bowl performance, by the end of that week I saw the same picture and Beyonce was green with muscles like the incredible Hulk ( isn’t photo shop great) . Many times this is not done to be malicious or break a law, but it’s really because the person thinks it’s funny or cute. Most aren’t familiar with fair use and copyright laws and they aren’t trying to discredit the creator of the work or make a profit it’s just to share (since that’s what facebook wants us to do any way right?). It’s just like the kids at the playground sometimes they come back a little different then you sent them out there, like with a bruised knee, ripped jean, or lost hair bow.
So what’s an business website owner to do?
Here are few quick tips about protecting your work/products on line and ways to possibly avoid the unwelcome exchange I saw this week”
Accept the inevitable. Tt’s going to happen if it’s on your blog website whatever, it may make it to twitter, Facebook and beyond
If the response if good say thank you and claim it, if not distance yourself from it even remove from your site or original posting.
Only put up work you would want your highest paying client to see. If it’s not your best or not ready don’t post. Read my recent post on building a portfolio website for more tips on what work should and should not go on your site.
Get the clients permission to post everywhere, not just certain place. In the story above the clients said OK to the blog, but not social media. There is no way to control where right-click save will lead you so it’s best not to post at all.
Don’t be fooled by the security of watermarks and anti-saving programs. These may deter some stealing, but they won’t stop screen captures, advanced Photoshop skills, folks taking pictures of pictures.
Know when to fight it. Although theft is inevitable you don’t always have to walk away, if you can identify a culprit and or if another business is making money off of your work then you better fight it, send letters get lawyers, whatever. A Facebook share is one thing but defamation and profit stealing is a whole other ball game.
Don’t post or show off the work until you clients have revealed it first. I’ve seen to many times where a new logo or web design is on the designer’s website before it hits the clients.
The bottom line is to succeed in the online marketplace you have to put your work online. You can’t keep your work from everywhere on the internet just like you can’t hold a kid back on the playground, but you can take steps to make sure it is ready and keep it safe. And just like with kids unpredictable things will happen, and sometimes it may be worse than a trip to the playground.
Every photographer, artist, designer, and even contractors needs a portfolio website. A good digital portfolio online that you can use to advertise on social media, direct potential clients to view additional work, and promote Search Engine results for new clients to ses. When you’re product is based on how your finished product looks and examples of past visual work, cools websites with plenty of great examples is a must. This brings us to the infamous portfolio websites; many visual business owners treat what should be a portfolio site like an online picture book or photography gallery. The site is set up for visitors to aimlessly flip through photos, with little text to sell you on the project, and they often aren’t optimized for viewers experience or SEO. The work may be great but the lack luster way it’s displayed on a website can take away from attracting customers and the lack of text kills your search engine results so would be clients won’t find your amazing work.
Does this sound like your website?
In this post, I’m going to discuss a few key elements to a good portfolio website. No matter what you’re niche or your medium, if your business is based on showing what you do these portfolio tips will help you site live up to its best potential.
Show your best pictures. This is a no brainer, right? Wrong I see this one messed up all of the time, even did it myself in the beginning. Many times artist put everything they’ve done online, the good, bad, and sometimes ugly. Just because you have unlimited disk space doesn’t mean you should use it. Take the time to edit your portfolio showing your best projects in various categories. For example a wedding photographer could show endless banquet fall weddings but a really cool website would show banquet, farm, and beach weddings; showing your depth of work in any setting.
Professionally stage and display your work. If you have a physical product like sculpting, architecture, landscaping or contractor every 3-6 months (or after a big job) have a professional photographer come in and take quality photos of your work. If you’re work is digital take an extra minute to mock it up (i.e. cards look like stacks of cards, brochure in a brochure mock up, etc) make it look as realistic as possible. When items are professional displayed visitors will automatically perceive it as more valuable. Here’s a TIP for graphic designers: You can find pre-made mockup templates on GraphicRiver.net, for less than $10 buy a digital pack and use them to quickly set up your work for display) Here’s an example of my work before and after I mocked it up
Categorize your work. Showing all of your work lumped together can often be confusing and distracting to web site visitors. Most visitors are initially looking for a specific type of work (i.e. websites, logos, kitchens, etc) so use albums to separate pictures into categories so it’s easy to locate what they are looking for. This also helps the visitor compare your work if I’m look at pictures of all bathrooms I can tell that the contractor consistently does well with them, if I’m looking at a bathroom, kitchen, and dining room, it’s hard to tell if the good work is consistent or a lucky try.
Write something at about the project. Pictures are nice but search engines and humans who can read look for text. Great portfolio websites provide caption or additional information to give you an idea of the type of project you’re viewing and the goal that was achieved. You can share interesting information about the client, what the goal of the project was, what materials or software was used, links to the client if they are another business. Keep the write up brief (fewer than 100 words) but share something to let visitors get more intimate with the project and how it met the customer’s goal. If the client gave you a testimonial it’s a good Idea to add right to the project page.
Use Alt-tags on photos. This is another tip with Search Engines and SEO in mind. Search engines don’t see photos they only see text so to help them find your photos make sure you put an alt tag on all of them. Avoid generic descriptions give something a little more descriptive, like instead of “website” say “children’s room décor website” this give search engines a better idea of what the picture is and increases your chance in showing up in search of people looking for your specific kind of work.
These quick tips can easily take your portfolio from good to great; and help attract more visitors, clients, and engage them once they get there.
Do you need help setting up your portfolio website or determining is your current site makes the grade? Contact us for a complimentary consultation we’d love to help your business shine online.
Today the folks at Woo Themes announced the release of the first major update to their widely popular WordPress eCommerce plug-in, WooCommerce. According to the post on their site, for WooCommerce 2.0 they’ve re-written much of the WooCommerce code and made many updates that will benefit customers, shop owners, developers and just about every level of WooCommerce user. So the big question of the day is should you rush to upgrade or not? Cheers or Fears?
Here are some of the changes I’m particularly excited about:
The update to product data panel. When training clients the current layout seems to be confusing, I hope the new layout makes it more intuitive.
Multiple download support. This is perfect for the digital online shop with the boom in sales of e-books, music, audio etc. Improving the download functionality which previously seemed like an after though was a critical change.
Session Handling. This is a BIG deal for users, issues with losing cart orders and other problems caused by hosting settings. Especially those hosting on sites like Go Daddy that do not enable read/write access to their PHP files.
Capability Manager. They have made changes to the granularity of the capabilities you can assign to users, so now using plug-in like User Roles or Advanced Capabilities Manager you can create a user roles with permissions for exactly what you want your staff to do. For example if a site owner wants someone to only add products, but not see orders; or only give managers the access to create coupon codes.
There are a number of other changes that I think will make every user of WooCommerce will give a hardy WOO HOO! , when you look at the list of the enhancements. Unfortunately, although the upgrade sounds amazing, and may be just what you’ve been waiting for I wouldn’t recommend everyone rushing to upgrade. Take a look at my recommendations below
If you’re using WooCommerce today
If you read their post about the release (which you absolutely should) , after Woo gets you all excited about the latest offerings of WooCommerce 2.0 they then start with the ominous upgrade warnings. I know every theme and plug-in warns you to back-up before upgrading; but this time I believe them. The major change in product information, code, CCS settings, hooks, and API make it impossible to roll back the changes if something goes wrong and Woo suggest that many things can go wrong. In addition, to stressing the importance of back-ups, Woo also recommends testing on a test site before upgrading your production site; and again I believe them and would take this step very seriously. My other concerns with this update are how they will be handled by your themes and plug-ins, many of us use specialized eCommerce themes that have been optimized for the existing Woo Commerce. These themes use the current Woo hooks and CSS which are dramatically changing; so with that in mind I wouldn’t dream of up grading without checking with my theme developer first .
Before upgrading ask these questions:
Has your theme developer released an update for theme (or do they plan to)?
Are other theme users experiencing issues? (Check the forums or the comments on the sales page)
Has all of your plug-ins been tested with WooCommerce?
Do you really need the new features? This is the one time I recommend that if you don’t need the new features wait for 2.0.1
Although this is a great update, if you’re running an existing site with no issue I think the risk is too great to make the leap right now. Soon we can all make the move to this new great WooCommerce but right now I would give it a little time.
If you’re just getting started with your Online store
If you are just getting started or planning your new eCommerce sites now is a great time to jump right in feet first. Woo is making a clear move away from their forked Jigoshop beginnings, and making huge changes and improvements of their own. Their goal is to improve every user’s experience. They have listened to user and developer feedback and have made a real effort to build a better product. These are the good signs you want to see when adopting a system that will host your entire business for hopefully the long term.
Even with the warning I’m really excited to try out the new WooCommerce 2.0, I’ll be testing it out the coming weeks and of course reporting back what I find. So let us know your thoughts about the new update if you’ve installed, planning to install, or even if it broke your site. Share in the comment below your WooCommerce 2.0 cheers and fears.
Do you need help getting started with your eCommerce site? Join our upcoming webinar we’ll discuss step by step install, set-up, and day to day usage of WooCommerce 2.0
“Build an eCommerce site on WordPress” April 17th 2013 7pm-9pm EST
Analysis of your website is just as important as building the site. Regular analysis helps you determine what is working and what is not working on your and your social media strategy can you can focus your efforts on where you need to improve and continue those that are doing well. A great analysis tool that I’ve been using for a few years is Hubspot’s Marketing Grader.
Marketing Grader gives you data about how your site it performing outside of the site in the online community (i.e. search engine rankings, content sharing, blog analysis, performance on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, etc. ). You give the Marketing Grader your site URL and based on 3 categories ,top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and analytic, it gives you a ranking from 1-100. This is a real time real time number so it may change from day to day but I think a safe number is anything above an 80 is pretty good (60-70 if you’re not blogging). The Marketing Grader also gives you a detailed report on things you can do to boost your score in the 3 areas, and since the results are real time there are some changes you can make and come back and rerun your site and see an instant boost. The other great thing about Marketing Grader is you can compare your site to other sites, you can put in the URLs of competitor sites or other sites you see doing well online and compare your scores. And you can automate the report if you sign up for an account (it’s free) they’ll email you a weekly report.
I’ve been using the Marketing Grader for years and it has really helped me to fine tune my online presence and focus on the changes that were needed to boost my score. So give it a try run your site through marketing grader and let us know what your score it today and maybe a few ways your going to boost it.