Website Security 101: Keeping Your WordPress Site Safe from Hackers

Are website security concerns keeping you from enjoying the flexibility and power of WordPress? If you’ve bought into the hype that WordPress is inherently insecure, then you’re missing out on all the great things WordPress has to offer, for no good reason.

The fact is, while WordPress sites do get hacked, they are no more dangerous than other PHP-based websites. The problem is that WordPress is open-source, which means that anyone can read the code—even the bad guys who spend all their time looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. Couple that with the enormous popularity of WordPress, and it’s easy to see why you hear about hacks on a regular basis.

But that doesn’t mean WordPress is unsafe. By implementing just a few security best practices, you can greatly reduce your risk of being hacked.

Keep Your Site Up to Date

This is by far the biggest risk when it comes to website security. New vulnerabilities are discovered in WordPress and its plugins and themes on a regular basis, and if your site is out of date, it is at risk. Hackers actively search for outdated websites they can attack, so make it a point to keep your site up to date. That includes plugins, themes, and the WordPress software itself. If you need help with ensuring your site stays up-to-date, we offer website maintenance services that allow you to focus on running your business, while we focus on maintaining and securing your site. Drop us a line to get more info or a quote for your website.

Use Strong Passwords

Second only to out-of-date installations when it comes to inviting hackers, weak passwords are regularly exploited with a technique called a “brute force” attack. Simply put, a hacker sets a computer program to repeatedly attempt to log into your site using thousands of the most commonly used passwords and what are known as “dictionary” words.

This type of vulnerability can be easily avoided simply by choosing good passwords. Ideally, your passwords should:

  • Be longer than 12 characters
  • Contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Never be used for more than one site
  • Never be stored in plain text on your computer
  • Never be sent by email

Also, consider using a password manager such as Dropbox Passwords to generate and securely store good, strong passwords. You’ll never have to worry about remembering your passwords, and you’ll greatly reduce your risk of being hacked.

Be Smart About Your Hosting

Unlimited domains! Unlimited space! Unlimited bandwidth! And all for around $8 per month. You’ve probably seen the claims and may even have a hosting account with one of these companies.

Here’s the problem. This type of shared hosting is inexpensive only because they overload their servers with thousands of websites. Just as close proximity in crowded classrooms allows human viruses to quickly spread, close proximity of websites on a shared server means one infected site is a risk to all the others.

Rather than looking for the least expensive (and riskiest) hosting option, choose a host that allows you to isolate each site on its own cPanel. Doing so will greatly improve the security of your website.

In the end, the safety and security of your site and its data are entirely up to you, but if you need some guidance, we are here to help. Keep your software up to date, use good passwords, and choose a secure hosting environment, and you’ll be well ahead of the curve on this.

How to Make Extra Money on the Side Without Running Yourself Ragged

Guest post by Cherie Mclaughlin of Couch Based Biz

If you’re wishing you had a little extra cash these days, you’re not alone. More and more workers are taking on extra jobs or getting creative with income sources — on the side. The trick is in figuring out how to make extra money without burning yourself out. It helps if you can find some way to capitalize on skills you already have or turn what you love into a money-making venture. Whether you’re out of work, having difficulty making ends meet, or just want a little money to have fun with, here are some suggestions for filling the financial gap.

Set up a passive income stream.

Establishing a passive income source is ideal, especially if you are already working and don’t have a lot of time. What is passive income? It just means that once you’ve done the initial work of setting it up, it keeps the money coming in. Some examples of passive income include rents and investments, but if you don’t have a lot of capital, there are plenty of options with far lower overheads. Selling a digital product or service is probably the easiest and least costly option. E-Books, design themes, and audio content are just a few types of digital content that you might be able to create. Just keep in mind: Not all passive income efforts pay off quickly, so be cautious and do your research before you start.

Offer your services as a freelancer.

If you have marketable skills and experience but no one seems to be hiring in your field, don’t despair: You may just be able to create a job niche for yourself. For instance, many academics with higher degrees are opting to offer their services as consultants and teachers outside the university setting. Or, if you can’t find work as a copyeditor (for instance), hire yourself out independently. Here are some other ideas for potential freelancers, as well:

  • Accounting
  • Web design
  • Graphic design
  • Social media management
  • Video editing
  • Content writing
  • Software development.

As you can see, much of the work you might do as a salaried hire you could also do as a freelancer, so you can make extra money while setting your own terms and conditions and enjoying the freedom to determine your own schedule.

Start a home business.

Isn’t starting a business a lot of work? Doesn’t it take tons of capital? Not necessarily! You don’t have to start a large home business, or even worry about a lot of overhead. Some home entrepreneurs have found great ways to up their earning potential without having to do much more than set up an office, register their company, and open a bank account. You could take your passive income ideas or your freelance services and turn them into a business. But there are plenty of other home business ideas, depending on your interests and skills. From baking to dog-walking, landscaping to personal wellness and fitness training — nearly any talent or hobby could potentially morph into a business.

A few other things to keep in mind

When you create an additional income source, make sure you keep detailed records for your taxes, since you won’t be getting tax statements from an employer. If you go ahead with a freelance or home business idea, you may even want to start working with an accountant to help you avoid making errors and make sure you get all the deductions due to you. If you’re thinking of hiring employees or other freelancers and are worried about how to stay on top of finances, consider using a payroll platform that will help you manage tax filing, accurately calculate benefits and deductions, and automatically make deposits on schedule. This way, you keep your staff happy and avoid costly penalties.

If you can figure out how to take what you already do and make it into an income source, this makes for a less strenuous planning process. It can even keep your extra work feeling a little more like play. If you’re uncertain about what kind of side hustle will work with you, go ahead and start small, try it out, and see what you like. Who knows? A small side project may even become the basis for a whole new business venture. When you’re reading to make the move to entrepreneurship, Steady Radiance Design can assist you with your branding, graphics, and more. Get in touch today.

Image via Pixabay

3 Tips for Better Live Videos

Live videos are everywhere – Periscope, YouTube, Facebook, and who knows how many more in the future.

Live video is clearly the hottest thing since Facebook, and marketers in every niche are taking advantage by hosting their own events.

Some of them are good. They’re well attended, fun to watch, and you feel like you benefitted from attending. But some of them feel like they’re an afterthought, put together at the last minute, and don’t really bring out the best in the host.

If you’re thinking of hosting a live video event, you don’t want to fall into that latter group! Here’s how to avoid it.

Promote, Promote, Promote

On many platforms, a live video event is just a few clicks away. You can literally plan and host a video in just a few minutes, and an impromptu event can be fun.

But with a little planning, you’ll have a much better turnout. And that planning must include promotion.

Let your private groups know about upcoming events. Email your list. Post a blog. Even consider running paid ads for your upcoming video event if there’s the potential to grow your list or increase your sales.

In short, don’t throw a party without extending invitations to your friends!

Interact with Your Audience

One of the biggest draws of a live video event is the opportunity to interact with the host. Your viewers want to get to know you better. They want to chat with the other participants. They may have questions to ask.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring them. To do so is to say, “You’re not important to me.”

Instead, take the time to chat up the audience, acknowledge their presence, and answer their questions. Even if it takes you out of the flow and you lose your place momentarily, it’s worth it to make viewers feel respected and as if they’re a part of the event rather than just a passive viewer.

Remember to check the comments later, too. If your video is available for viewing after the live event is over, encourage the conversation in the comments.

Repeat What Works

You have a lot of options when it comes to live video. Periscope, YouTube, Facebook, and others all have their place, and I encourage you to try them all. But in the end, you’ll want to concentrate on what’s working.

If your audience loves Facebook but can’t figure out Periscope, it makes no sense to broadcast there. The same goes for length, topic choices, and day and time of broadcast. You’ll want to test all the variables, track your results, and do more of what’s working.

Here’s what you don’t need to worry about when it comes to live video: Perfection.

No one expects you to look like a cover model or to speak like a news anchor. In fact, if you do look that perfect, it might actually negatively impact your results, simply because your audience loves to feel connected to you. They know they aren’t perfect, and if you can show off your imperfections, it will help create a stronger connection.

BONUS TIP – Topic Ideas for Live Videos:

If you’re struggling to think of topics for your live videos, here are some great options to get the juices flowing!

  • Behind the scenes for your business (what goes into making your business run, how you make the things you sell, etc.)
  • How-to videos for something you’re great at
  • On-location at conferences, conventions, festivals, or fairs that relate to your business
  • Interviews with staff, other business owners in your industries, past clients, etc.
  • How your product or service solves problems (read this to learn how to identify your potential client’s problems a.k.a. pain points)

No matter if your video is impromptu or planned and no matter the topic, the one thing you absolutely must remember is to be yourself. It’s usually quite obvious when someone is pretending or trying hard to be something they’re not, and you are amazing and have so much to offer the world. So just be you and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Lessons Learned: What a Lost Client Really Tells You

We’ve all lost clients. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s theirs. Sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control.

But no matter the reason, there is something to be learned from a lost client. A system to review lost clients will help keep your business improving and growing.

Exit Interview

Typically done when you leave a job, an exit interview is also a great way to review what went right—and what went wrong—during your working relationship with a client. You’ll want to review:

  • What specific advice, service, or tools worked for them
  • What specific advice, service, or tools did not work for them
  • Any personality conflicts
  • Why they decided to move on moving on

This is not the time to get defensive. Be open to their criticism (if there is any) and use the information to genuinely improve your business.

Be Honest With Yourself

One of the most common reasons for client loss is that the customer is simply not a good fit. Maybe you suspected it when they signed up, or maybe not, but now that they have moved on, ask yourself:

  • What signs were there that they were not the right fit?
  • Why did you ignore any signs that were present?
  • How can you use that information to protect yourself from a less-than-ideal client in the future?

If you can identify a bad match from the start and decline the work (or better still, refer them to another colleague who is a good fit) you’ll find you have a lot less stress in your day-to-day business.

Misunderstandings

Sometimes, client loss is as simple as a lack of understanding on your client’s part. Do you clearly state:

  • The schedule of calls/emails
  • The timeline for project completion with milestones
  • Review and feedback process
  • Length of your contract
  • Any other project-specific information that can be easily misunderstood (PRO TIP: if you’re struggling to think of what might be misunderstood by a client, run through the entire “onboarding” process with a close friend or family member. Just remember to remove any personal info about your client if you’re using a real project as a test scenario.)

Do you also have a system for staying in touch with a client who has gone quiet? Sometimes all it takes is a quick phone call, email, or text message to get your wayward client back on track. Many business relationships have been salvaged with a simple phone call or email, so if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, pick up the phone.

Here’s the bottom line: Client loss happens. But if you can learn from each client, and use that intel to improve your business, then even a lost client can be turned into new profits.

Outlandish Stunts: How to Drive a Ton of Traffic with Crazy Claims (and Have Fun Doing It!)

Here’s one sure way to build up a great following fast: do something just a little crazy.

If you’ve ever watched a reality TV show such as Married at First Sight or Survivor, then you know what a draw it can be to attempt something just a little crazy. Millions of people tune in each and every week to see what new catastrophes would befall the cast of Survivor, or what new battle would break out on someone’s wedding day on Married at First Sight.

Now imagine if you could generate that kind of traffic to your blog or website, just by attempting something off the wall.

The fact is, this is a tried and true marketing plan that companies have been doing for more than a century and you can easily do something similar in your business.

Write a Book…Or 20

When Kristen Joy of TheBookNinja.com needed a boost in traffic, she turned to the medium she knows best: Kindle publishing. Accepting a challenge from her business coach, she agreed to write and publish a new Kindle book each week for 20 weeks.

As the word spread about Kristen’s plan, her traffic grew (and grew, and grew). Why? Some people no doubt wanted to see her fail—after all, that’s really why we watched Survivor, isn’t it? But most people rightly thought that Kristen must have something important to say if she had committed to such a large project.

Nicole Dean pulled off a similar plan with her Blog World Tour. During the summer of 2009, she visited 15 blogs in 15 weeks, guest posting on the target blog for 5 straight days before moving on to the next. Did it work? Absolutely! Just like Kristen’s crazy book-writing spree, Nicole’s blog world tour gained her lots of traffic and thousands of new fans.

Stretch Yourself A Little

Now, you don’t have to write a book a week for 20 weeks or even spend the summer guest blogging. But there are plenty of things you can do to build some buzz and drive some traffic to your site. The key is to find something that would make most people say “I could never do that.” And then do it.

  • Post to your blog every day for a year
  • Post a new video to your YouTube channel every day for 90 days (check out these tips for live videos)
  • Speak at or attend one conference each month for a year

Whatever “stunt” you decide to pull off, it must have two components to be successful:

  1. It must be outside what most people would consider their comfort zone
  2. You must commit to it publicly and often—tell your list, your social media followers, your blog readers, your clients, everyone.

A challenge of this sort must have one other component as well—your absolute conviction to finish. The last thing you want is to publicly declare your intention then quietly fade out mid-way to your goal.

If you’re looking for a fun, innovative way to drive a lot of traffic to your website, and to get more eyes on your content, consider setting a big, outrageous goal for yourself. You’ll be surprised how many people turn up to watch and cheer you on, and you’ll have fun along the way. Not only that, but at the end, you’ll have lots of content you can repurpose again and again, and you will have learned a thing or two about your audience and yourself, too.

How to Have a Stress-Free Business Launch

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do now that you’ve decided to finally leave the 9-to-5 job is to add more stress to your life. Isn’t that why you decided to build your own business in the first place? You’re looking for freedom from your awful boss, nasty coworkers, and the limitations of a fixed salary.
But if you’re trading all that in for a different kind of stress that’s disguised as a business launch, what have you really gained? Before you kiss your cubicle goodbye, be sure you first build a solid foundation—and we don’t just mean business-wise.

Build a Financial Safety Net

Nothing stresses us out quite like worrying about money. Whether you’re concerned about those college tuition bills you’ll be facing in a few years, or worse, not sure how you’re going to make the rent, it’s easy to lose your business mojo. As a new business owner, you certainly don’t want money trouble casting a shadow over your entrepreneurial dream.
Before you turn in your resignation, set aside some cash in case of a rainy day. Aim for at least three months of living expenses but more is definitely better. Hopefully, you won’t need it but having some cash on hand will definitely relieve the pressure of having a new business that’s not earning its keep…yet.

Make Sure Your Family is on Board

Money troubles are bad, but there may be one thing that’s worse: an unsupportive (or downright hostile) spouse. And as any entrepreneur will tell you, not everyone understands the drive to be a business owner. In fact, most people find it pretty scary to step away from that regular paycheck to chase after a dream.
If that sounds like your special someone, don’t take it personally. They’re not making a statement about your ability. More than likely, they’re just worried about what the future holds, after all, the business launch is just the first step toward a (hopefully) long road. Do your best to understand where they’re coming from, and be sure to clearly explain your ideas, why you are confident it will work, and how you plan to cover the start-up expenses and manage the risk.
If they still aren’t on board, consider starting slow, with a part-time business while still working your day job. That will give you the opportunity to prove your idea is workable, and might just help your spouse get as excited about a business launch as you are.

Take Time for YOU

No matter what’s going on with your money, your spouse, or your business, you need to be sure to schedule some “you” time. No one can work all the time, regardless of how driven you are. And no one can stay healthy while maintaining a nonstop schedule. Go for a walk, hit the gym, get a pedicure or just binge on your favorite brainless television show. The point is simply to take time away from your desk to rest and rejuvenate. Without it, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed and stressed, even if you truly love your new business.

Now that you’ve launched, check out these 3 proven ways to market your new business and make it a success!

Email Subject Lines That Increase Your Open Rates

It’s one metric we consistently watch and try to improve: email open rates. There’s a good reason for it, too. If your subscribers aren’t opening your email, then they can’t read about:

  • Your newest coaching program
  • Your latest must-have tool discovery
  • That epic blog post you just wrote

The trouble is, you only have about two seconds to entice a reader to open your email. Even worse, you have to do it in ten words or less.
Yikes! That’s a pretty tall order, even for seasoned copywriters. But there are some simple tricks you can use with your email subject lines.

Be Ambiguous

If you’ve been on Facebook lately you’ve no doubt seen those “clickbait” headlines that say things like, “She adds this to a box of Wheat Thins and I’m drooling!” The reason headlines like that work is because we can’t help but want to know what “this” is that she’s adding to her Wheat Thins. Is it sugar? Salt? Peanut butter? We imagine the possibilities, but in the end, we have to find out, so we click.
You can employ the same technique in your email subject lines. Just substitute the word “this” for the actual thing you’re writing about, and you’ve got instant enticement.

Use Numbers

Here’s another strategy for creating must-read content: numbers.
“7 Hidden Benefits of Waking Up at 5am”
“3 Unlikely Ways to Close the Sale”
“5 Social Media Platforms You Shouldn’t Be Ignoring”
The reason numbers work so well in subject lines is because we are ego-centric and curious. We simply must know if we already use those three ways to close the sale. We will either walk away feeling good for being a marketing maven, or we will have learned something. Both are compelling reasons to open an email.

Use Power Words

Just as with all writing, choosing power words is far more effective than settling for their weaker counterparts. Imagine these two subject lines appear in your inbox. Which are you more likely to open:
“WordPress Makes Better Looking Websites for Non-Designers”
or
“Create a Gorgeous Website—Even if You’re Not a Designer”
While both subjects offer the same information, the first is weak, while the second is far more compelling.

When it comes to email subjects, there are a few more tips to keep in mind if you want to up your open rates:

  • Keep it short – no more than 10 words at the very most, and fewer if you can.
  • Test everything. Use your autoresponder’s split-testing functionality to see which subject line styles perform best in your market.
  • Use personalization, but sparingly. Occasional use of your reader’s first name can be a powerful technique.

Here’s the bottom line: If your subscribers aren’t opening your email, they’re not buying. Paying closer attention to your email subject lines is the single most important thing you can do for your email marketing campaigns.

Generate More Sales and Repeat Customers With Automation

As any smart business owner knows, the key to passive income is a well-established (and full) funnel.
So of course you’ve optimized your opt-in pages and monetized your download pages and encourage more buyers through well-placed upsells and downsells.

Well done! But what about the follow-up?

Do you contact customers about the products or services they didn’t buy? Do you encourage them to use the products they have purchased? Are you making sure they know about all your other wonderful programs?
If not, you’re missing the boat. But the good news is, this can be easily managed with just a bit of simple automation, and when done right, it will smoothly lead your customers from one purchase to the next, at the exact right time for them to take advantage of your best offers.

Segment Your Audience

Many autoresponder services allow you to target emails based on reader action. Want to send a follow-up email to those who clicked a specific link? Create a segment and mail away. Want to re-engage with those who haven’t opened your emails in a while? Easy to do, and you can potentially recover subscribers who have gone missing.
In more sophisticated systems you can dig even deeper, and move people from one series to another based on their buying habits. That way you’ll never promote a product a reader already owns. Not only that, but you’ll always be able to offer the very best next thing, no matter where a subscriber is in your funnel.

Still another way to segment your list is according to what they do not buy. If a subscriber has been on a list where you’re promoting your top-level coaching program, and she has not yet purchased, it may simply be too expensive for her at this time. Consider moving these readers to an autoresponder series promoting a lower cost option instead.

All of these tactics require that you know your audience and your products exceptionally well. Study your stats. Know your open and click rates. Pay attention to the promotions that work, as well as those that fall flat. With that information in hand, you’ll be better able to effectively segment your lists and make the most of all the parts of your funnel.

Pain Points: What You Must Know About Your Potential Clients

How well do you know your potential clients?
Chances are you’ve developed at least a simple client avatar. You know their business, their age, their income, and education levels. You know where they live and how many kids they have and what their biggest dreams are.
But do you really know what drives them?
We’re not talking about just what they want (we all want more money and free time) but more importantly, you need to know what their biggest pain points are. Figure this out, and you’ll not only be able to better create programs to help them, but your sales copy will dramatically improve as well.

What are Pain Points?

Think about it—if you’re uncomfortable with technology, and once in a DIY mood you destroyed your website during a simple update, then website management becomes a huge pain point for you. Now imagine you find a VA who not only works with WordPress but who calmly shares examples of how they’ve rescued client websites after such disasters.
They’ve clearly addressed your biggest pain point, and you’re sold!
The same is true for your potential clients. Show them you can help them avoid those pain points—or better yet, eliminate them completely—and you’ll forge an instant bond.

How to Identify Pain Points

Now you may already have a good idea of what causes your clients pain, but if not, you have plenty of ways to find out.

  • Talk to them. What do they most often ask or complain about?
  • Listen in on forums, on social media, and other places your audience hangs out. What are they struggling with?
  • Reader surveys. These can be a rich source of information in any market. Pay special attention to the words and phrases your readers use to describe their troubles.
  • Keep an eye on your competition. What pain points are they addressing?

Once you’ve uncovered your ideal client’s biggest pain points, you’ll have a powerful tool that you can use not only in your sales copy, but to also help define your programs and service offerings. If you can help your clients overcome the most painful issues they face—whether it’s a lack of self-confidence or a fear of public speaking—you’ll instantly become a more valuable resource in your niche.
And when you incorporate those same pain points in your sales copy, your conversions will dramatically increase as well.

Copywriting 101: Features vs. Benefits in Sales Copy (And How to Know the Difference)

If there’s one thing that confuses and frustrates new (and even seasoned) copywriters when writing sales copy it’s the not-always-obvious features and benefits. (Are you thinking “I’m not a copywriter, so why should I care?” Trust me, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably a copywriter.)
We want to share all the great things about our new coaching program, so we say things like:

  • 6-week self-study course
  • Includes workbooks and live training
  • Members’ only discounts

While these are all good points, they’re pretty bland. That’s because they’re features, not benefits. They tell us about the program but not why we should buy it.
Benefits, on the other hand, tell us the “so what” of features.
“6-week self-study course.” So what? Why should your reader care?

  • Because they’re busy and need to work on their own schedule, not yours.
  • Because they’ve already studied shorter, less comprehensive courses and need more in-depth information.
  • Because they prefer to learn on their own, not in a group.
    “Includes workbooks and live training.” So what? What are the benefits of workbooks and live training?

  • Your student can put what they learn into action with workbooks.
  • They can get their specific questions answered during live training.
  • They can work through complex issues with the help of the group.

As you can see, benefits go much further than simple attributes, such as length and format. They show your prospective client not only what’s in the program, but why the product is exactly right for them, at this specific moment in their life and career.

Use Features and Benefits to Compliment Each Other

Features and benefits work together in sales copy as two halves of a statement, like this:
“6-week self-study course so you can learn at your own pace when it’s convenient for you.”
In fact, this powerful feature/benefit combo is often the basis for the bullet points you see in sales copy, and the format of them makes them easy to write, too.

How to Write the Feature/Benefit Combo

Simply list all the features of your product, then for each one, ask yourself “Why?” Why should the reader care? But don’t stop there. Dig deeper to uncover “the why behind the why” and you’ll soon be crafting truly irresistible sales pages that convert far better than you expect. In the above example, the why behind the why might be, “so you don’t have to spend family time on webinars that have been scheduled to benefit someone else.”
Now not only is your prospective client working at their own pace but they’re also freeing up time to spend with her family. That’s a great benefit they won’t find with most courses.

It’s easy to list all the features of your product or coaching program, but far more difficult to uncover the benefits that will drive sales. When you truly understand the difference though, it will become easier, and your sales will reflect the change in your copy.