How A Freelance Developer Can Protect Your Website Against Cyber Attacks

Guest post by Cody McBride of Tech Deck

The business world is moving online, and this increased access to the digital world makes your company susceptible to cyber attacks. Sensitive data and financial information is an attractive target for cybercriminals. Regardless of whether you are a large business owner or an individual, protecting your website against cyber attacks should be a priority.

Is Your Business A Target?

In 2021 Yahoo Finance predicts there will be 65000 ransomware attacks on businesses. Cyber Security Statistics states that cybercrime is up 600% since the COVID-19 Pandemic, with scammers posing as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) representatives.

The effects of cybercrime are far-reaching. A cyber attack can have a financial cost, it can result in loss of sales and customers, and have a detrimental effect on brand loyalty. A Deloitte study states that one-third of customers would withdraw consent to use their information if they didn’t perceive steps were in place to prevent intruders from stealing their information.

Cybercriminals are constantly developing new ways to access your information and funds. There are many ways in which your website can be breached.

  • Infecting your site with ransomware
  • Redirecting your visitors to a different site
  • Hijacking software
  • Stealing intellectual property
  • Bringing your site down

How To Protect Your Website From Cyber Attacks

There are several steps you can put in place to protect your website against cyberattacks, or to retrieve data if you have been hacked:

  • Backup Your Data
    If you are subjected to a cyberattack, ensure that you have your data stored in a separate location so you can restore files. Backups should be done daily and server backups weekly or monthly.
  • Choose A Reputable Web Host
    Choose a website host that offers backup and actively works to update software to prevent cyber attacks. A good web hosting provider will monitor your site for unusual behaviour and anomalies that may indicate a hacker.
  • Install An SSL On Your Website
    A certificate for an SSL (Security Socket Layer) is easily installed via most web hosts. An SSL will let you manage personal information securely and guard your website against attacks.
  • Update Software
    Software updates often include important security upgrades designed to protect against cyber attacks. Many programmes allow you to set up automatic updates but check updates weekly to be safe.
  • Install Antivirus And Security Software
    Install security software that includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam filters. Malware or viruses can infect your computers, laptops, and mobile devices.
  • Set Up A Firewall
    A firewall works as a gatekeeper to keep traffic coming to your website, thereby helping to protect your internal networks.
  • Encrypt Important Information
    Turn on your network encryption and encrypt data when stored or sent online. Encryption turns your data into unreadable code before it is sent over the internet.
  • Learn To Recognise Suspicious Activities
    An off-sounding email, a request for personal information, or unauthorized connections can all indicate that someone is trying to hack your site.

Hire A Professional To Protect Your Site

The above details can be overwhelming, but it is important to make sure that your website is set up correctly. Unless you’re a guru, the recommendation is to hire a professional to assist you with your hardware, software, and procedures. Freelance developers like Steady Radiance Design can do the hard work for you and give you peace of mind that your site is secure.

Before employing anyone make sure you speak to at least 3 candidates and look carefully at their previous reviews. Consider their delivery time and cost; cheapest is not always best, as reputation and recommendations are the best measures of success.

Install Physical Security

Software, hardware, and policies that keep trouble at bay are a great start, but your devices themselves can also be stolen and hacked. Keep your electronics secure when you’re out and about, carrying them on your person and not leaving them unattended. If you leave a device in your vehicle, be sure to lock the doors, and consider stashing it safely in your trunk. Similarly, adding a security system to your home or office can help prevent theft.

Cyber attacks are a sad reality of the digital world. Most online businesses will be subject to a cyber attack at some point. Herrodtech states that 50% of small businesses suffered a security breach in 2020. Large or small, if you have an investment in content or data online, you need to put safeguards in to protect your property.

Take your business to the next level, with marketing, graphics, and branding from Steady Radiance Design! Get in touch today.

Image via Unsplash

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.

Get Seen, Get Traffic: Three Ways to Borrow Someone Else’s Audience

Ask nearly anyone who runs an online business what their biggest struggle is, and chances are they’ll say “more traffic.”
You need traffic to build an email list.
You need traffic to make sales.
You need traffic to fill your coaching programs.
So the big question is, where do you get all that traffic?
Sure, you could buy ads, but if you aren’t careful, you might just fill your list with less-than-ideal audience members and that will do nothing for your sales. You could focus your time and energy on search engine optimization but unless you have years to build your business (and who does?) then SEO should not be your top choice.
Good thing you have other options.

Be a Guest

Everyone needs content. It’s the one thing that remains consistent among all content creators—there is never enough. That’s where you can help.
By guest posting on other coaches’ blogs, you can “borrow” some of their traffic.
You can’t simply regurgitate old content and send it out in a dozen directions though. To get the best results, you’ll want to:

  • Create custom content designed with your host’s unique audience in mind.
  • Provide stellar value with actionable ideas and strategies not found everywhere else.
  • Inject your personality so those new to you will instantly connect with you.
  • Offer a compelling reason to click through to your website or blog for more information.

Partner Up

No list? Here’s a quick way to “borrow” someone else’s list to kickstart your own: Schedule a free event with a partner.
Here’s how it works.

  1. You (as the one with the small list) create a compelling, free training which leads naturally to a low-cost, no-brainer product.
  2. Install an affiliate tracking system such as aMember, Infusionsoft or 1Shopping Cart.
  3. Offer your best affiliates a higher percentage of profits in exchange for co-hosting your webinar and bringing their traffic along for the ride. (Don’t have affiliates yet? Check out this article for how to find affiliate partners!)

This is a win/win for both of you, as you gain the traffic while your affiliate gets a bigger payday. Just be sure you have a good funnel in place so that your new list members can benefit from all that you have to offer.

Get Interviewed

Want to really show off your expert status and bring traffic back to your site, too? The easiest way is to get on the interview circuit. Just like authors with new books and actors with new movies, coaches and service providers can get in front of new audiences simply by answering questions about what they know.
Of course, you’re probably not going to appear on the Today Show or Oprah (although that’s not impossible), but there are still plenty of opportunities out there for coaches and consultants in every niche.
Look for interview and speaking opportunities on:

  • Podcasts
  • Other blogs
  • YouTube
  • Periscope and Blab
  • Local events
  • Industry conferences
  • Telesummits

Start by reaching out to your colleagues and to podcast and blog hosts you most admire. Get the word out with your friends and your list that you’re looking for opportunities.
Even if you don’t yet have a list of your own, it’s easy (and fun) to kickstart your audience growth simply by making yourself available for these and other opportunities. Each guest post, podcast interview and webinar is another chance to get in front of a whole new market, so take advantage of it!

Common Mistakes That Send Affiliate Partners Running

Affiliate Partners are a huge asset for any coach or product seller. They’re the ones who are out there singing your praises, spreading the word about your services, and helping you reach a larger audience than you could on your own. Not only that, but they generously lend their good name and reputation to your business, so it makes sense that you want to treat them as well as possible.
But there are some mistakes that product sellers make over and over again that will frustrate and even turn your potential affiliates away. Here’s how to fix them.

No Promotional Calendar

Busy entrepreneurs are obsessive planners. They know they need to produce content, mail their lists, create products, speak at events, and all the other marketing tasks that go with owning a business. They very likely maintain a calendar that helps them stay focused and on track. If you want them to promote you, it’s a good idea to publish your own promotional calendar so they know what’s coming up.
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and it doesn’t have to stretch for weeks or months ahead, but it should give them a bit of notice about upcoming launches so they can work your products into their schedule.

Launching Without Them

Got a big product launch coming up? Excellent! But don’t even think about launching without your affiliates on board. Your lists most likely have some overlap, and promoting to your list before you allow affiliates to mail will result in lost sales for them—and angry affiliates who won’t be anxious to promote you again.

Stealing Their Sales

This should go without saying, but if you’re considering creating your own affiliate link for your products, stop. Mailing your list or posting on Facebook with your own affiliate link will—in most systems—result in your promotions overriding those of your affiliates. In short, you’ll be stealing their sales, and no affiliate partner will want to promote you after that.
If you need a tracking link, there are far better ways to go about it than to create an affiliate link in your own system.

Slow Pay

No excuse is ever good enough for failing to pay your affiliates on time. If you promise to pay monthly, then you must make that a priority. It’s never okay to “borrow” from your affiliate payments to cover an unexpected bill or take advantage of an opportunity. To do so is bad form, bad karma, and will give you a reputation for unreliability.

Your affiliate partners are some of your most precious assets. Treat them as such, and they will return the favor with increased sales, more leads, and plenty of social love.

7 Surprising Places You’re Using Copywriting (And You Probably Don’t Realize It)

When you hear the word “copywriting” do you immediately think of long sales pages, squeeze pages, and unwanted bulk mail?
You’re not alone in that thinking, but the fact is, copywriting is more than just sales messages. In fact, as an online business owner, most of the content you produce could be called copywriting at least in some sense. After all, if you’re creating content with the ultimate goal of selling something, that is by definition copywriting.

  1. Facebook

    Sure we all like to hang out on Facebook and chat with friends, catch up on the latest funny videos, and enjoy a mindless “quiz” or two. But for business owners, Facebook is much more than that. It’s a place to connect with potential clients, and that means that when you’re sharing your latest blog post or program with your business friends, you have to keep good copywriting in mind.

  2. LinkedIn Profile

    What makes you stand out from the other business owners in your niche? Your LinkedIn profile is where you share what makes you the best person to solve your ideal client’s problems. It’s where you shout about your credentials and let your ego run the show. Think of your LinkedIn profile like a resume, and be sure to list your most impressive credentials.

  3. About Page

    Here’s your chance to have some fun while blowing your own horn. It’s important to know that the about page is often the most visited page on a website, so it’s a critical piece of your overall brand and message. The purpose of your about page is to entice people to want to learn more about your services, so be sure to include a call to action on the page. Have some fun with this page too. It’s the perfect place to let your personality shine!

  4. Blog Posts

    All blog posts have a job to do. Maybe they’re meant to lead your reader to a sales page. Perhaps you’re asking for readers to subscribe to your mailing list. Maybe your blog post is designed to start a conversation. Or maybe it’s just sharing great content and inviting readers to learn more by clicking on related posts. Whatever the job, it’s copywriting that entices your reader to take that next action.

  5. Twitter

    Two hundred and eighty characters is precious little space for creating compelling content, yet that’s exactly what you must do if you hope to use Twitter as part of your overall marketing strategy. Think of tweets like email subject lines, and craft them to convey as much information as possible while still enticing readers to take action.

  • Email

    Whether you’re sending an email about a new product or service or simply letting readers know you have a new blog post up, your email definitely qualifies as copywriting. In fact, even the personal emails you send to prospective clients contain what we would call copywriting.

  • The fact is, copywriting is everywhere in your business, from your sales pages to your invoices. Whenever you ask a reader to take some action, you’re writing copy, and the more comfortable with the idea of it, the better (and more natural) you’ll become.

    The Art of the Soft Sell: How to Get the Click on Your Sales Page Without (Really) Asking for It

    We’ve all seen those old-style sales pages filled with yellow highlights and screaming red text and lots of “BUY NOW” buttons, and when we think of copywriting, that’s often what comes to mind. While that style of sales page can be effective, it’s not the only way to make sales.
    In fact, by taking a more subtle approach, you might even find that you generate more interest—and potentially more sales.

    Stories Sell

    One effective way to entice readers to click through to your sales page is with stories. These can be your stories or those of other people, with the goal of helping your readers to see themselves in the same situation.
    Did you help a client turn her chaotic household into a calm oasis with better organizational skills? Her story on your sales page will get more clicks than all the yellow highlights you can buy.
    What about that time you trashed your entire business plan and started over because you simply weren’t passionate about your work? Your potential business coaching clients will be anxious to learn more and will click through without you even asking.
    That’s the power of stories, and you can use them everywhere: in your blog posts, in your emails, on your sales pages, and even in videos and on social media.

    Be Genuinely Helpful

    Want to build a reputation as the go-to person in your niche? All it takes is to help people. Answer questions on social media, volunteer to speak to groups who need your advice, write blog posts that address the most common issues your readers face.
    By volunteering your time and knowledge, you’ll attract a wide audience of potential customers who may need your services in the future. Who will they turn to? That very helpful person who went out of their way to offer assistance in the past.
    Now we’re not saying you have to give away all your time, but if you really want to show off your expertise, you can’t do better than a little volunteer work. Not only will you make an impression with the person you help. But chances are good they’ll share with their friends as well, further expanding your audience.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that there is no place in your business for a strong call to action. “Click here to buy” and “Learn more right now” are still useful (and even necessary) on sales and opt-in pages. The key is to know when to make a subtle offer, and when to offer a bit more hand-holding.

    Quick and Easy Tweaks to Automate Your Sales Funnel

    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

    When it comes to leveraging your time, automation is the sharpest tool in your toolbox. It allows you to get more done in less time, and to smoothly move people through your sales funnel.

    For many small business owners, though, that’s one area that’s often overlooked is your website.

    Use Your Blog to Build Your Mailing List

    Like any smart business owner, you likely have opt-in forms on your website. They’re in the sidebar or maybe the footer, and you might have a pop-up to capture attention as visitors are about to leave. (If you aren’t using pop-ups, you should be! Here’s my favorite WordPress plugin for pop-ups.)

    But do you have a solid call to action at the end of your blog posts? When a new reader is finished consuming your posts, are they primed to learn more? Give them the opportunity by offering an opt-in at the end of each post.

    Even better, make it a logical next step by creating a related offer for each post. Called a content upgrade, these offers typically consist of a simple checklist or worksheet and capture attention by providing even more information about a topic they’re already interested in. You can even customize the forms on each blog post with tags so you can target them further in your sales funnel.

    Keep Them Reading With Related Links

    How often do you revisit old blog posts to link to newer content? This is an important maintenance job that will help provide visitors with the information they’re looking for by linking related posts together.

    Not only is this strategy good for keeping visitors on your site, but Google approves as well. Posts that link to each other encourage search engine bots to crawl your site more thoroughly and help boost the rankings of your most relevant posts.

    [Hint: This is a perfect job for your VA.]

    Make the Best of Your Download Pages

    Whether you’re giving away a free report or paid product, your download pages can pull double-duty by offering visitors a “what’s next” option. For free download pages, a related, low-cost product is best. It gives readers the chance to learn more about you with a small investment.

    For paid products, consider offering a complementary product instead. If you’re protecting your download pages with a membership script, you can even offer upsells based on what they already own, making the choice even easier for them.

    And if you’re using a double-opt-in mailing list, make use of that confirmation page, too! That’s the perfect place for a quick upsell or an invitation to join you in your Facebook group or weekly Periscope.

    Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow on your website: Whenever a reader lands on a page, she should be offered the next logical step. When you write your blog posts or create your download pages, keep that in mind, and your sales funnel will practically fill itself.

    The Importance of a Mobile-Friendly Website (Infographic)

    Ensuring that your website is responsive (mobile-friendly) should be the top thing on your marketing to-do list. Check out the statistics and the mobile-friendly website infographic below to learn why! (click here to go straight to the infographic)

    64% of small businesses currently have a website. Of those websites, 81% mobile-friendly. (Clutch)

    As the number of mobile-friendly sites increases, the demand for your small business site to be mobile-friendly also increases.

    Mobile online traffic is increasing; since 2013, online traffic has increased by 36%. (Statista)

    With such a drastic increase in traffic, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is no longer optional. If you have a website that’s not responsive (mobile-friendly), you could be missing out on more than half of online traffic (52.2%).

    80% of internet users are also smartphone users. (TDA)

    Only 20% of people who use the internet do not own a smartphone. That means that your industry and target market are most likely already smartphone users, so making your website responsive would only improve the experience of your current and potential customers.

    Response time plays a big role in abandoned visits, with 53% of mobile website visits being abandoned if the site doesn’t load within 3 seconds. (TDA)

    Making your website responsive and optimized for mobile-devices means faster load times and better user experiences on your website when it’s viewed on a mobile device.

     

    Check out the mobile-friendly website infographic below. We welcome you to use this infographic on your website or other marketing materials, provided you include a link back to our website (www.steadyradiancedesign.com).

    Mobile-Friendly Website Infographic

    We welcome you to use this infographic on your website or in other marketing materials, provided you include a link back to our website (www.steadyradiancedesign.com).

    If you do use it, please tell us on Facebook or Twitter where and how you used it. We’d love to see it!

    Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.

    What You Can Do While You’re Waiting For Your Business Website

    You’re a small business owner. You know you need a business website and you know you need it now (if you don’t know you need it, check out these reasons why every small business needs a website). But there’s a problem…maybe your website won’t be up and running for a couple weeks, maybe you don’t have the budget to make a website now, or maybe you don’t know where to start at all (start here). Regardless of the reason why you don’t have a website yet, while you’re waiting for your business website to be a reality, there are some things you can do.

    Read more