Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Re-Design

Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Re-Design

Pink & gold flatlay desk

Are You Tired Of Looking A The Same Old Tired Website?

When you visit other websites are you green with envy?

I get it! I love color, all colors, and when I come across a pretty new color palette or an amazing font comes across my desk I start designing in my mind automatically and before I know it I’m putting the changes on my own sites or those of my clients.

I’m going to tell you a secret…

I can trust you, right?

I don’t always practice what I preach! SSHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone, but I struggle with branding because I get bored so easily. You’ve heard me and a whole lot of other experts tell you that consistent branding is necessary for brand recognition, but nobody tells you that IT’S SO DAMN HARD!!!

I’m constantly experimenting and if I could spend my days making graphics I would. That’s my favorite thing in the whole world! Speaking of…Did you know my DIY BLOGGING/TRAVEL site WanderingWebDesigner is having a grand opening sale and now until Jul 31st you can get 30 custom graphics for $30!!! That is a hell of a deal 50% off of the regular price! Better hurry though this amazing offer ends 7-31-19. If you looking for web design tips, travel recommendations, or your just trying to figure it all out by yourself then this is the site for you!

Anyway, back to branding. I get bored easily so changing out designs for graphics or website graphics seems like a necessity to keep my business looking fresh and user-friendly. I love pretty pictures (can you tell) so whenever something catches my eye I have to have it. I have a fabulous subscription to Styled Stock Society where I get all of my images exclusively for this site. I pay a small fee once a year and every month I get so excited to see the new images in the library and there’s no limit. As you can see I’m a huge fan of the flat lay desktops.

The best place to find professional images, videos or music for your website or social media is Shutterstock. You’ll find anything you’re looking for from foodies to fashion. You can use free sites like Pixabay or Unsplash, but free doesn’t always cut it when you need to create consistent & professional branding. As a special gift to you, they are going to give you a 10% discount just for being a loyal reader! Use this link and bump your game up!

Best professional stock images on the market.

Choosing the right imagery & graphics is just as important, if not more important than copywriting, color palettes & font choices. When creating a brand you want your ideal customer to feel a certain type of way when they see your content. Let’s face it, today’s world moves at warp speed and we need to keep up. People no longer read, they visualize and scan so having the right imagery is really the only way we have to stand out and grab attention.

For example, I want my clients here on The Blogging 911 to feel confident & empowered. The way I accomplish this is by connecting the technology to run their businesses and setting up system automation to save time & money while giving their clients & customers great user experience. I work with mostly females because I love what I do so much & I want you to love what you do just as much. It’s life-changing. For me to be a success you need to be successful.

So, Why Is It The Perfect Time For A Re-Design You Ask?

Because when you purchase our design or branding package you don’t just get a fresh, modern look. You get the full experience where you’re in the driver’s seat to your own destiny. Right now, I’m throwing in a lot of Summer bonuses that don’t normally come with the design/branding package.

  • A full video tutorial teaching you how to use your new site + a Skype session to answer any additional questions. ($150 value)
  • You know that you’re building on one of the best website frameworks on the market thrown in at NO EXTRA COST! ($60.00 Value)
  • Your choice of child themes from StudioPress from my theme library (A $49.99 to $149.99 Value).
  • Things like SSL Certificates are always included. Provided by Bluehost.
  • You also get one full year membership to the website maintenance plan ($149.99 value) so that you can use your new website knowing that someone is there to help, to answer your questions, to keep the site updated and backed up. To hold your hand through the whole process for A WHOLE YEAR!!! Who does that?!?

It’s like having an insurance policy for your website!

You won’t have to:

  • Worry about conflicting plugins.
  • Worry about backing up your site.
  • Worry about updating WordPress.
  • Worry about backing up your theme.
  • Worry about backing up your plugins.
  • Worry about optimizing your database on a monthly basis.
  • Worry about running a monthly malware scan twice a month.

If you’re new to WordPress you will receive a detailed video explaining the various parts of your new website and best practices when it comes to using it. Even if you’ve used WordPress you might like to watch it and maybe find out things that you didn’t know.

Another reason now is a great time for a redesign is because we’re in the Summer Slumps, those few months every Summer where people have nothing on their minds but spending time with family & friends, enjoying vacations, or just lounging by the pool! Get ready for the busy holiday seasons now. Create a plan from publishing new content to creating a sales funnel, email sequence or setting up a shopping cart & Facebook ads.

I only work with one client at a time so that I can give them a 100% personal service. So you better hurry, spots fill up fast! A re-design is more cost-efficient than a build because the foundation is already there which means it costs less & takes less time than a standard web design/branding package. Turn around is generally 2 weeks instead of the 4 to 6 weeks it takes to build out from scratch.

Pageviews always decrease during the Summer months.

Which means it’s a perfect time to freshen up that website, dust off the cobwebs, add a much-needed enhancement, upgrade your website security, or just move things around. It’s the perfect time to put a content marketing plan in place.

I’d love to talk to you about your ideas, dreams or wishes! Need something other than web design? Need to connect analytics or maybe set up an email sequence? Check out the shop over at WanderingWebDesigner.com

Right now I’m offering a web design/branding package for over half off the usual pricing! This is for established websites only.

Get a consistent, beautiful new look that will be shared across all platforms.

Have you been dreaming of carving out a brand for your products or services that will turn sales on autopilot!

You better hurry!

I don’t know how long I can afford to keep this pricing!

$500

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase I will earn a small commission. It will in no way affect your pricing.

 

 

How To Hide Images In Your Blog Post & Why You Should

How To Hide Images In Your Blog Post & Why You Should

Pinterest is by far my most favorite social media platform even though it’s no longer called a “social platform” per say. They want to be known as a search engine just like Google only more visual. It makes sense because I do search for lots of things from inspiration to Photoshop tips & tutorials, but it is also social so maybe they should be known as a “social search engine”.

No matter what you call it, certain niches get most of their traffic from Pinterest and lately there have been lots of changes that you may not know about. Did you know that Pinterest keeps a list of companies that it partners with to allow bloggers or business owners to automate their blog posts and if you’ve been using Boardbooster, like me, you may be in trouble.

Boardbooster is not on this list of partners and according to a very reliable source(JackieIson.com), any accounts using it are subject to suspension or termination. I have used Boardbooster for the last year, and this broke my heart because I loved so much about it, but I couldn’t take the chance and canceled my subscription.

If you use Tailwind you can breathe a sigh of relief because it is on the list, along with Buffer & Hootesuite. Here’s the link to the full list if you’d like to check it out. I’m hoping that Boardbooster accepts Pinterest’s terms of use and we can all go back to a great tool!

As you know Pinterest is a visual search engine and if you sell a product or service you really need to use it to its full potential. Pinning consistently is one way to do that. Jackie Ison created the 2018 Blogger’s Guide To Pinterest which you can see by going to the link above.

Today, though, I want to talk about why you should hide images for Pinterest in your blog posts. This is new to me and something I’ve been doing a few posts at a time. Taylor from CodeLoveCreative.com says, “One way to encourage people to save your post on Pinterest is to give them options for which pinnable image to save.”

If you look at this image you can see when you click on the Pinterest icon to save my post “The Essential Guide To Stock Images” you have several images to choose from.

The Essential Stock Image Guide The Blogging 911 (1)

When you look at the post you only see one image because it would look weird with three or four large Pinterest-sized images in your blog posts! Please don’t do that! It’s very simple to hide your images. You just need to put in a piece of CSS.

The first thing you’re going to do is to create your post and then after you save it click over to the text view. You will find that above your blog post in one of two tabs that say “Visual/Text”. You need to put the code in wherever you want to hide the image.

If you don’t do it correctly or use too many it will slow down your site speed which can hurt your SEO. Because Google penalizes for slow site speeds, especially on mobile.

<div style=”display: none;”><img src=”[image url]”></div>

This is the correct way to do it! Just upload the image grab the URL and put where it says,
[IMAGE URL] and that’s all there is to it.

Do you think this is something that you will use?

Best Blogging Practices for Citizens Reporting on Natural Disasters

Best Blogging Practices for Citizens Reporting on Natural Disasters

Today I would like to welcome guest writer, Avery Phillips to The Blogging 911. With all of the natural disasters this country has faced in the last few years, the need for citizen reports has increased with the use of technology. The balancing of news & compassion is a very thin line and she’s here to explain the best practices for citizen reporting.

An inordinate number of natural disasters have occurred in the past year, including wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes, and have created an intense need for reporters to cover the events of the affected areas. Journalists can help bring attention to stories of long-time residents displaced from their homes, occurrences of small incidents that could lead to larger problems if left unattended, and other incidents that leave people in need of help.

When disaster strikes, technology can help thousands of lives by allowing people to communicate. For example, millions of Tweets were posted about events such as Hurricane Sandy, and there is even a correlation between a higher number of Tweets and better aid. It can be difficult to find a journalistic approach when reporting on victims of natural disasters, but if approached correctly and tastefully, it can be beneficial to affected areas and for your blog. Here are some of the best practices for citizens taking on the endeavor.

Know Your Role

Covering the aftermath of affected areas is important to bring attention to victims and help provide them with aid, and it can also get more eyes on your website — but it can be difficult to undertake such a sensitive subject. There are a few key things to keep in mind when you find yourself reporting on a natural disaster.

The most important one is to keep yourself safe. There are enough people getting hurt or in need of help in disaster situations. Not only is it bad for you to be in a dangerous situation, there are likely already enough people waiting for aid. If you put yourself in danger, you are only making the problem worse. Remember, the main point is to help — not make the problem worse.

Similarly, respect for the community should be taken seriously; even volunteering in the wake of a natural disaster comes with pros and cons. You don’t necessarily need to get directly involved with relief efforts unless you have the capability to, but be aware of the emotional condition of those around you. Voyeurism in the wake of disasters harbors negative emotional impacts.

Blog With Compassion

While it’s not necessary to get involved with relief efforts, it is possible to provide support in simple ways that complement your mission. It is surprising how devoid of basic human understanding and sympathy people can feel in the wake of a natural disaster. As a reporting citizen, it’s part of your obligation to provide emotional support while getting your story.

While responders such as social workers play critical roles during disaster relief, all disaster responders themselves are in need of compassion and understanding themselves. They are likely to be relieved to have a conversation with a human being without a political or corporate agenda. Sharing a conversation with them may also be the key to getting a clear perspective of a local story or situation.

Another way to portray the events that are going on is through photography. Pictures can be a great way to tell a story without being presumptuous or creating any misconceptions. Though there are many ways to tell a story, you don’t necessarily need to use words to do so.

Get On Their Level

Coinciding with the ongoing natural disasters are the soaring costs of housing, healthcare, and everyday living expenses that have caused many Americans to live on the road in RVs. This has created another potential dilemma for victims, as it can be difficult to sustain living in RVs.

Besides there being intensive upkeep for RVs, such as RV winterization, natural disasters can be cause for more headaches to RV owners. For example, Hurricane Irma caused many RV park closures, essentially leaving residents homeless.

Perhaps the best way to get an authentic angle on a piece is to get the same perspective as those you are reporting on. One option to achieve this, if you plan on traveling to an affected area, is to travel in an RV. While this option may not be viable in all cases, such as going to an area with no open RV parks, it illustrates the point that putting yourself in victim’s shoes can be a great way to get an authentic story.

You can also look for business angles, like how to get your business back on track after a natural disaster. Of course, you will likely find your inspiration when you’re down there. Giving an authentic perspective is one great way to be shareable, as readers look for real content that goes beyond advertorial fluff and clickbait. Telling the human story and practicing compassionate listening can go a long way, not only for your site but also for the victims.

Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

Website Security 101: Keeping Your Site Safe From Hackers

Website Security 101: Keeping Your Site Safe From Hackers

WORDPRESS 101: HOW TO KEEP YOUR WEBSITE SAFE FROM HACKERS

Are 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. Here’s another great website security resource my friend over at CloudLiving.com created a terrific guide called: WordPress Security: The Ultimate Guide To Secure Your Website In 2018.

Keep Your Site Up to Date

This is by far the biggest risk when it comes to 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.

Updates are one of those things that most people know are important…but most people also quickly forget about.

Don’t be like most people.

WordPress has put in so many features to make updates easy. In fact, nowadays all you need to do is click a button and WordPress does everything for you.

If you’re not sure how it works, you just look for the red icons

update notifications

Then, you can go to Dashboard → Updates and run all your updates at once:

run updates

A Few Notes On Updates:

  • If you hold off on updates because you’re worried they might break your site…stop doing that. Instead, pick a host with a staging site feature so that you can quickly test on your staging site and then push the update live once you know it won’t break anything.
  • If you can’t check your WordPress dashboard that often, you can use the WP Updates Notifier plugin to get email notifications when there’s a new plugin or theme update.

Follow Good Plugin And Theme Best PracticesThe great thing about using WordPress is how easy it is to extend your site with themes and plugins.

The bad thing about WordPress security is how easy it is to extend your site with themes and plugins.

That is, because it’s become so easy to install new themes and plugins, most people do it without thinking.

But as I showed you above, plugin and theme vulnerabilities are a huge attack vector.

I’m not trying to stop you from installing new extensions, you just need to be discerning about which extensions you actually install:

  • Use trusted sources. While this won’t solve all problems, if you stick to extensions at WordPress.org or trusted third-party developers/marketplaces, you’re going to eliminate most issues.
  • Don’t use nulled plugins. Yeah, I know you’re on a budget…but it’s not worth it to install the nulled plugin that might have malicious code added. Just find a free alternative if you can’t afford it.
  • Check for known vulnerabilitiesWPVulnDB does a good job of collecting these. Note that most of these vulnerabilities get fixed – so check whether or not the developer has addressed it before you write the plugin off.
  • Read the reviews. Reviews are a great spot to see if any existing users have experienced any security issues.
  • Read the support forums, too. Support forums can also help you spot issues. Better yet, they also let you see how responsive the developer is to issues, which is another helpful piece of information.
  • Delete unused plugins/themes. Even if you disable a plugin or theme, its code is still sitting on your server, which means it can be exploited.

Be Smart About Your HostingUnlimited 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, the 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 is entirely up to you. 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.

The right WordPress host can go a long way towards ensuring the security of your site.

There are two parts to this:

First, if you’re on shared hosting, you want a host that isolates your sites from other sites on that server. This ensures that your site doesn’t get cross-contaminated just because someone else’s site on your shared server got hacked.

You can get isolation even on cheap hosting, so this isn’t something that’s unique to premium hosts.

To figure out if your host offers isolation, you can:

  • Ask the pre-sales support staff
  • Look at the feature list (many hosts that offer isolation are proud to say it)
hosting isolation

The other way that hosting can protect you is via proactive measures.

A quality managed WordPress host will:

  • Properly configure your server to prevent many types of exploits
  • Set up WordPress-specific firewalls at the server level
  • Run malware scans and ensure file integrity
proactive hosting security

Kinsta’s Security page has a good explanation of the various ways in which a host can protect you from issues.

While you can get some of these same features via WordPress plugins, having your host implement them at the server level is a better approach for both performance and security.

Use Strong Passwords

Did you know that the most popular password is “123456”? If that’s you…well, hopefully, you change your ways after reading this post.

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:

  • 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

In that Wordfence survey of hacked website owners, 20% of the sites got hacked simply because the hacker somehow got ahold of a valid username and password combo.

That’s dangerous because getting access to a WordPress Administrator account basically gives someone complete control over your site.

To stop that from happening, you have a bunch of tools and tricks at your disposal:

Simple passwords are easy to guess via a brute force attack, which accounted for ~15% of the hacked sites in Wordfence’s survey.

The solution is pretty simple – always use a strong password.

To do that, you can just use WordPress’ password generator:

update password

Then, because that password is impossible to actually remember (that’s kind of the point!), you can use a tool like LastPass to securely store all the passwords for your different sites (LastPass also includes a great password generator, itself).

If you have other users at your site, you can use the free Force Strong Passwords plugin to make sure they have strong passwords, too.

Don’t Use Admin As Your Username (Required)

Since WordPress has stopped forcing admin as the default username, this one is less of an issue.

But plenty of users still choose to use admin as their username, despite the fact that it makes them vulnerable to brute force attacks (if you use “admin” and “123456” at the same time, you should probably run a malware scan on your site right away!).

This one is easy to fix – just pick a unique username when you create a site.

If you’re already using admin as your username on an existing site, you can:

  • Use the Username Changer plugin to change your username
  • Manually create a new Administrator account and then delete the admin username

Use HTTPS On Your Site (Required)

Moving WordPress to HTTPS has all kinds of other benefits – but one great thing that it does is secure your login page.

Without HTTPS, your login credentials aren’t encrypted (which means that a malicious hacker can steal them if you’re, say, working over public WIFI). With HTTPS, though, those credentials are always encrypted.

Limit Login Attempts (Should Do)

Brute force attacks work by repeatedly guessing different combinations of usernames and passwords.

Using a strong username/password combo makes that much harder. But to make things even more difficult, you can limit the number of login attempts at your site with the Loginizer plugin.

limit login

With the plugin, anyone who enters incorrect login details too many times will be locked out for a period of time (that you can customize).

Move Your Login Page (Good Idea)

I don’t really think this makes your site any more secure if you’re following the above tips. But it is still a good idea because it can greatly reduce the botnet traffic to your site, which lessens the load on your site’s server.

So…not as big a security necessity as some people make it out to be, but still a good idea for other reasons. It’s also super easy to do with the WPS Hide Login plugin (many security plugins can do this as well).

2-Factor Authentication (Not Necessary For All Sites)

I don’t think this one is a necessity for most sites. But if you’re really concerned about people getting unauthorized access to your site, 2-factor authentication kicks things up a notch by requiring users to enter a one-time code in addition to their password (lots of banks use this technology).

They can get this code via email, SMS, or a smartphone app.

The Google Authenticator plugin makes this pretty easy and uses the free Google Authenticator app. The miniOrange plugin is a more flexible option, though the free version is limited.

Back Up Your Site Regularly

Backups are the ultimate security blanket.

They ensure that, in the event that something does go wrong, you’re never dead in the water.

If your host doesn’t already offer automatic backups, then I recommend:

  • UpdraftPlus for a free solution that lets you schedule automatic backups
  • VaultPress for a premium solution (that includes malware scans)

Make sure your backup is going to a place that you can easily get to. I have mine going to my Dropbox account, but there are lots of different options.

Keep a working backup of your site and any security issues will be a lot less catastrophic.

Let me be honest – I don’t use a security plugin on my own sites. A big part of the reason is that my hosting covers all of my security issues for me. If you’d like more information on my hosting plan you can go here.

But security plugins definitely exist for a reason – they can perform a good number of the hardening tips that I’ve discussed above. Especially if your host isn’t already doing these things for you.

Security plugins can definitely be helpful. But they’re not an absolute necessity if you follow all the other best practices and choose a proactive host. Nor are they a cure-all – you still need to keep the security philosophy I outlined above in mind if you want to keep your site secure.

If you want to try a security plugin on your site, two good options are:

Follow The Principle Of Least Privilege

If you’re giving other people access to your site, you should understand the principle of least privilege.

It essentially says, “only give someone as much access/power as they need to do their job”.

With WordPress, this means smartly using user roles.

For example, if you hire a new content writer, make sure you only give them the Author user role. They definitely don’t need the ability to install plugins, nor do they need the ability to edit Pages (the latter is something the Editor role allows).

Similarly, you should pretty much never give someone else an account with Administrator privileges unless you 100% trust them and they truly need that much power.

What happens if your site DOES get hacked? Well, you can try to clean it manually. Use this handy instructional post to clean up your hacked site.

Has all of this caused your eyes to glaze over or has it instilled fear in your heart? Let me help!

Check out my annual maintenance plan. It covers all of this and is very affordable at only $120 per YEAR!!! Have questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.

How To Prevent Your WordPress Website From Being Hacked

How to Identify Your IDEAL Client

How to Identify Your IDEAL Client

 

If there’s one mistake that new—and sometimes even established—business owners make, it’s this: failing to develop a clear vision of her ideal client.

Too often we think our service or product is “for everyone.” And while it might be true that everyone could use your help, it’s simply not possible for you and your brand to appeal to everyone. Your prices might not be in line with what some can afford. Your branding might not resonate with others. Your story may not touch everyone with the same sense of urgency.

And when you try to reach everyone, rather than narrowing your focus to your true ideal client, you dilute your message, making it even less likely that those perfect customers will find you.

But if you’re just starting out, it can seem an impossible task to know who your ideal client is. Start with these three points.

  1. Gender. Is your audience male or female? While men and women might both read and enjoy your content—and even buy your products—you will most likely find that your market is skewed heavily one way or the other. Men and women are different, and they are affected by stories and branding in very different ways, so what appeals to a man will not always appeal to a woman. Look around at some of the brands you buy, and you’ll quickly see how they form their messages to appeal to one or the other, but very rarely both.
  2. Goals. What does your client hope to achieve, and how do your products and services help to realize those goals? Whether she’s trying to build a profitable crafting blog so she can stay home with her children, or he’s working to create an online resource for muscle car fans, if you don’t know where they’re going, you can’t help them get there.
  3. His or her point in the journey. Is she a beginner or well along on the path? How you speak, how you write, what marketing methods you use, and even what prices you charge will all be determined by your ideal client’s level of sophistication. Whether you’re teaching beginning knitters how to cast on or helping couch potatoes train for their first 5k, their level of commitment (and willingness to spend) is far different from a long-time knitter who is discovering intarsia, or a runner working up to a triathlon. And you will not reach your market effectively if you don’t know exactly where they are and what they need at this point.

Of course, if you’re just starting out, you might not yet know who your ideal client is. That’s okay, too. But pay attention, because they will tell you. They’ll tell you through the products and services they buy. They’ll tell you by following you (or not) on social media. They’ll tell you by commenting on your blog and asking questions that are relevant to them.

Watch your interactions, study the businesses of those who contact you for help, and take a look at what your competition is doing, and soon enough you’ll have a clear understanding of who your ideal client really is.

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