2 Step Verification: Why You Need It & How To Get It

flay desktop with title text with white background

 

Over the last few weeks, one of my clients and I have been lost in cyber hell. The lovely Vintage Contessa who glamourized your Instagram feed for the last few years had her account hacked and then hijacked. You may remember her from the Women In Biz features last year she was the first! She went to sign in to her account and nothing. Her account was gone along with years of time, hard work, and 13k followers.

 

Now, in 2020 you would think that this would be a simple matter of contacting Instagram or its daddy Facebook and they would swoop in and save her account from the clutches of these villainous assholes. Immediately went on a search for a contact email or some kind of support. I spent hours just trying to track down an email address, but the many rabbit trails I went down led to nothing. I tried every one I could think of, we filled out a troubleshooting problem forms daily for several weeks and not one attempt was made to contact us back.

 

When you use a free platform you do it with the understanding that nothing there is yours and they reserve the right to basically do what they want while not offering anything in return. Facebook makes billions from its users but they can’t offer a support line to fix issues like this? It’s not fair, but that is the way it is. Although by far the worst is Facebook/Instagram.

 

Today, I’m going to show you how to protect your accounts

 

What Is 2 Step Verification &
How Does It Work?

 

Wikipedia definition: Multi-factor authentication is an electronic authentication method in which a computer user is granted access to a website or application only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism: knowledge, possession, and inherence. In plain old English, it means you need to take 2 steps to sign on so that if someone kidnaps your email they still can’t get into your account because they won’t be able to complete the necessary second step (a text message to your phone, an Application Authenticator APP that you download to your cellphone).

 

How Do You Set 2-Step Verification Up?

 

It depends on what platform you’re using, but I’m going to show you how to set up on a few different areas and from there you’ll know the basic steps to set it up in the places that you need them.

Since we were discussing the Contessa’s Instagram account we’ll start there:

 

Instagram Profile setting screenshot

 

 

 

2-step verification setup for Instagram

 

 

Very easy to do even for a novice! The same principle applies to all of your other social media platforms start at your profile and find the security section.

 

For Your Email Service Provider (Of course, we’re using Mailchimp.
Bonus: If you set up a 2-step verification you get a small discount on your monthly subscription).

 

 

 

screenshot from a Mailchimp

 

And finally your WordPress website:

The first thing you need it to download the 2 Factor Plugin 

This plugin is easy to set up. After uploading and activating your plugin you’re going to go to USERS>> scroll down until you see the 2 step verification settings. The easiest way to do is to check the email box (see images below).

screenshot of active plugins page

 

screenshot of 2 step verification set up

You Also Want To Add These Authenticator APPS to your Android or iPhone account.

screenshot of authenticator apps

 

 

screenshot of the Google Authenticator app

Bonus Tip:

I love tech all kinds of it, but it can be overwhelming and confusing when you’re trying to keep it all together. I use things like LastPass and ways of keeping track and Trello being another. CAVEAT: I also go old-school and keep things written down. I found an old fashion recipe box and I bought a pack of index cards. Each account gets its own card with the information needed to get into an account in the case of a computer crash or such.

Other Resources:

HOW ANY INSTAGRAM CAN BE HACKED IN 10 MINUTES – Security Boulevard

HERE’S WHY HACKERS WANT YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT:- ABC News 7

HACKING STATISTICS TO GIVE YOU NIGHTMARES  – Dataport

 

 

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How To Add Or Re-authenticate Your Instagram Feed On Your WordPress Website

flat lay desktop How To Add Or Reauthtenicate Your Instagram Feed On Your WordPress website

Adding An Instagram Feed To Your Website

Instagram is a visual smorgasbord that is an. immediate eye-catcher. If you are an active Instagram user you’d probably like to show your feed to the readers on your website. It’s very easy to set up and in the video below you’ll see how to set up your own Instagram feed on your website.

Re-Authenticate Your Instagram Feed

Did your feed disappear from your site? It happens often I’ve found as Instagram works to keep our accounts safer it requires us to re-authenticate about every 60 to 90 days. It’s a simple process to re-authenticate and the video below will also show you how to do that. Just one button!

You’re probably wondering why I just don’t do that for you while I’m doing the maintenance and there’s a really good reason why I don’t. To add your Instagram feed or even to re-authenticate you have to sign into your Insta account. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I have found that when I go in and out of other people’s Instagram accounts it affects the two accounts that I have:

I end up getting locked out of my own accounts because they think I’ve a hacker or something. The last time I did this I was locked out of my account for 3 weeks and because it’s so simple I know that you can do this on your own!

This video not only tells you how to do it

but also how to style in all in 5 minutes!

Do you want to learn even more about blogging & online business? EnticeHQ.com created this amazing post with 21 courses to help you become a professional blogger or entrepreneur

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Best & Worst Tools For Running Your Online Business

Each year I am approached by companies wanting me to try their products & services and ultimately share them with all of you. Some have been great additions to my business others have left me disappointed and flummoxed. I thought I would share with you the best & the worst from the past year!

To begin with, I’m going to break it down into 4 categories.

  1. Blogging tools
  2. Social Media
  3. Email Marketing
  4. Running your business

Blogging Tools

As you know (if you have a blog) there is always so much that needs to be done in a short amount of time so anything that I can find that will:

  • Save Time
  • Save Money
  • Improve My Skills

is a Godsend to me. Now, I want to share them with you!

Web Hosting  

I have my own hosting that I provide through Flywheel (owned by WPEngine) which runs $20 a month. We provide fast, secure hosting, free SSL’s, and amazing support. I only have three spots available.

For someone just starting out or on a tight budget I use **Bluehost. I have to say that I have set up hundreds of sites on Bluehost and not once have I ever had a problem. Once upon a time, Bluehost was considered the bottom of the barrel in terms of hosting, but a few years ago they turned it around and I have to say that I’ve been very impressed with how hard they have worked to improve every aspect of their service.

Themes

I have always been a Genesis girl and **Studio Press is the place to get the best themes. A few months ago I had the opportunity to work with **Divi by Elegant themes and I have to say that I absolutely love it! It’s so versatile and easy to use and saves me tons of time. There are so many things included that you hardly need any plugins at all!

Plugins

Listen I know that those sneaky plugins get you where it hurts. I’m sure you have seen the notices in your dashboard ‘get this pro version’, ‘buy this’, ‘do that’.  Nine times out of 10 you don’t need it. There are free plugins for just about anything. My go-to plugins are:

  • Updraft Plus for backing up.
  • Wordfence for security.
  • Jetpack lots of things.
  • Akismet for spam.

If you’re using Genesis then I add:

  • Genesis Enews (optins)
  • Simple Social Icons
  • Simple Social Share

If you’re using Divi

  • Bloom (optins)

All of those are free & if there’s something you want just search the plugin repository.

Free Courses

From WordPress

WP Beginners
Neliossoftware

Hubspot created a blog post with 60 free online courses that you can take to improve your skills. If you don’t follow Hubspot’s blog you really should. There is always so much valuable information.

Would you like to learn more about Facebook ads? Here’s a great post by Insane Growth that explains it all.

Social Media

Social media is the bane of my existence, but it’s also a necessary evil. I build websites and create content with business tips for bloggers, entrepreneurs & small businesses. I get asked to try a lot of different social media scheduling tool and here is my honest opinion.

**#1 For me is Sendible.com. I run three different websites and manage several clients’ social media accounts. Scheduling blog posts and monitoring keywords that I set up, even monitoring my competitor’s social media accounts. If you run multiple blogs or social media accounts

Sendible is the best.

Most places make you pay per account so for three sites I would have to have three different accounts. I would only be able to pick up one RSS feed unless I had three different accounts.

I could not run my business without Sendible!

Sendible is different. I have a set number of services I can set up and it doesn’t matter how many RSS feeds you pick up and auto-posts new pieces. You can schedule them to repeat however many times it’s all completely up to you. I post to five different FB pages for various people and with Sendible I can do it automatically saving myself lots of time.

Then there is **Tailwind

I love using it for Pinterest.

I know I’m not taking full advantage of the features but what I am using I love. BUT  I don’t like them for Instagram. I tried it I really did, but it was just too confusing and I wasting to much time trying to figure it out.

A few years ago I bought a lifetime membership for Grum.co for only $39 and I love it for scheduling Instagram posts. That’s all it does Instagram, but it’s so easy to use. Unfortunately, they are no longer taking on new customers. If I didn’t have this I would make the time for Tailwind, but this one is just to easy and it’s a lifetime purchase.

CoSchedule

I love Co-schedule I really do, but because of the limitations of only having one site on one account, I just can’t justify that expense when I have other options. It offers a boatload of features and it’s easy to use.

There is really no “free” service for scheduling your content. You can use “Publicize” inside your WordPress site and it will automatically post to FB, Twitter, & LinkedIn.

I know that Buffer offers a free version but I’m not sure of its limitations. I’ve always found it too confusing to use.

If you’re going to spend money this is one of the places where I say if you can pay for it then get it. A good social media scheduler can save you loads of time while helping you build your tribe.

Email Marketing

In today’s 24/7, 100mph world if you’re not marketing through email then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. You should absolutely be sending a welcome email sequence & sending out an RSS to your subscribers.

A few months ago, I was singing the praises of **Engagebay and I learned a very valuable lesson. Sometimes quick decisions can be the wrong decisions. It can send beautiful emails, there are tools for marketing, sales or service. I feel as if it is an excellent platform, but it just didn’t fit my needs. The main problem was the RSS emails. There just wasn’t enough flexibility and I actually sent out a few crazy emails before I gave up.

If you’re running a small business then I cannot recommend Engagebay enough. It’s beautiful, easy to use and handles so many tasks. It’s also affordable. Here is a link to their Youtube channel which has a lot of info about its features. It’s a great platform I just tend to have a problem with change I guess.

So, I’m back at MailChimp and that’s where I’m staying! I know my way around, it’s easy to use (most of the time) and it’s cheap. They have changed things and unless you have a paid account you are limited in what you can do. Such as only having one audience(list), limitations on automation, etc. I pay for The Blogging 911 account and use the free version for Wanding Web Designer & The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver my other two sites. The paid version runs me $9.63 a month.

Have you seen my the MAILCHIMP EXPLAINED ebook in the 911 Resource Library? It’s just one of the many free resources inside.

 

 

I’ve worked with ConvertKit before and it is easy to use. I didn’t like the design limitations and figure if I’m going to spend $30 a month it needs to have a lot more.

Running your Business

There are several tools that I use every single day to run my business. Some are free (well most are free) but they are still necessary. Tools such as:

  • 17Hats – is an all-around scheduling tool, lead capture forms, templates such as contracts or estimates. It runs $39 a month for all of its features and there are many. I personally only use the free version because I use the templates & lead capture forms (those project inquiry forms you see around here).
  • Acuity Scheduling – If you need an easy way for people to schedule appointments I highly recommend Acuity. Their free version has always been more than enough for me.
  • Asana – This is my project management tool and it keeps me on track when I’m building out a new site, managing other projects or even just things I need to do. There is both a free and paid version and I’ve always found the free version more than enough for my needs.
  • Canva – There is a free version of Canva that works very well. I use Canva almost every single day and I love it for it’s easy to use dashboard, to the free and paid elements like stock photos, icons, frames, colors, and fonts. For this, I splurge and get the paid version so that I can store my own logos, my fonts (up to 25) and my brand colors for $12.95.
  • Google Drive – Also free. I use it to store all of my clients’ assets. I like how easy it is and it works great with Gmail which is another great free tool. I do use the paid version of this and it runs $6 a month and I have tons of storage and it’s easy to use.
  • One Drive – This is part of my Microsoft subscription which is about $7 a month. This is where I keep all of my assets. (Such as stock images, templates, or other graphics).
  • Dropbox – This is where I store all of the backups for my clients & my own personal websites. This costs around $10 but they’ve added a bunch of new features.
  • Screencast-o-matic – This another thing I purchased from Sumo. It was a lifetime subscription for only $39 and I use it whenever I need to make tutorials or other videos where I share my screen. It’s something I purchased on APPSUMO.
  • APPSUMO – is a great place to find great deals on products or services to run your business! They always have freebies or lifetime deals that will save you tons of time and money.

Know some great tools that I might not know about? Let me know in the comments below.

** Means that it is an affiliate link if you purchase a service, with the (**) beside it, means that I will earn a small commission that will in no way affect your cost.

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Facebook & Instagram Land Another Kick In The Gut For Small Businesses Everywhere

We should be used to it by now, every few months Facebook & Instagram find other ways for them to make more money and that has our reach shrinking faster than a $3 shirt from Walmart. They can’t stop a Russian from interfering in our election process but they can sure as hell drop your page likes like a hot potato fresh out of the oven!

Listen, FB knows it, we know it, hell even the kids down the street know it. Even with all of the turmoil, they cause somehow they are still the best marketing game in town. Even with the changes, they are making and there are many it’s still easier and more cost-efficient to run FB ads over any other kind of ad. It just is. There are 2.27 billion (That’s a Billion with a capital ‘B’) and 75% of us log in every single day!

So what are these big changes you ask? Well, let me count the ways…

  1. The desktop FB feed is getting a total overhaul. There will be an algorithms update sometime in the Fall of 2019.
  2. Organic Targeting improves your ability to increase your organic reach on FB pages.
  3. Comments & shares will become more valuable and a heart will be worth more than a like.
  4. Organic reach will depend on relevancy and quality.
  5. The more engagement=the more reach.
  6. On FB mobile feeds you will only allow 3 lines of text & smaller image sizes.
  7. On Instagram, likes and video counts are going away.  Lower interactions and the new social proof is catching one’s interest.
  8. Removing low-quality posts, the explorer feature or low-quality hashtags.
  9. Comments will become more important.

So what can you do, the small business owner, that will keep your business in the green & keep you from seeing red when you’re FB or Instagram reach grows smaller and smaller.

  • Don’t waste money boosting posts.
  • Have a sales funnel in place.

You have to do seven things:

  1. Grab attention.
  2. Acknowledge pain point.
  3. Encourage immediate attention with a great value offer (39% of users will interact with what they see as a good value.
  4. Maker yourself relevant– Build that know & trust factor.
  5. Build relationships.
  6. Capture as little information as possible (Name & email).
  7. Nurture your future clients.
  8. Your email list is your most IMPORTANT ASSET!
  9. Close the sale.
  10. Follow through and up with.

So what’s the takeaway from all of this information? You can’t beat it and you should probably join them because let’s face it FB ain’t going away any time soon.

 

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Tailwind Makes Promotion Easier With Hashtags

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

Most of you probably already know that when you are trying to promote your business you will likely need more than one tool to schedule content. I use a combination of free and paid tools to get my message in front of the right people.

Today, that just got a little easier with Tailwind. If you haven’t heard of Tailwind or think it’s just not for me you should take another look. Tailwind specializes in only two platforms: Instagram & Pinterest which just happen to be my favorite of all of them.

Tailwind saves so much time by allowing you to schedule in bulk. It automatically optimizes your Pinterest and Instagram schedules based on when your audience is most engaged. Saving you both time & money. Not only is it a remarkable scheduling tool it also has some awesome analytics because let’s face it, you also need to know what’s working and what isn’t.

Tailwind for Instagram automatically suggests the best hashtag for your posts! This is so helpful because if you’re on Instagram you know exactly how important hashtags are. If that wasn’t terrific all on its own they’ve recently gone one step further. You can now put those hashtags in the first comment right inside of Tailwind! What?!?

Here’s how it works:

  • Hop over to your Tailwind account and upload your post, drop in your caption and then type the # symbol to get predictive hashtag suggestions.
  • Click to choose or add frequently used hashtags from your list.
  • Check the box to move those comments from your caption to your 1st comment.
  •  Click “add to queue” to automatically schedule your post for the best time.

This is like scheduling on steroids! If you post to Instagram often you know how hard it is to come up with relevant hashtags. Do you find yourself making them up as you go along because you just don’t know what they are? Now, you don’t have to know Tailwind has this info built right in. It simply doesn’t get much better than this!

Pinterest & Instagram are quickly becoming the standout platforms for 2019. Loss of trust in Facebook and frustration at not being put in front of your tribe has people leaving in droves. Where are they going? Instagram & Pinterest!

Schedule like a pro with Tailwind! Want to give it a try? HERE YOU GO!

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The Ultimate Guide to the Future of E-commerce

When it comes to the future of e-commerce, nothing is set in stone. Its hard to believe, what with the rise of online shopping, that many e-commerce businesses are still in the early stages of development and are yet to fully find their feet in such a busy marketplace. Others are adopting eCommerce to the fullest and offering all sorts of benefits such as same day shipping and delivery of subscription boxes to their customers. Here’s a great post The 51 Best Subscription Boxes from ThrifyCrates.com

It is for this reason that many retailers may find the predictions for trends to come in the e-commerce industry pretty futuristic, such as drone delivery or payments made with digital currencies. As a smaller business, if you can’t compete with some of the market giants out there like Amazon, you should instead focus on the things that are more achievable in the short term.

Ecommerce customer service automation is now almost commonplace with online retailers. People are used to heading online and having a chatbot pop up in the corner of the screen asking if you need any assistance.

In general, online retailers will be paying particular attention to the customer service element of their businesses, as currently this is what has been lacking from online shopping. Many people still prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores as they have constant access to a member of staff to help them with their purchasing decisions.

To encourage people to head online, this should also be achievable digitally, without the need for businesses to hire many members of staff to handle queries. Already in 2017, AI has been able to handle 45% of customer questions using live chat, and as this technology continues to develop, this number is set to grow.

Technological developments will also be the cause of more trends, such as the use of cryptocurrencies, most commonly the Bitcoin. Although digital currencies have been around for a while now, it is only more recently that they have started to be considered as a payment method for online stores. It is looking likely that this will become more commonplace in the years to come.

For more information of future trends to look out for, take a look at the infographic below which was created by industry experts.

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Using Instagram Stories effectively to Reach More Audiences

Launched two years back, in August 2016, Instagram Stories have undoubtedly garnered a lot of attraction. Today, they have more than 300 million daily active users. However, if you are a new entrant, and haven’t used Instagram Stories yet, here is a deeper insight on how they work:
  • They work with everything – pictures, videos, GIFs – either from your computer or smartphone camera – Instagram Stories can accommodate them all
  • They allow you to edit your photos and videos with amazing stickers and funky drawings
  • You can choose to arrange your photos and videos in the preferred order
  • You can have a look at the basic analytics of the Story and see the number of views it received, the people who viewed it and so on
  • Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours; however, within those 24 hours, your Story is visible on the top of your followers’ feed
All thanks to the amazing features of Instagram Stories, more and more businesses are trying their hands into this segment to engage their audiences. From showing a sneak peek behind the scenes to the community, to release the teaser of their newly launched products and services, Instagram Stories let the brands experiment and play on the go. This is perhaps why around 50% of the businesses on Instagram have already tried Instagram Story! Generally, brands post Stories to promote their products, provide an inside look, conduct a live event, get feedback on their products, simply start a conversation or to conduct contests. That said, Instagram Stories have actually proven to be useful and this is perhaps why even large brands and businesses are eager to experiment with them. From Ticket.com to McDonald’s Malaysia, Michael Kors, Twitter, Maybelline New York, NASA, Airbnb and various other big names are using Instagram Stories to enhance their reach. Curious on how big brands are using Instagram Stories? Have a look at the infographic below to find out all the relevant details, important data, and hidden insights!
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How To Correctly Breath Life Into An Old Post

Fall is fast approaching and for me, that always signals, fresh starts and new beginnings more than the New Year ever could. I guess it’s all the time preparing for new school years that it just seems like the time to put your best foot forward and get to work.

You clean up from Summer fun and get ready for folders and binders, shoes & clothes. I still love opening up a new notebook and imagining the stories and ideas among the lines and white space. New stories to tell, old ones to share, and limitless possibilities for the future.

It’s also time to take stock of how you’ve spent the last year and where you want to improve in the coming new year. As you’re doing that, it’s also a terrific time to figure out how you want your website to grow as well. A great way to do this is by checking your stats & making a plan.

You have a few golden nuggets buried deep in the bowels of your WordPress site that haven’t seen the light of day since Elvis was alive. Okay, maybe not THAT long, but you get my meaning. Maybe you wrote them when you first started out or you’ve figured out another way that the information can be presented or maybe you can solve a different problem altogether.

Well, I’m going to show you how to make those golden nuggets shine with the promise of new life! The first thing you’re going to do is go to your plugin tab on your dashboard and hit “Add new” in the search bar type in “Revisionize” make sure that it is compatible with the theme you are currently running and hit install. You’ll be prompted to activate and then you’re set to go!

After you have installed the plugin you want to go to JetPak back on your dashboard. Go to “Site Stats”. Scroll halfway down and to the right, you will see “top posts & pages” click on summaries and then “all time”. This will give you a list of every post that has been published along with the page views for each individual post.

If you don’t have JetPack or even if you do, you probably have Google Analytics. To check your highest ranking posts there you sign in to your GA account (it’s the same credentials as your Gmail account).  Scroll down the page until you see: What pages do your users visit? Here you can check your most popular posts.

First, go to your top ten posts and make a note of them. When you’ve done that then scroll to the bottom of the list and see which posts were the least performing. They are the ones that you want to work on first. Go into each post and update any changes that have occurred. Things like:

  • technology that has changed
  • a recipe that could be made healthier
  • an image that is old and dated
  • tips that could be added to

Once you have the post ready hit update and then right above the publish button you will now see a button that says revisionize. You’re going to want to click on that. Now, you can either publish it or schedule it for a date in the future. It’s like a brand new post now.

The way revisionize works is that it automatically creates a 301 redirect so that anytime someone clicks on an old link it will automatically take them to the new post. So, if say you had a pin on Pinterest for the original post and someone clicks on it, they will end up right on your brand new post!

I love this plugin and it’s made a huge difference in my page views on my older site TDAC. I did this with the 10 posts that have the least page views. I also went to the top ten and made any changes that I could. Freshened them up.

After, I’ve done that I use my social media scheduling tool SENDIBLE and TAILWIND APP to schedule all of my social media posts for three months at a time. I let the scheduling tool pick the best times and WAH-LAH I am done!

 

* This post contains affiliate links. I will save a small amount off of my monthly CoSchedule fees if you purchase from the link above.

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How To Hide Pinterest 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 se. 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 today I’m going to make your content even more sharable than it is right now! 

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?

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How Much Transparency Is To Much?

 

We’ve talked before about storytelling and authenticity, and how being your true self is your most powerful branding tactic. But just how open and honest should you be when it comes to sharing your story?

Pat Flynn and Jon Lee Dumas are notorious for their transparency, even going so far as to post monthly income statements. You might argue that when you’re making the kind of bank they do (6+ figures each month) it’s easy to share—perhaps even inspirational to your audience. But it might also be off-putting to some, since talking about money is often seen as vulgar. In this case, though, it works to attract the exact audience they are after. Others will find other mentors, and that is, after all, the point of marketing.

Transparency comes in other forms as well. Struggles with alcoholism, depression, cancer and other health concerns are commonly shared. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are told. Even spats between competing businesses aren’t off limits for some marketers.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to be frank and honest about all areas of your life and business. With a little forethought and planning, you can keep certain aspects of your story private.

Watch Your Social Media Profiles

Here’s where a lot of business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well, business.

But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Too much? Maybe.

When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you’re saying it to. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friend” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.

Remember, the Internet is Forever

While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.

So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.

The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. If you’re not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they won’t be comfortable hearing about it, either. It’s okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.

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The Art of Storytelling

 

Whether you want to touch a nerve, reach a new audience, or boost your sales, storytelling is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. As humans, we love a good story, and when it resonates with us, it can drive us to take action when nothing else can.

Think about it. Which would you rather read, an interesting story, or a sales letter? Which are you more likely to remember a week from now, a compelling story, or a features and benefits comparison? And which are you more likely to buy, a story you can see yourself in, or a product that does x, y, and z?

If you think back on your most recent purchases, from the business coach you hired to the car you bought last summer, chances are you’ll find a story that resonated with you, and that drove your decision to purchase.

Stories About You

You’ve heard it time and time again: People buy from those they know, like, and trust. And part of getting to know you is hearing your stories. Your potential clients want to know how you came to be in business, what experiences you’ve had that drove your decisions, what lessons you learned along the way.

Your stories don’t have to be directly related to business to be powerful, either. That anecdote about the time you nearly got arrested for not having a valid driver’s license is the perfect lead-in to a blog post about better record keeping. Or the story about how you accidentally seated two warring families together at your wedding reception? It’s just what you need to drive home a point about relationship building.

Stories About Your Clients

Otherwise known as social proof, stories about your clients are incredibly useful in your marketing and branding strategy. Testimonials, white papers, case studies and the like are all just stories, after all, and they showcase how you and your products have changed a life or a business for the better.

Stories About Your Products

Yes, even your products have stories to tell. Why did you decide to create that new coaching program? What will it help your clients achieve? Who is it not suited to? These stories and more can show your potential clients more about your products and services than any sales page ever will. When you openly share your thought processes as you were creating your program, buyers will instantly know if it’s a product that will work for them or not.

Clearly, stories have a lot of power when it comes to branding and marketing, but you have to use caution. Beware of the awkward insertion of a story just because you’ve heard it’s good for your marketing. If you find yourself midway through a blog post and you write something like, “but anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with business” and then making a total shift to a completely different subject, chances are the story isn’t working.

But if you can tie your story in naturally to what follows, that’s your golden ticket to better branding, more sales, and a more profitable business. We love stories. Don’t be afraid to tell yours.

Do you use story telling as a way to market yourself or your products?

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Back To Blogging Basics: How To Get More Eyes On Your Website

 

The internet has an insatiable appetite for information. Billions of searches are conducted every single day looking for everything from how to bake an apple pie to why zebras have stripes. For anyone who conducts business online, these searches represent a steady flow of potential customers who are looking for what you have to offer.
A blog is an easy, cost-effective method of being found by the exact people who most need, want, and are willing to pay for your services. But only if you have a good strategy in place first.

Know Your Keywords

These are the search terms your ideal client is using to find answers to her questions. When you know what your keywords are, you can easily create blog posts that will:

•Attract the right visitors to your site
•Position you as the expert in your niche
•Make it easy for your ideal client to find—and get to know—you and your services

Write for People

While it’s important to know and use keywords in your blog posts, it’s even more important that you write your content with people in mind over search engines. Your blog should be engaging, informational, and even entertaining, but above all else it must be readable.

Be Consistent

Content marketing—and blogging, by extension—is very much a numbers game. The more content you produce, the greater your results will be. That means setting—and sticking to—a content production schedule is a must.
For most websites, a weekly schedule is both attainable and sufficient to build a steady stream of traffic.

Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind

Blogging is not a fast business-growth strategy but it is excellent for long-term sustainability. Those posts you write this month will continue to work for you many years from now, bringing in more and more traffic and potential clients.

Use Good SEO Practices

Aside from keywords, great bloggers know there are many techniques you can use to bring in more readers, including:
• Link out to authority sites from within your blog
• Link internally to other, related content on your own sites
• Use graphics and sub-headlines to break up long text passages
• Take the time to write compelling meta descriptions
• Create content that other sites will link to

Get the Word Out

Each new blog post is an opportunity to be seen, so take the time to share your content socially, and encourage your readers to do the same. Share your post on your Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and anywhere else your ideal client is likely to see it.

Mix It Up

Not every post has to be a 3,000 word article. Include other types of content as well, such as:
• Video
• Infographics
• Curated content
• Short opinion pieces
• Audio

Have Fun with It

Above all else, have some fun. Inject your personality into your blog. Not only will you more easily attract your ideal client but you’ll enjoy blogging a lot more if you use your authentic voice. And the more you enjoy it, the more likely you will remain consistent as well.

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