Message Sprout Blog

Karina Antenucci

Better Blog Copywriting

5 Quick-and-Dirty Tips for Better Blog Copywriting

Posted by | Blogging, Copywriting | No Comments

Not a writer by trade, but charged with writing your company’s blog? We get it. Sometimes the boss thinks anyone can be a writer. Other times, it’s simply a matter of a small biz budget. Not loving how your blogs are turning out or not sure where to start? Here are five quick-and-dirty tips to guide you towards better blog copywriting:

Photo credit: Jamie Annarino Photography

1. Lead with the Most Important Information

You’ve heard it before: first impressions really do count! When you write the introduction for your blog or article, try to make your audience want to keep reading. Start with a catchy sentence that hooks them in, then follow it with the most important information that they need to know about what they are going to get by reading this piece. In a quick and concise way, give your readers a rundown of what your article/blog is going to be about, and why it’s in their best interest to read more.

2. Get to the Point!

Avoid run-on sentences that “fluff up” your article. You don’t want your blog to be bloated and bogged down with unimportant information. This includes using too many adjectives, as they can get in the way of the main focus and make the whole thing sound too flowery. During an edit of your draft, pare down adjectives, and you’ll notice a cleaner, more easily digestible piece.

3. Include How this Subject Benefits Your Audience

Your audience is only going to spend precious time reading a blog if it’s giving them information that they need. Make sure to tell them why this subject is a must-read for them, and be genuine. If it’s not a must-read, then don’t write about it! Your content should always be directed towards helping your audience in some way.

4. Edit and Proofread

For better blog copywriting, read and reread your work. We cannot stress enough how important it is to proofread your copy before publishing. Even the smallest spelling error can make you lose credibility with your readers. (Hey, it happens, we’re all human, but still try to avoid it if you can…) We suggest writing a draft, taking a step back and coming back to it later or the next morning for a fresh look. Editing and proofreading your copy will help you to keep the subject focused and catch any small mistakes you may have made while knocking out that first or second draft. A polished piece is noticeable.

5. Stand Out with Your Expertise

Tell a story or offer advice that is unique to you and/or your brand. Don’t go off and discuss something you know nothing about. What do you excel at? Which topics can showcase your expertise while offering a takeaway for your reader? Talk about THAT.

Plus, puh-leeze make sure your website’s blog is mobile-friendly. Read this to find out why it’s oh so important.

business website

Make Your Business Website Mobile-Friendly

Posted by | Branding, Web content strategy | No Comments

There’s nothing worse than going on a website that is not compatible with your mobile device to buy a product or research a service. What does a potential customer do when he or she goes to your business website and it’s not mobile-friendly? Likely leave the site as quickly as possible, and mention to the person next to them how terrible it is. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

(Message Sprout’s site is mobile-friendly—check it out from your mobile device!)

To give you an idea of just how “mobile” our society has become, Social Media Today tells us that “1.2 billion people worldwide are accessing the web from mobile devices.” The mobilization of the world is no longer a trend; it is quite literally just a fact of everyday life.When you become mobile, your customers are able to more efficiently access information about your business and products and make buying decisions. If you haven’t updated your business website to make it mobile-friendly, there is no time like the present to do so. 

“Instant” Expectations

A Forbes article points out that Generation Z has grown up with instant speed as the baseline expectation. Due to the ease of access to mobile devices, the increase in the speed of the content-to-consumer process has shot through the roof, making it so that businesses are being pushed to constantly evolve in order to keep up. When you design your website so that it can run efficiently on mobile devices, you are making it easier for your target customers to browse your products and services whenever they please!

Better Customer Service

Offering up-to-date mobile access to your customers is part of an excellent customer service experience. Mobile-friendly business websites are accessible and easy to scroll through. By shortening the amount of time and effort it takes to get to the coveted endpoint where the customer books your service, buys your product or submits an inquiry, a mobile-forward site maximizes its opportunities to sell and also makes a good impression (hint: return customers, word of mouth, etc.).

 

Conversion Plan

Luckily, most website themes these days are automatically mobile-friendly. If you are starting a business website from scratch, make sure to mention to your website developer that a key aspect that you want is for it to be mobile-friendly. If you are updating an existing website, discuss your options with your website developer. Depending on how old your site is, you might be able to add a mobile plugin to your existing theme to get it working in a mobile view or utilize a conversion tool. A site that is REALLY old, though, is probably due for a full refresh.

As your number one marketing and selling tool, a great-looking, mobile-friendly website is an investment in your success. By making your business mobile-friendly, you are staying competitive. Without it, you’re falling behind. It’s as simple as that.

Starting a website from scratch and considering Squarespace vs. WordPress? Check out this blog that breaks down the pros and cons of each.

Squarespace or Wordpress

Website Platforms: Is Squarespace or WordPress Better?

Posted by | Web content strategy, Website security | No Comments

Ahhh, websites! They drive many a business owner or marketing manager quite nuts! So many decisions, so little time to get the website project done. Whether you’re totally revamping an existing site or starting fresh from the ground up, let us help you make your first big decision: which website platform do you want to work with, Squarespace or WordPress?

Why these two? They are two of the most popular website platforms (and quite honestly, we wouldn’t consider any others). Both Squarespace and WordPress are great, and have their pros and cons. So, in this blog, we’ve provided some insight into what each platform has to offer in order for you to make the best choice for your new fabulous, beautiful, functional website!

Side note: When we say “WordPress,” we are referring to WordPress.org (self-hosted platform with any URL of your choosing), not WordPress.com (no custom domains).

Determine if Squarespace or WordPress is Best for You:

Before weighing the two platforms, take a moment to have a little brainstorming sesh. We recommend writing out:

  1. What is the purpose of this website?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. What do you want this site to look like?
  4. What are two or three examples of other websites that you like, and what do you like about them?
  5. Do you plan to update the website often, say with new blogs or other types of content?
  6. Who will be updating the blog—you, a copywriter, a website developer or someone else?
  7. What pages do you want on this site, for example, a gallery page, an about page, a portfolio page, contact us page, etc.? List them out and what would potentially go on each one.
  8. What kind of functionality do you need? Do you need e-commerce, for instance?
  9. What is your budget? Contact creative folks to price out the costs of a graphic designer, website developer and copywriter.

If there is one BIG piece of advice we can give you, it is: unless you are a professional graphic designer-slash-website developer, DO NOT build your own website, and unless you are a natural wordsmith or professional writer, DO NOT write the content on your own website.

Armed with the above answers, now you can determine whether Squarespace or WordPress is the right website platform for your new site.

The Differences Between Squarespace and WordPress:

Building Your Website

Squarespace

Squarespace is a highly templated and high-quality platform. You choose from around just 30 themes (good for those who get overwhelmed with choices) and roll with it with very little or no extra coding involved. That is not to say that the site can’t be customized (just take a look at Message Sprout Founder’s Badass + Healthy editorial site, which was customized for her by a web developer), but it has limitations to what you can and can’t do. This is because it is not an open-source platform, meaning only Squarespace’s in-house development team can create tools for its users. That said, the templates are stunning and might work perfectly for you without full customization. And by customization, we don’t mean fonts, colors and logos, etc., which is always changeable no matter the template. Also, if you plan to build your website yourself (again, we don’t recommend that!), Squarespace is a much easier platform to do that on. It’s more “plug and play” … more on that below.

WordPress

WordPress is the most popular and largest website platform (something like 60+ million websites were built on it as of 2012). It has templates that your web developer can work from, but it also enables them to fully customize and build your site from the ground up. It is an open-source platform, which means its codes are open for anyone to use and customize. This flexibility is one of the main things people love about WordPress—you can do anything on it. However, if you’re trying to code and build it yourself, you’ll have a huge learning curve ahead of you! There are endless amounts of plugins to use for your website—some are free; others you have to pay for. The downside is that some, frankly, stink, and the quality of these tools vary greatly. Faulty tools can lead to security issues … more on that below.

Usability in Updating Your Site Content:

Squarespace

Squarespace is user-friendly and easy to use. The platform offers a drag-and-drop content-editing tool that allows users to go through a simple editing process. This process involves adding content “blocks” such as  images, videos, formatted headers and more to Squarespace’s already design-heavy templates in order to customize your site. Whenever you are moving a block, a guideline will pop up to notify you of what exactly the block can do and where it can go. If you’re used to working in the content management system (CMS) of WordPress, it will feel a little like learning a foreign language at first before you get your bearings of where things are on Squarespace, but it’s actually all very simple.

WordPress

Though it may be more difficult to navigate the backend CMS for users who aren’t experienced in doing so, the amount of options on WordPress gives way to a lot of flexibility in the long run. If you’re working with a web developer and plan to update content yourself, let them know that this is important so you’re not stuck when it comes time to make your own updates. Some developers will happily give you a little tutorial (ours did!) to show you where and how to update each page, too. It’s also pretty straightforward once you know where everything is located and means.

What to Know About E-commerce:

Squarespace

Squarespace recognizes commerce as being an extension of your brand. That’s why it does all of the coding for you, so that you can focus on selling your products. Many of the templates that Squarespace offers have e-commerce options already built in! This can all be done on a budget, with templates such as these going from $8-$24 a month. Squarespace e-commerce can be organized through the use of product blocks. This is a blessing to those of us who do not have coding experience, as there is no messing around with third-party plugins! However, Squarespace e-commerce only allows you to use Stripe (which is integrated with both ApplePay and PayPal) for your checkout pages, which can feel restrictive. Though this does not give you as much creative freedom, this allows you to get your e-commerce pages up and running in no time by saving you the time of searching for a payment option. Another beneficial tool that Squarespace offers is the mobile-optimized checkout page. You can customize it by adding discounts, free shipping, brand colors and more.

WordPress

Though e-commerce is not built into WordPress templates, there are several plugins that are used for such purposes. The tools that these plugins offer allow you to integrate e-commerce into your own site so that you can sell your products online. These plugins allow you to utilize any type of payment option, including PayPal, Google Checkout and Stripe. The most popular plugin to date that is used to sell products on WordPress is WooCommerce. This plugin allows you to sell both digital and physical goods, giving your product list some variety. Like many of the features of WordPress, e-commerce plugins can require some coding skills to set up. The upside to this is that once “plugged in,” your product pages will be highly customized and easy to access for your audience.

The Deal about Customer Support and Security:

Squarespace

The Squarespace support team is centralized as well as speedy. As a user, you have access to live chat and a 24/7 email support. This is included with any type of account that you have purchased with Squarespace. We find that this type of customer support is perfect for quickly addressing any issues and moving on. For security, Squarespace has your back. As this platform lives in the cloud,  it automatically backs up your content. This does come with limits, though, as your content will be the only thing that can be backed up. This means that your image galleries, pages and your blog content can be exported. Your product pages, albums, and your blocks (text, audio, video) will not be backed up.

WordPress

Due to the sheer size of the WordPress community, it can sometimes be hard to find help. You do have the options of countless forums, tutorial videos and email support to choose from… depending on the type of domain you have. As a user who is utilizing the free beginner plan, you may only have access to community support, whereas a more advanced domain (for example, the $24 per month Business Plan) gives you the perk of working with the WordPress team. Basically, the more you pay, the more support you get! It may still take a while for someone to get back to you through email or live chat. WordPress also comes with plugin options that allow you to backup your entire database (not just your content and your images). The most popular plugin being used at the moment is Backup Buddy. This plugin allows you to export 100 percent of your content into Dropbox, Stash or Amazon S3, or even to your email.

Our Final Thoughts on Squarespace or WordPress:

We have worked with both WordPress (hello, Message Sprout’s website is a WordPress site!) and Squarespace websites, and we have to say that we love both for different reasons. Our parting thoughts…

Squarespace rocks if you need a smaller site without a ton of customization and the person who is updating it isn’t tech-savvy.

WordPress is perfect for skilled developers and if you need a larger site with customization and/or more complex layouts. You can still update content yourself, but changing the layouts around will require coding knowledge.

If you’re looking for an experience brand copywriter and SEO content expert to help tell your story, optimize your website and consult on your new website project, we’ve got you covered. Contact us. 

Photo credit: Fizzle

Digital Content Marketing Strategy

Smart Digital Content Marketing Strategy Tweaks

Posted by | Content Marketing | No Comments

Smart Digital Content Marketing Strategy Tweaks to Make Now

Whether you manage your own digital content marketing strategy or outsource it to a freelancer or agency, you may be at the point where you know what kind of content works best for your target audience. But the online world is constantly evolving, so it’s important to continue to look at what you’re doing and update your digital content marketing strategy. Here are a few small ways that you can revamp things.

Rethink Your Push Advertising

Online push advertising strategies may include things like video ads that you have to watch before you go to a web page, banner ads, splash pages and pop-up newsletter signups on a website. More and more, these “pushes” are becoming a big turnoff for potential customers. Alternatively, content that introduces storytelling is becoming more favorable. A Forbes article explains that audiences are growing tired of the idea of having content pushed at them for content’s sake. Consumers now crave a story and a reason to give their undivided attention to your content! Check out how Califia farms tells stories on its popular Instagram page here. Another example: Tentsile’s “tent life” visual storytelling here.

Start a #Conversation

Along the same lines as storytelling, some good content marketing strategies center around starting a specific “conversation” and driving awareness. Making content approachable and more conversational has become a successful way of reaching audiences. One way to do this is to create a hashtag movement that allows your target audience to feel as if they are a part of something. These can vary and be anything from activism to consumer lifestyle related. A few examples of this include the highly successful (we’re talking around 6.2 million people using it) #IceBucketChallenge, which brought awareness to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. #BlackLivesMatter has been used around 12 million times, and became a political movement. A fun example is how the No Your City folks who are producing a documentary series have used #NoYourCity to gain a solid following. Same goes for #WWCamp and #DogsOfWeWork, used by the co-working space company WeWork to engage members to share moments.

Focus on Your Existing Customer Base

There’s often a lot of focus on building your audience, which is definitely a valid strategy, especially for a new business or brand. But an equally if not more important content marketing strategy is customer retention. Instead of constantly fighting for new business, look to your existing customer base. How can you get them back? How can you engage them more efficiently? Is it through a strategic email campaign, social media campaign or updating your website to make it more user-friendly? (We can help you both determine a content marketing strategy and execute it, by the way.)

Need some help getting creative with your content marketing strategy? Read our blog on How to Use Mind Mapping for Content Ideas. Or give us a shout.

Photo credit: UCONN

Is Social Influencer Marketing Right for Your Business?

Posted by | Media relations, Social media tips | No Comments

Image Credit: PhillyVoice

Social influencer marketing has become popular as brands look for more personalized relationships with their target consumers.Influencers hold the attention and most importantly, the trust of their followers, so they are able to have an impact on consumer behaviors in a “word of mouth” kind of way. Here, we share what a social influencer is, why social influencer marketing works and how you can start working with one in order to further your brand’s success. 

What is a Social Influencer?

An influencer is a person who has gained an online presence with a large and active following. This person is typically a blogger or vlogger (video blogger) who specializes in a specific niche, from makeup to DIY home decorating, and is very social media savvy. These self-marketers have worked to gain their audience through research, content sharing and stylized social media posts. In fact, their content may live only on social, whether that be Instagram and Snapchat or YouTube.

How to Work with Influencers

Brands work with influencers in order to promote their name, a specific product or new initiative or launch. This usually begins with the brand opening a line of communication with the influencer and requesting help with a certain promotion. When you communicate with the influencer, be respectful and specific. Tell them why you want to work with them, the project that you have in mind and, whether you’d like to send them a product for review or work with them on a lengthy campaign, it’s important to know what your budget is prior to reaching out.

Social influencer marketing can be costly, depending on whom you work with and the size of following that they bring with them. Plan to spend anywhere from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars per social post. It’s a broad range, but it really does depend on the person and following. 

How to Choose an Influencer

Once you know you have the budget for it, start researching whom you’re going to reach out to. You can determine this by thinking of which audience you want to connect with. Single out an influencer’s audience that is a good match for your own, or perhaps it’s a totally new group that you are wanting to target. You will need to go through extensive online research in order to single out those who hold the same values and objectives as your brand! 

Next, look at influencer engagement. Does the influencer you have chosen engage with their community of followers? Do they like, comment and reply back? You want to work with someone who spends the time to interact with consumers, as this is a core brand value for any successful business.

Social Influencer Success

Of course, the true test of social influencer marketing is the return on your investment. What are your parameters? Are you looking for sales growth, to boost your social media following or send customers to your website? For a measurement that doesn’t necessarily have hard numbers attached to it like the sale of a product would, for instance, know what that thing is worth to you. Apply a dollar figure to it. Use your analytics tools to track and report on the outcome. It’s a learning process for sure, but here’s some good news to leave you with: Smart Insights says, “Over 80 percent of marketers who had undertaken campaigns collaborating with social media influencers found them effective for driving both engagement and awareness.” Nice! 

Ready to push your online presence to the next level? Read this blog on how editorial calendars are key tools for generating successful content.

Get Them Hooked: The Brand Customer Journey Is Key

Posted by | Branding, Content strategy | No Comments

Image Credit: Branding Los Angeles

We are in a landmark year for digital marketing. This is due to the fact that the “new generation” of consumers are far more digitally inclined than the last. Consumers are increasing their engagement with both businesses and brands alike online. With that said, your main focus (ours, too) needs to now be: the brand customer journey! Here’s a quick guide that will teach you what the brand customer journey is and how you can begin practicing this new digital marketing trend.

Define Your Brand Goals

The customer journey is the experience of interactions that a customer has with your business/brand. This journey represents defining moments at the beginning of your relationship with your client.

We recommend defining and simplifying your brand goals right off the bat. Come up with 2-5 goals that help align your focus. If your goals are clear then they will help you find the right messaging to guide your customer!

An example of a company who uses branding to define their customer’s’ journey is: Dove. This company started campaigns that support real, natural beauty for women. Hashtags, videos, social media, and more are used in order to promote their brand across all channels, all while catering to their target audience of women. Though this brand is worldwide, they have managed to make their customers feel as if their products have been personalized for them. This is branding at its finest. By reinforcing your brand with relatable and positive content, you are building a foundation of trust with your customers!

After defining your goals, work on branding strategies that help to reinforce these set objectives. Find ways to best communicate to your target audience. This could be through social media, email marketing, or even meeting face-to-face.

Personalize Brand Content

Customers desire faster and more accessible content. With such an increase in customer-content engagement, there is a need for more personalized content. Customers crave interaction as they never have before!

Successful companies now look to hone in on their target audience’s wants and needs so that they can engage more. Some companies that do this well are:

  • Buzzfeed– This media-based company inputs short surveys at the end of their renowned quizzes asking the consumer how he/she feels about the quiz content
  • Pinterest– This website asks new users to select 5 or more categories that best fit their likes. This helps to personalize individual feeds as well as searches.

By customizing content and obtaining feedback to personalize it even more, you’re constantly evolving and strengthening your customer journey and a personal attachment to your business.

Begin to Build Customer Relations

When it comes to building customer relations, great communication is key! An article on digital marketing trends in BCG tells us that customers are more likely to engage with the products and services of brands that they trust.

Communication begins with their first interaction. Make sure your website, social media, and email content are speaking directly to your target audience. Other strategies include: offering live chats on your website, responding to queries in a timely manner, and requesting feedback from your customers. These practices help to provide a strong foundation for your brand, which in turn will increase the likelihood that potential customers will become more long-term!

Activate Your Brand Customer Journey

Once you have set clear goals and done all of the right research, you are at the stage of activation. As you grow your brand, work to continually optimize your user experience by updating your personalized brand content. You can achieve this by listening closely to your customers. These are all of the right steps needed towards gaining that coveted customer loyalty. Establishing and nurturing these relationships can only help drive your company’s success for the future.

 

As ThunderHead writes: 2017 is the year for the customer journey. We hope that you use this helpful guide to work with your customers every step of the way to ensure customer happiness as well as company success.

Are you ready to start the year off right and build new strategies for your customers? For more tips on how to step up your marketing game, head on over to our blog on infographics!

How SEO Content Has Changed in 2017

Posted by | Content strategy, SEO marketing | No Comments

Image Credit: Vertical Response

As the digital world is constantly evolving, so do the ways in which we do business online. With search-engine algorithms constantly being updated, marketers and writers like us have to rethink SEO best practices in order to create successful SEO content for our clients.

Let’s explore how SEO content has changed in 2017…

Hyperlinks: Less is More!

In the past, content writers tend to focus on the amount of links in their content. Now, forget about linking so much and make your content the priority. Your audience will appreciate quality, engaging content that remains relevant to their (and your) goals.

We suggest inputting one internal link and one external link within your content. If your content is lengthy or if it naturally requires more link love, then go ahead and add more where you deem appropriate!

So, start easing up on the hyperlinks, and focus on what truly matters: the quality content that is made for your audience.

Keyword Optimization: Go Organic

When you think of SEO, keyword optimization is typically the first thing that comes to mind. We’ve all been taught to ensure that particular keywords appropriate for the site at hand get placed word-for-word within the content. Well, this is just no longer the case.

Using RankBrain, a ranking algorithm learning artificial intelligence system (there’s a tongue-twister for ya!), Google is able to pick up on similar words within your content in order to optimize SEO. In its 2017 SEO guide, Hubspot writes, “Today, it’s important to optimize your page for the user experience.” Meaning: Write for the user. You don’t need to stuff certain keywords in there just to have them. Google got smarter. This is a huge bonus for us writers! We can write focused content without having to be at the whim of specific keywords.

Now, you can focus on writing outstanding content instead of rewording your message over and over again in order to ensure that you are following SEO best practices.

The Homepage: Simplicity is Key

The homepage is the first landing spot for your potential customer. When creating a website, you may feel the need to cram as much content as possible into your homepage in order to convey your message. Stop that.

We are here to tell you that the more simple your homepage is, the more likely your followers will be drawn to your company. Examples of websites with charmingly simple homepages are: Dropbox, AirbnbEvernote….and hey, Message Sprout 😉

Instead of filling that first page with lengthy descriptions, write simple hooks that will draw in your audience, send them them to other pages on your site for more info!

Mobility: Quality Videos and Images

One of the trends in 2017 that is taking the digital world by storm is the increased use of mobile devices to access online media. A MacRae’s Marketing article on content marketing trends suggests that “content must be geared toward mobile device users even more this year.”

That said, content such as images and videos are utilized more often in order to grab a user’s attention. Spend some extra time optimizing these two types of content! This means not only making sure that your visuals are SEO-worthy, but that they are also of high quality.

2017 is a year for change. Users are becoming more involved with the help of the increasing mobility and accessibility of online platforms. So focus your efforts on ensuring that your content has more quality SEO in order to make the connections that you need to be successful.

Using current content writing best practices is one of our fortes! To learn more about our copywriting services, go here.

Engaging Titles and Headlines

How to Create Engaging Titles and Headlines

Posted by | Copywriting | No Comments

Creating engaging titles and headlines for blogs or digital assets is an easy way to help increase traffic to your content. The headline is the first piece of your content that a potential reader sees. A title tells your reader what they are about to read, and hooks them in. It offers a promise to your reader, and that promise makes them more likely to read the rest of your post in order to satisfy their curiosity and to learn something or be entertained. Not only can eye-catching titles generate more click-throughs on search engines, social media, and email marketing, they can also set reader expectations and provide contextual insight.

While creativity is a huge part of headline writing, there are also basic best practices that should be considered when crafting a headline. For instance, it’s important to be clear about what the reader’s takeaway will be. Once you have determined the target audience that you are writing your content for, using phrases like “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” can help you set the foundation for what exactly your content is going to cover. Then, when writing the digital content, be careful not to stray away from your original promise to your reader—use your headline as a guiding tool.

For other best practices on how to create engaging titles and headlines, check out this helpful infographic resource below from CopyPress.

engaging titles and headlines

 

In addition to following a general standard for headline writing, you should also glean insight from previous posts to see what works best for your content and your industry. Basically, looking at historical data of your past successful content can help you find data to support which headline strategies generate the best results for your audience. But keep in mind, what may work for your blog may not work for the next guy.  You may find that content with a headline that poses a question generates much more activity than list-based ones. Historical data can help you better understand how to write engaging titles and headlines for your target audience.

For more information on taking your content writing to the next level, feel free to visit our website!

 

Save Your Website From Hackers

Save Your Website From Hackers

Posted by | Web content strategy, Website security | No Comments

We’ve all been there. You didn’t update your Gmail password until it got hacked and started spewing out spam emails about some dating website to acquaintances you haven’t spoken to in years. You didn’t update your social media until you got the email from Twitter saying, hey, there’s some suspicious activity going on. Work email? Let’s face it, you’d never update that shiznat if the tech team didn’t make you every few months. And so on and so forth. For many of us—except for the truly paranoid (aka on top of it) out there—we’ve got enough to do than think of securing our 550,687 logins and think in terms of security.

But have you ever had your website that you worked so hard on and paid beaucoup of dollars to copywriters and/or web developers to launch hacked into and destroyed?  It’s not a pleasant experience and could result in you having to start all over again (yes from SCRATCH!) if the proper backups weren’t in place. Hackers are getting stronger and better at what they do. And for whatever reason, they would love, love, love to mess with your website.

Message Sprout gets at least a weekly email from WordPress saying how there were 27 attempts to login and someone was blocked. Was that us trying to login? Nope. Hackers.

For advice on what to do to save your website from hackers, we went straight to Jeff Corey of Visual Soldiers who, among other things, builds beautiful websites (like ours!). The following is his totally doable (meaning: no reason to slack off on this because it’s too hard) must list for what to do to save your website from hackers—just in case.

Update Your Software and Plugins

Countless websites are compromised every day due to the outdated and insecure software used to run them. It’s best to update your website as soon as a new update is available for any plugins, framework or CMS. Hackers devote their life to building automated systems with bots constantly searching and scanning every site they can look for exploitation opportunities. Not keeping your software and plugins up-to-date is one of the most common reasons a website is compromised.

Use Long and Strong Passwords

Believe it or not, people still use the word “password” or “123456” to secure important material. It is crucial to use strong passwords for your website, admin area, hosting account or any third-party software. If you’re like me, you have been building up a massive list of passwords for the past few years. It would be nice to keep these all organized to help you remember them. PC Magazine just released a great article on the best free password managers this year.

Set Up SFTP and Website Access

For accessing your website server it’s best to have an SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) set up as a minimum. There are plenty more secure options out there, but this is a great place to start. By default, SFTP uses the SSH protocol to authenticate and establish a secure connection. Because of this, the same authentication methods are available that are present in SSH. A quick search or call to your website host will help you learn more about setting up SFTP to access your website.

Back Up, Back Up, Back Up

We can’t stress this enough. Keeping nightly or even weekly website backups is a must. If you have a simple HTML website, you have a smaller chance of getting hacked, but it’s still a great idea to keep a backup of your website files. For PHP, WordPress or any other dynamic websites, you need to create a backup system that works for your individual needs. Since these sites are generally database driven, you will need to backup your website files as well as your database for each site. If a hack was to occur, you would have all of your data safe and would be able to rebuild your website quickly.

Specifically for WordPress, we recommend using a combination of a plugin called BackWPUp along with Dropbox. You can set your backup files to sync directly to your Dropbox account automatically. This is one of the best “set it and forget about it” backup options for WordPress. You can learn more about how to set this up here.

The mindset of “it won’t happen to me” is just not viable for this day and age, especially when it comes to securing your website, so take these above tactics to heart and get it done sooner rather than later, for safety’s (or your sanity’s!) sake.

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Hire a Lifestyle Writer for Your Tech Company

Why Hire a Lifestyle Writer for Your Tech Company

Posted by | Branding, Copywriting | No Comments

You’d think I was a techie what with all the past and present technology clients who have hired Message Sprout to help them with brand messaging and copywriting for their app, software, a new kind of crowdfunding platform or educational programs. The thing is, I’m not. I’m not even a technical writer. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. Here’s why you should hire a lifestyle writer for your tech company:

Photo credit: Lifestyle

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