Buzzfeed & Upworthy-style Social Media Sharing Plugin for WordPress

Buzzfeed-style Sharing Plugin for WordPress

After a long time search for these, I’ve finally found what I believe are the best social media sharing buttons around.  Social news sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have risen in prominence over the past few years partly because they are great at enticing people to share the content they’ve carefully curated on all their favourite social networks.

buzzfeed

If there were a list of websites which consistently put out content that went viral, then these two would surely be near the top somewhere.

As I see it, they spend a lot of money and time figuring out what works and doesn’t work.  No point in us smaller fish doing the same, just let them see what works and copy it!

This is why I’ve been searching for a WordPress plugin that would give me the style of social icons they use at the moment and enough flexibility to allow me to customise them to my sites.

Even the massive tech news site Mashable uses some version of these social buttons to promote the sharing of content on their pages.

mashable

Since I’ve been blogging across my various platforms, I’ve used a lot of different social media plugins.  At present, the momentum seems to be towards large, bold sharing icons that are in your face.  I guess we’ve grown blind to the simple, left-floating icons we see everywhere and therefore this essential social marketing technique is evolving.

Take a look at the Get Social Get Viral WordPress plugin to see how it fares with what you’re currently using on your sites.

 

Are you being smart about using WordPress?

Transcript of the slides above if its not loading correctly:

Why do we use WordPress?

There are a number of reasons why millions around the world use WordPress:

1. It’s very well supported – A massive user base means a massive community.  So there are thousands of forums, user groups, experts who are around to help.
2. Its not just about blogs – Yes it’s the king of blogs and that’s how it started, but its more than just a blogging platform. Over 1 million of the most popular sites on the Web use WordPress and no they’re not all blogs.
3. Its massively customisable – Need a contact form, want to have ads, want anything else?  There’ll be a plugin for that!  There are literally thosuands of WordPress themes and plugins to customise your site exactly the way you want it.
4. It doesn’t take a technical whiz to get started – You can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

I already use WordPress – what more should I be doing?

Because WordPress is so widely used, you need to know how to keep your WordPress site secure.

  • Stay up to date – Plugins, themes and the very WordPress software itself gets updated often to provide new functionality and to increase security.
  • Backup your data – I know you’ve heard this before, but it needs to be said.  Why spend time & money on your website and then risk it all being taken away?  

How not backing up could lose you $1800: http://bit.ly/1d38b5u

 

Running many sites on WordPress?

If you’re already using WordPress across many websites, chances are you’re already updating WordPress along with all your plugins and themes.

You probably also spend far too much time just updating everything.

Typical process   (about 5 minutes per site)

1.Login to each site.
2.Update WordPress.
3.Update Themes.
4.Update Plugins.
5.Log out.

Does this sound familiar?

 Any idea how long you’ve spent updating if you’ve got just 10 websites?

That’s just updating…

If you’ve been working on your website for a while, you’re probably also spending time on:

  1. Backing up your website and content
  2. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) analysis
  3. Tracking which keywords you’re ranking for on the major search engines
  4. Reviewing your Google Analytics
  5. Monitoring uptime across your websites

How much time are you spending on all of this?

 

Spending too much money as well as time?

Lets face it.  If you’ve been doing this a while, you’ve already got someone working on your SEO and paying good money for it too.

You’ve probably got a plugin which handles your backups.

You’re probably checking rankings on all your sites manually or you’ve delegated this to someone else on your team.

 

Get all this for  $2 per site, per month

Yes, just $2 or £1.50 per month.

For that, you get:

  1. One-click updates
  2. All websites under one dashboard
  3. One-click automatic login to any of your WordPress sites
  4. Update WordPress software on all your sites with just one-click
  5. Install, update, manage all your plugins and themes on all your sites
  6. Mass remove spam comments
  7. Update any post from any site from just one dashboard
  8. Optimise your WP database
  9. Conduct a Website Performance Scan
  10. Receive email notifications for available updates
  11. Easy, reliable backups (including to S3, Dropbox, Google Drive)
  12. Powerful SEO analysis
  13. Review pageview statistics
  14. Keyword ranking checks
  15. Google Analytics monitoring from the same dashboard

 

Be smart about how you use WordPress.

Spend your time and money on the important stuff.

Let a simple, low-cost solution do the rest.

For more info:

http://www.helpforstartups.biz/wordpress

Follow this one simple security step if you use WordPress, its a MUST!

How do you change you default WordPress admin‘ username?


By default, WordPress assigns you the ‘admin‘ username when you first install it.  Most people will stick with this forever but this is a gift for anyone wishing to break into your website.

Imagine…

You want to get into someone’s account.  You see two fields on the screen in front of you.  One is asking for the username, the other is asking for a password.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that if you already know one of those, your job of getting unauthorised access is 50% simpler.

So my advice?  Always, always change your default administrator username.  It takes about 2 minutes and makes breaking in by guessing that little bit more difficult.

Ok so how do you change you default WordPress admin‘ username?  
Just follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard using your admin username and password.
  2. Go to the Users section and create a new user.  Give this user Administrator privileges and an appropriate username. TIP: Use something that isn’t your name, or anything like admin‘.  So no, admin2‘ is not recommended.
  3. Now you’ve created a new user that is also an Administrator, one of them can be deleted. To delete admin‘, you need to log out and log back in with your new user details.
  4. Once you’re back in, go to the Users section again, pick the admin‘ profile and hit the delete key.  Assign any content over to your new username and you’re done!

Easy, peasy! You have now changes your default WordPress admin‘ username.

If you’ve got any problems, send me a tweet at @Helpforstartups and I’ll be happy to tweet you through it.

Backup WordPress – Don’t lose $1800 like I did

Always backup your WordPress sites.  It doesn’t matter if you have one or 100, backing up the content from the sites you spend a lot of time and money on should never be something you’ll do tomorrow.  Trust me – I learnt the hard way.

Always backup wordpress

I run several airport-related blogs which I have built up over the last three years, with each one being developed in WordPress.  I love WordPress and you’ll hear me talking about it all the time as it is easy to use, has any plugin you could possibly want from a customisation point of view and has many thousands of support options, from forums to specialist WordPress maintenance companies.

Just eight months ago, I lost about $1,800 across these airport blogs.  Why?  Because someone hacked into my sites and for some reason thought it would be funny to delete a whole heap of content.  I had a modest WordPress backup solution (a sorry excuse for one – who’s with me?), but it was quite manual and not lazy-proof.  Like many of you, I’d heard the constant mantra, backup, backup, backup but something else was always more urgent so a better backup solution always fell onto the backburner.

Even to this day, I don’t know how much content was actually lost.  Probably about eight months worth I guess, and that’s a lot of stuff considering there were multiple posts per week.  Some were retrieved from draft Word documents on my desktop, Evernote and the like, but most of it was just gone.  Our hosting company only had a day of backups, and we found out too late for them to be able to do anything about it.  Between my VA’s and I, we probably scraped together about 15 articles.  15!!  Out of over 100!  That wasn’t the worst part either….if you put together all the hours spent in researching, writing, comments left by readers, my team’s responses to those comments, the whole conversation!  All gone!  I don’t know why, perhaps to torture myself, but I just had to know what the rough value of what I lost was.  As I mentioned earlier, the figure I came to was around $1,800!

Months of work disappeared, and with it any SEO value that had been built up in them.  Our visitor numbers dropped considerably and though I can’t tell if this is related, each site’s corresponding Twitter accounts also lost followers over that short space of time.

Since then, having a WordPress maintenance package in place has been even more important to me than the content on the website.  What use is good content, if you’re going to risk it all disappearing after a simple hack?

I read many, many blogs and articles on WordPress site security and spoke to many experts before deciding to pick this WordPress support service.  Some simple tips:

  1. Online technologies change and with it so do online security measures.  Large organisations like WordPress are constantly updating their software in line with the latest security measures so one of the things you absolutely must do is keep all your WordPress versions, your themes and plugins updated regularly.
  2. All standard WP installations produce your admin panel at the following URL: http://www.yoursite.com/wp-adminThis can be changed.
  3. The following code is present by default in WordPress site pages.  Any potential hackers can use this to determine what version of WP you are using which can make it easier to compromise.  Remove this with this simple plugin.
  4. Change your default administrator username.  By default, this is admin.  The majority of people don’t bother and yet its the simplest of all the things in this list to sort out.  Find out how here.

Now points 2-4 are simple tips to implement and are one-offs too but for point 1, if you have multiple blogs and WordPress websites, this can be a logistical nightmare.  Without an easy, single-sign on solution, you’ll be forever spending your time individually logging on to each of your websites, and manually updating the WordPress themes, WordPress plugins and WordPress software versions.

I gave up after just one week of this and went in search for simplicity without compromising security.  And I found this simple WordPress backup and maintenance service.  The price was less than it would cost to hire a Virtual Assistant to do it all manually for me so it was a no-brainer.  And it let me backup and update all my WordPress sites from one place.  No more having to login to each site separately.

Of course, I’m keen to hear what horror stories you’ve had in the past with your WordPress maintenance or lack of maintenance solutions.  Have you found any that are better than the one I use?  Leave your comments below and let us all know.

The social media effect in business

Back in the early to mid 1990’s, business people were being told they needed a website.

In the early 2000’s, business people were being told they needed to have a business website that took online payments.

Now and for the past year or so business people are being told that they need to get to grips with social media.

Some resisted getting a website as they were an off-line business with a traditional bricks and mortar shop front.  Guess what?  They eventually got themselves a website.

Some resisted taking online payments as they didn’t want to manage another transaction channel.  Its true that for some businesses, they may have got that website, but haven’t gone the full hog and made it e-commerce ready.  But many have after resisting early on.

Now we’re seeing the social media age.  Businesses are resisting or putting it off, and its only a matter of time before most bring their businesses up to speed with this phenomenon called social media.

social-media-helpforstartups.biz

Not all businesses listened to the above advice at first, but many did.  It is these companies that listened, learned and adopted this advice that are thriving now.  I would agree with those that say don’t just jump on the latest fad or bandwagon but have the willingness to learn and test something new to see if it is actually a fad or not, or if it is something to be given serious attention.

Doing things the way its always been done can be fine if that’s what your customers prefer (what they ACTUALLY prefer, not what you just THINK they do).  But change in any industry and life in general is inevitable, so learn to keep up with the times or get left behind.

If you are starting up a business, you’d be well advised to at least register your Twitter username and perhaps get a Facebook page set up.  Its not going to cost you anything but a few minutes of your time at the start but it could prove a worthwhile customer engagement channel in the future.

For existing businesses, I would argue its even more relevant.  Providing more channels for your customers to get in touch with you and engage with your brand and business should be seen less as a burden on existing resources, but more as an opportunity to solidify an existing relationship and potentially gain more value from it.

For online businesses, the introduction of Google+ and the +1 button from the same search behemoth has many believing social search is getting more important.  If this comes true, then social media literally becomes a service or business evaluation tool – your customers will be looking for signs from their ‘network’ as to whether they like your product or not and that is something no business can afford to ignore for long.

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Focus on being focussed

As a startup business, it is likely that you have a very small team.  In many cases, that team consists of only one person, you.

startup-helpforstartups.biz

This means marketing, accounting, finance, internet marketing, sales, operations, purchasing, HR and web maintenance is all done by just two hands.  I am sure you have heard people saying the following:

  • Spend most of your time working on your business, not in your business

and

  • Focus your energy doing the work that matters, not on doing the work that doesn’t matter, i.e. understand and follow the 80:20 rule or the Pareto principle.

Now the above bullet points are very important to bear in mind, however when you’re the captain, crew-member, chef and sweeper, it can be difficult to adhere to these lofty ideals.  Usually this is because start-ups tend to be underfunded.

You’ll come across people who will arrogantly tell you that you shouldn’t start a business until you are funded well enough to be able to do the right things, but I would argue that is better to get going when your head is in the right place and as long as that remains the case, other things will fall into place.

Starting up a business is a juggling act.  You will focus on different things on different days.  At the end of each day you will assess your day and on one day, you’ll love that you were productive and concentrated on the right things, and on others you’ll hate yourself for wasting time on admin tasks and not giving time to more strategic activities.  This is the life of a fledgling startup entrepreneur.  Accept that it happens to everyone but also accept that continuing like this isn’t an option.  You need to focus more.

If cashflow and funds in the bank mean you cannot outsource the non-critical activities to specialists in those areas, fine.  But list out the activities on a spreadsheet or piece of paper and then start divying up those items by days of the week in which you’ll be doing them.  This creates a focus for each day.  You’ll move things around to suit your working style but in the end, you’ll have a list with most of the stuff that needs to be done, strategic, admin and everything in between.  Look down this list – what can you actually disregard as its a nice-to-have?  Then disregard it or add it to a nice-to-have list for the future.  Each day’s to-do’s should only have a maximum of 4-5 items on it, otherwise you are over-stretching yourself, and things are unlikely to move in the right direction.

Listing items out for each day creates focus and discipline.  Well actually the discipline part comes from actioning that list day to day.  Don’t be hard on yourself if all items on that day’s list are not done – this will happen from time to time.  But measure yourself and your productivity based on how many of those things you get done each day.  If its less than 70%,  you need to take a long, hard look at your list and your motivation and something needs to change.  If you’re doing well above 70% every week, treat yourself.

Once you have been doing this for a few weeks, write back here to comment on how you got on or what bespoke tweaks you introduced to help you.

When to issue credit notes

As a start-up business, you will be looking forward to the days when the invoices you send out outweigh the bills you are sent to pay.  On some days it may look like those days are far away on the horizon, but believe me that if you are focused and determined, it won’t take long before those days come to pass.  The chances are you’ll be so busy, you may not realise until you sit down to do your accounts!

When I started my first business, I knew all about invoices and when I became VAT-registered, I asked many questions, read many articles to understand how my invoices needed to change to allow for VAT to be added and evidenced.  The one thing I hadn’t realised was how to handle credit notes.

A credit note is similar to an invoice however is normally issued to reduce an invoice already issued.  It is a common misconception that credit notes should be issued for all invoices that have to be reduced, however here in the UK that is not the case.  If you are not VAT-registered, then you can amend an invoice and simply send a revised invoice to your customer.  Credit notes however become mandatory when you are charging VAT or more accurately are subject to VAT.

So if the value of VAT charged on an invoice needs to change downwards, a credit note must be issued to provide the paper trail of this.  If it is agreed between the parties involved that the VAT can remain unchanged, then a reduction in the non-VAT amount can be made without the issuing of a credit note.

I should stress that if you need help on these issues, you should seek the services of a professional accountant.

There you have it, a quick educational session on when to use credit notes.  What has been your experience of credit notes and the like?  Please do share your stories by adding a comment.

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Building a small business into a big business

If you think of a very successful company these days and perhaps draw up a list of your top 10, Google and Apple are likely to feature very highly in most people’s lists.

Now Apple has been around for some time but over the past decade they have really come into their own, even surpassing Microsoft in the latest company valuations.  Google on the other hand is a relative newcomer but has completely redefined the Internet age.  Think of the Internet, and you think of Google, its as simple as that.

Both companies have been very successful and they have done this by focusing on their customers.  This might sound half-hearted and you may be thinking “surely every business focuses on their customers”.  You may be right there, that good businesses focus on their customers but it is a question of degree and perseverance.

Take Google.  Their original aim was simply to create a better way of getting to the information you want online.  Back when they started off, the best you could expect was to trawl through a good directory listing or hope that your search term was popular within Altavista or Yahoo to get relevant results.  Google built an algorithm that made their systems work smarter to find exactly what you were after based on their popular PageRank method.  This algorithm ranked pages based on their content and popularity and then matched this to what you were searching for.  It was almost an immediate hit and the results you’d get from Google were far closer to what you were searching for than what you would get from the other older search engines.

Then came the monitization part.  Simple effective text-based ads on the side of search results directly related to what you were searching for – or in marketing speak – targeted advertising with a capital T.  Better targeting meant less money wasted on advertising to those not remotely looking for your product or service.

So they not only gave the public the capability to find exactly what they were looking for online, but also gave advertisers an excellent way of targeting the customers they were looking for.

And then there’s Apple.  Apple has done brilliantly across almost their entire product range due to a growing customer base that is converted into a loyal customer base.  Their product ranges work easily, sync easily, look stunning, problems are dealt with quickly.  You’ll find most Apple users will not just be content with one Apple device in their homes.  They’ll have an iMac, an iPad, an iPhone and perhaps more.

Its about being great at every customer touch-point.  Apple are great at new product announcements, they make products easy to purchase, each item has a rich-feature set, is intuitive to setup and use.  Regardless of all this, problems are inevitable but then Apple also has renowned customer support.  All this reflects in the money Apple users spend with the company, be it on the products or after-sale apps on their phones and tablets.

This is what you need to emulate to dramatically reduce the time it takes to go from small to big.  You don’t need lots of cash in your armory, but you do need the smarts to ride along the entire customer journey yourself and focus a lot of your energy on where the customer touch-points are, i.e. where do you or your staff interact with customers.  Crack these points along the customer journey, making them painless for both you and them and you’ve just made your plans for the big time that much simpler.

Think positive, set realistic goals and above all get off your behind and start taking action.  This is where the real results will come from.

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Choosing your startup bank

Don’t fall for a flashy marketing campaign or make the mistake of choosing your business bank based purely on who you personally bank with.

Business banking is very different from personal banking.  Firstly, expect more charges for things you normally get for free with your own personal bank such as paying in cash or cheques at a branch, getting your first arranged overdraft, etc.

For startup businesses, there are many offers around where the major banks try to woo your business by offering incentives such as free banking services for 12, 18 or even 24 months.  Some even allow ongoing free banking if you meet certain conditions.

The main things you will want to consider will be based on your own business circumstances.  Do you expect a lot of incoming funds per sale of your product or service?  Will you get paid by BACS, CHAPS or in cash or cheques?  Are you expecting to run close to the bread line for the first few months of your business?  Do you have complex requirements for you which you will need the assistance of your bank manager on a more frequent basis?  How important is online banking to you?

These are all questions you need to ask yourself before going out there into marketplace.  The bigger banks typically offer free introductory offers as mentioned above, however the newer banks and international ones also deserve a close look.  Santander, Halifax, Co-op and Metro Bank are alternatives to the normal set of banks such as HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds or Natwest.  Each one will have something to offer you so do speak to each one before deciding.  Changing banks afterwards is possible and is now far simpler than it used to be but it will take you away from your main job – the job of running your business.

Oh and don’t get hung up about where your branch is.  Apart from this address appearing on your cheques, a ‘local’ branch means very little these days.  Its the service, costs and features that should be on your shopping list ensuring the business bank you choose matches what your business needs.

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More Computing Power For Less

Gone are the days when you needed to spend thousands of pounds on the most basic hardware and software just to have the bare bones to start a business that didn’t rely on just a pen and a pad.

Only a few years ago, many budding entrepreneurs would have shelved out on an Exchange server and accompanying licences so they could have group, domain-led email and a few other bits & pieces.  You would have needed to spend quite a hefty monthly sum to have a decent enough Internet connection.  I still sometimes see businesses using ISDN lines!  Why would anyone bother?  Close that line down already and move on….the rest of the world has.

Google Apps for Business is all new startups need these days.  Follow a few basic steps and within literally 15 minutes you can have a fully functioning web-based email system which can run emails on your own domain.  When you’re starting up, you only need the basic version which is completely free.  Unless you decide to suddenly add more than 49 other staff members to your business who also need their own email account, its a safe bet to say you’ll only be needing the free version for quite some time.

The freemium model for Internet-based services is fantastic for new businesses as it keeps costs down at those all-important few months.  Google Apps (email, analytics, online advertising, etc.) Dropbox (online backup & file synchronisation), Skype (communication), Twitter (communication & marketing) are tools I could not run my business without these days.

There are also those small tools that keep your computers working to the best of their ability.  Again, gone are the days when you’d have to spend a small fortune on decent anti-virus software that may have kept your machines safe, but also made boot-up time seem like an extended lunch break.  Take your pick from Avast or AVG, both top-rated anti-virus solutions and both completely free for the basic versions (which do a very good job).

Starting a business is still tough – I don’t want to give the impression that its a walk in the park but the truth is that with today’s technology and advances in web-based services, a startup can compete much better with bigger competitors.  Suddenly Goliath doesn’t seem as big as he used to be.

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