Harnessing The Power Of Online – The Side Hustle

The foundations of a successful side hustle are built in your spare time; working around the

The foundations of a successful side hustle are built in your spare time; working around the daily demands that life throws at you. As such, a truly successful side hustle requires time management and commitment – and some helpful online hints. That’s what we’re here for (among other things).

Project Management Tools

First up, organising your demands and ensuring you have a handle on what you need to be doing. Keeping track of clients is all very well when you have a small business and a targeted client base, but as your side hustle grows it can be easy to lose track of promises you’ve made and workflows you’ve taken on.

There are a number of online project management tools that you can use to your benefit, ensuring your time is planned out to ensure maximum productivity.

One of the most popular is Trello – a one-page planner of sorts which allows you to create as many Job Streams as you like. Splitting your commitments into smaller chunks can help it seem more manageable, and Trello’s addition of useful tags allows you to easily highlight which jobs are Urgent, which are Ongoing and which are New Business. Trello is a visual way of presenting your tasks, and each individual entry is moveable. Another great feature of Trello is the ability to add multiple team members to each card, and even assign responsibility to individual people.

The other project management tool that’s worth a look is Asana – an online cloud software system that enables users to schedule tasks, plan how different project demands fit together, and – perhaps more usefully of all – quickly identify overlaps in your schedule.

Invoice Tracking Tools

Creating invoices is fairly straightforward if you have access to simple software such as Microsoft Word, but that doesn’t make it any easier to keep track of which invoices have been sent out, paid, and are still outstanding. That’s where online Invoicing Tools come in.

There are several free tools that you can find online to keep your finances in order, allowing you to keep client information safely stored in one location and presenting summaries around how much you’ve earned.

Invoicely is the first of these free tools. You can personalise your profile with company logos, personal information and an area to store your client details. The homepage dashboard enables you to see pending and paid invoices all in one place, and the quick and easy invoice creation feature sends out invoices automatically – with clients able to pay via Stripe, PayPal, BACS and more.

Payment Processors

Working hard to create a successful side hustle is all very well, but ensuring you get paid is one of the most important parts of success. Collecting payment can be a challenge, and that’s why presenting as many convenient options as possible is always preferable to, for example, only accepting cheques or cash.

There are a few payment processors out there that can link to your mobile device for payment on the go, linking seamlessly to your side hustle website – making direct payment quick and easy.

Stripe is one of the most popular as it allows you to accept payment online or through a face-to-face transfer. There are of course fees included with each payment, and Stripe tends to take an average of 3% per transaction – but without hidden fees, you can rest assured that the rest of your money really is yours.

Stripe also sends out receipts to your clients. And it includes features that show you how much money is coming in.

The Power of Apps

If you’re a side hustler who’s constantly on the go, time management apps are probably a good idea for you. (Particularly if you work and are paid by the hour.) Hubstaff has both a free and a paid version of the app. But even just using the free version will allow you to track your time effectively for invoicing. If a client puts you on a budget, Hubstaff will help you keep track of that. It will tell you the amount of time to spent on that specific project to ensure you don’t go over.

The extra features such as payroll software and team scheduling come with the paid package. They are an excellent investment if your business looks set to grow.

Another good app for time tracking is Toggl. Toggl focuses on watching how you spend your time. It features one-click timers and tracking reminders to monitor your allotted schedule for each job.

With an overview summary board available as well, Toggl encourages users to view reports. This can help you establish where you can save time and make more money.

In short, planning your time around a growing side hustle requires some dedication – there’s no escaping it. But you don’t have to go it alone, and it doesn’t have to be entirely manual. With so many apps and websites available to support you, keeping on top of your workload has never been easier.

Getting The Most Out Of Google My Business

Operated by Google, Google My Business is a way for business owners to take control over exactly

Operated by Google, Google My Business is a way for business owners to take control over exactly what their users and potential customers see in the search results listings. With a dedicated account that is solely used to influence Google search information, users can manipulate this data and supply information that their customers might need – including open hours, a contact number and photos of services or products.

Of course, another important feature of this is your location. By setting your location, you’re enabling potential customers in your area to search for what they need – and what you can provide – and be directed straight to your door.

So, how do you optimise this information to ensure that it is actually seen by the right users?

Get your foot off the starting block

The first step is, of course, to create your Google My Business listing, and fill in as much information as you possibly can. If your business doesn’t have a physical location or base, that doesn’t mean a Google Business account isn’t important – you can simply skip over the location and instead opt for a Service Area which allows users to see where you operate your services.

Pick the right Category

Picking the right category is how Google will narrow down searches towards or away from you. The categories already exist, so it is simply a case of selecting the one that most applies to you and your business – but don’t just pick the first one you see that seems relatively appropriate. The list of categories is large and quite specific, so make sure you pick the very best one for your business.

The importance of imagery

The world is shifting towards image-heavy social media platforms and videos, so ensuring you have some great visual content for potential customers is a sure-fire way to attract their attention. Using high-quality and professional photos where possible, your profile should show off your products or service results to any potential client who seeks more information. After all, first impressions are still the most important.

Double-check your information

If your business has a Google profile, an Instagram account and a Facebook page, it is imperative that you make sure the information aligns across them all. Consistency is key, not just for your customers who may be looking for vital information, but also for Google – who will penalise you for inconsistent detail; resulting in a negative impact on your SEO.

Encourage Reviews

Online reviews are a minefield. Businesses can shy away from reviews simply because they feel people will only comment on a negative experience. This is not the case since good reviews can seal the deal for one business over another in many cases. If a friend recommends a great restaurant, what are the chances you’ll visit that one over an unknown? Exactly.

Think about your area – and area code

If Google doesn’t think you’re a local business, they won’t recommend you to individuals searching in your local area. Using a local area code is one easy way to prove to Google that your location is correct. It will make Google more likely to recommend and suggest your business to users in the area searching for similar.

Make sure you know what Google does and doesn’t like, and stick to it

Google publishes guidelines for Business listings. Take the time to read it and familiarise yourself with what NOT to do. For example, adding keywords may be a good thing. And you may think you need them everywhere… but inserting them randomly into your business name can work against you. If it looks like you’re trying too hard, Google will suspect you’re not legitimate and you will be penalised. Another example is having a number of different listings all pointing towards the same business. You may think multiple listings means multiple chances of appearance, but all it means is that Google will punish you.

Don’t take your eye off the SEO-ball

SEO is still super important and ensuring your entire website works in line with your SEO strategy will go a long way towards giving both your website and your business listing the legitimacy that Google looks for. Make sure your keywords are relevant and present. Look to create content that focuses on your local area – as well as any wider offers.

Our Top 10 Key SEO Trends for 2020

The Winter months have well and truly set in, and with the end of 2019 fast approaching, it’s time to turn your attention to your 2020 strategy. Arm yourself with the most up-to-date info on SEO Trends for 2020.

Keeping up with the constant developments is a never-ending job all of its own, and unfortunately the same goes for keeping up with the competition. The internet is an endless minefield of competitors all vying for attention from prospective customers and clients – and the best way to get this attention is via the global search engines.

But as technology and content information matures, so does Google. It is no longer enough to just write a great blog – now it has to work alongside and in partnership with a specific set of rules implemented by organisations like Google.

Without further ado, here are 10 ways you can use SEO to harness Google’s attention and make sure your website features in those all-important top search results.

1. Consider featured snippets

When you Google something and wind up on a result page, generally the first thing on the screen is something called a Snippet. This literally does what it says on the tin, offering the searcher an extended preview of what they might find on that first site result – whether it’s instructions, tips or generic information.

To gain a chance at being the featured Snippet for any given search term, ensure you are answering the most common questions in clear and concise language. The Snippets receive a high percentage of clicks so it is worth spending the time tailoring your content accordingly.

2. Voice recognition and voice-driven searches

Our phones and smart devices are getting clever by the upgrade, with many now offering users a chance to search for anything they want – without having to tap a single button. While this has been attributed to accidental searches and even unintentional holiday bookings, it seems the powers of tech have honed and matured the technology to enable voice search to grow in popularity.

To work in partnership with this trend, you need to think about how people are searching using their voice – rather than their keypad. In short, the searches will be more detailed and keywords will become more conversational.

3. The growth of Artificial Intelligence

The majority of drivers may not be ready for driver-less cars yet, but artificial intelligence is on the rise and has recently become one of Googles most trusted advisors when it comes to user searches and search result algorithms. In short, the AI robots have learned what makes an article great; creating their own set of rules that we, as content creators, have to abide by if we want to continue to perform well online.

Does anybody know what these sets of rules look like? It’s all trial and error.

4. Online security

First GDPR and now this – if a user doesn’t feel that their information is safe when browsing your website, they won’t use it. It’s as simple as that. Increased user security is a trend which is only going to continue to grow, and SEO trends for 2020 are no different.

5. The power of the blue tick

Blue ticks have never meant more than they do today. A sign of status and popularity in the online world, a blue tag tends to mean that someone is a verified influencer – usually with an extremely large following and valuable networks.

Having one of these influencers endorse your brand is a priceless tool that enables your brand to be seen by networks and potential customers you couldn’t even dream of reaching before. Allow the social media trend to improve your website traffic and widen the reach of your content.

6. User experience

Remember the days when everything took minutes to buffer? We used to sit in front of the screen and watch the buffering wheel for days on end – but not today. Today, users want everything instantly, and if it’s not instant on your website then they will simply head to a different website that is. It doesn’t matter if you have great content – if the user experience isn’t exactly what they expect, you will very quickly find yourself losing valuable visitors.

Quick load times, an easy to navigate website, and optimised content for all devices – they’re all important!

7. Videos vs. Written content

Facebook has launched a new video viewing page which takes you straight onto another related video once your first one finishes. This subtle but clever way to introducing you to new content highlights how important video is becoming in the world of online content, as users are now just as likely to watch a tutorial as they are to read one.

Youtube advertising has never been so popular. As SEO trends for 2020 go, online videos will take over – pulling viewers away from their television screens. Make sure your videos are optimised in terms of SEO, to harness the power of this ever-growing trend. Great keywords and descriptions can mean the difference between a viral clip and a video that falls flat.

8. Quality Content

A pretty simple one really. You can do all the SEO and tagging in the world. But without quality content, you will never be able to retain potential customers. Give them value, well-researched information and clear calls to action! In a fast-paced world, your content needs to prove itself as informative yet entertaining; useful but also high quality and approachable.

9. Dwell time will increase in prominence

Time on site is about to become even more critical as one of the key SEO trends for 2020. If a user is spending lots of time on your website, that’s good. The search engine will know that the quality of your content and website is likely to be high. This is going to become even more of an influential factor as we enter 2020.

10. It’s not going to be just about Google

Google pretty much owns the search engine world. The phrase “Google it” is used to answer most questions asked by millions of people every single day. However, this could be set to change, as other search engines rise in prominence.

Likely, SEO requirements will differ particularly as different and new search engines work to attract users and gain support. We’ll have to watch this space to see what happens…

Want to learn about web design trends for 2020? Check out this post!

 

Unpacking the value of SEO

Unfortunately for those new to the game, SEO isn’t just a quick fix. It is in fact a series of tricks that work together to give your website the best possible ranking it can get in the eyes of Google. You may be thinking that the customer matters to you, not Google. But if you’re not ranked, you won’t appear for customers. That’s the value of SEO.

Having said that, it’s not like the search engines offer a guide to good SEO. In fact, they tend to keep quiet about the best way to steer SEO in a favourable direction. This leaves us to figure out the algorithms and how to rank highly. So, without further ado, here are a few of our top tips on how you can improve your own SEO on your website without hiring in experts and content creators.

Get to grips with Google analytics

Before you can truly understand which avenue your SEO should be going down, first you need to get to grips with your website’s current performance. Analytics will give you some insight into how people are currently coming across your website and how they are interacting with it, so that you can understand your website traffic and determine which search terms are leading people to you.

In essence, why are people coming across your website and what are they searching for to bring them to you? What’s the current value of SEO for you?

Understand your keywords

The next step is to identify what keywords link your service to the people who are visiting your website. Write down all the words that you think are key to your business proposition and what you offer, and then use keyword tools to figure out how valuable those terms are.

Engaging tools such as Google’s free keyword planner are useful here as they give you some idea of how many searches each keyword has and how competitive the word is among other websites. It will also then provide you with some suggestions around keywords relevant to your site, to help you build out your list and bid on the words best suited in both yours and Google’s opinion.

Trust us, this will all help your website to rank better among its competitors, leading to increased website traffic and subsequently more business.

Optimise your website according to your SEO strategy

Once the keywords are established, your website needs to be brought up to speed. This involves implementing the chosen words into as many aspects as you can – NATURALLY. This is key. Making sure the sentences flow smoothly and that the keywords are well integrated is critical to ensuring a good ranking. If Google thinks it’s nonsense, you could be worse off than you were before you started.

Key areas to focus on include the web page URL, heading tags, image names and alt tags, title tags and your web page meta descriptions. A lot of this will be happening in the back end of your website and won’t even be something that is obvious from a visitor point of view. But Google is always watching…

Make sure you don’t lose sight of your content

Keeping the content relevant and up to date is vital for SEO. Not only do new news stories and blog posts give you increased opportunity to integrate those keywords to your site, but they signal to Google that your website is active and relevant in its field. Create high-quality content that will interest your audience, and they’ll stick around to read it. If you start letting the content drop, you’ll swiftly see a corresponding drop in your website traffic.

Out with the old

Likewise, old content is pointless. Update your old content where necessary, and if it’s no longer relevant then simply scrap it.

Internal links

Google is a big fan of internal linking and proof that every area of your website is relevant to the overall industry you’re providing a service in.

Optimisation

In a world where most browsing is done on the go, ensuring your website is optimised for mobile usage is absolutely crucial – not only for your users but for your Google ranking. Mobile matters and Google have recently revealed that the status of your website optimisation is a factor in ranking your site among its competitors. So, don’t let it fall by the wayside!

Site Speed

Much like the above, site speed is another thing that you think is out of your control but impacts SEO a lot. People care about how long it takes for a web page to load. Improving your site speed is something that can make a big difference in overall website satisfaction.

There are things you can do externally too. Promote your content in other places. Think social media, through guest posts on other related sites and even in directories. If you’re an expert, play on this and ensure that everything you do online links back to your own website.

This is a strategy known as backlinking and is another way of showing Google how relevant you are – by having other relevant websites link to your site. It’s like a recommendation without direct endorsement. But for Google, it is enough to show that your content is valuable. This means your website deserves to be up there with the other strong contenders.

Keen to learn about trends in SEO for 2020? Click here.

Cybersecurity for small business websites

All too often the media shares stories of large organisations and companies that have been hacked through their website. Customer data and private information gets stolen all the time. The unfortunate truth, however, is that it’s not just these large-scale companies that are being targeted. Small businesses are just as likely to be targeted. We’re just far less likely to hear about it. That’s why cybersecurity for small business is just as important.

Recovering from a security breach is expensive and can be catastrophic for a small business without the necessary cybersecurity measures in place. Read on for some of our quick cybersecurity for small business tips.

Keep your domain information private

If a hacker has access to your name, your email address or even your mailing address, they can use this information to hack into your website or worse. The more personal information they can collect about you, the easier their job is, and you could find yourself facing a case of stalking or identity theft. Employ domain privacy to shield all your personal details from hackers and identity thieves.

Invest in an SSL certificate

Many internet users now will not trust any website without an SSL certificate in the browser bar, and we know Google relies heavily on SSL certification for a good ranking. However, this isn’t just a good investment for business – it also protects your site from hackers by encrypting all the data stored on it. All of our hosting packages come with free SSL certificates as standard!

Automatic backups

One of the most damaging ways a hacker can destroy your business is to crash your entire website or cause such problems that customers can no longer access your site.

With an automatic backup, you can work safe in the knowledge that should anything happen, you know you have everything you need to get the site up and running again quickly and easily. Ensuring that the automatic backup updates itself on a daily basis is key to being able to restore as recent a version as possible should it become necessary.

Malware scans and removals

It sounds like something out of Doctor Who, but cybercriminals are now a very real threat to small businesses that work online. With access to coding that can steal data and allow access to your site at the click of a few buttons, cybercriminals can attack a site before you even realise it’s happening. That’s why automatic malware scans are so vital.

These malware scans perform regular automated scans on your entire site; identifying and removing any potential threats to your security. By investing in one of these, you can be sure that any vulnerable areas will be identified and fixed before a hacker can exploit them.

Domain renewals

Another thing worth investing in simply because it can be done automatically is domain renewal. After an allotted period of time, your domain will come up for renewal and if you don’t act quickly you can lose control of your business domain name. Not only is this bad for business, but it also leaves you expired domain open for exploitation and unregistered access, whereby any cybercriminal could find out yours and your customer’s personal data and email addresses.

This can be prevented with automatic domain renewal. It’s an easy way to register your domain name so it refreshes annually. This can generally be managed through the billing information on your domain registration account.

Automatic updates

Staying up to date is one of the best ways to ensure foolproof security. It ensures your cybersecurity is working on its newest and most effective version. Many updates that become available have been created to patch up the flaws left open in an old version. So, neglecting to update with them can mean that your site is still open to those flaws. And once a hacker gets in, it’s too late.

Set up WordPress and plugins to update automatically, to offer automatic protection.

Check your passwords

Creating a password is often a toss-up between choosing something easy to remember and hard to guess.  Trust us, the latter is much safer.

It’s important that not only you but anyone with access to your site uses a secure and unique password. Hackers can find a different way into the site even if your own password is super secure.

Login Forms

If customers can log in to their own accounts, you’re at risk of letting in a bot. Bots try thousands of login combos; allowing them into your site. Then they release malware to damage the business from the inside.

By adding protection layers to your login forms, this should be avoidable. Things like reCAPTCHA, are good examples, as automated bots are unable to identify these. It’s also worth enabling a tool that gives customers a set amount of login attempts before they become locked out. This annihilates the potential for trying multiple logins until one works.

These ideas are just some of the basis in cybersecurity, but they will ensure increased safety for both your business and your customers. And we think that’s an investment worth entertaining.

How to Earn More With a Side Hustle!

Most commonly known as the ‘side hustle’, there is a distinct rise in the number of people who are taking on a secondary business. Usually to supplement their salary and open up their professional opportunities to new avenues and adventures. There are loads of ways to earn more with a side hustle.

For many of these business-savvy individuals, what starts as a side hustle can often become their primary passion and main working focus. So, what makes for a successful side hustle and how can you make it work for you?

What makes a side hustle successful?

Like many areas of business, there is no exact formula to making something work. Each business is individual, with its own recipe for success and growth. Obviously, time management is key when working a traditional job and a side hustle, and the more time you are able to channel into your secondary business – the more successful it will likely be.

The benefit of a side hustle is that it isn’t your main source of income (at least, not yet), and so you are free to give it as much time and attention as you wish. Once you’ve decided how much of your life will be run by the side hustle, there are a few things you can do to maximise your success.

Trial and Error

The first thing to do is ensure that you’re spending your time on something worthwhile. Whether it’s a product or a service that you’re offering, encourage friends and family to be your guinea-pigs and provide constructive feedback, so that you don’t end up spending your time on something that will become a flop.

Keep it on the side

It’s important not to jump in too quick. You may be loving the work you get on the side and may think that the more time you give it the more it will grow. But the reality is, it’s unlikely you will be able to switch your side hustle from a small idea to a full-time job overnight, and so giving up on your day job would be a risk too far. Ensure you’re still channelling plenty of energy and enthusiasm into your day job, as it can be easy to lose motivation and start turning in bad work once your priorities shift. Your day job is still important – both financially and professionally – and you don’t want to lose the great reputation you’ve spent your career building.

Work-Life balance

The age-old work-life balance is something some people really struggle to entertain, yet it is so important to your own wellbeing. Make sure that, even with your side hustle, you’re still allowing yourself adequate time for rest and personal activities.

Invest in what’s important

Don’t just throw money at your new venture in the hope that it will deliver a good return. Spend your money on what’s important – whether it be a website or a physical workspace in which to conduct your side hustle. Buying a brand-new laptop if you’ve already got one when you don’t yet know the value or anticipated success of your side hustle, is unwise and likely a waste of money.

Having said that, ensuring you have the right tools to maximise your success is important, and you should think carefully about which tools you need to progress your side hustle forwards in a positive direction. Do you need a website? Would an app help you to manage your time and keep a handle on the tasks that need completing? These are questions only you can answer.

Enjoy it!

If you’re going to be spending much of your spare time on a side hustle, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing and that you are passionate about. Motivation is everything when it comes to side hustles, and so choosing to progress with something you enjoy is vital. Having the right tools can help. We’ve got a great list here.

Set goals

Set yourself small and large goals and make sure you keep track of them. So many people write themselves checklists and goals, only to lose the paper they wrote them on and forget about them entirely. There is no point in having goals if you aren’t going to check in with them, so use it as an opportunity to start small and work your way up – and who knows, maybe one day you’ll look back and be proud of all the goals you’ve achieved!

Whether your primary reason for starting a side hustle was to earn some more money or to engage in one of your passions, a side hustle can be a great way to use your time to both a personal and financial advantage. Determine how you can earn more with a side hustle you’ve already started on. Or start fresh and pick something you enjoy and that you can envision growing – after all, there’s a chance that one day this may become your sole working commitment, and so you want to make sure it is as successful as it can be!

Are you looking for a side hustle? If so, why not check out our affiliate program. We pay a very generous commission of 50% recurring for each referred client that signs up and you earn every month they remain a customer of ours!  Click here to find out more.

Unpicking SEO: How to boost your SEO rankings

SEO is one of those buzz-words that floats around the online world, without much understanding behind it. Individuals claiming to be SEO experts will constantly inundate your inbox with offers to optimise your SEO and perform SEO checks – but what does it all mean? They all want to boost your SEO rankings and often at great cost.

The purpose of SEO is to make sure your website stands out for the powers of a search engine. Often what the search engine is looking for doesn’t even make complete sense to us, but we do it because it leads to good “SEO”. This guide to unpicking SEO is designed to simply help your website rank a little higher and perform a little better, without the need for outsourced experts and lengthy reviews.

Pick your Keywords and stick to them

When using WordPress, there are special plugins and accessories that have been created just to make your SEO life easier – use them. Yoast SEO is one of the best; rating your posts according to how well they have been written in light of your SEO targets. Yoast is a content creaters dream, engaging one simple tool that will change the way you write. It allows you to pick a keyword and it makes sure you stick to it.

By telling Yoast what the focus of your post is, in one word, the plugin will make sure everything you create is working to your advantage – from the post heading to the content body and image captions. Good SEO means tying everything together to one common focus, and Yoast makes absolutely sure that is what you do.

Customise the web address

How many times have you clicked through to a blog and wanted to send it to someone else, only to see that the link is a random string of numbers and characters that takes up half a text message? It’s annoying, unprofessional and renders your article potentially unshareable for the likes of LinkedIn and other social media.

Editing the web address is easy in WordPress, and by making sure that focus keyword we discussed is also in the web URL, your SEO will be even better – not to mention it will look better and allow readers to understand exactly what the post is about before they start to read it.

Divide your content into different categories

The best bloggers out there know how to divide their work into sub-divisions and categories; not only to make navigation easier for their readers, but also to improve SEO for your site. Search engines trawl through your content to assign an SEO rating – why not make it easy for them by dividing the content up and doing half the work for them?

Get rid of the junk

Bin any old, poor or duplicate content right away. If you don’t want to permanently delete it, then at least set the page to ‘no-index’ so that they cannot be found by the search engines, as these pages are likely harming your SEO and making search engines think your website is full of junk.

Make the images smaller

Large pictures can completely dwarf a great website, no matter how spectacular the content is. They damage your load time. A slow load time means a badly ranked site in the eyes of a search engine. They will subsequently be unlikely to position your site high up in their options for visitors. By reducing the size of your images, you will see a drastic change in the load time for your site. This will translate into better SEO ranking and more website visitors.

These changes are quick and easy fixes to help your SEO perform better and boost your SEO rankings. Everything you create no longer simply needs to satisfy your end reader. Search engines are your biggest judge, and if you don’t cater to their requirements, your website won’t even be found. Give yourself the best possible start by engaging these tips from the word go. Then sit back and watch the visitors flock to your website.

Want more tips? Click here.

The building blocks of a website

Building your own website has never been easier. With the tools now available, building a website today is easier than the building blocks we played with as children – with far fewer instruction manuals and trip hazards.

Whether it’s a small marketing site for your business, a blogging hub or an eCommerce online shop, we’ve compiled a list of the tips and tools you need to employ to safely build a website of your own.

Let’s start with the set up – what to do before the building begins.

The Foundation

First up you need to determine what route your website creation is going to take – on the assumption that starting from scratch is not the best way forward (unless of course, you are a technology whizz in which case this post probably isn’t for you!) The most obvious route is to start with a Content Management System or website building tool – populating templates with the relevant content and images of your choice.

By Content Management System (CMS) we tend to mean WordPress, so your choice here is between WordPress and an alternative website builder. WordPress is responsible for over 30% of all the websites currently available in the world, showcasing its popularity and ease of use. After all, if 30% of the website population can use it, I’m sure you can too. WordPress is ideal for everything from small blogs to large online publications and even online stores – all in a highly customisable and professional format.

If customisable and flexible isn’t what you’re looking for however, a website builder is the best option. These tend to follow similar designs and patterns and allow the user to input their relevant information easily and quickly. It’s simple to use and quick to customise, with no added dragging and dropping of different features and content blocks. Essentially you pick a template and you stick to it.

The Build

So, you’ve reached the build. The first thing you need to do is secure your hosting and a solid domain name. The host of your site is where all your online files will be stored so must be reliable with adequate space. The domain is what you will get your visitors to type into their browser to access your website. Typically, it’s easiest to purchase these as a package deal, as this saves technical admin further down the line, although you can get these separately if needs be.

To sign up for website hosting you need to select a plan through your chosen host site. These tend to start from a basic package to a more premium option, and which you opt for depends entirely on your requirements for the website you want to build. Ensure you read all the fine print before agreeing to any package. Once this is selected, you will be asked to enter a domain of your choice – if your first choice is taken, keep trying variations until you’re happy with the one that is also available.

Assessing the building site

Do research. What do your top competitor’s sites look like? Are they focussing on anything? How will you make your site stand out? What is the purpose of your website? Only when you know the answer to these questions can you start to build an idea of the visual aspect of your site and how it should appear to your visitors. This, in turn, will inform your template decision.

Once that’s decided, you need to create some kind of structure plan. Generally, these are not complicated – after all, we’re creatives, not techies. However, making sure you have an idea of which pages need to build will make your job easier down the line.

The Design

Everything available to you both on WordPress and a website builder has been created by a professional website designer. They’re user friendly, easy to personalise and all already available. You’d be a fool not to use them.

With WordPress, you need to first install the app on your host. Once this is done you can add a theme – this will inform the design of your entire site. Spend some time going through the available themes. When you finally find the right one, click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’ to set it on your own site. Once selected, the theme becomes customisable through the settings. This will allow you to add new pages, changes the colours and fonts, alter the display of the menu and many more options. You can also add plugins to increase your cybersecurity and SEO, as discussed in other blogs.

A website builder is far simpler to use, with a multitude of potential themes available for all manner of industries. The theme you select will become the template for your site. Basically, what you see in the theme selection box is very like how your final site will look. Though perhaps, with different colours. So, choose wisely and make sure you play around to work out the extent of the changes you can make.

Building a website is as easy as it has ever been, and with our simple instruction manual, you should be up and running in no time. The choice between WordPress and a website builder should be made after considering the time scales. Plus, the ongoing time it will take to manage and update regularly.

Keeping Hackers Out – the Basics

Hackers are the enemy of the online world, and can destroy everything you’ve worked on with the click of a button. Whether it’s an entire website of content, or accessing and destroying your client database, a breach of your website is a horrible blow to your hard work and can often feel like a very personal attack.

Protecting your website from hackers is one of the most important investments you can make into your online security, and not all of them require a tech-whizz – some of them you can employ right now. So, without further ado, read on for our top ideas for keeping hackers out.

Security Plugins

We talk a lot about plugins – some can help improve your SEO and some may make your developers life easier. Security plugins do a different job; actively preventing hackers from breaking into your website.

Content management systems are designed with a number of built-in plugins that do just this, and each one addresses the most vulnerable areas of security on the different platforms; whether you use WordPress, Magento or Joomla.

Another thing you can do to further tighten your online security is looking into SiteLock, which acts as a daily monitor across your website; identifying everything from a virus to active attempts to break into the site. Picture the online version of a burly bouncer on the door of a nightclub – that’s SiteLock, and it’s well worth the time spent on installing it.

HTTPS

If you’re inputting personal information into a website, for example, payment details during an online transaction, chances are you know to look for the green padlock at the beginning of the website address in the browser bar. Next to the green padlock, you will see the letters HTTPS – these five letters show you that the website is safe from hackers and that you can safely input your personal details without risk of theft.

Historically it has always been important for eCommerce websites to hold an SSL certificate because it secures the transfer of important and private information and ensures the safety of your website visitor’s data. Since July 2018 however, Google has taken to informing website visitors of every site that doesn’t have an SSL certificate, no matter what your website provides or does.

If you want your visitors – and Google – to trust your brand and your website, investing in an SSL certificate is a valuable investment as it will ensure your site is ranked highly on Google and will make visitors feel safe when visiting your site.

Keep your content management system up to date

This applies to everything. From the content management system to your plugins, apps and any additional scripts. If any of these are left outdated for too long, a hacker can get in.

Checking that your website is up to date is easy enough on WordPress, by checking directly through the dashboard. The dashboard will instantly tell you if the version you’re running is up to date.

Keep your passwords new and unique

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as recalling the name of a favourite pet. Passwords are there for a reason, don’t make it easy. If it’s too simple, it’s going to lead the hackers straight to you.

When choosing a password, make it long and use a mixture of letters, characters and numbers to create something that really is unique.

And it’s not just you. If you work within a team who all have access to your website, making sure they all have strong passwords. This is just as important as your own. After all, the website is your business. Something as simple as a bad password can allow hackers in to quite literally destroy your business and livelihood.

Don’t take the chance!

Automatic back-ups

One of the worst things that a website hacker can do is erase all of your work. This is easy if you have no back-up.

Making sure you have a recent back-up of everything you do is super important. An automatic backup service will enable you to do this without even having to think about it.

There are a handful more ways in which you can secure your website from hackers. But these require a more technical skillset and understanding of how the backend of websites work.

For now, we suggest employing the above techniques in order to keep your site safe from hacker harm and will explore the more technical tips in a future post.