New Ghost Blogging Clients to Check Out

We’ve been busy selling and setting up new blogs. We would like to share a few of our newest ghost blogging customers with you so you can check out the writing.

Perfectory Web Design
This Canadian web design firm makes the most beautiful website templates I have ever seen and the prices are good too. We are blogging for her site on topics of interest to small business owners or web designers who would be buying her templates. Each Friday we feature one item from her assortment and on Monday and Wednesday provide great business and marketing tips. Visit the blog now.

Homes Buy Day
We’ve blogged for literally years for this client who then took a several month break while he was building a new WordPress based website and now we’re back blogging. His blog is chock full of interesting articles on Maryland real estate and showcases some of his listings and foreclosed properties. The owner John Day periodically blogs on the site as well and has a wonderful authoritative voice for his industry. Check out this great blog now.

Staff Advantage
This new blog for a virtual assistant offers wonderful marketing and business productivity tips. Although we only blog two times a month for this client, the content is interesting. Andrea Dwyer the owner is also available to help with a wide variety of virtual assistant services. Check out this blog now.

We’ve got a few other blogs getting ready to start this week and the first part of May so we’ll make sure to point those new ones out to you as well. To find out more about our ghost blogging or blog writing services, I invite you to visit our blog writing services page. There you’ll find pricing, samples, and links to other blogs that we are writing for as well.


Network Solutions Takes a Black Eye With Compromised Hosting

Last week one of our client’s who is hosted at Network Solutions had a huge issue with their website. IE had splashed a huge red warning on the page when his URL was entered. The warning stated that the site had been compromised and included automatic downloading malware. Additionally the Kapersky antivirus program blocked all access to the website.

What I found out was, that one, the FTP access to the website had been changed without notice by Network Solutions earlier in the week, the home page of the client’s website and the index.php page of the blog directory (not the blog itself) had a trojan script installed at the bottom. Clearly if a link had been clicked on the page anywhere a trojan would have been downloaded to the unsuspecting visitors computer.

When I spoke with Network Solutions staff about the problem they said that not only our account had been compromised but others as well. For this particular client, this is the third time his site or blog has been hacked in the last year. He is the only  client we have hosted at Network Solutions and the only one of two that I know of in our list of clients this past year who have had a serious problem with their web host.

When should you consider moving your website? Well I say being hacked three times is reason to move! I can understand a system being compromised once and maybe even twice but the third time warrants a conversation about why new technology and security policies were not put in place after the last big attack.

You can read more about this most recent incident in this article.

What I find particularly interesting is that Network Solutions messaged me on Twitter when I tweeted about the problem and said no, they weren’t hiding, and pointed to a note posted on their website. The note however did not say that their servers had been compromised and trojans installed on websites they host, but rather an innocuous notification that some people may be having trouble FTPing their website.

Although more transparency in this case would definitely lead to a flood of client’s leaving Network Solutions for other web hosts, clearly better customer handling of the situation should have been done. It may behoove Network Solutions to state the new security policies and hardware they are putting in place to offset the amount of bad press this last incident is creating, my own blog post included.


Adobe Packages InContext Editing With Business Catalyst

I have reviewed and tested Adobe InContext Editing and felt it was a good product for clients that wanted to update website content themselves. Adobe has recently announced that it is closing the free standing version of Adobe InContext Editing and will now package it as part of the Adobe Business Catalyst solution.

Business Catalyst is much more than a website editing application it is an advanced set up business tools under one umbrella much like HubSpot. Business Catalyst’s strength will be however its significantly lower price when compared to HubSpot.

I have been testing the interface intensively and find the WSIWYG interface annoying to use for a power user such as myself who typically works in code view. To please people such as myself, Business Catalyst does allow full FTP access and can work on sites set up with Dreamweaver templates.

What I find intriguing about Business Catalyst is its arsenal of web widgets and easy to implement advanced features such as recording all form contact submissions into an integrated customer database for use by the sales team and an included e-newsletter application. The system can even set up email drip campaigns. Additionally you can do e-commerce on Business Catalyst as well with a very nice feature of being able to load all your products from an Excel spreadsheet versus having to enter each one manually.

The application allows the business owner to review on on dashboard all activity on their online business and allows sorting of information with an integrated analytics program as well. From my initial review, it looks like a very powerful system with a very low cost. This is a hosted application like HubSpot but instead of charging a monthly fee of $500 for a small site the fees range from $39 to $79 per month and only $16 per month if you only want to use the InContext Editing portion. To me the application has great potential.

One note of warning, the system IS complicated. I have personally decided that the premade templates are not a good fit for my needs, but will be testing my own template next in the application. Although this tool is not a good fit for everyone, it certainly points the way to the future of packaged business solutions. As the team says at Adobe, this is no longer just a website, it is an online business!


The New Must Haves for Every Business Owner

It used to be that if a business did not advertise in the Yellow Pages, you were out of the game.,Now there are new “must haves” for business owners to consider to be a part of our new “connected” global business marketplace. These new “must haves” are a blog, a Facebook presence, and a Twitter account.

If you look at each of the three items I mentioned, they have one thing in common, they allow a connection with users who want information fast and to connect with and interact with the real you versus reading  a brochure-like website. It is important to note that I am assuming that you have a website already by this point. If you don’t have even that, then instant remediation is needed quickly.

The Web has changed our world and how we do business drastically, but social networking is now changing how we interact on the Web with each other. So let’s talk about these three important components briefly and why you should have each.

There are so many SEO benefits that are derived from blogging that to not now have an on domain blog puts you at a competitive disadvantage. As a blog is written in a more conversational style and allows for comments it is a wonderful way to start interacting with prospects and get tangible organic search benefits at the same time.

Facebook Presence
Facebook has gotten so big that you just cannot be using it at this point in time. It is like how a  website was considered a few years ago. If you didn’t have one you weren’t in the game. This is the same now with Facebook. Many businesses will start out with a personal profile, as I did myself, and then move to expand interaction through a Facebook Fan Page. Whichever direction you take it’s important to get in the game at this point. Recently, Facebook even eclipsed Google in user activity. Facebook  is a huge sleeping giant that can be harnessed to drive traffic, interact with customers, find prospects, and share information about yourself and your business. When Facebook finally figures out how to monetize itself properly the returns will be huge.

I have gotten quite a bit of business from Facebook over this last year and that was just from my personal profile. I have sold and closed a several thousand dollar custom website project, and in the last two weeks alone, I have gotten a new ghost blogging client and a press release client. So, if you take the attitude that Facebook has too much “fluff” and is just full of games, think again. Serious business is being done through Facebook interaction.

Twitter has grown tremendously in popularity with 300,000 new users each month and over 10 million using Twitter already. This application has potential written all over it. Twitter is not about spamming others with what you sell, but about interaction, answering questions, providing information, and sharing information. It is not as rich as an interactive environment as Facebook, but its viral marketing potential is stronger than that of Facebook.

Big business has flocked to Twitter. Say anything in Twitter about Kohls, and a real person will direct message you. Say you have a problem on Twitter about Network Solutions, and a real person will chat you up to make sure that all is well. Using mentions and search queries you can monitor what is being said about your business on Twitter and interact with others with similar interests. Twitter is growing so fast that it makes sense to get in “before the curve” and not “after the curve”.

I am always watching for the next big thing to check it out for our own business and our clients early. I’ll let you know a secret, the next big thing I’m watching is being tested by Google Labs in India. It is SMS Channels. This new application allows you to set up a channel of content and allow subscribers to receive your information directly to their mobile phone. That should be a biggy. I’ll let you know when it comes to the US.


Make Sure You Have a WordPress Backup Application

This last week a client that I help on occasion who has one of the highest traffic blogs that I have seen lost his MySQL database that runs his WordPress blog. The crash was devastating to his blog and to his business. What is even worse is that he did not have a recent backup of his blog post; lost were 6 months of blog posts and comments.

To prevent this from happening to you, I recommend that every WordPress owner install a WordPress plug-in called WP-DB-Backup. This simple to use and configure blog post database backup allows you to email yourself a backup of your blog posts in MySQL format on a schedule you select.

I routinely backup my blog posts weekly and recommend that all clients and WordPress users do the same. Although you can tell the application to store your backup on your web server, I like the additional security of saving the backup to my own hard disk.

Just make sure that once you install the plug-in that you review it to make sure that your folder is writable. You will access the plug-in control panel from your WordPress “Tools” navigation link. If the directory location is not writable, you will need to correct that to use the plug-in.

Although you may never have a situation when you will need your backup, what if you even do. Will you be wishing you had a backup plan in place like the client I mentioned in the first paragraph or will you be able to get back up and running quickly only losing a day or two of blog posts?


TweetMeme Allowing Others to Share Your Content on Twitter

I have just recently added TweetMeme to my blog. That’s the little icon to the right of each post that allows you to click the word tweet and share my content on Twitter, plus tracks how many people have retweeted a blog post.  This is similar to the Digg icon you may have seen on the Web on other sites.

Both TweetMeme and the Digg icon allow for easy ways to encourage the sharing of your content in new innovative ways. Take a look at the bottom of our blog post and you will also see our Share This icon. This WordPress plug-in gives your readers more options to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, and social bookmarking sites.

The reason I have chosen TweetMeme over the Digg icon is simply that I am much more active on Twitter at this time than I am on social bookmarking sites.

It is very simple to set up TweetMeme on your blog or on your web pages.  Here is a link to the TweetMeme plug-in page for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and other applications. If you prefer to install TweetMeme on a web page, here is the link to the code creator for pages, RSS feeds, emails, and other ways to share your content.

By encouraging the sharing of your content you reach a much wider audience and create more opportunities for your content to go viral. TweetMeme makes it easy!