How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

How To Choose and Use WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

One of the biggest benefits of using WordPress to build and manage your website is plugins. These small pieces of code can greatly increase the functions and benefits of your WordPress site, but it’s not without some risk.

John Overall of WP Plugins from A-Z joins me on the BeBizzy Break Podcast Episode #85 to discuss WordPress plugins and a few other subjects.

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Some Basic Info on WordPress Plugins

Plugins are really just compiled code that can easily be installed and used on your website. Most are very small and only get loaded when they are used on a page. However, some, like Woocommerce and some contact form plugins are very large and often load on all pages whether they get used or not, so be careful on how many you install and run.

Currently there are nearly 55,000 plugins available in the WordPress repository in just about any function you can imagine.

The repository contains links and information to free plugins, with paid plugins available directly from the developer, CodeCanyon, and a variety of other places.

How to Select a Plugin

Searching for a plugin can yield hundreds of potential suitors for the job. Some detective work and maybe even some “live” testing may be required to find the right plugin.

John has set up some “sandbox” websites that only serve as test beds for plugins and themes. This is a great suggestion, or you can use a development area for the actual site if you have that available to you.

It’s not recommended that you test a plugin on a live site unless absolutely necessary. It can cause the site to not display correctly, or be totally down.

And also be advised there are three different types of plugins in regards to cost, free, premium, and freemium. Free is free. No cost, just download and use. Premium will cost you up front before you install. Large, often popular plugins like Gravity Forms are included in this model. The third is “freemium” where you will be given the plugin for free for a short time, then you have to pay to use it after the trial period.

Potential Issues Installing Plugins on Your Site

Before we go too far, this is a great time for me to snap in my weekly plug for backups. Back up your site BEFORE you install any plugins or themes just in case.

Like anything you install on a website, plugin code can cause some undesired results on the website. Collisions with other code can affect CSS, some themes, the working of other plugins, and even the dreaded “white screen of death” on your WordPress site.

Also, free can come with some security issues. While the WordPress repository does a great job of monitoring and screening plugins before they get into the wild, sometimes malware finds a way into a plugin. This also can occur on paid plugins, but it’s less of a chance.

Really what is comes down to is a couple of things.

  • When was the plugin last updated.
  • What versions of PHP or WordPress has it been tested with.
  • Read the reviews to see if the plugin was well-received by other users.
  • John suggested typing the plugin name into Google followed by the word “sucks”.

Keep in mind, WordPress is a free CRM. Out of the box it is very secure, but as you add themes, private code, or plugins you can open it up to potentially being exploited.

When asked if there is a number of plugins that is too many, John responded with “No.” It comes down to if all of the plugins can run well with each other, causes the page to load slowly, and can harm the user experience.

Go-To Plugins That We Use on Every Site

I use several plugins on nearly every website I develop. John also has a list of about ten or so plugins that go on his sites.

  • Wordfence : security plugin that has a free or premium service. Even the free version does a great job of locking down the site
  • UpdraftPlus : A GREAT backup system that allows you to back up to the WordPress install, a Dropbox folder, an FTP location, and several other options.
  • Gravity Forms : Versatile form builder
  • A CDN plugin – I use a CDN to make the website load faster for the visitor.
  • MainWP : I manage dozens of websites, so MainWP is very useful to track updates to all of the plugins.
  • WPMU Smush Pro : great image optimization plugin

Some Final Thoughts on WordPress Plugins

  • Don’t be afraid to use them.
  • The will save tons of time.
  • Don’t be stuck on the free version.
  • Don’t get married to a plugin. Sometimes you have to move to a new, better plugin.
  • Don’t be afraid of the research to find and implement the right plugin.
  • Listen to shows like the BeBizzy Break Podcast and WP Plugins from A-Z to learn about good, and bad, plugins.

WP Plugins from A-Z and Other John Overall Projects

If you are managing a WordPress website for you or for clients I would encourage you to add John Overall’s WP Plugins from A-Z to your rotation. He reviews five or so plugins on every episode and gives some real-world ratings on whether that plugin will be useful.

At JohnOverall.com he also serves his development, hosting and recovery clients.

Have any questions or suggestions on WordPress plugins? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Why & How To Stop Using Internet Explorer

Why & How To Stop Using Internet Explorer

Back about a month ago it was announced that Internet Explorer security flaw allows hackers to steal files.

Security researcher John Page has revealed an unpatched exploit in the web browser’s handling of MHT files (IE’s web archive format) that hackers can use to both spy on Windows users and steal their local data.

The vulnerability affects Windows 7, Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and allows some access to computer files by sending a simple command such as a CTRL+K (open a duplicate tab) or a Print command.

Page posted details of the exploit after Microsoft reportedly declined to roll out an urgent security fix. It instead said a fix would be “considered” in a future release. While that does suggest a patch is on the way, it leaves millions of users potentially vulnerable unless they either turn off Internet Explorer or point to another app that can open MHT files.

So, first… remove IE unless it is completely necessary for your job. Some government agencies, financial institutions, insurance companies, etc have websites or applications that ONLY work on Internet Explorer. Which is scary since it’s government info, your bank, CPA, insurance industry or other entity that stores private information.

But what are you supposed to use as a replacement? There are dozens of options, and we’re going to talk about a few, starting with the big three, and a few others.

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Market Share

I remember the old days (dating myself) when Netscape emerged as a new, robust applications that provided access to the World Wide Web, instead of BBS’s, usegroups and the all-powerful AOL. Microsoft came in a few years later and the two battled back and forth over market share.

IE finally finished Netscape off with IE6 with Windows XP, and at one time IE owned 90% of the browser market. Firefox started the new browser emergence, then Chrome began it’s climb to the top of the browser heap.

Now, every social media application like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have in-app browsers and there are literally dozens of others which serve specific cases.

The most recent browser market share data in the US from Stat Counter : http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/desktop/united-states-of-america

Basic Security Policies Regardless of Browser

  • Make sure you’re using the most recent version. Windows update, Chrome updates and others should be installed when possible to avoid an exploit.
  • Turn off Flash! Uninstall Flash! Never visit sites that require you to use Flash! Get the picture how insecure Flash is/was/forever will be?
  • Learn to see if the lock icon appears letting you know you’re visiting secure sites. This is very important if you’re making purchases or providing secure information
  • Use a password manager instead of storing passwords in the browser. Lastpass, Dashlane and others are cost effective and do a great job on computers and smartphones.
  • Clear History Periodically : erase your tracks every once in a while to keep anyone from snooping on where you’ve been.
  • Turn off autofill if you really don’t use/need it. It could be used by others with access to your devices to see what sort of sites and information you’ve been searching.
  • Use a VPN – A virtual private network encrypts traffic from the device you’re using to access the internet (computer, smartphone, etc) and routes through to a point where it joins the wide network. By encrypting traffic through your networking equipment, ISP’s devices, DNS routing equipment and other endpoints you’re tracks are covered up and you cannot be tracked.

Big Three

e-logo.0

Microsoft Edge

  • Internet Explorer’s replacement from Microsoft.
  • It probably came pre-installed on Windows 10, or one of your Windows 7 or Windows 8 updates.
  • Built-in Cortana integration which enables specific information to be displayed when certain websites are visited.
  • Reading Mode : turns off distractions when enabled so you can just read the page text.
  • There is a Microsoft Edge version for smartphones, tablets and other operating systems.
  • Microsoft has promised an “IE-Mode” which will open a familiar Internet Explorer look and feel in a separate tab
  • There is also a version of Edge that will be built on the Chromium, the same open-source web rendering engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/microsoft-edge

1200px-Google_Chrome_icon_(September_2014).svgGoogle Chrome

  • The browser market leader by a HUGE margin
  • Tons of extensions which extend the browser’s utility by offering website developer tools, notifications, marketing assistance, password managers and a whole lot more.
  • Tab Pinning – Have a site you visit almost every time you go online? Pin the tab and it will always be there.
  • Incognito Mode – Need to browse a site in private, meaning you leave no trace in browser history? Open a new browser instance by hitting CTRL + SHIFT+ N in Windows, or COMMAND + SHIFT + N on your MacOS.
  • Syncing Chrome with Your Google Account – Get access to the same settings, bookmarks and extensions by logging into your Google account in Chrome.
  • Of course you can download and use versions of Chrome on all Android and IOS devices.

https://www.google.com/chrome/

firefox_logo_2017-100742591-largeMozilla Firefox

  • A distant second place to Google Chrome
  • According to speed tests Firefox Quantum browser is currently the fastest browser available (May 2019)
  • Like Chrome, there are tons of extensions that add to functionality.
  • Great malware and SPAM protection. Firefox turns a blood-red color when you go somewhere you’re probably not supposed to go online.
  • Private Browsing – similar to Chrome’s Incognito mode, private browsing deletes cookies, passwords and all other traces you were on the web.
  • There are versions of Firefox available on all Android and IOS devices

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/

Other Browsers

  • Opera : Opera has been around since 1995 but apart from a very dedicated group of users, has never gotten traction. It is built on Chromium and is thought of as a more secure version of Chrome.
  • Safari : The default browser for all IOS devices it is used by Apple and Mac users unless they select another as a default. A huge negative is it is not available to PC users (unless you know a few tricks), which took out a majority of the computer market. Like IE, Safari got buried as Chrome use soared.
  • Chromium : the open source version of Chrome, Chromium has appeared on Linux distributions, and is also used as the backbone to other specialty browsers. It works similarly to Chrome but is thought to be a bit more secure.
  • Brave – created by the same developer that created JavaScript, Brave is very new to the browser game, launched in 2016. It is a very minimalistic browser, which enhances its speed and security.
  • Maxthon : A browser popular in China. The most ringing review I could find of Maxthon was that it was a good choice to use if you preferred the layout of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Ugh.
  • Tor : built for users to access the internet anonymously via the Tor network. All traffic is encrypted so tracking is impossible. As an additional layer of security the user is routed through the TOR network which bounces the traffic through a series of relays before emerging on the open web.

As a web developer and an “experienced” technical professional, it is great reminiscing about the history of Internet Explorer and what it has done to move the internet toward what we have today. But like MySpace, Hotmail, AOL and the Blackberry, Internet Explorer is something we should no longer use. There are plenty of great replacements that take a little bit of effort to install and configure, but security, speed and utility makes the time spent worth while.

Have any questions or suggestions on your favorite, or least favorite internet browsers? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Is It Time For A New Business Phone System? Try Jive!

Is It Time For A New Business Phone System? Try Jive!

Still using your old regular phone system or mobile phone for you business?

Traditional phone systems… well… suck. They are running on technology that really hasn’t changed much in 20 years, have a definite limit on sound quality and reliability, are expensive, and are very rigid on what they can do.

VoIP systems, or voice over IP, are a very modern, versatile way to bring your phone system in the modern world, and Jive is emerging as a leader in the space.

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What is Jive?

While Jive has been a leader in VoIP for nearly 15 years and customer satisfaction scores are at or near the top at all times, they really got traction about a year ago when it was acquired by LogMeIn, a screen sharing and conferencing system that has also acquired GoToMeeting and other systems. The addition of the Jive phone system has added a vital link to the LogMeIn experience.

By itself, Jive is a full-featured VoIP system that can be used by nearly any business setting from a single-seat to a call center controlling tens of thousands of agents.

What’s Needed to Get Started?

Odds are you already have everything you need to get started with Jive. The softphone uses your computer or a mobile device to handle the calls. Because it’s all done over the internet, no phone lines, accounts or equipment is needed. Calls get routed from a number you get provided to any/all devices with the softphone installed.

To customize the experience an IVR can be put in place, customized hold music and more to get a very professional appearance to your potential or existing clients.

VoIP phones are available, and plug into the network jacks instead of using phone wiring, which means you can take the phone and softphones with you when you travel, move offices, or just want to be somewhere besides your office.

What’s Included with Jive?

Jive comes with over 80 included products including

  • GoToMeeting
  • GoToWebinar
  • Softphone apps
  • A suite of reporting applications
  • Auto attendants
  • Custom hold music
  • Call recording
  • And so much more!

Support?

24x7 support is available for Jive customers whether you’re a single seat, or giant call center. Three “tiers” of support are available, like most phone and other systems, with level 1 handing basic questions and account issue, and tiers 2 & 3 available for more complex and networking issues.

Jive does offer customized integration when you first sign up for the service, and a dedicated account manager is assigned to larger clients to make the launch as easy as possible.

How Can You Get Started with Jive?

To get started with Jive , the best way is to contact Dallin McEwin directly. Either follow this link to send a message, call 385-206-3863 and mention the BeBIzzy Break Podcast, or email dallin.mcewen@logmein.com, and Dallin will get your phone system on the launch pad.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions on Jive or another VoIP solution? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Run All Your Business Processes From One Tool – Accelo

Run All Your Business Processes From One Tool – Accelo

Using Accelo To Manage Your Business

Geoff McQueen - AcceloOn this episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast I interview Geoff McQueen, CEO and Founder of Accelo, on what prompted this wonderful invoicing, time management, ticketing and lead management system to be created and how you can use it to manage your business.

I’ve been a user for a little over a month, and having set it up myself, have seen the good, the great, and the “I should have asked for help” parts of Accelo. Check it out at https://accelo.com and get that free trial started!

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What is Accelo?

Accelo is a cloud-based “Service Operations Automation” platform. From here you can set up management of :

  • Leads
  • Projects
  • Tasks
  • Time Tracking
  • Proposals
  • Support Tickets
  • Invoicing
  • … and just about everything else you need to run your business.

Geoff and his team have built a wonderfully useful tool that, while it’s been effective for thousands of businesses, is still customizable to your business needs in nearly all phases.

Manage All Of Your Client Work In One Place

As Geoff says in the podcast, many of us in small business services have a “cocktail” of software and systems in place to do all of the things needed to run the business. Instead of using Accelo as a hub for everything I was using:

  • Toggl for time tracking
  • Wave Accounting for invoicing
  • Shoeboxed for expense tracking
  • Freshdesk for support tickets
  • And about 10 project and task management systems over the years.

Accelo allows me to do ALL of these things in one place. So I open it in the morning, or on my mobile devices, and I can get to everything listed above. The time savings alone are worth the small monthly fee for the system.

accelo-logoBuilt For Your Service Business

“Easy-to-use, automated and intelligent” is how Accelo describes itself. Unlike very focused software that can only do one thing, Accelo does a great job of making needed systems available in one tool. It breaks down into four or five silos.

  • Sales – A good CRM (customer relationship management) software can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars just to bring in leads and manage the sales process. Accelo handles an amazing spectrum of sales processes including integrating with your email account to document a stream with contacts, appointments, estimates, billing and invoicing, and more.
  • Projects – Accelo does a great job of project planning and tracking. There’s a project module that allows a Gantt Chart-like system to be automatically created when planning a project, complete with cost and resource estimates. There’s a wonderful task tracking system as well that is easily managed and edited with smaller sub-tasks. And there’s ways to bring in outside resources and the client when needed.
  • Service – No one wants to do work without getting paid. Accelo has wonderful time logging, ticket tracking, expenses and billing. So instead of logging time in one place, support tickets in another, and then billing in yet a third you can do everything right here. And each timer can be logged against a project or company making it easy to track time on very specific projects.
  • Retainers – A fairly new addition is retainers. Geoff referenced how it’s good business to partner with some of your best clients by offering them a certain amount of work each month
  • Integration With Other Big Platforms – Accelo integrates with dozens of the biggest, most popular services in the world. I process payments with Stripe, get email and calendars in GSuite, communicate with vendors and even some clients with Slack. All of these are essentially plug-and-play with Accelo (well maybe not P-N-P, but close!) which only increases the ability to mold the tool to my business, not the other way around.

How To Get Started With Accelo

Accelo is very customizable, so unlike many products it’s easy to make the tool do what you need, rather than change a process to fit the tool. That being said, some recommendations for tasks to complete before starting with Accelo are:

  • Sit down and think through how you server your clients. These are the things that are similar for each client, and here’s what is different.
  • Draw out project and sales process flow on a whiteboard or paper.
  • Accelo offers up some integration services if the scope is too large, or it’s thought best to use the experts to set the system up.
  • The documentation is wonderful, and support is not instant, but quick enough and the help is always good.

The best way to move forward is simply to go to Accelo.com and sign up for the free trial. Cost is based on what is needed, how many team members will be involved, and how hands-off the setup will be.

Are you an Accelo user? Let Accelo and I know about it @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Optimizing Social Media Posts with RiteKit

Optimizing Social Media Posts with RiteKit

How RiteKit’s Tools Can Help You With Your Social Media

Most of us in business post to social media accounts, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others. But many of us post on each site individually, and if you do use a management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer are still not using it in an optimal fashion.

RiteKit CEO Saul Fleischman gives us some guidance on how RiteTag, RiteForge, RiteBoost and Rite.ly can make things way easier!

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What is RiteKit?

RiteKit is actually a collection of four tools:

  • RiteTag – Get instant hashtag suggestions for images and text, anywhere on the web and mobile. Must-have for Instagram and Pinterest.
  • RiteForge – Craft, schedule and publish remarkable posts with the auto-magical Enhance button and many other time-saving tools.
  • Rite.ly – Soft-sell on all links you share. Add self-branded Calls-To-Action on links and track clicks and conversions. Exclusive video CTAs available.
  • RiteBoost – Already got a favorite publishing tool? Enhance posts in Buffer, Hootsuite or anything else. Create Enhanced posts in bulk from RSS, Feedly or Pocket.

Each of these tools can help you increase your response from your social posts by helping you keep in front of them with custom links, get #hashtag help, and more all from your browser with browser extensions and mobile apps.

RiteTag

RiteTag is a hashtag and posting assistance engine that will build a post and suggest relevant hashtags based on the page, titles, images and other factors. These hashtags can be used on any social media platform including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The RiteTag tool allows the suggested hashtags to be placed at the end of your posts, or even integrated into the copy. You can even choose which language to suggest hashtags!

RiteForge

RiteForge is a next-level product compared to RiteTag. It still suggests hashtags, but now you can add animated GIFs, emojis, find influencers and even schedule evergreen content multiple times over the course of days, or even months. It’s still a browser extension is easy to use. Simply click the RiteForge button and “enhance.” There are additional options there. Or, you can highlight text, right-click and “Share with RiteForge” and select from a series of options to use special background options, edit the text, add emojis, preview the post, and then submit to a pre-built group of social platforms, or select them individually. Like RiteTag you can also get suggested hashtags that are color-coded as hot, overused, never used, etc.

Finally, RiteForge allows you to schedule when the posts will go out, but also schedule a post to be sent out multiple times.

Rite.ly

Rite.ly is the default short-URL generator has a number of benefits when compared to other short-url’s like bit.ly, goo.gl, and more. The main benefit is for a customizable popup to be seen by your visitors when they go to the linked page. Some of the customizations include a video popup, some text, ads, and just about anything else.

You can even customize the URL to be branded by your own url or a desired URL.

Rite.ly works very well with RiteForge.

RiteBoost

RiteBoost provides the ability to add the Enhance feature across all social media platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer and more. It adds a button on you favorite posting method (Hootsuite for me) that makes it very easy to post and customize your post from your favorite social media program. RiteBoost also provides ways to bring in content from feeds from RSS, Pocket, Evernote, Reddit and many more online properties.

I’m going to start using RiteKit

As mentioned in the podcast, the RiteKit tools solve some huge time-sucking issues faced by many of us that use social media for our businesses. Finding relevant hashtags, making the posts engaging by enhancing with imagery and emojis, scheduling future posts, using multiple social media sites…all are possible using one or more of the RiteKit tools. Listen to the podcast for more great tips from Saul, sign up, use the tools where you are… on the page, in Hootsuite, in Facebook.

Enjoy and optimize your business social media with the RiteKit tools.

Have you used any of the RiteKit programs and have some comments or suggestions? Leave them @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Donna Serdula of LinkedIn-Makeover.com

Today we are featuring an interview with Donna Serdula.

Donna pioneered the concept of LinkedIn Profile optimization and is the author of LinkedIn Optimization for Dummies. Through her website, LinkedIn-Makeover.com, Donna and her team of 40 writers, help thousands of LinkedIn users strategically write their profile in order to engage with their audience and grown their brand.

So if you’re looking for some tips on building or optimizing your LinkedIn profile, listen to the podcast, then if you think there’s a need for some professional help, engage Donna and her team at LinkedIn-Makeover.com.

Enjoy the interview!

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Why Should You Be Creating A LinkedIn Profile?

Typically, something happened in your life that prompts the creation of a LinkedIn page/profile.

  • Looking for a new job
  • Graduating college
  • Start hearing rumbles of a job going away
  • Started a new business
  • Skipped over for a promotion
  • Press releases featuring you
  • Cold calling
  • You lost a big client
  • Going to a conference

Something has happened and people are now going to be looking at you. LinkedIn provides a way for you to feature information you want presented to those looking for you, your name and your company online.

It is often used as an online resume. But if you put some strategic thought into LinkedIn being your career future, not a digital resume.

People are searching for you all the time. Resumes are for your professional history, but your LinkedIn profile offers a chance to talk about you along with your company or product.

Common Errors on Your LinkedIn Profile

  • Pay attention to your profile photo – get a professional headshot. No partners, kids, annoying backdrop. Smile. No selfies! Use a resource like headshotcrew.com
  • Background Graphic – Replace the default graphic with something that illustrates your brand, your message or your company. Unsplash.com and linkedin-makeover.com has some great images.
  • LinkedIn Headline – replace the default name/company data with a custom message (120 characters) that’s a “tagline” to capture attention. That headline moves all over LinkedIn with you when you recommend someone, search results, activity and more. A better headline will result in more clicks and views. LinkedIn-Makeover.com has a LinkedIn headline generator to spit out an engaging headline that you can copy and paste into your headline.
  • Contact Information – Make sure your email address, your phone number and other information is visible. Also put it at throughout the profile at the end of the profile, at the end of job information, and just about anywhere else. There is a chance you will get some unwanted calls, but weight that against getting valid prospects or leads.
  • Summary – This is where many people copy/paste their resume. Sit down and carefully craft a 2,000 character story that includes relevant keywords, and is about what makes you different. What are you good at, what do you offer, what do you like to do? This is really a great place to work with professional writers like Donna’s company to make this work for you. Finally, don’t brag, just tell the story where a potential client or hiring manager comes away feeling good about you. Finally, keep this up to date. You never know when that new client, new project or new education will separate you.

Other LinkedIn Tips

  • Regular posting shows you are active and engaged – Even if it’s not making profile changes, sharing relevant articles or your own blog posts show you are here and it’s good content.
  • Paid vs. Free Accounts – There are advantages to premium accounts, it’s important to just start using LinkedIn. For most people the free version is more than enough, but salespeople, recruiters and others can find larger pools of prospects and candidates.
  • Building Your Following on LinkedIn – There are two types of relationships on LinkedIn. The “connection” is where you’ve invited a person to connect and they say yes. These are 1st degree connections and you can see how everyone is connected to 2nd and 3rd degree. A “follower” is where you can see what is being posted on LinkedIn. If you want to find people you should have a good, relevant sized connection network. A good rule of thumb is to make your online network reflect your offline network. Go back in time and connect with past co-workers, friends, classmates because you never know where opportunities will come from.
  • Are LinkedIn Groups Dead – LinkedIn groups are absolutely worth joining and utilizing. Group members are added to your network so strategically it makes sense to join groups. Find and join groups that are lined with your interests and industry and it will branch out your reach. And LinkedIn is revising how groups are working and things should be improving.
  • #Hashtags – Hashtags have sort of replaced groups by grouping messages and posts with a common message or theme into a searchable feed. Put hashtags in your posts and search for hashtags to find information

Setting Yourself Apart on LinkedIn

To set yourself apart on LinkedIn is looking at the platform in a strategic way. Design your images, your headline and your message in a way that answers “Why am I on LinkedIn?” New job, new clients… vanity? Figure out what success on LinkedIn looks like to you. Then figure out who is the target audience? Hiring managers, potential clients, the press? Then determine what keywords will be searched to find you? Finally, write the profile and headline towards that strategy and use those keywords.

Have any questions or suggestions on using LinkedIn? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

It’s a scam!

itsascamI received an email through my contact form today from “Carl” or “Amos.”

Hello, how are you doing today? My name is Carl Amos, I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me… so i can send you the job details.Thanks Amos

Sounds good if you’re a web designer, right? Here’s a tip… it’s a scam.

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Just Like Superman 3

Back a few years ago in December 2016 I received a similar email message, except the website product was gacillia nuts.  They wanted a website, provided very few details at first, and wanted to know if I accepted credit cards.

When you respond that you do indeed accept credit cards, you get some more information. Here’s the email I received:

Thank you for your quick response. I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in IN and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer, haircream, Weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers, i need the best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.DEMO_WEBSITE_URL_REMOVED... I have a private consultant that has the text content and logo for the site. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate.
1. I want 10pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as DOMAIN_NAME_REMOVED
4. you will be updating the site for me twice in a month.
5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 3months.
7. My budget is $6,000 to $12,000
8. Give me your personal cell phone number
9. Are you the Owner

office-space-printer-scene-amazonHere’s the flags:

  • Usually an “importer” of products, either hairdryers or gacillia nuts.
  • The scam almost always seems to be 10 pages.
  • Only English language.
  • The sample domain name they send always gets an error that it cannot find the server, even though they say in the email they would like a domain “like XXXXXX.com.”
  • Hint in one of the first emails that they already have a graphic designer or project manager that will need to be paid.

Here’s where it gets weird.

I sent a response back to CarlAmos, asking if I should build a site like this? THIS being a link to a website documenting this exact scam. CarlAmos responded with “Yes, that’s it!” and asked for an estimate.

If you pursue this little game a little further, the actual scam comes to light. The scammer, CarlAmos in this movie, has an associate who is a project manager, graphic designer, or content developer. CarlAmos will pay you whatever your estimate is, plus a little bit more via the credit card. In turn, you have to write a check to the PM/GD/CD that works for them. They won’t sign a contract, won’t fill out a 1099 as an independent contractor, nothing. Just cut them a check and keep the rest.

What happens next is how they make their money. You wrote a check to pay their contractor. That check is cashed for real money, not deposited. They will then do a chargeback on the credit card transaction, which withdraws the money from your account, you pay a chargeback fee/fine, and when you try to stop payment on the check (which has a fee associated with it), the check’s already been cashed so they have their money. You’re out the initial payment, the money in the check and the chargeback fee. That might leave a mark…

Luckily I’ve seen this movie before, might have been Superman 3, and knew it was rotten. I’m most likely going to just let this go, and then maybe send CarlAmos this link so they know I’m on to them and they can remove me from the list.

In the past when I’ve pushed them to get on a call to discuss I’ve gotten a response that they have a hearing impairment and rather than going through a relay service, it’s best to communicate via email or text. That’s B.S., they just don’t want to talk face to face and have the curtain pulled back when you can hide behind email.

too-good-to-be-trueBut here’s the reason I posted this today… if something seems a little to good to be true, it probably is. I’m a small web design firm in North Dakota. Sure, I’ve done work for companies in New York, San Diego, LA, Boston, Austin and more, but to get a guy from IN (India?) wanting a website built for him, an importer, just triggered a few warning bells.

Take a few moments to qualify your potential client. Get the company name, look everything up, including the content of the email, and see if anything weird pulls up. Sometimes it hurts to walk away from potential business, but in cases like this it’s a good decision.

UPDATE 7/2/2019 – I got a NEW variant of this scam.

Hello Sir/Madam ,

This David Serrano from Kirkland Shipping,We looking for laptop computers to purchase for our new business branch and want to know if you have them available in stock or can either custom order them for us.We also do have specifications we would like the computers to come with and also if you can tell us how much a laptop with these specifications is going to cost for plus tax…Here are the specifications below

    • An i7 Core Processor
    • 16gb of Memory
    • 1tb of Hard drive or 512 SSD
    • Screen Size can either be 13′ , 14′ or 15.6′
    • Must come with a Touch Screen and a backlit Keyboard
    • Either a windows 10 Home premium or Professional
    • Brands can either be Dell ,Apple,Hp or Lenovo

NB : Also advise me if you do take credit card payment , Thank You

Have you been sent this scam or something similar? Let me know @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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How and Why To Use WordPress Plugins

How and Why To Use WordPress Plugins

What Are WordPress Plugins?

Plugins are a powerful way to add functionality and uniqueness to your website. They range from Free, to free with premium (Freemium), or a paid model.

Most plugins are created by solo plugin developers, but a few are created by large theme and plugin houses. Because of this, expect a wide variety of support models

Some common front-end uses for plugins include calendars, contact forms, social media displays, content display like videos, image galleries and sound, sliders, and much more

But did you know there were quite a few administrative plugins for things like user management, security, SSL migration, analytics, database management, caching and a ton more.

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What are the benefits?

  • Plugins are easy to install – Search the WordPress plugin repository, or just click “Add New” in the plugins menu, install, activate and configure. The entire process can take as little as two minutes.
  • Big cost savings on custom development or programming – With just a few clicks something that can take days, or even weeks to develop can be added to a site.
  • Plugins are powerful – CDN plugins can add speed to a website. Contact forms can add lead generation to a site. Calendars can increase engagement and make it easy to distribute events. Social media plugins can bring in posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms, and can make it easy to share on these networks. All of this functionality would take a much greater amount of time to develop by hand instead of using WordPress plugins.
  • WordPress security – WordPress by itself is fairly secure. If you use a good password, have it installed on a decent host with a good username/password there, and take a few other precautions your site will be protected. However, if you really want to lock down admin access, make secure & frequent backups, or really shore up your security, plugins are a great way to do so.
    • Good backups and great passwords are still the best thing you can do, in my opinion.

But what are the possible issues with WordPress plugins?

  • Malware – There are some plugins that have been developed by some programmers with less-than-positive intentions. Backdooors and even malware programmed right into the software do happen.
  • Must be maintained – As you add plugins to the website it’s important to know maintenance becomes more important. Keeping the plugins, the theme and the WordPress core is valuable to keeping the site secure and running as it should. However, sometimes and update to one plugins and conflict with others, so running backups is very important.
  • Can be exploited – If a plugin is “abandoned,” meaning no longer updated, or even if a plugin is poorly programmed it can open a hole to bad actors. Keep you plugins updated to make sure you are as protected as possible and if a plugin has been abandoned for a significant amount of time, try to find a similar solution, or even  try to find a developer to fix or edit the current plugin.
  • Unused or Deactivated Plugins are Still Vulnerable – Just because you’re not using a plugin, or even if you deactivated it, the code is still vulnerable and could be exploited. Once you stop using a plugin, deactivate it in your Plugin directory, then delete it from the server to avoid potential issues.

Tips on selecting good plugins

  • Research the best plugin options – Google has tons of articles on the “Best WordPress Plugins for …” often with the most current year attached. You don’t want a list from 2012, as things have changed quite a bit in the last six or seven years. See what everyone else is using and what the pros and cons are of using each plugin.
  • Review WordPress Plugin repository Information – Each plugin has a page in the repository.  They will have a 1-5 star rating, when it was last updates, how many times it’s been installed, what version of WordPress it’s been test on, reviews, how to install, and links to support. If any of this information causes concern proceed with caution or find a different solution.
  • Be Prepared to Retreat – Sometimes installing a new plugin causes unforeseen issues with your theme or other installed plugins on the website, so be prepared to deactivate the plugins, or in the event of a catastrophic issue, restore a backup. It’s recommended to install in test environments if possible, or on the live site when the site it’s being used at its peak.
  • Try several plugins – Since most plugins are free, it’s ok to try several until you find one that meets your needs. Just remember to deactivate and delete the ones you aren’t using to keep the site safe.

Plugins are a great way to make WordPress a powerful, secure environment. With just a little bit of care, and some selective processes in finding the best plugin you can make your WordPress as good as it can possibly be.

Have any questions or comments on WordPress plugins? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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5 Things You Need To Know About WP 5 – Gutenberg

5 Things You Need To Know About WP 5 – Gutenberg

WordPress 5.0, or Gutenberg, was finally released on December 6, 2018, just a few weeks before the Christmas holiday, and just in time to say it was released in 2018.

The Gutenberg release is a new page builder that is being designed to integrate with WordPress core. Gutenberg will add content blocks and page builder-like functionality to every up-to-date WordPress website. When in use, it will replace TinyMCE as the default content editor. With Gutenberg, content is added in blocks of various types from the WordPress backend.

You can download an the most recent version of WordPress here, or get access to previous versions here, just in case you need to retreat..

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5 Things You Need To Know About WordPress 5.0 – Gutenberg

  • Blocks : WP5 is based on blocks, or portions of content. Each paragraph of text is a separate block, as well as images, galleries, lists, quotes, audio videos and more.It even makes it easier to embed objects from YouTube, social media accounts, Google Maps, and just about anywhere else. But the biggest advantage to using the new editor is formatting and layout blocks. Now it’s easier to add columns, page breaks, spacers and other elements to the page that traditionally could only be done easily in certain themes live Divi or Elementor.

  • The Classic Editor is still a click away, as well as the Edit as HTML editor in case you want to get into the code. While there are other benefits to using the updated editor and code, those who still wish to use the classic WordPress editor can do so simply by clicking the Classic Editor tab on the editor box. Access to the HTML editor is under the three dot menu, or typing Ctrl + Shift + Alt + M (clicking seems much easier!) on your keyboard. I still see benefits to using the HTML editor when embedding content or doing some special formatting work.Just some fair warning. If you’re going to use WordPress long-term and you don’t use themes that allow you to edit in their environment, you will have to learn how to use the new Gutenberg editor as the classic editor will most likely be phased out eventually.

  • Plugins and Themes may not be compatible with Gutenberg. Theme editors and plugin developers have been scrambling for months to prepare for WordPress 5.0.Here’s the problem… while the theme and plugins may work individually, there’s a fair chance that code that used to play well with others could not cause unusual conflicts or even critical failures when several plugins are enabled with your theme. It is highly recommended you 1) backup before updating in case you need to retreat, and 2) test in a staging environment to see if there’s anything that could go wrong and fix it there before making the site live. Use this time to maybe replace some “abandoned” plugins and find newer, better alternatives to your current plugins. Or maybe you don’t even need some older plugins as the results may have been incorporated into WordPress or your themes.

  • Faster? While I haven’t seen anything online confirming Gutenberg to be faster than WordPress 4.x, I can give you anecdotable evidence that several of the sites I’ve upgraded saw a noticeable increase in speed. Nothing documented, and these sites are fairly small,  but it’s tangible. I still haven’t updated the largest of my client’s sites, as I’m waiting for a few versions of 5.0.x to come in, as well as some incremental updates to the Divi theme before I jump in.

  • This IS an upgrade! Many of the recent WordPress updates were small, almost unnoticeable unless you lived in the environment all-day, everyday. But Gutenberg will change the way most people use WordPress for the better, even if the initial change is tough. WordPress 5.x is faster, will be more secure, have more options, be ready for PHP 7.3 and beyond, and enable theme and plugin developers many more options in the coming months and years.

Here’s the short version of what you just read or heard. Prepare for the WordPress 5.0 update by backing everything up and getting a base to return to in case there’s a big problem. This would be a good time to migrate everything to a staging or test environment if you have access to one. Update your themes and plugins to the most recent version to make sure they can work with WP5. Then run the Gutenberg updater in your WordPress dashboard. Cross your fingers and see what worked and what didn’t. Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time looking at the site and making some changes to some things. After testing, make another backup (don’t overwrite the old one!) and migrate back to the live environment, or run the same sequence of updates there. Pray, test and enjoy your updated version of WordPress. As promised in the podcast, here’s some basic information on the Gutenberg editor.

Run in some issues with your WordPress update? Give BeBizzy a call at 701-214-6271 or contact us through bebizzy.com or our social media channels and we’ll see if we can help you out! Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Mind Maps Make Meetings Better (and more productive)

Every have to take meeting notes?

How about use the meeting as problem solving method? And everyone sits in a room to defend their business silo, but no one wants to talk about the primary issue that needs to be addressed?

Well using mind maps might be the way to draw out the best solutions from the group.

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What is Mind Mapping

  • Way of visually getting ideas you don’t know are in your head or trapped in a team and representing them in an easy to use format of subjects, ideas and sub-ideas.
  • Essientially here’s how it works
    • Start with a main topic or issue, the Subject. Say, SEO for Website
    • Start populating the second level, or Ideas, with possible issues or groupings of drill-down items. In this case. Internal teams, External Resources, Training, Measurement Criteria, Other Items, etc.
    • Then, inside each of these ideas, there are sub-ideas, resource details, questions to ask, action items, etc.
      • All of these can usually be signified in the software with either custom icons like a checkbox, question mark, etc, or with different text colors.
    • Each of the Ideas start a branch of “bubbles” on the mind map, which then branch out again, and even again if necessary. All of this forms an easy to use diagram, which in many cases can be converted to a more traditional outline format if needed. 

Why is Mind Mapping Better Than Plain Old Words?

  • Ever try to add an item in a traditionally list on paper or a white board? Your options are to erase and move items, add it to the bottom and signify it needs to be somewhere else, or draw an impromptu mind map with lines, bubbles and some text anyway.
  • Humans consume visual data quicker and better than plain text. Ever wonder why TV and magazines and of course, the web, have ousted newspapers? Highly visual and easily consumed ideas instead of long, wordy sentences. 
  • Mind Mapping encourages grouping of ideas and expanding on those ideas, whereas simple text can be limited by the format.

How to Mind Map?

  • Start with an idea or subject that is easy to solve. If the subject is too complex, break it down and then build mind maps for an easy to consume part of the mind map, therefore solving the bigger issue by conquering the smaller ones.
  • Use images, hyperlinks, contact information and more to make the document more useful or easy to follow. 
  • Also use different colors for the different Idea branches to make it easy to navigate inside each topic and subtopic.
  • Use short phrases to capture ideas, especially in the brainstorming portion of mind mapping. You can always go back and expand on issues, but capture what you need, and only what you need initially.

Any Pitfalls to Avoid When Mind Mapping?

  • Concentrating on one item too long. Dump ideas and move on, you can sort everything out later.
  • Not having someone leading the mind mapping that knows how to ask for expansion or more creativity. 
  • Capturing vague ideas and not documenting or expanding them.

What Software Can I Use to do Mind Mapping?

  • Mind Meister : Free for up to 3 maps, $5 for personal, $8 for a Pro account and $12.50 for enterprice (all per user, per month)
  • Coggle : Little more bare bones, not the catalog of templates or “flair” but cost : Personal – free, 3 private diagrams, Awesome is $5/month for most of what you will need, and $8 for an “organization” account if more customization needed for teams.
  • Mind Manager : really a virtual whiteboard but it’s by the company I was first exposed to in Mind Mapping, Mindjet. It’s #349 for Windows, $179 for Mac. All have 30-day trials. Full-featured and wonderful software. 

Have any questions or suggestions on going mind mapping? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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