To Update or Not To Update WordPress – Ninja Marketing Tips

To Update WordPress or Not To Update WordPressTo update WordPress or not to update WordPress, that is the question. Okay, so Shakespeare wasn’t a blogger. But if he was, he would had to deal with the question of updating WordPress too.

WordPress, like other software programs, is continually changing. Some updates are to fix bugs or security leaks. Others are enhancements that users have requested. But unlike Windows updates, WordPress updates don’t automatically happen and you’re not prompted by a pop-up window. The only way you know if an update is available is to login to your WordPress dashboard.

Finding WordPress Updates

While WordPress will normally work fine without updating, there are drawbacks to not updating. Updates that contain security patches are important to keep your site safe. Older releases of WordPress (pre 3.4 versions) had memory limits that won’t run some of the newer plugins.

Here are 5 things to consider when updating your WordPress site:

1. Start with a backup of your site. There are several good WordPress Backup plugins you can use, but the easiest way is export your site. From your Dashboard, go to Tools, Export and choose all content. This will download a backup copy to your computer.

2. Don’t skip releases. While it’s possible to skip a minor release, never skip major releases. For example, you are running WordPress 3.5. A minor update, 3.5.3 is released, then a few months later major release 3.6, followed by another major release, 3.7. You could skip directly to the 3.6 but if you tried to go from 3.5 to 3.7, there’s a good chance your site will become locked.

3. Download the server files. Use an FTP program and download the files from the server to your local computer. That way, if the update goes south, you can reload the original files and be back up and running.

4. Updating Themes and Plugins – Themes are what control the look and layout of your WP site and plugins add functionality to your site. Like the WordPress platform files, themes and plugins will often be updated for the same reasons WP files are. If the theme or plugin was updated to plug security holes, then it’s important to perform the update. The Updates tab on the dashboard will show you what plugins and themes have available updates. If you go to the Installed Plugins page and visit the site for the theme or plugin, often you will find the release notes to see what was covered by the update. Use this to determine if you need to apply the update.

4. Don’t overwrite the theme files. Theme files can be used as is, modified within the theme control panel in the dashboard or actually add to or modify the code. If you have done the later and your theme has an update, you may want to manually apply it. The automatic update (clicking the update button in the Updates tab) will simply replace all the files with the new ones. If you modified a page by adding something like a slideshow to the code, the changes will be overwritten and lost. With the backup files you downloaded in step 3 above, you can easily replace the one or 2 files you changed.

5. Help, I updated and now I can’t get into my dashboard (or site). If you happened to skip a release and now your site doesn’t work, you have a couple of options. Using an FTP program or the File Manager from your website’s CPanel, remove the directories WP-Includes and WP-Admin and all the files inside, plus all the WP files in the main WP directory. Then upload your old files via FTP. Login to your dashboard and it will update the database and your site should be back up.

To update, you will need to add the skipped releases one by one, starting with the oldest first. You can download the older versions by going to http://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/ .

Bottom line – with the popularity and prominence of WordPress today comes the increased attention from hackers. While it can be a pain in the behind to update, it’s going to be better than having your site compromised or defaced by hackers.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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New Facebook Plugin for WordPress

Facebook has created a new plugin that works directly with WordPress sites, either WordPress.com sites or self-hosted sites.  When you create a new post, the plugin will allow you to mention a page, which will add the post to the timeline of the page you mention.  It also allows you to mention friends in a post and have it show up on their wall as well.  Since the post are created via a Facebook App, it comes from within Facebook and your post gets the Edgerank benefit.

The link to the plugin is https://developers.facebook.com/wordpress/.

More details will come shortly.  I will do a video shortly with the details.

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The Marketing Magic Bullet

“Anthony Sullivan here with the Marketing Magic Bullet. This amazing product is guaranteed to make you number one on Google and Bing, get you 5000 Facebook likes, 10,000 Twitter followers, make your YouTube videos go viral and literally blow up your blog with traffic, all for the amazing low price just $19.95+ shipping and handling.”

Okay, so maybe this sounds a little far-fetched, but I would be willing to bet if you saw this ad on late-night TV you would be digging for your credit card in a heartbeat. As business owners we are desperately searching for a one-stop solution to our online marketing dilemma. We long for those days when we turned our advertising over to a yellow page, tv, radio or newspaper rep and forgot about it.

Today’s marketing landscape is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the fact that the cost can be very minimal or even free. The curse is the time and effort that it requires. Business owners are now required to learn a new set of skills.  Skills like marketing, copyrighting, videography and public relations, to name just a few.

During a recent workshop I was conducting, many of the questions the participants asked revolved around how to quickly reach a large number of people. It’s a common theme, whether it’s a workshop on e-mail marketing, social media or blogging. Participants come with the hope that they will learn some secret formula that will let them e-mail 5000 new potential customers or build a huge Facebook or Twitter following that will instantly buy their stuff. Instant gratification, instant payoff.

If you want the magic bullet, the secret formula to online marketing success, here are some suggestions.

  1. Trade your salesman’s hat for a teacher’s – Become an educator.  Teach your customers about your product or service, what makes you different and how your product/service can solve their problem.
  2. Be a giver rather than a taker – Provide your existing and prospective customers with valuable information they will thank you for.
  3. Share the wealth – If you would like to double your followers, give your existing contacts an incentive and a reason to share your information. Let’s face it, the average consumer isn’t thinking about you. While they could easily share your content, it never crosses their mind. Why don’t you ask them to? Why not give them a good reason to share?

So at least for now, until I can strike a deal with a good pitch man, the Magic Marketing Bullet isn’t on the market. You’re going to have to put in the effort yourself to create good content and build solid relationships and engagements if you want a successful online marketing presence.

Does anyone have Anthony Sullivan’s phone number?

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Use Your Inside Voice – Writing Blog Content

Writing blog contentAs you’re writing your blog, keep in mind the audience you’re addressing. Unless you’re writing to 12th grade English teachers or for the Washington Post, don’t worry about the grammatical format. Write for your audience. And most importantly write in your own voice. You are most effective when you write like you are speaking.  Here are some ideas to express your inner voice.

1. Talk To Your Audience – Rather than imagine writing your blog for thousands of people to read, imagine writing it for your ideal client. Or better still, imagine that you’re talking to your best friend. The personal nature of this type of writing will create an instant connection with your reader. They will feel like you are speaking to them directly.
2. Avoid Tech Speak - Unless your audience is the technical person, avoid using industry terminology and use consumer language instead. For example, if your blog is about online security for personal computers or small businesses, don’t use terms like “risk assessment” and “business continuity”, but instead use “virus protection.” On the other hand, if your target audience is the IT person, then use industry terms. You wouldn’t talk over the head of the consumer so don’t write over their head.
3. Use Humor – If you can get a smile or a chuckle out of your audience, your article will be more memorable. Everything doesn’t have to be so serious. A funny story or even a slightly snarky approach gives the reader the message you enjoy what you do.
4. Vary Your Content – Keep your readers on their toes. By varying your content you keep them interested and anticipating your next post. If you use humor one time, ask and answer a question the next. Some other types of content you can use are videos, charts or graphs, lists, industry related reviews, or guest blogs.
5. Be A Problem Solver – Unless you’re blogging in the entertainment industry, your readers typically have a problem they want to fix or want a solution that will make their life easier. If your post can solve their need, your social capital as the expert goes up.

Most important – be yourself.  If you write your blog as you, it will be easy to maintain a consistent message from one blog to the next.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Blogging In The Shower

Some people sing in the shower but I do my best writing and blogging in the shower. Of course the paper does gets a little wet.

Last night while meeting with a group of social media enthusiasts, the question came up about what do you write. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. In fact I could probably retire if I had a dollar every time I heard it. But the truth is so many “experts” write about, or speak about the importance of writing blogs, articles, or e-zines. The cold hard facts are this: most business owners aren’t writers.

If you look up business owner in the dictionary I’m pretty sure the definition says a person that works 12 hours a day, seven days a week. So the thought of creating a regular routine of writing for a blog or website doesn’t conjure up good thoughts. Where is the time going to come from? What am I going to say? And who’s going to read it?

Assuming you can block off an hour or so a week to write your blog, does that mean you’re going to have the light bulb go off with an insightful or witty idea? That’s where my shower moment comes in. Your moment might be driving to an appointment, or working out at the gym or just before going to sleep. So the key is to jot a note down that will remind you when you’re ready to write.

Here are a few other ideas to help you build your content library.
• As you read newsletters and trade journals in your industry, watch for ideas that your customers or clients would find interesting or helpful. Either save the article or jot down the main points so during your writing time you can re-spin this article with your take on it. A word of caution: don’t just reprint the article. While people might find this information helpful it’s not your information so you’re not getting credit for being the expert.
• Think about 10 frequently asked questions about your business. That’s a natural choice for articles.
• What are 10 things you wish your customers knew or would do.
• How to tips – if you’re in a service related business give your reader ideas how they can save money, save time, improve product life or any number of helpful hints.
• Be a resource – in my case, since my readers are interested in online marketing, it stands to reason they would probably be interested in tips on keeping their computer running from an expert in my network. While I am not the originator of the content, I’m the one that gets the thanks for passing that information on.
• Use a guest blogger – along the same lines as the idea above, inviting a guest expert to contribute is a good way to keep the volume of valuable information flowing through your site. Plus it’s a good way to expand your reach into your guests network.

So until they make waterproof paper that works in the shower keep a regular note pad handy or your smart phone. For smart phone users you might try Evernote. This app will let you write or voice record your ideas for you to later retrieve from your computer or phone when you’re ready.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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Network Like A Stealth Bomber

Networkers is not about collecting business cards - It's about building relationshipsIf you’ve ever been to a networking event, like a Chamber of Commerce mixer, you’ve probably experienced the network grabber or card collector.  That’s the person that takes a bundle of business cards and sends you a follow-up e-mail with their sales pitch or at best an invite to me for coffee.  I’ve even had people I met at a networking event pull out their calendar and ask to set up a sales appointment.

Now I know that every one of us at the networking event is there to generate prospects that we can ultimately sell.  But the savvy networker understands that a networking event is a place to develop relationships.  It’s a long-term process not an immediate gain.  So here’s an idea to help cultivate that relationship while establishing your expertise in your industry.

As you are meeting and exchanging cards, the first step is to question and listen.  You’re listening for problems, challenges, or situations that your product or service can solve.  Ask the prospect “What the biggest challenge you have with your ____ ” (enter your area there).  But here’s the hard part.  Resist the temptation to roar in like an F-16 with guns blazing, extolling the virtues of your product or service.  Instead use the stealth approach.

Use a stealth approach to marketing. The stealth networking approach allows you to zero in on your prospect with laser guided precision.  Here’s how.  When you get back to the office, as your reviewing your notes from the event, look for a solution that your company offers that solves the newly met prospects needs.  Send them a link to your blog article that relates to the issue they were discussing with a note that says “you mentioned this was a concern so I wanted to forward you an article I wrote in my blog that addresses a similar situation.”  If you don’t have an article that covers their challenge, either find one from a trade journal you can send, or better still, write one.  You might want to even include a suggestion that they subscribe to your blog because you are continually providing valuable information they may find useful in the future.

This achieves two things.  It helps to establish you as the expert and your prospect has given permission to continue providing them valuable information and gain their trust.  As you continue to provide valuable content, you continue to build up social capital that they will ultimately cash in the form of business with you.  And not only that, they will share that information that you’re providing them with others, increasing your reach.

Remember the stealth bomber doesn’t show up on the radar, there’s no time to put up the defenses.  Try the stealth approach the next time you are out networking. Before your prospects has time to raise their “sales alert” shield, you’re already inside.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator  for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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