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Author: YRCIA

5 Ways Your Website Could get Hacked

You’ve spent all this time on creating a kick ass website – don’t let the hackers get you down.. here are some tips to help you combat the worst case scenario (Trust me when I say, it IS the WORST!)

Your Web Host Is Vulnerable

Quite frequently, many websites hosted by the same web hosting company are all hacked together. In these cases, the problem usually lies with the host. Either their servers have some vulnerability which is being exploited by a hacker OR the hackers have figured out a way to gain access to one website on a server and then use that website to infect the other websites hosted on the server. Always file a report with your hosting provider if your site has been hacked.

Your Computer or Your Web Developer’s Computer Has Been Compromised

Sometimes, the root of the problem lies with machine used to access the website and not a vulnerability of the website itself. Hackers can infect a computer with malware, enabling them to steal saved passwords or infect files as they are uploaded to a server.
To prevent this from happening, the computer used to access a website should be regularly scanned for spyware, viruses and malware. Additionally, unencrypted passwords should not be stored in FTP programs.
Finally, when accessing any protected area of the website – control panel, databases — be sure that you are using a trusted network.

Your Passwords Have Been Leaked or Are NOT Strong

When it comes to passwords, they can only protect your website is they are strong. This means that passwords must adhere to the following criteria.

  1. Unique. Passwords should all be different from each other and not used on any other website.
  2. Complex. Passwords should not be easily guessed. The best passwords do not contain words and are a combination of numbers, symbols, and upper and lower case letters.
  3. Private. Be careful about who you share your passwords with and how you share the passwords. If sending a password via email, consider transmitting it as an image instead of via plain text.
  4. Self-Selected. When you setup a web hosting account, install content management software, or create databases, passwords are typically automatically generated. And while these passwords are often very complex, hackers can sometimes guess these passwords.
  5. Regularly Changed. By updating your passwords, you lessen the chance that a leaked password can be used to gain access to your website.

Your Content Management Software Has Security Holes

Content Management Systems (CMS) (Like WordPress) are used to make it easier to manage content or maintain other functionality. But there is a big downside. Regardless of which CMS is used, there are always security holes that can be exploited by hackers.
To keep your website as secure as possible always make sure your CMS platform is up to date with the latest security patches and versions.
While it may be expensive or time-consuming to keep your CMS updated, it is worth the effort. After a new update is released, details about security flaws in the older version are often released. And what this means is that if you don’t upgrade to the latest software version, hackers will literally have a roadmap to getting into your website.5.

Your Site or a Third Party Plugin is Poorly Written

Poorly coded website forms, dynamic pages, and CMS plugins/modules could result in easily exploitable security holes. To prevent this from happening, make sure that all custom code is fully tested and coded with security in mind. And before installing a 3rd-party plugin or module for your CMS, review the feedback and/or take a look under the hood to make sure that the plugin is well-coded.

Organize Your Home Office to Encourage Productivity

Creating a home office is a huge step towards being able to focus and get work done throughout the day. Unfortunately, if your home office space is a landing pad for other items, or a haven of disorganization, you may not realize just how much it affects your productivity. Creating an organized office space will help you organize your approach to working at home, or at the very least it will cut out distractions in your work zone.

Simplify

The first step to organizing your home office is to remove everything and anything that you don’t need or use on a regular basis. Simplify what goes on your desk surface, the items in your drawers, and everything on your existing shelves. In this step, you need to become a minimalist, and be ruthless about it. Relocate as much as you can out of your work space to keep it uncluttered and basic.

Arrange

Keep all of your most used items in constant, easy-to-access places. You will save yourself time by doing this because you will always know where items are, and because you won’t have to move around to grab them. If you’ve decided that an item is something you need to have in your workspace, but that you don’t use often, put it away so as to avoid clutter.

Organize

Find a system that works for you! Organization isn’t a one-size-fits all undertaking. If you prefer baskets to be labelled by size, colour and contents that is great. If your organization is a little more abstract, that’s okay too; it’s your office and you can organize it in whatever way makes sense to you.

Update

Are you still chasing paper trails and filing cabinets? Consider going all-digital to curb clutter. Keeping your files on your computer is often easier and takes up far less room than collecting paper. While you’re organizing your office, you may consider making this change as well.

You can find unique and interesting folders and boxes to organize your office in a certain style of décor. Try labeling folders and baskets so that you remember where each thing goes, and get into the habit of tidying your space every evening before you finish for the day. This will keep your productivity high as your work space stays uncluttered.

6 Must-Haves for a Great Business Plan

When you start a business, whether it’s the first or fifteenth time, it often feels daunting. In order to drum up support and capital, you need to have an impressive business plan package that shows investors that you are on the mark. There are very distinct parts of a business plan that you will need, so let’s run through these aspects.

Overview or Summary

You’ll want to start by creating an executive overview of the items contained within your business plan; it’s okay to do this after other sections. Consider this as an elevator pitch for your business.

Overall Business Strategy

In this section, you will want to lay out your business idea, growth plan and potential, current stage of growth, industry research and position and your business model. Be sure to put effort into understanding and explaining the competitive advantage you have over others in the field and offer a complete and realistic timeline of expectations. You may also want to break down your long and short term goals in this section.

Overall Marketing and E-Commerce Strategy

This is where you will lay out any and all aspects of marketing that you have thought out. Marketing is an extremely important part of business, especially in a competitive market. What are you going to do that will set you apart? Who is your ideal client? How can you appeal to that client directly?

Strengths and Weaknesses

A business plan must be realistic, above all. It’s important to assess the situation and identify any risk factors. This allows you the opportunity to create a backup plan.

Environmental Impact Plan

More and more in the business world, entrepreneurs are taking inventory based on how socially and environmentally responsible their company is able to be. Including a social responsibility and environmental impact plan within your business plan is a good business practice and will allow investors to feel confident in your company.

Financial Forecast

Financial forecasting is very important for any business owner. This gives your investors and lenders an idea of how much capital you’re looking to gain, how you will pay funds back and what your sources of income are going to be. It also lays out your plan clearly to determine their expectations in your business.

It’s important that you have a business plan both for yourself and for any potential investors; but don’t be afraid to revisit and change things as time goes on. Flexibility is as important as planning when it comes to owning a business.

2 Must-Dos for Using Video in WordPress

Video in blogging is a big thing. If you’re not vlogging or at least sharing video content, you’re missing out on a massive movement, and here’s why.

So when it comes to working with video and WordPress, what do you need to know? Here are some things to get you started.

Don’t Host
There’s a delicate balance here, because if you’re sharing custom content, you want it to drive views to your site. That being said, hosting your videos to WordPress can bog down your website, as well as open the door to some irritating problems with views and with mobile clients. Instead, host your video to an external service, such as YouTube. This works in a few ways, as it allows you to avoid those self-hosting problems, but it also improves your reach on YouTube which can be a huge traffic source. Not only will you have people viewing your content from your site, you will also have people viewing your content based on search terms within YouTube itself, so if you establish yourself as an expert in your field you’ll achieve twice the views that you would with a self-hosted video.

Embed Content
When it comes to sharing your video content, you’ll want to embed them right into posts. This way you entice your readers to watch without having to leave. They also serve as evergreen content, allowing people to google specific questions months later and come back with your post; in other words, the hits keep on coming. Embedding content from an external site is usually very straightforward. You’ll be able to find an embed code in the settings on your uploaded video.

We’re an increasingly visual people. Those of us who are online often click between reading (actually, skimming would be more accurate), watching videos, listening to podcasts and sharing content. It’s been a long time since people used books for their day-to-day resource compilation, but the way that people research is ever-changing, even still. If a young man doesn’t know how to tie a tie, the likelihood is that he’ll look it up on YouTube. By allowing leaving video to someone else, you’re letting the page views slip through your fingers.

4 Steps to Getting out of a Rut

Have you stalled? Is your business in a rough patch? Things can’t always be perfect for those in business, and an entrepreneur must be prepared for the inevitable ups and downs. Still, when you find yourself lacking motivation and forward motion, it can be difficult to find your way out of the darkness and back into inspiration, but with these tips you’ll be able to push yourself out of the rut and back where you belong.

Inspire Outside Of Work
When you find inspiration outside of work, it often breathes new life into your career. Find a hobby, or rekindle a love for an old one. Something fast-paced such as dance or a team sport can help you to find your groove quicker than you may otherwise.

Accept Change
Oftentimes, instead of accepting that things are changing, we try to fight against them. Instead of digging in your heels, try going with the flow on change. Take a look at the way things are shifting, and try to go with the flow. It’s important, in business, to be able to stick to your business plan, but sometimes these things require flexibility as well as persistence. Look at your problem from a different angle to see if you can find a solution.

Try Working Somewhere Else
Pack up your laptop and spend the day in a café, on the beach or at the library. See if changing up your physical location makes a difference in your motivation. Sometimes the fresh air can make a big difference in how you’re feeling.

Go For A Walk
If you’re feeling as though you’ve hit a wall, and you’re banging your head against it, it’s okay to get up and get out. Once you reach a point of no return, the best thing to do is shake it off. Head out for a walk, even just around the block, to get your creative juices flowing. You may be surprised by just how quickly you find the solution to your problem.

How to Avoid Business Burnout

Business Burnout is a phenomenon that happens to many small business owners at one time or another. Let’s face it; we all start our businesses for different reason, but at the core there is a passion, a desire to make a comfortable living, and a dream.

When you begin as a small business owner, there is no doubt that you’re going to come blazing out of the gate. You’re excited, and motivated, and it’s this that will lead to success while you pursue with reckless abandon. It’s likely that you’ll be so enamoured with your new undertaking that you’ll stay late or start early. You’ll forego meals and plans will be put on hold while you’re busy realizing your business dreams.

Sooner or later, your long hours and dedication will slip into something else, as you lose steam. It’s only human; we only have so much to give. Your family will suffer, your social life will suffer and then suddenly you’re in it; business burnout has you firmly within its clutches.

The truth is that business burnout is even more dangerous than it sounds. It is a tiny spark of discontent that leads to physical illness, the loss of motivation and in some cases the demise of a company. You’ve put your all into this and the last thing you want to do would be to sabotage your success.

If business burnout is becoming a reality for you, or you’re worried that you may be headed down this road, there are a few helpful things that you can do to move away from the inevitable frustration of this common business issue.

Take Care Of Yourself

First, when looking to stave off business burnout, be sure that you’re focusing on your health wherever possible. It’s tempting to pour everything you have into your business, but it’s extremely important to take care of yourself first. Without proper meals, downtime and laughter, you’re going to be facing burnout in no time. Take time out each day to go for a walk or call a good friend. If you feel as though this is a waste of your precious time, be aware that some studies have shown entrepreneurs who exercise regularly have higher sales and better success rates. Why? Because people who create a healthy balance in their lives don’t experience burnout!

Delegate or Collaborate

There are some things that you have to do for yourself. For everything else, there’s delegation. Let your staff, family, friends or even a virtual assistant help you to get things done that you don’t have time to do. Work with colleagues to organize meetings and collaborations. Take some of the load off of yourself!

Focus

You don’t have to multitask. In fact, many in business today have shunned the idea that multitasking is good business practice. In reality, you should take the time to focus on one task to ensure that your attention is exactly where it needs to be at all times. Embarrassing mistakes happen when you’re divided between tasks.

Remote Collaboration Using Skype

As technology becomes more widespread and reliable, one thing that businesses are taking advantage of is the ability to hire a team remotely and work together, while not physically being together. For many, the best person for the job isn’t necessarily going to be the closest. When it comes to employing a team remotely, or even hiring a consultant or getting business advice, there are tools that can make collaborating easier despite geographically being apart. Skype is one of these tools.

Skype calls and meetings offer the ability to be able to see your team, to check in and read body language during conversations. This is an obvious advantage over using the phone, as it gives management teams a better idea of how things are going and what may need to be addressed.

Skype calls can be great for more than just video conference calling; they also offer your team the ability to share documents, share work screens and instant message one or more members of the team. The potential that this holds is nearly limitless, as you can easily work together on team projects in a way that is otherwise extremely difficult. Send out the agenda via Skype before your meeting starts, or even set the agenda for your next meeting before you finish up.

If you’re working with people from multiple time zones, there are days and times that a video meeting will not be plausible for everyone. Skype is great for this in that the video option is exactly that; just an option, and you don’t have to sign on to video in order to attend. If some of your staff wants to weigh in on voice only, that’s easy to achieve with just the click of one button on Skype, and it doesn’t impact the quality of call for anyone else.

Holding Skype meetings is an excellent way for each member of your team to feel as though they are being heard as an important member of the team. Not only that, but connecting visually tends to connect remote members better to your workplace and projects, which in turn leads to more focused work.

The Essential Components of A Kick Ass Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a must-have for your outreach strategy. Without a plan, you can’t know whether or not you’re successfully reaching your goals. It makes finding your way and monetizing that much easier when you know exactly what your plan of attack is.

Product Description and Potential Roadblocks
Start by writing out a description of each and every product or service that you plan to (or already) offer. Write out goals for each of these products and services, but make sure that you write them concisely, and make them realistic. You want these to be things that you can obtain in a reasonable amount of time.

Analyze
In this section, you’re going to want to expend a fair amount of energy in analysis. You’ll need to write three distinct sections to get a good handle on your company, the market, and your competitors. These are your subheadings; Ideal Customers, Main Competitors and Your Company. When looking internally at your company, be as honest as possible. List your market share (an estimation is fine), the company culture (either that you have or that you envision), your focal point (what is the overall mission) and any weaknesses that you have or foresee. When analyzing your customers, you’ll want to know the demographics of the group; what is the average age, gender and social standing of your ideal client? Understanding this will help you understand what motivates your clients to spend money. Then, take a good hard look at the successes and failures or shortcomings of any market competitors that you may have. What are their market shares? Why and how are they in the position that they are in?

Marketing Strategy
Based on the evaluations done, which marketing strategy is best suited to your clients in order to inspire growth within your company? That will be the marketing strategy that you develop as your focal point. If you sell multiple products, you will want to develop an overall branding plan, but also individual strategies as well. These should include pricing, packaging, quality and a warranty where applicable. Give consideration to what discounts you will give, if any, and under what circumstances you will give them. Next, give careful consideration to your distribution angle. Are you shopping this product out to be carried in a store, or are you looking to distribute online at first?

Promote
Ensure that you have a good idea of how and where you are going to promote your company. What is your budget? Where will you advertise? Is your product one that would benefit from high-traffic sample or promotional programs? What about an affiliate program for your loyal customers? The sky is the limit when it comes to promotions, but remember that you want to draw attention while encouraging word of mouth, and you never want to cheapen yourself or your brand.

Projections
The final key to ensure that you’re marketing the best way possible is to make accurate projections. Break down your expenses and your expected returns. This data is important to draw up, and to use at a later date to see what works for your business and what doesn’t.

Meet the Maker: Kristin’s Jewellery Box

Lots of Makers have multi-craft talents and Kristin is no different. Read on below to see how her journey as a Maker has shaped her business.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

Hello. I am the owner of Kristin’s Jewellery Box. I started making my own jewellery because I was addicted to buying a lot for myself. I cannot turn down bling! I taught myself how to make it and then someone suggested I should try selling it. So I started a little Etsy business! I also do local Christmas craft shows every year.

Where did your business idea come from?

I was buying so much jewellery for myself that I thought I might save money if I buy all the components and make it myself. Then I got addicted to buying all the pretty beads! And while wearing my jewellery, someone suggested I try selling it so that is where my Etsy business came from. Every year I try to add something different but still with bling in mind. 2 years ago I started making jewelled bookmarks and recently I got into making jewellery scarves!

How Does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I love being crafty. Years ago I made dollhouse scenes, I took candle making classes and used to make and sell candles at craft shows, and I absolutely love jewellery so eventually started to make my own. I also knit and have made afghans for everyone in my family.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

To find the time to work on Etsy with a full-time job is very challenging – I’m still trying to balance it out.

Where do you get inspiration for developing new products?

I get inspiration from Etsy itself and Pinterest and seeing what people are wearing.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

Earrings I can make in 5 minutes. A necklace between a half hour to an hour.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

I love working now with lamp work beads and rose gold.

What is the story behind your business name?

I started out making candles years ago and my business name was Kristin’s Krafts. Then I branched out into making jewellery and I thought I should change the name so I went with something that is both personal (because I have a ton of jewellery myself!) and something that sounds like it has my personal touch to it.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

I have very limited workspace right now – it’s just my desk in my bedroom, along with a small table beside it with finished jewellery, a bookcase with dozens of containers of beads and supplies, 3 plastic bins of craft show items, and a large craft table in the basement where I plan my craft show display. I’m currently looking for my own condo with a second bedroom just for crafting!

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

Sometimes when I make a jewellery item, I will decide to make a second one for myself! I try not to keep too many!

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year? No limits! Where would you like your business to go?

I would really like to spend much more time on my Etsy shop. Half of my finished products are not even posted so that is definitely my goal – to get everything on line. Also, to set up special sales for occasions like St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween and so on. I hope to get many more sales this year than the last few years – it’s all in how much time you dedicate to it. As well I’d like to set up a business page on Facebook.

A vacation relaxing on the beach, or exploring the local culture?

As for vacation, my mother and I have made a trip to Europe the last 4 springs – London/Paris, Italy, Amsterdam/Germany/Switzerland, and Ireland/Scotland/England. WE LOVE EUROPE! We go with travel groups of about 30 (usually we are the only 2 Canadians) and the tour guide takes us to the most beautiful places. We have just planned a trip for this spring to Vancouver and an Alaskan Cruise!! We’re very excited.

Make sure you stay in the loop with Kristin on her Etsy Site: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/kristinsjewellerybox

Meet the Maker: Sew Shenanigans

“Colorful and whimsical with lots of personality.” Isn’t that how the best kids creations are made? Meghan from Sew Shenanigans knows how to create the best stuffies and we discovered her secrets when we interviewed her!

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

Hi I’m Meghan! I am a professional photographer and mommy of a one year old by day (with an amazing supporting husband), and a very avid sewer and crafter every other moment I have. I am incredibly passionate about the arts in all its forms. One interesting fact about me is I am a fourth-generation seamstress.

Where did your business idea come from?

When I started to use my first sewing machine, I was gifted a number of vintage patterns. One was a monkey, and I dove right into making this stuffed monkey. I realized after that this was about the most complicated stuffed animal pattern ever created, but it sparked some real inspiration and passion for making these stuffed creators and I started to make lots. Some patterns I bought, some I made up, and within a couple months I realized I can’t have a house full of 10000 stuffed animals so I should start to try to sell my creations, and Sew Shenanigans was born.

How Does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

My creations feel like a reflection of myself. Colorful and whimsical with lots of personality. I think that one way my work reflects my approach to life is I embrace each item evolving into its own animal, and even with a pattern I like it when they all turn out a little bit different. Exact perfection is not what I strive for but for high quality, individuality and unique pieces that stand out on their own.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

This is a daily struggle I feel like every parent goes through. I have a huge newfound respect for the stay at home working parent. It is a constant battle to work and parent and be involved with my family. I try to balance things by working when I can as much as I can, but also trying to have some compassion for myself and not sweating the small stuff. If I need a break, I take it, if I can’t quite finish this project tonight, I will finish it tomorrow. I think that a part of balance is being able to adjust your personal expectations and do the best you can.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

The biggest learning curve I have had is the business side of things. More specifically knowing where to find my customers and creating a pricing structure that I am happy with.

Where do you get inspiration for developing new products?

I get inspiration from anywhere really – television shows my daughter watches with animal characters, seeing animals at the zoo, seeing cute stuffies at stores and from feedback, suggestions and requests from my clients.

What is the story behind your business name?

I wanted to find something unique and fun to go with my general approach to this business and life. I used to say “shenanigans” a lot! Especially while working in the studio photographing families. I felt like that word was a good representation of what I wanted to become.

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

I start by grabbing my pattern out of a folder I keep them in. I then get to pick the fabric I want to use (my favorite part). I copy out the pattern to fabric, cut, sew, add eyes, inside out and stuff. I then sew it up in the back and then check all the seams and the eyes to and remove any stray threads.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

I have an office I rent near my home that houses my fabric, work table, supplies and tools. I have a giant cutting mat on a counter height work table where I cut out all my pieces. I then take them home and sew the creation in my little office corner in my dining room (used to be a full craft room, but we needed more room to eat!)

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I receive a lot of custom order requests. Each request is considered greatly before I decide if it fits my brand, skills, time, budget of client, to create a fully custom pattern. My client has some input but typically it is left up to me and my creative skill to make something perfect for them.

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

I have one of the first elephants I ever made in my craft room with me. It is my favorite – made of a colourful floral corduroy fabric, and it sits with me in my craft room. I also make the occasional item for my daughter, but usually just as a sample to show at craft shows.

Do you have a favourite designer? Who is it and why?

Tim Holtz!!!!! I love his work and all his amazing multi-media projects. His fabric line is amazing too. He has this incredible way of marrying old vintage items and patterns with modern colours and styles to create really unique patterns. If you are familiar at all with Tim Holtz work, you may notice a few of his fabric designs in my creations.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to sew and craft. I spend most of my free time creating something. I also love organizing and finding the perfect organizational solution to a problem area in our home. I also enjoy reading, helping others, spending time with my family and having baby dance parties with my daughter.

Any advice for a new Handcrafted Maker who is setting up a shop?

Do your research. Find other makers that do something similar and look at what seems to work and what doesn’t. And the hardest thing – have confidence in your work. You are an amazing creator and you can do this!

What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?

My best-selling item is my Mammoth. It is popular for so many reasons but probably the biggest is its made with faux fur and looks super unique. Almost like a huggable textile sculpture

Are you managing wholesale accounts and attending markets alongside your direct sales? If so, how do you balance your work day?

I do very little wholesale, but I do sell at a couple handmade brick and mortar stores. Balancing my sewing with craft sale demands, Etsy and selling in stores can be hard but I have a daily goal of making three items that keeps me motivated. I don’t always make those three new items but having that goal motivates me and keeps me focused

Do you have other hobbies?

I am a professional photographer, but it is also something I am very passionate about. I take photos in my little home studio as regularly as I can and work with other photographers on projects often.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a creative business owner?

The biggest challenge is doing all the other stuff that isn’t creating. Filling out forms, keeping my books, client and vendor follow up etc. I try to keep myself organized, learn new business skills when I can and just do the best I can.

Did you take classes to learn the skills you utilize or are these self-taught practices of trial and error?

I have taken some creative classes and some business skill classes but for my sewing I am self taught

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year? No limits! Where would you like your business to go?

I am hoping to shift to mostly selling my custom and personalized items online and attend larger craft shows. I am also hoping to introduce a couple new lines of product this year.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee!!!!! My whole family are coffee addicts and at one time my Dad would drink two pots of coffee daily. I used to start my day off with 24oz of coffee every morning and more later in the day. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I decided to just quit coffee cold turkey because there was no way I would be able to only have 10-12 oz a day. It was a great moment when I could have a cup after she was born.

If you’re looking for THE perfect gift for the little in your life, contact Meghan and make sure to follow her on her socials to see what she’s up to!

Website: www.sewshenanigans.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sewshenanigans

Instagram: www.instagram.com/meghanshenanigans