August 13th, 2014

Internet Safety Tips: HTTP vs. HTTPS — What’s the Difference?

“http” versus “https” – So what’s the difference (and should you care)?

HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The S stands for “Secure.”

If the URL of a website or web page begins with http:// then the website you are viewing is communicating with your browser via an unsecured language. What this means is that the information you view and or send (in a form for example) is not protected and can be viewed by others. Technically, this means someone can eavesdrop on your computer’s conversation with the website.

Clearly, it is not a good idea to share your credit card information with just anyone, so be sure the form or commerce cart you are using is on a secure server.  How can you tell?

The URL of a secure website will begin with https:// (the S is what you are looking for).  This tells you the website is secure and no one can eavesdrop.

Be aware: remember to look to see if the URL address begins with httpS before entering sensitive information like a credit card number, social security number, or any personal information that you do not want to share.

Tip provided by Jeniffer Thompson of Monkey C Media.

August 6th, 2014

Web Design: Feng Shui Your Website

Feng shui is an ancient science/art developed in China over 2,800 years ago. It is the use of color, art, shape, patterns and direction to bring balance and harmony to one’s life, or, in this case, website.

While much of feng shui uses direction to determine what colors or items to use in a space, the Internet has no actual direction, but instead works from a flat screen surface. Therefore, the goal is to choose an uncluttered, easy-to-follow path, with a cheerful and inviting use of color and design. Read the rest of this entry »

July 30th, 2014

Blogging Tools: Why I Love WordPress Websites

wordpress logoThe cool thing about WordPress is that it is based on open-source code and is therefore a group effort with thousands of coders working to constantly improve upon the existing software. Every day new plugins appear on the scene—they are tested and critiqued by the WordPress community and you get to benefit from all that work. And further, if there is a need, it will be filled—you can count on it.

More than cool plugins, the number one reason I like WordPress is because it gives you control of your site and provides you with the tools you need to successfully promote your business online. Your website is truly your number one asset when it comes to staying in touch with your market, creating a sense of community, establishing yourself as an expert, and expanding your reach all over the globe. And further, your site will work for you 24/7. But (isn’t there always a but in places like these?), I won’t kid you, it’s a lot of work and you have to constantly stay on top of your message and keep it interesting for your existing audience and your potential audience. It’s imperative that your site stays fresh and interesting and that it continues to appeal to your readership, because as we know there is a heck of a lot of competition out there.

Luckily, you have the power to control your message, keep it interesting and stay in touch with your readers, and it’s all possible through your WordPress website.

July 23rd, 2014

WordPress FAQ: Is a WordPress Website Redesign Easy?

Q: I have a WordPress website, but it’s old and needs a new look. Do I have to start over?

A: This is the beauty of WordPress sites. At Monkey C Media, we can give your site a facelift at any time and you won’t lose any content. Here’s how it works: Your site has a theme with style sheets that dictates how the site looks. We can create and apply a new theme and new style sheets so your site is brand new to your audience, but has the same content and works the same for you. We can also turn a regular html site into a WordPress site. With WordPress, getting a new look is much like redecorating your house. We can recover the furniture and hang new curtains, or we can totally refurbish with new floors, baseboards, a fresh coat of paint and new furniture—but, we never have to rebuild the house.

July 16th, 2014

Blogging Tips: Benefits of Using the Read More Tag

Have you ever wondered how and why some bloggers use a Read More tag that readers have to click in order to read the entire blog post? Here are some answers.

First, to add a Read More tag in one of your WordPress blog posts, simply place your cursor at the place in the text where you’d like to include your break. Then, in your WordPress Editing Toolbar, click the button that looks like this: Read the rest of this entry »

July 9th, 2014

Author Marketing: How to Find the Best Web Designer

Circling the drain of unresponsive or missing in action web designers is a common dilemma.

The Question is this: As a self-respecting author with a plan and a purpose, how do you choose a designer you can afford and rely upon?

As a small publisher, or self-published author, you are faced with the high cost of publishing a book. Your ever-growing budget includes editors, book cover and interior design, maybe a book coach or adviser, printing costs, fulfillment needs, marketing … my goodness, where does it end? When does the author start making money? Well, this is a question for another article altogether. The point here is: How much should you allocate to the added expense of Read the rest of this entry »

July 2nd, 2014

Not All Referral Traffic is Created Equal

I was doing some website traffic analysis for a couple of my clients recently, and one of the main topics up for discussion was bounce rate.

It prompted me to write the post What’s a Good Bounce Rate on Your Website? And, it got me snooping around Google Analytics to determine the cause of the higher-than-desireable bounce rates these clients had been experiencing.

The content on each site in question was being optimized using relevant and targeted keyword phrases, so I knew that wasn’t the culprit. (Understandably, if the content on a site were being optimized for keyword phrases not relevant to the content posted, users clicking through from the search engines would feel duped and would therefore bounce pretty quickly.) So, I decided to look at each site’s referral traffic to see what those bounce rates looked like.

The results were Read the rest of this entry »

June 25th, 2014

How to Write Sticky Content For Your Blog—Engage and Retain a Loyal Audience

The author’s blogging conundrum begins with this question: How do I build an audience of loyal followers?

Answer: Write sticky content so people remember you and want to come back.

stir stick dripping with honeySo how do you do that?

The popular answer is simple: Say something people want to hear.

You’ve likely read lots of marketing articles and have sat in on seminars where they tell you to answer a burning question, provide valuable resources and information, give something away for free, pull at someone’s heart strings, etc.

I don’t think it’s that simple, so I’ll turn it upside down and start at the end of a successful marketing funnel.

What makes an online blog successful? At the end of the day there are millions of websites that provide valuable insight, information and resources. So, what will make your blog more successful than your competition’s? Read the rest of this entry »

June 18th, 2014

Author Marketing: 10 Ways to Keep Your Website Fresh

1.    Don’t let your URL expire. Make sure you know when to renew your account. Not sure? Look it up here: www.whois.net
2.    Is your copyright up-to-date? People will often see if your site is updated and current by checking your copyright date. If you’re stuck back in 2012, your audience may wonder if you are still in business. Your audience will take you as serious as you take yourself.
3.    Are you blogging? Make the commitment. Once a week is enough to make a world of marketing difference.
4.    Bad Links: Not only do bad links annoy your readers, but they stop the search engine crawlers dead in their tracks — when a crawler hits a bad link they back out of your site on move on. Check your site bad links on a regular basis (there are WordPress plugins that can help you do this, like Broken Link Checker).
5.    Add new images: iStock.com is a great source for inexpensive images.
6.    Change your website colors seasonally — don’t let your site get stagnant.
7.    Track your traffic to see where people are coming from, where they land, what they do on your site and from which page do they leave.
8.    Offer monthly coupons that can be downloaded from your website (notify your audience through your newsletter).
9.    Update  your media page — do you need a new author head shot? Is your one-sheet up-to-date?
10.   Create an author interview video for your web site — video is a powerful way to extend your reach and touch your readers profoundly.

P.S. Join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram — if your target audience is hanging out there, so should you!

June 11th, 2014

Buying Stock Images—Have We Met Before?

I’ve always advocated the use of images to break up text on the screen and draw attention to your words. After all, a picture’s worth a 1,000 words right? Well yes, but, here’s an interesting thought. What if everyone is using the same photo? What then?

Since I opened my design house (Monkey C Media) in 2004, I’ve become acutely aware of how common stock images are worldwide. There are quite a few popular and inexpensive places to buy royalty free stock photography and images online. It’s a great tool for finding just the right image to place on your postcard, website, in blog posts, and even on your book cover. Unfortunately, the secret is out. Read the rest of this entry »

June 4th, 2014

URL Registration Tips: Don’t Let Your Domain Expire!

Word to the Wise: Don’t lose your URL. Many people are tempted to purchase a URL (domain name, like www.JenifferThompson.com for example) for five years or more so they don’t have to think about it again. Well guess what—you do want to think about it. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve received from someone whose website went down because they let a URL expire. What’s worse is that most of those people had no idea where they purchased the URL or how to get it back. Read the rest of this entry »

May 28th, 2014

Twitter Tips: Putting Periods Before Twitter Mentions

Have you seen tweets that start with a period, followed by someone’s Twitter @handle, and wondered what that dot is all about?

First, I should share some basics about who sees what on Twitter. Typically, when you compose a tweet and hit send, it is broadcast to all of your Twitter followers. However, if your tweet starts with a Twitter @mention (e.g. @jeniffergrace), then that tweet will only appear in your stream, the stream of @jeniffergrace and the Twitter streams of people that happen to be following both you and @jeniffergrace. It’s essentially a way to cut down on some of the Twitter noise, so two people can have a back and forth conversation on Twitter without it inundating all of their followers’ streams. Read the rest of this entry »

May 21st, 2014

The Value of Professional Author Headshots—Priceless

Whether you are a fiction or a nonfiction writer, start thinking of your self as a celebrity or an expert in your field, respectively. With that said, you will need a professional headshot. That’s not to say you need a glamour shot or that you should worry about competing with the faces of Hollywood. On the contrary, you want your photo to be sincere, professional, and, most importantly, you want it to look like you. Your photo should show you at your best. Read the rest of this entry »

May 14th, 2014

Web Design Tips: Which Color is the Right Color?

colorsNever underestimate the power of a simple palette. Keep it simple—avoid using too many colors. Avoid clutter. The eye is like a muscle, if you overuse it, well, it gets tired. If you overwhelm your readers with too many colors, they may lose interest without even knowing why. Read the rest of this entry »

May 7th, 2014

Famous Book Titles and Their Working Titles

slaughterhouse-five book coverHow much thought have you given your title? Kurt Vonnegut gave tons of thought to his 1969 novel:

Slaughterhouse-Five; or, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod (and Smoking Too Much) Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire-Bombing of Dresden, Germany, the Florence of the Elbe, a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale: This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From

That is one long title. Fortunately the only thing that made it to the first edition cover was Slaughterhouse Five; or, The Children’s Crusade.

Here are some more working titles and what they came to be: Read the rest of this entry »