As online businesses and entrepreneurs, we can all appreciate the power and value of data on the internet today. No longer do we need to download and install software to a computer and be limited to where we can access our work or data online. At the same time, the costs of data storage and web space are also now cheaper than ever. With so much information constantly being uploaded, created and accessible on the internet, the business of online security is booming. While all of this is going on, it’s also important to understand why and how your data is being stored and if it’s being protected in the process.
Quick Tips for Keeping Your Personal Data and Customer Information Safe
The ability to store thousands of digital files in a single location has eliminated the pressure that a person might otherwise feel to organize those files if they were physical documents or materials that were cluttering up a desk or bookshelf. The “out of sight, out of mind” principal helps a person to ignore the clutter that is likely buried in their personal workstations, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But that lack of organization elevates that person’s cybersecurity risks. A physical document that includes sensitive personal or financial information can be shredded and destroyed, but a digital file that contains the same information can lay hidden forever.
Safe management of digital files begins with organizing those files into digital folders according to a consistent filing structure. Businesses with several employees can use a commercial document management system to automate this task. Duplicate digital files should be deleted to avoid losing track of sensitive information. Create a separate index of files to allow easy access to and recovery of data. Folders and sub-folders can become overly complicated, and a business that is not relying on a management system should develop its own folder filing system and naming strategy to minimize those complications.
Even with such protections in place, the number of attacks on personal data and customer information is still growing daily. Kaspersky reports 62% of people have experienced attacks involving their financial data, while 61% of those people were never able to fully recover data that was lost due to a cyber attack.
Document management should be coupled with a data backup strategy. Some commercial document management systems automatically back data up into the cloud. If cloud backup is used, make sure that all data sent to the cloud is encrypted at the time of the backup process. If cloud backup is not used, data can be backed up onto external hard drives, SSD devices, or other media that is disconnected from any online environment and stored in a secure location.
Customer files and other sensitive data can be further protected with hashing and salting routines. Hashing will authenticate messages to confirm the legitimacy of an information request. Salting adds extra values to passwords to make them more difficult for a password hacking algorithm to guess. When used with end-to-end encryption, hashing and salting will create an even more secure data management environment.
The Business of Keeping Personal Data and Company Information Safe
While these tasks might seem simple enough, data protection is a 24/365 game of defense for nearly all businesses and brands in the world today. With company and customer data being more crucial to protect than ever before, Microsoft recently came out with their own stats and infographic on the matter. Highlights from the report noted the following:
- 140+ Days – The average number of days a hacker sits on your network before they are detected.
- $12M – The average cost a business is impacted by for each security breach.
- 72% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2020, relying on devices other than their laptop to be productive.
- 87% of senior managers admit to regularly uploading work files to a personal email or cloud account.
You can see even more information through the visual infographic below.
Unfortunately, even the safest management of digital files will not guarantee their protection from hackers who are intent on stealing the information in those files. In 2016, for example, the commercial cloud backup provider, Dropbox, suffered a data breach that leaked details of more than 68 million user accounts. Information in those accounts that was encrypted or otherwise locked down with hashing and salting was better protected from loss, largely because hackers will go after data that is easier to access without wasting time trying to break through encryption and other protections. Still, those data files did fall into cyberattackers’ hands and still remain at risk of being unencrypted.
Even with the potential for a data breach at all times, data storage platforms like Dropbox are still in massive demand and their usage numbers just continue to keep growing over time. Take a look at the chart below to see how Dropbox has scaled from their initial launch in 2008 to having more than 500 million users today. The massive growth behind Dropbox all started with their referral program that would reward users with extra space in exchange for referring a new Dropbox user. The funny thing about this process is that Dropbox was already ahead of the data storage game before many other companies and brands jumped into the mix.
Eight years later and Dropbox is still the largest player in this space, thanks to their five times faster sync on average versus competitors, having released over 90+ product updates in the past year and also having 500 billion calls to the Dropbox API per year. All of this is ultimately in place to not only scale the company in size, but to also protect customer data and files as well.
In addition to the massive business of online data storage and data protection, there is also going to be a world of opportunities for affiliate marketers to make money in this space as well — which includes everything from data monitoring, spyware software and data notification platforms that are constantly monitoring personal information and mentions online. The more money and competition that flows into this space, the more money there are for advertisers, affiliates and the sites covering such data and resources.
Personal and Customer Data Manage Best Practices are Key
At the end of the day, the more we talk about data management and the potential downsides and hacks that come along with it, it’s simply a matter of keeping us all aware of such conditions and informing each other on better ways to protect our information. There is no doubt that online data storage and customer data will continue to be hacked and released on the dark web by hackers, but there are also some precautions everyone can do to keep their data safe. The unfortunate truth is that most of these leaks will likely come from other companies and brands that already have customer information, and will soon be attacked.
Good digital file management can therefore raise the bar for cyber protection, but it cannot stop a cyberattack that potentially compromises data in those digital files. The question that frequently comes up during a data file management project is “what is liability insurance and how does it fit into management of data files?” The simple answer is that cybersecurity insurance reimburses direct losses that a business might experience when hackers break through its cyber defenses, and provides funds to pay certain liabilities to third parties and fines from regulatory authorities that are levied when sensitive customer data is lost.
One of the more consistent recommendations for good data file management is that doing something is better than nothing at all, and that a management project should be started as soon as is possible. Hackers and cyberattackers are working every day to find new gaps in cybersecurity procedures as older gaps are closed off. Managing data files and adding cybersecurity insurance can keep businesses and individuals at least one step ahead of the hackers.
To learn more about the costs associated with cybercrimes and data leaks, be sure to always keep an eye on the latest data leaks in the business world, and also set up something as simple as a “Google Alerts” notification around your personal name to see when and where your information might be posted online.
Rapidly Growing Business? Here Are 13 Ways to Stay on Brand
Branding is incredibly important for any business. It becomes critical, however, when your company is growing quickly. After all, if more people are coming in contact with your brand over a shorter period of time, you must solidify the right message for that audience.
So, how can you keep your communications consistent as you expand operations and onboard new team members? To find out, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council how to stay on brand when a new company is gaining traction.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Create a Consistent Social Media Voice
As your team grows, more people will be posting as your brand on different social media channels, so it’s important that you have a consistent voice across the board. Create a document that outlines the type of voice you want to portray. Is your brand funny, serious or a mix of the two? What are some jokes that you’ve used in the past?
2. Develop a Brand Persona
Having a very clear and thoroughly fleshed-out brand persona is essential to ensure consistency in messaging. It enables your team to communicate in your brand’s voice across all channels, from your website to social media to email marketing. Brand personas can, and probably should, evolve, but the sooner you define one the more on brand your messaging will be.
3. Create a Collaborative Style Guide
Having a brand style guide that is both easily accessible and managed in a way that leads to collaboration between team members is a great way to ensure messaging and brand guidelines are adhered to even as new channels are identified and built out.
4. Educate Employees During Onboarding
My company is currently in a rapid-growth phase, so we’ve made brand messaging part of our onboarding process for new hires. Everyone who comes through our doors learns our value propositions because they apply to company goals beyond marketing. They guide the interactions we have with customers and our vision for the future state of the company.
5. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
When marketers and public relations professionals are in a rush to draft a press release or marketing email, mistakes happen that can negatively impact how your customers receive brand messaging. To keep your communications on brand, prioritize quality over quantity. Be strategic about the marketing and media opportunities you pursue (and the ones you decline).
6. Keep Your Ears Open
The best way to stay on brand and relevant as your business grows is to listen to your current customers. As people who already benefit from your products and services, it is crucial to pay attention to their ideas and the feedback and comments they make on social media. Customers help build a brand and keep it on track.
7. Hire a Designer and a Copywriter
Different teams manage different communications channels (in-app is engineers, email and social media are marketing, knowledge base and tickets are customer support), which makes it very hard to align them. Before the “publish” button gets pushed, everything should have gone through a designer and a writer with a deep understanding of your brand.
8. Remain True to Your Core Values
Even as you grow and scale up your marketing, it’s important to stay consistent with your core brand identity. To do this, you need a clear understanding of your role in the marketplace and your unique value proposition. Understand what your customers expect from you in your messages and marketing as well as in your products. Always remember your commitment to your core values.
9. Centralize Your Documents
We have a centralized place, our intranet, where all of our documents can be found. These documents are constantly being updated. Employees send marketing team requests for what is needed and then they are uploaded to the intranet so everyone can find and use them.
10. Remain Consistent
Stay true to your brand’s purpose. Through familiarity, you’ll build a good business reputation. If you keep switching the name, the look and the message, people will think they’re looking at a different company. Stay consistent to your brand by creating relevant content that will also enhance it. Old customers will recognize your longevity while you continue to build the business.
11. Utilize Trusted Communicators
Even while a business is rapidly expanding, one thing you do not want to do is have newer team members handle outward communications. I’ve found that the best way to maintain a consistent level of on-brand communications is to have team members with seniority have the final say on content editing and social media, while newer talent shadows the seniors to better understand the brand’s philosophy.
12. Embrace Change
Be comfortable with change. When you’re new and growing fast, your brand will be changing and evolving over time. It’s a good idea to embrace that communications will need to change. The best way to keep it as streamlined and consistent as possible is to know your brand and your customer. Make sure you’re speaking to them in a consistent way, and if you do evolve the message over time, do so in an intentional manner, then measure the results.
13. Don’t Neglect Design
When we talk about staying on message, it’s common to focus primarily on the written or spoken word. However, it is important to remember that an audience sees your visual design before reading a single word. Your website, email newsletters, social media visual content and even your team’s email signatures should all share a well-designed and cohesive visual brand identity.
Nothing is Better than Watching Your Business Grow…
However… if you aren’t ready and have the necessary precautions in place, you might find your thriving business actually falling behind and imploding onto itself. Make sure you have all eyes on your business and are ready to expand in all directions. To learn more about improving your business and scaling to that next level, be sure to read up on these expert tips.
11 Features of a Great Law Firm Web Design and SEO
Lawyers are awesome at what they do — which is legal stuff. If you want to be the best at what you do, it’s often best to focus solely on what you are best at, while outsourcing the rest. This should be true with all services and organizations that want to have an amazing website that not only shows off what a business or agency does but also blows away the competition in the process.
The legal industry is growing rapidly, which means it is important that your law firm stands out from the pack. Your website should be the place where your prospective clients can get a sense of your knowledge and skills in law practice. Hence, they can trust you to win their cases.
In order to make your website stand out, you should call on a professional web design firm that knows how to highlight your strengths. So, let’s see how a great law firm web design should look.
Use Your Firm’s Logo and Name
Use your unique logo to build brand recognition on your website. This will allow clients to identify you immediately and follow you both online and offline. In the same respect, use your law firm’s name in the URL and in the header of the website so that it can be easier for customers to find you.
If you don’t currently have a logo design for your legal firm, this is something you should immediately invest. The good news is that this can be accomplished for a fraction of the cost a traditional design team or agency would charge. Through the power of the internet and artificial intelligence, you can use this design tool to create a legal company brand logo like the one below in a matter of seconds.
Highlight Your Law Firm’s Strengths
Your strengths set you apart from the rest. So, try to stress your practice in a particular area of practice. We can actually point out a perfect example of this from a Seattle-based personal injury lawsuit team below. By highlighting these numbers and success rates, it not only shows off your firm’s legitimacy and success rate but will also keep your clients feel safe and secure in the process. When using this type of content on your site, ensure that this piece of information stands out in the firm’s web design. This is also called the unique selling point and will make your prospective clients want to work with you.
List All the Legal Services You Offer
Make sure that the website lists all the services that you provide and how you can help your clients. Also, mention your skills and your experience and try to place these details on your homepage. Make sure they are informative and helpful.
If you aren’t sure how to best set this up, just take a few minutes to search “top legal firms” on Google, and see the many different site designs and navigation menus being used. The most important thing is to provide your audience with what they are looking for, while also not overloading them with options and distractions in the process.
Use the Firm’s Chosen Colors
Make your website design and company brand stand out by adopting a color combination that is perfectly tailored to convey your message. Use the colors as backgrounds, in the links, in the visual separators, and for the icons. Make sure that these colors are the same as those in your logo so that you can be easily recognizable.
When it comes to building a trustworthy brand and relating to your audience, take a look at the different ways businesses and brand use colors to accomplish this. A perfect example would be the color “Grey”, and how companies like Apple, Wikipedia, Puma and others implement this into their logo design and branding to better relate with their audience and show off their professionalism in the process.
Share Your Work
Share your best case studies and their results on your website. They will show that you have the necessary knowledge and expertise and they also demonstrate that you have had exceptional results in your previous practice. Moreover, link your website to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This way, people can interact with you and this can also be a window to harvest new clients and convert your client base into a great following.
This is something I often discuss when talking about blogging and building out About Me pages. While most people just throw these types of pages together, they are actually going to be one of the most read pages on your site, and definitely a great place to showcase any case studies, testimonials, or customer success stories.
Register Your Firm with Google My Business
This is not a web design feature per say, but it will be of great help to you. List your law firm with Google My Business. It is free and easy to register. All that it requires is your basic information such as the firm’s name, the website information, and the location of your company. Then, you can verify your business with the firm’s code.
After that, you can enter more information such as the hours of operation, your description, and services. You can optimize your presence so that your firm can be identified through Google searches by clients around you. Incorporate a link to the firm’s site and build a great and lasting reputation.
Optimization through SEO
Optimize your website for the search engines so that you can get in the top rankings. It might sound like rocket science, but it’s not difficult at all. For example, WordPress has amazing SEO features built within their themes and plugins.
Also, as far as SEO is concerned, you can keep the following tips in mind:
- Use proper names for the images on your site as this enhances the results from the search engines and improves the content of the site.
- Do not choke or stuff your site with too many pages and posts that are not related to your practice. This will have an opposite result and it will be harder for the search engines to find you. Moreover, your website may suffer a penalty as a result of irrelevance.
- Format your texts properly to make sure that they are easy to read and comprehend. This will make the prospective clients want to return to your website.
- Contextualize your links as this makes it easier for clients to get the bigger picture and understand the information on your website. Customers can relate when you link to relevant sources and materials.
Share your Results and Testimonials
Share the most important testimonials from past clients. This helps build great confidence, trust, and credibility in your prospective customers. Clients will be more inclined to seek your legal services if they can tell that you’ve been winning related cases.
Research supports the fact that testimonials work to attract customers. It is a marketing tool and you can display it on the lawyer’s profiles.
When adding testimonials to your site, it’s important to make sure you are using ones that are real and authentic. Also, if you have the opportunity to showcase someone famous or well-known within your niche, do that as well. You can see some great examples of testimonial usage on my Blogging University course page. Not only are testimonials and reviews important for legal firms and online courses, they are crucial in the acceptance and usage of local businesses, stores, and resturants as well.
Highlight Your Attorneys’ Successes and use Social Profiles
You may have many lawyers dealing with different law areas. List all their awards and achievements and include a testimonial from each of them. This will make them more approachable. Also, it is a sure-fire way of enhancing and promoting their skills and building the firm’s credibility. It is also a way of winning new clients.
Also, don’t forget to take advantage of social media and profile pages have to offer. To see a perfect example of how to build a personal brand, while showing off your expertise, user reviews, and awards are to check out Michelle Hubbard’s Instagram profile. Not only is this helping her build a personal brand and following, it’s also showing she is the real deal and knows what she is doing when it comes to fighting for animal rights.
List the Areas of Practice
It is a must to list all the practice areas and the contact for each lawyer in your firm. It will be easier for future customers to search for the right specialist for their case. It also helps them reach the attorney directly without going through a lot of hassle with the customer support, toll-free numbers, etc.
Again, this goes back to the practice of making sure you provide your audience with as much information and value as possible, but not overloading them with options in the process. Highlight your expertise and areas of practice through bullet points or visuals to get the most impact.
Make Your Website Fast and Responsive
Many of the clients work online with their desktops, laptops, and smartphones. Make sure that your website is responsive and works perfectly on every device and does not frustrate your customers with various delays. Your site should not take ages to load and display the information. You can always check the site’s speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Also, make the content easy to read because most visitors don’t have the time to go through large blocks of text.
These are the main aspects that will make your law firm’s web design attractive for prospective customers. Also, make sure that you always take your client’s grievances into consideration and implement their recommendations. They are the users and they know best what they are looking for.
Need help making your legal page even better?
Don’t worry if all of these seems too time-consuming and overwhelming… we’ve got you covered! Having been in the industry for well over 20 years now, I’ve been able to work alongside some of the best agencies, freelancers, and designers in the world today. Take a look at our web services page and see how we can help launch your brand or business to that next level.
How to Create a Unique Logo Design in 60 Seconds with Designhill
Branding is incredibly important. This is true whether you are running a multinational mega-corporation like Coca-Cola or you’re just a “small time” blogger in some corner of the Internet. You need a recognizable brand that represents what you stand for and what you offer, and this starts with having a logo. And yes, bloggers need to have logos too, because just having your site name sprawled across the top of the default WordPress theme isn’t going to cut it if you want to be taken seriously.
Generate Beautiful Logos Within Seconds
If hiring some high-end design agency is beyond your budget, as would be the case with the vast majority of bloggers, that doesn’t mean you’re without hope. In fact, thanks to amazing advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, you can have a brand new logo (or ten) in a matter of moments with the Designhill logo maker tool. And it costs you nothing to try it out.
The logo maker is AI-powered and you run through the process through an easy-to-follow, step-by-step wizard. It starts simply with entering your company name. In this case, that’d be the name of your blog, but it could just as easily apply to practically any company.
From there, the wizard can ascertain the general style or approach you want to take for your logo. You can pick five or more design styles from the resulting page. Some are a little more traditional, some are a little more modern, some are a little more complex and so forth. Don’t worry about the colors so much and just focus on the actual designs themselves.
That’s because, on the next page, you’ll have the opportunity to select up to three colors that you’d like to see explored in your logo designs. When you pick “blue,” that doesn’t just give you access to one particular shade of blue, but rather the whole range of blues. The same is true with orange, green, pink and so forth. Keep in mind that just because you pick three colors doesn’t mean all three colors will be included in the final design; it just means these are the colors that may be considered.
Slogans, Categories, Symbols…
Progressing through the AI-powered logo maker tool, the next page will ask you to provide your company name (the field will be pre-populated with what you entered in the first step, but you can adjust it here if you’d like), as well as an optional slogan (which will typically be displayed as a smaller font in the generated logo designs; leave this out if you don’t want to have your slogan in the logo) and your company industry or category.
For the purposes of this example, I went through the process of creating a logo for this blog, ZacJohnson.com. The slogan isn’t really official, but I wanted to see what it would look like in the logo. For the industry, I picked “Business & Consulting.” Some relevant alternatives included Internet, Technology or even the more generic Company. This does impact the kinds of designs that result.
For the next step, you’ll get to pick up to five symbols that may also be integrated as part of the proposed logo designs. Not all the logo designs will feature one of the symbols you select — they may be text only — but a symbol can add a little dash of visual personality. There are lots and lots of symbols here, and you simply start by entering a search term in the provided field.
In this example, I chose some money symbols, since this blog is about making money from blogging, as well as some “king” or “crown” imagery that’s in line with the image in this blog’s header and throughout ZacJohnson.com branding.
AI Generated Logo Examples
After providing a name and email address, you are then presented with a large variety of proposed logo designs.
You can see how professional and varied these logos look, taking on different shapes and dimensions, as well as trying different fonts for the company name and slogan. The examples near the top of the page here all stuck with the “yellow” color scheme I had selected as one of the options during the design process, but scrolling further down the page revealed many more possibilities.
Something that is also important to highlight here, is that users can keep generating new logo designs simply by clicking on the “load more” button at the bottom of the page. Thanks to the powerful AI-driven logo solution by Designhill, the opportunity to create thousands of unique logos design is now just a click away.
It really depends on the kind of “feel” you are trying to achieve with the logo. I find the blue one in the top-right to give off an air of professionalism while also maintaining a casual approachability. The gold logo in the bottom-left, on the other hand, is perhaps a little more boastful of wealth while having fun doing it, “living my best life” as the kids say these days.
Even with pausing to take some of the screenshots along the way, I was done with the process in under five minutes. I probably could have spent more time going through the huge library of symbols and even after the logos are generated, there is the opportunity to edit the resulting logo to change the name, slogan, colors, symbol, and container, as well as settings for text distance, symbol distance and more.
Once you’ve created a logo design that you are happy with, you can also play around with some ideas on how your logo will look on different printed materials. This is a free visual feature that is built right into the Designhill site and makes the logo design and decision process much easier. Nothing makes your logo and brand come to life, like seeing it on a nice t-shirt, business card or even a sign on the street represented whatever it is you have to offer.
All in all, the design process and ease of use is what’s going to stand out for most people. There are many logo design tools online, but Designhill has done an excellent job with their platform in not only making the process easy, but also in creating logos that people would actually want to use — without needing to shell a lot of money out in the process.
You can take as much time as you want to further customize the logo or you can run through the whole process in under 60 seconds. It’s up to you.
How Much Does It Cost?
Once you are satisfied with the logo, you can proceed with the purchase. There are three main packages offered by DesignHill, all of which are a one-time fee.
The cheapest is the $20 basic package. This gets you only a single basic resolution logo file, which would be appropriate for inclusion in your blog header, for example. The most popular option, however, is the $65 premium package. Instead of the basic resolution file, you get a high-resolution logo, including vector EPS and SVG files, as well as a version with a transparent background. Going with the premium package will also include the following benefits.
- High-resolution logo (SVG, EPS, PNG and JPEG file formats)
- Vector EPS and SVG files
- Transparent background
- Lifetime phone support
- Black / White versions
- Full Ownership
- Print ready
- Font names & colors
The higher resolution files, particularly the vector files, make the premium package much more appropriate if you have any plans on using your logo in print materials (like a business card) or even having the higher resolution for branding on social media and beyond. These are print-ready files and you are offered the font names and colors too.
At the top of the range is the enterprise package, which starts at $199. This goes beyond the AI-created logo and opens up the design process to dozens of graphic designers who compete in a logo design contest. The net result is that you get to choose from at least 30 different designs in less than 7 days. This comes with a 100% money back guarantee.
Should you ever have any questions about creating a new brand identity or logo design through the site, Designhill offers 24×7 live support, with quick and convenient answers to your questions via priority phone, email and live chat. Click here to get started with your logo design project today.
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