Archive | Tutorials

What You Need To Know About Image Copyright Violations – Lawsuits – Angry Letters

Before you ask, yes I own the rights to use this stock image

 

So you have a website and you just got an email or letter in the mail telling you that some fancy sounding law firm is going to take you to court unless you pay a settlement fee for the illegal use of some copyrighted image on your website.

What The CRAP Is This All About And What Are You Supposed To Do???

Why This Is Happening and Is It Legit?

Yeah, its real and it is happening to you. You found some image online and you put it on your website without the permission or necessary license. You probably did some Google Image search and found the perfect thing for your blog post and now you are paying the price for putting it on your site ignorant of the laws that govern image use and copyright.

There are big law firms that do nothing more than work with image services like Getty Images and make a fortune finding people like you and taking you to court. The vast majority of internet publishers (site owners like you) will pay the settlement cost before you deal with court and they know it. You know you can't win the court case because you did in fact violate the copyright so you figure why fight it right?

What Are Your Options?

Do Not Ignore It. This problem is not going to go away and you don't need the legal trouble that will come if you fully ignore it.

If the price is high enough, consider hiring an attorney. If the law firm is asking for ten thousand dollars or more you may want to hire an attorney. You may be surprised by the things that the attorney can do to help you. The attorney can help call their bluff in the threat to take you to court. Does the plaintiff really want to come to your state and make an appearance in court? Your attorney can likely force those kinds of terms and that will likely drop the settlement price and at least save you some money.

That said most of the time the cost of the settlement is too low to justify hiring an attorney. You should probably just pay it and make the problem go away. You can and should always try to negotiate the price. Talk about how you don't have that kind of money but may be able to scrape together 50% of that in cash if they you can come to an arrangement. Use your own language and don't be dishonest as that will only hurt you later should you end up in court.

When you agree to make payment make sure that you get something in writing that makes clear that the payment you are making is considered a full payment and that they agree to not pursue any additional legal actions.

As a final thought in this section, be sure to trace down how you found the image. If you happened to get the image from a website that claimed it was license free and public domain then you may be able to counter-sue that website to recover the damages you incurred having used the image in good faith.

How Do You Prevent This From Happening In the Future?

STOP using images that you don't have the rights to use. When you do a Google Image Search for example you can use the Usage Rights Tool to filter the results by images that are labeled for reuse though be warned that this still may lead you to images that have licensing requirements. For example an image may be labeled for reuse BUT require that you give the image owner credit in someway.

ALWAYS follow the image to it's source website and check that website's terms and conditions. If unsure, use a contact form to ask permission.

Here is a Google Image Search for me… apparently there is an artist somewhere that shares my name?

 

If you are going to have need for a lot of stock images you can always just pay a subscription to Adobe, iStock Photos, Getty Images, or any other service that gives you access to stock images at a subscription rate.

There are a handful of websites out there that provide a decent selection of public domain images you can use. Most of them make their money however by constantly asking you to consider subscribing to their paid service. Despite that they can be helpful… here are some I have bookmarked:

http://www.freeimages.com

https://pixabay.com/

http://www.freestockphotos.biz/

https://pixnio.com/

And don't forget Wikipedia as all images on that site are automatically public domain!

Happy hunting… and please share in the comments below any experiences you have had with this and how it turned out for you.

Top Hacks For Hiring Amazing Employees

I currently have 8 employees. I have had to hire a total of 11 employees in this current business and many many more in past ventures and jobs.

I used to dread the process. Trying to get applicants and then trying to guess who is the right person based on resumes… No wonder research suggests that odds of finding a good employee are about 50/50 no matter the hiring process or amount of resources dedicated to finding the right applicant.

Truth is, everything has changed for me. I love hiring new people now because I've found the formula that works for me. If you follow the below steps you will save a ton of time and stress while greatly maximizing the chances of finding good people.

Indeed.com Is Magic

Trick number one, use indeed.com. This site is gaining in popularity and is overtaking the monster.coms' that have owned the space for decades.

Indeed allows employers to post jobs for free. There are a large number of upgraded features that cost money but I've never paid for any of them and haven't felt like I was missing anything.

Indeed also has a mobile app that makes it easy for employers to peruse job applicants.

Lastly indeed will optionally auto-notify rejected applicants that they didn't get the job. Awesome!

Job Title Is Everything

The number one thing I'm looking for is someone who really wants to work for me. Not just someone who really wants a job but that truly would rather work for me than anywhere else. So the job posting process is designed to filter out anyone else.

The first step to doing that is to use a job title that says exactly what you actually want… not what society thinks should go on the new employee's business card.

Recently I hired for a customer service rep. The job title used:

“Firearm Enthusiast and Relationship Professional”

Before that my last hire was a mobile app developer. Job title used:

“Firearm Enthusiast and Mobile Developer Extrordinare”

Yes I start all my job postings with Firearm Enthusiast because I want people who are excited to work for me and will be happy to be part of our company's mission. Why beat around that bush?

Have Something Super Valuable

If you want to hire really awesome people you have to offer an opportunity that really good people would consider.

If your pay sucks, your benefits are not existent, and the work environment is not inviting you cannot get good applicants.

We try to pay more than any other company would. We allow everyone to work from home. We don't regulate vacation days or time off. It may not be like working for Google but about half of our employees have taken pay cuts to work for us because of the value of the opportunity.

Ask/Require Cover Letter
Resumes are, in my opinion, not very good at telling me what I actually need to know. Do they really want to work here?

Sure the resume will tell me if they are qualified and if they have experience but it won't give me any sense for their level of desire.

That is why I request a cover letter. I do this at the bottom of the job posting under the job duties and responsibilities. Something to the effect of “If you actually want this job you will include a cover letter talking about your specific passion for firearms and/or the second amendment and that will also prove that you actually read this job posting all the way through.”

With that in place I immediately reject all applicants that don't include a cover letter. Those who do write a cover letter get considered and only then do I glance at resumes.

Do Short Phone Interviews To Narrow Down the Group

If you have followed the above process you are going to have a decent number of good applicants. Do not interview them all!

Instead call the top 10 or so and conduct 5 minute phone interviews. This should make it easy to get it down to a final short list of 5 or less than you can interview.

Ask Them To Ask Questions

My favorite interview question? “What questions do you have for me about the company or opportunity?”

I don't have a simple or magical explanation as to why this works but it does. I always get great insight into the individual when I let them air all questions they have.

Good luck with your next hire!

How to Approach WordPress Updates

wordpress-589121_1280Software developers love to update software. Once an initial set of code has been released the developer either needs a new project and/or sets out to make improvements.

In the online world updates are valuable as they serve two key purposes.

First, updates bring new features. Version 1 of anything is rarely very good and never as good as version 2. Who doesn't want stuff to be more awesome?

Second, updates are made to close potential security gaps. Developers are in a constant game of chess with hackers in which the hacker attempts to find vulnerabilities in the code and the developer tries to close those vulnerabilities before too much damage can be done.

With that said there is huge danger because updating WordPress plugins occasionally can cause havoc if a combination of plugins has a compatibility issue they didn't have previously. Version 2 of your theme along with Version 1 of Plugin A and Version 3.2 of Plugin B may live in harmony together but updating any of them might disrupt the harmony. When this happens the site owner seeks to find a 3rd party solution to force harmony or has to replace the offending plugin with a competing piece of software that is more compatible.

To minimize this issues and to make the troubleshooting as painless as possible follow these recommendations when running WordPress updates.

Update 1 plugin at a time… generally 1 per day. If daily sounds extreme you could do it more often or less often but the key is to allow enough time to go by to be able to determine if any issue has arisen. The more traffic your site gets the more likely you are to be alerted by site visitors quickly when an issue arises. If you only update a single plugin at a time solving or at very least identifying the culprit is much easier.

Keep a change log for the site. Every time you update a plugin or install something new put that in your internal change log. This history of changes will also help you identify where to troubleshoot first.

Update plugins later in the evening when traffic volume is lower. After you run an update do some basic testing of the site yourself. Should the update cause an immediate error you have the maximum amount of time to address it before high traffic returns.

If you have high levels of risk or liability if the site does experience issues you should setup a dev version of your site on a different server or host. Run all updates on the dev install first to monitor and test for any issues before making the changes live on your actual website.

Cheers,

Jacob

The Online Content Creation Formula For Success

top blogging strategyToday I had a quick conversation with a member of our team that is going to start contributing content to our website. I was explaining our general internal process for producing awesome content on our sites and it occurred to me I've never published an article on my own site about how to write awesome articles.

First the Disclaimer: The site you are on right now… jacobspaulsen.com is where I rant and share about my life of marketing and personal development. Don't hold me accountable to doing all the stuff I preach on this site. The lessons I share here are things I apply on my businesses and the websites where I actually generate revenue… not here on my hobby/journal site.

Here is our process start to finish:

  1. Identify a topic worth producing content around
  2. Use Google and the Google Adwords Keyword tool to determine the top search phrases for that content topic. For example if I want to write an article about how to select the best toilet paper at the grocery store I might find out that the top related search phrase is actually: “Best Rated Toilet Paper.” The top search phrase should be a massive consideration in your articles headline.
  3. Finalize the article's headline considering both the top search phrase as well as what would actually be enticing to readers. It needs to have shock value or create significant curiosity to the relevant audience.
  4. Find the following three competitors:
    1. The #1 ranked content piece for your target search phrase
    2. The #1 top quality (based on your own opinion) article on the topic
    3. The #1 top quality or most popular YouTube video on the topic
  5. Ask yourself how are you going to improve on the three competitors outlined above. What can you add or better explain to make it better?
  6. Formulate an outline for your own content by first just listing out key points that you want to make. This generally just looks like a list of bullet points at first.
  7. Organize your list of key points into the best chronological order so as to help the reader flow through the content is such a way that is logical, emotional, or brings them to the conclusion you are trying to recommend.
  8. Ask one other person who is also very familiar with the topic to look at your outline and point out anything you have missed.
  9. Turn the key points into section headers and repeat step 3 for each section header to make sure those section titles keep the reader reading.
  10. Fill in the content for each section
  11. Review the content and work on gathering or creating the best supporting images or videos to accompany the content. You probably need more than you think.
  12. Have another person read through your final draft.

There is our full process that we try (try is a keyword here) to follow. When we do, it always leads to a source of strong and ongoing traffic.

Cheers,

Jacob

Three WordPress SEO Tricks You Are Likely Neglecting

You have a WordPress based website and you pride yourself on knowing the SEO basics but are you forgetting to do a few simple things that could make a big difference?

1: Category descriptions. Visit the Categories sub-menu under the Posts menu. Does it look like this?

category desctiptions seo

Its time to add descriptions for each category. Each category has it's own stand alone page called the category archive. Like any other page, you ideally want to have META title, description, and keyword tags on that page. You can find that page here www.yourdomain.com/category/categoryslug. Adding the description for these categories in WordPress will translate to the Description Meta tag on the archive page. Depending on your theme the description may also display at the top of the page.

2: Page specific Meta Tags. It isn't uncommon for me to sit down in a SEO consultation with someone who tells me they have worked long and hard to write awesome META tags for their website. I go deeper into an internal page and BAM… no meta tags at all. Are you so focused on the home page you forgot to write tags for all the internal pages and posts?

3: Bold, Underline, Italics. Another sometimes down played technique of SEO is to use Bold, Underline, and Italics to emphasize certain keywords on your website. Some SEO experts disagree on how effective this is but I've never heard anyone suggest it would hurt. Don't go over board but on each page/post be sure to emphasize at least one keyword you want the search engines to notice.

How To Make Your Blog Post Good Enough for Wikipedia

In a previous blog post I wrote about the process, value, and best practices of becoming a Wikipedia contributor. Today's post is focused on best practices to write blog posts that are most likely to be referenced in Wikipedia pages. When an editor or contributor adds content or changes content to Wikipedia they are encouraged to give a reference for the information to ensure it's credibility. You want to be that source.

wikipedia for marketers

The value of a link to your website from Wikipedia is very high. The page score and domain authority of Wikipedia is very high and search engines and users trust it as a non-bias source of content. In many ways this is the coveted inbound link of the internet. Instead of trying to game the system and start adding your links to Wikipedia pages (which is against their policy) you might go to the harder effort, but far more valuable process of just creating awesome content that is likely to get Wikipedia love.

What Type of Content Do Wikipedia Authors and Contributors Look For

Tutorials

Tutorials about how to do something go hand in hand with Wikipedia content.

Histories and Timelines

A good article about the history of something is going to make it super easy for a Wikipedia author to get all the relevant dates and facts they need.

Breaking News

Being the first person to update or publish a new Wikipedia page about something breaking is a coveted position to be in. If you can feed them the facts they will reward you with a reference link.

Insider Accounts

Wikipedia content is based on fact, research, and credible sources. If you have the insider scoop on something or someone you may find a Wikipedia contributor grateful for your contribution.

In Depth and Detailed Reports

Posts that start with “Everything You Need to Know About” tend to provide great insights about key events, companies, services, and other topics. Compile all the best information about a topic and publish it as a detailed report.

What Are Common Attributes Of Good Wikipedia References

Non-Biased Editorial

If you drop any clues, hints, or outright clear statements about your feelings on the subject you call all your content into question. For Wikipedia targeted content think like a news journalist whose job it is to give the facts.

Recency

Old content is no longer trusted or relevant. When you write make sure you include dates to clarify the recency of the information. Also if you have an awesome piece of content that is starting to date itself publish a new and updated piece of content to tell everyone what has changed and what hasn't.

First Party Accounts or Sourced Data

Opinions aren't facts. When you write, clarify if the data is first person (you were directly a witness of the facts) or give your source for the facts you are posting.

Unique and Hard to Find Information

Perhaps it goes without saying but if you are the only one who published the information then what choice would a Wikipedia contributor have but to link back to your content as a reference.

Optimized for Search

If a Wikipedia author or contributor is looking for a piece of information or a source for information they already have your piece of content had better be easy to find in search engines. Without a strong search strategy your Wikipedia game plan becomes really empty.

In summary I do think that Wikipedia Loved content is hard work. It isn't likely to be that blog post that you quickly penned on Saturday afternoon. Identify the opportunities you have to go a little further into the content to produce quality instead of quantity and before you know it you will see Wikipedia on your traffic reports!

 

Becoming a Wikipedia Editor and Contributor

Anyone can contribute to the content on Wikipedia. Marketers have a particular interest in the site since a relevant backlink to one's site from Wikipedia can be very valuable. Naturally then it would make sense for any web marketer to become familiar with Wikipedia and where possible try to leverage it (within the Wikipdia guidelines) as a tool to drive awareness and traffic.

wikipedia for marketers

Relevant Wikipedia Guidelines:

As an author or editor it is prohibited to use Wikipedia to promote yourself, your website, or your organization. These are all considered conflicts of interest and are to be avoided.

Be neutral. This is not a place to get on your soap box. It is a play to play the role of non-bias editorial, confirmed, relevant, and valuable informational writer.

While I do not endorse trying to game the system or break the rules I do think you should consider the following:

Setup an Actual Profile

Anyone without a user account can make anonymous edits to Wikipedia pages but those edits are poorly trusted and impossible to followup on or track as the contributor. Setup an actual user account and work hard to build your reputation by following the below tips.

The More You Contribute The More You Are Trusted By Others

If you are a very active member of Wikipedia it shows in your profile. Editors and contributors are very weary of a new user who starts adding links to an external website. Red flag right? On the other hand if you truly work to benefit the website, content, and community everything you do is likely to be taken in good faith.

Legitimately Try to Add Value

If you focus on how you can create more value for others and less on how Wikipedia can create value for you, in the long run the relationship will be very strong and mutually beneficial. Don't look to articles where you would like to have a link back and work hard to find a way to incorporate it. Instead ask yourself if you have content that can truly add to the readers experience and knowledge. If so add it and do it in a way that will add value to the reader.

Take it Slow – Learn The System

Wikipedia is a unique community with it's own coding language, guidelines, and policies. Don't rush in and start making tons of changes, edits, and additions. It won't help you or the readers. Take it slow. Look for small edits you can make to truly improve content in areas where you have expertise or resources. Get familiar with and comfortable with the processes.

Document What You Do

Every time you make an edit to a page you will have the change to explain your changes and add any other relevant change notes to the “talk” page for other editors and contributors to see what you did and why you did it. If you are really adding value to readers you should have no reason not to be transparent and clear about the edits you have made. It will help your reputation and will also make it easier for you to track past contributions you have made.

Savvy Business and High Level Performance Reading Curriculum

Traditional education and I are not good friends. I attempted to get a 4 year degree in business with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and it didn't work out. I don't have good study skills and I have a chip on my shoulder as it relates to homework (which I think is just busy work). Add to that the cost of tuition and books and I've sworn it off forever. I do however think of myself as an educated person. In addition to the education I have derived from real life experience (which of course has no equal) I am an avid reader (or listener if you think listening to books doesn't count as reading). Naturally, since learning by reading is something I am passionate about I'm always recommending books to people based on what they are looking to do/learn/change. Yesterday I was accused of “having a book for everything.”

On occasion I do run into people who ask more broadly for a book list that I would recommend. I have developed this book list for individuals who I am mentoring and I thought it would be appropriate to share it here. Since I'm always reading new books and discovering older books that are really awesome I will return to this post to update it when I find a new golden nugget I think has to be on this MUST READ list. (Click here for my article on how you can double the number of books you read)

Lastly, before I give you the list, let me disclaim that I'm listing these books in an order that I think naturally builds on itself. If you are looking for books about a specific subject you may want to jump around. Also, if you are looking for a good book list based on specific business or personal development categories you may want to check Josh Kaufman's 99 Best Books List. He originally built the book as a curriculum he calls the Personal MBA. Since then he has written his own book which summarizes all the principles (listed below).

  1. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  2. Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
  3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  5. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Cargnegie
  7. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  8. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
  9. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
  10. Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
  11. The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
  12. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  13. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
  14. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  15. Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute
  16. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  17. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  18. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  19. Tribes by Seth Godin
  20. What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
  21. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  22. The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
  23. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
  24. Built to Last by Jim Collins
  25. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  26. First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham
  27. To Sell is Human by Dan Pink
  28. Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard
  29. The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas Stanley & William Danko

Making Voicemail a Tool of Productivity [Script]

IMG_1123I don't seem to get a ton of questions from friends or clients about how they should manage voicemail until they call me and hear my voicemail greetings. Voicemail is one more inbox that has to be managed in the scope of our productivity. In this article I'm going to share my feelings about how to manage voicemail along with my own scripts I currently use to help drive the right actions.

Voicemail Productivity Thoughts

  • Phone calls are generally speaking distractions. They interrupt you in the middle of highly focused activity. In an ideal world you want to limit distractions and while you can't always influence the time when others call you, you can choose to let it go to voicemail so as not to cause a distraction when you are in the middle of a high priority task
  • When I send someone to voicemail I need to train that caller to work based on my system of productivity. This is good for the caller since they want a response as quickly as possible and good for me since I can choose how/when I'm going to respond to various inquiries
  • People always inflate the urgency or priority of their own requests. Most people who call me always think that whatever they are calling about is urgent and important. By giving them a good voicemail greeting I can force them to re-evaluate how urgent it really is.
  • I ALWAYS ask people to be descriptive in their message/email/text. This will avoid emails that say “call me when you can.” I hate those.
  • I always prefer an email or text to a voicemail because they imply that I can and should reply via email or text. Voicemails imply that one should respond with a phone call. Perhaps I'm not as social as I should be but the truth is I like the flexibility and it better plays to my schedule and timeline of availability and productivity.

Script for my Office Phone:

You have reached the phone of %Insert name% with %Insert Company name%. I check (or don't check) my voicemail often but the fastest way to get a response from me is to send me an email at %insert email%. Please be descriptive in your email so I can support you in the most effective way possible. If this is an emergency please call my cell phone at %insert cell number%. Thank you.

When I'm Traveling:

You have reached the phone of %Insert name% with %Insert Company name%. I'm traveling and may not check my voicemail often until my return. The fastest way to get a response from me is to send me an email at %insert email%. Please be descriptive in your email so I can support you in the most effective way possible. If this is an emergency please call my cell phone at %insert cell number%. Thank you.

Script for my Cell Phone:

You have reached the phone of %insert name%. Please send me an email. I really don't get to my voicemails very often but if you email me I'll reply in short order. If you don't have my email address send me a text to this number and I'll gladly reply with my email address. If this is an emergency send me a text message with the details so I can respond accordingly. Thank you.

SEO Rank Reporter WordPress Plugin Review

One of the frustrating thing of any SEO strategy is trying to measure your progress. There are a large number of great services and products in the market that you can buy or subscribe to but some are cost prohibitive for the small online publisher. A solution I've recently stumbled upon for publishers with a WordPress site is a no cost plugin called SEO Rank Reporter.

SEO Rank Reporter allows the user to input as many phrases and keyword queries as desired to track how any given URL ranks on Google for that query. The plugin refreshes data every 3 hours which and shows if you are trending down or up. This is represented in a line graph and in a matrix style report that makes it easy to see how your site or page(s) is performing over time for specific phrases.

SEO Rank Reporter - Line Graph

One of the awesome things about this plugin is that you can report on any phrase for any URL. So this allows you to track internal pages as they relate to keywords or phrases. You could also track external sites such as competitors to see how their own SEO is trending.

You can also use a configuration page to see what potential keywords or phrases that the plugin recommends you add and start tracking.

You can set email alert notifications to be sent when any given ranking changes by a certain number of positions. This is an especially powerful feature.

The Visits/rank report shows the actual amount of traffic that you are getting to your site for any given phrase you are tracking. This gives you greater clarity as to the value of a high or low ranking for any given search phrase or query.

I've been using this plugin for about 4 months now and I'm impressed all around at how effective it is considering its a no-cost WordPress plugin. Enjoy!