Categories
Dropshipping

How to do Dropshipping in the USA from India? A Definitive Guide

With an increasing shift in the number of online shoppers worldwide – the best time to enter into eCommerce is right now & the Covid-19 pandemic has also further necessitated this shift.

statistics on number of online shoppers worldwide (2014 -2021)

The dropshipping business model often comes as an easy & lucrative way to step into eCommerce Entrepreneurship. (not actually easy though)

Dropshipping is an online retail fulfillment method wherein the sellers (drop shippers) don’t have to manufacture any product, purchase any inventory or take care of the product delivery.

This means you just have to find a product (and its supplier), set up a store & start sending traffic to it to generate sales.

dropshipping model explained

According to GrandViewResearch, the global dropshipping market size was valued at USD 102.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR of 28.8% from 2019 to 2025.

The dropshipping market figures will continue to rise with the increasing number of users who prefer to shop online – thereby driving the demand for dropshipping business model. Another factor that drives the dropshipping market is the growth of cross-border eCommerce trade.

The beauty of dropshipping is that you can start selling from & to anywhere in the World – you don’t have to be a citizen of that country itself where you are selling

In this article, I am going to cover some basic dropshipping tips & how you can start dropshipping products in the USA from India (or any other country in the world) – when you are not an American citizen yourself.

Starting with..

Why You Should Not Drop Ship in India?

The growth of eCommerce volumes in India is attracting many players & budding entrepreneurs across the globe.

While the online market in India, the second-most populous country in the world, has a huge scope of growth & experimentation, is still not matured & there are many setbacks to consider before entering into the Indian eCommerce market

1. High Return Rates

High return rates are a common but challenging problem for every eCommerce business out there. Talking specifically about Indian consumers – they return many of the merchandise they purchase online.

Unfortunately, the return rate of eCommerce in the Indian market has increased to 50% in past years. Amazon also once stated that they experience the highest product return rate in India, as compared to other countries.

If you’re dropshipping to the Indian consumers, a high return rate will be one of the biggest obstacles for your business to overcome – exceptions for those who are players in this game.

2. COD is the most preferred payment method in India

Your dropshipping business is less likely to scale if you accept cash on delivery from customers, until or unless you have pretty big budget .

How?

This is pretty understandable – you will get no payment from the customer until they receive the order, but, you must have to pay your supplier in advance to get that order delivered.

Imagine how this blocked cash flow can worsen your situation if more & more orders are placed with “COD” as preferred payment method.

You will end up with no money, which means, you cannot accept new sales & you cannot reinvest your money in advertisement campaigns.

It would become really hard to bootstrap if you don’t have a decent amount in your bank & a good credit limit.

3. High Transaction Failure Rate

The rising transaction failure rates in India is also a challenge to consider.

According to the National Payments Corporation of India, the transaction failure rate in September 2020 stands at 3% for ten of the top 30 banks in India.

Ecommerce & other companies in India that are using Indian payment gateways are losing out on business – because many times, customers don’t reattempt payment once a transaction fails.

That means, if you manage to get customers that prefer paying online, chances are you will lose some of them too.

Dropshipping in the USA from India: A Step-By-Step Plan

Dropshipping business is global. You don’t need to be in that country itself where you want to sell – you can sell in the USA from India, Australia, or anywhere.

But, remember that not every country will react the same to your products – so it’s good to target countries that are best to sell.

And so, the United States leads here – the largest consumer market in the World, with a whopping eCommerce spend of $709.78 billion in 2020.

Before getting started, below are some ultimate tools to help you throughout your dropshipping journey:

  • GoogleTrends: Google Trends is a powerful tool that provides data around the popularity of various search terms, topics, etc. You can use Google Trends in dropshipping to analyze keywords popularity, niche trends, product popularity, etc.
  • Google Keywords Planner: Free tool for keywords research:
  • Amazon Best Seller: You can visit the Amazon bestseller page to browse various product categories, analyze competition & much more
  • UberSuggest: Free Keywords Research tool
  • Facebook Ads Library: With the Facebook ads library, you can search for various pages on Facebook to see if they are running any active advertisement campaigns. As a drop shipper, you can use this tool to spy on competitor ad copies.
  • Canva: Free & easy to use the graphic designing tool. You can use Canva to create featured images, social media creatives & more.,

Choose Your Niche & Find Your Products

The journey starts with finding your niche & products – It’s worth investing time here as your product(s) will be a huge contributor to your dropshipping success.

There can be many approaches to product research.

Basically what you have to do is become resourceful & drill down the internet. There are many resources & websites from where you can get niche ideas & best-selling products.

Below are some sources where you can roam around & explore various categories & products:

  • Amazon
  • AliExrpress
  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Facebook Videos – You can find products here that are already performing well & you can sell them too
  • Facebook Groups
  • Google – search for various hobbies, niches, read articles, check small eCommerce websites

Think of product(s) that can be sold at enough margins to make you profitable – consider your operations & ad expenses; remember that scaling is also hard & low margin profits can land you in a mess.

Below are some ways you can determine if a niche is profitable:

  • Check Keywords search volume for your product
  • Check the number of orders placed already for the product
  • Check reviews of consumers & how they feel about the products

Since you want to dropship in the USA, it’s important that you choose product supplier(s) that are based in the US itself or nearby countries, so that does they do not hurt the average shipping time (5-10 days).

Choose Your Dropshipping Goals

Goal setting is important & viable for success – be it for your dropshipping store or any other business! Setting your dropshipping goals will give you something to affirm & work hard.

Unquestionably getting more sales is the aim of every single dropship store out there, but, to sustain long in the eCommerce game, you’ll have to consider different aspects, approaches & techniques to make the most out of every click you get.

In order to make a practical plan for your dropshipping store, you first need some goals to think of.

Below are some areas where you can set goals for your dropship business:

  • Traffic – Try to increase & scale your traffic week-o-week or set a monthly target
  • Subscriber list (Email)
  • Consumer reviews – Encourage customers to leave reviews about your product/store
  • Social Media Following

Have A Decent Budget – Advertisement & Operation Costs Aren’t Cheap

Just because dropshipping is the easiest & low-cost business model to start, does not mean it’s easy to make profits.

There are some tools & subscriptions that you need throughout your journey to stay ahead of the competition & make the most out of your efforts.

In addition to the basic Shopify plan ($29/month), Some paid features like “Abandoned cart recover” & product sourcing apps (Spocket, Oberlo) are crucial to getting success with your store.

On top of that, you will need daily traffic to get sales & organic traffic is not gonna work out as per your plans, especially if you are a beginner – so expect a daily budget of around $20 – $50 as a beginner.

Many times, Facebook ads can get cheap, but it needs optimization, & since your target country (United States) has rich audience, the clicks will cost you more, keep this in mind.

One more thing to consider when dropshipping internationally is the currency conversion losses – when you transact or withdraw funds as per your needs. Expect around 6-8% monthly cost here.

Over time, you will learn many paid marketing channels like Influencer marketing & experimenting with them would require some budget, so you will also need a bit of budget allocation here.

$500 – $1000 is an ideal budget to start with if you ask me.

Setup Your Online Store with Shopify: Step-By-Step Guide to Follow

When it comes to building your drop shipping store, Shopify is the best eCommerce stores building tool out there.

Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce store building platform that comes with ultimate features like:

  • Store creation
  • Payments Gateway integration
  • Inventory Management
  • Store Analytics
  • Orders Management
  • Marketing Tools
  • Abandoned Checkout
  • Billing & Invoicing
  • Subscriptions, Discounts etc

& much more..

The basic Shopify plan would cost you $29/month, similar to that of hosting if you go with WooCommerce with WordPress (but this path is not recommended for beginners because there will a little more technical work you’d need to manage & the basic features may not align well with your eCommerce goals – thus, more research in integrating basic eCom plugins)

With Shopify, you don’t need to manage technical aspects of a website such as installing CMS (WordPress), Security, Caching, etc

Rest assured mate! The money you spend on Shopify is worth it 😉

You can follow along with me step by step so that you have something at the end of this article – that will push you further to getting started as soon as possible.

Let’s get started – the drop shipping journey will be Awesome 😎

Step 1: Register yourself with Shopify

Click here to get started with Shopify. Enter your email address & click on start free trial.

Shopify homepage where you can register & start creating your dropshipping store for selling to the American consumers

Once you click, Shopify will ask you for your store password & store name (you can change this later, don’t worry)

Step 2: Design Your Store

Designing your store with Shopify is easy.

Shopify comes with around 7 -10 free templates & 50+ paid templates to get you started with.

Go to Online store - themes to set up your drop shipping store theme on Shopify

Once you are done selecting a theme, click on “Customize” from the same theme page (Online Store -> Themes)

This will take you to the theme editor dashboard from where you can edit the look & feel of your dropshipping store.

Image explaining how you can customize your store theme

Step 3: Install Dropshipping Products Sourcing App

Products quality & delivery time are cruical to your dropshipping success.

Since you want to drop ship to the US, it is recommended to choose local suppliers from the US itself for faster delivery time.

As a beginner, you should use Spocket, which is the #1 recommendation by many drop shippers because of two key benefits: quality products & acceptable delivery time (7 – 14 Days)

While other apps are sourcing most of their products from AliExpress, which has a longer product delivery time & it mostly has poor quality products, Spocket stands out by onboarding US & EU suppliers – putting an end to both.

  • Fast Shipping US & European Quality Products
  • Branded Invoicing: Some suppliers on Spocket allows you to add your own brand logo & customize invoice – helps in branding
  • 24/7 Support for drop shippers

To install Spocket or any other apps to your Shopify store, go to apps in the left navigation menu & click on “Shop for apps

add apps to your Shopify store from the shopify admin panel

This is the app marketplace from where you can search & install Spocket or any other apps.

Spocket Shopify APp - Best US & EU suppliers for dropshipping

Once you add Spocket, you’ll be able to browse products from their marketplace & import them to your store with a single click.

Step 4: Edit & Optimize Product Pages

If your product page is not optimized for conversions, it does not matter if you are doing good at sending traffic, because most of it might not convert.

Users who click on the ads are potentials, but why are they abandoning? Because your product page is not able to convinve

“The paramount goal for your product pages should be to build user confidence by providing all the information necessary for a purchasing decision and making the process as intuitive & straightforward as possible.”

Rosara Joseph, a Content Strategist at VentureWeb
1. Your Product Name

First things first – do some keyword research & include at least one keyword that people might search to find your product.

This would help you improve the discoverability of your product on search engines & other internet channels.

Optimize title of your dropshipping product by including keywords

Also, keep the product title minimalistic, if you product has variations, doesn’t include all of them in title, just mention the number of variations.

Ex – “Avenger Case for iPhone (3 Prints)” looks better than “Avenger Case for iPhone Print 1/ Print 2/ Print 3”

A few other things you can do to optimize your product title

  • An ideal product title length is 75 – 100 characters
  • Capitalize your product titles
  • You can also use a separator to make your product easier to understand (- / : )
  • You can also include your store name in the product title
2. Optimize Product Appearance

Your product appearance can make or break your sales. It is one of the single most element of your product page that needs special attention.

Use high-resolution & zoomable images, clicked from different angles so that users can experience the overall feel of your product visually.

If your product has many variants, don’t just mention the variant types, but also upload & link images for each variant individually.

If you are hell serious about your dropshipping business, I would recommend you ordering a sample of the product(s) you want to sell – so you can publish exclusive photographs of your products, plus, videos for marketing & advertising. It also helps you verify & test the product quality before you start selling it on your dropship store.

One more focus area while optimizing your dropship store (product appearance) is using consistent visual style (like background) for images, or at least, be consistent with the featured image, that is used as thumbnail in the homepage. See the screenshot below for example, their background is consistent.

Keep product images theme consistent so that your dropshipping store looks good: product optimization
3. Optimize Description

Your good product description communicates necessary product information – like features & benefits, the problem(s) it solves, why it’s worth buying – that helps users make buying decisions.

dropshipping product description optimization

While most shoppers rely on product photos, the product description fills the leftover space to convince users to buy your product.

4. Add Some Reviews or Social Proof

Displaying star ratings and reviews about your products increases your conversion rate. You can use Shopify apps to embed reviews on your product page.

Add reviews to your shopify store to build consumer trust with your new dropshipping store

Or you can embed social proof screenshots from reviews on social media or from any other user-generated platform.

Below are some key benefits of having reviews about your product(s) or store:

  • Trigger decision making in buyers mind & drive more sales
  • Build trust
  • Improved SEO
5. Offer Free & Fast Shipping

According to a 2019 survey report by Walker Sand (1600+ frequent online shoppers in the US), 9 out of 10 participants stated free shipping is the number one reason that makes them shop more often.

While selling to American consumers, it is important to offer fast & free shipping as they love both
Image Source: ThinkWithGoogle

Does it makes sense to offer free & fast shipping if you’re dropshipping, especially in the United States?

6. Put Urgency & Scarcity to improve conversions

There are many factors contributing to a good conversion rate, urgency & scarcity are two of them.

Urgency is making buyer(s) feel like they need to act quickly, while, scarcity is indicating a short supply of product so users who are interested can grab the deal quickly.

Doing so makes a visitor more like to buy the product then & there, because of the fear of missing out. This way, creating scarcity & urgency can improve conversion rates significantly.

Add scarcity & urgency to your products to force consumer make quick buying decision

Step 5: Set Up Basic Pages

The next thing we will do is to create basic pages for our Store. You can add pages as per your store preference; the basic pages I would suggest you to create first are:

  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Frequently Asked Questions

To add a page to your Shopify store, go to “Online Store -> Pages” from the left navigation menu inside your Shopify dashboard.

Click on add page.

Add pages to your shopify store

From here, you can then create a new page by adding title & page content. You can also edit the search engine preview content of your page from the “Edit Website SEO” as shown below

Edit SEO of your shopify store pages, you can use contact template for your dropshipping store contact us page

Step 5: Set Up Important Pages

Since you are dropshipping in the US, I would recommend you create all of these important pages to avoid any legal issues:

  • Refund Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Service
  • Shipping Policy

From the Shopify admin panel, click on settings at the bottom left & choose Legal

Add important legal pages to your dropshipping store from Shopify backend

From this screen, click on “Create from template” as shown below:

This will paste a typical content for required pages that you need to edit wherever required, as shown below:

Repeat this process for all the pages & save.

Step 6: Set Up Payments Gateway Provider

Setting a smooth payment gateway to your dropship store is essential & when you are dropshipping to the USA from India (or anywhere), PayPal is the best payment gateway solution to go with.

PayPal is one of the most popular payment gateway with over 220 million active users globally, and it takes less than 1 day to integrate PayPal on your Shopify store.

Please note that PayPal comes with a min fees of between 1.9% – 3.4% of all transactions, which is pretty acceptable as all other payment gateway providers also will charge you with some fees.

Below are some PayPal benefits:

  • Integration & activation is easy
  • Supports 100+ currencies
  • High security
  • 24 * 7 Support
  • Funds withdrawal process is fast & smooth

TO setup PayPal with your Shopify store, first you need to sign up with PayPal, create an account & link you bank account with them.

Once you’re done with the above steps, head over to your Shopify store & click on Setting in the left navigation at the bottom, then click on “Payments

Add payment gateway provider to your Shopify dropshipping store to start accepting payments from US of any other country

From the next page, you will be able to setup & integrate your PayPal (or other payment provider) to your Shopify store.

Stick with supplier(s) within the USA

As you know, the dropshipping supplier doesn’t have to be locally from that county where you are selling. By that mean, dropshipping to the USA can be done with suppliers from anywhere in the world.

As a beginner, you might be thinking of sourcing products from AliExpress – which has registered suppliers from China – that means, the products will be shipped from China to the United States.

This is okay. But there are many setbacks to consider.

Choosing foreign suppliers like AliExpress can attract unhappy customers because of cheap quality products & long delivery times.

It can take a very long time for your product to reach customers – drop shippers who have used Ali Express complaint that the delivery time is often too long – two to four weeks.

Products quality is another concern as majority of the suppliers in AliExpress manufacture cheap quality products.

Another thing to remember is that if you’re dropshipping products (from outside the US) above $800 in the US, then your customers can be hit with import taxes – that means, your customers have to pay again to the govt officials to get their package.

This surprising extra charge can make your consumer angry & they will never shop again from you.

Set Up Social Media Pages

Social media is a viable digital world for almost every business out there. According to a CMO Survey report, there are 23.3% of companies seeing quantitative results (measurable results) in their business using social media.

When you are dropshipping, your store’s social media presence would also count for building store authencity & trust among new visitors.

Having an effective social media strategy for your dropshipping store in place would significantly help you achieve the goals you’ve set.

Below are some platforms where your dropshipping business needs presence:

You can definitely try other platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn if that suits your dropship niche.

Set Up Your Marketing Plan

Once you have your store up & ready on Shopify, invest considerable time in analyzing your goals & craft a practical to achieve them.

Like I already shared you should have a decent budget to start with – explore different paid marketing channels & see what works best for you.

Below are some paid marketing channels to get traffic to your dropship store:

  • Facebook Advertisement
  • Instagram Ads
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Google Adwords Pay Per Click (Search Engine Marketing)
  • Explore other marketing channels like Tik Tok
  • AdRoll

Conclusion

Mastering something new takes time – start today to get your dropship store live in the next few days & see how things will happen.

Once you start experimenting, you will learn from the failures & figure out on your own that what works best & what to do next.

It unlikely that you will succeed with your first product or first marketing campaign – just keep on testing & experimenting until you get something that works.

I hope the above tutorial helped you understand how you can dropship in the USA & if you’ve followed me along the article, you would have your staging store ready.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments below?

Categories
WordPress WordPress Security

90K Attacks Per Minute on WordPress Websites! Are you Secure?

WordPress is probably the best thing that ever happened to many of us who are using it.

For those who don’t know what WordPress is – it is an open-source (free to use & modify) website building & content management tool – developed & managed by some of the most dedicated folks in the World.

But despite being such a powerful & popular CMS tool, it is also the most hacked.

According to statistics from 40,000+ popular WordPress websites, more than 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacking attacks.

WordFence, a popular WordPress security plugin once reported that there are over 90,000 attacks per minute on WordPress.

These stats are extreme & clearly indicates the importance minimizing your risks of getting attacked or -hacked!

If you’re serious about your WordPress website, stick to this article to understand some common WordPress security vulnerabilities & how to prevent attackers from targeting your website:

Common WordPress Websites Security Issues/Vulnerabilities

While WordPress is very secure & is audited regularly by top developers, hackers can still find a way to exploit weak security points.

Below are some commonly-used security exploitation attempts by hackers on WordPress websites:

SQL Code Injection Attacks

Every website has some open paths that hackers can exploit & use to inject malicious scripts to your database or core website files. Any WordPress website that fails to filter user-submitted data before processing & saving it into the database, is vulnerable.

Since WordPress uses MySQL language for database, SQL code injection attacks are the most common attacks on WordPress websites.

Such malicious scripts can be injected to your website through some common user-submission forms like:

  • Contact Form
  • Website Search Bar
  • Comments Section
  • Upload Documents
  • User Registration
  • Newsletter
Contact forms in websites can cause security vulnerabilities if data is not properly sanitized & filtered - hackers can inject malicious SQL commands to your wordpress website

To avoid any kinds of script injections from these open paths, you would need to apply data filtration/validation on such forms.

Take this screenshot below for example, it rejects any other data than email:

example of form that uses data sanitization to avoid SQL injection wordpress attacks

This is how a data validation must be in place & working if you use any form or feature that allows users to submit information from the frontend.

If hackers found a way to inject any malicious data, then possibly they will further find a way to execute these scripts inside of your database & execute certain functions – eventually, you will be locked out of your WordPress website.

Brute Force Attacks

In general, a brute force attack means trying multiple & random usernames + password combinations until a successful combination is found.

Hackers create a database of some commonly used passwords & program automated scripts to attempt different combinations.

Did you know that “Brute Force” attacks have success rate of 10%.

If your WordPress login credentials are weak, there are high chances that these automated bots will finally crack a combination that works & breaks into your website.

File Inclusion Exploits

A file inclusion vulnerability allows attackers to include files on a web server through a browser. This exploit can occur when your website allows users to submit inputs into files (in file format) or upload files to the server but fails to sanitize the file before accepting.

There are two types of file inclusion vulnerabilites in WordPress:

  • Local File Inclusion – When attackers find a way to read and sometimes execute files on a website’s server.
  • Remote File Inclusion – When attackers find a way to submit a remote file in your web server

If you’re curious to know more, here is a detailed guide on WordPress file inclusion vulnerabilities.

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) Vulnerabilities

Did you know that 84% of total security vulnerabilities on the whole internet are cross-site scripting?

This is a process wherein hackers try to find ways to exploit weak websites that can be manipulated by executing malicious Javascript code within a victim’s web browser – it mostly targets the functionality of a web page.

Cross-site scripting attacks are one of the most popular attack types on websites worldwide & pose major risks to both your business & its visitors/users.

Remember that these attacks do not take over your website, instead, a malicious piece of code is inserted as an additional element with your website into the browser – which is then executed & displayed to the user.

XSS attacks can harm your website visitors by showing them a link to malicious websites or misleading them with a contact form to steal their information.

XSS attacks are & most commonly used to:

  • Take over user accounts
  • Trick your website visitors into giving out personal data by showing them a misleading form
  • Capturing login credentials
  • Stealing session cookies
  • Defacing websites
  • Injecting trojans
  • Showing disguised links to malicious websites

In WordPress, cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities occur mainly because of plugins & themes – so it is important to choose plugins & themes wisely & keep them updated.

Secure Your WordPress Website From Getting Hacked

While no technology is 100% secure & WordPress security team also works on improvising the security, as a website owner, you are also responsible to keep your website safe by following security best practices.

Below are some informative & actionable steps to prevent common security exploitations & attacks on your WordPress website:

Outdated Technology Puts You In Danger

Whenever any plugin, theme, or WordPress core update is released, it often comes with increased security by eliminating vulnerabilities & strengthening the code against malicious attacks.

Release notes are also pushed with the updates for users to read the information on what comes with the update, like feature enhancements, UX improvements, security & bug improvements.

Because attackers also keep an eye on these release notes – it could be sometimes useful for them to learn & exploit vulnerabilities that are available in the older versions (of plugins, themes, or core-updates)

WPBeginner says, 86% of sites are hacked due to outdated plugins, themes or WordPress core.

Now you might have understood why it is important to keep the plugins, themes & core WordPress updated as soon as the updates are released – it reduces the risk of your website being attacked or compromised in some other way!

Plugins Can Become The Biggest Culprits: Use Them Wisely

Since plugins are a piece of code that adds functionalities to your website, some plugins have deep access to your website, so it’s vital to be careful with these culprits that may invite hackers.

Below are some security measures to keep in mind before you choose & use plugins:

Install Plugins Only When Required

Not all features that you think good are actually good, or required!

What happens with most WordPress beginners is that they try to integrate more & more features into their website – using plugins.

However, you are liking those features because you are new to WordPress & website building. Over time, you will realize that it is best to stick with minimal & simple features.

On the top of that, there are many cons to using unnecessary plugins.

Sometimes we end up installing plugins that are not frequently updated & maintained by developers. As we have already above in this article, plugins can cause many security vulnerabilities to your website.

Not to mention, the more plugins you use, the heavy your website will be – high loading time – negative effects on SEO.

Remove Inactive Plugins

WordPress websites with more inactive plugins are tempting target for hackers.

It is recommended to remove all inactive plugins as soon as you don’t need them anymore. This is because any of these unnoticed plugins can cause security exploitations – prevention is better than cure.

removing inactive plugins keep your wordpress website more secure as these plugins if gets outdated & left unnoticed - can be used by hackers

Don’t worry, you can reinstall it anytime you want in a fraction of minutes, but website security should be the utmost priority.

Verify Plugins Before Installing

Just because plugins are freebies does not mean they are worth using. It is very important to know your plugin before you install it on your website.

things to look for before installing a plugin on your wordpress website.

As we already discussed above, plugins have deep access to your WordPress website – and so is the importance of choosing plugins only from trusted developers & businesses.

Keep Plugins Up To Date: Enable Auto Updates

Outdated plugins are dangerous as the older versions might contain security flaws. It is important to keep your plugins up to date as soon as the latest version is released.

The best practice is to enable auto-updates for Plugins directly from plugins section in WordPress admin

image to show how you can enable plugins auto update feature on to avoid security vulnerabilities caused by outdated plugins

Strict “NO” to Nulled or Torrent Themes & Plugins

What could be more foolish than using untrusted, nulled & torrented versions of plugins or themes on your website, just because you get premium benefits at no cost?

Such pirated products are primarily used to distribute malwares & contain malicious scripts.

Since plugins & themes have deep access to your WordPress core directory & database, installing their torrent versions means nothing useful but inviting hackers by yourself to gain access to your website.

These pirated plugins/themes can also contain scripts to steal information from your website – which then could be circulated on the dark web.

Securing a website isn’t a joke. Your website is like a folder available on the internet that you need to protect from unwanted/unauthorized access that can get deep into this folder, i.e into root files.

Use strong & unique passwords at vulnerable areas

Using weak passwords make your website prone to brute force attacks, so it is important to create strong and unique passwords that minimize this risk.

A strong password consist of:

  • At least 10 characters
  • Uppercase & lowercase numbers
  • Numbers
  • Symbols

Using a complex combination of different characters create a strong password.

WordPress also has a strong password generator – go to profile section in users from the left navigation & click on “create new password”

You will also find a password strength indicator there.

wordpress inbuilt strong password generator for website security
wordpress inbuilt strong password indicator for website security

It would be a good practice to use such strong passwords at every step & potential areas that connects with your like:

  • WordPress user account
  • FTP accounts
  • WordPress database password
  • Your hosting account
  • Primary / Secondary Email addresses

Avoid Commonly Used Demo Usernames

Hackers create automated bots/scripts to commit scans on the internet & attempt brute-forcing. When these bots find a WordPress admin login page, they start guessing numerous usernames & passwords combination until they guess the best.

Using commonly used usernames (as well as passwords) makes your WordPress website one step closer to a successful brute force attack.

Keep usernames that are hard to guess & avoid using commonly used ones like:

  • Admin
  • Root
  • User
  • test

Use security bridges (Firewall) to protect the WordPress admin area

To keep attackers away from brute-forcing or compromising your website security in other ways, it is recommended to create a strong firewall that prevents access of unauthorized traffic to your WordPress login panel, below are some ways to do it:

Change Default WordPress Access URL

By default, WordPress websites use the URL string: www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin to log in inside the WordPress admin area.

But using this default URL to access the admin area makes your website one step closer to getting attacked.

C’mon, they are hackers! This is the basic thing we need to protect from them because they are well aware of this.

One quick way to secure this stage of your WordPress website is by using WordPress security plugins.

Almost every WordPress security plugin has this feature to change custom login slug

Be Cautious: It’s common to get locked out of your website if you try changing the login page slug. I would recommend you shoot an email to your hosting provider first & let them know what you are about to do.

Password Protect Admin Directory

If you don’t want to change the default WordPress access URL “wp-admin”, then you should password protect this directory from your hosting cPanel.

Just login to your cPanel account & locate the Directory Privacy icon. From here, the password protects the directory “wp-admin” & saves changes.

Password protecting this directory adds one more layer of authentication before logging in to your WordPress panel.

password protecting your directory enables a security firewall that asks for user name & password before getting the wordpress login page

Enable Two Factor Authentication

Two Factor authentication is an ultimate firewall every WordPress should use.

Many times, hackers manage to steal your exact login credentials. In such a case, using a two-factor authentication help you minimize the security risks.

Even if someone has the right credentials, they can’t log in to the admin area until a second code is provided to successfully log in.

You can enable two factor authentication based on many factors, some most common approaches are:

  • OTP via Email or SMS
  • Security Questions
  • QR Code Authentication
  • Push Notification on Other Devices
two factor authentication example for improved wordpress security

Two popular plugins for two-factor authentication are Google Authenticator & miniOrange 2 Factor Authentication to secure this vulnerability.

Limit Login Attempts

limiting login attempts using plugin can help better secure your website

You can use a plugin to limit the number of wrong password attempts to secure yourself from brute forcing.

Conclusion

It’s not just WordPress, but any other open source resources are vulnerable to all sorts of attacks.

As a WordPress website owner, you should know that in addition to WordPress’s own core security, you have to take some security measures to keep hackers & malicious scripts/bots away from your website.

I would also recommend you read this article – Try Hacking Your WordPress Website Before Hackers Do! – to dive deeper into WordPress security best practices by implementing some advanced security tactics on both WordPress core as well as server files.

I hope the article helped you understand some of the WordPress website security exploitations & how you can prevent them.

Did I miss something to add? What do you think is the most effective way to secure your WordPress website & keep hackers away?

Categories
Dropshipping

Drop Shipping Tips 2021: Boost Conversions & Become Profitable

Low starting up costs in drop shipping model makes it easy for aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the eCommerce game.

Many enters every day, but very fewer of them stays.

Just because the entry barriers are low, doesn’t mean the business should be treated lightly. Drop shipping is also like any other ecommerce business, it’s just that you don’t need to pay for inventory.

Everything else is same – store development, social media marketing, design, navigation, email marketing, Facebook ads, ad optimization, content creation, SEO etc.

If we talk about drop shipping specifically – the business model is even harder to sustain because of low profit margins.

Often times, things can get messy that can kill your drop shipping store – your dreams!

While technology is constantly evolving & consumers are increasingly moving to online channels, the money is unconditional.

In 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online[1]

Stats on number of online shoppers worldwide. ecommerce Statistics by Statista

With such a market potential, drop shipping seems a good way to grab very very tiny portion of these numbers.

But, what it really takes to to succeed in drop shipping?

The simple answer is – treat drop shipping as a serious business & follow the best practices & tips I’ve curated from all over the internet & personal experiences:

Drop Shipping Tip #1: Single product drop shipping works well in 2021

Drop shipping might come to your mind as an ecommerce stores selling lots of items around a niche.

But, one more way to getting success with drop shipping is single product drop shipping – a store that sells one product only.

Take this store for example – The Foot Cleaner

single product drop shipping store example

Going this way allows you to channel your efforts & resources into selling one product only.

Below are some advantages of single product drop shipping:

  • You can make your store unique in the space since you are putting all efforts in one product
  • You will get creative with your work if there are nothing extra messy work that comes with multiple product drop shipping
  • You will provide excellent customer service because your dedications & efforts will help you learn all the ins & outs of your product
  • Your brand will gain authority over time if your product is good that customers will love
  • Targeting customers is easier since you’ve already narrowed audience by going with one product only
  • Your store will have high conversion rate as compared to other store that sells multiple products

Instead of experimenting with multiples products, just focus on researching & finding the one right product with good market potential – then invest your time, resources & expenses in marketing & selling this product only.

If the product is flagship, your dedicated store & marketing efforts will give it the attention it deserves.

Drop Shipping Tip #2: Provide stellar customer service

Happy customers are strong pillars for any business.

U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service[2]

If we talk about drop shipping, customer service is the primary thing you must focus on. You must be reachable by people if they have any concern related to your product (before or after purchasing).

If you’re doing bad a customer service:

  • You will lose potential customers.
  • Unhappy customers can also leave bad reviews which can harm your conversions & business reputation
  • Some of the customers will ask for return or refund; some might chargeback.

On the other hand, offering good customer service build consumers’ trust with your business. These happy customers can bring in repeated sales via repeated purchases, friends referral or words of mouth.

You can also ask happy customers to leave reviews on your product/service

So it is viable in drop shipping to focus on offering outstanding customer service.

Not only in drop shipping, but customer service is a key point where every business must focus.

Over 90% of people globally believe customer service is very important in the choice of a brand.[3]

Stats to illustrate the importance of customer service in any brand/business, including drop shipping
Report by Microsoft Dynamics 360 [3]

The same research also stated that 58% of people stop doing business with a company because of poor customer experience.

When you’re drop shipping, returning customers can bring in good profits, but if you’re doing poor at customer service, your store might die within weeks.

Drop Shipping Tip #3: Postpone your plans if you are stringent with budget

No, I didn’t mean to discourage you, but like every other business, drop shipping also require decent budget to get positive ROI.

Otherwise, you might end up with a flop store; you will eventually lose confidence for drop shipping & think this business model does not work.

Setting up a dropship store & going live require less capital, but, to sustain your business & become profitable, you really need to invest money in a lot of things (mainly on advertisements & scaling more ads)

Things not always go the way we expect, especially with drop shipping, so experts drop shippers around the globe recommend having at least $400 in cash & up to $1000 of minimum credit limit.

Investing proper capital in drop shipping takes you one step closer to success.

Take Facebook Ads for example. There is Facebook Pixels in FB ads that tracks which type of audience is converting well. The more you invest in Facebook ads, the better set of audience Facebook pixels will craft for your product – based on what audience is actually purchasing.

Additionally, over time when you will think of scaling, you will need some premium services/tools to improve conversions.

If you are stringent with budget, you can still start drop shipping & scale. But with less budget comes greater risks of failure.

Drop shipping still works in 2021 – only if you play it right.

If you have the passion, then sooner or later, you will start – what’s matters is how smart you move & how wisely you plan things out.

Drop Shipping Tip #4: Don’t forget to include Guest Checkout

If you’ve left this unchecked, head over to your drop shipping store & find ways to incorporate guest checkout feature.

guest checkout example on a drop shipping store

Modern users are much lazier than you might think of, especially mobile users. They don’t like filling forms or setting up passwords & then verification link and all.

On the top of that, doesn’t it sound stupid to refuse customers just because they don’t want to create an account on your store?

Be nice with your customers, if someone don’t want to create account, allow them to do quick checkout as a guest.

This will significantly improve your cart abandonment rate & eventually conversions.

Drop Shipping Tip #5: Strictly stick with Shopify if you are a beginner

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce store building platform in the market – powering almost 3,603,636 websites (at the time I am writing this post)[4].

Some says, it powers almost 15-20% of the market share.

Just like WordPress was designed to build blogs, Shopify is built to offer 360-degree ecommerce solutions to entrepreneurs.

Let’s see how popular Shopify is using Google Trends:

google trends to showcase the popularity of Shopify & why you should use it for drop shipping

One primary reason behind this much popularity of Shopify is it’s easy to use interface – that is pretty much easy for anyone to use – from moms, students to small as well as big business owners.

Talking about the features, Shopify covers almost every solution you would need for your store – even billion dollar businesses also uses Shopify.

One great feature of Shopify is that it allows you to sell products on multiple channels from a single place – Amazon, EBay, Facebook etc.

Shopify drop ship store building platform screenshot

Just like any other entrepreneur, drop shippers wear multiple hats.

If you are a beginner to drop shipping, there will be a lot of work for you to manage & execute. Many times, some concepts & techniques will be entirely new to you & some work might require additional features or tweakings to your store.

In such a case, Shopify comes as a powerful platform. Since Shopify is specifically for eCommerce, it almost powers all ecommerce features you’d need while setting up & scaling.

On the other hand, if you use other platforms, you might end up messing with a lot of stuffs & spending time that you’d rather have invested in marketing & optimizing ad copies.

So if you are a beginner to drop shipping & non-techy guy, stick to Shopify.

Drop Shipping Tip #6: Invest in improving store design

Unquestionably design is a key factor of any website or store. It can make or break your business.

With more & more consumers shifting online – more competition is arising – that gives users an opportunity to find & buy what they want from where they want as per their preferences.

These modern users prefer to spend time on websites with intuitive design & easy navigation – combined with a lot of other factors.

And so, it is important for drop shippers to focus on their store appearance to make it stand out from the crowd & attract more potential buyers

A good design constitute of a lot of things, including:

  • Elements position & alignment
  • Color & Typography
  • Contrast & Differentiation
  • How well you are able to convey your message – describe your services or products
  • Easy to understand features & navigation

Some studies on user-behavior found that visual appeal & navigation have the biggest influence on people’s first impressions of your brand.

If your drop ship store is designed well, it will make a difference at the first impression to a visitor – which would help you convert potential clicks into purchases!

Drop Shipping Tip #7: High-Ticket drop shipping is another way to more profitability

High ticket drop shipping is quite self explanatory – selling expensive items.

High ticket product dropshipping product example

A standard & typical drop shipping store seems to most of us like a store selling wide range of low or medium priced items.

The problem with selling low priced items in drop shipping is the profit margins, which are pretty hard to squeeze – hence, greater risks of failure.

On the other hand, selling high-priced items allows you to grab hefty of profits – you would also get flexibility to set your own custom prices.

Here are some examples of high-ticket drop shipping products:

  • Steam Showers
  • Sports Cycle
  • Golf Simulators
  • Game Tables
    • Foos Ball Tables
    • Air HockeyTables
    • Poker Table
    • Indoor Tennis Table
    • Snookers Table
  • Electric Massage Chairs
  • Drones

Drop Shipping Tip #8: Do Branded Drop Shipping

As the name suggests, branded drop shipping is about drop shipping products that have your brand on it (logo printed on product, packaging, tags, etc)

white label drop shipping example
Image Credit: Retail Insider

Just like drop shipping allows you to sell products online without having to hold any inventory, drop shipping branding allows you to sell products under your brand name without having to manage any manufacturing process.

Here is an example of drop shipping store that sells white-labelled or private labelled product – this store is doing well in the market & brand is now well known.

private label & single product drop shipping example

It’s good to sell products under your brand in drop shipping as this gives you a competitive advantage over other drop shipping stores.

There are two ways to get into branded drop shipping:

1. White Label Drop Shipping

White label drop shipping is a concept wherein manufacturers allows selling of their products under seller’s brand name – manufacturer is different & brand is different.

Drop shippers can pick from a wide range of generic products available in the market for white labeling.

Advantages of white label drop shipping:

  • Less money required as compared to private label drop shipping
  • Get product at wholesale prices

Disadvantages of white label drop shipping:

  • High competition
  • Limited branding options
  • Limited choice of products

2. Private Labeling

Private labeling is a concept wherein a manufacturer create products (& add branding) exclusively for sellers, who then can sell these products.

Since private label products are exclusively made for you, you are the only one who can sell it.

For example – Wickedly Prime is Amazon’s private labelled grocery brand that’s dedicated to snackfood.

example image to showcase amazon's private label brand named Wickedly Prime

You can find suppliers that allows drop shippers to explore private labelling.

Advantages of private label drop shipping:

  • Increased profit margins
  • Get Brand Credibility & Customer Loyalty

Disadvantages of private label drop shipping:

  • Minimum order quality required
  • Buying wrong inventory can lead to losses: no-one will buy back your product if you’re not a recognized brand already

Drop Shipping Tip #9: Don’t Ignore Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing works really well, especially with drop shipping when you are limited with advertising budget.

As the name suggests, influencer marketing is basically connecting with popular social media profiles & asking them to promote your product with their audience.

influencer marketing example for drop shipping

Just like other marketing channels, influencer marketing will cost you as per your targeting needs.

There are primarily two types of influencers:

  • Macro Influencers: Popular social media profiles with over 100K to million of followers. Example – celebrities, industry experts & veterans, youtubers, models, etc
  • Micro Influencers: Social media profiles with an average of 1K – 10K or more, or less.

Most of the drop shippers love to work with micro influencers, because they do not demand huge $$$ & their reach is worth it if you choose the right profiles.

If you are not leveraging influencer marketing in your drop shipping campaigns, it’s time to allocate some budget here & put in some efforts in outreaching & collaborating with potential influencers that might be interested in working with you for cheap.

Drop Shipping Tip #10: Verify products by ordering sample

People love drop shipping because it’s really easy to just start selling any good product you could find – no need to even touch the product.

But a smart drop shipper would never sell a product without placing a test order – to verify if the product is worth selling & the supplier & their operations) are good.

Placing test orders not only helps you with understanding the product & supplier, but also with shooting promotional images & videos of your product, this would definitely help your selling style stand out from the crowd.

While all other drop shippers would use stock images for promotions, you would go for an entire different route – creative marketing materials, personalized shoots, videos etc.

So once you finalize your product & supplier, don’t forget to place a test order for yourself. In case you have shortlisted multiple suppliers for your product, order from each of them.

Drop Shipping Tip #11: Recover abandoned carts & boost revenue

Cart abandonment occurs when a customer add product(s) to cart but doesn’t complete the checkout / purchase.

Over 3/4 of online shoppers leave without completing their purchase [5]

Carts abandonment is a major challenge for every ecommerce store. In 2019, the avg. cart abandonment rate was around 70% [6]

Online shopping cart abandonment rate stats worldwide. A report by statista

So if you’re not optimizing your drop shipping store for recovering abandoned carts, then you are leaving a lot of money in the table.

There is massive opportunity to increase your profits if you invest time in optimizing your store to minimize cart abandonment & recover abandoned customers.

According to a research by Baymard, below are some top reasons for cart abandonment during checkout:

Cart abandonment reasons & how you can use this tip to improve your drop shipping store

Drop shipping Tip #12: Finding a reliable supplier is key to drop shipping success

In the growth & success of any drop shipping store, suppliers play a key role.

Your store won’t sustain for long if you’ve skipped investing time in finding a good supplier who can fulfil all the order in time & do the work professionally.

In short, your drop ship store need supplier(s) whom you can trust. This is another time consuming task in drop shipping & you should do extensive research at your end – this is quintessential for a smoother eCommerce journey.

What exactly does a reliable /good supplier means in drop shipping:

  • Provide high-quality products
  • Provide good customer service to you
  • Maintain healthy connections with drop shippers
  • Professional for their work
  • Provide good delivery time
  • Reasonable product pricing

Things to do / look for before finalizing your supplier:

  • Place a test order & verify the product
  • Check their business & product reviews
  • Check their history – how long they have been into business.
  • What other products my supplier deal with?
  • How is their customer support?
  • Will my supplier be able to help me in case things get messy?
  • Connect with them & know more about their product to see how willingly they are helping you.

Remember that a bad supplier can really mess up things at your end – and your plans would not go the way you’ve wanted – even if you’re sure with the success of your products & store.

Drop Shipping Tip #13: Offer fast & free delivery

In the pool of competition, free & fast delivery helps eCommerce businesses stand out from the crowd.

Free delivery is key. Over half of internet users globally say this would most increase their likelihood of buying a product online, reaching a peak of 65% among boomers. It’s likely that as consumers have become more accustomed to the efficiency of online shopping, this additional cost has become slightly more acceptable.

Commerce Flagship Report by Global Web Index[7]
stats to show why people shop online & you can use one of these to improve your drop ship store conversions

If you are drop shipping, this path will be a little expensive but can help improve conversions significantly.

Not only in conversions, but offering free & fast deliver could potentially help you with other benefits like upselling, repeated purchase & many more.

Conclusion – Stay Ahead in the Drop Shipping Game

Drop Shipping is definitely not a get quick rich scheme.

It is just like any other ecommerce business you see & those who treat drop shipping business like real ecommerce business, reap the rewards.

While drop shipping may not be the perfect way to build a successful online business, but you can definitely build a million dollar company if you play smart & stand out from the crowd.

The drop shipping tips I’ve shared above are really effective, backed by statistics & curated from trustworthy sources across the globe.

I hope this article helped you get at least one more idea to get ahead with your drop shipping plans.

What else tips do you have for drop shippers to effectively boost their revenue & sustain in the ecommerce game for long? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Source Citations

[1] www.statista.com/statistics/251666/number-of-digital-buyers-worldwide/

[2] www.helpscout.com/75-customer-service-facts-quotes-statistics

[3] https://clouddamcdnprodep.azureedge.net/gdc/gdcPiLLQw/original?ocid=mkto_eml_EM582302A1LA1

[4] https://trends.builtwith.com/shop/Shopify

[5] www.barilliance.com/cart-abandonment-rate-statistics/

[6] www.statista.com/statistics/477804/online-shopping-cart-abandonment-rate-worldwide/

[7] www.globalwebindex.com/hubfs/Downloads/Commerce%20Flagship%20Report%20-%20GWI.pdf

Categories
Sell Online

How To Sell Paintings Online: Monetizing Your Artistic Talent

Selling art is definitely not an easy task!

Prospective buyers are very hard to reach and even if you manage to reach them, they might not be interested in buying from you unless they’ve heard your name or about your art before.

However, digital marketing has made things very easier for us & this is the right time to embrace technology.

In this blog, I will discuss about how you can leverage digital marketing & sell paintings / artwork online as an artist.

Points described in this article below will definitely help you spread awareness about you, your artwork & eventually sell more of your artwork.

Just in case you’re not familiar with internet concepts such as blogging, advertising, social media marketing, SEO – hold tight & invest some time in learning a few digital marketing concepts to learn the art of selling online

Create Videos

Video works really well & video marketing is currently one of the hottest trend in the digital market.

As an artist, you can create video content & promote it on various channels to get more exposure on your artwork.

The video creation & editing work is pretty time consuming but the results will be worth it.

You can create some videos & then syndicate the copies on multiple platforms like Instagram Feeds/Reels, Facebook Video, YouTube, Vimeo & more.

Having some videos on your main artwork product page can definitely boost conversions.

TO start with, you should do some research to analyze what type of videos you should create to build your credibility as an artist.

Don’t only focus on creating videos for selling paintings, you can also create videos like behind the scenes or maybe a time lapse video taken while you created that painting.

Focus on creating the type of content that might interest your users so you get increase following base over time.

Maybe some videos you can create like –

  • Intro video about you & your artwork. You can use this video as a sticky video to display on your website, artist profile on other portals, or maybe in email marketing when you get a fresh new subscriber
  • Frequently asked questions about your artwork
  • Your story
  • Why this particular painting is different
  • Series of paintings around any cause or something – to support an event

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing – as compared to other paid marketing channels – is the most efficient way to get exposure.

It’s all about connecting with various people social media that has a decent number of followings.

You can reach out to people with as low as 5k – 10K followers or as high as followers in millions, depending on your marketing budget.

If you are stringent with budget, you can connect with even less popular profiles ~3K followers to post on your behalf & share awareness about you as an artist & help you sell your products – artworks, paintings.

Below are some ways Influencer marketing can help artists get exposure on their work & eventually more sales:

  • Introduce yourself to the world & build a potential follower base that actually knows you & your work.
  • Stay ahead of the competition – basic rule of thumb, the more you try, the more chances of winning
  • Create & build great connections
  • Promote your work to a highly engaged audience at a fairly cheaper price (if compared to other marketing channels)
  • You can turn this friendship into cross-promotion once you grow

There are many more benefits that you can get from influencer marketing, you just need to figure out the type of artist you are & the audience you want to target.

Sell Your Paintings/Artwork on Social Media

Unquestionably social media is the most important marketing channel for everyone.

For professionals, there is LinkedIn;

For artists & other image focused businesses, there are Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook & more.

1. Facebook

Facebook being the largest social media channel, is love to many marketers.

As an artist, Facebook is a great platform to connect with communities & people that might be interested in your artwork.

Below are some tips that can help you get more sales via Facebook on your paintings/artwork:

  • Post regularly & keep your audience engaged
  • Market on Facebook groups
  • Sell on Facebook Marketplace
  • Run some paid campaigns as per your budget, to experiment
  • Engage with audience

2. Instagram

Instagram can be a game-changer for artists or anyone with image-focused products.

As an artist, It is a great platform to get exposure to your artworks – many times, your artwork can go viral if people really like it – and strengthen your follower base (potential collectors as well).

Over time, if you do the right work & Instagram works for you, you will establish your credibility as an artist from this platform also.

Post Regularly & have some posts in advance

Social Marketing is not easy, it is one of the toughest but interesting work in digital marketing.

To get good exposure on your profile, keep your Instagram strategy like professional social media marketers.

Posting regularly & planning your content in advance aka content calendar, helps social media marketing journey easy.

You must have at least a bandwidth of 10 – 20 posts in advance so that you won’t miss posting on any day.

User proper-researched #hashtags

You must use proper hashtags to capitalize opportunities to go viral in the Instagram explore/feed section.

Invest some time in finding potential hashtags that are relevant to your artwork & paintings. You can use some sets of hashtags like

  • 7 Hashtags with 20K – 30K Posts
  • 7 Hashtags with 30K – 50K Posts
  • 5 Hashtags with 50K – 100K Posts

Some more tips to get maximum exposure on your paintings & artistic profile on Instagram:

  • Avoid generic hashtags – Avoid using overly used Instagram hashtags like #love #picture #follow
  • Avoid too popular hashtags – You can use popular hashtags but don’t overdo it, it will be like throwing needles in the ocean
  • Be specific with hashtags – Just like Niche Marketing works, if you add hashtags that are very specific to your work, there are more chances of getting exposure.
  • Follow others to get follow back – This works, follow others to get exposure on your profile & get follow back if someone finds your profile interesting.
  • Tags some profiles that feature posts – There are tons of accounts that handpick some of the best Instagram posts & feature them in their profile. You can try finding some popular accounts (individual or fanpages) that feature artist profiles, artworks like paintings, doodles etc.
  • Don’t stuff too many hashtags – This looks unprofessional. While Instagram allows placement for up to 30 hashtags, you should limit yourself to using 15 – 20 only. Keep everything simple stupid.
  • Learn from others – Spying is the best thing I like in digital marketing, you should spend some time analyzing other artist profiles that are performing well & shortlist strategies that might be working for them. You can then try these strategies to sell more of your paintings.

You can also record video & share the entire painting creation phase, either time-lapse or maybe cutting clips. Here’s an example by Artist Joony Art

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNIPWQmhnLI/

3. Sell on Pinterest

Another great platform for image focused niches is Pinterest.

There’s so much traffic you can get with Pinterest. After reading this blog, you can also read this blog on how to promote & sell your art on Pinterest.

Pinterest gives you a competitive advantage on the Web, including the opportunity to get your work discovered in Google Images Search.

Don’t Forget to Alt Tag Your Paintings

Using alt tag is another strategy you should not ignore since selling art online is an image focused game.

Image Alt is an HTML attribute that we specify as text to describe exactly what the image is.

This tag is used by search engines to understand the images better & is also displayed to a user when the internet is slow & fails to load images.

The primarily use of this feature on user end is for accessibility. People who can’t read can listen to this alt text to know about the image.

Just put in some keywords in alt tags that will help you get discovered in Google & other searches.

Many platforms, including Instagram & LinkedIn, allows you to add alt attributes to images.

Here’s how you can add alt tag to your Instagram posts:

Click on Advanced Settings that appears on the screen while you write caption:

Get Your Paintings Discovered in Google Search

Since your prospect is interested in buying an artwork, i.e, you painting, the artwork image is the primary element of attention.

If you optimize your images to get discovered on Google Images search as shown below, you can get hefty of traffic from here

To secure these image search result placements, below are some things you need to consider before posting your painting images anywhere online:

  • Title of the Webpage (if website) & Image
  • Photo File Name
  • Description
  • Alt Text
  • Anchor text (if applicable)

You should use keywords in these placements from the set of keywords you’ve created. Don’t forget to add image alt text wherever possible as we discussed above.

Remember to not use the same keywords too many times. Google is smarter than you!

Optimize Your Paintings’ Product Page

When it comes to selling online, the product page optimization is must.

Since you are selling artwork, image(s) are the primary thing your prospect will evaluate.

Be Consistent with Images

Keep the image type consistent so that buyers can easily compare. This is very important.

For example, if you are capturing a painting on wall, keep the painting at the same placemenet on wall & capture image from the angle with the same lighting.

Keep this format consistent as this creates a better experience for buyers.

This also helps keep the product listings & their thumbnails aligned.

Unquestionably the image quality need to be utmost too!

Other things to consider while creating listing your paintings online are putting keywords in title & alt tagging your images as discussed above.

Know Your Keywords

Keywords are integral part of online marketing.

Be it social media marketing, search marketing, seo, email marketing or conversion rate optimization, keywords play very important role everywhere.

As an artist, it is very important to have some keywords allocated for every artwork you create so your paintings get best discovered from the Web.

“Keywords” are basically search terms that we type in Google to find solution for whatever we have in mind.

In order to build your online presence as an artist, you will need keywords in your day to day digital marketing activities like:

  • Product Listing
  • Blogging
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Product Optimization (Title, Description, Image Alt)
  • Off Page Work (Profile creation, artwork/painting syndication)

Here are a few free keyword research tools you can utilize to get relevant keywords to your artwork:

  1. Google Trends
  2. Google Keywords Planner
  3. Answer The Public
  4. UberSuggest
  5. Keywords Everywhere

Build A Professional Website

A website creates a sense of professionalism, & being an artist, this website would be your topmost sales channel & foundation of your personal brand as an artist.

Another reason to having a website is because if you wish to sell your artwork like painting, you actually mean starting a business, & having a website is quintessential for every business.

This website would be a place wherein people can visit our artwork gallery, know about the lastest painting you has to offer, the featured paintings.

You can share almost anything with the world via Website – Be it showcasing your artwork, telling your story, or sharing about the exhibitions you have been / will be hosting.

There’s a lot more you can do with a website – you can run a series of blog posts, gather & grow email subscribers,

Building a website is no longer tough, there are many platforms like WordPress & Shopify that lets you build beautiful website without having the knowledge to code.

Get yourself a website now & let the world know who are you as an artist

There are a few popular website building tools you can use:

WordPress

WordPress is an ideal solution for artists who does not only limit themselves to selling online.

WordPress is an open-source (free to use) content management system (website building) tool loved by millions of people worldwide. It powers more than 40% of websites on the Internet.

To add additional features to your website relating to your artistic needs, you can create custom pages or add plugins.

Might be there’s an upcoming event or exhibition you wish to share with audience, or maybe, a blog that you wish to focus on.

You can easily accomplish almost everything with WordPress.

WordPress is easy to use & you don’t need to code, but you must have to invest time in understanding all the features & possibilities.

To integrate ecommerce features into it, you will have to add a “WooCommerce” plugin/extension that adds Ecommerce features to your website.

But

If you are non-tech savvy or don’t wish to do all these stuff, just wish to sell your artworks smoothly, then Shopify is the option for you which I’ve listed below.

If you are planning to go with WordPress, here are a few blogs I’d recommend you to give a read:

How to choose the right theme for your WordPress website?

How to secure your WordPress website?

Shopify

Shopify is simply the most easy-to-use tool that can help you build a beautiful eCommerce website to start selling your artwork within a day.

Unlike WordPress, Shopify comes with a paid plan but definitely makes the whole ecommerce selling game easy so you just focus on marketing & selling your work rather than investing time in improving your website.

If you have a few minutes online right now, you can sign up with Shopify here & see how the platform works.

Don’t Ignore the Optimization

You must have heard of Search Engine Optimization – the process of optimizing your website to gain more discoverability on search engine result pages.

As an artist, you should also keep this term in mind whenever you publish something in the Internet to get discovered by people.

Whenever you create your profile on profile creation websites for artists or submit your paintings/artworks to sell on third party portals / your own website, you should do optimization wherever possible.

Placeholders like name/title, description, image alt, social links, website links etc can be utilized.

  • In description, type in some keywords that your audience might use to discover artists like you.
  • Submit social profile links & mention your website/portal where you sell your artwork(s)
  • Add alt tags to images
  • Optimize images before uploading
  • Add keywords in title
  • Complete all the placeholders that are available to fill
  • Don’t forget to add useful information that helps user make buying decision

Explore Paid Digital Marketing Channels

There are so much paid online-marketing channels you can use effectively to boost your sales.

You can leverage content marketing, video marketing, social media marketing, pay per click advertising, affiliate marketing & much more.

Such as, try running Instagram promotion for few of your arts. Just as an experiment.

Maybe 3 out of your 10 artworks get the maximum conversion rate on ads, so that you become informed to spend more budget on these 3 artworks as it has the potential to sell.

Also, with every advertisement platform you can do A/B testing to see which image, title, description, or offer converts well.

There is so much to explore & little money to lose in case your campaign fails!

But, you must understand online marketing well before starting to run campaigns, or you can learn by setting up campaigns as well. That is also a good way to learn.

But what I mean is that you must have to be resourceful & energetic enough to get the job done.

With digital marketing, there could be many approaches for getting to your goal, all you need to do is test what works best for you.

Register Yourself As An Artist & Sell Online

There are many other platforms you can create try to sell your artwork online.

Also, if you go on digging the internet, you will find many platforms where you can create your artistic profile.

Creating profile on these platforms will surely help you get discovered in Google & gain profile credibility.

Mojarto

Fine Art America

ArtPal

Amazon

Etsy

Ebay

Art Finder

One Tip: TO help Google better understand you as an artist, make sure to use consistent profile credentials – name, contact details, description<can vary> – as we SEO use NAP in Local search optimization.

Have Some Unique Selling Points

Don’t get lost in the pool of competition.

TO stand out, you must need to identify what makes you or your artwork different from others.

It will take time to know what USP you can offer, but over time, you will definitely need this if you wish to make your art as a business.

This will be an important reason for prospect t buy your at & once you get maximum exposure about this USP, it will definitely improve your sales.

As an artist, you are meaningfully different 🙂

It could be your theme, style, story, inspiration, culture, etc.

Focus on thinking what your audience want & what might impress them.

Upsell or Gift

Don’t forget to include gifts for your customers if you can afford without hurting your revenue.

If not gifting, try including something to upsell. Such as, a complete painting kit or anything that might excite your type of audience.

Categories
WordPress WordPress Security

Try Hacking Your WordPress Website Before Hackers Do!

If you use WordPress, it is really important to get yourself familiar with some security measures to keep your website safe from potential hacking attacks.

There were over 90 billion malicious login attacks from 57 million unique IP addresses at a rate of 2,800 attacks per second targeting WordPress, says WordFence.

WordPress, being a powerful & open source CMS, invite potential security threats as well.

There has been a long history of WordPress websites being targeted by hackers because of security issues.

News about WordPress websites getting hacked

Here are some of the WordPress security vulnerability stats you should look at:

  • 41% of WordPress attacks are caused because of vulnerability on the hosting platform. [Souce: Unknown]
  • 61% of infected WordPress websites were out of date. [Souce: Sucuri]
  • 8% of WordPress websites are hacked due to weak passwords
  • Over 30% of Alexa’s top 1 million websites were using outdated WordPress, making them vulnerable to hacking attempts. [Source: WPWhiteSecurity]
  • 52% of WordPress vulnerabilities are due to WordPress Plugins [Source: WPScan]
  • In a study, over 4000 websites were infected by malware due to a fake SEO plugin [Souce: Unknown]
  • There are almost 90,000 attacks per minute on WordPress websites. [Source: WordFence]

Aren’t these stats shocking?

Who are these hackers? Well, we are not here for this answer!

After reading this piece of content, you will understand how hackers can find a way to exploit security vulnerabilities in your website, & what you can do to avoid any such security exploitations.

Moving ahead, we will execute some basic & initial techniques used by hackers use to find potential weak WordPress websites.

Finally, we will see some fixes to protect your WordPress website from hacking or similar attacks.

How Hackers Hack Your WordPress Website?

The Anatomy of WordPress Hacking

It all starts with Reconnaissance & Scanning. Hackers use various techniques to scan & shortlisting WordPress websites with security vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

They can do this in many ways, like executing browser-side automated scripts, creating automated bots to scan the world wide web & many more.

Once they shortlist weak websites, they further execute advanced hacking steps (like brute-forcing, injecting malicious scripts & more.

Most of the part is automated.

Enumeration

With WordPress default configuration, there are several ways hackers can find sensitive information about your website, which can be then exploited to gain administrative access to your website.

Unless you take some steps to hide some critical WordPress information about your website, you are vulnerable to hacking attacks, especially brute-forcing (trying out numerous combinations of some commonly used passwords until the right combination is guessed.).

For instance, if a hacker knows the exact username of your WordPress admin account, he is one step closer to brute force attacking your website.

Similarly,

There are various other information that becomes public with WordPress default installation, hence, making your website vulnerable to hacking attacks.

SQL & PHP Injection Attacks Through Database

An injection attack is a process of submitting malicious functions & scripts via input form fields or other open fields/path opportunities in your Website.

Since WordPress is written in PHP & uses MySQL/MariaDB for database, hackers try to enter malicious PHP/SQL scripts to be saved & processed into database.

Such scripts can be inserted via open form fields available throughout our Website like contact us form, newsletter, comments, etc.

SQL injection vulnerability is the one of the most critical security vulnerability in WordPress.

If your WordPress security failed to filter & identify such malicious data before saving it to the database, it becomes easy for hackers to eventually send scripts that request back confidential information or may execute certain functions.

Man In The Middle Attacks

Man in the middle (MitM) attacks are reffered to attacks wherein the hacker position themselves as intermediator between the process of sending & receiving data.

In simple terms, this means trying to steal information while data communicates/travels from one point to other.

WordPress websites that are still running on HTTP, are prone to man in the middle attacks.

This is because HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is basically a communication between your web browser & website server.

When you put in a website URL, browser send request to the website server & fetches required data.

Since HTTP is not an encrypted protocol, hackers can easily intercept in-between the information shared between web browser & web server.

This means, even the passwords are not secure. The straight forward solution to preventing MiiM attacks is enabling HTTPS protocol on your website.

Hacking Your Website: Testing Out If Your Website Is Vulnerable To Hackers

While no website is secure across the Globe.

SO here’s the catch: Reveal as least information about your website as possible, you will be on a safer side.

Hiding your website potential information means, preventing yourself from falling in the shortlisted website list after their reconsinnance & scanning phase.

SO you might be wondering,

What are these kind of potential information that hackers are looking for to shortlist weak website?

  • Admin Username
  • Websites without HTTPS
  • Websites with outdated themes or plugins
  • Websites with potential open paths to inject malicious scripts

The best way to understand this is by doing some scanning on your WordPress website that real hackers are trying out there using automated bots:

Test 1: WordPress enumeration via REST API

WordPress installation by default includes a rest API that can be used to get active user details on a specific website.

REST stands for Representational State Transfer & it is a client server protocol that makes your website available as web server.

In simplte terms, REST API helps other applications/websites in retrieving information available on your website without having to use a browser to access the website.

To get the requested data, REST architecture uses many formats including plain text, HTML, JSON, XML, YAML, etc.

If we talk about the data in Json format, ,

To check this, enter this URL string after your website URL: /wp-json/wp/v2/users

Example – www.yourwebsite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/users

similarly, https://sureshbhatt.net/wp-json/wp/v2/posts

What did you see? Did you see a blank page or 404 page?

When hacker send a Json request (www.yourwebsite.com/wp-json/wp/v2/users) on your website to get sensitive information, it should return a 404 error

or did you see this kind of information?

an image to showcase how REST API can be exploited & used to hack your WordPress website

If yes, you need to protect this information ASAP.

Don’t take this lightly. As you can see, this string can help hackers get information on registered users.

Here’s the fix, you can directly jump to this fix or continue reading this article to fix everything, including this.

Test 2: Monitoring WordPress Behavior

In this step, we’ll look for minor differences in how your WordPress login page is responding to particular requests.

We will perform this step to help you understand what minor informations hackers try to gather & how costly leakage of these minor information can help hackers gain access to your website

Step 1: Go to your WordPress Login page & try entering a wrong username & dummy password.

See how WordPress responds to this & returns this error message

Step 2: Now Enter right username but wrong password

WordPress response security testing against brute force attacks

As you can see, this returns a message: invalid username & password, this means, WordPress does not indicate that username is correct but password is wrong/

However, hackers have one more way to confirm this, they will try resetting your password.

Not to actually reset your password, but to keep your website in list where usernames are confirmed so they can execute further steps.

Wordpress forget password response testing to check security vulnerabilities helping hackers to get the exact username

But once the right username is guessed, this password reset form will confirm this to hackers.

WordPress response to forget password bruteforce testing when right username is guessed

However, in this case, hackers needs to make sure that they execute things real fast as soon after this step

Because this will also send you a forgot password link

If you ever receive any such forget password email, don’t take it lightly.

Create a new & very strong password again immediately.

Depending on this response, the attackers can determine the exact user name that can be potentially used to execute next larger hacking steps against your website.

This makes hackers one step closer to brute force attacking your Website.

Test 3: Checking If any Directory is visible publically Wp-Content & Wp-Plugin Indexing Status

We will attempt this test to list the directory contents of the uploads & plugins folders to determine if directory Indexing is enabled by default on your WordPress website.

This can lead to information leakage vulnerabilites that can also reveal sensitive information regarding your website configuration.

Screenshot to show enumeration (plugin, content) vulnerability in wordpress

Test 4: Playing With Some Free WordPress Website Security Vulnerabilities Scanner

In this check, we will test our Website vulnerabilites using some pugins.

This test is to see if our website requires attention, because hackers use these tools or similar codes to detect potentially weak websites

WPIntel Chrome Extension

Wp Intel - WordPress Vulnerability Scanner Plugin Free

Pin this extension to your Browser & whenever you visit any website, this tool will scan websites & turn green if it detects any WordPress CMS.

You can use this tool to scan for possible vulnerabilites in your wordpress website & get it fixed as soon as possible.

Some things you can check for using this tool:

  • Version & Vulnerabilities
  • Themes & Plugin information
  • Username Enumeration
  • Scan for registered users details
  • Scan for path disclosure
WPIntel Tool

This is one of the most famous tools used by hackers to find vulnerabilities to your website

This tools helps them in their reconissance phase when they are on their firrst step of gathering data from

There are other popular tools too you can easily find.

Test 5: Finding PHP or SQL Injection Vulnerabilities

Any input field in your website with submit button is vulnerable.

In this test, we will check for any open paths in our frontend that does not filter data before processing & saving into the database.

Create a list of all the available options on your website from where a data can be sent to be stored on our website database , sent by a user from frontend.

This could be:

  • Newsletter Form
  • Custom HTML form you might have created
  • Comments Section

Now test if your website is filtering this data before sending to database or not.

Didn’t get what I mean?

What you need to do is try improper format for entering data,

such as in the phone number field, try entering texts & phone number greater than 10digits, if the website accepts this data, this means, data is not getting filtered properly & hackers can inject malicious scripts to your database which can be executed in their next hacking steps.

How Can I Protect My WordPress Website from Hackers?

You’re not alone in this fight!

Hide Rest API

As we discussed above, REST API in WordPress can be used to get potentially sensitive information about your website.

TO prevent this, you need to insert the following code to functions.php file.

add_filter( 'rest_authentication_errors', function( $result ) {

  if ( ! empty( $result ) ) {

    return $result;

  }

  if ( ! is_user_logged_in() ) {

    return new WP_Error( 'rest_not_logged_in', 'You are not currently logged in.', array( 'status' => 401 ) );

  }

  if ( ! current_user_can( 'administrator' ) ) {

    return new WP_Error( 'rest_not_admin', 'You are not an administrator.', array( 'status' => 401 ) );

  }

  return $result;

});

Add Security Headers

When it comes to WordPress security, adding security headers to your website block malicious attacks like script injecting or Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

For example, there are many scripts that hackers can use to access your website in HTTP even if you’ve configured SSL properly.

Below are some important security headers that we need to add to our Website at server level.

  • HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) – Prevent your website from loading on HTTP
  • X-Frame-Options – Prevents cross-domain iframes or click-jacking
  • X-XSS-Protection – Blocks cross-site scripting
  • X-Content-Type-Options – blocks content mime-type sniffing.

We need to add these headers on the website server level, on .htaccess file

To do this, login to your cPanel & using File Manager, go to public_html > .htaccess

Add this piece of script inside this file & Save Changes.

<ifModule mod_headers.c>
Header set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=31536000" env=HTTPS
Header set X-XSS-Protection "1; mode=block"
Header set X-Content-Type-Options nosniff
Header set X-Frame-Options DENY
Header set Referrer-Policy: no-referrer-when-downgrade
</ifModule> 

Keep Everything Up To Date

Be it plugins, theme files, WordPress core update or anything else on your website.

Keep everything up to date. This is most important.

Outdated technology is very dangerous & you should enable auto updates for your WordPress website, for themes, plugins.

Choose A Reliable & Trusted Hosting Partner

Did you know that security vulnerability issues by Hosting services accounts 41% of hacked WordPress websites?

This news is around 6-7 years old & the original author of this post has deleted the page.

But let me tell you why choosing a reliable hosting services are important:

  • Website Security – A reliable business means you are in the best hands, a good host will have a security firewall & other means to protect your website from getting hacked.
  • Just in case your WordPress website gets hacked, a good hosting provider will prioritize this situation to help you the best way they can
  • While performing certain functions to strengthen your website security, you would need to edit core files. Just in case something goes wrong & you lose access to your website, a reliable web host will not only make sure to fix the issues, but also educate you on what you’ve done wrong & what you should avoid in the future.

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest concern in the tech world.

Let the professionals manage server security & other critical security measures while you focus on strengthening your WordPress website.

I personally use HostGator & have been associated with them as an affiliate partner.

Meaning, the hosting is reliable & if you sign up from here, I will get some commission that will help me keep this blog live 🙂

The tech support staff is really helpful & willing to provide you the best customer experience.

Bluehost is also good, but might be expensive for beginners.

Password Protect WordPress Admin Directory

This is kind of two factor authentication to login to your admin dashboard.

Just like your WordPress dashboard is protected with a password, you can add another layer of security by password protecting this directory itself.

That is, protecting the URL www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin by asking a prompt before accessing the login page

This is how a password protected WordPress admin page looks like, this adds an extra layer of security to your wordpress website

To do this, you need to login to your hosting cPanel account & locate Directory Privacy icon

How to enable password on Wp-Admin page, password protect Wp-Admin directory

Locate wp-admin directory inside public_html & click on edit as shown below

Demonstration on how to enable paswword protection on Wp-Admin

Final steps to password protect wordpress admin & improve security

Now save this & try logging into your dashboard in incognito mode.

Seeing “too-many-redirects” or “404” error after setting up password on wp-admin directory?

Try adding this piece of code to your .htaccess file inside cPanel of your hosting account:

public_html > .htaccess

ErrorDocument 401 default

Add this code before WordPress rules start

Click save & try now.

Seeing Admin ajax issue?

This means Ajax functionality is broken.

Locate wp-admin .htaccess file (This is different .htaccess file, not the one that we edited above) inside hosting cPanel

public_html > wp-admin > .htaccess

& paste the following code into it:

<Files admin-ajax.php>
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
Satisfy any 
</Files>

Hide /wp-admin URL & keep hackers away

The default WordPress installation settings invite security vulnerabilities to your Website.

One such vulnerability it the default login page URL, i.e, /wp-admin

You just need to add this at the end of website URL to get to the login page.

Hackers already know this & you must change this URL slug to keep hackers away from this page, which is a gateway to the core of your Website.

While this can also be done manually, you can also use WPS Hide Login plugin

Caution: It is important to backup your website before changing /wp-admin/ login URL, this is because in some cases, you may end up losing access to your website & locked out.

Limit Login Attempts

As the term suggests, limiting login attempts to our WordPress website keep it secure from hackers trying to brute force attack your website.

By enabling this feature, you will be able to limit the number of failed login attempts.

Since brute force attacking needs a lot of combinations to be tried before guessing the right password, limiting login attempts make sure that no bot can try more than three wrong credentials to your website.

WordPress Installation does not include this feature so we need to use a plugin for this.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Enabling two factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your website.

Just in case an automated script is able to brute force login into your WordPress, your website will still be secure until hackers find a way to disable/exploit that specific plugin used for two factor authentication.

Almost every WordPress security plugin allows you to enable two factor authentication

Block Script Injections – PHP & SQL

As we know, WordPress is written in PHP & uses MySQL or MariaDB database.

This means hackers can potentially inject malicious SQL & PHP scripts to your website.

This can be done via sending requests from your website frontend or using global PHP functions.

We’ve already done this test to see if hackers can get a way to inject scripts.

However, there is one more step that needs to be done, we need to prevent any kind of global PHP requests from outside of our website.

TO do this we need to add this script to our .htaccess file

# BEGIN Protect Against Script Injections, Thank you Suresh

Options +FollowSymLinks 
RewriteEngine On RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} (<|%3C).*script.*(>|%3E) [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} GLOBALS(=|[|%[0-9A-Z]{0,2}) [OR] 
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} _REQUEST(=|[|%[0-9A-Z]{0,2}) 
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php [F,L] 

# END Protect Against Script Injections, Thank You Suresh

You will find .htaccess file inside File Manager in your website cPanel.

Once you save this code to .htaccess file, your website will block any request or scripts which can be used to hack your website.

Just by adding this code, you are taking your WordPress security to next level

Disable Frontend Debugging Messages

Some WordPress theme comes with debugging messages enabled on the frontend.

While developers use this feature to detect bugs, hackers can potentially use this feature to gather information which will then be used to trick your WordPress system & gain unauthorized access to your website.

If you spot any debug messages on the frontend, place this code into the wp-config file:

define( ‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, false );

Disable File Editing – Theme Editor & Plugin Editor

WordPress comes with two useful features named “Theme Editor” & “Plugin Editor”.

This allows you to edit theme files & plugins directly from the WordPress dashboard, rather then manually editing from the cpanel.

However, this is a huge security vulnerability & if you are non-tech savvy, it is recommended to turn it off.

To disable these features, you simply need to add the below piece of code to your wp-config.php file

// Disallow file edit
define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true );

Use Recommended Security Plugins

Though I don’t want you to rely on plugins because plugins can be exploited easily & also slows down your website.

But still, I am not an ethical hacker or security evangelist, so I would say install some security plugins that experts recommends on the internet.

But rest assured, if you wish to not use plugins, you can totally skip them, I’ve mentioned some good preventive measures to save your website from hackers.

Conclusion

As we all know, no security solution works 100%, this means, we need to do the best part as we can.

TO best protect your website against hacking, I would recommend you to not just install plugins/firewalls etc, but understanding how actually it works.

If you get to know only what I’ve explained in the post above, then it will be easy for you to make smart decisions in future related to your website security.

Another important reason to understand this is that you don’t have to rely on plugins everytime.

What’s important is to make hackers lives hard by not giving them the initial information their bots need about our website.

Rest everything is being done by some great minds working behind to keep WordPress a happy place for all of us 🙂

I hope this article helped you understand WordPress security flaws & their fixes.

Do you think I missed adding any WordPress security vulnerability that hackers can potentially use to gain access to our website? Please let me know in the comment section 🙂

Categories
Google My Business Optimization Local Search Optimization

Google My Business Listing Optimization: Boost Local SEO

Google My Business is a free tool that allows business owners create their business profiles in Google Maps – which is then shown in search results & maps – to nearby people who might be looking for your business, services or products.

Example –

The query “Pure veg restaurants near me” brings up search results like this –

These restaurants listed here are all nearby ones to the user who typed the query – based on his device GPS, or last known location.

This is how Google My Business helps business businesses boost their online presence.

However, to make the most out of this free service, it’s important to implement a few best practices while creating & managing this business profile – this is known as Google My Business optimization.

Some marketers also call it Local SEO – which is optimizing your business presence to build its authority & get discovered in these local searches.

Why Google My Business Optimization is important?

Look at some stats below:

stats by think with google on how important google my business is for users & this indicated that google my business optimization is must

Before optimizing for Google My Business, it is important to understand how Google My Business works:

How Google Determines Your Local Presence?

Relevance: This refers to how well your business listing profile matches with what a user is searching for. Continue reading this article till the end to optimize your GMB listing to ensure that Google better understands your business & distributes your business to relevant nearby prospects.

Distance: This refers to how far a users’ location is from your business. It would be nice if the prospect has location turned on, but if not, then Google will determine results based on their calculation of the last location they tracked, & other data.

Prominence: This refers to how well-known your business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and Google tries to reflect this in local listing results. For example, famous hotels, destinations, or well-known brands are likely to be prominent in local search results too. These rankings are based on information that Google has about your business, from across the internet, like backlinks, articles, business name citations & directories. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.

Important: If your businesses have a chain system & branches across places, then it is important to provide local business credentials for specific locations accurately.

For example, your 1st branch office listing must have the local office phone number of that location itself, not another headquarters number that redirects.

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing yet, register one now. Let’s start optimizing your Google My Business profile:

Google My Business Optimization: Boost Your Local SEO

Do Your Homework: Is Your Website Optimized for Local SEO?

Local SEO isn’t a walk in the park, but if you’ve put in the right efforts from your end, you will surely reap the rewards.

One important thing comes down this topic is optimization of your Website for local SEO.

Though Local SEO is somewhat different aspect, larger than GMB optimization, a few things you should always consider

  • Make sure the address & contact details you’ve listed on the website matches GMB profile details, be consistent with NAP.
  • If you have more than one physical locations:
    • Create separate listings for locations
    • Mention all addresses & contact details on the website footer
    • Mention local office number for local listings
  • Your website must have a local address cited on your website that you’ve used in your GMB profile
  • Be consistent
  • Ensure mobile number & contact email are clickable
  • It would be better if you embed a location map to your website, either on the homepage, footer, contact us, about us.

Consistent NAP: Key To Building Brand Name Citations

Mismatched NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) account for 41% of the total ranking issues.

You confuse Google bots, they will decrease your optimization.

Google love listings that have consistent business credentials represented & distributed across other places.

The most important credentials are NAP: Name, Address & Phone Number

social notebook noida google my business listing example to demonstrate the importance of consistent NAP credentials across web for local optimization

It is very important to provide accurate & consistent business brand names that you use elsewhere, viz, other business listing places like YellowPages, YELP, Social Media Accounts, Website, etc.

If you’ve hired an agency for SEO, make sure to verify through them if your business has consistent NAPs distributed across the internet.

Business Description: Keep it Real

People will find your business description here under reviews if you if you scroll down.

google my business listing example Image to show where business description is added that you need to optimize

Use this place to describe about your business, what you offer, your mission & history.

You should Include your primary business keywords here, but don’t overdo it as Google will not like it.

You should not include any promotions here (sale, offer, discount, cheapest etc) or texts that mislead users.

This description should highlight what makes your business unique. Provide useful information on services and products offered, as well as the mission and history of your business.

You should be upfront & honest about the information you provide here.

Focus on creating a description that is relevant & useful to your customers to understand your business.

Remember: In some GMB profiles, there’s also a short description that appears below your Business Name section.

example image to show short description that we can't edit in Google My Business listing

This description is not under your control, Google sets this.

Choose Business Categories Wisely

This is where most of business listing owners try to maximize their reach by entering broad categories.

However, just like niche marketing works, you should mention fewest categories to describe your overall core business.

Don’t rush for covering all the categories you might think of. Don’t go broad, choose sub-category instead if applicable for your business.

Be relevant & specific, to make it easy for both a user & Google to understand.

Your category appears here:

techmagnate digital marketing agency google my business listing example to show where category is displayed on your GMB profile

You might be unaware that you need to choose categories in GMB listing wisely, because you did not know that choosing

According to a Google My Business insights study (45000 GMB profiles analyzed) conducted by BrightLocal, it is found that

The average GMB listing is found in 1009 searches per month, with 84% of these coming from discovery searches.

Discovery search means when a customer searched for a category, product, or service that you offer, and your listing appeared.

Fill All Details Completely

Filling all of your business details asked in Google My Business listing makes it easy for Google to understand your business, what you offer & hence, to rank you higher.

a screenshot of dashboard inside of google my business, to demonstrate that all information needs to be filled for better optimization of GMB

A complete GMB profile also increase customer trust & your business authencity, which encourages users to take action from your listing (visiting website, )

The Details You Must Fill Are

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Business Category
  • Website
  • Operating Days & Hours

Here’s how a complete & optimized GMB listing looks like:

google my business optimized listing example of techmagnate digital marketing agency

Select Applicable Attributes

Google My Business allows you to add specific attributes applicable for your business.

These attributes are highlighted on your GMB profile & it helps a user make informed decisions before visiting your business.

social notebook google my business listing to showcase how attributes are displayed on your business profile & why you should keep it updated if you are optimizing for Google My Business

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Google rolled out some health & safety attributes, like

  • Appointment required
  • Mask required
  • Staff get temperature checks
  • Staff wear masks
  • Staff required to disinfect surfaces between visits
  • Temperature Check Required

Here are some other latest attributes added to Google My Business:

Attributes for Local Restaurants

  • Dine-In
  • Takeaway
  • No Contact Delivery

Attributes for Online Services

  • Online Appointment
  • Online Care
  • Online Classes

Other Business Attributes:

  • Identifies as women-led

You can view a full list of GMB attributes here, or simply try adding attributes that are applicable for your business.

Here’s how to add attributes in your Google My Business listing:

-> Sign In to Google My Business

-> Open the listing you’d like to manage

-> From the menu on left side, click on “Info

-> On this screen, you will see an option to “add attributes

You’re good to go.

Don’t Forget To Target Primary Keywords

When it comes to keywords optimization in GMB, you have to be very specific & should not overdo it.

Using keywords in Title is a controversial topic, however, most recommends sticking to brand name only.

In business description, target one or two keywords that your audience might use to find businesses like yours.

You should also target keywords in posts.

Don’t repeat keywords that you’ve already used. Use every placement of your GMB profile wisely so as to make your business easy to understand.

Google also analyzes keywords in reviews to help understand your business. I am not suggesting you put some fake reviews targeting keywords.

What would help in the long run is how specific you are with your services keywords so that your services keywords become memorable to your customers.

Instead of getting self created or paid reviews, you should seed your own QnA sets & target keywords in it.

Keep Operating Days & Time Accurate

Imagine how worst experience that would be if a user completely relied on what information you’ve provided & headed to your physical location.

What he saw is that your business is closed.

The consumer will in turn not only put a bad review but also flag your business profile which can lead to suspension of your profile.

Google has been very strict about user experience & hence regularly rolling out Google My Business updates.

Hence, it’s important to be real & serious with Google about what he asks for.

Keep your operating hours & days updated on your GMB profile.

Set Up Messaging & Be Reachable

Turning on messaging feature would require you to download Google My Business mobile app

Enabling this feature allows users to send you directly a text message for any business enquiry they may have.

It gives you a great opportunity to connect with customers since most users are lazy to dial phone number, what convenient for them is just sending an enquiry on one click.

It works as a chatbot for your business.

Remember: If you’ve turned on messaging feature for your customers but not responding to customers on time, then it may result in the suspension of messaging feature for your listing, which will eventually decrease your optimization efforts.

Leverage Q & A: Boost Conversions

Google My Business listing also has a Question & Answer feature wherein users can directly ask questions related to your business or services.

As a part of online marketing strategy, you can leverage this placement to mention some commonly /frequently asked questions to help users better understand your business.

This feature will help you increase actions, traffic & conversions! Add some Q & A to your business profile now.

Update Posts & Photos Regularly

Just like sharing updates on other social media channels, you can also post from Google My Business. This will surely add value to your GMB profile.

Use this feature to share announcements, latest updates, events, offerings, etc.

Google prefer content that is new & up-to-date. I recommend you post at least twice a week, the more, the better!

If you’re struggling to find new content, you can re-share old posts. Something is better than nothing.

While uploading photos, keep in mind the below things:

Add a few quality videos too, & you’re good to go!

Customer Review Are Most Important: Encourage & Engage

Online audience is a review based society.

Google My Business allows other to leave reviews on your business listing.

Encouraging reviews is very important to local optimization success & overall conversion rate.

These reviews are building your brand presence overall. Don’t forget to ask your happy customers to leave a review on your listing.

Once you get reviews, don’t forget to engage & revert to them.

If you wish to create new business listing & wish to move reviews to this new profile from old one, you can simply send a request to Google My Business team for this.

Keep In Mind The Best Practices to Avoid Penalties

  • Keep each & every information real & relevant
  • Don’t focus on promoting offers directly into the business description
  • Avoid keywords stuffing in Title & Description, instead, leverage sections like QnA, Reviews, Product/Service offerings, etc
  • Google My Business profile is not a website that you should overload with information. Your GMB profile must suffice basic user questions like:
    • What is this business called across?
    • What can this business do?
    • Where is the office/physical location?
    • How can this business be contacted? Phone, Email, Message?
    • Can I message this business or book an appointment online myself without having to call them?
    • What other services or products does this business offers?
    • Is this business highly recommended?
    • How does the office look like?
  • Don’t have multiple listings for the same business/branch

Product Editor & Catalog

Google My Business also allows you to showcase your products/services separately on your GMB profile.

It is really helpful, especially for those whose offering are not clearly understandable from business description.

This is another opportunity to publish content (targeting keywords as well) that help users understand what you offer.

You can add service/product name, description & price.

This is how a product/services carousel looks like in your GMB profile:

an image to display how product/services is shown on your Google my business profile

If a visitor clicks on any of product/service, a popup will expand with a CTA like this:

google my business screenshot to show how your products/services are shown in expanded format & why you should optimize this part

Monitor KPIs

Once you’re done optimizing your GMB profile, it’s time to start monitoring some important KPI’s that you will find inside of Google My Business dashboard

  • Actions
  • Phone Calls
  • Clicks To Website
  • Views
  • Direction Views
  • Searches By Source

Conclusion

Google My Business is a great way to boost local SEO & attract potential customers searching for your services.

Once you’re done optimizing your listing, I would recommend you to go through official guidelines published by Google for Google My Business

Don’t be lazy at this part, it is important to read these guidelines & pay attention to what Google has to say on listing your profiles to Google My Business.

Apart from consistency, it is very important to be real with Google My Business. It’s just like SEO, only those who play white hat practices will stay in the marathon.

You need to be relevant & specific while providing information on your GMB profile, to make it easy for both Google & Users to understand your business better.

Did I miss anything to add? Was this article informative? Leave you feedback in the comments 🙂

Categories
WordPress

Choose The Right WordPress Theme: The Only Guide You Need

WordPress, being the most widely used Website CMS, comes with a pool of over 10,000+ themes & this makes it a little complex for us to choose which WordPress theme would be right for my website or blog.

A theme is basically a group of files (graphics, CSS, etc) that control our website’s overall feel & appearance.

Not all themes available in the WordPress theme directory are good, & not all themes that look good are actually good.

We live in a tech-savvy world, we are modern, we expect modern interfaces with intuitive designs.

On the other hand, the ever-evolving SEO game makes it critical nowadays to thoroughly test a theme before owning it.

For example, it is mandatory to have a responsive website if you are planning to leverage SEO.

Similarly, there are a lot of factors to consider before sticking to a theme for your website.

What are those factors?

Don’t worry, this blog post has got you covered.

I’ve listed all the important points that need to be taken into account before finalizing a theme for your WordPress blog/website:

Things to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Theme

1. Determine Your Website Purpose & Features

Before searching for your website theme, it is important to determine what type of website you are looking for & what all features you’d want to be incorporated.

For example, a service offering business website will require different layouts, structures & features, while, a simple blog would not need many customizations at the beginning.

On the other hand, if you wish to enable Ecommerce features, you’d want a WooCommerce theme that is well suited for Ecommerce operations.

Just in case you wish to create an eCommerce website using WordPress, I’d suggest you go to a different article that is solely created to help users choose the right WooCommerce theme.

Here are some types of Websites you can create using WordPress:

  • Blog
  • Business / Services Website
  • Portfolio
  • Ecommerce Websites (Using WooCommerce)
  • Digital Magazine

Once you know what website you are going to need, it’s time to utilize WordPress feature filter

Determine Your Niche

There are many WordPress themes that offers a wealth of customizations.

Depending on your target market (niche), you can search & get themes that include features/functionalities related to your niche.

For example, if you’re into Real Estate, you will see some themes that allows features like Property Listing, Agents Managements, Google Maps Integration & many more.

Utilize Feature Filter

Most of us may not notice this, but while searching a theme for your blog, WordPress allows you to use some filter so that you get a theme as per your requirements.

As a beginner, I understand it feels amazing to have many features as my website can.

But, being in marketing for over 5 years made me realize that less is always more, so stick to less features.

The more features your website will have, the heavy coding your theme files will contain.

2. Get Some Demo Content to Start With

There are a lot of free & paid wordpress themes available in the official wordpress directory.

You can’t just finalize a theme at first place if you have done no research on theme or whatsoever.

Since there are a lot of themes available, it is best to preview those themes only after you have some demo content to start with.

This way you can preview, install & play with the themes you like, using dummy content.

Having some demo content allows you to test the themes you like & play around with dummy content to see how the final version of your website will look like.

Some WordPress themes come with demo content import Kit, but not all.

The easiest & best way to create demo content is by yourself. Here’s what you will need in demo content to start testing your website theme:

  • 3-4 Demo Blog Posts (With Featured Image)
  • 2-3 Demo Pages (With Featured Images)
  • Add Some Categories For These Posts
  • Create Menus & Widgets

That’s all.

3. Analyze What Customizations Your Theme Offers

Right after you install your theme, take some time to visit every features available to customize your website.

What we need to look here is for small features like

  • Does my website allows me to change font? (In case the theme fonts are not good)
  • Does my website allows me to change website theme color? (In case you wish to create brand visuals)
  • What features I can embed at the Homepage?

You can quickly analyze what features your theme is offering by going to WordPress Dashboard > Customize Your Theme

Remember: Avoid those themes at any cost that does not allow you to tweak or customize the code files. You must have the liberty to do so because this is your website, even if you think this feature is not necessary, keep in mind what I am telling you 🙂

4. Check The Theme Speed

Not to mention, the website speed has always been a critical key to improving overall performance of your Website, & hence the SEO.

And so is the importance of checking the theme’s speed before choosing it for your next project.

Some WordPress themes are cleanly coded that loads quickly, with minimal delay on sending/receiving requests, however, the pool of WordPress themes is vast, hence, not every theme that appears to be good is actually not good.

You need to do some homework by testing your theme’s speed on various speed testing tools.

Some of the tools I use are, there are plenty of other tools too.

Once you do some speed test, it will help you understand what

5. Checking For Browser Compatibility is Important

Cross browser compatibility is a part of responsive web design testing.

Responsive web design testing focuses on website design adaptability while cross-browser testing focuses on functional ability & interoperability.

As the name suggests, cross-browser testing revolves around what browsers the visitors are using while responsive design testing focuses on what device visitors are using.

At the end, both are aimed at offering seamless user experience to website visitors, irrespective of the device or browser they are using.

Hence, it is very important to execute cross browser testing on the theme you have chosen.

In general, theme developers perform strict cross-browser compatibility testing using various tools, however, it is also important to perform some tests at your end.

TO do this, you can either simply access your website on different browsers or use any browser compatibility testing tools on the web.

6. Color & Typography

The modern audience demands visually appealing website with amazing readability.

This is where your theme color palette & font type comes into consideration.

Once you finalize a theme, take one or two minutes to see what color options your theme is offering.

Just in case you already have brand color palette for your next blog/website, it’s better to stick with theme that offers color customizations (font color, background color, mouse hover color, button color etc)

7. Theme’s Responsiveness & Mobile-Friendliness is Must To Check

A responsive website automatically adjusts its design, content & elements to match the screen size on which it is viewed.

The ultimate goal of responsiveness is to avoid unnecessary efforts like zooming, resizing, etc to read the content of a web page, irrespective of the device used.

Long time ago when the responsive web design approach was not introduced, website owners had to design multiple website versions for different devices.

We are now living in a multi-tech society. People are using a variety of devices (Mobile, Tablets) to browse the internet.

Since you never know what device your target audience might use to access your site, it’s important to prepare your website design to be appropriately viewable across as many devices as possible.

Also, Google has been very strict with User Experience

You can use Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your website is responsive or not

8. Be Aware of Bloated Monstrosities Themes & Developers

Not all theme features you might think good are actually not required.

Focus on delivering minimal aesthetics & don’t get attracted to themes offering a wide functionalities & features.

If you wish to cover more features at once, you will end up with a slow website.

I would also like to take this moment to put a shot on some overloaded WordPress themes you might find on Themeforest occasionally.

Remember: Don’t fall into the trap of their reviews, I’ve pretty bad experience with Themeforest. I do not like their rating & reviews policies, i.e., if you ask for a refund /money back, they will delete your reviews.

This means, all the people who have figured out the theme is not good, are no longer able to aware users of that theme.

I am not pointing my gun at all theme developers, but, some to of the bloated monstrosities whom this shoe fits well.

As a beginner, it’s best to stick with WordPress official directory themes & stick to minimal features.

Minimal is the best always, no matter what.

9. Do Not Ask Search Engines or Other Source To Give You The Best Theme

Is WordPress secure?

The answer to this question is simple – “As long as you follow WordPress best practices, it’s very much secure”

There are many WordPress security issues that hackers can take advantage of.

One of the most common ways that hackers use to find vulnerabilities is by targeting websites with poorly written & outdated code.

Since themes (and plugins also) can be a potential source of this security vulnearability, it is strongly recommended to choose themes for your website only from the official WordPress themes respitory.

Just in case you wish to opt for premium themes from outside WordPress, make sure to do a thorough check on the business you’re dealing with.

Many times, you might also think to download & install a free torrented version of a premium theme – avoid this at any cost.

These pirated & free version of WordPress themes might contain malware or malicious scripts, therefore, comes at an expense of your websites’ security.

10. Free Theme vs Paid Theme: Expert’s Opinion

Important things first: If you are using a free theme WordPress theme, it is very critical to stick with the official WordPress theme directory as I mentioned earlier too. This is advised to you to not download & install any WordPress themes (or plugins) that are distributed outside of the WordPress platform.

The comparasion between free & paid wordpress themes is subjective.

What I would consider as disadvantage for my website, may not be a concern for you.

Here are some common disadvantages of using a free WordPress theme:

  • Limited or very less customer support
  • Limited features & functions
  • Not so visually tempting
  • No warranty – if something goes wrong, you are on your own

Now, let’s see some of the advantages of using Premium WordPress themes:

  • More features & customization options
  • Dedicated & priority customer support (which is important if you scale)
  • Streamlined functions like drag & drop homepage elements, multiple layouts, shortcodes, etc
  • Premium themes are unique & visually appealing

However, there are some disadvantages of using premium themes too.

For example, too many features might slow down your website.

Does this mean you should opt for premium WordPress theme?

No, as I said earlier, this answer is very subjective & you need to rethink of your goals & objectives.

Below are some questions to ask youself if you are confused between paid & free theme:

  • Do you really need a lot of features and customizations that premium themes are offering?
  • Can you troubleshoot & edit WordPress theme files on your own, if required?
  • Do you need a professional looking website to improve conversion rate? or a basic website would suffice your initial needs?

If you are a small business, I would recommend you to opt for a premium theme as it will give you a better design, more customization/features & peace of mind whenever you need support.

However, if you are just starting out with WordPress, a free theme would suffice your needs.

11. Do Some of Your Research

If there is a pro, there are chances of cons too.

Same goes with the website themes.

The best way to avoid any critical problems in the future is to do some research on the theme & see how the experience of people has been with this theme.

If using WordPress themes from the official WordPress directory (recommended), you will find theme rating & reviews on the theme page itself.

You can also type in the theme name on Google & check if someone had faced any bad experience with the theme that you must be aware of.

This way, you can have a solid idea of what theme you are using.

12. Consider Theme Documentation & Customer Support

Before choosing a theme for your WordPress website, it is important to keep in mind the support theme developers will provide you.

Usually, with free WordPress themes, there is poor theme documentation, very less or no customer support.

In such case, you will end up losing money on a third party developer if you mess up with the theme files.

However, if you go for a paid theme, you will get good theme documentation & priority customer support for long run.

Not only this, with the paid themes, you can be assured of the code quality because the developer must have taken many things into account before making the theme paid.

13. Spy For Competitor’s Website Themes & Plugins

How about spying to make your website better? Sounds cool!

Peeking at other killer websites to see which theme & tools they are using is a great way to make big moves with your WordPress website.

Being a blogger, it is common to get blogging inspirations & ideas from other websites. Many times, we see certain features or themes these websites are using & want them on our website too.

In this case, WordPress website theme detecting & spying tools come really handy, that helps you discover new themes & plugins.

Here are some good WordPress theme detector & spying tools that you can use for free:

Top WordPress Themes with Free Versions [2021 Updated]

  • Astra
  • OceanWP
  • Hestia
  • Bento
  • Go
  • Blocksy
  • SiteOrigin Unwind

Conclusion

It is not easy to find a good theme quickly for your WordPress website, especially if you are a beginner.

Hopefully, this blog post helped you get a better idea of what to look for while choosing a theme for your WordPress website.

As mentioned above, certain quality tests/checks like Mobile Responsiveness, Theme speed are a must to do.

However, other opinions are entirely subjective & depends on your goals/objectives.

Was this article informative? Do you think there should be a few more factors to consider before finalizing on a theme?


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