Creating content for your website and other online platforms can be a lot of work – changes are fast paced, the potential audience is hugely diverse, and you need to be sure your website is updated consistently. Static content on the web = death, so how can you create articles and updates on a regular basis while keeping an even keel? A few quick tips to consider:
Ditch the tools and go offroad
When writing for the web, it’s easy to fall into the trap of gluing yourself to useful tools like spellcheck or thesaurus.com. Our advice? Use sparingly. Like any tool, these items are useful but are not a catch-all. Most of us already know the pitfalls of spellcheck: it’s just not perfect and often misses small grammatical mistakes. As for a thesaurus, this tool is very helpful in a bind, but you may use a word that you believe sounds better but isn’t in the correct context. Plus the general flow of your writing may sound forced or overly flowery, when just a simple message will do. Trust your instincts and use writing tools only when you need them, not constantly.
Slow down, post strategically
You may be making edits and adding content to your website while you’re on-the-go, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice spelling and professionalism just to get a post live. Even the most seasoned writer likely has a few words or phrases that regularly trip them up, and that’s okay. Take a breath, double-check your work, and remember that even though you can certainly edit any errors later, you’re making first impressions with your initial post. This goes for your organization’s website and for social media channels as well. Just because tweets are short and sweet doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be thought out.
Find a second pair of eyes
One of the great things about having multiple content editors for your website is that you officially have a dedicated team of folks with your website’s success specifically in mind. Take advantage of several sets of editing eyes. This is recommended whether you’re still in the drafting stages, or you’re ready to post your final version. Having your colleagues take one last peek at your work is an immeasurable asset. Be sure you return the favor when another editor needs help with revisions.
Though your writing may be found by a huge demographic of online readers, more than likely you have a certain audience in mind depending on your topic. Talking about financial planning? You’ll likely want to keep your tone somewhat professional. Reviewing middle school fashion trends for 2014? A more casual tone is acceptable. Be sure not to stray too far down the casual path or you may sacrifice professionalism, but always be sure your voice is authentic. Know that it’s alright to tailor the tone of your article a bit depending on which audience you’re reaching out to.
Keep it short
Not every article needs to be a lengthy editorial item. Keep it quick, concise, and consider that your audience is just as busy as you are and will likely be gone quicker than a ‘click’. The faster you get the most important information to them, the better. And the more likely they are to come back to your site for brief updates and tidbits on a regular basis.
Above all, remember: writing can be hard work but it’s supposed to be fun (!). Trust yourself, take pen – or keyboard - in hand, and let your indispensable monologue flow.
SOCS is dedicated to improving the online needs of other nonprofits. Our mission is to create quality connections with these organizations and the communities they serve. Join us in celebrating 10 years of helping hundreds of nonprofits connect with community members and supporters online. Contact us to learn more.
About the Author
Jessie Barth is our SOCS Blog Editor. Her copywriting has been featured in industry campaigns across the nation. She received her BAs in English and Women's Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and has a penchant for social media, pop-culture and travel. In her spare time, she enjoys cuddling with her rescue puppy and alley cat.
Web hosting security can be a nightmare, especially if you happen to be a non-profit without a large information technology group. And when it comes to security, what you don't know can hurt your business. Hackers are continually trying to find new ways into your server, and their tactics are becoming more clever each day.
Understanding the Risks
It's a fact - hosting your website via Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting or shared hosting servers can leave you vulnerable to attacks by hackers. These hackers carry out their work by uploading malware or otherwise malicious sites or code onto a server. Once their code is uploaded, it may activate automatically or it can also be triggered inadvertently by an administrator in the course of routine server maintenance work. It then becomes an imminent danger to all customers whose data is hosted on that server.
These programs can also be introduced through security vulnerabilities in a legitimate site, and the malware is used for anything from stealing credit card data to launching a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that allows hackers to hijack an entire hosting server and use it in order to attack other servers.
So as you shop around for web hosting services, what do you need to look for when choosing your provider, and what steps do they take to keep hackers successfully at bay?
What safeguards should your web hosting service have in place to preemptively keep your website safe from attack?
Here are five core concepts to consider as you're evaluating your web hosting provider:
Do they know their customers? You've picked your website host. During the preliminary registration process, this is a chance for them to get to know who administers your site and which IP address updates will be coming from. Do they carefully screen accounts, obtain proof of identity, and contact new clients by phone before accounts are activated to deter hackers or unauthorized personnel from registering accounts?
Who do they offer services to? Does your website host make available open access, cost-free hosting or advertisement-sponsored accounts? This is a red flag. Free hosting services are often used by hackers who entice users to visit their sites, then the user unknowingly downloads malicious programs that can be a danger to the provider's entire network -- or at the very least create problems for legitimate customers.
Do they employ a reliable clustered firewall? Your website host's firewall should be configured to deny traffic unless it is specifically allowed, blocking threats to the server and sites hosted on it from outside of their network. Their security controls should be constantly tested from both inside and outside of their network. Don't forget to ask how well network, administrative, and security personnel are trained to handle any security-related issues that may arise.
Do they keep watch? Your web host's servers and network components should be monitored to make sure that no malicious code has been uploaded to a site, even if the rest of the site is completely legitimate. Their servers and network should be monitored 24 hours per day for availability, both internally and externally. In the unlikely event a site does become compromised, their monitoring system should immediately detect it, so their team is able to isolate or take the site offline until they can remove the threat in question.
Do they back up their customer's sites on a daily basis? A daily back up routine allows your provider to restore data to its entire network or to one particular site should it be damaged by a breach in security or by any other type of technical difficulty. This simple routine step will guard against disaster should your site become compromised.
What is your web hosting provider doing to keep your website safe? With SOCS, you can get stellar customer service, ease-of-use and security all in one tidy package. Want to find out more? Contact us today for a free demo.
Our SOCS guest correspondent Art Provost is the Director of Corporate Security for SOCS, and is proud to highlight the efforts of the SOCS team as they strive to make SOCS the best-designed, most stable, and most secure web hosting option in this market.
In today's electronic world, your patrons turn to your website for speedy access to news, activities and events. Your website is your virtual storefront, and the face of your organization. Are you helping your readers to find easily . . .
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Providence Medical Center, Nebraska
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Smart Tips for Community Nonprofits
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There’s more to us than just websites
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This SOCS client wants to know.
As the Communications Coordinator for Holland Public Schools (MI) for 18 years, and a former elementary teacher, I'm an in-the-trenches school practitioner...probably a lot like you in many ways. I'll bet we've experienced many of the same . . .
Financial Education Leads to a Brighter Future
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So your old website isn’t cutting it anymore, and you’re thinking about a rebuild. Good plan! Creating an updated online presence is a hefty task, but with a little forethought, you’ll be on your way in no time – and . . .
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How non-profits inspire change via social media
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Be Proactive, Be Aware, and Recover Quickly
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How Eudora School District developed policy, expectations and connections
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If content is king, then posting content needs to be easy. If you are still going through a programmer to post content, then you‘ll want to consider a content management system (CMS). In addition to easing the process of posting . . .
Video is an extremely cost-effective form of communication which allows you to give your organization a voice, engage your patrons, and demonstrate your organization's services in ways that photos and text cannot. And Americans are . . .
Happy Holidays from FES
The holidays are here, and with weeks of busy prep work complete, we'd like to encourage a moment of pause to appreciate the many blessings surrounding you. The joy of exchanging heartfelt, meaningful and sought-after gifts with people you . . .
As 2012 draws to a close, we catch ourselves bemoaning how quickly the year has gone, and reflecting upon the events of the year. There's nostalgia in the air. But at SOCS, we've got a keen eye on the future regarding these tech . . .
Fall User Groups 2012
Each spring and fall, SOCS conducts User Group Meetings across our footprint. During these sessions, the SOCS Client Support Team meets with our patrons face-to-face, leading hands-on training classes and providing news on SOCS enhancements. . . .
How one school district recovered
Just the idea of the district's school website being targeted by hackers is enough to churn any administrator's stomach. Add to that anxiety the prospect of losing all your website's content right before the school . . .
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Families are on the move and they are searching for their perfect community. With over 85% adults wired to the Internet , you can bet the first place they'ÂÂll search is on the Web. Your website may steer them . . .
5 web communication tips
Your website is a valuable public relations tool. Whether it is a bond issue, academic ranking or budget proposal, transparent information sharing builds trust with stakeholders, and increases the likelihood that your school will be . . .
SOCS’ Affiliates Collaborate for Student’s Success
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What to consider when using online media sources
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Nothing makes a website more dynamic than compelling images. A quality photograph will capture your reader's attention and help them decide whether your content is worth reading. Kristin Magette learned this lesson early. . . .
In 60 seconds on any given day 1,500+ blogs are posted, 700K search queries are made on Google, 98K+ Tweets are sent and 695K+ status updates are posted on Facebook. (Source: PC Magazine ) At the same time, your website should be . . .
How tweeting can improve search engine optimization (SEO)
Social media? Yes, social media. Many organizations may be reluctant to delve into social media because it's hard to justify the time spent on it and quantify audience impact. They may also think there is a risk of being associated . . .
Consider these content strategies before starting
One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to continually add fresh content. Many organizations make the mistake of spending a great deal of money, time and effort designing and planning a new website only to leave it alone . . .
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Editor's Note: This is the first of a four part series on how to increase traffic to your website. Everyday millions of bits of information are published on the web. How do you make your community website stand out? The . . .
Online Communication Best Practices
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After months of careful planning, SOCS is excited to present our company blog. Our goal is to provide valuable, engaging content on online communication, public relations and emerging technology. We encourage you to post your comments, . . .