How to Safely Manage Your Digital Files and Customer Data

How to Safely Manage Your Digital Files and Customer Data

As online businesses and entrepreneurs, we can all appreciate the power and value of data on the internet today. No longer do we need to download and install software to a computer and be limited to where we can access our work or data online. At the same time, the costs of data storage and web space are also now cheaper than ever. With so much information constantly being uploaded, created and accessible on the internet, the business of online security is booming. While all of this is going on, it’s also important to understand why and how your data is being stored and if it’s being protected in the process.

Quick Tips for Keeping Your Personal Data and Customer Information Safe

The ability to store thousands of digital files in a single location has eliminated the pressure that a person might otherwise feel to organize those files if they were physical documents or materials that were cluttering up a desk or bookshelf. The “out of sight, out of mind” principal helps a person to ignore the clutter that is likely buried in their personal workstations, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But that lack of organization elevates that person’s cybersecurity risks. A physical document that includes sensitive personal or financial information can be shredded and destroyed, but a digital file that contains the same information can lay hidden forever.

Safe management of digital files begins with organizing those files into digital folders according to a consistent filing structure. Businesses with several employees can use a commercial document management system to automate this task. Duplicate digital files should be deleted to avoid losing track of sensitive information. Create a separate index of files to allow easy access to and recovery of data. Folders and sub-folders can become overly complicated, and a business that is not relying on a management system should develop its own folder filing system and naming strategy to minimize those complications.

Even with such protections in place, the number of attacks on personal data and customer information is still growing daily. Kaspersky reports 62% of people have experienced attacks involving their financial data, while 61% of those people were never able to fully recover data that was lost due to a cyber attack.

Document management should be coupled with a data backup strategy. Some commercial document management systems automatically back data up into the cloud. If cloud backup is used, make sure that all data sent to the cloud is encrypted at the time of the backup process. If cloud backup is not used, data can be backed up onto external hard drives, SSD devices, or other media that is disconnected from any online environment and stored in a secure location.

Customer files and other sensitive data can be further protected with hashing and salting routines. Hashing will authenticate messages to confirm the legitimacy of an information request. Salting adds extra values to passwords to make them more difficult for a password hacking algorithm to guess. When used with end-to-end encryption, hashing and salting will create an even more secure data management environment.

The Business of Keeping Personal Data and Company Information Safe

While these tasks might seem simple enough, data protection is a 24/365 game of defense for nearly all businesses and brands in the world today. With company and customer data being more crucial to protect than ever before, Microsoft recently came out with their own stats and infographic on the matter. Highlights from the report noted the following:

  • 140+ Days – The average number of days a hacker sits on your network before they are detected.
  • $12M – The average cost a business is impacted by for each security breach.
  • 72% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2020, relying on devices other than their laptop to be productive.
  • 87% of senior managers admit to regularly uploading work files to a personal email or cloud account.

You can see even more information through the visual infographic below.

Unfortunately, even the safest management of digital files will not guarantee their protection from hackers who are intent on stealing the information in those files. In 2016, for example, the commercial cloud backup provider, Dropbox, suffered a data breach that leaked details of more than 68 million user accounts. Information in those accounts that was encrypted or otherwise locked down with hashing and salting was better protected from loss, largely because hackers will go after data that is easier to access without wasting time trying to break through encryption and other protections. Still, those data files did fall into cyberattackers’ hands and still remain at risk of being unencrypted.

Even with the potential for a data breach at all times, data storage platforms like Dropbox are still in massive demand and their usage numbers just continue to keep growing over time. Take a look at the chart below to see how Dropbox has scaled from their initial launch in 2008 to having more than 500 million users today. The massive growth behind Dropbox all started with their referral program that would reward users with extra space in exchange for referring a new Dropbox user. The funny thing about this process is that Dropbox was already ahead of the data storage game before many other companies and brands jumped into the mix.

Eight years later and Dropbox is still the largest player in this space, thanks to their five times faster sync on average versus competitors, having released over 90+ product updates in the past year and also having 500 billion calls to the Dropbox API per year. All of this is ultimately in place to not only scale the company in size, but to also protect customer data and files as well.

In addition to the massive business of online data storage and data protection, there is also going to be a world of opportunities for affiliate marketers to make money in this space as well — which includes everything from data monitoring, spyware software and data notification platforms that are constantly monitoring personal information and mentions online. The more money and competition that flows into this space, the more money there are for advertisers, affiliates and the sites covering such data and resources.

Personal and Customer Data Manage Best Practices are Key

At the end of the day, the more we talk about data management and the potential downsides and hacks that come along with it, it’s simply a matter of keeping us all aware of such conditions and informing each other on better ways to protect our information. There is no doubt that online data storage and customer data will continue to be hacked and released on the dark web by hackers, but there are also some precautions everyone can do to keep their data safe. The unfortunate truth is that most of these leaks will likely come from other companies and brands that already have customer information, and will soon be attacked.

Good digital file management can therefore raise the bar for cyber protection, but it cannot stop a cyberattack that potentially compromises data in those digital files. The question that frequently comes up during a data file management project is “what is liability insurance and how does it fit into management of data files?” The simple answer is that cybersecurity insurance reimburses direct losses that a business might experience when hackers break through its cyber defenses, and provides funds to pay certain liabilities to third parties and fines from regulatory authorities that are levied when sensitive customer data is lost.

One of the more consistent recommendations for good data file management is that doing something is better than nothing at all, and that a management project should be started as soon as is possible. Hackers and cyberattackers are working every day to find new gaps in cybersecurity procedures as older gaps are closed off. Managing data files and adding cybersecurity insurance can keep businesses and individuals at least one step ahead of the hackers.

To learn more about the costs associated with cybercrimes and data leaks, be sure to always keep an eye on the latest data leaks in the business world, and also set up something as simple as a “Google Alerts” notification around your personal name to see when and where your information might be posted online.

Exploring The Best Resources for Mastering the Art of SEO

Exploring The Best Resources for Mastering the Art of SEO

In all likelihood, you’ve heard that search engine optimization can lead to a massive return on investment. This is undeniably true, but SEO is not something that can be mastered overnight. In fact, gaining a full understanding of SEO can be tedious and very time-consuming. If you want to get into SEO, you must set your sights on the future. You’ll need to work diligently for a lengthy period of time, while also experimenting on your own. Within this guide, you will find tips for mastering SEO and expanding your horizons.

Winging It

When it comes down to it, reading about SEO and actually engaging in SEO is entirely different. Even after you’ve watched numerous tutorials and have read through hundreds of books, you’ll need to put your knowledge to work. It is absolutely essential to wing it. Start a website and begin optimizing your site for the search engines. There is no doubt that you’ll likely fail in the beginning. However, you can use your failure as a learning experience.

A little bit of experimentation and dedication will go a long way towards making you a success. If you are going to take the time to invest and learn the process of SEO yourself, make sure that you document your progress along the way. There are many different on-site and off-site factors that result in ranking changes. When measuring and tracking the success of your SEO efforts, be sure you aren’t testing too many different elements at any given time.

While there is always going to be a great benefit in ‘doing it yourself’ SEO, there are also plenty of resources and guides out there for you to learn from as well. A perfect example of this can be seen in this SEO Audit guide. Many site owners and bloggers know the concept of a good SEO audit, but actually walking through the process step by step isn’t something most will accomplish. By following a simple guide like this one, it will allow you to work are your own pace, while also making sure the job is done right.

Training Courses

Today, it is possible to obtain a wealth of knowledge online. In fact, there are many virtual academies that can help you learn about a new subject or two. Websites, such as Gotch SEO Academy, will put you through a comprehensive course, so you can gain more insight into the latest SEO practices and techniques. If you want to gain more knowledge and increase your likelihood of success, you’ll definitely want to complete as many courses as possible.Just be aware that some of these classes are free, but others can be costly. Regardless, they’ll all be well worth it.

Just be aware that some of these classes are free, but others can be costly. Regardless, they’ll all be well worth it. In addition to individual training courses from well-known SEO experts and marketers, there is also a wide range of courses available online through learning marketplaces like Udemy. If you are going to pick up any of the video courses offered through such sites, be sure to look for Udemy coupons before making a purchase. In most cases, customers can save anywhere from 50-95% off if they look in the right places.

Forums

Joining with likeminded individuals and brainstorming can prove to be enormously beneficial. This is where forums enter the picture. By utilizing forums, you’ll be able to discuss search engine optimization with people that are skilled and experienced in SEO. You can use their advice and guidance to strengthen your own portfolio. Utilize forums to gain more knowledge and to help guide you to success. Just make sure that you are also willing to share your own personal experiences. The other forum members may benefit from your experiences.

When it comes to finding the most accurate information and latest updates in the world of SEO, you are going to want to choose your forums wisely. This topic recently came up on Quora, where they recommended the following forums for SEO: SEO Chat, Warrior Forum SEO, The MOZ Q&A Forum from Rand Fishkin and MOZ, Link Assistant SEO Forum, Search Engine Optimization by SEO Forum, SEOBook Community Forums, BlackHatWorld and much more. Be sure to check out the full list on Quora to take advantage of each forum and Facebook group.

Take Advantage Of Books

Throughout the years, SEO has grown greatly in terms of popularity. Not only are large businesses taking advantage of SEO techniques and methods, but even single owned and operated businesses are taking advantage of SEO to soar their websites in the search engine rankings. How is everyone learning all these methods and techniques? Due to the increased popularity of SEO, many experts have been prompted to share their knowledge and advice by writing books. Just do a simple search and you will find that there is a variety of different books that have been written and composed by different authors that will explain everything the beginner should know about SEO.

One of the best books for learning pretty much everything there is to possibly know about SEO, is “The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization” 3rd Edition by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, and Jessie Stricchiola. This isn’t your traditional online marketing or industry book, this is a huge resource guide with nearly 1,000 of written content.

Tutorial Videos

With the growing popularity of social media, more and more people are posting videos and pictures of their life experiences. Well, the same can be said about tutorial videos. There are a wide variety of SEO experts out there that are more than willing to share their knowledge of all things SEO through tutorial videos. Videos are great because they actually will show you what needs to be done, which is much easier for visual learners.

Another great thing about tutorial videos is that there are literally thousands of them for viewing on YouTube. The only downside is that with so much free content out there on SEO, it might be tough for you to find the latest and most trustworthy resources out there. This is ultimately why many people will go with a premium course or online training from a trusted expert.

How to Master the Art of SEO in 2017

At the end of the day, everyone is going to have their own thoughts and working methods for SEO. Google will give you guidelines on what it takes to rank a website or blog in their search results. The common factor and influence that is agreed upon by nearly all SEO experts, is that you need quality content and quality backlinks to your site. This is ultimately the best, fastest and most effective way to rank higher in the search results.

How to Make Money Creating Online Courses Around Business Needs

How to Make Money Creating Online Courses Around Business Needs

There are plenty of ways to make money online, but selling online courses and training material has to be one of the best methods. The reasons for this are many, such as low overhead costs when getting started, digital products have an extremely high-profit margin and there is a never ending need for good quality training material online — and lastly, people and brands are willing to pay good money for them as well!

Just take a look at what Udemy has created in a short period of time with their online marketplace for video courses and training material. The site now has over 17 million students and more than 27,000 instructors contributing content to their site — all while also working on a rev-share business model.

The hardest part of the course creation process is knowing what to build and how you are going to sell it. If this is something you are personally going to be creating and promoting, it should be something around your expertise and that you are known for. A perfect example of this would be if I was going to create an affiliate marketing or blogging course. Since I already have authority in these spaces and a loyal following, it would just make perfect sense for me to build something of value to sell to my audience.

With all of this in mind, today we are going to look at some different ways you can start creating successful online courses, while also doing some pre-planning and niche research in the process. The more research you do beforehand, the easier it will be for you to find success down the road.

Build a Course Around the Needs of a Business or Your Audience

When it comes time to create a course or training program, you will need to look at this from two different perspectives. Are you going to sell to businesses and brands, or individuals looking to learn something? If you are going to be selling to businesses and brands, you will likely need to have a more professional course, but will also have the ability to charge a lot more for it. Businesses always have money to spend, and if they are going to get value out of something, it’s usually a no brainer for them to invest in.

On the flip side, if you are going to create a course for individuals looking to learn something, you need to make sure you price it correctly. For example, if you were to create a course on how to make money blogging, it would be tough to sell it for a high ticket price, since your audience likely isn’t already established with a successful site or blog. The difference between these two demographics can be a huge contributing factor to the success of your business.

Sticking with a ‘business’ perspective, a great example of how you can take an existing industry report and turn it into much more (through an online course), would be this report on 50 Employee Engagement Ideas (From Glassdoor’s Top 50 SMBs). Businesses are all about productivity and they want nothing more to invest money in their company to see better ROI in the long run.

As for creating a course around this topic, all you would need to do is run through the list of 50 employee engagement ideas, then create a short video for each and a simple PDF checklist. This is more than enough for a business to invest a few hundred dollars into, then hand it off to their employees for a quick study. At the same time, you know the content and advice you are recommending is already proven and of value, as it’s based off a report from a reputable site like Glassdoor.

It might seem silly at first, but this is actually a perfect opportunity for someone to take existing data that is already out there and convert it into a video format that is easier to distribute and consume. When it comes to user engagement and learning, online video is consumed and absorbed at a much faster pace than written text. The latest video industry stats prove video is now more in demand than ever before, especially with mobile usage on the rise — which is how many students are currently taking their online video courses through. Creating just text and written content to your audience is simply leaving a huge gap in both your audience reach and potential revenue.

How and Where to Create and Sell Your Online Course

With the hardest part of figuring out what your course is going to be about, out of the way, it’s now time to consider your options for how to put your course together and where to sell it. There are many ways to accomplish this — some being more simple, cost effective and faster than others. If you are looking for a thorough guide on this process, I recommend you read this one on how to build an online course. Inside the reference guide you will find a collection of actionable tips, such as how to create quick reports to include within your course (as shown below)

The content within your course is going to be important, but how you deliver it to your audience is going to be even more crucial to it’s success. Here are a few bullet points to help with the course creation process, while also making sure your content is easy to consume by your audience.

  • Video is key, but PDF attachments and action sheets are also of value
  • When creating videos, be sure to use PowerPoint or Keynote
  • It’s best to create shorter videos versus longer videos for attention span issues
  • Break your course material into different sections and modules for easy viewing
  • Host your video course through a reliable video host like YouTube, Wistia or Vimeo
  • If possible, include a video of yourself speaking in the corner of each video
  • Make sure you have high-quality recording equipment so your sound is professional

In addition to planning for how you are going to create your online course, you will also need to consider your options for selling it online. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Udemy is one option for selling online courses — however, most courses on the site are heavily discounted and can sell for as low as $10 each. Udemy is a great option and instantly puts your course in front of millions of potential buyers, but at the same time, you don’t own the customer data and have no way to follow-up or sell to them again, unless you use their internal communication platform, which can be limiting and also comes with its own terms and conditions.

Another option is to use a solution like Kajabi, which was specifically created to help ‘everyday people’ get online with their courses, without the need to learn any technical skills like web site design, payment processing and creating a members area. All of this can be accomplished through their drag and drop platform. Unlike Udemy, when using a platform like Kajabi, course creators will own 100% of the content and revenue from the site — however, there is also a monthly cost associated with using the Kajabi platform, where Udemy, on the other hand, is free.

Right Now is the Best Time to Create and Sell Courses Online

If you’ve ever had a passion or expertise for something and wanted to try and make some money from it in the process, right now is the perfect time to invest your time and efforts into creating and selling an online course. With there currently being over 2 billion users on social media and demographic/interest targeting options available through Facebook Ads, it’s simply a matter of going live with your course and then marketing it as effectively as possible. If you are going to price your course in the $500+ range, it’s recommended to go with a webinar solution, as this will allow you to really engage with your audience and pre-sell them on the concept, while also giving them a call to action at the end of the webinar. It’s also a great way to build a massive mailing list in the process.

Be sure to run through all of the recommendations and tips above, then get to work on launching a course of your own today!