Letter from Phil – issue 399

Letter from Phil – 399 – journalism and content creation, a clever use of words, essential WordPress security plugins, plus I’m heading into hospital

Had to go for a blood test a few days ago. Not nice at the best of times but the two people ahead of me both fainted.

To take my mind off it while they dealt with the passed out people, I read the education lift-out of a national newspaper.

As an uneducated lout it’s a section I usually skip. I’m glad I didn’t this time because a few pages were devoted to the topic of journalism courses at universities, and how they churn out far more students than there are jobs for.

Well I already knew that from my newspaper days when only 4 or 5 graduates from the course my daughter Kate was on got a job in the media.

Kate never graduated because a daily newspaper offered her a cadetship 12 weeks into her university life. Going against my advice she quit uni and took the job.

Maybe she was right in the long run, but she missed out on student life and ended up seeing more blood and guts and dead bodies (at traffic accidents and crime scenes)
than anyone that age should have to witness.

To get back to the education lift-out: it said that because of the lack of jobs in the media huge numbers of recent graduates were becoming self-employed and using the skills
they had acquired on the 3 or 4 year course to work from home writing for online publications. Or working on their own blogs. Or writing ebooks.

These well-trained content creators are growing in numbers every year, and they’re the people you will increasingly have to compete with.

I know this is a subject I’ve harped on about quite a bit recently and yes (as you’ve probably guessed) I have an ulterior motive.

With Kate as my sidekick I’m working on a training course to help you improve both your content and the speed you produce it.

Some of the content creation techniques we’re going to teach you have ‘never’ been discussed in the world that we affiliate marketers and website builders lurk in. For instance, an in-depth search of the huge Warrior forum doesn’t have a single mention of one easy unique and quality content method. (No doubt once we discuss it the method will quickly appear as a cheap knock-off WSO but I guess there’s nothing we can do to prevent that)

Anyway, I’m aware that content creation isn’t a particularly sexy subject and there are a lot of books about it (plus a few high-priced courses) but few, if any, of them are from people who have spent most of their working lives producing content for newspapers, magazines, PR agencies, and the web.

Our ideas, training, and methods, will be different and useful to you.

# # #

Seeing that I’m writing about writing again here’s another quick mention of the Kindling course I talked about in last week’s newsletter.

Just a short quote lifted from a very satisfied buyer on the Warrior Forum.

“Cannot get over all the good karma Geoff is getting from his Kindling product. Person after person thanking him for changing their life.

Kindling is certainly working for me. Best money I have EVER spent on a WSO.”
Martin…Oz!

Right now it’s at a steep discount to the regular price but WSO special offers don’t last long and the price will be jumping any time now. Take advantage of it while the opportunity is still there.

# # #

A Clever Use Of Words

Clive Palmer, an Australian mining magnate (who is so rich that he’s planning to build a replica of the Titanic) has “invited” the companies which supply his mines with
equipment and various services to share the pain of the current economic situation by reducing their prices by 15%.

I’m telling you about this because the letter sent to the suppliers brilliantly shows the power of a few words.

It’s the close of the letter that’s so clever.

“Can you please confirm your desire to be part of our current cost reduction push and future tendering process”

How can a current supplier who wants to continue to do business with Mr Palmer possibly refuse?

They can’t can they? Those few words give suppliers little choice but to accept the new terms because the reality is that to continue their business with Mr Palmer and his mining companies they can only answer one way.

It very much reminds me of the words I used to hear bosses say back when I had a job.

“You’re either with us or against us. Which one is it?”

Again there’s only one possible answer. How can you possibly say that you’re against them? You’ve really got no choice but to give them the answer they want.

Think about this when you are writing online content.

Words are powerful. Use them to lead people into taking the actions you desire.

# # #

Essential WordPress Security Plugins

Every time you set up a new WordPress blog the first thing you should do is lock it down against hackers, spammers and bot attacks.

Securing your blog will take you 5 minutes tops, and cost you nothing with these 3 free plugins. I use them on all my current blogs.

1. Activate Akismet (built-in to WordPress)

Each time a new comment, trackback, or pingback is added to your blog its submitted to the Akismet web service which runs hundreds of tests on the comment and returns a thumbs up or thumbs down. It stops you having to waste your time deleting spammy
comments from your blog. Very little comment spam gets past it after you have activated it with a WordPress API key which you can get from http://akismet.com/wordpress/

2.Install WordPress Firewall 2

This security plugin investigates web requests with simple, Wordpress-specific heuristics, to identify and stop the most obvious attacks. It stops Directory Traversal attacks, blocks SQL Injection and WordPress-Specific SQL Injection attacks. It also blocks Executable File Uploads, Field Truncation attacks, and Remote File Execution attacks.

I guess that all you really need to know is that it protects your blog from bad people and nasty software. (Note: this plugin hasn’t been updated for ages, but still works perfectly
with the latest version of WordPress)

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-firewall-2/

3.Login Lockdown

Login LockDown records the IP address and timestamp of every failed WordPress login attempt. If more than 3 attempts are detected within a short period of time from the same IP range the login function is disabled for one hour, helping to prevent brute force password discovery attacks. (Note: this plugin hasn’t been updated for ages either. 3 years in fact, but it continues to work exactly as advertised)

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/login-lockdown/

However, if you are setting up a new WordPress blog you might like to skip WordPress Firewall and Login Lockdown and install a newer plugin.

Better WordPress Security appears to be excellent and is highly rated on the WordPress plugins site. It combines the jobs of the WordPress Firewall and Login Lockdown
security plugins and adds many other features.

I’m using it on a new blog I’m building, and it seems to be working fine. Though until the site gets attacked I guess I won’t know how well it performs.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/better-wp-security/

However it does come with a warning.

“Many of the changes made by this plugin are complex and can break existing sites. While it can be installed in either a new or existing site I cannot stress enough the importance of making a backup of your existing site before applying any of the options in this plugin.”

So If you do decide to try it on an existing blog make certain that you have a full back up of your site before activating it.

Although there are free backup options in the WordPress plugin depository all they do is back up the database. I know from experience that restoring your blog from one of these backups is a very complex procedure involving cpanel and php myadmin.

backup creator plugin

The simple way to do painless WordPress backup and restores is with the plugin I wrote about last week, Backup Creator Starting at just $7 it can be a life saver. After the security plugins it’s the second thing I add to my blogs.

# # #

No newsletter from me next week because I’ll be in hospital having a hernia operation.

After living with the hernia for almost two years (I got it from violent coughing when I had pneumonia) it’s become very painful over the past few weeks.

Probably from the stress of writing this newsletter again 🙂 Well it’s either that or the drastic reduction in steroids (Prednisone) I’ve undergone recently.

Anyway, years ago I refused to take out family private health insurance because Kate was born with PKU so the ‘family’ insurance wouldn’t cover her.

So I opted to use the public hospital system for my hernia op only to be told the waiting list is between 2 and 4 years.

Quickly changing my mind about the public system I saw a consultant surgeon within 24 hours and I’m being carved open this coming Thursday. Then recovering in an $840 per night hospital bed. At that price I hope breakfast is included 🙂

BTW, it’s an inguinal hernia, meaning it’s near my groin. So I hope he doesn’t slip. Wish me luck.