Entertainment Subscription Websites

How many websites do you pay a monthly fee? Yes, some are for entertainment, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, cable, … all of these are things the occupy your time and feed your need for entertainment. I think “most” people are okay with paying for music or video, but when it comes to reading content, they just simply refuse. How many times have you visited Wikipedia and seen the “help us, and donate anything you can” banner? Web hosts and services aren’t free but yet every day people use that website and don’t pay a dime. Why? Surely if you were accessing some information you found valuable you could easily justify the expense. So this is a teaching article, and mostly I am targeting any artist who is self employed, such as myself. So, if you get a 1099, or you send invoices, then this might be you. If you create something that someone can buy, this also might be you. Your customer base/fans love and support you. I watch as “collectors” go crazy when a limited edition anything is released. So maybe things are a little slow for you now. COVID sucks for everyone and networking and art shows, festivals, and other performances are extremely limited. I am willing to bet if you asked your fans/customers for donations, they just might do it. I saw Billy Gilman doing a livestream on Facebook, and just like me, he is an artist that can’t make an income, so he listed his Venmo “tip jar”, and believe it or not, people gave him money. If you aren’t familiar with Venmo, it is an app that you link to your bank account that allows you to transfer money to friends easily and for free. We literally live in a cashless society. Some of us, rely upon customers to make our rent/mortgage. I’ll admit it, I’m one of them. Things are tough for everyone. So if you have a website, or a Facebook page, go to your Venmo app, take a screenshot of your QR code and post it so your fans/supporters can donate to your cause. Here is mine. If you are a long time reader and found one of my articles/blogs helpful, handy, inspiring or just entertained you and took you away from this nasty world for a few moments, then do me a favor and help me out. Did I help you out with a job issue? HR situation? WordPress or website ah ha? Btw, if you are running WordPress there is a new core out and you need to upgrade. Did you close a sale, get a new job, new customer, or negotiate a better salary because of something you learned from this site? Is that worth the equivalent of buying me a drink or a dinner? For my fans/readers who have already told me they want to support me, this blog is for you. And if you are also an artist, you should be putting your Venmo code out there too. People generally are good heart-caring people. So put your code out there, and maybe if you get a donation, you can share the information with your circle to do the same, and then hit me up with a donation for teaching you something new and creating some income for you.
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When I was in college, I was the VP of Finance for the American Marketing Association for the University chapter. Fancy title huh? Yeah, it actually came in very handy when I interviewed for jobs years later. A lot of interviewers wanted to know what all that big fancy title entailed, and of course I was happy to talk, and talk, and talk. I partnered with dozens businesses amassing thousands of dollars in “door prizes”. I was amazed how easy it was to ask for gift certificates, prizes, food … and businesses gave it without hesitancy. I called it active fundraising and partnership affiliate marketing. I also had check signing rights, and held a pretty heft budget for college organization. Little did I know that simply asking for money was a real job in the real world. Some places call it grant writing … again asking for money. Later in life I used that valuable skill to get companies to pay for something called “Sponsorships”, so their name would be advertised prominently to a captive audience. Gold, Silver, Bronze levels … honestly was the biggest con ever. Oh yay, your name is on all the ____ at the event. You get a table and a banner (that you provide).

 

A thousand thank you’s for my long time readers/supporters. Post your Venmo code. Start your fairy garden today. YouTube has fairy music that you can play to attract fairies.

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Trump’s New Blog (desk)

Twice impeached former US President Donald J. Trump has “launched” his blog. He calls it a new social media platform. Uh huh. I’m a webmaster and I read code. I can see right through it. And technically it is no different than my own blog. Instead of calling it blog he simply renamed the location as “desk”.  Unlike my own meandering thoughts and far fetched ideas, displayed in a huge font for us visually challenged folks, his “tweets” or posts I should say, need improvement. They are too small to read and due to his highly formal background in the English language, are nothing compared to our former President Obama, a former attorney and politician. I didn’t subscribe to his website and I did not donate either. He’s a “billionaire” and he is asking for money. I actually have been saying all along he should just use his own domain and website to post his thoughts, … just like Ben Shapiro and myself. You have a target audience that actually wants to hear what you have to say, and like my site, he does not allow you to comment on the site. You can actually comment on mine, I just don’t publish them on the site. Whomever is doing his site really should do some upgrades. Trump is still technically banned on all social media, including Facebook and Twitter, so I am not sure they will allow users to post his “tweets”/posts to their own newsfeed/timeline. When Ivanka did an interview with daddy and put it on Instagram it was immediately removed from her page and every user that shared it. It is no big surprise Trump is still obsessed with spouting lies. I will agree, the election WAS stolen, when he got elected the first time. When you know, the Russians hacked our system and forced the US to have paper ballots as backup/proof. Hillary did not once pull a temper tantrum like Donald. She didn’t tell hundreds of democrats to storm the capital. I think he still thinks he is innocent and the fact that lives were lost due to his immaturity is not his fault. I’m still waiting for New York to find him guilty of all kinds of shit. Tax evasion, racketeering, and not to mention the egregious abuse of power. He made millions charging guests (secret service) at his hotels. And let’s not forget every one of those damn hotels charge … you got it, a resort fee. Which we know is a bullshit fee since we all have internet on our phones.  Ironic how those hotels are remaining unoccupied, mostly due to COVID, which he said would magically go away the day after elections.

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And in other news, I read that the Biden Administration is looking to increase the number of years that a public student would need to graduate, to an additional 4 years. So if you can’t make college free for everyone, then simply change the rules for public education and give them the 4 years for free. I see this could be a good thing, or a bad thing. What if the kids say “F” this and they all start dropping out after the 12 years are up? I don’t know about you, but I was ready for college. High school was … confining. I don’t personally agree with all the things they make kids do to graduate. If I was in charge of education, I would make some serious curriculum changes. How to change a tire, jump start a car, cooking for dummies … you know, real life skills. As a member of the InstantPot group on Facebook, I have come to the conclusion that millions of people do not know how to cook, and they think their new magic InstApot is a replacement microwave. Every day, every minute, somewhere, someone is making a 3000 calorie cheesecake and dumping another 2000 calories in chocolate and toppings. I drink my calories, in those delicious Arby’s orange creamsicle shakes. If you haven’t had one you really should try one as they are for a limited time only. A large is a whopping 950 calories. Yep, that was my lunch and dinner that day.

Did you get your mom a gift yet? Time is running out.

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Sephora, Ulta, or Discount Store

If you have ever walked into a Sephora or an Ulta store you know that it is full of highly priced beauty products. Women (and now men) spend thousands of dollars in these stores, all with the goal in mind of looking pretty, or younger. As you glance around the store, almost all the customers are pretty and the salespeople look like they walked out of a magazine. After all, if you are selling beauty products then it should look like you are using them. I used to think that these two stores were basically the same store, selling the same products. But after doing a lot of research, and shopping I have come to a clear decision on which one I like best. AND since a lot of people wonder what I think, telling them where I shop can be advantageous. After all, as one friend said, I have already done all the leg work of doing the research.
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Now if you don’t care about your looks, getting old, or attempting to be somewhat attractive to the eye, then you might just be a straight male republican. Hahahaha. Seriously, my twin brother doesn’t have a skincare routine, and he doesn’t even wash his face at night. And he wonders why I look younger. Kim Kardashian doesn’t just wake up looking gorgeous. So the difference in the stores, from which I can tell, deal with the kinds of brands each of them carry. As you may know, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of brands and products. How do you decide on which ones to spend your hard earned cash? You do want to look amazing for the rest of your life and you can’t do that without some help. As I told a friend, in all honesty, if someone is exfoliating, using a serum, moisturizer and spf, he/she is going to look good. Not knocking any brand, so if you got it at Target or at Sephora, something is better than nothing.
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Sephora is more high end and is going to carry more expensive brands. Ulta will have middle of the line, and maybe some luxury brands. Target, Walmart, Dollar Store all have make up and skincare but they may not be the highest quality. Of course, if/when you find a brand you love, you can buy directly from their website. BUT if you want to make life easier, you can buy online from Sephora and get free shipping, free products, and tons of free samples. They have a $35 minimum to get some of the samples, but if shipping is free, I just make multiple orders and get all the samples. They know what I am doing and combine them all into one box. Twice a year they have a beauty insider event. You give them your email and they track your purchases and then you get a special discount event. So that super expensive _____ that you wanted, you can get it on sale. Some of the skincare products are really pricey, so getting samples of those products is a bonus. If you aren’t signed up, head over there now and the next event for 10% off is this week. I am addicted to “Sunday Riley” skincare, which they sell on Sephora and Ulta. But you don’t get a discount or free shipping at Ulta.

Go pamper yourself with some skincare products. When your skin/face looks good, you feel good. And let’s be honest, no one gives a hoot how tan your face looks. You can use make up bronzing to give you a healthy beautiful glow without damaging your skin. I like to use Natasha Denona’s contouring powder to enhance my dark skin tan.

(I was not paid to endorse any of these companies). Sephora, Sunday Riley & Natasha Denona are “Aaron Approved”. 
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Branding Yourself

If you are reading this blog/article via email, then you won’t see my website header, which includes my smiling face, my educational credentials, and other fun aspects of “who” I am. This is called branding. Here it is for those readers:
AaronMstephensMBAIf you were one of my clients I would instruct you to do something similar in your own efforts. It will help you to narrow your audience and help your readers determine if they want to keep reading. Also, as a … we will just say “influencer” or future influencer, you want people to remember you “for” something. And if you are selling something, they will automatically think of you. You may not have as many “things” you are branding, and maybe you just want people to know you are a _____. (realtor, attorney, writer, artist, actor, salesman … you get the idea)

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In addition to spending time writing expert articles on your blog, you will want to cultivate some of the more popular platforms. The great thing with your blog/website, is you can very easily share your articles to all your platforms. Chances are you already have “some” followers, people who are not your friends or family. I am sure you are still using e-mail, so in your footer signature, you can add your website and Facebook business page. Over the years I have gained thousands of new readers by someone who got an email or forwarded email from me. When you manage and develop these platforms, it is important that you do not repeat the same content across all platforms. What? So, if you post a photograph of an awesome dinner on Instagram, do NOT put it Facebook, or Snap it. Why? Well, a lot of your fans/followers follow you across multiple platforms. So it is best to only share certain things on certain places. Does that make sense?  Of course you can do whatever you want, but if you want to gain new followers, then you will want to create new content across different platforms. I don’t have millions of followers, and I’m just a normal guy. I’m not a celebrity, a rock star, or even anyone remotely famous. I just have a lot of people that like to read my thoughts. Or so I have been told. Content is key, and writing or creating good/entertaining content is king.

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One more thing, when you are branding yourself, it is a really good idea to use a semi-professional looking picture for your profile shot. Now, once you have a million followers and you are identified because of your keen unique sense of style, then do whatever.  But for starters, it is not hard to get a decent background and good lighting for that first impression. Yes, I am guilty of taking car selfies, and they are all over my Instagram. Do yourself a favor and take off the sunglasses and pretend for five minutes that you are someone’s role model. That one day, someone may just want to interview you, hire you, photograph you, and you really want an amazing first impression. There literally are over a billion Asian men on this planet. I’ve been told I am remembered by my beautiful smile. Awww. That is a good thing, since I have literally spent thousands on dental work.

On a final note, if you are a parent, a teacher or a caregiver, you are also a role model. Probably a very important one. A thousand thank you’s for all you do. With great power comes great responsibility.

 

 

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Are you a new social media influencer?

Are you looking for some helpful advice to growing your audience? As a marketing expert, and social media influencer myself, I thought I would throw out some cool tips and tricks if you are starting your own following. I actually have coached paying clients on how to reproduce the same system that I have been using. I know there are a lot of my friends in my own circle who are continually perplexed on how is it that a normal ordinary guy like Aaron M. Stephens manage to amass such a ridiculous number of fans/followers/readers? Believe it or not, it all comes down to marketing.

 

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YOU are the product. So, what are you selling? Preaching? Teaching? People ask me what do I sell and I tell them they can go buy a childrens book or they can buy a website. But actually they can’t, as I am not taking on any new clients right now. BUT as a new influencer, YOU will need a website. That should be your starting point at directing all your new fans. All of your social media should be on this site and they should all link back so people can find all your outlets. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. It can be just one page, your picture, bio, and links. So depending on how you are branding yourself, your site should reflect it. People buy from people that they like. They also buy from people that they feel have common ground with themselves. One key selling advantage when I applied at the jewelry store was there were no Asian salespeople working there. Well, guess what? Asians prefer to buy from Asians. It’s a known fact. That is why they all cluster together and form their own communities.

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So if you are a writer, you should have things to read. If you are a photographer lots of pictures. Beauty artist then you should have how to do videos. If you are a life coach, you should have testimonials from people’s lives you have changed. Once you have determined your “niche” then you also need to have a lot of content. Your Facebook business page should have at least 30 minutes of unclickable content. I say unclickable, meaning, you don’t want people leaving YOUR page to go read some other author’s work. Now, if you just wrote an awesome blog on your website, sure put that on your Facebook page. While you are building your content, DO NOT ASK FOR LIKES or followers. Let me repeat that. DO NOT ASK/BEG for likes. I cannot tell you how important this is. If you have NOTHING on the page your friends “might” like it out of pity, but not because they truly believe in your product or service. They might even unfollow the page as they don’t know what you are going to spam them with your new business page. IF you create great content, hashtag it, you will be default find new followers and they will like your page. This is true with all media channels. Don’t announce or ask for anything until your product launch day. Set a day you are going to “open for business”. You can preset every single post in Facebook for a future day, or days. How cool is that?

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As part of your branding, you should always let readers know who you are, in addition to the things that you can do. There is a big difference. Your website really shouldn’t be your LinkedIn profile. It should be entertaining. It should be easy on the eyes. If you are selling something on your website, you should outline pricing clearly, or give ballpark figures. If something seems too expensive right off the bat, people will just close and leave. I highly recommend you incorporate a blog into your site. That way you can write articles, reviews, and updates for your readers. Some websites don’t have a blog, they are old and outdated and they probably never get repeat visitors. As I have talked about in past articles, when you write a blog it keeps your site the most current and when people do searches it maintains your site comes up first. Now of course you need some SEO, tags, headers, and hashtags, but WordPress makes it easy. Remember, your website is the one piece of social media that you control. If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever decide to ban you, … you – are – screwed. All your content you wrote on those platforms are gone forever. Your site however, you can backup daily.

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You fans/followers are typically NOT your friends. They are strangers who know nothing about you — other than what you share with them. Whether you have 1 follower or 100 thousand followers, you have made a decision to be in the public eye and the things you think, say and do can have amazing or horrible outcomes. So determine why you want to have a following so you can detail your marketing messages appropriately.

 

On a side note, 6 Dr. Suess books have been banned. I never really saw the fascination with them but of course I am familiar with the artsy books. After seeing  a radical racist cartoon and the caption “Slap the Jap” I am appalled that these books have not been banned sooner. Mississippi joins Texas in the no mask mandate. Wow. March madness begins. What do you think will happen next that is super crazy? I bet something big around social media will happen. Parler? TikTok? Facebook? Grab some snacks and sit back and watch the fun. Speaking of fun, the season finale of WandaVision launches at midnight. If you have been waiting to binge the whole season, just remember, it starts out slow but builds and gets better.
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Who is YOUR news source?

We all get our news from somewhere, whether that be an official media news outlet, maybe it is Twitter, Instagram or even Facebook. But something that all of those platforms have in common is … it is owned by someone who wants to make money. So you know a lot of sites have been implementing a “1/4 articles” for free, then you have to pay. Some sites make you do a stupid survey or questionnaire.

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Australia, but Facebook is now restricting all of your access to media and news outlets. What? That’s crazy! Yep, it is true and if they want to get their information, they are going to eventually end up paying for it. Publishing companies worldwide are suffering financially and they struggle to find new sources of revenue. Is this something that might happen all over? It is hard to say, but like I have been saying/preaching for years, you cannot rely on someone’s website that you have no control over, as your primary social media outlet. Facebook accounts and business pages have already been deleted. Chef Pete Evans was just the first of many. Now he has been removed from Instagram also. So no pretty pictures of his amazing dishes. So that was 1.5 million from Facebook and 279k from Instagram. I “think” he has a website, but I do not know if he actually uses it writing articles or blogging. So I just checked and he does have a website, which he is selling all his many endorsed products. The only platform left is something called “Telegram” which I am guessing is some new site. He also is on Parler, but as you may know, that has been having its own struggles. I’m not on either of those.  If Pete had a Twitter account, that too is now gone.

 

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Facebook in general is targeted to certain users. Most of them are probably 30 years old or older. Baby boomers finally “get” Facebook, and are terrified to try new apps/social media platforms. If you say “Snap me” they literally snap their fingers and then say “Okay, now what?” Yes seriously. I just laugh when that happens. There will always be people who stay away from technology.  Are those people actually secretly blessed to not be inundated from all that “noise”? Twitter in my opinion is just a big waste of time. WAY too many people sitting on their app, wasting time. I can think of a few off hand that need to just put that phone away. I can’t even begin to list all of the tweets that have gotten someone fired, cancelled or removed. But wait! Aaron, you have Twitter too. Yes, but when was the last time I actually tweeted? Exactly. There are just too many tweets to compete with when trying to get your message out.

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And in other news, Texas is still frozen as millions are without power. Their senator, Ted Cruz is laying on a beach in Cancun. Rush Limbaugh is finally dead at 70. Ding dong the witch is dead. Or so the munchkins would be singing. I bought a little propane heater online that you use those little 1 pound tanks. I figured it would be good to keep in my car in case I ever got stranded. Crazy thing is it is cheaper at Walmart online, with store pick up, than it is at Amazon, with earliest delivery next week. Stay warm friends. Stay home. If you are a Texan, so sorry you are suffering. Let’s all say it together “SNOW ANGELS GO AWAY”.

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WordPress Security – SSL – Tax Deductions

Two Factor Authentication

You may have noticed some websites now make you verify it is actually you by sending you a text message to your cellphone. For your website, you should implement this type of security. I have it on this site, and when I attempt to login, it will require me to use the Microsoft Authenticator app before granting access.  This will prevent any hackers from getting unauthorized access to your files. If you use Wordfence, like I do, then it is already in your arsenal of weapons against hackers. Activate it and use your favorite app to verify you. It is pretty easy. Once activated there is a QR code you scan and it then puts everything  into motion.

Jetpack

This is an awesome plugin that I install on every website I build. It has a plethora of utilities that make your life as a webmaster easier. It has had a boatload of updates over the years, and actually is the tool that I used to notify users of a new posting. Personally I think that it is the coolest feature of all. Almost everyone has their email attached to their smartphone. So it is cool that I know thousands of people are casually sipping their coffee and reading their Aaron update. Today, which actually happens to contain some useful information that may save your site one day.

Another cool feature is the “prevent brute attacks” which blocks out thousands of hacker using software – that are trying to log into your site as “admin”. As a rule of thumb, I tell clients to just delete that login and then set Wordfence to automatically ban that IP from the site, if someone tries to login as “admin”, which of course, doesn’t even exist. Also, NEVER use admin as the login and password. Speaking of passwords, a cool trick I learned as a freshman in college — from a buddy who I met online, is to always start and end your password with a space character.  You know the long button that you use in between words. Why? Because it is a non-printing invisible to the eye character that a hacker would not be able to distinguish, if he was using like, a keystroke device to capture all your passwords. AH! Another trick, is to use the number 1, and the letter l, “L”, lowercase, as they look the same when printed, and you can also use that weird | symbol. lll|||lll||| is kind of goofy but it is something no one is every going to guess.

SSL certificate

The next layer of protection I advise all website owners is to install the security certificate. For one, you will need it when you are selling products or services directly from your site. Even if you use Paypal as your checkout gateway, you still want to assure your customers/clients that it is safe to enter in a credit card number from you site.  Paypal is super easy to use, install, and bill your clients. In fact, I send all my invoices to clients through a template invoice, and they can pay with their credit card or bank account immediately. Contact your website  host about installing this security certificate. You are less likely to be hacked if you have this simple, cost effective gatekeeper. My hosting package actually included it for free. Otherwise I think it is as low as $20 a year.

Tax Deductions for Website Owners

If you file your taxes as self-employed or owner of a business, then you already know that your website expenses and all hosting associated with it are deducted from the gross income, hence lowering your tax liability. So there really is NO reason at all that you don’t have some of these extras. Dropbox, you need it. It’s deductible. Graphics, (from Photodune) are cheap, and grant you copyright. You need it. Deductible. The web designer who is able to direct your potential customers to a sale and creates a new revenue stream for your business … you need it. People can’t buy what they can’t see. I can’t tell you how many times I see a site and I am left wondering, “What is it you are selling, because I can’t figure it out from your site.” No call to action is very common, and ultimately it is abandoned by possible new readers/subscribers. This site sells things. It sells books, and has a menu directing people to the rest. Mostly it sells ideas. People don’t come to this website to “buy” something. Usually they come to learn something. Probably 80% of new visitors come from Google, Bing and MSN. Most of my long time readers just subscribe to get the blogs and know they really don’t have to go to the main site unless they want to read older blogs.

If everything I just wrote means nothing to you, then you must not be a website owner. So, on a side note, Disney+ just released the movie Mulan, for $29.99, and unlike Trolls that only allowed 48 hour playback, you can play it as long as you are a Disney+ subscriber. So Disney actually listened to feedback from Trolls and grants you forever access without buying it again when it comes out next year on digital and disc for the rest of the world. HOWEVER, if you cancel Disney+, then you lost it.

Also, for American Express platinum cardmembers, they receive up to $20 a month on streaming services. So my Netflix, and Disney+ are free for me, and then I also get $20 a month credit on cell phone services. So for cardmembers it would work out to like, $21 to get the new Mulan. I’m actually watching it right now in the background and it is surprisingly pretty good. I haven’t written an actual movie review in years, but who knows? It could happen.

If you like my posts, please like my Facebook page. You can click like at the footer of any page on the site, or subscribe, also in the footer, and get my posts by email. I strive to post on a regular basis. Especially now that everyone is in lockdown.

 

In the United States, it is Friday, the beginning of the Labor Day weekend! I am guessing there will be millions of backyard bbq’s. Have a fun and safe weekend friends!

 

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20/20 Vision – Thoughts – Writing – YouTube Video Launch

Welcome Friends! I’ve changed, have you?

If you aren’t following my Instagram account, here is the latest picture of me with my hair down. Cray cray right? I got a lot of comments that some of my fans were not getting my Facebook postings and they were sure they clicked the like/follow/subscribe button. So I looked up a bunch of my favorite celebrities and you guessed it, they posted and I never saw the posts. Well that is disappointing, I really liked seeing the Kardashians pretty smiling faces. So what I did was change the notifications to “See First” in my newsfeed. You can do the same on my page, but I probably am going to take a break from posting on Facebook. I have thousands of fans and only a few ever get to see my posts.

 

Facebook Owns My Content

So I made an announcement on Facebook, since they are changing their terms and basically said they can and will delete anything they don’t like. I didn’t actually read the whole terms, but honestly, I am really disgusted with the fact that Facebook controls who can and can’t see what I write. Don’t get me wrong, it is an easy to use platform available on every smartphone with their app. However, if you are like millions of people in the United States, it is your only source of news, connections, resources, articles and entertainment. It doesn’t need to be. You don’t need to be restricted on what you should read and see.

A long time ago, when my first real website was for personal, and not business, I did a daily “Thought of the day”. If was fun, I could be creative, post a pretty picture, and the site was basically a portal of all the sites that I used and were “Aaron Approved”. There were no blog postings, but there were lots and lots of pages. That was back in the old days of having to know and read computer code. HTML to be specific. Oh those were the sad days. If I remember correctly I was blogging on Xanga, Blogger, and MySpace. Cray right? Where are all those writings? Gone. Never to be seen again. So anyway, that site is now my work site, and this one, is my primary blog/writing space.

 

Welcome new friends

If you are new to the site, hello and welcome. Wha’s up? How YOU doin? Hopefully you read through my bio on the main page so you already have an idea of who I am. When I meet new friends I always ask what they were like in high school. Why you ask? Well, I can see a lot about someone inquiring as to what activities and extracurriculars were important to him/her. Plus, I was in a ton of things, so I quickly relate to someone when we have the core commonality. Apologies in advance for my extended writing absence on the blog. But if you check out my Facebook personal and business page, you already know there is a ton of stuff that I have written. So since Facebook is taking over what content is allowed on their platform, I have decided to take the initiative and action to move my thoughts BACK to this blog where it has no censorship. Meaning, Facebook can’t delete my post/message.

Big Hair

So I am sure a lot of y’all are just blown away with my new hair. When I say new, I do mean new. It’s not extensions, or  weave. It is all virgin Vietnamese hair. I have to say I really like having long hair. I can put it in a ball cap, tie it up, or put it under a bandana and it is like it isn’t even there. So like 5 years ago, like a middle-aged man, I started losing my hair. Yep, it sucks, but it happens. Well I wasn’t satisfied with that and I took it upon myself to reverse the damages of time, neglect and sun UV rays. Not to mention all the bad hair decisions I made throughout my life. So fast forward to today, and look at my long big hair. Wow. How did I do it? Well I was hoping  you would ask. Magic. Hahahahaha. The magic of science and changing of my lifestyle.

YouTube Channel

Actually I was working on a Ted talk, a short 20 minute stand up presentation, but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon due to the current state of the world. Don’t worry, that message will still come and I am thinking more of launching my YouTube channel where I talk instead of write. The Aaron Stephens Talk Show has a nice ring to it. There are literally tons of things that I could rattle on for hours. So if you want to subscribe to my YouTube, you can see my cat, Sparkles. My secret chili recipe is also on there. I think my mom is my subscriber.  https://www.youtube.com/c/AaronStephensMBA/ I will be working on my series of how I regrew my hair. Seriously, there are new little hairs growing all over my head. It is like there is a beard secretly hiding underneath. It is pretty exciting and I am getting really excited about sharing with the world. Seriously, wouldn’t life be so much happier if people had more hair? Initially I was thinking of cancer patients, but as I discovered just how big the hair industry is, my plans got bigger and bigger.

 

So thanks for stopping by and plan on hearing more from me on a regular basis. I “think” that subscribers get an email when I post something new. Cheers!
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WordPress Site Hacked?

As much as I hate it, websites get hacked. They are actually more vulnerable as WordPress allows more and more plug-ins that have weak security which in turn can infiltrate your site.

 

I have several sites that have been hacked and I have spent many countless hours sorting through evil lines of code, deleting scripts and files. It’s not a lot of fun, but it needs to be done. If you are not a code geek, then I wouldn’t recommend doing this. Hire a professional.

 

If your site goes down, pray that you have a WordPress xml backup file somewhere. It is really easy to do. Go into your WordPress dashboard, if you can, and go to tools, export, all content. Save it to your cloud or Dropbox.com account. This is all your precious hard work you have created.

 

If you can’t get into the dashboard, then you might be able to salvage it if you can get cPanel access to the file manager. If you can, then zip up your WordPress core files, mostly the wp-content folder. Save it to your hard drive. Hopefully you don’t have to use this and you have the XML file.

 

So, how do you know if your site has been hacked? For starters, it might not load at all. It could still load, but in the background secretly have malicious malware or spam files hiding in deep folders. Ultimately what is going to happen, is your web host server is going to shut down your account and delete the site all together to prevent any infection of other sites. Chances are, your site is on a shared host with other websites. Your site could have been infected simply by being on a server that was attacked.
GoDaddy, Bluehost, and a few others are targets and have had sites go down due to hackers.

 

After much technical research, hours of reading other people’s issues, I finally came up with my own solution. Delete the infected site. Start over. This sucks, but it has to be done. Don’t try and edit files that that were binary code. Every answer you search for online gives you very technical, difficult, time consuming possibilities. None that are easy.
  1. Contact your host and change your server password, and your cPanel password. They should be impossible to ever crack.
  2. Log into cPanel, go to Legacy File Manager. Find the infected site. Delete it and all the files under it. You are starting over. Everything in that website directory will be removed.
  3. Open Sofaculous, and if the site is in the “overview”, then you will need to remove it. If it is not listed, but still an active domain, then you will need to install a new copy. Install “limit login attempts” during installation.
  4. Log into the WordPress dashboard, go to plug ins and install Wordfence and Jetpack.
  5. Activate both plug ins and set the security level in Wordfence to “Attack Imminent”.  Activate Jetpack jump start and also limit logins. This will help protect your site.
  6. Go into Wordfence and whitelist your ip address. Ban all I.P. addresses who try to use “admin” as a user, and who access the wp-admin folder. This will help keep your site safe from hackers. Make it impossible to get into your site.
  7. Delete any plugins that you don’t use. Delete “Hello Dolly”. Delete all the themes except the default theme.
  8. Install your desired theme, and import your WordPress XML file. Proceed to set up your site as normal.
  9. Delete all themes that you are not using.
If you don’t have the XML file, go into cPanel file manager and upload the wp-content file you saved to your hard drive. Hopefully, it will load the content.
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Book Marketing Plan?

Are you an author or contemplating being an author?

Okay, if the answer is no, then perhaps you have a book inside of you? Is your journey so amazing that other people would want to hear it also? If so, that is your autobiography or your memoir. A lot of people “think” their story is interesting. It’s not. That is the reason there are literary agents in the world. Their job is to prevent bad writing from making it into the mainstream literary world. I don’t have to tell you that the world is full of struggling authors.

Think of being a writer just like any other skill. Typing for example is a skill. The first time you touched a keyboard or an actual typewriter, you had NO idea how these letters ever made any sense. The A was by the S? Everyone knows that A goes next to B. The thought of using this machine and knowing where all the letters were was pretty overwhelming. I learned on an IBM Selectric. That shows how old I am, right? WRONG. You are only as old or young as you choose.

So on to today’s lesson, the book marketing plan. If you were not aware my background is marketing, my bachelor’s degree is in marketing and I was a product manager and marketing manager for a good portion of my professional career. Amazingly it has come in handy. My point is, I am experienced in this arena. You, just like your book, need a marketing plan. Hopefully before your book has ever launched you have spent some time and energy on your personal branding and now your book branding.

Your book needs a S.W.O.T. analysis with detailed marketing data. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. How you look at your book and who will partner with it is monumental if you want massive success. I have a client who asked me to develop a marketing execution plan for her book. Basically my success of my book and platform put into an easy to follow workbook, marketing plan. I have a pretty good idea of what it is going to include, specifics to marketing strategies, which routes I chose.

Why did I self publish versus going with a literary agent and traditional publisher? What were some of the financial pitfalls I hit and missed? How did I amass such a large following and what were some of the specifics? I would like to say that someone took me by the hand and said, “First you are going to do this. When you complete that you will move to phase 2, which is this …” but it wasn’t anything like that. I spent hundreds of hours doing research, reading other authors blogs, and investigating anything and everything I could find online.

There is a hidden world of eBooks. There are so many eBook retailers that do not exist to the average American. Most of the United States is focused on printed book sales. Getting their books in stores, at Walmart or Costco. Anything to get the marketing and exposure that they desperately want so bad.

You and your I.S.B.N. is also important as is the “imprint” of your book. Whomever owns the imprint is the owner, bottom line. That is who gets paid. If it is not your name, then you have to wait until that entity decides to pay you your percentage. If you go the traditional route with an agent, keep in mind that you will probably be paid just a little better than your agent. 15% of the sale price. If your book retails paper for $19.99, it may sell for $9.99 and you 15% of that.  Bookstores get 60% off of list price, that is why Amazon and B&N can discount books so heavily.

Distribution is also very key in your book marketing plan. Newsflash — not everyone shops at Amazon. Some people HATE Amazon. Some people only shop local, some only shop at Barnes & Noble, some only shop at airport bookstores. Some people only read books from their public library. Did you know that your electronic book can easily be listed in your local library? Yep, it is true.

Your power partners are also important in your success. Who are power partners? They are the group(s) or individuals who are helping your cause. Your partners are also part of your tribe. Your tribe is your 1000 true fans. This is a theory I have talked about before so I won’t rehash it. You can research the details, but basically you need to have 1000 people who will buy your product or service.

Regardless if you self publish or go traditional you will be told by many people you need to build a platform of readers. It is a huge gamble for a publisher to print books that won’t sell. You have to prove that you have readers who are willing to fork over their hard-earned cash. Your power partners or tribe will be a large majority of your sales initially.

I have already been approached by many professionals who want this same marketing plan. Why? Because what I have done has worked quite nicely for me. It’s a proven fact that there are millions of people who are successful simply by following the actions of those who have demonstrated success.

I haven’t decided how I am going to pursue this endeavor. Do I write another book for the world to read? Do I have a full day workshop? A Friday, Saturday and Sunday event where people all over the nation fly to Denver and sit in my energy and learn all the things they need to know? How much would people pay for such knowledge? I could easily put that together. I could very easily incorporate small business know how that would be valuable. Finances, sponsorships, investors, things along those lines. Maybe someone believes in you and wants a cut of the profits?

I think I would definitely devote a large portion to training professionals, how to use their website, make the most of “out of the box” marketing tactics. I bet that portion would be very popular. Right now I am thinking $5000 for 3 days, and I share all my wealth of knowledge. You pay for your own way to get here and stay. You can bring a second person, like a business partner for half price. During that time, we build your website, develop your marketing plan, strategize your book, and partner with other authors to build your social media.  As an added bonus, I read some manuscripts and give some feedback. It could be a lot of fun.

I know for a fact that some authors have spent tens of thousands of dollars and never achieved the results that I have. If you think you might be one of the few that will be interested in this workshop feel free to let me know. I am thinking of keeping it to a low number of participants so I can work closely with everyone.

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