So it would seem that I spoke too soon when I said that I wouldn’t be blogging here any more.
I have been reviewing my websites and business structure and have decided to make a few changes.
First up, I have considered the large amount of feedback that I’ve had from the marketplace in relation to building trust etc and will return to conducting business under my own name. It’s been a tricky process to go through to find the right business name. I thought that it was more appropriate to be a ‘business’ than to be ‘just me’ as I wanted to provide an umbrella under which to collaborate with others to provide a fantastic service. But most people I spoke to said that they felt they could trust a web designer whose name they knew, someone who wasn’t anonymous and ‘corporate’. They also told me that this was very important to them. Funnily enough, the web designers and developers that I surveyed responded with the opposite – use a business name and give the appearance of a larger business.
Secondly, I discovered last night that someone had stolen an entire website that I had deleted over a year ago, and had republished it on their own web host. They had even gone so far as to legitimately register the domain name once I let it expire. That bit is fine – I really don’t care if someone else sees value in something I no longer have use for. But to steal my content and publish it in its entirety is not cool and not legal. The worst part is that it includes photos of my first daughter in her first year. I feel violated. From the outside, it appears to be ‘my site’ still, just as I had it (with the exception of a tiny text link on the front page). I also worry that it is ruining my reputation as my name is all over it, including my postal address etc.
That site was built years ago, before I worked out my water tight security strategies. So it wasn’t a model of best practice in WordPress security. But I thought that not using the default ‘admin’ user name and having a tough password would be enough. It was also a fairly low traffic site so I didn’t think it’d attract much attention. WRONG!
I’ve reported it to ACORN, the hosting company, and written to the address listed on the domain name registration record. I’m in the process of having a letter drafted to the legal department of the hosting company to have them remove the site and close the account as it breaches several of their terms of service. Not sure what more I can do.
It’s prompted a security review of all my sites, and those that I’ve built for clients. Everything is looking good so far. I’ve developed a pretty rigorous approach to security in developing WordPress sites since my early sites. I think most developers do take it pretty seriously and put in much more care than your average “$500 website factory”. I’m also formalising the maintenance and security services that I provide after launch. There will be a number of set packages to choose from, some featuring monthly strategy sessions or help on topics like SEO, list building, social media, content planning.
I’ll be moving all my website stuff from QuickSmart to this site some time in the new year. I’ll also be blogging and providing a members only website to clients where you can watch training videos on things like Google Analytics, plus do other cool stuff.
The other change is that I’ve taken my ‘lifestyle’ blog (indiemama.com.au) offline for the time being. I’m not comfortable having photos of my family and home out there on the web any more and even though I know that nothing can ever be truly removed once it’s been published on the web, it’s the best I can do right now. It also frees me up to focus on the delivering awesome websites and a few other exciting projects I have planned for this year.
The irony is that when I first decided to start a ‘lifestyle’ blog to learn about blogging, I thought that I would be less likely to see my work stolen and published elsewhere if it was just personal stuff. I feared writing useful content and having it ripped off by ruthless bastards wanting to make a couple of extra dollars through stolen traffic.
So I have a busy day ahead of me, changing all my passwords and usernames, and planning new services and a new website. Good thing I’ve got all my Christmas shopping done!