12 Dirty Digital Jobs You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Woman cleaning out a closetThey might be dirty jobs, but someone’s gotta do ’em.

And if you don’t do ’em, you’re risking more than just a little inconvenience or some metaphorical dirt on your hands, or literal sweat on your brow.

You could be risking your business and your livelihood.

The Dirty Dozen: Jobs You Gotta Do

They’re not sexy.

They’re definitely not fun.

But they’re musts.

Just as every fairway has its prat boys – or every horse stable has its muckers – every business has certain jobs that nobody wants to do.

But somebody’s gotta do ’em, just the same.

Here are twelve such jobs in the digital arena that I’ve identified with some assistance from my fellow carnies (thanks to Nick and Tea!), ranked from 12 to 1, and why you really can’t afford to shuck them off.

#12: Updating your WordPress installation and plugin files regularly

Failure to keep your WordPress installation and all your active plugin files up to date can result in a broken site – or worse.

Here’s why: as soon as a new WP release goes public, hackers and script kiddies start working to reverse engineer all the security holes in the prior version.

Failure to update your installation files = leaving the barn door wide the heck open. Horses will run out on you. And by horses, I mean clients, when your site becomes a hacked-to-crap mess that Google posts big red warnings about in its search results.

Plugins also need to be updated appropriately, because when a new WP release comes out, old plugins may no longer play nicely with the WP core files. Failure to do so can result in indecipherable error warnings scrolling across a blank white background where your pretty, pretty site used to be.

#11: Cleaning out the deactivated plugins list – and files

Every plugin that you install on your WP site and activate creates a drain on resources. Every time a page loads, it will call some or all of those plugin scripts, and make that page’s load time just a little bit longer.

That’s good enough reason in my book to go over your list of plugins regularly and make sure you need each and every one.

And if you find you don’t really need two SEO plugins? (Hint: NOBODY NEEDS TWO SEO PLUGINS.) Don’t just deactivate one. Delete the files, too.

Why? Because it’s silly to load up your hosting server with unnecessary files. You’re wasting finite digital resources that could be repurposed for something far more valuable (read: anything other than an unused plugin).

#10: Staying on top of patterns and trends in website analytics

Screenshot of Google Analytics There are two kinds of small-biz-site-running people in this world, I believe:

  1. Those who look at their Google Analytics data way too often;
  2. Those who don’t look at their Google Analytics data often enough.

Keep an eye on those stats so you can figure out trends and patterns early on and then take advantage of those developing areas.

For instance, if you’re suddenly getting a lot of traffic to one old post, maybe it’s time to buff it up, update the info, and publicize it more heavily. Or, if you’re seeing a lot of searches for a particular key phrase, you know your peeps are into that subject, and you can address that need more specifically.

#9: Keeping social media profile info updated

Answer fast: How many social media accounts do you have? Not how many do you use regularly – but how many did you actually sign up for?

Conventional wisdom says “sign up for all of them with your business name so no one else can grab them.” But if you haven’t used those accounts in awhile, the info in the profiles might be outdated. Time to clean ’em up, cupcake!

Additionally, think about optimizing your profiles and bios and links periodically to keep pace with your business plans. For instance, if you’re running a new promotion with a brand new landing page, maybe it’d be worth your time to change your Twitter bio link to that landing page URL for the time being.

#8: Writing fresh, persuasive, current copy

Don’t just slap any ol’ crap up there on that awesome, updated, optimized site.

Write your best stuff. All the time.

And if writing isn’t your thing? Hire a good copywriter. (Hint: You’re probably not going to get great copy if you pay $5 a post.)

#7: Proofing, previewing, and editing your written content before publishing

By the same token, don’t let your awesome content out into the digital world without giving it a good and thorough 1-2-3:

  1. Edit your work – revise it for style, persuasiveness, and readability.
  2. Proof your work – correct the spelling and grammar, get rid of the careless typos, and tighten up your prose.
  3. Preview your work – check it out before you publish, to make sure your images are lining up correctly, there aren’t any weird codes messing up the look of the post, and your piece has enough whitespace to keep it readable.

#6: Managing comments and replying to them

If you’re monitoring all comments, or requiring all comments to be approved before publishing, then you want to make sure you’re doing so ASAP. There’s nothing more off-putting to a person who wants to engage with you than to have to wait days before you approve their perfectly valid comment.

Additionally, you want to reply to comments fairly promptly. No one expects you to reply within seconds – hey, you have work to do, and we get it – but you might want to pay attention to a post on the day it’s published, and thereafter aim to reply to comments within a day or two at most.

#5: Optimizing images on your site

Use images, by all means, but make sure you’re optimizing them correctly for SEO and a negligible impact on page load time. Don’t know how to do this? Check out this guide on optimizing images in your blog posts here. And if you’re angsty about working with images at all, check out the four image editing apps and sites I recommend here.

#4: Checking online reputation

Don’t forget to Google yourself and your business name now and again to check for negative stories or comments. It’s like having a cavity, guys – nobody wants to find a cavity but if you’ve got one, you sure as heck wanna know about it sooner rather than later, or else you’re putting yourself at risk of rampant and system-wide decay. No fun. Trust me: it’s better to know.

#3: Responding promptly to social media complaints

Is there anything more that needs be said about this one? Please don’t let negative comments or complaints or questions go unanswered. Monitor your accounts, and set systems in place to address problems rapidly. Your available window for management in this digital climate is only going to keep shrinking.

#2: Ignoring website security

Closeup of a locked gate with a security guardWant to watch your traffic analytics plummet like a cannonball in water? Let an infected, hacked-up website go un-fixed, and watch that pretty line go down fast and hard.

Security is a subject that could be the basis of a whole freakin’ blog, let alone its own blog post, so I’ll direct you to two resources on this one:

#1: Creating an editorial calendar and a workable, realistic plan for your content marketing efforts

We all know an editorial calendar will help you manage your digital presence more readily, especially when your business is relying on content and/or social marketing. But why is this number one?

Well, I’ll tell ya. Because without it, you’re spinning your wheels. Diluting your efforts. Diminishing your bottom line. Sinking your own ship.

Even the simplest of editorial plans will help you plan your content marketing efforts. Otherwise, you’re really just shooting in the dark, hoping to land somewhere near your target.

I’ve written about editorial calendars from the productivity perspective at PJP, and there’s a very simple Word-based EC template you can steal there, as well. But if you’re looking for some serious EC action, you cannot do better than this one from my friends at Web.Search.Social (free, but opt-in required).

This post is part of the February Word Carnival. Our theme this month is Service. You can read the rest of the awesome advice from our other Carnies here.

Photo credits:
Top: kalavinka via photopin cc
Middle: See-ming Lee ??? SML via photopin cc
Bottom: robmcm via photopin cc

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef February 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

This post is an excellent checklist for folks who need to learn the realities of owning a business. There’s a LOT of details to worry about — it’s not all fun and games, right? I’ll be referring folks here when they ask me what they need to know before they start a biz. Great job, Annie.

Carol Lynn Rivera February 26, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Yes, all that! I would add BACKUPS. I sound like a broken record when I talk to people and yet somehow they think they are immune to needing backups. Until something crashes and everyone goes nuts. I agree with Tea, this is a checklist that people should print and tack to their walls, Like, all over their walls. There are tons of things to be done and it’s important to keep on top of them before something goes wrong.

Michelle Church February 27, 2014 at 12:33 am

Really great tips especially for those new to having websites and believe once they put it up that’s it..definitely a great list to remind all of to check and complete.

Blaze Lazarony February 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm


Psst….I actually took the time to hop over to my website as I read your blog post and took 15 minutes to review my Wordpress plug-ins. I feel like I’ve just treated her to a spa day in your honor. She’s all fresh and clean now!

Thanks for the reminder,

Annie Sisk February 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Thanks Tea! I’m sure I left some out, and would love to hear from your clients as to what they find to be a “DDJ” (Dirty Digital Job) for future updates to this post.

Annie Sisk February 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

EXCELLENT addition, Carol Lynn. Yes, you’re absolutely right. Nobody wants to have to go to the (minimal) trouble and (free to cheap to admittedly un-cheap) cost of setting up backups but boy howdy when you need ’em …. I’m gonna add that one to the list.

Annie Sisk February 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Thanks Michelle! Let me know if you think of anything I left out!

Annie Sisk February 27, 2014 at 4:18 pm

HAHAHA! It *is* like a spa day for your blog — great analogy Blaze! (OK, now I want a massage…)

Nicole Fende February 28, 2014 at 11:10 am

Eek my virtual bathroom needs a good scrub! I’m going to go look at it right now. I do at least have backups covered, and agree it should be #13. Great primer for newbies and those who’ve been around a bit.

I recently was speaking to someone I met at a conference who told me she didn’t have any administrative expenses for her business. She’ll soon be selling her product online, and truly believes if she throws up a website then she’s done and sales will roll in…

Melanie Kissell February 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Thanks, Annie. This is one of the BEST evergreen posts on the net! I wish I could add something pithy to all the great comments here but everyone else has beat me to the punch.
One thing is for sure: I’m heading up to my toolbar to hit the “pocket” bookmarklet and keep this gem in my back pocket. 🙂

Sharon Hurley Hall February 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Good reminder that it’s probably time for another plugin purge, Annie. AND it’s time to go back and optimize some images. This is a great checklist that’s worth keeping front and center – and I love the title, too!

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: