Author Archives: Web Design Relief Staff

How To Defuse The Negativity Of Trolls On Social Media | Web Design Relief

Once upon a time, trolls only existed in fairy tales, lurking under bridges and feeding on unwary travelers. Today they lurk on the Internet and feed on the conflict they create on social media.

No online community is safe from the risk of being attacked by trolls. Web Design Relief knows the dangers and difficulties of dealing with Internet trolls, and we’ve gathered some tips and suggestions on how to defuse negativity on social media.

Effectively Neutralize Trolls On Your Social Media

Identify what type of troll you’re dealing with. Trolls get their jollies by getting a rise out of you or your followers. Their intention is to humiliate or ridicule a targeted victim. They want to tarnish reputations and discredit businesses. But, it’s a mistake to believe that all trolls are teenage boys with too much time on their hands. While it’s true that most trolls are male, studies have shown that they are not always who we think they are:

  • Trolls don’t necessarily work alone. Some of them are part of well-organized groups.
  • They aren’t always uneducated. In fact, many are well-educated individuals, some with advanced degrees.
  • Most importantly, trolls are not all harmless.

Use agreeable phrases to reduce tension. Polite gestures such as thank you, I get your point, here’s what we have in common, and/or I see my mistake might de-escalate the situation or lead your attacker to believe you are not easily provoked. Of course, this doesn’t work in all situations. Your reluctance to take the bait may come across as being vulnerable and weak. Some trolls may not be challenged enough to continue. Others will think you might be easy prey. Another thing to consider when placating a troll is that you must be careful not to ostracize your followers or disappoint your friends in the process.

Respond with facts. Let’s face it: Trolls do not fight fair. They like to use disparaging off-topic comments to start fires in your social media feeds. If a troll accuses you of spreading lies or misinformation, you can handle it one of two ways. Either admit you were mistaken (if indeed you were) and apologize (believe it or not, folks, information does vary online) OR respond calmly with facts. Hose down inflammatory comments by identifying the resources that led to your conclusion. Show examples if possible. A good offense is the best defense. And don’t forget what we’ve said about using positive remarks to defuse negativity. Something as simple as I see how you came to that conclusion but this is what I found might help neutralize an attack.

Counter with humor. Treat trolls like comedians treat hecklers. Either disregard them and move on or respond with something that makes light of their virtual assault BUT not in a derogatory manner or personal attack (trolls hate competition). If enough followers chime in, the troll may feel outnumbered and throw in the towel. But a word of caution if you attempt to use humor to subdue trolls: Sometimes, this can backfire—especially if the troll feels embarrassed or ill-equipped to handle your humorous attempt to diffuse the situation. Keep in mind, Internet bullies do not like to be bullied or mocked.

Do not feed the trolls. You know those warnings about not feeding the bears, alligators, or your moochy cousin Albert? If you toss them some popcorn, you will be forever associated with food. Trolls aren’t much different in this respect except the food that nourishes them is negative human emotion. Show them one scrap, one teeny tiny morsel of anything remotely related to fear, pain, guilt, or insecurity—and they will know exactly where to go to be fed. No matter how hungry trolls are for controversy, feed them only positive comments or ignore them completely, and you will likely starve them out. Recognize the hunger signs early on and don’t be baited.

Block and report. Most social media sites have moderators who monitor discussions and intervene when someone is being toxic or a certain post is headed in the wrong direction. If a commenter continues to display inappropriate social media etiquette, the moderator can use the block/report feature to ban the person or people being discourteous.

Unless you appoint a moderator on your personal blog or website, you will be the one doing the blocking. If you are overly concerned about how people will respond to something you post, an option that might prove beneficial is to pre-approve comments before they go live. These safety features were created for a reason. But use them in moderation. Not every rude or disagreeable person is a troll. Some of them are just rude, disagreeable people.

However, there may be times when online harassment crosses the line. Hate mail, death and rape threats, and threatening comments toward family and pets are not uncommon tactics used by trolls on the Internet. These threats should not be taken lightly. Remember, not all trolls are harmless—some have proven to be very dangerous. If a situation escalates and you feel threatened, here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

Alert family and friends to the situation. This isn’t just for support. If people around you know what’s going on, they will be less likely to inadvertently divulge your personal information to strangers pretending to be friends.

Save screenshots of the harassment and/or threats. This will help if you are forced to involve law enforcement (see below). There are ways to unveil anonymous trolls.

Avoid posting your whereabouts or daily routine on social media. Data location apps were designed to help you discover new things, but keep in mind, they also make it easy for people to discover you and your precise location.

Disable the geotagging features on your smartphone. Metadata is like bread crumbs for stalkers. It will lead them right to you. Think it’s safe to take a quick photo of yourself using your cell phone camera to upload on social media? Think again, Hansel and Gretel. There is so much metadata recorded in a digital picture, it’s like a map and you are the red star right in the center of it. Be smart about your smartphone.

If it gets really scary, involve the police. They have departments specifically created to assist with cyberbullying. Depending on the severity, you may also want to fill out the Internet Crime Complaint form known as the IC3 on the FBI site.

You can also report cyberbullying on the Cyberbullying Research Center’s Report Page.

While the Internet might sometimes seem like a scary place with trolls lurking in every dark corner, taking these few basic precautions will help keep them at bay. And remember, there are lots of nice, friendly, interested people on the Internet and social media who simply want to follow you and your writing!


Question: Have you had to deal with an Internet troll? What steps did you take to deal with the situation?

Keep Your Website Visitors Safer With These Tools | Web Design Relief

You may have an author website with great design elements, informative content, and lucrative promotional material, but this means little if your website isn’t safe! When it comes to your author website, Web Design Relief feels the safety of those visiting your site should be your top priority. Without the proper precautions, you leave your visitors open to having their personal information stolen or their computers harmed by malware and viruses. No one will be able to focus on your writing if their security is at risk! Put an end to cyber threats and keep your author website visitors safer with these tips and tools:

Author Website Safety Tips and Tools 

Strong password protection: Step number one to protecting your website is making sure that no one with malicious intent can get in. Change your password often, every 90 days, in fact, and avoid using the same password for every account you have. The most secure passwords are over eight characters and include special symbols and numbers and at least one capital letter. If you need advice on creating a strong password, there are online resources that can help you.

Quality web hosting: Your website needs somewhere to live, just like you, so make sure it’s a safe place! A secure web host puts protection first, so your web visitors can worry about your next writing release instead of hackers. An excellent web host will make routine backups of your website, install software updates, and regularly monitor the site—just like Web Design Relief’s hosting service.

HTTPS: Unlike an HTTP web address, HTTPS, which uses an SSL certificate, keeps information on your website encrypted. If you’re not techy, you may have just said, Huh? But the concept is simple: an HTTPS address safeguards information like e-mail addresses or credit card numbers so fans can safely purchase a copy of your book directly from your site. An HTTPS secures your website visitors’ information and prevents it from leaking into the vastness of the World Wide Web!

Secure contact form: A contact form is a great way for editors, agents, and readers to send you an e-mail without your actual e-mail address being visible. But you want to protect theirs as well. If someone sends you a message, then suddenly starts receiving spam right afterward, they will likely not be stopping by your site again anytime soon. So make certain that your contact form keeps user data secure and uses CAPTCHA verification so only humans can input information onto your website, and not spam bots. 

Limit user logins: One of the simplest yet most effective tools for online protection is limiting the number of users who can log in to your site. The more users and login locations you have, the more points of entry a hacker has if they gain access to one or more user passwords. Keep user logins to a minimum, especially those who are administrators of your website. 

Account lockouts: Many hackers attempt to use brute force to access websites and steal information being exchanged on it. Brute force attacks use codes and bots to try thousands of username and password combinations to log into your site. How do you stop this? Simple: Adjust your settings so that after three incorrect login attempts, your account is locked!

Smart security plugins: When it comes to your author website, plugins are your friend! While many websites have built-in security, it doesn’t hurt to keep your web visitors fully protected with as many security measures as possible. Plugins like iThemes Security, Google Authenticator, and Jetpack (just to name a few) protect your website by regularly scanning for malware, setting up firewalls, and making it harder for hackers to gain access with modified login methods.

Your author website should be a hub of networking opportunities to not only boost your writing career but also attract literary agents and editors! This is why it’s important to maintain a safe website. You want visitors to return and not worry that their personal information, along with yours, is at risk. This means you should drop dangerous website habits like never changing your password. Discontinue hosting with a problematic or illegitimate provider, and keep just anyone from uploading content to your website. Instead invest in safety with secure servers, plugins, and more!


Question: How often do you use an author’s website to purchase books? Did you feel safe doing so?

Self-Test: Is Your Author Website Up To Professional Standards? | Web Design Relief

Your author website is a powerful networking tool, essentially acting as your online business card. Since your website represents you as a writer to readers, editors, or literary agents, it should look professional and polished—not like the cheapest option you could find. Take this easy self-test from the experts at Web Design Relief to determine if your author website is functional and informative, or if it’s filled with common mistakes.

Self-Test: Is Your Author Website First Quality…Or Second-Rate?

Are You Using Good-Quality Images?

A: Yes, all of my images have at least a 300dpi resolution.

B: Some images are blurry, but most are clear.

C: Images? What images?


Is Your Font Uniform And Legible?

A: I have a dedicated font for headings and a dedicated font for body text.

B: No, but all of my fonts are in the same family (serif or sans serif).

C: The more fonts the merrier!


Does Your Author Bio Appear Professional?

A: Yes, my publishing credits and bio have been thoroughly proofread!

B: My author bio is acceptable, but has not been updated in quite a while.

C: I have no author bio on my website.


Are You Integrating Your Social Media Feeds?

A: I have icons or widgets for my author Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more!

B: I just post handles to my social media accounts. Or most of them anyway…

C: What’s a social media feed?


Do You Offer A Safe “Contact Me” Page?

A: My contact page keeps personal information secure and requires CAPTCHA verification.

B: I give my personal contact information (my email address and phone number) on my site.

C: I don’t want web visitors to contact me!


For Book Authors: Are You Including Links To Multiple Booksellers On Your Website?

A: I sure am! I include buttons to Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and more!

B: I post information on where people can buy my book, but don’t have direct links.

C: Google is free! If people want to buy my book, they can find it themselves!


If You Are Blogging, Is Your Blog Up To Date?

A: Yes! I update at least once a week and especially if I have new info to share with my readers.

B: Not really. I update my blog every few months.

C: I am just now remembering that I have a blog.


How Easy Is Your Website To Navigate?

A: Very easy! I have a menu bar, and a header logo that takes users directly to my homepage.

B: Most of my website’s pages are directly available through my homepage, but some pages are hidden.

C: I can’t even navigate my own website.


Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

A: Absolutely! Every element on my website is optimized for mobile use.

B: My website opens on mobile, but it is a bit difficult to read.

C: The last time I opened my mobile website, I had to visit the Genius Bar or Geek Squad.



If you picked mostly A: Congratulations on a stellar website!

Your website works as a first-class, professional platform for your writing career! Display it proudly.


If you picked mostly B: Your website is close, but needs a little work before it qualifies as a professional author website.  

You may have great intentions for your website, but they may be executed poorly or need some updates. When it comes to professionalism, there is no cutting corners. Your website may benefit from some much-needed TLC, like a yearly update.


If you picked mostly C: There’s no way around it—your website needs help.

Some websites need a complete overhaul. With the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of the Internet, your author website can quickly fall behind in functionality, and this could hurt your writing career. If your website is difficult to navigate or full of broken links, visitors will bounce. And if your author website looks second-rate and is filled with typos or grammar mistakes—readers, editors, and agents will assume it reflects on your writing quality.

If you’re ready for a professional-looking author website, the experts at Web Design Relief can help! Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will build you an author website perfectly suited to your needs—and we have a package for every budget! Schedule a free consultation today!


Question: What is one thing you want to change about your author website?

Great Ways To Use Moving Elements In Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

Strategically incorporating motion into your author website design is a smart way to grab the attention of your followers and publishing industry pros. At Web Design Relief, our experts know that using moving elements in your author website will engage visitors in ways static images cannot. If you’re ready to get moving, here’s how to… Continue Reading

10 Social Media Book Marketing Strategies Writers Should Avoid | Web Design Relief

These days, the life of an author is often divided between writing books and online marketing on social media. But do you know what kinds of posts and book promotions are unwelcome—or even prohibited— on social media platforms? At Web Design Relief, we know that even innocent efforts to attract new fans and friends may… Continue Reading

Sign up to receive our FREE four-part series, The Writer’s Essential Guide To Reputation-Building In A Digital World—the ultimate resource for building your online author platform.
YES! Send Me My FREE Guide!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Live Chat Software