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A Complete Guide for First Time Home Buyers

June 28, 2017 - By 
couple with keys

Taking the plunge to buy a new home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in life. Of course, it’s a hectic process, but those who are financially organized and prepared will get through it more easily.

Before buying a home, it’s important to determine your long term goals and see how the ownership of a home fits into those goals.

Experts usually advise first-time buyers to find a home when they’re ready to settle down and need at a place to live for at least five years. Plus, it helps to be financially ready when making this move.

If you’re unsure about the specifics of buying a first-time house, here is a simple home buyers guide to help with that.

1. Financial Readiness Is Important

Before house hunting, find out how much a lender will be willing to give you to purchase your first home. Some factors that will affect your mortgage include job history, monthly income, and current debts.

Also, you need to clarify how much you can afford when applying for a mortgage. The lender will require you to have a good credit score and a history of making timely bill payments.

Typically, getting pre-approved for a loan is important before placing an offer on a potential home.

2. Finding a Home

First, identify the location where you would like to live. Checking the prices of comparable homes in that particular area helps to get an idea of the potential monthly mortgage payments.

Consider getting the help of a real estate agent to help with the search, especially if you don’t much about the area. It’s not advisable to walk into an open house without an agent. You should look for a house that you can add value to. This will boost your equity.

If the house meets those big requirements, such as size and location, it’s never advisable to reject it due to a few physical flaws that can be fixed over time.

3. Home Inspection

When you finally have a few potential options, enlist the help of a home inspector to check the plumbing, flooring, roofing, walls, and basement of the home. Some homes might appear flawless but have several problems that a professional inspection will help to identify.

The overall safety, quality, and condition of a home are important. An inspection will help to know the possible repairs that a house needs if you settle for it. In some cases, it can give you a reason not to buy the home.

If the home needs repairs, a buyer can use this as a bargaining edge to get a discounted price or ask the seller to make the repairs.

4. Making an Offer and Closing

At this point, a professional real estate agent will help to determine the amount you should offer for the new house. The seller can accept or issue a counter-offer. Don’t be afraid to haggle with the seller to get a price you think it’s reasonable for the house.

Remember to factor in the closing costs (roughly 2 to 5 percent of the home price), immediate repairs, and commuting costs. The closing process involves signing a lot of paperwork, and a real estate agent serves as a home buyers guide to help you understand all the relevant details.

Getting a home appraisal and private mortgage insurance might also be necessary.

Home Buyers Guide – The Bottom Line

Buying a home can be an intimidating process for first-time homebuyers who are unsure about their options. As long as you have reasonable debts, a good credit score, and a solid job history, there are different conventional FHA VA loans you can qualify for.

Sometimes all it takes to get a new home is a preparedness and adequate due diligence. Calculate your debt-to-income ratio and factor in the down payment to determine how much you can afford to pay upfront every month.

When you’re ready, compare mortgage rates from different lenders, get pre-approved, and hit the market to find your new home.


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5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying A New House

June 27, 2017 - By 
Buying a house

Buying a home is often one of the biggest and most important purchases someone will make in their life.

That’s why it is imperative to do as much research as possible before buying.

Here are 5 things that will help any potential home buyer to understand this monumental purchase.

1) Ask Yourself: Is Buying Right for You?

While buying a house might seem like one of life’s major stepping stones, it is by no means a requirement.

There are many benefits to owning a home. There is the financial investment, the potential for being cheaper than renting, and the stability of payments.

But there are cons as well. It’s a huge, long-term commitment with not a lot of flexibility.

A homeowner can expect to pay a lot in interest, repairs, maintenance, and renovations.

How important is mobility to you? Does buying make sense financially? Will you be able to afford the extra expenses?

Understand the pros and cons, evaluate your personal priorities, and then make the decision on whether to buy or not.

2) Learn Everything You Can

If you decide that buying is the right choice, it’s time to do your research.

First, you have to find a location that meets all your needs (present and future).

Once you find a house that you love, it’s time to do some digging.

Find out how long it’s been on the market, the house’s sales history, copies of bills (think taxes, insurance, etc), how long previous owners lived there, and any other relevant information you can think of.

You should know all about the house itself, but also about how the buying process works. There are numerous resources to help you understand the complicated process of buying a home.

With a purchase this big, you can never know too much.

3) Understand Your Financials

Buying a home is a huge investment.

You need to understand what you can afford, how much you have saved, what sorts of loans you need, and what interest rates you could face.

To get the best mortgage rates you should have good credit and a reliable income.

Keep in mind that providing a down payment can reduce your mortgage payments and decrease your interest rate.

Get used to creating and living on a budget before you commit to a mortgage and homeownership.

4) Think in the Long Term

Understanding your financials and your priorities should extend into the future, not just your current situation.

Do you plan on starting a family? How much other debt do you have to think about? Do you have job security? Is this house the house you will want in 10 years?

For a long-term commitment such as buying a house, it takes a long-term understanding of your priorities.

5) Use a Realtor

Obviously, this whole process can get confusing and overwhelming.

There are many real estate companies that can provide you with advice and guidance.

These companies and realtors can help in a myriad of ways.

They can:

  • Find potential homes
  • Have knowledge of certain areas
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Give guidance and advice
  • Understand market conditions
  • Handle paperwork
  • Answer your questions

Bottom Line

Buying a home is exciting, nerve-wracking, and overwhelming all at once.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you in your process of becoming a homeowner.

 


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Insta Marketing: How to Add Links to Your Instagram Stories

June 27, 2017 - By 
instagram stories

Do you use Instagram as part of your marketing strategy? With 700 million monthly visitors, Instagram is the second largest social media platform in the world and a great place to raise brand awareness and market your business.

But marketers are struggling to drive Instagram traffic back to their websites.

Maybe you have a large following on Instagram, but how do you get that traffic to your website when you can’t post links in the photos you post? Instagram Stories are helping businesses have Insta-marketing success.

Keep reading to learn how to add links to your Instagram Stories and drive more traffic to your site.

Do You Have Access to Add Links in Instagram Stories?

Clickable links for Instagram Stories were rolled out first only to verified accounts. But in May 2017, Instagram expanded the feature to more business profiles. Now, business profiles that have over 10,000 Instagram followers have access to clickable stories links.

At the time, personal profiles do not have access to clickable links for Instagram Stories.

If you run a blog, online business or store, adding a link to your Instagram Stories can help drive more traffic through to your website.

Here’s how to add links:

1. Start your Instagram Story

You can easily create Instagram Stories in two ways: Use the app to take an image or video, or from the Story screen, swipe up to import an image taken within the last 24 hours.

2. Add the link URL

At the top of your Instagram Story, click the chain link icon. Enter the link destination in the new window that appears. If using an Android, tap the green check mark, or from iOS, tap Done to save the link.

You may want to track how much traffic and conversions your get from this. Try a link shortener like Bit.ly or Rebrand.ly. These tools will shorten your URL so you can easily track and measure your metrics.

3. Edit your story

You may choose to add text, stickers or filters to your Instagram Stories. When completed, upload your story to your profile.

When you include a link, it will appear as a See More option at the bottom of your screen. Viewers might not see it right away if they’re not looking at it. Try including a call to action, such as “Tap ‘See More’ to visit our website,” in your Instagram Stories to draw attention to your link.

How to Take Advantage of Links in Instagram Stories

What links should you include in your Instagram Stories? Where should you direct your audience? How often should you include links?

Use links to promote recent blog posts or products you sell. Share content that is exclusive to your Instagram followers. If you’re sharing tutorials or recipes in your Instagram Stories, include a link to the complete instructions at the end.

You don’t want to include a link in every post. Include one link for every three or four posts in your story collection.

Only include links in your if they provide value to your followers. Avoid including links in every story you share.

Looking for more tips on Instagram marketing? Download our Instagram Marketing Training Guide to skyrocket your business success with Instagram.


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3 Real Estate Tax Breaks You Can’t Afford to Miss

June 27, 2017 - By 
tax breaks

Homeownership is expensive, but it’s also valuable to the economy. So, the IRS rewards homeowners who care for their properties with tax credits.

These credits are valuable. In fact, they can save so much money come tax season that homeowners can’t afford to miss out on them.

Here are 3 tax credits not to be missed at tax time. Keep reading to learn how you can start saving.

1. Green Tax Credits

Tax credits are available for homeowners who have not only a green thumb but a green state of mind.The IRS offers credits for qualifying expenses on upgrades or new purchases of home assets.

Homeowners who install doors, windows, and skylights with an ENERGY STAR program rating can qualify for as much as $500 in tax credits.

Solar energy systems are another way to scoop up tax credits galore. Homeowners can write off up to 30% of the systems’ cost with no limit until 2019.

2. Capital Gains Exemption

Homeowners who bought inexpensively in up-and-upcoming neighborhoods and can reap the benefits when sale prices are significantly higher than the initial investment.

If a home was purchased for $250,000 and it is now worth $500,000, the homeowner is in luck.

Any money made on the sale of that house is pure profit – no capital gains taxes are required.

There are a few rules governing this exemption:

  1. The maximum amount that can be exempted for couples is $500,000.
  2. The owner must have owned the home for two years.
  3. The owner must have used the property as a primary residence for two years.

Note: The owner doesn’t need to be living in the property at the time of sale. It can be rented for up to 3 years before the sale while still qualifying for the exclusion.

Unlike other capital gains profits, proceeds from the sale DO NOT need to be re-invested. They can be used in any way, including in the investment of a new property.

Alternatively, the 1031 exchange listings allow property owners to sell their properties and re-invest the profits in a new property as a way to avoid capital gains tax.

3. Mortgage Interest Deductions

The mortgage interest benefit is one of the most common tax deductions because everyone can deduct it. The only rule is the limit – $1 million for married couples or $500,000 for married couples filing separately.

The only rule is the limit – $1 million for married couples or $500,000 for married couples filing separately.

The mortgage interest deduction is filed with Form 1098. The average homeowner can see a deduction of thousands of dollars annually on their income taxes.

The average homeowner can see a deduction of thousands of dollars annually on their income taxes.

So while it’s not a credit per se, it does reduce the tax bill quite significantly depending on the size of the mortgage and the homeowner’s income.

Conclusion

Homeownership isn’t all about spending money – there’s money to be saved, too.

Be sure not to miss out on these or any other potential tax credits next year!


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Natural Pain Relief: 4 Things You Should Try

June 26, 2017 - By 
natural medication

Pain is a real problem that can damage your quality of life. If you’re reading this article, you probably know that.

What you might not know are the real problems that stem from pain pill abuse in American culture. Americans consume 80% of the world’s supply of pain pills. That number isn’t likely to decrease anytime soon.

These tendencies have caused real harm to the health and wellbeing of Americans who suffer from pain. This pills can lead to addiction, further health complications, and are an incredible expense for many.

Before seeking synthetic pain relief, look for these natural alternatives.

Before taking any medication, natural or otherwise, you should always first consult with your doctor.

CBD Dabs

CBD wax comes from the cannabis plant, but it isn’t illegal!

That’s because CBD isn’t the ingredient in cannabis that gets people “high,” that would be THC, which is not contained in dabs, drops, or edibles of CBD wax. What is contained in these packages is CBD, the medically powerful ingredient in these plants.

Along with being great for pain, CBD also provides a variety of other benefits. These can range from increasing your appetite to providing you with anxiety relief. It truly is one of the most effective natural medicines on the market.

Ginger

Ginger also provides a wonderful gift of healing for those struggling with arthritis pain.

Eating ginger capsules has been shown to reduce pain in arthritis sufferers by 40% more than a capsule medication.

This isn’t surprising when you consider the cleansing antioxidant properties of ginger. If you have arthritis, it may be time to stop thinking of ginger as just a palette cleanser from sushi, and start thinking of the ways it can help you in day-to-day life.

St. John’s Wort

Rubbing oil made from St. John’s wort on the point of pain can reduce it greatly, as can taking an infused tincture.

As is usually the case, herbal medicine has often been overlooked when it comes to relieving pain. But it also is one of the most effective methods out there. It also has great calming properties.

If pain keeps you up at night,  St. John’s wort can be the pain solution you’re looking for. That being said, it is usually used for more mild pain relief. This means that it will most likely provide a temporary solution while you seek more long-term effective relief.

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the ingredient that causes hot peppers and other foods to seem spicy. So you might think it’s counterintuitive to use capsaicin for pain relief.

But you would be wrong.

Applied topically to the skin, capsaicin can help relieve pain caused by everything from surgery to arthritis. But how does it work?

Well, the painful part of spiciness does apply here. When first applied topically, capsaicin actually stimulates feelings of pain in the body. But after stimulation, the feeling subsides into a number feeling as the nerves relax.

So, it isn’t entirely pain-free, but it comes close and stops more pain than it causes.

Think Naturally

You don’t have to rely on medication for relief. Instead, look to what the Earth provides.


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Survivalist Book Shelf: Top 5 Books of 2017

June 26, 2017 - By 
Survival emergency kit

With rising temperatures, political unrest, and infrastructure collapsing, it pays to be prepared. While the odds of a societal collapse aren’t likely, you’ll want to have a good set of survival skills at the ready.

A strong set of practical skills can get you out of a sticky situation. From creating a bug-out bag to learning wilderness skills, the right skills at the right moment are important.

We all know that knowledge is power, so arm yourself accordingly. Here are the top 5 books that should be on every survivalist’s bookshelf.

1. SAS Survival Guide

Written in 1986 by John Wiseman, The SAS Survival Guide is the gold standard in survivalist lit. Wiseman, a former SAS soldier, served in the British military for over 2 decades where he honed his skills.

Now, he’s passing the knowledge onto a brand new generation. Readers can expect Wiseman to walk them through everything from first-aid to climate.

Some survivalists may already have a copy on their bookshelf, but they may not know about a modern twist. The guide is now more accessible than ever thanks to Wiseman’s new app. Now you can learn survival techniques wherever you go.

2. The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

You may remember the Worst-Case Scenario series from your childhood. The series has been in publication for decades, but now you can get all 11 guides in one collection.

Admittedly, this is a lighter read. With topics like dating and driving, it takes a light-hearted approach to preparedness.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t expect to learn a thing or two about genuine survival, however. On the contrary, the book is full of fascinating and useful tidbits of information.

Even a survivalist needs a humorous outlet every now and then.

3. How to Stay Alive in the Woods

How to Stay Alive in the Woods is a favorite amongst wilderness enthusiasts. Bradford Angier’s classic guide contains everything you’d ever need to know about the woods.

From scavenging and cooking food, to building a fire and shelter, you’ll learn it all.

4. How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It: Tactics, Technology, and Techniques for Uncertain Times

With a title like that, you know you’re in for some hardcore survival techniques. This book will fully prepare you for when disaster strikes.

Learn practical tips on how to keep yourself and your family safe during tough times. Rawles details food and shelter, but also useful tips like how to shoot the best recurve bow.

Despite its apocalyptic title, How to Survive is a realistic and excellent resource.

5. Bushcraft 101

Dave Canterbury’s classic Bushcraft 101 is an absolute must-have. Even if you’re only headed into the woods for the weekend, this field guide can teach you how to make the most of your time in the wild.

Our favorite thing about Bushcraft is its minimalist approach. Canterbury set out to create a resource guide for those with as few resources as possible.

Learn to survive with just your wits and a few twigs!

There’s something on this list for everyone from novice to expert. So take a minute to crack open a book. It could even save your life.


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A Guide to Pesky Bugs in Washington

June 20, 2017 - By 
Ants taking care of aphids on nettle stem

Are you spending a lot of time outdoors this summer in the state of Washington?

Have you found a ton of bugs and pests bothering you whenever you’re out on a walk? You might need to learn more about the most common bugs in Washington to prepare for the upcoming season.

Keep reading to learn more about the insects of Washington. We’ve compiled a guide on the state’s most common bugs below. Let’s get into it!

The aphids found in trees

One common species of insect found in the state of Washington is the aphids, which are typically found in fruit trees. These bugs don’t necessarily harm the fruit itself but do damage the longevity of the entire fruit tree.

The size of the fruit is usually reduced if aphids are found in the area. You will find honeydew, a sticky substance, on the fruit and leaves of the tree due to these bugs.

Beetles, flies, and wasps

Some more beneficial insects that reside in the state of Washington include beetles, lacewings, syrphid flies, and parasitic wasps. These bugs can sting and lay eggs in aphids so that fewer fruit trees are harmed.

Be sure to identify these bugs and keep them alive since they are more beneficial to the ecosystem. If you have a fruit tree growing in your backyard, you can attract these insects so that they remove aphids from your trees.

You can plant specific flowers in your yard to attract these bugs. Plant some asters and legumes under your fruit tree. You should also reduce pesticide use to conserve these insects.

Silverfish

Have you ever found a silverfish in the corners of your attic or basement? Silverfish are common to the state of Washington and tend to stick around in warm and dark areas of the house.

These bugs are nocturnal and wingless. Silverfish can also live for months without eating, so don’t expect a lack of food to lead to their demise.

If you want to remove a silverfish from your attic or another part of your house, http://naturapestcontrol.com has some great tips.

Buffalo Treehopper

The Buffalo Treehopper is a small and harmless insect. However, they have very large, bison-like heads and tend to look intimidating at first glance.

These bugs have wings and are green in color. You will find these insects outdoors in your yards or gardens.

North American Carpenter Ants

Ants called the North American Carpenter Ants are found in Washington as well. Carpenter ants are the largest type of ant found in all of North America.

Be careful if you see a carpenter ant because they are known for biting humans. These ants have very large jaws for shaving timber and wood, eating other bugs, and biting people.

Giant water bugs

Another bug you’ll find in Washington is the giant water bug. These bugs are dark brown and very big. The giant insect lives in muddy water.

If you go swimming in a lake, you may come upon this bug since it may pinch your toes when you step into the muddy floor.

The state of Washington has its fair share of pesky bugs. If you’re planning to move to the state or you currently live here, you now know the bugs to look out for!


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5 Daily Tips to Help Cleanse Your Body

June 19, 2017 - By 
cleanse

Feeling overtired and weighed down?

Cleansing is an easy and effective solution to increase energy, promote weight loss, and contribute to overall health. A healthy lifestyle is easy to achieve.

Let’s discuss 5 simple ways you can cleanse your body every day.

1. Begin Your Day With Citrus Water

Drink a glass of warm or cold lemon water after you wake up. Lemons contain pectin, which aids digestion and makes lemon an essential part of any detox. Water with citrus curbs the appetite.

2. Detox With Breakfast

The next step to a daily cleanse is to fuel the body with healthy foods that detoxify your system.

For those that spend the weekends eating salty, unhealthy foods or drinking, pushing back breakfast is a great way to make sure your body isn’t storing fat. Twelve hours without food puts your body into a fasted state. However, be wary of exceeding this number as the goal is to help your body, not slow it down.

Breakfast kick starts your metabolism. Cut out bread, cereal or any other breakfast foods that result in retaining water. Add more protein to your breakfast like eggs and salmon. If you’re in a hurry, a smoothie acts as a wonderful alternative.

3. Rethink Your Diet

Eat three square meals a day. Do not skip meals.

Consistent eating helps you build healthy eating habits. You won’t be reaching for unhealthy snacks that will derail your cleanse!

Fermented foods like raw kraut are rich in probiotics to support your digestion.

The turmeric in curry powder acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps produces glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that keeps your liver in tip top shape.

You need to load your diet with foods rich in fiber. Fiber helps with regularity and rid your gut of toxins.

Forget about processed foods. These contain excessive amounts of sodium and sugar that harm your diet and your body.

4. Detox With Tea

Dandelion root tea or green tea improve digestion and hydrate the body. Hydration acts as an essential component of a healthy metabolism, energy, and great skin.

The best cleanse for weight loss will provide a powerful detoxifying punch by way of helping digestion and promoting hydration.

5. Workout

Regular exercise helps control weight and cleanses your body. Increased heart rate means increased blood flow. This helps flush toxins from your system.

The benefits exercise provides include improved mood, increased energy, and blood pressure control.

Workout before breakfast to burn energy from your body’s fat storage.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is easier than most people think. Cleanse your body every day with these simple tips!


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5 Ways to Master the Art of Mindfulness

June 15, 2017 - By 

In today’s busy and frantic world, it is often too easy for the traveler or business person to forget to leave enough time to relax.

When the day is crammed with meetings, flights, and hotel rooms, it’s not always simple to achieve much-needed balance.

But there are techniques which the busy person can use in order to de-stress, wind down, and re-center themselves regardless of how active their schedule is.

1. Mindful Meditation

Studies show that regular meditation can be beneficial in reducing high pressure, stress, and depression. Using mindful meditation to reach a point of ultimate relaxation will help the stresses of the day to quickly slip away.

The idea is to put on some music, draw the curtains, sit comfortably, and relax the mind. The problems or issues of the day should not enter any thoughts. Instead, concentrate on serenity and peace.

2. Make Healthy Food Choices

Regular travel and back-to-back meetings can play havoc with one’s diet. It can be all too easy to make poor food choices when hurrying through a busy daily schedule.

By taking a few minutes to think about what is on the plate, and opting for a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, and protein, the busy traveler can help their body by fueling it well.

3. Stay Hydrated

Air travel causes significant dehydration. However, there are certain steps to be taken to prevent dehydration. A wise traveler will choose to drink plentiful amounts of water and avoid alcohol while flying.

A water bottle is easily carried in a travel bag or briefcase. A business person should always remember to drink before, during, and after a flight. Their body will thank them for it.

4. Get Pampered In Hotels

Regardless of where in the world the traveler finds themselves, a sure fire way to relax and unwind is through an in-room massage. The convenience of a trained professional masseuse bringing their services to the door cannot be surpassed.

Plus, everyone loves the luxury of massage in hotels!

Booking a hotel massage to enlist the services of a reputable local company is a highly recommended way to achieve mindfulness. An expert massage will ensure the traveler is left rested, renewed, and ready to continue with their busy timetable.

In-room massages that come to the traveler are a top option for the stressed business person.

5. Be Present In The Moment

The essential meaning of “mindfulness” is to be present in the moment. This means that a person should be aware of what is going on around them and what they are doing at all times. It’s essentially a heightened state of awareness.

Whether an individual is traveling for business or pleasure, it pays to be alert to how they treat their body each and every day. Remaining on top of the game with a competitive edge requires a holistic and health-minded approach.

The astute traveler takes care of themselves through good food choices, drinking plenty of water, taking the time to relax, and opting for in-hotel massages whenever possible.


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How to Successfully Publish Your Novel

June 15, 2017 - By 

Many writers dream of two things: to get their novels published and win a fiction Pulitzer.

While winning a fiction Pulitzer isn’t an easy feat (you have to earn a nomination, and sometimes there isn’t even a winner in this category), getting your novel published isn’t quite as hard.

This doesn’t, however, mean it’s a walk in the park, especially if you’re a rookie novelist. You will find walls along the way, and your ability to climb or knock them down depends on how well you understand the process.

In this article, we’re sharing insider-style tips that will help you ensure your manuscript morphs into a book.

It’s Not Just About How Great Your Writing Is

Of course, to get your novel published you must be a master of your craft.

Anything less than a thought-provoking story, a delicious turn of phrase, and an ending that leaves the reader with more questions than answers, chances are high publishers will turn your novel down.

But then, most writers know their art. Publishers literally read thousands of captivating manuscripts every year, yet only a handful get the nod.

You see, publishers are in this business to turn out a decent profit. This means you have to offer more than just a great story.

Are you, for instance, a professional who can excel at publicity campaigns such as TV and radio interviews? Given the platform, do you have the gift of gab to draw potential readers to your book?

Find a Competent Literary Agent

The literary industry can be a jungle. Publishers rule this great land.

They, with the pickiness of a fashion model and her shoes, determine what books hit the shelves. And they have a systematic way of doing this.

Even though various publishing companies have different book acquisition strategies, most rely on literary agents.

If you can’t directly get a publisher’s eyeballs on your manuscript, perhaps a good literary agent can help you.

These professionals are industry experts. They have contacts with influential people (mostly commissioning editors) in publishing companies.

Although this will cost you (agents typically take a cut on your book’s earnings (advance plus sales), it’s one of the best routes to getting published.

Self-Publishing. Anyone?

There is a huge benefit of getting published by an established publisher. Their powerful marketing and publicity machinery can get your novel on a front table at a popular bookstore.

But what if you keep getting rejected by these publishers?

It’s time to shake off the rejections and self-publish (publish privately). You get to be in control of everything, from using your favorite book mockup generator for cover design to printing, pricing, marketing and distribution.

What’s the end game here?

A great first self-published novel can launch your career and get you noticed by top publishing companies. When it comes to publishing your second novel, you’ll likely choose your seat at the table and negotiate a good deal!

OK. That’s probably an exaggeration (unless you’re Harper Lee), but you catch the drift.

Write Your Way to the Bookstore!

In a writer’s world, there’s probably no greater pain than living with an untold story.

Sure, you might have the story in a manuscript, but of what importance is it if you’re unable to share the story with the world?

Follow these tips closely, and sooner or later, your novel will see the light of day.


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5 Tasty Anti-Inflammatory Desserts for Summer

June 14, 2017 - By 

Many adults deal with aches and pains, but there are 54.4 million Americans over 18 who are diagnosed with some form of arthritis. One type is known as rheumatoid arthritis.

This disease can be quite complex, affecting each person differently. It can be found in people of all nationalities, making it the third most common after osteoarthritis and gout. There are an estimated 1.3 million Americans living with rheumatoid arthritis.

But what can they do to alleviate the inflammation and pain? Thankfully, there are some safe and natural methods you can start using right away. Everyone loves to snack, so here are some anti-inflammatory desserts you should try this summer.

Turmeric

This ingredient can be found inside of curry and various other Indian and Caribbean dishes. What’s little known about turmeric is its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical studies have proven the beneficial effects of this spice on arthritis patients.

In fact, it’s shown to have similar effects as OTC medications. It’s frequently used to treat other types of illnesses, such as irritable bowel disease. And it can help reduce your chances of getting cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

How to use it? Try putting it in your smoothies and yogurt!

Walnuts

We always hear great things about nuts, especially in weight loss programs. It’s a great snack that can keep you full, without packing on unhealthy fat. But what’s even better is that it’s filled with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

These are essential for combating inflammation. There’s more than one way to eat them – you can add them to your cakes, pies and yogurt.

Ginger Root

These are the funny looking yellowish roots sold in most grocery stores. It’s another food that offers many different benefits, including reducing inflammation. It has chemokines and cytokines, which suppress pro-inflammatory compounds.

Try adding ginger root to your cookies, cakes and ice cream.

Dark Leafy Greens

There are a host of leafy greens you can choose from – spinach, collard, turnip, mustard and kale are just a few. These are all packed with antioxidants and vitamin C and E, which all aid in inflammation.

You can use them as an ingredient in your pot pies, muffins or even bake them into crispy little chips!

Berries

Like leafy greens, there are a variety of berries you can eat to help fend off your rheumatoid arthritis aches and pains. This includes raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, acai berries and any other you can get your hands on.

And who are we kidding? Berries taste good with almost everything. Put them in your smoothies, eat them in your fruit salads and yogurt or juice them. You really can’t go wrong with berries!

Make this Summer Anti-Inflammatory

This summer should be a great one, along with every summer after. But it all starts with what you put on your plate (and take off of it). The healthier your choices, the better your chances of reducing your inflammation.

Hopefully, these tips will help you get through this summer with as little pain as possible!


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Do Childhood Brain Injuries Lead to Adult Anxiety?

June 14, 2017 - By 
brain injury

Is a child really “recovered” when they’ve recovered from a brain injury?

We know that concussions can lead to memory loss and anxiety in children. However, most children bounce back from a concussion after about a week.

But what about the long-term emotional effects? Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in adults has dominated the news cycle, but do children experience similar consequences later in life?

Unfortunately, that may be the case. Read on to learn more.

What Does the Research Say?

According to a recent study from the Monash University School of Psychological Sciences, the effects of brain injury on children may linger longer than previously thought.

Researchers say children can experience mental and emotional issues long after a traumatic brain injury. This especially applies to moderate and severe brain injuries.

To test the hypothesis, researchers did psychological screenings of people who had experienced moderate to severe head trauma as children. They all had experienced the injury 10 or more years prior.

They found that these individuals were five times as likely to have an anxiety disorder than those in the control group, though they had no information on anxiety prior to the injury or whether the individuals lived in anxiety-inducing situations.

What Counts as a Traumatic Brain Injury?

When a hit to the head causes memory loss, fainting, damage to brain tissue, or other kinds of brain issues, it’s considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Either the brain being moved around within the skull, or a sudden impact to the head can result in tissue damage.

There are a variety of causes for brain injuries: falls, violence, or car accidents are some examples. TBI can be a result of a hit to the head or a violent shake, and it varies in severity.

What Causes Long-Term Emotional Problems?

One study at The Ohio State University found that traumatic brain injuries affect immune-brain cells, causing them to become inflamed later in life. The inflammation is linked to depression and anxiety.

These researchers studied how these cells–or microglia–affected mice behavior after a brain injury.

The mice seemed to recover shortly after the brain injury, but then over-responded to stress 30 days later, and showed depressive symptoms. Researchers concluded that brain injuries have a similar effect on humans.

Does this Only Apply to Children?

Adults can experience brain trauma just like children, and they experience the negative short-term effects.

However, a child’s brain is still developing, making trauma to the brain particularly dangerous. Children that recover from brain trauma can experience delayed effects.

What Happens Next?

Taking safety precautions can help children to avoid a brain injury that could seriously harm them later on. Children should wear helmets when riding bikes, wear seat belts in cars, and should always wear safety gear when participating in sports.

If anxiety stemming from a brain injury isn’t treated, it could lead to other serious issues like drug abuse. In those severe cases, treatment centers like the Prescott House Drug Addiction Treatment Center can be helpful.

And of course, every child and situation are different. Parents who are concerned about the effects of a traumatic head injury should talk to their child’s pediatrician for more information.

 


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5 Accounting Steps Every Small Business Owner Should Take

June 13, 2017 - By 

Owning a small business is no easy task, especially when it comes to the finances and accounting.

Even great businesses can struggle if proper accounting steps are not taken.

Here are 5 accounting steps to set a small business up for success.

1. Record your expenses

It is extremely important to keep track of all of a small business’ expenses.

This will not only help track the business’ spending, but it is also crucial in order to claim certain tax deductions.

Keep track of receipts, travel expenses, bank statements, credit cards, tax returns, W2 forms, 1099 forms, and any other record of spending.

2. Stay organized

It’s not hard to see that keeping track of all of these forms will result in a lot of paper, documents, and records, which can result in clutter and confusion.

But there’s no point of keeping all of these documents if they aren’t properly organized and easy to sort through when needed.

Keep your documents neatly filed and organized in a specific area, whether that’s in a certain office of the business, scanned and stored digitally, or online.

3. Understand taxes (before they’re due!)

All of these records will come in handy when tax season rolls around.

Without these records, even a professional accountant would have a hard time helping to file.

It is also important to understand what taxes different small businesses will owe, as it varies depending on the type of organization.

Is the owner self-employed? The head of an LLC? How much do they earn? Or is the business a corporation? How much does the company earn?

It’s important to know the answers to these questions, as they will affect how the business will be taxed.

4. Separate the business from the personal

Many small businesses begin with one person’s personal idea and passion.

But as they start the business, it is important to separate their personal checking account from the business’.

This allows for a clear understanding of what is a business expense versus a personal expense, which was mentioned earlier to be important for taxes and money management.

Separating the accounts will save time and money in the long run.

When opening the business account, it is important to carefully consider which bank to go to: What fees might they charge? What type of account is best for the business? Is there a minimum balance?

5. Hire a professional

A lot of this can seem overwhelming and confusing. That’s why it can be helpful to hire a professional accountant.

A Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) or a small business accountant with another similar certification can help with a myriad of things to keep your outfit running:

  • Cash and expense management
  • Leases
  • Taxes
  • Implementation of accounting organization or software
  • Provide guidance and advice
  • Help explain financial reports or statements.

Conclusion

Accounting is a crucial part of running a small business, no matter what type of business it is.

Continuously looking to improve the accounting of a small business and following these 5 accounting steps can help a small business be successful and organized.


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5 Tips to Keep the Dog Off the Couch

June 13, 2017 - By 

Dogs: they’re adorable, loving, loyal, and just flat out wonderful animals.

They’re also dirty, hairy, slobbery, and even smelly.

Many people aren’t going to want the latter adjectives all over their couches. Everyone loves their dogs, but that doesn’t mean they want to lay in their dog’s filth.

Keeping animals off the furniture can be a tricky endeavor, however. To help you, here are 5 tips to help keep your couch dog-free.

1. Start ‘Em Young

The best and easiest way to make sure your furry friend will stay off of his human’s couch is to make sure he or she knows its off limits from the time they a brought home.

When a puppy is brought home, be sure to take precaution where you cuddle and play with him.

While it may be comfier for you to love and pet your new puppy on the couch, petting and playing on the floor will help you lay the groundwork and establish, right away, that the couch isn’t for dogs.

2. Make Them Want To Lay On The Floor

Of course dogs are going to want to jump up and sleep on the soft, squishy couch with their owners.

It’s your job to make them willfully choose to lay on the floor or in their own doggy beds. Make sure to do this through positive reinforcement and rewards.

Regularly lead them to their beds or floor and reward them with treats.

3. Reward The Good But Don’t Punish The Bad

Training a dog isn’t an easy task and it isn’t for the impatient. It will take lots of hours and lots of work.

When your dog starts approaching the couch or looks ready to jump up on, toss a treat away from the couch. Pet them, and again reinforce that they did the right thing by moving away from the couch.

Inevitably, your pup isn’t always going to listen to you. They’re going to go rogue and jump on the sofa.

Don’t punish them. Negative reinforcements and too much punishment will only bring about a new set of behavioral and psychological problems for your dog. It’s okay to be stern with them, however.

Don’t use any kind of scat mat, and never strike them when they get on the couch. Just be calm, cool and collected. Above all, be firm. It’s tough love time!

4. Not Home? No Worries!

When you leave the house and there is no one to keep and eye on your pet, it’s mighty easy for them to jump up on the couch and you can’t do anything about it.

So, you need to do something about it before you set foot out of the house.

Wooden dog kennels give you a place to keep your pet until you return for your trip. Or, if you prefer to keep your dog out of a kennel, you can simply use a baby/dog gate to keep them from going into a specific room.

There are even certain products designed specifically to keep pets off furniture, or you can save your money and just put a clothes basket on top of the seat.

5. Be Consistent

Like with anything in life, consistency is key.

Make sure that everyone who comes over is aware of your “No Furniture” policy.

Friends, family, babysitters, etc. should all know that you don’t want your dog to dirty up your couch. No matter how good of a boy or girl they may be, people in the home need to know the dog isn’t allowed up there.

The same goes for you. Cuddling up with your dog on the couch late at night might just sound so pleasant to you, but you set the rule and need to live by it as well.

If you aren’t steadfast and consistent it will lead to confusion in your dog and can undo the training you’ve spent so much time on.

Use These Tips To Keep Your Couch Pet-Free

Your dog will hopefully be in your home for a very long time, and they are going to feel just like another member of your family, but they are still a goofy, messy, animal that can’t wash its own paws.

So if you are afraid they’ll mess up that new couch, help train your doggy with the tips you learned here!


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How to Create and Ensure Excellent User Experience

June 13, 2017 - By 

There are a lot of factors that go into creating an engaging product. You’ll need a great logo, solid copywriting, and an intuitive design.

But above all else, you’ll need to make sure you’ve provided a superior user experience. Without it, you’ll practically be able to watch the users flock away from your site.

Your goal is to provide users with an experience that will want them leaving more. They’ll need to see your design and immediately know who you are and why they want what you offer.

Here are some tips to creating a user experience that customers will love.

Think of the User Above All Else

Remember the old saying, you can’t understand a person until you walk a mile in their shoes? The saying translates to UX creation perfectly.

Think of it as user empathy.

You’ll need to put yourself in the shoes of your user to make sure that your design functions in an intuitive manner. Take some time to examine your pre-existing UX and see what needs retooling.

Maybe your menu system could use an update, or perhaps your images aren’t as clean as they could be.

Your user needs to come first or else you’ll suffer some unintended consequences. What would you want to see changed about your UX? If you can’t come up with anything, browse the web and glance at your competition.

What about their design works better than yours? How can you implement those changes into your UX?

Create a Cohesive Color Scheme

Part of creating a great user interface is having a pleasing aesthetic. Work with your team to create a pattern that appropriately represents your product.

It’s suggested that your finished product follows the color scheme of your logo. Color matters more than we may think, as they have subconscious implications. Create an atmosphere with warm, welcoming colors.

Keep Consumers Engaged

Above all else, your job as a UX designer is to keep users interested. Whether it’s a website, a new brochure, or a cardboard display, users need to be engaged and stay engaged.

There are a few ways you can create an experience worthy of attracting attention.

Always block your text in a logical, scannable manner. People’s attention spans tend to be a bit shorter than they used to. Breaking up your text is an easy way to get them to keep skimming.

You can also use a variety of colors to create a varied look. We’ve already mentioned how important color schemes are, so use all the colors of your logo.

Users Love Video

If a picture says a thousand words, then a video likely speaks tenfold. A video is one of the most effective ways to get your brand’s name out in the public.

With thousands of videos viewed per day, if you don’t have a video strategy, you’re making a mistake.

When presented with the option of reading a block of text or watching a video, users will almost always choose the video.

Be sure to look into the latest video in print technology. This innovative new concept provides the artistry of text with the and finesse of video.

A video-oriented UX is sure to wow your clients and it leaves a lasting impression.

If you really want to stand out in today’s competitive market, you need a clean UX. And nothing is easier and cleaner than video. Don’t just write about your products, show them off in a crystal-clear video.


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13 Reasons to Visit Costa Del Sol This Summer

June 13, 2017 - By 

Imagine a place where the year-round average temperature is over 65 degrees Fahrenheit. A land where the sun shines bright and beautiful over 300 days a year. Visit Costa del Sol this summer and discover this amazing destination for yourself.

The life-changing adventures you’ll experience when you visit Costa del Sol will bring you and your family lasting memories.

Few places in the world showcase the level of beauty, history and complete enjoyment than this near-perfect corner in the southern region of Spain.

While entire books could be written on the history and culture of Costa del Sol, we’ve taken the time to break down 12 reasons to visit Costa del Sol this summer.

It will be a vacation you’ll never forget.

Now let’s explore the region.

1. The Best Climate in Europe — Hands Down

Boasting the mildest winters in all of Europe, Costa del Sol is a popular “snowbird” destination for thousands of people living in the rest of Europe.

The summers are just as good — or even better.

While inland Europe is baking in the summer heat, Costa del Sol averages a comfortable temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summer is also the driest season in the region, averaging only about 10 days of rain from June through August.

Even better, the median cloud cover is only 19% during the summer. What better way to soak up those golden rays and work on a tan?

2. Visit Costa Del Sol to See the Birth Place of Pablo Picasso

We all recognize Pablo Picasso as one of the most famous artists in the history of the world.

But did you know he was from the Costa del Sol region of Spain? You do now.

Born in 1881, Picasso went on to pioneer the art world by introducing the Cuban movement.

Make a stop at the Museo Picasso Malaga to view 285 of Picasso’s finest works that were donated by the family.

No summer vacation is complete without exploring the art culture of the region you’re visiting. This stop is a must on your trip to Costa del Sol.

3. The Amazing Rock of Gibraltar

When it comes to breathtaking natural land masses, there are few locations in the world that can compare to the Rock of Gibraltar.

This small British colony has an unparalleled identity as it towers above the Straights of Gibraltar.

The various cultures living here have been peacefully co-existing for many thousands of years.

When you visit the Rock of Gibraltar you can visit caves from prehistoric times gone by. You can also follow the tunnels that Winston Churchill used during World War 2.

The most popular attractions, however, are the top-dwelling Barbary Apes.

4. Party with the Superstars

Marbella is known as Costa del Sol’s “Hollywood.”

Everybody from sports stars, famous musicians and movie personalities can be found in the streets and clubs of Marbella.

Enjoy a few high-end cocktails at ritzy bars that will rival any bars in Hollywood.

Spend the rest of your nights (and into the early morning hours) dancing in legendary clubs suitable for VIPs and vacationers alike.

Want to know how the other half vacations? Marbella’s beach parties and 5-star golf resorts will give you the experience you’ve always wanted to have.

5. Visit Costa Del Sol for Some of the Best Golf in the World

When you come to a Costa del Sol property you’ll find a collection of over 30 golf courses designed by some of the best designers in the world in the surrounding area.

In fact, Cadiz and Malaga have more courses per square mile than any other city in all of Europe.

If you can only visit one golf course while you’re in Costa del Sol, make sure it’s the Valderrama Golf Club in the Sotogrande resort. This course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and is one of the finest courses in Europe.

Looking for another golf outing during your trip? Located near Casares is the Finca Cortesis Golf Club.

Finca Cortesis boasts a world-class golfing experience. When your 18 holes are complete, enjoy award-winning 5-star dining in what can loosely be called the clubhouse.

6. Explore Great Little Towns and Cities While You Visit Costa Del Sol

Want to win a bar bet? Challenge your bar neighbor on what the oldest village in Europe is. No Googling!

The answer is Cadiz in Costa del Sol. Believe it or not, this village was founded in 1104 B.C. and is still thriving.

Are you a fan of Old Western movies? You probably didn’t know that Almeria was a popular movie set location for films starring Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.

For the history buffs, head over to Hueva and see the exact location where Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World.

If you’re afraid of heights, Ronda — the city on top of a mountain sitting high on a gorge — may not be for you. But if breathtaking scenery is what you’re after, check this city out.

7. The Stars of El Chorro

There are few things in the world more peaceful than a night under the El Chorro stars.

Many say this is the “real Costa del Sol”.

Three stunning turquoise lakes converge in this region — also known as Malaga’s Lake District.

Bring your camping gear or rent some locally. Lay outside and gaze on the bright constellations that fill the night sky.

View the Garganta del Chorro — a large river gorge providing unforgettable views.

8. Chefchaouen and Morocco

Go to where the Mediterranean meets the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. From Cap Spartel, Morocco to Hydrofoil is where this magical place lives.

In this region you can shop the Souk market for handmade fabrics, carpets, and delicious spices. Spend a night and take a memorable journey to the Rif mountains into the village of Chefchaouen.

Want to know what life was like 500 years ago? This is the place to be.

9. Take an Unforgettable Road Trip

When you visit Costa del Sol, a slow and well-paced road trip is in order.

Begin your road trip in Malaga and make your way to Gibraltar. Along the way you’ll want to make stops in such towns as Fuengirola, Estepona, Marbella, and Torremolinos.

These stops are absolute staples in your trip.

You’ll also want to stop in some of the more obscure villages and take in the culture of the people living there.

Take your time and don’t try to keep to a pre-set schedule. The journey is the destination.

10. Drink in the Views on Top of Mount Calamorro

If you’re ready to see all the glory when you visit Costa del Sol, head to Benalmadena and get a ride on the cable car that climbs all the way to the peak of Mount Calamorro.

This is a very short drive from the town of Torremolinos and is the highest altitude you’ll find in the immediate area, at over 2,600 feet above sea level.

From the top of Mount Calamorro you can see all the way to Gibraltar and on clear days can even gaze upon the African coast.

In the Valley of the Eagles, you can watch majestic birds hunt for their prey as they effortlessly glide above the Mediterranean landscape.

11. The Unforgettable Caves of Nerja

These caves, known as Cuevas de Nerja (Caves of Nerja) are almost from another world.

When you’re ready to leave behind the bars and beaches as you visit Costa del Sol and experience a living and breathing natural wonder, this is where to head.

The tranquility of these caves is second to none. Listen to the soft flow of relaxing water while gazing upon unbelievably large stalagmites and stalactites.

Have you ever heard of a music amphitheater within a cave? In the caves of Nerja that’s what you’ll find. One of the caves’ chambers houses an area where you’ll hear recitals that perfectly echo through all of the caves.

You will not forget these beautiful sounds and scenery.

12. A Bird Watcher’s Dream Come True

When you’re ready to do some serious bird watching, head to the Straits of Gibraltar.

This area is a popular migratory point between Africa and Europe for many species of birds.

You can witness countless species heading north as late as June, while the southern routes begin in July and end in early November.

Have you even seen a Griffon vulture? If not, you should. With wingspans of over 9 feet, these birds are majestic.

Head to Sierra Crestellina Nature Park to see the Griffon vulture colony that resides there.

There are even 13 species of resident raptors in Andalucia.

Costa del Sol is a haven for the avid bird water.

13. Summer Fiestas

When you visit Costa del Sol in the summer you’ll want to check out the fiestas.

In June head to the International Festival of Music and Dance which takes place in Granada.

When July rolls around, there’s no fiesta like Cordoba’s International Guitar Festival. This takes place in the Alcazar gardens.

Come August it’s time for the Feria in Casares. This yearly fiesta is celebrated by the entire town. You don’t want to miss it.

After you Visit Costa Del Sol, You Just May Want to Move There

After visiting Costa Del Sol you may decide you want to permanently live in the best climate in Europe.

Who wouldn’t? There are few places in the world that offer what this region in the south of Spain does.

Even if you don’t plan on moving to Costa del Sol, these 12 reasons to visit this summer are just the tip of the iceberg on the experiences that await you.

Make sure to enjoy it all!


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5 Game Day Party Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

June 13, 2017 - By 

It’s game day and you’re hosting. Even though it’s a simple gathering, you’re feeling a bit lost on what to do, what to buy, and how to make your turn to host the best.

We put together a list of five game day party hacks to make your turn to host easier and infinitely more fun. Check these hacks out!

Five Game Day Party Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

You want to spend game day relaxing and enjoying some good Celtic banter and football-appropriate snacks. These hacks will get you from prepping the party to enjoying the party quickly.

5. Get ready the night before.

Prepping makes everything run smoothly in many aspects of life. Spend an hour or two the night before the big game cleaning.

You don’t have to go nuts, but it’s helpful to get the following out of the way ahead of time:

  • Wiping down surfaces.
  • Vacuuming and sweeping.
  • Cleaning your couch and sitting surfaces.

You’ll find that preparing everything the following day before your pals arrive will go much faster without the need to hastily clean.

4. Go with disposable serving items.

If you’re hosting a medium to large party, are you really going to want to do all those dishes at the end?

Opt for disposable versions of the following items:

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Knives, forks, and spoons
  • Cups
  • Paper towels

If you’re not a fan of wasting things and harming the environment, set up recycling bins that are clearly recognizable around the dining area. There are also eco-friendly disposable items you can purchase as well.

Be sure to stock up on toilet paper as well.

3. Get creative with team colors.

Let’s be honest– popping over to the party store for flimsy team-themed party decor and disposables is very costly.

You can easily work team colors into your party supplies without purchasing team-specific items. This is a great way to save money while still making your game day party more festive.

Everything from your paper products to tablecloths can be found in your team’s colors for cheaper. You can easily make some felt flags with a pair of scissors, glue, felt, yarn, and a bit of creativity.

2. Post your Wi-Fi password.

If you’re hosting a big party and expect some guests who aren’t frequently over, it would be wise to post your wi-fi password inside your home where guests can easily see it. Save yourself the trouble of repeating the same password to fifty different people by getting fun and creative with an eye-catching sign.

1. Keep the kids busy.

If you have children or have invited guests that will probably bring them over, do them (and you) a favor by keeping them occupied.

Pick up some cheap foam balls, set up a game outside, pop on the sprinkler– do everything within your means to keep the kids from being bored out of their minds while your guests enjoy the game.

How was our list of game day party hacks? Tell us which ones you loved in the comments below!


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5 Reasons Your Business Will Benefit From Infomercials

June 13, 2017 - By 

They call that moment when local TV affiliates sign off as the “Graveyard Slot“.

A time when viewership drops and affiliates have little interest in providing programming. This becomes the hours of the infomercial.

A time that has delivered remarkable products like:

  • Proactive
  • P90X
  • Total Gym
  • Showtime Rotisserie
  • Ped Egg

Products (within these five samples) have earned over $4 billion when combined!

There is a science and magic of successful infomercials. It requires a strong product, a thrilling display, strong call to action, and an irresistible price.

The Battle for Viewership

The top infomercial companies battle it out to control the airwaves. With the expanse of online streaming video, infomercials are no longer destined to find viewership to those burning the midnight oil.

One may be wondering how to use this form of media as a tool for increasing business sales. A classic format when many options are available and increasingly favorited online.

Here is what’s worth considering when rolling out infomercials for business.

1. Remarkability

A business needs to be real with themselves. The product may be a shining jewel for the owners but a complete dud for consumers. There will always be a divide. Yet, there are some products that shine.

A great way to discover a product’s remarkability is through small-scale tests. Introduce the product to a targeted group, request feedback, and use it as a launching point if it appears to be a colossal hit.

2. Brand Recognition

A brand is a reason why people are willing to pay a premium for a product or service in a flooded market of knock-offs (which often have similar specs).

Infomercials push a product but tie it closely to the brand. The two go hand-in-hand — they are inseparable. Associating a product with a brand and a brand to a product creates on-going recognition. This leads to creating a dominant placement within its respected industry.

3. Content Distribution Opportunities

An infomercial is not locked to the T.V. screen.

This media can be used across a number of channels and platforms which increase the value of the investment.

Infomercial content can be:

  • Distributed to online streaming sites
  • Recut and used as radio ads
  • Cherry-picked for graphics later used in marketing material

It creates a top-down approach to marketing where the initial offering is used in several different marketing & advertising opportunities.

4. List Building

The offer and call-to-action.

Direct sales of the product generate a blast in revenue. Yet, one can go further by implementing introductory rates, payment options, and free trials.

This removes the barrier of entry. The buyer has been lit with excitement about the benefits of the product. The offer is right. The price is not an issue.

The result? An on-going, list building machine.

An opportunity to turn otherwise reluctant individuals into lifetime customers. A list is all-powerful for sales, marketing, and understanding the marketplace.

5. Offer Insights

Companies often miss the mark when selling offers because they focus on features rather than benefits. An experienced infomercial company guides a client. This turns the piece into one which creates emotional attachment resulting in greater sales and feedback.

It’s an eye-opening experience to these business owners now having offer insights they may not have noticed prior.

 


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8 Easy Steps to Make an Amazing Recycled Hummingbird Feeder

June 13, 2017 - By 

Summer is time for making memories with those you love.

It can also be a time for life lessons that your child will carry with him or her into adulthood. Among them:

  • The importance of sustainable living
  • Appreciating nature
  • Using his/her hands to build things
  • Valuing time with family
  • Working together (for siblings or friends)

Those hummingbirds move fast, so let’s not delay learning how to make a recycled hummingbird feeder.

What You’ll Need

An Empty Bottle

You can use glass or plastic. If your kids are younger, plastic is likely your best option to avoid dangerous breaks.

Look for a bottle with interesting features your child can decorate. And, to keep in line with the purpose of recycling, don’t buy a bottle just make your feeder. Reuse something.

Here are some to consider from the ordinary to the unique:

  • Sports drink bottle
  • Olive oil or alcoholic beverage bottle
  • Wine bottle
  • Water bottle
  • Hot sauce bottle
  • Test tube
  • Spice jar

Plus you’ll need:

  • A cap – Look for a cap similar to a cap off of cooking spray, spray paint or something of the like.
  • A screw on cap, a little smaller that fits your bottle snugly
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Spray paint (optional)
  • Very sharp scalpel or craft knife (for your use only)
  • Glue gun
  • Tweezers or needle nose pliers
  • Beads or other decorations (optional)
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • String or rope for hanging
  • Eye protection – Rarely drills can throw plastic shrapnel into the air. Sunglasses or prescriptions glasses should suffice.

Making Your Recycled Bird Feeder

Step 1

Choose appropriate attire. You and your child will be working with paint and glue so choose kids clothes that are comfortable and okay to get messy.

Step 2

Cut out the middle of smaller cap. The safest way to do this is to poke holes in it with the drill or screwdriver. And then punch the middle out. It doesn’t have to look pretty. This piece goes on the inside.

Step 3

Very carefully cut around the larger cap to shorten it to about 1.5 -2 inches tall.

Step 4

Warm up the hot glue gun. For those of you, who are new to crafting, hot glue guns work best because the hot glue bonds better to the materials and dries very fast creating a strong bond.

Borrow one from one of your crafting friends if you don’t own one.

For very small children, please note that glue guns and the glue that comes out can burn skin.

Use tweezers or needle nose pliers to place the smaller cap inside the large one without allowing the cap to touch on either side or underneath.

With glue dots from your gun, create little bridges between the little cap and the big cap. The goal is to hold the little cap in place without completely blocking the flow of liquid from one cap to the next. Let the glue dry, which takes less than a minute before you can let go. But wait another 10 before screwing the cap on to be sure it’s dry.

Careful not to get glue inside the little cap or the cap won’t fit the bottle.

Step 5

Remove any labels from the bottle and clean thoroughly.

Step 6 (optional)

If the bottle is plastic, rub sandpaper around it before you paint so that that paint will stick.

Paint the bottle. Let it dry.

Step 7

Decorate the bottle. Use the hot glue again to attach foam flowers, string or beads as desired. Get creative and whimsical. Hummingbirds are drawn to red, so use as much red as possible. Let everything dry.

Step 8

Add humming bird solution, which can be made with sugar and water. Avoid food coloring, which can be harmful.

Screw on the cap and hang the feeder upside down in a tree.

Enjoy!


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5 Signs Your Marriage Is In Trouble

June 13, 2017 - By 

Everybody wants the perfect marriage that they always envisioned. However, even if you marry the love of your life, things can go sour very quickly if someone isn’t putting in the work.

Worried your marriage may be headed for disaster? We’ve got 5 reasons you may be on the track to divorce.

No sex life

Regardless of how much people may think otherwise, sex is a major point in marriages – and it’s often underestimated how much it matters.

If your sex lives aren’t syncing up, or you can’t remember the last time you were intimate with your spouse, it may be a warning sign for your marriage.

No sex life can be attributed to a lot of things: stress, career, other family obligations. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not attracted to your partner. Still, the best thing to do is have a sit-down and an honest talk regarding your dead bedroom.

Silent treatment

If the two of you are resorting to petty tactics and passive aggression rather than facing your issues, that’s an absolute sign that your marriage is headed for disaster.

Communication in marriage is paramount. Regardless of how much your spouse may have offended you, you need to learn to talk your issues over with them.

If your spouse is unresponsive, you may find it’s time to seek legal counsel.

Resentment

Whether we like it or not, it’s very easy to begin to resent someone who you have close ties to. When you’re with someone for almost every hour of every day, you’re going to find out very quickly what you like and what you don’t.

It’s when the things you don’t like begin to build up that resentment begins to fester. This can cause a breakdown in communication and other aspects of your marriage.

Unfortunately, once you begin resenting your spouse, it’s difficult to see them in another light.

Speaking other love languages

Not familiar with love languages? It’s summed up pretty easily by saying that everybody has a different way they show love to another person, and that’s how they expect that love in return.

In a marriage, you need to respect and learn each other’s love languages. If your spouse prefers giving (and receiving) gifts as gestures, they’re likely not impressed by all the quality time you prefer spending with them.

If you don’t make the effort, you can be certain that your marriage won’t last.

Never fighting

We’re not here to say that violent arguments are the key to a healthy marriage because they’re not. However, not fighting can have the same terrible connotations as a couple that’s constantly at each other’s throats.

If you don’t fight, that can be an indication that you don’t care enough about your marriage to fight for what you believe in. It also means that communication is likely at a standstill if nothing’s wrong.

Conclusion

Marriage isn’t easy for anybody, and when it falls apart, things get harder. Luckily, there are divorce lawyers ready and waiting to help you out of any bad spot you may be in.

If you’re currently dealing with any of the above, don’t let things turn into an avalanche. Communicate with your spouse, and know that there are resources available to help you.


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On the Rise: Why Emerging Markets Are Back

June 12, 2017 - By 
Anchor Text: small business loans http://sunwisecapital.com/business-loans/

The weakening U.S. dollar has long since been a crux in the side of the emerging markets. Those markets that shift from closed to open market economy.

Areas of the top 10 including:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Russia

Amongst a dozen others.

Yet, the 2.5% loss in the U.S. dollar (when compared to others) has presented a unique opportunity and benefit to emerging markets. The gap from 2011 to 2016 has not been kind to these regions but change is coming.

Why Emerging Markets are Back

Two interesting developments lead the new shift in attention for EM’s:

  1. A 17% gain (in 2017) for the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
  2. A 7% gain (also in 2017) for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF

These reports have influenced Zach Pandl, the co-head of global foreign exchange and emerging markets strategy, to reevaluate its foreign exchange forecast.

Alongside comes an extensive report from Scotiabank detailing global currency forecasts and trends.

Other influences include:

  • An increase in demand for commodity due to their leveling
  • An ongoing reduction of current account deficits
  • An active set of reforms and acceleration of Chinese economies

Politics play an important role. The impeachment of Park Geun-hye of South Korea and shift in ruling parties of India are two such examples.

Lest we forget the impact of trade and business.

An influx of global outreach has been seen on a peer-to-peer level with the popularity of social lending and small business loans.

Likewise, the IT sector has seen success in emerging markets through the introduction of Internet companies, online transactions, gaming, and access to hardware.

The anticipation of new consumers in these markets are expected to contribute more than 70% of the global GDP. Areas, previously restricted in Internet access, have tripled. Mobile consumption due to cheap devices and services like Alipay play an important role.

The biggest winner is likely to be oil companies. The growing demand for new products and higher oil prices creates demand for alternatives such as solar, wind, and shale.

Michael Hartnett, Bank of America Merril Lynch’s chief investment strategist had this to say in mid-2016:

“There’s one thing that emerging markets have that everyone wants right now and it’s not raw materials or cheap labor — it’s yield. When you have negative interest rates in Europe and Japan, and zero rates everywhere else, the politics and economics of these countries becomes irrelevant.”

There are investment woes despite the positive outlook.

Investment Risks in Emerging Markets

As with any investment — there come risks.

Politics while playing a positive role in some emerging markets are not always the case in others. Political development may lag behind the economic growth and globalization which could pose a backlash from its citizens.

A general lack of transparency from companies and markets within these countries could also play a role. Fewer requirements, reporting, and human rights may create a difficult judge in investment for foreign investors.

U.S. protectionism and tension between allies and trade in China could introduce instability. A shake found in a recent executive order to withdraw the United States from NAFTA.

Growth is not guaranteed though optimism and the markets show a shift. Emerging markets create a high-risk, high-reward scenario that will be a worthy consideration for all players involved.


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The Future of Cybersecurity: 5 Must-Know Facts

June 12, 2017 - By 
Cyber Security

The development of new technology is not showing any signs of slowing down.

But as technology evolves, so do the threats posed by cybercriminals and viruses.

One white hat hacker (who works with companies to improve their security systems) has pointed out the many vulnerabilities in systems we now take for granted: in our cars, our home alarm systems – and even in pacemakers.

What are the emerging threats that cybersecurity firms must learn to deal with?

‘Internet of things’ will come under attack

The ‘Internet of things’ is a concept which has been talked about for a long time.

The story goes that as technology progresses, more and more devices will become connected to the Internet. For example, imagine ordering your groceries directly from an interface panel connected to your fridge.

While a fridge is a relatively innocuous example, imagine the effect a ‘dronejacking’ cyberattack might have.

Ransomware is on the rise

Ransomware attacks are becoming more and more common. This is where a virus will essentially lock up a person’s computer, before demanding money in exchange for a key to unlock the system.

If the person doesn’t pay up, their local data is generally deleted in response, and the virus may attempt to make their system unusable.

Security firm Symantec has predicted that there will be large scale ransomware attacks on cloud-based software and storage in 2017.

With more firms now relying on cloud solutions to manage customer and business data, this is a serious risk. Companies need to think hard about how best to protect their cloud presence from attacks.

Hacktivism

Hacktivists seek to score political points by knocking out servers, taking down, taking over, or defacing websites – among other activities.

They achieve their ends by many means, but one of the most common forms of hacktivism comes in the form of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

This method uses multiple systems, sometimes in the form of compromised computers working as ‘botnet’ under the control of the attacker(s). They will use this to flood a targeted system with traffic – incapacitating it.

Cyberterrorism

Cyberterrorism is not quite the same as hacktivism. Although it may also have a political objective, its primary aim is to cause as much disruption and fear as possible.

Terrorists may seek to disrupt networks used by healthcare systems, government organizations, markets like the NASDAQ or NYSEMKT stock exchanges, or even military institutions.

The intention might be to disable capabilities that may be used against them, or to cope with the aftermath of a secondary, physical, attack.

Government regulation

The potential fallout from acts of cyberterrorism are of concern to governments around the world.

The result of this may be greater regulation surrounding cybersecurity in the future. This will bring with it greater compliance costs, but that’s only the start of the potential issues.

Tech companies may be required to build ‘back doors’ into their software to allow governments to monitor usage.

This could be an expensive task. And critics have pointed out that leaving any door open will actually allow anyone in. All they need to do is to find the right door.


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7 Graphic Design Trends You Need To Know

June 6, 2017 - By 

Graphic designs trends are not so unlike other trends. Every year ushers in a new set of them. Hot pinks replace sky blues, and brazen colors replace more subtle hues.

As a result, keeping up with all of the latest and greatest trends can get tricky. Even if we can keep up, we might not be able to incorporate new trends into our designs as quickly as we’d like to.

Fortunately, there are those amongst us who take the time to put together nifty lists of some of the latest trends.

And – wouldn’t you know it – you’re reading one of those lists right now. Continue reading for 7 graphic design trends you’ll need to know this year.

Authentic Images

Once upon a time, we could use stock images to our hearts’ content. They made plenty of lives easier.

So much so that you’d often the same stock image in someone else’s design.

Times, however, have changed. People are no longer fond of boring old stock images. They want something authentic. Consequently, you’re going to have to put in a little extra work this year.

Which means that you’re going to have to put in a little extra work this year.

Personal drawings and original photos are a must in the world of graphic design today. As a matter of fact, we’d wager that this trend, unlike some the other graphic design trends we’ve listed, is here to stay.

Needless to say, though, there are plenty of people who have had success with stock photos. There are several sites which offer high-quality stock images.

That said, if you must use stock images, don’t completely rely on them. Take the time to create some images of your own as well.

GIFS

Who doesn’t love a good GIF nowadays? You can find them on your favorite social media sites and multiple other platforms, yet you never tire of them. There is literally a GIF for almost every situation and feeling.

And if the GIF you’re looking for doesn’t exist, you can make it.

As a graphic designer, you can leverage this love of GIFS. Just consider including one or two in your next design.

Minimalism

Apparently, “doing the most” is not trendy this year. People are moving away from busy designs and choosing minimalist designs, and people are loving it.

So how can you have a little fun with this trend this year?

Try simple logos and palettes. You might even consider playing around with the spatial relationships between the elements of your design. There are also tons of other tips that can enhance your minimal designs.

Don’t be tempted to add tons of elements to your design. There is no need to do so since minimalism speaks for itself.

User Experience

As far as graphic design trends go, we’d like to think that prioritizing user experience has always been hip. Regardless of whether or not that’s the case, user experience is definitely hip this year.

And for good reason.

According to Goran Paunovic, “every dollar invested in UX returns $10 to $100.” The amount you stand to save should be reason enough for you consider prioritizing it.

You can start by doing away with much of your designs’ complexity and opting for simplicity. Customers should be able to navigate your design easily. Of course, we don’t want you thinking that you must sacrifice the visual appeal of your design to improve UX.

We also don’t want you to think that you have to compromise on security. Data breaches don’t, after all, make for user-friendly experiences. They can also get you into some legal trouble.

Storytelling

You’re a graphic designer. You excel at making things look pretty while (hopefully) maintaining their functionality. Storytelling might not be your strong point.

In any case, storytelling is becoming immensely important. People want more out of a design than the visual appeal these days. They want a story, and not necessarily in the form of words.

You should be able to arrange your images in order to make people who view them feel something. Whatever they happen to feel should keep them coming back for more.

Perhaps your images could share a theme. Maybe they could be sequential and tell an actual story. Maybe they could all be interpretations of each other.

There are so many ways to incorporate a great story into your designs. Don’t shy away from storytelling. It’ll give your designs more dimensions.

Geometric Designs

We’re not sure what it is about geometric designs that make them so popular. Is it the circles? The squares or trapezoids?

Perhaps it’s n-gons?

On a more serious note, graphic designs take everyday shapes and turn them into something eye-catching. Imagine staring into an image and feeling as if you’re falling into it. How about feeling as if the image itself is moving?

Those feelings keep people staring at your designs for seconds as they try to decipher them. As an added bonus for you, they’re fairly simple undertakings for designers.

Vintage

Blasts from the pasts are apparently trendy again. Of course, we can’t pretend to be surprised. They go in and out of style quite frequently.

So which decades have been getting the most love lately?

Word has it that the eighties have been a popular source of inspiration.

Why, however, stop with the eighties? You have plenty of decades to choose from. There is no reason to limit your inspiration to one or two periods.

If you’re interested in vintage, though, make sure you do your homework. You don’t just want something that looks good. You want something that really captures the spirit of the period which inspired the design.

Stay On Top of Graphic Design Trends This Year

We’re not sure about you guys, but we think that this year’s graphic design trends look promising. From fewer stock photos to vintage designs, designs are sure to produce some awesome work in 2017.

And, yes, that includes you, my friend.

If the trends on this list haven’t inspired your next design, though, all hope is not lost. You’re welcome to take a look around our marketplace. It’s full of affordable graphics that can help you take your designs the next level.


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The Best eBook Readers on the Market

May 23, 2017 - By 

Prefer to read books on the screen rather than by the page? Tired of all the clutter that comes with once-read books? Looking to streamline your reading routine?

30% of readers read from eBook reader last year, and if you’ve never tried them out for yourself, now might be the time!

The unique and attractive benefits of this cutting-edge technology include:

  • Portability. Rather than crammed bookshelves, thousands of titles can fit within one device
  • Environmental benefits. Less paper and packaging costs.
  • Instant downloading, rather than searching for it in the bookstore or waiting for it to arrive in the mail.
  • On-demand entertainment and convenience. Whether it’s learning how to level up your blog or repair your Yamaha WaveRunner XLT1200 Jet Ski, ebook Readers allow you to access infinite information from your fingertips.

Yet, with so many models on the market, it may feel overwhelming to find the right eBook reader for you. Luckily, we’ve done the research, and have come up with the ultimate list for you!

Let’s dig in!

The Hottest E-Book Readers on the Market

Best in Price

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Retails for $99.99

Why we love it

  • At $99.99, it’s one of the most affordable eBook readers on the market
  • Single charge lasts from 6-8 weeks
  • Can hold it comfortably with just one hand
  • Comfortable and appropriate lighting for a variety of settings
  • Includes Smart Lookup, which provides dictionary access and Wikipedia for increased learning
  • Available for free, 2-day shipping if you already have Amazon Prime
  • Access to the Kindle store

Best Large Screen

Kobo Aura One

Retails for $229.99

Why we love it:

  • Waterproof from the inside out, because who doesn’t love reading in the bathtub or poolside?
  • Seamless integration with your local, public library
  • Up to 1-month battery life
  • Can store up to 6,000 ebooks
  • Premium large screen with adaptability for large text
  • Access to Kobo marketplace and variety of accessories
  • Connects with Wifi/3G

Best Premium eBook Reader

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Retails for $289.99

Why we love it:

  • Lightest Kindle market on the market. 30% thinner than the rest. This means more comfortable reading for you. It also means taking up less space in your bag or suitcase,
  • Crafted technology designed to “rest” in your hand like a book. Suitable for one-handed reading (who doesn’t want that?)
  • Built-in light features 60% increased LED compared to other Kindle models
  • Automatically charges when cover is snapped on (no pesky cords)
  • Premium leather charging case included in price
  • Can connect with WIFI or 3G

Best Compatibility Features

Nook Glowlight Plus

Retails for $99.99

Why we love it:

  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Naturally adjustable lighting that’s evenly dispersed
  • Six-week battery from a single charge
  • Seamlessly integrates with all devices
  • Supports local library access and borrowing
  • Free lifetime in-store Barnes & Noble customer support

Best for Sensitive Eyes

Kobo Aura H20

Retails for $159.99

Why we love it:

  • Extra-large no-glare touchscreen designed to look like actual paper print
  • ComfortLight directs the light on the page- rather than your eyes
  • High-definition quality
  • Waterproof and dustproof (drying cloth included!)
  • Options to customize- 24 font sizes, 11 font types, adjustable margins, ability to highlight, jot down notes, and its own dictionary

When Should You Consider a Tablet?

Interested in streamlining your book library while also being able to surf the Internet, take photos, or email?

Looking for something portable and accessible (and bigger than just a cell phone?)

If so, tablets might be for you. In addition to providing reader capabilities, they also allow for various other tasks, such as playing games, email, phone calls, social media, etc.

These can be excellent tools in the workplace or school. They also make for great sources of knowledge and entertainment for people of all ages.

But, with so many models on the market, it can feel tough to narrow down your choices. We’ve done the hard work for you. We recommend you consider checking out the following models:

Best in Price

Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa

Retails for: $64.99

Why we love it:

  • At $64.99, it’s one of the most affordable and effective, all-inclusive tablets on the market
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life
  • Stunning HD display with clear resolution and fantastic lighting
  • Alexa integration: can ask questions, get up-to-date news, and control your home with a simple request

Best for Apple Fanatics

Apple iPad

Retails for $329+

Why we love it:

  • Seamless integration with your other Apple products and tools (Macbook, iPhone, iCloud)
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • HD camera
  • Over 1 million apps available (through Apple app store)
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Variety of fonts, texts, and colors
  • Can be covered under AppleCare for additional cost

Best for Kids

Fire Kids Edition Tablet

Retails for $99.99

Why we love it:

  • Includes 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (excellent educational tools and games for children)
  • Attractive, sturdy case included with price
  • 2-year warranty guarantee. Perfect for clumsy kids
  • Unlimited access to kid-friendly books (promotes fun in learning)
  • Parental controls for monitoring
  • Makes for a great gift for the child in your life

Narrowing down Your Decision?

Some points to consider:

  • Where do you do most of your reading? If you’re a bathtub, poolside, or beach reader, we highly recommend waterproof models!
  • Does weight matter? Do you want it to “feel” like an actual book (lightweight and easy to flip through) or do you mind if it feels more like a screen?
  • Do you want a device that can “do it all?” If so, we highly recommend looking into tablets, as they provide tremendous bang for your buck.
  • What’s your budget? Technology prices can dramatically vary. An effective eBook reader can range from $60 to upwards of $400.

How to Take Advantage of Your Ebook Reader

Did you know that these powerful devices can be used for so much more than just books?

At Pligg, our extensive library offers everything from repair manuals to documents to software to music- all downloadable, all instantaneous, and all right to your streaming device.

We are constantly adding new content. In our database, we pride ourselves in featuring whatever is hot on the market, and we pride ourselves in being able to provide a totally customized experience for you.