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How to Find the Right Digital Marketing Agency

January 23, 2018 - By 

Welcome to the modern Digital Age, where pretty much everything is governed by technology and the Internet. Connectivity is key to success in society, and digital marketing is the key to your business’s success.

A reputable online presence is crucial, no matter what industry you’re in. Your brand is your selling point, so you need to stay informed about the best digital marketing practices.

The Internet will continue to grow as a business powerhouse. In fact, when it comes to sales, over 80% of customers research a product or company online before making a big purchase.

Your business deserves to have the best digital marketing available. There are so many ins and outs when it comes to navigating online branding, so it’s probably a good idea for you to outsource. Continue reading to learn what you need to know about hiring the best digital marketing agency.

What Are Your Needs?

Before you even shop around for the best digital marketing agency, you should at least know what exactly you would be hiring them for!

Draft an outline of the expectations you have for your online presence. Make sure you are detailed in your needs so that you know what services to hire for.

It’s important at this stage to be realistic about how your relationship with a digital marketer will look. At the same time, make sure you stay flexible enough to handle any situational curves as they come.

Research the Digital Marketing Agency Beforehand

The good thing about the Internet is that it holds a lot of information, and some of that information will be relevant to hiring a certain digital marketing agency.

If you have a certain agency in mind, you should definitely check up on their reputation before you hire them. You want to make sure they have a history of ethical and compliant work experience.

Check out their website, too. If they don’t seem to have a decent online presence themselves, odds are they don’t really know what they’re doing. If they appear reputable and feature reviews from former customers (see https://loyaldogmarketing.com for an example), you can trust they have more experience in the field.

A quick online search should be able to show you whether or not the agency has been in significant legal trouble before. You should also check the online reviews, to determine whether or not previous customers have been happy with their services.

Ask Plenty of Questions

Make sure the digital marketing agency of your choice has plenty of technical knowledge. Do they truly know everything there is to know about web design and development? Don’t be afraid to test their knowledge and expertise before you hire them.

Also feel free to ask them about cost, length of the project, and any other questions that are pertinent to your business’s needs.

Don’t Compromise

No matter what, you should feel comfortable and secure in your decision to hire a digital marketing agency.

If you are working within a certain budget, stick with it. If there are certain services you require, make sure you find an agency with successful experience in that area.

We know how important it is to stay informed about technology in this Digital Age. Read more about it here, and you’ll be well on your way to having a successful online presence.


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Top 10 Health and Wellness Lifestyle Apps

January 23, 2018 - By 

Our world is moving faster than ever. Between balancing kids, relationships, work, and dozens of other tasks, it can be hard to find time to take care of ourselves.

As it turns out, the answer to a better you may have been in your pocket the whole time! Here are 10 of the best health and wellness lifestyle apps to help you find a better balance.

1. MyFitnessPal

Are you one of the 33 percent of people considered obese or overweight? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Tracking your diet and exercise can be tricky.

But MyFitnessPal makes it easy, giving you tons of great options. Enter your height, weight, and goals and it’ll calculate a dietary plan for your needs.

2. Lose It!

Lose It! is a personal favorite. It’s far more accessible and user-friendly than MyFitnessPal and includes a few more helpful features.

Take photos of barcodes on food packaging for a quick calorie count. Or check out the latest dietary advice from their blog.

While neither app is going to replace a natural health practitioner, it makes for a great aid.

3. Zombies, Run!

Let’s face it, cardio isn’t exactly the most exciting exercise out there. But what if there was a way to make your walk or jog into a heart-racing adventure?

That’s where Zombies, Run! comes in. This genius app blends gamification and an engaging narrative with fitness tracking.

Rummage through the forests to find supplies for your outpost. But you’d better be fast, there are zombies on your tail! What’s really cool about Zombies, Run! is the sheer amount of options it gives you.

Whether you’re looking for a gentle walk or want to experience getting chased by the fastest zombies on the planet, there’s an experience for you.

4. Pact

Pact is essentially a crowd-funded app where users set goals, like going to the gym X number of times per week or eating X amount of vegetables.

Here’s the catch: there are monetary consequences and rewards. If you meet those goals, you’ll actively earn cash. Should you fail, well, it’s time to pay up.

5. Sleep Cycle

The average person needs around seven to nine hours of restful sleep per night. However, that isn’t always easy.

Now, thanks to Sleep Cycle, you can track your sleep and get tips for a more restful night.

6. Headspace

Mental health is every bit as important as diet or exercise. But few people take the time to really check in with how they’re feeling.

Lifestyle apps like Headspace are a fantastic resource for those looking to improve mindfulness. The basic app consists of 10 10-minute meditation exercises that are sure to improve your mood.

7. Waterlogged

Never worry about drinking enough water again! Waterlogged is the perfect way to track your hydration throughout the day. You can even take photos of your glass or bottle instead of manually logging each glass.

8. Thrive Market

Thrive Market is the perfect answer for those who can’t seem to find the time to make it to the grocery store. This app connects you with great health-friendly foods.

Just find what you’re looking for, order and your food will be delivered to you quickly.

9. Make My Plate

Most of us are guilty of…let’s say overly zealous portion sizes. Should that sound familiar, give Make My Plate a download.

Balance your plate, find recipes, and get the motivation you need to eat healthier and feel better.

10. Talkspace

Talkspace is a 24/7 on-demand therapy service that connects you with a real therapist. No one deserves to go through a dark time alone, and now with Talkspace, they don’t have to.

Final Thoughts on Health and Wellness Lifestyle Apps

There’s no better time to start living a healthier life! Want more tips and resources to live healthier and happier? Then be sure to check out the Pligg blog for all the latest downloads and info.


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5 Investment Apps Every Investor Needs To Download

January 23, 2018 - By 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could carry around a library of investment knowledge in your pocket? With the investment apps available today, this is a possibility, not a fantasy.

Sure, specialist investment news websites are still a great source of information. But apps are an ideal way to keep up to date while you’re on the go.

Here are 5 investment apps you should install right away!

Robinhood

Robinhood is a commission-free trading platform which allows you to buy shares in listed companies and ETFs.

Rather than pay fees for making trades, users are charged a monthly rate instead. You can budget without taking into account all the different fees that investors usually face.

As it’s in your pocket, you can make money on your commute while saving money on your trades. Real-time market data allows you to make decisions in just an instant.

Seems like a no-brainer – it’s one of the investment apps that any investor, experienced or rookie, can benefit from.

TheStreet

TheStreet is a comprehensive financial news outlet featuring in-depth analyses and actionable news for the stock market.

This makes it an investor’s best friend. There’s nothing quite like an expert view to bring a rationale to your investment approach.

Get up to date, make well-informed stock picks, and beat the market.

Bloomberg App

The Bloomberg app is another excellent choice for the educated investor.

Whether you’re investing in ETFs or the commodity markets for tangible assets, Bloomberg will give you the knowledge you need.

It also includes portfolio tracking tools so that regular checks of investment performance become a breeze.

Acorns

The Acorns app is fantastic for people who can’t afford to put hundreds of dollars into an investment at once.

For every purchase you make, the app will round up your spending to the nearest dollar. The difference is paid into investments.

Let’s say you buy a $2.50 coffee. The app rounds it up to $3.00 and puts 50 cents into your investments. That’s not a lot, but the idea is that the small amounts build up over time to create a solid chunk of money.

Invest every day while you’re doing your shopping!

Betterment

Betterment acts as a financial advisor, seeking better returns on your investment.

It does this through a combination of ‘robo-advising’ – automated portfolio management – and a highly diversified portfolio to minimize risk in moments.

Plus, it has a tax-efficient approach, meaning that you’re not being taxed for trades and investment returns unless absolutely necessary.

It also features low fund fees, so you get to keep more of your money while trading.

Investment Apps for Success

A good investment can be a great source of passive income. That’s the type of income you simply watch roll in over time. Sounds nice, right?

These apps should see your portfolio race its way to investment success. Your life will become more relaxing when you know you have good investments on hand.

But if you’re brand new, do you know how to invest in the first place? Check out our guide to investing money online to get started.


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5 Incredible Uses for CBD Oil

January 23, 2018 - By 

We’ve looked at all manner of hot products from vape pens to drones, but as of late, a new (or new to us) item has caught our attention.

Now that marijuana is legal in a number of states, the use of CBD oil is becoming more and more commonplace. And with its rising profile, comes the discovery of multiple amazing uses for this unique oil.

What is CBD oil, you ask?

Well, CBD is a type of compound found in cannabis, known as cannabinoids. CBD’s benefits have long been eclipsed by THC, the cannabinoid known for producing the mind-altering effects that marijuana is known for.

CBD is not psychoactive (read: you won’t get high), but has a long list of benefits from fighting inflammation to relieving pain.

Here are five great benefits of CBD oil to get you up to speed.

1. It Relieves Pain and Inflammation

Among the most buzzed-about benefits associated with CBD is its ability to reduce pain. Researchers believe that CBD when ingested, interacts with receptors in your brain. The oil is thought to have a positive effect on those suffering from chronic pain from MS, fibromyalgia, or other debilitating conditions.

2. CBD May Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

A 2007 study established that CBD may have a positive impact on those suffering from insomnia.

The oil is thought to have a positive impact on dopamine levels in the bloodstream during sleep, which helps improve the quality of sleep.

That said, you’ll want to find a quality CBD oil to reap the sleep-centric benefits of the oil–Healthworx CBD oil is one of our favorite options.

3. Depression and Anxiety

Cannabis, in its traditional form, has long been used to curb anxiety, depression, and other mood issues. Because both anxiety and depression have been linked to serotonin receptors in the brain, CBD oil may help reduce the physical and mental symptoms associated with these conditions.

What’s more is CBD may help situational anxiety, such as that associated with public speaking.

4. Epilepsy

One of the more interesting discoveries to come out of CBD research is the potential it holds for epileptics. Scientists have long known the cannabinoid carries tremendous anti-seizure properties, but recently, studies have shown the substance to be effective in patients who have a history of resisting other treatments.

5. There Are Minimal Side Effects Associated with CBD Oil

With all these great benefits, you may be thinking–CBD oil sounds too good to be true. What are the side effects?

CBD oil is relatively safe and produces few side effects. However, some users report feeling drowsy, light-headed or have experienced a drop in blood pressure. That said, researchers believe the oil is non-toxic and safe for most people.

To read more of our articles, spend more time on our site. We’ll talk all things new and buzzy–from renewable energy to apps you can use for your business.


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10 Smart Home Devices and Appliances That Will Change the Way You Live

January 23, 2018 - By 

The Internet of Things (IoT) has made huge strides over the past few years, interconnecting almost everything you can imagine. The result is a stunning array of smart home devices that allow you to automate and control almost every inch of your living space.

We now live in a world where your appliances can go out to the internet for information, communicate directly with you, and respond to your voice commands.

Whether you want to start small with something like voice-controlled lightbulbs or go for full-house automation, the key lies in choosing the right smart home devices and appliances. Here are ten of our favorites.

1. Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera

Perhaps one of the most valuable things you can do with smart home devices is to increase security. Installing 12-volt LED lighting and a WiFi camera system can help deter criminals and make your home feel safer.

The Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera is weatherproof and sends out 1080p video that you can watch using a mobile app or on a computer. You can also set it up to send you alerts when there’s sound or movement in a specific area.

2. Adobe Home Security Starter Kit

The Adobe Home Security Starter Kit is the perfect way for a beginner to upgrade home security without spending a fortune. It’s easy to install and doesn’t require an expensive ongoing monitoring service.

It covers all of the basics you’d look for in a home security system, and third-party integrations allow for major upgrades. This system pairs with many other smart devices like door locks, switches, lighting, and Nest home devices.

3. Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector

This intelligent home protection system gives verbal warnings and tells you exactly where the danger is detected. It sends notifications directly to your phone and allows you to turn it off remotely. Nest Protect integrates with all of the other Nest smart home devices, offering additional safety measures.

4. Eobee4 Thermostat

Save money and increase comfort by installing the Ecobee4 smart thermostat. It had built-in sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, proximity, and motion. This helps the device know whether you are home and change temperature settings accordingly.

This device is superior to its competitors partially due to the inclusion of a remote sensor that helps regulate temperatures throughout your home. The 4th generation of this device also has built-in Alexa voice capabilities. This means that it can do everything Alexa can do, including controlling other devices, playing music, and providing weather updates.

5. Philips Hue Lightbulbs

Adding Philips Hue WiFi lightbulbs to your home allows you to control not only the light from room to room but also the color scheme. This personal wireless lighting system lets you easily create an ambiance to fit every occasion.

Turn lights on and off remotely to make it look like you’re home when you’re not. Set them to wake you up to a gentle sunrise every morning or create a virtual thunderstorm indoors.

6. June Intelligent Oven

Feel like a whiz in the kitchen with the June Intelligent Oven. This countertop oven uses WiFi and has a built-in camera. What makes it really awesome, though, it the artificial intelligence (AI) that seems to know how to cook everything with almost no input from you.

Simply put your food in the oven and tell it how you’d like it cooked. Once the oven confirms that it’s understood you correctly, all you need to do is sit back and wait. It sounds too good to be true, but this oven actually creates excellent results when cooking an array of dishes like meat, vegetables, fish, and even waffles.

7. iRobot Roomba 690

We all have better things to do than spend hours cleaning our homes each day. The iRobot Roomba 690 zooms around your home picking up dirt and debris from the floor. This model features a navigation camera and it links to a smartphone app so it can deliver detailed cleaning reports.

8. Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller Generation 2

There are few things more frustrating than realizing you’ve left your sprinklers on during a rainstorm. The second generation Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller features both scheduled and weather-controlled watering settings.

You can use the system to manually begin and end watering in eight or 16 different zones, depending on the model you choose. It also integrates with many third-party smart home devices.

9. Robomow RS622

The Robomow automatic lawn mower offers the ultimate in homeowner convenience. The RS622 model is perfect for areas of up to 23,000 square feet. Simply program in the perimeter you want it to follow and let it go.

The dual blades spin at 4,000 RPM and mulch while they mow, eliminating the need for clean-up.

10. Amazon Echo

As you add more smart devices to your home, a quality controller will make your life much easier. Amazon’s Echo products, powered by Alexa, allow you to control almost all smart home devices with simple voice commands.

The Amazon Echo features a high-quality Bluetooth speaker while the newest edition, Amazon’s Echo Show, has a video touch screen. If you’re looking for simplicity, opt for the small and inexpensive Echo Dot.

Plan Ahead When Designing Your Smart Home

When designing a smart home, it’s important to choose quality appliances and plan ahead to ensure everything you purchase will work together. A high-end dealer, like Eurohome Canada, can help you choose the perfect devices for your needs. Learn more by taking a trip to the showroom for a hands-on experience.

Security Precautions When Using These Smart Home Devices

Since many of the devices in your home will be connected to the internet, it’s important to take basic security precautions. Make sure to keep up with software updates to help ensure your devices are able to protect themselves from potential hacking attacks. For your protection, also make sure to change the default password that comes with security systems and other devices.

Once you start experiencing the power and convenience of a smart home, you’ll be hooked. Stay on top of the latest innovations and digital trends with the Gadgets and Gizmos blog on Pligg.com.


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9 Tools You Need for Online Reputation Management

January 23, 2018 - By 

Are you harnessing the full potential of online reputation management?

Whether you’re new to the online reputation management game or have been doing it for years, there’s always something new to learn. As the world of tech evolves, so does the best approach to online reputation.

The things that worked well even a year or two ago may no longer be as effective now. And as new apps, algorithms, and devices are developed, the game is constantly changing.

Want to learn the top tools for online reputation management this year? Then you need this guide. We’ll break down everything you need to know about getting your company’s online look under control.

Whether you’re a newbie or an expert, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out the hottest tools in the online reputation game!

What is Online Reputation Management?

If you’ve just started a new company, or just recently brought your business online, you may not fully understand what online reputation management is.

The name may sound self-explanatory – and in a way, it is. Online reputation management simply refers to how you handle your brand’s image online.

However, there’s much more to this than meets the eye. If managing a company’s image online was simple, there would be no need for the many online reputation management services that exist.

Online reputation management means you need to control the conversation about your business online as much as possible. But because there are so many places a business can appear on the internet, this is no small task.

Let’s take a look at the many factors that play into managing an online reputation.

Social Media

One of the most common places where reputation management is needed is on social media sites.

Different brands will need to focus more on different social apps. For example, a fashion brand will likely spend more time managing its reputation on image-heavy Instagram than on Twitter.

Social media is where customers are talking about your brand. If you don’t join in that conversation, you can’t take control over it. Getting on social media allows you to steer the conversation in a positive way, or to publicly address customer’s concerns in a helpful way.

Website

Another place where your online reputation is crucial is on your company’s website.

It’s important to have a brand site in the first place. Modern customers aren’t likely to trust a business if they can’t find any information about it online.

However, it’s not enough to just have a website. If your site looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1999, customers won’t trust your ability to offer a good product. If the site is too slow, confusing, or otherwise hard to navigate, that will steer customers away.

Consumers also want a site that is helpful, not one that just sells stuff. Having informative content like blog posts and videos keeps them invested longer.

SEO

Having informative content on your site doesn’t just help customers stay interested. It also helps them find your business in the first place.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is another important part of online reputation management.

Customers don’t tend to value sites that are on page five of Google as highly as the sites on page one. Your brand appears more reputable and attracts more customers if it is easy to find on a search engine.

Local Search

Having an online reputation that’s tied to a location is a strong point for businesses with a brick-and-mortar component.

Your reputation should be tied to your community and location if you are a local business. Even when searching online, customers want to see your involvement and presence in the community. They want to be able to easily find companies that are close to them and have what they want.

Optimizing your SEO for local search is becoming an even bigger part of reputation management as the use of mobile devices grows. More people today are searching and shopping on the go from mobile devices than ever before.

Brand Story

The internet is an important place to make your brand story known to customers.

Today’s shoppers don’t just want products. They want to invest in a company that is interesting and important to them. The way to get them to invest is by having a clear, compelling brand story.

Without managing your online reputation, you can never build that story effectively. Using all of the components listed above – from videos on social media to photo albums on your website – allows you to create a compelling narrative.

Your online reputation should clearly show the things that are important to your company.

Maybe it’s community, sustainability, creativity, or some other list of factors. No matter what, the story, history, and philosophy of your brand are among the most important parts of its reputation online.

Why Does Online Reputation Management Matter?

The reason online reputation management matters is simple: it translates into sales.

At the end of the day, every business needs to attract and retain customers, no matter what it sells. As the online world and the real world become more intertwined, using the internet to your advantage becomes crucial for attracting customers.

Without a solid online reputation, you will quickly lose ground to other companies that are working hard on theirs. And since the industry is rapidly changing, you may not be able to catch up.

How can you stay at the cutting edge? Let’s take a look at this year’s best tools for online reputation management.

1. HootSuite

HootSuite has been around for a while, but it remains one of the top tools used to maintain an online reputation.

This social media management platform makes controlling your reputation on different social media sites a breeze.

The purpose of this service is to allow you to control your company’s different social media profiles on one platform. Instead of having to log in and out of multiple sites, Hootsuite’s dashboard lets you do it all in one place.

The service also helps control spam and block messages from fake accounts, which can save you precious time. This is a great way to monitor and maintain different social media profiles in a minimal amount of time.

2. Google Alerts

This free service from Google lets you find things on the internet that are related to a specific subject. In the case of online reputation management, it lets you find out when and where people are talking online about your brand.

This is important, as it lets you catch and address both positive and negative posts about your brand or products. It also allows you to see what competitors are posting about your niche, so you can stay ahead of the competition.

When you use Google alerts, you just put in keywords or phrases related to your business. You might search for the name of your business, for example, or a common question people have about your products.

When one of those terms gets used in a post online, you’ll get an alert about it. This allows you to specifically target any subject that’s relevant to your industry.

3. If This Then That

If This Then That (ITTT) is another helpful, free service for managing your social media presence.

ITTT allows you to automatically set posts to appear on all your social media accounts at once. For example, if you post something on Twitter, ITTT can automatically post the same thing on Facebook for you, so you don’t have to do the work on two different sites.

This service also includes extras like sending automatic replies or removing hate speech and spam from the comments section.

4. SimilarWeb

Comparing your company to your competitors is an important part of keeping your reputation on point.

SimilarWeb lets you rank your site against competitors. This helps you target specific issues with your reputation online. For example, if customers quickly leave your website but tend to linger more on a competitor’s, you can compare your site to theirs and look for ways to improve.

5. Go Fish Digital

Want to target and address any negative online conversation about your brand?

Go Fish Digital helps you find negative reviews about your brand or product online. This lets you catch and address any negativity before it blows out of proportion.

6. The Brand Grader

The Brand Grader offers a quick and easy overview of your company’s online reputation – or of your competitor’s.

Use this service to find relevant online chatter from news articles to the locations around the world where people mention a brand the most.

7. Mention

If you love Google Alerts but want an even closer look at when and where people mention your brand, you’ll adore Mention.

Google Alerts gives you a daily heads-up. Mention, however, provides real-time information on who is saying what about your brand.

8. SendInBlue

Need to harness the power of email marketing, but don’t know how to start?

Email is yet another great place to manage reputation and connect with customers online. SendInBlue helps you create email marketing campaigns easily, by providing templates for attractive, organized marketing emails.

9. Reputology

It’s all about reputation, which means you need to know what reviewers are saying about your products – both good and bad.

Reputology lets you monitor reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. You can even separate reviews for different store locations, so if there’s a reputation problem, you’ll get a clear picture of where it’s coming from.

Ready to Build Your Online Reputation?

Are you ready to put these tools to use and grow your customer base now?

With these nine online reputation management tools on your side, you can easily get ahead of your competitors.

For more information on how to use online tools like social media to your advantage, be sure to check out this post on social media solutions.


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Is Honeyfund the Way to Honeymoon Savings?

January 23, 2018 - By 

There are a few common features every woman thinks of when she imagines her wedding.

She thinks of the dress and being walked down the aisle. She thinks of how it will feel to share her vows and say “I do.” She’ll picture the decor, the teary-eyed guests, and the man of her dreams standing right there alongside her.

But, these celebrations continue long after the vows and last dance.

Next comes the honeymoon!

As important as it is to plan for every detail of the wedding, honeymoons need just as much attention. This is particularly important when it comes to budgeting, which is why any honeymoon savings you can get are worth looking into.

Honeyfund has been growing in popularity among soon-to-be newlyweds.

But, this is not a savings method friends and family are always happy about.

Here’s a closer look at how Honeyfund works and why it shouldn’t matter what anyone thinks.

What Is Honeyfund?

Honeyfund is the new alternative to traditional wedding registries.

In years past, a bride and groom would make a list of the things they needed to start their new life together. This was composed of items like kitchen appliances, bed and bathroom sets, and the like.

Now, most couples already live together and share a residence before they get married. This means they don’t need as much for their “new” home.

But, they still have many memories to make.

That’s where Honeyfund comes in.

This is a way for new couples to have the honeymoon of their dreams without having to worry as much about honeymoon savings.

It makes that Mediterranean cruise or week in the Caribbean possible.

Honeyfund works similar to other crowdfunding systems – like GoFundMe or Indiegogo.

Users activate an account asking for money from their friends and family. The account comes with a link that can be shared far and wide – on social media, the wedding’s website, and more.

The money flows in and the honeymoon savings even out.

The following are a few more reasons why Honeyfund is the way to go with your post-wedding planning.

More Financial Freedom to Plan Your Wedding

There wouldn’t be a honeymoon without a wedding in the first place!

But, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the budget of one to enjoy the other.

Honeyfund gives you access to honeymoon savings that can trickle back into your wedding account.

This means you might be able to spend a bit more on things like…

The Dress

With some dresses coming in at costs of double-digit thousands, it may surprise you to know the average cost for wedding dresses is $1,000!

Still, $1,000 can be one of the honeymoon flight tickets you need to purchase.

Or, it could be the cost of staying at your hotel when you get to your destination.

When someone covers such savings for the newlywed trip, you get to be the soon-to-be-wed bride you want to be.

This means you get the gown that caught your eye before you checked the price tag. You may even have enough for the Rachel Simpson vintage wedding shoes to match, too.

The Venue

Finding the right dress is just as important as booking your venue. The venue sets the scene for your wedding to unfold into a night of timeless memories.

This means more than just the space itself.

It means the decorations and other details that make everything come together. After considering table settings, flowers and lights, and music options, the venue prices add up.

But, with the right honeymoon savings, you may be able to make all your dreams come true.

The Catering

Another necessary yet often expensive detail is the food!

Let’s be honest – everyone loves an open bar and a buffet at a wedding.

Not many guests think about how much money goes into that, though.

If you and your soon-to-be hubby (or wifey) are pinching pennies just to feed everyone, your Honeyfund honeymoon savings can help.

This may not mean a champagne fountain and an ice sculpture, but it will help make the night more comfortable for everyone.

Less Worrying for Everyone Involved

Speaking of making guests as cozy as can be, let’s talk about the benefits they get from using Honeyfund.

This tool is not rude, pushy, or extreme.

It actually makes gifting easier and more enjoyable when used correctly.

Luxury wedding planners even say so!

Tell anyone who sticks their nose up to the idea to take that. Or, go the classy route and mention these two simple, yet significant, arguments to use Honeyfund.

The Problem with Traditional Registries

Let’s say you decided not to use Honeyfund and opened a traditional registry instead.

This means you’re sending many people to stores to find the one thing you “need” but probably won’t often use. Not to mention, it’s hard for guests to know if someone already bought a certain item!

A registry could end up resulting in multiple coffee makers or cast iron skillet, but no bed linens or nice picture frames.

It could mean someone gets you what you think you need, but not the right model or color, either. This leads to awkward returns and exchanges that could have easily been avoided.

Objects Versus Experiences

The main argument for most registries is the desire of friends and families to help celebrate your special day.

Many will turn to the registry as a way to make up for not being able to attend the festivities. Others will still want to give you something as a sign of their support long after the wedding is over.

Tell everyone to just give you an experience instead!

This means much more than a home decorating item or a kitchen tool you don’t even know how to use. When someone helps make your honeymoon dreams come true, they are directly investing in the love between you and yours.

Honeymoon savings could be the funding you need to do that fancy candlelit dinner.

Or it could be what gets you all the way to Bali to disappear for a bit.

The funding could even be as simple as staying one extra day wherever you go.

Such moments create lasting, beautiful memories.

They are worth their weight in gold, beyond what any object can provide.

Other Tips on Wedding Planning and Honeymoon Savings

Whether for the day of your wedding or the honeymoon adventures after, you have some serious planning to do.

Stop stressing over the budget and scheduling and enjoy this time.

Think it’s easier said than done?

Click here for more wedding and honeymoon savings advice.


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What’s the Best Free CAD Software of 2018?

January 23, 2018 - By 

Are you looking to develop your CAD (computer-aided design) skills, without spending a fortune on fancy software?

You’re in luck – there are tons of free CAD programs that offer plenty of advanced capabilities, perfect for beginners and professionals alike.

Whether you want to play around, take advantage of the popularity of 3D printing, or just need to brush up your CAD skills for school, one of these programs will help.

Keep reading for our guide to the best free CAD software of 2018.

TinkerCAD

Don’t have much room on your PC for new programs?

You’ll love this option.

TinkerCAD is a browser-based application which lets you create 3D models using a variety of predetermined shapes. It’s quick and easy to use, which makes it ideal for beginners.

Although the controls are simple, you still have the power to make pretty complex models by adjusting size, shape, width, and depth, and combining different shapes together.

If you want to get started with simple 3D printing, or just refine your CAD skills, this is a great place to begin.

SketchUp

SketchUp is a powerful piece of 3D printing software that offers tons of handy resources to CAD beginners.

The SketchUp library contains 3D templates created by users, and these can be used for inspiration or kickstart a project of your own.

SketchUp also offers a variety of tutorials, going all the way from beginner to expert.

If you want learning CAD to be a long-term project, SketchUp is a good choice.

Blender

If you’re planning an architectural CAD project and looking to recreate complex features, like Westland Fireplaces, you’ll need software that’s pretty powerful – and that’s where Blender comes in.

This popular CAD software offers more advanced options than most other programs and can be used to create extremely sophisticated models.

If you want to create locations and characters for video games, animations for movies and films, or detailed architectural models, Blender is the obvious choice. While the learning curve might be a little steeper, you’ll be left with industry-standard skills and the ability to create seriously professional models.

Blender is open-source, and there are numerous tutorials for beginners online. If you’re struggling with a specific problem, the Blender forum is a great place to look for help.

OpenSCAD

Are you a coder looking to get into CAD?

You’ll love OpenSCAD.

This program allows you to create 3D models using code, and focuses on the technical aspects of 3D modeling, rather than the artistic side. For someone who thinks logically and wants a lot of control over the way they model, OpenSCAD is a great choice.

For complete beginners with no coding experience, one of the previous options is probably a better choice.

How to Find the Best Free CAD Software

With so much choice, it can feel tricky to find the best free CAD software possible.

Reading reviews, asking for recommendations, and checking out the tutorials available for your chosen software will help you to make the right choice.

Don’t be afraid to test a few different programs to see which you prefer – they are free, after all!

Want to browse software now? Check out our marketplace.


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5 Creative Marketing Ideas That Will Get Your Brand Noticed

January 23, 2018 - By 

If not used properly, brand identity efforts can harm your business. After a negative experience with brand content, 50% of people say they are unlikely to read that business’s information again.

Looking for some tips and tricks to bring your marketing efforts to a new level? Keep reading for five ideas that will leave you with an unforgettable brand.

1. Get Your Logo Right

It is crucial to get your logo right. It is a visual representation of your brand and business. While you likely are past the point of picking a name, make sure it resonates with your audience.

If you choose a less ideal name, you will end up rebranding later anyways.

Paying attention to color is also important. Color preferences are obviously subjective, but some general themes exist.

Yellow tends to suggest clarity and warmth and blue represents strength. Check out some other tips for creating a successful logo.

2. Use Influencers

Utilizing popular influencers in your area of business is another way to ensure you have an unforgettable brand.

Influencers have huge followings on social media and will make your brand more credible. Consider discussion your goals with them and come up with a strategy. Collectively create content they can share.

3. Pinback Buttons

While pinback buttons have been around since George Washington, they are still helpful marketing tools. Pins are small so they travel well. Giving them out will help your brand awareness travel far.

Pinback buttons are also very affordable to use. The more pins you buy, the cheaper they are. This is why they are popular in the political world. It is easy and cost-effective to hand out hundreds at events like rallies.

Finally, pins are just fun tools to use. No matter your product or business, you can make an eye-catching button for your target audience.

4. Email Tips

While some businesses may overlook email, it can be an effective tool in engaging your target audience. Through email, you can build a relationship with your customers which will maintain integrity and trust.

Building an email list can be difficult. Offering an ebook is used so much today, many potential customers simply tune it out.

Instead, try offering upgrades to content people are already reading.

5. Website Design

A final note to ensure you have an unforgettable brand is working on your website. Similar to logo concerns, it is important to pay attention to images and color.

More important than these factors is usability. If people struggle to navigate your website, they will not spend long on it, thus decrease your sales.

Create Your Unforgettable Brand Today

With these five ideas, you are well on your way to having a brand that will make a lasting impression. Whether you start seeking an influencer to pair with or you decide to reinvent your logo, the efforts will be worth it.

Ready to get started? Looking for some additional resources? Be sure to check out our blog for some other marketing tips you can use.


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Top 5 Real Estate Coaching Programs Online

January 22, 2018 - By 

If you are looking for a career that provides flexibility and room for growth, real estate can be a great option. Experienced and talented real estate agents can often bring in six-figure salaries.

But getting to that point requires hard work and dedication. Real estate agents are often responsible for their own professional development and upward mobility. Rather than working toward promotions, real estate professionals grow their salaries by putting in long hours, making connections, and leveraging their professional network.

Looking to get ahead in your real estate career? Check out these 5 real estate coaching options to get started.

Real Estate Coaching Essentials

This online program starts at about $400 a month and covers essential knowledge that all real estate professionals should know. Topics include how to increase sales, how to attract listings, and how to build a network. They can also address more specialized topics, like handling short sales or working with investor buyers like Florida cash home buyers.

Peak Producers

This 12-week online course is unique in that it is offered in group sessions. This means that, in addition to your coach, you will also have a cohort of other new real estate agents. Working with a class like this can give you to the opportunity to meet other professionals in your field who can help you grow.

Another great benefit of this program is that it includes access to a customer management software. This can help you to organize your clients and be more efficient.

Coach Simple

This option is a good choice for real estate teams looking to build their productivity. Coaching sessions cover topics like effective management, setting goals, and developing effective business processes. With this service, agencies can learn how to better leverage the team’s skills and build their business in the local community.

One-on-One Coaching

This coaching service is offered by the Mike Ferry Organization. The program requires a 12-month commitment and costs $650 per month. During that month, mentees get 40 personalized coaching calls.

While this program is expensive, it is hard to beat the personalization it offers. During your coaching calls, you can focus on the exact issues you are dealing with, and get advice tailored to your specific needs.

Kinder Reese

Kinder Reese coaching is a real estate consulting business founded by two seasoned real estate agents. Michael Reese, one of the founders, is an expert in online real estate marketing, an essential skill for today’s agents.

With Michael’s help, new professionals can learn how to create an effective real estate blog, or how to grow their agency with social media. These strategies will help you to reach younger buyers and get properties sold faster.

Advancing Your Career With Real Estate Coaching

For new agents, real estate coaching is essential for success. This mentoring can provide the necessary tools for young professionals to advance and grow in their careers. Depending on your needs, you may choose to go with a group program, or an individual program tailored to your goals.

What coaching programs have you used? Let us know in the comments!


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Kitchen Trend: The Latest Design Fads

January 22, 2018 - By 

It’s often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home.

That doesn’t mean though, that it should get left behind in the design stakes. At the same time remember that a kitchen remodel is a big investment – make sure you get something that you’ll love for years to come.

There are great kitchen trends out there to suit every taste and budget and we’re here to help you choose the best kitchen trend for your home.

We’ve broken them down into key components – countertops, cabinets, gadgets, and flooring.

Here’s our guide to what’s hot for 2018.

Countertops

There are so many considerations when it comes to countertops – durability, finish, maintenance but above all – style.

There was a time when flecked granite countertops ruled – not anymore. However, before you go for mirror-finish hot pink, try to visualize your kitchen 5 or 10 years down the line…

Quartz

Last year’s NKBA survey showed that quartz is continuing its upward trend, whereas granite is well and truly in second place, and falling fast.

Quartz countertops can be made from slabs of quarried stone, but the latest kitchen trend is for counters made from a ground down mixture of quartz and resin.

The result? A near-indestructible material that can be tinted to create an array of color choices. This year’s key kitchen trend is for dark countertops, which can be offset against lighter cabinetry to really pop.

Reclaimed Wood

Keeping up with the eco-friendly movement, reclaimed wood is not just good for the environment, it’s got some serious design credentials. With it’s worn character, markings and unique nature they scream individuality.

No two are the same, and if you know the backstory, it can make a great conversation piece. For a major statement, check out ‘live edge’ pieces that retain the natural edge, and sometimes bark, of the tree.

Marble

A timeless classic, white Calcutta marble is a key 2018 kitchen trend. As it is quite porous, think twice about using it throughout, as it can be unforgiving on spills.

Great for a statement piece like an island, nothing will add sophistication and class to your kitchen like a well-chosen piece of marble.

Cabinets

For a while now, transitional kitchens – combining elements of both traditional and contemporary styles – have dominated the market.

This shows no signs of abating, so don’t hold your breath for country style kitchens to make a comeback.

It’s All About Color

Classic door styling painted in contemporary colors – particularly whites and grays – will continue to be a key kitchen trend.

Deep blues and greens are also on point, and tone well with deep wood tones. Bold hues such as emerald green and plum are striking and sophisticated.

Either as cabinet or accent colors, they add depth to the room, although use them sparingly, as too much could easily darken it.

This follows another trend for this year – mixing and matching and two-tone. Don’t be afraid to suggest a combination to your kitchen designer, maybe varying upper and lower cabinets, or having an accent island.

High or Low?

The trend for minimal high-level kitchen cabinetry shows no sign of slowing in 2018. Think open shelving and artistically arranged plates and glasses on display for the loft look.

To achieve a high-end finish, without the eye-watering price tag, check out the range at RTA Depot.

Flooring

Our love affair with hardwood flooring seems set to continue for the considerable future. However, if you want to combine the look of hardwood, with the user-friendliness of tile, there are some great options – and they’re on point this year.

They come in a huge range of styles and can be a more affordable and durable option.

If you’ve got your heart set on wood, engineered wood flooring is the way to go. It gives you natural wood on top, but just a thin layer that is laid on top of a high-density composite wood base.

This means it’s strong and durable, up to the rigors of kitchen traffic, but retains the stylish look of hardwood.

Gadgets

Still think a timer on the coffee maker is pretty high tech? Here are the latest kitchen trends in gadgets.

Where’s the Refrigerator?

Side by side refrigerator? Practical it may be but the trend continues to be for concealing your fridge rather than showing it off.

Think built-ins – under counter, drawers, and uprights. Wherever you conceal them, conceal them you must.

Microwave in a What??

Oh yeah, microwaves don’t have hinged doors anymore and are certainly not freestanding.

Microwave in a drawer might sound an improbable concept, but it’s the latest in kitchen tech and it’s here to stay. Hidden from sight, it helps to retain the sharp, clean lines contemporary kitchens thrive on.

Smart is Coming

With a myriad of different gadgets now available, from auto-sensors for taps to smartphone-controlled lighting systems, if you’re wanting to keep up, smart technology has invaded the kitchen.

Don’t forget to check out smart refrigerators as well. Models are now available that will monitor your groceries, prepare hot water on demand or by timer and alert your smartphone when doors are left open.

While some of this may be securely filed under fad, don’t be surprised to see this becoming a more common kitchen trend in the future.

The Verdict – The Key Kitchen Trend for 2018

It’s clear to see, this is going to be a year to try something bold.

Whether it’s a reclaimed wood countertop, a marble slab, a bold cabinet color or something smart, the farmhouse kitchen has been left in the dust – contemporary styling is in.

Whatever direction you choose to take your kitchen remodel, seriously think about wiring up now for smart innovations in the future.

A kitchen remodel can certainly add value to your home – just check out our blog here for the reasons why. If you’re thinking of selling though, make sure that you remodel to sell, not just to suit your personal tastes.

At Pligg, we’ve got tons of online resources to help you maximise the value of your home and the enjoyment you get from it.

Check out our home improvement blog for more creative ideas.


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Why Lawyer Apps are a Great Way to Reach Clients

January 22, 2018 - By 

With Americans now spending 5 hours a day on their smartphones, an increasing majority of personal business is now conducted through apps. Whether checking bank accounts, ordering food, or monitoring their health, just about every part of our lives can be accessed through apps.

This has created a need for lawyer apps.

Apps serve the dual function of allowing you to reach your clients through notifications and allowing them to reach you 24/7. If you have clients who are experiencing legal issues for the first time, your app could ease them into the attorney-client relationship.

If you haven’t figure out whether lawyer apps are would be the right fit for your firm, here are 10 ways they can help improve client services.

1. Get Everyone On The Same Page

It can be frustrating for clients to figure out what has been agreed on during the legal process. Emails can be deleted over time, meaning that agreements, forms, and conversations will be lost.

Having an app with a communication portal could catalog communications and forms. This would give clients easy access to forms, contracts, and anything they need to refer to. Having a common place to see everything makes all communication clearer.

Look at how this real estate lawyer in Houston addresses their contact information. Have a “contact us” button on every single page of your app.

2. Offer Extra Services

Your app can be a marketing platform that takes into account the services your client is already using. You can offer extra services that are catered to the needs of your client.

By knowing your client’s case intimately, lawyer apps can send notifications about extra services that are offered by your firm. Your app can be a great marketing tool while offering lots of practical applications.

3. Better Billing Process

Including billing details in your app allows clients to be in control of their billing details at all times. If they’re curious about a charge or need to change services, they can get ahold of you through your app.

You won’t have to have conversations about billing with your client. They can either direct their questions through the app or to your billing department, allowing lawyers to have better communications with their clients.

4. End Email Attachments

Using a client portal connected to lawyer apps, firms can send big documents and contracts to their clients. Using additional tools, clients can sign and approve forms.

After forms are approved, firms can be notified that they can move to the next step. If there are any corrections, they can be addressed through the app rather than sending one attachment after another.

5. Better Client Loyalty

By creating a collaborative environment through your app, clients will feel more connected and more in control of the legal process. The value will increase as client engagement increases.

You can have a record of all correspondence that will help clients make smarter decisions. They will be loyal because of that increased engagement with your firm and your shared ability to reach out to one another so easily.

Clients expect fast responses from law firms and expect to get answers any hour of the day. A shared app will let your staff have more flexible schedules, catered to address the needs of your clients rather than an arbitrary schedule.

6. Easier Auditing

Your app will make it easier in the case that either you get audited or you need to perform a self-audit. Lawyer apps will keep a record of every client document and report so that you can back up any claims that are made.

Your payment portal will keep a record of every payment made and received to allow auditors to see the details of your transaction history. If there are any discrepancies, they will be illuminated through your app.

7. Address FAQs

Apps allow clients to get quick answers to inquiries. Connect your app to the resources that are kept on your site so that your clients can search through for answers to common questions.

Think about setting up a chatbot so that your clients can communicate with either a live 24/7 agent or an AI program jam-packed with legal data. Look at which services are within your budget and run some tests.

You could even integrate an SMS app with your app to allow for customers to contact their attorney directly.

You might find that hiring an answering service or outsourced chat service will help you to communicate with clients better and retain a higher number.

8. Better Work Flow

Setting up document systems through your app allows everyone to be in the loop at the right time. Once the first person has signed off on their part of a document, the next person in line can receive a notification that they need to add their signature.

You’ll be increasing your interoffice efficiency by only forwarding documents to your office when they’re ready to be finalized. You’ll save legwork for your office staff while also ensuring that every t is crossed and every i is dotted.

9. Flexibility

When clients get acquainted with lawyer apps, they will feel better about their relationship with a law firm. They’ll feel like they’re always a part of the conversation by being able to watch everything as it happens.

Your lawyers are used to clients who need a lot of time and energy from them. They’re often overworked and stressed out. They will send paralegals around to collect things that you could be collecting through your app.

Once you’ve installed your app and get clients to start using it, you’ll see that work will breeze by.

Lawyer Apps Increase Client Engagement

Setting up a useful lawyer app doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Consult with developers and construct a list of “must-haves” for your app and then see how you could scale over time.

If you’re interested in finding out how lawyer apps can work for your firm, contact us for more info on how to start designing yours today.


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How to Build a Restaurant Menu App for Your Business

January 22, 2018 - By 

Technology is revolutionizing every single aspect of how we conduct business. Restaurants are no exception, but many restaurant owners haven’t yet caught up with the times. Currently, only 22% of restaurant owners are using a restaurant menu app.

Some of the benefits of using a restaurant menu app include:

  • Presents your menu in an attractive way
  • Regularly updated to reflect your stock
  • No printing costs for updated menus
  • Reduces pressure on staff with in-app ordering
  • Accurate orders
  • Avoids billing errors
  • Increased brand loyalty
  • Offer special rewards to loyal customers

With customer-centric marketing being so important in today’s business world, focusing on delivering a world-class customer experience and an exceptional brand image have never been more important.

To help you make the most of this trend, we’ll teach you how to build a shiny new restaurant menu app of your very own!

How To Build A Restaurant Menu App

Having a dedicated app for your restaurant helps your business stand out from the imitators, like you can see with the restaurants in Grapevine TX.

Follow these steps to help think through your restaurant app. It’ll make the design process that much easier.

Decide On An Appearance

Customers absolutely CAN and DO judge apps by their appearance. Deciding on a visual identity for your restaurant menu app is the first step in launching your online culinary empire.

Spend some time thinking about your visual branding. This will help you decide on the design elements to amplify those impressions to your customers.

The logo should be the first thing you design for your restaurant app. It’ll help clarify your brand image. It’ll also solidify aesthetic decisions like a color scheme that will be important at every stage of the app design process.

If you’re creating an app for a pre-existing restaurant, your restaurant menu app should remain consistent with the rest of your visual branding. This enhances customer loyalty and lets them know what to expect.

Decide On A Programming Language

Once you’ve settled on a visual identity for your restaurant app, you’ll need to decide on the programming language to implement it.

Some popular programming languages for mobile apps include:

  • HTML5
  • Objective-C
  • Swift
  • C++
  • C#
  • Java

Not all programming languages are created equal. Some of these languages will be better suited for iOS. Others will be better for a web-based app.

Commenting fully on each programming language for mobile development is beyond the scope of this article. Do some due diligence before beginning app development to make sure you settle on the language that will best suit your needs.

Include Your Info

The #1 reason customers look up restaurants on Google is for practical information like store hours, directions, or to check if it’s open. Make sure you include that information on your restaurant menu app, as well.

One of the joys of featuring a custom app is the ability to control how that information is presented. Custom graphic design makes our restaurants seem more original and authentic. Considering that 78% of consumers find companies that create custom content are more trustworthy than those that create generic content, you simply can’t overlook the opportunity to broadcast your restaurant’s unique identity.

Show Off Your Menu

Of course, one of the main reasons to feature a restaurant menu app is the ability to show off your delicious food in all of its glory.

Hosting your menu in a custom restaurant app makes it easy to show off daily specials and seasonal dishes. You can even reach your customers when they’re offline via Push Notifications.

Incorporate Mobile Ordering

Huge restaurant chains like Domino’s handle up to 50% of their online ordering through a restaurant menu app. It increases order accuracy, as well as freeing up your employees to do other things.

Restaurant menu apps are also a great opportunity to upsell products, like offering a deal on a larger size. You can also offer special promotions and pairings that your customer might not otherwise have known about.

Mobile ordering also allows you to put high-quality photos of your food in front of your customers. They’re more likely to purchase an item that they can see.

Offer Rewards

Increasing brand loyalty is another of the main incentives to feature a custom app is to capture your customer’s loyalty. Many independently-owned restaurants don’t have the resources to match the corporate competition. They’re stuck using archaic technologies like punch card programs. Restaurant apps can level the playing field.

It’s incredibly easy to keep track of loyalty programs using an online app. Keep track of your customer’s purchases and offer reward points for repeat business. These programs are some of the best methods for producing repeat business. They can also offer a goldmine of information for your marketing department.

Offer Coupons And Discounts

Offering coupons and discounts is a great way to encourage your customers to download your app. Offer an exclusive discount for first-time users as a way to get them involved. Continue to roll-out discounts to keep customers engaged and coming back to your app.

Coupons and discounts are also a great way to re-engage occasional customers. Nothing is more enticing than the words ‘50% Off’, no matter who you are.

Combining It All

Many of the benefits of using a custom app are available in other online channels as well. A mobile app brings them all together in one bright, shiny, attractive package.

Many of the most popular online restaurant sites can be integrated into mobile apps using plugins, as well. It’s never been easier for a restaurant to feature a custom app even with limited technical knowledge.

Mobile apps for restaurants combine the best of traditional restauranteering with the best of what technology has to offer. They let you show off your restaurant in the best possible light, with high-quality visual branding. They emphasize outstanding customer service by allowing your employees to focus on what’s important. It’s truly a bright new world for high-tech dining.

Ready To Find Out How A Custom App Can Help Your Business?

Mobile marketing isn’t going anywhere. The number of smartphone users is projected to surpass 5 billion by 2019. Check out the rest of our Mobile App articles and learn how to stay ahead of the curve!


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9 Ways To Eliminate Chronic Body Pain

January 22, 2018 - By 

Millions of people suffer from chronic body pain, which impacts their daily lives. If you’re one of them, you might wonder what options are available for effective management.

It’s estimated that one in four Americans has suffered from some sort of chronic discomfort. It’s no small issue. In fact, chronic body pain is one of the most common causes of disability.

Living with pain is difficult, but there are some things you can do to reduce and possibly eliminate it. Here are some tips to help you out:

1. Exercise Regularly

While exercise may be the last thing on your mind when dealing with pain, it can relieve your symptoms.

Inactivity reduces your mobility. Plus, it may lead to loss of strength and tight muscles.

Exercise can feel uncomfortable when you begin a routine, and possibly worsen your symptoms initially. However, a sedentary lifestyle will make your symptoms more severe over time.

You don’t have to dive into high-intensity workouts. Controlled, low impact exercises will improve your symptoms and keep you mobile.

Walking, yoga, swimming, and Pilates will boost your strength and flexibility while providing stress relief. All of these factors can help reduce discomfort.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Restful sleep is essential for chronic pain management. It also improves your energy levels and lifts your mood.

Disturbances in sleep can exacerbate chronic pain. This is unfortunate, as increased chronic pain leads to even more sleep deprivation.

Inadequate sleep can increase your sensitivity to discomfort, so restorative rest is a must.

Make sleep your top priority. If you struggle to fall asleep, consider herbal remedies or relaxing music to ease into rest.

3. Self-Massage

Massages are widely recognized as an effective way to reduce tension and chronic pain. Massage increases blood flow to the affected areas and induces relaxation.

You won’t always have access to a masseuse when you’re in pain. You’re not out of luck, however. Self-massage is an effective, convenient therapy for managing chronic discomfort.

While there are many massage techniques that require only your hands, you can also use massage tools. Foam rollers, tennis balls, massage balls, and massage blocks are just a few of the many tools available for pain relief.

4. Use Essential Oils

Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to improve mental and physical health.

When used as a therapy, essential oils can be inhaled, diffused, or applied to the skin.

Many of them have analgesic, pain-relieving qualities.

Lavender essential oil, for instance, eases pain and promotes relaxation when applied topically or inhaled.

German chamomile oil, which has an anti-inflammatory compound called chamazulene, relieves discomfort.

When applied topically, peppermint oil relaxes the back muscles, reduces tension, and alleviates nerve pain.

Rosemary oil acts as an anti-inflammatory. It may help reduce swelling as well as arthritis-related pain.

Sandalwood is an antispasmodic and an anti-inflammatory that provides powerful pain relief for muscle, bone, and nerve pain.

5. Apply Cold and Heat

Application of cold and heat can aid in chronic pain management.

Cold is more effective for treating acute pain from a recent injury. It can reduce inflammation, tenderness, and edema.

Heat therapy is generally better for treating chronic body pain. It encourages increased blood flow, which helps sweep away toxins and deliver nutrients to the affected area.

Moist heat also relaxes tight muscles, which in turn reduces soreness. Try heat wraps, heating pads, hot baths, or even a warm shower.

6. Try Topical Capsaicin

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers, gives them their heat and helps reduce Substance-P.

Substance-P functions as the main pain neurotransmitter in the body.

Capsaicin can provide relief from nerve, muscle, and joint pain. It is applied topically as a gel, lotion, patch, ointment, or cream.

For lasting pain relief, use capsaicin up to four times a day.

7. Consider Chiropractic Treatments

Chiropractors are well-versed in treating chronic body pain. They use non-surgical treatments to relieve muscle tension, realign the spine, and reduce inflammation.

Experienced chiropractors, such as Dr. Nima Samiee-Nejad at Solution Chiropractic, can perform spinal manipulation and manual therapies. They can also teach you therapeutic exercises for pain reduction.

8. Use Relaxation and Distraction

Distraction is a powerful tool when managing chronic pain. Though it doesn’t necessarily relieve discomfort, it takes your focus off of it.

Any activity that requires concentration and focus can be helpful as a distraction. Creating art, listening to or creating music, spending time with loved ones, or reading can all serve as great ways to distract you from chronic body pain.

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques can be useful for relieving stress, tension, and chronic body pain.

Massage, deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and music are all well-known relaxation techniques.

Using distraction and relaxation to naturally reduce pain is effective. Plus, it doesn’t require medication or other costly treatments. Check out Pligg.com to find out more!

9. Try Herbal Remedies

Many herbs have proven pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing properties. This makes them legitimate alternatives to over the counter and prescription drugs.

Turmeric is the root of the Curcuma longa plant. Curcumin, its active ingredient, reduces inflammation and pain.

Oregano is an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and analgesic herb.

Clove works as a natural anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial agent.

White willow bark contains salicin, which acts like natural aspirin.

Valerian root is a sedative that reduces nerve pain and improves sleep.

Ginger root acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

These are only a few of the many herbs that help ease chronic pain.

Always exercise caution when using herbal supplements. Just because they’re natural, it doesn’t mean they’re safe. Also, certain medications may interfere with herbal remedies.

Manage Chronic Body Pain Naturally

You can get your life back by managing and even eliminating chronic body pain. Consider these ideas, and try one or several that will work for you.

For more health tips and information, visit our blog!


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10 Ways To Improve Your Smile

January 22, 2018 - By 

You’ve heard that yawning is contagious, but did you know that smiling is contagious, too? Of course, if your smile is less-than-perfect because of chipped, stained, or missing teeth, you will probably resist the urge.

Don’t fret — there’s a way to improve your smile. In fact, we have 10 easy ways to make sure your pearly whites are ready for their close-up.

Improve Your Smile at Home

Many people think that teeth whitening, veneers, and dental implants are the only way to improve their smile. And while it’s true that these cosmetic dentistry solutions can certainly give your teeth the ol’ razzle dazzle, why not start with some simple, at-home remedies for a brighter smile?

1. Limit Your Intake of Stain-Causing Foods and Drinks

If your teeth are prone to staining and yellowing, the first step is to start watching what you eat and drink. Some culprits of dingy teeth include red wine, cola, coffee and tea, and blueberries.

Can’t give up your Coke? Try drinking it through a straw, which will minimize the liquid’s contact with your teeth.

Another way to minimize the effects of dark-colored beverages and foods on your smile is to brush your teeth as soon as possible after enjoying them.

2. Eat Food Rich in Fiber

Crunchy foods, like apples and celery, can help scrub away plaque that causes tooth decay, leading to a healthier mouth. And fiber-rich foods will also help to get your saliva flowing.

Experts say that the calcium and phosphate in saliva will restore your teeth’s natural minerals. Of course, foods that are rich in fiber will also help your overall health, giving you even more reason to smile!

3. Try a Baking Soda Scrub

Baking soda is a gentle, natural way to whiten and polish your teeth. And chances are that you already have a box of the stuff in your cupboard, so why not give this teeth whitening remedy a whirl?

It’s simple, too. Just pour a tablespoon into your palm, wet your toothbrush, and dip the brush into the baking soda. Brush your teeth as usual, replenishing the baking soda as needed.

4. Rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another bleaching agent, and some celebrities swear by using it as a mouthwash to help keep teeth white.

Dentists recommend using a 1.5% or 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, and swishing it in your mouth before brushing your teeth. Note that this whitening method won’t produce instant results, but over time you may see a difference.

5. Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products

In fact, hydrogen peroxide is often listed among the ingredients of OTC teeth whitening toothpastes, gels, and strips.

Again, these products won’t give you a gleaming white smile overnight, so don’t expect dramatic results. Used regularly, however, they can help reduce staining and yellowing.

Turn to the Pros to Improve Your Smile

Maybe you’ve tried these home remedies and haven’t seen much of a difference, or maybe you have persistent yellowing, chipping, cracking, or other issues that prevent you from smiling.

Not to worry, there are plenty of cosmetic dentistry solutions to help improve your smile!

6. Take-Home Whiteners

The teeth whitening products available from a cosmetic dentist’s office like DentaCare are stronger than those available at drugstores. You have two options for professionally whitening teeth: in-office treatments or custom take-home solutions.

Take-home teeth whitening is popular because, well, it can be done in the comfort of your own home! It’s also usually less expensive than the in-office treatment.

7. Crowns, Bridges, and Implants

If you are missing one or two teeth, bridges can help fill the gap! Crowns are another good way to cover up an unsightly tooth. Ask your dentist if these are a good answer to your smiling troubles.

Dental implants may also work well if you are missing just a few teeth. These are natural looking, don’t require any special care, and will often last for decades.

8. Veneers

Porcelain veneers are a more comprehensive solution, and are used in cases when the patient’s own teeth are misaligned, yellow, cracked and/or chipped. Veneers consist of a wafer-thin, tooth-colored shell that is bonded directly to natural teeth.

Unfortunately, veneers often require a lot of upkeep, and they can be expensive. It’s almost like owning a performance automobile or a yacht — there’s a high initial investment, and the maintenance is also costly.

9. Lumineers

Lumineers are the newest alternative to traditional veneers. These are extremely thin — think of a contact lens that is placed on the tooth — and are made from a patented porcelain material that resists staining and chipping.

Unlike ordinary veneers, Lumineers can last up to 20 years. They are also quicker and less painful, and most patients will need only two or three trips to the cosmetic dentist.

10. Dentures

Yes, dentures are a last resort for most people. And if you’ve ever seen a video of someone’s teeth falling out of their mouth as they blow out their birthday candles — or if you were traumatized as a child by your grandmother taking out her teeth — you understand why.

These days, however, dentures are no longer your grandma’s false teeth. Advances techniques in both manufacturing dentures and fitting them mean that they are often indistinguishable from the patient’s natural teeth.

High-quality dentures also allow people to chew, talk, and smile without issues. You don’t have to worry about biting into an apple, gum irritation, or a lisp, the way denture wearers of yesteryear did.

Final Thoughts

Have you ever been embarrassed by your smile? Envious of those celebrities (or even your friends) who have even, gleaming, bright white teeth? You don’t have to be.

You can improve your smile safely and easily, using home remedies and simple cosmetic dental procedures. Forget what you think you know about teeth straightening, teeth whitening, bridges, veneers, and dentures. Today’s cosmetic dental technologies have improved by leaps and bounds.

Get started today by contacting a cosmetic dentist near you! In the meantime, be sure to check back regularly for more health and beauty tips, which we post often on our blog.


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How to Get the Best Deal on Your Cell Tower Lease

January 22, 2018 - By 

Even though 92% of Americans own a cell phone, we’re still ranked 10 out of 25 for speed among major industrialized countries.

One of the reasons for this is that there aren’t enough cell towers where people need them the most. If you own a property, you might be approached by cell phone providers to see if you could sign a tower lease for holding a tower.

This is a great way to add some extra revenue to your business and balance out the taxes you’re paying on your property. By hosting a cell tower on your property, not only will you have access to the fastest speeds in your region, you’ll also be contributing to your community

If you’re thinking about signing a cell tower lease, you first need to learn about the different types of leases. Here are a few of the most common lease types you could be offered.

Ground Lease

The standard lease you’ll be provided with as a property owner will specify the amount of land given over to the cellular service provider. It will also specify how much access they will have to your land for construction, installation, and repair.

For a ground tower, companies will often request something as large as 100′ x 100′ lots for their tower. If you’ve got a smaller area, they can work with something as small as 15′ x 15′ depending on the type of tower they’re installing.

Lease Expansion

If service in your area takes a sudden spike or more people move into the area, this could require the company to build more to provide adequate service to everyone. They may approach the original contract looking for an expansion.

They will either expand or upgrade their equipment under terms set out by a new lease. They may also combine with another carrier to allow service space for their customers.

Additional Ground Space Lease

As service continues to grow and more people stream high bitrate videos, providers may need additional ground space. If you’ve had a good relationship with your tenant, you can grant them a second contract.

They will either create a larger tower or a second tower to account for the increased demand for service. With video becoming what 80% of users stream over various devices, demand is only going to increase.

Tower Co-Location

Another kind of lease will be created if your tenant has more space than they need. They could wish to provide space to another cell company on their existing tower.

You won’t be involved unless you own the tower or the carrier. Once towers are established, the tower lease owner is the one who determines who can place their transmitters there.

Rooftop Lease

If companies can’t afford a tower or there is no space, such as in urban environments, they may seek to add transmitters onto an existing structure. While this can be an actual rooftop of a building, it could be any tall structure from a signpost to a sculpture.

When there’s high population, cell providers need to think creatively. If you’re in pursuit of a tower lease, as a property owner, you should think of ways you can capitalize on this need.

How to Deal With Your Offers

Once you’ve figured out which type of lease you can provide to a cell provider, you need to know how to negotiate the terms. As the property owner, you have a lot of power. You’re in the position to say no because you have something the cell provider wants.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when negotiating

1. Don’t Take the First Offer

Companies will go through a middleman to negotiate the lease with you as the owner. Their pay is contingent on getting you to agree to a low price.

The first offer they give you will be the highest yield for the intermediary and will save the cell company the most money. If you know other owners in the area, ask them for advice. Otherwise, counter what you think any other commercial tenant should pay for that much space.

Check out this set of cell tower lease rates with comparable data to see what you could be earning with your lease.

2. A Tower Lease Is an Investment

Remember that once a carrier signs a lease with you, they can put transmitters from any other company they’d like. You’re leasing out space for cell carrier ts to make money, so be sure the number seems fair to you.

If this is an investment they’re sure to make money from, you shouldn’t be getting the short end of the stick. They’ll be sending a variety of service professionals onto you property who could do damage or create problems. Account for all the details.

3. Rent Should Inflate

During the leasing period, you could see your property taxes climb and demands on that tower increase. Your tenant should be paying an inflating rate like any other tenant would.

Don’t agree to a fixed rate for more than a few years. A rent escalator can get everyone on the same page and ensure you don’t lose out.

4. Make Boundaries Clear

Your carrier will try to expand and add more equipment than they’ve leased for. It happens all of the time and your lease could be no exception.

Be sure your clear with your terms and have a figure for how much extra your tenant will pay for each extra square foot.

A Cell Tower Lease Can be Welcome Revenue

While tenants will come and go on your property, you may find that a tower lease never lets you down. There will always be a need for towers for the foreseeable future and by providing land for a carrier, you’ll have a steady income stream to survive rough times.

If you’re ready to sign a cell tower lease for your property, contact us to make sure you get a great deal.


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10 Best Sobriety Apps

January 22, 2018 - By 

Having an app for everything isn’t always a bad thing.

Sure, there are some pretty awful apps out there. But there are also useful ones that help a lot of people. These medical apps, for example, are recommended by users and doctors alike.

Now, if you’re in recovery, there are also sobriety apps that can help you lessen your alcohol consumption or quit drinking altogether. Here are 10 of them.

1. Sober Grid

It’s easy to think of Sober Grid as just another social networking site. But saying it’s like “Facebook for sober people” doesn’t seem right. This award-winning app does more than that.

Whenever the need arises, users can press the app’s “Burning Desire” button to alert other people in the community that they need help. Users can also find sober individuals who are on The Grid while traveling. It uses geosocial networking to connect those in recovery locally or from anywhere in the world.

You can download Sober Grid for free on the App Store and Google Play.

2. Quit That!

Despite its simplicity, this is one of our favorite sobriety apps. And it’s not just people in recovery who can use it.

Anyone who wants to quit anything – junk food, coffee, smoking, and other bad habits – can use it. What it does is track a user’s progress in days and hours, as well as money saved.

One of the best things about this app is you can add as many habits (or addictions) as you want. There’s also the welcome absence of ads and prompts, which makes it a joy to use.

The only downside is it’s not available for Android users. But if you’re a fan of all things Apple, you’ll be glad to know that it’s supported by Apple Watch.

3. Twenty-Four Hours a Day

This app features 366 daily meditations from the best-selling book of the same name. It also contains prayers and religious teachings, helping users practice sobriety wherever they are.

With the latest update, users can now share daily messages by text. Twenty-Four Hours a Day works great for both Android and iOs devices.

4. recoveryBox

For tracking triggers, emotions, and events that may cause a relapse, this is one of the best sobriety apps you can download on your Apple device. It works as an accountability tool that takes note of both positive (green lights) and negative habits (yellow and red lights).

The more you track “yellow” and “red,” the more you can see patterns. Eventually, the data can help you pinpoint your triggers. If you wish, you can send a report of this to a counselor, friend, sponsor or anyone you consider as an accountability partner.

recoveryBox also lets users earn badges for their accomplishment, which works like AA coins or tokens. You can check out The Token Shop to know more about how AA coins work. It’s also a good resource for anyone who’s dealing with alcohol addiction and recovery.

5. Sobriety Counter – Stop Drinking

Sobriety is a serious matter but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to spend the rest of your life in recovery having no fun whatsoever. Sobriety Counter – Stop Drinking is a good example of that.

By gamifying certain aspects of the drinking journey, it will help you stay the course through positive reinforcement. Its bright dashboard shows users how much money they’ve saved by staying sober.

The app also features a game called Memory. Users can play it whenever they feel the urge to drink. Other great features include Scientific Statistics, Badges, and Sharing.

6. SoberTool

Most sobriety apps are solely for people in recovery. But SoberTool offers a wealth of information that can be used by counselors, sponsors, psychiatrists, and those working in treatment centers.

It features a sobriety counter, rewards system, daily motivational tips, search engine, and community forum. A lot of users appreciate this app because it was created by a drug counselor who has been in recovery for almost three decades.

You can download SoberTool on Google Play.

7. AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker

If you suspect that your alcohol intake is getting out of hand, this app will let you know.

AlcoDroid lets users log their drinks and see how often they’re imbibing. Another solid feature of the app is it can give an estimate of your BAC or blood alcohol content. Plus, you can play with the settings to see how much money you’re actually spending on drinks.

8. Nomo

Motivation is a common theme among sobriety apps. Nomo is no exception.

It features multiple clocks that can track how long you’ve been sober down to the minute. When you reach a recovery milestone, it will give you a chip to celebrate and keep you motivated.

The app, which is available for both Android and iOS, also lets users connect with people in their support group.

9. 12 Steps Companion

Every person in recovery will be familiar with the 12-step program from AA. This app is based on that.

Aside from a sobriety calculator, the app also features an anonymous icon, prayers, promises, contacts, and The Big Book. You can use this even if you have no internet connection.

12 Steps Companion is free to download for Apple and Android users.

10. Happify

Happify is not exactly a sobriety app but you can use it to take control of negative emotions that lead to dangerous behaviors. You can say it works like the mental health apps we’ve talked about in a previous post.

Since emotional well-being is a huge part of the recovery journey, sober individuals should take care to keep it stable. Happify can help you achieve that through techniques and programs based on cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and positive psychology.

You can download Happify on Google Play or the App Store for free.

Looking for More Sobriety Apps?

We regularly feature awesome apps here on Pligg. Keep checking back in to find the best digital downloads including this e-book on how to overcome alcoholism.

For more helpful articles and books, please don’t hesitate to browse our site. These resources can be useful if you or someone you love needs help battling alcoholism.


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Top 5 Diving Apps

January 22, 2018 - By 

There’s no thrill quite like diving.

Whether you’re just a handful of meters below the surface or a couple hundred feet deep, the underwater world is full of wonder.

Here, fish of all shapes and sizes are waiting to swim alongside you. Shipwrecks hold stories thousands of years old, and changing water conditions allow scientists to plan for what we might be able to expect on land in the future.

It’s all a beautiful adventure.

What if you want to make your diving experience even better, though?

Diving apps are the tool you need. These can help improve your knowledge of diving, diving safety, and much more.

Here are 5 apps to download before your next drop-in.

1. Scuba Exam

Before you can dive into the open sea, you need a scuba certification.

Study for this exam with the help of Scuba Exam. The app has over 250 exam questions. It also comes with quizzes and stats to help you switch up how you study.

Keep this among your other diving apps after you pass the exam. It’s a great tool to brush up on diving terms or stay up to date with the diving world.

2. iDive

iDive is known to be the one-stop shop every new and experienced diver needs.

In fact, it’s like having many diving apps in one!

This is where you can go to learn about diving basics, common terms, and keep up with the latest in the diving industry. iDive also gives you access to an online store for all the gear you’ll need on your next dive.

You can plan a dive through the app as well, for either a local outing or special vacation.

3. Dive Diary

To keep track of your favorite dives near and far, use Dive Diary.

This intuitive modern app is made to feel like a classic vintage dive log.

Customize each entry with a photo or video from your dive. Post the best ones to social media straight from the app so all your friends can fall in love with this awesome activity.

4. V-Planner

As fun and interesting as diving may seem – because it is – it can also be dangerous if you’re unprepared.

Make every dive a safe experience from start to finish with the help of V-Planner.

This is a calculator made to help you measure decompression settings. You can customize the gas mix you want and use V-Planner to make sure you get it right.

5. TripWhistle Global SOS

Gas measures and decompression are something you can plan for and control while diving.

Emergencies are always a possibility, though.

In the event that something goes wrong while you’re out at sea, you’re going to be glad you downloaded TripWhistle.

This gives you access to local emergency numbers, which you can dial right away through the app.

It displays your location on the screen so first responders know exactly where you are. Such efficiency can make a big difference whether you’re diving at your regular spot or discovering Philippines scuba diving.

Access the Best Diving Apps Anywhere You Go

No matter where you go to dive, always be prepared.

Download these five apps to make sure you can plan for, document, and fully enjoy your diving experience!

Who knows, you may enjoy diving so much you turn this hobby into a travel blog of all the places you’ve explored.

Click here to find out how to start blogging so you can share all of your dive adventures.


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Types and Benefits of Life Insurance Policies

January 22, 2018 - By 

While 85% of people agree that they need life insurance, just 62% of Americans actually have some form of life insurance.

In this post, you’ll learn how life insurance can help you, how to choose the best life insurance policy for you, and the benefits of life insurance. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

What is Life Insurance?

Life insurance is one of the pillars of most people’s personal finance. However, despite the fact that it’s almost universally applicable, there’s still a lot of confusion and skepticism around life insurance.

This is often due to the complexity of life insurance. But with the proper information, you can understand exactly what life insurance is, and simplify the decision-making process.

Life insurance policies are contracts with insurance companies. You’ll pay premiums each month, and the insurance company will provide your family with a lump-sum payment in the event that you pass away. You’ll choose your life insurance policy based on your needs and goals. There are a number of different types of life insurance, which we’ll get into later in this post.

The Benefits of Life Insurance

As we grow older, start businesses, build families, and get married, we begin to realize that life insurance is just a part of a solid financial plan. Life insurance provides you and your loved ones with confidence for the future. When you have a life insurance policy, you won’t need to think about what would happen to your family in the event that you passed away.

Here are just a few of the benefits of life insurance:

Protection for Your Loved Ones

If your family depends on your financial support for their day-to-day life, then life insurance is crucial. That’s because it will replace your income if you pass away. You can also provide your family with enough money to cover household tasks like childcare, cooking, laundry, and cleaning.

Leaving an Inheritance

While you may not have any other assets that you can pass onto your kids, you can create your own inheritance through a life insurance policy. By naming your kids as beneficiaries, you’re setting up their financial future while providing for any future monetary needs.

Pay off Debts

In addition to living expenses, your family will need to be able to cover any outstanding debts like car loans, credit cards, and the mortgage. They’ll also need to pay for other expenses like burial and funeral costs, which can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Your loved ones will already be suffering emotionally, and life insurance will ensure that they aren’t left with any financial burdens while they deal with their grief.

Provide Peace of Mind

No one knows when they’ll pass away. It could be next week or 60 years from now. No amount of money can ever replace what you mean to your family, but one of the biggest benefits of life insurance is the protection it provides for life’s uncertainties.

Life insurance coverage provides you and your family with peace of mind. You’ll no longer need to worry about what will happen to them once you’re gone.

The Different Types of Life Insurance

There two main types of life insurance life insurance to choose from based on your needs. These are permanent life insurance and term life insurance. However, within these categories, there are a few different types to choose from.

Term Life Insurance

This can be considered to be the simplest option when it comes to life insurance. It only pays out if you pass away during the policy’s term, which is usually between one and thirty years. Most of the time, term life insurance policies don’t have any other benefit provisions.

Within the term life insurance policy, you have two choices:

Level Term

This means that the amount of benefit paid out upon your death stays the same throughout the policy’s duration.

Decreasing Term

This means that the benefit decreases (usually each year) over the duration of the policy. Keep in mind that your premium will stay the same with this policy, and the policy will end once your benefit reaches zero.

One reason why a decreasing term policy can be a good idea? When you want to cover the remaining balance of your mortgage. As the amount owing on your mortgage decreases each year, so will the amount of your life insurance coverage.

Increasing Term

You can also choose to go in the opposite direction and have your death benefit increases over time. This is a good option if you’re a young parent and you expect your coverage needs to increase.

Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance offers a number of benefits that term life insurance doesn’t cover. When it comes to life insurance over 60, this is often the way to go.

You have a few different options when it comes to permanent life insurance:

Whole Life Insurance

When you consider the benefits of life insurance, permanent whole life insurance comes out on top. This is because it keeps you covered for the rest of your life – as long as you’re paying your premiums in full and on time.

The amount you pay for your premiums is locked in and will remain the same as you get older.

Universal Life Insurance

This provides your family with a death benefit, along with a cash value component. The funds in this component can grow tax-deferred, meaning massive gains due to compounding interest.

This is more flexible than whole life insurance since policyholders can choose how much of the payout will go towards the cash value, and how much will go towards the death benefit.

Variable Life Insurance

This also offers a cash component and a death benefit. However, policyholders can take part in many different options when it comes to investing that money, like equities or stocks. That means that you can grow the funds much more compared to a whole life policy. This is also a riskier option, though.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the benefits of life insurance are massive and far-reaching. The above options will help you decide which type of life insurance policy is best for you and your family. However, you may also want to talk to some life insurance companies directly or get some professional advice.

Considering employee health insurance? Check out this article for all the information you need to know.


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8 Unforgettable Things to Do in England

January 22, 2018 - By 
things to do in England

Everybody loves a vacation. But when it comes to choosing a destination, the variety can be overwhelming.

Do you go somewhere dripping with culture and sights to see, or do you plop down on the beach for a week?

But if you take a trip to England, you’ll have no shortage of memorable activities.

There are thousands of things to do in England that will give you the vacation of a lifetime, whether you’re a history buff, art aficionado, or beach bum.

In this article, we’re running through our top ten picks for best things to do in England.

Top Things To Do In England

Buckingham Palace

There is no one more celebrated in the whole of the British Empire than the Queen Mum herself, Queen Elizabeth II. Her reign began in 1952 at the young age of 25.

She is the longest reigning monarch in the history of England and is well beloved around the world.

While you might not be able to nab tea with Her Majesty the Queen, you can tour her home.

Located in the City of Westminster in London, Buckingham Palace has been the home of the reigning monarch since 1837.

Every summer, Buckingham Palace opens to tourists. The Palace is lavishly furnished and hosts artwork from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, and more.

Buckingham Palace is also within walking distance of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Tower London.

With all of that cultural significance in such a small area, it’s no wonder that this one of the most popular things to do in England.

Stonehenge

England has a rich cultural history predating the Roman Empire. Little remains of those ancient societies, but they did leave one impressive monument behind…

Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is estimated to be around five thousand years old. That’s nearly as old as the Giza Pyramids in Egypt!

But even though the monument is so far removed from the modern age, it’s not difficult to get to. Stonehenge is a short ninety-minute drive from London.

No matter your interests, this is one of the can’t-miss things to do in England. Just be sure not to forget your camera.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

London is home to hundreds of important cultural sites. One of the most important is St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Built on the highest point of the city, St. Paul’s is one of the most recognizable fixtures of the skyline.

A number of churches dedicated to St. Paul have been built on this site, the first in 604 A.D. The current church was consecrated in 1697 after Old St. Paul’s was destroyed in a fire.

Today, St. Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London for the Anglican Church. They have at least four services per day, which are open to the public.

If you aren’t religious you may also purchase a ticket for a tour.

Watergate Bay

England has a reputation for dreary, chilly weather. But that ignores some of the great beaches in the country.

One of the most celebrated beaches in England is Watergate Bay in Newquay, Cornwall. And if you get tired of all the historical sites, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Watergate Bay features two miles of beach backed by cliffs and caves. Falcons glide overhead as crabs scuttle across the sand.

Newquay itself is a lovely beach town filled with resorts and pubs. It’s consistently voted as one of England’s favorite seaside towns.

The British Musem and Natural History Museum

One of the most celebrated things to do in England is the British Museum.

The Museum has one of the largest collections of archeological items in the world.

The Museum’s collection includes artifacts from ancient civilizations like Rome, Egypt, and the Anglo-Saxons.

If dinosaurs are more your speed, the Natural History Museum is just a few miles away. The Museum also has exhibits exploring the wonders of modern flora and fauna as well.

And the best part is, admission to both museums is absolutely free.

Malvern Hills and Commons

When you think about natural wonders, England might not rush to the top of the list.

But one trip to Malvern Hills and Commons will change your mind.

The rolling hills are covered with freshwater streams and an ancient forest teeming with tiny creatures.

Besides the scurrying mice and insects, there are hundreds of bird species flitting about, making this a haven for birdwatchers.

Malvern Hills and Commons is the perfect place for a walking tour. Or, you can trek through on bicycle or horseback. Either way, this is one experience you won’t soon forget.

Liverpool

Liverpool is one of the most important ports in all of England.

For years, Liverpool was England’s gateway to the rest of the world. Sailors would bring the newest fashions from across the Atlantic, including rock and roll.

This musical import gave rise to The Beatles. And that’s just part of Liverpool’s musical and cultural heritage.

Today, Liverpool is a hotbed of culture, filled with exciting musical venues, beautiful museums, and delicious restaurants.

Liverpool is the perfect romantic getaway for you and your beloved. Or, if you’re flying solo, you can find a companion through this service.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

After you’ve had your fill of culture and nature and history, indulge in a little kitsch.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is renown around the world for their (mostly) true-to-life sculptures of celebrities, sports stars, and historical figures.

It might be a little less high-brow than most other things to do in England, but it is one the most fun stops on this list.

The Most Unforgettable Things to Do in England

Nobody gets enough vacations. So you want to make the most of the trips you get.

Hopping across the pond is a great way to do that. There are so many things to do in England that you’ll have no problem making memories that you’ll keep forever.

Looking for more travel tips? Check out our blog!


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How to Keep Healthy at the Office

January 22, 2018 - By 

We all want to be healthy, but sometimes it’s more difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When sitting in an office for 40 hours a week, it can be difficult to keep healthy.

But with a little effort, you can keep fit while remaining in your cubicle all week. Here is what you need to do.

Drink More Water

Most people are reminded that they should drink more water every day. But many office workers don’t keep up with hydration at work.

The easiest way to stay hydrated all day is to keep a water bottle with you. Take a few sips throughout the day and refill it when needed.

As you drink more water, you’ll likely have to use the restroom more often as well. This will get you out of your chair and moving around. So, staying hydrated at work has two benefits.

Get Moving

Don’t just sit there, do something! While drinking more water might get you out of your chair a few more times each day, you need to do more.

There’s nothing wrong with a quick lap around the office. Find any excuse you can to get out of your chair and move. You could even volunteer to get copies for just this purpose.

If nothing else, you can do a little office chair yoga. It’s easy enough to stretch your arms and neck while sitting down. You can also stretch your legs a little bit.

If you’re more motivated, there are more yoga exercises you can do in the office. Of course, many people might feel self-conscious when doing them.

Switch to a Standing Desk

Studies have shown that standing desks can improve overall health of workers. It can lower obesity rates and even improve posture.

Of course, not everyone likes to stand for eight hours either. In some cases, it may be beneficial to switch to an adjustable desk to alternate between sitting and standing all day.

If you’re looking for more ideas to get you and your colleagues to lead healthier lifestyles at work, check out Poms & Associates.

Pack Your Lunch

Bringing your own lunch isn’t just good for your wallet. It can also improve your health.

If you’re looking to keep healthy, it’s best to know what you’re eating. When you prepare your lunch, you can guarantee that the food is fresh without any unhealthy additives.

You can bring leftovers if you don’t have enough time to make a separate lunch each day. Or you can opt for a salad if your office doesn’t have a microwave.

Of course, if you absolutely must get to the vending machine, follow these hacks to ensure you choose the healthiest snack available.

Be Prepared to Keep Healthy at the Office

No matter what you do at the office, you still have to watch your health. This means you should get a regular checkup to ensure you’re on the right path.

With a little effort, you can take steps to lead a healthier life while staying in your cubicle or office every day. You can even encourage your coworkers to join in!


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How to Combat Slow Download Speeds

January 22, 2018 - By 

It wasn’t too long ago 56k modems were the norm. Websites and online multimedia were smaller sizes. Back then, a slow download speed was acceptable because the Web was new and exciting.

Dial-up services were appropriate for those times… but everything has changed.

By 2021, we’ll likely use 8.9GB of monthly data with our cell phones. Home browsing and streaming account for about 198GB a month! Imagine this extrapolated when factoring business technology and workforce usage.

Are slow speeds interrupting your online experience or work?

There are several culprits why speeds are crawling. This article will help identify and provide solutions to each.

Slow Download Speed? Check These Problems

A slow download speed is an annoyance to consumers. Slow speeds disrupt workforce productivity and revenue. Slow speeds are a trouble for all.

Here are the culprits…

Wireless Adapters or Cabling

Older wireless adapter cards may not recognize the connection from a modern router. The newer router is likely broadcasting high-speed internet.

Ethernet cables become damaged due to wear and tear. Check the connectors for frays or crimping along with the rest of the cable.

Replace the adapter or cable if needed.

Interference

Interference happens from:

  • Placement — The access point is blocked
  • Appliances — The radio frequencies are overlapping

Try placing the router/modem closest to your connected devices. Else, configure the access points’ settings to broadcast on a different channel.

Hardware Failure/Damage

An electrical surge can damage devices. Connect the devices to a different network to confirm your suspicion. Replace the device if damage is confirmed.

Bandwidth-Sucking Programs and Viruses

Wanted or unwanted services and programs will eat bandwidth. These background processes include:

  • Multiple browser tabs
  • Net-connected viruses or malware
  • Software updates
  • Peer-to-peer downloads
  • Data backups and recovery

Try these to end the problems:

  • Track bandwidth with programs like GlassWire or router firmware
  • Open Task Mangement and close unwanted/unneeded processes
  • Configure startup to avoid booting with programs at launch
  • Suspend tabs with apps like The Great Suspender or OneTab
  • Uninstall unneeded programs or services
  • Scan and remove viruses and malware

Ads and Tracking

Ads and tracking cookies account for a good chunk of website bandwidth. You can stop this extra data usage with ad and script blocking plugins:

  • uBlock Origin
  • Ghostery
  • AdGuard

Malwarebytes or Windows Defender will block unwanted website tracking and downloads, too. Though, consider supporting favorite sites by whitelisting the domain to show these ads.

Slow Download Speed on the Service Side

A slow download speed happens on both ends:

  • Client
  • Service

Most speed problems happen on the client-side. Their fix amounts to configuring software or hardware. The service side is mostly out of your control but there are ways to boost your speeds.

Get a Better Service

Your choice for internet services include:

  1. Dial-up
  2. DSL
  3. Satellite
  4. Broadband
  5. 3G/4G
  6. Fiber

You can toss out the first three because they fail to offer the good speeds. Your best options are high-speed broadband or fiber.

High-speed Broadband

The standard for broadband is 25 megabits a second. Unfortunately, a lot of telecoms use DSL as an excuse to offer “broadband services”. They advertise DSL as broadband because they meet minimum requirements.

Pay attention to the fine print when comparing internet service providers. Ask about their sustained bandwidth versus what’s advertised. Choose the package appropriate to your needs and budget.

Fiber

Fiber, with speeds up to 1Gbps, is coming to the United States thanks to companies like O.B. One Communications.

These smaller companies are tapping into a massive fiber-optic network. The larger telecoms have sat on this technology for more than a decade.

You will need better equipment to handle fiber connections. Take this into consideration when doing the upgrade. Fiber-ready routers tend to cost nearly double to their counterparts.

Negotiate Better Speeds

A dead-simple way to increase your internet speeds is to ask for it.

  1. Call your ISP
  2. Tell them you want better speeds
  3. Say you’ll switch to a competitor if they say no
  4. Wait on hold while they patch you to customer retention
  5. Get a small upgrade to remain with them

The cost to get a new customer is astronomical. Some companies spend hundreds of dollars to have you sign up. Few will give up the monthly returns if what’s needed is a package upgrade.

Negotiation doesn’t always work if the local ISP has a monopoly. But, it doesn’t hurt to try if competition exists.

A Speed Test will Check and Verify Fixes

Bookmark and visit these sites after each fix:

  • SpeedTest.net
  • speedtest.Xfinity.com
  • Speakeasy.net/speedtest

These online services measure download and upload speeds. Verifying after each fix will create documentation if the problem happens again.

The documentation is also important when handling service calls.

You can use the speed test reports to explain bandwidth problems. You’ll also have leverage if service is slower than what’s advertised. This often leads to a talk with the customer retention department and higher speeds!

Sometimes You’ll Have To Deal With It

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if speeds are maxed by the ISP. Even fixing all these problems may lead to a slow download speed.

Why? Our daily internet habits.

Today, we’re consuming a billion hours of YouTube each day. We’re sharing hundreds of thousands of pictures on Facebook. We’re uploading massive files to work servers. Wearable tech is uploading data every second.

Websites have become bloated with code and multimedia. Our phones are littered with game apps and background services, too.

Change the media consumption if you want better speeds. Else, deal with it.

Vote with Your Wallet to Get Better Speeds

Support your local telecoms to force larger ISPs to adapt. Use your selection to vote with your wallet so the industry remains competitive.

High speed isn’t about Web entertainment.

It’s about having the appropriate bandwidth to realize new ideas. The ideas found only when we’ve achieved greater access to online resources. The entertainment is a byproduct of hard work and innovation.

Consider donating to the EFF. This organization is fighting for our rights to access and privacy. And, incidentally, better internet speeds.

Agree? Disagree? Or, have a tip to fix a slow download speed? Share your thoughts and tips in a comment below.


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15 Rustic Kitchen Decor Ideas

January 20, 2018 - By 

There’s no denying it, upgraded and renovated kitchens can net about a 70% return when you decide to sell your house.

In a world of extreme modernism and minimalism, more people are turning to cozy, rustic elements for a feeling of comfort.

Ready to add some rustic charm to your kitchen this year? Unsure where to start? Read below for 15 decor ideas to achieve the perfect rustic kitchen!

1. Salvaged Material

One easy tip when looking for rustic elements to add to your kitchen is salvaged items or materials. Salvaged pieces create the perception that an item has been there for a long time and aged.

This will make your kitchen feel cozy and “lived in.”

Look for either large pieces like a kitchen island or focus on small accents and decor. Either way, choosing salvaged pieces will help your rustic kitchen become a cohesive design.

2. Wood Plank Floors

Wood planks can be a good foundation for any rustic kitchen look. They provide a solid, simple appearance and can warm up a space compared to tile or linoleum.

Wood floors provide a neutral base for your other pieces to stand out against. Consider using a home improvement app when beginning your work. These can help you plan each step of the process and keep track of all needed supplies.

3. Paneled Walls

If you are really interested in the rustic feel, why stop with wood planks just on the floor? Consider adding them to the walls for a modern rustic feel.

Placing wooden planks on the wall will provide warmth and texture. Consider covering one or two walls with wood while leaving the other walls white. This will give you the rustic feel, but also keep the vibe crisp and clean.

4. Fireplace

Adding a rustic styled fireplace can change the entire room. Create one using rock or stone to bring in earthy and rustic elements.

Be sure to add a thick mantle to have plenty of room to display your family photos and trinkets.

By adding a fireplace, you will have an amazing focal point for your kitchen. As an added bonus, you will also have a warm place to curl up and read a book on winter nights.

5. Antique Signs

Shopping your local flea markets or antique stores for vintage signs can be a unique way to create a rustic kitchen. Antique signs can add a vintage farmhouse feel to even the most modern kitchens.

Look for ones that have kitchen related themes. For example, signs that say “market” or “eggs for sale” would be excellent options.

6. Window Treatments

When renovating your kitchen, window treatments are a must.

If you struggle with hanging curtains, consider getting some help. For example, Amerishades will discuss options with you, measure, and install whatever treatments you decide upon!

Beyond choosing curtains, you can also use reclaimed wood to lie the window sill. If you are handy, consider creating a custom wood piece for a window valance.

7. Ceiling Treatments

If you want to feel one with nature’s rustic side, bringing in wood ceiling elements is a winning option, especially if you want to leave your walls white.

Wooden beams provide large focal points that can create rustic barn vibes. If the cost of wooden beams scares you, there are faux options in numerous colors and finishes. This means you can find the perfect style for you.

8. Exposed Shelving

This rustic element provides function while helping to create a vibe for the kitchen. Choose a darker wood if you have white walls for awesome contrast.

Use these shelves to display all your dishware or collection of spices. While you may think exposed or open shelving means you will constantly be cleaning and organizing, think again.

A mismatch of plates and dishes will just further add to the rustic feeling of the shelves and kitchen as a whole.

9. Wood Covered Kitchen Hood

Nowadays, most kitchen range hoods are stainless steel. But to create a unique look, think about using reclaimed barn wood to cover a basic venting system.

This method will hide the standard stainless steel hood and keep your kitchen from looking too modern.

10. Vintage Sink

Think about adding a vintage sink to your kitchen for a true farmhouse feeling. These time-weathered pieces will create a conversation piece that will last for years to come.

11. Faux Animal Hides

Bringing in faux animal hides is a great way to add accents to your rustic kitchen that will contribute the perfect feel. Focus on things like zebra or cow prints.

Bring these hides in for rugs or throws on accent chairs.

12. Woven Baskets

Kitchens always need storage. By utilizing woven baskets you will add more of a rustic feel to your kitchen while keeping your items hidden and organized.

Keep pantry goods organized with multiple baskets or even keep silverware stored in one to bring out for big dinner parties.

13. Chunky Furniture and Decor Items

When people think rustic, they usually think of heavy, masculine styles. Small, dainty pieces may look out of place in a rustic looking kitchen.

Instead of sleek chairs, think about chunky stools made of wood. They will carry visual weight and be a piece that lasts over time.

14. Woven Textiles

Rustic often is synonymous with handmade or handcrafted. Bringing in more soft elements like blankets is a great way to accent your kitchen.

Shop around for a woven throw for a cozy breakfast nook or a hand-braided rug to place in the middle of your kitchen for some color pops.

You might even be able to find handcrafted curtains to use in your kitchen.

15. Non-Shiny Metal

To achieve a rustic kitchen design, avoid shiny metals. Rusted or matte looking metals are more in line with nature inspiration.

A few ideas include tin lampshades or metal cabinet hardware.

Get Started with Your Rustic Kitchen Makeover

No matter your budget, there are many options for you to bring rustic elements into your kitchen.

Whether you want to cover your walls in wood or shop around for the perfect vintage island, you will soon have the cozy kitchen of your dreams.

Now that you have a gameplan for your kitchen, are you eager to plan another home renovation? Check this list for some improvements that keep adding to the value of your home!


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10 Mistakes When Setting Up a Website

January 19, 2018 - By 

Having a website is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Your website showcases your products and services to all your potential buyers. No matter your sales channel, they will visit your site.

Your website is a reflection of your brand. Its quality speaks volumes about what customers can expect from your services. All your marketing and sales efforts lead back to this one spot.

Your website is working either for you or against you. You can avoid the major pitfalls and optimize your site with some website 101. First, let’s review some qualities of a winning website.

Website 101: What Every Business Should Know

You need to know what’s at stake in your website design. Poorly designed websites have bounce rates of 70% – 90%. That means up to 90% of potential customers are lost upon visiting your landing page.

The best websites drive visitors with the intent of doing business. These websites are optimized for the right traffic. If they’re designed correctly, they’ll see most of that traffic become conversions.

Your marketing strategy plays a big part in driving the right traffic. But you can improve your site’s SEO and SEM to drive traffic as well. Website quality faces both inward and outward.

You need to choose and register the right domain name for your business. Web hosting needn’t be complicated, but the name is crucial. Some of the cheapest web hosting solutions provide enough resources for small businesses.

The 10 Biggest Mistakes When Setting Up a Website

The most important part of website 101 is learning what to avoid. Save yourself some lost sales by learning these mistakes from the start. You’ll have advantages over your competition as well.

The following 10 mistakes can bring down even the most compelling businesses. Keep these in mind as you determine your web strategy. We’ll share some best practices for developing that as well.

1. Failing to Create a Formal Marketing Plan

Your website is a sales channel. But, it is a marketing asset first and foremost. If your customers are serving themselves, they need a compelling reason to do so.

Your website strategy should align with all aspects of your marketing plan. Customers expect to see the same promotions on your landing page as they do in your marketing content. Involve your website as your marketing strategy evolves.

2. Choosing the Wrong Platform

Ecommerce and website platforms come in all shapes and sizes. Enterprise ecommerce platforms are expensive with hundreds of capabilities. But a Squarespace or WordPress site might be enough, and at a fraction of the cost.

Determine what your needs will be over the next 12 months. If you hope to build in service channels, look for that in a platform now. Replatforming is costly, so get it right the first time.

3. Underestimating the Development Workload

Your business strategy hinges on the development of your website. Most companies underestimate how long quality development will take. Delays can have a cascading effect on all your business plans.

This is an area where you shouldn’t be stingy. Partner with a professional for a realistic design strategy. A professional will help you understand website 101 and optimize all aspects of your online presence as well.

4. Leaving Navigation Untested

Navigation can make or break your website. Enthusiastic visitors who get trapped will leave your site frustrated. Test your site for strong user flow so the right visitors turn straight into conversions.

You need to learn about your visitors. Different visitors want to access different parts of your site. You must ensure there is healthy user flow for them all.

5. Designing an Unintuitive Checkout

Companies who don’t invest in checkout solutions are turning away paying customers. Determine the best checkout solution for your visitors. Run A/B and other testing to ensure you’re not shutting them out.

6. Coming Up Short on Your Content Strategy

Content drives SEO and delights your visitors. Your inbound marketing relies on quality content to drive the right visitors to your site.

You need an ongoing content schedule as part of strategic marketing. You need inbound and outbound links in your content as well. In this way, quality content drives both your sales funnel and SEO.

7. Under-Representing Value and Merchandise

Some companies fail to align their landing page featured content with marketing. Your visitors want to see the products they came for right away.

Your landing page is prime real estate. Determining what content and products to feature should be aligned with marketing initiatives. Don’t waste that space on unimportant content.

8. Failing to Add Customer Service Channels

Companies undervalue website service channels. They think customer service calls will suffice. What they don’t realize is their actually losing sales.

Your visitors expect the convenience of a service channel on your website. They expect your service team to provide immediate help as well. Do this correctly and you’ll drive immediate online sales.

9. Overlooking Your IT Strategy

IT is an afterthought for too many small businesses. They scramble to set up infrastructure after their websites have launched.

You need a plan for performing backups and updates to your site. You need a disaster recovery strategy as well. Failing to support IT resources could jeopardize your entire website.

10. Neglecting to Keep Track of the Latest Trends

Too many companies invest in website design that comes up outdated or stale. Imagine spending all of that money on an undesirable website.

As you begin, don’t look only at your competitors. See what’s trending among website designers. Designers’ trending preferences will be the competitive website designs of tomorrow.

Get the Best Resources for Your Site Development

You’re about to invest time in money in a serious web project. But don’t get started until you’ve learned the latest trends. Include design best practices from the start so you’re immediately up to date.

Visit Pligg for the latest content in the industry. Download website 101 guides and articles to stay up to date. Your attention to detail is your competitors’ loss.


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