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The 5 Best Investment Apps For Amateur Investors

March 24, 2018 - By 
best investment apps

According to a survey conducted by Bankrate.com, only 1 in 3 Millennials has money in the stock market. The reasoning behind this is because they think they don’t have the capital to invest.

Investing is crucial for your long-term wealth, retirement, and upward mobility. Even though you might know very little or nothing about investing, there are still ways to influence your finances. The cool thing is that by investing online, you get to increase your passive income without having to check your portfolio every hour.

If you’re looking for easy growth for your wealth, look no further. Here are the 5 best investment apps for amateur investors.

1. Robinhood

Super basic, super clean is how one could describe Robinhood’s interface. With a straightforward platform, investing on the Robinhood app allows you to buy shares of specific companies in the financial market.

The biggest pro of Robinhood is it cuts out the middleman – brokerage firms. Without them, what you get is low-cost investing and zero-commission trading. In simple terms, you can trade as often as possible without incurring a ton of fees.

For an app with no mess and no stress (both important for investing), while also learning how to invest in the stock market, Robinhood is definitely a contender.

2. Acorns

Another uber-simple platform and user-friendly, Acorns is a fun way to grow your wealth steadily through micro-investments. What this app does is take your credit card information; then, when you spend like you normally do, Acorns rounds up what you spent to the nearest dollar.

The extra change is invested through Acorns. This is passiveness at its finest. You don’t do anything – just spend how you normally spend, and Acorns takes care of the rest.

Try Acorns if you don’t want to worry about investing at all.

3. Betterment

The equivalent of a portfolio manager on your phone, Betterment takes your goals and dreams in mind. They ask you what you’re investing for – dream car, vacation, retirement – and then builds you a personalized portfolio.

The nice aspect of Betterment is that they actively manage your account, using tax-efficient technology to properly allocate your funds.

Helping you make the most out of your money, Betterment is better than most and is worth consideration.

4. Stash

$5. That’s all you need to start investing with Stash.

The app aids you in choosing “an investment strategy that reflects your interests, beliefs, and goals.” They stay up-to-date with articles and tips to help you learn as you grow. With fun themes and 40 ETFs, this app was designed to make investments fun and personal.

Grab this app today and see what all the buzz is about.

5. Wealthfront

By far the most intuitive app on our list, Wealthfront takes the pressure off of you completely. Widely acclaimed, this digital personal financial advisor connects to your accounts, analyzes your data, develops a plan based on your goals and habits, and offers tailored strategies.

On top of that, they invest of course. Wealthfront has software built to run complex strategies quickly and frequently, taking out the slow human factor.

If you’re serious about investing and planning for the long haul, Wealthfront just became your new best friend.

Other Best Investment Apps?

There are numerous apps that help you allocate your assets and invest your money, but these are the five best investment apps period.

If you want more guidance on how to invest money online as a complete beginner, check out our comprehensive guide to starting your path to financial independence. Or, if you want to learn how to day trade, look into this day trading options tutorial.


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How the Digital Catalog Could Help the Retail Industry

March 24, 2018 - By 
digital catalog

Last year, people downloaded over 197 billion apps. This statistic alone proves that today you need to evolve to survive.

Retail companies have had to adapt fast through these recent digital marketing trends in order to stay alive.

Website downloads alone are increasing rapidly while print media reached a low of only 35 million print circulation in 2016.

So how are retail companies expected to keep up with the high demand from consumers on the internet?

The answer is digital catalogs.

The ability to search the catalog for a company’s product collection is truly changing the game.

Never heard of a digital catalog? Here are 7 reasons why digital catalogs are going to change the retail industry.

1. Analytical Capabilities

In the digital marketing bubble, analytics are the key to discovering the best strategies for the company.

Print catalogs do not account for all of the “unique readers” (those who read it more than once), just the initial sale.

Is the initial sale enough information to determine if the strategy was flawless? NO!

Can you imagine how many times a single printed catalog is reviewed the day before Black Friday? Neither can the retail industries if they only print their catalogs.

Consumer behaviors when interacting with the catalog is a huge part in understanding whether or not the products are enticing, the descriptions make sense, the layout is functional, etc.

There would be no company without the consumers so it is important to take time to analyze their interactions.

2. Better Mobile Experience

As shared earlier in the article, technology is an essential part of many consumers’ day to day lives.

They spend the morning on their phone while getting ready for the day…so use that to your advantage!

If your catalog is not mobile friendly, it will not be used much more than your printable one.

Take the time to find the right platform for your business and test its mobile version.

61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble with. 40% of those people will visit a competitor’s site instead.

By allowing access to your catalog on a smartphone, you have instantly increased your click through rate and saved a customer from purchasing a competitor’s product.

3. Increase Potential Reach

Email marketing, social media ad’s, and new instagram stories are all effective ways for retargeting existing customer’s, but they do not guarantee unique visitors.

For a retail company, each product is very different and reaches a specific target audience. The Auchan catalog is known for their ability to reach wide ranges of customers.

For example, a nice pair of blue jeans could be targeted towards a 22 year old trendy but classic working woman. If you cut a hole in those jeans, you could potentially lose the original consumer but get a 22 year old college student’s attention.

Not to say that a working woman would not want a hole in her jeans or that a college girl needs one, but the example illustrates that two similar people may not want the same product.

It is as simple as that.

Providing a platform that shows both pairs of jeans side by side with two different models displaying them can increase the potential for a wider demographic.

When two products are compared to each other side by side, they are easier to compare and decide between.

Yes, stay true to your company’s values, but don’t be scared to take a step into the unknown.

4. Dynamic Linking

This isn’t a normal printed magazine we are talking about. Your digital catalog should have links that “add item to cart” or “view item” or “add to wishlist”.

They have internal linking capabilities that allow you to redirect your consumers to the product they click on, straight to their shopping cart, or to items similar but in a different color.

Consumers will not stay on your site for long if the purchasing process is difficult.

Keep them interested by having each of your products within the catalog, link to the product or an internal “about” page where they can learn more about the company and its products.

5. You Can Edit a Digital Catalog in Real-time

You can edit an online catalog.

Once a printed catalog is purchased and delivered to the customer, there is no turning back.

The dynamic capabilities of fresh and new content makes it exciting for a customer because they never know when to stop checking in!

Run out of royal blue sweat pants? Remove the color option in the catalog until you restock! No need to confuse your potential customers.

Additional edits can also be a huge success when it comes to staying current with new trends.

6. Impress Through Branding

A consumer should only have to look at your website for up to 5 seconds before knowing who you are, what you sell, and if they are going to be a frequent visitor.

Want to know how they can tell? Your branding.

The latest trends have been velvet, statement sleeves, wedges, and pastel colors. These should have been incorporated in your last catalog.

Digital catalogs are trending for retail companies due to the ability to impress a consumer visually.

Does your website currently impress consumers? Replicate your unique brand in your digital catalog for a cohesive customer experience.

7. Increase Rank in Google Search

If you want your company to come up first when typing “Cute purple sundress” than you better have a digital catalog with a cute purple sundress in it.

The ability to increase your rank on google search is mostly based on keywords that are found on your website.

Hosting it on your website gives you another platform to do just that.

Not only will your catalog pull up with an increase in SEO tips, but your website is more likely to come up, as well, since it is a direct link in your catalog and has similar keywords.

Try It Out!

With the statistics rapidly increasing for digital downloads and mobile viewership, it is not surprising that implementing a digital catalog is an effective route for retailers to take in the upcoming months.

Be the trendsetter and adapt this new strategy that can satisfy your consumers’ needs and increase your overall viewership.

Looking for additional Digital Marketing Tips? Check out our website and one of our newest articles!


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Essential Tips for Customer Service Outsourcing

March 22, 2018 - By 
customer service outsourcing

Customer service outsourcing is an ongoing debate for many businesses.

There are the advantages of cost savings, but they’re outweighed by horror stories of hiring the wrong firm to handle your customer service.

Despite the horror stories, more companies are turning to outsourcing their most basic customer inquiries. A 2014 survey by Deloitte showed that 54% of companies outsourced basic inquiries with another 29% planning to do so.

If you’re on the fence about outsourcing your customer service, keep reading to learn more about outsourcing and the top tips to help you do it successfully.

Advantages of Customer Service Outsourcing

The main reason why most companies outsource is for cost savings. Bear in mind that it’s not an automatic cost saving. That would largely depend on the company you hire and how good they are at working with your customers.

If you’re planning to expand your business internationally, customer service outsourcing may be able to help bridge the gap between your headquarters and your new markets. The customer service firm will already know the language and culture and be able to serve your new customers.

Does your business experience busy seasons? If so, a customer service company can handle the overflow of service issues. They’ll be able to handle the inquiries in a short time period.

That’s a better option than waiting for a member of your staff to handle it when things slow down.

Many companies rely on excellent customer service to separate themselves from the competition.

If you hire the right company to take your service up a level or two, that will lead to other benefits within your company.

First of all, your customer retention rates will be higher. Higher customer retention rates mean that you can recruit the top sales performers to your company.

Salespeople want nothing more than to take care of their customer base, instead of constantly scrounging around for new business.

If your customer retention rates are high, you’ll be able to create a dream situation for many salespeople, and you’ll be able to hire better quality reps.

Disadvantages of Customer Service Outsourcing

It was already noted that customer service can be a competitive advantage for many companies.

If your company has a strong brand that promises excellent service, you won’t be able to guarantee that promise if you hand off customer service to another company.

If you hire a customer service firm outside of the U.S., there will be cultural and language challenges for the staff and for your customers. This could lead to customer frustration.

Customer service outsourcing firms don’t have the language and knowledge of U.S. customers. They also might not have the product knowledge required to help.

That will lead to mistrust and frustration for your customers.

Should You Outsource?

The decision to outsource your customer service is not one to be taken lightly. How can you know if it’s time to outsource?

You’ll need to take a hard look at your current customer service and do a cost-benefit analysis to see if it’s worth it to your company or not.

In the first step, you’ll need to assess how your customer service works for your business right now. Is there one person that handles all service matters or are there a few people who aren’t trained to handle the customers when they call?

If you answered yes, outsourcing can provide a way to have a dedicated, trained staff to handle your customer service issues.

About 59% of businesses that outsource customer service do so because of potential cost savings. Of course, you’ll look at hourly rates for an outsourcing firm.

That’s important, but you need to pay attention to the customer retention and satisfaction rates. That’s your first indication as to whether or not your investment is paying off.

What to Look for in an Outsourcing Company

The key to successful outsourcing is finding the right outsourcing partner. Here are a few tips that you can choose the right firm to handle one of your most valuable assets – your customers.

Know Your Needs

Before you start contacting companies, you’ll want to know what your needs are. Do you need someone to handle online chat services? Do you need general email inquiries answered or appointment scheduling? Will you need a phone answering service for when you’re out of the office?

Knowing what your needs are will help you locate the top customer service outsourcing companies right away. You’ll be able to save time and prevent yourself from interviewing and hiring a company that’s not a good fit.

Get Recommendations

Once you’re clear on what you’re looking for, you can start looking at outsourcing firms. You can start by asking people in your network for referrals.

If you find companies on your own to work with, be sure to ask to speak directly with current clients and get references.

How Will You Stay in Touch with Your Customers?

You’re going to want is to remain close to your customers. Customer service can provide valuable information such as buying and communication preferences. Losing that information can do long-term damage to your business.

You’ll want to make sure that the company you partner with can provide metrics and data regarding your customers, so they will continue to come back.

Does Their System Integrate with Yours?

On the technical side, you’ll want to be sure that the system the customer service outsourcing company uses integrates with your CRM. This will be key if you plan to learn more about your customers.

Their system should also integrate with social media as more customer service issues are found on Twitter and Facebook.

Customer Service Outsourcing for Your Business

Customer service outsourcing can have many advantages for your business. It can increase your profits

Businesses large and small can benefit from outsourcing. You need to have a plan, know exactly what needs to be outsourced and choose the right firm to take the best care of your customers.

If you’d like to learn more about how your company can consistently give your customers the world-class service they deserve, check out Best 99 Customer Service PLR Articles Pack 1 and Customer Service Step by Step.


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How to Be Successful with Digital Gambling

February 12, 2018 - By 

You should be taking advantage of the opportunities that online gambling has available. Besides the obvious perks of gambling in the comfort of your own home, there’s a lot more flexibility and variety to choose from these days. Digital gambling replaces most of the traditional forms of gambling at the casino.

In 2015 alone, the online gambling industry was comprised of nearly 38 billion USD, and that number is expected to rise to nearly 60 billion dollars in 2020!

Getting a piece of that lucrative pie is easier said than done, of course. You have practice even more and be very disciplined in order to be successful online. You can’t let the wealth of online materials go to waste.

That’s why we’re here to tell you how you can be successful in online gambling of all kinds. Just follow these simple rules and you won’t find yourself taking out a second mortgage to recover from a bad break.

Work With Reputable Gaming Sites

Before you even decide on what you want to play and focus your time on, research digital gambling sites first. There’s a lot of online establishments, but not all are created equal or held to the same standards. Start with experienced establishments then read the reviews from their customers.

Some gaming establishments specialize online in poker, others in sports bets, and many have multiple types under one roof, like W88, for example.

You’ll want to look at how their payout system works, if they’re compatible with your country of origin, and their certifications and licenses. Lastly, review their software system and make sure it is compatible with your device or phone. There are lots of great gambling apps you can play these days.

Decide on Your Game

The most popular digital gambling games are poker, blackjack, slots, and sports bets. Now, it can be very challenging to become good enough to where you can win consistently at any one of these. That’s why you should start with just one.

Trying your luck at any and every gaming activity is a recipe for disaster online. That’s because it’s just so easy to click a button and lose a bet, a spin, a pull, or a ticket. At least in the real world, you have to physically move yourself to different places and see your cash disappear.

The key is to study your game of choice and prepare yourself for the commitment of becoming not just good, but great at it. The odds are always against the amateur who is just rolling the dice aimlessly.

Choose Your Strategy

After you master the rules, you’ll want to develop a solid and sound strategy. Whether that means following specific teams in sports bets, targeting specific slot games, or playing a certain game of poker.

For games like slots or blackjack, there isn’t a ton of deep strategy, but consistency is always key. When it comes to online poker, you’ll quickly find yourself getting beat by the same players if you don’t play it smart.

For example, a great beginner’s strategy for an online game like Texas No Limit Hold’em is playing tight-aggressive. What this basically calls for is playing only hands that are suited higher than ten or pocket pairs. You will only bet when you ‘make’ something on the board, but you make a large bet to weed out unlucky breaks.

This strategy is just one example of how using the wealth of digital gambling tutorials and educational tools at your disposal. If you invest time into your game, it will make you more money and let you have more fun.

Set Goals and Limits

A good strategy is useless without a controlled environment. How can you tell if you’ve made any progress when you’re playing all day long? You need time to reflect on mistakes and to clear your head if you plan on getting better.

Becoming a professional digital gambler is no easy task, it takes skill, dedication, humility, and discipline. Even when the getting is good, you must set hours for when you’re going to playing, planning, and resting. Most importantly, you have to budget your gambling.

Having no budget means you’re only punishing yourself through sorrow and anger. If you’ve reached our daily, weekly, or monthly limit, then you stop. Next time, you push yourself to never break your limit.

Beat the Streaks

Losing streaks are going to happen in digital gambling. If you expect them and plan for the day it happens, you’re going to be okay. Now, if you just play with emotion and ride the rollercoaster to the bottom, you’ll lose it all in no time.

In gambling, variance is not your enemy, you should always stick to a strategy and play it out long enough so that you can measure your progress. If you just start playing differently whenever you’re going hot or cold, then you will never know if your streak was due to variance or bad play.

Experiment and Have Fun

If you’re not having fun, then you’re playing the wrong game, honestly. Not all online gambling works for everyone. Sometimes grabbing that slot arm just can’t be replaced by the digital button. Poker may not be the same without being able to stare your opponent in the eyes.

Your calling might be sports betting online, despite never trying it before. There are so many games, variations, rules, and online bonuses that could tilt the odds and enjoyment in your favor. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Play Digital Gambling Responsibly

We hope this guide has helped you get an idea of great the potential for success is with online gaming. Don’t listen to the naysayers, gambling is no different from any other hobby, as long as self-control is practiced.

If you need more help and desire some more educational resources, you can find plenty of ebooks and digital downloads right here.

The world is your oyster, which means the internet is that shiny pearl waiting for you to come cash out your winnings after all the hard work!


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The 10 Best Spending Tracker Apps to Manage Your Finances

February 12, 2018 - By 
spending tracker

Sticking to a budget is no easy feat in a world where anything can happen at any given moment. Especially if you don’t set aside money for savings, a monthly budget disrupted by unexpected expenses can send you flailing into debt overnight.

But it’s important to keep a budget written down where it’s easily accessible for review and updates. Knowing it in your head alone can get you into financial trouble because it’s near impossible to remember everything you spend. You need a way to actually manage your money so that you may be able to foresee a way to handle those expenses that you aren’t planning for.

If you’re serious about finding a better way to manage your finances and the old-fashioned methods are wearing you out, there is a better way. Introducing spending tracker apps that can be downloaded right to your trusted mobile device. And, there’s plenty to choose from so that you can find the best one to suit your needs.

Best Spending Tracker Apps to Keep You Organized

There are a lot of reasons to organize your finances. Maybe you’re preparing for a big purchase, like a home or a new car and you want to make sure your finances are in tip-top shape. If you’re house hunting, especially, it’s important to know where you stand financially so that you can budget for additional expenses.

You can always take out a loan like those offered at StockLoan Solutions to balance your budget. And, then use the spending tracker app of your choice to keep everything in check. Even if you don’t have any loans or credit card debt to manage, these apps can help you budget your finances more confidently.

1. HomeBudget

The HomeBudget app design is simple to use and easy to read. It separates your finances into five categories: Expenses, Bills, Income, Budget, and Accounts. You’ll also see a chart that displays your total income and total balance with three functions at the bottom of the page: Payees, Reports, and Search.

This app is ideal for people who like a quick overview right away.

2. Expensify

Expensify is a free app for your smartphone or you can use the web-based tool. It’s easy to use and navigate your spending with features like SmartScan, which allows you take photos of receipts and file them electronically. You can also manually enter the information.

This app also allows you to add your credit or debit card which can help you track your daily expenses, earnings, and balances more accurately.

3. Unsplurge

Unsplurge is only available on iOS but it offers some unique features that can not only help you track your spending but also help you create more and better financial goals. You’ll benefit from savings tips from the app. And, see what others’ savings goals are in the app’s community.

4. HelloWallet

HelloWallet is another app that is reserved for iOS but it’s worth a mention because it not only provides a way for you track your spending but also increase your net worth. All you have to do is spend a few minutes updating your details and everything lines up for you on the homepage.

This app is designed to help you plan for your financial future.

5. Pocket Expense

The Pocket Expense app allows you to visualize your spending and create a budget at the same time. Simply enter your spending and account balances and Pocket Expense will color code everything according to money that you have and what you need to pay.

This app is also good for people that keep multiple accounts with additional tools that allow you to see all of your spending and balances at once.

6. Digit

Digit is more of a savings app but it’s also worth a spot on the list because it helps you save around your spending.

The primary focus of the app is to create a savings account that draws from your checking a few dollars at a time. It does this by monitoring your spending so that it will only draw funds when it thinks you don’t need it anyway.

This app offers a great alternative way to save for people that don’t regularly do so.

7. Clarity Money

The Clarity Money app is available for both Android and iOS and boasts several unique designs.

First, the app is organized into four tabs: Home feed, Accounts, Search, and Profile. You’ll find charts, spending trackers, and illustrations on the homepage so that you can quickly and easily see your finances at a glance.

This app will organize your spending by week, month, or year and allow to perform other important financial functions, like checking your credit score.

8. BillGuard

With BillGuard, you can sync your accounts right to the app to save time and hassle of entering the information manually. Then, the app will show your balance and total spending for the month.

One of the most important features that this app has is protecting your cards from fraudulent charges. Because it monitors your spending, it will ask you about suspicious charges.

9. Mint.com

Mint started as a website and was later acquired by Intuit and became available across the board: online, Android, and iOS. This app will help you create a solid overview of your finances including bills, recent transactions, and monthly spending. It’s a trusted app that continually brings new and important features to the table.

10. Credit Karma

Credit Karma isn’t a spending tracker app but it deserves a mention because it’s an amazing tool for those that want to be on top of their financial game. Once you have your spending in control, you’ll want to be sure you have your credit in order, too. Credit Karma can help provide a clear picture of your debts and could come in handy during tax season with a built-in tax preparation service.

Final Thoughts

Managing your finances doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful all the time. Just keep these spending tracker apps in mind and give one or two of them a try to ensure that your spending stays in line with your budget.

And, remember, the key is to be diligent with your favorite spending tracker app. Don’t just download the app and forget about it. You must use it every time you make, spend, or move money to get the most accurate results. Set up reminders for yourself or set aside a special time of day to spend some time with your app and utilize all of its features and functions.

The more effort you put into monitoring your budget, the more and quicker results you’ll see. You’ll also learn more about yourself and your spending habits which translates to a better and more enhanced awareness of your overall financial picture.

No matter which spending tracker app you choose, you’re making a sound and responsible financial decision for your future.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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7 Ways to Start Earning a Passive Income Online

December 30, 2017 - By 

Approximately 3.8 billion people have access to the internet. This means that when it comes to making passive income online, the sky’s your limit.

Passive income is when you’re earning money in your sleep- you don’t need to be involved in any way.

Whether you simply want to earn a few dollars on the side or you’d like to quit your day job and retire in style, here are some ways you can get started:

1. Blogging

One of the most popular (and simple) ways to make passive income online is through blogging. The good thing about blogging is there are many different options for monetizing, and it can help you launch future profitable ventures.

The biggest hurdle? Finding a decent niche. You need to be passionate about your niche since blogging is a lot of work in the beginning. You’ll also need to be an expert in that niche, so you can stand out from other bloggers. Finally, that niche shouldn’t be too saturated (avoid blogging about cheap travel in Southeast Asia).

As your visitors grow, you can monetize it through sponsored posts and ads. Hire a virtual assistant and you can take yourself almost completely out of the equation while the money comes rolling in.

2. Drop Shipping

Talk to any digital nomad, and you’re likely to hear them mention the words “drop shipping” at some point. This is when you set up your own store online. However, instead of selling your own products, you’re selling products from other people and companies.

You then submit the order to that company, and they deliver it straight to the customer. Since you don’t need to actually have a warehouse full of product, you’ll have very low overheads. You may have purchased products from a drop shopping company in the past without even realizing it.

The idea is to find a niche with low shipping costs and high profit margins. Cosmetics and vitamins are two good examples. You can set up a drop shipping store quickly, and could offer hundreds of products within just a few days.

3. Information Products

You’ve probably noticed that many people are creating their own courses online. Jeffrey Nelson is a great example of this. You can also create e-books, membership sites, and much more.

One of the great things about this option for passive income online? You’ll have a margin close to 100%. That’s because you have no costs for creating the product or distributing it since it’s all online. You’ll create your product once, and then you can sell it to thousands of people from all over the world, creating a passive income stream that can last for years.

4. Apps and Software

A few years ago, selling software wouldn’t have been considered to be a source of passive income online, but this is now changing. There are plenty of tools online that allow you to create simple mobile or web apps without hiring a developer or knowing how to code. And we can expect this to become even easier in the future.

Sure, you may not develop the next Facebook in your spare tie. But you could create an app that solves a particular problem for a group of people. And that app could make you a few thousand dollars each month.

5. Affiliate Marketing

Once you’ve built up an audience, affiliate marketing is a great way to make passive income online. There are a number of options for affiliate marketing, but Amazon is by far the most popular. There are also some affiliate programs which will offer you a lifetime commission when you send referrals their way.

As long as a client is continuing to sue and pay for their service, you’ll continue to make a percentage in commission. The trick is to find high-quality services offering recurring commissions. Check out SEMRush and Shopify to get started.

6. Create WordPress Themes

One of the best ways to earn passive income online is to use an existing marketplace. One of the biggest (and best) is Envato Market). For people starting a blog, there’s a high chance they’ll be using WordPress. And people using WordPress will need their own theme.

Some of the best theme developers make millions through Envato. Obviously, this will take some work, but if you’ve got the skills, you can build up a nice passive income.

7. Design Apparel

Have you always been the creative type? Selling apparel is quick and easy, and if you’ve got some good designs, you’ll be able to get started relatively quickly. You can either create your designs yourself, hire someone, or purchase stock images.

There are also a number of marketplaces like CafePress. They’ll take a cut, but you also won’t need to handle sales, fulfillment, or printing.

Marketing is relatively easy as well. You can use Google Ads and Facebook to get your designs in front of your target market. You may have a niche audience for your designs, and this can help you build up a loyal following for any subsequent designs.

There are plenty of online tutorials which can help you with your graphic skills, and while you’ll need to put in some hard work to get started, this can quickly turn into a nice side income.

Ready to Earn a Passive Income Online?

While earning money while you sleep sounds like a dream, it’s a dream you can make true with a little elbow grease. All of the above options require you work hard initially, but once you’ve got the ball rolling your earning potential is almost limitless.

The internet makes it possible for anyone to earn online, but it can be tricky to know how to get started. You’ll also need a solid marketing plan, so check out our marketing posts to learn exactly how you can get your product or service in front of the right people at the right time.


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Preparing for Tax Season: What to Do

December 21, 2017 - By 

As we move to the end of the year, most of us are thinking ahead toward Christmas and the New Year. Maybe you’re planning your weight loss resolutions, hope to quit smoking, or you’re considering a big trip for the family.

But as you’re gearing up to close down 2017 and move into 2018, don’t forget to start preparing for tax season. There are a number of steps you can take now to plan ahead and make life easier when the tax deadline rolls around.

Read on to learn more about the ways to gear up for tax season.

Gather Your Documents

This includes both paper hard-copies, and digital documents. We suggest organizing these documents by tax filing year, since most documents need to be retained for at least several years.

Many of these documents won’t be ready until after the new year, but here’s what you should prepare to have on-hand:

  • Last year’s tax data (gather this information now)
  • Regular income: W2s and 1099’s
  • Other income: real estate income, dividend earnings, investment gains
  • Loan information: interest paid on student loans, mortgages, etc.
  • Business-related expenses: meals with clients, technology purchases, etc.
  • Tax-deductible expenses like moving or medical expenses
  • Tax-deductible donations to charities or non-profits

As you gather these documents, you can begin entering the necessary data into your tax returns (whether you’re going the paper route or electronic.) For example, there’s no need to wait for all of your 1099s to come in; enter them as you receive them, which saves time later.

Don’t Forget about Lesser-Known Deductions

It’s important that you deduct every possible penny from your taxable income. Often overlooked tax deductions include:

  • Childcare costs (daycare, etc.) or adoption expenses
  • Education expenses
  • Casualty and theft losses
  • Taxes paid (state and local, personal property)

These are just a few of the many possible deductions, but look over the IRS list of deductions and ensure you’re not missing any that apply to you and your family. Again, no need to wait on all of these: if you moved over the summer, you should already know your total moving costs and can enter them into your filing any time.

Get Electronic Filings Ready for Tax Season

We highly suggest filing taxes electronically, using software such as Turbotax. Filing electronically not only reduces input errors (those extra zeros won’t work in your favor!) but tax software saves information year after year, so you won’t need to re-input the same information like social security numbers, etc.

Another benefit to using tax software? You don’t need to memorize tax code or learn about complex changes in tax rules.

The software will ask you key questions like, “Did you buy a house?” or “Did you have a child?” Depending on your answers to these questions, the software will customize the tax filing based on your information.

Get started with the software early – well before your tax documents start rolling in. You can fill out key information for you and your family (like dates of birth, social security numbers, job information, etc.) and you can also familiarize with the software. Read more about electronic tax software here.

Maximize Deductions Before the End of the Year

It’s not too late! You still have time to get in a few more deductions that can benefit your tax position for the year.

Consider donations to charity. Most people feel like giving during the holiday season, and this is a great way to hit “two birds with one stone.” Just make sure that the charity donations are tax deductible, and that the organization can provide a receipt for your tax purposes.

Also, consider any last minute write-offs or business purchases which may lower your taxable income. For example, if your small business experienced record earnings and you’re expecting a big tax hit, you may want to consider loading up on the new computers you’ve been considering, which you can write off during tax season as a business expense.

Minimize Surprises

Let’s face it: we all love the idea of a big tax return come springtime, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out this way. Rather than being surprised and disappointed by a less-than-thrilling tax return, set expectations now.

There are a number of calculators available online that can give you a rough estimate of what you may owe the government, or what you can expect to get back from the IRS. But keep in mind, these often require making a number of estimates and assumptions.

If it’s looking like you’ll be close to breaking even, or if you’re planning to pay out in taxes, then start setting aside the cash now (if you haven’t already.) And if you’re one of the lucky people who’s getting a refund, consider savvy ways to use the money. Spend some, save some (or save it all!)

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Taxes, especially for small business owners, are extremely confusing. We suggest that you begin writing down your questions now, before tax season. There may be some questions that you just can’t get answered online, and it never hurts to talk to a licensed CPA.

When speaking with a tax professional about this year’s taxes, you may also want to ask them what you can do next year to further reduce your tax bill. There may be different investments to consider, or clever ways to structure to your small business. You can also talk to a tax professional if you expect to need a tax filing extension because the sooner you file for an extension, the better.

We Can Help Your Gear Up For Tax Season

Don’t delay with these key tax-filing preparation steps. You’ll be less stressed over the holidays, which means more fun with family.

Besides, who needs added holiday stress? We encourage you to get started with these filing taxes steps so that you’re well prepared by the time the deadline rolls around.


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The 5 Best Investment Apps to Download to Your iPhone

November 22, 2017 - By 
Best Investment Apps

In years past, you had to look at not one but several different newspapers a day to keep accurate track of the stock market.

In recent years, you had to sit in front of your computer and watch the market go up and down via an Internet tracking board.

You could also buy and download software to help you make financial decisions regarding your stocks.

Now investment apps make tracking and investing simpler than ever. Check out the five best investment apps available below.

The Five Best Investment Apps

1. Robinhood

The Robinhood app is the perfect app for new investors.

Most investment apps require account holders pay a subscription or maintain a minimum balance. Not this app.

With it, you only need to submit enough money to buy a stock.

In that respect, the Robinhood app is as heroic as its namesake.

Presently, this app is available only to American and Chinese investors. However, it allows you to buy and trade all American-based stock.

2. Wealthfront

The Wealthfront app is one of the best investment apps for slightly more experienced investors.

It requires you to submit $500 upfront. After that initial $500, you don’t need to feed this app any more money until after you’ve made $10,000.

You read that right. The Wealthfront app manages your money up to $10,000 for free.

But that isn’t its only nifty feature.

It has you take a questionnaire that matches you with one of its 20 investment portfolios. The match is made based on your risk management style.

The Wealthfront app also lets you see the history performances of its other 19 portfolios. Additionally, it evaluates your outside investments and makes recommendations based on them.

3. Acorns

The Acorns app is one of the best investment apps for investors looking to turn small amounts into big ones. When you sync your bank account with Acorns, it automatically rounds up small purchase amounts and invests the leftover change.

For example, let’s say you buy a pair of scissors for a collage project. The scissors are $1.60. Acorns will round up the purchase to $2 and hold onto the leftover $.40.

After you’ve reached $5 in change, Acorns invests it into your portfolio.

4. Betterment

To start on Betterment, you need $1. A single, solitary dollar.

When you open your Betterment account, you answer a short questionnaire. Based on your answers, Betterment invests as you would and monitors your investments.

You can keep up with investment news on reliable sources such as InvestorMint.com to make sure the app is making the best choices.

For its services, Betterment charges only .15% to .35% a year, depending on how much you make.

5. Openfolio

Openfolio is a wonderful app for those looking to monitor and analyze rather than invest.

This free app allows you to see how 70,000 other investors’ portfolios measure against yours. (It won’t show exactly how much they made, though.)

If your portfolio’s performance paled in comparison, you’ll know you should invest differently thanks to Openfolio.

Need More Apps? Check Us Out!

At Pligg, we know that apps are the way of the future. We offer a variety of resources about apps for a wide range of functions. From gaming to traveling to tracking expenses, we have you covered.

For additional information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’re always happy to help you find the app that suits you!


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Best Employee Health Insurance Options for Small Businesses

November 17, 2017 - By 

These days, every business is struggling to provide for its hard-working employees. Businesses hit particularly hard are small businesses. That’s because they’re usually are new and aren’t as established as bigger businesses

In fact, 80% of businesses fail within their first year. Given this statistic, you may want to avoid providing employee health insurance.

It’s no exaggeration to say that health insurance prices have reached a ridiculous level. Economists project that in some states, health insurance will more than double next year.

Employees Are Worth The Extra Cost

It’s true providing employee health insurance will hit your business hard in the wallet. But before you dismiss the idea, consider how much you value your employees.

Without them, you’d be working every shift every day that your business is open. Plus, you’d be doing all the work–from customer service to accounting to clean-up–by yourself.

Now consider your outstanding employees, the ones who stay late to help out and come in when someone calls out sick. You want to keep employees like them because they go above and beyond to make sure the business operates smoothly.

High-quality workers will always be in-demand at every business. Those employees have the option between a job that provides a necessity such as health insurance and a job that does not. And they will almost always choose the job that provides health insurance.

Employee Health Insurance Options

Thankfully, you have numerous choices when it comes to providing employee health insurance. Insurance companies and brokers can provide you with more information on these and other choices. An example of a broker is Proactive Broker Network.

Individual Health Insurance

One option is to simply encourage your employees to buy their own plans. Almost every insurance company offers individual health insurance plans, including widely accepted names such as Anthem and United Health One.

The main problem with these plans is cost. Plans are organized by value tiers (bronze, silver, and gold), and the more valuable the plan, the higher the cost.

Age also plays a significant factor in individual healthcare insurance plan costs. Someone in their early twenties will pay a lot less than someone who is in their sixties. Insurance companies simply view older individuals as a higher risk for insurance.

If your employees are struggling to pay individual healthcare insurance costs, you can set up a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). HRAs are convenient for small businesses because the group, not the policy, chooses how much will be reimbursed. As an employer, you can set up an HRA through your business’s healthcare provider’s online software.

Another individual healthcare insurance option is obtaining a plan through the Marketplace. Per the ACA, the Marketplace partially bases your premium on your income rather than your age. To qualify for lower premiums, though, your employees will need to submit paperwork proving their annual income.

The SHOP Marketplace

This employee health insurance option operates specifically with small businesses in mind.

Much like the individual Marketplace, the SHOP (Small Business Health Options) Marketplace offers group plans for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Each plan requires the business to cover a certain percentage of its employees’ premiums.

To qualify for certain plans through the SHOP Marketplace, businesses may also need to meet specific requirements. One popular requirement is having a certain number of employees enrolled. Very small businesses may need to have all employees enrolled in order to be eligible.

For example, Massachusetts’s SHOP Marketplace requires employers to cover 50% or more of their employees’ premiums. Businesses with five or fewer employees must have all employees enrolled while businesses with six to 50 employees must have 75% of their employees enrolled.

Private Health Exchanges

Private health exchanges are a useful option for employers who have employees with very different needs.

Through a private health exchange, employers buy a set of plan options for their employees to choose from. These options are all group- or individual-based.

It might seem like a pain to have your employees choose their own plan without consulting you. But again, consider your valuable employees.

While many of your employees are likely healthy enough to consider a basic health plan, some may not be. What’s more, some may have immediate family members who rely on the employee health insurance you provide. Even though those employees may cost you more, they also earn you more, so it’s worth allowing them to pick a plan that suits their needs.

Additionally, if you let your employees pick their own health insurance plans, you can actually save money. You may have a few employees who choose more expensive plans, yes, but most will likely go with cheaper options. In this fashion, you can cover all your employees, even your more expensive ones.

Co-op Groups

With the cost of employee health insurance on the rise, co-op (Consumer-Operated and -Oriented Plan) insurance groups are becoming a popular option.

Co-op groups operate much like a traditional insurance company in that members pay a fee for access to cheaper healthcare. Some co-op groups have been known to charge members as little as $90 a month.

At the same time, you should be aware that that isn’t a standard cost for all co-op groups. The members of each co-op group decide what price they will charge every month.

Something else to be aware of when it comes to co-op groups is many don’t include hospital care access.

Private Small Group Insurance Plans

Perhaps the most expensive of all small business insurance options is private small group insurance.

Private small group insurance is the traditional method for providing health insurance to small business employees. Due to rising healthcare costs, though, it’s become a less attractive option.

One reason it remains on the table, though, is its simplicity. The other options all require a good deal of planning, discussion, and paperwork.

With private small group insurance plans, you simply choose a plan and offer it to all your employees. From there, you only need to keep track of who has enrolled and who hasn’t.

Learn What You Need to Know Today!

Pligg provides you with all you need to know about a variety of topics, including travel, technology, and employee health insurance options. If there’s a topic you’d like to see us cover, feel free to reach out to us today!


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7 Ways You Can Get Paid to Work from Home

November 16, 2017 - By 

Is it time to ditch the office? Ready to gain more flexibility in your life?

If you’re considering working from home, there are ways to do it. There are a lot more options than you may think.

If you’re looking to gain more control over your life, a work from home job could be the answer. It gives you more freedom and time for the things that really matter.

Read on to learn seven of the best ways you can get paid to work from home.

1. Become a Virtual Assistant

One of the most popular ways to get paid to work from home is to become a virtual assistant or VA.

A VA provides professional administrative, technical, and other types of assistance to clients. They do this while working remotely from a home office.

A VA can handle many tasks for people who are very busy or have too many things on their to-do lists. They may answer emails, manage a website, or schedule appointments.

People use VAs for different reasons, but they gain a lot of benefits from delegating tasks to someone else.

If you’re looking to get started with working online, becoming a VA can be a great way to begin.

2. Start a Freelance Writing Business

Freelance writing is also a popular way to make money online.

There are more writing careers available than crafting a bestselling novel. You can make money writing for blogs, creating web copy for businesses, or pitching ideas to magazines.

Another lucrative way to make money as a writer is to write ebooks and offer them online as digital downloads.

Are you interested and knowledgeable about travel, sports, or technology? There are plenty of opportunities both online and offline that will allow you to make money as a freelance writer.

3. Online Tutoring and Teaching

If you’re a qualified teacher or you’re just good at explaining things, teaching or tutoring online can be a great way to make money.

You can help others learn in a variety of ways. You may consider charging for live tutoring sessions using Skype or video conferencing software.

You may also consider creating your own online course where you teach multiple people at once.

Many universities have online programs these days. If you’re qualified, you may be able to get a job teaching an online course.

You may want to use a specialized platform or software for teaching online to make the process easier. It will also help you with managing classes and interacting with students.

4. Become an Audio Transcriptionist

Another excellent choice for a work from home job is to work as a transcriptionist. Many types of businesses, organizations, and people need audio transcribed regularly.

You may work transcribing interviews or other types of things for businesses and organizations. Many transcription jobs fall into the categories of medical or legal audio, but there are other categories too.

It can take some time to be able to listen well and understand what’s being said. Once you get the hang of it, working as a transcriptionist is an in-demand job that can potentially pay well.

5. Get a Work-From-Home Call Center Job

A work-from-home call center job is exactly like it sounds.

Virtual call center jobs are just like typical call center jobs, minus the “center.” You won’t need to go into the office to work. Instead, all you need is a phone, a quiet space, and the right attitude.

Needless to say, you’ll be talking on the phone a lot, so this job is best suited for extroverts.

If this is the kind of job that “calls” out to you (pun intended), you can make a good hourly rate while sitting at home in your pajamas.

6. Become a Programmer and Get Paid to Work From Home

If you are technically-inclined, learning to be a coder or programmer may be the perfect job for you.

With this job, you’ll be writing code, designing applications and programs, and optimizing web pages. Keep in mind that it can take some time to become well-versed in these skills.

However, once you master them you can potentially make a lot of money. You may also choose to get started with a coding boot camp to jumpstart your progress and learn quickly.

Some coding languages are more lucrative than others, but overall it’s a great choice if you’re interested in working remotely. Being a programmer can be one of the most lucrative jobs you can do online.

7. Put Your Graphic Design Skills to Use

Do you have an artistic eye? Do you have the skills to use Adobe Photoshop and other graphic design tools?

Graphic design is one profession you can do with just a laptop and an internet connection. Businesses and individuals need flyers, newsletters, logos, and all kinds of designs completed.

You may choose to specialize in a certain type of project or take on all kinds of work. In addition to working directly with clients, you can also create digital downloads and sell them online.

This can be a great way to have an artistic job if you’re a creative type. You can also make money on your own terms.

Final Thoughts

There are other possibilities if you want to get paid to work from home, but these are the most popular ones.

If you have a skill that wasn’t listed above, don’t lose hope! No matter what your skill set is, you can find a way to market yourself and build an online income.

Think outside of the box, do your research, and keep your eyes open. You may be able to make something work for you and your unique skills.

With a little work, it’s possible to get paid to work from home and have the flexible career you’ve always wanted.

Looking for an extensive and trusted digital downloads marketplace? Check out our ebooks digital downloads marketplace or other digital downloads categories.


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5 Downloadable Financial Tools You Need to Have

November 16, 2017 - By 

Do you struggle with setting and sticking to a budget?

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that only about 30% of people regularly set a budget.

Further, 10% of Americans have no credit history whatsoever. This means that an astounding 45 million people don’t currently have a credit score.

If you’re not exactly up-to-date with your current finances, don’t panic. Now is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf.

You can start by using these five downloadable financial tools to help you to better manage your money and track your spending.

1. If You Struggle to Stay on Top of Your Bills

No one wants to fall behind on their bills or forget to pay them. But with so many other things going on, it’s easy to make a mistake.

Missing payments can cause your credit score to take a serious hit, and you might end up having to pay astronomical late fees.

Enter the downloadable Prism app, which helps you to remember to pay all your bills on time.

All you need to do is download the app on your cell phone, enter your different bill amounts and the companies you’re paying top, and then link to the account you use to pay them.

When a bill is due or becomes available, you get a notification reminder from Prism.

Best of all? It’s totally free!

2. If You Have Trouble Budgeting

Are you guilty of splurging a little too often?

Are you unsure of where all your money is going?

Do you need a better understanding of what your lifestyle is really costing you?

If so, you’re a great candidate for You Need A Budget, a downloadable financial solutions app and software that helps you to better track your finances. The app allows you to create various categories for your spending. These include things like rent, your water/gas bill, grocery money, and going out/entertainment.

This will also help you to identify the areas in which you’re overspending.

You can then get a much better handle on your spending, and allocate the money you have coming into your specific expenses.

The app also helps you to save by allowing you to set saving goals and reminded you to allocate a portion of your income to that goal.

3. If You Want To Save

Though the last downloadable app we mentioned has a component related to saving, if you want to get serious about setting some cash aside, you need an app solely dedicated to that.

Enter the aptly-named Acorns App, which helps you to stash away your funds. The app has lots of different capabilities but is perhaps most famous for rounding up every purchase you make on your credit/debit card to the next dollar.

It creates a diverse investment portfolio without high management fees and commissions, as your “spare change” is automatically invested for you.

You can choose from five pre-made portfolios, or just have the money directly placed into your savings account.

You can also make larger, one-time investments if you come into some extra money, earn money off of referrals, and create a recurring investment. This app is simple, low-risk, and incredibly easy to use.

4. If You Need To Monitor Your Investments

If you have major or minor investments, you clearly already know a little bit about managing and growing your money.

However, how often are you really tracking those investments? And how can you be sure that your current financial advisor really has your best interests at heart?

That’s where the downloadable Personal Capital app comes in.

It offers the perfect combination of advice from real-life financial advisors along with information from tested financial algorithms.

It can help you to analyze the effectiveness of your 401(k) and your other retirement accounts, alongside other investments you may have. It will also help you to assess how your current investment strategy is helping you to achieve your financial goals.

5. If You Need To Get A Loan

Of course, we understand that many might feel a bit unsafe about downloading a tool that has access to their bank account numbers and other sensitive financial information.

Instead of going with a downloadable option when it comes to applying for a loan, it’s best to work through the website of an online lender.

One of our favorites?

Bonsai Finance.

Their services cover a wide range of financial issues, from acquiring a credit card if your credit history is less-than-perfect to applying for a variety of personal loans.

They also don’t require a credit check, which makes it much easier for those that need help the most to be able to get it.

Their system is also incredibly intuitive and easy to use. All you need to do is select the type of loan you’d like, use the sliding scale tool to determine how much you need, and then submit your request.

If it’s your first time applying for a loan, you’ll also find their FAQ section to be incredibly helpful.

What Other Downloadable Options Can Help You To Live Better?

Now that you know how downloadable financial tools and apps can help you to manage your money better, it’s time to think bigger.

What other tools can help you to evaluate and improve all the areas of your life?

Our enormous library and blog about digital downloads can help you to figure it out.

You can download eBooks and documents, find the perfect graphics for your website, and even connect with some of the best software on the market.

Then, you can rely on our blog to teach you how to get the most out of these tools, as well as to learn about a wide variety of industries and subjects. No matter what you like to do, we have the information you need to do it even better.

What are you waiting for?

Start browsing our site today!


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Use These Plug-Ins to Add Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews to Your Website

November 10, 2017 - By 

When you are considering going to see a movie, if you are like most people, the first thing you do is check the reviews. It has become commonplace for Google reviews to be written about everything from the Chinese restaurant down the street, to what new books you should read.

This level of feedback allows your potential customers to get what they perceive to be a more accurate image of your business than what the flattering copy on your website paints. This is one of the most important parts of digital marketing.

These reviews are impacting almost every decision we make. Reviews and ratings are what sways the masses these days.

That’s why it’s so important for you to feature Google reviews on your website. You don’t have to rely on websites like Yelp! to display what your customers have to say about you.

Keep reading to find out what plug-ins you can use to display reviews right on your website.

Tips for Marketing Using Customer Reviews

There is no one more equipped to tell your success story than your satisfied customers. That’s why it’s a great idea to include Google reviews or comments on your website that are written in your customer’s own words.

Sharing real-time reviews from your buyers on your website will show your potential customers how well you deliver on your brand promise.

A positive customer review could bring a flood of new buyers to your website, while a negative one could drive everyone away.

This is particularly true for local businesses. People in your area will be more willing to believe the Google reviews of others within their community than random strangers found across the internet.

Many potential customers will use reviews to decide whether or not to trust your business. The personal recommendations featured in Google reviews can feel like they come from a trusted friend.

The most important traits that your customers will be looking for is a business that’s reliable, has an expertise, and maintains a professional image.

By creating this polished image for your business, your customers will be more likely to spend time on your website.

That makes them more likely to buy your product.

The Benefits of Displaying Reviews

Many people believe that displaying Google reviews is a job for sites like Yelp! and Amazon, but that’s a mistake.

It’s not necessary to have a review specific website to benefit from having a rating system and displaying customer reviews on your website.

Blogging

If you run a blog, chances are you have written a review or two on a product or service that’s relevant to your website content. Although your website may not be based solely on these reviews, there can be a benefit in creating a rating system for the reviews that you do write.

Many of the plug-ins that will be discussed will allow you to create summaries of all the reviews that you write. Then the concentrated version of your review will show somewhere in the vicinity of your original post.

One of the reasons that this is beneficial is that people on the internet have notoriously short attention spans. They have developed habits like skimming a webpage for what information they think is the most relevant.

If nothing catches their eye, then they will leave your website as quickly as they came.

By giving them a taste of your Google reviews with a plug-in preview, you can create a tasty morsel to tempt your readers to dive in further and read the rest of your post.

Small Business Owners

Beyond the needs of bloggers, small business owners can benefit greatly from the addition of Google reviews to their website.

With large websites like Google Plus growing every day, many small businesses have begun to see the upside to having great reviews written about them.

Since reviews play such a large role in the decision-making process, small business owners can take advantage of these big name review sites to drive more traffic to their website. This can be a key piece in your sales or conversion funnel.

Many of the plug-ins available will allow you to moderate your reviews and approve those that show up on your blog. You can’t do this with reviews featured on Google or Yelp!.

One great example of a small business making the most of their Google reviews is Go-Forth Pest Control in Wilmington, NC. They have featured posts by their customers on their homepage to show potential clients the quality of work they’re capable of.

Featuring Google Reviews

Unlike featuring a Facebook or Yelp! review, adding Google reviews to your website won’t require you to pay for anything unless you choose to.

There is a variety of WordPress plug-ins that can make featuring Google reviews slightly easier, but there are so many free options that for the majority of applications, purchasing a plug-in will be unnecessary.

Google Places Reviews

The most basic plug-in to use is called, “Google Places Reviews”. It’s offered through Google and will display a maximum of three reviews simultaneously. There are also a number of design options and configurations that you can edit to customize the look of your review panel.

Featuring Yelp! Reviews

For many industries, Yelp! is the go-to place for reviews. This is especially true of restaurants and professional services.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of options when it comes to featuring a Yelp! review on your website. That’s because Yelp! is a niche platform that focuses on specific industries.

If you operate in one of the industries that Yelp! is known for, you know the amount of clout they have.

One of the reasons their reviews are so well-respected is that they have a fake review filter that has been designed to only display actual customer reviews.

This lends credibility to the reviews featured on the website.

Yelp Widget Pro

Yelp Widget Pro is a free feature included with your WordPress subscription. It enables you to embed features of your business’s Yelp page on your WordPress website.

The cost of this subscription is about forty-five dollars a year.

When you purchase and enable this plugin, the process is relatively straightforward. You will be emailed a file that contains the plugin and you will need to download it and “unzip” it.

Then you will navigate to your WordPress site and select the large blue button that says “Upload Plugin” under the tab, “Plugins”.

Once uploaded, all that will be necessary is for you to implement some code wherever you want your reviews to appear.

In all, this process should take about five minutes to fully complete. You will have a wide variety of styling options for the display box for your reviews. You can even tweak details manually by altering the code that you add to your pages.

In addition, you can choose what reviews you want to be featured. One option is to only display five-star reviews on your website. Other options include selecting whether or not you want to display your company’s contact information and several other formatting options.

Embedding Facebook Reviews

There are a ton of different options when it comes to embedding Facebook reviews into your website. The differences between the options are mainly the ease of implementation and the format that you desire.

Feed Them Social Plugin

The most simple Facebook review plugin is called Feed Them Social.

It can be uploaded and configured directly through the WordPress Plugin Dashboard. There is no manual upload required.

By using the dashboard, you eliminate the potential for any errors to occur. For those who don’t have a lot of experience with plugins, this can be a very important feature.

Facebook Reviews Pro Plugin

A secondary option is to pay forty-five dollars for a one-year license of Facebook Reviews Pro.

This plugin was developed by the same people who created the Yelp! plugin, so its installation is nearly identical. You will need to manually insert the code where you want your reviews featured and upload the plugin into the plugin tab.

The major difference between Facebook Reviews Pro and Feed Them Social is the formatting options that are available to each.

Wrapping it Up

There is nothing more important to your potential customers than being sure that the business they’re purchasing from is trustworthy and reliable.

By featuring reviews on your website, you are giving them the ability to see what others who have used your products or services have thought about your business.

There are multiple types of reviews out there with the three most common being Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and Yelp! reviews.

Each of these has plugins available that allow you to easily add their review content to your website.

They’re all highly customizable and allow you to select fonts, colors, text size, and the size of the content box.

If you are looking for the right place to download your plug-ins, visit Pligg, a digital download marketplace that has products to drive traffic to your website today.


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10 Ways a Messenger App Can Transform Your Business

November 9, 2017 - By 

The way we communicate online has drastically changed the way a business engages their client base. In fact, a recent survey found that 50% of chatbot users claimed that using a messenger had a positive impact on their perception of a business.

A messenger app started as an easy way to chat with colleagues and friends. It has since turned into a tool for businesses to provide better customer support. But they can do so much more for a business.

We’re now seeing that companies can use these apps to help market products and services. Organizations are using this to transform customer experience and reach people in new ways.

Let’s break down the benefits these apps can bring to business operations.

1. Establish a Conversation with Your Customers

Engaging with your customers strengthens the relationship you have with them. The immediacy that a messenger app brings to this engagement is invaluable.

Two-way dialogue is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Online messaging makes this dialogue scalable. Media-rich connectivity and personal interaction give you an edge over your competitors.

Opening the channels of communication forms a sense of familiarity and trust. Companies that provide chat services have a better chance of repeat customers and upsell revenue.

2. Customer Convenience

People can and do shop online around the clock. Thus, the service you provide shouldn’t stop at 5 pm.

If a customer has a problem or question, a messenger app allows them a line of communication at all times. In this world of urgency, they don’t want to wait until the next day for answers.

Chat services allow for instant access to your service reps 24/7. This real-time interaction keeps business operations moving. It also provides a customer experience that’s much more enjoyable than listening to hold music.

3. Personalized Customer Interaction

Personalized communication is a huge advantage in marketing. A messenger app gives a business the ability to customize their communication for each customer.

Social media allows marketers to track customer engagement. This gives a business a cross-channel view of consumers to segment. Knowing your customer’s interests lets you personalize your message to fit their needs.

Observing the dialogue between you and your customer also keys you into their preferences. This is a perfect chance for personalized offers on products and services.

4. Reach Customers on Their Terms

A key strength of a messenger app is that it allows a dialogue with a customer when and where they want it. They also have the option of conversing in their preferred messaging channel. Not only is the communication more direct, it’s done in a way that makes the customer comfortable.

An advantage to chat apps is they provide an easy way to test different audience segments. They can also be scaled depending on the region.

Because the customer can communicate when and where they want, frequency and reuse are much higher than on mobile apps.

5. Chatbots Make a Messenger App Scalable

Establishing a messenger program for your business may seem intimidating. Luckily, chatbots have made the process less stressful and more functional.

Chatbots work as autoresponders for a messaging system. They enable quick responses and allow for a large volume of chat activity. This means you can leave the more important interaction to a live service rep.

Chatbots help scale engagement and reduce the cost of live teams needed to handle calls 24/7. A system can be set up so that a live agent takes over when needed. Global App crowdsourcing testing provides web and mobile app testing for agile teams.

6. Free, Unrestricted Communication

A big problem with SMS is that there is often a cost associated. Messaging systems provide customers full access to your brand without having to worry about being charged.

Customers can also reach you anywhere in the world. Unrestricted access to product information and service will help boost customer satisfaction. It also keeps businesses running around the clock.

7. Provide a Private Outlet for Customers

If you own a business, you know you will sometimes have unsatisfied customers. A messenger app decreases the chances of a customer expressing any frustration publicly. With so many looking at reviews and feedback online, this is a great advantage.

Messengers also provide an environment for communicating sensitive data. Things like delivery information remain between the customer and service rep.

By providing a private setting you encourage direct interaction. This helps keep an unsatisfied customer out of the public eye.

8. Enhance Team Communication

We’ve been talking about how a messenger app can help your customers. But it also serves an important function internally.

These apps can be a great way to keep everyone on the same page. This is very important if you have team members working off-site. Group chats allow you to meet virtually and keep everyone up to date on important information.

You will also have the ability to store conversations that include important data. Keeping a record of conversations is a great way to stay organized and track accountability.

9. Time and Money Savers

With messenger services, you can forget about making long distance phone calls. They allow you to communicate with anyone in real time and save money on the cost of calls.

They also help cut down on travel by providing a way to meet with colleagues all over the world. You also avoid long and confusing email correspondence. Have the conversation you need to have right then and there.

10. Increase Conversion

Most people want to speak to an actual human when they call a customer service line. Unfortunately, they end up becoming frustrated by an automated system.

Carry this line of thinking into the digital world. A customer is going to want a quick interaction with someone who can help them. If you provide this service you’re going to see higher customer satisfaction.

Messaging allows for immediate service, which means high conversion.

Promote Your Business with Direct Communication

The online marketing landscape provides endless ways to reach your client base. Adding a messenger app to your brand is a great marketing tool and so much more. The service it provides your clients and internal operation is well worth the expense.

Visit our site today for digital downloads along with informative articles.


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7 Tips on How to Start an Escape Room Business

November 9, 2017 - By 

As a lover of puzzles and labyrinths, you’ve likely been thinking about how to build your own. A great escape room business will take the exciting concept of an escape room and make it feel fresh and inventive.

Escape rooms are a great addition to your income, a fun way to meet energetic and adventurous people, and an exciting way to spend your weekends. While there are many different ways to navigate an escape room, the business end of it is less opaque.

Below are 7 tips on how to get your escape room business off the ground and keep people coming back for more.

1. Do Your Research

You can never do too much research when starting any new business venture. There are a lot of ideas that you can draw from in the History of Escape Rooms. You should also see what the most recent trends are.

Zombie-themed rooms were the rage for awhile. Are zombie-themed escape rooms on the rise in your area or is there another emerging trend?

You need to stay ahead of your competition.

Are there other escape rooms within 10-15 miles of yours? Figure out what you can offer that’s different than your competitors. Book a session with your competitors so that you can see where they succeed and where you can improve.

See if other escape room businesses have closed in the last few years. You’ll want to learn from their mistakes. Also, talk to your chamber of commerce to see if any other escape rooms are about to open. Competition is healthy but you don’t want to flood the market.

2. Can You Commit?

Running any kind of business is a huge time commitment. Do you have the free time to devote to running an escape room business?

Write out a budget for both time and money. See what you can afford to outsource and what you will need to handle on your own. Don’t let other aspects of your life suffer for a new business.

Online presence might be the way most of your clients encounter your business for the first time, so make smart design decisions with your site.

3. First Impressions Are Everything

Who is the face of your business? The first person who greets your customers at the door will set the tone for your customers’ experience. You want your greeter to relax your visitors who will likely be nervous about their first time at an escape room.

If you put a face in your promotional materials, you want that familiar face to be on site when your visitors arrive. The greeter needs to be ready to answer questions and give all of the information your visitors need.

Hiring someone else to handle this frees you up to mingle and manage the overall experience.

4. Timing Is Key

Use the time of year to attract your customers. Holidays, local cultural events or seasonal changes can keep your business fresh and give one-time visitors a reason to book again. A zombie or horror-themed escape room around Halloween is a great way to capitalize on the fall season.

If detective stories are on the rise, have a narrative to capitalize on that.

Create different narratives for different events so that potential clients have a variety to choose from. A large company with a good experience with one style of event may want to send another department for an outing more catered to their interests. A changing schedule posted months in advance will work to your advantage.

5. Market It Creatively

Even the best idea won’t sell itself. Be sure that your escape room business is being marketed to the right clientele. If you’re near a tech hub or a business park, tell businesses about how escape rooms promote teamwork. Offer discounts to the businesses nearby.

Talk to another local business or a brewery. By exclusively carrying their products, you can offer cross-promotional deals that are mutually beneficial.

If you’re near a college town or university, offer student discounts. Reach out to student associations and offer discounted packages to them. You’ll be surprised to see a bump in sales after a dozen students put up selfies and social media posts about your escape room business.

See if you can build a flexible business that can host anything from a birthday party, a family reunion, office outing, or any gathering at all.

6. Gifts That Keep On Giving

Your visitors will want a keepsake to remember the experience.

A cleverly printed photo or souvenir will allow visitors to share the story while continuing to promote your business. Taking a group “before” photo will allow your team to print and frame pictures while visitors are in the escape room.

Gather an email list from visitors so that you can stay in touch and offer them discounts throughout the year.

Give out keychains with your name and website on them. Lighters, bottle openers, and keychain flashlights ensure visitors will carry your name around for months or years after their visit.

7. Wrap-Up Event

What do you have waiting for your guests at the end of the puzzle? Other than a souvenir, it might be nice to have an event. Including a food and beverage package at the end, with a “bonus” included for winners, shows teams that you appreciate them.

Leave time at the end of every escape room session for players to hang around, mingle and ask questions. Making yourself available to answer questions can be valuable for building a repeat customer base.

For players, this may be a team-building exercise for their job or their first time getting to know one another outside of work. Helping to foster their relationships can encourage them to spread the word about your escape room business.

Have Fun With Your Escape Room Business

Don’t forget to make it fun!

You should be doing what you love with your escape room business. Connecting with clients should be as exciting for you as it is for them.

If you follow the tips above, you could build long-term connections with clients and offices, becoming part of their annual schedule of outings.


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A Simple Guide To Buying A Home With Bad Credit

November 8, 2017 - By 
buying a home with bad credit

Preparing to buy a home should be an exciting time in a person’s life. It’s a big step, and should be one that you take confidently.

If you have a low credit score, however, you may feel like home ownership will be out of your reach or more difficult to achieve. That may have been true once, but it isn’t the case anymore.

Potential home buyers now have lots of financing options that can help them secure their dream home, even if they don’t have the best credit history financial standing.

Buying a home with bad credit is now a real possibility, but you have to know the right steps to take. Read on for our simple guide, so you can eventually be ready to buy the house of your dreams.

1. Determine a Realistic Budget

Buying a home with bad credit is possible, but you have to be honest with yourself about how much home you can afford. If you’re already standing on uneven financial ground, the last thing you want to do is take on more debt than you can handle.

Start by looking at the numbers. How much do you make each month? How much do you have saved for a down payment? How much are you already paying toward other debts?

It’s also important to remember that the listing price is not the only cost associated with buying a home. There could be closing costs, a home inspection cost, and moving costs that you will have to pay. Factor those into your overall budget so you don’t end up spending more than you can realistically afford.

2. Consider a Co-Signer

If you think that your bad credit may stop you from getting approved for a mortgage on your own, consider asking someone with a more secure financial standing to co-sign your mortgage.

Your co-signer should be someone that you have a close, trusting relationship with — such as a spouse, parent, or sibling — and he or she should be willing to take on the financial responsibility of co-owning the property.

A co-signer will likely have to share their credit report, income information and other qualifications with the lender, so be sure you’ve prepared them to do so.

3. Explore Mortgage Lenders

Traditionally, if you wanted a mortgage loan you had to go to a bank. Now, however, mortgage lenders are becoming a popular option because they can make it easier for everyone — even those with bad credit — to buy a home.

Mortgage lenders can offer non-conforming loans that don’t have to meet a bank’s stricter criteria for funding.

They are willing to work with potential home buyers who don’t have a great credit score and can find financing options that enable those people to buy a home like they’ve always dreamed about.

Want to Know More about Buying a Home with Bad Credit?

Our lives are more complicated than they used to be, and between student loans and credit card debt, it’s common for your credit score to take a hit. But that shouldn’t — and doesn’t have to — stop you from being able to buy a home.

For more information about buying a home under any financial circumstance, please explore our blog.


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What Shark Tank Can Teach You About Startup Failures

October 19, 2017 - By 

The business world can be a brutal, take-no-prisoners type environment. In fact, 8 out of 10 new business are expected to fold within their first few years. And perhaps that’s why millions of viewers tune in to ABC’s hit television program Shark Tank.

Comprised of rotating judges Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Barbara Cochran, and of course, Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank is one of the most exciting and downright fascinating shows on television.

Competitors duke it out with the judges to get funding for their dream business.

But beneath the reality show exterior, there’s a lot that Shark Tank can teach us about business. Namely, failure isn’t always a bad thing.

Here are some key lessons to take away from Shark Tank’s startup failures.

Business Isn’t Always Easy

Shark Tank shares a lot with its reality show sister, American Idol. It’s theorized that people don’t so much tune in to watch the successes as they want to watch others fail.

This sounds harsh, but it brings about an important lesson: business isn’t always easy.

Entrepreneurs shouldn’t expect their first idea to be a smash hit. Sometimes ideas need refinement that can take weeks, months or even years.

This isn’t a bad thing, however. Don’t take rejection personally and learn to develop a thick skin. Rejection is going to come often, but it isn’t a personal matter.

There are plenty of reasons a business may not make it. Perhaps there isn’t enough capital, or an investor already has too many clients. So before contacting SBA Attorneys, be prepared for rejection.

Marketing Begins Upon Entering The Boardroom

Ultimately, a pitch doesn’t begin when the presentation does. On the contrary, a presentation is about more than PowerPoints and tables.

It’s about the entrepreneur themselves.

Everything from wardrobe to body language can make a huge impression in the boardroom. An awkward, aloof presentation may seem fun on TV, but in real life, it’s anything but.

And since startup failures are so common, one bad presentation can leave a business reeling. Accordingly, practice makes perfect.

Before presenting — even to just one person — have every detail planned out. That includes things like wardrobe and technology.

Like on Shark Tank, it’s the investor’s job to size up the entrepreneur. In fact, they may even pass on an opportunity because of the entrepreneur.

Remain calm, cool, and collected.

Failure Is Just As Important As Success

Finally, learn from every mistake. Don’t look at these as failures, but as growing opportunities as a businessperson.

Sometimes it’s important to sit down and look at the facts. What went wrong? What could have been avoided? What should’ve been done differently?

Debriefing a failed venture is a great way to learn some lessons. Understanding why something went wrong is far more helpful than shrugging it off. These failures should be cherished.

By understanding what happened in the past, it’s possible to improve future ventures.

Final Thoughts On Startup Failures

Shark Tank makes one thing abundantly clear: business is tough. But preparing, planning, and understanding can make a venture far more likely to succeed.

For more great tips and downloads, be sure to check out Pligg’s blog. From business advice to software, Pligg has everything you need to get ahead in life.


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The Best Expense Tracker App You Didn’t Know You Needed

October 18, 2017 - By 

If you’re like most of us, there always seems to be more month than there is money to cover it. It’s a frustrating feeling, even if you know you’ve spent some money you probably shouldn’t have. An expense tracker app can help you solve this problem.

So many of us fail at property budgeting our money. In fact, 62% of Americans can’t cover unexpected expenses when they pop up.

If you’re one of them, an expense tracker app is a technology that can play a big role in getting your personal finances in order.

Here, we’ll take a look at 5 of the best. Then you can decide which one you’ll want to start using.

Let’s check them out.

1. BillGuard

The BillGuard app helps you keep track of spending by month, type and location. A huge bonus is that it gives you totally free access to your credit score and identity protection tools such as data breach alerts.

It’s available on Android and iOS and can be used for free.

You can upgrade to premium for $83.88 per year which adds insurance for identity theft and full credit monitoring.

2. Fudget

Looking for something that’s no-frills? Fudget could be your choice.

It features a list interface and is best for people who have a decent handle on their personal budget but want a place to keep everything organized.

Fudget works great for short-term budget tracking during vacations, holidays or when you need to track your work travel expenses.

The app is free, but you can upgrade to the ad-free version for $1.99. With that, you’ll also get the ability to export and an in-app calculator.

Unfortunately, you can’t link it directly to your accounts, but it does work on Android and iOS.

3. LearnVest

This is a great app for people actively involved in investing. It’s only available on iOS but is free to use.

If you want to use it to partner with a financial planner, you’ll need to pay $19 per month plus a startup fee.

You’ll be able to categorize your transactions by expense types while you set and track goals. A great feature is that it gives you a net worth calculation in real time.

Plus, you can link it to all accounts.

4. Mint

Mint will help you create budgets with multiple categories of spending. It’ll warn you with brightly colored graphics when you’re nearing the edge of your budget.

It also gives you free access to your credit score.

This app is completely free to use, can be linked to your accounts and is available on Android, iOS and Kindle.

Securing Your Information Helps Secure Your Budget

Of course, none of this matters much if you lose your wallet or have your private data scanned through your wallet by an RFID scanner.

Solar powered Ekster Smart Wallets solve these fears for you and then some. They’re definitely worth a close look if you value your money and personal security.

So Which is the Best Expense Tracker App For You?

These 4 apps are great options that’ll help you get started with tracking your expenses and balancing your budget.

Take a look at each one and decide for yourself which one fits your lifestyle the best.

After that, take a look at some of our other self-improvement tips that can help you lead a more fulfilling life.

Thanks for stopping by!


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