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These Are the Types of Blogs You Should Be Writing

January 5, 2018 - By 

It’s natural for bloggers to invest time in generating new blog topics. You must generate a steady stream of content to build an audience.

Something else you should invest some time on is what types of blogs to write. Different kinds of posts attract readers with different goals.

So let’s jump in and look at some types of blogs you can use and why.

How-To Types of Blogs

The how to blog post is a go-to for any blog focused on deploying a skill or fixing things.

Say you run a blog about writing computer code for websites. It only makes sense that you’d want to talk about how to get the programming language to do certain common tasks.

It’s also popular because it lets you break the blog post up into easily defined sections. That makes it easier to read and lets the audience jump to wherever in the process they got stuck.

Common Questions

Whether you offer a service or sell a product, you’ll see the same questions over and over.

Even if you maintain an FAQ section, a common questions blog post puts the answers in front of all of your regular readers. You can even break it up into posts on individual products or services.

News Briefs and Commentary

Unless your audience consists of experts, you’re probably better informed about industry news. That’s an opportunity for you to do a couple things.

You can keep people in the loop by talking about current news. You can establish yourself as something of an authority by analyzing the news.

An added bonus is that news briefs require less original research. News organizations and industry organizations do a lot of that heavy lifting for you.

Informational

Informational blog posts attract readers who want to understand a topic better. You can think of these as why blogs or how blogs.

For example, patriotgetaways might do a post on Why to Rent a Cabin for Your Vacation. The post can talk about the health benefits of spending time in nature.

A science blog might focus on how something like photosynthesis works or how fungus grows.

Interviews

Interviews are fantastic fodder for blogs. Depending on the interview length, you can often split it up into several posts. That helps to fill your posting quota for the week or month.

It also lets you borrow on the credibility and audience of the person you interviewed. If you blog about marketing, scoring an interview with someone like Neil Patel or Seth Godin makes you look like someone to watch.

Parting Thoughts

Writing different types of blogs helps you attract different kinds of readers. It also helps you achieve some other goals.

Analyzing news in your industry helps you establish yourself as an authority. Interviews not only deliver content but can flesh our your schedule and confer reflected credibility. Answering common questions can save you time by telling all of your readers things they need to know

If you enjoyed this post, you should also check out our post on putting together a tutorial.


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How to Start a Luxury Travel Blog

January 5, 2018 - By 

Do you enjoy the virtues of luxury travel? If so, maybe you’ve thought about chronicling your adventures on a luxury travel blog.

Blogging is a great way to capture the excitement of all your vacation and share it with your friends and family.

With dedication and effort, blogging can also a great way to generate outlandish income.

Ready to get started? Keep reading!

Define Your Niche

Here’s the thing about blogging– everyone is doing it.

With that said, it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone is doing it well. And, it certainly doesn’t mean that there isn’t room on the expansive Internet for your thoughts and feelings!

If you plan to start a luxury travel blog, it’s a good idea to narrow down your focus. While it may seem enticing to write about everything under the sun, this can come across as disorganized and generic.

With a niche, you can establish expertise. You can create dynamic content that attracts your target demographic.

Whether you want to write about gourmet food in Thailand, villas in Greece, or scuba diving in Fiji, let your niche guide your blogging.

Take Care of Business

After defining your niche, you’ll need to take care of basic website housekeeping. This means coming up with your blog name, hosting site, and blog theme.

Blog name: You already know that there are a lot of websites in the world, so there’s a good chance that your favorite names may already be taken. You may need to play around with different word variations.

  • Keep the blog name short
  • Avoid cliched or generic terms
  • Avoid numbers

Hosting options: Your host is essentially the home base for your blog’s information and data. You will pay a nominal fee for hosting through popular websites like BlueHost or GoDaddy.

Blog theme: Your theme is what helps make your blog come alive. Many bloggers use WordPress for this, as WordPress offers expansive free and premium options for themes.

  • Less can be more (go for simple themes)
  • Check for browser and mobile compatibility
  • Make sure it “feels good” when you look at it!

After you finish these steps, you will be ready to buckle down and really start blogging.

Focus on Your Audience

When you’re starting out, traffic numbers may be a bit bleak. This is a normal part of the growth process.

With that said, you should absolutely pay strong attention to the readers that you have.

Are they asking questions? Which posts are most popular? Are they commenting on specific content with praise?

These little nuggets of information can be very telling when it comes to how readers perceive you. They can also help shape the direction of your blog (because you’ll be focusing on giving people what they want).

Guest Post

Want to increase your visibility? Consider guest posting. It’s a great way to expose yourself and build relationships with other bloggers.

Ask other bloggers in your field if they are interested in guest posting. These sites may have more traffic than you do. They can inadvertently send more traffic and readers your way.

With so many blogs out there, it’s okay to be picky. Look for content that matches your interests. Craft a few pitches to send out to blog owners. Wait for the magic to happen.

Master the SEO Game

You’ve heard of the term, and now it’s time to really focus on the virtues of SEO for your luxury travel blog.

Navigating the intricacies of SEO can feel overwhelming. But, it’s really important to learn! Effective SEO takes your blog from a tiny corner of the online universe into the top search results on Google.

Basics of SEO include:

  • Adding internal links
  • Optimizing images
  • Accurate and efficient titles
  • Long-tail keyword phrases
  • Unique, quality blog content
  • Effective call to actions

Today, there are plenty of online resources to help you improve your SEO strategy. Take advantage of them! Read up, research, learn, and get your luxury travel blog moving in the right direction.

Dominate Social Media

Facebook has over 2 billion active users. Millions of people are on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Here’s the thing: if you have a luxury travel blog, you need to be visible everywhere. Not only will this help you stand out from the competition, it will also help you increase your traffic flow.

Facebook: Work your way to 1-3 picture posts with short captions per day. Consider using Facebook Live if you are on-location and want to share the experience with your fans! Tag and share other travel companies and their articles as well.

Instagram: Your pictures tell a thousand words here, so choose the very best ones you take. Tag the location, create an engaging description, and utilize all the allocated hashtags in the first comment.

Twitter: You can update 3-5 times per day. Share plenty of photos and use a consistent hashtag within your posts. Tag and share other relevant travel industry news.

Youtube: Consider making how-to tutorials for fun, brief videos capturing your experiences. The sky is the limit on this one. While videos may be more complicated than firing off a quick tweet, they are a great way for people to learn the “face” of your company.

Final Thoughts on Your Luxury Travel Blog

Blogging is an excellent way to share your ideas and experiences with the world!

And, if you do everything right, you can reap amazing benefits like establishing expertise and becoming a household name in the travel industry?

On Blast Blog is passionate about connecting bloggers and helping them fine-tune their craft. Whether you’re looking to make money online or create the perfect blog post, we’ve got all the best tips for you.


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6 Signs It’s Time For Driveway Resurfacing

December 22, 2017 - By 
driveway resurfacing

We know driveway resurfacing is not the most exciting household job you’ll ever pay for. And many people like to sort out individual problems at a time, as simple problems can be relatively cheap to fix – as low as $300.

When a driveway is reaching the end of its life, this strategy feels like whack-a-mole. You fix one problem and another pops up in its place.

At this point, driveway resurfacing makes financial and aesthetic sense. But at what point is your driveway due for a full overhaul? Here are the signs to look out for.

1. Water Pooling

If you see water pooling on your driveway, it may have drainage issues. This can happen if the driveway is uneven, as all the water is running to the lowest spot and staying there.

Over time, this will weaken your drive, but the effects won’t always be visible until it causes cracks and potholes. In the winter, if the water freezes, it will push these cracks apart further.

If you live in a rainy area, adding a drainage channel when having your driveway resurfaced can help to avoid this issue in the future.

If you do notice water pooling after a storm, you can help to minimise the damage to your driveway. Push the water out of cracks and dips with a brush or a mop.

2. Cracks

Cracks are often the first sign that a driveway resurfacing job might be necessary in the near future.

While they’re not going to damage your car right away, they don’t look great. And they’ll only get worse over time.

You can try to fill in or cover up cracks. But the more you do this, the more your driveway starts to look like patchwork.

You should also know that sometimes, fixing cracks only covers up the problem, and doesn’t actually fix an underlying issue. For example, if an asphalt drive has already been damaged all the way through, it may be that a pothole is inevitable, even if you fix the crack on top.

3. Potholes

A step beyond cracks, you get potholes. These are caused by cracks getting worse and worse over time, as well as the ground beneath the paving shifting.

Water (and other fluids) seeps into the cracks and weakens the ground underneath the paving. The ground is also compacted as you drive your car over it.

The paving or tarmac starts to break up and sink downwards, forming a pothole.

Large potholes can damage your car’s suspension, and increase the wear and tear on your tires.

You might decide to fill a small pothole in, but this will never totally fix the issue. You need to look into a full driveway resurfacing job to make sure the problem is tackled at its source.

4. Your Driveway Looks Rough and Weathered

Wind, rain, sunshine, and snow all wear down your driveway over time.

This is inevitable, but the good news is that it’s largely cosmetic. For example, you might notice colored slabs are losing their hue, or paving slabs have slight chips and cracks.

However, if a driveway has been in place for a very long time, the weathering can mean it’s less stable than it used to be too. A driveway will only last for a certain amount of time.

You should expect it to remain stable for around 20 years if it’s asphalt. Or 25 if it’s paved or concreted. You still need to remember your maintenance tasks to make it last this long though.

So if your current driveway has been in place for a long time, you’ll need driveway resurfacing after a while. It might be better to get it resurfaced right away.

If you’re unsure, you can always call up experts like Pavement Planet to get their opinion of whether resurfacing is needed or not.

5. Tire Marks

Particularly noticeable on gray concrete, black tire marks end up being very unattractive after a while. These tend to appear faster if you live in a hot state.

You can’t avoid this unless you decide to never drive on your driveway!

By the way – if you do have a concrete or asphalt driveway, do you remember to reseal it every few years? This process helps to stop it cracking so quickly, and from getting chipped off at the edges.

By protecting the material, you’re helping your driveway to last longer. If you don’t keep it protected, you’re pretty much asking for cracks – which will lead to more frequent driveway resurfacing jobs.

Save yourself money by adding a reminder to your calendar to get this done.

6. It’s Too Old – Driveway Resurfacing Time!

Everything reaches the end of its useful life at some point or another.

If it’s for cosmetic reasons, or you just want a change, a new driveway can really add to the appeal of your home.

Perhaps you’re selling up and want buyers to be attracted to the house. Or maybe you’re sick and tired of being outdone by the neighbors.

Eventually, your driveway will develop one or more of the problems listed above. Replacing it now and again can save your car’s suspension and keep your home looking great.

My Driveway Looks Great – Now What?

If you’ve now sorted out your old, worn driveway, and done away with the cracks – what’s next?

How about bringing an old garage up to date? Consider some of these cool automation devices for your garage door.

Or if you’ve put in a new driveway because you’re looking to sell your home, heed our 5 solutions for a fast sale. No potential buyer will be keen on moving into a new home and having to replace the driveway themselves right away.

Whatever your objective, we hope this guide has helped you identify common driveway problems. Browse our archive for more great advice.


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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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Digital Fundraising: How to Benefit Real World Causes Online

December 14, 2017 - By 

Do you run a charity and feel like you need some new ideas on how to raise funds?

It may surprise you to know that charities raised a total of $177 million through digital fundraising last year. Incredible, right? And there’s no reason why your charity can’t do it too.

It’s important that you know how to use the valuable online space for your charity so you aren’t left behind. With people being bombarded by messages both online and off, you must make your charity stand out.

Keep reading to find out the best digital fundraising strategies to raise funds for your charity.

Online Event Fundraising

A popular form of digital fundraising is raising funds for an event online. Current trends are moving toward mobile payments for a number of things. You can take advantage of this.

Firstly, sell tickets to your event online. Setting up an online payment method takes a lot of the hassle out of event planning. To sell even more, share posts on social media about how many tickets are left.

Once the event has sold out, you can direct wannabee attendees to a waiting list or ask them to sign up for updates.

You can also set up an event donation page and even people who don’t attend can still give. Include a call-to-action button and a detailed description of exactly how your charity will spend the money.

Digital Fundraising with Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a collective way to raise money through individual donors, friends, and family. This is an increasingly popular method of fundraising online. People feel a direct connection to projects they get when they give this way.

Supercharge your crowdfunding project by creating personalized messages for donors. Make sure your goal is realistic, don’t aim for too high of a dollar amount in a short period of time.

Finally, be sure to encourage people to share and comment as much as possible.

GoFundMe is the largest platform for crowdfunding. You can use their site to create a custom project. For an alternative to GoFundMe, weigh the pros and cons of other platforms such as YouCaring vs GoFundMe.

Gamify Your Giving

People love donating to charity, but life sometimes gets in the way. Want a good way to catch their interest and make giving fun? Turn it into a game!

Gamification means using game-like design or strategy. You’ve probably already used a thermometer that shows how close you are to a fundraising goal.

Take it further by creating badges or levels so that donors can display achievement. Using leaderboards is also fun and creates competition, and it rewards people in a public way.

Raising Funds for Your Charity Online

Hopefully, now you’ve got some great ideas for digital fundraising activities.

Remember at the heart of your strategy is engaging with donors. Keep online fundraising innovative and fun and you’ll always have donations rolling in.

Now that you’ve got the tools, it’s time to get out there and raise some funds for your charity.

Read up on some online digital marketing tips to raise your charity’s online profile even more.


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3 Qualities to Look for in a Great Access Door

November 13, 2017 - By 

Having a great access door means more than just providing entry for plumbing or electrical units. It can offer safety and security when used as a safe.

There are many purposes you can use an access door for but it ultimately ends up being an easy way to conduct necessary maintenance repairs. Whether that’s what you intend to use it for or want to convert it into something else, we have advice on the qualities a good access door should have.

Ready to find out what they are? Here we go!

Hidden Hinges

Concealed hinges are great if you’re wanting the door to be flush with the wall. That way, it doesn’t stick out awkwardly.

They also come in handy if you’re using your door as a safe. When the hinges are located within the door itself, it’s impossible to be tampered with. Crooks looking to gain access won’t find a way because they can’t locate the hinges.

Not only do they offer security when used that way but they’re easy to install. Whether you do it yourself or have a professional do the install, most concealed hinges work like a puzzle. All that needs to be done is to click one piece inside the other.

Fire-Rated Access Door

Since most doors are used to conceal electrical units, it’s best to invest in a door that’s fire-rated. Why?

If a fire were to happen, one that’s fire-rated limits the amount of smoke that’s produced. Also, it has properties that prevent the fire from spreading past the doors.

These types of doors prove themselves useful because when installed, it creates a tight seal against the wall. When used in the kitchen, for example, the material it’s made out of won’t become hot to the touch. All that’s heated inside the door won’t transfer onto the door itself.

Companies like Best Access Doors understand consumers want to keep their home protected. Therefore, they offer a wide variety of fire-rated access doors.

Can Withstand the Elements

Most doors can be used indoors and outdoors. While it’s great to have one that can do both, it’s best to consider the type of weather in the area you live in if the door will be on the exterior of your home.

If it’s strictly indoor, sticking it outside won’t put it to good use. It’ll slowly deteriorate from the outside elements.

Harsh winters or even blazing sunlight can cause damage. When shopping, be sure to pick up one that’s specifically for the outdoors.

It can also withstand mildew and warping caused by weather. It’s worth the investment so you don’t have to replace the door three years from now.

Wrapping Up

When picking out an access door, it’s best to remember these three qualities. Your door should be able to withstand the outside elements and keep your valuables safe.

Whatever you decide to use it for, make sure it fits your needs. There’s plenty of options to choose from so you won’t be stuck with one that’s useless.

For more information on a plethora of topics, check out our recent blog posts!


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Everything You Need to Know About Hardwood Decking

November 13, 2017 - By 
hardwood decking

If there’s a better option for a deck than hardwood decking, we couldn’t tell you what it is. The strength and beauty of hardwood is without match, and its durability seals the deal for anyone considering hardwood as a deck building option.

Hardwood decking provides the best long-lasting alternative to synthetic materials or softwoods. It boasts a natural beauty that gets better with age, much like a fine wine.

Nobody can deny the durability of hardwood. As an example, the hardwood Ipe Decking used on the Coney Island Boardwalk lasted 70 years. When torn down, the wood was re-used on other products.

If you’re looking to create an unforgettable outdoor oasis for your house then hardwood is where you should start.

Here’s everything you need to know about DIY hardwood decking.

What Type of Hardwood to Choose

The first step is choosing the right hardwood for your project. Here, we’ll break down 5 of the most popular options so you can choose the right one for your project.

If you’d like to know what other types of hardwoods are available, then give this a click!

1. Ipe Wood

This is the most popular decking option for builders using hardwood. Color options range from olive-brown to dark brown. Some even have a blackish tone.

The wood grains vary widely.

Ipe wood will provide a gorgeous, long-lasting deck. It’s incredibly hard and will last over 40 years with the right installation and care.

If you live in a harsh environment with extreme weather, you can’t go wrong with Ipe wood.

2. Garapa Wood

This is the second most popular hardwood solution.

Grarapa decking features a beautiful golden brown to light yellow color. As it begins to weather, it turns a silvery gray.

The best part about Garapa is that there’s no need to apply an annual sealer. It’s naturally resistant to decay, rot, scratches, splinters and even fire.

Also known as Brazilian Ash, its moderate cost makes it a great alternative to Ipe or Teak hardwoods.

3. Massaranduba

This type of hardwood is one of the most durable timbers on earth. It’s a very cost-effective sub for Ipe decking in many applications.

It has a straight grain and reddish-brown hue. Some people refer to it as Brazilian Redwood.

If you’re looking for a Mahogany appearance, Massaranduba is a great way to go.

4. Cumaru (Brazilian Teak)

Cumaru provides a long-lasting, cost-effective alternative for hardwood decking.

It glows in a warm and attractive golden-brown color that’s unmatched by most hardwoods. It also ages gracefully and is long-lasting.

Cumaru has a similar density as Ipe but at a much more moderate cost.

5. Teak

Teak surpasses most all other woods for outdoor use. True teak decking, known as Tectona Grandis, has natural oils which completely eliminate the need for sealants or preservatives.

It’s the most expensive hardwood option but is also the highest quality. It’s so high quality that it’s used on many luxury yachts.

If you’re looking to build a one-of-a-kind deck, Teak is the best material.

Choose the Right Profile

The decking profile you’ll use will depend on the fasteners you’re using and the location you’re installing the deck.

Standard Decking

Use this profile for face screwed decking. Then, plug it to give your deck a completely seamless look.

Pre-Grooved Decking

Use pre-grooved decking when you want to allow hidden fasteners to be installed so that the decking boards don’t show any of the fasteners.

Tongue and Grooved Decking

Use this profile for porch flooring or when your deck will be covered. It should only be used when you aren’t concerned about water drainage.

How to Choose the Right Fasteners

First, note that all hardwood decking requires stainless steel screws. You’ll also need to pre-drill each hole due to the hardness and density of the wood.

Stainless Steel Screws

No matter what type of hardwood you’re using, employ stainless steel screws. The wood is going to last 40 or more years, so you’ll want your screws to last just as long.

In addition, other fasteners cause discoloration and staining in hardwoods.

Use stainless steel screws for hidden fasteners, face screwing and if using wood plugs.

Wood Plugs

When face screwing, wood plugs can be used. You’ll need to counter-sink each screw to allow you to cover the head of each screw with a wood plug.

Typically the wood plugs will then be planed or sanded to be smooth with the deck surface.

Hidden Deck Fasteners

When you’re using pre-grooved decking, you’ll want to use hidden deck fasteners. They’re used to clip the decking boards to the span and are almost completely hidden by the deck grooves.

Sanding and Finishing

Once your deck is installed, you’ll want to consider treating it will an oil-based finish. That’ll depend on the hardwood you’ve chosen and the look you’re going for.

How to Sand and Seal Your Decking

First, you’ll want to seal all of your fresh cuts with AnchorSeal. Then, spot-sand as needed. It’s not recommended that you do orbital sanding because it will leave unsightly circular scratches in the wood grain.

Finishing

If you’re OK with your deck developing a natural “silvering” color, you don’t need to worry about finishing. Your deck will still last many, many years.

However, if you’re looking to keep the wood coloring of the original hardwood you should look for a penetrating oil-based finish that’s transparent. It should also have UV protection.

Before you apply, clean and brush your deck’s surface to remove all dust and dirt. Then apply several transparent coats and you’re good to go.

Maintenance and Care

One of the best features of hardwood decking is that it’s very low maintenance. However, you can still help improve its appearance and make it last longer.

The Best Way to Clean Your Deck

A couple times per year put together a simple water and soap solution and take a stiff brush to your deck. This will keep is shining like new.

Pressure washers are rarely recommended for a hardwood deck. When it’s time to rinse, a garden hose and spray nozzle will work just fine.

Refinishing

When you need to remove stains or age from finishes, look for a commercial cleaner that’s made specifically for hardwoods.

When refinishing, make sure to clean the deck thoroughly before you start. Some finishing products may not need to be stripped off the deck prior to applying a new coat. If you have questions about this, contact the product manufacturer.

Hardwood Decking is the Way To Go

With all the options, durability and beautify of hardwood, it’s difficult to see a better option for your new deck.

If you learned from this article, take a look at some of our ebook downloads that can further expand your knowledge base.

Good luck with your deck project!


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5 Moving Checklists to Help If You’re Moving to Tampa

August 24, 2017 - By 
tampa

The word is out about Tampa Bay. In fact, according to a recent article in WalletHub, Tampa ranks number 14 in the best cities to live in the entire country!

That’s the highest of any city in Florida, leaving popular destinations like Miami (which came in at number 54) in its dust.

One of the only downsides of moving to Tampa is that it’s a bit of a hassle getting there. However, with the help of a moving company, you can cross that downside right off of your list.

And speaking of lists, here are five checklists, organized by timeframe, that will help you prepare for the big move:

1) Two Months to Go

Get to know the area. Sure, you’re moving to Tampa, but there’s so much more to it than just the city. They call it “The Bay Area” for a reason. Research other awesome places like St. Petersburg and Ybor City.

If you have kids or plan to some day, get to know the school systems, particularly in your neighborhood. Consider the decision between private and public schooling based on what you’ve been able to determine.

Leave behind clutter. While a moving company will help you with the boxing and hauling process, two months out is a great time to start sorting your stuff into piles of what you plan to bring to your next life, and what you can do without.

2) One Month to Go

Take care of clerical business like an official change-of-address with the Post Office. Do this now. It may seem early still but the next 30 days are going to fly by.

Now is a good time to have the realtor assisting with moving to Tampa send you measurements for the new place. As you begin the packing process you are going to want to know if it’s worth bringing a couch that will never fit through the door.

Find a new primary care physician in the Tampa area and have your records transferred over to their office. If you see specialists, you may want to repeat the process for them as well.

3) Two Weeks to Go

Not to judge, but you probably should have done this already but it ought to be said: If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to give your two-week’s notice to work.

Get a routine car repair. Get the oil changed and the tires rotated, especially if moving to Tampa means a long drive. Keep in mind that Tampa is the fifth most humid major city in the country. Make sure your car is equipped to handle that.

Now is a good time to get on the same page with professional movers, particularly ones who are used to the process of moving to Tampa.

4) One Week to Go

You should hopefully be finished with packing up the house by now. With one week left now is the time to pack your actual suitcases.

Add specifics to boxes to help the moving company like “fragile”, as well as the rooms that the different boxes are meant to go in.

Do a major trip to Goodwill or another charity organization. Donate everything you don’t need that you wouldn’t consider trash.

5) Moving Day

Take stock of everything. Count all the boxes. Make a list of all the furniture. Check this list again in Tampa.

Go over everything above once more to be certain you’ve forgotten nothing. Consider doing this the day before as well.

This is sappy, but take a photo. This will always be your home, no matter how many you have in the future.

The Move to Tampa

The transition to Tampa is an easy one. Between the year-round summer weather, the museums, and the booming job markets, this should be a pretty easy place to find your footing.

With the right attitude, the right checklists, and most importantly the right moving company, your move to Tampa will be a breeze.


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How to Create Your Own Digital Manual

August 3, 2017 - By 
manual

In a digital age, what happens to non-digital information?

Most often, it gets ignored! These days, most people will hit Google the first time they encounter a problem – even when it’s their health!

But that’s a good thing if you can take advantage of it. By offering digital manuals online, you extend the promotional reach of your company.

That’s why we’ve put together some points to consider for creating an effective digital manual.

Determine Your User

The single most important step in writing a successful manual is knowing your user is.

First, create a single sentence that defines who your user. This can be something as simple as “Users of Plantronics Headsets“. This short scope will keep you focused on answering your users’ questions.

Without thinking about your user in advance, you risk drifting off-topic. You may find yourself answering questions outside the scope of your intended purpose.

Create a Logical Outline

Knowing your user should help you create your structure.

Without a logical outline, you’ll just be winging the content. Your guide won’t have any rational flow. A good user guide works step-by-step, beginning to end.

Build a general contents page first. Write down all of the topics you want to cover in your manual. Then rearrange these topics into their most logical pattern. You may find yourself having to shift a section as you write the manual, but creating an outline at the start will give you a structure to work from.

Make It Visual

There’s nothing more boring than a manual without images. And what’s more, images will help your users understand the content!

Words without a visual guide can be hard to follow, so consider using the right images to highlight key points and hold your users’ attention. With a digital manual, you can offer full-color images and even links to videos! It’s a lot harder to do this with a traditional manual, and that’s one reason digital downloads are outpacing physical media.

Diagrams, step-by-step images, and tables are all great ways to present your information visually.

Make It Easy to Access

If you’ve gone through all the trouble of creating a manual, you want your users to see it. If users can’t find your manual, you’ve wasted your time creating it.

Especially in an age of short attention spans, where you display something is as important as what it contains. Make your user manual very easy to find. Link it from the product page, or even your main page if appropriate. Make sure the link includes the word “manual” and the name of the product.

This kind of forethought not only helps your users, but it builds their confidence in you. Making this information easy to obtain gives your users a positive attitude toward your company. How many times have you been frustrated by trying to find something on a website? That feeling translates into frustration with your company itself.

Create a Digital Manual Now

As you can see, creating a digital manual doesn’t have to be complicated. By keeping these points in mind, you could create one easily and improve your promotional reach.

Be sure to follow our blog for up-to-date digital hints and tips!


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5 Tips For Growing Marijuana Indoors

July 12, 2017 - By 
growing marijuana

With marijuana becoming legal in more states each year, many people are choosing to start growing their own plants.

Growing your own marijuana is a fun way to watch the process from start to finish. It allows you to know the quality of your marijuana. It’s also relatively simple and inexpensive to get started!

If you’re thinking about starting your own operation, check out these five tips for how to grow marijuana indoors!

1. Set the space

Before you can start growing marijuana in your home, you need to set up your growing space.

Whether you plan to grow one plant or one dozen, you’ll need to create a dedicated space that helps to control the environment around the plant.

There are several ways to create a space in your home. If you’re growing several plants, you may want to dedicate an entire room to them. It would need to be a room with doors that close, as well as ventilation or a way to add it, and electricity for heat lamps.

If you aren’t dedicating an entire room, you might choose to purchase or build a grow tent.

A grow tent features reflective interior walls that help to reflect light and keep your plants warm.

2. Think ahead

While buying seeds and setting up your space, it’s important to carefully consider how many plants you’ll have.

Even if you think that you’ll have many plants in the future, it’s a good idea to start small.

This will give you a chance to set up a space that functions well, and lets you learn the in’s and out’s of growing before you have several plants on the line.

Keeping your numbers small doesn’t necessarily meaning that the space that you grow in should be. When planting, think ahead, and remember that marijuana plants will flower and double or even triple in size.

3. Order the right seeds

Choosing and buying seeds for the first time can be a challenge. There are many different quality seeds and options out there.

If you are learning how to grow marijuana for the first time, you may want to start with feminized seeds. These are guaranteed to grow into female plants.

If you don’t buy these, you’ll have to go through the process of sexing your plants once they begin to grow, and may end up throwing out several male plants.

4. Give your plants some air

Ventilation is key when growing marijuana indoors.

If your growing space isn’t properly ventilated, it could lead to several health problems for your plant, including developing insects like spidermites. While you can treat these with insecticides, it’s easier to stop them before they start.

A window or duct in your growing room, along with a fan, will help keep air circulating and keep your plants healthy.

5. Be conscious of the smell

Marijuana plants have a strong smell. While this may not bother you, if you live in a neighborhood, this could be a problem.

To help reduce the smell and keep from bothering your neighbors, you’ll want to add an air filter. The filter should be installed in front of your fan to cut down much of the scent.

Start growing today!

With a small investment of time and money, along with these five tips, anyone can learn how to grow marijuana indoors!


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Caught With Your Pants Down? What to Expect During a Drug Test

June 30, 2017 - By 
whizzinator

You spent weeks – maybe even months – searching for your next job. Then you got called in for an interview, and you nailed it!

Your dream job is right there within your grasp. The only thing standing between you and that first big paycheck is…the drug test.

Even if you don’t use recreational drugs, the idea of submitting to a pre-employment drug test is intimidating. However, since 57% of U.S. companies require drug screening from new employees, chances are you’ll face it eventually.

What types of drugs are employers testing for? And what can you expect during your screening session?

Read on to find out!

What Drugs Are They Testing For?

Most employers will order either a 5-panel or 10-panel drug test.

A 5-panel drug test looks for the following:

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opiates (heroin, codeine, morphine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • THC (marijuana) – even in states where it’s legalized!

The 10-panel drug test also looks for these common painkillers and prescription drugs:

  • Propoxyphene
  • Methadone
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamine

Is it possible to “beat” a drug test? To be sure, many have tried.

Methods include diluting urine or providing someone else’s urine. Some have even created synthetic urine with devices such as the Whizzinator.

However, providing tainted or fake urine is highly illegal, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. For this reason, it is highly NOT recommended to try it!

(Worried about painkillers showing up in your urine test? Try some of these natural pain remedies instead!)

What to Expect During a Drug Test

Well, the big day is here. It’s time to step into that clinic and provide the urine sample that will determine your professional fate.

The process will probably go something like this:

  1. Smile nervously at the receptionist as you present identification. This is to verify that you are actually you.
  2. The collector will ask you to remove unnecessary layers of clothing (coats, jackets, etc.) and empty your pockets. Basically, she has to be sure you’re not planning to tamper with the collection process.
  3. In most cases, you’ll have privacy while you urinate. However, if the collector has any reason to think you might tamper with the sample, she may assign a same-sex observer to accompany you.
  4. The collector will give you a sealed container with measurement markings and a wide mouth. Before you touch it (or yourself), be sure to wash your hands to remove any trace chemicals on your skin. This could adversely affect the test results!
  5. Once you’ve filled the cup, the collector will examine it for any signs of tampering. She’ll also check the temperature and make sure there’s enough for the ordered tests.
  6. You and the collector sign paperwork stating that the specimen is correctly labeled. You also sign off that there were no issues during the collection process.
  7. Exit the clinic and give a big sigh of relief. It’s over!

Depending on where the clinic processes the test (in-house or sent to a lab), it may take a few hours or a few days to get the results back.

We know it’s difficult, but be patient! And try not to worry.

You’ll pass that test with flying colors and be on your way to your new job before you know it!


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