Posted In:Uncategorized Archives - Pligg


The Vending Machine Hack That Makes You Snack Healthier

September 14, 2017 - By 

Do you often feel guilty after chowing down a bag of sour cream and onion chips?

Whether your cravings for salty or sweet snacks inside the vending machine becomes more apparent mid-morning or late afternoon, you know it’s not helping your body.

And it’s no wonder. 85% of what’s offered in vending machines is unhealthy.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for healthier choices so you’re bound to reach for a chocolate bar or a soda. But what if there’s a vending machine hack out there that’ll settle your unhealthy appetite once and for all?

Read on to find out what it is. Let’s get to it!

The Vending Machine Hack You Need to Use

With slim pickings across the board in terms of healthy choices, it can be impossible to keep up with a good-for-your-body diet. They don’t exactly sell salads in a vending machine now do they?

Of course not! That’s why it’s important to be mindful when you’re staring at one. But what if you gazing hard into a vending machine was the key to eating healthy?

According to Rush University Medical Center, they’ve discovered the key to fighting off temptations for salty, fatty foods.

With easy access to vending machines within the office or the mall, the availability of these high-calorie foods is what drives people to consume more of it.

We want our food as soon as we lay eyes on it. With that being said, it often leads to our demise.

We’re impatient and starving, which makes for a bad combination. Our unwillingness to wait pushes our cravings into hyper drive, making us choose those sweet goods because they’re convenient. We could care less about healthy eating until we’ve devoured that unhealthy treat and feel guilty for doing so.

What leads to less guilt is waiting and being patient. And with that, it ultimately ends up with you making a healthier choice.

Sounds crazy yet simple, right? What’s easy doesn’t always mean it’s secretly impossible.

A 25-second wait is all it takes. In the study, they use vending machines with an LED screen that started a countdown if a student chose an unhealthy snack.

Along with that seemingly long waiting time, most often chose to change their minds to a healthier option because they got it faster. Not all machines will have that fancy countdown technology, which leads on to the next topic.

How Can You Apply This Vending Machine Hack in Real Life?

The way to do it is to either countdown from 25 or 30 seconds in your head or set a timer on your phone. While you’re staring at all the sweet, salty and fatty foods, decide if you really want them or not.

Most likely you’ll end up choosing the healthier snack. And if you do, reward yourself later with a good dessert.

Not all vending machines offer a diverse group of healthy snacks. If you’re wanting to change what your office provides, tell your boss to check out HealthyYou Vending reviews. They offer a wide variety of snacks that’ll please everyone in the office.

Wrapping Up

We all know the benefits of eating healthy. In a world where unhealthy snacks are more readily available, it can be hard to avoid them.

It’s good to treat your body as a temple, that’s why it’s important to not be thrown off by sugary snacks. Check out our other blog posts for all things health related and ones that aren’t!


5 Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Audio Speakers

September 14, 2017 - By 

According to a recent industry report, households spend more than $1,600 annually on electronics, and home audio is a top-three spending choice that’s continuing to grow.

Are you looking to buy a new set of audio speakers for your home, but aren’t really sure what to look for?

By doing a little research, you’ll know what to keep in mind so you can shop with confidence.

Let’s take a look at five things to consider when buying a new audio speaker system.

1. Sound Quality is Subjective

It’s easy to get talked into buying a pair of audio speakers because someone you know claims they offer “the best sound quality imaginable.”

However, keep in mind that sound quality is subjective. What may sound amazing to one person may only sound okay to another.

There is no such thing as a speaker with the “best-ever” sound quality.

Therefore, when you shop for speakers, you need to only worry about your own judgments on sound quality. To do this, bring a few of your favorite albums with you to the store.

Pay attention to whether or not the music sounds natural to your ears, the balance in tone quality, and if you feel like you can listen for long periods without feeling fatigued.

2. Type of Speakers

There are a variety of audio speakers available, and all the options can be a bit overwhelming.

Some of the options are:

  1. Bookshelf, Floor-Standing Speakers: Tend to have the best sound-quality, but take up a lot of floor space.
  2. Satellite Speakers: Small and work best when combined with a subwoofer.
  3. Portable speakers: Fun and easy, but can lack a robust sound.
  4. In-Wall speakers: Can be painted to blend into your walls.

Make sure to choose the type of speakers you need based on your own personal preferences and needs.

3. Location

Not every speaker is going to sound great in every room.

For example, small speakers may sound great in a bedroom, but a bit weak in a large family room.

The audio can also be affected by the content and materials in the room and the dimensions of the room.

When purchasing audio speakers, consider the room you’re going to put them in. In order to get the best quality sound possible, you may need to consider either buying a larger set of speakers or rearranging the room for the best possible acoustics.

4. Other Components

In order to get the most out of your speakers, you’ll want to pair them with a receiver or amplifier that delivers the right amount of power.

Typically, there is a range of amplifier power suggested by the manufacturer. Make sure to look into suggested ranges before purchasing.

Often times, it’s best to select an amplifier that’s the same brand as your speakers.

5. Optimize

Once you’ve purchased your speakers, make sure you take the time to figure out where in your home offers the best performance possible.

For example, some speakers sound great against a wall, while others may need a little more room to breathe.

Be patient and test out several spots before making a decision.

After getting everything set up, you can finally take the time to buy instrumentals, mix your own beats, and play them through your speakers. You might even choose to sell the music you create!

Buying Audio Speakers: Wrap Up

We hope this guide helps you when purchasing your speakers.

If you have any other tips about choosing the right speakers, please don’t hesitate to drop us a comment below!


5 Downloadable Tutorials for Glass Blowing

September 14, 2017 - By 

Glassblowing is a mysterious art. How can someone dip a pole in molten glass and form a blob into intricate art?

And yet, like most mysteries, the internet is rife with answers. You can find and download tutorials on pretty much any subject. Not all of them are free, though. But by taking an online tutorial you save a bundle on lessons.

Today we’re going to direct you to five of our favorite “downloadable” tutorials on glass blowing. Scroll down to see.

1. Downloadable Tutorials for Glass Blowing: Glasscraft’s Webinars

The idea of downloadable tutorials is a thing of the past. Why? Video streaming.

There once was a time when you had to download every video you wanted to watch. The internet wasn’t fast enough for streaming video.

Now, not only can we watch videos without downloading, we can participate in live video classes called webinars. And Glasscraft’s webinars are probably the best you’ll find on the internet.

2. Bernard Katz Glass Videos

If you’re a world renowned artist do you share your knowledge or horde it? Bernard Katz chose the former and you can learn from him on his website.

Learn about everything from necking (not that thing you did in high school) to blocking and papering hot glass. He even includes a video about dipping a potato in glass.

This man does some pretty amazing stuff.

3. Matt Baker Makes a Pipe

Glass art doesn’t necessarily have to be blown from a metal tube. You can set up a lampworking station at home if you have the space.

Matt Baker shows you how to make a simple glass pipe not unlike what you can find at Brothers with Glass. And he only uses a lampworking setup and a glass tube.

It’s a simple process that requires pulling a glass tube in two directions over a lampworking flame. If you have the materials and the station, you can quickly learn to make your own tobacco pipe.

4. Getting Back to the Basics with the Scientific Glassblowing Learning Center

If you’ve never glass blown before and want to learn a thing or two before heading to your local studio, then check out the Scientific Glassblowing Learning Center. Their goal is to spread basic glass blowing knowledge and teach you how to create scientific glass equipment.

The site includes 17 written tutorials for the aspiring glass guru. You’ll find everything here from terminology to glass silvering.

5. Howcast’s Glassblowing Videos

After you’ve reviewed Scientific Glassblowing Learning Center’s information, jet on over to Howcast’s glass blowing page. You’ll find 35 videos in their beginner’s guide.

You’ll learn about the tools. You’ll learn about finding your first glassblowing classes. And Howcast guides you through some of the more important details including how to safely dress for a glass blowing class.

Conclusion: Soon You’ll Be a Pro

Glassblowing is a beautiful hobby. And not many people know how to work with glass.

If you prepare yourself ahead of attending a physical class with downloadable tutorials, you’ll quickly learn the skills and soon make glass art of your own.

If you need content for your new glass blowing blog (which you’ll soon be writing), check out our content pack.


Cyber Security Risks Small Businesses Should Prepare For

September 14, 2017 - By 

In 2016, more than 29 million confidential records were exposed by cyber attacks. Studies at the time concluded that the cost per record stolen in the United States came up to $220 and the average cost per breach was found to be $4 million.

If you’re not scared about cyber security threats, maybe you should be.

Surely, your company uploads thousands of personal and confidential data to the web, whether directly or through a cloud service, every single day.

This poses a significant threat not only to your business but also to your employees. Their confidential records could be hacked, identities stolen, and financial records pulled.

If you’re a small business owner, it’s time to prepare for some very real cyber security risks. Being equipped with the knowledge and power to fight them can prevent a terrible catastrophe and an unbearable financial burden.

Cyber Security Risks Facing Small Businesses

Your company’s intellectual property should be protected at all costs. Approximately 29% of cyber attacks to small businesses are planned cyber-crime. An additional 24% come from disloyal employees.

Follow along if you’d like to know the types of threats your business could be exposed to.

Understanding Your Contracts

The first step for cyber security risk preparation is reading the fine print in all the contracts your business has signed. Any third party provider will issue a contract and it’s important to understand the liability that comes with it.

Read everything. Be aware of how your information can be distributed and whether the company has data breach protection or not. Third party providers consisted of one-quarter of the data breach claims submitted in 2015.

Employee Risks

It is also important to understand how your employees can facilitate an attack. One of the most common ways is through lost or stolen documents, phones, or laptops.

Human error is a huge cause for data breaches. Brief your team on how their negligence can negatively affect the company. In this case, education is your best friend.

A mandatory training should be necessary for every new employee. Restrictions should also be placed on which electronic devices can be removed from the building and which ones cannot.

Digital Downloads

This is another classic attack agenda. Hackers will get your employees to download malware and in a matter of seconds or hours, your entire system has been breached.

The financial loss associated with this type of breach can be extremely significant. Resources need to be poured into legal defense and system restoration. Not to mention that the company will not be gaining revenue while the system is down.

On average, companies lose $100,000 during these ransomware attacks just from the downtime. Click for more information on how to get technical issues resolved within your company.

A Great Step Forward

One of the best ways to prevent attacks is to migrate to a cloud service. You will have better surveillance and perimeters, highly controlled access to data, and cyber security expertise by the provider.

Commonly, the service provider will also do routine auditing to make sure everything is running smoothly. It is likely your small business would not have the manpower or time to undergo these sorts of checks, so a cloud service is a better alternative to physical servers.

Wrapping Up

Now that you are aware of the types of security risks that can affect your company, it’s time to start preparing. The horrific cost of a cyber attack is sometimes unbearable, especially for smaller companies.

Educating your staff and taking the necessary steps to protect your records can prevent an irreversible disaster.

To get you prepared for a possible attack, do some more cyber security research. Learn about data encryption or secure servers to protect your co-workers from suffering from the effects of a cyber attack. The future of your company is not the only thing that’s at stake.


The Importance of Digital Solutions for Small Businesses

September 14, 2017 - By 

Launching a small business and operating it successfully is no small feat. In fact, half of all small businesses no longer exist after just 5 years.

In order to thrive and survive, small businesses must utilize all of the tools at its disposal. By implementing digital solutions, a small business can book appointments online, deploy effective marketing strategies, track customer purchasing habits, among many other benefits.

Read on to explore different digital strategies and learn how they can improve operations for small businesses.

Why Small Businesses Need Digital Solutions

Failure statistics for small business appear to correlate with a lack of digital strategy.

Digital commerce is a part of life for the vast majority of Americans, yet 50% or more of small businesses have not launched a website. This seems unfathomable in the digital era, but 1 of every 2 small businesses are behind the power curve.

Nearly half of small business owners list identifying new customers as a primary business risk. Another one-third of owners are concerned with losing customers to another business. Luckily, launching a digital strategy can successfully mitigate these risks.

Deploy a Digital Marketing Strategy

As alluded to before, one of the chief concerns of small business owners is attracting new clientele. This is where a digital marketing strategy comes in.

Digital marketing has a broad reach and includes various different platforms. For instance, small businesses should utilize social media for free advertisement and customer communication.

Facebook is a great way to promote new products, share important information with the public, and attract new clients with likes and shares. It’s critically important to collect customer information at any given opportunity. With this information, the business can blast out promotions, sales, and new product launches via an e-mail or text.

Lastly, it’s imperative to launch a website that is mobile-friendly. Because internet browsing is widely done with smart phones today, a website that is not mobile-friendly will be limiting and largely ineffective.

Remember, if this seems overwhelming, there are companies such as Centric Digital that can help test and launch an effective digital strategy for a small or large business.

Retain Employees By Emphasizing Customer Management

A good digital strategy will collect customer data, such as purchase preferences. This will help the business be better suited to meet the supply and demand of its loyal customer base.

In addition, this digital strategy should include a means for customers to provide feedback. This way, the business can improve on weaknesses and demonstrate that the customer’s voice matters.

Wrapping Up

Clearly, a digital strategy for a small business will help target potential new customers, while retaining existing ones. There are a number of advantages to implementing digital solutions.

If there are any questions about how to launch a digital strategy, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail for additional assistance.


How Digital Products Are Changing Shopping Habits

August 30, 2017 - By 
digital products

The Internet has changed the way the world operates. You can submit documents, meet people from other companies, and shop all at the click of a mouse.

The Internet is, quite literally, a boundless plane. There is no limit to the amount of information that it can store. As such, more and more consumers are going digital when shopping for a new product.

Digital shopping and digital products disrupted the traditional shopping model. And it goes beyond just “finding stuff quicker and cheaper.”

The Traditional Shopping Model

Prior to the dawn of digital products and digital shopping, consumers followed the following shopping model:

Recognizing a Need

Consumers realize they need something. Perhaps it’s winter clothes for their children, or maybe it’s the latest phone software. Regardless, they need to address this need.

Performing Research

Now that they acknowledge this need, consumers next research how to satisfy it. This step could be as simple as checking the sales portion of the newspaper.  It could be as difficult as reading up on car or computer mechanics.

Evaluating All Available Possibilities

Consumers compare and contrast potential solutions to their need. They weigh the pros and cons of each product. Typical pros and cons include cost, material, durability, color, size, and convenience.

Making a Purchase

When consumers reach a decision, they purchase the chosen product. They then incorporate the product into their daily lives to fulfill their need.

Evaluating the Product Post-Purchase

Does the product meet the need? If it does not, what aspect of the need doesn’t it meet and why?

Post-purchase, customers will examine whether or not the product truly meets the need. If it does not, they will determine why. They may even end up returning the product in exchange for a new product that suits the need better.

The Advantages of Digital Products

Digital products have affected virtually every step of this model for a variety of reasons. One reason relates to the products themselves and how they compare with their physical counterparts.


There is much to be said for the convenience of digital products. You can purchase them at any time instead of waiting for a store to open. You don’t have to drive anywhere, and you receive them instantly no matter when you purchase them.

Additionally, digital products are kept as a file on an electronic device. As such, you can take the file with you wherever you go. You can also back up these products in the event something happens to your electronic device so you don’t lose the files.


Physical products cost money to make. They require material to be produced as well as labor to assemble and ship them.

Digital products require none of that. They are simply information in digital form. As such, they are typically cheaper than their physical counterparts.


Physical products all take up space. If you’re an avid reader or a movie fan, sooner or later you’ll run out of shelf space for books and Blu Rays.

That isn’t the case with digital products. They take up a small amount of space on your computer, and they can be moved to external hard drives and other computers.

The Impact of Digital Products

Another reason why these products have interrupted the traditional sales model is how consumers now shop.

Digital products are sold via the Internet. As such, practically all information about them is found online. The same holds true for their physical counterparts.

As a result, consumers are now taking their research and evaluation tactics to the Internet.

Finding Information

Consumers are no longer content with simple box and tag descriptions. They prefer performing in-depth research about products before making any decisions.

One way they research is reading articles and product summaries. Amazon and other online sellers typically include detailed descriptions of their products. Articles contain such descriptions and sometimes even act as advertisements for products.

Reading Reviews and Blog Posts

Another way they research is reading reviews and blog posts about products. Reviews provide detailed evaluations of a product’s effectiveness or lack thereof. Amazon is particularly noted for the lengthy reviews section on its’ product listings.

Blog posts are also a go-to tool for today’s consumers. Like reviews, blog posts provide detailed accounts of one’s experience with a product. However, they are also likely to include information about competing products, sometimes even with a chart of the products’ features for easy comparison.

Watching Vlogs

The emergence of high-speed internet has allowed more access to video streaming. Video bloggers (“vloggers”) and YouTube personalities often make videos detailing their experiences with products.

In fact, sometimes companies will seek out these individuals and provide them with free demos in exchange for a video review.

Checking Out Social Media

Blogs, YouTube, and Amazon aren’t the only places where you can find information and reviews about products.

More than ever, consumers are relying on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for product information. Such platforms are associated with friends and family, so product information feels more casual and trustworthy.

In fact, consumers often glean inspiration from social media for future purchases.  Videos of new and exciting products circulate around Facebook like wildfire.  DIY remedies and gift ideas populate nearly every Pinterest search.

What’s more, social media platforms utilize algorithms. What you search on the sites determines the kind of paid advertising that pops up on your news feeds.

These sites will tell you they use algorithms to show you content you care about. Of course, the real motive is to show you content that contributors pay to have shown to you. Those contributors are businesses that want to reach as many potential customers as possible.

Algorithms are constantly changing based on a multitude of things, including the kind of content you click on, and how often you click on it.

Self-Driven Purchases

After all is said and done, the shopping model has evolved into a self-driven one. This model is inspired simply by the amount of time we spent on the Internet.

To keep up, businesses must understand and accept this new model. They also have to anticipate self-driven purchases in order to advertise effectively. If they don’t, they’ll get lost in an endless sea of digital information.

Are you an avid shopper of digital products? Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments section below.


5 Music Download Sites to Use (And Yes! They’re Legal)

August 23, 2017 - By 
music download

In the age of streaming and paid downloads, it’s difficult to find reputable websites to get free music and movies, whether for personal or professional use.

Even if you hear about or come across a website that allows you to download for free, it’s hard to determine whether or not the site is illegal.

We compiled a list of the best sites to find free music downloads so you don’t have to look anymore:

Legal Music Download Sites

Free Music Archive

This website allows anyone to download music from their database. You don’t even need to set up an account.

The music on Free Music Archive operates under a unique copyright distinction called Creative Commons, meaning it is acceptable for wide use. Some of the music on this website is also in the public domain.

Free Music Archive even maintains blogs and charts about the music they have available, so you will always be in the know about what’s hot. is well-known to many people who primarily listen to music through the internet. Although a lot of the music on this website requires payment, there is a treasure trove of free music that is largely unknown to the wider public.

The website separates their downloadable tracks by genre, and they make it extremely easy for you to find exactly what you are looking to listen to.


NoiseTrade utilizes a very unique approach to music downloading. Musicians and artists post their creations on the website, all for free. If you like what you hear, you can share the track on social media or give the artist a tip.

It works because listeners get to hear great music for free, and musicians get to experience a few perks every now and then. If you want to download the album, you get it in a .zip file.


Soundcloud is one of the most well-known music download sites to find some of the best up-and-coming artists of the moment.

Unlike the sites mentioned before, you are likely to come across the music of some very established artists on Soundcloud, but it is probably only available for streaming.

However, there is plenty of fantastic music from independent artists on the website that is extremely easy to download and fully legal to own.


It is a little-known fact that one of the world’s largest online retailers actually allows people to download some music for free.

There is a full archive of free music on the website. Although some of the downloads are reserved for Prime members, there is still plenty of music available for those with a standard account.

Amazon is also a great place to buy accessories and equipment to listen to music with, like Sony extra bass earbuds.

Listen Legal

Getting free music from illegal music download sites is very risky, because not only could you face legal action, you could also get attacked by a virus through your download.

But the sites listed above are safe and secure, so you will be able to download amazing music at your pleasure.


6 Blogging Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier

July 24, 2017 - By 
Blogging tools

So, you love to write and you think it is time to capitalize on those skills. But you don’t feel fully confident with your blogging ability and don’t really know where to start to fix that.

You’ve come to the right place! There are plenty of blogging tools out there to enhance your experience as a first-time or rookie blogger.

Keep reading for six of our favorite blogging tools.

Portent’s Title Maker

Let’s start at the very beginning: your title.

What is it that you are writing about? What’s your subject?

Portent Title Maker is an awesome blogging tool which takes your subject and uses it to generate catchy titles that make the reader want to click.

The tool even gives a breakdown of why it generated the response that it did.

Aren’t pleased with the turnout? Keep refreshing until you find a title that you feel is the perfect fit for your piece.


Time to get your thoughts organized.

So you have a topic and you’ve generated a title. It is time to dump all those ideas swirling around in your head into one place.

You can put anything and everything you may need to create your content into this blogging tool: websites, photos, notes, snippets, the list goes on and on.

Keyword Planner

Now it’s time to talk about your reach.

You want your content to reach as many people as possible, right? The Keyword Planner blogging tool is going to help you do just that.

Powered by Google, Keyword Planner lets you enter a variety of keywords and will return results summarizing the search volume of your keyword and the popularity of the topic.

This is an essential blogging tool for you to use prior to writing. Where SEO is concerned, you want to be using a keyword that is highly searched already (but easy to rank for) so you know that your content will be seen.


Let’s get writing, shall we?

We all have days where we can’t seem to stay focused on a single task. When you have loads of brainstorming, writing, and editing to get done on a given day Toggl will be your best friend of the blogging tool world.

Toggl is a time tracking tool that allows you add different tasks you are working on and start the timer. It is helpful when you are looking to compare how much time you spend on specific tasks like brainstorming, writing, or editing so that you can better plan your work time.


Once you have completed your piece it is time to use the Hemingway App. This app will scan your content for readability and highlights sentences that are confusing or don’t read well.

This blogging tool can cut your editing time in half!


Now that you’ve written your blog, you will want to add some visuals to catch the eye of your reader.

Canva can help you take your photos to the next level. It is user-friendly and perfect for those who don’t have a ton of design experience.

Put These Blogging Tools to the Test

Now that you have our tips, get out there and get creative! These are our favorites tips but there are tons more out there. Don’t forget to check out our blog!


7 Social Media Management Tools You Should Be Using

July 20, 2017 - By 
social media marketing

Social media is a world in and of itself.

So if you’re still trying to master this world without the help of social media management tools, you’re wasting precious time.

And time is money.

Which Social Media Management Tools Do I Need?

They help you gain control of the huge social media world so you can get back to the work at hand, like meeting with clients or studying SEO trends.

While there are more tools showing up in the market every day, we think the following seven are worth considering for your tool box.


Wait, isn’t Quora a question and answer website?

Yep. And it’s a great place to start gathering ideas when you’re looking for inspiration for your social media posts.

Think about all of the time you’ll save by checking this site and seeing what the buzz is in your particular niche.

And it’s free!


In terms of software management tools in the form of software, Hootsuite is the most well known and has millions of users.

From the Hootsuite dashboard, you can manage over 25 social networks including the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, as well as other networks.

You can further customize your dashboard to display only the streams you need, and then utilize it to schedule your content across multiple platforms.

Hootsuite’s free plan includes up to 3 social media profiles. Paid plans start at $9.99 per month, and increase in price based on additional features.


If you’re looking for visual content management, MavSocial is it. This company brands itself as software for visual content management and social publishing.

Like Hootsuite, it comes with the standard tools for managing your social media accounts, but there’s the added visual side.

MavSocial has partnered with Getty Images and BigStock, so along with your owned content, it’s also really easy to find and purchase multimedia content.

MavSocial has a free plan that has basic features and supports Twitter and Facebook. Additional features are available with paid plans.


If you’re in the marketing sector and want access to social media monitoring and reporting, then Sendible is one of the best social media management tools for you.

Sendible is a browser-based platform on which you can compose and schedule content for your social media accounts and blog. Then Sendible suggests the best times to post for optimal engagement.

Along with being able to plan a content calendar, you can also assign tasks to team members and use the Social CRM tool to manage your customer records.

Sendible starts at $59 per month, but they have several levels of service up from there.


If a lot of your efforts are focused on Twitter, then consider using TweetDeck as one of your social media management tools. It’s a free feature on your account.

You can:

  • log into and manage multiple accounts simultaneously
  • customize your dashboard to monitor timelines and alerts,
  • add team members to better manage your accounts
  • schedule updates


Last but not least, add this browser extension to check the grammar and spelling of your posts.

Nothing says unprofessional like poor grammar and misspelled words.

If you have other social media management tools that save you time and money, we’d love to hear your story. Please feel free to share!


10 Unique Vinyl Siding Ideas for Your Home

July 20, 2017 - By 

Most people take time to consider the interior of their home and what it will look like.  But when was the last time you thought about the exterior of your home?

Vinyl siding can make your look clean and new.  Bonus points because it has low maintenance.  But if you’re thinking about the exterior of your home, you want to differentiate your house from the other homes with colorful paint and lawn jockies.

How do you do that?

Picking out vinyl doesn’t happen overnight.  There’s a lot to consider.

Here Are 10 Unique Siding Ideas for Your Home

1) Split Level Vinyl

Vinyl can be the perfect material for a split level home.  This type of home offers lots of opportunities for attractive vinyl in a mix of textures, orientations, and colors.

One level of vinyl on a split level home offers a modern twist on a vintage style. With many stylistic options to choose from, vinyl siding can offset colors and styles in a split level home.

Luckily split level floor plans are pretty common in the United States.  So if you have a split level home don’t forget to call the vinyl professionals for a unique twist on an old style.

2) Gray Vinyl Siding

Gray Vinyl is the new black.  Gray is the perfect neutral color for either white or black shutters and trim.  Offering bright clean lines on a canvas that’s easy on the eyes.

Really every color goes with gray.  So let your imagination shine with some cray gray vinyl siding and other colorful accents.  Accents can include the front door, shutters, and trim.

A siding contractor can give you an evaluation and help you identify the best colors to make your home stick out in a crowd.

3) Mixing Textures, Vinyl Siding with Stone Entryway

Mixing textures is one of the coolest things you can do with vinyl siding.  This material is enhanced when paired with a stone entry way or garage.  For a modern twist on same old, same old.  T

For a modern twist on same old, same old.  Try mixing textures in your home.  If your home is more like a cabin or bungalow, mix vinyl with a wooden entryway for a different take on a typical look.

4) Colorful Vinyl Makes Your Home Pop

Some companies offer a variety of colors for their siding options.  With dozens of colors to choose from, there are a ton of mix and match options to introduce curb appeal to your home.  If you want to do vinyl, don’t hesitate to go with some color.

5) Not All Vinyl is Horizontal

Introducing some vertical vinyl in an otherwise horizontal home is a creative way to make your home stick out.  If you have a loft or section of the house that would be accented by vertical vinyl.  Go there.

6) Bright White Vinyl with a Colorful Door

Bright white vinyl can be a real asset if you have color accents. One way to do this is a bright red or blue door.  Using neutral vinyl with colorful trim is a creative way to breathe some life into your home.

Have you seen those homes with colorful doors?  Make them pop even more with vinyl.  We see this a lot with wooden homes but vinyl is way easier to clean. Keeping colors sharp for years with low maintenance.

7) Vinyl Siding with a Metal Shed Roof

A lot of people don’t associate a metal shed roof with high fashion.  But when paired with vinyl siding, a metal shed roof can give your home a cool pinstripe effect.

If you want a roof and siding that is both practical and fashionable try this look for your country cottage.

8) Tiny Home with Vinyl Siding

If you are into tiny homes, vinyl siding can make yours the hottest one in the commune!  Don’t wait to discover vinyl for your tiny home.  If you’re trying to learn the hottest trends for tiny homes find a consultant in your area.

9) Laying Vinyl Siding

Vinyl for your home is 0.44 – 0.55 inches thick. The width makes it resistent to sagging.  Unlike wooden panels, vinyl panels are only nailed in at the top of each panel.  So they hang a little.

This is because the vinyl needs to be able to breath. It expands and contracts with moisture.

It’s reasonable to lay vinyl a quarter inch apart for best performance.  It will fade over time, but not substantially.

10) Cleaning Vinyl on Your Home

Homeowners love vinyl because it’s low maintenance.  But you should really clean it to keep it looking its best.  Here are some tips for cleaning vinyl.

Wash with a soft bristle brush to remove mold, mildew and other sediment.  If a brush and water isn’t enough.  Use a gallon of water with 1/3 cup laundry detergent and 2/3 cup powdered household cleaner to clean the exterior of your home.

Because vinyl is only snapped at one end.  It’s easy to replace damaged panels.  Just use a zip tool to unhinge the product and replace it with a new one.  Simple as that.

Keeping your vinyl clean is the key to making it last and to making your house look clean and new.  So don’t skimp on the upkeep just because vinyl is durable.

To Vinyl or Not to Vinyl?

Picking vinyl siding for your home can be tough.  But remember when you choose a home there’s a lot to consider.

Location. Neighborhood.  Type of construction can all be considered when buying a home.

That doesn’t include the preferences like private pool, community pool or no pool.  Acreage and other considerations of a homeowner.

There’s so many things to consider when buying or renovating your home.  Don’t get lost in a sea of vinyl.  Call a professional to help you with your vinyl needs.


Everything You Need to Know About Advertising on Snapchat

July 16, 2017 - By 
Advertising on Snapchat

As a tech-savvy advertiser, you already know about marketing on Facebook and Twitter. But what about Snapchat?

Snapchat may be a newer social media channel, but it has some impressive numbers behind it. The platform boasts 200 million active users each month, with 41% of Americans aged 18 to 34 using it daily.

It’s a phenomenal place to advertise, too. Snapchat ads have higher swipe up rates versus click-through rates on other platforms.

With figures like these, it’s easy to see why companies are rushing to start advertising on Snapchat.

How can you get started advertising on Snapchat? Read on for our ultimate guide!

What Makes Snapchat Different?

One advantage of Snapchat is that it offers unprecedented access to millennials. Until now, this group has been notoriously immune to traditional advertising techniques.

The platform appeals to teens and young adults because it gives them the privacy they crave. Ask any teen why they use Snapchat, and their response will likely be, “Because my parents aren’t on it.”

Anything posted to Snapchat disappears after 24 hours. Users claim that this creates a more authentic-feeling connection with their friends. They enjoy knowing what’s happening right now.

Other favorite features of Snapchat are the photo filters and drawing tools. These are there not to improve the quality, but simply to have fun. The pic you saw on Facebook of your friend with weird antlers and googly eyes? Likely a Snapchat filter pic.

Advertising on Snapchat

Now that you’re familiar with Snapchat, let’s discuss talk about how to advertise on it.

Because users share Snaps with specific people (instead of groups), Snapchat has a different “feel” than other channels.

When developing a marketing strategy, keep in mind that your goal isn’t to get lots of shares and go viral. Your goal is to get your ad in front of individuals who will engage with it.

There are currently three types of Snap Ads available:

  • Between Stories. Similar to TV commercials, these vertical, full-screen video ads play for up to 10 seconds. Viewers also have the option to skip them.
  • Live. These offer real-time views into current events and often receive tens of millions of views.
  • Discover. This virtual newsstand combines magazines and news from some of the world’s top publishers.

Marketing Strategies to Try

It can be tricky to know how to approach a new social media channel. Here are some tried-and-true methods that have worked for other advertisers:

  • Coupon codes. Offer a coupon code in exchange for snaps of users in your store or with your product. An added bonus: Coupons are trackable, so you’ll know exactly how many people are responding.
  • Connect with influencers. Teaming up with established influencers can open up new advertising platforms for you and give you access to a new audience.
  • Build anticipation. If you have an event coming up, create as much hype as possible. Keep the momentum going by posting pictures and videos of preparation and new developments.
  • Target your audience. Your audience on Snapchat might not be the same as your general target audience. That’s okay. As long as they’re interested in your content and relevant to your brand, they’re your new target audience.

Final Thoughts on Snapchat

Advertising on Snapchat may require more creativity or a different approach than you’re used to. The results, though, will be more than worth it!

Be sure to check out our collection of social media blogs for more fresh inspiration.


5 Social Media Trends to Look out for in 2017

July 12, 2017 - By 

Social media and social networks are the way of the world. Social media marketing has become the go-to marketing method.

Companies of all shapes and sizes use this marketing method to grow their client base! In fact, an eMarketer study found that 88% of all polled companies use social media marketing.

As a business owner, it’s likely that your company has a social media presence. From social networking to blogging to podcasting, the world of social media marketing is endless.

While these methods work, don’t you want to ensure that your company is keeping up with the latest trends?

Social media trends come and go, so it’s important to keep your company’s marketing plan up to date!

Being in the know is a huge part of successful marketing. Here are 5 social media trends that are ruling 2017.

Top 5 social media trends

Let’s get to it!

1. Video is the new text.

A growing number of users create videos to communicate. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram all offer video capability. While text-based content isn’t gone for good, your business will want to find ways to use video for marketing.

2. Messaging via social media.

Social messaging is the go-to method for communicating, especially in the social media realm. Social messaging allows for quick and convenient communications with others.

This social media trend is so popular that sixty-two percent of millennials are more loyal to brands that use social messaging.

3. The use of chatbots.

Consumers like the idea of quick customer service. Even with a dedicated customer service staff, chatbots can still be useful.

Many social media users send or post messages that need a quick response. A chatbot can communicate with customers and provide information almost immediately.

Facebook uses more than 11,000 active chatbots! Using chatbots to answer FAQs for customers can be money and time-saving.

4. Instant purchases.

We live in a world were instant actions are not only preferred but common.

As social commerce continues to grow, customers seek the ability for instantaneous purchases. Instant purchasing allows consumers to buy a product or service with one click.

It’s not good enough to market your products via social networks! Take it one step forward by offering simplistic purchasing abilities for your clients.

5. Augmented reality.

The idea of changing reality came to life with the creation of selfie lenses and filters. We can thank Snapchat for this one!

Augmented reality allows users to post personalized pictures and videos. This growing social media trend can be used to better target and market to customers using more personal methods.

As the social media world continues to evolve, trends will come and go. If your company is focusing on social media marketing in 2017, don’t pass up these trends.

Be in the know!

Looking for more marketing tips? Want to educate yourself about useful topics, from business and finance to health?

If so, be sure to check out Pligg! Our blogs are sure to teach you a little bit about everything.


7 Necessary Growth Hacking Tools for Marketers

July 6, 2017 - By 
growth hacking tools

If you run a small business, especially a new one, there is one statement that sums up your situation:

You’re either growing or you’re dying.

That probably sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. Growth is what separates good companies from closed ones.

Luckily, there are a plethora of growth hacking tools that can help you experience the rise in business that you need to thrive. Below are 7 necessary growth hacking tools for marketers that will take your company to the next level.

1.) JustReachOut

This is a service that can help get you exposure quickly. The premise is simple: you reach out to journalists that need help writing a story need an expert to quote. They write their story with you in it, and you post the story all over the internet.

This not only will help with name and brand recognition, but it will also lend some credibility to you. Being listed as an expert in a news story builds trust with the public.

2.) Colibri

Speaking of becoming an expert in the eyes of the public, Colibri helps you not only recognize where your voice will be heard but also helps build a social media brand that will be hard to rival.

Colibri basically monitors sites like Twitter and Quora and then tells you when something relevant happens. It will tell you where to comment or answer a question so that you don’t have to spend hours digging through hashtags.

3.) FameBit-YouTube Stars as Growth Hacking Tools

This company helps you find people on YouTube known as influencers. This basically means that they have a huge following and a knack for getting their viewers to go to your page.

From there, they help you connect and hire them so that you can get massive exposure. How massive? This list shows the top YouTubers and the amount of subscribers and views they have.

4.) InFusion Soft

This is an automation tool for small businesses that allows you to rank your leads and automatically follow up with them.

Not only does this help provide excellent customer service, but it will also ensure that your employees can focus on things other than sending the same email to 50 clients. It helps build your brand and maximizes your labor.

5.) Olark

This tool allows you to do two very important things. First, you can monitor your website’s visitors to see what pages they are on the most.

Second, it allows you to engage them in dialogue so that you can find out what they are looking for and respond. It’s a great way to turn views into converted sales.

6.) YesWare

While we are on the topic of conversions, wouldn’t it be nice to know how effective your email campaign is? With YesWare, you will find out for better or worse.

This tool tells you who opened your email, how many times they opened it, and what kind of device they opened it on. In short, it gives you all the information you need to make adjustments on the fly and maximize your emails.

This is probably the best of the email based growth hacking tools out there.

7.) Outbrain

Have you ever been on a website and see the section called “around the world” or something similar? This tool makes you visible in that section. It doesn’t just make you visible on small websites either. We’re talking CNN/Slate type sites.

In other words, websites with millions of viewers a day will become growth hacking tools for your business.

If you use these tools properly and put in some work, there’s no reason your company won’t experience a high level of growth. If you enjoyed this article, make sure that you check out our other work as well!

While you’re at it, make sure you look at some of the e-books and other downloads we have to offer. There’s sure to be something that you’ll enjoy!


6 Tips for an Effective Digital Marketing Campaign

July 2, 2017 - By 
Digital Marketing mind map, business concept

A Pew Research study found that 79% of U.S. adults have made an online purchase (that’s 8 out of 10 people)!

How does a business send a signal amongst all the noise?

A digital marketing campaign is quintessential to the growth and profitability of a business. These campaigns create awareness, drive site/app visitors, and lead to conversions. It’s a process — one that’s easy to learn & put in place but hard to master.

Want the low-down on an effective campaign? Read on.

The Digital Marketing Campaign: Six Must-Know Tips

The measurement of success (and effectiveness) of a digital marketing campaign depends on the end goals. These goals are A) sales, B) community engagement, and/or C) branding.

The following six tips will help move toward (and achieve) each of these goals:

1. Choose a Goal

There are the three goals (mentioned) but to have the campaign run successfully the goal needs to be specific.

  • Increase sales by 2.5%
  • Decrease chargebacks by 1.3%
  • Grow social media following by 1,000 followers

That type of goal.

Defining the specific goal will allow for milestones to be set along with pairing the process to the valuable tools that will make it happen.

2. Refine the Audience Research & Selection

Who is the audience?

If it’s “anyone that’s willing to buy” then the campaign is off in the wrong direction. The audience needs a representation — a complete breakdown of their demographics, income, location, gender, age, and all other factors.

Build a customer avatar.

Once the type of individual is specified it then shifts to pairing the offer to touch on the points that make it interesting to these people. Push the benefits (not features) and help them visualize the value they gain from purchasing.

3. Develop the landing/sales page

The advertising and marketing will attract attention and get the click. Yet, if the person lands on a discombobulated page, something irrelevant, or there’s a disconnect between the ad and landing page then they’ll bounce.

The landing page needs to immediately grab their attention:

  • A strong headline
  • Visuals (videos work best)
  • Bullet points to highlight the features
  • Reviews and testimonials

The landing/sales page should do just one job: convince the person to buy.

Use examples of landing pages as a starting point for the development.

4. Deliver the Goods (on Popular Channels)

A digital marketing campaign is effective when it works off content or a “lead magnet”. This gives people something of value in exchange for their information and interest. It allows a follow-up to send extra marketing materials.

Push the campaign where customers flock:

  • Social media
  • Forums and online communities
  • Popular websites
  • News portals

5. Leverage the Tracking & Reporting

This one’s simple in theory but hard in practice… Track everything. Report and learn.

Use analytic tools to measure KPI’s such as clickthrough rates, conversions, and bounces. Condense the information into a report to create action steps on ways to improve these metrics.

Confused? Brush up on how to use Google Analytics.

6. Update the Campaign

Lastly, take all that has been learned and update the digital marketing campaign outlines and procedure. Improve one area at a time. This will create a cascading effect on how well the campaign runs and its ROI.

Once this has been done a few times it’s a matter of…

Rinse, Repeat, and Reap the Rewards

It will soon become clear which strategies are effective for the business. Time and finances are to be invested when a marketing campaign shows promise.

Actions that follow include:

  • Using reports to refine the audience selection
  • Expanding campaigns on larger platforms
  • Leveraging the success to network and work with others

Find what works for the business, scale, grow, and repeat the process to reap the rewards.


5 Tips to Create Unique Videos for Training Online

June 30, 2017 - By 
training online

If you’ve ever had to undergo a training process, you know how drab and dry it can be.

At best, you’re getting lectured on safety procedures that seem like common sense. At worst, you’re stuck watching an outdated video from a few decades ago that isn’t of any help.

As a business owner, you’ll want to make sure your training process is easy and fun for employees. And thanks to the internet, training online is more popular than ever.

But to make the most of your online training, be sure to make your videos as easy to follow and creative as possible. Here are some tips on making your training video something employees will remember.

5 Tips to Create Unique Videos for Training Online

1. Break Your Content Up Into Small Sections

One of the toughest things about the training process is that it can to overwhelm newcomers. And understandably so. There’s a lot to learn at any new job, so try and keep your information to a manageable pace.

While everyone learns at their own pace, avoid potential confusion by chunking info. Chunking is a psychological term that refers to the grouping of content in bite-sized portions.

Studies show that once chunked, information is easier to digest.

Before you go about creating your video series, create an outline with everything you want to go over.

Here’s a brief example. Let’s say we’re creating a video tutorial on how to be an ideal employee.

Your outline could look something like this:

  • What sets an employee apart?
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
    • Additional info, etc.
  • What makes an employee?
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
    • Additional info, etc.
  • How does a good employee deal with conflict?
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
    • Additional info, etc.

Obviously, you’d fill in the details of the examples and so forth. This could all theoretically be one large section, but the important info may be lost that way.

Try and put yourself in your trainee’s shoes and keep information manageable. Let’s face it, we have shorter attention spans these days. You’ll need to take that approach when training online, too.

Keep sections confined to 3-10 minute sections for the best results.

2. Make Your Videos Interactive

Creating interactive videos is a great way to keep trainees from getting bored.

One of the best ways of creating a sense of interaction is to include brief quizzes at the end of a section.

Starbucks, for instance, puts their baristas through an online training process. Upon module completion, they’re given a multiple-choice exam. This keeps the trainee on their toes and forces them to pay attention.

You can also add interactive elements within your video itself. This is a fantastic way to engage both kinesthetic and kinetic learners.

An interaction in your online training can be anything from a hyperlink to a choose-your-own-adventure style video. It’s all up to you as the author to make your video as thoughtful and engaging as possible.

The medium of video allows you to get creative, so have some fun with it!

3. Use a Blend of Text and Video

You’ll want to make sure that you’re using a variety of methods to keep your trainees interested. Researchers have come to realize that there are tons of different learning styles.

Odds are that no two employees will learn the same way. Cover all of your bases by using both text and video throughout your training.

Some subjects are also easier to explain with a particular medium. For instance, anything with numbers or equations would need to be text-based.

Other procedures like data entry or cleaning are often better learned via demonstration.

While making sure your video has text and video may sound like a painstaking process, it doesn’t need to be. If you have certain tasks your business does different, videos give you the opportunity to show your preferred method.

Text can be used along with a slide or talking head, or something simple like closed captioning.

There’s nothing stopping you from screen casting a lecture like many colleges do, but don’t be surprised if your employees don’t retain much info.

And make sure your online training videos contain the ability to rewind and fast forward. Sometimes an important detail is missed, and you’ll want to make sure your trainee has a grasp on the subject.

Sometimes an important detail is missed, and you’ll want to make sure your trainee has a grasp on the subject.

4. Know Your Audience and Create a Connection

For better or worse, most training online makes use of talking heads. Under the right circumstance, talking heads are an easy way to create the feel of a classroom.

The problem, however, comes when a talking head is too dry. If you’re going to use talking heads throughout your training online, be sure to keep things animated.

Use big, open, friendly gestures. If you’re the person talking to the camera, try and imagine you’re speaking with someone.

Being recorded may be intimidating, so create an eye line for yourself to reduce tension. Talk to the cameraman if it helps.

Make sure you’re using language that’s fit for your audience. Even if you’re not an educator, you know that you wouldn’t talk to an 18-year-old and a 70-year-old the same way.

Knowing your audience can play a critical role in how successful your training online is.

5. Get Feedback

There’s a good chance your training online may need a few revisions along the way. There’s nothing wrong with that, just make sure you’re incorporating feedback.

Include a brief survey at the end of your training.

Asking some of the following questions can give you a better idea of what did — and didn’t — work for trainees. That way you can tinker your training as necessary.

  • What did you like about the training program?
  • What would you like done differently?
  • Do you feel that you thoroughly understood the content presented?
  • Do you feel that this training method was effective?

Feedback is one of the most important things in the business world. Why should training online be any different?

Final Thoughts

Training online can be difficult if you’ve never put together a video before. But with a little ingenuity, the right crew, and some planning, you’ll have a great regimen in no time.

Be sure to check out our great resources. Whether you’re looking for video clips or repair manuals, we’ve got everything you’ll need.


A Complete Guide for First Time Home Buyers

June 28, 2017 - By 
couple with keys

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

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

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

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

1. Financial Readiness Is Important

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

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

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

2. Finding a Home

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

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

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

3. Home Inspection

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

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

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

4. Making an Offer and Closing

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

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

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

Home Buyers Guide – The Bottom Line

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

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

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


5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying A New House

June 27, 2017 - By 
Buying a house

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

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

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

1) Ask Yourself: Is Buying Right for You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Learn Everything You Can

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Understand Your Financials

Buying a home is a huge investment.

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

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

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

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

4) Think in the Long Term

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

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

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

5) Use a Realtor

Obviously, this whole process can get confusing and overwhelming.

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

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

They can:

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

Bottom Line

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

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



Insta Marketing: How to Add Links to Your Instagram Stories

June 27, 2017 - By 
instagram stories

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

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

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

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

Do You Have Access to Add Links in Instagram Stories?

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

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

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

Here’s how to add links:

1. Start your Instagram Story

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

2. Add the link URL

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

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

3. Edit your story

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

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

How to Take Advantage of Links in Instagram Stories

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

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

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

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

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


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

June 27, 2017 - By 
tax breaks

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

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

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

1. Green Tax Credits

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

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

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

2. Capital Gains Exemption

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

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

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

There are a few rules governing this exemption:

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

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

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

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

3. Mortgage Interest Deductions

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


The Future of Cybersecurity: 5 Must-Know Facts

June 12, 2017 - By 
Cyber Security

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

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

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

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

‘Internet of things’ will come under attack

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

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

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

Ransomware is on the rise

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Government regulation

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

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

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

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


5 Benefits of E-Books That Make Them Perfect For Students

April 17, 2017 - By 
benefits of e-books

While e-reader sales are slowing down, this doesn’t mean this is true for e-books.

Only 19% of adults own an e-reader right now, while this number was at a full 32% in early 2014.

But e-book sales, in the meantime, have been on a steady rise since 2008.

What is accounting for this odd paradox? Tablet and smartphone usage and sales.

People are reading more and more on their tablets and smartphones. Which means that e-books have just found a different screen on which to live.

But what does this mean for students?

Students have been taking advantage of the e-book revolution from the start. And so have textbook companies.

A lot of students will still buy a physical textbook, but a lot of textbooks now come with a digital copy as well.

But what are the benefits of e-books for students? Let’s study and find out.

1. One Of The Benefits Of E-Books: Leave The Textbook In The Dorm

Physical textbooks still haven’t been eclipsed by e-books. And for good reason.

Our brains use the location in a physical book to help us remember information.

It might be part of our proprioception or some long-established habit we’ve formed since the invention of the printing press.

This doesn’t mean that physical textbooks are better for a student than their e-book counterparts.

In fact, they are both useful tools.

A student doesn’t need to lug their physical textbook to class when they have an e-book on their tablet, computer, or e-reader.

This does two things, saves their backs and gives them ample space to take notes without resorting to pen and paper.

Each textbook weighs between 2 and 7 pounds. If you’re taking a full course load of 12 hours, that’s 3-6 textbooks you’re lugging around every day.

And most student backpacks aren’t designed to carry that weight without hurting the wearer’s back.

Consider the weight of a tablet in comparison. Under 2 lbs.

One of the benefits of e-books: you could carry hundreds of textbooks on a tablet computer or an e-reader.

2. Benefits Of e-Books: Students Don’t Miss Out On Learning Due To Logistics Problems Or TextBooks Out Of Stock

Did you ever have to share a book in high school or college with your neighbor?

It’s utterly distracting having to sit inches away from your class partner. And if they are someone who doesn’t like you, they may just hog the book and you’re stuck with nothing.

The shipping system isn’t perfect.

While Amazon promises two-day shipping on a lot of items, and big data and machine learning are making logistics more and more efficient by the day. We still do

We still do not have a perfect shipping system.

So, when students and university bookstores rely on an imperfect shipping system, only students lose out in the long run.

One of the benefits of e-books is the ability to avoid this problem.

You can download the book as soon as you get your syllabus and your funding.

No more sitting down in class being utterly embarrassed that you don’t have your textbook.

No more sharing with the person next to you and watching their begrudging looks.

e-Books are kept on a server. And as long as the server is running, e-books will always be in stock.

3. e-Books Are Connected To The Internet

If you’ve become accustomed to reading on an e-reader or tablet, you probably automatically hold down on a difficult word to find out what it means.

Hilariously, some of us have even forgotten this isn’t possible on a physical page.

But this highlights the effectiveness and ease by which we get extra information beyond an e-book through an e-book.

That’s right. An e-book is more than a book. It’s a portal to other sources of information.

If a textbook cites a source and that source is online, the author can include a hyperlink.

Especially with e-books on tablets on laptops, this is one of the major benefits of e-books as textbooks.

We don’t need to be bound to the book itself. Most if not all academic material is found in previous research or study. And we use those sources to prove and test theories and other academic knowledge.

If we can link to these authoritative sources, we can learn more and judge the text of the book better.

And this is utterly useful for students as well as professors.

4. Students With Vision Impairment Can Benefit

For the longest time, large print books were a burden for students with vision impairment.

If you can imagine, textbooks already weigh a ton. And if you increase the font size, the size of the book goes up.

But one of the benefits of e-books is the ability to change font size.

You are not longer stuck with 12pt font. If you have troubling making out the words on the page, you simply zoom in.

It’s really that simple.

And you no longer have to rely on the insanely massive books that were large print.

5. The Benefits Of e-Books: No More Costly CD or DVDs

It used to be that if a textbook company wanted to add any extra material to the book, they would load it onto a CD or DVD and paste the plastic container inside the book cover.

This is no longer the case.

All they have to do now is include it with the e-book file or link out to a server and give a password.

This opens up boundless opportunity for textbook companies to supplement material.

They can add 3-D models of the human body in anatomy textbooks. Videos of instruction for pretty much any topic.

And with the invention of virtual reality, who knows what we’ll be doing with e-books in the future.

Maybe we’ll be reading our history textbooks while simultaneously walking through the streets of Ancient Rome.

The benefits of e-books have opened up a whole new world of opportunities for students.

e-Books Aren’t Going Away

We’ve not seen a waning in e-book sales since their advent. And we don’t expect this to change.

People haven’t stopped reading. And students will always need the benefits of e-books.

If you’re looking to buy some e-books, check out our massive library.


Everything You Need to Know to Buy Hearing Aids

February 9, 2017 - By 
Hearing Aids

Listen closely–if you’re older than age 45, there’s a good chance you suffer from some sort of hearing loss (actually, a one in five chance, to be exact).

Buying hearing aids can be a tricky task. But we’re here to help.

Keep reading to figure out everything you need to know before choosing the type of hearing aid for you.

The 5 Types Of Hearing Aids: Pros & Cons

The right type of hearing aid for you depends on several factors. When looking into hearing aids, consider the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your manual dexterity.

Hearing aids are categorized by where on the ear they are worn. Additionally, they can be classified by the number of pieces: behind-the-ear hearing aids are two pieces, while an in-the-ear hearing aid is one piece.

Quick Tip: Keep in mind that smaller aids offer fewer features and might be more difficult to manipulate.

1. Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid

For this kind of hearing aid, the receiver located is inside of the ear canal.

It’s attached to the ear using a custom-made ear mold, which will fit snugly in the ear. Or, a “dome style” or non-custom canal piece may be used.


  • Comfortable
  • Barely visible
  • Prevents a feeling of being plugged-up
  • Easy to insert
  • Compatible with phones


  • Wax and moister may limit the life of the receiver
  • Doe not allow for significant amplification in low frequencies
  • Limited in terms of the potential to add amplification

2. Standard Tube or Thin Tube Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid

Also called reciever in the aid (RITA).


  • Provides considerable low-and high-frequency amplification
  • Good for people with moderately severe to severe hearing loss who require considerable amplification across many frequencies
  • Controls are easy to manipulate (on larger models)
  • Telecoil mode is easily selected and used (on larger models)
  • Ear mold can easily be cleaned
  • Accommodates larger batteries


  • Custom mold tends to be visible
  • Vulnerable to sweat and wax buildup
  • A plugged-up feeling from ear mold can occur unless vented

3. Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid


  • Does not need a telecoil
  • Has low visibility
  • Easy to insert and remove
  • Insensitive to wind noise


  • Too small to include a directional microphone
  • A plugged-up feeling can occur unless vented
  • Vulnerable to wax and moisture
  • Can be difficult to control (because the receiver is in the ear canal)
  • Can only accommodate a small battery (therefore, battery life is relatively short)
  • Batteries can be more difficult to insert and remove

4. In-the-Canal Hearing Aid


  • Barely visible
  • Easy to insert
  • Can build up volume to increase ease of use
  • Larger units can include directional microphones


  • Telecoil selector switch makes manipulation more difficult
  • Too small to include a directional microphone
  • A plugged-up feeling can occur unless vented
  • Vulnerable to wax and moisture
  • Can be difficult to control (because the receiver is in the ear canal)
  • Can only accommodate a small battery (therefore, battery life is relatively short)
  • Batteries can be more difficult to insert and remove

5. In-the-Ear Hearing Aid


  • More room for features such as telecoil, directional microphone, and volume control
  • Less of a plugged-up feeling when vented
  • Relatively easy to insert


  • More visible
  • Vulnerable to wax build-up and moisture


After checking out our complete guide to hearing aids, which type are you most interested in or likely to purchase? Tell us your first choice and why in the comments below!