Planning For and Dealing With Financial Emergencies When Working From Home

February 19th, 2019

If you work from home, benefits are probably available to you that most traditional employees don’t get. For example, perhaps you can get stuff done while wearing pajamas, choose your hours, or let your friendly dog provide much-needed companionship during your workday. 

On the other hand, working from home doesn’t always mean getting a set paycheck from week to week as many people do when they participate in typical forms of employment. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to figure out how you’ll deal with financial emergencies both before and when they arrive. 

Set Aside a Small Amount Each Month

Sticking to a budget is an extremely helpful plan when you work from home. Then, if it becomes evident that you regularly spend more than you make, you can adjust by looking for other forms of work to supplement your current ways of making income. When you’re making a budget, try to save a modest amount every month that you’d use for emergencies. 

No matter if the amount is $25 or $100, you’ll be glad you chose not to spend it if something unexpected arises. As you decide how much to save, be careful to do so in a way that won’t create too much financial stress. 

Understand How and When to Write Off Business Expenses

If you work from home and are also an independent contractor, you have the benefit of being able to write off some of your work-related expenses when tax time arrives. As a start, your office supplies may qualify. Plus, if you use a dedicated room in your home to work, there is a special deduction to use in that situation. 

Filing your taxes correctly and deducting business expenses when applicable is another practical way to help you anticipate future financial emergencies. That’s because writing off business expenses that you didn’t claim in the past because you didn’t know the process might mean that you get a larger-than-expected tax refund that you can put into savings. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Finding your way out of a financial hardship also means understanding that you may have to temporarily sacrifice some of your financial independence if the situation warrants it. In short, don’t overlook the possibility of asking people to help. It may feel awkward to do that at first, but remember that everyone goes through tough times at least occasionally. 

If someone shows a willingness to help, put a plan in place, such as that you will pay back a certain amount of the loan every month until your debt is gone. Knowing how to handle your financial obligation to the other person from the start will prevent you from getting into a tight spot and making the loaner feel frustrated with you. 

Look for External Resources

Your situation may also make it necessary to seek assistance outside of those you know. And, that’s okay. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of CURO Financial Technologies Corporation, Don Gayhardt runs a company that’s one of the leading providers of short-term loans. He understands that things can happen when people least expect them, and financial difficulties can result. 

If you decide to get a loan from a short-term provider, it’s a good idea to see what the application process requires, then spend all the time you need to gather those documents. Taking those preliminary steps could increase your chances of success in receiving the money you need to get back on your feet. 

In closing, don’t be ashamed if you encounter financial troubles. They are inevitable for many people, but the important thing is to prepare for them as much as possible. If you proactively do things to save money for the future, plus stay aware of resources you can use during times of financial difficulties, you’ll be well on your way to recovering.

7 Ways to Show Recognition to the People in Your Life

January 16th, 2019

Some of the people in your life work hard to make sacrifices for you. That could involve staying up late to talk to you about your divorce or sharing the last piece of cheesecake to listen about your bad day at work. While they know you appreciate them, it’s nice to show it in other ways. Here are some tips to show some appreciation to the loved ones in your life. This list of ideas is perfect for children, friends, employees, family members, and strangers.

Write a Handwritten Note

The best way to show recognition is with a handwritten note. While a typed note is a quick way to congratulate someone on a good job, the receiver will skim over it and throw it in the bin. If you take the time to write a thoughtful and considerate note, they’ll notice the time you took in showing some recognition. To make it even more personal, leaving a beautiful greeting card on their desk or mirror will provide a pleasant surprise. This will increase the chance they will read your message.

Make a Small Gesture

A small gesture is a great way to show your appreciation for their hard work and effort. Allow them to take a break from doing chores or to sleep in. When it comes to their homework, offer to help them out. You’ll want to make sure that you understand it, of course. This little gesture involves little effort, but it reduces the burden for them and makes their day a little easier. Plus, they’ll recognize that you appreciate them.

Give Out Awards

There are awards for academics, ballet, bowling, car shows, culinary arts, dance, gymnastics, and other activities. It may sound ridiculous, but you could hold an awards ceremony for the friends and loved ones in your life. You could order custom awards and give them to winners in each of these categories. It’s a great way to show the people in your life that you appreciate them. They can also win awards for “best smile,” “friendly attitude,” and “coolest style.”

Offer Public Praise

Some people love to know that they’re doing a good job with their academics or hobbies. It feels even better to hear it from their friends or loved ones. Find opportunities to offer little compliments at practice, recitals, and other occasions. Other people will be more likely to chime in as well, increasing the recipient’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

Encourage Their Hobbies

Since they worked so hard with their hobbies and interests, it’s important that you take the time to recognize their efforts. Show your friends, family members, and loved ones your support and appreciation by encouraging their hobbies on a regular basis. This can involve showing up to their big game and cheering them on. If they’re a designer, you can wear the T-shirt they designed and advertise it around town.

Celebrate the Milestone

Birthdays and holidays shouldn’t be the only days that you celebrate the people who are the most important to you. Milestones like the first day of school, graduations, wedding anniversaries, work anniversaries, getting engaged, buying a new home, and welcoming a new baby are all important milestones to celebrate. Your friends and loved ones may not like the attention, but they like it when others remember and say “congratulations” or “good luck!”

Give them a Small Gift

A lagniappe is a small gift that’s inexpensive. Some great examples include a bracelet, a box of chocolates, or a houseplant. You don’t even have to spend money on such a gift. Sometimes all it takes is a smiley face on a Post-It note, a hand-drawn photo, or an origami decoration to make them smile. It’s an easy and affordable way to show someone that you appreciate them. Place them on your loved one’s front door or desk when they do well on a test or they’re having a bad day.

This list should inspire you to show some appreciation to your loved ones. Sometimes they don’t realize that you do appreciate them. If nothing else works, then sending them a gift basket is a great way to show them you care. It’ll surely bring a smile on their face. Try getting them a gift basket that includes their favorite treats and everyday products to make them feel special.

5 Top SEO Techniques to Boost Your Organic Traffic in 2019

January 11th, 2019

As search engines keep evolving and become more intelligent, SEO remains the most challenging strategy for webmasters. The constant changing of SEO rules makes it hard for online businesses to keep up.

We’ve compiled a list of top 5 SEO techniques that will help you boost organic traffic and outrank the competition in 2019.

1. RankBrain SEO

Among Google’s ranking factors is RankBrain, a machine learning system introduced in 2015. RankBrain uses AI to analyze behavior on search engines in order to rank your site. In other words, RankBrain evaluates your content based on the time users spend on your website and on the number of link clicks.

With RankBrain SEO constituting 15% of all search results, it’s safe to say that 2019 will mark a critical change in SEO and digital marketing in general. As the AI in RankBrain becomes more flexible and able to understand human beings much better, the focus will switch from link building and keywords as main elements of SEO to creating quality content with an aim to attract users. In addition, Google will be able to answer more complex questions, even ones that the user hasn’t asked directly!

2. Voice Search

Although in 2018 voice search was at an early stage, just a quick look at the numbers below is enough to understand how important it’s (about to) become:

  • The number of voice searches in 2018 reached 1 billion a month.
  • It is expected that 50% all searches will be conducted by voice by 2020.
  • Over 40% of users think that voice search is a faster way of conducting searches online, and almost 30% of them also believe that voice search is more accurate than regular search.

VS is so popular because it suits the hectic lifestyle of modern people. And its future is looking bright too. Because of the more massive use of digital answering devices and smart home devices, voice search is expected to increase even more significantly in 2019.

So, what steps should you take to optimize your website for VS?

Since the most popular voice search devices, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, use everyday language, optimize keywords as conversational phrases.

In addition, make sure to create high-quality, well-written, and well-formatted content because voice search recommends only organic results. This means that, if people like reading your stuff, you’ll eventually be rewarded with higher rankings.

3. Optimizing the Overall UX

One of the factors Google takes into consideration is how much time visitors spend on a page. So, if users stick around longer, Google will regard the page as useful and push it higher in search results.

Reducing the bouncing rates is not an easy task at all. It includes much more than simply using the right keywords and removing annoying pop-ups from the site. However, there are a few simple tactics you can use to improve the overall UX and boost your site’s position in SERPs:

a)    Create more personalized content that is easy to read. Format your text for better readability by writing shorter paragraphs comprised of short and medium-length sentences. Break the text with a sufficient number of subheadings, bullet points, and images. Finally, make sure your content is well-written and original in order to get people interested in reading it.

b)    Pay attention to the site’s usability. Can people find easily what they’re looking for? If they need to scroll around the homepage just to locate the main menu, they’ll leave very soon. Tools like Optimizely and Crazy Egg can help you analyze how users are interacting with your site, identify the problems, and give ideas of what needs to be improved.

c)     Check the site speed. Speed is important for both users and search engines. People don’t like waiting for too long in order to access information. If your website takes more than 3-4 seconds to load, most people will leave. In addition, Google uses site speed as a ranking factor. You can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to measure your site’s speed and identify the weak spots that slow it down, like unnecessary code or too big images.

4. Mobile Optimization

With smartphones generating more than half of the online traffic on a global level, it is obvious how important mobile is.

Google’s Mobile-First Index, which launched in July 2018, analyzes the website’s mobile version first, thus making it more important than the desktop version. This means that sites which haven’t been optimized for mobile yet should expect a significant drop in rankings in 2019.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a great tool for checking how easily visitors can use your pages on a mobile device. Another important factor is the website’s loading speed. As mentioned earlier, the average loading time should be no more than 3 to 4 seconds. Google’s Test My Site tool analyzes your pages and then generates suggestions to improve the site’s performance across all devices.

5. Take Advantage of Video

Did you know that social video has 1200% more shares than images and text together? Faster internet speeds in conjunction with smartphones and social networks have made video increasingly popular. In fact, it is expected 80% of the total web traffic to be video by 2021.

People have even started using YouTube to conduct their searches, which makes the most popular video platform a search engine we mustn’t underestimate.

To make the most of this trend, start producing and optimizing videos for YouTube. If you don’t know what to start with, the most effective types of videos are demonstration videos, customer testimonials, and video tutorials. Note:

Once you’ve created a great video, it’s time to optimize it in order to get more views. First things first, you need to conduct a keyword research. You can do this by using tools like Google Keyword Planner or monitor competitors and ‘borrow’ some ideas from them. No, you can start optimizing.

a)    Title. Use your target keyword in the title in order to rank better for the term but also make sure that the title is relevant to the video’s content. Finally, keep it short. If the title is longer than 60 characters, it’ll get cut short in result pages.

b)    Description. The character limit for video descriptions is 1.000 characters but you don’t need to use all that space – 300 to 500 words are more than enough to let the viewers know what the video is about. Bear in mind that YouTube displays only the first 2-3 lines of text (approx. 100 characters) so that’s where you should place the most important information, including keywords, links, and CTAs.

c)     Tags. Add at least 10 tags per video and include your focus keywords.

d)    Content length. As a rule of thumb, longer videos rank better than shorter ones. The average length of the best-ranking videos is about 15 minutes.

e)    Promote your videos. Promote your YouTube channel on your blog and social media or by running giveaways and contests. This will help increase your views, build authority, improve ROI, and get you higher in search results.

If your video content is successful, your site’s organic traffic may increase by 40%!

In Conclusion

SEO is constantly changing and this year is no different. We can expect the focus to shift from search engines to humans, which puts the spotlight on organic search strategies.

These are just a few of the SEO tactics coming in 2019 that will help you rank better on SERPs, increase traffic, and beat the competition.

If you still feel lost in SEO, you can hire a SEO specialist or seek help from a growth marketing mentor.  

Before Starting Your Online Business – Answer These 3 Questions

January 3rd, 2019

You have decided this is the year to start your own online business. Great decision! Whether you plan to become a full-time entrepreneur or part-time after your regular job, there are a few questions you will need to ask yourself before making your next decision. What should I name my business? What business structure is right for me? How do I finance my business?

What Should I Name My Business?

Spend some time in choosing a business name that will suit your company. Choosing a unique name will help your brand and niche market. Once you have chosen your unique business name, research the websites of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to minimize trademark infringement. Having a unique business name will likely help you get a website domain name as your company name.

What Business Structure Should I Form?

Sole Proprietorship, both husband and wife can operate as a sole proprietor.

No paperwork to file and provides flexibility in management when choosing this structure, making it the simplest business structure to form. The downside of this business structure is the sole proprietor is liable for all legal and debt the business incurred.

Partnership, two or more people (not a married couple) who contribute time, money, and knowledge can operate as a general partnership. Legal written paperwork must be created in the partnership agreement. Profits, debts, management, and shares are equally shared. The partners are also equally liable for all legal and debt incurred by the business.


A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owner. An individual or partners can file for the legal paperwork called an article of incorporation form. The legal entity is owned by shareholders and run by appointed officers and directors. The two main types of corporations are C Corporations and S Corporations.

C Corporation, sometimes referred to as a C Corp, is a legal entity that takes its name for the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Subchapter C. C Corp is different from the other business entity because they are subject to double taxation. They pay corporate tax on business income and again when they pay out profits to shareholders.

The cost for a C Corp is higher than other business structures, but provides the strongest protection to its owners from personal liability. They also require more detailed record-keeping, processes, and reporting than other structures.

S Corporation, sometimes called S Corp, a legal entity prevents shareholders from the double-taxation that C Corp are subjected. An S Corp allows profits to go directly to shareholders’ personal income without being subject to corporate tax rates, making S Corp a special type of corporate structure.

To be considered an S Corporation, you must file with two different entities, one with the IRS to receive S Corp status and the other is to register with your chosen state the article of incorporation form. There are two limitations on S Corps. They must limit shareholders to 100, and all must be U.S. citizens. S Corps follows similar required record-keeping, processes and reporting as C Corps.

Limited Liability Company (LLC), allows you to take advantage of both the corporation and partnership business structures benefits. LLCs, in most cases, protect you from personal liabilities. Your personal accounts, such as your house and car will not be included if your LLC faces lawsuits or bankruptcy.

LLC members are considered self-employed and are subject to pay self-employment tax contributions towards Medicare and Social Security. Unlike the corporation structure where members have independent life separate from its shareholders, some states may dissolve or will need to re-apply as an LLC when a new member joins or leaves.

How Do I Finance My Business?

There are many different ways to finance your business. How to get money for your business, guides you in obtaining the financial resources you will need. The five ways to get money for your business mentioned in the article are:

  • Your Own Funds

  • Family and Friends

  • Bank Loans

  • Credit Cards

  • Payday Loans

An article from Entrepreneur titled, “How to Start a Business Online,” provides you with seven practical steps on starting your successful online business. Finding a need, filling that need, providing quality content, creating a business website, and establishing an expert reputation for yourself as a brand will ensure a successful sustainable online business.

SharpSpring CRM | A Free CRM for Your Business

December 11th, 2018

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SharpSpring CRM for IZEA Worldwide. All opinions are 100% mine.

As I look back on my professional career, I can’t help but wish I had access to some of the amazing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools available today. I think of the sales industries I’ve worked in and how things would have been different with an effective CRM to manage, track and create relationships with the leads I was generating. And as most of you know, generating leads can sometimes be an expensive process, depending on the methods you use. Sometimes PPC, or Pay Per Click, isn’t the most cost effective method.

Free CRM For Life

With that said, I was recently introduced to SharpSpring CRM, which is a free CRM for small businesses. You heard that right, it’s free to use, FOR LIFE. There’s no trial period…it’s actually free. SharpSpring has over 7,000 businesses currently use its affordable marketing automation platform. The  free CRM is a new product built from their experience of what small businesses need in a CRM plus sales and marketing tools to help the business grow.  If you’d like to talk to users,  access the community forum. So if you have a question or are curious about their experience using the software, you’ll find the information in that forum extremely valuable. 

Lead and Customer Tracking

There are several cool features about SharpSpring CRM but one of my favorite is the tracking features. 

Within your account, you’ll have access to your social media dashboard, which allows you to see how your leads are interacting with your brand and what they’re saying. You have the ability to find and filter through social media using hashtags and keywords and then turn around and engage those conversations directly from your media dashboard. 

Also, as you enter leads and begin creating relationships with them, you can see every detail of how they are responding to your efforts. You’ll be able to view a timeline that shows you exactly what emails they’ve opened and/or responded to, where they’ve gone to on your website, what contact forms they’ve filled out and so forth, with visuals of those exact pages and forms as you scroll over those items in the timeline. What a great tool to determine how a lead is progressing and the next steps to be taken. 

Email Marketing

Before you sign up with a standard email marketing platform, I would encourage you to take a look at the email marketing features of SharpSpring CRM. You’ll find a variety of premium email templates provided for you as well as features for one on one email communication and tracking. 

SharpSpring CRM also has a unique and simplified contact form creation tool that allows you easily add standard and custom input fields, that when added through your dashboard, automatically update those forms already embedded on your website. You can also easily customize forms to match your website and branding by simply adding a snippet of CSS code from your websites stylesheet. 

When I was part of the network marketing industry, helping leads progress was key to closing sales and growing your business. With tracking information included in SharpSpring CRM, knowing how to follow up with relevant content would have simplified the process for me. The companies I worked with tried to create CRM’s for marketers to use at a great expense, but most of them fell short in many different areas and lacked the integration capabilities that a free sales CRM like this can offer. Give SharpSpring CRM a try. With their expertise in affordable marketing automation, you’ll find this CRM has the marketing tools for your small business and can be a powerful tool in getting the most out of the precious leads you are generating. 

There are so many other features not mentioned in this article, such as your ability to interact with your sales teams through the CRM and see who their leads are progressing. Set reminders, set schedules and help your team grow through the powerful tools at your fingertips.

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5 Ways to Get Money for Your Business

November 16th, 2018

funding for your businessYou’re finally ready to chase after your dream and start a business. Congratulations! Starting a business is often the exciting first step of what is going to be a long and interesting journey. If you succeed, then you will be able to do what you love and also be financially free while you’re at it. Who knows — you might even be able to build a giant of industry and become one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. If you fail, you will, at the very least, learn some useful lessons you can apply when you try again. Because you’re going to keep trying till you succeed, right? Few successful business persons give up at the first sign of trouble.

With a business, one of the greatest needs you will experience in the beginning is the need for capital. You need cash to run the day-to-day activities of your business as well as expand it.
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