Member of the week: Ezequiel Viñao, Composer

first_imgOur member of the week is Ezequiel Viñao. Ezequiel is a composer and music producer. His work has been performed at the some of the country’s most prestigious venues, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center. Ezequiel’s music has earned praise from The New York Times and The Washington Post amongst others. For reviews of Ezequiel’s work and to hear audio clips of his music, visit his website. To find out more about him, check out his profile and our short interview with him below.1. What has been your most interesting project?It is difficult to say which has been my most interesting project. I could mention several recent ones: 2005 saw both the worldwide CD release of my vocal cycle “ARCANUM” (a recording in collaboration with the Estonian conductor Kristjan Jarvi and available from BIS Records, the premier swedish label) and a commission from my “alma mater” the Juilliard School for their Centenary (in 2006) The piece was written for the legendary Juilliard String Quartet, which has been called “the first family of American Chamber Music.” In 2006, I completed a commission for the Grammy-Award Winning Vocal Ensemble “Chanticleer.” The new work was based on a powerful 10th century Anglo-Saxon text (which I translated into modern English from Old English). The poem speaks of the destruction and futility of war, a subject as current today as it was back then, more than a 1000 years ago.2. Why did you decide to go freelance?So far, I have been privileged in that I have been able to go freelance. The alternative is teaching, which, as interesting and fulfilling as it certainly is, does take a lot of time away from the creative process.3. What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance?Never expect that your last project will generate your next project. Always think “laterally.” Embrace change.4. What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live?Soho.5. What is your inspiration?The forgotten past.last_img read more

Unintended casualties: Long deployments and self-employed service members

first_imgToday, Morning Edition reported on the privations of self-employed members of the National Guard, now that many of them are serving in long deployments overseas. When a service member is called up, the 6% who are self-employed must leave behind their businesses, which all too often erode in their absence. Congress is trying to help these freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners by proposing a $10,000 tax credit. That goes only a little way toward compensating those who have served our country. Some members of the National Guard have suggested that the military should offer business support training, to help service men and women plan for their time away from their work–and resume it successfully.last_img

Scientists discover the antidote to writer’s block

first_imgAh, writer’s block. It befalls the best of us. Sometimes it can be as mild as fifteen minutes of banging your head against the desk, but it can also be so severe that it takes years off your writing life – or brings it to a close altogether. Writer’s block engenders feelings of impotence, which creates a kind of cyclical reinforcement.Luckily, psychologists have spent some time trying to figure out what happens when a writer stops writing. In her article for The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova covers research on writer’s block and remedies for the problem.In the 1970’s and ‘80’s Yale University psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios recruited a diverse group of writers – some of whom were blocked and some of whom were fine. The psychologists found that all of the blocked writers were unhappy – and each unhappy in her own way.The researchers were able to distill the blocked writers into 4 distinct types:1. The anxious and self-criticalPlagued by perfectionism, these writers felt they couldn’t create anything “good enough.” Though they were able to daydream, they tended to ruminate on one scene and lacked the ability to move on to something new.2. The socially hostileThese writers were paralyzed by the perception that their work would be compared unfavorably to others – or, that it might inspire the envy! Still active daydreamers, these writers tended to imagine only future situations that involved other people.3. The motivationally impairedThis third group expressed limited motivation, and, in Singer and Barrio’s trials, seemed the most creatively blocked. Simply apathetic, these writers rarely daydreamed and, as a result, their thoughts lacked originality.4. The narcissistsDriven by a need for attention, but disappointed and angry, externally motivated blocked writers prefered to keep their mental imagery private.Barrio and Singer split their writers into groups, hypothesizing that with therapy, writers would be able to overcome the block. Some writers met in group therapy situations to discuss their problem, while others underwent directed imagery exercises.The researchers discovered that the “dream exercises” were more effective at alleviating writer’s block than talk therapy alone. Most notably, the researchers disproved their own hypothesis: Writer’s didn’t need to work through their emotional issues via therapy in order to write, the act of writing served as therapy in and of itself.Having struggled with a particularly virulent writer’s block myself this year, I can attest to the success of the strategy Barrio and Singer propose. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, I lost motivation and lacked imagination; writing felt like hand-churning a cement mixer.I recalled a past heartbreak in which I recovered mainly by writing my way through it. Though I felt less able to attach words to my current experience, I began to do a little writing each day and as I did, I felt better.Here are my tips for writing your way out of a block:1. Write every morningMost creatives are familiar with “morning pages” from The Artist’s Way. When you’re creatively blocked, a little bit of writing first thing in the morning goes a long way.I use a small notebook and write three pages about anything at all. Journaling knocks the dust out of the corners of the mind and primes me for more directed endeavors later in the day.2. Create a “workspace”For me, this step is essential. Journaling is all fine and well, but for a writer suffering with anxiety and self-confidence, it’s all too easy to dismiss one’s journal as private drivel. Writing as a profession is, ultimately, performance – and it beckons a reader.Create a space where you’re comfortable sharing your work in its most raw and imperfect forms. If you’re feeling self-conscious, it helps to remember that most visual artists and craftspeople have studios in which their work can be seen in various stages. Start a semi-private blog. Find a writing group. Enlist trusted friends. Give yourself the gift of space and a little bit of audience.3. Focus on imageryWriters especially tend to think in terms of narrative, but when you’re blocked, the pressure of coming up with a narrative can impede creativity. Instead, focus on imagery. Mine your dreams, environment, and memories for sensory experiences and put your words in the service of illustrating those experiences.4. Keep at itLike Singer and Barrio discovered in their studies, one imagery exercise intervention does not an unblocked writer make. I’ve allowed myself some breaks after a “good” writing streak, only to find the block comes back with a vengeance.Finally, Singer and Barrio’s research confirmed something I noticed while waging my own war against writer’s block over the past few months: When I don’t write, my emotional health suffers. My thoughts flatten and I’m less able to divine complexity, treat myself and others with compassion, and perform with confidence. Creativity, it seems, is not just a function of human delight, but also a powerful tool for healing.Do you relate to a particular type of blocked writer? What strategies have you used to overcome writer’s block?A new soul and media geek, Laura writes about community, poetry and pop culture. Find her @Pennyscientist or on Freelancers Union.last_img read more

How to balance freelancing with a full-time job

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.Hi, my name is Kateri. I have lived in the Greater Los Angeles area for eight years. I love traveling. I adore poodles. I like trying new restaurants. I work as a freelance writer/reporter and as a freelance event specialist.Most importantly, I have a full time job working as a technical writer.Working itWhen I tell people all of my jobs, I have heard the common discriminators:You are such a workaholic!Do you even have any friends?When do you make time for yourself? [Insert sad face emoji.]Or the only positive one I have heard: Wow, you are such a hard worker!Here’s the reality: although the gig economy is the hot thing to now do, I still believe in having a full-time job. I live in a region where although there is a ton of creative opportunity, it is expensive, and I am thankful and lucky to have a full-time job that goes towards my bills/expenses, HSA, and 401K. All of my freelance money goes into my IRA accounts or savings. I made my choice to live here, and this is the only logical way that I can get ahead. I refuse to go broke living in California.In today’s world, I personally don’t think that you can just live off of one source of income, let alone the gig economy. For those of you that can, my hat goes off to you and I have mad respect. I feel that having a full-time job with benefits is a security net for me, because the problem with freelancing is that you are not always guaranteed the gig. With freelancing, I win some and lose some. I am fortunate that not only do I have a full-time job that I love, but I also get to freelance!The balancing actMy life is a balancing act where I am juggling so many different factors, and I am always craving more time in the day. Here are some tips on how to stay sane freelancing while working a full time job:Remember that the full-time job comes firstIt is what pays the bills and also saves for retirement. Those eight hours a day have to be strictly dedicated to it. On my lunch break, I might sneak in a call or go to a coffee shop and do an interview, then later after work I’ll go home and type up the story.Take on only what you can handleSome weeks can be heavier than others. I try and work efficiently and ahead of deadlines as much as I can. Take a breather and don’t put that stress and pressure on yourself. If you feel stressed, do something that calms you. For me, I enjoy walking or taking a drive somewhere.Eat healthyIt’s easy to head to McDonald’s and go through the drive-thru, but it’s important to maintain a healthy diet despite how busy my schedule may get. I always browse for healthy recipes to make on Pinterest, whether it’s a salad or a low-carb version of lasagna where zucchini is the noodle.ExerciseI always go to the gym a few times a week in the evening after work. Between cardio and lifting, I spend maybe a little over an hour at the gym. Your body is important, keep it fit!Get enough sleepI don’t work around the clock, but I always aim for 8 to 10 hours a night of good, solid sleep. I need my brain to be sharp the next day and I don’t want to be dragging. I’m usually up at 7 a.m. and in bed by 10 p.m.Get out of townI always travel a few times a year to different destinations, mostly those in nature because it provides calmness and serenity from the busy world of Los Angeles. It’s important to embrace culture and discover the other wonders of the world.Make time for family and friendsThis is my answer to yes, I do have a life. My friends and family are my greatest support system and they understand what I am trying to accomplish. I see my friends at least once a week so that I can share some good laughs and make memories. During the week I will Facebook message them and check up to see how they are doing. My parents live in Florida, so I make at least 30 minutes to talk to them on the phone a few times a week.Love and be proud of yourselfThe most important factor in all of this is you. Embrace the gifts this life has given you and know that you are loved. Give yourself a hug. Somehow, it always pays off in the end.Kateri Wozny is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Greater Los Angeles area. Her work has appeared in national outlets and Southern California publications. She is also the owner and blogger of SoCal Shuffle, a California lifestyle blog.last_img read more

10 project management tips for freelancers

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.So you’re a self-employed or freelance worker. You’re in the company of about 36% of the US workforce.You chose to be self-employed because you were exhausted from your old job, or you wanted flexibility, or you simply work better without an authority figure looming over you. Whatever the reasons were, you’re here now. You are now your own bookkeeper, financier, project manager, and sales representative.Being your own boss can be a bane and a boon. As a freelancer, there are some common roadblocks you’ll face along the long, bumpy road. Not meeting project deadlines is one of them. Not meeting the deadlines of multiple projects is another. The point is that playing the multiple roles of Project Manager/Team Member/Omnipotent Superhuman may not always work out.Reduce the occurrence of setbacks in your projects by following these project management tips:PrioritizeThe number of tasks that you have managed to check off your to-do list does not matter. It is the quality of those tasks and your efficiency in completing them that does. There may be an infinite number of smaller tasks in a day and you could do all of them, but if you miss out on that one really important item on your checklist, you might as well have done nothing that day.So you have to prioritize. You can do so in different ways. You can tackle the most crucial tasks first, or you can finish non-essential tasks more quickly to leave more time for the more pressing tasks.CompartmentalizeThis is very common time management advice that holds especially true for project management. A project might seem quite daunting because of its unfamiliarity, its expansive scope, or the sheer amount of work you’re going to have to put in.Take a breather. And then compartmentalize the task into smaller segments that are less intimidating and easier to tackle. This is like a mini action plan for each ginormous individual task. Broken down into smaller steps, you not only climb each tier faster, you also make sure that no part of the project has been neglected or done hastily. Compartmentalizing will reduce the stress/anxiety associated with daunting projects to a great extent.Set time limitsIn addition to compartmentalizing, you should also set specific time-bound goals for your projects. When a time aspect is added to the way you visualize your project, you automatically devise ways to do it better in the given time frame. Each project goal/milestone should have a start date/time and an ideal end date/time.You can track your progress in relation to the time you should ideally have taken to complete the task. If you’re feeling short of time, either review your calculations for the ideal time or figure out what’s hindering you from meeting the standard time.Make use of organizational toolsThe future is here and it’s brought mind-blowing organizational tools with it. If you prefer the old whiteboards and sticky notes routine and it works for you, stick with it. But you can also embrace new-age organizational tools. Scheduling, collaborating, team management, personal finance, or organizing email: Anything that you need to get on top of, there’s probably a great organizational tool for it. Take advantage of these tools as per your needs and take your project management game to the next level.Have a systemIf you really want to up your project management game, consider devising a project management system. Once you’ve truly figured out your workflow requirements and have a general attack plan that’s common for all your projects, you more or less know what you need from the system. Based on that, you could choose to go for a free or premium version of project management software that suits your needs. You can try out various tools to see which ones fit best into your workflow. Find the combination that works best for you, and voilà, you have customized project management software in place.Update your projects diligentlyMore often than not, chances are that you’re juggling multiple projects at once. In the beginning, the details of each project are crystal-clear in your mental workspace. But as time progresses and you wade deeper into the internal mechanism of each, the details are likely to get muddy.So, save yourself the trouble and commit to updating your projects in the system diligently. When you finish a task, update it. The due date changed? Update. A new task was added? Update it! Updating regularly will keep you on track and show you exactly where you are on the trajectory you mapped out for each of your projects.Take a breakTaking breaks at work is criminally underrated and not encouraged enough. 
You may think that because you’re a freelancer or are working from home you should attack your projects without stopping. But you’ll find that your body and mind will accumulate fatigue at an exponential rate, leading to an inevitable burnout.In your workflow, make time for breaks. If you have mapped out a schedule for the day or a to-do list, ensure that you keep sufficient breaks between strenuous tasks. Appropriate breaks have been proven to not only reduce mental and physical fatigue but also increase your motivation, productivity, and creativity–a win-win situation if there ever was one.Avoid distractionsIn the spirit of balance, this point relates to not taking too many breaks or wasteful breaks. A break that involves being sucked into a social media black hole or watching an episode of Stranger Things that turns into a season-long binge-watch session? That’s not a break; it’s a disastrously addictive distraction.The internet is full of distractions. Since/if most of the work you do is on the internet, just accept that you’re going to encounter one sooner or later. What can be done to avoid it? Exercise self-control. Also, install a time tracking extension like Chrome Nanny, which limits the time spent by you on your favorite websites to a certain number of minutes per day.Done is better than perfectWant to be the real MVP? Deliver an MVP. Jokes aside, MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It refers to the minimum amount of work that is required to put a sellable product/service into the market.You might have a tendency to perfect or polish certain parts of a project. If you do this at the end of the project if you still have time left, it’s not a problem. However, if you get stuck on perfecting one single element while you still have twenty more compartments to put together, it doesn’t seem like a very wise thing to do. 
Remember that done is better than perfect. It may be very tempting to complete each part of a project so that it’s pitch-perfect, but that’s not practical or realistic. Your focus should be on delivering rather than on perfection.Remember your lessons learnedCompile a list of lessons learned from your previous projects. Ask yourself what you did right and what you did wrong in these projects. Look for patterns. This can be a great way to find out what mistakes you’re making over and over. If you’re working with a team, ask them to give an objective review of what they feel could have been done better. This ensures that you learn from your good days and your bad days. The point is to keep growing with each project.Project management is a dynamic, constantly changing function. You might need to trial-and-error your way through different approaches and tools and combinations of the two to find out what works best for you. That’s the system you should stick to. 
As a self-employed worker, freelancer, or solopreneur, you need all the help you can get. Hopefully these neat project management tricks manage to do just that.Fretty Francis is a digital marketing executive at SoftwareSuggest, an online platform that recommends software solutions to businesses. Her areas of expertise include project management software and eCommerce software. In her spare time, she works as a freelance writer and likes to travel around.last_img read more

The biggest lessons I learned in the first 6 months of freelancing

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.In late spring of 2011, I became a freelancer. By early December of 2011, I’d returned to cubicle life. Some may deem that a failure. But rejoining the full-time workforce was, hands down, the right decision. Still, I never forgot what succeeding as a business owner would take. I thought, “Someday, this will be my career path.”Fast forward eight years and that someday is today. (Technically speaking, someday was in January.) This time around, I’ve devoted countless hours to learning the art of self-employment. The investment has spared me from mistakes small and large.But no learning plan accounts for everything. Transitioning from 12 years in corporate settings to a solo venture requires adjustment. Over the past six months, the most interesting lessons have been the ones I never saw coming.Lesson #1: Use a real alarm clock and keep your phone out of reachFull-timers assume that the greatest thing about freelancing is waking up whenever you want. I submit it’s also the worst.Starting the day with no set schedule is one thing. But staying awake in bed for an hour every morning because I wouldn’t put my phone down created a real problem. My late starts often left me working past dinner and sacrificing evenings. After a few months, I knew nothing would change until I fell asleep and woke up away from my phone.In the recesses of my closet I found a 15-year-old LED alarm clock. I plugged it in, replaced the back-up 9 volt, and never looked back. My phone charges on a dresser out of arm’s reach but close enough to answer an emergency call. As a bonus, I’m reading before bed again and falling asleep sooner.Lesson #2: You don’t need every piece of tech imaginableIn my younger and more vulnerable years, I read a bit of personal finance advice that stuck. The writer suggested to delay luxury purchases for two months. At that point, the desire is either long gone or has steadily grown.Investing in a semi-professional microphone for podcasting seemed absolutely necessary not long ago. I had zero bookings to interview on a podcast, let alone solid plans to start my own.Within a few weeks the urge passed. As of today, I’m happily microphone- and podcast-less. That’s not to say I haven’t upgraded my office setup. After impatiently waiting the full two months, I pulled the trigger on a 32″ UHD 4K monitor. The time I’ve saved no longer toggling between multiple windows more than covers the cost. In my book, that’s money well spent.Lesson #3: When it’s your business, strong passwords matterAll my login credentials lived in an offline spreadsheet. Four, maybe five, passwords comprised my heavy rotation.Miraculously, I’ve lived to tell the tale of poor password habits unscathed. Before self-employment, using strong passwords and managing them properly wasn’t a goal. It was a happy accident. But going solo involves signing up for numerous sites you’ll want to separate from your personal life. Login credentials relate directly to your bread and butter. You’ll want to ensure that they’re as secure as possible.For me, that meant finally using a password management system. Once all these new business logins were securely stored in one place, I reset all my weak passwords. Now I have peace of mind after years of intermittent worry. Plus, never having to remember credentials is priceless. Everything’s right there whether I’m on my computer or phone.Lesson #4: If the conventional wisdom doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t98% of the advice I’ve received in my professional life has been spot on. Incorporating this constructive feedback isn’t easy, but it’s given me an edge. Then there’s the remaining 2%. It’s rarely flat-out wrong. In fact, peers you admire may swear by it. But something’s off. Maybe it doesn’t reflect your personality or goals.Doubting popular, proven consensus feels wrong when you’re new to the game. If a recommendation genuinely doesn’t work or feel right to you, don’t force it. Ditch it.My moment of defiance came early. Many freelancers take strong measures to limit calls with clients or prospects. I get it. We’re all busy, and the last thing the world needs is yet another pointless meeting.I’m not volunteering for calls, but I’m more than willing to chat. One-on-one conversation comes naturally to me. It’s how I’ve forged strong business relationships, some of which have blossomed into lasting friendships.Yes, it’s arguably not the best use of my time. Some calls have ended up going absolutely nowhere. The truth is I don’t care. Maybe I’ll think differently once I have a larger client roster with projects booked out months in advance. Until then, I’ll gladly make time to talk.Lesson #5: Errands are your friendDuring my corporate days, I changed into PJs within two minutes of coming home. Going anywhere after work was a drag. Why people socialized on weeknights baffled me. Now I relish evening grocery store runs or mid-day walks to Walgreens for a few necessities. My online shopping for household staples is non-existent.Getting out of the house is a privilege, not a chore. To keep from falling victim to hermitude, find small tasks you could use Postmates for but prefer doing in the real world.Every day I step out for a walk around the block. (Even during Chicago winters, there’s plenty of snow to shovel or ice to salt.) On the rare occasion I have something to mail, I drop it in a collection box five blocks away.It’s not much, and that’s the point. A few extra errands and walks strike the right balance for me. It keeps me a little engaged with the community outside my four walls.Lesson #6: Routines take time and experimentation to nailMy schedule is far from set. Or far from where I thought it would be by now. I figured I’d find my groove within a couple months. In reality, I stopped observing the “no meetings hours” I’d set on my calendar within two weeks of adding them.If you’re not willing to reschedule a meeting request that interferes with blocked time, your calendar isn’t a calendar. It’s a recommendation. Your schedule won’t work until you take it seriously. You can become rigid, adhering to your regimen no matter what. Or you can question why it’s not working and try something new.Keeping my time organized and predictable felt like the key to success. In reality, continuously adjusting what’s not working is more important. In this case, growth trumps consistency.It turns out many solo business owners take a year or 18 months to find their rhythm. I’m giving myself some leeway. And I’m always trying new approaches to budgeting my time.In conclusionThis second foray into self-employment has been worlds different. Instead of signing an offer letter six months in, I’m growing my business and helping fellow freelancers.My planned learning will never stop. But in all honesty, I’m more eager to see what unexpected lessons come next.Jesse Butts is a writer, marketing consultant, and founder of Calque Marketing. You can find him at www.jessebutts.com … just as soon as he gets around to building it. Until then, feel free to connect on LinkedIn.last_img read more

MintStyle with Rachel Weingarten: What’s Your Uniform?

first_imgWho would have thought that a holiday that began as the commemoration of an ancient saint would become one of the biggest spending days of the year? According to the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend $130.97 on… Full Story,Aside from the temperamental weather, scarcity of holidays and pervasive universal cranky moods, one of the worst parts of winter is the feeling of being trapped indoors for months at a time. While bears are too busy hibernating to take… Full Story,I recently joked to friends that late last year most of the updates on my social networks involved mass food consumption (and accompanying pictures.) For the first week of the New Year, most of the updates involved or included exercise… Full Story,We are three days into the New Year and you may already be having a hard time following through with your resolutions. Financial resolutions are always popular choices but sticking to a budget and tackling your financial goals is an… Full Story,My inbox is full of questions about how to usher in the New Year while getting the most bang for your buck. As with most of my Q&A columns, the following are composites of several similar questions. At Home Celebration… Full Story,You’ve made your list and you’ve checked it twice. You’ve even added it to your Google calendar and synced with your extended family members. You are probably so efficient that every gift on your holiday list is not only accounted… Full Story,It’s December and you know what that means: The frenzy of the gift-giving season has begun again. I’m a fan of gifts of experience and “two-part” gifts. The gift of an experience can harbor memories that last a lifetime. For… Full Story,One of the more interesting facts to emerge from the Black Friday shopping weekend is that a majority of us splurged on ourselves instead of others. Since many of us still face daunting gift lists, I’ve enlisted the help of… Full Story,If you’re reading this, chances are good that as much as you love the turkey, trimmings and time with family, you’re already secretly plotting the best holiday shopping plan of attack. To save you time crowded against thousands of other… Full Story,If there is one wardrobe staple that gets a lot of play every winter, it’s your coat. It doesn’t matter how well cut your pants are or how striking your sweater is, and even if you live someplace only a… Full Storylast_img read more

5 Holiday Shopping Mistakes Retailers Want You to Make

first_imgHas an organization or university offered you an opportunity with a stipend? Whether it’s an internship or apprenticeship, a stipend is a set amount of money that helps offset living expenses. This fixed amount is financial support provided while you’re… Full Story,Truth is, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to college: new friends, a new routine, (college parties!), and more independence. But along with all these perks, it’s also time to start thinking about your finances…. Full Story,A routing number is a unique number that identifies a specific banking institution. Each routing number is made up of nine digits. Routing numbers are sometimes referred to as an American Banker’s Association routing transit number or an ABA RTN…. Full Story,It’s stressful enough having a car loan over your head and staying on top of your monthly payments. But what if you have an upside-down car loan — in other words, the amount you owe on your set of wheels… Full Story,When you’re trying to get your financial house in order, it’s easy to get lost in the specifics. You might stress about how to adjust your budget, where to find some extra cash for the holidays or what funds to… Full Story,Shortly after graduating from New York University with a Master’s degree, Melanie Lockert turned to food stamps, as she worked her way out of $81,000 in student loans. “There were a lot of emotions around carrying that debt. It caused… Full Story,Traveling is one of the best things in life, and luckily, low funds don’t have to dash your dreams of enjoying an epic adventure. A wealth of destinations—both in the U.S. and abroad—are so affordable that even hardcore penny pinchers… Full Story,While we don’t yet have flying cars that collapse to the size of a suitcase, pneumatic tubes that transport us from room to room or machines that automatically bathe and clothe us in the morning, every day we’re getting closer… Full Story,Times have changed since Grams and Gramps were your age, looking to settle down and buy their first home. But today the house with the white picket fence—or that trendy loft in downtown—isn’t completely out of the question if you… Full Story,We recently hosted a Twitter chat as part of our #RealTalkSeries. And let’s just say, things definitely got real. Many of you joined us to discuss “taboo” and cringe-worthy money questions such as how to improve a bad credit score,… Full Storylast_img read more

Stop Making These 5 Costly Credit Card Mistakes

first_imgFrom the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint… Full Story,From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint… Full Story,From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint… Full Story,There’s a specific conversation I frequently have with people around my age. As they get closer to middle adulthood and look back on everything they’ve learned about money, they start to wonder – why didn’t they teach us this stuff… Full Story,Depending on what you look for in a card, one of these may be a perfect fit your do-it-yourself projects. Follow along to learn more about these top five credit cards for DIYers. Full Story,In many ways, our credit determines our power as consumers. The strength of our credit profile and score enable us to rent an apartment, take out a car loan, and sign up for a cell phone number. Can you imagine… Full Story,Travel credit cards are available with a wide array of rewards, redemption options, fees, and bonuses. Weeding through so many general and branded travel rewards cards can be tough, so we picked out some favorites for a wide range of travel styles – so you can find the best travel credit card for your wallet.Full Story,Traveling abroad carries with it all sorts of potential credit issues. Some are just mildly annoying, but some can leave you stranded in Amsterdam, relying on the help of a broke friend you haven’t seen since high school. To avoid those issues and everything in between, here are some tips for using credit abroad. Full Story,The top reward credit cards cater to an array of desires. Whether you want to get cash back or earn miles and points toward free travel, the cards below are all a great place to get started.Full Story,From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated by some of the links that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint Partners were added after the creation… Full Storylast_img read more

Majority of over-65s would like more sex, survey finds

first_imgOlder people are often assumed to want amiable companionship in later life rather than passion-fuelled romance.But a survey of 2,002 older Britons suggests 52% of over-65s feel they do not have enough sex, and nearly a third are happy to have sex on a first date. It also found one in 10 over-75s have had multiple sexual partners since turning 65.The charity Independent Age said its survey showed age was “no barrier to having a sex life”.The survey also found:Just one in six people aged 80 and over said they felt they had enough sexThe same proportion of over-65s said one of the only reasons they would stop having sex would be a lack of opportunityOne in four over-65s in a relationship that started in the past 10 years said they had met onlineLucy Harmer, director of services at Independent Age, said a lot of older people were more sexually active than many people might think.She told the BBC: “The generation that is reaching 65 and older now is the baby boomers. I don’t think anyone has ever told them they should be stopping.“People of that generation have a slightly different approach to sex, maybe, than the 80 to 85-year-olds did.”The poll also highlighted that about one in 11 over-65s said they did not take any precautions against sexually transmitted infections when they started having sex with a new partner.The Terrence Higgins Trust said some older people who were newly single or sexually active later in life had little knowledge about preventing STIs.Debbie Laycock, head of policy and parliamentary affairs at the sexual health charity, said: “There is still very little discussion of the sex lives of older people, with the vast majority of conversations, education and sexual health campaigns focusing on young people.“This has created the assumption that sexual health and STIs are only issues for the young – and that needs to change.”last_img read more

FDA Approves At-Home Breast Cancer Screening Test — but There’s a Catch

first_imgWhat you need to know about the new FDA-approved at-home breast cancer risk screening.In an age when most people in the United States can have almost anything delivered to their doorstep in only a few days — or even hours — it makes sense that this is spilling over into the medical and health care field. From apps and wearable devices that track everything from the number of steps you take each day to your days of peak fertility, health care — or at least health monitoring — is increasingly being done at home. Today, the Food and Drug Administration propelled this trend further by approving an at-home test for three breast cancer gene mutations.The direct-to-consumer testing kits are made by 23andMe — a company better known for their at-home testing kits to help a person determine their genetic ancestry. Though they already offer other health-risk reports on your genetic data — including testing for markers associated with conditions like celiac disease and Parkinson’s disease — this is the first time any DNA testing company has received FDA approval for cancer risk screening.Here’s what you need to know about these tests:The results are not comprehensiveThere are more than 1,000 known BRCA gene mutations; the 23andMe kit tests for three of them. The potential problem here is that people may take the test and not have these three gene mutations, but may have others, meaning they are still at risk for breast cancer.On top of that, the FDA stresses that “most cases of cancer are not caused by hereditary gene mutations but are thought to be caused by a wide variety of factors, including smoking, obesity, hormone use and other lifestyle issues.” In other words, these test results are only one small part of a larger picture.It tests for more than breast cancerThrough a self-collected saliva sample, the test report indicates whether a woman is at an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. It also can be useful for men, testing their risk of developing both breast and prostate cancer.It is most useful for one group in particularThe three gene mutations included in the 23andMe test are those that are most common among people of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent. They are not, however, the mutations most prevalent in the rest of the population.They come with a lot of caveatsAccording to Donald St. Pierre, acting director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, these tests are “a step forward in the availability of DTC genetic tests” — especially for those who may not otherwise have access to genetic screening — but also come with “a lot of caveats.”“While the detection of a BRCA mutation on this test does indicate an increased risk, only a small percentage of Americans carry one of these three mutations and most BRCA mutations that increase an individual’s risk are not detected by this test,” he explains in a statement. “The test should not be used as a substitute for seeing your doctor for cancer screenings or counseling on genetic and lifestyle factors that can increase or decrease cancer risk.”They do not replace working with a doctor &/or genetic counselorIdeally, even those who take at-home tests like the one by 23andMe consult with their doctor and/or a genetic counselor about which tests would be best for them and how to handle the results. Traditionally, the available screening for BRCA genes costs somewhere between $400 to $4,000, so this new $199 option from 23andMe does make it more accessible. While that, on the surface, is a good thing, it also may result in people receiving and processing test results on their own instead of with a medical professional.The FDA also stipulates that consumers and health care professionals “should not use the test results to determine any treatments, including anti-hormone therapies and prophylactic removal of the breasts or ovaries.” With celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Christina Applegate opting to have major surgery to mitigate their risk of developing various cancers, it has brought this course of action to the forefront — even if it’s not necessarily the best idea for everyone.The bottom line is that while this at-home test could be a helpful cancer-screening tool, anyone who uses it should be aware of its limitations and seek professional medical attention and advice as necessary.Sourcelast_img read more

Everything you need to know about chocolate and digestive health

first_imgEaster is nearly upon us, and you shouldn’t feel guilty over indulging in a chocolate egg (or two… OK, maybe three). But what if our bank holiday weekend treats could have surprising health benefits? Wouldn’t that be great?We assumed chocolate was a total no-no for gut health, but wanted to chat to Dr Naila Arebi, consultant gastroenterologist at St Mark’s Hospital to find out the truth.The power of the humble cocoa beanDr Naila Arebi says that, far from being totally unhealthy, chocolate can provide some benefits to our bodies thanks to the cocoa beans used to make it.‘Fermentation in the bean and subsequent extraction generates cocoa butter and releases a variety of vitamins and minerals such as potassium and anti-oxidants,’ she explains.‘Cocoa beans also contain dopamine, phenylethylamine and serotonin, chemicals with powerful antidepressant properties that also promote wellbeing. In addition, theobromine is another component of the cocoa bean and has caffeine like properties.’And she says that many more healthy chemicals are released when chocolate is fermented in our intestines by our gut bacteria, citing research that showed the anti-oxidants released are similar to those found in green tea.Which chocolate is best?But as with many foods, certain types are better for us than others. The health benefits of milk chocolate are (sadly) few and far between. It’s because, Dr Arebi says, milk chocolate is very processed and therefore won’t be received so favourably by our gut bacteria. That means your Cadbury’s Creme Egg might not be the best choice…‘Pure chocolate or dark chocolate is good and is the type that has the benefits listed above. It’s when chocolate is processed that it becomes bad for us,’ she says. ‘Processing involves the addition of sugars and different forms of dairy products including cream and condensed milk.’And of course, sugar and dairy can have an impact on the gut – particularly if you suffer from digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dr Arebi says both can contribute to bloating and excess wind for those with sensitive stomachs.‘Both sugar and dairy can have an impact on the gut. Sugars cause excess fermentation in the gut and contribute to bloating and excess wind. Dairy products can also contribute to these symptoms as lactose breaks down to the sugars glucose and galactose which can then lead to fermentation. People who are lactose intolerant should be able to tolerate most dark chocolates but should always read the ingredients in case there are flavours containing lactose.’So there’s your answer. If you’re trying to be healthy, purer darker chocolate is your best bet (that’ll be chocolate with the highest cocoa content). But otherwise, we say everything in moderation.Sourcelast_img read more

3 Social Media Marketing Tips From Rapper Lil’ Wayne

first_img I hope that you found these tips useful.  If you did, would you please retweet or “Like” this post 😉  Thanks! Topics: recent overtaking of the Guinness World Record content creation in 24 hours certainly did the job.  Only hours after Figure out what distinguishes you from the competition, and make sure you share this with your audience.  This will not only help you to attract a loyal following, but it will also help you because he wanted his fans to know he loved them.  As a result of his continued effort to share remarkable content with the world, not only was Weezy able to maintain his fan base, but he actually increased it!  that your competitors may not be focused on.   2. Never Stop Creating Content 3 Social Media Marketing Tips From Rapper Lil’ Wayne Don’t make your visitors’ experience more difficult by throwing a barrage of links and choices in front of them.  Provide them with and then offer them one simple next step.  WeezyThanxYou Although there are thousands of rappers in the world, Lil’ Wayne uses his uniqueness to help him stand out in the overpopulated sea of lyricists.  His love of rock music, the Green Bay Packers, and his brief stint in jail are just a few of the things that Wayne uses to distinguish himself from others.  Originally published Feb 17, 2011 12:00:00 PM, updated July 03 2013 Social Media start ranking for long tail keywords is the key to any inbound marketing strategy.  Oreo claimed the record 1. Be Unique As an internet marketer having a social media presence isn’t enough.  The social media landscape is always changing, and because of this it’s important to understand the most effective ways to utilize the tools available for your marketing efforts.  Here are a couple things all internet marketers can learn from Lil’ Waynes success. valuable content Lil’ Wayne shares a lot of exclusive content with his fans on Facebook.  He also makes it extremely clear to them how they can show their appreciation by including a simple “Like this post” call to action in many of his posts.  By telling his fans what to do next Lil’ Wayne is making his fan’s lives simpler and helping them with the decision-making process.  This works incredibly well on his Facebook Page as we can see with all of his posts including the most recent Guinness World Record post.  Facebook Growing a following and attracting inbound links is a long gradual process.  Don’t lose hope if you don’t see immediate results.  Quality and consistency of If Lil’ Wayne hadn’t already established himself as one of social media’s elite, his most for themselves with 114,619 “Likes,” Lil’ Wayne and his fans obliterated it with a whopping 588,243.  Now I know some of you are probably thinking, “well he probably just has a lot more fans than Oreo,” but that isn’t the whole story.  Oreo has 16,711,040 fans on Facebook to Lil’ Waynes 20,112,726, and although this is a significant advantage, it does not completely explain why he got more than five times as many “Likes” on his post.  for most “Likes” to a post on You would think that being locked up might put someone’s rap career on hold.  But instead of slowing down, Lil Wayne seemed to work even harder while he was in prison.  As well as continuing to write songs, he also launched a blog called Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack 3. Tell Your Fans What to Do!last_img read more

Smart Business Applications of Google+ Hangouts You’re Missing Out On

first_imgGoogle+ is chock full of hidden gems. The problem is, most marketers regard Google+ as a social platform that isn’t delivering significant social media marketing results. Unfortunately, this perception usually inhibits their ability to see all the cool things Google+ has to offer: the little features, functionalities, and tools it provides to improve the way your business functions. Boy, are you in for a treat!So let’s stop viewing Google+ as just another social network and instead put it to good use as a business tool, particularly through the use of Google+ Hangouts. Hangouts is one of the most versatile Google+ tools available to you, especially when you find it difficult to assemble your entire team for in-person meetings. With Google+, you can give internal communication a boost and increase efficiency … all for free!Google+ Hangouts … With Extras!If you’re not in the know, Google+ Hangouts is a live group video chat feature that enables you to video chat with up to nine other people. But that’s not all! Google+ Hangouts are also available “with extras” — extra features that you can use within your Google+ Hangout sessions. By hosting a virtual meeting through Hangouts with Extras, you can get so much more out of your Hangout sessions. Here are three ways you can use Google+ Hangouts, including the key “extra” features that amplify their impact.Host Virtual MeetingsScreenshareWell-run marketing meetings include a presentation or slide deck of some sort with key metrics, goals, and progress toward those goals to share with the team. But for those members joining in remotely, your marketing manager running the meeting and projecting slides can open up a Google+ Hangout with the remote attendees and do a simple screenshare. This way, everyone in the meeting can easily pay attention while also keeping those teammates who are off-site well informed. Or, if your CEO or colleague is on a business trip, you can still have one-on-one meetings to show them presentations or other projects you’re working on by starting a Hangout and sharing your screen!Google DocsAs we mentioned in our recent post, “How to Run Marketing Team Meetings That Don’t Suck,” an effective marketing meeting needs an agenda. But you know the one flaw about those perfected agendas? People forget about them. Once you’re even 5 or 10 minutes into a meeting, everyone forgets there was a certain schedule to stick to. That’s why the Hangouts sync with Google Docs is so valuable. Google+ Hangouts are automatically connected to your Google Docs, allowing you to open documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., and showcase them on the screen as you video chat. Having the agenda in sight reminds members that there is a certain schedule of topics to adhere to and review, keeping them on their toes. Users can also see the meeting notes as they are typed, and can also contribute to them if necessary.In addition to making your team more aware of your meeting’s agenda, Hangouts can help you present certain analytics you continuously track using a spreadsheet (such as your finances or month-to-date progress toward your leads goal), and enable you to review those numbers together. Or, if you’re simply working with someone else on a presentation for an upcoming meeting or event, you can build it collaboratively via Google Presentations and then transfer the documents to your preferred presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote later. That way, if either of you has an idea to add to or alter the presentation, you can make the change or add a note right then and there rather than taking the risk of forgetting about it later. This eliminates time-wasting back-and-forth and lets group members work together efficiently!Improve CommunicationGroup ChatDon’t you hate when you’re in a meeting, someone needs to leave, so she interrupts the speaker to excuse herself? Me too. Instead, keep your meeting’s Google+ Hangout open whether the meeting is virtual or in-person. That way, attendees can easily excuse themselves by leaving a note in the chat pane, and exiting without interruption. This tool can also come in handy if you want to direct meeting attendees to a specific link, or if the meeting you need them to send you any piece of information, such as a phone number or address.If you’re team is hosting a guest or speaker, either at an event or in-person, you can also use Google+ Hangouts so people not attending in person hear and see what’s going on, and communicate via chat.YouTubeWatching videos of cats running into walls is funny — but it’s even funnier when you do it with others! But on a more serious note, video marketing is still alive and well. If someone on your team has been working on your next case study, product video, or music video, but has the video unlisted to the public for the purpose of continued editing, he/she can share progress with other members of your team by easily connecting to YouTube. (Of course, if the video hasn’t reached this stage, you could always use screenshare to show what you have saved on your computer).Another benefit of the YouTube sync in Google+ Hangouts is, when you’re browsing YouTube, you sometimes stumble upon a video that either inspires you or illustrates a message in a compelling way. Instead of trying to describe this to your colleague later or trying to convince your videographer how awesome it was, you can use the Hangout button under “share” right from within YouTube to easily watch the video with another person virtually.Have FunGoogle EffectsSometimes a meeting can be enhanced by just a bit of FUN! At HubSpot, our marketeering team (marketing + engineering) has members who sit in all different parts of the office, work on different schedules, and some who even work off-site — in other countries! Thus, they host their daily team update using Google+ Hangouts and have a whole lot of fun with the seasonal effects. Sometimes mustaches make an appearance, and sometimes they sport reindeer antlers and noses! While these silly effects hardly serve any “business” value, who doesn’t benefit from a little fun at work now and again? While chatting using these effects, why not take screenshots and share them on your social media platforms? It shows off your brand’s personality, and hey — nothing bad can come from showcasing how happy your company’s employees are. Video Marketing Additional AppsThe “Extras” we mentioned above aren’t the only apps you can add to your Google+ Hangouts. There is also a doodle screen (for design brainstorms?), a SlideShare app (for showing final projects?), and many others. Google+ gives you quite a few options, so be sure to customize your Hangouts for your company’s optimal use.Are you using Google+ Hangouts for your business? If so, how? Image Credit: Womenofhr Originally published Aug 13, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016center_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

It’s All in Your Head: 9 Reasons You Can’t Resist a List

first_img Topics: I have a friend who works at a very big national publication and is a genius at making lists for the web. Her lists go viral and generate millions (I mean literally millions) of pageviews. She sees this as a curse. Because she wants to be a “real” journalist, meaning: someone who writes articles. But she’s so good at lists that her editor keeps her doing those instead.I’ve told my friend that she has been blessed with a gift, that she should forget writing boring articles and instead launch her own site doing nothing but lists. (For an example see Listverse, which is amazing and — I warn you — addictive.) My friend won’t listen. She insists on seeing her lists as second-class citizens of the media world.She’s not alone. Among some old-school journalists there exists a kind of snobbery about articles written in list form. They’re derisively called “listicles” (list + article) and are considered kind of cheesy, the stuff of workout magazines and mindless websites like Buzzfeed.Thing is, people love Buzzfeed. And people love lists. Consequently, lists drive traffic, which is why website editors demand them, which is why you see so many of them on the internet. That’s why this article is created in the form of a list. If I wrote it as an article, nobody would read it. But if I make it a list, there’s a chance it will get shared and Liked and linked and tweeted.That’s also why this post is loaded up with photos — because somewhere deep down in the dark recesses of your reptile brain, there is some kind of prehistoric trigger that gives you a squirt of dopamine every time you scroll down and find another shiny object. It isn’t magic. It’s psychology. For various reasons lists are almost impossible to resist. We asked a few shrinks to explain. Here’s why:1) Because lists overcome chaos.“As human beings we come into a world that seems chaotic, and we have a desire to make sense of things. When we create lists we are creating order out of chaos, and the structure helps to alleviate our anxiety,” says Doug Foresta, a licensed clinical social worker and clinician at Change Happens in Chicopee, Mass. (Note: That is not a photo of Doug Foresta.)2) Because hey, that’s how God does it.As Foresta points out, Moses didn’t come down from the mountain and say, “Here are a few things to think about.” Nope. He came down with 10 Commandments. For what it’s worth, Buzzfeed took that same example and a bunch of others and made a listicle called, “18 Totally Convincing Pieces Of Evidence That Jews Invented The Listicle.” I know what you’re thinking: But what if God doesn’t exist? Look, friend. This is a marketing blog. Let’s not get all philosophical, okay? Someone could get hurt.3) Because lists save precious brainpower.“We are all moving fast in our hyper-stimulated environments. We want facts delivered rapidly with information packaged in tiny, quick bites. This requires little from us. It takes away our need to slow down and think critically or analytically about things,” says Marcy De Veaux, a depth psychologist and assistant professor at California State University, Northridge. 4) Because lists create a sense of mastery.A list “organizes thoughts and offers an overall feeling of understanding and solidity regarding one complex topic,” says Jaroslava Toutonghi, a psychologist in Prague who also has an MBA. “If you just list one thing, it’s never as convincing as listing the 10 best, the 10 strongest, the 10 most successful. All of the 10 options will share one common theme, and that common theme will be interpreted as a direction, a thing to follow.” You may not be able to snatch the pebble from a blind man’s hand, but when it comes to skimming listicles about cute kittehs or ways to get better abs, you’re a fourth-degree black belt!5) Because we are afraid of death.Wait, what? Well, that’s what Umberto Eco told Der Spiegel, and he’s a famous author (The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum) and big-shot intellectual who once curated an exhibition at the Louvre — about lists. “How, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. … It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die,” Eco says. Each individual list may end, but there’s no end to the number of lists we can write.6) Because lists help us remember.It’s why you make a list when you go to the grocery store. Knowing how many can help you remember the actual items. Like this woman, who knows she has three kids, but can’t remember what the little one was called, or where she left him.7) Because let’s be honest — nobody reads anything anymore.As Farhad Manjoo pointed out in Slate recently, nearly 40% of readers bounce out of an article before they even read the first sentence. Most never get past the halfway mark. People don’t read — they scan. Hey, chances are you’re not even reading this; you just glanced at the boldfaced part and jumped to the next item.8) Because PowerPoint has turned us all into mindless corporate zombies.This is my own personal theory, and I’m no expert, but I think it holds water. We see so many PowerPoint presentations, in every context, that our brains (or what’s left of them) have been trained to consume information in bullet points. Why fight it? Give the zombies what they want.9) Because readers know a list has an end.A regular article is like a baseball game — in theory, it could go on forever. (And sometimes it does, if the article is in The New Yorker.) With a list, on the other hand, you know before you start how long the journey is going to be. And you know when you’re getting close to the end. Everybody loves that feeling of getting closer to a destination — the end of a long car trip, the end of a book.Oh, and look — now you’re nearly at the end of this article. Does your brain hurt from all that non-thinking? No, of course it doesn’t! Because it was a list!The Bottom LineIf you’re an inbound marketer and you’re trying to create content that draws customers toward your brand, think about putting things in list form whenever possible. Pro Tip #1: McKinsey & Co. and other consulting firms believe that you’re better off using an odd number of items rather than an even number, according to author Duff McDonald, whose history of McKinsey, The Firm, will be published by Simon & Schuster in September.Pro Tip #2: Check out this article from the HubSpot blog for tips on how to make a really compelling listicle. Why do you find lists so compelling?Image credit: dierk schaefer Productivity Originally published Jun 12, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

8 Clever Ways to Use Your Twitter Cover Image for Better Marketing

first_img Images Originally published Feb 9, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 There are plenty of ways to use your Twitter cover image to promote your business. You can implement different tactics at different times, depending on what’s going on in your business at the moment. It’s easy to mix your cover image up and keep things fresh, while always being consistent with your branding.To inspire your next Twitter cover photo change, check out some great examples below. 1) Build Instant TrustRebekah has an impressive social media pedigree. Using an “As Seen On” box and a half-circle badge, she doesn’t shy away from sharing some of the prestigious places where her work has appeared. With names like those behind her, she has instant credibility.Her one-of-a-kind gorgeous smile also draws you in and her trademark orange fits nicely with the rest of her branding, which means if you know her on other platforms, you’ll know for sure you’re in the right place here.Takeaway: Have something you’re proud of? Show it off! Keep your branding consistent with other platforms.2) Turn Your Twitter Image into a Quick Business OverviewNo need to wonder what you’ll get from the dynamic duo over at Web Search Social.  One look tells you exactly what you can expect. The beauty is in the simplicity.Takeaway: Use your Twitter cover image to tell people exactly what they can expect from your business and from your tweets. You know that compliment you give your most transparent friends, “What you see is what you get with her”? That’ll be you on Twitter.3) Highlight an Upcoming EventVincent is going to be speaking at the upcoming Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. This reinforces him as the Pinterest “specialist | speaker | strategist” he is. The background image also gives a little nod to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.Takeaway: Have an upcoming trade show, speaking event or other exciting announcement? Make it here!4) Promote the LifestyleNormally a suggestion for use on Pinterest, fitness tracker company FitBit does a great job of building on the desires of their followers to improve their lifestyle – on Twitter.  While the product does make a couple of appearances, the overall impression you get is that this is a company that promotes an active lifestyle. If that’s what appeals to you, you might be more inclined to follow and engage!Takeaway: If you have a lifestyle product or service, consider how you might depict that to your audience. You may find it more effective than a shot of your product.5) Highlight Your Recent Content and Provide Outreach ContextRecently, I completed an ebook on Houzz marketing. I wanted to do a little proactive outreach on Twitter to get it in front of as many people as possible. Since the people I was tweeting to might not know OverGo and the connection with Houzz marketing, the split screen Twitter cover image provides instant context.Takeaway: If you have some popular content on your site, direct Tweets to it from your cover photo. You might also temporarily change the URL on your profile to send them directly to the appropriate page on your site instead of the home page.6) Announce a New Product and Promote a HashtagMazda uses a gorgeous, eye-catching image of two upcoming new models to get people excited about them, and to highlight their innovations. The prominent tagline reminds superfans how to start a conversation if they so desire.Takeaway: Use professional photography when showcasing your products. If you want to promote a custom hashtag (and why wouldn’t you?) make it easy by including it here.7) Showcase Your PersonalityIf you ARE your brand, as is Gary Vaynerchuk, play up your fabulous personality. These images may be all about business, but they are full of personality. Bonus – he highlights his hashtag to let followers know how to easily join the conversation.Takeaway: You don’t have to be a big a personality as Gary Vee to appeal to people by just being you. Showcase your accomplishments, your passions, and your winning smile.8) Set the ToneThe vintage typewriter and bright flowers are perfectly Peg. Classy, bright, cheerful – her cover image sets the tone for what she tweets.Takeaway: Keeping all your branding consistent with the tone and substance of your marketing makes people want to follow and interact.So, how will you use your Twitter cover this month? Have you seen other clever uses of Twitter cover images? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics:last_img read more

14 Ways to Increase Your Clickthrough Rate on Twitter

first_imgAnd here’s an example of clear tweet copy: That’s a lot of metrics to follow. But in most cases, the most important outcome is a click on the link that you’ve posted.After all, link clicks account for 92% of all user interaction with tweets. Link clicks are the low-hanging fruit of Twitter, and they’re your strongest chance of gaining views and shares for your content.And I’m guessing you want more traffic and attention to your blog or the articles you share, right? When people click a link in a tweet, there tends to be a chain reaction: The more people clicking on your article via Twitter, the more exposure it gets. When more people read your article, more people are likely to share your article. Your social signals will likely rise, which improves your SEO. More activity on your site will also increase user engagement metrics. With all the extra traffic, you’ll also gain more conversions, more sales, and more revenue.Wow — all by improving the clickthrough rate (CTR) of your tweet? That’s right. My goal here is to show you how to increase the number of link clicks on your tweets.The Challenge: It Takes Work to Get Clicks on TwitterData shows the average Twitter CTR is 1.64%. According to SignUpTo, the more followers you have, the fewer clicks you’re getting on your tweets:Users with 50 – 1,000 followers had a 6.16% CTR.Users with 1,000 – 5,000 followers had a 1.45% CTR.Users with 5,000 – 10,000 followers had a 0.55% CTR.Users with 10,000+ followers had a 0.45% CTR.Plus, Twitter is a crowded place. With 271 million monthly active users and 500 million tweets sent out each day, you have a lot of competition to deal with. But Twitter is an important platform for driving traffing to your website, generating leads, and getting in touch with customers and prospects. And you can always do more to increase your engagement rate on Twitter. Challenges or none, there are ways to craft a tweet that compels more users to click through. Here are 14 ways to do it.14 Ways to Increase Clickthrough Rate on Twitter1) Use clear language.Remember, your followers are likely scrolling through their feeds and scanning tweets very quickly. To catch their attention, be as clear as possible by choosing simple, easily scannable language.HubSpot did a study where they compared CTRs from two different tweet types: those with clear, to-the-point copy and those with more ambiguous copy. They found that “clearly stated offers received 18% more clicks and 29.8% more retweets than the tweets with a more ambiguous copy.”Here’s an example they used of ambiguous tweet copy: Get a sneak peek backstage on how @HubSpot does inbound marketing: http://t.co/QouXCtUXeu pic.twitter.com/9Z6acPm4OL— HubSpot (@HubSpot) July 14, 2014 Free Kit: The Marketer’s Crash Course in Visual Content Creation http://t.co/g89AT0Pgcy pic.twitter.com/WY9XMgvaj1— HubSpot (@HubSpot) July 18, 2014 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack The clearer you can be, the more likely you are to get clickthroughs to your URL. Sometimes, that means simply tweeting the title of the article or offer you’re linking to. Which brings me to my next point …2) Use the article title or headline.Good copywriters know that writing headlines is one of the most important steps to writing an article. Headlines are what make people click. So why wouldn’t you use the copy from a great headline when tweeting out article?One Twitter researcher was able to gain an 18% clickthrough rate simply by using compelling headlines. Hubspot’s research showed that their average tweet copy got an average of 98 clicks, while headline-based tweets got an average of 110 clicks.Twitter is a sales and advertising platform, and headlines really do matter — and they’re a great place to borrow copy for your tweets. In studies that I’ve conducted, a single headline word change produced a 46% improvement in clickthroughs. Advertising wizard David Ogilvy was so enamored of the importance of headlines that he wrote this: “Unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”As it turns out, the fundamental rule of clickable tweets is the same as the rule of clickable headlines. The headlines have to sizzle. Headlines with higher clickthrough rates tend to …Be short. You only have 140 characters, so you can’t afford a long title. Outbrain discovered that eight-word titles had a 21% higher CTR than the average title. Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella analyzed 200,000 tweets with links and found that the 120-130-character range was the sweet spot for high CTR.Ask a question. Why does this work? Questions prompt curiosity, which leads to people wanting to satisfy that curiosity (source).Use exclamation points. Data shows that three exclamation points will improve the CTR more than twice as much as any other form of punctuation (source).Use at least one superlative. Superlatives are words like “best,” “most,” “smartest.” Headlines with one superlative outperformed all other variations of superlatives (or none at all).Use a fun tone. Titles that are lighthearted and humorous have a higher CTR than their serious counterparts (source).Not be in all caps. The online equivalent of shouting is a turnoff; 64% of readers prefer sentence case.Include a number. Headlines that include numbers have a 15% higher CTR than those that don’t. Use an odd number if you can, as headlines that contain odd numbers have a 20% higher CTR than those containing even numbers.Be a two-sided title with a colon or hyphen. For example, “SEO: 7 Reasons Why It Still Matters” or “8 Ways to More Money — Warren Buffett’s Secrets.” Titles that have two parts like these ones have a 9% higher CTR than those with one part.3) Use verbs.Humans find verbs much more cognitively interesting than nouns. In fact, studies show that simply seeing or listening to a verb can signal the body’s motor system. It’s no surprise, then, that using more verbs in your tweets is can be a powerful way to increase clickthrough rate.Zarrella found in his analysis that tweets that included more verbs and adverbs, rather than nouns and adjectives, received far higher CTR rates. 4) Post fewer statistics.Statistics are awesome, but if you’re looking to improve clickthrough rate for your tweets, it might be better for you to choose something else to pull from the content you’re linking to. HubSpot found that their tweets with statistics had 32% fewer clicks per tweet than non-stat-based tweets. But you’ll want to experiment to see what your audience responds to.5) Tweet on the weekend.This will depend on your audience, so you should do some experimentation. But Zarrella found from his analysis of hundreds of thousands of tweets that CTRs were highest on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.6) Tweet in the afternoon.The timing of your tweets on a given day makes a difference, too. Zarrella found that tweets posted at 2:00 P.M. have the highest CTR. (Remember to experiment to see when your target audience is most interactive, though, and to post at that time.)7) Use images. If you use images in your tweet, you will receive higher clickthrough rates — as much as 18%.Image Credit: HubSpot8) Space out your tweets.If you’re tweeting in spurts, your followers might think you’re spamming them. Instead of tweeting all at once, space out your tweets. Tweets that are spaced appropriately get higher CTRs, according to Zarrella’s research. Buffer recommends putting a space of 30 minutes before and after the tweets for which you want high engagement.(Pro tip: Scheduling your tweets ahead of time will make your life a lot easier. Here’s a social media publishing template if you don’t have one already.)9) Use hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to improve your online presence. Above all, using hashtags will help you get more engagement and visibility. More specifically, you’ll get more clicks on your tweets.But don’t overdo it by adding too many hashtags to your post. Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags get double the engagement metrics that no hashtags get — but tweets with one or two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more. (For more guidance on hashtag etiquette, check out this blog post.)Image credit: Buffer10) Ask for action.The call to action (CTA) is an indispensable part of all marketing. The same holds true for clickable tweets. What kind of action do you want your followers to take? Ask them to do something on the page where you’re directing them. Here are some examples:Grab your 15% coupon before time runs out!! example.com/couponecodeSign up now to hear about our mind-blowing new product. example.com/mindblowingnewproductIt’s free! Download your copy today. example/downloadnowEach of these sample tweets has a clear text CTA followed by a link. This structure makes it very obvious that you want the user to then click on that link.11) Don’t necessarily place the link at the end of the tweet.Zarrella’s analysis of 200,000 link-containing tweets concluded that putting the link approximately 25% of the way through would achieve the highest CTR.12) Talk about Twitter.Twitter users want to hear more about Twitter. They’re already using the platform — it naturally follows that they will be interested in tweets that have to do with that platform.HubSpot found that their tweets that included links to blog posts and offers about Twitter and other social media topics received 22.5% more clicks on average than the average clicks for a tweet during a set period of time.How can you talk about Twitter if your subject has nothing to do with Twitter? Try one of these:Hey Twitter users….Best thing on Twitter all day…You needed this in your Twitter feed…Twitter is raving about…13) Talk about and link to infographics.Infographics are a hugely popular topic on Twitter. A lot of people search for infographics on Twitter, so simply using the word “infographic” will bring more visibility to your tweets.Not only can infographics double your blog traffic, but they can multiply your clickthroughs on Twitter.  In one study, infographics received 832% more retweets than articles and 746% more clickthroughs.Image Credit: Adweek14) Make sure your links work.Nothing is worse than posting a perfectly optimized tweet with a busted link. The most common form of link errors is not having a space before the link. So check, double-check and triple-check that you’ve added a space between your tweet copy and the link.By following these guidelines, you can be confident that you’re doing exactly what you should do to get the most clicks out of your tweets. Now, for your homework: Pick up a link to share, head over to Twitter, and create a clickable tweet!What techniques do you use to create clickable tweets? Share with us in the comments below! Originally published Mar 19, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated August 25 2017 Topics: Social Media Engagement Tweeting is easy. You can type up anything in three seconds and press “tweet.” But sending a clickable tweet — that, my friend, is a science.Thankfully, making your tweets clickable doesn’t “just happen” based on the whim of the Twitter gods. It happens when you intentionally apply a certain set of principles.In this post, we’ll talk about how to put the science of Twitter to work for you so more people click on your tweets.Click here to access a free Twitter for Businesses kit.Defining a “Click” on a TweetBefore we dive in here, what does it mean for a person to “click on your tweet”? Think about it: There are nine different ways a user can click your tweet. They can …Retweet your tweetFavorite your tweetClick your hashtagsClick your @-mentionsClick your linkClick your pictureClick the white space to expand the tweetClick your Twitter handle to view your profileClick the “Follow” button to follow youlast_img read more

Rishabh Pant emerges as rightful successor to MS Dhoni

first_imgMS Dhoni is one of world cricket’s greatest ever match-winners. There can be no argument there. He burst on to the scene as an exciting wicketkeeper-batsman but it was one of those two skills that helped him grab headlines.As a wicketkeeper, young Dhoni was still a work in progress but his batting flair was just too hard to ignore. Towering sixes, fearless strokeplay and breathtaking consistency and the long hair. What was not to like about him?Soon enough, with the ‘Fab Five’ entering the last leg of their glorious careers, MS Dhoni was fast-tracked to the Indian captaincy. The boy from Jharkhand had arrived.READ – MS Dhoni faces the biggest test of his career as World Cup looms closerAnd success followed. A tri-nation series win in Australia, the World T20, the No.1 Test ranking, the 2011 World Cup, the 2013 Champions Trophy. India, under Dhoni, were unstoppable. MS Dhoni was a force to reckon with. His wicketkeeping was now dazzling. He was a legend.But India’s poor fortunes in Test cricket overseas put pressure on MS Dhoni. Indian cricket’s blue-eyed boy was under pressure to step up and do more. By the end of 2014, he had had enough. He decided to retire from Test cricket. In early 2017 plagued by a poor run with the bat, MS Dhoni stepped down as India’s captain in the shoter formats. Virat Kohli, his predecessor, believed that could be the catalyst for a last blast from MSD. And for a while, it did look like India had found the MS Dhoni of old. A hundred against England, a maiden T20I fifty and a sensational time with the bat in the 2018 IPL gave India hope. But all that did not translate into runs for India. In 20 ODIs this year, Dhoni scored only 275 runs at an average a shade over 25. Zero fifties.advertisementWorse was to follow. MS Dhoni was dropped from the T20I team. The selectors and the captain tried to word it nicely but it was clear the management wanted to try out an option.All this while Rishabh Pant, a young wicketkeeper from Delhi, staked his claim. His audacious strokeplay was the talking point since his under-19 days. By the time he stormed into the Indian domestic circuit and the IPL, Pant was earmarked for even bigger things. He stormed into the Test arena with a blistering hundred in England before identical scores of 92 in the Tests against the West Indies.READ – Rishabh Pant becomes the second youngest to score T20I fifty for IndiaOn Sunday, Pant became the second youngest Indian batsman to hit a T20I half-century as India chased down a tricky score against the Windies when the chips were down.For years, there was no one to challenge Dhoni. His contemporaries – Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel were nowhere near as consistent. Besides, they did not possess the hitting power and cricketing acumen of MSD. In a brief span of time, Rishabh Pant changed it all. It is yet to be seen how sharp his cricketing brain is but the Delhi boy is fearless. His shot-making sometimes makes you wonder if he thinks at all – the audacity comes so naturally to him. Given his style, he will get out looking rather silly at times but when he does come off, it would be a sight to behold.Rishabh Pant, in so many ways, reminds you of a younger Dhoni – daring, dashing and unflappable. He is yet to be tested under real pressure but the signs are good. He has not, in all fairness, got a long run in the one-day format, having played just three games.But he is a strong contender to be named as the back-up wicketkeeper in the World Cup. And if Pant continues to play those dazzling knocks and sharpens his wicketkeeping skills, it could become increasingly difficult to keep him out at the expense of a non-performing star.MS Dhoni is a contracted India cricketer and all emotions aside, he is expected to score runs. His achievements have been celebrated and lauded but with the World Cup a few months away, this is no time to rest on past laurels. Pant is banging the door down for a place in the ODI team and he has to be tried sooner than later.India will hope Dhoni finds his touch in Australia and New Zealand in the New Year.Time is running out and Pant is storming in.last_img read more

India vs West Indies, 2nd Test: Ishant Sharma eyes Kapil Dev’s record

first_imgFast bowler Ishant Sharma is enjoying his recent successes in the longest format. Picking up 8 wickets in Antigua in the 1st Test against West Indies including a 5-wicket haul was another proof of how much Ishant has improved as a bowler since his ankle injury in 2012 that sidelined him from the game for months. His latest performance also meant that Sharma now has the chance to overtake the legendary Kapil Dev on the list of Indian bowlers with most wickets outside Asia.With 155 wickets to his name till date, Ishant is currently tied at 2nd spot with Kapil on the list which is headed by Anil Kumble, who took 200 Test scalps outside Asia. Incidentally, both Ishant and Kapil took the same number of Tests (45) to the landmark of 155 wickets but Ishant is almost certain to overtake the latter when he turns up for India in the 2nd Test in Jamaica starting Friday.Here are the top-5 Indian bowlers with most Test wickets outside Asia (matches in parentheses):Anil Kumble (50) – 200 wicketsKapil Dev (45) – 155 wicketsIshant Sharma (45) – 155* wicketsZaheer Khan (38) – 147 wicketsBishan Singh Bedi (34) – 123 wicketsIn the last 2 years, Ishant has been the 2nd most successful Indian bowler in Tests (57 wickets) behind teammate Mohammed Shami, who has 62 dismissals to his name – albeit after playing 2 more games. Ishant’s bowling average of 20.66 in this period is also amongst the best in the game with the likes of James Anderson, Trent Boult and Mitchell Starc falling behind him.In the company of Jasprit Bumrah, Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the spinning duo of R Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja, Ishant is now playing the role of the leader of possibly the best all-round bowling attack in the world.advertisementAlso Read | No MS Dhoni but Hardik Pandya returns for T20Is against South AfricaAlso Read | MS Dhoni was unavailable for selection, confirms MSK Prasadlast_img read more

Oppo smartwatch to have rectangular dial, company VP confirms

first_imgA few months ago, Oppo VP Brian Shen confirmed that the company was working on its very first smartwatch. Oppo is looking to enter the smart watch segment to take on the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei and Apple, among others. While there is no word yet on when exactly the Oppo smartwatch will launch, Shen has been teasing some details about it on Chinese social media site Weibo. The Oppo VP has confirmed that the Oppo smartwatch will come with a rectangular dial.The Oppo VP revealed in a Weibo post that a square-shaped body would make people compare the watch with other smartwatches. “But you can’t make a triangle face,” he quips. Shen is of the opinion that rectangular display is better at presenting information compared to circular screens. However, circular smartwatches give a more traditional watch-like feel and is the prefered design by most Android smartwatch makers.By offering a square dial, Oppo is expecting comparisons with the Apple Watch. It is what Xiaomi is facing right now following recent teasers of the Mi Watch. Xiaomi’s upcoming smartwatch does look eerily similar to the Apple Watch. It not only sports a squarish screen, but also gets a rotatable crown and flat button, which resemble the buttons on Apple’s smartwatch.Not much else is known about the Oppo watch at the moment. The Oppo watch is expected to run on Wear OS and could be powered by the upcoming Snapdragon Wear 3300 chipset, but these are mere speculations for now. We expect Shen to reveal more details about the design and features of the Oppo smartwatch in the weeks to come.ALSO READ | Mi Watch teased: Apple Watch-like design, MIUI for watch, colourful UI and more details revealedlast_img read more