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Month: March 2021

Work From Home Opportunities – What’s the Verdict?

Work From Home Opportunities – What’s the Verdict?

Work from home. Such fleeting words. Like many cash strapped Americans out there, you come home from the stale job, with barely-if any- disposable income. However, on this day, you decide that you want to make a little more extra money. So naturally you type into Google something along the lines of ” How to make extra money”, and push the enter button.

Voila! Thousands upon thousands of results pop up, with ads featuring many types of ways to get rich quick, or work from home. You click on them, they’re interesting. You see all types of sales pages, with bold words and bright coloring. You’re given ‘testimonials’ of people who have just made so much money in such a short amount of time, by just sitting at their desk. You still, however, have no idea what they’re offering despite all the hype. The price? Oh, only $39.99. Hm.

So like most their first time, you decide to give it a shot… only to be given the run around, and perhaps part of the products you were promised to get started. You request a refund because of the ’30 day money back guarantee’, only to discover that after 2 weeks of requesting, it’s probably gone forever. You grow upset because you know the truth deep down… it was a scam.

I believe it’s safe to say that work from home opportunities is a mine field at the very least. I’ve been there myself, but after getting burned so many times, I began to get smarter when it came to identifying legitimate ones from fake ones. What I’ve found is that half the battle with these is simply in identifying the true ones from the fakes. Not only this, but the few legitimate opportunities out there have to suffer for the bad, which is unfortunate.

Over time, developing this experience has helped me to save quite a load of time, and money, which is two of our most valuable assets, would you agree? So I feel I wanted to take some time to throw out a few pointers, and things to look for when on the journey to find that perfect work from home opportunity:

  1. Is the sales page over hyped? If you have to scroll for miles just to get to the bottom, chances are this is the case. They’re trying to make themselves seem ‘full proof’.
  2. Is the sales price outrageous? This of course depends on the individuals’ disposable income, but this is a fairly easy one. Why should you have to make such a huge financial investment? I’d avoid.
  3. Does it cost anything to sign up? I believe if a company really wants to grow, you shouldn’t be charged to get their name out there. I’d avoid.
  4. Does the company have a bad reputation? Google search forums that discuss the company. Don’t be blind to only the good experiences, consider the bad ones as well.
  5. How long has this company been around? Companies that have been around for years are much more likely to have a decent reputation and performance. Scams come and go.

In my personal opinion, I believe legitimate opportunities are out there. I hope that these pointers will help you if you decide to partake in the journey of finding a opportunity that is best suited for you. If you feel uncomfortable with one, trust your gut, and move on to the next. Be careful, It’s a minefield out there. Lets do our best to reward the companies doing the right thing, and avoid the ones who aren’t.



Source by Jonathan Weeks

Cleaning Out The Clutter – 7 Steps To Sell Or Donate Used Books

Cleaning Out The Clutter – 7 Steps To Sell Or Donate Used Books

It’s a good feeling to get your house cleaned up and the clutter removed, disposing of things you don’t need or don’t use any longer. And books — those dusty relics taking up space on your bookshelves or squirreled away in boxes in the attic — often become the target of most house de-cluttering campaigns. How long has it been that you’ve read that book? Do you really need it any longer? Why not get rid of it?

But, before you haul those used books off to the dump, take a little time learning about how to sell or donate used books to help local charities raise money, to recycle resources, and even earn some extra cash for your family.

Used books are hot sellers online. Websites like Amazon.com, eBay.com and CraigsList.org are filled with listings of used books. Some popular titles are no longer in print, so their value keeps skyrocketing. Some niche titles are collectible or hard-to-find. Some titles contain in-depth ‘how-to’ information people are searching for online. And, some titles simply help people save money by buying used over pricier new books.

In any case, take the time to follow these 7 steps to check typical pricing of used books before you dispose of them.

Step 1 – Gather your books you want to get rid of in one space, preferably one that has a large table for your to work. Your dining room table will do just fine.

Step 2 – Separate out fiction from non-fiction. The best titles to sell online are non-fiction, ‘how-to’ titles.

Step 3 – Sort the fiction titles into two boxes: Keep and Yard Sale. In the “Keep” box, I would put early or first editions of famous writers like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling. In the “Yard Sale” box, I would put popular fiction by authors like Dan Brown, Nora Roberts, Stephen King or Sandra Brown, plus anything from book clubs, slightly damaged books, recipe and cooking books, weight loss books and the stacks of magazines you want to get rid of fast.

Step 4 – Sort the non-fiction into two boxes: Keep and Yard Sale. In the “Keep” box, I would put biographies, history, how-to, pet, religious, UFO alien and crop circle books (big sellers!), relationship books, travel books, homeschooling topics, and any other books which look to be of a limited press run or contain unique content. Sometimes even small booklets on health topics sell very well online. In the “Yard Sale” box, put in Time-Life, Rodale Press, or Reader’s Digest books (these seldom sell online for enough to cover your shipping costs), books that are heavily marked up with writing or highlighting, outdated college textbooks, and heavily used children’s books, dictionaries, or self-help reference books.

Any damaged books, moldy books, or those titles that have torn, crinkled covers or are missing pages, throw them away now.

Step 5 – Sit down in front of your computer. Log onto Amazon.com with your “Keep” box on one side of you, and your “Yard Sale” box on the other side of your chair. Take the first book from the “Keep” box and set it next to your computer keyboard, face down. Somewhere on the back cover you should see an ISBN (“ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number,” which since the mid-1960s has helped the publishing industry keep track of millions of books).

Type that book’s unique 10-digit (sometimes a 13-digit) ISBN into the search bar at the top of the Amazon.com webpage. If you cannot locate the ISBN on the back cover or on the book publisher info page, then simply type in the title of the book, as you might very well find it that way too. Scan through the results until you find the book that matches the front cover of your book.

Now, click on the image or the book title, find the correct format (hardcover or paperback) and then select “Used” pricing. Your used book results page should deliver several pages of book listings for sale right now.

Don’t be surprised if the first few books are priced a $.01. Scroll down the page. If by the 5th or 6th listing you start to see pricing rise up to $6, $7, $10 dollars, keep it and list it for sale later. You’ll earn anywhere from $3 to $7 each when these sell. If you see the first two pages containing nothing but $.01 books, then place your book in the “Yard Sale” box to the side of your chair. Click back to the Amazon homepage. Pick up the next book. Repeat until you’re finished.

Step 6 – When you’re done, your “Keep” box stack will be quite small compared with your “Yard Sale” boxes (yes, you will have more than one by now!). Pack those boxes tightly, tape them up well with packing tape, and store them in a closet or corner of a room in your home that is dry, out of the sun, and has low humidity. When springtime comes and you hold a big yard sale to dispose of unwanted items, unpack all your “Yard Sale” fiction and non-fiction book boxes, set them out on a long table, spine facing up, and sell them for 25 cents to $1 each. On the final day of your sale, offer up a “bag sale” — that is, let people stuff a shopping bag full of books into a bag for $2. You’ll be amazed how many books will fly off that table!

Step 7 – When the yard sale is done, take the remaining fiction and non-fiction books to your favorite local non-profit thrift store or church charity shop to donate them. These old books often have a long lifespan, kept alive by browsers who frequent these stores looking for bargains and wanting to help support the non-profit. Ask the store manager if you can get a donation tax receipt before the books get unloaded. I have done this in the past, and I’ve gotten a generous tax deduction on books I would otherwise have had to haul off to the recycling center. Remember first to dispose of any soiled, moldy books, otherwise you’ll be burdening the charity shop instead of helping them.

Now, somewhere in the steps between when you checked the online price for your used books and you haul the unwanted old books off the charity shop, you’ll want to keep busy in your spare time by listing the books left over in your “Keep” boxes at online websites to raise extra cash.

I recommend listing on the Amazon Marketplace, then expand to other websites if you need to. Start slow, learning how the system works, and price your books competitively to move them quickly.

By considering the sales rank of your book, you’ll have a fairly decent idea of how quickly it will sell. If it is in the top 100,000 of Amazon sales, it should sell within 1-3 months. If a title is selling used for $7.50, price yours at $6.99. If a title is selling used at $20 or more, drop yours to $12-$15 for a quick sale.

My advice is that you not list your “Keep” books at less than $5.99, as you won’t earn much more than $2 each, and you’ll be running yourself ragged running back and forth to the Post Office. Likewise, I would not bother posting a book that has a sales rank above 5 million, as this book likely will add to your clutter forever, instead of leaving your home more open and less crowded — your ultimate goal in your home improvement housecleaning exercise in the first place.



Source by Steve Johnson

Startup Law 101 Series – Ten Essential Legal Tips For Startups at Formation

Startup Law 101 Series – Ten Essential Legal Tips For Startups at Formation

Here are ten essential legal tips for startup founders.

1.  Set up your legal structure early and use cheap stock to avoid tax problems.

No small venture wants to invest too heavily in legal infrastructure at an early stage. If you are a solo founder working out of the garage, save your dollars and focus on development.

If you are a team of founders, though, setting up a legal structure early is important.

First, if members of your team are developing IP, the lack of a structure means that every participant will have individual rights to the IP he develops. A key founder can guard against this by getting everyone to sign “work-for-hire” agreements assigning such rights to that founder, who in turn will assign them over to the corporation once formed. How many founding teams do this. Almost none. Get the entity in place to capture the IP for the company as it is being developed.

Second, how do you get a founding team together without a structure? You can, of course, but it is awkward and you wind up with having to make promises that must be taken on faith about what will or will not be given to members of the team. On the flip side, many a startup has been sued by a founder who claimed that he was promised much more than was granted to him when the company was finally formed. As a team, don’t set yourselves up for this kind of lawsuit. Set the structure early and get things in writing.

If you wait too long to set your structure up, you run into tax traps. Founders normally work for sweat equity and sweat equity is a taxable commodity. If you wait until your first funding event before setting up the structure, you give the IRS a measure by which to put a comparatively large number on the value of your sweat equity and you subject the founders to needless tax risks. Avoid this by setting up early and using cheap stock to position things for the founding team.

Finally, get a competent startup business lawyer to help with or at least review your proposed setup. Do this early on to help flush out problems before they become serious. For example, many founders will moonlight while holding on to full-time jobs through the early startup phase. This often poses no special problems. Sometimes it does, however, and especially if the IP being developed overlaps with IP held by an employer of the moonlighting founder. Use a lawyer to identify and address such problems early on. It is much more costly to sort them out later.

2.  Normally, go with a corporation instead of an LLC.

The LLC is a magnificent modern legal invention with a wild popularity that stems from its having become, for sole-member entities (including husband-wife), the modern equivalent of the sole proprietorship with a limited liability cap on it.

When you move beyond sole member LLCs, however, you essentially have a partnership-style structure with a limited liability cap on it.

The partnership-style structure does not lend itself well to common features of a startup. It is a clumsy vehicle for restricted stock and for preferred stock. It does not support the use of incentive stock options. It cannot be used as an investment vehicle for VCs. There are special cases where an LLC makes sense for a startup but these are comparatively few in number (e.g., where special tax allocations make sense, where a profits-only interest is important, where tax pass-through adds value). Work with a lawyer to see if special case applies. If not, go with a corporation.

3.  Be cautious about Delaware.

Delaware offers few, if any advantages, for an early-stage startup. The many praises sung for Delaware by business lawyers are justified for large, public companies. For startups, Delaware offers mostly administrative inconvenience.

Some Delaware advantages from the standpoint of an insider group: (1) you can have a sole director constitute the entire board of directors no matter how large and complex the corporate setup, giving a dominant founder a vehicle for keeping everything close the vest (if this is deemed desirable); (2) you can dispense with cumulative voting, giving leverage to insiders who want to keep minority shareholders from having board representation; (3) you can stagger the election of directors if desired.

Delaware also is an efficient state for doing corporate filings, as anyone who has been frustrated by the delays and screw-ups of certain other state agencies can attest.

On the down side — and this is major — Delaware permits preferred shareholders who control the majority of the company’s voting stock to sell or merge the company without requiring the consent of the common stock holders. This can easily lead to downstream founder “wipe outs” via liquidation preferences held by such controlling shareholders.

Also on the down side, early-stage startups incur administrative hassles and extra costs with a Delaware setup. They still have to pay taxes on income derived from their home states. They have to qualify their Delaware corporation as a “foreign corporation” in their home states and pay the extra franchise fees associated with that process. They get franchise tax bills in the tens of thousands of dollars and have to apply for relief under Delaware’s alternative valuation method. None of these items constitutes a crushing problem. Every one is an administrative hassle.

My advice from years of experience working with founders: keep it simple and skip Delaware unless there is some compelling reason to choose it; if there is a good reason, go with Delaware but don’t fool yourself into believing  that you have gotten yourself special prize for your early-stage startup.

4.  Use restricted stock for founders in most cases.

If a founder gets stock without strings on it, and then walks away from the company, that founder will get a windfall equity grant. There are special exceptions, but the rule for most founders should be to grant them restricted stock, i.e., stock that can be repurchased by the company at cost in the event the founder leaves the company. Restricted stock lies at the heart of the concept of sweat equity for founders. Use it to make sure founders earn their keep.

5.  Make timely 83(b) elections.

When restricted stock grants are made, they should almost always be accompanied by 83(b) elections to prevent potentially horrific tax problems from arising downstream for the founders. This special tax election applies to cases where stock is owned but can be forfeited. It must be made within 30 days of the date of grant, signed by the stock recipient and spouse, and filed with the recipient’s tax return for that year.

6.  Get technology assignments from everyone who helped develop IP.

When the startup is formed, stock grants should not be made just for cash contributions from founders but also for technology assignments, as applicable to any founder who worked on IP-related matters prior to formation. Don’t leave these hangning loose or allow stock to be issued to founders without capturing all IP rights for the company.

Founders sometimes think they can keep IP in their own hands and license it to the startup. This does not work. At least the company will not normally be fundable in such cases. Exceptions to this are rare.

The IP roundup should include not only founders but all consultants who worked on IP-related matters prior to company formation. Modern startups will sometimes use development companies in places like India to help speed product development prior to company formation. If such companies were paid for this work, and if they did it under work-for-hire contracts, then whoever had the contract with them can assign to the startup the rights already captured under the work-for-hire contracts. If no work-for-hire arrangements were in place, a stock, stock option, or warrant grant should be made, or other legal consideration paid, to the outside company in exchange for the IP rights it holds.

The same is true for every contractor or friend who helped with development locally. Small option grants will ensure that IP rights are rounded up from all relevant parties. These grants should be vested in whole or in part to ensure that proper consideration exists for the IP assignment made by the consultants.

7.  Protect the IP going forward.

When the startup is formed, all employees and contractors who continue to work for it should sign confidentiality and invention assignment agreements or work-for-hire contracts as appropriate to ensure that all IP remains with the company.

Such persons should also be paid valid consideration for their efforts. If this is in the form of equity compensation, it should be accompanied by some form of cash compensation as well to avoid tax problems arising from the IRS placing a high value on the stock by using the reasonable value of services as a measure of its value. If cash is a problem, salaries may be deferred as appropriate until first funding.

8.  Consider provisional patent filings.

Many startups have IP whose value will largely be lost or compromised once it is disclosed to the others. In such cases, see a good patent lawyer to determine a patent strategy for protecting such IP. If appropriate, file provisional patents. Do this before making key disclosures to investors, etc.

If early disclosures must be made, do this incrementally and only under the terms of non-disclosure agreements. In cases where investors refuse to sign an nda (e.g., with VC firms), don’t reveal your core confidential items until you have the provisional patents on file.

9.  Set up equity incentives.

With any true startup, equity incentives are the fuel that keeps a team going. At formation, adopt an equity incentive plan. These plans will give the board of directors a range of incentives, unsually including restricted stock, incentive stock options (ISOs), and non-qualified options (NQOs).

Restricted stock is usually used for founders and very key people. ISOs are used for employees only. NQOs can be used with any employee, consultant, board member, advisory director, or other key person. Each of these tools has differing tax treatment. Use a good professional to advise you on this.

Of course, with all forms of stock and options, federal and state securities laws must be satisfied. Use a good lawyer to do this.

10. Fund the company incrementally.

Resourceful startups will use funding strategies by which they don’t necessarily go for large VC funding right out the gate. Of course, some of the very best startups have needed major VC funding at inception and have achieved tremendous success. Most, however, will get into trouble if they need massive capital infusions right up front and thereby find themselves with few options if such funding is not available or if it is available only on oppressive terms.

The best results for founders come when they have built significant value in the startup before needing to seek major funding. The dilutive hit is much less and they often get much better general terms for their funding.

Conclusion

These tips suggest important legal elements that founders should factor into their broader strategic planning.

As a founder, you should work closely with a good startup business lawyer to implement the steps correctly. Self-help has its place in small companies, but it almost invariably falls short when it comes to the complex setup issues associated with a startup. In this area, get a good startup business lawyer and do it right.



Source by George Grellas

How To Get Traffic To Your Websites

How To Get Traffic To Your Websites

It’s probably the most sought-after topic in Internet marketing – how to get more traffic to your websites.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling your own products, promoting affiliate offers or looking for AdSense clicks, you’re not going to earn a single cent if there’s no traffic coming to your site.

There’s more to the process than just getting more traffic, however. You not only want traffic, you want targeted traffic – people who are going to be interested in what you have to offer.

In this article we’re going to look at a number of ways – both paid and free – to get more visitors to your website. Some of these methods can generate almost instant traffic while others will take longer to gain momentum.

By diversifying your traffic generation over several methods, you can get fast traffic while gradually ramping it up over a longer period of time.

Let’s jump right in…

Getting The Right Kind Of Traffic

Before we look at any specific methods for generating traffic to your website, we should really discuss what kind of traffic you should be targeting.

Because there is a right and a wrong kind of traffic.

The right kind of traffic is visitors who are not only interested in what you have to offer them, they’re willing and able to take the action that you want them to take. The wrong kind is simply the opposite – visitors who aren’t likely to take your “most wanted action.”

Let’s look at a couple of examples…

First, let’s say you have an affiliate review website. You post reviews and other content on your site, with affiliate links for those products. Whenever someone buys one of the offers, you get paid a commission.

If you generate a ton of traffic, but not very many of those people are either willing or able to spend money, you’re not going to generate much profit from them. A good example would be a market where your visitors are mostly teenagers. While they might be very interested in the subject, and willing to buy what you’re promoting, a large percentage of them won’t be able to buy because they don’t have credit cards and their parents may not let them use theirs.

A market like that might be better suited for a site that displays AdSense ads, which brings us to our second example. Let’s say you have a site that is monetized purely with AdSense. In this case, it doesn’t matter so much if your visitors are able to buy, since you get paid when they click an ad, regardless of what they do once they leave your site.

If the market has a lot of “clickers” who don’t turn into buyers, the ads aren’t going to pay very well, but we’ll set that aside for the moment.

From a pure conversion point of view, you’re going to want visitors who are looking for a solution to their problem – and hopefully the ads displayed on your site offer that solution. Again, you want to target the right people to get the maximum number of clicks on those ads.

If you’re generating a lot of traffic looking for free solutions, or just looking for information, you may not get many clicks. So more traffic isn’t necessarily going to be more profitable.

Before you start doing any kind of traffic generation, make sure you’re targeting the right people for your offer. Otherwise you’re going to be spending a lot of time, money or both with little or no return for the efforts.

Free Traffic Methods

Free traffic is certainly the more popular of the two choices (the other being paid traffic). Many Internet marketers just don’t have the capital to start paying for traffic, so free traffic is a better way to go.

Some marketers don’t really understand the economics of paying for traffic either, which is an entirely different problem. If you can make a profit, or just break even on what you pay to get traffic to your website, it’s really not costing you anything. It’s common for marketers to see the cost side of the equation without considering the profit side, but we’ll get into this in a little more detail when we discuss paid traffic sources shortly.

When it comes to getting free traffic, there are two types – short-term and long-term traffic. Some methods can generate visitors to your site in a very short time, almost instantly in some cases. Other methods will take longer to gain momentum, but these tend to keep driving traffic to your site for a longer period of time once they get going.

Short-Term Traffic Generation

We’re going to look at three sources of short-term traffic that can work very well if you implement them properly:

1. Forum marketing

2. Guest blogging

3. Article submissions

Forum Marketing

Forum marketing is one of the easiest ways to get short-term traffic, particularly if you’re already active in any popular forums in your market.

Note: In this report, many of the examples will relate to the Internet marketing niche, since most people reading it will be somewhat familiar with it. All the strategies work equally well in other markets, so don’t let yourself get caught thinking “this only works for Internet marketing websites” – that’s just not true.

Most forums will let you add a “signature” to your profile, which gets added to the end of every post you make. You can include a link to your website in your signature, along with a short call to action to get people to click through to it.

If you’re active on the forum, and provide good value in your posts, people will click on your signature link. Particularly if you offer them something of value that’s related to the market, like a free report, webinar recording or some other type of incentive.

The key here is to be an active part of the community and provide value first. If you just sign up for a forum, add your signature link and starting posting randomly with stuff like “Hey, great post!” then don’t expect much in the way of traffic.

Give value first, and people will respond by checking

out what else you have to offer them.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is another great way to “siphon” traffic from a community of people interested in your market. A blog is a little less interactive than a forum, but it has many similarities.

Find some of the most popular blogs in your market and see if they accept guest bloggers. Some sites are up-front about this, with a page that explains exactly how to become a guest blogger for them. Other sites don’t advertise it, but if you spend a bit of time reading through existing posts, you’ll be able to see if the same person writes them all or if the site has used guest posts in the past.

Generally guest posts will have a resource box or author byline that gives more information about the author, as well as a link back to their website. If you see any of these, it’s a good indication that the site accepts guest posts.

The key to getting your post accepted is to offer a high-quality article that the blog owner would be crazy not to accept. Spend even longer than you usually would researching, outlining and writing these posts. While it means an extra investment in time, you can get a lot of traffic clicking through to your site if your guest post goes live on a high-traffic blog.

And while this click through traffic will slow down once the post has been live for a while, it can continue indefinitely as that post gains traction in the search engines. Plus that resource link pointing back to your site will also help you with SEO in the long term, so this is a powerful strategy.

Article Submissions

Article submissions, or article marketing, can be another powerful traffic strategy that will provide you will both short-term and long-term benefits. Much like guest blogging, the short-term traffic will come from people clicking through on your resource box links to visit your website.

By submitting your articles to high-authority websites, you can leverage their power with the search engines to get your articles ranked quickly and generating traffic. This direct traffic can actually continue for the long term if your article gets some traction with Google and the other search engines, but it also helps your own site rank better so it starts generating search engine traffic of its own.

Which brings us to longer-term traffic strategies…

Long-Term Traffic Generation

We’re going to look at three longer-term strategies for getting traffic to your websites:

1. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization

2. Social Media

3. Relationship Building

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is probably the most common free traffic strategy. There are dozens of techniques for improving your rankings in the search engines, and just as many products that teach you how to implement them. Some of these methods work year after year while others are more short-lived.

You’ll also see a lot of methods that would be considered gray hat or ***** hat meaning they might go against the terms of service of one or more search engines, or even cross legal lines.

You’ll need to decide for yourself exactly what lines you’re willing to cross in the interest of getting traffic to your website, but keep in mind that the stuff that crosses those lines tends to be the techniques that are more short-lived. They may require less work up-front, but in the long run you can wind up spending more time or money to maintain your traffic because things keep changing.

SEO is a huge topic that goes way beyond the scope of this report, but let’s just look at a few of the most important principles.

There are two main factors to SEO – on site and off site optimization. On site optimization is things like using your keywords in strategic places on your pages:

-The TITLE tag

-In the page content itself

-Image ALT tags

-etc.

At one time, repeating your keywords over and over throughout the page (known as keyword stuffing) would improve your results but the search engines have evolved well beyond that. Don’t do this, just use your keywords and other related terms naturally in the content.

Off site optimization really comes down to links pointing to your website. The more links you get, from related sites that also have some power of their own with the search engines, the better your site is going to rank (and the more traffic you’ll get as a result).

This is where the short- and long-term strategies start to overlap a bit. If you’re using any of the short-term traffic strategies we just discussed to get quick traffic to your sites, they will also help you with SEO in the long term.

The links in your forum signatures, guest blog posts and submitted articles will all help push your site up the search engine rankings so while you might get a short-term jump in traffic when they first go live, they will keep working for you for a long time.

This is why it’s a good idea to keep doing those things, even when your site starts to get traction in the search engines. It will continue to drive both instant and longer-term traffic.

Social Media

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are a relatively new way to get traffic, and as a result they tend to be misunderstood. A lot of marketers use them as a kind of “announcement” service, posting links to new offers, affiliate promotions, new blog posts and anything else they want people to visit.

But that’s all they ever post, and then they think social media doesn’t work because nobody ever clicks through on their links.

The fact is, social media is a longer-term traffic strategy. You need to build relationships with the people you follow before you can expect them to click on any of the links you post.

Example: Think of it in “real world” terms. If you went to a party or some kind of meeting, would you just make a sales pitch to everyone you talk to? Or would you have a conversation first, so you could get to know one another and what you could offer?

Treat social media like you would a “real life” meeting – offer value first and build up some trust with your followers before you start hitting them with a bunch of offers.

Relationship Building

Building relationships isn’t really a traffic generation method in and of itself, but it applies to virtually every other strategy to some degree. If you build relationships with the visitors to your website, or to the other places you post your content, you’re going to be a lot more successful in the long run.

When you have strong relationships with your visitors, they’re a lot more likely to return. And return traffic is one of the keys to a really successful website.

Look at it this way. If you get 100 visitors per day and you have no way of getting them to come back to your site after they click an ad or an affiliate link, you have to find 100 new visitors every day to maintain your results.

But if you get 100 visitors every day and get 10 of them into your “relationship funnel” so they return to the site, you’ve increased your future traffic without having to find “new” visitors. It’s over-simplified, but let’s assume that they come back the next day. Now you’ve got 110 visitors, of which 10 will again become return traffic.

Every day that goes by, you’re getting more traffic while you’re still only having to generate 100 new visitors. Over time, your traffic will continue to grow even if you don’t do any more work to find new people than you already are.

One of the best ways to build these relationships and generate return visitors is with our next traffic strategy – list building.

Generating Traffic Through An Email List

One of the biggest advantages of building an email list is that it lets you control your own traffic. If you have a list of people interested in your market, it doesn’t matter if Google, Facebook and every other traffic source shuts off tomorrow – you can still generate traffic just by sending out an email to your list.

And if you have a brand new page or website that you want to direct traffic to, you can do that as well.

You could set up a website in the next half hour, send an email

to your list and see traffic to your site within a few minutes.

Even when you’re paying for traffic, it’s pretty tough to get visitors within minutes of finishing a new site.

List building as a traffic strategy is a bit of a Catch-22, however. You won’t be able to generate that “on demand” traffic until you’ve built a list, and to build a list you need to get some traffic from other sources first.

That’s why it’s important to use all the strategies we’re discussing, but get those visitors to subscribe to your email list so you can contact them over and over again in the future.

Paid Traffic Methods

A lot of Internet marketers are intimidated by paid traffic. They might have been burned in the past, or they might be afraid of losing a lot of money. This is definitely a concern, so you need to approach paid traffic with a certain amount of caution.

But the fact is, if you do it right, paid traffic doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money to test, and once you figure out how to make it profitable (or just breaking even) it isn’t actually costing you anything- you put X dollars in and get Y dollars in return.

There are lots of different paid traffic sources so we can’t discuss them all in this report, but let’s look at a few of the most popular (and effective).

Pay Per Click

Pay per click, or PPC, advertising includes sources like Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter. You pay a certain amount for every person who clicks on your ad and visits your website. That amount can range from a few cents to several dollars, depending on the market and the keywords that you’re targeting.

If you’re not careful, PPC advertising can chew through a lot of money in a pretty short time so it’s important that you approach it correctly.

Make sure you’re not targeting really broad keywords that are going to get a ton of clicks but poorly targeted visitors.

Example: You probably wouldn’t want to target the keyword “lose weight” because it would cost you a fortune and those visitors could be looking for any number of things when they arrive at your site.

You would be better off targeting the keyword phrase “how to lose 10 pounds in a month” (assuming your website can help solve that problem) because while the amount of traffic wouldn’t be nearly as high, those people are looking for a very specific thing.

You should also set your daily budget to something you’re comfortable with. That way, if your ads just don’t convert for some reason, there’s a limit to how much you can lose.

Once you find a keyword/ad combination that is profitable, you can start to expand on it. Being successful with PPC advertising requires a lot of testing and tracking.

Banner Ads

People have been saying banner ads are dead for over 10 years, but the fact is they still work if you use them properly. If you just blast a bunch of banners with “punch the monkey” kind of stuff to as many websites as possible, chances are it’s not going to be very profitable.

But if you pick the sites where you want to advertise based on how relevant they are to your target market and design your banners effectively, they can still product a lot of traffic for relatively little cost.

Like PPC advertising, start small and track your results. Once you find a banner and/or website that’s working for you, start to expand those successful campaigns to other places.

Paid Ezine Ads

Paid ezine ads are another “old school” traffic generation strategy that can still work very well. Basically, you’re paying for an ad to another marketer’s email list. This could be a small ad placed in a longer newsletter or it could be a “solo” ad that is nothing but your offer.

This is a great way to leverage someone else’s list to get traffic to your own site (and hopefully onto your email list in the process).

The key here is to target your offer to the audience. Make sure you subscribe to that marketer’s list yourself and read several of their emails to see what kind of tone they use, and what sort of offers they promote.

You want to tailor your ad to appeal to the people who receive that person’s emails, so make sure you offer something of value and that what you’re offering is going to be appealing to the people who get the email.

Facebook

Facebook is a fairly new source of paid traffic, and is constantly changing as more and more people start to use it. But with hundreds of millions of users, and the ability to target very specific interests and demographics, you should definitely include it in your paid traffic strategy.

The key to using Facebook effectively is to remember that most people aren’t there to be sold to – they’re there to be social. Most Facebook users aren’t doing business there, even though it might seem that way to us internet marketers, so if you hit them with a high-pressure pitch (paid or not) it’s probably not going to go over so well.

Once again, it comes down to building relationships with people first so they know and trust you. Once you establish that trust, you can start to ease them over to your websites and other offers.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has given you a bit better idea of some of the ways that you can generate traffic to your website, but also what you should be doing with that traffic once it gets there.

New traffic sources constantly come and go, but most of the strategies we’ve discussed here have stood the test of time. While it never hurts to test new strategies and add them to the mix of what you’re doing, don’t let yourself get caught up in the latest “shiny object” that promises unlimited traffic with little or no work.

Those kinds of promises are generally too good to be true, and even if they do work as advertised it’s usually going to be short lived. Once all the people looking for a magic button start abusing the technique, it won’t take long for it to stop working.

If you build your traffic generation strategy on a solid foundation, you’ll be seeing more and more visitors coming to your website for years to come.



Source by Dan Martin Noble

E-Publishing Basics: How Long Does an Ebook Have to Be to Make Money?

E-Publishing Basics: How Long Does an Ebook Have to Be to Make Money?

I run a blog on ebooks, with an emphasis on writing and e-publishing fiction for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, etc., and one of the questions that often comes up is this:

How long does an eBook have to be?

If it’s fiction, does it have to be novel (and, if so, how long should a novel be anyway?) If it’s non-fiction, does it have to be a whole book or can it be a report or shorter work?

The short answer is… there aren’t any rules when it comes to length. It’s not like a school report where there’s a required page count for your essay or story. You just have to meet your readers’ expectations by giving them a good deal for the money.

Length Considerations for Non-fiction Ebooks

I interviewed Kate Harper over on my blog, and she makes money publishing articles or “booklets” to the Kindle Store. Now, these are more than the 500-word articles you may see on a blog post or article syndication site. Many of her pieces are in the 8,000-10,000 word range, but they’re much shorter than a non-fiction book, which might ring in at 75,000 words or more. She cuts out the fluff and just gives readers what they want to know, and she charges $0.99 to $2.99.

At Amazon, for ebooks priced at $2.99-$9.99, independent authors take home 70% of the royalties, meaning about $2 per sale. (Royalties are similar at Barnes & Noble and other major book retailers.) While that’s probably not going to make anyone rich, she pointed out that she’s done very little for promotion and has sold quite a few ebooks! That’s because Amazon is such a huge marketplace, and the number of Kindle owners keeps growing. They’re hungry for fiction and non-fiction they can download at a good price.

Length Considerations for Fiction Ebooks

When it comes to fiction, there aren’t any rules for length either. Novels used to have to fall into a certain word count due to the economics of printing books, and shorter works (i.e. short stories and novellas) just weren’t published unless they were bundled together into book-like lengths.

With ebooks, it doesn’t cost any more to create a 150,000-word epic fantasy novel than it does to put together a 7,000-word short horror story. Of course, it takes longer to write and edit a longer work, but the distribution and production costs are the same. You just have to make sure you have a complete and professional eBook readers will enjoy.

If your story is on the short side, you should make sure to include the word count in the product description or “book blurb” so readers won’t feel disgruntled because they were expecting a novel and got a short story (this is true for non-fiction as well). Disgruntled readers leave poor reviews. Even if you’re only selling your eBook for $0.99, people will want to feel they’ve gotten exactly what they were expecting. If anything, it’s good to over-deliver on what you promise.

If you feel your story is too short to sell (i.e. under 5,000 words) for $0.99, which is the minimum price you can list your ebooks for with Amazon, B&N, etc., then you may consider bundling several stories to create a collection. Though anthologies aren’t the most popular thing out there, this can work well if your short stories all feature the same characters or are part of a similar theme.

I have a three-story collection of fantasy stories (the eBook is about 17,000 words total) that I sell for $0.99, and it does fairly well considering how little I do to promote it. The stories are about the same characters as are in my (higher priced) novel. At $0.99, the short-story eBook offers a cheaper option for folks who aren’t certain they want to buy the novel yet, though I suspect I sell more copies to readers who got the novel and wanted more adventures with the main characters. Either way, it works for me, because I’d originally written the stories before thinking of e-publishing, and they were just sitting around on my hard drive, collecting virtual dust. If you have some stories like that, then e-publishing them may be the ideal route.

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, there are no rules for length when it comes to ebooks. Please your audience, make a little extra money, and enjoy being an independent author!



Source by L.a. Buroker

Key Benefits Of Installing Wooden Shutters For Your Windows

Key Benefits Of Installing Wooden Shutters For Your Windows

We all believe in a saying that says our house is our greatest asset. Whichever part of the world you live in, a large percent of us spend time, money and effort in finding the best place for us to live in and the rest of the time is occupied in designing the interiors of our house, making it look just right without any flaws.

In addition to all this, having wooden window shutters installed on your property will enhance its grace and appearance, providing some additional benefits. If you’re also thinking to renovate your property, look for the beautiful shutters for the wooden sash windows that are already experiencing a surge in popularity among the architectures around the United Kingdom. The wooden shutters are the most common ones and are suitable for a wide variety of interiors. Since wood is a classic material, you can use it in whatever style you want and for whatever design you’re trying to achieve.

Besides home, the renowned shutter companies are providing creative engineering and design solutions for the shutter style to go in the offices. While looking for the shutters for the office windows, it is necessary to look for the ones that help in controlling the amount of light in the office premises. Get the right shutters that suit the needs and requirements of your place whether it is home or office. Consider getting the louvres fitted with a silent tilt operation as well as split tilt so that the top and bottom of the shutter panels can be operated increasing the light control.

The key benefits of having solid wooden shutters for the windows of your premises are listed below:

  • Sound and thermal insulation: The shutters when closed, the wooden panels offer good sound and heat insulation. This works in two popular ways- in summers, it is possible to open the windows while keeping the panels shut, allowing the air to flow freely while keeping the sun heat out. The similar impact can also be given with thick and heavy curtains, by giving a more traditional look to the home space. However, for the office premises, the thicker fabric is not considered ideal.
  • Added privacy: The pair of shutters can cover the whole window and to let light in adjusting the louvres accordingly, without making it easy for the people to inside your home. Curtains on the other side are either open or close and so unless you have net curtains behind them, you’ll lose all sort of privacy. Thus, wooden shutters are proven beneficial when it comes to adding extra privacy to a place.
  • Low maintenance requirements: Window coverings like blinds and curtains can attract dust keeping the cleaning of the fabrics quite difficult. The window shutters are therefore a good choice for the people with allergies as they are easy to keep clean. The shutters require less maintenance as they can easily be wipe down with a damp cloth from time to time, maintaining their fresh look for a longer period of time.
  • Extra curb appeal: The interior wooden shutters are one of the nicest additions that can enhance the curb appeal of the place whether it is a home or office premises. The shutters are more permanent and beneficial fixture as compared to the curtains or blinds because they add a royal touch to the interiors of the house. And these fixtures are even easy to remove, if in case you didn’t like them, you can replace them with whatever coverings you’d love to have in your house.
  • UV protection: Get louvered shutters for your place because these louvres can be angled accordingly to let the light in or restrict it. Keep the panels fully-opened to let the light flooded the room. The harmful UV rays can harm your window coverings, therefore, make sure you buy the shutters finished with a UV protection layer that will protect the paint colour and the wood stain finish and will also restrict the panels from wrapping.



Source by Akshita Gupta

How To Make Money With Music

How To Make Money With Music

Generating income or monetizing work poses a big challenge for musicians anywhere. In this technology driven world, selling music becomes harder and harder each year. The competition is not the only thing that’s stiff, but the music evolution and audience are much harder to please. There are more genres, more artists and other complex ways of selling stuff. You always need to be ahead of the curb and you must be knowledgeable of today’s way of making money off from music.

The old ways of marketing music such as playing gigs and demos can’t be relied on heavily nowadays. You could still earn through this method but face it, earning this way will never be enough to compensate your monthly needs and it is physically draining too, touring from city to city each day.

There are multiple ways to earn money with music. Well tackle each one and differentiate what’s best suited for you and your band.

Live Shows – Truth be told, this method can still bring in a good payday if you can sell tickets or attract a good number of crowd to attend your gig. It’s not the most reliable option but it could suffice for some. One of the good things though is the spread of word and referrals which could land you another show in the near future.

Cover Gigs – For some musicians, doing a cover gig is draining and it doesn’t really help you in promoting your band. That may be true, but the need for cover gigs around the country is still high. This method could still bring in a good amount of money if you get hired by the right people. The audience and event will vary from a children’s party, bars, restaurants, corporate meetings, weddings, etc. The problem is, for most independent musicians, you can never really choose your audience when you do cover gigs.

CD Sales and Demos – If you’re going to play gigs or a live show, be sure to have a demo at hand. There are still audiences that would buy them in person and it’s a good way to earn a little extra income. Don’t rely on this method heavily though as the physical sales are declining steadily in the past few years.

Music Lessons – This could be a very good extra income for musicians. Although music sessions only run a couple times a week, earning a little extra income would be a big help to you. You can teach people on how to play multiple instruments and create a friendly bond with your students. It also allows you to hone your craft as well.

There’s no doubt that the ways stated above could earn you extras. However, there are a few more methods on how to make money in music and these are more money generating if done accordingly. You need to understand that the music industry in constantly evolving together with today’s technology. While the physical sales and direct marketing are still in play today, there’s no denying that the audience who are listening and buying are opting for the convenient way, which means buying music from the comforts of their home or anywhere they may be at.

Music Licensing – This would truly enhance your chances of getting a big payday and you could even get a recurring payment if you license your music. Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music. If you are an owner of a copyrighted music, you are ensured of compensation if your music is used by others. The fees also vary differently and can be negotiated. With more TV shows, commercials, films, movies and games today, the need for licensed music is at an all time high. Different industries need music content to their businesses.

YouTube – There’s no denying that this is the site to go to listen and watch all the tracks or news you’ve missed out for the past week or so. Businesses, movies, games and a lot more are campaigning through this site today. Did you know that you could get paid if it is proven that other people are using your music content for their own advertisements? YouTube has a content ID system which tracks duplicate music content and videos through their database. But before all that, you need to get your music licensed first.

Streaming – Music streaming is a big hit today. With the inevitable fall or the physical and digital sales for the past few years, streaming has gained a significant rise and will continue to do so in the next decade as people opt for this method. The worldwide streaming revenue is on the rise, outperforming digital sales and physical sales altogether. Streaming doesn’t require the downloaded files of music or videos so it doesn’t consume any space for your computers or smart phones. It is overly convenient for people nowadays as they could listen to any track from anywhere and anytime. If you got your music licensed, explore the possibilities of streaming as this is the way to go not only for today but for the future as well.

Making money off from music is complex and you need to be extra innovative as this profession has always been competitive in every aspect. Do not hesitate to license your music as the door it unlocks has unlimited possibilities and opportunities. If you want to learn more about music licensing and how to make money with music, check out my website, http://silverscreenmusician.com. See you there!



Source by Kenneth Pantig

Honor Snack Boxes – The Top Eleven Reason’s To Go Into The Business

Honor Snack Boxes – The Top Eleven Reason’s To Go Into The Business

1-Operators of snack boxes enjoy the friendships made on a daily basis. This is one of the things I enjoyed the most about the business. I would find myself taking off in the morning and as I would be driving along I would be thinking of one of my customers I would be looking forward to seeing. It was usually someone I had a connection with in the sense of something we both enjoyed. In my case, a lot of the time it would be racing as at that time in my life we had our son involved in go-cart racing.

2-Cost of start up is the reason I went into the snack box business. Prices have gone up since the day I sold out but even in today’s world you can place a box for approximately $40.00. When you stop to think about this it sheds light on why this is a great business to get into.

3-Dependability of the business. This is a business that relies on impulse buying. Can you think of any other item that draws peoples attention like a bag of chips or a candy bar? These items sell everyday to people on the go that for whatever the reason find the need to either reward themselves or to grab a bite on the go.

4-Being able to travel was one of the reasons I went into the snack vending business. I enjoy getting out with people and making friends. The snack box business is a relations business. If people like you they will help keep your honor snack box honest. I have friends all over the southern half of the state of Iowa which is where I built my business.

5-Limited amount of product needed to fill boxes. The snack box business is unlike most forms of the vending business in that it only takes between thirty and forty different items to fill a box. This in itself is a great advantage to a start up business. You will not need a huge warehouse filled with many different items tying up huge sums of money in your new venture. As I have said before, my wife and I started our business while living in an apartment.

6-20% shortage – you are asking yourself how can this be an advantage to starting a snack box business? Keep in mind that with vending machines you will have about $2600.00 dollars tied up in a snack machine (other vending machines can cost up to $8000.00 dollars each). And after tying up this much money your account will many times want a cut of the action, which can be as much as 30%.

7-Product life is another advantage to starting a snack box business. Most of the items you will be selling will have a nice shelf life to work with. Candy bars in many cases have a year of life on them. Chips will have the shortest life and in most cases they will have 6 to 8 weeks of life on them. Chips have a very good profit margin and are one of the items you will want to have plenty of in your boxes.

8-Limited amount of suppliers. If you are starting out with limited funds you may have to start with a couple of local suppliers but it doesn’t take that long and you will be able to buy from a company like Jones in St. Louis or Vistar which is a national company.

9-Vehicle expense-I started out running boxes from the back seat of a 1979 Chevy Impala. This car had a 3 speed manual transmission, am radio, and no power steering or air conditioning. Let me get back to the subject and off what brings back fond memories for me. My point is, if you are just starting out, you can start in just about any type of a vehicle. Once you have made a little money of course you will want to move up to a full size van such as a Ford E150 cargo van or any other equivalent make and model.

10-Starting part time-When you are starting out this is a business that is very easy to own and operate in a part time manner, but, don’t go into this business thinking it is only something to do on the side to make a little extra spending money. If that is what you are planning on doing you are only limiting your own future. My wife and I made a very good living off the snack boxes and you can also. It just takes a little dedication and will power to follow your dream.

11-Freedom of self employment-This is the illusive dream that many people are never able to achieve. I’m not here to promise you the moon and the sky. What I am here to do is to take the person that has the will power and the drive and to help them achieve great things in their life. My question to you is: “Are you one of those people I’m looking to help, and are you a dreamer with the drive to make great things happen in your life for you and the ones you love?”



Source by Dennis Slack

5 Ways Fukushima Radiation Releases Are Poisoning Investments

5 Ways Fukushima Radiation Releases Are Poisoning Investments

In 2011 Japan’s nuclear regulator raised the danger level of an ongoing radioactive leak at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant to 7 on a 7-point scale. Officials said Tuesday (August, 2013) that a storage tank has leaked 300 tons of radioactive water into the ground.

Here are five things about the Fukushima radiation leak and related investments:

1. Investors in Uranium are Hurt:

The price per ton of uranium has tanked since the March, 2011 nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, which caused losses for anyone invested in uranium mining shares. Germany’s shutdown of most of its nuclear reactors pushed the demand for uranium to further lows.

How much Fukushima radioactive material leaked into the ocean?

Scientists measured 5,000 to 15,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material was reaching the ocean in 2011. The biggest threat was from the radionuclide cesium. The radionuclides strontium and tritium pose more of a threat for leaks that enter the ground, as cesium is absorbed by the soil while the other two are not.

A terabecquerel is 1 trillion becquerels, defined as the radioactive decay of one nucleus per second; a sievert is a unit of biological radiation dose which is equivalent to about 50,000 front view chest X-rays.

2) Nuclear Utilities Investors are Hurt:

Investors in nuclear facilities over the last five decades have enjoyed a decent return on their investment, generally in the 10 to12 percent range per year. The Fukushima incident has hurt those investments big time and many of them have fallen by 30 to 50%. It may take years to recover, if they ever do. Some investors sold their stock shares for a loss, to move on to other investments and try to start anew.

The Tokyo Electric Power Plant (TEPCO) estimated between 30 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium leaked into the ocean so far contaminating it for years, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.

The damaged plant is still leaking about 300 tons of water containing these radioactive radionuclides into the ocean every day in 2013, Japanese officials stated. This huge amount of radiation is poisoning the whole Pacific ocean that more than two million fishermen depend on to earn their living from and to feed their families.

3) Fishermen Livelihoods Have Been Destroyed:

Millions of fishermen from up and down the west coast of America, the west coast of Mexico, all around Japan, Korea, the east coast of China, the west coast of Canada, and the coasts of Alaska have had their fishing livelihoods seriously damaged by the humongous radiation poisoning of the Pacific ocean by Japan. The majority of these fishermen who had their lives invested in fishing and multiple thousands of dollars invested in their boats are now suffering huge losses of income and loss of funds to make bank payments on their fishing boats. Many are declaring bankruptcy and working part-time jobs on land to make ends meet for their families. Fishing in the Pacific ocean, once a billion dollar a year industry, has tanked taking down a million fishing families with it, a truly horrendous development. Japanese fishermen who followed their fathers into the fishing trade have been decimated by the huge poisoning of the ocean all around Japan.

How will the radioactive material affect sea life?

U.S. scientists say the groundwater leaks could become worse. Nicholas Fisher, a marine biologist at Stony Brook University in New York told Live Science for a previous article. “But in the region, yes, it’s possible there could be sufficient contamination of local seafood, so it’d be unwise to eat that seafood,” Fisher said.

3) Forcing Fishermen and Women to Stop Investments:

Fishing families now do not have any extra funds to make in other investments such as gold, silver, or stocks. Some are losing the very house they called home for the last 5-10 years as they fall behind in their mortgage payments, a situation that causes major displacement of families, depression, and leads to divorces. Christmas celebrations are bleak as families struggle just to put enough food on the table every week. In some families, parents are forced to take amounts out of their retirement accounts just to help feed the family.

4) Playing the Lottery:

As desperation keeps gnawing at them, some fishermen allocate a few dollars each week to placing bets on their state’s lottery, praying and hoping for the big win to lift their family out of the economic hole they have been slammed into. This is a long shot but someone wins every week so more persons keep playing the lottery chasing that one-in-a-million odds, even though it takes dollars away from their meager budgets.

5) Millions of Farmers Lose Money on Contaminated Crops:

Farmers in Japan have suffered mightily with the majority of their crops testing radioactive and unfit for the market. Farmers in the largest growing region in the United States, the famous San Joaquin valley in central California have had to spend thousands more per farm to implement protective strategies to protect and clean their produce of any residual radiation particles. Dairy farms in Hawaii, the western United States and Canada have found radiation particles in their milk and were forced to dump thousands of gallons out-wasted. These farmers struggle every month trying to grow their crops contamination-free. Wherefore, investments of time and money in their farms are now questionable if the crop proceeds will pay back more than the yearly expenses. Some have switched to growing crops in indoor greenhouses to provide a measure of protection. Still, minute particles of radiation get into the water source and is taken up by plants even in greenhouses, so the problem continues. Many of these farmers struggle now to make the mortgage payments on their farms and ranches as well as paying the hired hands. Only time will tell how bad this radiation contamination affects the millions of people living near the Pacific ocean.



Source by Josh Holliday

Review: Flip City

Review: Flip City

Since Dominion hit the markets back in 2008 and had a widespread success all over the world, many deck-building games appeared trying to take a slice of the pie and share its success. More or less these games, differ in theme, some of them are cooperative but, in general, they share the common mechanic of starting out with a small deck and gradually building a better one. Today I am going to review a “deceptively simple microdeckbuilder” game, as it is described in the box, called Flip City. The game is designed be Taiwanese designer, Chen, Chih Fan and was originally titled “Design City” and published by Homosapiens Lab in 2014. In 2015, Tasty Minstrel Games, published the second English edition of the game, titled “Flip City” and containing one more optional card type than the original (the Office Expansion).

Flip City can be played by 1 to 4 players, 8+ years old and lasts about 30-50 minutes. As its title suggests, it centers around building a city but you also have to keep its residents happy at all costs. The game consists of merely 86 cards of 6 different types that represent parts of a city and which are double sided, with the “flipped” side being an upgraded version of the original or sometimes a completely different building. Namely, the cards are:

  • Residential Area / Apartment
  • Convenience Store / Shopping Mall
  • Factory / Power Plant
  • Central Park / Station
  • Hospital / Church
  • Office / Trade Center

Each player starts out with an identical deck of cards, like in all deck-building games. These cards are 4 Residential Areas, 1 Apartment, 1 Convenience Store, 1 Factory, 1 Hospital and 1 Central Park. This small deck is shuffled, taking special care not to flip the cards while doing so and not to see them. Next, the general supply of cards is formed, consisting of the following cards:

  • 12 x Convenience Store
  • 10 x Office (an optional expansion)
  • 12 x Hospital
  • 8 x Factory
  • 8 x Central Park

The game is played in 2 phases:

  • Play cards phase: The revolutionary concept of Flip City is that players don’t draw hands of cards but must play cards one by one from the top of their deck instead, until they feel it’s time to stop. That means that, theoretically, one can play his entire deck of cards, shuffle and continue to play. The cards once played, provide coins, points, unhappiness and may also have other abilities. After each card played, the active player must decide if he/she will play an additional card, looking at the top card of their deck. The crucial point to stop playing more cards, is when you get 2 unhappiness symbols because that’s the limit that your city can handle. If, at any time during the play phase, there are 3 unhappiness symbols among the cards already played, your turn ends immediately without proceeding to the end phase. In other words, a wasted turn. During this phase, you can also recycle cards from your discard pile that have the recycle symbol on them and gain whatever is indicated on the card.
  • Building phase: With the cash gained during the previous phase, you may choose one of the following actions:

    • Buy a card from the general supply by paying the amount of coins indicated on the card. The newly acquired card goes to your discard pile
    • Flip: Choose a card from the discard pile and “flip” it to its other side by paying the cost indicated on the card.
    • Develop: Buy a card from the supply and flip it by paying both costs

After the building phase, you can check if a victory condition is met. There are 2 victory conditions in the game:

  1. Gain 8 points during your Play cards phase or
  2. Satisfy another victory condition specified in a card played (such as the Convenience Store that states that “If you play 18 or more cards this turn, you win!”)

If no victory condition is satisfied, played cards go to the player’s discard pile and the next player can begin his turn. Cash, points and unhappiness gained in a turn do not carry over to subsequent turns.

There is also a solo variant of the game which features the following differences from standard play:

  • the general supply consists only of 4 cards from each type
  • each time the player’s deck is shuffled, he must choose a card from the general supply and remove it from the game
  • if the general supply is depleted before any winning condition is met, the player loses the game.
  • when an apartment is flipped, it is removed from the game

These are the simple rules of Flip City, so let’s see now how the game scores in our usual scoring categories:

Components:

Flip City’s only components, cards, are beautifully designed. Each card type depicts an area of the city in a cartoonish style, yet in great detail with bright colors and clear graphics. The symbols used on cards are pretty big and easy to understand on their own and the card text is printed in a special background, using a font size that make it easily readable. The cards are made of very good quality cardboard, however it’s always good to sleeve them. The flipped side of the cards is distinguished by not having a buying cost. Most flipped-side cards also have a recycle symbol on the bottom right instead of a flip symbol (except Apartment).

The folded rulebook explains the simple rules of the game in a most efficient way, leaving no room for questions, or at least not obvious ones.

The small box that hosts the game, seems pretty ideal for the job. It fits all cards, even when sleeved, while, at the same time, leaving no extra space for them to scatter around.

All in all, the components of the game are more than satisfying and I couldn’t ask for more. 10/10

Gameplay:

When first reading the rules of Flip City, I had the feeling that this was going to be a very simple game, maybe too simple for what I’d expect from a deck-building game. However, after a few plays, I understood that its motto, “a deceptively simple microdeckbuilder” was very accurate. Although the game features only 6 types of cards (actually it’s 12 if you add the flipped cards), these seem enough to generate a very challenging gameplay. Both phases of play are very interesting. During the play cards phase you have to be very careful, not to exceed the unhappiness limit of your people, so whenever being at unhappiness level 2, there is this “press your luck” element that will keep you at the edge of your seat. Sometimes, drawing an extra card, without losing your turn, may prove crucial to the amount of coins you gather in order to buy an expensive card or make a flip. Other times luck won’t help you and you will stumble upon a residential area on the top of your deck, which must be played no matter what and will ruin your plans, making your turn a complete waste of time. I totally like this kind of challenge and struggling with statistics. You can get a bit of help in your estimation by checking cards at your discard pile while having in mind that you start out with 4 residential areas. The building phase is equally challenging, by forcing you to make important decisions about how to develop your deck. Should you buy a card or flip one from the discard pile or buy and develop? Usually you will have all of these options available, except during the first few turns and your decisions will have crucial impact on your progress. By playing Central Park / Station, you have the opportunity to buy / flip an additional time, broadening your choices even more.

Flip City includes some interaction between players, through the Apartment and Power Plant that enable you to place bad cards (Residential Areas / Apartments) in an opponent’s discard pile.

During setup, there is some downtime in order to sort out the cards that form the general supply but since there are not so many cards in the game, that doesn’t take too long.

The game can be played by 1 to 4 players and is equally enjoyable with any number. The inclusion of a solo variant is more than welcomed as it enables you to exercise on your own when having no company and experiment with different strategies to win. However, this variant, has limited replayability because there is no further goal to achieve once you win the game and try different strategies, I.e you can’t have a better score of victory points or achieve victory faster as you only goal is just to win.

Luck plays its role in the game, but players have equal chances to be favored or not by it. The important thing is that players can choose to push or not their luck. One can play conservatively and never risk, or be intrigued by the challenge and try to get an edge while risking to lose it all.

The recycle ability is an interesting feature that enables you to take advantage of cards in the discard pile. It appears on flipped versions of the cards, in addition to their standard abilities and it helps a lot towards achieving your goal. 7/10

Learning Curve:

The rules of the game are very simple and explained thoroughly in the rulebook. One can start playing within minutes of having begun to read the rules and that is a very welcomed feature by many, mostly casual gamers, that are easily bored by hearing long descriptions and explanations. Even if you haven’t played a deck-building game before, you will have no trouble, learning to play Flip City. In fact, it may be the ideal game for introducing someone to the genre. 9/10

Theme:

Flip City is about building a city, or rather trying to build the best city you can while keeping its citizens happy. Thematically, I can picture the sequence of the game like this: You start out with a small town with a few residential areas, an apartment, a convenience store, a factory, a hospital and a central park. During the play cards phase, you watch your city function, with the different buildings provide some benefits (money, points and some unhappiness). Then, during the building phase, you get to expand your city by building more or developing the existing buildings to improved ones (through flip / develop). This process succeeds in making you feel like really building a city, although maybe you won’t think much about it during play, being absorbed by the gameplay.

An issue that crossed my mind about the application of theme in the game has to do with unhappiness. What is it that makes your citizens unhappy? It’s too much construction! That is translated into some of the constructions in the city bringing unhappiness. I definitely agree about a power plant bringing unhappiness to people, however I am not so sure about a residential area having that effect and certainly not a hospital. Who wouldn’t like a hospital being handy, near their home? I guess it served the mechanics of the game to tie unhappiness with the specific buildings.

As for the cards’ special abilities, these aren’t really tied to the theme and I don’t think there was an easy way to do that. However, that leaves our imagination free to think about what each ability could stand for. For example, when you place a Residential Area / Apartment into another player’s discard pile, that could, thematically speaking, mean that you are building his city instead of yours.

All in all, I find the incorporation of the theme into the game quite successful in relation to similar deckbuilding games. 7/10

Replayability:

Flip City is a very enjoyable game as it is and I am always happy to play a game or two during a gaming session, despite the fact that it always uses the same stack of cards for the general supply. Nevertheless, there is a lot of room for expanding the game with new cards and abilities, thus multiplying its durability. An expansion has already been announced for the Japanese / Chinese version of the game, called “Design City: Reuse” and featuring 2 new double-sided cards, with 10 copies each:

  • Hardware store/urban redevelopment office: This interferes with the development of your opponent’s cities.
  • Flea market/recycling box: This card can be used when needed to give you extra money.

The small packaging of Flip City makes it ideal to carry on a journey. Have in mind, however, that it requires a rather big surface to play, as you will have to lay down all the cards you play plus have some space available for the general supply. I think that Flip City has great replayability and even greater potential if enriched with more expansions in the future. 7/10

Fun:

I have a very good time each time I play Flip City. However, it’s not the kind of game that will cause bursts of laughter and sometimes it will require concentration and some serious thinking on important decisions such as whether to play another card or which card to buy / flip. That kind of mind-boggling decisions can be fun as well. 7/10

Final Verdict:

Flip City comes in a little box but has a lot more to offer than one would expect from such a small package. It has depth and an original mechanic of playing cards from the top of your deck, instead from your hand plus a press-your-luck element that makes it challenging and fun. Its replayability is somewhat restricted from the fact that it uses the same 12 types of cards in every game, but there is a lot of room for future expansions that could elevate its value and durability. It’s equally fun to play with any number of players and it even includes a solo mode, enabling you to practice different strategies on your own. A highly recommendable little game, targeted to kids as well as adults, people more or less experienced in board games, practically everyone!.

Pros:

  • easy rules
  • clear and nice artwork and symbol use
  • challenging and original gameplay
  • you can choose how much to push your luck
  • suitable for all ages and levels of expertise in board games

Cons:

  • rather limited variety of cards

Recommended for: just about everyone, deck-building game fans

According to our scoring system, scoring categories have different weights. Components have 15% weight, Gameplay 35%, Learning curve 5%, Theme 5%, Replayability 25%, Fun 15%. According to this system and the above scoring in each category, overall weighted scoring of the game is:

Overall: 7.6



Source by Maria Panagou

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