Thursday, July 14, 2016

3 Commitment-Free Ways to Earn Money Online

Working at home is quickly becoming a more and more feasible way to make some extra cash, but not all of us have the patience or the skill set to start an online business, write a successful blog or sell crafts on the web. These jobs often don’t pay right away either, and can even include some start-up costs. The online revenue sites listed below are great places for WAHMs (work at home moms) and dads who have 5-10 minutes of downtime every once in a while, instead of hours on end, to make some easy money on the internet.

Amazon Mechanical Turk
Also called MTurk, this website is easy to sign up for and easy to start making money on. The idea is simple: companies post an array of jobs (from 2-3 minute surveys to hour long transcription jobs) for workers to complete. Short surveys will only earn you cents, but those cents build up. I was skeptical of this one, but earn an average of $7.50 an hour when I jump on to plow through some simple tasks.

This is a great is for people who want to make money without a daily commitment. Load clear, well-taken photos to Shutterstock and earn a commission per download. This one is great for revisiting every once in a while as you take photos that are appropriate to load. Download apps like Camera! and ArtStudio to transform your phone or tablet into a great camera.

Yahoo Contributor Network
Another site that can be left alone but still earn you money, YCN allows users to upload well-written articles to their server and earn commission on page views. You can request an upfront payment for the article as well. YCN even offers courses on ways to improve your writing for the web.

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3 Cheap Wedding Reception Menu Ideas

Weddings are expensive, and if you didn’t know that before you starting planning your wedding you certainly know it now. Setting your wedding budget and planning your wedding reception meal can be one of the most stressful things you will do.

There are several ways to help you stay within budget, however. Cutting back on the number of guests you invite, not getting married on Saturday or Sunday and silk flowers instead of fresh can all be great ways to help you stay on budget.

If you have done all of those things or can’t do those things, one of the next steps is to look at the food you will be serving at your reception.

When deciding on your wedding reception menu there are a few things to avoid if you want to save the most money. Skipping the open bar, avoiding sit down dinners and only offering cake as a dessert option are a few places to start.

To further help with your menu planning, here are 3 cheap wedding reception menu ideas:

Do It Yourself

Depending on the size of your wedding, making your own wedding food might be a good cheap wedding reception menu option. It also helps if you have friends that are good cooks as well that can provide you with some much needed help.

If you are getting married in warmer months, consider having a barbecue in your backyard or at a local park. Ask close friends and family to bring a dish to help cut down on costs.

Even if you don’t cook the entire menu yourself or with friends, you can ask a talented, good friend to bake your cake as a wedding gift to you.

Inexpensive Catering

Not all catering has to be expensive. Many of your favorite casual restaurants also offer catering and have separate catering menus for events.

As long as the food is good, no one will even notice. Just make sure that the caterer has sufficient staff to handle a large event like a wedding, or arrange to have staff hired to help out.

Also, many grocery stores or specialty food markets offer great catering options that should be considered.

Cocktail Reception

If you still want to use your favorite high end caterer but don’t have the budget for a full sit down dinner reception, a cocktail wedding reception might be the perfect solution.

You will be able to choose from several stations (like pasta, carving, etc.) as well as a few passed butler passed hors d’oeuvres. Guests typically enjoy the cocktail reception the most at a wedding reception, and you can sometimes save significant money as well.

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3 Books I Would like to See Made into Movies

The Shack – William P. Young

Summary of the book: Mackenzie Phillips takes his children on a camping trip, but the trip disturbed when a his daughter is abducted while trying to save the life of his drowning son. He goes into a deep depression and has to confront the fact his daughter may never return. He sets off to the shack he believes his daughter may have been taken to in order to face her abductor on his own. He is visited by spirits during his visit to the shack that reveal the suspect and his disturbing childhood unraveling the truth before his eyes. There are 2 versions of God represented as a man and another as a woman. They are sent to show him the way to forgiveness. In my opinion the woman is an older black woman. She enjoys cooking and making him feel comfortable before the journey he must go on to forgive the man who committed such a heinous crime against his daughter Misty.

Characters: Della Reese (female version of God), John Cusack (Mackenzie Phillips)

On Everything – Jimmy DaSaint

Summary of the book: Angel as a baby had a mean temperament. The only thing that could calm his fits was the presence of a baby girl named Alexis. His fits of rage become more intense if anyone approaches tAlexisl. He’s a young dealer that uses his Caucasian looks to his advantage. He smuggles drugs from state to state portraying himself as a Caucasian college boy. He has some deep rooted problems that arise after a family secret is revealed.

Director of choice:Antoine Fuqua would be a great director for this movie, he could bring out the intensity of the main character like he did with Denzel in Training Day.

Characters: I have no characters in mind for this movie in particular.

The Coldest Winter Ever– Sister Souljah

Summary of the book: This book is about the unraveling of Winter’s privileged life, Winter is a teenage girl who usually gets her way by her father. Her father loses his drug empire when he slips up and takes his wife on a run with him, she is then shot in the face and disfigured. Santiaga’s family goes to pieces after he gets locked up. She also finds out a few secrets about her dad when her and her mother go to visit him in prison.

Characters: Giancarlo Esposito (Santiaga),Lauren London (Winter), Tasha Smith (Winter’s mom), Derek Luke (Midnight)

Tags:3 Books I Would like to See Made into Movies

3 Cheap Ways to Enhance Your Professional Brand in 2013

We are moving into another year of slim prospects for pay increases. Compensation experts Aon Hewitt expects 2013 base pay to rise about 3 % for executive, salaried exempt and salaried nonexempt positions. They are also forecasting an increase of about 2.9 % for nonunion hourly and 2.6 % for union positions. Whether or not there is a pay raise in your future next year, the responsibility is still on you to enhance your professional brand. In other words, you have to move forward with your own career plan and manage your professional brand whether there is a reward from your company or not. Keep in mind that you are preparing for your next opportunity which may or may not be with your current organization.

Here are 3 relatively inexpensive ways to enhance your professional brand this year.

Get Certified – This might just be the year you choose to add a certification to your credentials. Do the research and find out the costs associated with credentials relevant for your field. No matter the cost, compared to the cost of getting a new degree, certification is still a huge bargain. Use the certification finder at to explore certifications as a way to enhance your professional brand.

Join a Professional Association

There are many advantages to joining professional associations. It is one of the best things you can do to enhance your professional brand at relatively low cost. Professional associations will help you connect with people in your occupation, provides information on trends in your field and offers opportunities for continued learning. Explore a list of professional associations for your field here.

Take a Class at Community College

Despite all the hoopla about the cost of higher education, community colleges continue to be a phenomenal bargain. Based on research from the College Affordability and Transparency Center at the US Department of Education, the national average tuition for public 2-year college is $2527 annually. Cut that in half for one semester only and further divide that amount by about 4 to get the cost of taking one class. How much could you improve your professional brand with a computer class, an event planning class or a business communication class? Think about your own job and look for places to improve and add value to what you have to offer.

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3 Cheap Alternatives to iTunes

iTunes is a great service, especially if you intend on buying new releases and Top 40 hits. But I personally don’t care about Top 40 hits. I prefer Pink Floyd to the latest Green Day single. Now, iTunes charges a measly $0.99 per song. That doesn’t sound like much, but hey, if you want to download 30 singles off a Pink Floyd compilation its gonna cost you 30 dollars. Where can you get it for cheaper?

Luckily, there are some alternatives that I know of. Moreover, these alternatives all allow you to use your downloaded songs in the manner in which you please; i.e. there are no copyright restrictions and obviously the same cannot be said of iTunes. With iTunes, if your hard drive goes bad, you lose your songs thus waste your money. And you can’t listen to an iTunes downloaded song on just any mp3 player, of course I’m sure you know that.

eMusic is a subscription-based mp3 search and download service. You pay $10.00 a month, and for that you can download 30 songs. Remember that if you were to download 30 songs on iTunes, you’d have to pay about $30.00 dollars. By paying 10.00 a month, you get the same number of songs for much cheaper at around 33 cents a pop.

One thing I need to tell you though is that you probably won’t find the same Top 40 hits that iTunes features, or new indie releases. You’re still probably going to have to use iTunes for those kinds of wants, but eMusic is a much cheaper alternative for those of us who want old classic rock songs, or classical songs, for instance, and want to download around 10-30 a month. That limitation aside, I think that this is a great deal.

I’m sure many of you know about but its such a great site for buying CD’s that I wanted to mention it anyway. I recently bought a Rolling Stones album for just $5.99. Per song, it worked out to be cheaper than if I had bought the songs on iTunes. Some people end up purchasing entire CD’s, convert them to MP3’s and then resell them on That sounds like a breach of the user agreement, so I can’t condone it, but there it is nonetheless. should remind you that sometimes buying a real CD, as opposed to digital versions, is more economically feasible. Thats not the case in many instances, but for older music, you really should check out

Just remember that you’ll have to pay for media mail, but that’s just around $2.60.

Rhapsody Music Service

Rhapsody Music service brands itself as the “#1 Rated Online Music Service”, probably because it sells songs for a mere $0.89. So its just 10 cents cheaper than iTunes. Of course, 10 cents adds up over time and if you’re purchasing lots of music, you’d probably want to consider Rhapsody. The best features of Rhapsody actually have little to do with the fact that its a tad cheaper than iTunes for purchasing individual songs. Personally I like the fact that you can upload your own CD’s and create your own radio stations from other content and stuff that you uploaded. It’s gotten great reviews on Wallstreet Journal and CNET but from what I can tell it doesn’t have the same breadth of music available when compared to iTunes.

But again, for those of us who want older songs, Rhapsody should be considered. It’ll have all the stuff you or your parents could want, except newer indie stuff and music from the Top 40. One last benefit to this service is the fact that the songs are mp3 downloads and thus are not nearly as restricted as iTunes downloads.

In conclusion, iTunes songs are a tad more expensive, but rather restricted because of copyright restrictions. Rhapsody overall is probably better for many users, including myself.

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3 Common Black Hat SEO Tactics You Should Avoid

It is always a risk whenever you are thinking of hiring an SEO company, especially those that guarantee “Page 1” Google rankings within a ridiculously short period of time (say, one month). Whenever someone promises that, you can be almost certain that they are engaging in black hat SEO tactics. Sure, black hat tactics might be able to get you results faster. In the past, white hat SEO practitioners had almost no chance of beating their white hat counterparts.

But Google has gotten much smarter since then. The double whammy of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have upset the traditional balance of power, and more deserving websites are finally getting the rankings they deserve. For those of who won’t know what black hat tactics are even if they slap you in the face, I’ve gathered a short list of tactics below.

The term ‘black hat SEO’ comes from the practice of using ‘unethical’ or ‘illegal’ (by the search engines, not the police) tactics to help send a website to the first page or even very top of the SERPs. You will be surprised to find out that many SEO companies who claim themselves to be experts are actually using black hat techniques to rank their clients’ websites. If you are hit by a link penalty, then you should know that a Penguin recovery be a long, uncertain and arduous process.

White hat SEO techniques are typically long-term strategies that will work within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in order to increase your website rankings. They are safe, legit and recommended.

1. Keyword Stuffing

You are engaged in keyword stuffing if you have been discreetly placing the keywords you want to rank for into the pages of your website.

Sometimes these keywords are hidden within the source code i.e. human readers won’t be able to see them, but search engine spiders will. These can be hidden within your meta descriptions, comment tags or others.

You repeat your keywords over and over again within the copy of your text, especially when it doesn’t make sense. This brings us to the issue of keyword density. Among the most persistent SEO myth is that of an ‘optimal’ keyword density. I don’t really believe that. As long as your targeted keywords appear at least appear somewhere within your copy a few times, then that is enough.

You place your targeted keywords in a way that is invisible to readers, but visible to search engines. This may include using keywords in the same colour as your background of the web page. Or perhaps some would make them very small such that they are not noticeable.

2. Doorway Pages

Doorway pages (or sometimes called gateway pages) are pages that are created only to rank well in the search engines. They cannot be visited by human readers, but can still be crawled by the search engines that run through your sites. Such pages are usually redirected to the targeted website.

This used to work very well in the past, but Google has recently released a Spam Report where human readers can write in to report a website that they think is using unethical methods to rank in the SERPs. If you are operating in a highly competitive space, then you can be sure that you won’t get away with this for long.

3. Link farming

I have already mentioned how valuable links are to your website. Despite all the talk online, they are still the most important element in helping your website rank. Link farming is the practice of getting thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of links from spammy websites that were created for only SEO reasons i.e. they have bad content, were designed badly, have even more spammy links pointing back to them etc.

Bonus: Link Networks

This is still a black hat tactic, but one that can still work if done correctly (which isn’t easy these days). This involves creating and maintaining a network of websites that are used to help a webmaster’s main website achieve top rankings. The problem is that Google is getting very serious about putting a stop to such link networks. For example, early in 2013 they shut down practically overnight by de-indexing thousands of the blogs in their link network.

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