How to Turn $50 Into $5,000 in 30 Days

A critical first step in making more money is to determine your reason(s) for making the extra money. It could be that you want to make enough money for a down payment on a new car. I heard that Mercedes has a new offer on the stylish S-Class series. Maybe you want to take a well deserved vacation. The average vacation cost is $4,580 according to cnsnews.com. Perhaps you want to save up for a wedding. Weddings, by the way, are going for a whopping $28,400 on average according to money.ccn.com. It might be that your children are bugging you to create or add money to their education fund. Education costs are skyrocketing. College costs have surged 500% in the U.S. since 1985 according to Bloomberg.com. The reason could be debt related. The average credit card debt per adult in the U.S. is $4,878. The money you make could be used to pay off your credit card debt, or pay off medical bills. Medical bills incidentally, are the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. according to cnbc.com.

It’s critical to write down your reason(s) now. Please get a pen and paper and do so before continuing.

Next Steps -

  • Establish your goal. A goal is a desired result a person, plans and commits to achieve a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. A goal is something you put in writing with a specific amount our outcome and a specific time frame or deadline. Your goal could be to earn $5,000 within 30 days as an example. Or it could be to earn $50,000 within 3 months. It’s your goal.
  • Define the objective. Objectives are closely related to goals. And the two terms are often used synonymously. But goals and objectives are different. Objectives are specific and measureable milestones that must be achieved in order to reach a goal. In this example, your objective is to find people who are interested in buying products and/or services and sell them those products and/or services at a price they can afford.
  • Create a strategy. With your goal and objective established and in writing, you can now proceed to the strategy. A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve your objective and goal. The strategy is a high-level written statement of the methods you will use to reach your goal. In this example, your strategy will be to use affiliate marketing opportunities to and a blog to bring buyers and sellers together. When a sale is made, you will earn a commission.
  • Develop your tactics. Tactics are specific actions required to deliver on a strategy. Tactics are what you do, and for every strategy, there are a number of tactics. You will be using several marketing techniques in order to attract buyers to your blog. Social media marketing, article marketing, video marketing and other techniques will be utilized.

What is Affiliate Marketing? Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts according to Wikipedia. It’s a function of e-commerce. By the way, total e-commerce spending in the United States will hit approximately $262 billion this year, up 13.4% from $231 billion last year, according to a new projection from Forrester Research Inc. Affiliate marketing is a low-risk, high-return strategy for online marketers. U.S. affiliate marketing spending will reach $4 billion by 2014 and will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 16% from 2009 through 2014 according to Forrester Research Inc. By becoming an affiliate marketer, you are plugging into this exchange of buyers and sellers and you are giving yourself an opportunity to make a lot of money.

Some of the top affiliate marketers are pocketing over $2 million a year. There’s plenty of money to go around but no promises that you’ll make $2 million a year right out of the gate. However, if you are committed to the process, you can make a full time income working part time hours.

Okay, so the next step is to identify the industries you want to help. You may be inclined to decide based on your personal interests. Maybe you’ve read that a particular industry is about to surge. There are many industries that offer affiliate marketing opportunities.

The renewable energy industry may be of interest to you. There are many products that are available online such as solar-powered flash lights. By the way, when is the last time you saw a solar-powered flash light in Wal-Mart or your local sporting goods store? They are incredibly hard to find. Many people who enjoy the outdoors would save a great deal of money on batteries and lantern fuel if they had solar-powered flash lights and lanterns. This is just one example of items that people will gladly buy from your blog.

Another example is personal financial services. Millions of people are struggling with personal debt and need solutions to help them get back on their feet financially. By offering people credit card debt reduction services or mortgage refinance services that they can’t get locally, you are helping them regain control of their life and you will get paid in the process!

Maybe you love to travel or wish you could travel more. Providing travel packages to exotic places may float your boat so to speak.

Provide health-related products/and or services to millions of people who are searching for ways to lose weight and live a more active lifestyle. There are many options to choose from and many ways to make money as an affiliate marketer in most industries.

The next step is to create a blog so you can inform people of the products and/or services that will improve their lives. There are many companies that offer free blog space or you can purchase blog space. It depends on your budget and your technical skills. Spend a day or two learning how to create a blog and how to add blog posts to your blog.

Write a few posts detailing information about your industry and the products and/or services that will soon be available on your blog. Make sure your content is informative and interesting. The last thing your visitors will want to read are blatant advertisements.

Next, apply to become an affiliate marketer for the companies in your industry. Use Google to locate the providers for the types of products and/or services you have selected to sell and complete their affiliate marketer application. You will get an answer within 48 hours in most cases. Be sure to keep track of which affiliate programs you have applied for and what the outcome is for each application.

You can then begin adding affiliate links to your blog for the products and/or services you wish to sell. Try to balance your blog with content and advertisements. A rule of thumb is to load up your blog with 70% content and 30% advertising. Another piece of advice is to offer products and/or services that will give you a good range of commissions. In other words, include high, medium, and low commissionable items on your blog to give yourself a good mix. You may sell several of each during the course of a day and having the right mix will enable you to reach your income goal.

Now it’s time to market your blog. People will learn about your blog through your marketing efforts. Your marketing plan should include social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others). It should also include articles and e-books as well as SEO (Search Engine Optimized) blog posts.

Write down a list of keywords your niche market will most likely use to search online for the information and items you’re publishing on your blog.

Spend at least an hour each day marketing your blog. Be sure to include the list of keywords you just wrote down for your Twitter searches. Follow people who are industry leaders as well as people who appear to be novices in the industry. By the way, the industry leaders typically have many more followers than novices have.

There are many Twitter tools available which you can use to reduce the time required to build, maintain, and communicate with your Twitter following. Search for Twitter lists related to your industry and create a list for your account.

Use online automation tools for the delivery of your blog posts to your target audience to reduce the amount of time and effort required for tweets.

Include a Facebook Fan page in your marketing plan. Create a Facebook Fan page and add relevant content and photos. Post snippets of your posts on the Fan page to pique the Facebook visitors’ curiosity and encourage them to visit your blog.

Articles and videos should also be used to promote your blog. Ideally, you should write one or two articles each week. You can convert the article to an e-book and even a video after the article has been published. Establish goals for your marketing plan and adjust your efforts until your goals have been reached. I have written other articles as well as blog posts with thorough instructions on writing articles, setting social media marketing plan, conversion goals, and creating an overall online marketing plan as well as other tips and tricks.

Replace low-performing affiliate programs with other programs until the conversion rates are at acceptable levels.

Continue to market, measure, and adjust until you have reached your traffic, conversion, and income goals.

In summary, when you identify the reasons for making more money and you have clearly established a written goal, you can then proceed to creating objectives, strategies, and tactics for reaching your goal. Monitoring your progress on a daily basis and making adjustments, will keep you on track. E-commerce is here to stay and there is a growth surge just before the holiday season but anytime is a great time to get started. Your start-up costs should be around $50 or less depending on the blog service you use and other blog-related items you choose.

The two most important things to remember is you need to align yourself with the people and resources which will provide assistance to you at any point in the process and you need to get started now.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” — Helen Keller

“You may delay, but time will not.” –Benjamin Franklin

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

How Do You Choose The Best Auto Glass Repair Company?

The windscreen provides structural strength to the body of the car and helps keep passengers inside the car when an accident occurs. This is also what supports the performance and inflation of passenger side airbags. It therefore needs to be top quality and should be installed properly to serve its function. Specially formulated adhesives are used on the auto glass to meet safety standards. When you have a damaged glass, the next step is to find a reliable repair company that can repair it back to functionality.

Because the auto glass does so much more than just keeping you protected from the elements, you want to make sure that it is accorded the best services. There are so many repair companies offering the auto glass services, but only the best can deliver quality results with yours. You can find the best for the repairs by being attentive to factors that matter most.

Ask for certification. Your auto glass repair company ought to be certified by the auto glass replacement safety standard body relevant in your area. The organizations have developed standards that need to be met when doing the replacements and only certified company will give you that kind of reassurance for your industry requirements. Visit the company if you can and ensure that proper licensing is in place.

Check the technicians. The company may be certified, but remember that an individual technician will be responsible for the repair works. Ensure therefore that you get a technician who is also qualified and certified to get the kind of results you expect with the repair works. A good technician should take you through the repair process and help you make the right decisions with the glass and adhesive to use.

Ask the company about safe drive away time. This is the length of time you will need to allow for the adhesive to cure to safe levels before you are allowed to drive the car again. Usually the type of adhesive used will determine how long the car will need to be out of service. Some adhesives will take only an hour to cure to safe levels, whereas for others it may be three hours or more. Incline more in getting quality repair works done but also ensure that you can also do with the off-time.

Consider OEM glass for the replacement. OEM parts are originals from manufacturers and they are always superior in quality. Find out whether the auto glass repair company uses the original products or aftermarket ones so you can make an informed decision. It is always a much better choice to use OEM glass that matches your vehicle perfectly.

Ask about insurance claim acceptance. Most repair shops will accept billing the replacement costs to your insurance company when you are thinking of filing a claim. Take care of the deductible and enjoy the repairs works affordably.

Think about warranty. A reliable repair company for your auto glass should be able to provide you with a written warranty and even a record for the completed work. It goes to show confidence in services offered as far as quality goes.

What Font Should You Use For Your Book?

One of the most common questions asked by would-be self-publishers who are intent on designing and typesetting their book themselves is, “What font should I use?”

I’m always relieved when somebody asks the question. At least, it means they’re not just blindly going to use the ubiquitous default fonts found in most word processing programs.

However, there is almost no way to answer the question. It’s like asking, “What’s the best car model for commuting to work everyday?”

You’ll get a different answer from almost everyone you ask. And they might all be correct.

I am willing to offer one hard-and-fast rule, however: don’t use Times New Roman or Times Roman. That will brand your book as the work of an amateur at first glance. And there are other, very practical, reasons for not using it. Times Roman and Times New Roman were designed for the narrow columns of newspapers, originally for the London Times back in the 1930s. Today, almost no newspapers still use it. How, or why, it became a word processing standard, I have no idea. The font tends to set very tight, making the text block on the page dense and dark.

Here are two caveats before proceeding to few recommendations:

  1. The typeface you choose may depend on how your book will be printed. If you look closely at most serif fonts (like Times), you will notice that there are thick and thin portions of each letter. If your book will be printed digitally, you should steer away from fonts with segments that are very thin. They tend to become too faint and affect readability.
  2. Don’t get carried away with the thousands of font choices available. Most are specialty fonts suitable for titles, headlines, advertising, emotional impact, etc. And never use more than a very few fonts in a single book — we usually choose one serif font for the main text body, a sans serif for chapter titles and headings within the chapters. Depending on the book, we may select a third font for captions on photos, graphics, tables, etc. (or maybe just a different size, weight, or style of one of the other two). We may select a specialty font for use on the front cover for the title and subtitle.

For 90% of books, any of the following fonts are excellent choices:

  • Palatino Linotype
  • Book Antiqua (tends to set tight, so you may have to loosen it up a bit)
  • Georgia
  • Goudy Old Style
  • Adobe Garamond Pro (tends to have a short x-height, so it might seem too small in typical sizes)
  • Bookman (the name sort of gives it away, doesn’t it?)
  • Century Schoolbook (tends to be a bit wide, creating extra pages)

You need to look at several paragraphs of each font to see what, if any, adjustments you may find necessary in things like character spacing and kerning. You want to avoid little confusions, like:

  • “vv” (double v) that looks like the letter “w”
  • “cl” (c l) that looks like the letter “d”

Such things can make the reading experience annoying.

If you ask other designers, you will likely get other suggestions, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least some of the above included in their recommendations.

You may run across some books with more unusual font choices, but there are often good reasons for it. Maybe the book is a humor book for which the designer chose a lighthearted font, for example. Such decisions should be made with care and thoughtful consideration for the effects on readability.

Never decide on your font or font size based only on viewing how it looks on your monitor. Most trade paperback books are printed in 10 or 11 point size, but some fonts require larger – or even smaller – sizes. If 12 points looks too big and 11 too small, you can try 11.5 – no need to stick with integer sizes. You might be surprised how much difference a half-point (or even a quarter-point) can make on the overall “feel” of the page.

You also have to decide on appropriate leading (pronounced like the metal), which is the distance from the baseline of one line of text to the baseline for the next line, measured in points. The result is usually expressed as a ratio of the font size in points to the selected leading in points. So, you might say you have set the body text in Georgia 11/14 or Bookman 10/12.5 (11-point size with 14 points leading and 10-point size with 12.5 points leading, respectively).

Word processing programs tend to work in decimal inches, forcing you to convert leading from points into inches. A standard point is equal to 0.0138 inches. Professional typesetting/layout programs (like Adobe InDesign) allow you to use points and picas to define all type measurements and settings. although you can also specify those settings in various other units (including inches).

Typically, book designers will develop more than one design for each book’s interior, using different fonts, sizes, and leadings. They should typeset a few pages of the actual manuscript and print them out with the same page settings they plan to use in the final book (e.g., 6″ x 9″ pages). This allows the client to compare them side-by-side and evaluate them for readability and overall look.

And don’t forget your target audience. Very young readers and very old readers do better with larger type. Books that are very textually dense with long paragraphs frequently need more leading and a wider font.

Ultimately, you have to choose based on what your gut reaction is to the typeset samples. It never hurts to ask other people to read it and tell you if one option is easier to read than another.

If you want to gain an appreciation for typography and how to make appropriate design decisions, I recommend the following excellent books:

The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Book Design and Production by Pete Masterson

For those who insist on using Microsoft Word to typeset books, you really should buy and study Perfect Pages by Aaron Shepard. He is the reigning guru of how to do it.

It is far better to buy professional layout software and then learn all you can about typography and how to apply those principles to book design…or to hire a professional to do for you. The latter course will leave you more time to develop a dynamic marketing plan for your latest book and start writing your next one!