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Scaling Smoothly: Find Out if Your Business Is Ready to Scale

The growth of the U.S ecommerce market has continued unabated over the last 5 years. The U.S Commerce Department says online retails sales in 2011 totaled $194 billion, but this number has grown to $341.7 billion in 2015. A U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast covering the year 2015 to 2020 expects ecommerce sales to grow at an average yearly rate of 9.32%. Like any new industry, businesses have to cope with myriad challenges, the most prominent being how to handle increasing orders. Many ecommerce platforms are losing money especially during major sales days like Black Friday because they can’t handle the increasing demand. As a website owner, it is imperative to ensure smooth scalability to ensure optimal customer experience on your ecommerce website. It all boils down to managing surge queues on your ecommerce database during peak hours to avoid downtime. With the unpredictability of ecommerce traffic, your online store should be optimized to handle increased orders and this is where professional database load balancing comes in.

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What Could Go Wrong During Traffic Spikes?

There are over 1.2 billion websites according to Google, but surprisingly only 52% make any revenue. According to a Forrester Research Survey in 2013, most website owners are more focused on the appearance of their sites as opposed to the database performance. While starting off, it is understandable that you are not looking for a large database but it is important to appreciate the importance of database scalability going forward.



Online traffic is unpredictable and traffic spikes can lead to downtime. A traffic spike could be a result of increased brand mentions, a successful SEO campaign or other positive reviews of your site. While increased traffic is the dream of every marketer, it can also have a downside if it affects your SQL server performance. This calls for database tuning to keep in line with the growing traffic.

With so many websites competing for your target keywords, it is obvious you will lose a lot of revenue. To prevent this, you should invest in SQL server high availability to avoid crashes especially when you expect huge traffic.

How to Deal with Website Traffic Spikes

There are different approaches to handling website traffic spikes. Some of these are in-house while others require a third party to implement. Some of the common approaches to optimizing your site for increased traffic include the installation of server-site cache, using a content delivery system (CDN) if you have lots of static content, compressing your web page content, cache MySQL queries, minimizing scripts and plugins among others. However, for a growing website, these in-house techniques might not work.

It is important to invest in load balancing database. Load Balancing Software improves the distribution of workloads across multiple resources. The idea is to optimize resource use, minimize response time and avoid any overloads on your database.

Horizontal Scalability

Horizontal scalability is one of the most effective approaches to SQL Server Load Balancing. The idea is to build out instead of up; instead of investing in more servers you add one more and distribute your database load across them. This is only possible when you can handle multiple instances on different servers at the same time. This in turn saves you on server power, especially during traffic spikes. Some of the best technologies offering horizontal scalability include NoSQL, and NewSQL. These databases ensure a rich customer experience by eliminating downtime.

It is also important to look for database failover feature when looking for database software. More importantly, leverage SQL analytics to know when and how to handle traffic surges. Database replication is also important in database load balancing.

Enhancing Customer Experience

With growing competition, it is crucial for ecommerce site owners to provide a seamless user experience. This can be done by building an attractive and easily navigable website. The site should also be mobilized for mobile as more users start their purchase process on mobile devices.

The Power of a Scalable, Fault-Tolerant Database

A scalable and fault-tolerant database is a great investment for any business. A cloud-based database guarantees optimal performance at any time and this is one easy way to improve customer experience on your site.

Conclusion

With the increasing growth of ecommerce sales, it is time you leveraged the numbers to grow your site. You should bring in a load balancer to guarantee an SQL Always On situation. Your database will handle increasing customer demands without any downtime, which is a first step towards achieving ecommerce success.

The post Scaling Smoothly: Find Out if Your Business Is Ready to Scale appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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The Crucial Importance of Blog Posts in SEO

Search Engine Optimization is definitely one of the most challenging occupations out there in the digital world. For those who are still unclear about the meaning of SEO, it should suffice to know that it is virtually everything visible and invisible over the internet. To put it in a statement, SEO refers to the application of a diverse set of unique promotional strategies to ensure a visible rank for any particular website. All sites must do SEO, and it is neither a temporary, one-off process. Experts need to work constantly in promoting a particular website so that it is able to maintain a steady upward climb up to the first page of search engines, particularly Google.

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Types of texts

The search services employ a crucial list of digital scanning protocols simultaneously through automated digital scanners called ‘bots’, constantly assigning relative ranks to websites. Among the various strategies employed, developing quality text content remains the mainstay priority. As the saying goes, “Content is King” in SEO! There are actually different formats of content development for the internet, including article writing, SEO blog posts, website page content, press releases, e-books, and newsletters. Other sub-sections include professional social media posts, forum posting, and blog commenting. However, in this context, it should be important to explain why content development is so vital for SEO.

How it works

Essentially, the basic idea is to provide quality resources to people using search engines. As the internet works more or less like a people’s republic, it is also imperative for the search service provider to provide unadulterated, real, quality information, for they also must survive the hectic competition. Although Google is still the major provider, many competitor search engines also try their best to claim unique footfalls.

So, in effect, Google applies a set of a digital algorithm which is actually a set of digital best practice templates designed to assign relative quality rankings to the various sites. However, although these algorithms often come in major upgrades (look up Panda or Penguin), there are no definitive hard-set principles on what would work and what would not.

Quality Content Value

The internet is constantly evolving by natural user participation, and the search autobots are constantly upgraded to keep up with the organic evolution process. Among the various parameters used by these scanners, the text quality at a particular site or connecting to the site are held with high importance. The internet has come a long, long way from the days when a site owner used to copy-paste words from Wikipedia and go along with the page. Plagiarism is a blasphemous thing to do over the net these days, and neither can a content writer stuff the text with ‘keywords’ just to register a positive, relevant report on Google.

Instead, the effect may backfire as the search engine would deem the site too manipulative, and trying to disrupt the integral organic nature of the internet. So, it is necessary to find an authentic service for developing SEO blog posts. These posts do not only display at their parent websites, but also at other reliable directories, offering a backlink to the original site. Depending upon the quality of the directory site and the performance of the link back, Google autobots also assign relative ranks to your web page.



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Referral Programs to Get More Bang For Your Buck

Referral programs are an awesome way to get more bang for your buck simply by referring a friend or a family member to some kind of service on the web. Don’t you wish everything were as simple as referring someone and getting free stuff?



How amazing would that be if you could refer a friend to a new grocery store and then get half off your groceries? While these programs don’t always exist in the real world, they definitely do exist online. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of these referral programs and figure out how you can use them to your advantage.

Copyright: antonioguillem / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: antonioguillem / 123RF Stock Photo

Togle

Togle’s referral program works by rewarding you with various prizes for referring people who then make successful purchases through Togle. New clients start with zero points, but they quickly build on that with successful referrals.

So if you invite five friends and three of them successfully make a purchase, you’ll have just earned a total of three points.

Even just having two points will grant you £20 in theater tickets, and you can turn that into an equivalent Amazon gift card if the theater isn’t really your thing.

Five points gets you a £40 Amazon gift card, and 10 points gets you a £100 Virgin gift card which you can use for things like skydiving, segway racing, and even more. 40 points will get you an iPhone 7 128 GB or else a flight for two to Miami.

Dropbox

Dropbox has a pretty famous referral program by this point. They will award you and your friend 500 MB of additional storage space, up to a maximum of 16 GB.

This referral program is truly of legendary proportions: Their signups increased by 60 percent and users sent 2.8 million user invites just by 2010.

One of the most effective parts of this referral program is the fact that both referrer and receiver are rewarded with extra space. It would’ve been effective if just the one doing the referring were rewarded, but the instant reward for the person doing the joining is likely what took that over the edge for many incoming users.

PayPal

The amazing thing about PayPal’s referral service is that they literally gave their users free cash, something that only payment platforms can truly get away with it. This referral program which also benefited both parties caused a 7-10 percent daily increase in growth. That’s not monthly or weekly, but daily.

This is what PayPal used to achieve a number of early adopters, something that traditional advertising just wouldn’t be able to replicate. It’s hard to argue with the numbers. Giving away free money might seem like a crazy thing for a business to do, but it’s part of the reason why PayPal rules the online payment world today.

Airbnb

Airbnb’s second referral program was actually more successful than the first one they did. What their program amounts to is a greater amount given to the friend who was referred, as it’s commonly thought that people will share with their friends not for financial gain reasons but because they think the friend will benefit.

In this example, $25 is given to the one who did the referring when their friend takes a trip, and then $75 when they successfully rent out their place. It should be noted here that that $100 isn’t cash, but rather money to be used for travel purposes. In this way, Airbnb keeps it all secure within their company and their platform. A revolutionary and effective idea.

It’s hard sometimes to find the right referral program for your needs. There are so many out there, but it’s hard to know which ones are real and which ones stiff you out of a reward. By looking at some of the most popular options out there, it becomes much easier to get an idea as to what you should be looking out for.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it should help you to orient yourself when it comes to the world of referral programs. It’s important, too, that you do your own research based on this and then see what you can find.

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Gig Economy Changing the American Workforce

They call it the gig economy and its becoming increasingly commonplace; but what exactly is the gig economy? It’s an environment where temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

It’s an economy that 40% of the American workforce will belong to in 2020, according to Intuit.  The factors for this shift include digitization, the rise of Millennials in the workforce, a greater work-life balance, and people changing jobs multiple times during their careers.

ReportLinker decided to examine this shift and what it means for freelancers.

Copyright: berndneeser / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: berndneeser / 123RF Stock Photo

Changing Workforce

ReportLinker asked survey respondents to describe their current working situation.  Only 12% of the workforce freelances.  The rest work either full, or part time.

When asked how likely they were to freelance at some point during their careers, 68% said it was unlikely.  Of the 32% who said it was likely, 47% planned to do so in the next 36 months, when others planned to make the switch in three to five years or said they would become freelancers in more than five years.

Why does freelancing appeal to professionals?  The response depends on whether someone is part of the gig economy or is currently an employee.

For those who work for employers, the top reason was to achieve a better work-life balance, followed by the need for freedom and to make better use of job skills, 11%.  Those who felt their jobs were unstable were more likely to have an interest in freelance work.

Freelancers listed much different reasons.  For this group, the top reason was being their own boss, flexible work hours and better compensation.

Age also played a role in responses. Employees between the ages of 35 and 54 were more likely to consider freelancing.  In fact, the majority of freelancers, two-thirds, branched out on their own after learning professional skills in a traditional workplace.

Only a third of Millennials, who have yet to enter the workforce, said they were interested in freelancing, and of those who were interested, 36% felt it had the potential to make them unhappy.

Gender also swayed people’s opinions. Forty percent of men said they liked the option to freelance.

Copyright: elenathewise / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: elenathewise / 123RF Stock Photo

Drawbacks to Freelance Work

As any independent contractor knows, being a member of the gig economy comes with drawbacks.

ReportLinker asked what people disliked the most about freelancing. The top reason cited was the lack of retirement and unemployment benefits and no job security.

These reasons might be what scares a number of people from becoming a freelancer.

Job satisfaction means a lot to Americans and having a purpose in their work, appealed to 73% of survey respondents.  Part-time employees were the group most likely to feel unsatisfied as 27% said they somewhat disagreed their job had purpose.  Consequently, those who felt dissatisfaction were more likely to enter the gig economy.

Freelancers Are Happier?

ReportLinker sought to learn whether freelancers are happier than their traditionally employed counterparts and the majority of survey respondents, 70%, said they were happy, including 38% of freelancers.

Freelancers may be happier because 84% feel their work gives them a sense of purpose.another reason for this happiness might be the freedom to work wherever they chose as 41% of them work from home.



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Why Your Business Needs to Repeat. To Repeat.

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Let me ask you a question… What’s the best thing about having a job?

Not the worst thing (this is a newsletter, not a 12-part miniseries). The best thing.

For me, the answer is easy: Steady income.

Week after week, month after month, as long as you don’t quit, get laid off, or accidentally drive over the CFO’s foot in the parking lot, the checks keep coming. Sure, there are many negatives, but for the 15+ years I had a job, I never gave a second thought to money.



When you run your own business, on the other hand, it’s the mirror opposite:

Your days can be exactly as you like – no boss, no commute, no cubicle, no fight to the top of the ever-narrowing pyramid. Your income, however, is extremely unpredictable.

It’s up, it’s down. It’s hot, it’s cold. It’s feast, it’s famine. One day you’re panicking about the mortgage, the next day you’re out pricing life-size, marble, penguin statues (or is that just me?).

Wouldn’t it be great, though, if you could have all the benefits that come with working for yourself AND … the steady income of a job? If there’s a Venn Diagram on Earth within which I would like to live (why am I talking like Yoda?), that’s the one.

But is it really possible to create this perfect, magical scenario? Well, when you put it that way, probably not. But you can get a lot closer to it than you may realize.

The key is in recognizing that all dollars are not created equal.

Let’s say, for example that you are presented with two client options: One pays you $15,000, once, up front. The other pays you $1,000 a month, out into the future. Which would you rather have?

There’s a lot of “it depends” in the answer, of course, but in general, I’ll take the repeat client every time.

Many reasons:

1. The upside potential is way higher. I’ve got two clients whose email newsletters I’ve been publishing for 10+ years and several others for more than five. That’s a lot of money over a lot of years.

2. Life is more predictable. When you do work on a repeat basis, you have work booked for the coming month before the month even begins. This smooths out the revenue and smooths out the workflow.

3. You flatten the learning curve. Those 10-year clients of mine? It’s like clockwork. No miscommunications, no loose ends, no rework. They are easy to service.

The new clients, on the other hand, are where all the gear-grinding takes place. You have yet to uncover – much less eliminate – the process issues that inevitably occur. No matter how wonderful these clients are, you are still learning how to work with each other.

4. More cross-selling. People who know, trust and interact with you regularly are happy to buy more things from you. They don’t put it out to bid and they don’t haggle over price. As long as you have things of value to offer, you’re the first (often only) choice when new opportunities arise.

5. Less time chasing; more time doing. The more repeat clients you have, the fewer new ones you need. Hunters spend most of their time stalking their prey; farmers just step out the back door and get to work.

Like I said, many reasons.

And while you may believe that a repeat element to what you do doesn’t exist, I’m pretty sure it does. Probably not your entire business, but parts of it:

Maybe you could … offer monthly, ongoing coaching to people who want to learn what you do, rather than just have you do it for them.

Maybe you could … offer a flat fee option where you update and maintain somebody’s web site or blog, or spend one day onsite at the client a month, or just be available for phone call consults at any time.

Maybe you could … offer a segment of your clients “front of the line” service, in return for a fixed monthly fee on top of whatever you already charge.

The point is, ongoing, “subscription” relationships are good for you and they’re good for your clients. And while you may never get to the point where you’re living entirely inside that Venn Diagram, every step you take in that direction will make your life a whole lot easier.

Special thanks to John Warrillow, whose book, The Automatic Customer, Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry, (affiliate link) inspired this article.

The book is filled with a ton of well-described examples and JW makes a strong case for why repeat client arrangements are so valuable.

The post Why Your Business Needs to Repeat. To Repeat. appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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Ecommerce Tips: How to Write the Perfect Item Title

Copyright: mimagephotography / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: mimagephotography / 123RF Stock Photo

What’s in a Name?

Getting your online store up and running is one thing, but settling on an item titles for the products you opt to list might have you stumped. You want your item title to be descriptive enough to inform shoppers what you’re selling, intriguing enough to tempt shoppers into clicking your item, but short enough to fit into character limitations. What’s more, sites that might advertise your items, like Google Shopping, have specific guidelines for item titles and won’t accept items that don’t comply.

Bonanza.com, a seller-focused ecommerce marketplace, has done a hefty share of market research and number crunching to find out which strategies work and which don’t. They’ve shared their applied findings below:

Use straightforward words to describe your item. The goal of an item title should be to tell shoppers what your item is and generate enough interest to drive clicks to your listing. You only need to include enough information to let shoppers know what your item is at a glance. Do this by using simple words that explain exactly what your item is.

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Things to Do:

Include the brand and MPN (manufacturer part number) if known. If you sell on a platform like Bonanza, this helps our software put your item in the proper category, and will give your item a better chance of being discovered on third-party shopping platforms, like Google or Bing Shopping.

Mention traits like gender, color, or item type when applicable. Put the type of item you’re selling near the beginning of the title. When applicable, gender and brand should go at the beginning, as they are more important traits, while color should go at the end. If your item comes in multiple colors, it is not necessary to put the colors in your item title.

Make full use of the available character limit by using strong keywords. While it is unwise to add irrelevant words to your title just for the sake of using the character limit, you might want to add some additional words to describe your item if the character limit allows. Adding the keywords to further describe the item style or appearance could bring additional exposure to your item through various keyword searches.

#protip: If you’re unsure of how to word your item title, try searching for your item on Google Shopping. This will help you think about your item from a search term perspective. It will also give you insight into the titles other sellers are using that have been approved by Google.shop-1298480_960_720

Things to Avoid:

Using all capital letters in your item title. This can give your item titles an aggressive and overbearing impression. Typing in all caps screams “LOOK AT ME,” which can often have the opposite effect. In addition, Google Shopping does not allow items with titles in all caps.

Having grammar or spelling errors in your item title. Having errors in your title looks unprofessional and careless. Show shoppers that you value your online business by taking the time to proofread your item titles.

Including excessive or incorrect punctuation in your item title. Incorrectly used punctuation like “!!!! Women’s D*R*e*S*S* !!!!” will deter shoppers, as they might feel like your items are fake or scammy. Similar to all caps titles, Google Shopping does not accept any items with titles like these, as it is considered “promotional text.” Including punctuation like this could disqualify your items from the Google Shopping feed.

Including fluff words that don’t describe the actual item you are selling. You might think that words like “new,” “real,” or “authentic” add perceived value to your item – but in reality, these words detract from your item. The only exception to this rule is during the holiday shopping season. At that time, many shoppers search for new items as gifts. Any other time of the year, words to describe the item’s condition are better to list in your item description and traits.

What Now?

Now that you know the basics about writing an item title, it’s time to list some items! Like anything, you should be monitoring your item traffic and sales to see what’s working and what’s not. Often times, changing simply one or two words can make the difference between an item that’s gone stale and an item that’s flying off the shelves.

Curious to learn more about how to set yourself up for success at Bonanza? Check out this guide to pricing your items, or take a look at one of our many other help articles.



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Want to Start an Ecommerce Business? Check Out These 6 FAQs

The internet has completely changed the way business is carried out. Everything from communication to product procurement and even to the shipping process. It has even expanded the market worldwide, making it possible for everyone with internet access to be a customer or business person. However, with that much saturation, supply and demand becomes much more inundated with data and more tremulous to understand.

It’s with this in mind that we created this list of frequently asked questions when it comes to starting an ecommerce business!

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What is an Ecommerce Business?

An ecommerce business is a shop or storefront that isn’t found in a shopping mall or anywhere physically — it exists on the internet. You can buy and sell products from online vendors and they will ship it to the address of your choosing.

What Can Be Sold Online?

Typically, you will sell either a product or a service online. You should have an idea of what it is that you want to sell online before you can begin looking for a place to host your online business.

I Have My Product/Service, Where Do I Begin?

Once you know what you’re going to sell and have determined that it is a viable business option, you’ll need to decide if you’ll host your own domain or view the extensive selection of free ecommerce website builders, such as Shopify, that offer many prepackaged options. This just comes down to level of experience — if you are adept with technology and webmaster tools, host the domain yourself. If not, it’s recommended you simplify the problem for yourself and get an ecommerce website account instead.

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How Should I Promote My Ecommerce Site?

This is where the spectrum of business “must-dos” becomes a little nebulous. There isn’t really one surefire way to promote any business that is going to guarantee success. You can spend thousands of dollars on a marketing agency and you still might not get the results you want, or you can try a full-time assault on social media and find great successes for almost no money. That’s where the strategy of marketing enters — you must find a plan that works for your business.

Whether it’s a small PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign that nets you a wider audience or even a local radio advertisement. There are many ways that you can approach the promotion of your website.

How Do I Learn How to Sell Online?

To learn how to sell online, there are essentially two approaches:

  • Trial & Error: This is the process of learning without a coach or expert. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method and can come with many ups and downs.
  • Training: You can hire a professional to help you understand the ins and outs of basic marketing and commerce. This may save you money in the long run, or be an unnecessary expenditure if you aren’t seeing results.

What Security Risks Come with Ecommerce?

Less than you might think. Especially if you are hosting your website with a trusted ecommerce page. You’ll get the full force of their security measures, instead of relying on your own knowledge of securing a website.

Opening up your own business is going to be a learning experience for you. Armed with the right knowledge, hopefully it will be profitable for both your bank account and your wealth of experience!



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The Freelance Economy Statistics 2016 (US Economy)

The days of the traditional 9-to-5 unionized job with benefits where a worker could expect to stay with the same company for 30 or more years is slowly becoming a thing of the past. The freelance workforce economy is being fueled by millennials who are experiencing corporate downsizing, changing economic conditions, and job dissatisfaction. It’s time for politicians to take notice of this trend.

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Workforce survey

Upwork and the Freelancers Union commissioned an online independent workforce survey involving over 6,000 adults who received payment for all work done over the past 12 months. Data for this survey was collected this year from July 29 to August 24, and this is the third year in a row this survey has been conducted. The researchers define freelance workers as anyone who earned an income for doing temporary, supplemental, contract, or project-based work. Non-freelance workers are defined as anyone who earned an income in a way that is not defined as freelance work. The goal of this survey was to see how many people are doing freelance work, why they are freelancing, assess the role freelance workers have in this year’s presidential politics, and assess the future of freelance work.

The growth of freelancing

Freelancer stats shows around 55 million people do freelance work, which represents 35% of the total workforce. The number of people who have done freelance work has increased by one million people each year for the past three years. 63% of the people who do freelance work are doing it by choice rather than necessity, and they are motived by the freedom and flexibility of the freelance lifestyle. 79% say freelancing is better than working a traditional job because they feel more respected, engaged, empowered, and excited about the work they do. Freelance earnings are estimated at around $1 trillion, which is a significant contribution the overall U.S. economy.

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The survey classified freelance workers into five categories:

  • Independent contractors – They don’t have an employer and work on a project-to-project basis. Independent contractors represent 35% if the freelance workforce.
  • Diversified workers – 28% of freelance workers earn an income from multiple sources including traditional employers. Typically, they will work for a traditional employer part-time, then work a part-time freelance job.
  • Moonlighters – These workers make up 25% of all freelance workers. Moonlighters have full-time traditional professional jobs by day, then spend a few hours in the evening or on weekends doing paid freelance work.
  • Freelance business owners – Around 7% of all freelance workers own a business with one or more employees, but they still identify with being a freelancer.
  • Temporary workers – 7% of freelance workers are temporary workers who receive short-term assignments through a staffing agency.

Since 2015:

  • The number of independent contractors is down one percentage point
  • The number of diversified workers and freelance business owners is up two percentage points each
  • The number of moonlighters and temporary workers is down two percentage points each

Reasons for doing freelance work

There are many reasons why people choose to do freelance work, and full-time freelance workers have different reasons than those who do this part-time. Three reasons are:

  • To be my own boss – 77% full-timers / 60% part-timers
  • Flexible work schedule – 73% full-timers / 65% part-timers
  • Work from any location – 72% full-timers / 61% part-timers

Other reasons include choice in projects, pursuing other passions, control of financial future, independence, and more family time. When it comes to earning more money, part-timers chose this reason more than full-timers by 74% to 68%. On average, freelance workers work 36 hours per week, and 52% are happy with the amount of work they have.

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Freelance workers and politics

Every presidential election is important, and the one that just passed was no different. The nation’s economy and the job market are going through a long transition period where workers don’t stay with one company for 30 or more years and work 9-to-5. This may still be the case in the public sector, but in the private sector, the job market is much more fluid and innovative. Republican and democratic politicians neither talk about nor seem to understand the growing freelance worker economy and its impact on the nation’s economy, and this is frustrating to freelance workers.

In the workforce survey, 85% of freelance workers say they are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election, but 69% say they wish the candidates would talk more about the freelance job market. 68% said they are more likely to vote for the candidate who talks about the freelance job market and supports the interests of freelance workers regardless of the candidate’s party affiliation. Freelance workers would like to hear the candidates talk more about issues affecting them like having better access to health care, retirement benefits, and credit, and providing safeguards to make sure clients pay for the work provided. Over 85% of freelance workers find these political issues important:

  • The job market
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Terrorism and crime
  • Trade

Personal concerns for freelance workers include unpredictable income, competition from large businesses and other freelance workers, being paid a fair rate, and high taxes. Many freelance workers believe politicians should do a better job of learning about the freelance workforce and develop an educational environment that will prepare students for a freelance work environment.

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The future of freelancing

Perceptions about freelancing have improved over the past few years, and more people believe freelancing is a legitimate career path. Freelancer stats shows 84% of the survey’s respondents have a positive view of the future of freelancing, and 86% say they expect to have more freelancing job opportunities. 46% say they have experienced an increased workload over the past year, which is up 14 percentage points from 2014, and 51% say they expect to see a future increase in income. Although they work on average less than 40 hours per week, 79% say they earned more money freelancing within a year after leaving their traditional jobs.

How is this all happening? 73% of survey respondents say technology has made it easier for them to find work and invoice clients. Most people still find freelance work through traditional means like family and friends, professional contacts, previous employers, local newspaper classified ads, and employment agencies, but finding work on the internet is a growing trend. Online classified ads, job boards, marketplaces, specialized freelance websites, and social media are all contributing to the growing presence of freelance jobs. Freelance workers have such a positive outlook on their career path that 50% say they would never go back to a traditional job no matter how much they are offered.

Millennials are leading the trend towards freelance work. 47% of those who are 18-21 years old and 43% of those who are 22-34 years old are doing freelance work. Freelance workers are evenly split between male and female, and they represent all educational backgrounds. 47% of freelancers live in suburban areas, and 40% of them live in the south. Freelancing is no longer just about doing temp work. The freelancing workforce involves people of all socio-economic, age, and racial backgrounds who are increasingly professional and strategic in planning the work they want to do. This appears to be a sustainable trend, and politicians and business leaders need to rethink their worldview about the changes that are occurring in the workforce.



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4 Smart Tips to Finding the Right SEO Firm

Hiring an SEO firm is a task of great importance, as they will be handling the entire online aura of your business, and thus taking risks can prove to be fatal for you. There are numerous self-proclaimed SEO gurus on the Internet in every area, ironically promising top ranks to each of their clients which, somehow, is not possible. Obviously, how can all the websites and services be ranked on the top? The easy statement is that some can deliver results while others can’t! So, how can you figure out the right SEO firm for your website? Read on.

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1. Decide What You Want

What you need is a major determiner and influencer for whether you should hire firm A or B. Basically, you have to decide whether you need PPC management, content marketing, link building, link removals, reputation management, etc. If you are not able to decide what you want, then check what your goals are. Do you look forward to increase leads or ranks? Do you want all-inclusive SEO or just a team working under you for show-off purposes? If you cannot measure what you want, how can they help you?

2. Secret Multiple Consultations

Once you have decided what you want, sit and talk with your chosen and preferred SEO firms. Most of the firms will gladly agree to a free consultation. Discuss in detail what you want them to do and what you think is primarily needed. By the end of the consultation, the SEO firm will do a thorough analysis of your website to figure out the services you need and the package prices as well. You can also consult with two or three firms side by side to have a comparison of interest and prices. However, do not disclose that you are already in talks with other firms. Otherwise, they might not compete for services. This is the usual case with top SEO firms where they get clients voluntarily, rather than fighting to work with them.

3. Case Studies and References

Ask your SEO firm a few questions. Will they help you get your job done right? It is important to see the future before hiring any random firm. The best SEO firms will happily answer your questions and show you how they have earlier helped their other clients to accomplish their ranking goals. You can analyze their work by talking about the results in the same business genre. For instance, if you are an online garment shop and they have already delivered 10 online garment shops with good results, then most likely they will do it for you as well.

4. Make Them Tell Stories

A good SEO firm will love to explain and speak about their story in front of all. Ask them how they were founded, initiated, what their best experience was throughout their lifetime, what sort of clients they had difficulty with and how they handled them, how they improved over the years and what they see for their future. This will change your vision and decision many times.



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P2P Lending as a Business Direction

 The History of Lending

The time when goods and services were directly exchanged for other goods and services ended long ago. Money is now a common medium of exchange that is accepted by both trading parties. People started to face the need for banking and money lending not long after money was introduced. In Roman times, for instance, private individuals carried the “banking” function and they were the ones who Romans addressed when they needed to borrow some money.



With the advent of the Internet, many operations became easier to perform as they can be carried out online. Nowadays, people can choose between banking and non-banking lenders, and many of these lenders allow individuals to take loans online. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a relatively new concept, enabling owners of this business to connect individual borrowers and lenders in a low-cost environment, bypassing traditional banks.

Pros and Cons of P2P Lending

P2P lending has a number of advantages if compared to banks or credit unions. The first thing worth mentioning is that lenders get higher returns if compared to other lending institutions. Borrowers also enjoy the advantage of lower interest rates. Online services are another advantage: lenders and borrowers do not have to meet face to face and waste time since all required activities can be taken via the Internet using an Internet browser or a mobile app. Easier approval is one more big advantage.

Those who use P2P lending services should understand that their risks are higher than it seems to be. For instance, there is a default risk for lenders, though P2P platforms try to split their investments into smaller chunks. A credit rating plays an important role, and borrowers with low credit scores have a limited number of options. Regulatory and security issues are other disadvantages of such services.

P2P Lending as a Business Direction

Zopa was the first company to launch P2P loans. Based in the UK, it is still a leading P2P lending company in this country. Prosper and Lending Club were the first ones to offer such services to people living in the U.S. At present, there are many P2P lending platforms offering their services to people in different corners of the world.

An increasing number of people choose P2P lending services. The research company TechNavio expects that this marketplace will grow at a significant CAGR of more than 53% by 2020. So it is evident that the idea of entering this market is an idea that is worth considering.

Which Features Should a Successful P2P Lending Solutions Have?

If you decide to launch your own P2P lending platform, you should first think about features the solution should include. See below some of the features that a good P2P lending platform should have:

  1. The platform should be able to register loan offers from lenders and applications from borrowers.
  2. It should match loans and loan applications according to the terms of an offer.
  3. The solution should be able to spread a deposit of any lender across several borrowers (five or more).
  4. Depositing and withdrawing funds is one more valuable feature.
  5. Event notifications are also important to users of the platform.
  6. You can also enable statements upon requests and operation logs in the solution.

Feel free to read our case study if you want to learn more about features of such a solution.

Is a Web Application Enough?

If you want to make your P2P lending business successful, you should not limit the services you offer to a web-based application which is compatible with as many Internet browsers as possible. Your next step is the launching of a mobile app. People now use mobile devices for many purposes: checking their email boxes, holding meetings, planning their trips, managing a business, and more.

So a mobile app will give you more opportunities to attract users to your platform unlike your competitors who do not have their own apps.

Conclusion

P2P lending has become a very profitable business opportunity. It is chosen by a growing number of lenders and borrowers from pole to pole. People that make use of this service should take into account all advantages and disadvantages it has. They should also pay close attention to the choice of a platform they are going to use.

 

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