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The best puzzle games for Merge Cube

There are endless ways to twist and turn the Merge Cube making it great for Puzzles

The Merge Cube is quickly receiving more and more support from the Android developer community as it is a cheap, easy, doorway to the world of AR and there a now a great selection of games available. Don’t let the squishy exterior fool you though, there are plenty of things for kids and adults alike to enjoy in this AR wonderland.

Obviously, the thing to buy is the Merge Cube itself so head over to Best Buy to pick one up, then you can start playing some of these fun puzzle games.

Defused!

The aim of Defused! is simple, to disable the bomb before it explodes using the combinations of tasks given to you by the game, think of Simon says, or BopIt! as its inspiration.

For example, in round one, you may be asked to toggle all the number 7 switches. You will be given a time limit to turn the Cube on all 3 axes to find the faces with number 7 switches and tap on the screen or press the VR button to activate them. If you do it, great! You get a harder challenge. Fail and the cube explodes and you have to restart.

Defused! Is a frustratingly addictive game that has that high-stress rate that makes puzzle games so good. The replay factor is high as the situations change all the time and there is room for the game to expand, a multiplayer mode for example, where multiple people have to move the cube between them to help defuse the bomb.

Find Defused! on Google Play

Wooble Wobble

Wooble Wobble, the greatest name for an app ever, feels like a classic tilt maze from the olden days but with a wonderful 3D mechanic thrown in. The maze on the screen is even made to look like dark polished wood, a look I really dig, which makes it feel a little more refined than some of the other, more cartoonish puzzle games available.

Your job is to move the little blue ball around an ever-expanding maze and drop into the highlighted hole. Drop it in the wrong hole and you have to start over and you get bounced around by bumpers making it all the harder. Each complete level adds more sides to the cube, more holes to fall down and more bumpers to push you about.

Wooble Wobble is really well made and fun puzzle game. Unlike many games of this genre, this feels like an homage to the 1950’s wooden toys, and has a more sophisticated look and feel than most.

Find Wooble Wobble on Google Play

Block AR

BlockAR is a block breaking game in the Tetris style, but using the Merge Cube to add a level of complexity that doesn’t normally exist. Graphically, the game is bright and well made, the tracking on the Cube is top notch, and the game itself is very responsive to touch.

The idea of the game is simple, to fire the right color blocks that match the blocks inside the cube. You have to clear all the blocks before they reach too far out of the cube or the game is over. As you reach the higher levels the game increases the difficulty by making some of the colors hard to reach or appear in your firing line less often, you then have to stack odd colors out of the way.

BlockAr is a fun, addictive game, like Candy Crush and Bejewelled, those games that make you want to play “Just one more level” until you realize you have been sitting on the toilet for two hours and you can’t feel your legs, and is well worth picking up for your Merge Cube.

Find Block AR on Google Play

Rubik’s Cube

We all know what a Rubik’s cube is right? It’s been around for at least 40 years and I think we all had one as a kid. I was never very good at it but my best friend Kevin was amazing, he could solve it in under a minute which always amazes me. Rubik’s Cube for Merge Cube is pretty self-explanatory, an AR Cube for the digital age.

Ok, I will explain a little more. In this version of the Rubik’s Cube, you have to turn the Merge cube around to check the sides while tapping the white dots around the cube to twist the separate parts. This is actually a little more cumbersome than you might think, it’s much nicer to move the cube with two hands than one, and even with a Merge VR Headset you still have to press the button to make it work. With these relaxed games without a time limit, I do think having the option to just stare at the dot for a few seconds rather than pressing a button would work better.

Rubik’s Cube is a nostalgic, relaxing puzzle game for the Merge Cube. It isn’t graphically incredible or eye-wateringly quick, it’s just the fun cube we remember from being a kid. Despite having to play one-handed, it’s still a fun game to play. Oh, and Kevin can’t do this one anywhere near as quick!

Find Rubik’s Cube on Google Play

So thats our short list of fun puzzle games for the Merge Cube, now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comment section if you have played any others that you feel beat these guys out.

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Cheap Android phones shouldn't be disposable

Cheap phones deserve to be supported, and so do the people who are buying them.

We all know someone who has whatever phone was cheapest — or, let’s face it, free — from their carrier. Not everyone is into smartphones and sometimes I envy people who can let go when it comes to pocket-sized tech. There’s a good chance that person was also happy with it when they got it and as long as it still works the same way, still are. There’s an equally good chance that they hate their phone because it’s sluggish or won’t do the things they thought it could do when they saw a commercial from the phone company.

Updates to fix bugs or patch security holes should be the norm, no matter the price.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for very budget-orientated smartphones that never had any of the cool features we all like to talk about and never will. The idea of a “real” $50 smartphone is something nobody should ever forget about and a thing that needs to happen. But when that price jumps to $200, or $300, or even more, the way devices and the users who bought them are forgotten is ridiculous.

Most of the names we all know make a “cheap” smartphone. Hell, even Apple tried it, though the iPhone 5C wasn’t exactly cheap and Apple quickly changed course. That’s because there are a lot of people who don’t want to spend $500 or $600 or even more on a phone. Service providers still want their business, so T-Mobile courts LG and Verizon talks with Samsung and freebies are made and delivered to carrier stores around the country, only to be left behind because somehow they aren’t as worthy of customer support as the $800 phones are.

Not every phone should have animated emoji or depth-sensing cameras or built-in personal digital assistants. Just like not every car should have onboard computers or DVD players in the passenger headrest. Those are luxury additions that should be part of the price of luxury items. But just as every car should have anti-lock brakes, all smartphones should be able to benefit from progress in how we stay in touch during its normal lifetime.

That’s why most people have a phone, to be able to talk or text or message the people they need to talk, text, or message with. When the phone you have paid for, and even “free” phones are paid for with outrageous service fees, has features that are broken or can give away your identity because you clicked a bad link in a message we have a serious problem.

We focus on the Pixels and Galaxy phones, but there are a lot of people satisfied with phones like the LG Stylo 3.

Don’t scoff. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean that your friend with the LG Stylo 3 that T-Mobile gave him for free when he got a postpaid account isn’t at risk, and when he clicks to send a multimedia message the app should work as advertised. We all focus on the expensive phones when it comes to software updates. You see discussions about waiting for updates because that new feature is a thing we all want, but when looking at the bigger picture that’s trivial. What’s not so trivial is that when someone finds out the next easy way to siphon the money from another’s bank account or use their name to rent a car or any other form of identity theft, the only recourse for your friend with his LG Stylo is to toss it and buy a new phone or to just risk it. Nobody deserves to have to risk anything when the solution has been found and is so easy to distribute.

It’s money. It’s always money. And it’s time to remember just who values money over their customer’s needs when there is such an easy alternative. In the U.S., almost every phone is bought from a carrier store. In our LG Stylo 3 example — which is not a terrible phone (CNET rightfully calls it a cheap Note 8 alternative) — T-Mobile bought a slew of them from LG and then resold them to customers. I’m not sure you can even buy an LG Stylo 3 unlocked directly from LG. It’s now T-Mobile’s responsibility to let its customers know that its phone places them at risk when they click a link in a message, and what they can do about it. LG can be held responsible when T-Mobile is willing to do what it takes to provide an acceptable level of service to its customers and asks it to patch the messaging client. That’s the way the chain works and a lot of grief directed to the company that manufactured a phone should be pointed towards the company that took your money instead.

It’s always about the money and always will be. We control the money.

I’m picking on the LG Stylo 3 for a reason. It’s a new phone, released in the winter of 2017 with Android 7.0 for Boost Mobile, Cricket, Simple Mobile, Verizon (prepaid) and T-Mobile. Each version is heavily customized for the operator that ordered it from LG, and the Simple Mobile version is easily unlocked and ready for use on most carriers in Latin America. So far, it sounds like a standard cheap phone that carriers can give away or sell at a low price. But last week the T-Mobile version got updated with “bug fixes and security enhancements”.

LG is willing and ready to do what they can to extend the life of the Stylo 3. Apparently, T-Mobile feels it is worth the money to provide this service to their customers. I was told that Verizon will be doing the same shortly, but that leaves a large number of people who are on a prepaid carrier or who unlocked a prepaid version without that important update. Boost or Simple Mobile is probably never going to update the Stylo 3, or if they do it will be once during the life of it and be missing some vital patches. We shouldn’t be willing to accept this, and in the end, it’s partially our own fault for continuing to buy products that companies treat as disposable.

LG can’t fix this. Google can’t fix this. Individually, T-Mobile or Verizon can’t fix this. It’s indicative of a greater problem in the entire industry, where the goals are to move as much product as possible and never look back.

The LG Stylo 3 deserves better, and we deserve better.

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How to use PlayStation gift cards

Have a gift card or game code and you’re not sure how to enter it? Here’s how.

It’s your birthday and for one your great aunt Lucille got you something that you can actually use. She got you a PlayStation gift card. The world is your oyster, you’re a kid in a candy shop, and various other idioms. One quick look at your PlayStation 4 and you are flummoxed. There does not seem to be any slot to slide your gift card through. You think that you probably shouldn’t slide it into the disk slot. I am going to let you in on a little secret; don’t put your gift card into the disk slot of your PS4.

Not matter how you end up with a gift card or game code, entering them is a breeze. Here’s how you do it.

See at Amazon

  1. From your PlayStation home screen, go to the PlayStation Store.

  2. Once you’re in the PlayStation Store, scroll all the way down until you find Redeem Codes.

  3. On the Redeem Codes screen, you will be presented with a box in which to enter your code or PlayStation gift card number.

It’s a simple as that. You are now on your way to downloading a brand new game to help you get through another year and inevitably another birthday where you will hopefully end up with a few more gift cards to spend

And if you have a gamer in your life and you’re looking for an easy gift that they will love, then you might want to consider picking up a PlayStation gift card. You could spend hours trying to find the perfect gift to make them happy, or you could get them a gift card and let them pick the perfect present themselves.

See at Amazon

Why are we reviewing PlayStation 4 games on Android Central? Let us explain.

PlayStation 4

  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

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5 Pricing Strategies Every Amazon Seller Needs to Know

Once you’ve found the perfect product to sell on Amazon, you need a solid pricing strategy and if you have enough products, a repricing tool to keep your prices competitive and ensure you make a profit. There are many factors to consider when setting your price including how much you paid for the item, how your competition is priced and your current sales rank.

In this post, we’ll be looking at Amazon pricing strategies (which can be applied manually or automatically) to help you maximize your sales and profits.

Pricing Too High or Pricing Too Low

If you price too high — you’ll be left with stock that sits around collecting dust — but price too low and things will be flying off your shelves at the expense of your profits. The key is finding the “sweet spot” — where you can profit nicely and still entice buyers.

If you’re a seller on Amazon and want to achieve your Buy Box dreams — then check out this compilation of our favorite pricing strategies. Someone once said, “money can buy everything except time”, but with a repricing solution, that is exactly what you’re buying.

1. Don’t Be the Cheapest Seller

It’s a common assumption to make: price your inventory at the lowest level, and people will flock to your page?

Well, yes, they will — but not for the right reasons. If you do it often enough, buyers may perceive your products as poor quality instead of competitively affordable and it’ll quickly become a race to the bottom (which you want to avoid).

What we suggest you do instead is to price your products 1.5% above the lowest seller. This way, you don’t get caught up in a race to the bottom, but you’re still competitively priced.

FBA seller Ryan Grant uses this as his default strategy across 75% on his inventory, allowing him to win a share of the Buy Box and maximize the value he receives for each sale. An alternative strategy used by FBA seller, Kev Blackburn, is to always set your min (floor) selling price at 30% above your cost price plus fees.

Kev takes a long-term approach to pricing and only adjusts his prices after three months.

long-term approach to Amazon pricing

2. Do as Others Do

If you don’t want to follow the above pricing strategies, here’s one that’s closely related but works differently. Instead of nearly price-matching the cheapest sellers, turn to your FBA competitors and see what prices they’re using.

Matching the lowest FBA competition will result in an increase in sales but reduce your profit margin.

This more aggressive pricing strategy may be useful to help make a quick sale to increase product reviews, or shift some stock which has been hanging around for a while in Amazon’s warehouses and has long-term storage fees due soon. Learn how to avoid Amazon’s long-term storage fees.

With a repricing solution, you easily set a min (floor) price for your items which you will never go below. You can also exclude sellers with poor Amazon seller metrics or a history of undercutting, and avoid getting involved in a price war that hurts your profits.

3. Work Your Intelligence and Experience

Don’t forget to use your intelligence and experience to best implement your pricing strategies: This includes doing things like:

  • Anticipating competitors’ trends.
  • Using past information to make future decisions.
  • Realising the difference between an item that’s a lost cause (and in need of a quick sale) and one that just needs a little boost.
  • Deciding when to use repricing and when to bundle, upsell or do something else to move an item.

Long-term success on Amazon needs data at its foundation.

4. Identify What Needs to be Repriced First

Before you rush out to stick a virtual “for sale” sticker on your entire inventory, take a step back and evaluate what order you should be repricing things in.

For example, your ‘sitters’ (those pesky products that seem to love the FBA warehouse more than being in a buyer’s hands) should probably get looked at first, so you don’t get stuck with outdated stock.

Another strategy is to start at the top in terms of what costs the most in your inventory, and then knock a few dollars off it. Shoppers who’ve had their eye on a high-priced item will get excited as the item becomes more affordable.

5. Use Software to Apply the Principles of Supply and Demand

Repricing is relatively easy when it comes to supply and demand. If there are more items than buyers, then the shoppers can be picky about prices and hold out until the price lowers. Conversely, if they can’t resist the hottest toy and are in fierce competition with each other, then you can increase the price and enjoy a little more profit!

Amazon repricing software, such as RepricerExpress , essentially allows Amazon sellers to automatically compare their product prices to those of competitors’ and adjust them accordingly (within the min and max prices you set).

Sellers’ prices are so closely linked to their sales performance and product visibility on Amazon that they need to continually ensure their products are priced competitively. Doing this manually if you have hundreds or thousands of products simply isn’t viable. With an increasing number of sellers using repricing software, it is becoming an essential part of your eCommerce business, not just a nice tool to have.

In terms of repricing strategy, remember that repricing software is still only a tool and you’ll get the best results from it if you set it up to suit your overall business goals, and identify who you do and don’t want to compete with.

Although there are many sellers on Amazon selling the same products, they are all different businesses, with different circumstances, goals and inventory lists. A modern repricing solution gives you the ability to set your repricing rules to sell your stock in the way you need to, at the price you’re prepared to sell at.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a single pricing strategy that’s going to work for every seller in every situation. It’s up to each individual to devise a pricing strategy that supports their goals and is in line with their brand values.

Some strategies will succeed right away, while with others, you’ll have to do a bit more experimenting. You need to balance the act of putting the customer first whilst still making a profit. If you’ve got a lot of items in your inventory, it’s time-consuming to manually reprice every single one of your listings, so it makes sense to use a repricing solution.

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Lindsey Vonn’s Dog, Lucy, Shocked Face Becomes Funny Meme Trip To Winter Olympics In South Korea

Travel can be exhausting. For Lindsey Vonn had a challenging trip this week to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. But a photo of Vonn and her dog after the pair made it to South Korea left many on social media tickled with its hilariousness. Lucy looks a bit traumatized from the 24-hour trip. Certainly, anyone would be tired after such a long flight.

The star skier had previously tweeted to followers that her plane had been delayed, turning what is approximately a 14-hour trip into a 24-hour disaster. Though she didn’t have all the answers, she tried to explain what she did know to her followers. She said she eventually made it to South Korea.

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Lucy is a 2-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that is bunking with Vonn during the Games.

“She’s a definitely a bigger star than me,” said Vonn, unabashedly making goo-goo eyes at Lucy, as her faithful companion sat at the foot of stage, where the greatest downhill racer in U.S. history took measure of all the big victories and painful injuries in her career.

Looking for her second gold medal in South Korea, Vonn is among our most prominent American athletes to watch in the 2018 Olympics.

Here are some reactions on social media to Vonn and her dog, Lucy, on their arrival.

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Poor very good doggie. At least Vonn thought the goofing on Lucy’s facial expression was hilarious.

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Vonn is known for her love for speed, but she has multiple wins in all five disciplines.

“In my opinion, she’s the best there’s ever been in the modern era,” said Bode Miller, the former American star and World Cup overall champion who could ski any discipline well. “And I would say she’s the best there’s been even compared to Stenmark, because Stenmark wasn’t able to compete in all the different events. Even though he had more wins, he had a different schedule than her and had many more opportunities and different risk tolerance.”

What did you think of the dog’s reaction? What do you think of Vonn’s chances at the 2018 Winter Olympics? What sport are you excited to watch? Let us know in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Source

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The Recipe for Ads that Stick

Now that the people of Philadelphia have taken to the streets yesterday for the Super Bowl parade, it’s a fun exercise to think back on the commercials that aired on Super Bowl Sunday. Do you remember them?

It hasn’t even been a week, but if I had to guess, most of you would come up with nothing. You may remember a brand or two, but the message of the commercial? The only commercial I’d expect to hear a worthwhile recap of is the Tide commercial.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gGXnE1Dbh0?feature=oembed&w=960&h=540]

Why Tide and not another brand?

For starters, the message was clear and simple (while capitalizing on the charm and popularity of Stranger Thing‘s David Harbor). Even more importantly, the ad itself left its audience thinking well beyond the Super Bowl spot. I kept wondering if the next ad I saw would be a #TideAd.

INC recently asked me to put together some thoughts on Super Bowl ads that have resonated throughout the ages, and I can’t help but think back to Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl spot. Apple changed the game that year by embodying a large part of what we strive for today with Transformational Marketing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axSnW-ygU5g?feature=oembed&w=960&h=540]

Apple’s “why” is simple and clear: think different. The ad works not because it says, “we are a company that thinks differently, buy from us!” Think about it: the ad doesn’t even show an image of the product. Instead, they created a narrative around a hero who shatters the status quo, connecting back to Apple’s brand story of shattering expectations to make people’s lives better.

Like Apple’s Super Bowl hit, effective ads must clearly align with the brand’s “why” story or else they will fall flat. If you want to truly stand out from the noise, you have to deeply understand your target viewer. The best ads consider exactly how they want a viewer to think, feel, and ultimately act, and they deliver.

Below are three great examples of ads that cut through the noise by getting people to think, feel, and act.

Think: Misereor and Social Swipe

In today’s attention-driven economy, getting someone to think about your brand beyond six seconds is no easy task. Just like the Tide ad mentioned above, an ad that can keep you thinking about your brand did its job.

I mention Misereor in my upcoming book, but their Social Swipe campaign did a wonderful job of successfully “cutting” through the noise to make an impact with passers-by in a train station.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcqsRhMHo8o?feature=oembed&w=960&h=540]

The interactive advertisement meant people could donate money by swiping their card through a billboard. When the card was swiped, a display gave the illusion that they were cutting free the bound hands of an imprisoned Filipino child. In the other version, the donors could use their credit card to cut a slice of bread from a loaf to feed a family in need.

The Misereor campaign introduced consumers to a problem that they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about during their daily activities, and the effect is long lasting.

Feel: Proctor & Gamble and #BecauseOfMoms

Has an ad ever left you on the verge of tears because you’re laughing so hard? Or maybe the ad hit a more sentimental note?

Advertisers love to tug on our heartstrings. We as human beings are wired to be emotional. Brands use this to create closer connections with their audience, but it’s tricky to pull off correctly. If the emotion evoking story doesn’t connect with your brand, your chance of truly making an impact is slim to none.

A great example of how to pull this off right came from the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. P&G teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy for the #BecauseOfMoms campaign.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SwFso7NeuA?feature=oembed&w=960&h=540]

After watching the ad, you can immediately see the brilliance of the advertisement. Sure, it was timely given the use of winter athletes, but the brilliance is how they targeted a specific audience (moms) and made them the hero in a way that created an emotional connection.

Act: #ShareACoke and Kraft Family

What good is an advertisement if it doesn’t lead to some other result?

Even if you’re running an awareness campaign, you’re raising awareness for a reason (at least we hope). Something every marketer should be thinking about when they create an ad or launch a full campaign is how do they want someone to act.

If you respond with a snarky, “to get them to buy,” I challenge you to rethink that statement. While some ads are best served to drive that final conversion, this thinking is what drives transactional marketing.

“Listen to me! Buy This!”

These interruptive tactics don’t consider how people truly want to experience a brand.

The Share a Coke Campaign was a huge hit for the brand. The brand relied heavily on consumers uploading pictures of themselves with their names on the Coke bottles. They got their customers to do the advertising for them. People loved having a product made for just them, and as a result, this campaign attributed a 2% increase in revenue that same year.

People Pose with their Cokes During the #ShareACoke Marketing Campaign

Getting users to act as ambassadors for your brand is a great goal to strive for, but it’s not easy to pull off. In this article for Yahoo Finance, I talked about the benefits of user-generated content, in particular Kraft’s entry into the Super Bowl Advertising arena. Kraft asked its customers to submit pictures of “how they family” and then crafted (no pun intended) the images into a narrative commercial that captured the essence of its family-focused brand and literally made its customers the star of the show.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VJixjI_P3s?feature=oembed&w=960&h=540]

I had my concerns that this would end up being a messy, cheesy (okay, pun intended) collage, but Kraft did an excellent job turning the customer-submitted photos into a clear and concise message that opened the brand up for an expanded, integrated campaign with long-term engagement.

When you create ads that allow your customers to not just relate to your brand but see themselves within your brand, aligning their values with your brand values, it becomes easier for customers to embed your brand into their lives. Read more of my favorite Super Bowl ads of the ages over at INC.

Traditional marketing is broken. These companies are taking steps to transform their brands using the kind of marketing that inspires its customers to become brand advocates. In my new book, “Marketing, Interrupted,” I talk about what good brand strategy looks like when you use this Transformational Marketing approach. I’ve interviewed and researched marketers, thought leaders, brands, and organizations that are interrupting “marketing as usual,” maybe even going a little crazy — and succeeding. If you’re interested in learning more about transformational marketing, you can pre-order your copy of “Marketing, Interrupted” for 50% off the cover price by clicking the button below.

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5 Reasons You May Be Struggling With Cash Flow

pasja1000 / Pixabay

Cash flow can be a problem for many small business owners. I know because I’m one of those who struggles with it. I also have conversations with my colleagues about how they struggle with it.

Granted, many of us aren’t struggling with cash flow as much as we used to. That’s because we’ve implemented some strategies to help us. Here are some of those strategies in case you’re in the same boat.

You’re doing payments manually

In 2017 I switched to automatic payments for both my group coaching students and my private coaching clients. This has been revolutionary for my business because I know what’s coming and when.

Additionally, after trying this for a few months, I now realize that it significantly reduces the number of late payments I receive. They still happen every once in a while, but not nearly as often as they used to.

You’re only invoicing once a month

This is a cash flow trick I learned from a colleague a few years ago. Rather than waiting until the end of the month to invoice clients, do it every two weeks. This is especially helpful if you’re dealing with net 30 payment terms or need to wait for a check. This way, you have money coming in every two weeks instead of every 30 days. T

I also did this for a spokesperson contract. They wanted to pay me in one large sum at the end of the project. I negotiated with them to split it into two payments – one halfway through the project and the other half when the project is completed.

You’re not trying to get money upfront

Another option for relieving your struggles with cash flow is to ask for some money upfront in the form of a deposit. This doesn’t work for every client, but you’d be surprised how many of them are open to it. This is especially true if they know you are busy and sought after for your work.

You’re still dealing with checks

There is one client who kept paying me with a check and I constantly had to deal with late payments. After a few months of this, I suggested we do direct deposit. They had no issues with this whatsoever and got their accounting team right on it.

You get lazy

All the cash flow tips I’ve mentioned up until this point refer to specific payment terms and strategies. Now I want to talk about a major problem I see among business owners – their lack of foresight.

I often see business owners who get one big project and then think they can coast. When that project ends, they realize they have nothing lined up and start freaking out. You can avoid this all together if you are consistently selling and pitching. If you never stop looking for work then you will experience less cash flow problems.

Final Thoughts

Can cash flow be a struggle for many businesses? Yes. Does it have to be? Not really. By building the right systems and taking the proper precautions you can have more stable cash flow and better plan your finances.

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Facebook News Feed Changes. Stay Calm. Don’t Panic.

Now that it’s been over three weeks since the announcements from Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm changes, I hope everyone has calmed down a little.

My clients, friends and colleagues have been asking me what this all means as Zuck’s message is always slightly cryptic and one has to read between the lines. Plus you never know how this is actually going to shake out.

I have read nearly every blog and article out there, and attended Facebook discussions and webinars by so many experts in the industry from John Loomer, Josh Constine (Techrunch), Fortune, Mari Smith, to Mike Stelzner from Social Media Examiner, and many more.

You can read the full post from Zuck here. Here’s the gist:

“Facebook is making significant changes to its News Feed algorithm in an effort to prioritize “meaningful” person-to-person interactions among friends and family over posts from Facebook pages. These updates will result in fewer public posts from pages and fewer videos in the News Feed”

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

{SHORT VERSION}

Here’s the SHORT version and my quick take away to make it easy for you to understand how this will impact your Facebook business page and what you can do.

More details are in the {LONG VERSION} below this. Recommended.

It’s really pretty simple. To stay in the game you must play by the Facebook rules:

☛ Get more creative with your content. Invest in creating fabulous, exciting, sincere, authentic copy with images and video that will cause people to interact, comment and share.

☛ You MUST continue to boost and advertise your Facebook content to reach your followers and new targeted audiences.

☛ Yes, it’s now a money game more than ever. Publishers will be turning to ads and increasing Facebook’s ad business.

Who is still relying on organic reach? If you didn’t notice:

  • Facebook organic reach remains dismal. (2% at best).
  • When you boost or promote a post, organic reach increases exponentially.

I say again: To reach your fans and new audiences, you MUST continue to boost and advertise your Facebook content. And if you haven’t invested in Facebook advertising, START NOW!

Facebook advertising is now the only way for businesses to reliably connect with specific people on Facebook.

Here are 7 tips you can do to improve your chances of your followers organically seeing your posts in the News Feed:

#1 Create content that stimulates conversation – meaning comments between fans. Figure out how to create content that will get people talking to EACH OTHER, not just you.

#2 Post less frequently. Less is more. Focus on more meaningful content, per #1 above. Instead of blasting out mediocre content every day, invest your time in creating one or two pieces a week of really valuable content that will engage and resonate with your audience.

#3 Get into live video. It leads to 6x the interactions, according to Facebook. Although it seems like everyone is doing live video these days, and sometimes it’s actually a little annoying because most don’t do it well – make sure YOU do it well. Be sincere. Be yourself. It’s all about your content ! [see links below on how to do great live video]

#4 Don’t ask for comments in your posts. Engagement bait will be demoted in the News Feed. So they say…

#5 Don’t use clickbait headlines and false news. [more below…]

#6 Share events of Facebook. This goes into the News Feed.

#7 Respond QUICKLY to comments. This encourages engagement, which in turn pushes your post into the News Feed.

BONUS TIPS

Master Facebook ads. This will be the only sure-fire way to reach your target audience.

Focus your Facebook advertising on these areas in particular:

Boosting Posts: sponsored posts with high post engagement are still cheap (1-4 cents per click). The more people see the post, the more engagement, the more the price drops! You can boost to People Who Like Your Page, People Who Like Your Page and Their Friends. Contrary to popular believe that this is just throwing money away, I have had tremendous results from my clients with boosting posts.

Advertising Posts: create an ad with your post to a NEW audience that you define and target as your best audience.

Remarketing: to people who visited your site recently are most likely those that will buy your stuff in the future.

Custom Audience: Upload your emails and phone numbers of people in your customer database and they will see your ads.

Learn how to use Messenger & it’s Chatbot. It’s important to integrate Messenger into your Facebook page, which will enable you to have ONE-ON-ONE conversations. Bots will allow you to nurture leads and sell.

Facebook Messenger presents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to message directly to their customers, without ever showing up on anyone’s News Feed

Like email marketing, you can get people to opt-in to receive updates from your company Page via Facebook Messenger. From there, you can use an automated system to send updates to subscribers and respond to inquiries. This is an exciting new space.

That’s it.
To quote one of my favorite top Facebook experts, John Loomer
“…let’s chill and wait a while to see what happens”

{LONG VERSION}

Here is the long version.

So what “prompted” these changes to the News Feed? Facebook acknowledged that with so many people spending more and more time on social media, we rightly wonder whether that time is good for us. Do people connect in meaningful ways online? Or are they simply consuming trivial updates and scrolling endlessly and aimlessly at the expense of time with loved ones, and making them “brain dead”?

Is social media good or bad for our well-being?

The bad: When people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward.

The good: On the other hand, actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being.

So Zuck wants to make Facebook more about social interaction, quality time posting comments, making a difference and less about spending and wasting time just scrolling and liking.

I actually happen to agree, and have personally experienced this.

I like this change.

When I scroll aimlessly, getting my fix (yes, it’s addictive, I admit to it), I feel empty. My mind has gone into a state of stupor, and I don’t feel particularly uplifted. I feel dull.

On the other hand, when I stop and read posts that attract my attention because of content from a friend or page that really peaks my interest, stirs my emotions and is really sincere and authentic. I think…I comment…I read what others have said, I contribute. I feel good. I then get notifications to see who else has commented and read…and comment further. I feel even more engaged.

Has this happened to you?

And it will actually make brands and publishers THINK about their content in more meaningful ways and not just publish “trash” fast content.

So here’s how the ORGANIC News Feed will be affected, if all goes according to Zuck’s intentions:

  • Less public content (posts and videos) will be shown from business pages.
  • Reach, video watch time, and referral traffic from business pages will decrease.
  • Posts will be ranked differently, giving priority to “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people”.
  • Facebook will demote clickbait headlines and false news.
  • Headlines that withhold information intentionally leave out crucial details or mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer. For example, “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…” Headlines that exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is. For example, “WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!”
  • Facebook will demote false news and hoaxes.

“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully. We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”

  • Facebook will demote engagement baiting. When people attempt to bait the Facebook algorithms by baiting their friends,fans, or followers into responding by posting “Vote”, “React”, “Share”, “Tag”, “Comment”.

More of what you can do to be visible:

  • You can ask your follows to use the “See First in News Feed” option that will still apply, even for brands to ensure they see your content. Send them an email. Post it on Facebook, Instagram and your other social media channels.

  • Facebook Groups

As Facebook said, the News Feed algorithm will prioritize posts based on how much ‘meaningful discussion’ they inspire. Because Facebook Groups already operate on the basis of audience engagement, this can often happen in Groups, meaning Facebook will push these discussions into the News Feed. If you feel you can start an active Facebook Group – go for it!

In fact, lively Facebook group discussions can end up getting featured in the user notification tab, which, in turn, can drive an enormous amount of “free” post visibility.

  • Facebook Live

It seem that live videos will be even more important. As Zuck wrote “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

If you haven’t already invested time and energy into posting live videos, you should try this.

Because Facebook Live is considered a distinct content type, it has its own notification system. By default, users’ Live video notifications are set to ‘on’.

When someone goes Live: “People who frequently engage with or have recently interacted with a person or Page going Live may receive a notification.”

If a user is particularly interested in Live video from a particular broadcaster, they can choose to subscribe, which means they’ll be notified any time that broadcaster goes Live.

Here’s a great post from Hootsuite on posting live videos on Facebook.

Here’s a tutorial from Facebook: Go Live on Facebook. Broadcast to the largest audience in the world with the camera in your pocket.

Here’s another great post from Social Media Examiner: How to Use Live Video to Generate Leads and Sell.

  • Facebook Video:

They say users will also start seeing less video content in the News Feed because it typically sparks less conversation. This is an interesting course correction from Facebook on video. Zuckerberg has stated in the past, “When done well, video brings us closer together.”

So who knows….? I think it’s very important to create quality video for Facebook and BOOST AND PROMOTE to your target audience.

No longer than 60 seconds!

Here is a brilliant blog on 17 Ways to Get More Views, Engagement, and Shares for Your Facebook Videos

Here are tips from Facebook on How To Make A Video for Facebook

Conclusion…

With Facebook’s News Feed announcements, pages and brands can expect to have less of their content ORGANICALLY distributed in the News Feed. Overall reach, video watch time, and referral traffic for all pages will probably decrease.

As these changes go into effect, businesses will want to…

…Take steps to encourage meaningful interactions on the platform. Publish quality content that will spark conversations among users.

…Engage in Facebook Groups.

…Invest time in live video.

…Show followers how to ensure they see your page’s content first.

…Learn how to advertise on the network.

[Here’s the video explanation from Marc Hull, director of Product Management at Facebook.]

As always, please leave your comments or questions below.

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5 Key Benefits of Incorporating Your Business

darkmoon1968 / Pixabay

Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy feat. Deciding on the right legal structure for your business is a common challenge you might face.

So if you’re going to legitimize your business, which option should you choose? Sole proprietor, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or corporation? Here are 5 key benefits of incorporating your business and using it to boost your bottom line.

1. Personal Asset Protection

Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership, a corporation is completely separate from its owners from a legal standpoint. This means that your personal liabilities and debts are separate from that of your business. This separation is key when protecting your own personal assets like your home, car, retirement account etc.

If in an extreme case, you’re unable to pay a business debt or someone sues your business, they won’t be able to seize your personal assets.

2. Tax Benefits

Certain tax benefits make corporations very appealing to entrepreneurs because self-employment taxes can be pretty brutal if you are operating as a sole proprietorship or even an LLC.

Generally, a corporation pays the standard corporate tax rate on its taxable income and the owners pay income tax on their personal earnings from the business. Yes, this is double taxation but it can be beneficial given the fact that only the owner(s)’ salary is subject to self-employment taxes instead of all your earnings.

If you can run a successful business and legally save on taxes, why wouldn’t you want to keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket?

3. Automatic Protection For Your Business Name

When you incorporate your business, the business name automatically becomes protected in the state you registered the company in. This means that no other company or LLC in the state that sells similar products or services can use the same name as your business.

If you want to protect your business name throughout the U.S., you must file a trademark but incorporating your business is a good first start especially if you do a lot of local, in-state work.

4. Opportunity to Get Shareholders

One of the cool perks of having a corporation is that you can sell stock ownership of your company to raise money. This could be a nice alternative to taking out a loan to grow your business. With a C-corporation, you can have an unlimited number of shareholders

5. Instant Credibility

Finally, I’m going to be blunt and say that incorporating your business will most likely provide instant credibility which is what you want as you expand your operation.

When you take the time out to formally register your business, it can make finding prospective clients, customers, and vendors easier. Even if you’re great at what you do, it’s difficult to trust people these days and there are tons of scams out there that others want to avoid (rightfully so). You want to give the best first impression when you meet people and network.

Having a formal and organized business tells people that you care about your company and are serious about working with them in some capacity.

Summary

Incorporating your business is a big decision so it will require some thought, planning, and a discussion with your attorney and accountant if you think it’s necessary. If you do choose to move forward, you’ll need to make sure your business meets all the legal and financial requirements. Then, you can start filling out the registration paperwork.

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Subdomain Vs Subdirectory: Which is Better for Search?

There are hundreds of factors that go into determining which site should rank for a specific query. While Andrew Lipattsev famously shared the top three with the world in 2015 (Links, Content and RankBrain), how important are the other couple of hundred factors?

In the past I would have argued that while the other factors played a significant role, tediously optimizing around them would yield little return. A few months ago I decided to test my assumptions.

When I began using HubSpot as my marketing automation software, I did what many HubSpot users do and moved my blog over to a subdomain. Since I was rebranding and relaunching my agency, I figured I could just make sure I created great content, generate links and make sure my posts were optimized.

And that’s exactly what I did. Over the next few years I published new content regularly, built links and took the time to ensure my posts were optimized. As you would expect, my site traffic grew and so did my organic visibility. But I am not one to just settle.

I began to notice that my organic growth, while still growing, was growing at a slower pace. So I began to dive a little deeper into the data to see if I could see why. Our backlink profile was clean and growing, so no issues there. We were consistently creating great, contextually relevant content, so again no issues there. So why did we hit this wall?

I began to research more to see if there was something I was missing. I remembered a session at PubCon South FL, where Bill Hunt shared on the power of SEO fundamentals. In his presentation he stressed that if SEO’s would simply focus on the basics of fundamental SEO, they would see a huge return.

This lead me to another one of my go to resources, “The Art of SEO” by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, and Jessica C. Stricchiola.

This book is full of knowledge and insight on everything search. In the section about “creating an SEO friendly website,” they break down all of the essential aspects of having an SEO friendly site. One section, on subdomain vs. subdirectory caught my attention.

“If a sub-folder will work, it is the best choice 99.9% of the time. Keeping content on a single root domain gives the maximum SEO benefits, as engines will maintain all of the positive metrics the site earns around links, authority, and trust, and will apply these to every page on the site.” (Page 251: The Art of SEO)

After reading this section I knew what I wanted to test. It was time to move my blog, the main content drive of my site, off its domain and into a subdirectory. Since I had a ton of content attached to my subdomain, this was going to be a much larger job that changing a few settings on my site.

Getting Started

Before I made the move, I needed first to know the URLs of every blog I had on my current sub-domain. So I used my trusty old friend Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl my site and give me all of the URLs I needed. In total there were 397 pieces of content that needed to be mapped and redirected once I changed my URL structure.

Creating the Map

To ensure that we didn’t create a ton of new 404 errors, we then used this excel spreadsheet to map out the old URLs and the new URLs. While this was a very tedious process, it was extremely important to ensure that our site was working correctly and that we didn’t lose rank for any of the terms for which our blog articles were currently ranking.

Once we finished with the mapping, it was time to create the sub-directory on our site and flip the switch. Since our blog posts were live and we wanted to minimize downtown as much as possible, we waited to upload the 301 redirects until after the domain switch was made. This gave us about 10 minutes between the switch and propagation of the new URL to ensure that everything was redirected. The time we spent mapping the URLs out ahead of time allowed us to do this very quickly.

Making the Switch

Every CMS and register is different, so this next section won’t apply 100% to all cases, but it will give insight into how it works. Our website is hosted on HubSpot, but we manage our domains using WHM CPanel. Since HubSpot connects to domains using CNAME records, and we no longer were going to use our subdomain, we just needed to make sure that our main URL was connected.

The next step was to change the default domain for our blog inside of HubSpot. To make this change, we went to Content > Content Settings > Domain Manager. We removed the “blog” sub-main as the default blog URL and made our main URL the default for blog content.

Next we changed the blog URL in the blog content settings. To access this section in HubSpot go to Content > Content Settings > Blog. Make sure that your main URL is now in the drop down box and add you desired subdirectory location.

Once you’re finished, hit save!

At this point, my blog was now on my root domain and in a subdirectory. But my work was not finished yet. While all of my content was moved, I also just created nearly 400 new 404 errors. Since my subdomain and all of its content were indexed, as far as Google was concerned, I just shut my blog down. In order to ensure that I retained rank, I needed to alert Google that I had moved my content permanently to a new location.

Redirects

Creating the master redirect list ahead of time allowed me to make sure that I accounted for all the domains. HubSpot has a simple redirection tool. To access this tool go to Content > COS URL Mapping.

The bulk redirect option is very easy to use. Since I had my URLs in an excel file, I just exported them to CSV and was able to copy and paste the data into the URL mapping tool.

I checked the box, and clicked “Add URL mappings.” I then checked the old domains to make sure that they were redirecting properly.

Finishing Touches

Since I just added nearly 400 new pages to my site, I wanted to make sure that Google recrawled my site as soon as possible. Search Console is one of the best tools for webmasters and SEOs to not only view site statistics but also connect to Google.

Using the sitemap link under “crawl” I added my sitemap to be crawled again. While this doesn’t force Google to recrawl your, it can help to get your site crawled sooner. After any major URL, content or site structure update, I recommend that you resubmit your site to Google.

The Results

After I made the switch, now it was time to sit back and collect the data. While I was hoping that this would result in more visibility, I was also praying that I covered all my bases to ensure that I didn’t destroy all of the hard work I had put into driving traffic over the last few years.

I wanted to be sure that I gave the search engines some time before I made any conclusions. While I expected it to take longer, I started to see a big change just a week after the switch was made. The graph below will show that on November 19, 2017, I had 35 indexed pages on my root domain. By December 3, 2017, 689.

Great news! This means Google was picking up my blogs and attaching them to my root domain. But how was this impacting site visibility?

Two weeks prior to moving to a subdirectory, From November 9 to the 23rd, my site had 79 total click, 41,547 total impressions and an avg. CTR of 0.19%.

Two weeks right after the switch this is what we saw: 562 total click, 93,527 total impressions and an avg. CTR of 0.6%.

To be honest, this blew my mind. I knew moving traffic from a subdomain by default would increase these numbers because all of the blog content was not on the root domain. But the pages that had the largest increase in traffic were my home page and SEO services page.

While our blogs are a clear traffic driver, moving them to a subdirectory clearly added value to our site as a whole.

Since making the move, we have seen a moderate increase in organic traffic (4.22%) and continue to see other indicators that Google approves of our move. While these numbers aren’t as astronomical as the search console date, they clearly show that we are headed in the right direction.

What About Rank?

One area I was concerned with during this whole process was losing rank for a number of keywords we worked so hard to gain authority around. Moving to a subdirectory greatly increased the visibility of our content. We are now ranking for the first position for a number of our focused terms and have better positioned our site to drive more qualified traffic.

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Conclusion

As stated in the quote from “The Art of SEO”, if you can have your blog in a subdirectory, by all means do it. The benefits to your domain as a whole will be huge. Now, just because you make the switch or start with your blog connected to the root, doesn’t mean you’ll get results. You still need to create great content, have sound on-page optimization and build links. By having your content connected to your root domain, all the hard work associated with your blog will increase the visibility of your site as a whole.