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9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page

9 key ingredients for the perfect sales page

If you’ve created one of these 7 types of products to sell on your blog, or you’re going to start offering a service to your readers, then you need a sales page.

The sales page is (not surprisingly) a page on your blog that’s all about your product or service. You can link to it in the navigation menu, from an ad on your sidebar, from your social media accounts, and from guest posts.

As an example, here’s the sales page for Digital Photography School’s Photo Magic ebook.

Photo Magic sales page example

While sales pages don’t need to be complicated, creating your first one can be daunting. You may have seen all sorts of highly designed sales pages on large blogs and thought, “I can’t do anything even remotely like that”.

But all sales pages have similar elements, which you can think of as ‘ingredients’. Those elements are:

  1. A clear, compelling headline
  2. An image of the product or service
  3. An explanation of exactly what’s included
  4. A list of benefits the customer will get from the product
  5. Testimonials from satisfied customers
  6. The price (and the different pricing options, if applicable)
  7. A money-back guarantee (if applicable)
  8. A buy button
  9. No sidebar

Here’s what you need to know about each one.

#1: A Clear, Compelling Headline

Sometimes you can use the name of your product or service as the headline, providing it’s interesting and self-explanatory. But in most cases you should come up with a headline as if you were writing an advertisement.

Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s “Authority” membership.

Their sales page begins with a clear statement: “How to Take the Guesswork Out of Content Marketing”, followed by supporting copy about it being a training and networking community.

Try coming up with several possible headlines, and ask your readers (or fellow bloggers, if you belong to a mastermind group or similar) which one they think works best.

You might also want to look at some of the sales pages of products or services you’ve purchased, to see what they did. Do the headlines grab your attention and draw you in? How do they do it? (And are any of them a bit over the top and potentially off-putting?)

#2: An Image of the Product (or Service)

Even if your product is digital, or your service is something fairly intangible (e.g. email consulting), you need an  image.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you have a physical product, use high-quality photos that show it from different angles, or perhaps in different operating modes.
  • If you have a digital product, take screenshots of it. If it’s an ebook, you might want to create a ‘3D’ version of the cover to use on your sales page. (A cover designer should be able to do this for you. Alternatively, there are plenty of online and downloadable tools you can use.)
  • If you’re providing a service such as consulting, coaching, an in-person workshop, or similar, use a photo of yourself. If you don’t have any professional headshots, ask a friend or family member to take several different shots so you can select the best.
  • If showing your face isn’t an option for any reason, think of other ways you might include a relevant image. For instance, if you’re an editor you might have a photo of your hands on the keyboard.

On the 2017 ProBlogger Evolve Conference sales page, we had photos taken at past events plus headshots of all the speakers:

Use images in your sales page

Normally, you’ll want to save your image as a .jpg file so it loads quickly without losing much quality.

#3: An Explanation of Exactly What’s Included

Sometimes it seems obvious what the customer will get when they buy your product. But always spell things out as clearly as possible so there’s no room for doubt or confusion.

For instance, if you sell software you might want to make it clear they’ll receive a password to download it from your website. Otherwise, they might expect the software to arrive as an email attachment or even a physical CD.

With an ecourse, you’ll probably want to include at least the title of every module or part. And with an ebook, you may want to provide a full chapter list. Here’s what we do for our courses over on Digital Photography School. (This example is from the Lightroom Mastery course.)

#4: A List of Benefits the Customer Will Get

When you’ve created a great product or service, it’s easy to get carried away with the “features” – the nuts and bolts of how it works.

But customers don’t buy features – they buy benefits. (Or, as Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”)

Think about what your product (or service) will help your customer achieve. Will they save time, avoid silly mistakes, or overcome fears?

You might want to list a benefit for each feature. For instance, if you offer website setup and design services, some of the features might be:

  • You’ll get your own domain name
  • Your site will run on WordPress
  • Your site will feature responsive design
  • You’ll get unlimited email support

But these features may not mean much to someone who’s new to websites. They might not even know exactly what a domain name is, let alone why having their own matters.

Here are those same features, along with their benefits:

  • You’ll get your very own domain name: you’ll look professional from the moment someone sees your blog’s address.
  • Your site will run on WordPress: this popular website platform lets you easily make changes without touching a word of code.
  • Your site will feature responsive design: it can tell when someone’s visiting from a mobile or tablet, and adjust (just for them) accordingly.
  • You’ll get unlimited email support: while you’ll be able to update every aspect of your site on your own if you want to, I’ll always be available to help.

You can see how adding simple, clear benefits makes the offer sound much more attractive.

#5: Testimonials from Satisfied Customers

One crucial sales tool is what other people say about your product or service. Readers will (rightly) treat your own claims with a little skepticism – of course you think your product is great. But what do other customers think?

Testimonials are quotes from customers recommending your product. You could think of them as reviews, though they’re invariably focused on the positive. And each testimonial may only talk about one or two aspects of the product.

Of course, before you launch your product you won’t have any customers. To get your first few testimonials, you may want to make advance copies of the product available for free (or very cheap), or offer your services for a nominal fee, or even free. You could ask people  on your blog or social media sites whether they’d be interested in using your product and providing a testimonial.

Here’s how Erin Chase from $5 Dinners incorporates testimonials for her meal plan subscription:

Use Testimonials in your sales pages

Ideally, you’ll want to use the full name and a headshot of anyone providing a testimonial to prove they really exist. But ask permission before doing it – some people may prefer to be known by their initials alone.

#6: The Price (and Pricing Options)

It probably goes without saying, but at some point you’ll need to let customers know how much your product (or service) costs.

Be clear about the price, and exactly what it covers. If there are several options, you may want to use a pricing table (showing the options side by side) to help customers choose.

Here’s what Thrive Themes does with its Thrive Leads product (affiliate link), so customers can compare the monthly subscription to all of its products with the price of just Thrive Leads:

We have a Thrive Themes Membership for ProBlogger, and now use it to create all of our sales pages. Check out their sales page so you can see what’s possible with their drag-and-drop builder, Thrive Architect.

#7: A Money-Back Guarantee (if Applicable)

Providing it’s reasonable to do so, offering a money-back guarantee can help those customers ‘on the fence’ decide to buy. This is particularly true for digital products such as ebooks or ecourses. If they buy it and realise it’s not what they wanted, they can get a refund.

With services you might offer a trial period, or a short free consulting session, to help customers make up their mind.

Most bloggers find that very few customers ever ask for a refund, but giving people the option results in more sales. A standard money-back guarantee period is 30 days, but you might offer a longer period if your product is quite involved (e.g. a 60-day refund period on a six-month ecourse).

Here’s an example from a recent Digital Photography School deal. And you can check out the full sales page we built with with Thrive Architect (affiliate link)

Use a guarantee in your sales page

#8: A “Buy” Button

This seems so obvious that you’re probably wondering why I’m including it. But if you’re creating your first sales page, you may not have given it much thought.

To sell your product or service, you’ll need a “buy” button. It might read:

  • Buy now
  • Add to cart
  • Sign up
  • Join now

or whatever makes sense for your product.

You can easily create a button using PayPal. If you want to style the button yourself, you can create any image and use the PayPal button link. (PayPal currently calls it the “Email payment code”. It’s just a URL you can send by email, use in a sales page, etc.)

If you want to automatically deliver a digital product when someone makes a purchase, you’ll need to use a third-party website or tool such as Easy Digital Downloads (affiliate link), which is what we use at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

Experienced bloggers sometimes split-test different button text, and even different button colours. But the most important thing is to make sure:

  • it’s clearly visible and easy to find (you may want to include several buttons on the page
  • it works.

#9: No Sidebar

This final ingredient is one you’ll remove from your sales page, rather than add. If you look at  the examples I’ve linked to in this post, you’ll see that while they all look very different in terms of design and layout, they all have one thing in common.

They don’t have a blog sidebar. And there are no interesting links and widgets to distract the customer from making a purchase.

Many bloggers use special software to create sales pages without sidebars (and even without the navigation bar or other standard elements on their blog). But you may be able to do it with your current WordPress theme.

When you’re editing a page, go to “Page Attributes” and look for an option called “blank page”, “no sidebars”, “full width” or similar:

Simply select the appropriate option and update your page: the sidebar should disappear.

I hope I’ve made the process of building a sales page a little less daunting. By gathering these ingredients one by one you can put your page together a bit at a time, rather than trying to write the whole thing at once.

Best of luck with your sales page, and your first product or service. I hope it’s the first of many for you.

The post 9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

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Poker, Speeding Tickets, and Expected Value: Making Decisions in an Uncertain World

“Take the probability of loss times the amount of possible loss from the probability of gain times the amount of possible gain. That is what we’re trying to do. It’s imperfect but that’s what it’s all about.”

— Warren Buffett

You can train your brain to think like CEOs, professional poker players, investors, and others who make tricky decisions in an uncertain world by weighing probabilities.

All decisions involve potential tradeoffs and opportunity costs. The question is, how can we make the best possible choices when the factors involved are often so complicated and confusing? How can we determine which statistics and metrics are worth paying attention to? How do we think about averages?

Expected value is one of the simplest tools you can use to think better. While not a natural way of thinking for most people, it instantly turns the world into shades of grey by forcing us to weigh probabilities and outcomes. Once we’ve mastered it, our decisions become supercharged. We know which risks to take, when to quit projects, when to go all in, and more.

Expected value refers to the long-run average of a random variable.

If you flip a fair coin ten times, the heads-to-tails ratio will probably not be exactly equal. If you flip it one hundred times, the ratio will be closer to 50:50, though again not exactly. But for a very large number of iterations, you can expect heads to come up half the time and tails the other half. The more coin flips, the closer you get to the 50:50 ratio. If you bet a sum of money on a coin flip, the potential winnings would have to be double your bet for the expected value to be positive.

Likewise, enough rolls of a fair six-sided die will result in a mean expected value of 3.5. The law of large numbers dictates that the values will, in the long term, regress to the mean, even if the first few flips or throws seem unequal.

We make many expected-value calculations without even realizing it. If we decide to stay up late and have a few drinks on a Tuesday, we regard the expected value of an enjoyable evening as higher than the expected costs the following day. If we decide to always leave early for appointments, we weigh the expected value of being on time against the frequent instances when we arrive early. When we take on work, we view the expected value in terms of income and other career benefits as higher than the cost in terms of time and/or sanity.

Likewise, anyone who reads a lot knows that most books they choose will have minimal impact on them, while a few books will change their lives and be of tremendous value. Looking at the required time and money as an investment, books have a positive expected value (provided we choose them with care and make use of the lessons they teach).

These decisions might seem obvious. But the math behind them would be somewhat complicated if we tried to sit down and calculate it. Who pulls out a calculator before deciding whether to open a bottle of wine (certainly not me) or walk into a bookstore?

The factors involved are impossible to quantify in a non-subjective manner – like trying to explain how to catch a baseball. We just have a feel for them. This expected-value analysis is unconscious – something to consider if you have ever labeled yourself as “bad at math.”

Parking Tickets

Another example of expected value is parking tickets. Let’s say that a parking spot costs $5 and the fine for not paying is $10. If you can expect to be caught one-third of the time, why pay for parking? The expected value of doing so is negative. It’s a disincentive. You can park without paying three times and pay only $10 in fines, instead of paying $15 for three parking spots. But if the fine is $100, the probability of getting caught would have to be higher than one in twenty for it to be worthwhile. This is why fines tend to seem excessive. They cover the people who are not caught while giving an incentive for everyone to pay.

Consider speeding tickets. Here, the expected value can be more abstract, encompassing different factors. If speeding on the way to work saves 15 minutes, then a monthly $100 fine might seem worthwhile to some people. For most of us, though, a weekly fine would mean that speeding has a negative expected value. Add in other disincentives (such as the loss of your driver’s license), and speeding is not worth it. So the calculation is not just financial; it takes into account other tradeoffs as well.

The same goes for free samples and trial periods on subscription services. Many companies (such as Graze, Blue Apron, and Amazon Prime) offer generous free trials. How can they afford to do this? Again, it comes down to expected value. The companies know how much the free trials cost them. They also know the probability of someone’s paying afterwards and the lifetime value of a customer. Basic math reveals why free trials are profitable. Say that a free trial costs the company $10 per person, and one in ten people then sign up for the paid service, going on to generate $150 in profits. The expected value is positive. If only one in twenty people sign up, the company needs to find a cheaper free trial or scrap it.

Similarly, expected value applies to services that offer a free “lite” version (such as Buffer and Spotify). Doing so costs them a small amount or even nothing. Yet it increases the chance of someone’s deciding to pay for the premium version. For the expected value to be positive, the combined cost of the people who never upgrade needs to be lower than the profit from the people who do pay.

Lottery tickets prove useless when viewed through the lens of expected value. If a ticket costs $1 and there is a possibility of winning $500,000, it might seem as if the expected value of the ticket is positive. But it is almost always negative. If one million people purchase a ticket, the expected value is $0.50. That difference is the profit that lottery companies make. Only on sporadic occasions is the expected value positive, even though the probability of winning remains minuscule.

Failing to understand expected value is a common logical fallacy. Getting a grasp of it can help us to overcome many limitations and cognitive biases.

“Constantly thinking in expected value terms requires discipline and is somewhat unnatural. But the leading thinkers and practitioners from somewhat varied fields have converged on the same formula: focus not on the frequency of correctness, but on the magnitude of correctness.”

— Michael Mauboussin

Expected Value and Poker

Let’s look at poker. How do professional poker players manage to win large sums of money and hold impressive track records? Well, we can be certain that the answer isn’t all luck, although there is some of that involved.

Professional players rely on mathematical mental models that create order among random variables. Although these models are basic, it takes extensive experience to create the fingerspitzengefühl (“fingertips feeling,” or instinct) necessary to use them.

A player needs to make correct calculations every minute of a game with an automaton-like mindset. Emotions and distractions can corrupt the accuracy of the raw math.

In a game of poker, the expected value is the average return on each dollar invested in the pot. Each time a player makes a bet or call, they are taking into account the probability of making more money than they invest. If a player is risking $100, with a 1 in 5 probability of success, the pot must contain at least $500 for the bet to be safe. The expected value per call is at least equal to the amount the player stands to lose. If the pot contains $300 and the probability is 1 in 5, the expected value is negative. The idea is that even if this tactic is unsuccessful at times, in the long run, the player will profit.

Expected-value analysis gives players a clear idea of probabilistic payoffs. Successful poker players can win millions one week, then make nothing or lose money the next, depending on the probability of winning. Even the best possible hands can lose due to simple probability. With each move, players also need to use Bayesian updating to adapt their calculations. because sticking with a prior figure could prove disastrous. Casinos make their fortunes from people who bet on situations with a negative expected value.

Expected Value and the Ludic Fallacy

In The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb explains the difference between everyday randomness and randomness in the context of a game or casino. Taleb coined the term “ludic fallacy” to refer to “the misuse of games to model real-life situations.” (Or, as the website logicallyfallacious.com puts it: the assumption that flawless statistical models apply to situations where they don’t actually apply.)

In Taleb’s words, gambling is “sterilized and domesticated uncertainty. In the casino, you know the rules, you can calculate the odds… ‘The casino is the only human venture I know where the probabilities are known, Gaussian (i.e., bell-curve), and almost computable.’ You cannot expect the casino to pay out a million times your bet, or to change the rules abruptly during the game….”

Games like poker have a defined, calculable expected value. That’s because we know the outcomes, the cards, and the math. Most decisions are more complicated. If you decide to bet $100 that it will rain tomorrow, the expected value of the wager is incalculable. The factors involved are too numerous and complex to compute. Relevant factors do exist; you are more likely to win the bet if you live in England than if you live in the Sahara, for example. But that doesn’t rule out Black Swan events, nor does it give you the neat probabilities which exist in games. In short, there is a key distinction between Knightian risks, which are computable because we have enough information to calculate the odds, and Knightian uncertainty, which is non-computable because we don’t have enough information to calculate odds accurately. (This distinction between risk and uncertainty is based on the writings of economist Frank Knight.) Poker falls into the former category. Real life is in the latter. If we take the concept literally and only plan for the expected, we will run into some serious problems.

As Taleb writes in Fooled By Randomness:

Probability is not a mere computation of odds on the dice or more complicated variants; it is the acceptance of the lack of certainty in our knowledge and the development of methods for dealing with our ignorance. Outside of textbooks and casinos, probability almost never presents itself as a mathematical problem or a brain teaser. Mother nature does not tell you how many holes there are on the roulette table, nor does she deliver problems in a textbook way (in the real world one has to guess the problem more than the solution).

The Monte Carlo Fallacy

Even in the domesticated environment of a casino, probabilistic thinking can go awry if the principle of expected value is forgotten. This famously occurred in Monte Carlo Casino in 1913. A group of gamblers lost millions when the roulette table landed on black 26 times in a row. The probability of this occurring is no more or less likely than the other 67,108,863 possible permutations, but the people present kept thinking, “It has to be red next time.” They saw the likelihood of the wheel landing on red as higher each time it landed on black. In hindsight, what sense does that make? A roulette wheel does not remember the color it landed on last time. The likelihood of either outcome is exactly 50% with each spin, regardless of the previous iteration. So the potential winnings for each spin need to be at least twice the bet a player makes, or the expected value is negative.

“A lot of people start out with a 400-horsepower motor but only get 100 horsepower of output. It’s way better to have a 200-horsepower motor and get it all into output.”

— Warren Buffett

Given all the casinos and roulette tables in the world, the Monte Carlo incident had to happen at some point. Perhaps some day a roulette wheel will land on red 26 times in a row and the incident will repeat. The gamblers involved did not consider the negative expected value of each bet they made. We know this mistake as the Monte Carlo fallacy (or the “gambler’s fallacy” or “the fallacy of the maturity of chances”) – the assumption that prior independent outcomes influence future outcomes that are actually also independent. In other words, people assume that “a random process becomes less random and more predictable as it is repeated”1.

It’s a common error. People who play the lottery for years without success think that their chance of winning rises with each ticket, but the expected value is unchanged between iterations. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman consider this kind of thinking a component of the representativeness heuristic, stating that the more we believe we control random events, the more likely we are to succumb to the Monte Carlo fallacy.

Magnitude over Frequency

Steven Crist, in his book Bet with the Best, offers an example of how an expected-value mindset can be applied. Consider a hypothetical race with four horses. If you’re trying to maximize return on investment, you might want to avoid the horse with a high likelihood of winning. Crist writes,

The point of this exercise is to illustrate that even a horse with a very high likelihood of winning can be either a very good or a very bad bet, and that the difference between the two is determined by only one thing: the odds.”2

Everything comes down to payoffs. A horse with a 50% chance of winning might be a good bet, but it depends on the payoff. The same holds for a 100-to-1 longshot. It’s not the frequency of winning but the magnitude of the win that matters.

Error Rates, Averages, and Variability

When Bill Gates walks into a room with 20 people, the average wealth per person in the room quickly goes beyond a billion dollars. It doesn’t matter if the 20 people are wealthy or not; Gates’s wealth is off the charts and distorts the results.

An old joke tells of the man who drowns in a river which is, on average, three feet deep. If you’re deciding to cross a river and can’t swim, the range of depths matters a heck of a lot more than the average depth.

The Use of Expected Value: How to Make Decisions in an Uncertain World

Thinking in terms of expected value requires discipline and practice. And yet, the top performers in almost any field think in terms of probabilities. While this isn’t natural for most of us, once you implement the discipline of the process, you’ll see the quality of your thinking and decisions improve.

In poker, players can predict the likelihood of a particular outcome. In the vast majority of cases, we cannot predict the future with anything approaching accuracy. So what use is expected value outside gambling? It turns out, quite a lot. Recognizing how expected value works puts any of us at an advantage. We can mentally leap through various scenarios and understand how they affect outcomes.

Expected value takes into account wild deviations. Averages are useful, but they have limits, as the man who tried to cross the river discovered. When making predictions about the future, we need to consider the range of outcomes. The greater the possible variance from the average, the more our decisions should account for a wider range of outcomes.

There’s a saying in the design world: when you design for the average, you design for no one. Large deviations can mean more risk-which is not always a bad thing. So expected-value calculations take into account the deviations. If we can make decisions with a positive expected value and the lowest possible risk, we are open to large benefits.

Investors use expected value to make decisions. Choices with a positive expected value and minimal risk of losing money are wise. Even if some losses occur, the net gain should be positive over time. In investing, unlike in poker, the potential losses and gains cannot be calculated in exact terms. Expected-value analysis reveals opportunities that people who just use probabilistic thinking often miss. A trade with a low probability of success can still carry a high expected value. That’s why it is crucial to have a large number of robust mental models. As useful as probabilistic thinking can be, it has far more utility when combined with expected value.

Understanding expected value is also an effective way to overcome the sunk costs fallacy. Many of our decisions are based on non-recoverable past investments of time, money, or resources. These investments are irrelevant; we can’t recover them, so we shouldn’t factor them into new decisions. Sunk costs push us toward situations with a negative expected value. For example, consider a company that has invested considerable time and money in the development of a new product. As the launch date nears, they receive irrefutable evidence that the product will be a failure. Perhaps research shows that customers are disinterested, or a competitor launches a similar, better product. The sunk costs fallacy would lead them to release their product anyway. Even if they take a loss. Even if it damages their reputation. After all, why waste the money they spent developing the product? Here’s why: Because the product has a negative expected value, which will only worsen their losses. An escalation of commitment will only increase sunk costs.

When we try to justify a prior expense, calculating the expected value can prevent us from worsening the situation. The sunk costs fallacy robs us of our most precious resource: time. Each day we are faced with the choice between continuing and quitting numerous endeavors. Expected-value analysis reveals where we should continue, and where we should cut our losses and move on to a better use of time and resources. It’s an efficient way to work smarter, and not engage in unnecessary projects.

Thinking in terms of expected value will make you feel awkward when you first try it. That’s the hardest thing about it; you need to practice it a while before it becomes second nature. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that it’s valuable in almost every decision. That’s why the most rational people in the world constantly think about expected value. They’ve uncovered the key insight that the magnitude of correctness matters more than its frequency. And yet, human nature is such that we’re happier when we’re frequently right.


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2 Ways To End Suffering Forever.

This year I have learned so much. I’ve learned that we all suffer no matter what. No one can avoid it. That’s not what I want to share with you though. What I want to tell you is that you have the power to end suffering.

I have proven it in my own life. We don’t need to suffer. We can end it all and the silly thing is it’s so simple. I do not want you to avoid this advice any longer. I want you to use it even if you think it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo.

Here are the two ways I’ve found to end suffering forever:

 

1. Find a way to give to other people.

You only suffer when life is all about you and your success. Once you move from being all about you, into a state of mind that is focused on giving, your problems become insignificant.

I had a couple of situations this year that have nearly knocked me flat on my ass. One was my romantic life falling to pieces and the other was my career collapsing. When both these events occurred, I used giving to other people as the way out of the maze that my mind created.

The moment suffering begun, I went straight to finding ways to serve other people. I helped friends with their businesses, I spoke at events to inspire people, I did some volunteering and I doubled down on my blogging so I could inspire as many people as possible.

Shifting the focus away from what was wrong and using my focus to give to others ended the suffering.

“There wasn’t time to suffer because the purpose of my life during those months was far bigger than me and my stupid life challenges. Giving to others gave me a way to find happiness when I probably would have hidden away and suffered in silence”

Seeing the solutions to other people’s problems and sharing them, gave me a way to put my career and relationships into perspective.

Giving is the example you need when times get tough and things get complicated. You suffer the most when you get stuck in your head and repeat the pattern of telling yourself how wrong your circumstances are.

Suffering can make you depressed, feel lonely, become selfish, go into a downward spiral and take away everything that’s good in your life.

Finding ways to give on the other hand, can cure all of those problems. I know it sounds so cliché what I’m saying but it surprises me how many people never use this strategy. Like I always say: the answers we seek are right in front of our nose.

Next time you feel yourself suffering, get out of your head and try this strategy.

 

 

2. Practice gratitude.

Okay, I thought this strategy was so dumb when I discovered it. It’s so obvious and it sounds way too easy. I mean how can writing down a few things you’re grateful for really end your suffering?

I mean you could lie to yourself and pretend that you’re grateful for something when you’re not. Well, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning. When I was suffering this year, I started writing down three things each day that I was grateful for.

In the first week, I lied about things I was grateful for and found the exercise completely ridiculous. This advice is so common that I decided to persist with this ridiculous self-help hack anyway.

What I found as I kept doing it was that your brain makes a shift subconsciously. Instead of being pissed off and suffering, your brain has to work extra hard to find three things every day to be grateful for.

To make this habit work even better I forced my brain to describe in detail each thing I was grateful for and ideally why. Some days sucked so bad that I thought I would never find three things. Once the challenge became a must, I spent my days working my butt off trying to find things I was grateful for.

While doing various activities during the day, I’d find moments when I was grateful for something and stop. I’d stop and see how I felt at that moment and I would have a mini celebration because I knew I had something for my gratitude list.

Then I tried to aim for five things each day instead of three. This shifted my focus even more. I should have been suffering but because I was forcing myself to see good things that were happening to me, I was distracted.

As I said earlier, this new habit seemed so dumb at the beginning. Once you really do it for a while, you see how it has the power to end suffering. You can’t be pissed off and be grateful at the same time. So, choose gratitude and then your suffering will be sidelined, and in my case, forgotten about.

 

***Life doesn’t need to be full of low points***

The suffering that we all experience is a choice. It probably doesn’t seem like that but these two hacks will demonstrate this to you. Your decision-making power is incredible and all you need to do is select one of these hacks to end suffering.

Don’t let the quality of your life be jeopardized by your default human mode to suffer. You’ll find these two hacks will not only end your suffering; these two hacks will give you purpose.

Here’s what I learned: most people are pissed off and suffer because they have no purpose. Once you find a purpose for your life, you’ll become addicted.

Now that’s a huge win don’t you think? You can end suffering and find purpose, all by using these two hacks. That’s the best gift I can give you.

Don’t just read this advice. Try these two hacks yourself.

It’s time to end suffering forever.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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When tears turn into pearls: Post-traumatic growth following childhood and adolescent cancer

GettyImages-619368670.jpgBy guest blogger Tomasz Witkowski

It’s hard to imagine a crueller fate than when a child receives a diagnosis of an illness as difficult as cancer. A young human being, still not fully formed, is suddenly and irrevocably thrown into a situation that many adults are unable to cope with. Each year, around 160,000 children and youngsters worldwide are diagnosed with cancer, and this trend is growing in industrialised societies. Faced with such facts, it is particularly important to understand how children cope. What traces of the experience remain in their psyche if they manage to survive?

Partial answers to these questions come from a trio of Australian researchers in their systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research into the psychological effects of cancer on children, published recently in Psycho-Oncology. Their findings give us reason for some optimism. It turns out children and adolescents affected by cancer are no more likely to develop post-traumatic stress symptoms than their healthy peers. In fact, several studies have found that children affected by cancer go on to experience greater than usual adjustment and quality of life and lower anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms. In psychology, we refer to this as the post-traumatic growth (PTG) effect, which can arise from the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances or trauma.

Results from the analysed body of research – 18 studies in all – indicated that participants who were older when surveyed, or older when diagnosed with cancer, were more likely to experience PTG. Most likely, this is a product of the development of abstract reasoning that occurs sometime after the 11th or 12th year of life, when adolescents begin to formulate their own value systems, take an interest in philosophical ideas, and think about the meaning of life – cognitive processes that are involved in the development of PTG.

The meta-analysis also revealed a small but statistically significant correlation between post-traumatic stress and PTG. By definition, the struggle with trauma is necessary for the development of PTG, because it is during such struggles with disease that a teenager may experience both obsessive thoughts about death, but also may begin to appreciate life more. The vision of losing the normalcy that healthy people take for granted can turn into affirmation of that very normalcy. It is precisely these difficult experiences in youth that contribute to the formation of individuals who psychologists refer to as “prematurely mature”.

The least surprising result was the positive link between PTG and having greater social support, as well as between PTG and being more optimistic. Unfortunately, these correlations don’t tell us whether social support and optimism lead to PTG, or if the reverse is true. Further studies may identify the causal relations between these factors. In turn this may help inform the development of support programmes targeting children with cancer and other difficult illnesses.

The new meta-analysis also looked for potential correlations between PTG and depression, anxiety, pessimism, and quality of life, but all were statistically nonsignificant. Jasmin Turner and her colleagues suspect that this could be caused by small sample sizes.

For decades, psychology has treated negative human experiences as unequivocally harmful to people, assuming that they lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, and poorer psychological and physical functioning. Regardless of their actual psychological state, people who have survived negative experiences have sometimes been treated like patients in need of help, and at times this help has even proved harmful to them. The discovery that following some traumatic situations, tears can turn into pearls is one of the more significant and promising discoveries of psychology. Understanding when and why this happens is a means for science to make a clear contribution to improving people’s well-being. And while the new results are not very strong, nevertheless they may help guide future research, potentially helping social support and clinical interventions for cancer patients. Also important is consideration of the factors leading to PTG and how to share this information appropriately and sensitively with people suffering illnesses. However, before we can label any such programmes as “evidence based”, further studies are necessary, particularly longitudinal research.

That said, it is not worth waiting passively for the results of such studies. With the knowledge that the experience of trauma can lead to PTG, we can begin providing intelligent support to people whose luck is down – encouraging reflection on the experience of trauma, rather than mechanical consolation with exhortations to think positively. Intelligent support should be an unobtrusive presence, without encouraging the rejection of negative emotions, and without attempts at eliciting positive ones. In all certainty, this kind of approach will be different from the offerings we have received for many years from some unreflexive positive psychologists.

Correlates of post-traumatic growth following childhood and adolescent cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Post written by Dr Tomasz Witkowski for the BPS Research Digest. Tomasz is a psychologist and science writer who specialises in debunking pseudoscience in the field of psychology, psychotherapy and diagnosis. He has published over a dozen books, dozens of scientific papers and over 100 popular articles (some of them in Skeptical Inquirer). In 2016 his latest book Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy was published by BrownWalker Press. He blogs at http://ift.tt/2futFR5.

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FactCheck: Dominic Raab’s claims about the NHS

“…the Commonwealth Fund in 2017 looked at health services around the world and found… the NHS to be the safest and the best in the world.

“We’ve put more money into the NHS – £12 billion more than in 2010 when the last government were in charge. We’ve also promised £6 billion… 

“We’ve got more beds, more doctors, more flu vaccines available than ever before.”

That’s what the Minister for Housing and Planning, Dominic Raab, told the BBC’s Question Time audience last week.

There are several claims in there. FactCheck takes a look.

Claim 1: The Commonwealth Fund ranked the NHS the “safest and best in the world”

The Commonwealth Fund, a US healthcare think tank, ranked the NHS top in its 2017 study, “Mirror, Mirror”.

But the study compared healthcare services from only 11 countries (including New Zealand and Norway, as Mr Raab noted).

Admittedly, they are some of the most developed nations in the world (the US, Sweden, France, Germany, for example). But the study is by no means a comprehensive assessment of every healthcare system in the world. Major economies like Japan and Italy are not included, for instance.

FactCheck verdict: The Commonwealth Fund ranked the NHS the safest and best of the 11 healthcare systems it studied. That’s certainly an endorsement of NHS performance, but it’s not the same as coming top in the world.

Claim 2: The Conservatives have put “£12 billion more [into the NHS] than in 2010 – we’ve also promised £6 billion”

It’s true that health spending in 2017-18 will be more than £12 billion higher than it was in 2009-10 (it will be £124.7 billion this year compared to £112 billion when the Conservatives took office, accounting for inflation).

It’s also true that the Conservatives have promised £6.3 billion of extra NHS funding over this parliament, £1.6 billion of which will be allocated for 2018-19.

FactCheck verdict: Mr Raab is right that the healthcare budget is £12 billion higher this year than it was in 2009-10. He’s also right that the government has recently promised to inject an extra £6 billion in the NHS to be spread across the remainder of this parliament.

Claim 3: “We’ve got more beds… than ever before”

FactCheck asked Mr Raab to confirm the source of this claim. He said “over 1,100 more beds made available through reducing the number of delayed discharges.” He pointed us to this data from NHS England.

A “delayed transfer” happens when “a patient is ready to depart from such care and is still occupying a bed.”

We spoke to Mark Dayan at the Nuffield Trust healthcare think tank, who explained that delayed transfers are “a minor component of total bed occupancy, and have nothing to do with how many beds there are.”

NHS England does compile data on the number of beds available. But Mr Raab can’t have been referring to this, because it shows exactly the opposite trend to the one he describes.

The number of overnight beds available today (just under 128,000 in September 2017) is not even as high as it was when the Conservatives took office in 2010 – never mind in the history of the NHS.

As Mark Dayan points out, this trend is nothing new: “the NHS has been reducing bed numbers for decades – largely on purpose, as this was considered to be a sign of greater efficiency… We have gone from 300,000 [overnight] beds in the 1980s to 127,000 today.”

He adds, “On the other hand, day beds (of which there have always been far fewer) have risen slightly to 12,000, but it does not do anything like make up the difference. We have less than half as many beds as we used to.”

FactCheck verdict: Mr Raab is using the wrong metric to measure the number of beds available in the NHS. He’s right that so-called “bed blocking” has reduced, but figures for the number of overnight and day beds available show that they have declined significantly. That’s a long way from Mr Raab’s suggestion that “we’ve got more beds… than ever before.”

Claim 4: “We’ve got… more doctors… than ever before”

Mr Raab pointed us to this data from NHS England, which as he told FactCheck, shows that “In May 2010 there were 94,742 Full time equivalent (FTE) Doctors and in September 2017 there were 109,002 FTE Doctors.”

So the number of doctors has risen since the Conservatives have been in office. We don’t have comparable figures for before then. But this report from the OECD shows that the number of doctors in the NHS rose by 50 per cent between 2000 and 2016.

This would seem to support Mr Raab’s claim that the number of doctors is at a record high.

FactCheck verdict: From the available evidence, it seems Mr Raab is right that there are more doctors in the NHS than ever before.

Claim 5: “We’ve got… more flu vaccines available than ever before”

This claim is also correct: by expanding the number of eligible people (to include 8 and 9 year olds, for example), over 21 million people will now be able to get a winter flu vaccine in England.

FactCheck verdict: It’s true that there are more flu vaccines available than ever before.

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5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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Taking the Day to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Taking the Day to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase." – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is the U.S. holiday set aside to celebrate the life, accomplishments, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

No marketing lessons, no promotional tie-ins, just our respectful acknowledgement of an American hero.

We’ll be back on the blog tomorrow … looking forward to seeing you then. 🙂

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Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog

7 types of product you could sell from your blog

It took me nearly seven years of blogging to create my first products: two ebooks, one for ProBlogger and one of Digital Photography School. They made me a total of over $160,000 in 2009 alone and changed my business.

Back in 2014, I wrote about the experience … and how it nearly never happened:

My big issue was a severe lack of time. Between juggling two growing blogs and a growing family (we had just had our first child), I wasn’t sure how I’d ever write an eBook. I also had a long long list of other excuses to put it off.

I’d never written, designed, marketed a product of my own before… I didn’t have a shopping cart system… I didn’t know if my readers would buy…

In short – the dream of creating and selling an eBook of my own stayed in my head for two years until 2009. Ironically by that point I’d become even busier (we’d just had our second son and my blogs had continued to grow) but I knew if I didn’t bite the bullet and do it that I never would.

Does any of that sound familiar to you? Perhaps you’re blogging alongside a busy day job, or you’ve got young children at home, and the whole idea of creating a product seems very daunting.

You’re definitely not alone. But creating your own product – even a small, simple one – can bring in money much faster than affiliate sales or advertising: after all, your audience trust you and if they like your writing, they’ll want more from you.

In this post, I’ll take you through seven different types of product you could create. Some of these require more time and initial investment: others, you could plausibly create in a weekend.

But First … What is a “Product”?

What exactly do I mean by a “product”? It could be something virtual (like software or an ebook) or something physical (like a t-shirt or a paperback book).

A product might involve an element of ongoing commitment from you, but it isn’t only about the hours you put in – so I won’t be covering freelancing, virtual assistant roles, or other services here.

Seven Types of Product You Could Sell from Your Blog … Which One is Right For You?

The seven types of product I’m going to run through in this post are:

  1. Ebooks: these might be positioned as “guides” or even self-study courses. Essentially, they’re written downloadables, probably in .pdf, .mobi and/or .epub format.
  2. Printables: these are designed to be printed out! They might be planners, cheat sheets, party invites, worksheets … anything that someone might buy to print and (probably) fill in.
  3. Digital subscriptions: these are normally delivered by email, and are often relatively cheap compared with some other products (making them attractive to first-time buyers).
  4. Online courses: these could be text, audio and/or video, although video is increasingly becoming the “default” expectation.
  5. Membership of a private website or group: this might be a membership site that you host yourself, or something as simple as a closed Facebook group.
  6. Software or a phone app: unless you’re a developer, this probably isn’t the product you’ll go for first … but it could be a very lucrative one to try later on.
  7. Physical products: these could be almost anything from books to t-shirts to one-off pieces of art. Unless you’ve already got a business selling them, though, they aren’t the best products to begin with.

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail. I’ll be giving examples for each one, so you can see how different bloggers are using these different types of product.

#1: Ebooks: Are They Right for You?

The first two products I created, back in 2009, were both ebooks: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (since updated) and The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography (now superseded by a range of portrait photography books)

That was almost a decade ago, which is a long time in the ebook world. Amazon had only recently launched the Kindle, and the first iPad didn’t appear for another year.

These days, there are a lot more ebooks out there, but don’t let that put you off. A well-positioned ebook can still be a great starter product. If you’re really pushed for time, you might want to compile some of your best blog posts into an ebook (that’s what I did with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog), then edit them and add some extra material.

Example: Deacon Hayes’ You Can Retire Early!

You Can Retire Early Deacon Hayes

Although many bloggers still sell ebooks via their own platforms, charging premium prices for specialised information, it may be a better fit for your audience if you sell your ebook through Amazon and/or other large e-retailers.

If your ebook has a (potentially) large audience, if they’re unlikely to pay more than $9.99 for it, and/or if they’re a bit wary about buying online, selling through a well-established ebook retailer could be the way to go.

This is what Deacon does with his ebook You Can Retire Early! – it’s sold through Amazon, but to make it a great deal and to capture his readers’ email addresses, he offers a free course for readers who email him their receipt.

If you’d like to see more examples of ebooks, we now have 23 ebooks on Digital Photography School.

#2: Printables

Printables are becoming increasingly popular. They differ from ebooks because they’re designed to be printed and used/displayed – and they’re unlikely to contain a lot of text.

Printables could be almost anything:

  • Planner pages
  • Party invites
  • Pieces of art
  • Greetings cards
  • Kids’ activities
  • Calendars
  • Gift tags
  • Adult colouring sheets

… whatever you can think of, and whatever suits your blog and audience.

Unless you’re skilled at design, you may need to hire a professional designer to create high-quality printables for you … though it depends what you’re creating.

Example: Chelsea Lee Smith’ “Printable Pack”

Chelsea Lee Smith printables

Many of Chelsea’s printables are available for free on her blog, but this pack adds five exclusive ones … and brings everything together in one place. Most of her printables are simple and straightforward (which could be a bonus to readers not wanting to spend a fortune on ink!) She’s priced the whole pack at $4.99, making it an appealing purchase for busy parents.

#3: Digital Subscriptions

A digital subscription is information or a resource that you send out to subscribers on a regular basis. Depending on what exactly it is, they might be paying anything from a couple of dollars to a couple of hundred dollars each month.

Delivering the subscription could be as simple as adding paying members to an email list (which you can do through linking PayPal with your email provider). You won’t need to create all the content up front – though you’ll want to get ahead so that you always provide your customers with their resources on time.

Depending on the type of subscription, you could either provide all subscribers with all the same content in order (e.g. they start with week 1, then week 2, and so on) – or you could send out a weekly or monthly email to everyone at the same time, so they get the same content whether they’ve been with you for a day or a year.

Example: $5 Meal Plan, by Erin Chase  

Erin Chase 5 dollar meal plan

Erin’s product solve a problem that many parents have: how do you get a tasty meal on the table each night, quickly and cheaply … without spending hours every week writing a complicated meal plan?

This weekly subscription costs $5/month, with a 14 day free trial. Like Chelsea’s printables, above, it’s priced at a point where it’s an attractive offer for busy families. We recently had Erin on the ProBlogger podcast where you can hear more about how she started blogging and went from zero to a six-figure income in two years.

#4: Online Courses

An online course can take quite a bit of time to put together, and some bloggers feel daunted by the technology involved.

At its simplest, an online course might be essentially the same sort of content as an ebook, only split into “lessons” or “chapters” rather than modules. Many courses will include additional features, though, like:

  • Video content: courses that are based around videos normally have transcripts or at least summaries to help your students who prefer not to watch video or who want a recap to refer to.
  • Audio interviews: if you don’t have the tools to create high-quality video, audio can be a good alternative (and some students prefer it to, as they can listen while commuting or exercising).
  • Quizzes: depending on what you’re teaching, it may be helpful for students to test their knowledge at the end of each lesson or module.
  • Interaction: you might choose to offer feedback to students, or you might have a closed Facebook group for students to join, where they can talk with one another and with you.
  • Certification: this is more appropriate for some topics than others … but offering students some sort of certification at the end of the course can be helpful.

Example: ProBlogger’s New Courses

ProBlogger Courses Example

At ProBlogger we’ve just gone through this process to launch our first ever course. We decided on the self-hosted route and use Learndash as our Learning Management System. You don’t necessarily have to host your course on your own site, though – there are plenty of online platforms like Teachable and Udemy that you can provide your course through instead.

Learndash (partnered with the Buddyboss-friendly Social Learner theme) allows us to offer all of the above features with our courses. Whilst our first course is free, we will be using the same platform to sell our first paid course, an update of my popular eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in March.

For our free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course, we are running a beta version in conjunction with our first ProBlogger International Start a Blog day on the 7th of February, so as part of the beta we’re also trialling a Facebook group. It is common for bloggers running courses to run a group for communication in conjunction with a course, but beware the amount of time and attention this requires.

We’re closing registrations to the course on the 31st of January, and after we implement suggestions from the beta group, we’ll open it up again as an evergreen course (ie people can start it at any time as a self-guided group) as well as again in the new year for the next International Start a Blog Day.

#5: Membership of a Private Website or Group

For quite a few years now, “membership sites” have been popular. These are essentially closed websites where people have to pay and sign up (almost always for a monthly fee) in order to view the content.

The content might be text-based, or (more often) it could involve audio or video. Sites might offer monthly “seminars” or “workshops”, or regular courses that members can take part in.

On a smaller scale, some bloggers offer Facebook sites with paid membership: this can be a quick and easy way to set up your product, though it’s worth remembering that if you were banned from Facebook, you’d no longer have access to your group!

Example: Copyblogger’s “Authority”

Copyblogger’s membership site Authority focuses on the community elements as well as the teaching materials provided. It’s a fairly high-end community site aimed at professional copywriters, small business owners, and so on, and also gives members the opportunity for expert coaching, in addition to peer support.

Like most membership sites, it has a monthly subscription ($55/month) – but there’s also the option to purchase a year’s membership for $550.

#6: Software or a Phone App

This is unlikely to be an option for your first product, unless you’re a developer … but creating a piece of software or a phone app could potentially be very lucrative.

There are a lot of options here, and your software/app might be anything from a business tool to something that relates to your readers’ hobby. You might have a one-time price, especially if it’s a relatively simple tool … or you might be pricing on a monthly basis (the “Software as a Service” or SaaS model, where you host the software for customers to login to).

Example: Fat Mum Slim’s Little Moments App

little moments app fat mum slim

Long-time blogger Chantelle Ellem created her fun photo editing app on the back of her viral Instagram hashtag challenge #photoaday. When she released Little Moments in 2014 it went to number one in Australia, and number seven in the USA. It was picked as the App Store’s best app for 2014 and has been Editor’s Choice {selected by the App Store worldwide}.

Whilst it’s a free app, it has in-app purchases where you can purchase packs of designs to use in the editor – either per pack or an offer to unlock everything and get all the packs.

Little Moments in-app purchases

Chantelle shares some insights here about creating the app, including being prepared for the feedback from customers and creating a community around your app.

#7: Physical Products

Finally, even though blogging life revolves around the online world … there’s nothing stopping you creating an offline, physical product. This could be almost anything you can imagine: bloggers have created board games, comic books, merchandise, artworks, and far more.

Physical products need to be created, stored and shipped, all of which will take time (and money) – so this probably won’t be the first product you’ll want to experiment with. You can sell directly from your own blog, or you can use an appropriate online marketplace: Etsy for handmade goods, for instance, or Amazon or eBay for almost any product.

Example: Kirsten and Co’s Skin Boss

Kirsten Smith Skin Boss

Personal and lifestyle blogger Kirsten Smith recently developed and launched Skin Boss, a range of facial oils in response to an issue she was experiencing with her skin. You can read the backstory here on why and how it was developed. When you create something in response to a real need and have a strong connection with your readers and other bloggers, it’s an excellent platform for the success of a new product. Kirsten has able to reach out to her network of blogging friends to get media coverage for her new product.

 

I know there’s a lot to take in here! All bloggers, however fancy and complex their products are now, started somewhere – often with an ebook, printables, or a simple online course.

Even if you’re pressed for time, could you set aside 15 minutes a day or maybe block out a weekend in order to create your first product?

It might just change your life.

The post Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

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Researchers say this 5-minute technique could help you fall asleep more quickly

GettyImages-498497602.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

You’ve had all day to worry, but your brain decides that the moment you rest your weary head upon your pillow is the precise instant it wants to start fretting. The result of course is that you feel wide awake and cannot sleep. Two possible solutions: (1) spend five minutes before lights out writing about everything you have done. This might give you a soothing sense of achievement. Or (2) spend five minutes writing a comprehensive to-do list. This could serve to off-load your worries, or perhaps it will only make them more salient? To find out which is the better strategy, a team led by Michael Scullin at Baylor University, invited 57 volunteers to their sleep lab and had half of them try technique 1 and half try technique 2. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The participants, aged 18 to 30, attended the sleep lab at about 9pm on a weekday night. They filled out questionnaires about their usual sleep habits and underwent basic medical tests. Once in their sound-proofed room and wired up to equipment that uses brain waves to measure sleep objectively, they were told that lights out would be 10.30pm. Before they tried to sleep, half of the participants spent five minutes “writing about everything you have to remember to do tomorrow and over the next few days”. The others spent the same time writing about any activities they’d completed that day and over the previous few days.

The key finding is that the participants in the to-do list condition fell asleep more quickly. They took about 15 minutes to fall asleep, on average, compared with 25 minutes for those in the “jobs already done” condition. Moreover, among those in the to-do list group, the more thorough and specific their list, the more quickly they fell asleep, which would seem to support a kind of off-loading explanation. Another interpretation is that busier people, who had more to write about, tended to fall asleep more quickly. But this is undermined by the fact that among the jobs-done group, those who wrote in more detail tended to take longer to fall asleep.

“Rather than journal about the day’s completed tasks or process tomorrow’s to-do list in one’s mind, the current experiment suggests that individuals spend five minutes near bedtime thoroughly writing a to-do list,” the researchers said.

Unfortunately, the experiment didn’t have a baseline no-intervention control group, so it’s possible that the shorter time-to-sleep of the to-do list writing intervention was actually a reflection of journaling about completed jobs making it harder to fall asleep. Also, note the current sample didn’t have any sleep problems. Scullin and his team say the next step is to conduct a longer-running randomised control trial of the to-do list intervention outside of the sleep lab, with people who do and don’t have sleep-onset insomnia.

The Effects of Bedtime Writing on Difficulty Falling Asleep:
A Polysomnographic Study Comparing To-Do Lists and Completed Activity Lists

Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

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Why Is The Mainstream Media Freaking Out About What Trump Said About Other Countries So Much?

I wish that we lived in a society where profanity was not widely used.  Unfortunately, profanity seems to be virtually everywhere these days.  Our movies and television shows are filled with it, you can’t escape it in our classrooms and workplaces, and sometimes you will even hear it used by preachers and politicians.  I certainly don’t plan to use profanity when I go to Congress, but thanks to my previous experience in D.C. I know that it is an environment where foul language is frequently used behind closed doors.  At this point there is a tremendous amount of debate about what President Trump did or did not say, but if he did use a profane word it wouldn’t surprise me at all.  As  you will see below, there is a long history of presidents using profanity, and the only reason why this has become such a major controversy is because the left hates Trump so much.

We know that President Trump has a good heart, we know that he has been trying to keep the promises that he made to the American people, and we know that he is not politically-correct.  And whether he used some colorful language or not, the truth is that what Trump is alleged to have said was not really that controversial.  The following is how Tucker Carlson made this point on his show…

“President Trump said something that almost every single person in America actually agrees with,” Carlson said. “An awful lot of immigrants come from this country from other places that aren’t very nice. Those places are dangerous, they’re dirty, they’re corrupt, and they’re poor and that’s the main reason those immigrants are trying to come here and you would too if you live there.”

The Fox News host said that Trump’s use of the expletive “is not surprising” since he “uses them all the time,” but wondered why “virtually everyone in Washington, New York, and LA” is treating it like a “major event.”

But of course the Democrats are going to jump at any chance to demonize Trump, and they are going to try to get as much mileage out of this as they possibly can.

For example, just check out what U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez is saying

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said the comment shows that Trump “could lead the Ku Klux Klan in the United States of America.” He’s “somebody who could be the leader of the neo-nazis.”

And many in the mainstream media are treating this as if this was the biggest scandal to ever hit Washington.  On Thursday, the word “sh*thole” was uttered on CNN an astounding 36 times.

Donald Trump has never been a racist, he is not a racist now, and he never will be a racist.  Many in the African-American community are standing up for him and that includes the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I believe that Alveda King’s response to this controversy sums things up quite well

“President Trump is not a racist and calling him a racist is outrageous and unjust. There are countries in Africa that are indeed hellholes.”

Yes, sometimes President Trump says things differently than we would say them.

But if he did use profanity, we would do well to remember that there is a very long history of profanity in the White House.  For example, Barack Obama once used very colorful language to describe Mitt Romney.  The following comes from Rolling Stone

“When President Obama called Mitt Romney a “bullsh*tter” in the pages of Rolling Stone earlier this year, it set off a brief firestorm. Defenders of the Republican candidate were shocked – shocked! – that the man holding the highest office in the land would resort to such language.

“In truth, the halls of the White House (like nearly every other house in the country, with the apparent exception of Romney’s) have heard no shortage of profanity over the decades.”

And many other top politicians throughout history have also used very crude language

  • Abraham Lincoln: “There is nothing to make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of General George Washington.”
  • Barack Obama: “Obama really drew the ire of the pious, calling opponent Mitt Romney a ‘bullshitter.’ Sometimes the dirty word is the most precise.”
  • Joe Biden: “This is a big f**king deal.”
  • Dick Cheney: “Cheney reportedly told Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy to ‘go f**k [himself]’”
  • George W. Bush: “Commented on the presence of New York Times reporter Adam Clymer. Believing he had an audience of one, Bush called Clymer a ‘major-league asshole.’”
  • Barack Obama: “I don’t think I should take any sh*t from anybody on that, do you?”
  • Richard Nixon: “The Watergate tapes put the phrase ‘expletive deleted’ on the map.”
  • Lyndon Johnson: “I do know the difference between chicken sh*t and chicken salad,”
  • John F. Kennedy: “This is obviously a f**k-up.”

I understand that politics in America is a tough game, and in an election year it makes sense for the Democrats to exploit every opportunity that they possibly can.

But in the end, we should never forget that it is the Democrats that are leading us down a path to national suicide.  I really like how Mike Adams made this point in one of his recent articles…

The process of turning America into a Democrat-run sh*thole, not surprisingly, is already under way in certain parts of California, where the massive swaths of homeless tents and shantytown areas reflect how corrupt left-wing government has a “sh*thole effect” on destroying society. In fact, if you look around the world at the worst sh*thole countries, you’ll find something that shouldn’t be surprising: They’re all run by big, powerful governments that pursue insanely stupid economic policies and are steeped in corruption. They’re Democrats, in other words, although they might not be called Democrats in their home countries.

In 2018, we are going to be facing the most important mid-term elections in modern American history.

If the Democrats are able to take back control of either the House or the Senate, President’s Trump agenda will be completely stalled, and we cannot allow that to happen.

It is absolutely imperative that the Republicans remain in control, and it is equally as imperative that we get President Trump some more friends in Congress.

The first Republican primaries are just a few months away, and we desperately need everyone to get involved in this effort.  The clock is ticking, and the future of this nation is literally hanging in the balance.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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