5 Steps To Becoming An Online Contractor

There are a number of reasons the online marketplace has become a highly popular way for businesses of every size to recruit freelancers for specific projects. It is obviously a lot cheaper for businesses to recruit online as recruitment costs are small when compared to traditional methods of recruitment, and there are fewer legal obligations as well.

It is also easier for business to recruit online, as they can see examples of work, and they have a pool of people worldwide to choose from.

Another prominent reason is the internet makes money, and continues to make money for tens of thousands of people all over the world. Despite economic conditions, and possibly because of them, the demand for freelancers continues to rise in nearly every industry you can think of.

Providing you can utilise your skills and spot good opportunities you can develop your own online contractor business whereby you win and outsource work to freelancers for a profit.

The steps outlined in this article are designed to help you become established as a contractor, build your reputation, turn a healthy profit, and grow your business.

Understanding How The Online Contractor Marketplace Works

The online marketplace is simply a few websites where hundreds of companies and individuals post jobs and projects online, inviting freelance contractors to bid for the work.

Normally, a typical ad will include:

  • Title: A good title will state what the job is and entails. For example: “Freelance web designer needed for blogging project”.
  • Description: Here, the ad will go into more detail about the requirements of the job, and it is vital you pay attention to this. It can include deadlines, location requirements, information about the business, specific requirements needed from the freelancer, and anything the writer of the ad feels you should know.
  • Budget: Normally, this is either an hourly rate or a fixed price for the whole project. Again, attention to detail is vital to avoid shocks.

The contractor, if interested, will bid for the job, outlining their skills and experience, price, and normally an example or two of previous work so the business can determine whether or not this particular freelancer is suitable for their project.

The business chooses a freelance contractor for the job. The contractor completes the work and the business pays the contractor, normally via an escrow system operated by the site that featured the ad.

To make money as an online contractor, you bid for the work for one price, and outsource to another freelancer for a cheaper price. Subsequently, you make a good return, and your popularity increases with your bank manager.

Here is a list of online marketplace sites. The list is not extensive, but the sites below are popular:

  • Freelancer.com
  • eLance
  • Guru
  • vworker
  • PeoplePerHour
  • oDesk
  • Fiverr

Note: All sites that feature project and job ads for online contractors charge a percentage of the final payment fee.

Step 1 – Identify Your Skill Set

As stated, businesses need to recruit people online for nearly every job role you can think of. Providing you can show some evidence that you can deliver the goods, many businesses will give you a go, providing they like what you show them and your price is within their budget.

So, take a piece of paper, and write down what you think you are good at. Your list may include:

  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Customer service
  • Data entry
  • Office skills

If you have specialist experience, such as in web designing, your skill set may look something like this:

  • PHP
  • Java Script
  • MY SQL
  • WordPress

Regardless of your skill set, there is no doubt that there is something you can apply for, even if it is your first experience of the online marketplace.

When you apply for your first few roles, try to apply for ones you feel you can do yourself, as should you be unable to find a suitable freelancer to outsource the work to, you can still complete the project yourself, get paid, and start building the all-important reputation.

If you find yourself in a unique position of being unable to identify skills, do not worry as the real skill in contracting is to identify profitable opportunities. As your experience grows, you will find yourself managing a team of people whose skills could be alien to you, yet through clever business dealings, you will utilise their skills to make you a healthy profit.

Step 2 – Identify Outsourcing Costs

Anyone who is connected to business will tell you the importance of identifying business costs. In virtual contracting, it is important you have a fairly certain idea on how much it will cost you to outsource the work you win. With this information, you can identify what jobs are profitable, and which jobs are to be avoided.

To that end, visiting Fiverr is a good place to start. Fiverr.com specialises in jobs that people are willing to do at a cost of $5. Despite the low cost, the range of skills and their associated complexity is impressive.

Start with your skill set and, looking at the freelance sites, try to ascertain how much people are bidding on certain jobs. Many of the sites give an average current bid cost before the job is closed and awarded to a freelancer. Make a note of the cost for a few similar jobs.

The other aspect of costs is that some roles require more than one type of freelancer. Web design projects will probably require a copywriter as well as a web designer at the very least.

The other aspect to costs is ads. Some sites will charge for placing an ad others will take a percentage of any transactions. A few do both. The bottom line is to work out your cost before you bid.

Step 3 – Bidding For Work

So now you have an idea of your skills and of how much it will cost to outsource the work, it is time to start looking for projects.

After you have created accounts on some or all of the sites listed above, you will see you can start looking for jobs that require the skills you identified in Step 1. If you are feeling confident or no skills came to mind in Step 1, take a look at a few featured jobs. Whichever kind of job you are applying for, make a note of the following:

  • Requirements of the job: What skills does it require? What are the deadlines? Does it require any special requirements, such as country of residence requirements of the workforce? Is the job a one-off project or an ongoing role?
  • The budget or cost per hour: Normally a maximum is stated.

Once you have this information, you can decide whether the job is within or outside of your budget as you are already aware of your costs. You may find the budget is borderline in which case you may want to go back to Step 2 to try and pinpoint costs.

Once you have identified a job, it is time to apply for it. When you submit your bid it is important to address the points in the brief to show you understand what’s needed, and it is also important you highlight the selling points of what you can do rather than the features.

So if you’re bidding for a graphic design job, saying you are “familiar with Adobe Photoshop” is OK; saying you have “designed brand artwork using Adobe Photoshop” is a billion times better.

A crucial factor is bidding, especially for contractors. A good method of pricing is simply to add a mark-up to costs and then a little extra to allow for mistakes in costs and bidding. It can not be overstated how it important it is that you do not make a loss.

When pricing, ask yourself how many people will you need to complete the project? As stated, a web design project will probably need a copywriter, and in some cases a graphic designer in addition to the web designer. These have to be factored in to the bidding process. If you need to, return to Step 2 to ensure you are savvy about your costs where the project is concerned.

Most online businesses do not make much profit from a single sale, but make their money through selling a lot of products or services. Amazon and eBay work to tiny mark-up percentages but make their money through shifting volume.

This could be a good method to follow and, with experience, costing a job will become second nature. If you can, always provide a good working example with your bid to show you can deliver the goods.

It is normal practice for the job owner to want to talk to you and this is a good opportunity for you to clarify exactly what is needed for the role. Do not be afraid to ask questions, especially if there is ambiguity on some aspects. Some of the briefs you will see can be very vague. Often the client is not always aware of what they want, and you may have to take the lead.

At the very least, agree a deadline, price, and a good idea of requirements. Most of the sites use an escrow system, and it is a good idea to use escrow to protect yourself from unscrupulous clients. Apply for as many jobs as you can.

Step 4 – Outsourcing

Once you’ve landed the role, spoken to the client, and agreed deadlines and requirements, it is time for you to outsource your project. In the first instance, see if the role can be covered by fiverr.com as this will keep your costs down. If it can’t, place an ad on one or all of the sites listed above.

When placing an ad, ensure you include:

  • An accurate brief, including deadlines, requirements and terms
  • How much you are willing to pay, obviously taking into account your mark-up
  • Place ads for as many people as you need

Choosing Your Freelancers

Once you start to get applications for the various roles you post, you will probably see working examples they have completed in the past. Choosing the right freelancer will be a question of balancing their skills, cost, and your gut feeling about whether or not you think they are any good. Cost is arguably the most important factor for a virtual freelancer. Take your time and assemble your team (if more than one) carefully.

Once you have your team, you should speak to them and clarify requirements, deadlines (preferably a day or two before your deadline to allow for corrections) and payment terms. Ensure you agree corrections and support work if applicable, as often a client may require adjustments when the work is submitted. Once agreed, the work begins.

Step 5 – Submitting The Work To The Client

Once the work from your freelancers comes in, it is imperative that you check the work to ensure it is on-point. Do not be afraid to ask for corrections and most freelancers will expect to do a bit of tweaking. Once you are happy, submit the completed project to the client. It may be the case that corrections are needed, in which case ask the freelancer to revise their work.

Payments And Relationships

Once you have a few projects under your belt, providing they are a success, you will start to forge relationships with clients and contractors. It is important to establish trust as a good service provider as a virtual contractor, and a good provider of work to the people you outsource too.

All successful business is founded on trust and this is especially true for the online marketplace. Always ensure work is delivered on time and to a good quality, and ensure your contractors are paid in a timely fashion as agreed.

The virtual contractor world can be forged into a career. Like all businesses, taking advantages of opportunities and forging good relationships are key to success.

Plan to Succeed – Why You Need a Marketing Plan

Behind every successful business there is an effective marketing plan – a road map to success.

One of the greatest reasons that companies fail is that they react to urgent things, and rarely invest in important things.

Making a commitment to write a marketing plan is the first step in your business goal setting. Integrate your objectives, rationale, time lines and budget, and the marketing plan becomes an instrument for continued improvement and increased profitability.

Without a marketing plan you will have dreams and aspirations – valuable as they may be – floating around unable to take root; to grow and flourish; and to contribute to your success.

Before you can write your marketing plan you need to address some key components. If you have a team involve them in the process, and have some fun doing it.

The key components you should include look at: –

1. Your Executive Summary – write it, and then rewrite it when you have finished your marketing plan.

2. Your Goals and principal marketing objectives – which should be clear and measurable.

3. Your Business – Define important characteristics about your business, your strengths and weaknesses both corporately and individually. Evaluate where there is waste in terms of time and resources.

4. Your Customers, both potential and existing – especially what qualities do your customers value most about your product or service?

5. Your Competitors – how do you differ, and what makes you better.

6. Your Product or Service

7. Your Location – with its advantages and disadvantages

8. Decide on which marketing activities suite your business profile and requirements – be prepared to step outside your comfort zone. Take advice if you need to, and outsource what you can’t do effectively.

9. Your Budget – Your overall budget, and then your budget for the different marketing activities.

10. Your Pricing Strategy

Without the need to prepare a marketing plan you would not necessarily address these different components from a constructive point of view.

This information is key for your growth and development. This is why you need a marketing plan, without it you could be losing potential and profitability. You will have a benchmark for future growth.

Once you have the basis of a realistic marketing plan break your time lines down into short-term goals, medium term goals and long term goals. Medium and long-term goals can be changed if and when it becomes appropriate.

Now take your short-term goals and further break them down into achievable bite sized tasks. Then allocate time for them on a frequent basis.

If it helps put the days / weeks short-term task where it can be seen as a constant reminder. As you see the task-in-hand, your subconscious mind notices and starts converting your plan into action.

Without your time lines broken down the whole marketing plan can seem to daunting and “put off for another day” as other demands become more pressing. Remember without it you will tend to react to urgent things and not invest in your future.

Having a marketing plan, or road map, will give you a sense of purpose and direction; make you feel so much more positive, and give you a sense of self worth because you are investing in your future.

Without a marketing plan you will lose out on so much positive feelings about yourself and what you are doing – you may even wonder how you are ever going to get of the treadmill of mediocrity.

Over the course of the short and mid term goals you will probably trip over opportunities that did not initially present themselves. With the back drop of a sound marketing plan you will be able to sift through these ideas and see if they “fit” your objectives and can and should be integrated into your marketing plan.

Without a marketing plan you may dismiss perfect opportunities for you, or clutch at any passing fancy as being the right “fix”.

When we are run off our feet with urgent work we long for a quiet moment to take a deep breath – and yet when it happens we panic because there’s no business!

These moments of quiet can now be welcomed as a positive time to review the marketing plan, catch up and bring things back on track.

Be honest with yourself and ask yourselves the following types of questions: –

“Are the assumptions we made about the market still valid?

Do our strategies still make sense?

Which tactics do we need to implement?”

Without a marketing plan we tend to act like a “rabbit in the headlights” running for safety under all the wrong bushes – and would not use the time to invest in our future.

Keep faith in yourself, keep faith in what you do and have the confidence to invest in your future by creating a marketing plan, your road map to success. Remember to proudly sign it and date it – and own it.

Remember

1. A marketing plan makes ideas a reality

Without it your dreams can stay as dreams

2. A marketing plan forces you to address key factors that affect you and your success.

Without it you do not have the knowledge that can make the difference between success and failure

3. A marketing plan gives you sign posts

Without it you can get lost along the way

4. A marketing plan makes each step along the way achievable

Without it you can become overwhelmed and not know where to start

5. A marketing plan gives you hope and self worth

Without it you can feel rudderless and a sense of despair

6. A marketing plan sifts ideas

Without it you can dismiss golden opportunities or throw energy at activities not on-strategy for you

7. A plan gives you something to go back to in slow times

Without it you could panic and not use the time creatively

Various Handrail Materials

Some homeowners may not give proper attention to handrails but this tiny detail in your deck railing also has a big contribution to the overall functionality and style of the deck. Handrails are purposely designed to provide safety to homeowners as they climb to the deck. Apart from this, they also provide greater style to the deck and railings as well. You can easily find a handrail that covers both style and functionality without compromising its cost. With the advent of technology today and the gaining popularity of deck and outdoor living, manufacturers have found ways to let ordinary people afford the elegant and functional handrails and other deck components.

Today, handrails are made from various materials so you can have the freedom to choose of a handrail that would blend with your personal style and your needs as well. Some of the materials used on handrails today include wood, iron, steel and aluminum. All these offer many advantages so you just need to properly and meticulously study all these materials in order to reap the best benefits.

In the early days, handrails are only made from simple pieces so they are often ignored by many, giving greater importance on the appearance of the deck and railings. They are just simple pieces of pipes that are installed next to the walls, stairs, and ramps. But today, you can find handrails that are made from steel, wrought iron, aluminum, wood. Apart from this, handrails of today are elaborately designed. Homeowners can now choose from the excellent array of designs and materials of handrails. Even contractors and architects can help you find the best design in order to complete the look and feel of your stairs.

For those who are still novice when it comes to choosing the handrails whether for stairs, balconies and other applications, there are some considerations or factors that one has to know including the local regulation, cost, maintenance, design and a lot more. To know the codes of your area, you may consult to the accessibility standards that are included in the Americans With Disabilities Act or the ADA for the stairs and ramps. In most cases, the recommended dimension of the handrail is already included and the height should be between 34″ and 38″.

Handrails today are offered in steel, brass, glass, wood, banister and balustrades. Some actually prefer to use handrails that are made of metal while others want to have a more elaborate design such as the ones made from glass, iron and wrought iron. Meanwhile, the balustrades were once made from concrete and the cut stone are now made from materials that are light weight.

The metal handrails are preferred by homeowners who want their handrails to last a lifetime. You must know that wood and glass may easily break or succumb to damage. And the wrought iron can be relatively expensive and may need regular maintenance so this is not a practical choice.

As a conclusion, handrails must be durable and attractive enough so you can achieve full satisfaction.

Looking For The Perfect Balustrading Manufacturer

Balustrade can be called an architectural feature, which is being used in homes, office, plazas, and shopping malls, in short, everywhere. You can also call balustrades another form of railing, and they are mostly used for staircases, porches, outside stairs, terrace, and a lot more. There is a lot of variety available in the market and since there are innumerable options to select from, you might get confused.

Finding a perfect balustrade for your place is a hard thing to do. However, it is more important that you find a perfect balustrade manufacturer. Manufacturers can also help you in selecting the perfect balustrade for your home, office, or plaza. Balustrades are basically manufactured from wood, or metal. However, with the changing trends, the variety in balustrades is increasing. You will also find glass balustrades.

If you are looking for perfect balustrade manufacturers, you can search for them online. It is the most convenient option to find the perfect manufacturers. You cannot just go to any manufacturer because getting the perfect material, and then getting it installed correctly is very important, otherwise, the balustrades will not compliment the look of your home, or office.

Balustrades are mostly used in outdoor places, or big shopping malls. If you have a swimming pool or an open-air staircase in your home, you can always get balustrades for the places. They not only provide security, but they also look beautiful. It does not matter whether you have a traditional, or a contemporary home, balustrades can fit in perfectly.

The important thing is to find a perfect manufacturer who can help you with deciding the kind of balustrades that looks good in your home, or office, and the material that should be used. Selecting the right kind is also very important. Glass balustrades are obviously not a very reliable form of balustrades. If you want to get balustrades in offices, or plazas, you should go for metal balustrades.

Ask your manufacturer to let you know the advantages, and disadvantages of different kind of balustrades. Wooden balustrades will compliment your home and environment perfectly. They look subtle and can go with traditional and contemporary look both. It is generally recommended that you ask different manufactures to know which one will give you the best value of your money.

The most common kind of balustrades is wooden, metal, and glass. Wooden and metal are commonly used, because they are known to be reliable ones. You do not have to spend a lot of money, and hours later on the maintenance too.

Glass balustrades undoubtedly look beautiful, but they are not very reliable. Getting a balustrade also depends on your budget. A perfect manufacturer will help you in getting a balustrade within your budget. You can always ask for advices from manufacturers, as they understand the business really well.

Balustrades can change the entire look of the area wherever they are used. A perfect manufacturer will follow the rules and regulations in order to keep the safety measures. The best way is to invite the manufacturer at your place once before deciding anything. It will help the manufacturer as well in providing you the correct information.

November Reminder: Kennedy Assassination had Mississippi Roots

On Friday November 22, 1963, news bulletins hit the airwaves as rifle shots interrupted President John F. Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade. The resulting three-day news marathon concluded only after the young president was buried.

Reporters moved on to the investigative phase of JFK’s assassination but finally left the topic for fresh news. Yet conspiracy theorists and others have kept the debate alive over what happened forty-two years ago, who was involved, and why.

Interestingly, there are numerous asides to Mississippi’s civil rights story but perhaps none quite so compelling (and less known) as this: Seven years before JFK was assassinated, the magnolia state’s Sen. James O. Eastland met for the first time with Guy Banister, a controversial CIA operative and retired FBI agent in charge of the Chicago bureau.

Banister — remember him as the man who “pistol-whipped” David Ferrie in Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” — was later linked to Lee Harvey Oswald and Mississippi’s senator through Eastland’s Senate Internal Security Subcommittee or SISS (sometimes called “SISSY”).

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on March 23, 1956, reported that Robert Morrison, a former chief counsel for Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s House Unamerican Activities Committee or HUAC, and Banister traveled to Greenwood, Mississippi, to confer personally with Senator Eastland for more than three hours. Describing the conference as “completely satisfactory,” Morrison told the reporter that “Mr. Banister has complete liaison with the committee’s staff which was the main object of our trip.”

Apparently cozying up to Eastland and “SISSY” was Banister’s goal. And it worked.

Known as a notorious political extremist who was later described as the impetus for James Garrison’s 1967-1970 Kennedy assassination probe, Banister earlier became a brief focus of Mississippi’s secret spy agency, the Sovereignty Commission, when it was suggested Banister should be hired to set up an “even tighter” domestic spying system throughout the state.

A second Eastland operative, private investigator John D. Sullivan of Vicksburg, made this suggestion to the commission just months after the JFK assassination, according to released Sovereignty Commission records.

Former FBI agent Sullivan had worked under Banister (both inside the FBI and privately) and as a private self-employed investigator who often did work for hire for the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission; the private white Citizens Councils, of which he was an active member; and for SISS, as had Banister and Lee Harvey Oswald.

When Sullivan reportedly committed suicide following the assassination, Sovereignty Commission investigators tried to acquire his library and files, but most of his confidential files were either reportedly burned by his widow or they had been lent out, and she “could not remember” who had them, Sovereignty Commission files disclose.

Then some twenty-nine years later, in testimony before the Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board during a Dallas hearing on November 18, 1994, the late Senator Eastland was directly implicated in the president’s assassination by one of the author/theorists invited to testify.

“Lee Harvey Oswald was quite possibly an agent of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and he was doing the bidding of [Sen. Thomas J.] Dodd and Eastland and Morrison,” author John McLaughlin swore.

Documentation that could support or even discredit such assertions could perhaps be present in the Eastland archives at the University of Mississippi, but no objective scholar has been allowed to search these archives since the day they arrived on campus. Instead, Eastland’s records were managed for years by a former associate and devoté who followed the papers from Washington, D.C. to Oxford.

Finally in 2005, after an unsuccessful Freedom of Information Act or FOIA request by this author, a historian was hired to organize the archives based in the James O. Eastland School of Law at Ole Miss. But there would still be a waiting period before any of the files could be viewed, according to the school’s dean.

The plan was to release first all press releases, according to the historian who also confirmed that”many important files” were probably missing — that the files looked “cleaned out.”

(The Dean of the law school, when presented a FOIA for access to Eastland archives, asked while laughing if he could “just show the rejection letter written to the last person who asked for this information.” Later it came back to this author that “people at Ole Miss were really angry” over the FOIA request.)

——–

Notes

[1] “Banister, FBI Chief Since February, to Leave Post Nov. 30,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov 19, 1954, Part 2, Page 12.

[2] Citation for this newspaper article (“NOTP, March 23, 1956, p. 1”) comes from the online Jerry P. Shinley Archive “Re: Jim Garrison and the SCEF Raids.”

[3] William Davy, “Let Justice Be Done,” (Jordan Publication, May 12, 1999), 1. On the weekend of the assassination, Banister pistol-whipped his employee Jack Martin, after Martin accused him of killing Kennedy. Martin eventually spoke to authorities.

[4] Sovereignty Commission documents SCR ID # 7-0-8-89-1-1-1 and SCR ID # 2-56-1-20-1-1-1.

[5] Sovereignty Commission documents SCR ID # 99-36-0-2-1-1-1 SCR ID # 1-16-1-21-1-1-1, SCR ID # 1-26-0-5-2-1-1, SCR ID # 2-2-0-19-1-1-1, SCR ID # 1-24-0-11-1-1-1

[6] After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, A. J. Weberman, a “Dylanologist,” “garbologist” and Kennedy conspiracist wrote that he received this communication from Sullivan’s grandson, Jeremy Sullivan: “I was told that he committed suicide but my dad didn’t think so. He told me there was an investigation and the FBI was involved. They deemed it suicide. The story I heard had changed depending on who told it, I believe that they had been out fishing all day and John Daniel had been drinking. After they got home, he was alone in his room and there was a gunshot and he was found dead.” Also, Weberman stated that Jim Garrison had an undisclosed case against Sullivan in 1961. Per a “Memo for the Director” by Betsy Palmer on April 19, 1978, regarding the “HSCA.” From A.J. ajweberman and Michael Canfield, “Coup D’Etat in America, The CIA and the Assassination of John Kennedy,” (New York City, The Third Press, 1975) Nodule II.

[7] Online minutes of testimony before the Assassination Records Review Board, November 18, 1994. Dallas, Texas. Testimony of John McLaughlin aka John Bevilaqua, Harvard University graduate and systems analyst, also a Kennedy assassination theorist. McLaughlin was testifying why he needed to see documents from HUAC and SISS. He had also requested military records of Wycliff P. Draper, head of the Draper Committees and Pioneer Fund. Mississippi had been the benefactor of Draper money in its fight against the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and in funding of private white academies per Sovereignty Commission reports.

[8] Eastland’s name has also been associated with the murder of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King, U. S. Senator Robert Kennedy and with the mass murder at a U. S. Army base located in Mississippi of potentially 1,000 black soldiers during World War II.

[9] The former Eastland aid has since retired.

Video Ads – Statistics Are In

It appears that the internet is becoming the ‘vidernet’. With more and more video sharing websites popping up, and more advertisers pouring their budgets into online video advertising, the predictions of the visionaries of the last few years seem to be coming to fruition.

According to a study by Google and AOL conducted by market insight and information group TNS, 75 percent of respondents reported watching more video online than they did a year ago, and over half expect to watch more online video in the next year.

78% feel that online video ads provide as much or more of an opportunity to learn about a product or service than television, and 63 % said they prefer video sites to include advertising if it helps keep content free. Apparently the online community is embracing video much more willingly than expected.

Here are some other numbers to look at if you still need convincing: 64% of respondents have taken action after seeing an online video, 44 % going to the advertiser’s Web site, 33 % searching for a product or service, 22 % visiting an actual off-line store, and 21 % discussing the advertised product with friends or family. So not only does online video bring in new business, it gets the ball rolling on that elusive buzz marketing campaign.

The responses came from 2,394 online users between 18 and 54 years old. The study also found that online video ads result in 32 % of viewers describing the featured brand as innovative, 32 % as creative, and 30 % as fun. Who woulda’ thunk?

Online video has become such an effective form of advertising that even the major television broadcast networks are jumping on the bandwagon. NBC, NBC Universal, Disney-ABC, and others are scrambling to get their online networks up and running.

According to a study conducted by the top video information source DoubleClick, consumers are approximately three times as likely to replay an online video ad unit as they are to click through on a standard JPG or GIF ad.

As technology attempts to play catch-up with consumers’ appetite for edgy, informative, and relevant advertising, online video technology is poised to lead the race in delivering considerable revenue to forward-thinking companies. Can’t wait to see what the internet looks like in ten years…

What Is A Membrane Switch?

A membrane switch is used in different electronic products. It functions as an on-and-off circuit, similar to mechanical types, but is made from a circuit. It is a modern version of the mechanical types and is already being used in products like microwave ovens, remote controllers and others. These switches are now preferred over the traditional one as it comes with customizable options. There are emerging companies that can offer membrane switch for different purposes.

How It Is Constructed

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines this switch as “a momentary switch device in which at least one contact is on, or made of, a flexible substrate.” It is usually made up of four layers but some products require more. Each layer has a distinct function so assembling and installing each layer needs careful handling.

The first layer is called the graphic interface. It is located at the topmost layer of the membrane switch, the one visible to the naked eye. It functions as the receiver in which the user can press down a certain button for a specific action. The printed circuit is another layer. It is where the electronic signals are sent to complete the action. This layer is made out of conductors like copper and other polyimide substances. Each layer has to be installed in pressure-sensitive process as it has a huge effect on the over-all function of the switch. In some cases, the switch is installed with keyboard housing for practical purposes.

Backlighting

There are three ways on how the membrane switch is installed with a backlight. The first one is by using LED. LED is short for Light Emitting Diodes, usually seen in many commercial areas. LED is usually installed as indicator lights since it emits a bright light.

Optical fiber is also used in combination to LED. This is the ideal lighting if the membranes switch is prone to humidity and changes in temperature. The third option is to install EL, or electroluminescent lamps. These are more affordable than the two lighting and it allows flexibility in terms of color variation. However, it can only emit light for up to 8000 hours. This is way different when compared to the optical fiber which can go for up to 100,000 hours.

Practical Applications

As mentioned above, are used in many electronic devices. These include air conditioners, television remote control, ovens, toys and many more. These switches are now used due to the many advantages it offers such as easy clean-up and maintenance. Membrane switches can be easily cleaned with the use of dry cloth. The dust can be wiped away as the outer layer is made up of solid plastic. Aside from that, it is sealed appropriately so that no other substances can penetrate into the electric circuits.

Maintain Spine Angle – All You Want to Know About the Golf Spine Angle and How to Get a Feel For It

It was not until around year 2000 that the concept of spine angle was first mentioned as an important aspect of the golf swing.  Prior to that year, one could rarely find the words used anywhere in golf instruction or literature.  Today there is hardly a golf periodical, golf newspaper, a new golf book, an instructional video or a TV analyst that does not discuss the concept.  And there are over 30,000 links to “maintain your spine angle” that could be found on the Google search engine.

Prior to this recent and increasing focus on the importance of maintaining one’s spine angle during the swing, professionals, instructors and analysts commented on other aspects of the golf swing.  Observations were made about the golfer’s head, the plane, one or two planes, the length of the backswing, tempo, weight shift and still others.  All aspects however seemed to be open to argument, were contradictory or could be misinterpreted.  Maintaining one’s spine angle, however, is irrefutable, as agreed upon by almost all, if not all experts.

So exactly what is the spine angle as it relates to the golf swing?  Why has it become such a popular and important aspect for discussion?  And what can the average golfer do to incorporate spine angle knowledge into her/his golf swing?  The purpose of this article is to answer these three questions and to give the reader all the information needed to fully understand and utilize this important swing concept. 

Depending on which analyst you listen to, there are actually two golf spine angles.  The first is the most commonly discussed and is best seen by looking at the right side of the golfer (for a right handed golfer), and down the target line.  Imagine a straight vertical line extending from the back of the golfer’s shoe, up through the hips and as high as the head.  Now imagine the straight line made by the golfer’s spine, from the neck to the base of the spine and intersecting the vertical line.  The angle made at that intersection is the spine angle. To see an image of this angle please click on the link in the resource box to our web site. The angle will be unique for each golfer depending on build, physique, and posture at address but the average for most golfers will be about 30 degrees.  Note it is said that there is a straight line from the neck to the base of the spine.  The back or the spine is not to be hunched……it must be straight.  

The second spine angle, which has been recently introduced by some analysts, can best be seen by looking at the front of the golfer.  In this view, the line of sight is perpendicular to the target line and 90 degrees from the view of the first and more conventional angle mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Here imagine a vertical line extending upward and starting at the base of the spine.  For most golfers with the proper address, the head and therefore the spine are tilted slightly to the right-handed golfer’s right.  Now imagine a straight line from the base of the golfer’s spine, extending up and through the center of the golfer’s head.  This angle may best be referred to as the frontal spine angle. To see an image of this angle please click on the link to our website in the resource box. This angle also will be unique and will depend on the golfer’s build and physique.  But it will also vary during a proper swing, being greater at impact than it was at address.   In the image shown below, this frontal spine angle is about 8º at address and 25º at impact.

Now let’s look at why spine angle is so important to the golfer’s swing.  By carefully observing the golfer’s spine angle from behind and down the target line, a professional, an analyst and even the average golfer can easily visualize what can happen during a swing and particularly toward impact.  If the golfer decreases the angle of the spine from its starting angle, say from 30 degrees toward 25 degrees, the head, shoulders and arms will move away from the ball toward impact.  The result will probably be a push or slice to the right, or worse, a topped hit or even a whiff.  If the golfer increases the starting angle of the spine, say from 30 degrees to 40 degrees, the head, shoulders and arms move closer to the ball toward impact.  The result of these movements might be a drastic hook, a hit behind the ball or a pull to the left. 

There is much less agreement about the frontal spine angle. There are a few who say it should be constant, like the conventional down-the-line spine angle. But no good swing is able to do that; the only sensible discussion is how much it should change. Think about it. There are a few aspects that just about everyone agees upon for a good golf swing:

  • The feet should remain where they are, not shift in or out, forward or backward.
  • The head should remain behind the ball through impact.
  • The weight should shift in the downswing to the forward leg.

When we think about the implications of these three aspects, which are nearly universal rules (only the “stack and tilt” approach brings the third point into a bit of question), we see that the frontal spine angle must necessarily increase during the downswing. Consider:

  • The feet are planted.
  • The head does not shift forward.
  • Yet somehow the weight shifts forward.

The only way these considerations can happen would be if some significant fraction of the body below the neck and above the feet moves forward. What is going on here?  Let’s look at two of the more common proverbs for a good swing:

  • You should “hit against a firm left side.”
  • You should “fire the right side”.

These proverbs suggest that the hip turn — which everybody agrees is essential — involves a forward movement  of the hips. Even if you are turning the hips rather than sliding them, firing the right side against a firm left side means that the hips are moving from right of center (top of the backswing) to a point over the left foot (for balance in the follow-through). And that forward movement of the hips is from where the weight shift comes. The feet don’t move and the head doesn’t move; the forward movement of the hips shifts the weight.

Another look at the image of frontal spine angle shows us why the frontal spine angle must increase between address and impact. The hips move forward and the head stays back. You need either an increased spine angle or a guillotine!  So “maintaining” the frontal spine angle requires not a constant angle, but rather a tilting of the spine so the head stays back as the weight shifts forward.  

So how can the golfer learn to maintain the proper spine angle — both conventional and frontal?  Most professionals, instructors and expert golfers will say that golf is a game of feel.  And if you are to maintain your spine angle, you must know how this aspect of the swing feels.  The golfer can have her/his swing videotaped from both spine angle views and would quickly be able to see how and if the spine angle changes.  Such a review however would not translate to the desired feel.  Without such feel, one does not know what physical movements to correct or what to practice for improvement. 

For many years, and still today, many golf experts focus on the head as the critical body part that affects the swing.  The head is at the top of the spine and it follows that if the head remained relatively steady throughout the swing, the conventional spine angle also would remain relatively constant. Moreover, a steady head is the key to a proper sequence of the frontal spine angle. Perhaps it was with this end result in mind that Jack Grout, the first professional instructor to Jack Nicklaus, held young Jack’s hair with his extended left arm for two hours and had Nicklaus hit real balls.  Grout knew that tactile feedback was the best way for a golfer to gain the feel for any aspect of the swing. 

More recently, Hank Haney used the exact same technique with Charles Barkley on the Golf Channel’s Haney Project.  He did not however require that Sir Charles hit balls for two hours with tactile feedback.  The desired feel for a steady head and a constant spine angle could not have been acquired by Charles with Haney grabbing and holding Charles’ head only two or three times. Acquiring a feel and ultimately, the development of muscle memory to maintain a constant spine angle, would have required Charles’ head to be held for  two hours or more — and would probably require subsequent practice sessions as well.

The brain has memory and it can remember physical and muscle movements and bodily feel so that they can be repeated.  The task is to tell the brain exactly the movements, the bodily feelings, that you want it to remember.  Tactile feedback has been proven to be the best procedure for programming or re-programming the brain to acquire new and desired physical movements and bodily feelings.  And probably the best tactile feedback for helping a golfer acquire a feel for maintaining spine angle is to use the Jack Grout/Hank Haney technique.  To do so, you must get another person to hold your head in a steady position (which also will maintain your spine angle) while you take practice swings or hit real or plastic balls, until you get that feel.  Gaining such a feel will not happen in one practice session.  Or you can use a training aid that holds your head in a similar manner and enables you to take swings, with or without balls and allows you to hit real and/or plastic balls. 

The more often you can practice your swing with tactile feedback, with or without hitting balls, the sooner will that feel become a natural part of your swing.  New muscle memory will eventually be developed.   You will have acquired the feel for maintaining your spine angle, an irrefutable aspect of a good golf swing.  You will hit more consistent and solid shots.  You will lower your scores and your handicap.  Enjoy your game.

Google Pages Offer Free Hosting – Easy Way to Get on the Net

With the Internet the way it is today, if you do not have a website you are nothing. You do not exist. Luckily, anyone can have a web presence for free. That’s right absolutely free. There are several web services out there that allow you to do this; I will look at my favorite. The first is Google Pages. If you have a Google account (contact me if you don’t and you want one) you have access to Google Pages.

Google Pages is very much like angel fire from back in the day. There are several designs and color schemes to choose from. There is 100mb of upload space, so you can design your own pages and upload them as well. The design feature is like a stripped down   frontage  interface which is easy to use. You can upload your own images and link to any other page on the web. The layouts offered are simple but effective. Google gives you an easy to use, well designed page in a matter of minutes.

The one draw back is the raw html support. There is an option to edit html, but things like JavaScript and ad sense ads do not always display correctly. The work around is to design your own pages in your favorite editor and upload them. You are limited to 100mbs, but it’s free so it’s hard to complain.

How To Choose a House Plan

Where do you start when choosing a house plan? Most people are inspired by the new home designs shown in their local advertising media, or they start to go looking for house plans on the internet. Builders use floor plans in their advertising as a great marketing ploy to get you to contact them. Often you will see a pretty plan, and some overall dimensions – enough information to get you interested – but not too much detail. So then you’re encouraged to sign up for more.

There are some very appealing house plans, that have lots of features, nice room sizes, clever planning ideas and stylish facades – but think about it objectively – it may not be the right plan for you!

When clients come to visit me, it is often with the plan they have cut out of the newspaper or printed off the internet. It’s very nice, it might be the size they want, but they have given very little thought to how it best fits their site, budget, living needs and lifestyle.

It is also very tempting to see a house plan where you love the facade, and thats what appeals to you, but you assume you have to have the floor plan design that goes with it. It’s a little bit like putting the cart before the horse. I treat the facades as if they are the icing on the cake – the plan itself is the generator of the architectural forms and one plan can be “dressed up” in any number of ways. Focus on the floor plan first – worry about the looks later.

The next issue is whether you go to a building designer or architect to design your own home or search for the right one in the plan magazines or on the internet. Either way, you can achieve an acceptable result – it just depends on your budget and the degree of individuality that you want expressed in your new home design. There are some very good “off the shelf plans” it really is a matter of weeding your way through the myriad of options to be able to identify the one best fitting your needs.

Having said that, my bias is obviously towards a plan that is customed designed for each individual client. I can really tailor a design to a family’s specific needs and desires and create a functional and unique home that is suited to a particular site, climate, neighbourhood streetscape and budget. I have seen many attractive homes with stunning floor plans that a well intentioned home owner has chosen because it is so appealing – but it is totally wrong for their site and may completley ignore the benefits of passive solar design, and functionality.

Consulting a professional – whether that is an architect, building designer or draftsperson – will definitely give you the advantage of receiving quality advice about your home plan design. You know enough about yourself to know when you feel ill, but you may not have the expertise to diagnose and prescribe a treatment for your illness – so you consult a doctor. The same process is needed when you embark upon designing your own home. You may have a vague idea of what you think you need, and where to go to choose a house plan, but you lack the expertise to “diagnose” your specific needs and to “prescribe” the right solutions. You will have greater peace of mind that you are choosing the right home design for situation if you have sought professional advice.

House Plans

The Best and Easiest Way to Fix a Blown Out Speaker

Stereo speakers are built to last. Every time you turn them on they are submitted to abuse and punishment, even more so depending on the type of music you listen to. For example, music with heavy bass shakes everything in your home. Imagine what is going on in the speaker cone.

Even the best, quality stereo speakers are bound to crackle from all of this abuse over time. When that happens, you may have the chance to save yourself some money by repairing those broken speakers instead of buying new ones.

It all starts with finding the problem causing the sound problems. It can be an enclosure damaged or maybe it blew out from an electrical or thermal fuse. Problems with the voice coil are a common problem, sometimes the crossover network is faulty and even problems as easy as a solder connection can be the cause of your problems. Whatever your speaker issue maybe, it can be fixed. Here is a breakdown of how you can repair a speaker that is blown out.

  • The first thing you need to do is figure out which speaker is giving you problems. You can easily do this by playing around with the stereo’s equalizer. Alter the balance and the fader to isolate the speaker causing the distortion in sound or if there is no sound at all. Be sure not to have the volume blasting or you run the risk of blowing out a good speaker.
  • Once you’ve figured out which speaker is the bad one, you now need to take it apart. Try to do this step carefully because you don’t want to cause further damage to a part which is working fine. Remove the faceplate of the speaker and then gently loosen the seams of the speaker’s fabric without tearing it.
  • Now that the speaker cone is visible, you can begin repairing it. Have some tape or glue handy since this is what you will primarily be using if the cone of the speaker is punctured or torn. You’ll want to make sure the hole or tear is completely covered before moving on to the next step.
  • Test the voice coil to see if it is damaged in any way such as if it melted at some point for example. If there is even the tiniest of gaps in the coil, no sound will flow from the speaker or it will sound extremely distorted, depending on the size. If you see that the voice coil is indeed melted, then just replace the speaker entirely.
  • If you’re going to need any replacement parts, now is the time to order them. They can either be found directly from the manufacturer but they can be expensive or from stereo specialties shops. An often overlooked fact is to know the part number or numbers of the pieces you are looking for. They are normally located on the inside of the speaker or backside of the cone. Doing so will make your life an awful lot easier.
  • Now that you have all parts you need to properly fix the speaker, take a look at how the damaged part is attached to the speaker. Once you remove the broken piece, you are going to need to install the new one the same way.
  • Now that you are all completed putting the speaker back to together, the only thing left to do is test to see if all your hard work paid off. Hook it back up to the stereo and test it at a low volume slowly turning the volume up to see if it can handle. If the speaker is still not working and you feel like did everything correctly, take it to a professional and let them fix it from there.

Stained Glass Kits – Create Your Own Work of Art

What Are Stained Glass Kits And What Are They Used For?

Creating objects from stained glass is an art that goes back for centuries. The beautiful church windows that you have seen and the wonderful Tiffany style lamps are examples that show what can be done working with stained glass. This is a craft that anyone can learn. And getting started making your own projects is a great way to get started. One good method of getting your feet wet is to start with stained glass kits that contains all the basic starting materials you need.

These kits can be bought at any arts and crafts store or online, and you can begin taking advantage of this fun activity today. Stained glass kits are best suited for those who haven’t previously tried this hobby. Basic kits start with the minimum tools and supplies you will need to get started. This would include a   soldering   iron ,  solder , flux, a glass cutter, glass pliers, glass cutter oil and copper foil.

You’ll also find kits that include all these items plus glass, patterns and additional items to enable you to do a complete project from the start.

Making your own stained glass projects is an extremely fun and enjoyable activity.

What else goes into using kit?

Cutting the shapes and determining what kind of design you want is just the beginning. After you’ve done this you still have to make sure the designs are right and properly placed. What happens next is the shapes are placed with foil strips  soldered  together to give the glass strength and stability. Copper foil is included with kits that use this method. Other kits may use lead caming for the material to wrap each piece of glass and give you the structure to use when you  solder  the pieces together.

When you see all those pictures in the church window do you think that glass is fragile? Once you have completed  soldering  your pieces together, you’ll find that it is quite durable.

You can make projects in various geometric designs and patterns. You can even have a collection of smaller pictures or designs within the project that make up the whole. You are only limited by your imagination.

What glass kits can do for you:

You’ll be able to create various designs you like however you like. Stained glass sheets can be purchased in various sizes. Large sheets are cut and available in smaller sizes, and then you create your individual pieces. The glass comes in many types and styles in thousands of colors. They also come in a series of textures, some of them come with an uneven surface or a pebbly surface. This makes the glass look jeweled when light passes through it. The possibilities when working with stained glass are endless.

Strengthen Your Shoulder

We tend to think that the routine that we do like writing, eating, playing an instrument, etc. are the work of our hands alone. But the truth of the matter is that without the shoulder, the mobility of our hands is limited, the arms would just fall limply on our sides. Even the simple motion of reaching your hand to your mouth would be quite impossible. This is why we should maintain the condition of these body parts through exercise, particularly yoga.

Reflecting on the significance of the shoulders, it is startling to note that they are somewhat vulnerable & unstable joints. Like the pelvis, the shoulder is a joint composed of a ball and socket. But unlike the pelvic joint, the socket on the shoulder is relatively not as deep. The reason for this is for mobility, allowing your arm freedom of movement. With it you can reach your arm in any direction 360 degrees. These kind of movements are impossible to make with your legs.

This innate unstableness makes the shoulder dependent on connective tissues to keep the link together. These soft tissues are composed of tendons, which connect bones to muscles; ligaments, which attach bones to other bones; and muscles, which keep the bones stable and produce movement. There are four muscles that keep the shoulder together and this group is referred to as the rotator cuff. They are wrapped around the joint producing movement every which way.

The rotator cuff is made up of the Supraspinatus, the Subscapularis, the Infraspinatus, and the Teres Minor. Aside from keeping the ball of the humerus within the socket of the scapula, each of the muscles are in charge of a particular arm movement. The shoulder is also braced by the clavicle.

The Supraspinatus muscle keeps the head (ball) of the humerus from sliding off partially out of the socket. This painful condition is referred to as subluxation which happens when the supraspinatus is under paralysis due to a stroke.

The Tadasana or Mountain Pose, which is standing with the arms to the sides then lifting the arms parallel to the ground, Virabhadrasana II or Warrior Pose II, strengthens the Supraspinatus. If you stand in the Tasadana position, then with palms toward your body turn the creases of your elbow forward, this rotates your shoulder outwardly strengthening the Infraspinatus & the Teres Minor.

These are some of the yoga positions that will help strengthen the shoulder preventing possible injury.

Why Training Is So Important For A Grand Opening

Training new employees is very important for quite a few reasons. Those reasons become even stronger when it is a new business as well as a new employee. Training employees as a unit before a grand opening is an opportunity that rarely presents itself, allowing all employees to be trained together, hopefully creating unity and strong team bonds from the very start.

1. Wanted: Productive Employees

The goal of training is to produce employees who will be assets at the grand opening celebration and who will be productive throughout the coming life of a new company. The hope is to have a healthy, thriving company and the owner or manager can’t do that on their own, they need help. Its encouraging to see a lot of people apply for work with a new company and see qualified resumes flood a desk, but the important thing in the end is to be a quality business which can only happen with quality employees. Some managers and business owners are reluctant to take the time to run thorough training sessions, believing their time can be spent better elsewhere. But the investment of a few hours of preparation is worth the return of well-prepared employees. This is especially true at the grand opening when a company is being introduced to a community for the first time.

2. Performance Expectations

During the interview process, particularly for manager positions, candidates are often asked questions such as “have you ever had to fire someone before?”. But a question that is often sadly forgotten is “of those you have fired, how was it known whether the employee understood the expectations of their position and yet was not fulfilling them?”. The idea behind this question applies to more than just managers. If a position is not clearly defined, how can either party (the boss or employee) know whether they are falling short, meeting, or exceeding expectations? Explaining clear boundaries and expectations is an important part of the training process, letting both parties know where the bar is set. If an employee is professionally trained for a job, they will know that is what their position will require of them. And it needs to be clear before opening day.

3. Long-term Employees

Quality employees are those that love to learn and enjoy taking on a challenge. One of the biggest reasons employees quite their positions is because they are bored, they feel they aren’t learning. These feelings ultimately mean employees feel the company they are working for is not investing in them in return. This means that while in the end training before a grand opening is important, so is on-going training. As a company grows, develops, and comes into its own, the dust begins to settle resulting in a solidifying of company positions as well as the addition of new ones. This can mean that job descriptions may change over the years or completely re-assigned. When this happens, a new round of training can make a world of difference by investing in current employees. This has two positive results: 1. Employees will want to invest back into a company they feel respected and valued by, and 2. Fewer new hires will come on board, saving time and man-power in starting training from scratch.

Ignite Your Profits: Is It Time to Find a New Fishing Hole?

Each episode of the Andy Griffin show started with him going to the fishing hole. When you are the sheriff of Mayberry going to the fishing hole, it is a place to relax. But, when you are a business owner, the term or analogy for fishing hole is where you go to find paying clients.

How do you know when it is time to find a new fishing hole?

As we start a new year it is a time to review the facts and figures for your business and determine if you need to find a new pond. My five tips below will help you determine if you need to find a new niche.

Tips

1. Review Your Income – did you hit your income or sales goals for 2015? IF no, why do you think you didn’t reach your sales goals? Do you need to find a new market who will pay you?

2. Review Lifelong Value of Customers or Clients – each client has an associated lifetime value. Look at your client or customer list and see who has been loyal. What programs or products kept bringing the client or customer back to your business?

3. Review Newsletter & Social Media Stats – how many new sign-ups or followers? If you use my day planner you have a reminder each month to review your social media and website analytics. Are you tracking these? What country or city do most of your followers come from? What lead attraction strategy brought you new registrations for your newsletter and new followers on social media?

4. Self Reflect on How YOU Feel – how do you feel when working with your customers and clients? Do they leave you stressed? Do you find them rude? Or do you jump with joy when you see him/her because they are a delight to serve? You only want to work with people who are polite and understand the value you provide. Is it time to find a new niche?

5. Review Your Conversion Process – how many people who you talk to are actually buying from you? If you are talking to lots of people, or people are coming into your store or asking for catalogs, approach you at an expo, take your business card at networking event etc. how many of these leads are converting to paying customers or clients? Is it time for a new ideal client?

I encourage you to take a few minutes to complete my Fishing Hole assessment to see if you need to find a new niche.

Ignite Your Profits: Is It Time to Find a New Fishing Hole?

Circle Each Item Below that You Can Answer “YES”

1. Are the current people you attract to your business buying from you?

2. Do you enjoy the majority of the people you worked with the past year?

3. Do your clients pay your fees without asking for a discount?

4. Do your clients pay on time?

5. Do your clients respect you and your business?

6. Did you meet your sales goals?

7. Are you converting leads into paying clients over 50% of the time?

8. Do your current clients send you quality referrals?

9. Do you feel energized?

10. Does your business bring you joy?

SCORING

How many “YES’s” did you circle?

10 – You do NOT need a new fishing hole

7-9 – You may not need a new fishing hole but you need to reexamine who is your ideal client.

6 or more – you may want to evaluate your sales script

0-5 – you may want to explore finding a new fishing hole

Stay tuned for Part II – Identify Where Your New Fishing Pond Should Be in an upcoming newsletter.