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Lifestyle:

Choosing the Bus over a Train or Plane

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Bus lines have suffered for many years over misconceptions on the convenience and safety of traveling the highways. The truth is very different from the false perception, especially during the past decade. All bus line companies have done due diligence in reevaluating their customer service, along with upgrading their dependability and enjoyment factors. It is still true that many factors impact an inter-city bus trip. All customers must be considered and stops are scheduled in a way that addresses all traveler needs. But in metropolitan areas, using the bus makes excellent sense when all options are considered. An excellent example is taking a Washington DC to NYC bus trip.

Economics of Choosing Highways over Airways

Flying to a destination can seem to be the most feasible and quickest manner of transporting between cities, but that may not exactly the case. Using a Washington DC to New York City travel plan, it takes just over an hour to get to New York from Washington after takeoff. Depending on the airline and date chosen to take the trip, flight tickets are approximately $175 and upwards to $500 depending on the class. Baggage expense must also be considered in the cost of travel. Traveling by bus is easily a bargain in this choice. In addition, when considering time spent awaiting a flight or unloading at the destination, bus trips to close destinations often take a similar amount of time.

Comparing the Bus and Train

Buses have historically been infamous for delayed arrivals according to the timetable, a rap which flights have also endured. Trains such as Amtrak are usually much closer to accurate because the Federal Railway Administration requires railroad companies to explain in detail exactly why an Amtrak train cannot meet the arrival timetable. Amtrak is a private passenger train company that uses other company rail systems for a fee, so the hosting railway company must comply with the federal regulations for their access charges. Train dispatchers regularly hold freight trains or long periods to allow Amtrak right of way priority. For punctuality, the train would appear to be a better travel choice, but trains still run late and can rarely gain back the lost time. Using DC to New York as an example again, the price of an Amtrak ticket is approximately $100, while a bus ticket is considerably less.

Comfort and Enjoyment

The purpose of the trip can make a big difference. Those who are along for the ride and traveling for entertainment purposes the bus can still be a fun experience. While trains offer more mobility while in transit, such as being able to walk around, many bus line companies have focused directly on improving the entire dynamic of traveling by highway, especially among the newer and smaller bus transportation companies. Many bus transport companies actually sell trip and tour packages with specific destinations along the route. These offerings have become very popular for those looking for a short enjoyable inexpensive vacation trip.

Safety

While air terminals are well documented as overly concerned with safety in the skies, bus lines are no less concerned with potential safety problems. Public bus stations in major cities are also notorious for attracting undesirable types, but many of the newer highway transit companies maintain small independent terminal that allow for greater control over customer safety both on the road and in the terminal. Bus line transportation is clearly on the business incline and are becoming more popular every day.

 

Social:

Build Your Business with a Strong Web Presence

Do you want more customers and sales? Are you trying to gain exposure online? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of companies are competing against each other on the Internet. The World Wide Web offers great opportunities for those who want to make money and reach new clients. The key to success is to build a strong online presence. This involves creating a website and blog, staying active on social networks, and sharing quality content.

If you want to expand your business, go online and make a name for yourself. Promote your brand to the target market, interact with your prospects, and post unique content on your company’s blog. Here are some tips to build a solid online presence for your business:

Set Up a Website

It is estimated that more than 47 percent of small businesses don’t have a site or blog. A professional website can enhance your reputation and give you a competitive edge. About 97 percent of U.S. customers use the Internet to find products and services. Over 61 percent have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.

Invest in a quality website and promote it on social networks. Business owners who blog generate up to 88 percent more leads than those who don’t. Your website is a valuable marketing tool that can increase sales and put your brand in a positive light.

Optimize Your Site or Blog

Simply building a website is not enough. You also have to choose an eye-catching design and optimize your content for search engines. If you can’t afford to hire a Web designer, use WordPress. This blogging platform includes thousands of free and paid themes that will make your website look amazing. The best part is that it can be installed with one click and then customized according to your needs.

Once you choose a theme and a domain name, search for relevant keywords. Ask an SEO expert to help you pick the most relevant terms. Many freelancers offer keyword research services at competitive rates. When this step is complete, start posting content on your blog. Add your targeted keywords, upload pictures and videos, post infographics, and share your work online. A well-optimized website with quality content will rank high on Google and attract traffic.

Stay Active on Social Networks

Social networking is an important tool for every business seeking to build a strong online presence. Start by adding social sharing buttons on your blog. Create a Facebook page for your company, post pictures and text, and encourage your prospects to become fans. Reward them with free eBooks, bonuses, and special discounts.

Share all types of media, including photos, slide shows, infographics, statistics, and blog posts. The content should be relevant to your fans and help them solve a problem. Be consistent and interact with them as often as you can. Social media gives businesses a chance to show their human face and learn about their target audience. Take advantage of this opportunity and connect with your clients on a deeper level!

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last update: August 30, 2014

Gadgets:

Should You Get an Unlocked Phone?

Unlike most smartphones, unlocked phones aren’t enslaved to a specific carrier such as AT&T or Verizon. They’ll work on any network within the CSM cellular family via a SIM card.

In the US, only H2O, T-Mobile, and AT&T employ GSM networks. Other carriers opt for CDMA signals.

In other words, if you want an unlocked phone, your only options are those previously tied to the three GSM networks in the US. However, that still gives savvy shoppers plenty of options.

It’s legal to purchase unlocked phones with no contract or carrier plan attached, and it can save you a lot of money. You also need to buy a separate SIM card from either a carrier or prepaid company of your choosing in order to activate it.

In many cases, reputable companies that sell unlocked phones also offer SIM cards at a great price. Opt for a month-to-month service to avoid contracts, and rest easy knowing you can pick up a new SIM card anywhere in the world.

Benefits of unlocked phones

There’s no other option for international travelers who want to keep out-of-country costs to a minimum. If you plan to make calls in the country you’re visiting, you need to sidestep those disturbing roaming fees.

With a local SIM card, you get a local number and can use your phone as if you lived in France, Greece, or wherever else you’re visiting. For multi-nation hoppers, an international SIM card offers much lower rates than roaming charges.

However, if you want to call “back home” while abroad, you can simply travel with your US number and make calls as if you were in the US. Calls and texts will cost a little more, but there’s no need to keep changing your number for those who want to call you.

Carrying multiple SIM cards is a boon if you frequent the same international territories. When you have a US and destination country SIM card connected to the same phone, you can take calls via your US number while also receiving calls locally for the best rates.

Better selection and rates

Usually, even after you add in the SIM card, unlocked phones are less expensive. The total phone price becomes subsidized via monthly fees when you’re in a contract.

The initial price might seem like more, but not if you factor in the monthly rate of committing to a contract. Plus, you can always opt for cheaper data or voice plans to save even more. Crunch those numbers and see just how much you could save.

Finally, you’re going to have a wider selection if you go the unlocked route. Carriers have to pick which phones they offer, but that’s not the case with unlocked phones. You can go Apple, Nokia, Samsung, or anything else.

 

Four Ways to Increase Sales in Your Small Business

The International Data Group places the number of small businesses in the United States at just north of 8 million, which comprises a whopping 99.7 percent of all employers. If you are in charge of one of these small businesses, you likely focus on a variety of issues such as customer satisfaction, employee retention and loss prevention, but sales is likely one of the most important. If you’re hunting for ways to boost the bottom line and bring in more sales, here are some tips to attract more clients and increase their engagement with you.

Make Customers Aware of Their Options

Many purchases go together naturally. For example, if you run a camping store, your customers looking at tents may also be interested in sleeping bags and water-resistant pillows. However, they may not think of these items unless your sales associates bring them up and show them your selection. This is especially true if your store attracts those who are new to your products and what will be needed. While you don’t need pushy or hovering salespeople, your employees do need to point out logical connections and assist customers with their shopping experience.

Offer Solutions to Your Clients’ Problems

Everyone has heard of that one small business in town where the person in charge can fix anything, whether it be a computer business who can coax even the most fried hard drive back to life or a mechanic that has miraculously kept your 19-year-old Buick on the road. Strive to make that your business, no matter what your niche. Train your staff to be genuine and helpful at all times. Customers will always remember you, and will come to you the next time they need help. They will also tell everyone they know how thoughtful and gracious you are and will drive more business your way.

Carry Business Cards, and Have Your Employees Do the Same

You never know when a potential business contact will happen. You may run into prospective clients on the subway, or at a social gathering. When these moments happen, scribbling your contact information on a damp cocktail napkin is unprofessional. Carry some well-designed cards and hand them over when the opportunity arises. This small investment can go far in netting your lucrative clients.

Distribute Free Samples, When Possible

Makers of foodstuffs, soap, office supplies and other consumables will do well to offer up a taste for free. Fox Business advises that giving away a small portion of your products works better than marketing such as billboards or commercials, because you are proving your product’s value rather than talking about it. Customers who get a hands-on sample of your product are much more likely to buy it because they know for a fact they like it.

Increasing your sales in a small business can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to employ any high-pressure tactics or alienate your clients. By trying out these strategies, you can make your customers happy and improve your revenue at the same time.

Lifestyle:

Seven Cars to Look Forward to for 2015

2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

As the 2015 model year closes, and the 2015 model year is hotly on it tale, car enthusiasts wait eagerly for the new and improved offerings from all manufacturers.  Questions that usually arise range from what kind of performance cars are going to be offered to what advance in fuel efficiency will be seen?  In addition to these concerns is what will the new body styles show up as, will we see a simple change or drastic improvements over old models?

Just like kids waiting for Christmas morning most car lovers cannot wait to see what comes rolling off the lines in the coming months.  Here is a sneak peak at seven cars that are really something to look forward to.

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Social:

SEO+Product Descriptions. Mission Impossible?

If you’re charged with search engine optimization (SEO) for a company, you know it’s crucial to organically place key words and phrases on every landing page. However, that can be tricky when you’re dealing with product descriptions for a mega e-tailer, especially when many of the descriptions are inherently nearly identical. This can also pose a problem for keyword stuffing and duplicate content even when that isn’t really the case.

How can you get around such a conundrum? It’s going to take serious skills that only an SEO writer has. This is why it’s important to hire the write SEO agency that tackles SEO from all angles, including the requirement for high quality content at all times. Not all writers are SEO professionals, which is why who you hire can make all the difference. Luckily, there are some SEO gurus who can handle this problem.

Variant skills

Every key phrase has variants, but you need to look beyond the variant tools and suggestions from Google AdWords. A good SEO writer will know how to pinpoint these variables and use them in correct balance. Plus, “duplicate content” is somewhat subjective and Google algorithms are smart enough to differential genuine duplicate content from “duplicate content” that isn’t black hat trickery but rather a common phrase (such as, for example “garden hose”).

If you’re staring down a site that offers a variety of different tapes, writing unique product descriptions that abide by SEO best practices can seem maddening and it is. That’s why the best SEO pros get paid well for what they do. Trying to do this yourself solely to save money is going to drive you crazy and lead to poor results. SEO writing requires a type of patience that most people don’t have.

Digging out the unique

The good news is that even very similar products have big differences (otherwise they wouldn’t be a separate product). Your mission is to find out what that is, highlight it and still work in those keywords like a boss. While it might not seem like it, a job like thousands of product descriptions is actually more challenging for an SEO writer than drumming up creative content from scratch.

Most SEO writers are also naturally talented writers to begin with, so the creative side of things come easily. It’s the daunting and repetitive tasks that can be a struggle (just like with non-writers). However, practice makes perfect, and that’s what product pages need.

 

Mobile:

Get the Most Out of Your Company Training with These 3 Note-taking Apps

It can be hard to recognize the true value of your company training until after the fact. Start connecting the dots and learning how to apply your company training to various aspects of your life, such as your entrepreneurial efforts or non-profit work. Many of the lessons we learn at one organization can be easily transferred and applied to fit in our outside endeavors. Effective note-taking apps can help you fully engage with the training that you receive and retain it for later use. Here are three apps that can help you excel during professional training sessions.

Evernote

This cloud-based note app can be your single point of reference for your training notes. Evernote’s system encompasses a wide range of image, video, and audio formats, so that you can supplement your text-based notes with multimedia. If your training sessions involve searching for resources on the web, then Evernote has you covered. You can quickly save clips of websites to Evernote for future offline viewing. This can be invaluable if you need to access online materials when you do not have access to a cellular network or Wi-Fi connection.

Livescribe

You might retain information better if you write it out with pen and paper. However, the downside to this medium is that you cannot access it via the cloud, and it lacks a digital backup. That’s where Livescribe comes in. This digital pen and app combination automatically converts your notes into digital text, which can then be synced with your mobile device or computer later. Livescribe makes it easy for you to record hand-drawn and hand-written content in digital format.

DropVox

Sometimes it’s impossible to take notes during a training session, especially if you must participate in hands-on exercises. Ask you trainer if you can take audio notes during the session. The DropVox app records voice memos and automatically uploads the clips to a cloud account for later listening. This can be an extremely useful resource for work groups that need to share lectures and other resources.

The professional training you receive now can be invaluable to your future endeavors. Author John Rossman explores this idea by infusing the lessons he learned from Amazon into his daily business practices. It’s crucial for employees to unlock the potential of professional training by paying attention, taking great notes, retaining information, and reinforcing concepts with practice.

Social:

Technology for the Creative Voice is Expanding

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New technological advances in creative writing and expressing one’s ideas into images and words have provided many platforms for people to organize their thoughts into collaborative collages and other various artistic projects. During the Internet age, most people are dealing with information overload and the ability to easily retrieve data about any topic in a matter of seconds. Most people absorb 34 gigabytes of information every day with conventional forms of media. With all the accessible information that is available, it’s easy for someone to have hundreds of cluttered thoughts daily.

Keeping Track of Thoughts and Ideas in the Digital World

Various images and ideas can come and go in your thoughts. You can think about an idea that relates to a goal you’re trying to accomplish or a project that you’re creating, and without having the ability to clearly jot the idea down or save it for future use, it may become difficult to remember at a later time. Most artists are aware of the importance to keeping track of their collective thoughts from day to day, and organizing these thoughts to help them with their work is essential. This method of practice can work well for just about anyone.

In the digital age, different apps, social media sites, podcasts and online video libraries are helping people with the right technology devices, an Internet connection and basic navigation skills log their ideas and thoughts. These innovative technologies also provide easy mechanisms for people to share their thoughts for others to see. New methods to support creative writing are being invented every year. There are even various online publication mediums that allow people to share and provide inspiration to other people around the world.

The Best Ways to Express Thoughts

Not everyone can access online media quickly and straightforwardly to take note of their thoughts. If you’ve ever experienced a time when you thought of the perfect idea or answer to a question and you failed to write it on paper, you know it can be frustrating trying to remember the thoughts later in time. Being unprepared and unable to place your thoughts in written form can be infuriating. By simply having a journal and a pen near you at all times, you can always use the traditional method of expression and write your thoughts on paper.

There are also convenient, hi-tech methods to express your thoughts in a room full of written and illustrative expressions. Like a toddler who enjoys drawing and painting on walls, you can also experience the fun and child-like ventures of expressing your creativity. With innovative, state-of-the-art equipment, you can write your ideas wherever you find available space on walls, ceilings and whiteboards using dry erase paint or chalkboard paint. This lets you create an entire room of art and written words without permanently damaging any fixtures or furniture in rooms, and when you’re ready to erase all traces of the work, simply wipe away and start all over again. The possibilities are unlimited, even if your wall space is.

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