Author Archives: Harry

Danielle Riddle: Harnessing Creativity for Extra Income

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If there’s one thing Danielle Riddle understands, it is creativity. She loves music and started out singing on stage. She plays piano and guitar and wanted to find a way to make her creativity profitable. With the internet so readily available, she understands the importance of connecting creativity with technology in order to find success.

As a musician, Danielle Riddle saw the need for a variety of products. Her friends were frustrated with various equipment in the studio or on stage, and Danielle used this as an opportunity to understand what products would make the lives of musicians easier. She began to come up with ideas for a variety of products for the music world. 

Danielle Riddle then utilized platforms such as Etsy to sell some of the products she created and found her niche as a creator of musician-related products that made playing music easier. Her products include sheet music holders and instrument braces. If she saw a peer creating a workaround for a problem, she would study the issue in order to make a prototype of the solution. Her peers have been an inspiration for many of the ideas she has come up with over the years.

Flexibility is essential when you are a creative person, according to Danielle Riddle. She understands that there is often a lot of pressure to create a second income for yourself, and this can lead to problems with rushing a product. She is flexible and takes her time coming up with solutions that work. She knows that there is no point in creating products that don’t work well, as this is only going to slow down her business over the long run.

It is possible to generate an income from your creative ideas, but you have to be willing to put in the work. Danielle Riddle is always looking for new opportunities and understands that there are ideas everywhere if you pay attention. While not everything has to turn into a side hustle, it is possible to turn your passion into a viable income using creativity and technology.

How to Choose a Great Electrical Contractor

Terrence Schehen Explains How to Choose a Great Electrical Contractor

The Right Electrical Contractor Doesn’t Just Keep You Up to Code, Terrence Schehen Says, But Also Becomes a Great Maintenance Partner

Whether you are just doing a lighting retrofit or rewiring your entire office building, finding the right electrical contractor ranks near the top of the list of things you need to do to keep your property safe. Commercial electrical work is not the same as its domestic and residential variations, Terrence Schehen says. Commercial electrical work requires different skills, different tools, and different experiences. Terrence Schehen advises that finding the right professional electrical contractor saves you money and makes your life easier.

Here are Terrence Schehen’s top tips for finding a great electrical contractor.

Get Recommendations

No one in your community is likely to know more about local electrical contractors than the electrical supply stores. There is a good chance that they have a short list of contractors that they recommend to their customers. You can also ask other owners of commercial properties or if you know one, private building inspectors.

Ask About Their Experience with Commercial Jobs

You don’t want to provide an electrician with their learning experience, Terrence Schehen says. It is always a good idea to ask a potential contractor about their experiences with jobs similar to your own. You can also ask your local Chamber of Commerce or local property managers about their experience with a candidate company.

Be Sure to Get a Written Estimate, Terrence Schehen Says

We have all heard horror stories about electricians who pad their bills with unexpected costs, drawn-out timeframes, and excess charges. Terrence Schehen advises you to get price estimates in writing. Good contractors don’t charge hidden fees.

Ask About Warranties and Guarantees

The best electrical contractors offer “satisfaction guaranteed.” Ask for a written copy of the company’s policy and promises regarding issues that may come up after the job is done.

Get a Firm Timeline for Completion of Your Project

Buildings don’t do a lot of good if they don’t have electricity. Your contractor may not commit to working on your project 24/7 until the work is complete, but you should have a clear timeline for the completion of the contract.

Check Insurance and Licensing

In nearly every state and municipality, electrical contractors must carry insurance to maintain their licenses. If you confirm with your state licensing board that a contractor is licensed, they will have at least minimal coverage that protects you in case they make a serious error. You also need clarification about who is responsible for worker injuries that may occur on your property. Coverage by worker compensation insurance takes care of injured workers and insulates you from accident claims.

This means that if your contractor uses day labor, they must be on the contractor’s payroll. Undocumented workers could have a claim against you in case of injury. 

You Don’t Want to Be Your Contractor’s “Biggest Job,” Terrence Schehen Says

You want your electrical contractor to be able to complete your project with ease, Terrence Schehen says. And you certainly don’t want an electrical contractor who needs a large down payment or who asks you to pay for materials yourself.

Post-Pandemic-Will Virtual Concerts Stick Around?

by Robert Thompson Wise Music Group, President

COVID-19 presented challenges unlike any ever imagined for the music industry. Few industries suffered to the extent of live entertainment, which came to a complete standstill. Still needing to reach fans, live music adapted by moving online with live-streamed concerts.

The industry innovated to confront the challenges of not playing live shows and platforms from video games like Fortnight and Minecraft turned into gathering places for virtual concerts. Live streaming services like Brightcove, StreamShark, Twitch, and Dacast are just a few of many names that have been used to reach music fans.

So will virtual and live stream concerts continue to be big post-pandemic as live shows return and skyrocket in attendance?

Robert Thompson says, yes they will. The virtual concert industry generated $600 million in 2020. It opened the door to concert experiences that can be had regardless of where your favorite musician or band might be playing. Consider this, Andrea Bocelli’s live performance from Venice had 30 million viewers on YouTube. Miley Cyrus’ Zombie cover had over 10 million views. Artists reached more people than they ever could and created new fans.

The model is moving to a hybrid, where both the in-person and live stream events happen concurrently. Like you can attend a live sporting event or watch it on TV, music now offers both options.

Is that music festival you’re dying to attend sold out? Robert Thompson asks; would you watch it via live stream for a much-reduced price? Most likely, you will and do so soon. The event gets to expand its reach and bring in more significant revenue, and you still get to see your favorite acts play live from the comfort of your living room.

Due to the reach of live stream concerts, there is no doubt that labels are interested in offering these events as publicity for artist tours or new album drops. If an artist can reach more and more people, it only serves to increase concert ticket sales down the road.

Throughout the ’90s, the Grateful Dead were consistently the highest-grossing band on tour, often bringing in more money than the following several bands or soloists combined. Yet, only the Grateful Dead allowed recording and videos of their concerts. The music industry slowly caught on. Nothing generates show attendance better than people seeing how amazing the show is to experience and wishing they were there. Virtual concerts do just that.

Now that more people are intimate with the experience of virtual concerts, and due to wide adoption by Gen Z, you can expect to continue to see them flourish. They will become even more prevalent, even post-pandemic. The future of virtual concerts and the benefits they bring to both artists and fans have a bright future ahead.

Haley Zelenka on A New Perspective on Acromegaly

People Who Have Acromegaly Can Lead Meaningful, Fulfilling Lives, Mississippi Attorney Haley Zelenka Says

Living with any chronic disease can be a trial, Mississippi healthcare and family law attorney Haley Zelenka says, but people who have rare conditions confront a plethora of uniquely difficult challenges. Just getting an accurate condition can take years, and many people who have poorly understood illnesses like Zelenka’s acromegaly struggle with loneliness and isolation.

But some people with rare, challenging conditions learn how to overcome them and live great lives.

Many people who have acromegaly, a chronic condition caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland in the brain, suffer a baffling variety of symptoms. The classic symptoms of acromegaly are continued growth of the hands, feet, tongue, and nose after adulthood. The growth that doesn’t quit can cause problems with vision, breathing during sleep, taste, and coordination.

Acromegaly also changes appearances in many of the people who have it. Add to these problems complications such as the increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, goiter, and precancerous growths in the colon.

Acromegaly is used to presage an early death. But with modern treatments, most people who have acromegaly can expect a normal life expectancy. Some people with acromegaly can live very meaningful lives even with their disease.

Haley Zelenka is a native of the Gulf Coast. She currently lives in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Ms. Zelenka earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Mississippi State University and her JD from the University of Mississippi. Zelenka devotes most of her professional energies to her work as Vice President and General Counsel of Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, but before she went into healthcare law, she was an attorney for the Eighth Chancery Court District of Mississippi. The chancery court, among other things, hears cases involving adoption and family matters. She developed a passion for child advocacy. She remains close to the families she helped adopt children.

One of the social workers who knows Haley Zelenka professionally described her this way:

‘Haley is both passionate and compassionate. Moreover, she is ridiculously smart. You couldn’t have a better lawyer in your corner.”

She carried that same passion and comparison to her service on the inaugural Board of Directors of the Acromegaly Community.

Haley was diagnosed with acromegaly while she was still in college, in 2002. The Acromegaly Community came along in 2005. It offers a variety of services to the 2800 people living with the condition in the United States.

It takes an average of 10 years for the average acromegaly patient to get an accurate diagnosis. The Acromegaly Community helps people get an accurate diagnosis and gives them information on surgery, radiation, medication, and how to pay for them. Most importantly, The Acromegaly Community helps its members find the emotional, financial, and physical resources to live with their condition.

In her spare time, Haley is also a pet parent to two rescue cats and keeps up with six nieces and nephews.

How to Approach an IRA if 2022 Goes Into a Recession

Folks might be thinking 2022 is a lousy year to put money into an individual retirement account or IRA, but there’s never a wrong time to do so, even when older. Barry Bulakites has seen this same question play out again and again with each recession.

An IRA is one of the few tax shelters allowed by the government that anyone can use. It’s a great way to park long-term savings, avoid more income taxes than necessary, and build up reserves for one’s later years all in one package. Unfortunately, IRAs get a lot of bad reps because they take a long time to build up; the government limits how much one can deposit in an IRA per year, which is the downside of the financial tool.

With the 2022 market in the doldrums and the word “recession” whispered in every corner, many folks might feel keeping extra funds in a savings account or in cash is a more intelligent move. In fact, it’s probably the opposite, argues Barry Bulakites. After taking care of living expenses and emergency savings, leftover funds kept in basic savings of cash form are essentially eroding and losing value thanks to a double-whammy of income taxes and inflation. Always present, even in good times, Bulakites reflects that inflation continues to chip away at the value of a dollar, which is why that 25-cent comic book you remember as a kid now costs over $5 to buy today. Instead, folks have two choices: put their money in an account that avoids taxes as long as possible, gaining the maximum value of the income when it’s finally pulled out, or investing it to increase the value more than it is.

Barry Bulakites reminds folks an IRA does both for a saver. First, IRAs can be combined with investment platforms to allow owners to market play, increasing their IRA value while waiting for the eventual withdrawal. That in and of itself allows the funds to grow considerably with the right investment choices and timing. Secondly, pushing the withdrawal out to one’s later years means a lower tax bracket, also producing serious savings on those funds when actually withdrawn versus income taxes now while earning.

Some might argue that an IRA makes no sense for those who are older and have a shorter span before needing retirement funds, like folks in their 50s. In reality, people are living much longer. Granted, even if 2022 went into recession, the likelihood is that many people, thanks to medical advances, will still live decades longer. And that means funds saved in an IRA will come in very handy in those late and later years.

Where possible, contribute the maximum amount possible each year, put to $6,000 in 2021 and 2022. After age 50, eligible account holders can also contribute an additional $1,000 catchup amount, for a total of $7,000 per year. As a couple, both could contribute up to a combined $14,000 total per year with this feature. And that starts to become a real nest egg after a decade or so, Bulakites says.

So is 2022 a rough year so far? Maybe, but it is no reason not to keep contributing or even starting an IRA. Instead, it’s a vivid reason why an IRA makes so much sense. Barry Bulakites notes good times and recessions will come again in the future.

Griffith Littlehale Discusses Top Five Tips for New Graphic Designers

Graphic design is an art that demands both creativity and logical thinking. It also requires patience and an eye for detail. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re trying to improve your craft, here are some steps you can take to become an even better designer, says Griffith Littlehale.

1. Show your skills

Your portfolio is a representation of your skills as a graphic designer. It is a display of your design work that shows off your capabilities and your ability to meet client expectations. 

Your portfolio should be more than just a collection of your best work. Instead, it should be a visual representation of your career progression, explains Griffith Littlehale. So make sure it showcases the skills you’ve acquired while working at your current firm or during your internships and student placements.

2. Don’t Stop with the Fundamentals

As a beginner, you will find yourself trying to learn everything at once. We know you want to build your skills as quickly as possible, but you have to remember that you can’t do everything at once. 

Instead, it’s important to start slowly and work your way up. You have to master the fundamentals and build a solid foundation for yourself. But don’t stop there! Keep up with industry trends and push boundaries with your work. 

Many designers do one or the other–what will help you stand out is innovative work that is built on a mastery of the basics, says Griffith Littlehale.  

3. Stay Up-to-Date with the Latest Design Trends

The best graphic designers are the ones that are up-to-date with the latest design trends. You should be keeping up with what’s popular so that you can incorporate those ideas into your work. 

Being up-to-date with the latest design trends will help you create unique designs that are relevant. Remember, graphic design thrives on new concepts and fresh interpretations of the world. The last thing you want is for your designs to be labeled as “dated.”

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

As a beginner, you may find yourself focusing on getting the basics right. Form, color theory, composition – and these are all important- but don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new, says Griffith Littlehale

If you’re nervous about shaking things up this early in your career, try the 70/30 approach. When you’re creating mockups, let 70% be solid basics based on the client brief. But let 30% be something new, creative, and fun. As your clients are drawn to your more creative offerings, it will give you confidence and allow you to grow a customer base that believes in your vision.

5. Know Your Tools

As a beginner in the design field, it’s important for you to learn about the tools that you work with. You should not just learn the basic tools but also the advanced ones. Knowing your tools inside out will help you create designs that are unique and original.

From software to drawing tablets, dive into the functionality and hacks for every tool that you use, advises Littlehale. You’ll be surprised how learning about the quirks and possibilities in your tools inspires creative and unique work.  

Advantages of buying real estate in California

Property owners in the state have numerous options to see excellent returns on their investments! From stocks to bonds to bitcoin, investments come in different forms and sizes. But, regardless of the type of investment, investors want something that provides them with security, regular dividends, and a higher-than-average return on their money. Jamell Tousant says real estate is one type of investment that checks all of these boxes. Investing in real estate provides you with a buffer against economic downturns. Property is a solid source of passive income and has the potential to appreciate; thus, it also provides regular earnings in the form of rent. You must spend your resources in the right market if you want to gain the full benefits of property investing. Many investors have been drawn to the California real estate market over the years, and Oakland Realtor, Jamell Tousant, will explain why. 

Factors Affecting the Real Estate Market in California- The following are some of the most important factors that have a big impact on California real estate:

  • A thriving economy

The total number of Fortune 500 firms is based in California. Oracle, Disney, Apple, Intel, and Google are among the notable mentions. According to Jamell Tousant, these businesses will undoubtedly expand as a result of the growing demand for their services from both the local and international communities. If you want to invest in a region with a thriving economy and job market, this is one to consider. Low unemployment rates benefit you as a landlord since you can rest assured that your tenants will be able to satisfy their rental obligations without difficulty.

  • Property is in high demand.

Professionals are moving into the state daily to take advantage of the abundant career opportunities. Jamell Tousant explains that this means there will be a larger pool of potential tenants to pick from.

  • Tourism Market Is Strong

Even if you’re an out-of-state investor, you’ll enjoy the views, attractions, and activities that California has to offer. You may have even visited with your family in the past. This is just another compelling incentive to invest in California real estate now that you’ve decided to do so. California attracts millions of visitors each year thanks to its amusement parks, entertainment hubs, beaches, and other interesting activities. While they may be arriving for various reasons, they all have one thing in common: the need for lodging. In order to save money, more tourists are opting for short-term vacation rental homes rather than typical hotels. You can always choose to invest in a market with a constant supply of short-term renters instead of leasing out your property traditionally. You can also choose from a variety of apps and platforms on the market, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Expedia, to mention a few.

  • Property Taxes That Aren’t Too Expensive

Property ownership and leasing are similar to running a business, explains Jamell Tousant. Cash flow, revenue, and expenses must all be closely monitored. This implies that you must also pay taxes and keep meticulous financial records.

Although California’s property taxes are not the lowest in the country, they are modest when compared to other states such as Washington and New Jersey. As a landlord, this can help you increase your cash flow!

How to Prepare for a Stock Market Crash

There’s been a lot of recent buzz surrounding predictions of an impending stock market crash. Spring, TX financial advisor Arkhat Zhumadilov agrees with the prognostications. Inflation, supply shortages, the war in Ukraine, the unrest here in America… all of these things can lead to a crash.

The stock market runs in cycles and crashes will always be a part of the cycle. It’s not a matter of if the market will crash again, but when. It sounds scary, but Zhumadilov shared tips on how investors can prepare.

Save Your Money Now

This will always be good advice concerning any financial matter, but a crash can lead to layoffs, and it’s a good idea to have emergency savings that are separate from your retirement fund. 

If you don’t already have it, Arkhat Zhumadilov advises residents of Montgomery County, TX to set a goal of saving enough to cover a 6-month bout of unemployment. 

Reassess Your Investments

“In the face of a stock market crash, most people’s first thought is to sell immediately,” says Arkhat Zhumadilov, “but don’t let fear make financial decisions for you! Take the time to reassess your investments thoughtfully.” 

Think about the reasons you chose an investment and the reasons for the current state of the economy. If you have stock in a company you didn’t research well back when you first invested, then that may be a good option to reconsider. But if you believe in a company’s future, stick to your plan. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Diversify Wisely

The more variety you have in your stock portfolio, the less any individual investment can drag it down. But that doesn’t only mean a lot of different stocks. One thing most portfolios are short on is bonds. Aim for a ratio of about 60% stocks, and 40% bonds.

“Keep in mind that diversity doesn’t only mean different companies,” added Zhumadilov. “But companies that you’ve chosen based on a variety of market trends.” A bunch of different tech startups is not truly shoring up your portfolio with diversity.

Work with a Trusted Financial Advisor

There just are not enough hours in the day for every person to become a finance wiz. Much like we have doctors to advise us on maintaining our health, an expert financial advisor can guide you through making important decisions with your money. 

Arkhat Zhumadilov’s office in The Woodlands, TX coaches hundreds of clients each week on how to prepare for and survive market crashes. He shared some final advice for when the next crash inevitably comes:

“Make note of how you stuck to or strayed from your game plan during the crash. Every crash may be different, but you can learn from what you did well, and what you can do as a savvy investor to better meet a crash when the next one comes around.”

Shantele Marcum on the Top Five Trends in Influencer Marketing

The top trends in influencer marketing for 2022. Shantele Marcum, a RE/MAX Platinum Realtor in Sarasota, Florida, wants influencers to know the top five trends in influencer marketing they can leverage to increase brand exposure, increase engagement, and remain at the forefront of social media.

Content Creation is Easier with Social Media Platforms

Instagram invests heavily in tools that enable collaborations between brands and influencers. Instagram Stories, for example, are now available to everyone, regardless of follower count. The “Collabs” feature and “Add Yours” stickers make it easy for content creators to generate traffic, engage with users, and collaborate with brands.

Through a combination of stories, reels, and posts, brands can help people move through the sales funnel.

Marketing TikTok Influencers is More Effective than Ever

TikTok is continuing to grow, surpassing 1 billion monthly users. And like him or not, Elon Musk has done plenty to drive the TikTok conversation even more.

This was due to the influencers’ clever and creative content. A 2021 survey of influencers found that 81 percent of TikTok’s influencers have higher engagement on TikTok than on their other social media platforms. This is a motivating factor for both brands and influencers.

Social networks have a variety of monetization tools that can be used to diversify income streams for influencers. For example, virtual tipping is a popular tool across social media platforms like Twitch and YouTube. It allows community members to reward and support their favorite creators.

Social Commerce Driven by Influencers Will Boom

People trust the recommendations of those they trust before purchasing. And people they trust online are becoming more influential and content creators.

Both TikTok and Instagram are hotspots for shopper research. Over 80 percent of shoppers use Instagram for product research, while the TikTok hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is viewed billions of times.

Social platforms are looking to increase their share of the market as shoppers shift to online shopping after the pandemic. They have invested in tools, such as TikTok’s partnership with Shopify and Instagram’s new native affiliate tools.

More Influencers in More Areas and Niches

Are you worried that your brand is too niche or old-fashioned to collaborate with social media influencers on behalf of your brand? You might be wrong! No matter what your business area, there is an influencer or platform that will suit you. They can reach the audience that interests you most.

Content creators and influencers don’t have to be well known. However, they must have the expertise, credibility, and likability to being successful in their niche.

LinkedIn launched new creator mode profiles, allowing business professionals to create specialized content and grow a following.

More Cautious about Partnerships for Influencers

Shantele Marcum understands the influencer marketing market is maturing. Influencers now have more options to make money and provide support for themselves, thanks to the development of resource platforms. This allows them to be more selective in choosing brands to work for so that they can maintain their followers’ support and goodwill.

Shantele Marcum has a background in sales, marketing, and promotion and has worked in the hospitality, retail, and health and fitness industries.

Kevin Mulleady: What Makes a Successful Startup Leader?  

Startups and Leadership: Kevin Mulleady on How Small Businesses Can Grow and Evolve

When it comes to leadership styles, there are as many out there as there are successful leaders. With so many different perspectives (all of which might seem to have some validity), it would be easy to get confused if you’re trying to track down the correct answer. Kevin Mulleady has founded and co-founded many successful companies by this point, and he’s learned a lot about how startup leaders should (and shouldn’t) be operating. He weighs in on how to develop your style — even if you’re starting from Square One.

Relinquish Your Doubts

The leader has an intense amount of responsibility. While most people see the perks of leadership, like having people answer to you and having control, what they don’t always see are the downsides. Leaders are expected to make endless decisions, and if they make a mistake, their head is often on the proverbial chopping block.

Despite this, there’s no reason why a leader should let this prevent them from trying. Mulleady says that while not everyone wants to be a leader, everyone can be a leader under the right circumstances. 

So even people who begin their companies without any real leadership experience should start with some degree of confidence that they can learn what they don’t know. This doesn’t mean that the leader is always right (in fact, far from it), but it does mean that all successful leaders have to have some faith in their abilities to know which direction to go.

Prepare for Change

Kevin Mulleady has always stressed that leaders need to be ready to evolve when needed. Startups too stuck in their ways will often fall prey to more flexible competitors. If you don’t start with a premise of change, it will be difficult for anyone to pivot if and when the time comes. Leaders set the tone for the organization, even when they don’t realize it.

If the startup leader is sticking with a plan that doesn’t work, it can give people the impression that there’s no room for the company, or by extension, themselves, to grow. If a startup leader instead informs their team that change is inevitable and it’s everyone’s job to manage it as effectively as they can, it gives startups a little more freedom to move around in their market and come out ahead.

Kevin Mulleady on Giving People a Reason

Even before the pandemic, people searched for more meaning in their careers. This didn’t mean that they’d dismissed the importance of salary or benefits packages, but it did mean that they wanted to make a difference if they were going to give up their precious time. Kevin Mulleady works in biotech, among other sectors, so it’s been relatively easy to convince people that they’re doing something worthwhile with all those hours they logged.

However, he says that all leaders can rally their employees and/or customers if they look at the situation correctly. No matter your industry, you’re providing value to your target demographic. So whether you’re offering a new software program or a life-saving therapeutic, there’s something to be gained. Centering around a cause helps people focus on their work, which can lead to much bigger margins in the future.

The art of leadership will ultimately be different for everyone. Mulleady has seen how even the most promising startups can crash and burn and how the pressure and stakes can take down people who start with the best intentions. There is no magic formula (unfortunately), but there are ways to set a few core standards so a leader can strive to live up to them every day. From evolving to rallying to believing, startup leaders must develop a style that they can live with day in and day out. Sometimes, it’s as easy as a slight shift in mindset.