Winter Business Idea

November 28, 2015

I live in Chicagoland and that means snow in the winter. Snow – sometimes a lot – provides a simple business idea for winter – snow removal. From clearing sidewalks and driveways to driving a pick-up truck with a snow blade in front, you can make serious money in areas that get snow and ice.

snowstormpic-2

Chicago already had a snow storm two weeks ago and our area got about 12 inches of the heavy white stuff. Snow might look nice falling and when it first covers the ground, but pulling out the snowblower and having it ice up because of wet snow and cold temperatures is no fun.

I guarantee people will pay you to do the work for them. This is true of businesses, too. Parking lots needed clearing and salt put down to dissolve the ice. Slips and falls on private property often end up in court. Nobody wants to deal with that mess.

The next time it snows, put on your cold weather gear and look at your neighbors for opportunities. Odds are good that if they are older or if people are at work, they won’t want to come home and have to clear the drive in the dark and cold. Charge them a reasonable rate and be sure to cover your fuel cost and any maintenance issue. Snow removal – a perfect start-up business idea for winter.


Home Business Idea – Sell Used Books

February 15, 2015

Home Business Idea – Sell Used Books.

 

 


eBay is a Money Machine

February 5, 2015

Want to make some money?  Have stuff laying around or talent in arts and crafts?  You can sell on eBay.  eBay is a virtual garage sale and auction house that earned $18 billion last year.  Maybe you should get some of that money.

Selling is easy.  Listing is inexpensive.  Help is available on the Internet and from eBay.

Why not try?

eBay is a Money Machine.


Publish eBooks on Kindle – Step By Step Instructions

February 16, 2014

Previously, Homepreneurs detailed steps on how to publish eBooks on Smashwords.  Publishing eBooks is a simple way for a writer to make extra money by exposing their work to hundreds of millions of potential readers and/or buyers.  This is a great home business idea, provides a little extra money, and personal satisfaction too.  The process of self-publishing an eBook through Kindle is very simple.

eBooks will probably not be enough to earn a living.  In a previous post, I detailed the amount of money earned from SmashWords for 2013.  There are of course, exceptions to the rule.  Some authors do make a living from eBooks; are you the next exception?

This post covers publishing on Kindle, step-by-step.  Between SmashWords and Kindle, a large portion of the digital publishing market is available.to you, the writer.  Both services are free, so why not take a chance?  You can always publish under a pseudonym to avoid potential complications or issues.

Kindle Reader

Kindle Reader

Read the rest of this entry »


Publish eBooks on Smashwords – Step by Step Instructions

February 14, 2014

Interested in becoming a published author?  Publish on SmashWords and control your work from content to distribution and pricing.  SmashWords is one of the largest – if not the largest – distributor of indie (independent) books in the world. The retail customers include iBooks (Apple), Nook (Barnes and Noble), Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and more.  If you want to make money as a writer – especially as a book author – use SmashWords.  This post has a step-by-step process for publishing on SmashWords.  If you really want to cover all eBook bases, refer to the recent post with a similar tutorial for Kindle.

eBooks are quickly overtaking print books as the media of choice.  iPad, Kindle, and Nook reader sales are strong and eBook sales will surpass printed book sales (see graph)  in 2017, assuming current sales trends remain.  Writers need to consider and embrace the eBook platform if they hope to be successful.

Infographic: U.S. eBook Sales to Surpass Printed Book Sales in 2017 | Statista

Before jumping into eBook publishing, have your story or other work formatted correctly and ready to publish.  Refer to SmashWords founder Mark Coker’s guide for eBooks as a reference. Also be sure to have cover page artwork prepared and ready to upload to the site.  SmashWords has a no-nudity policy for its covers; if writing erotica, know this in advance.  SmashWords current cover guidelines:

They (covers) should be vertical rectangle-shaped (the height is greater than the width), not squares, and must be a minimum width of 1,400 pixels. A recommended size is approximately 1,600 pixels wide by 2,400 pixels tall (the proportions of most paperback books in the USA, which have height 1.5 times greater than their width). To view the pixel dimensions, right mouse click on the image and click properties.(2)  Updates and examples are found at http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/06/new-ebook-cover-image-requirements.html.

Some lessons I learned after publishing several eBooks on SmashWords:

– A TABLE OF CONTENTS IS A MUST.  Especially for iBooks.

DO NOT USE TABS.  You may want to make a book of poetry look pretty or visually appealing, but no in eBooks, yet.

DO NOT USE EXTRA SPACING OR LINE RETURNS.  This is another guarantee that “Meatgrinder” will reject the file.

– SmashWords uses the “Meatgrinder” program to convert a .doc (MS Word) into an .epub file.  Errors are common the first time through, don’t get discouraged.

– Create a separate title page from the body text.  “Meatgrinder” does not know the difference between title page and body page.   Use the “page break” option in Word for this.

– Most autovetter error messages are very confusing and opaque.  You can follow the style guide and try to correct the problems.  It is often slow and frustrating.

– Help yourself and do not use numbered lists at all.  My most recent eBook had one bizarre error, and that was for several numbered lists in my book.  I removed all numbered lists and the error resolved.

– Instead of numbers, use bullet points: the “-“ works well.  Nothing fancy, just basic.

– Be consistent with paragraph styles throughout your eBook.  Use the same font (arial, times new roman, courrier) and no larger than 14 pt.

– Use the “save as” feature and save your document in compatibility mode.  Word version 2003 or .doc format.

– SmashWords is not nearly as fast as Kindle for mass distribution.  With Kindle, the eBook (assuming no errors) will be on sale within 12 to 24 hours.  SmashWords, while immediately on sale (at SmashWords store) after publication, won’t show errors or distribute to its affiliates (via the Premium Catalog) for several days.  Don’t be shocked if you wait for 5 days or more.  Since the affiliates include Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel and more, your eBook must be error-free.

– Microsoft Word has many hidden formatting issues.  Use the paragraph icon (show/hide)  to reveal extra spaces and line returns (see below).

paragraph icon

– Download Adobe Digital Editions to review your .epub file.  epub is distributed to all SmashWords affiliates.

These tips won’t cover all errors – sometimes Word files become corrupted for no known reason.  In these cases, backup the file and copy and paste all of it (ctl + a) into WordPad or Notepad to remove all hidden formatting.  Copy the program back into a new Word file.

New Account

Create an account on SmashWords (free) using an email address.  If you are charging for your work, you will be paid within 40 days after the end of each quarter.  If in the U.S.A, payment is by paper check or PayPal account.  If outside the U.S., PayPal is the only option.  You will need to supply an address and tax ID number too.  Payment thresholds are $75 for paper checks and $10 for PayPal.

Existing accounts don’t need to go through the setup process unless something has changed or you are using a pseudonym (pen name).  SmashWords allows multiple pseudonyms, but the payment information (for taxes) should be the same.

Publish

Click on the publish tab in the toolbar as shown below:

Smashwords toolbar

– Enter the title of the book

– Select pre-order (see description) or publish immediately option (note above about distribution to affiliates)

– Long and short descriptions are important – they are the similar to the back and inside cover of a print book.

– Choose the language and dialect (if appropriate)

– Set pricing.  You have 3 choices: Free, Let Reader Set Price, or set a price more than $0.99.  About pricing – this can be difficult.  Too low, and readers may think the book is cheap (content).  Too high, and readers won’t buy.  Many authors choose $2.99 for a 15,000 to 20,000 or more word book.  Research pricing against similar products.

– Set sampling.  This is a preview of the first part of your eBook.  For short stories, 25% to 30% is good, for novels, 10% to 20%, depending.  Sampling includes the cover page, title page, and table of contents page.  Adjust sampling accordingly.

– Choose the category.  Category and Tags are part of the metadata for your eBook.  If a reader searches for paranormal romance, they don’t want ABC and 123 for kids.

–  If your eBook contains adult content, choose that button.  SmashWords publishes only original and legal works.  Period.

– Select the eBook formats desired.  By default, all available formats are selected including: ,epub, .mobi (Kindle), PDF, RTF, plain text and more.

– Click on the browse button to upload the cover

– Click on the browse button to select the eBook text.  .doc is preferred, but ePub is currently in beta testing.  I have not tried uploading an .epub file yet.

– Click on the agree box

– Click on PUBLISH IMMEDIATELY

The file will go through the “Meatgrinder” process and spit out the results.  You may receive errors as mentioned above.  If not, go to the dashboard and assign an ISBN number to your work.  After an ISBN is assigned (required for Apple iBooks), click on submit for review and addition to the Premium catalog.  This process will take several days and may give errors too.  You will receive an email notification when the process is complete or if errors occur.

Congratulations!  You can now claim to be a published author!


3 Tips for Freelance Workers

January 3, 2014

Want to start a freelance career?  Freelance work has many benefits: independence, control, flexible hours, and the potential to make a lot of money.  Before you make that decision, think about these drawbacks.

1) Can you and are you willing to do what it takes?

A freelancer has no backup, no wingman, no one to bail you out.  The job is completely up to you, or at least your part of the job.  Can you accept that?  Do you have the skills, experience, and determination to get it done?  Freelancing isn’t easy, and bad customer experiences can make you look bad too.

2) Are you a closer?

Getting freelance work isn’t about the number of social media sites or contacts you have.  It is about telling the customer how you will do the job, in their time, and within budget.  Social media sites – LinkedIn in particular – are great, but don’t replace a firm handshake or personal contact.  And once in the door, do you have the personality to close the deal?   You have to always sell yourself and always close the deal.

If you can’t or are not comfortable selling yourself and the services you bring, freelancing may not be for you.  You must be able to sell and react to changes in client demand and expectations.

3) Do you have the time?

Freelancing is not a 9 to 5 job at all.  It is closer to a 50 or 60 hour workweek or more.  Other than the actual consulting (freelancing) work, you will have lots of paperwork (billing, taxes, education),work on getting  the next client (while still on the current job), and of course every little task a small business needs to do.  As a freelancer, you have no staff and need to handle everything yourself.

Can you put in the time needed?  If you can confidentially answer yes to all of the above, you may be ready for a freelance career.  If you can’t, perhaps part-time freelancing is a better choice at this time.


2 Simple Concepts for Business Success

October 3, 2013

I was flying from Reno to Las Vegas a few months ago and had a great conversation with a man sitting next to me.  I don’t recall his name, only some key words of advice.  He was older – in his 60s probably – and had started many successful businesses.  I asked him for some tips.  His answer was so obvious, so simple, and so true.

Want or Need

He said that a successful business boils down to two concepts:

– Give people what they need to survive

What do people need?  The basics: food (his business), water, and shelter from the elements or predators.  Minor changes might include health care and related.  We really NEED nothing else to survive.  Not even love.

– Give people what they want

People want to be entertained, have contact with others, and a purpose in life.

Entertainment ranges from television to pornography, to sports and travel, music and art.  Why is a dumb little game like Candy Crush so addictive?  It is entertaining.  In fact, 30 percent of all data transferred across the Internet is porn.(1)  Why?  Entertainment.

Contact with others includes love, relationships, sex, the Internet, clubs, and similar.

Purpose is the hardest to define and very person-specific.  Some want money or work.  Others want to volunteer or teach or raise children.  People want a purpose in life.  A purpose to keep living.

Want to build and run a successful business?  Figure out how to satisfy either the want or the need. 

Starting a successful business really is that simple.

(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/03/internet-porn-stats_n_3187682.html


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