Tag Archives: Advertising

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4 reasons every church needs a thread

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We live in a crazy, loud world; a world that’s decided it doesn’t “need” a church. That’s perhaps understandable for your non-churched community, but our congregations are also slowly deciding to attend only occasionally. Most local churches are experiencing a decline in attendance.

In our loud world we know most are choosing what to listen to and what to ignore. The louder everything gets, the more we block what we perceive as nonessential.

The way we decide what’s nonessential is based on how we perceive something. What something is known for allows for quicker decisions! And we know that most people are wanting to make decisions quickly because they’re so busy.

The solution? A thread: three to five words that describe what you’d like your perception to be. You need a thread! Here are four reasons why:

1. It reconnects with your community.

Effective communication rises and falls on how well you know your audiences (internal and external). Concentrate on your internal group only and you’ll almost always decline in attendance. You need to reconnect with your community (your pipeline).

A good thread understands the community’s needs and provides a benefit to attending. Since few realize their need for a spiritual solution, a church thread should focus on temporal issues (like Jesus did when He engaged with the woman at the well about water before spiritual matters).

Letting the community know you understand them (concerns with solutions) will get them to pause and pay attention to your communication. They may not choose to attend immediately, but when they do decide they need solutions, they’ll probably choose you.

2. It gives words to your congregation.

Your internal group has many reasons why they attend. A good thread simply provides an important reason that will be easily recalled when someone asks them “why do you attend your church?”

If you don’t control the words? The average person will answer “it’s where I grew up” or “that’s where I’ve been going for years.” Neither is a compelling reason for someone to attend.

3. It gives a foundation to your brand.

Your thread (the perception of what you’re known for) is your brand.

That thread needs to be woven throughout your ministries and communication (website, emails, social media, print materials, sermons, etc.), and attached to your logo as a tagline to remind everyone about your brand promise or story. Your visual brand will simply become a reminder for the brand thread.

4. You become known for it.

The control and repetition of the thread will aid in the recall of why you exist. Internally and externally. And since it’s based on their need, it’ll be relevant to them.

Over time, your church will become known for something very simple, very relevant, and very needed. And God will allow you to be known for it — and use the temporal thread to connect your audiences to the Scarlet Thread of Jesus Christ and the gospel story.

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3 consulting hacks leaders should adopt

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It is very fun and easy to pick on consultants. They show up, charge us to tell us about our problems and then charge us more to fix them.

While the animosity may be rooted in our envy of that savvy business model, there are things we can all learn from the consultative approach. Here are three consulting practices leaders should adopt.

Tenuous

Many consulting firms work under the premise that it is better to keep a client than find a new one. While we are willing to accept this approach with customers and employees, as employers, many of us balk at the idea of partnering with a consulting firm for a long time.

Yet, most firms find a way to deepen and extend their relationships with their clients. What is it about those relationships that keeps the client coming back?

Having worked on both sides, one common thread was the ability of the consultants to consistently provide tangible deliverables. Few employers hold their employees as instantly accountable as they do their consultants. Consultants know this and, as such, create clear expectations, communicate openly and deliver accordingly.

As leaders, we can both strive to develop that type of relationship with our team and practice that approach to deliverables.

Orienteering

Understanding the office landscape and navigating it to their advantage is another key skill of successful consultants. In fact, after confirming the client can actually pay the bills, the next steps of savvy consultants are to assess the bigger picture of who can impact or detract from their success.

As leaders, we are (hopefully!) already keenly aware of the players in our sphere. However, we do not always prioritize the care and feeding of those relationships.

Instead, we spend our time articulating what is on the horizon, keeping our team on track or addressing those squeaky wheels.

Conversely, consultants keep those important relationships front of mind to ensure key players are aware of their contributions, value and impact on future success. To adopt this philosophy, we as leaders can invest time in whatever we are not already doing.

In other words, if we are constantly spending time with our squeaky wheels, we should adjust course to spend more time with our high performers. Instead of neglecting our strong relationships because we know they are healthy, we should prioritize those colleagues as partners in our success.

Brava!

Finally, consultants know their audience. From the length of a PowerPoint deck to a keen appreciation of the priorities and idiosyncrasies of the executive team, successful consultants know how to present their idea for the most impact and success.

They also understand how acknowledging the little things conveys an attention to detail that leaders appreciate. Again, these are skills we all likely possess but do not prioritize to the same extent as our external advisors.

The bottom line is we can increase tangible deliverables, positively impact the productivity and strength of our relationships, and improve our standing with those above us by mining our skill sets and borrowing a few practices from consultants.

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Game change: California’s Fair Pay to Play Act

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The economics of college athletics will be changing in the Golden State. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act, into law. The legislation will let student-athletes earn money from endorsements and hire sports agents, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a nonprofit membership group, had barred that compensation option, instead providing scholarships, room and board and other assistance to student-athletes, mainly in Division I sports, and less so in Divisions II and III.

The NCAA’s exploitative business model propelled the Fair Pay to Play Act, according to Gov. Newsom. “Colleges reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar,” he said in a statement.

The NCAA opposes the law. The group prefers a national approach to reforming the system that bars student-athletes from earning compensation for their labor.

“The NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules-making process,” the group said in a statement. “As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.”

Dan A. Rascher, Ph.D., a professor of sports economics and finance at the University of San Francisco, disagrees with the NCAA’s view.

“Competitive balance does not exist in major college athletics such as men’s basketball and football,” he told MultiBriefs by phone. The NCAA is incorrect and knows that the status quo of preventing student-athletes from earning compensation does not spur competitive balance, according to him.

The sentiment that the NCAA establishment is out of step with the times is spreading across the U.S. In the sports world, college and professional athletes concur.

UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi; WNBA star Diana Taurasi; former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon; NBA superstar LeBron James; and Rich Paul, James’ friend, agent and owner of Klutch Sports Group, which manages many high-profile pro athletes, joined Gov. Newsom when he signed the Fair Pay to Play Act.

In the world of state politics, lawmakers agree that student-athletes possibly receiving pay for their athletic pursuits is an idea whose time has come. Fortune.com reports that politicians in 11 states — both under Republican and Democratic control — are looking at legislation similar to the new California law.

There are consequences of this trend, financially speaking, for the NCAA, which earned revenue of $1.06 billion in 2017 versus $996 million in 1996. The vast bulk of the NCAA’s annual revenue, $844 million, comes from the men’s Division I basketball championship tournament via TV and marketing rights. The NCAA distributes its revenue to support scholarship funds for college athletes, team travel, food and lodging, and academic programs and services.

California’s Fair Pay to Play Act and similar laws in other states will, all things equal, shift NCAA revenue to student-athletes. The story line is straightforward. State politicians are responding to the interests of the market, which wants to pay college student-athletes, according to Prof. Rascher.

The NCAA declined a request to comment on its next move in response to California’s landmark law changing the finances of collegiate athletics.

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CBD: Beyond the hype

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Is CBD going mainstream? It sure appears that way. I live in the Western North Carolina mountains near Asheville, and CBD seems to be everywhere. Every time I turn around, I see another store selling some form of the beloved remedy.

In an article earlier this year in Forbes magazine Nick Kovacevich confirms my observation, “CBD is being infused into face creams, bath bombs, makeup and dozens of pet products. Proponents say it works on everything from headaches to aching joints, relieves anxiety and skin conditions, and relaxes and rejuvenates all parts of the body. It’s even said to soothe hemorrhoids and stop menstrual cramps. A large part of this expanding category is the edibles market, where CBD is being touted as a superfood as it’s infused into products such as honey, salad dressing, baked goods, snacks and a whole host of beverages.” He goes on to say that even Martha Stewart is stepping into the industry.

In the midst of all the buzz and media frenzy, many of us are wondering: Is there really something to CBD? Or is it just the latest health craze that, like lots of fad diets and quick-fix remedies, will come and go?

What’s stopped me from jumping on the bandwagon is the high cost. I regularly use supplements as part of my health regime, however, when I calculate the monthly cost of using most CBD products, I find it significantly more expensive than any other supplement I currently use.

Perhaps I’m waiting for the market to settle and the price to come down. Or I’m not convinced yet that it’s worth the investment.

You may feel the same, so join me as I dig into this a bit to learn more.

First, let’s start with the market: New York-based investment bank Cowen & Co. estimates that the revenue of the CBD market will reach $16 billion by 2025. BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research are more bullish: $20 billion by 2024.

With projections like this, no wonder Martha Stewart doesn’t want to be left out. But rather than reassure me, these big numbers make me wonder how I will be able to distinguish the legitimate companies that create high-quality products from those simply throwing products on the market to make money. The typical consumer has no easy way of sorting through the vast inconsistencies in the quality and quantity of active ingredients in CBD products.

Second, let’s look at the stated benefits: There is a whole range of information out there about CBD uses, all of which I cannot get into here, but the most promising applications seem to be for seizures, anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain.

The research is, in fact, quite daunting, which means that we still have a lot more to learn before anything definitive is known. Personally, I have only tried CBD cream and full-spectrum honey. The CBD cream worked really well for me on minor physical aches and pains.

I noticed the effects within 10 minutes and was pretty impressed with the results. But I’m not sure if it’s significantly better than other types of pain cream on the market. I didn’t really notice much from ingesting the CBD honey. The rest of what I know is what I hear from the people that have used CBD to relieve anxiety and insomnia. All have raved about it.

Third and finally, let’s look at the legality: To determine whether you currently live in a state in which CBD is legal, you can do a quick Google search and dozens of sites will show up. The laws are confusing at best, and it requires educating yourself to even begin to understand what’s what.

According to an article on the website CBD Central, “There are approximately 113 unique cannabinoids in cannabis plants, which can be classified as hemp plants or marijuana plants (there’s a difference!). CBD is one of them and is the second-most prevalent cannabinoid found in the plant; THC is another. This distinction is absolutely critical to understand because THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high’ produced by traditional marijuana; it’s where the negative connotations and associations generally begin.”

The good news is that the THC which gets you high and CBD which has health benefits can be separated. The bad news is that the legality of CBD is still somewhat muddy.

Based on what I’ve learned, CBD has extraordinary potential to significantly impact health and well-being. What still needs attention is reducing the cost to make it more accessible, establishing standards to make sure the quality and quantity is consistent in products and clearing up the legal confusion around it.

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How social listening can boost your digital marketing power

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Do you know how to incorporate social listening as part of your marketing strategy? If not, it’s time to start harnessing its power.

Social listening is the practice of crawling the internet to locate all the mentions of your brand on social media platforms as well as your brand’s related keywords. This way, you can very specifically target the consumers who will buy what you’re selling quickly and easily.

To do it most effectively, you need a strategy of do’s and don’ts that will maximize your time, marketing focus, and your campaign effectiveness. Use the following science-driven tips to do it right:

Make sure your brand is properly positioned, first and foremost.

According to BrandWatch, 91% of brands use two or more social media channels for advertisement.

The more you spread out your brand name, products and services, the more social chatter you’ll generate. Then, it’s just a matter of picking through that data for nuggets you can use to innovate and refresh your marketing messages.

Make sure your search efforts uncover hidden gems.

Untagged posts on Instagram. New product sites. Rave reviews on blogs. All of these locations that mention your product shouldn’t be overlooked as advertising targets, because they could be especially effective niche market resources.

Pay attention to self-identity statements.

Research from the Royal Society for Public Health found that showing self-identity and the need for self-expression are two very important and positive reasons why people voice their thoughts on a social media platform.

So, note the way consumers describe the way your product impacts their lives. This is more important information than simply analyzing whether your product is liked or disliked. If you can focus your targeting so it delivers specific benefits to your consumers to feel better about themselves, your profits can soar.

Don’t focus on your followers.

BrandWatch also found that 96% of people who mention a brand on social media don’t actually follow that brand’s social media platforms. Take all mentions into account as a whole and consider each mention to be representative of an entirely fresh consumer to win over.

Keep listening consistently.

Daily social media monitoring is ideal. Assigning interns or junior team members to keep their ears to the ground in shifts is the best way to make sure you’re on top of trending, complaints and rave reviews at all times. This info is a gold mine — use it to your best advantage!

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Looking ahead: Key digital marketing trends for 2020

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It’s never too early to start planning your digital marketing approach for the coming year! You’ve probably been thinking about your options and are trying to figure out what trends are the most important to pay attention to as you look at your new campaigns.

Now is the time to drill down and focus your efforts on the following key areas.

Clarity

Keep your ad messages consistent for all digital marketing platforms. It can be tempting to shift your message dramatically because you think different demographics might appreciate the personalization.

That is a valid assumption. But save that strategy for your social media marketing approach, and use one consistent brand message so people will remember your essential point. Then, repeat your consistent message as often as possible.

Once your message becomes familiar to your audience, your consistency strategy will truly start to show itself in high profit numbers.

Voice search

Comscore research shows that by next year, 50% of all searches will be through voice. Also, research projects that there will be 4.98 billion digital voice assistants in use worldwide next year, and that number is expected to keep shooting upward in subsequent years.

Concentrating your efforts toward voice search can pay huge dividends.

Social messaging apps

Research shows that 41 million mobile messages are sent online in one minute. Personalized messaging apps that take advantage of your audience’s desire to receive relevant, targeted data are key.

Mine your consumer survey info to find out how your existing demographic likes to be addressed and befriend them as you message on behalf of your brand.

Page loading speed

Google research finds that 53% of users will exit a page if it doesn’t load within three seconds. These folks most likely won’t return to your website. As your competition’s pages load even faster, you need to meet this challenge for 2020.

It’s an IT no-brainer — make your loading times as speedy as possible. Make your site so easy to use and navigate that your audience automatically goes to you not just because your products and services are terrific, but because you eliminate waiting and extra steps from their agenda. That’s a powerful key in terms of your company’s outreach and expansion.

Consumer trust

Emphasize the parts of your brand that are either tried and true or have won over your customer base due to their innovation. Either way, consumers will be intrigued, and will want to either come back for more or try your products and services for the first time.

Always act in a way that eliminates doubt from your audience — that’s a trend that will never go out of style!

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Research-backed tips for getting your content noticed on LinkedIn

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The potential for leveraging relationships on LinkedIn is still on the upswing — with a 145% increase in users last year, LinkedIn’s growth topped all other social media networks.

LinkedIn experts agree that creating quality content is one of the best ways to increase your visibility and build credibility on the network. You can showcase your leadership, expertise and personality by posting status updates and writing articles as well as engaging with other people’s posts.

All your connections get notified, so regular posting keeps you on their radar. Additionally, if one of them likes what you say and shares it, your content becomes visible to all that person’s connections who can re-share it. When that happens exponentially, you’ve gone viral.

Here are some tips based on recent research for creating content people want to read and share.

Contrary to popular belief, longer and simpler is better

While it seems logical that short, quick reads would be more popular with time-strapped professionals viewing posts on their smartphones — search engines and readers favor longer more in-depth content, shares Forbes Councils member Peter Boyd in an article on 2019 content marketing trends.

Content with less than 1,000 words was 16 times more prevalent than content exceeding 2,000 words, yet research from BuzzSumo showed that articles from a trusted source with 3,000-10,000 words are the most likely to be shared on social media.

Taking the time to construct a well-written and compelling article is one way to stand out in the crowd. Plusm this content remains visible on your profile for everyone to see.

Boyd adds, “It’s important to remember that the point of long-form content is not to waste readers’ time but to provide thoughtful information that can be used as a quality resource.”

Another finding goes against the conventional wisdom that it’s best to write at a level that reflects the educated audience found on LinkedIn. Contrarily, simple content easily read by the average 11-year-old attracts the most views.

Research pinpoints the qualities that really hook readers

What do professionals on LinkedIn consider compelling? Results of a BuzzSumo analysis of 228,000 articles published on LinkedIn and another 136,000 shared from other sites provide clues to what hooks readers most.

Author Susan Moeller calls them “The 5 Ps of Publishing.”

  • Practical
  • Professional
  • Personal
  • point to Peak experiences
  • portray Paths to change

An earlier BuzzSumo study analyzing the headlines and subjects with the most reads and shares on LinkedIn supports the idea that people want practical content. The most popular headlines included the phrases how to, you need to, and why you should.

Other highly shared posts, according to author Tim Rayson, were about advancing your career, habits to form or mistakes to avoid, and how to be successful as a senior leader or a team manager.

Write LinkedIn articles that personalize your professional life

Brainstorm ideas based on the five Ps. Consider practical knowledge you’ve gained from your professional life that can benefit people.

  • What important industry trends are you privy to?
  • What’s happening in your arena that inspires awe?
  • How’s your company striving to improve your industry or the world?

While LinkedIn is a professional network, the human side is what usually hooks readers. So, ask yourself what personal and professional obstacles you have faced and overcome in your career, and where you have adapted and changed. Most likely, others are dealing with similar challenges.

Recall the steps you took to get from where you were to where you are now and outline them for readers, with concrete reasons why they worked for you.

Similarly, when sharing peak experiences and great triumphs consider including the little foibles and bits of humor that were part of the process. In a breakdown of the emotions triggered by 10,000 of the most shared articles on social media, awe and laughter topped the chart.

An extra boost directly from LinkedIn help

Have your idea? Get started now with step by step instructions on posting your article from LinkedIn Help.

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How to avoid the perils of pop-ups

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Pop-up advertising can be a digital marketer’s best friend or worst enemy. If your target demo finds your pop-ups annoying or not intriguing, you’re sunk from the get-go.

The good news is that there are easy and super-effective ways to freshen your approach to pop-up placement. This way, your customers will be interested in what you show them and welcome seeing your content over and over.

Try these tips to boost enthusiasm and sales!

Limit your pop-up scheduling to early in the day.

A study from Polish researchers Izabela Rejer and Jaroslav Jankowski found that, in looking at the brain’s electrical activity, concentration can drop when a consumer sees a pop-up.

It’s key, then, to avoid scheduling ads at peak work times for your demo or late in the day when they’re attention may be flagging due to fatigue. Try scheduling your pop-ups for 7-9 a.m., when your audience is alert and receptive.

Invest in more banners for mobile ads.

Research from Columbia University Business School found that using tiny banner ads can increase consumer spending significantly if you use them the right way.

Banner pop-ups work well for practical products, like lawnmowers or a new vehicle for the family. They don’t work for splurge purchases like expensive watches, which are considered high risk by on-the-go consumers, or for low-risk items like toothbrushes. Consumers consider items like that so low-risk they don’t need a mobile ad to purchase them.

A pop-up for major necessary purchases, though? That can get people thinking as they go about their day.

Don’t overload your pop-ups.

A study from Virginia Tech by Katherine Haenschen and Jay Jennings found that millennial shoppers like pop-ups that only show them one item they’ve browsed online, as opposed to a string of items. That’s a good rule-of-thumb for many consumer demos: don’t overwhelm them.

Don’t use pop-ups too frequently.

Nothing is more frustrating to a consumer than getting constant screen interruptions, even if they like your product. Overkill is the ultimate loyalty buster.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

When do you personally find a pop-up ad interesting or helpful? Analyze your last personal purchase that was influenced by seeing a pop-up.

What factors made you but the advertised product? Was it the photo, the tagline, or the way the pop-up specifically tapped into a practical need or not-so-practical whim? Use your own experience to create pop-ups that have real appeal. That’s truly getting inside the head of your audience!

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Over 50? Sorry, we just can’t see you

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Every minority in this country faces discrimination in one way or other, including Americans over age 50. For them, one of the persistent problems has been how quickly they become invisible as they age.

The Media’s Funhouse Mirror for “Old People”

The media have rightly been criticized for contributing to almost every kind of past discrimination in this country through their depictions of minorities. Probably best-known among these are degrading media depictions of African Americans.

These unfortunate stereotypes haven’t disappeared entirely, but at least they no longer appear routinely in major media. This can’t be said for media’s depiction of older Americans.

A research report from AARP released at the September 2019 Advertising Week conference in New York, based on “a random sample of 1,116 images published by popular brands,” indicates widespread stereotyping, much of it not only inaccurate, but degrading and vicious. Tiffany Hsu, writing in The New York Times, notes these discrepancies between media depictions and reality:

A third of the labor force is over 50, but only 13% of the images examined by AARP’s research team showed any of them working or indicating that they hold down a job. Mostly, they’re just home resting.

Instead, a disproportionate number of these at-home shots show them being cared for by a medical worker.

Although the reality, according to the Pew Research Center, is that almost three-quarters of Americans between 55 and 73 own cellphones, depictions of cellphone use by this group are almost entirely absent — around 5% of the analyzed images show any kind of technology use by older Americans. On the contrary, the NYT reported that technology use by young people appeared in about a third of these same images.

One could go on, but I think an earlier NYT article on ageism that ed with a subway ad encapsulates the problem, which is one of media-endorsed and promoted images of older people (to quote Jerry Garcia, who said it sarcastically) as “old and in the way.” The subway ad read: “When you want a whole cake tor yourself because you’re turning 30, which is basically 50, which is basically dead.”

An Adweek discussion of the ad excused away the viciousness of the stereotype because it was intended to be “comic” — a viewpoint that often accompanied earlier degrading, stereotyped racial images. One of the enduring tropes implicit in this kind of harmful stereotyping is, “We’re only kidding.” If one objects, that’s just another indication of being “old and in the way.” Hip 30-somethings think it’s hilarious. What’s your problem?

Are We Getting Any Better?

In some ways, media is getting a little better about their depictions of older Americans. One motivating factor is that these same consumers have some of the highest disposable incomes. Americans 49 to 64 have the highest and within that group the very highest are those Americans between 60 and 65.

But we have a long way to go in how these Americans are depicted in the media. Older Americans are the fastest growing demographic in the country, growing in 2019 by more than 1.5 million per year.

Yet, the advertising industry, which contributes more to our perception of other Americans than any other, has its own severe problem with ageism and employs relatively few workers over the age of 50.

Age discrimination in the industry, notes one senior copywriter, is “on steroids,” and persists in pushing older workers out of the profession before they reach retirement. Another copywriter notes that in thirty years she’s only attended a single retirement party, basically because the industry squeezes them out before they get there.

This is reminiscent of a similar problem in the television industry, where earlier, before the appearance of powerful African American producers and writers like Shonda Rhimes, television shows were not going to do the best job of portraying African Americans with any degree of complexity because the writers were almost all white and had no way of experiencing firsthand what they were writing about.

Similarly, despite some recent progress, it seems unlikely that the problem of becoming invisible as you age in this country is going to change significantly until advertising writers themselves represent, among others, the older Americans they presume to depict.

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Infographic: Using tech to become an entrepreneur

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Side hustles can be a challenging way to make extra income, but they do increase the average American’s monthly pay by about 25%. Using technology to sell your knowledge to others is a great way to have a side hustle that could become a lucrative career.

There are options to create online courses, e-books, blogs, and more using various types of technology to teach others what you know and make money from it. Learn more about using tech to become an entrepreneur with this infographic.

Infographic courtesy NowSourcing

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