This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Z Expressions Hospitality. Incentive was provided and opinions are my own.
Choosing the perfect career now is drastically different than ever before, primarily because of the evolution of our basic, everyday technology. Not only has it spurred entire industries to change the way they operate, but it has also become the key to unlocking limitless career potential.
Entering into the workforce used to mean entering into a commute, rush hour traffic, long hours, not-so-nice competitive environments, and limited growth. This way of earning a living still applies to many, but others are taking a new route and paving their own way to a successful career that works around their lives. In a truly liberating feat, they are doing it right from their own homes.
While it is always wise to approach work-from-home opportunities with caution, there are in fact legitimate ways to earn a stable income from home on your own schedule.
Z Expressions Hospitality, Inc. is a global provider of virtual business solutions and work-from-home opportunities specializing in personal and business consulting, special events, and memorable occasions. They are partnered with Arise, a Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited business with an A+ rating (since 2005) and a widely-recognized industry leader for virtual job creation. With a partner like this, you know Z Expressions Hospitality is the real deal for anyone looking to enter the workforce with the freedom and flexibility of working from home.
They are currently looking for self-motivated individuals with excellent customer service and typing skills who bring a positive and professional attitude to all things they do. You will have the opportunity to service many of the nation’s top Fortune 500 companies and well-trusted brands in industries such as e-commerce, cable communications, technology, retail, telecommunications, and travel and hospitality.
The typical 9-to-5 career path lacks the one thing that has proven to be most important to average person and family today – flexibility. Whether your goal is to earn a full-time income or build up your savings on the side, Z Expressions Hospitality, Inc. is committed to offering real work for real people while you create an abundant life with additional time to spend with those you love the most.
This is a sponsored post. Incentive was provided and opinions are my own.
I have always been someone who has to have several different things going on at once. My mind is always racing, coming up with new ideas and projects I would like to start. Focusing on one thing has never worked for me. I get overwhelmed, I feel constricted, and I freak out. It’s like being a juggler of life paths gives me some control over how messy and chaotic my mind can get.
Because of all of this, I always have a lot going on and a lot to keep track of.
You would think that while I am well aware of how out of control my mind can feel sometimes that I would be most comfortable with everything in my life being just as messy. On the contrary, I have been known to spend a week on the cleaning and organizing of my entire house, and even my computer files are neatly organized for maximum efficiency.
So why shouldn’t my online work, research, and daily internet reads be just as neatly organized and easy to find?
Kifi is an all-in-one online organizer for everything you do, love, and are interested in. Short for keep it find it, Kifi lets you immediately keep, tag, and save everything and anything you find online that you want to save for later. You can save it privately for your eyes and reference only, or make it public so that the Kifi community can learn from your findings. It does all of this without leaving your browser window. No opening new tabs, apps, or wasting time copying and pasting links and notes.
Setting themselves apart from other online organizers, Kifi has integrated an entire social interface right into their dashboard. When your friends join Kifi send them a friend request. When they accept, you can privately chat with them in real time without leaving the Kifi page. This is perfect for working with a group on a project for work, girlfriends planning a summer getaway, planning a wedding with your groom or wedding party, or throwing a mutual friend a surprise bridal or baby shower without her catching wind of what’s up and ruining the surprise.
Kifi also enhances the way you can search online. When you search for something, the pages your friends have publicly kept in a specific area of interest will be shown at the top of your search results. With Kifi, your friends and their expertise are your No. 1 resource for everything.
Signing up and using Kifi is simple. Sign up for an account using Facebook, LinkedIn, or with your email address. After verifying your email and logging in you are immediately prompted to install the extension or add-on for your browser. I use Google Chrome, so I was prompted to install the Chrome browser extension. Kifi is currently available for Google Chrome and Firefox. Safari and Internet Explorer extensions are coming soon.
If you plan to use Kifi as an all-in-one organizer for everything you do, you have the option of importing your bookmarks from your browser. If you are using it to store only resources and references for work or upcoming projects, simply skip that step and begin saving to Kifi as you browse.
After installing the Kifi extension, continue browsing and going about your internet business as you normally would. When you come across something you need to save, mouse over the small grey Kifi logo badge in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Choose to send the page to a friend on Kifi through the message or chat function or keep it either privately and publicly with tags.
I have been using Kifi to keep track of things I need to reference later for writing ideas, pages I plan to include in special seasonal and weekly roundups here on Woman Tribune, and recipes I want to try out one day.
You may have noticed that I haven’t updated Woman Tribune in a little over a week, and you may have been starting to wonder where I’ve been. To put it simply, I’ve been busy doing other things; but I’ve never been one for putting something simply.
When you blog for so long, especially when it’s on the same space and a community develops around you, it’s easy to feel as if your blog has transformed into its own, ridiculously needy entity. Suddenly you have a to-do list a mile long to get through and your blog develops its own special to-do list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, burnt out, and fall behind. I am guilty of them all. Sometimes you just need a break or a hiatus, a chance to switch gears and focus on something else for a little while and then come back refreshed and with a clear head. This past week was that time for me.
During my time away here, I worked on finally getting a portfolio up that showcases what I do on the internet. I have been meaning to get this site up for years. Really, years. I first registered the domain in 2008, and then all of the different projects I was working on at the time took over, and then Woman Tribune really took over. Over the past five years, I have focused on this blog and little else. That is a lot of work and a lot of energy, and when you’re a creative person who does a few different things, I can now confidently state that focusing on just one thing all the time can drive you a little out of your mind.
My new portfolio launched today, and in addition to showcasing the writing, web design, and blogging work I have been doing, I will be blogging over there from time to time. You can expect to find some behind the scenes looks at whatever I happen to be working on, along with fun inspiration images and tips, blogging and design resources, and general techy know-how. It’s going to be fun, so you should join me.
This has also been a really great time for reflection for me. I was able to take a step back from the day-to-day and focus on the bigger picture of what I have been doing, and what I hope to accomplish both in the near and distant future.
I want to run Woman Tribune for as long as I am able to. This blog has been such an asset to my life and to my career, and it has come to mean a lot to me. But is Woman Tribune the only thing I want to be doing, and the only creative outlet I have for myself? No, it isn’t the only thing, and when I made this realization I had a truly bizarre experience. It was as if my blog brain had jumped up and started making declarations of neediness and expressing abandonment issues. Just like I said before, when you blog in the same space for so long, it takes on a life force of its own.
When this happens, it’s important to remind yourself that you are the boss of your blog. You’re the boss. When your blog has begun to take on its own life while taking over yours, it’s time to take a step back, reevaluate what your goals looked like when you made them, and switch gears in an effort to make your goals look a little more like you intended.
We are coming down to the final week before Christmas, and for many, this will be the busiest week of the entire holiday season.
Chances are that more than a few of you out there are looking at your to-do lists and seeing a lot of things that still need to be crossed off. So much to do, so many things to buy, and so many places to go to get everything done.
We have all heard of the Yellow Pages, but what you may not know is that the Yellow Pages website recently underwent a major overhaul and introduced a brand new YPMobile app, currently available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
YP is the one site and app for people who wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honor. Within seconds, you can search over 19 million business listings and find that one place that has the perfect gift for the very-difficult-to-shop-for family member, nearby grocery stores running sales or special coupon days, hardware stores (something will break, Murphy’s Law says), local florists, and even where to find the cheapest gas in the area. YPMobile also gives users access to thousands of local coupons, deals, and discounts.
Check out the YP holiday app below for informative tips on how to do the holidays right, from roasting chestnuts (and keeping your fireplace clean), decorating the house (and avoiding setting fire to your tree), drinking eggnog, and more.
Yellow Pages Prize Pack Giveaway
To help you become a master of efficiency this holiday season, we are giving one lucky reader a YP Prize Pack: USB car charger, black cinch bag, flashlight, tape measure, notepads, pencils, and gum. Because who doesn’t love gum?
This giveaway is open to US entrants ages 18+ and will end December 21.
I received a VTech InnoTab 3S and free Premium Kid Connect subscription for review from VTech and the opportunity to host this giveaway. Incentive was provided and opinions are my own.
I have lamented here many times that while I am pretty awesome in some areas of the technological world we live in (I’m a self-taught web designer and have been blogging for over half my life!), I am still sorely lacking in others. Admittedly, I know very little about smartphones or tablets as I have never, not once, owned either one. Yes, it’s true. The universe (with the help of VTech) really drove home how sad and very bizarre this is when my soon-to-be eight-year-old stepdaughter became the owner of a tablet before me.
Well, kind of.
Tablets have amazing educational, social, and entertainment capabilities. VTech took all of that power and made it easily accessible and appropriate for kids ages 3-9, with a heaping dose of peace of mind for parents with their InnoTab 3S Wi-Fi Learning Tablet.
When you first look at the InnoTab 3S, it very much looks like a toy. It is made of thick plastic, comes in either blue or pink, has big buttons that are responsive when you press them, great for fumbling kid fingers, and the graphics once you turn the tablet on are fun, colorful, and scream of kid-friendliness. When you begin to really look at all the InnoTab 3S is capable of, however, it quickly loses its toy label. This is one powerful and very impressive tablet.
Setting up the InnoTab 3S for the first time was incredibly easy. It didn’t need to be charged for six hours before being able to turn it on, like you run into with most any other gadgets. Instead, you pop in the battery packs, turn it on, and the tablet walks you through the set-up process, telling you what to do every step of the way.
Knowing that this would be getting a lot — and I mean a lot — of use, I really love that the InnoTab 3S has a rechargeable battery pack with AC adapter, completely eliminating the need to buy expensive replacement batteries. Batteries are the bane of my existence.
After setup, you immediately have access to 20 free apps that come pre-loaded onto the InnoTab 3S, including the interactive My Magic Beanstalk game where kids take care of a beanstalk by watering it to make it grow over time; H20 Go!, a directional pad game that teaches science concepts through an animated drop of water; and a pop-up 3D art studio where kids can create to their hearts content without going through 300 pieces of paper in the process.
There is also an MP3 player, eReader, and Wish List Maker, all accessible on the 5-inch color touch screen.
One of the best features of the InnoTab 3S is the kid-safe web browser. How many times have your children been on a computer, tablet, or phone and wandered into unacceptable internet territory? We have had this happen a couple of times and I love that the InnoTab 3S allows access to only age-appropriate websites that have been vetted by VTech’s educational experts.
Parents can add additional websites to the browser, a unique feature that really gives parents complete control over what their children are allowed access to. This parental control feature is also password protected, so you don’t have to worry about your child learning how to add websites on their own if they don’t have the password.
At the top of the tablet sits a 2-megapixel 180-degree rotating camera that lets you take pictures and videos. This feature in itself provides limitless entertainment. I know this because me and my fiance totally played with this camera, along with the WonderCam app, shortly after I finished setting the InnoTab 3S up. Yes, we are grownups who never really grew up. It happens.
The WonderCam app lets you add more than 55 special effects, funny faces, and frames to the pictures taken with the camera. You can keep all your favorite photos right in the photo album for easy accessibility.
When you connect the InnoTab 3S to your computer via USB cord, you are immediately prompted to install the VTech Learning Lodge. This program gives parents access to purchase hundreds of games, apps, e-books, music, and videos. All of the titles are endorsed by VTech’s team of educational experts, so you can rest assured that anything you or your child accesses from the Learning Lodge is age-appropriate and beneficial.
There is also an area of the Learning Lodge that lets you see what games and educational apps your child is playing, as well as their progress in individual apps, which is really cool!
VTech InnoTab 3S Premium Kid Connect App
According to a new survey conducted on behalf of VTech by BabyCenter, the #1 pregnancy and parenting online destination worldwide, nearly 90% of moms find it stressful to be away from their children while at work, on business trips, or while fulfilling other commitments. In response, VTech created the Premium Kid Connect app, online available for the VTech InnoTab 3S, to help alleviate those feelings of anxiety by keeping parents connected to their children even while apart.
With VTech Kid Connect you and your child can share text messages, stickers, drawings, voice messages, and photos with tablet-to-smartphone or tablet-to-tablet communication. Because all interactions are made through Wi-Fi, it doesn’t matter where you or your child is, you can connect with them through this app from anywhere in the world!
The InnoTab 3S comes with a one-year free subscription to the basic Kid Connect app, which allows parents and kids to send text messages and stickers. The premium version of Kid Connect (available in the Learning Lodge for $14.99) offers the enhanced features of voice messages, photos, and drawings.
The VTech InnoTab 3S normally retails for $99.99, but is on sale now for the holiday season for $79.99. After receiving the opportunity to check it out, I can honestly tell you it is worth every penny.
VTech InnoTab 3S Giveaway
TWO lucky readers will win a VTech InnoTab 3S, the perfect holiday gift for any kid ages 3-9!
This giveaway is open to US entrants ages 18+ and will end November 29.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have a home computer until I was around 12. My dad surprised us with one for Christmas and I actually wasn’t totally in favor of the computer because I was told that I wouldn’t need my encyclopedias anymore. You don’t tell an exceptionally nerdy child that she will no longer need her beloved encyclopedias. I was pretty devastated by the thought of it. Can you imagine a kid today choosing a collection of very large books over a computer?
A lot has changed over the years with technology, how we use it, and what we use it for. In an astoundingly short amount of time we’ve gone from people first being introduced to computers at 12 years old to children who have never known a world without the internet and having direct, 24/7 access to it.
When I first started going online, my dad had some regulations he quickly put into place. At the time, I thought he was being too cautious and had too many rules. Now that I’m grown and see my stepdaughters going online to play games at 7 and 9 years old, I realize that not only was my dad fair when it came to my internet usage as a kid, but he was more lenient than I want to be.
Kids going online can be a terrifying thought. So many kids think that just because they are sitting comfortably in their homes that they don’t have to be cautious of what they tell people about themselves online, and that nothing they do on the internet can affect their lives or be a threat to them. It is crucial to speak to your kids openly abut how to surf the web safely, but knowing where to start can be difficult.
The More You Know learning series has launched “Growing Up Online,” a completely FREE eBook for parents to keep kids safe on the internet. This free eBook provides easy-to-use information that addresses the growing concern about online privacy and cyberbullying in a unique and engaging way.
The complete eBook can be downloaded for free via the app below for the iBookstore, Google Play, Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.
Also available in the app below are four comic book stories that you can watch as a family to discuss real situations that may occur when your kids go online, as well as the ‘Is Your Child Internet-Ready?’ quiz.
‘The Lorax’ DVD/Blu-ray Movie Giveaway
An internet safety conversation can be a tough conversation to have for everyone involved. So what better way to end the conversation than with a great movie?
One lucky reader will win a copy of “The Lorax” on DVD/Blu-ray.
This giveaway is open to US and CAN entrants 18+ and will end September 23.
Twitter’s birthday is July 15, and Givver is rallying the social media community in a big way to help celebrate the occasion, with Social Media Giving Day. Our collective mission? To set a world record for the most donations given in one day via social media.
Givver is an easy-to-use Twitter tool on a mission to transform charitable giving by enabling individuals to support their favorite causes in seconds by using the power of social networks. Whether it’s a nonprofit, educational, or political organization you want to help support, Givver can help you fund and raise awareness for the issues that matter most to you — all in a single tweet.
For instance, if you wanted to support fee medical services in Honduras with a $10 donation, you would tweet:
#Give $10 @ochoorg
Check out the Social Media Giving Day app below to learn more about some of the organizations you can help support on Givver. You can also take a fun quiz to discover your Twitter personality. I’m a Breaking News Nut, what about you?
Social Media Giving Day Givver Prize Pack Giveaway
One lucky reader will win a Givver prize pack: 1 #Give limited edition t-shirt and sticker.
This giveaway is open to US and CAN entrants ages 18+ and will end July 18.
There is a saying that you should never wrong a writer because they get their revenge in print. I have always said the same thing about bloggers, because while bloggers are indeed writers, there is a difference between the two. Writers who choose to channel their craft into stories for more traditional outlets, such as papers and magazines, have an audience that is limited to those who have access to those specific papers or who subscribe to those magazines. Writers who run blogs, on the other hand, have the ability to transcend those limitations and reach a bigger audience. The only people a blogger cannot reach are those without access to an internet connection.
It is wise to never wrong a blogger, because when they channel their craft and put you in the metaphorical cross hairs, there is no telling how far their story will go. Which brings this blogger to this story.
Google has recently undergone some major changes. Many bloggers are acutely aware of this because several of those who once sat atop search engine results are suddenly nowhere to be found — or at least buried under several dozen pages. Their Google PageRank has slipped a digit or two, or has been stripped completely, and in more drastic cases, business relationships and income have been lost as a result. But bloggers are not the only webmasters to feel the heat from Google’s recent updates; those who run internet businesses from their websites have also begun to be penalized.
Up until recently, online businesses have been busy linking to their websites in the comments section of blogs. They have been doing this for two reasons: first, and least importantly, it’s promotion that they did not have to pay for; but the real reason is that having their website linked to from another, perhaps even more reputable, website has made them look good in Google’s eyes. This linking practice works especially well if they filled out the name section of a comment form with their business name, which then linked to their website, banking on the anchor text that would propel them higher into Google’s search engine results.
This linking practice has been going on for years — longer than this website has even existed, which is impressive considering 2013 marks Woman Tribune’s fifth year of being up and running. Businesses have hired “SEO experts” and “internet marketers” with no real grasp of ethical linking policies, while others have merely taken the ball and run with it, saving their dollars and instead trading in their time to spread their links far and wide on their own. This has never really been an ethical internet business practice, but it took until Google began to penalize the businesses who have been doing this to get them to pay attention.
So, that is more than five years of businesses commenting on blogs, leaving behind their business name and a link to their website. That kind of significant spam has left bloggers responsible for combating it. Spam filters will flag and capture a certain number of these comments, but even the best spam filters fail to put a dent in this unique type of spam — especially when a lot of these comments don’t look like spam. In fact, a lot of these comments can even be legitimate and genuinely add something to the conversations being had, but are left by underhanded and unethical businesspeople looking to get ahead. This is what makes them so tricky to tell apart from the other comments left by well-meaning people, fans of your space, and fellow bloggers. When spam filters fail, it is up to the bloggers themselves to manually get rid of spam comments, but it is unrealistic to expect even the most diligent bloggers to be able to track down and delete every last comment that has been left by a self-serving business. But that is exactly what we are being expected to do now.
Over the past several months, I have received more “link removal request” emails than I care to even begin counting. These same people who left numerous comments on several of the posts published on this website have been emailing me to ask that I remove the links to their websites — links that they put there themselves — because Google has caught onto their linking practices and their past actions are now significantly hurting their business. Bloggers are basically now being told by the very same people who are responsible for leaving hundreds of spam comments on their websites that they are responsible for cleaning up their messes, and that we should all understand the need to do hours of unnecessary work in order to make this happen for every business who has ever done this because they are now being hurt by what they did. They had absolutely no consideration or regard for the spaces in which they spammed, but we need to care about them and their businesses right now. Right.
I have tried to remain helpful when I receive these emails. Every couple of days, I go on a mass comment deleting spree, sure to double-check my email and even search for the keywords “link removal request” in my inbox, just in case an email slipped through without me seeing it. I like to think that I have been pretty understanding and awesome amidst the scrambling businesses, but then I received a new kind of link removal request email, and I am not pleased.
Below is the email I received from a webmaster who left three comments on three different posts on Woman Tribune several years ago. All identifying information has been removed because, well, if they could send such a ridiculous email about me not getting back to them within a couple of days, who knows what someone is capable of when you publish their ridiculousness for all to see? I also left the typos in, so please don’t think that I am the one without a grasp on how the English language works.
Last Friday, I emailed you requesting to remove our link from your site but didn’t got any reply. I know you’re a busy person and I understand that. But we really need to have the link removed as it affects our business. We have not asked you nor paid any SEO companies to put the link on your site.
Thus, if I won’t receive any favourable response from you in the next 3 days, then I will be force to include your site on the disavow list and file a formal complaint on your hosting provider for having unscrupulous links of our site without permission.
All the best,
The Google disavow list is nothing new. Mention has been made to it in nearly every link removal request email I have received. Here is where my problem lies: filing a formal complaint with a website’s hosting provider because a link that you placed on that website wasn’t removed as soon as you sent an email and in the time frame you would have liked? And to add to the utter absurdity, the reason as to why this person believes that they could file a complaint with my hosting provider is for having links to their website on my blog — links that all appear in the comments section of posts that pretty much prove they were put there by the business themselves.
Receiving this email damn near made my head explode, and it turns out that I don’t take too kindly to having the website I have put five years of my life into threatened. In fact, I got mean.
Here is the email I sent back — again, all identifying information has been removed.
I have removed the links you repeatedly left in the comments section of the various posts on my website. I apologize for it taking me a little while to get back to you, but since Google has updated its policies and algorithms, I have received countless emails just like this one from people whose comments slipped through the cracks of my spam filter.
Also, how dare you threaten me with the possibility of losing my hosting. I am one person who works incredibly hard to run my blog. I’m sorry it took me a few days to respond to your email and remove links you chose to put on my website on your own. I’m also sorry that Google is now hurting the websites who have shamelessly spammed their links far and wide on as many smaller websites as they could, but that is not my fault and I will not be threatened by some smarmy, underhanded, faceless businessman on the internet when it comes to the hard work I have tirelessly put in on my website over the past five years.
Please have a little more consideration for the people you are emailing to remove your spammy comments from their websites in the future. It will likely have much more favorable results for you.
You should have no reason to contact me again in the future.
Bloggers already take on a lot of responsibilities and are expected to do so much. This is only getting more difficult as Google changes up their policies on a whim and the FTC gives us more rules to adhere to than any other type of media that exists today. We have collectively worked our asses off, oftentimes wasting time on the backends of our sites that could have been spent creating worthwhile content, and we have stood for it all. But one thing that we must never stand for is being threatened. No one has the right to scare us into action because they are finally the ones who must bend to the Almighty Google Machine. No one has the right to take it upon themselves to decide that we must do something to help them when they have done nothing but add to our already immense workload.
Have you been inundated by link removal requests? How have you been dealing with them, and if you’ve been threatened, have you handled it better than I did? Share your insights!
This is a sponsored post on behalf of American Security Company. Incentive was provided to me, and opinions are my own.
The idea of complete home automation these days is gaining in both popularity and importance. One of the latest innovations in this field has been the ability to control your home from your car. Whether you want to turn on the television (or turn it off if you forgot about it before leaving the house) or simply open the gate to your driveway, you can now do that and so much more with HomeLink products from AmericanSecurityCo.com.
There are so many unique and innovative uses for these products; everyone is sure to find a new and effective way that these products can be used in their home, and who knows, you may grow to refuse to live in a world that doesn’t include them. For example, in the dead cold of winter how great would it be to walk into a home that has already begun to be warmed by the heat of your electronic fireplace? Well, with a HomeLink product you could turn on your electronic fireplace from the car before even walking up to your door. Simple things like this are why these products from American Security Company are completely changing the way people live their lives day-to-day.
If you usually have your hands full when you walk through your front door, whether you’re carrying groceries or a baby’s car seat, HomeLink products from AmericanSecurityCo.com can turn the lights on in your home from the car; no more fumbling for the lamp or light switch only to drop what you’re holding, knock something over, or have to haphazardly find your way into a dark house to put down whatever you’re carrying.
The possibilities of unique home automation with HomeLink are virtually endless. What would you like to be able to turn on (or off) in your house from your car?
Technology has advanced quickly and drastically, and with it, so has the way we teach our children. Check out the infographic below that details how technology in schools has changed, from the one-room schoolhouse of the early 1900s, all the way to students having access to iPads and mobile technology in the classroom in 2013.