Wednesday, December 20, 2017

11 Festive Bitcoin-Friendly Gift Ideas for the 2017 Holiday Season

By With No comments:
Since our first Bitcoin Holiday Gift Guide, the digital currency has continued to transform the world of online payments and e-commerce. This year we’re excited to bring you a festive mix of gift ideas that will help you spread the joy of Bitcoin this holiday season.


1. Gift cards

For purchases big and small, gift cards are perfect as that something extra. Gift card e-tailer eGifter has been accepting bitcoin since 2014 for a wide range of gift cards including Target, Dunkin Donuts, and GameStop. If you’re in Canada, CoinCards.ca offers a similar service to Canadians.

2. Yaupon Tea

Tea drinkers rejoice, Lost Pines Yaupon Tea accepts bitcoin for their uniquely crafted (and decently caffeinated) light and dark roast yaupon teas.

3. LED Fairy Lights

A gift that will make any room look magical, Flowerglow makes luxury handmade LED string fairy lights and accepts Bitcoin, Ether, and Dash.

4. Koi Pond Tea Set

This unique and absolutely adorable tea set from the New Mexico Tea Company includes a teapot and a colorful mix of six tea cups that have a 3D painted koi at the bottom. While you’re there, you can browse their extensive collection of teas to bring even more holiday cheer to any tea lover.

5. Bitcoin Ugly Holiday Sweater

If you’re not the only Bitcoin (or Ethereum, or Litecoin) enthusiast in the family, these festive and fabulous holiday season sweaters are quite the gift (and conversation starter).

6. Xbox Games

If you’re an Xbox user, you may already also know Microsoft accepts bitcoin for games, movies, and apps in the Xbox and Windows stores.

7. Tanooki Peach Hat Pin

Etsy store Instant Pinner Designs put their heart and soul into designing pins featuring their own take on characters from Adventure Time, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Pokemon, and Super Mario Bros.

8. Lokai Bracelets

Lokai is a lifestyle brand that donates 10% of net profits to charity. With Lokai’s latest holiday bracelets, you can choose which nonprofit your portion will go to. And for Lokai diehards, there’s always The Lokai Pact Set. Lokais can be purchased with bitcoin at Reeds Jewelers’ locations online and in-store.

9. We are all Satoshi (except for Craig Wright) T-shirt

cryptograffiti is an artist inspired by bitcoin and blockchain technology. Aside from his merch store, he also transforms his passion for cryptocurrency into fine art.

10. Overstock.com

Accepting bitcoin since 2014, Overstock’s holiday season shopping guides make it easy to find the perfect gifts all in one place including gifts for him, her, top toys, and top electronic items.

11. Old School Comics

Comic book collector in the family? On Open Bazaar you can visit Crypto Collectibles and browse comics from Captain America to Swamp Thing. Get a peek at their inventory by following them on Twitter. Open Bazaar is a bitcoin-only online marketplace that allows you to browse a unique collection of toys, clothing, jewelry, games, and other items. Transactions are peer to peer, and there are no fees for sellers to list items, which means 100% of your payment goes directly to them when you make a purchase.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Best Bitcoin App Wallet and Hardware - [Giveaway]

By With 2 comments:
Bitcoin is hot. What once cost 6 cents in 2010 hit highs above $7,400 in 2017. If you own the cryptocurrency, or are even thinking of buying some, you'll want to find the best bitcoin wallet you can. Wallets are where the currency lives.

Storing Bitcoin is just as important as buying it. With a wealth of options available, which is best?

Without a Bitcoin wallet, you can’t send or receive Bitcoin payments. So before you get bitcoins, you’ll need to buy, download, or create a bitcoin wallet.

Have you been using Bitcoin for a while and want to upgrade your security practices? Then keep reading!

Coinbase 

Coinbase allows its users to buy and sell three of the most popular cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. They plan to add more cryptocurrencies in the future. Coinbase is a great place for newcomers to buy cryptocurrency. Newcomers will find Coinbase easier to use than an exchange, while being able to use more payment methods. However, we do recommend storing your cryptocurrency in a wallet you control, if holding large amounts.

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Blockchain.info Bitcoin wallet review

The most popular Bitcoin wallet today, Blockchain.info allows you to send/receive Bitcoins through your browser or mobile phone. This is what’s known as a hybrid wallet – meaning the company stores your wallet online but they do not have access to your private keys. However, since the wallet is loaded from their servers some trust in the company is still needed. Recommended for beginners who are trying out Bitcoin.

Ledger Bitcoin wallet review

Much like TREZOR, Ledger is a cold wallet designed for users who want increased security. The wallet is actually a physical device that connects to your computer and acts as another source of protection. Meaning, you can’t send Bitcoins from your wallet without owning the physical device. If you’re looking for a cold wallet (e.g Ledger or TREOZR) I’ve compared the two in this post.

Ledger offers a variaty of products such as Ledger Nano S, Ledger Unplugged (a contactless Bitcoin wallet), etc. The most popular model today is the Ledger Nano S.
Ledger Nano S - The secure hardware wallet

MyCelium Bitcoin wallet review

MyCelium is a popular mobile app wallet that features a wealth of advanced privacy and security features. Yes, the wallet can be a bit complicated for newbie users but it’s still one of the safest and fastest on the market. As an open source software program, MyCelium is constantly being upgraded. While MyCelium is primarily a hot wallet, there are some cold storage features for Bitcoin users looking to put their wealth on ice.

Pros: Advanced privacy features make this app great for people looking to stay anonymous, and advanced security features will help keep your Bitcoin wealth secure.

Copay 

Copay is a Bitcoin wallet by Bitpay and available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Max OS X, and Windows. Because Copay is available on multiple platforms, it’s easy to use the same wallet or accounts across multiple devices.

Copay’s simple, clean user interface makes it a good choice for new Bitcoin users. Copay is also a good option for businesses due to a shared account feature, which requires a certain number of users to sign each transaction. Two co-founders, for example, could create a 2 of 2 wallets where both will be required to sign each transaction.

Airbitz 

AirBitz is another Bitcoin wallet that’s great for everyday use. It’s integrated with Fold, meaning you can get 20% discounts at Starbucks from within the wallet.

Airbitz manages accounts with usernames and passwords but doesn’t have access to your funds. This type of account creation is easier for less technical users who may have trouble backing up or understanding HD seeds.

TREZOR 

The TREZOR differs from the Ledger Nano in that it’s a very tiny computer rather than a smart card. Private keys are still generated offline.

TREZOR also generates a 24-word seed upon setup. The TREZOR has its own built-in screen where the seed is displayed and copied down during backup. Since the TREZOR is an offline device it offers extra security since the seed isn’t displayed on an online computer.

An additional passphrase can be added to the 24-word seed. This provides extra protection, since anyone who finds someone else’s 24-word seed is free to access the funds. If the optional passphrase is added, an attacker still wouldn’t be able to access funds without both the seed AND the passphrase. If the passphrase is forgotten, it cannot be recovered.

Paper wallet 

Paper wallet or other cold storage. A paper wallet is simply a document that contains all the information you need to generate the bitcoin private keys you need. It often takes the form of a piece of paper with a QR code that can be scanned into a software wallet when you so desire. By storing your bitcoin offline, trusting nothing and no one but yourself, and you have all the information you need to control and access your bitcoin, you're using the strongest "cold storage" method out there.

"I recommend using a paper wallet so you have a physical backup of the private key," says Ryan Spanier, director of research at Kudelski Security.

"Be sure to generate it using a clean system, such as a Linux live CD. Store this in a safe place, such as a safe or safety deposit box," Spanier says.

The incremental complexity and technological know-how needed for this method are both downsides to the paper wallet approach. Cold storage solutions and hardware wallets are less nimble than other options, too; if bitcoin were crashing, for example, you might find yourself slower to the draw than if you merely kept your bitcoin on a site like Coinbase.

Sure, paper wallets may elicit images of a tin foil hat-wearing paranoid, but the truth is that a paper wallet is the best bitcoin wallet for 2018 and beyond because it's the safest, and in the crypto space the value of safety is – or at least should be – placed at a premium.

Now we will have another giveaway for our loyal readers where 2 random lucky winners will get $50 in Bitcoin or PayPal or in any Gift Cards of winner's choice. For any giveaway on our blog, winners will be drawn and announced on the giveaway page within 10 days of it's finished date.

$50 To Get Your PayPal/Bitcoin/Gift Card
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Congratulations Catteleya A. from Australia. 
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How to buy bitcoin, if you dare

By With 2 comments:
So you’ve finally decided to buy bitcoin — join the line.

As the price of the red-hot cryptocurrency continues to march inexorably higher, most of us are sitting around wishing we’d bought some a year or even a week ago.

The cryptocurrency is clearly volatile — over the weekend, it lost around one-fifth of its value in just 10 hours, while it surged from less than $16,000 to $19,500 in under an hour.

But according to CoinDesk, bitcoin’s value has now more than doubled in the past month alone to reach a total market capitalization of more than $300 billion.

Assuming the price isn’t about to crash — and that’s a big assumption — and the fear of missing out has finally gotten too much, what exactly do you do?

“The most popular way is to find an online exchange, where you would then need to register, create an account and upload 100 points of ID,” said Martin Davidson, co-founder of the Melbourne-based not-for-profit Blockchain Center.

“You then transfer money to your exchange account, and you’ll be able to buy bitcoin or any of the cryptocurrencies on that exchange.”

The most commonly recommended and largest exchange is CoinBase, based in San Francisco, but the site has been slammed by “unprecedented” traffic and new account sign-ups causing error messages, login problems and even a temporary outage on Friday.

Once you’ve signed up and taken the plunge, the exchange will then create a “crypto wallet,” the virtual address which exists on the blockchain and holds your bitcoin. Each wallet has a public address, like a bank account number, and unique private cryptographic key, sort of like your PIN.

If you lose your key, your bitcoin is gone forever.

While there are a lot of reputable exchanges out there, there is always the possibility they could be hacked — and they have no insurance — so it’s not a good idea to leave your crypto on an exchange platform.

Once you’ve bought your bitcoin — or more realistically, a fraction of a bitcoin — Davidson recommends moving it to a mobile wallet app like Airbitz, or for extra security using an offline “hardware” wallet like the Trezor.

Due to limitations of the network, transferring bitcoin between wallets is not instant — it can take anything between 10 minutes to an hour — but you can monitor all blockchain transactions in real-time by going to Blockchain.info and pasting in the address you’re sending to or from.

“Bitcoins can be divided into eight decimal places so you can have a 100-millionth of a bitcoin,” Davidson said. “One bitcoin can be made up of several smaller transactions, each having their own private key attached to the different wallets.”

Davidson said it was important to remember that despite the vast amounts of money pouring into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it was experimental technology and the future price was “in no way guaranteed.”

But he pointed out that it was “not just the crazies, crooks and drug dealers” who were backing the currency, with the likes of Richard Branson, the Winklevoss twins and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper — who bought $30 million worth of seized Silk Road bitcoin in a US government auction when the price was $500 — all seeing the long-term potential.

“It’s not like stocks where you determine the value based on annual sales,” he said. “The potential for cryptocurrencies’ future value is unbounded, because potentially every man, woman and child that has access to the internet can also use crypto.”

Meanwhile, another day brings another raft of dire bitcoin warnings.

In its latest “Outrageous Predictions” report, SaxoBank has tipped bitcoin to peak in 2018 above $60,000 with a market capitalisation of over $1 trillion, led by a “groundswell” of activity off the back of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launching futures trading this month.

Bitcoin futures, which will allow investors to bet on the rise or fall of the currency, will add a layer of regulatory oversight and allow larger institutional investors to begin pouring money into the sector.

But in SaxoBank’s scenario, bitcoin before long “finds the rug torn out from under it” by Russia and China moving to “deftly sideline and even prohibit non-sanctioned cryptocurrencies domestically.”

“Russia officially enters the cryptocurrency mining space to influence protocol developments and shift the focus away from bitcoin in an effort to keep more Russian capital onshore,” SaxoBank analysts write.

“China makes a similar move, cracking down on cryptocurrencies by banning the mining of the most popular ones within China, citing energy waste and environmental concerns, but likewise fearing the risk of bitcoin as a vehicle for capital flight.

“Instead, China launches an officially backed cryptocurrency that entails less energy-intensive mining.”

“The smoother functioning of the state-run protocols for actual payments and price stability, as well as the heavy hand of state intervention, drives a decreasing interest in all cryptocurrencies and completely sidelines the bitcoin and crypto phenomenon from a price speculation angle even as the technological promise of the blockchain gallops on.”

The result? “After its spectacular peak in 2018, bitcoin crashes and limps into 2019 close to its fundamental ‘production cost’ of $1,000,” SaxoBank warns.

It came as Royal Bank of Scotland governor Sir Howard Davis joined the anti-bitcoin chorus. “Put up the sign from Dante’s Inferno — ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’ — I think that’s probably what’s needed,” he told Bloomberg TV.

He argued the Bank of England should coordinate with the US Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the European Central Bank to tackle the problem, arguing bitcoin futures were a bad idea.

“I’m not quite sure that [the exchanges] know enough about what [bitcoin] is,” he said, adding it would be “a very risky move in reputational terms”.
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Is Litecoin The Future of Cryptocurrency?

By With 1 comment:
Despite bitcoin’s relative youth at just under 10 years old, its fervent popularity has spawned a cryptocurrency revolution and several competitors. An influx of new money from both retail investors and institutional entities means that these alternative cryptocurrencies, or “altcoins”, are under new scrutiny as traders look to diversify away from bitcoin. One of the most prominent among them is Litecoin, in terms of mass appeal, market capitalization and potential for adoption.

Litecoin’s Origins

Litecoin was launched in the shadow of bitcoin, yet was inspired by the ‘King Coin’, particularly by its decentralized approach to currency. The founder of Litecoin, Charlie Lee, is a former Google employee and Director of Engineering at Coinbase, one of the largest exchanges and the first to list Litecoin alongside bitcoin and Ethereum. Though many see Litecoin as a bitcoin clone, it has technical differences that separate the two in the eyes of many. It is largely these differences that inform Litecoin’s price alongside the favorable image it maintains with traders and businesses alike.

Made in the image of bitcoin in its early days, Litecoin was one of the first to take its predecessor’s formula and tweak it. The first change relates to Litecoin’s blockchain, which uses the Scrypt protocol instead of SHA256. While this matters little to traders, miners who use hardware to run bitcoin’s network cannot switch over to Litecoin. This keeps bigger mining conglomerates away from Litecoin because they cannot easily optimize their profits by swapping to another coin, contributing to a more decentralized experience. Litecoin also has bigger blocks, and more coins in circulation, making it more affordable and swift when transacting. Naturally, Litecoin has enjoyed an increasing rate of adoption within cryptocurrency services and in the retail market as well that corresponds with its distinct advantages.

Litecoin Gains Momentum

The most prominent characteristic of Litecoin is also one that gives it the most potential for disruption and inspires much confidence within the cryptocurrency community. As soon as Segregated Witness was released as a proposed blockchain upgrade to allow speedier off-chain transactions, Litecoin threw its full weight behind the proposal and was the first to integrate it. SegWit will allow Litecoin and others who adopt it to use the Lightning Network, which is nearing completion, empowering participants to exchange cryptocurrencies at virtually no cost.

Developers are quickly making headway on the Lightning Network, and it has recently passed almost all the quality assurance tests required to be released to the public. In a recent dry run, an alpha version was used to purchase coffee in Starbucks with no fees: a result hard to obtain with any other payment solution.

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts with many coins to explore have increasingly highlighted Litecoin due to its speed. In tests where one user compared the speed of coins being transferred from an exchange to a hardware wallet like Trezor, Litecoin performed best, transferring 23 coins in under 10 seconds. Businesses paying attention to Litecoin’s fast advancements on the payment front are increasingly adopting it into their own ecosystems as well.

The ease of transacting with Litecoin makes eCommerce one of the most suitable environments for adoption, and stores like BTCTrip, Bitify, AllThingsLuxury, and Bitcoin.shop (as well as others) have joined in. Even popular retail ecommerce giant Overstock.com is accepting Litecoin as a form of payment.  People can easily pay for gifts, vacations, household appliances, and even precious metals and gems with their Litecoin. While retail adoption is encouraging, cryptocurrency, merchants, exchanges, wallets and other infrastructure are also integrating Litecoin in growing numbers.

How It’s Viewed by Participants

Ultimately, any cryptocurrency’s success is the function of its applicability and the problems it solves.  Even though traders may not fully understand the differences between Litecoin’s and bitcoin’s DNA, they are increasingly moving to Litecoin, regardless. All they see is how prices behave relative to other coins. Litecoin is just as accessible as bitcoin in this regard because it’s been a centerpiece in the market for almost as long, meaning that any service leaving Litecoin out of the equation is ultimately limiting their own audience and appeal.

Apart from the obvious advantages from a design perspective and trading appeal, participants themselves are benefiting from the ecosystem thanks to growing adoption in ecommerce.  As one of the major cryptocurrencies, Litecoin is quickly becoming a contender for the top three spots, even as a funding tool. Bankex, a unique platform designed to validate and tokenize more illiquid assets like real estate and venture capital portfolios, is accepting Litecoin alongside bitcoin and Ethereum during its token sale.

Platforms like Bankex almost unanimously accept Litecoin because many customers will exchange their other cryptocurrencies for Litecoin in anticipation of a transaction. Until the Lightning Network levels the playing field, investors who want to participate in Bankex’s plethora of autonomously evaluated Smart Assets may prefer to fund the ICO with Litecoin to save on fees.

Although Ethereum still takes the cake in the fundraising sphere due to ERC20, Litecoin likely makes it to one of the top three spots on the Bankex token sale list because of its rapidly broadening appeal and more affordable transfer costs. Between high demand as both an asset and as a currency, it behaves as a hybrid with much more potential longevity than its aging brother.

Litecoin’s drama-free community and even keel give it less volatility and a steady trend, making it great for arbitration, trading, spending, or even fundraising. Savvy cryptocurrency enthusiasts have compared bitcoin’s market capitalization to Litecoin and done the math based on its maximum number of coins and other traits and have almost unanimously declared that it is undervalued. Even so, with much progress being made on the Lightning Network, Litecoin may one day soon evolve into the truest form of cryptocurrency yet, and leave the others in the dust.
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

10 Quick and Easy Tips to Save More Money on Amazon

By With 7 comments:
No matter if you’re shopping for back to school supplies, birthday presents, Christmas gifts, or just for you, Amazon can be an awesome place to find good deals and fast shipping! I’m a huge proponent of shopping on Amazon. I’m a Prime member and I don’t mind showing my support. They make shopping online so much easier with their huge selection and quick shipping. Their customer service is really good as well (if you’ve ever had to use it). 
Amazon has introduced same day shipping in our area. I did try it out and it was pretty cool. I ordered in the morning and the item was there that night. Most of the time they charge extra, but the item I bought was free that same day. This service is only available to Amazon Prime members. If you’re not one, why not try out a free, 30-day trial?

10 Easy Ways to Save Money When Shopping at Amazon


Today, I’m going to share with you 10 ways, yes 10, to save more money when shopping at Amazon. Not all of these are revolutionary, but they will make you think before you click the checkout button. If you check all of these out, you can really save good money when shopping at Amazon. You can also ensure you’re getting the best price possible. There are times when Amazon is not the cheapest game in town and I know that can be the case. Having said that, I also account quick shipping, ease of returns, and customer service in my reasoning to purchase something. Typically, there are few retailers who can compete with Amazon on all of those levels.
Without further ado, let’s get started. Here are the money saving tips everyone should know before shopping on Amazon!

Amazon Warehouse Deals

This is the place to shop! I have saved so much money here and the products are just as good. Amazon’s Warehouse deals section is for the open-box and discounted used items Amazon has around. Since they are the largest retailer, they get items that have shipping damage, were opened and then returned, or a customer just didn’t want them. It happens to every retailer. Instead of just calling it a loss, Amazon sells the items they deem are in good condition.
When on Amazon, head over to this page to start shopping their warehouse deals. Amazon grades the merchandise in their warehouse to help you make a better decision on what you want. They are New, Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable. I would stick with the first three when buying anything. I was able to save $75 off a camera lens for my wife just because the shipping box was damaged. It was labeled new, but since there was box damage, they couldn’t sell it at full price.

Amazon Outlet

If the warehouse deals weren't enough, Amazon also has an outlet section. This is where they stick their overstocks, older models, overruns, closeouts, and markdowns. The items are all new, but they put a deep discount on them in order to sell. Right now, you can typically score a deal up to 60% off the regular price. It’s a pretty good section to look at. Not every category has an outlet section, but they deal mostly with clothing, electronics, outdoor equipment, musical instruments, and a few more. You can typically find outlet deals for Amazon’s most popular categories.
It’s a good place to look for items you know are not in season. If you need something that you can use in the summer, but you’re buying it in the winter, check Amazon’s outlet section. You never know!

Amazon Subscribe & Save

Want up to 15% off items you normally buy each and every week? Then you need to be a part of Amazon’s subscribe and save program! Yes, this little gem allows you to subscribe to a bunch of products you normally buy (think everyday items), but save money on top of it. Subscribe and Save sends out products to you on a regular basis. You choose what products you want to be delivered and when each month. Amazon will do the rest.
The best part is if you have five or more items on subscribe and save, then you get 15% off. You also get free shipping on your items (doesn’t matter how many you have). This is the perfect way to keep your house stocked up without having to drive to the store every month the replenish your supplies. They will be waiting for you at your door at the time you specify. It’s not much easier than that!
Oh, and you can also include some coupons in the mix. Amazon does have some instant clip coupons just for subscribe and save items. Hot dang!!

Amazon Coupons

Did you know that Amazon has coupons? Most people didn’t know that, but they really do. Amazon has an entire coupon section just for those looking for some deals! Now, these coupons tend to be for the bigger manufacturers, but the best part is they are an instant clip. If you’re looking to buy some diapers, you can head over to the Coupon section and see if they have any diaper coupons. One click and the savings are yours.
If you want to just navigate to the coupon section, you can just go to www.amazon.com/coupons/ and you will be there! 
They break out the categories for their coupons into sections such as Most PopularBeautyGrocery & GourmetHousehold SuppliesElectronicsBaby & Child CareVitamins & Dietary Supplements, and much more. Depending on your need, there might be an instant clip coupon waiting for you!

Amazon Student

If you’re a student with a .edu email address, then you can save on an Amazon Prime membership. Amazon Student is basically a Prime account, but for 50% off. You can get it for $49 a year. There are some limitations to this program, which are still available for full Prime members. You can’t share any of your shipping benefits with anyone else and you can’t get Instant Video until your free trial expires after 6 months.
To sign up, you just head over here. You don’t need to have your .edu email in your Amazon account, but they will use it to verify you’re truly a student. The program will end after four years of your sign up or they can’t verify your student status any longer, whichever comes first. This is just an easy way to save on Prime and get some discounts on books.

Amazon Smile

Do you like shopping and giving back at the same time? Good!
Amazon Smile can do just that for you. While it’s not a way to save money on Amazon, it is a way to give back while you shop there. If you haven’t heard of Amazon Smile, then here is a rough break down. 
When you shop at smile.amazon.com instead of just amazon.com, you can give back to your favorite charity. Amazon Smile lists over one million charities where you can donate to. But, how do you donate?
Simple, instead of buying an item on Amazon, you just head over to smile.amazon.com and buy the item there. It’s still Amazon’s site, but now they will give 0.50% of your purchase to the charity of your choice. While it’s not going to be a huge donation, it’s still a donation none the less. It’s basically a donation to your favorite charity just for shopping on Amazon. You don’t get to write it off, since Amazon is the one doing the donation, but still. It doesn’t take any extra time or effort on your part and you can help your favorite charity in the process.
The next time you are on Amazon looking at a product to buy, try replacing the “www” with “smile” in the URL. If the product page comes back up, then you’re in luck. Most of them work this way, but if not, just head to smile.amazon.com and look for the same product.

Add Products to Cart, but Don’t Check Out

Here is a sneaky little trick that does work from time to time. It’s not guaranteed, but I have seen it work before. Basically, this is a way to get Amazon to push deals over to you without doing any work.
When you want to buy a product on Amazon, head over there and add it to your cart. The key to this pricing trick is to NOT check out after you add it to your cart. You want to wait for some time to see if Amazon will drop the price. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.
This is what I like to call “forcing a promotion.” You must be logged into your Amazon account before you add the items to your cart. This is the only way I’ve seen it work. Once you add the item(s) to your cart, you need to leave Amazon for a few days. Obviously, you want to use this trick when you don’t need an item quickly. After some time, you might get an email from Amazon saying you have items in your shopping cart and they could provide a promotion to you. I’ve saved 20% by waiting before, but it is hit or miss. It’s not 100% effective.
It’s free to try and doesn’t hurt you, so why not? There’s a chance you can score a deal without doing anything but leaving an item or two in your shopping cart!. Winning!!

Two Browser Trick

This is basically running a small price comparison right on Amazon from your computer. You are trying to see if you can score a better deal when shopping on Amazon without being logged in. This is not 100%, but I have seen it work and have received a few lower prices. It all depends on the product and where you live.
You just need to navigate to Amazon like you normally would. Find what you want to buy, but don’t add it to your cart. Make sure you’re logged into your Amazon account!
Next, open a new, fresh browsing window (try incognito in Chrome or private window in Firefox). Navigate to Amazon and go to the same product page. Sometimes Amazon will show lower prices to those not already an Amazon customer, but this trick really works if you can get a friend in a different city to check the pricing. Amazon does really well with their product distributions, so if they can pinpoint where you are and where the product is, they might be able to score a better deal if the distribution center is near.
This trick is not hard to try, but it’s accuracy is not as good as anything else in this article. I think I’ve seen this work about 10% of the time. Either way, you can save by checking pricing on two different browsers.

Honey Browser Extension

I learned about a cool and free browser extension a few weeks ago. It has changed the way I shop online, even on Amazon. This free extension works on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, but not Internet Explorer. 
Basically, this extension scours the web for coupons and discount codes. You don’t even have to search for them anymore. When you’re about to checkout on Amazon or any other store, it will go through it’s database to try to find a valid coupon code to use. It’s not always successful, but it does work from time to time.
I’ve had some success on Amazon, but since you don’t have to do anything, it’s certainly something I would advise you try out. It really doesn’t hurt and all it can do is save you more money!

Amazon Delivers Email Subscriptions

This money saving tip could be a little touchy for some because it involves emails. If you’re anything like me, you have an inbox that is growing by the day. I can’t handle too many emails beyond what I already have. That being said, Amazon does deliver deals right to your inbox depending on what categories you sign up for. As noted before, I get Amazon’s daily deals in my inbox every morning. This allows me to quickly look to see if the deal is anything which pertains to me. If not, it gets deleted.
It only takes a minute to sign up for different lists Amazon provides. You can go here and see what they offer, but these emails will usually be promotions and deals. It’s really just about saving money with this one and making it easy for you.
Now here is another giveaway for our reader. We are giving away $50 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. Enter through the gleam widget and come back every day for more entries. To see the winner list visit this page after finishing the competition, we will announce here on gleam widget after 7 days of the deadline. 

$50 Amazon/Apple Store Giveaway

Giveaway UPDATE:
Due to some unknown reason, our gleam account got disabled and this is why we are going to finish all our giveaways and contests that started on/before December 13, 2017. We are going to choose a winner based on comments on our blog. We will contact and announce the winner's name here shortly. We apologize for any inconvenience. 

Winner update:
Will be posted on/before December 22, 2017.

Thank you for your support. 
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Friday, November 24, 2017

55 Free Ways To Find Leads For Your Freelance Business

By With 2 comments:
Marketing your freelance business can be a challenge. Sure, you hear about the most effective strategies, but they all require a financial investment to start. You’re just trying to land clients, not market a 7-figure business.
Luckily, there are a lot of ways you can find leads for your freelance business without spending a dime. You just have to invest your time, and get creative. Here are 50+ ideas you can start with now:
1. Get referrals
Getting recommendations from others is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the internet, and it’s the best way to find high paying freelance clients. There are many ways to set up relationships where you and other businesses recommend each other's services to your mutual benefit. Harness this strategy to find more free leads that are ready to make a purchase.

2. Use databases
There are plenty of databases available on the web with company names and contact information. You can sift through these to find potential leads for your business. Check out Data.com to start.
3. Word-of-mouth
You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands on expensive advertisements to get your business noticed on the web. A much more powerful option is leveraging word-of-mouth. Encourage other people (your friends, family, clients, business associates) to talk about your business online and recommend it to others. News will spread about your freelance services much more effectively.
4. Use Quora
Quora is another great place to find leads for free. People regularly ask questions on the platform that your skills and expertise can help with. Set up a professional profile highlighting your business. Then start answering questions to get in touch with potential customers you can help. Become an authority on the site to get even more reach.
5. Cold calling
Actively search for people and businesses who might benefit from your services. Check out their website, get ahold of their contact information, and start cold calling to generate leads. Few freelancers use this direct strategy anymore, and people will be surprised by your professionalism in choosing to cold call. This will help you stand out from the competition.
6. Public relations
Getting you and your business featured in the media is a great way to attract new prospects. All you need to do is a little public relations to make it happen. Keep an eye out for opportunities where your business can be a part of an interesting, informative, or entertaining news piece. Publish press releases and pitch these ideas to local journalists and news organizations to see if they get picked up.
7. Email marketing
Converting leads doesn’t have to be a one-shot deal. With email marketing, you can spend time nurturing relationships and convincing people of the value of your services at the same time. Build an email list and start sending out marketing materials to help them move down the sales funnel.
8. Influencer marketing
You can only get so much reach on social media by sharing interesting posts and following new people. If you want to really get noticed, you’ll need the help of influencers. Influencers are popular profiles on social media who can share your content with their audience. Find powerful ones and encourage them to share your blog posts and other content to get more reach.
9. Special events
Host a special event on social media and around the web to generate buzz and attract new clients. For example, you can do a sweepstakes or photo competition with your current audience. You can also offer special, limited-time discounts for your services.
10. Create a quiz or poll
Host a quiz or poll on your site or on social media. This will help you engage more with your audience and get more buzz for your content. Twitter has the polling feature built in. You can also use free tools like SurveyMonkey to create your own.
11. Networking
No matter if you work online or in the real world, networking can help your business succeed. It might not feel valuable to just keep making new contacts, but you never know how they might help you later down the road. Take the time to meet, greet and get to know people in-person and online. Make sure they understand what your business is all about. They might not become customers, but they can help connect you with free leads later on.
12. Publish news stories
If you’re having trouble getting in the news organically, you might try writing news stories yourself! They don’t have to overtly promote your business, but can help you gain reach as the author. There are plenty of magazines and news sites that allow you to open-pitch news stories.
13. Newsletters
Newsletters are another great way to market to your current clients and prospects who haven’t become a customer yet. Regularly send out newsletter updates to your list to keep your business in the forefront of people’s minds.
14. Trade shows
Trade shows are a great opportunity to meet people in your industry and generate buzz about your business. Most trade shows have an entrance fee for booths, but you can also show up as a free agent to network and pass out leaflets as well.
15. Blogging
Blogging can help you attract more traffic to your website in a lot of different ways. Create content that people actually want to read to make it work. Make sure you cover topics that your target audience is interested in. You can then promote these content pieces on social media and elsewhere. Having a blog will also give you more pages on your site that Google can index.
16. Use a lead capture form
Most freelancers put calls-to-action on their sites asking prospects to set up a consultation. This is a great strategy, unless your prospects aren’t quite sure if they want to purchase your services yet. Add a lead capture form on your site where people can sign up to get more information. Then you get their contact information and can continue to market to them.
You can create a lead capture form easily using free plugins for WordPress.
17. Free lead magnets
Email list building can be a drag, unless you use lead magnets. These are free offers of valuable content that you give away in exchange for someone’s contact information. This can be free guide, PDF, template, coupon or free consultation, to name a few examples. Just make sure it’s something your target audience would really value and benefit from.
 18. Article marketing
Instead of just sticking with run-of-the-mill blog posts, write some in-depth articles. Make sure they are the most authoritative pieces on the topic (e.g. ultimate guides, top 100 lists). Promote your articles around the web to start getting links back to your pages. This will boost traffic and improve your SEO.
19. YouTube marketing
People become famous on YouTube all the time and it’s a great place for businesses to get reach as well. You can create and publish informative how-to videos that your target audience would value.
For example, say you’re a social media expert. You could create tutorials showing people how to use different social media tools to grow their lists. Then you can include a call-to-action asking them to hire you if they need help!
20. Leaflets or inserts
It might seem like an old-fashioned marketing strategy, but that’s part of the reason it still works today. Not a lot of freelancers bother passing out leaflets or inserts advertising their business in the physical world. Using this strategy will help you stand out from the competition by using a novel marketing medium.
21. Website popups
Website popups help your visitors understand exactly what you want them to do on a given page. Even if you have a call-to-action already, popups can help you drive the action home. Exit popups are also a great way to encourage conversions when people are navigating away. Search WordPress for popup plugins to start.
22. Ad swapping
You might not be in the position to pay for advertising, but that doesn’t mean you can’t advertise! Enter into an agreement with another business to advertise each other's products or services. Then you both get ad space and expand your audience without spending a dime.
23. Hand out business cards
It sounds old-fashioned, but business cards are still a very valuable marketing tool. Most promotions and advertisements come through on people’s phones, computers and the TV. If you hand someone a business card, that’s a rare item that people see in the physical world around them. It can help your business stand out.
24. Guest blogging
Guest blog on other sites that have a big audience to broaden your brand reach even further. You can usually get a byline and link back to your site. All you have to do is search Google for guest post opportunities. Use “[niche keyword]+ write for us” or “[niche keyword]+ contributor guidelines” for starters. Just make sure the site you pitch to has an audience that will be interested in your business.
25. Use Facebook
Create a business page on Facebook and start attracting likes. Share entertaining, informative posts and link back to your website. You can also encourage people to convert right on Facebook by installing a signup form on your business page.
26. Use Twitter
Twitter is all about marketing. Share content your audience would like and use the right hashtags to do it. Follow people who would make good clients for your business to encourage them to follow back. Link back to your site from your profile and posts.
27. Use Google+
Google+ is a bit quieter than the other major social networks, but it makes it easier to get your voice heard. Join Google+ groups related to your niche and join the conversation. Become an authority on the platform by sharing informative content and insights.
28. Use Pinterest
Pinterest caters to a very specific audience demographic, so make sure you check that out before deciding to market on the platform. If Pinterest works for your audience, then set up a profile and related niche boards. Start pinning, and join relevant group boards as well.
29. Use Instagram
Instagram is a great place for freelancers to show off their creative work and attract new clients. Use the platform to document your work process and feature the results. Make your career a prominent part of your profile so people know what you do. This will keep you at the forefront of their minds if they need a service like yours down the road.
30. Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is all about professional networking. Set up a complete profile that highlights your business and skills. Use a professional photo. Then you can start posting updates and joining LinkedIn groups related to your niche. Join the conversation and offer helpful insights.
31. Use other social platforms
You don’t have to stick with the biggest social networks. Market on niche social platforms to reach your audience more directly. Here is a big list of popular niche social networks.
32. Trendjacking
Monitor hot topics on Google Trends, Twitter, and Facebook Trends. Incorporate them into your blog posts and social content to ride the wave of excitement and get more reach.
33. Publish on LinkedIn or Medium
If you have trouble attracting traffic to your own blog, you might try publishing your content on LinkedIn Pulse or Medium. These are third-party platforms that have their own audience you can reach. Your content also might rank better in search results on these platforms.
34. Card decks
Card decks are books of coupons from a variety of different businesses that people receive in the mail or other ways. Create a promotion for your business and get it featured in one of these card decks to get more free leads.
35. Blog commenting
Find popular blogs related to your business niche and read their content. Offer insightful, valuable comments to join the conversation. Make sure you use a Gravatar or fill out the site’s profile information with your first name, last name and photo. You shouldn’t overtly promote your business with this strategy, but it is a great way to get your name out there and network with other industry players.
36. Optimize your website
Your freelance website should be more than just a glorified portfolio and contact information. Every page on it should be optimized to help your leads convert. Use your words wisely by highlighting the value of your services on the site. Include prominent calls-to-action encouraging site visitors to join your mailing list, set up a consultation, or make a purchase.
37. Optimize your signup form
Your email sign up form also needs to be optimized to encourage people to convert. Even if you offer a great lead magnet, people might turn away if your signup form has too many questions or is difficult to read. There are plenty of free WordPress plugins out there that can help you A/B test different forms and see which one works best.
38. Use social sharing plugins
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your blog posts around the web. This will get you more reach than your regular social media efforts. One way to do this is by using social sharing plugins. Then sharing is only a click away for your site visitors. There are plenty of free ones out there you can install.
39. Social bookmarking
Social bookmarking involves tagging web pages to read later, using tools like Delicious, Evernote or even Pinterest. Market your content on social bookmarking sites to get more reach and attract traffic back to your site. These signals might also help it rank better in search.
40. Host a webinar
Webinars can help you build a personal relationship with your leads and create more buzz about your business. Cover topics that interest your target audience and offer expert advice as part of the show. Promote the webinar around the web to attract people who could benefit from your services.
41. Leverage testimonials
When you talk about how great your freelance business is online, people are going to take it with a grain of salt. They know you’re promoting yourself. But if you leverage testimonials, then you’ll have third-party endorsements that people can believe in. Publish them on your site and share them on social media. Your current clients will probably be more than happy to write one if you ask.
42. Use an email signature
Create a professional email signature including links to your website, social profiles, and more. This looks professional and helps attract more traffic back to your site.
43. Interview influencers
Conduct an interview of big players in your industry and publish it on your site. It could be something as simple as asking them to contribute quotes to a list post. People love seeing content that features them and their expertise, so your influencers will want to share it with their audience. This can help attract more traffic back to your site.
44. Watermark images you share
If you’ve created a cool GIF or own the rights to an image, you should definitely watermark it before sharing! This doesn’t mess with people’s ability to consume the content, but also serves as a sort of signature to spread the word about your business.
45. Engage on forums
Find online niche forums where people discuss problems related to your niche. For example, if you offer site-optimization services, find threads where people ask common questions about this task. Start responding to posts with helpful advice and mention you can help them out with it if they need.
46. Do SEO for your content
If you want your blog content to show up in search results, you’ll need to target specific keywords on-page. This includes body content, post title, image alt tags, meta description and other elements. Optimize all your blog posts for SEO and start ranking better in search.
47. Social listening
Keep track of what others are saying about your business online. You can use Google Alerts to do this for free. Just set up an alert using your business name as the keyword. Look for opportunities to find new clients and brand advocates through social listening.
48. Create a podcast
Create a podcast for your business, and you can start attracting a whole new section of your audience that likes listening to content more than reading it. You can list your podcast on special directories to get more exposure as well.
49. Register on HARO
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform where journalists publish queries for experts related to different topics. Register on the site and you can start responding to these queries (which are sent right to your inbox). If a reporter picks you, then you’ll be quoted in their news piece.
50. Use LinkedIn Advanced Search
Use LinkedIn Advanced Search to find profiles that are your ideal prospects. You have the option to save this search, so LinkedIn will send you periodic email updates when new profiles show up.
51. Create infographics
Infographics are a powerful content type that attract more interest than a simple blog post. They can get shared widely on Pinterest, get indexed in Google Image search and more. All you have to do is gather the data, then use a free tool to create it.
52. Back-end marketing
If earning more profits is your real goal, then sometimes it’s better to target your current customers than finding brand new ones. Make efforts to encourage your clients to become repeat purchasers. You can also offer add-on services that complement your main service to get more money with each project.
53. Online events
Set up an online event, like a Google+ Hangout or Reddit AMA. These will help you build trust by engaging in real-time conversations with your prospects.
54. Become a radio guest
If you freelance offline in your town, becoming a radio guest is a great way to get your business noticed. Look for opportunities to get on your local station for some free publicity.
55. Help out your current clients
If you freelance online, most likely your clients are running businesses of their own. You can help them out by promoting their products/services in exchange for the same.
Know of any other free ways to find leads for your freelance business? Tell me in the comments!
Originally published on forbes
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