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Home-Based Business Website and FTC Compliance

Home-Based Business Website and FTC ComplianceThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of the agencies ruling over advertising, including online advertising, marketing and sales. Starting from 2009, there are now clear rules on what companies can and cannot do in terms of presenting their offers to clients and attracting them with promises of benefits.

Apart from regulating fair use of advertising, the FTC also oversees online data privacy. This means that even if you have a landing page inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter, you fall under FTC regulations and must comply with its rules.

The consequences of not doing so are harsh, with fines up to $40,000 per breach of regulations and even larger amounts in legal expenses and damages if you fight it in court. There is little chance of winning a case against the FTC, especially in view of the growing concern on personal data protection and online fraud.

This means one thing: you must safeguard your home-based business website against violating FTC rules. Here are the top issues you need to review and solve as soon as possible:

1. The Privacy Disclaimer Page
Any website collecting personal data must include a Disclaimer page. In this page you will disclose to website visitors who agree to share personal data with you the following:
⦁ That you are taking the best precautions to protect the data you collect from theft;
⦁ That you do not sell their personal data to third parties;
⦁ If applicable, if you share this data with your investors/stakeholders.

The Privacy & Communication Disclaimer is a binding contract between your home-based business and your subscribers. This means that if you fail to keep any of the promises above, you are liable for action in court.

2. Testimonials
Any business needs testimonials in order to gain the confidence of future customers by bringing proof of the quality of the product. Certainly, the best proof come from people who bought and tried the products. Ideally, testimonials are given without asking for them.

However, if you offer any kind of incentive for customers to post testimonials, you need to make a material connection disclosure about this aspect. Otherwise, you might fall under the incidence of a false and misleading advertising violation.

Also, if you plan to use any person’s full identity (photo, video recording) in the testimonials published on your website, you must sign a Publicity Consent & Release Agreement with each person individually.

3. Claims Concerning Your Products
Any kind of claims you make about the way your products work, and the effects or benefits the customers should expect to see must be substantiated. Things are extremely sensitive especially in the area of weight loss, diet, natural supplements and similar products. This sensitivity extends to online fitness or healthy recipes websites.

The FTC is extremely proactive in enforcing the regulations concerning false and misleading advertising in these domains, so if you are operating or plan to open a home-based business in any of these areas you must consult with a specialized attorney.

4. Products for Children
If your ads are targeted at children under 13, you fall under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).You need to follow closely all the FTC regulations included in this act and make all the required disclosures on your website, as well as create your ads in accordance with the guidelines.

5. Affiliate Marketing
Are you an affiliate marketer for the products you are promoting on your website, through reviews and blog articles? Then you must disclose your material connection with the owner/seller of these products. Ideally, you should place this disclosure at the end of each article, specifying that you gain material or monetary advantages from promoting the respective product.


Top Business Ideas You Can Run from Anywhere

Top Business Ideas You Can Run from AnywhereSo far, the main topic of our articles has focused on home-based businesses. Some of our readers have raised the legitimate question of whether you are required to actually stay at home in order to run these businesses. This is an interesting topic, because the concept of a home-based business is not really connected to a location, but to the freedom of staying in a friendly and cozy environment, and creating a fair balance between work and personal life.

It is true that some business ideas we have discussed require you to have an established home office to conduct meetings with customers or to develop your products or services. However, there are lots of business opportunities which allow you to be as mobile as you want. In the fast-paced world we live in, your spouse may get a job opportunity in another city or even in another country, or you may simply be the rolling stone type who cannot be bound in the same place for a long time.

Whatever the case may be, today we will present you with the list of the top five business ideas which can be run from any place in the world without limitations.

1. Web or Graphic Designer
Talent for design knows no borders or limitations. If you have this talent, have developed your skills and have a consistent portfolio, you can offer your services to clients all over the world and from any location you wish. You could be in a chalet in the Alps or on a beach in the Caribbean and still work for your clients. After all, you only need your laptop with design software installed on it and internet connection.

Extra tip: Adobe, the main supplier of graphic and web design software, has launched a suite of its most popular products for mobile, so you can make adjustments to your projects on the go as you wait between two connecting flights.

2. Fitness or Nutrition Coach
In the age of fast food and increasingly sedentary people, advice for eating healthy and exercising properly is valuable. A lot of nutritionists and gym owners are running online coaching websites and their online side-business is almost as profitable (if not even more profitable) as the main one.

This type of business is also free from the constraints of an office or gym. Any place where you can find a quiet corner to record your videos and demonstrate a few simple fitness exercises is sufficient in order to continue running your business. Actually, travelling is very good for your online nutrition business: you can discover new superfoods and delicious and healthy recipes to share with your subscribers.

3. Copywriter or Content Curator
There are very few space and technological restraints for people who are talented at writing, considering the fact that the latest generation smartphones are equipped by default with an Office suite, including text, spreadsheet and slide editing tools. Many freelance copywriters say that they are most inspired to work in a park or in the middle of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is one of those lines of business which allows you to search for your comfort zone – whatever and wherever it may be – and be able to keep doing what you are the best at.

4. Business Consultant
Liberal professions and consultancy are two niches which will always be in demand and which do not need you to be in a specific place to supply your services to clients. With the abundance of free video conference software and secure data transfer and storage, you could be anywhere in this world and continue to look over company documents, prepare your reports and advise your customers on the best approach to solve their issues.

5. Social Media Specialist
Social media is the most efficient marketing platform currently available to small and large companies. If you are one of those early birds who understood the importance of social media ahead of many others and learned the ins and outs of engagement, reach, likes and shares, then you can run a successful business as a social media specialist or account manager for many companies. The best part about this business idea? You can run it from any place on this world (except for a few countries which do not like social media and where you wouldn’t really want to go to, anyway).


The Biggest Digital Marketing Trends of 2017 You Should Know About

The Biggest Digital Marketing Trends of 2017 You Should Know AboutHere it is now – we are ready to wrap up 2016 and look forward to the coming year. It is a time to count our wins and losses, to celebrate all small victories and to plan for new endeavors and new efforts to take our businesses to the next level in 2017.

There are so many things to talk about at the end of a year, but as always it is better to look forward into the future than to look back into the past. Therefore, we want to make this article about what you should start preparing for in order to maintain your businesses successful, and even grow them into bigger and more outreaching companies.

Given the importance of marketing for all companies, large or small, we believe that it is worthwhile taking a peek at what 2017 will mean for your online campaigns. As you know, there is nothing faster changing than the digital world, and marketing follows the general trend. Some strategies work for a season or for a year. Others are just a passing fad and go away just as quickly as they became popular.

So, what will be the biggest and most impactful digital marketing trends in 2017?

1. Live Video Takes over the Social Media
The past years have seen the rise of video over text and static images as the most popular format for sharing content and creating ads. And video will continue to rule, promoted by the wide availability of smartphones with HD video cameras and fast mobile internet. But the new king of content and marketing is set to be live video.

The first live video sessions, reserved initially for celebrities and other public personalities with verified accounts, made a huge impact. As soon as everyone could go live on Periscope and Facebook, it was apparent that you do not have to be a star to attract followers and engage people in a strong and meaningful way. Therefore, live video will be even more effective than pre-recorded videos in promoting your business.

So, if you are camera shy, take steps to correct that because you need to ace it at live video if you want to get the most out of social media marketing in 2017.

2. Augmented Reality Will Start Playing a Key Role in Marketing
Augmented reality has been around for a while, but it seemed a niche technique reserved for hair stylists, home improvement, plastic surgery and makeup artists’ businesses. Then came the rave of Pokémon Go, which brought augmented reality in front of every person with a smartphone. The game may have lost its initial popularity, but marketers and product managers are already brainstorming to see how they can take advantage of this technology for more targeted and visually appealing promotion of their products.

We will soon see the rise of apps and software allowing even small businesses to use augmented reality for an affordable price, so start getting familiarized with this technology.

3. Search Algorithms Will Keep Changing
Is your SEO on point? Good. Here’s the bad news: it may soon become obsolete. With social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest growing as alternative search engines and keyword promoters, Google and Bing (yes, Microsoft’s own search engine is still around and wants to be taken seriously for once) will change the way pages are ranked and search results displayed.

You may want to extend your SEO beyond your website to your social media accounts just to be one step ahead of the game.

4. Native Ads Are the New Winners of the Game
Let us face it: the number of browsers with ad blockers installed on them or which have ad blocking technology incorporated into them (just like pop-up blockers became a default feature years ago) is on the rise. Banner, video and link ads are becoming obsolete and their conversion rate is decreasing as we are speaking. The new way of serving ads to internet users is through native content, which incorporates promotion in a persuasive and non-intrusive manner.

Great ads which create a viable sale funnel are those which tell a story, create emotions and offer arguments in a natural, conversational manner. Soft selling skills will become more important than ever when planning your marketing campaigns.

5. Mobile Will Dominate the Internet World
If 2016 was the year when mobile internet traffic exceeded desktop traffic, this trend will continue even stronger that we’ve witnessed so far. In a worldwide market of affordable smartphones and data plans, even people from remote areas will be able to be connected to the rest of the planet through a simple handheld device capable of so many tasks.

Besides the rise of mobile internet usage, a side trend to keep your eyes on is the rise of wearable smart technology. Keeping in mind the small screens of these devices, it is worthwhile starting to polish your writing skills to come up with short and effective calls to action which can be properly displayed on these devices.

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