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New research by an online services marketplace has found that the gender pay gap is virtually non-existent among self employed and freelance workers in the UK. The research found that women bidding for freelance and self-employed opportunities and jobs in sectors such as tutoring, photography and personal training earned virtually the same as men and in some cases more throughout the site.

The study, commissioned by Bidvine.com, an online local services marketplace where users can post jobs and ask local service professionals to bid for the work found that within their top five industry categories there was little to no gender pay gap between average rates of pay over the last 12 months. The study polled 150 men and 150 women from each of the top five sectors on the website, asking participants to provide their average hourly wages over the last 12 months, the results are below:

  • Personal training (Male – £36 per hour / Female – £33 per hour)
  • Wedding photography (Male – £650 per wedding / Female – £680 per wedding)
  • Cleaners (Male – £11 per hour / Female – £12 per hour)
  • Plumbers (Male – £73 per hour / Female – £70 per hour)
  • Music teachers (Male – £28 per hour / Female – £28 per hour)
  • Gardeners (Male – £21 per hour / Female – £19 per hour)
  • Language teachers (Male – £25 per hour / Female – £28 per hour)
  • Electricians (Male – £70 per hour / Female – £68 per hour)
  • Singing teachers (Male – £30 per hour / Female – £35 per hour)

Although the results of the Bidvine study show that the gender pay gap is narrowing among the self employed and freelance workers, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics puts the average gender pay gap at 14.1% across all sectors and age groups, a figure which has stayed the same since 2014. Co-founder of Bidvine.com Russ Morgan talked about the research saying:

“It’s great to see that, at least among the skilled professionals on our site, the gender pay gap is virtually extinct. The explosion of freelance and self-employed workers has seen a shift in how people value the work they do, and what their customers see as value for money for a job well-done.

Because Bidvine connects customers with professionals that can meet their exact needs, perhaps gender has become less of an issue.

We’re looking forward to the next 12 months, and hopefully, a significant change to the ONS figures this time next year.”


 
 

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Building and sign bank (done in 3d)

Financial institutions are critical organizations that have an important role to play in the economy. Such institutions include commercial banks, savings and credit societies as well as investment institutions and together they help individuals, businesses and other organizations use their finances properly. Before such institutions came to the scene, individuals and business didn’t have a secure place to store their excess cash and this caused a lot of chaos. There were no licensed lenders at that time as well and this resulted in a lot of exploitation. Financial institutions, therefore, brought a lot of order in the financial sector and this article takes a look at some of the roles such institutions play in the economy.

1. Holding cash deposits.

Individuals and businesses with more cash than they need at a given time can use financial institutions like banks to store the extra cash. Commercial banks provide individuals and businesses with a safe platform to store their cash and other valuables and this has gone a long way to reduce the instances of insecurity. Walking around with a lot of cash or having it stored in a drawer in the office makes individuals and businesses a target for burglars and by offering them a safe storage solution, financial institutions have enhanced the safety and security of people, organizations and their money. The institutions have easy cash withdrawal mechanisms and this allows the individuals and the organizations to access their cash reserves when they need them.

2. The provision of credit facilities.

Sometimes, individuals and business enterprises may not have all the resources they need to start new ventures or to finance business expansion. This, however, is not a challenge anymore since there are financial institutions that offer cash advances to their members. All you need to do access such facilities to prove that you can pay the advance back and the institutions will offer you as much cash as you need. Loans have helped launched multi-million dollar businesses and this speaks to the power of credit facilities. If you are looking to secure a loan for your personal or business needs, you’d be wise to shop around so as to find the agencies with the best rates. Click here to find out more about what you need to find the best loan company for your cash advance needs.

3. Offering investment advice.

Most financial institutions have an active investment desk for advising their members on the best ways invest their cash. Investment is one of the best ways of ensuring the financial future for both individuals and businesses but without the right information, people and businesses may lose all their cash by picking un-bankable investment options. Financial institutions are aware of the best investment options for businesses and individuals and they would gladly share this information should you visit their investment desk.

Conclusion.

Financial institutions play an important role to play in improving the lives of individuals and business entities and above are some of the ways they go about doing that.


Article Contributed by Gerardo Hyde

Online marketing in today’s world can take some serious time, effort, and money too. Engaging in online marketing is often a multifaceted approach, with the aim to target as many people as possible with advertisements for goods and services. However, such broad approaches to online marketing do often have their drawbacks, with a huge costs and low click rates being some of the biggest ones. Broad marketing campaigns usually do not do a great job at targeting specific custom audiences with the highest chance of being interested in what is being advertised. However, if you really want to create brand awareness, sell a service, or move a product, targeting custom audiences is exactly what you need to do. This is especially true when it comes to being efficient with your marketing dollars. Today we are here to talk about marketing with Facebook Ads and Google Adwords in relation to custom audiences.

Facebook Ads Custom Audiences

Facebook “target audiences” is a pretty neat tool to use when it comes to advertising your goods and services on Facebook. To be clear, Facebook custom audiences do not consist of new customers which you do not have yet. This is not like marketing to a whole group of people which you have never seen or met. These custom audiences are audiences which you can create from a list of already existing customers or followers of your Facebook page, your website, contacts, and your products being sold on Facebook. The real aim of these custom audiences is for you to be able to market specific goods or services to specific groups of people which already follow your page, brand, or who have already bought things from you previously.

Using Facebook Ads in combination with custom audiences is definitely a great way to engage in online social media marketing. Heck, there are over 1.5 billion regular users of Facebook, so it only makes sense to market your products on this huge social media platform. However, like we said before, a broad marketing campaign is not that ideal because your advertisements might inadvertently target people who have zero interest in you or your products. It ends up being a monumental waste of money, paying for ads which most of the broad audience won’t even look at. This is where custom audiences come into play. All you need to do is use the Facebook Ads manager to create a custom audience list from your pre-existing contacts.

There are actually different kinds of custom audiences that you can target with your advertisements. These custom audiences include the following.

  • You can create a customer list or standard custom audiences where you upload customer emails, phone numbers, and Facebook user IDs.
  • You can create website custom audiences where you target Facebook users who visited a specific page on your website.
  • You can create custom audiences based on people who have used a specific app or service of yours.

What is really neat is that you can then create lookalike audiences, which is a type of audience that Facebook will create for you. This type of audience will include people with similar ages, styles, gender, interests, and so on as the people who are already in specific custom audiences of yours. In other words, these broader custom audiences are people who are not yet your customers, but have similar characteristics to already existing ones, thus increasing the chances of them buying your goods or services. Facebook will find these people based on your already existing custom audiences and their similarities to those people.

This is a really effective and efficient way to market your products and services to people. What is also pretty neat is that you can then use an automated marketing and customer retention tools to send emails, newsletters, and other such things to people in your Facebook custom audience. It’s a really good customer retention tool to use in combination with Facebook custom audiences.

Google Adwords Customer Match

Now, to be perfectly clear, this so called Google Adwords “customer match” is more or less the same feature as Facebook custom audiences, but with a different name and location. Customer match is designed to help you reach and target your highest valued customers on platforms like Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, and other online entities that are a part of or related to Google. It is very similar to custom audiences in the sense that you upload a list of customer data, whether from a website, YouTube channel, and eCommerce site, or other such things, which will then be your customer match list, AKA your custom audience.

In fact, Google’s customer match was a response to Facebook’s custom audiences. Google saw how good this going for Facebook and decided to create a so called custom audience feature of its own, and simply renamed in customer match. You create your custom audience or customer match audience, as Google calls it, which will then be the targets for your advertisements. Once again, online advertising, whether on YouTube, Gmail, Google Search, and other such things, is very expensive, so being able to target pre-existing customers is a big deal. Customers who bought something from you the first time around are way more likely to buy goods or services from you the second time, much more so than people who have never bought a good or service from you.

Whether people are searching, looking at displayed search results, on YouTube, or in their email, when people look up or are known to have an interest in a certain product of yours, your advertisements will be displayed or sent to them thanks to this customer match application.

Google Customer Match vs Facebook Custom Audience

Google does have an advantage over Facebook here because the combined services of Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail together have a far higher amount of users than Facebook. Therefore, using Google customer match allows you to reach a far higher amount of people than Facebook allows for. This is even truer when you consider that Google also has something called “similar audiences”, which is just like Facebook’s lookalike audiences.

Google’s similar audiences feature has the ability to larger lists of people than Facebook, but there is also a drawback. Facebook is much more in tune with the age, gender, likes, dislikes, and other characteristics of the people on your list, as well as potential people for the lookalike lists. In other words, Facebook does a much better job here at creating lookalike custom audience lists where the people have a lot in common with each other, thus increasing the chances of people being interested in your advertisement.

Google’s similar audiences may be able to put together huge lists, but they lack a large and concise pool of customer data in terms of their defining characteristics and likes. Therefore, Google’s “similar lists” may not actually be all that similar to the Google customer match lists which you have created.

Below is a great illustration which captures the intricacies and everything you must consider when choosing between Facebook’s custom audiences and Google’s customer match.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that both Google and Facebook have developed great ways for you to target specific audiences based on pre-existing customer lists and contact details you have. Both customer match and custom audiences are great tools you can use to narrow the scope of a specific marketing campaign or even for a single advertisement. These tools can help you target already existing customers or visitors with the highest chances of being interested in what you are offering. The big takeaway here is that both are good ways to engage in online marketing with existing platforms while allowing you to save a whole lot of money.

Author’s Bio: Gerardo Hyde is a marketer and writer with 8 more years of experience in analytics customer marketing and SEO. His passion for powerful technologies is what always keeps his writing up-to-date. He currently works for StackTome, an advanced customer retention tool.


Article Contributed by Andrew Heikkila

As 2017 comes to an end and 2018 begins, our world can be sure of one thing: cybersecurity is a serious issue. The last couple of years have proven that our connected world is in peril, and that almost nothing is secure anymore. Attacks on governments, business organizations, and private individuals have reached historic levels and they’re only going to increase in volume and severity.

Businesses in 2018 and beyond are always going to be in the crosshairs of cyber criminals because data nowadays has become just as valuable as money. Entrepreneurs need to be aware of the risks that they are taking simply by operating in the digital age, as well as how to best mitigate said risk.

Ransomware Woes

Ransomware has become a thorn in the side of many businesses around the world. After the WannaCry virus infected over 220,000 computers in May 2017, it became apparent that everybody — business, government, and private citizen alike — is at risk of being held digitally hostage.

One of the big problems is that ransomware has become a hot commodity on the dark web, selling for cheap and designed specifically to be easy for criminals to deploy. Cybersecurity professionals are calling this Malware as a Service (MaaS). The rise of this model means that, while before you had to be computer literate to try your hand at cybercrime, nowadays, any Joe Schmoe with a computer and internet connection can pop on to the dark web, purchase a ransomware program, and run wild.

The Skill Gap Widens

Unfortunately, at the same time that cybercrime becomes easier to commit, finding professionals to protect against that crime becomes much more difficult. Maryville University reports via its online cybersec resources section that businesses are indeed seeing cyber security staff shortages. They write:

“A deficiency in the number of dedicated professionals trained and experienced in preventing some cyberattacks and mitigating the damage from those they can’t prevent stands out as a major factor behind the various cybersecurity problems that companies all over the world currently face.”

Jeff Kauflin, writing for Forbes, points out that there will be a predicted global shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019.

“Every year in the U.S., 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled, and employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber-security related roles, according to cyber security data tool CyberSeek,” he writes. “And for every ten cyber security job ads that appear on careers site Indeed, only seven people even click on one of the ads, let alone apply.”

AI on the Rise

The cybersec skills shortage would seem damning in a world as dependant on connected technology as ours is. Fortunately, it seems that we may be able to use that same connected technology, in conjunction with AI, to protect ourselves adequately. You see, AI is no longer a science fiction term — machine learning is a real technique that’s being developed and sharpened to help humans accomplish extraordinary achievements in Big Data and analytics alike.

“In a cybersecurity context, AI is software that perceives its environment well enough to identify events and take action against a predefined purpose,” writes Marla Korolov for CSO Online. “AI is particularly good at recognizing patterns and anomalies within them, which makes it an excellent tool to detect threats.”

The use of AI represents a shift away from the “fortress mentality” of keeping intruders out and responding to breaches in the past tense, and instead toward the “immune system” mentality whereby intruders are detected in real time. Though still emerging, AI’s success in recognizing attacks represents the future of cybersecurity.

Prevention Planning, Cyber Insurance is a Necessity

At this point in time, the best way to deal with the prolific rise in cybercrime around the world is to prepare as if you and your business would be hit tomorrow. To protect against ransomware, for example, you’ll want to make sure that you’re backing up your essential data regularly so that if you do get hit, you’ll have a recent image to revert to. Protecting against identity theft and other data breaches means following a process that includes creating a document management plan and electronic document management system, as well as a disaster recovery plan. Record Nations has an extensive guide on those processes here.

Additionally, cyber insurance can be a good idea for those who want to protect themselves against the damages that cyberattacks cause. This can be a fantastic idea for small businesses, which oftentimes may not have the funds to adequately bounce back from a major breach.

The biggest thing to remember is that prevention and preparation are the only ways you can protect yourself. Businesses can’t predict if they’ll be hit or not. Knowing this, they should operate not with “if” in mind, but with “when” in mind. By preparing for what seems to be the inevitable, businesses will be protecting both themselves and customer data the best way that they can.

To sum it all up…

Entrepreneurs in 2018 need to understand that cybersecurity is a major issue. Strains of malware such as ransomware are easy to come by and deploy, while qualified professionals to defend against breaches are more difficult to come by. In lieu of these professionals, AI is being relied upon to defend against attacks — but prevention and preparation are still key to cybersecurity.

Entrepreneurs that take cybersecurity seriously in the coming years will likely end up alright. Those who don’t, on the other hand, risk losing everything. Which will you be?


Article Contributed by Tim Eunice 

You’ve got that big trade show coming up, and it’s a must-win for your business.

Everybody who’s anybody will be there: clients, prospects, and (of course) Brand X, hoping to woo away all the business before you get a chance.

You have to stand out!  You have to “win” the trade show.

After all, it’s a once-a-year opportunity.  Fumble it now, and it’s a long wait until next year.

You probably know that the businesses with the best trade-show displays get the most traffic… and that means they have the greatest opportunity to grow their business and create new relationships with the most sought-after customers.

How is your trade show display?  Is it time to trade up, to get a better response at this year’s show?

Have You Considered These Cool Options? 

You’ll have a table, and maybe some “swag” to hand out, and (hopefully) a nice brochure or two to describe your business’ unique offerings.

What about these display choices?

  • A table-top “throw.”  You could have any image, from a logo to a photo to a business card, reproduced by a quality large-format printer onto fabric or vinyl to throw on top of that table and catch the eye of passers-by.
  • A retractable banner or two.  Whether it springs up from a floor or table-top stand, or hangs from your display, a retractable banner can really make a statement.  And there’s a wide variety of materials, including nearly-transparent stuff Brand X never heard of.
  • An impressive island.  Remember those super-cool “island” displays you’ve seen at previous shows?  Creating something like that can be more affordable than you might think.
  • Lights and TVs.  Nothing grabs attention faster than a unique lighting display, and nothing sells your message with more impact than a sharp video playing on the screen at your display.  If you’ve invested in video marketing, you’d be wise to take it with you to the show.

These are just some of the things people are using these days to win their trade shows.

Believe it or not, your large-format printer is probably on the leading edge of these options… and if he doesn’t provide all these solutions, he likely knows who does.

Choose A Display That’s Easy To Work With 

The best trade show displays are light in weight, but pack a heavyweight marketing punch.

When you’re choosing your display, make sure you get something that’s easy to pack, easy to ship, and easy to set up.  Nothing’s more frustrating than finding out there’s some little part missing, or some other reason you can’t use your new trade show display to its full potential.

The whole rig needs to be relatively easy to take down, too.  You don’t want to miss your flight because your trade show display is too hard to break down and pack for its own flight!

Again, your printer will be able to point you in the direction of a trade show display that’s going to be easy to work with, in addition to supremely effective.

Make those guys at Brand X green with envy.  Trade up to a great trade show display.  If your display gets you the most traffic at the show for the lowest investment, well, there’s a word for people like you: “winner!”

This is a guest post by Tim Eunice the owner of The Visual Edge Signs & Designs Inc



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