As children we were encouraged to learn something new every day. We did experiments at school, took part in extra-curricular activities, and joined cultural and activist groups during our college years.
Then something happened:
Adulthood. (Or really, adulting.)
We went from being curious children to adults dedicated to a 9-5 job (which the majority of us find unrewarding), adopting routines that rarely ever change.
Benedict Carey, author of the book How We Learn, says that routine limits our brain's ability to learn new skills and knowledge. This is worrisome because learning new things is important for our happiness.
You may have heard that the “brain is like a muscle.” Just like other muscles, you have to exercise the brain by learning new things. Yes, there is ample research which shows that learning helps build neuron connections and can stave off diseases like Parkinson’s. But there is a lot more to learning new things than just making the brain stronger. The act of learning actually makes us happier.
As Belle Beth Cooper writes about in her post on “Why New Things Make Us Feel So Good”, there is a section in the brain known as the SN/VTA.
The SN/VTA part of the brain is linked to the learning and memory parts, but it is best known as the “novelty center” because it lights up when exposed to new stimuli. You experience a rush of dopamine, which is one of the chemicals that motivates us towards rewards.
Here is what happens:
It is no surprise then that research has found dopamine is closely linked to the learning process. In short, learning new things stimulates happiness chemicals brain.
Learning is fundamentally positive for your mental health.
Learning can be broken down into short-term and long-term learning. If you don’t necessarily want to embark on a big endeavor (such as learning to play an instrument), your brain can still benefit from learning smaller bits of information on a daily basis. Here are some ways to do that.
Ted Talks are famous for bringing a huge amount of topics by innovative thinkers. Ted Ed takes learning a step further with engaging video lessons. Topics range from “the scientific way to cut a cake” to “how money laundering works.”
Americans are notoriously bad at geography, but the rest of the world probably isn’t too much better. The game GeoGuessr takes a unique approach to learning geography. You are shown a Google Maps photo and have to guess where it is. You might just find yourself saying things like, “Huh, I didn’t know that Afghanistan has such green forests!” It’s free to play.
Brought to you by scientists and game developers, Lumosity has a great collection of cognitive games you can play. You might not learn a concrete fact, but your brain will be challenged and grow!
Curiosity is a website which inspires people to get smarter. They do it by finding the most interesting news on a variety of topics. Just click what topic you are interested in learning about and you’ll find fascinating articles and videos.
A large vocabulary is not only impressive, but it allows you to express yourself better. Remember the book 1984 and how they started cutting words from the language as a form of mind control? Well, that’s the power of vocab! The website Vocabulary.com has come up with an adaptive learning game to help you learn more words easily.
No brainer right? Humans process visuals quickly: It takes less than 1/10 of a second for your brain to get a sense of a visual. Absorbing new information using infographics is a quick and easy way to learn. Visual learning not only decreases comprehension time, but sticks around longer in our memories. On Daily Infographic you can spend 15 minutes per day perusing an infographic on a topic of your choice.
Start your day off with an intelligent jolt of positively fascinating facts, offbeat trivia, and creative challenges designed to stimulate the mind. From identifying songs in reverse to the world's weirdest history, Good Job, Brain! is the perfect podcast to enliven and inspire stimulated individuals.
Get yourself inspired and closer to your goals by listening to Clyde Lee Dennis's self-improvement podcast. Each day of the week, he delivers practical life-skills discussions, wellness talks, and mindset shaping discourses into everything from stopping ruminating thoughts to goal-setting, the ego, and more.
Subscribe to Instanerd or visit the site for an endless supply of useful facts and information. Start the feed and flick left or right through short how-tos and factoids on everything from taking advantage of travel opportunities to origin stories for society and social icons, fascinating general knowledge and even more obscure topics. Ever wondered what it's called when you turn yellow from eating too many carrots? Instanerd has your answer.
Scientific American's 60 Second Science is the fastest way to stay informed regarding science, activism, and global interest issues. The refreshing, short format grips big topics, dissecting them during each podcast into condensed, relevant facts that fit great into any day regardless of how busy you may be.
Two games of three rounds each takes care of brain exercise for the day in under five minutes, thanks to the Brain Training Podcast. The show is described as an audio workout for your head that teaches you how to memorize things effectively while having fun.
Get the low-down on some of the most significant pop culture topics, the world's greatest inventions, influential politics, prominent people, exciting places, and other icons of modern society. Mike Rowe's podcast is short, to the point, and perfect for anyone with an enquiring mind.
The practical tips provided by the Functioning Minimalist will have you listening to each podcast over and over again. Integrate sustainability tips while training yourself to grow more content in the moment each day. It's the exact bite-sized inspiration that every busy professional needs.
Select from hundreds of topics and then let Highbrow deliver a five-minute lesson to your email inbox every day. From the arts and philosophy to entrepreneurship, marketing, personal growth, productivity, and even life hacks for travel and productivity – you're ensured a fascinating selection of courses subdivided into ten daily episodes each.
Shine a light on complex, scientific topics with a global impact. Big Think teaches you topics like forced empathy and how to negotiate better. There's discussions, presentations, and lessons on subjects that matter across all fields, making this resource indispensable to lifelong learners.
Ever discovered just how addictive a good session of trivia is? Trivia Crack will leave you hooked on questions from across six categories as you compete against other human players from around the world. A winner is found in 25 rounds or less, cramming a surprising amount of interesting info into a brief period. Now, that's fun learning.
When solved regularly, cognitive word games like cryptic crosswords improve lexical memory. Improve your ability to remember words and languages by using the Learn How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords app until you're adept at working through one of the world's favorite puzzles effectively.
Step out of the boundaries of conventional learning experiences and pick up a new dance move every day with Steezy Studio. A selection of the world's best dance tools makes sure that everyone from complete beginners with just a few minutes a day to seasoned, high-energy dance professionals have something new and fun to learn every day.
Discover thought-provoking new fiction with Blinkist. Each book is condensed into a 15-minute summary that is ideal for finding new authors and subjects. Free users are provided a random summary every day with Blinkist's Random Pick, and you are free to read summaries offline. There's no faster way to explore the literary world and find things you'd like to read.
Ready to take on a bigger challenge? Learning new skills that require a longer-term commitment can be even more rewarding and stimulating for the brain. Every day, you build on what you learned the day before until you reach a level of mastery. Here are just some ideas of things you can start learning and where to start.
Online courses have the benefit of being comprehensive, guided learning experiences set at your own pace. One of the biggest hurdles of signing up for online courses is completion. Instead of finding larger blocks of time to power through courses, try to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day to work through courses. Steady wins the race!
Art, photography, creativity get a boost with classes on Creative Live. Whether you're a beginner or an established artist looking to refine your skills and even build a business with them, this platform provides courses in a simulated live format.
The approach focuses on learning via interaction, which means that the online classroom also features a studio audience that appears on camera. The in-studio students, usually ranging from three to 15 people, interact with the instructor the way a live classroom would, creating a rich virtual experience.
A January 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that on average a person changes jobs 10-15 times, and that number is only increasing with increasing job mobility. Better job mobility also comes from more opportunities to learn new skills.
Skillshare features personalized, on demand classes in categories like animation, graphic design, web development, business analytics, entrepreneurship, and marketing, to name a few. Productivity and lifestyle classes help you to make those skills go even further.
On Udemy, you can find over 55,000 online courses on topics ranging from web development to music training. Many basic level classes are free but there are paid courses as well.
Udacity is one of the most popular places to learn coding for free. They have videos, quizzes, and instructions so you can earn a “Nanodegree.” The courses are made by expert programmers and big companies like Google so they are definitely relevant to today’s job market and tech trends.
BitDegree differentiates itself through offering interactive & gamified courses, especially in the blockchain space. Universities are already embracing blockchain courses on campuses, based on growing interest from students. The cryptocurrency phenomenon is a global one, powered by bitcoin's meteoric rise. Courses offered cover skills ranging from programming, marketing, machine learning to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
All small business owners and entrepreneurs need to know digital marketing techniques if they are going to stay relevant. Created by Google, Primer teaches marketing skills and delivers them in digestible 5-minute segments.
Coursera is one of the best places to find free online courses in higher education on just about any topic. The courses are offered by top universities in the US, helping you to extend your education from the comforts of your own home. Certificates are available for a fee. As an alternative, Iversity.org provides development courses from experts all over Europe. usually on very specific topics.
Today’s top companies aren’t just looking for skills like coding. They want people with soft skills like leadership, team management, creativity, and decision-making. MindTools has a great collection of mini courses which teach you these skills.
Not sure what you want to learn today? Just visit Instructables and view any one of the great DIY tutorials to learn a new skill.
First aid is something that everyone should know and refresh regularly. The American Red Cross has come up with a great app to help. It isn’t a substitute for an in-person course, but it does have bite-size courses on basics accompanied by videos and instructions.
Duolingo is an app which makes it easy to learn a new language thanks to its interactive method and how it breaks down lessons into small chunks. There are dozens of languages to choose from and the app is free to use!
Writing is fundamental cornerstone of communication and remains one of the most in-demand skills that employers look for. The app 750 Words helps you become a better writer by having you write a minimum of 750 words of stream of conscious writing per day – a practice which is said to improve writing fluency and also help you learn about yourself in the process.
Formerly Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning focuses on career oriented subjects with like business, design, and technology. These expert taught classes are meant to add skills to help you in your job.
Gratitude is key for happiness in life. What a lot of people don’t realize is that gratitude actually has to be learned and worked on. The app Mojo helps you rewire your brain to be more grateful by encouraging you to write at least five good things per day, rate the day, and add photos.
The next time you find your mind wandering and are in need of a diversion, head to Brain Metrix. Pick from a range of extensive cognitive tests designed to boost mental flexibility and fitness. Improve concentration, reflection speed, memory and mental reflexes through strangely addictive mental exercises.
Make the changes that you need to your mood, mind, lifestyle and habits to improve your mental health and improve every area of your life. Moodfit may not be free, but it offers 30 days to try the world's top-rated mental health app's full functionality. You'll have everything from tools to help you manage immediate stress to tracking for sleep, therapy, gratitude and goals. There's no better way to take control and understand your emotions.
Peak Braining Training is an app that'll push your cognition, training you through a series of stimulating, challenging mental workouts. Fun, fast and personalized for you – the Peak app can help you improve your focus, memory and overall mental agility. Developed in tandem with scientists from Cambridge, Yale, UCL and King's College London, it keeps you motivated while offering training programmes reaching advanced levels of memory and attention.
Introduce yourself to a new language and learn just how simple becoming fluent can be with Babbel. Both a web and mobile app are available. Exercises are to the point, teaching you phrases that you'll use in practical day-to-day situations. Babbel isn't free, but it's highly affordable and has some of the best lessons, prompts, and podcasts around.
The world's most famous language learning tool is an award-winning language learning solution. From giving you a focused interface to learn practical words and phrases to fine-tuning pronunciation with the help of Rosetta Stone's TruAccent Speech recognition, few apps can compare. Try it out for three days for free and see how Rosetta Stone will help you pick up a new language more intuitively than ever.
Drops is a learning app brought to us by Kahoot! that lets you learn practical aspects of a range of different languages in just five minutes a day. Pick from one of 41 various languages, and visual character learning immerses you in vocabulary that you'd commonly use when traveling. Lessons are spread across 11 topics, and each session builds to a lasting understanding of a new language.
The once-winner of Apple's App of the Year presents an impressive range of fun exercises to train your brain and work on social skills. Elevate helps you speak better while honing focus and cognition. The whole experience is customized according to the way you interact with Elevate, with the 35+ games learning how to help you better each time you play.
Kahoot! Has over 50 million interactive quizzes and games on-demand that make learning fascinating at any age. Whether you're discovering a new topic, exploring a complex concept, or putting skill into practice, Kahoot! makes sure your full attention is on training while having more fun than you ever thought possible.
BrainScape may be designed for students, but the smart flashcards sure do make it easy to compress a vast amount of knowledge into an exciting learning experience for adults. The science of spaced repetition keeps your mind alert, processing and retaining knowledge effectively. It's an app that offers a great way to be introduced to new subjects.
Curious video lessons and a personal Curious Quotient (CQ) score ensure that you're learning something new every day in 5, 15, or 30-minutes. Pick the subject that you want to learn from a growing collection of over 25,000 lessons. New CQ workouts are suggested daily to sharpen your creative, practical, and academic skills.
Queendom is a platform filled with scientifically developed and validated quizzes that help you learn more about yourself and your hidden tendencies. From testing your affinity for childcare to determining coachability, and even more fun tests like determining devotion, kinkiness or your level of personal hygiene – Queendom offers a fascinating way to spend 15 minutes a day learning something new.
Staying competitive in today's ever-evolving world calls for self-growth and constantly learning new skills. With these tools, you're sure to be armed with everything that you need to get your job done better than ever while opening yourself to a far broader range of business options. Keep working hard at yourself as a professional in your field, and you’re sure to further your career quickly.
Pass your Project Management Exam (PMP) with flying colors, with a little help from Brain Sensei. Serving up an innovative selection of test prep courses using animated stories, this online video PMP training course makes preparation fun and easy. Storytelling puts across bite-sized components of information that condenses the PMBOK into something that anyone can grasp given devoted attention.
If you're looking for a surefire way to up your SAT, ACT, or GMAT score, the Kranse Institute should be a prime consideration. Bite-sized video lectures take you through digital test preparation using a syllabus proven to increase your average test scores. The Kranse Institute's program was developed and is taught by perfect score student, Shaan Patel who won Shark Tank and joined forces with billionaire investor, Mark Cuban.
Treehouse video courses on in-demand topics make learning advanced subjects like coding, design, technical and soft skills easy. The unmistakable Treehouse learning system condenses education into interactive videos, workspaces and quizzes that are as informative as they are intuitive and addictive. Instead of relying on standardized tests and exams, code and projects are peer-reviewed, making sure that you know how to apply the things you learn.
If you’re looking for an app to help you prepare for any workforce training exam, look no further 360training. Giving access to over 6000 courses with new, relevant certifications added by the day, 360training is comprehensive and easy to use. It acts as a single resource for multiple-tests, ensuring that driven employees are empowered with current regulations and 24/7 access to learning material across all devices.
QuickStart should be your go-to learning resource for all online IT certification courses and programs. Being partnered with institutions like Microsoft Gold, Cisco and Citrix makes QuickStart one of the world's only IT training and work readiness vendors supported by all the latest emerging technologies. There are courses to help teams reach their goals better, professional aptitude assessments, personnel insight courses, and all types of personalized learning modalities available.
Ever wished you had a thought leader at your side to help you decipher the next, best course of action for your career or business? Tune in to the 15-Minute Strategy Podcast brought to you by Hubspot's Sprocket Talk, and look forward to actionable advice and practical next steps from top professionals across all fields.
Visit Wall Street Survivor to enjoy what's considered by many to be the world's best stock trading simulator. Join the practice league and spend as much or as little time as you can on playing a virtual stock market. Wall Street Survivor teaches you how to invest in stocks through a selection of easy-to-understand prompts and pointers.
From around the clock peer support from a dedicated, busy community to a selection spanning thirteen languages – SoloLearn has everything you need to make learning coding easier. There's no faster way to cement all those core concepts into memory than through this intuitive app's multiple-choice learning prompts.
Mimo is an app designed to make on-the-go coding accessible to anyone learning a language. Bite-sized exercises make grasping advanced concepts easy, while goals and streaks keep you on track and growing your programming know-how steadily.
It doesn’t have to be 15 minutes a day that you dedicate to learning something new. It could be 30 minutes, one hour, or even as little as 5 minutes per day. What matters is that you:
The reason the time-frame unit is so important is because people are more likely to stay motivated and succeed if they break goals into smaller units.
To reinforce skills, utilizing specific techniques can help you learn faster. These include testing yourself regularly, finding ways to gain practical experience, rewarding yourself, and teaching others. Here are a few other common strategies:
Learning is most effective when it enters long term memory. The path to get there is best with a few twists and turns. Trial and error often works well – just find what works best for you!
Using these tools to learn something new every day is a great start. But the reality is that we are already bombarded with information on a daily basis.
According to Niklas Goeke, we consume 74.92 gigabytes of data every day. That’s enough to fill 9 DVDs with data – or 74 pickup trucks filled with paper!
All of the information we consume isn’t helping us achieve happiness or wellbeing in life. Instead, excessive info consumption drains us and fries our brains.
Of course, most of this info consumption is done during our (brain-killing) routines. Simply by breaking routine and making a point to learn new things is going to help you retain and utilize the info better.
But, to really reap the life-changing benefits of learning new things, follow this one important tip:
Share what you’ve learned with others.
It can be on a daily learning blog. Or on social media. Or just make a point to tell your spouse what you’ve learned that day while you eat dinner together.
It may be difficult to find all that time. But the simple act of sharing your new knowledge and insight will help it stick and make the benefits of learning even more life changing.
You have a blog or website – great! And the first thing you’d most likely be focusing on is getting new visitors on it.
That’s a good start. However, over time you’ll probably observe (if you use tools such as Google Analytics) that many people who visit your website never come back. On average, this applies to 70% of all your visitors.
That’s a shame – you worked too hard to get them on your site just to lose them again!
That’s why you’ll need tools that help you to retain your visitors. A common one is the good old email newsletter, however in the last few years new, more sophisticated & effective tools have popped up that help you to get more people back to your site.
One such tool is follow.it, which I’ll introduce in this article.
What is follow.it?
Follow.it is a service run by Inisev which allows you to place various subscription options on your website, such as a subscription form and icons. That way people can follow you, they get alerted automatically (you don’t have to do anything) whenever you publish a new post – and they come back to your site to check it out!
What makes follow.it different from other tools? They recognized that getting visitors back to your site is a process comprised of several steps – which all have to be optimized for maximum effect.
You can see the detailed explanation of above funnel on follow.it, here’s the gist of it:
Sounds good! How do I set it up?
The first step is to head over to the feed set-up page and enter your website URL into the green box.
To illustrate it, let me use Dailyinfographic.com as an example:
…and clicking on “Next”.
In the case of Dailyinfographic.com, follow.it recognizes that it’s running on WordPress, and therefore suggests using this plugin to place the subscription options on the site.
However, you don’t need to use a plugin (and if you’re not using WordPress, you can’t) so you also have the option to design your subscription form directly on follow.it.
After you click on “Continue” you’ll get the HTML code which you can place on your site.
For example, on Dailyinfographic.com it shows like this:
It is suggested to place it at a visible spot so that you get the most followers.
In addition to the subscription form, follow.it also offers to place follow-icons, which in the case of Dailyinfographic.com would be linked to https://follow.it/daily-infographic?action=followPub, i.e. a separate subscription page.
Please follow us if you haven’t done so yet! 😉
And as mentioned above: there are many more options to invite your visitors to follow you with MyPopUps (e.g. with banners or side-widgets).
What’s wonderful about it: MyPopUps is entirely free for all pop-ups which have a follow.it subscription form on them, i.e. unlimited views and all the features, which are usually only accessible to premium users (!).
More features for subscribers
As mentioned above, the key to get many followers is to make the process convenient for them, and offer what they want. For that reason, follow.it gives plenty of options on how they can follow you.
For example, if your website publishes a lot of news per day, readers may shy away from subscribing due to fear of information overload. That’s why follow.it enables subscribers to filter the feed. In the case of Dailyinfographic.com it looks like this.
In addition, subscribers can select how to receive the stories:
Other output channels (such as a Chrome extension, Whatsapp, browser push, etc.) are planned to be added in the future. See follow.it’s Feature Roadmap.
What’s good for subscribers is ultimately also good for you as publisher, as you get more followers.
Other noteworthy points
For small bloggers it’s probably a relief to hear that follow.it offers a very generous free plan which is good for unlimited followers and emails.
For those who want more features, optional upgrades to premium plans are available, as shown on the follow.it pricing page.
With all the features explained above, follow.it is an excellent Feedburner alternative which is very relevant these days as Google announced that they will shut down Feedburner’s email subscription feature in July.
If you’re running a website, publishing content, and are interested in getting more visitors to your site (and offering them a useful tool so they would not miss out on your latest posts) then follow.it is a great option you should certainly explore.
If you need any help, check out follow.it’s thorough documentation, or simple get in touch with them, either via their chat app on their website, or by emailing them at [help (at) follow (dot) it]. They are always happy to assist.
As a writer, I am in constant search for inspiration. Sometimes it comes to me out of the blue, but for the most part, I have to work hard for it. If only the solution were as simple as flipping a switch! Having creativity exercises on deck might just serve to unleash your creativity.
Creativity isn't just for artists. Studies have shown mental and emotional health benefits to creative arts. Research even points to artistic activities preventing or delaying dementia in the elderly. Exercises that can foster creativity, like making a point to talk to 3 people every week who are totally different from you, might even help you make new friends.
In the workplace, creativity finds its roots in the right environment. Whether it's giving employees more freedom over their schedule, adding diversity to a team, or playing games, managers have many tools to spur out of the box thinking.
But just how do you try to find inspiration? This roadmap provides hints and tips that you can follow to unlock your creative genius. Hard work is certainly the foundation to worthwhile endeavors, and being creative requires practice as well. Your path is going to have twists and turns just like this infographic. Being open to new possibilities , as these strategies suggest, might help you through the next roadblock.
Step-by-step guides are usually reserved for DIY projects like building a table or cleaning your car. However, here we have a guide just like that, but it’s all about igniting your creativity.
All too often, we assume creativity is a trait that we have to be born with. How to be creative is a skill that can be learned and practiced. If you don't think that you are “naturally” creative, focus on the process, and try a few of these proven tools and strategies.
The fact that creativity appears inversely related to age, may seem slightly disappointing at first. But spend 5 minutes with a 5 year old and you will see that creativity in overdrive. We were all 5 once, so that spark must still be there! It just might take a bit of work to unearth. These are tactical tools to help you get unstuck.
Sometimes tips, suggestions, and scientific studies just aren’t enough to spark your creative thinking. This infographic also points to the creative juices that were flowing when we were 5, but what did it come down to? 10x more questions asked and 50x more creative tasks undertaken each day as a 5 year old, vs a 44 year old.
Creativity training can be approached from both mental and physical angles, whether it's centering your thoughts to open up the possibility of creativity, or using mental exercises. Challenging your limits with these exercises will help you flex those creative muscles.
Personally, I really like this one because it talks about both good and bad ways of creative thinking. On the road to producing creative work, we often get stuck. That creative block may be a result or our own mental blocks, whether it's using repetitive thinking, or trying to brainstorm on no sleep. Sometimes we need a reminder of what is killing our creativity so that we can gain it back.
Figuring out what the greats have done is another way to load up on inspiration. You may not need to copy their exact schedules, but there might just be a template that works for you.
To me, the idea that “all people experience moments of ‘ordinary creativity', which permeates daily tasks”, is a fundamentally important one. If we ignore the status quo and try to be creative about everyday problems, collectively we have hope of solving seemingly insurmountable issues. Travel, vodka, and meditation also all sound like reasonable triggers to add to our lives (in reasonable quantity).
Sometimes when we've run out of ideas, we need ideas to trigger ideas! Here are 40 simple things you can try, like read books, sketch more, watch films, be curious. And sometimes that is all we need; a reminder that even simple changes can spark creativity.
Most of these tactics can be practiced by anyone with the will and of course time. To dedicate yourself to creativity, you will have to make the time for it. You might find the process itself can be quite enjoyable and varied.
When you feel stuck it may seem as though you have to move mountains to restart your project. It is irritating, stressful, and an overall unpleasant situation especially if you have deadlines. Having 40 tactical strategies in your toolkit increases your chances of getting out of the rut. Be crafty, try new experiences, change your environment, use that notebook. Have we left any stone unturned?
At the end of the day, fostering creativity in the workplace or at home starts with the right habits. These are the types of habits that you rinse and repeat regularly, setting up the foundation for even more ideas. As this infographic mentions, ideas aren't generally plucked out of thin air but are based on known facts. By building up that knowledge via teaching, chances are you can generate well informed ideas.
Using more metaphors sounds like a novel way to practice creativity. Speaking metaphorically would certainly be an interesting way to spice up conversations (or send away someone you don't want to speak to at a party). In general by comparing situations, even if they seem unrelated, you might find a new context to evaluate your problem.
There are common threads in many of these ideas. Seek inspiration both internally and externally, open yourself up to new possibilities through experiences, study what brilliant minds do, take a walk, and get enough rest.
Perhaps the first step is knowing that we all have access to tools to inspire creativity. Just remember to work for it. The goal is always to push forward, no matter how deep in the mud you're stuck. As Jack London said, “We can't wait for inspiration, we must go after it with a club.”
Which strategies help inspire your creativity?
M1 Finance dubs themselves “The Finance Super App.” This website lets users invest, borrow, and spend money with a combination of investing and spending accounts. While they promote their services to younger, newer clientele, they’re perhaps better suited for more experienced investors, as they employ no financial advisors.
M1 Finance follows the time-tested philosophy of investing regularly to build a diverse, balanced portfolio over time. They consider the long-term approach to be one of the best ways to generate sustainable wealth. As such, they discourage day trading on their platform, and in fact take steps to prevent intraday trades.
Every investment website has its own pros and cons to contend with. It’s up to individual users to decide if they work toward – or against – their interests and needs.
M1 Finance is a money management and investment app registered with both the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). They offer tools such as self-directed trading, automated investing, fractional share investing, and margin lending.
However, M1 Finance is not an advisory service. Its purpose is to combine automated investing with high degrees of customization so that experienced users can tailor their portfolios perfectly. It’s also one of a few free robo-services, as its basic service charges no portfolio management or trading fees, nor fees for deposits or withdrawals to connected accounts.
The regular version of M1 Finance is free for everyone. This basic tier comes with features such as:
M1 Plus is the premiere offering from M1 Finance. This account costs $125 per year – just over $10 per month – and includes features like:
We’ll cover both versions of M1 Finance in more detail below.
M1 Finance offers three basic accounts: Spend, Borrow, and Invest. Each of these serves a different purpose to help you on your financial journey. That said, the features vary somewhat depending on if you go for their basic or premiere service.
M1 Spend is M1’s checking account. It comes with a debit card linked to a spending account with no minimum balance or fees. This integrated digital bank account also links with your investment account, so you can sweep excess cash into your IRA, a taxable account, or even pay off your Borrow balance.
The basic Spend Account carries no APY and a daily transaction limit of $10,000. They also charge up to 1% in international fees and offer no fee waivers for ATM withdrawals.
The M1 Plus Spend Account offers more flexibility, with a daily transaction limit of $50,000. You get 1% APY on your checking account, plus 1% cashback on all purchases. Additionally, there are no international fees, and they waive ATM fees four times per month.
M1 Borrow is this service’s margin account. You can take out money at 3.5% interest in the basic option, or 2% interest for Plus members. But regardless of which M1 account you go for, you have to have a total portfolio worth of $10,000 to borrow money.
M1 Invest is fairly straightforward. They allow you to choose your own stocks and ETFs for your investment portfolio, or mimic one of 80 “expert portfolios” to get a head start. They also support four types of accounts: individual, joint, IRA, and trust.
The trading window opens at 9:30 a.m. EST when the New York Stock Exchange opens and runs until all orders have been executed. Any order you place before 8 a.m. EST are executed during the same day’s trading window.
With the basic version of M1 Invest, users are limited to 1 trading window per day, with no options for smart transfers. M1 Plus members, however, have the option to enjoy a second trading window in the afternoon before market close.
Additionally, smart transfers are available for users with balances over $25,000. Smart transfers are a way to automate cash flow, spending, and saving – rather than micromanaging your accounts. For instance, you can set up rules to keep a minimum amount in your checking account and invest the rest; tap into M1 Borrow if your account drops too low; or automatically transfer a contribution to your retirement accounts if your Spend balance rises above $1,000. You set the limits, and your account does the rest.
Aside from these three basic accounts, M1 Finance Plus clients also have the option to open custodial accounts for minors. You can deposit funds and rebalance the portfolio in the minor’s interest until they reach their state’s age of majority. (Usually, 18 to 21 years old.)
Upon reaching the proper age, M1 Finance will restrict all trading in the custodial account. The recipient of the funds can then take one of two options: withdraw the funds entirely, or transfer them to another taxable account.
Now that we’ve peered behind the curtain, let’s dive deeper into what M1 Finance has to offer its investors.
While M1 Finance does offer some limited banking and borrowing abilities, its bread and butter is stock market investing. To that end, they help you build your portfolio from the ground-up with what they call “pie investing.”
When you first sign up with M1 Finance, you’re invited to build a new pie from scratch. This tutorial lets you pick three items and then customize each “slice” of your pie. Although this is meant as an introduction to M1 Finance, you can save your pie for later to expand upon. Alternatively, you can select one of 80 pre-prepared “Expert Portfolio” pies to automate your investing.
The way that pies work is simple. Each stock or ETF is one “piece” of the pie. The size of the piece represents how much of your portfolio this asset represents. At the edge of the pie, each slice shrinks or expands to show how that asset behaves in relation to your desired allocation. This provides a visual so you can reallocate your funds to a more desirable setup.
M1 Finance offers tools for both passive and active investors to monitor their funds. But regardless of which you choose, your portfolios are monitored and rebalanced frequently to reduce drift. This helps keep your allocation within desired parameters as cash flows in and out.
M1 calls this “dynamic rebalancing,” as they attempt to account for both cash flow and the reallocation of currently deployed funds. Uniquely, you can also force a rebalance at any time, which is not a common feature in many robo-advisors.
Unfortunately, M1 Finance is sorely lacking in its goal-setting abilities, as it’s not an advisory service. Although they do provide expert portfolios for reference, their base operation is as a “do it yourself” platform.
That said, M1 Finance does offer some investor education to help you get started. They have dozens of articles on the importance of investing, the ins and outs of different retirement accounts, and how to save for retirement. Plus, their blog, social media, and newsletter are tailored to advise self-directed investors on how to improve their mindset and prospects in the market.
M1 Finance is built with the end user in mind. The mobile app is well-designed and mirrors full website functionality. (In other words, anything you can do online, you can do in the app.) Both the app and website move customers through each step of the investing process fluidly. And once your portfolio is defined and funded, you can easily check its performance, reallocate funds, and alter your cash flow.
One place that M1 Finance has a below-average reputation is with their customer service. As they offer no financial consults, all customer service revolves around how to use the website and app. Your live service options are limited to phone or email, and many users report not receiving an adequate response to their queries or problems they encounter.
That said, M1 Finance does provide a detailed FAQ page to answer the majority of your queries. Many articles also include video walkthroughs on how to use the website and app, as well as to explain their basic investing premise. (But don’t hold your breath on receiving advice from a financial advisor – they don’t have any.)
M1 Finance is an investing experience for users who have some background in the stock market. Intermediate to expert investors will likely benefit from the hands-off approach, as you can:
However, M1 Finance is not an investment site for beginners. If you’re unfamiliar with stocks and ETFs, uncomfortable investing without an advisor, or don’t know your own risk tolerance, M1 Finance is probably not for you. The site’s dedicated to options and personal control means that the burden of your financial future rests on your shoulders – and yours alone.
Everyone could use a bit of extra money. Whether you’re looking to pay off those student loans, saving up for a big purchase, or looking for some supplemental cash to diversify your streams of income, the prospect of increased monthly earnings is an enticing one.
In the digital age, there are more opportunities than ever before to supplement the income from your full-time job or even leave your job to become a digital nomad. While exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming trying to find the right fit and actually monetize what you do.
Not to worry!
This article is aimed at helping you to not only identify possible income opportunities but walk you through the process of how to actually make money doing them.
We live in the age of content.
Every brand, business owner, and entrepreneur is looking for content to help bring their product to market and grow their business’s digital presence. Doing so requires a high volume of content, especially written content.
The business model is typically per word overly hourly rate, but starting writers can charge around $50 per article with more experienced writers charging up to $150 for a single article. If we average between the two, it’ll only take about 20 articles monthly to hit our $2,000 per month target.
You don’t need to be Dan Brown either. The process of becoming a freelance writer is simple.
Some examples of article requests on the Upwork board today include:
Whether you’re an experienced trainer looking to make some extra cash, or a stay-at-home mom who knows exactly how many cushions covers that sofa needs, there is a job that’s right for you!
You’ll need to have one or two writing samples ready to go for most freelance projects, as they’ll want to see what your writing is like.
Practice your SEO skills by writing a couple of sample articles in your niche, and then comparing them to the top-ranked search results.
Now that you’ve got your samples, hit the job boards and start applying!
Don’t get discouraged if the going is a bit slow to start. There are a lot of freelance writers out there. Just stay committed and keep applying, aim for a certain number of applications each day in the beginning.
Certain habits, such as personalizing each of your proposals and reading the entire job posting, will give you a big advantage. Some postings even include a code hidden in the posting to make sure you’ve read it all.
In the digital age having a website is a must for any business.
However, recent research found nearly 36% of small businesses still don’t have a website. Add on all of the personal brands, blogs, and other web-related services and you have one of the fastest-growing industries in the job market.
While becoming a web developer is more of a career trajectory, as it involves some pretty advanced coding abilities, web design is much easier to make some extra cash without a full life commitment.
With an average median salary of around $51k, even web design as a part-time job can easily clear our $2,000 per month target.
All you need is a keen eye for design, some technical know-how, and a portfolio of sights (starting with your own!).
The first step is to actually understand what makes a successful website.
Making a good website is a bit of art and a bit of science. If you have a good eye for design, that takes care of the art (because most people don’t).
You’ll also need to learn the science, so be sure to take some online courses to fully understand the process.
Building your own website actually serves two purposes.
The first is simple. You have a new service which could one day become its own business. You don’t want to be one of those 36% of businesses without a website!
More importantly (at this stage) building your own site will allow you hands-on experimentation with the tools and theories you are learning. The information will actually stick if you do it this way, as opposed to just listening and taking notes.
Once your website is beautiful, it’s time to find some clients!
There are several strategies you can use here. Start local: if you know of any businesses in your area that are a bit more old school, that’s a great place to start. Especially leverage personal connections.
You can also use Google. Search your niche, the businesses you feel most comfortable working on, and head to page 10 of the search results. These businesses will want to rank higher but aren’t currently able to do so, and poorly designed websites are often to blame.
Offer your services as a way for them to jump up the rankings!
While becoming an online teacher, even an English teacher, requires degrees and certifications, tutoring can be done by anybody with some knowledge and the ability to teach others.
According to Tutors.com, one of the premier sites for starting your online tutoring business, tutors can expect to make around $30 per hour for their services.
Specializing in areas such as Calculus or SAT Prep can nearly double that to anywhere between $50 to $60 per hour, making it a great source of income!
Even on the lower end of this scale, say $30 per hour, it will only take about 67 hours per month to hit our $2,000 per month goal. That’s less than 20 hours a week.
The steps to becoming an online tutor are also very simple:
The last step is crucial. If you are a great tutor, it is extremely easy to build your business through personal reference and word of mouth.
On the flip side, if you show up to lessons unprepared, don’t expect to be in business for very long.
The going is always going to be a bit rough in the beginning.
Learning technical skills, lack of experience in general, and understanding how to market yourself all take some time.
That being said, if you stick with it and keep trying you will make money. Just remember why you want to do this, focus on your goals, and stay consistent.
The journey of $2,000 begins with a single cent, and with the information from this article, you can start that journey today!
GMass is a cold (unsolicited) email marketing service and mail merge tool that works within the Gmail platform. The service purports to help businesses increase their open rates by making email outreach campaigns easy to manage from your Google inbox.
In the past, GMass’ platform has been popular with bloggers and recruiters. But thanks to recent upgrades, GMass hopes to expand its clientele to email marketers and sales professionals seeking to run their campaigns from the comfort of a Gmail inbox.
In this GMass review, we’ll cover their:
GMass is a mass email campaign builder and sender that works with Gmail and Google Inbox. The system itself is a Chrome extension that embeds within Gmail to help you maximize Google’s emailing services.
With GMass, you can easily:
But beyond that, GMass’ features are somewhat limited – for instance, there’s no A/B testing, outside integrations, or email templates.
Before we review Gmass’ pros and cons, let’s get a feel for their main features.
Because GMass downloads directly into your Google mailbox, there’s very little learning curve to use this software. Simply use the quick install option and start composing emails right from your native inbox.
One of GMass’ big selling points – and a recent 2021 update – is that they now use their own servers to route emails. As such, you can “break” Gmail’s daily send limits (more on that below) and up to 10,000 emails per day.
When it comes to your campaigns themselves, you can send personalized cold emails with follow-up sequences to maximize responses. Any follow-up emails send as “replies” to the last thread with each recipient, so you don’t have to worry about spamming their inbox.
And with behavior-based campaigns, you can send emails to segments of prior campaigns based on specific behaviors, such as open, read, or ignored. Plus, automatic scheduling lets you can set your mail merge to repeat daily or hourly.
When it comes to building your emails, unfortunately, GMass offers no templates. But after you design your first message in Gmail, you can save that email as a template for future campaigns.
You can use this same template as often as you want for multiple users and campaigns. And once you have a library of templates built up, you can use the GMass search bar to find your favorites.
GMass supports a functional, but limited, range of personalization – you can individualize items like:
GMass also offers first-name detection to help you fill out your address book. And with the Google Sheets integration, you can automatically build a list of recipient emails with their names, fallback values, and merge tags to speed up the process.
GMass also has a fairly comprehensive analytical dashboard you can use to check your progress and tweak future campaigns. Like GMass itself, your analytics dashboard is embedded in your Gmail inbox. From here, you can:
GMass also offers a live, web-based report with up-to-date information that you can share with anyone – even if they’re not in your network.
GMass is a fairly simple platform that performs a handful of tasks well (so long as you only need Gmail for your marketing campaign). But if you run into trouble, you can turn to their online helpdesk full of updated blogs and FAQs.
Alternatively, you can contact customer support via their email or ticketing systems. At the time of writing, GMass does not offer phone or live support of any kind.
Despite GMass’ ease of use, this mail merge platform is designed to maximize Google’s outbound email system – a hefty advantage for Gmail users.
GMass makes it easy to compose emails. Just open up Gmail’s compose box, add text and inline images or attachments, and hit send.
When you first download GMass, the software trawls previous conversations and adds recipients to a Google Sheet. You can also use Gmail’s search feature to find specific conversations and compose a message to only those addressees. GMass even offers a built-in verifier to ensure you’re sending emails to live accounts.
GMass’ automation features are easy to use, though not expansive. You can schedule and monitor your email campaigns, activate automated follow-ups until you receive a reply, and send personalized responses. You can also automate your Google Sheets to receive data from your analytics dashboard in real time.
If you receive replies to your email campaigns, you can compose one message with personalized variables (such as a greeting and sign-off) and send in bulk as your response. This boosts your engagement by making your recipients feel like you wrote your email just for them – while saving you time in the process.
Gmail imposes outbound email limits of 500 per day for regular accounts, or 2,000 per day with Google Suite. But GMass uses their own servers to route emails to your recipients – which means you can boost your email output to 10,000 per day (without getting in trouble with Google!).
Of course, no platform is without its downsides – and GMass is no exception.
This downside is a double-whammy: as a Gmail-based service, GMass only works with Gmail’s system, which means you’re bound by Gmail’s basic email composition constraints. Additionally, as a Chrome-only extension, you have to work entirely within Google’s system to use GMass.
A/B testing is a fairly standard offering in today’s email marketing climate – but unfortunately, GMass doesn’t offer this basic service.
It’s possible to create your own templates by designing an email with text, images, and attachments. However, GMass comes with no included templates to make your email marketing process faster. Plus, you can only save email templates that are fully support by Google mailbox.
GMass is also sorely and unusually lacking in the integrations department. The only “integration” is Google Sheets, which you use to develop and manage your recipient list.
GMass’ analytics dashboard is fairly standard in what it shows. And though it does offer a unique web-based report – with no login required – the URL is public, and thus accessible to anyone. While this makes it easy to share your analytics, it still means that anyone with your URL can view your data anytime.
GMass now offers two basic pricing tiers (their former “Minimal Plan” has been discontinued). You can pay by debit card, credit card, or PayPal.
With the Standard plan, users get unlimited use and access to all features except for sequence and follow-up abilities. This plan starts at $12.95 per month or $129 annually for an individual.
Premium comes with all of GMass’ features and starts at $19.95 per month. You can also bundle a team of five members together started at $89 per month. (Team packages are only available at the Premium tier.)
GMass is an email marketing Gmail extension that only works in Chrome, and only offers one integration: Google Sheets. As such, if you’re not a Gmail-based marketer, investing in this software isn’t just a bad move; it won’t work at all.
But if you’re a Gmail-based outbound marketer who wants to boost your send rate, increase engagement, and maximize your Gmail account with a simple, easy-to-use platform, then GMass offers robust tools at a solid price.