Stock House Plans Might Not Save You Money on Your Next Home

Many homes are built from stock house plans purchased from home plan books. But do these affordable, mass-produced plans actually save homeowner’s money? The answer to that question really does depend. If you are the type of investor who wants to live in a gated community of row-houses, then a stock house plan is a beautiful thing. When it comes to investing $500k, $1M or more in building a new residence, then browsing through that plan book might not be the best solution. Here is why.

A catalogue plan could be ideal where addressing specific site-characteristics is not important, like on a flat property with no view. However, the homesite often dictates a great deal respecting the basic layout of a home. It is common to see a home perched on a nice property, that hasn’t taken the potential view into consideration. Living spaces that should enjoy the surrounding landscapes, don’t. Others have inappropriately sized windows or large expanses of glass that are unprotected from the scorching afternoon sun. So there are two key aspects that highlight the benefits of a custom designed home. Livability ( and in turn, resale value ) plus efficiency ( space and energy ) are important factors to consider when investing in the construction of a new dwelling for you and your family.

At resale many designer homes fetch 10-30% more than similarly sized, non-designer homes built with comparable materials. The model has been proven in other industries. For instance, a stylized, well thought through performance automobile, will command a higher price-point in the market than an everyday family sedan. Likewise, designer labelled clothing commands a higher dollar than similar garments from Walmart or Asda because they provide the wearer with a tailored, unique look. In general designer products are identifiable and add personality. If your home design captures a pleasing, identifiable personality, when it comes up for sale, the built home will appeal to a greater number and greater variety of buyers.

Further, a good residential designer will know how to shield a home from the elements, and in turn the client, from sizable maintenance and energy bills. Proper ventilation, sun protection, thermal bridging and massing; even landscaping features or color selection all contribute to how a building endures in it’s natural environment.

Additionally, hiring an architect and spending 10% or more on your home design may not be necessary. For most homes a well-respected residential designer can achieve a comparable, often more livable design for a fee of 3 to 5%. So in short, before you decide that having a designer home is not in your budget or that it is an unwise investment, take a moment and consider all the current and future factors that surround your project.

Defy the Myths, Get Your Book Written–Fast! – Part 1

Why don’t you write a book?
Most people complain it takes too long. They are too busy. One professional coach said she was not a natural writer. An entrepreneur feared it wouldn’t sell, or it would be too much effort. A professional speaker says she is so busy marketing herself, she doesn’t know where to find the time to write.
These are reasons, but they aren’t real, they are myths. You can write a profitable book–even a lot of books–fast!
Fast depends on you, your intention, and attention that you will give your book Fast depends on your creating a blueprint of simple step-by-step strategies to write a fast, focused book.
Getting Your Book Written–Six Myths and Options
1.  Takes talent.
Actually, the less writing know how you have, the better. In my innocent beginnings I thought I was a speaker, a trainer, a teacher, a coach. I didn’t think of myself as a writer!
Yet, because my audiences kept asking for information to take home, and from encouragement from other writers, I started writing short books, booklets, and special reports. I didn’t write the end-all-be-all book of 200-400 pages. Instead, I wrote a series of short books, each taking about a month. No more messy (and unprofitable) handouts. I saw a need and filled it.

While I had heard of agents and publishers, after I checked this traditional publishing route, I found it didn’t serve me. First, it takes too long–even two years or more. Second, nobody cares more about your book than you do. You are the one that can get it done and out into the hands of your audience.
When you don’t know what you don’t know, you can forge ahead with self-publishing like I did. And, you can also consult with an inexpensive half hour phone book coaching session too.
Turn to the talent of others. From knowing Jim Belasco, management consultant some 25 years ago, his “Do what you do best, and hire the rest” statement led me to hire a book designer, graphics person and cover designer.  Later, I learned how to do my own with Portable Document Format, Word graphics, and simple cover designs.
2.  Takes creativity.
Dan Poynter told me many years ago that information can be repackaged for any particular target audience. It doesn’t take creativity, it just takes some editing, rewriting, adding a few new ideas and resources, and putting it together in an organized, short and simple format to please the consumer who wants easy-to-read information.
If you are like me, you can package several of your books and others’ related books together for increased back-of-the-room sales. Like my own increased profits, they can provide more than $4000 a month if you put time into getting the word out.
If you are flexible and willing to learn new ways, you can sell even more copies easily with online promotion techniques. For me, the Internet was my breakthrough.
3.  Takes time.
Some writers claim it takes 2-10 years to write a quality book. Some say 14 days. Maybe a few months to a year can be your story. It will take longer if you change your focus, your format, or try to be perfect. That’s why you need to do some market-driven pre-planning before you write your book.
It’s far easier to write your book right to fit your audiences’ needs than to write it, and then look for an audience. Each audience has a different problem to solve. Think what benefits your book will fill first, what audience will buy it, along with other “hot-selling point” that help you pre-market and also help you write, focused, organized, easy to read compelling copy. Like me, you can write a series of short books, each taking less time than a month. Just see a need and fill it.

You don’t have to write a 200-page book to be a credible author either, and today’s online audience of hundreds to 500,000 who see your ePromotion each week, and who prefer short books, especially eBooks, will make it worth your time.
Think of your benefits in writing a book! Your book expresses who you are. Your clients, associates, and companies who need speakers or coaches need your book. Your fiction audience wants new entertainment. A book ensures a constant stream of contacts who consider you a leader in your field. People Online are looking for your topic every day.
Whether you market your book offline or Online, people want your solutions, inspirational words, and stories. What follows? A lifelong, constant stream of income.
Part two of this article is available at [].

Why Photo Books Are Going to Be Bigger Than Elvis

Are photo books going to be as big as Elvis? Well, one thing is for sure, photo books hold amazing potential. Keen photographers can use the whole photo book concept to make a photo business that blows everything else out of the water. Or, potentially at least. So lets find out why.

The first thing to realize is that books rock! You know when you sit down in someone’s home and they have these wonderful coffee table photography books lying around. The first thing you do is pick one up and start browsing through it… Well, photo books are similar – just more of a low cost variety (albeit still great photos enclosed!)

And with custom photo books (design the book yourself, or drop your photos into a ready made template), you get these great benefits:

o Add your own unique photos to a professionally bound, high quality paper book.
o Create a photo book fast and often within days of a photo shoot (such as a wedding shoot).
o Personalize your photo book with different backgrounds and layouts, and personalized covers.
o Use photo books to present and market your business (such as a portfolio for a graphic designer, wedding photographer or interior designer).
o Use a hard cover, padded photo cover, or a fabric or leather photo cover.

Good photography has a lot to do with ‘how’ you present your photography. And once you have a series of great photos, why leave them online? This forces folks to go to a website to see your work – but what if they don’t have Internet access? This is where the custom photo book looks even more promising.

Not only are you preserving (and sharing) your digital photo memories, you can create photo book gifts for special occasions. Just been traveling? Why not add your best travel images to a book and share it with family and friends? Think of the potential – wedding photo albums, children’s memories, a day (or week or year) in your families life.

And if you’re thinking the cost is prohibitive, then what about offering your photo book for sale too? Add titles, some poetry and words, and you have a completely unique book that’s one-of-a-kind, and ‘home made’ too!

Be Impressed With Your Own Book: Market With Confidence

Writing comes largely from an internal source; it is a solitary process. The writer’s product, however, is public.

After spending months and even years residing largely in your head, thinking, writing, shaping, editing… and editing… and editing, it is time now to share what had essentially been private, with the world. You, like most writers, are understandably uncomfortable with trumpeting the virtues of something as personal as your own book or your own creative abilities – in fact, you probably balk at doing just that and feel almost immobilized. It is so must easier to plug the work of someone else than to praise your own. But you know now that the time has come to market your book, The big question is, how?

Firstly, it is of utmost importance for you to actually be impressed with what you have created, that is, feel confident about your product, secure about the contents and the aesthetic appeal of the book that you now intend to market. You need to know that it is now in its best possible form and that the subject matter, the writing, and the book design is truly excellent. Any old thing is just not good enough.

I feel that having your own website – an aesthetically pleasing, inviting, informative, valuable, lively, and individually your own, in style, is tremendously important. So make sure that you have an excellent web designer, or, if you create your website yourself, really make it attractive and functional. This, after all, is your theater to where you will invite guests – your audience – and you need to ensure that they feel welcome – so comfortable in fact, that they will want to remain longer and explore its interesting landscape.

So now what? The book is complete and it now resides in a home that is artistically appealing on your website. The time has come for publicity. Today, there are less and less physical bookstores and therefore, fewer options for bookstore tours that writers of the past had found dependable and worthwhile. With the ever-diminishing presence of these physical stores, there are now, fortunately, many other forms of book marketing – too many, in fact; it is dizzying, confusing, utterly bewildering, at times.

So begin slowly so that you give yourself time to evaluate the efficacy of the choices you make. Be selective, not frenzied when you choose from the ever-expanding choices of social media. Only use what resonates with you as a start. Try, perhaps, the marvelous concept of the Virtual Book Tour. This takes you almost anywhere in the world – virtually – while you sip coffee and hold court in the comfort of your own home. This method of book marketing, enables you to pop into many countries and communicate globally with people who are interested in your subject – and your writing. And, what’s more, it is affordable, especially, if you compare it to the money you might previously have laid out for airfare and hotels on your past book tours. Sign up with an experienced person to arrange such a tour for you.

Another worthwhile way of gaining publicity, is by writing blogs with interesting content that complements the subject of your book, and also, by being a visiting blogger on other people’s sites. If you understand that nothing happens overnight and therefore do not become frustrated with the length of time all of this takes, and if you decide in advance that you will enjoy the journey – your appearances on other people’s blogs, podcasts, radio programs, and television, then indeed, you will have fun. And, if you enjoy your journey, others will enjoy what you share with them, too. Enthusiasm is contagious. And then it is time to write again – time to retreat into your solitary work and create your next project, because that’s what writers do – they write until they have finished – and then embark again on the next publicity train. And then they write again.