What Are The Best Dividend Investments Today?

In the coming weeks I plan to do an introduction to dividend investing. Any extra money the wife and I have goes into dividend paying stocks. I wanted to start the series off today with an article discussing what the best dividend investments are as of today February 11, 2014.

1) Target (TGT) – A general merchandise store in that operates in the United States. They were recently hit by a credit and debit car breach that has caused the stock to drop. Currently trading near its 52 week low I think this is a good buying opportunity.  It has a PE around 14, yields around 3% and has increased dividends over the last 39 years.

2) Second on my list is Phillip Morris (PM) I have been adding to my personal position in PM over the last couple months. It has some great chances for dividend as well as earnings growth which should allow it to continue to increase dividend payments in the years to come.

3) Coca Cola (KO) it is around its 52 week lock, trades at a PE of around 20 and yields around 3%, I will personally be initiating a position in KO when it dips below $36 a share.

Overall these are just a few companies for you to research to see if it fits your dividend invest objectives. I think if you can initiate positions in either of these three companies and are will to hold them for at least 5-10 years(what I plan to do), you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Stay tuned for my introduction to dividend investing post that I will continue to grow out with the A-Z of dividend investing.

Book Review: How To Retire Early and Live Well

Book Title: How To Retire Early and Live Well With Less Than A Million Dollars
Author: Gillette Edmunds
ISBN: 1580622011
General Subject Matter: Early Retirement, Retirement

How To Retire Early and Live Well With Less Than A Million Dollars is a book that was ahead of it’s time. Saving money and retiring early have been all the rage with a number of bloggers, like Early Retirement Extreme and Mr Money Mustache.  Gillette Edmunds retired early in 1981 and according to his book tripled his net worth over the next two decades.

Gillette recommends diversifying amongst stocks, bonds, international stocks, real estate and private businesses. Overall I think this is a valid method, some holes I see in his presentation is the returns from stock appreciation he quotes is a little high, as well as interest rate assumptions(remember his point of reference was the 80s when savings accounts were paying high interest rates compared to today).

Does this invalidate his whole book? No, I do not think so. It simply means to retire early you need a large nest egg to accommodate for the lower interest rates available in today’s environment.

One of my favorite chapters was towards the end of the book where Gillette discusses how to mentally survive and deal with markets that are going down. Obviously this creates stress when you see the money you are living on going down as investments fall. Having the mental strength not to panic and make rational decisions is important.

What Are The Best Investment Books About Warren Buffett?

Over the years I have read a ton of investing books, I am also a strong believer in modeling those people who are already successful in what you want to do.  When learning about investing I figured it would help me to read all that I could about Warren Buffett and his methods. This post will be divided into two sections, the first section will focus on books about Warren Buffet and his life, while the second section will focus on books that either detail his investment style or books Warren Buffett recommends.

Books About Warren Buffett’s Life:

1. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life – This is the most up to date book about Warren Buffet. Buffet gave author Alice Schroeder access to interview him, people close to him and access to countless amounts of information and resources nobody else had access to.

2. Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything – This book is a collection of articles Fortune magazine has done on Warren Buffett over the years. This is a great book that covers the most important points through out the history of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway.

3. The Warren Buffett Way – This book discusses more in the specifics of Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy where the above two are more about Warren Buffett’s life and growth as an investor over the years. Both of which I think are needed to truly understand how Buffett invests.

The next few books are books that have influenced Warren Buffett’s investment style.

1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham – This is a monstrous book and somewhat dated in the example stocks provided but the overall concepts are as true today as they were when the book was first published. I have personally read the book cover to cover twice and it has a permanent spot on my library shelf.

2. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher – This is one of the second most influential books that have influenced Warren Buffett’s investment style.

3. One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch – This book hasn’t influenced Warren Buffett’s investment style, but it can take what you learn from the Intelligent Investor and Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and give you more modern day examples and thought processes.

 

 

Book Review: Platform Get Noticed In A Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Everyone needs a platform, a virtual soap box where they can write about what they are passionate about. Whether you are an author, a speaker or a stay at home mom who wants to tell your story Platform Get Noticed In A Noisy World will take you from A to Z in your platform journey.

I have been building websites and blogs online since 2005. I’ve had many successful sites and I am not ashamed to admit I have had a few that didn’t work out how I planned. But I have learned something from each and every one of them.  If Michael’s book was around then it would have dramatically reduced the learning curve.  Even though I am experienced with blogs and building traffic to blogs I read this book cover to cover three times. It is that good. I have learned something each time.

Why You Need A Platform

A platform will allow you to reach the people who are seeking your message, connecting with this audience is the key to getting your message out into the digital world. If you are selling something having a platform can get you more sales, if you are an author or speaker you can use your platform to launch your next book or to book yourself solid with speaking engagements.

Who Is Michael Hyatt and Why You Should Listen To Him?

Michael is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. He also has a successful blog at MichaelHyatt.com he has over 28,000 Facebook Fans, 205,000 followers on Twitter and 300,000 odd blog/email subscribers. Yes I would say he knows a thing or two about building a platform.

 Lets Take A Look At What Platform Covers

These are the major sections of launching any brand online Michael covers each section in depth.

1) Start With Wow : This section details how to create a compelling product, by exceeding market expectations.

2) Prepare to Launch: Details launching your platform by planning, defining your platform goals and defining your brand.

3) Build Your Home Base: Your home base is where the magic happens, from building your blog, creating content, doing interviews and avoiding many of the common mistakes that can set you back.

4) Expand Your Reach: Once you have you content online it is time to gain readers, expand your reach and bring new readers/subscribers into your “world.”

5) Engage Your Tribe: How to engage your tribe via social media and to keep them engaged and returning to your blog.

To sum it up I think the book’s sub-title says it all: ” A step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell.” You can’t go wrong with Platform. Check it out today and let me know what you think!

 

Best Selling Kindle Books of 2012 And A Bigger Kindle Fire!

Two interesting articles I found today that I thought I would write about here.  First up is some news about new Kindle hardware. There are rumors circulating that Amazon is working on a new Kindle Fire that is larger than the current one which has a 7 inch screen.

Amazon Working On Bigger Kindle, Apple May Sell Smaller iPad

This surely is a great sign, one it is a step in the right direction to compete with the iPad.  In my opinion the Kindle is a consumption device where users can purchase and consume content such as videos, ebooks and apps.  With a large Kindle Fire device while it won’t be as portable I could see people buying one of these to have around the house to watch video etc.. then have on of the current 7 inch Kindle Fires for travel use.

 

Publishers Weekly has published the Top Books of 2012(so far). Since we are primarily interested in the Kindle Top 20 here is the list (source Publishers Weekly):

Amazon Kindle Top 20 (as of July 11, 2012)
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage)
6. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
7. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
8. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst (Entangled)
9. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central)
10. Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James (Vintage)
11. Defending Jacob by William Landay (Delacorte)
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
13. The Innocent by David Baldacci (Grand Central)
14. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
15. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Berkley)
16. A Game of Thronesby George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
17. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)
18. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (Jamie McGuire)
19. The Witness by Nora Roberts (Putnam)
20. 11th Hour by James Patterson (Little, Brown)
As a Kindle author myself I see some interesting trends here that we can use in our own business.  Fiction rules the list(even past the Top 20) and series of fictions books are doing well (Fifty Shares, Hunger Games etc..) Good things to note for your own small self publishing empire!

3 Blogs Every Self Publisher Needs To Read

I spend a lot of time writing, writing books, writing blog posts and writing promotional pieces for my books or blog.  It really is an endless cycle, one that is easy to get caught up in and swept of the ledge like going over Niagara Falls. Sometimes you need to just quit writing and read for a while.  There are a few blogs that evolve around self publishing or writing that I enjoy reading from time to time.

Believe it or not, reading can make writing easier.  I read fiction, non fiction, biographies and blogs.  Anything really. You will be surprised on what can spark ideas that you can use later as part of your writing.

Without going on and on here is a list of blogs I like to read:

1) A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing by JA Konrath – If you have been around the self publishing world long enough you can’t help be see this blog mentioned over and over. There is a reason for this there is a ton of information that covers just about everything about writing and publishing from someone who spends a ton of time doing just that.

2) E Pub Manifesto – This blog is rarely updated these days but many of the older posts are classics, you can follow the journey from relative self publishing newbie to someone who was able to quit their corporate job and focus on writing full time.  With this transition there is a lot of information shared that can be tremendously helpful for those people just getting started today.

3) Tracey Writes Books – This is a monthly updated blog by Tracey Edwards. Tracey was a best selling traditional published author who has jumped ship to self publishing.  Tracey is a modestly successful self publisher whose collections of books and income continues to grow month after month and it is exciting she is taking us along from the ride.

Promoting Your Business Through Kindle Ebooks

Sales of Amazon’s Kindle reader have been strong and are growing thousands per day. During a three week stretch in December 2011, the Kindle Fire alone has sold 3 million units and expected to sell another 5 million in 2012.  Keep in mind this doesn’t account for the other Kindle devices.

The market is large, growing and looking for content.  By publishing your first Kindle book, that you can either sell or give away allows you to promote your brand or drive traffic to your social media sites(Facebook, Twitter etc..) or back to your companies’ website.

Important Tips To Ensure Your Kindle Book Is A Success

Keep the self promotion to a minimum, remember the people are downloading your book to be entertained or learn something about the topic, not to be sold to.  It is common practice to have a small promotional section at the beginning or end.  But with some creative tactics you can promote your business while also benefiting the customer.  For example, when you are explaining something about your topic you can send them back to your blog to a relevant article that might dig deeper into the topic or provide additional reading.  This will benefit the user, as well as get them back to your blog and exposed to your other content.

1. The Cover Means A Lot! – If there is one thing that can determine the success or failure of a Kindle book it is the cover graphic, people are very visual, when they go looking for a new Kindle book to download they often will search for a topic in the search box and scan the covers for what looks appealing.  There are two methods that you should test here. If all the covers in the category of your niche are dark colors try a bright color that will make your book stand out, the other option is to blend in color wise with the other books in your category, but catch readers with a snappy title or image on the cover.

2. Think about creating a series of shorter books covering your topic of choice.  The first book can be given away and feed people back to your site and the second book in your series(which isn’t free). This will give you constant promotion for both your websites, books and social media outlets.

3. Get a syndicate setup, partner with a handful of authors of books in your niche where at the end you include a recommended resources section and include their titles, while they do the same for you.

Also consider forming an author mastermind group, many people are narrow minded and thing these people are purely competitors. In reality most people who buy Kindle books on a topic buy more than one book on a topic they are interested  in.  Why does this happen?  Often the main reason is Kindle books are relatively cheap, easy to download, with no shipping fees for the customer.

How To Promote Your Website Through Guest Posting

If you are looking for a dead simple way to promote your website one of the best things you can do is seek out any number of the websites in your industry that are looking for content and offer them a high quality article.  With this article you can place an author bio box where you link back to your website.

This serves multiple benefits that include spreading knowledge of your brand, getting direct traffic from your article as well as helping your site gain authority in the search engines.

Ideally all guest posts should be on sites that are directly related to your industry, or a tangent of your industry. For example if your site is about weightloss getting your article published on a health related site could be considered a good match.

Try to avoid many of the article sites on the internet. Ezinearticles.com for instance gets some search engine traffic, but overall the content on the site is poor at best and you don’t want your brand associated with that.

In the short term you should hope to get at least one guest posting gig per month(12 over the course of a year).  If you can get more then go for it, it can’t hurt, but aim for at least 12.  If you cannot find opportunities within your direct niche then branch out to other niches but keep them as related as possible.

Finally put good quality on your website, it is a lot easier to get a website owner to agree to accepting your article and your promotional link if the site that is getting linked to is professional looking and has good quality content.

Lastly, if you can’t find guest posting opportunities right away do not worry, set out to build some relationships with website owners, often they are getting multiple guest posting requests each week so if you get to know them they are more likely to say yes, when approached about guest posting.

Another article you might be interested in is on marketing your business.

3 Steps To Marketing Your Business

When you get into business for yourself there are a few things many people take for granted. Customers simply do not just knock down your door. Without the proper marketing and promotion your foot traffic will be minimal at best.  The good thing is there is a lot of promotional methods out their that are free or fairly cheap.

Step#1 – Social Media Can Be Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy

A properly optimized social media campaign can do wonders for your business. It can produce word of mouth marketing at its finest.  At a minimum your business should be on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in that order.  Google+ in my opinion has a 50/50 should of being popular. A lot of people have a Google+ account but they do not seem to use it that much, but Google is making a big push to make it relevant so it just might succeed.

I wouldn’t recommend going from no social media presence to signing up for Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all at once.  This can split your time between the three and cause all three to do very little for your business. Initially I would recommend setting up a Facebook account and work on getting enough people to “like” your Facebook page.  Once you get some information out on the page and around 100 followers you can move on to Twitter, then Google+.

Be aware though if you mess up social media can work against you.  Each angry customer can come to your Facebook page to complain for all your other customers to see, or they can complain about your company to all of their friends instantly.  If you do come across a negative opinion about your company do not argue back and fourth with the social media user.  Make a short to the point post that you are sorry they had a bad experience and that you will be messaging them privately to discuss the matter further.

It is easy to get into a back and fourth chatter which can really spiral out of control and make your business end up looking worse off. Be keeping the discussion more private it gives you a chance to win back the customer and provide good customer service.

Step #2 – There Is No Substitute For Good Customer Service

By providing high quality customer service you are able to get customers talking about how great your business is, either by calling up a friend or reverting to social media. Either way is an opportunity for someone to pass on how much they like your business and tell their friends why they should check it out.

Step #3 – Cross Promote With Related But Not Competing Businesses

For example, if you run a car wash you could partner with a local auto parts business so you hand each customer a leaflet advertising the auto parts store and they do the same for your car wash.  You are helping each other succeed, but you are not direct competitors of each other.