5 Best Self-Publishing Services and Sites

5 Best Self-Publishing Services and Sites

Small Business Expert

Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.

Want to make a little extra pocket change? The Internet can help—and no, making money over the ‘net doesn’t mean stuffing envelopes or selling diet pills. Instead, you can use online services to produce and distribute books, crafts, games, and other cool items made with your own hot little hands. Before you make plans on how to spend all that sweet money, though, you should make yourself aware of the best self-publishing sites and services. 

Most services specialize in one field, or a small handful. It’s important to find one that suits both your needs and your budget. Here are five suggestions for good self-publishing services and sites. 

Lulu – Lulu is one of the Internet’s most popular go-to sites for authors that would like to do things themselves. You retain all the rights to your work, which can then be sold through popular online outlets like Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Lulu also has a wide range of print options, including paperback, hardback, glossy, color, or black and white. 

Kickstarter – Kickstarter is fast becoming an extremely important site for individuals looking to fund niche projects via crowdsourcing. The person who is looking for funding pitches their project on the Kickstarter site in hopes of attracting enough donors. If the target amount is reached, the project is funded (the donors’ credit cards are not charged until the Kickstarter is successful), and donors are rewarded for their contributions. Kickstarter is used to fund all kinds of creative projects, including independent video games, books, albums, and documentaries. 

Smashwords – If you’re looking to self-publish a book, it’s not a bad idea to start off with an ebook. Ebooks are much cheaper than self-published hardcopies, which makes people far less reluctant to take a risk on them. Smashwords lets you publish your stories on-line and then distribute them at a price you set yourself. 

Etsy – Etsy is a crafting/supply site. It’s typically the go-to option for ladies and gentlemen who are looking to sell crafts, art, jewelry, and home-made toys online. For some artists, operating an Etsy store is a full-time job that brings in a steady income. 

App HubApp Hub is a website that offers free/affordable services to indie game developers that want to publish on the Xbox 360 and/or the Windows Phone. Developers who join will gain access to free tools, sample code, community support, and more. 

Need more tips on where to find great self-publishing resources? Visit: 

How to Self-Publish Anything at Mashable

Self-Publishing a Book: 25 Things You Need to Know at CNET

Music Self-Publishing at Squidoo

Best Baby Products and Websites

Best Baby Products and Websites

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

Sure, newborns don’t come with instruction manuals, but there are a number of places online that will attempt to give new parents piece-of-mind when it comes to their little bundles of joy.  These 10 best baby products and websites are all valuable resources for moms and dads looking to give little ones their best start. Want to spoil your family’s newest addition? Stop by to check out all:

American Academy of Pediatrics – With information on breastfeeding, immunizations, allergies and more, the AAP website has a variety of helpful tips and in-depth articles from the collective thoughts of the most trusted source available for parents – pediatricians.

American Baby – From the editors of Parents magazine, American Baby features product reviews and articles on subjects many new moms are concerned about, such as natural childbirth, healthy eating and sleep tips.  There’s also a great online discussion forum filled with other concerned parents just like you.  And, of course, there are always cute baby photo contests going on.

BabyCenter – The BabyCenter website offers easy-to-find sections focused on different phases of the baby’s journey, from tips to getting pregnant to a section dedicated to preschoolers and even big kids. But perhaps the best part of BabyCenter is the weekly e-mail you can sign up for that will send you information about your child’s development in utero and beyond.  It’s a must-get newsletter for any expecting parents, even those who have been through it before.

BabyCorner – With a focus on providing support for pregnant and new moms, BabyCorner offers “birth clubs” in which you can easily connect with parents of kids who were born in the same month as yours in order to discuss issues. 

BabyZone – Offering tips on getting pregnant, being pregnant, life with a baby and beyond, BabyZone has an active community of moms, and great tools for calculating due dates, finding baby names and even assessing various pregnancy symptoms.

HealthyChildren.org – Although it does offer pre-natal tips, HealthyChildren.org focuses on issues of safety, prevention and healthy living that face kids and families of all ages.  Whether you’re looking for timely activities or expert opinions on important topics such as media use, nutrition, immunizations and more, HealthyChildren.org is an extensive resource.

iVillage – On the iVillage Baby section, moms and parents are encouraged to read, share and participate by the use of a rewards program which gives points (and the chance to win) for using the site in various ways.  So if you want a chance to win free stuff while researching ideas for nursery decorating, breastfeeding or even post-baby weight loss, try out iVillage, which also has another of pages focused on issues women care about besides babies.

Lamaze.org – Although best known for their classes on breathing techniques, Lamaze International’s website offers extensive preparation for parents to have a safe and healthy delivery.  It’s an especially great resource for first-time parents, and offers a weekly newsletter and help finding local Lamaze parent classes.

The Bump – From the same folks behind The Knot, a well-known and popular resource for wedding planning, The Bump provides nearly everything a new parent could want, and is designed to be used from the moment you first decide you are ready to get pregnant.   Many pregnant moms enjoy reading the birth stories of others who have recently gone through the experience.

WhatToExpect.com – Based on the essential new-parent book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the companion website offers a similar educational approach to explain and demystify all aspects of pregnancy and child-rearing.

Work from Home: Top Web Conferencing Software

27 August, 2012 Work No comments
Work from Home: Top Web Conferencing Software

Our connected world lets us communicate from anywhere, shop from anywhere, and (as is becoming increasingly common) work from anywhere. Telecommuting is a big hit with many companies, and employees don’t mind being spared the agony of spending time and gas money on long commutes. 

But even though more and more of us are working from home, we still require face-to-face time with our co-workers and bosses for meetings, brainstorming, conferences, and heck, even the pleasure of idle chatter. If you work from home, or if you run a large or small business, consider one of these five best programs for top-notch web video conferencing and video chat services. It goes without saying that you need a PC or a Mac equipped with a webcam to use each program’s video function. 

Also be sure to see the many solutions which Citrix offers, which come highly recommended as well.

SkypeSkype was one of the first players in the VoIP and video conferencing game. As a result, its huge head start has provided the program with ample time to grow and evolve way beyond a cost-effective means of making phone calls over the Internet. Nowadays, you can use Skype to make video calls one-on-one or with a group, and you can even use Skype to learn a new language. 

Google+ HangoutsGoogle has been getting its fingers into everything communications-related, and video conferencing is no exception. Google+ Hangouts is a plug-in for Google+ that allows you to conference with your friends via high-quality video and audio. It’s an especially good choice for one-on-one meetings, or small businesses. 

 Cisco WebEx Meeting CenterWith its lifespan of 16+ years, WebEx is among the most seasoned of web-conferencing solutions. It’s also one of the best-known. WebEx has millions of users, as well as the power of familiarity. WebEx is a power-house that has no problem supporting up to six videoconferencing feeds, nor does it ask users to fool around with plug-ins or apps. 

MSN MessengerMSN Messenger is another extremely well-known option, and it’s price (free!), easy availability, and familiarity make it a decent choice for small video conferences. 

Adobe ConnectAdobe Connect is one of the most well-polished and customizable pieces of video conferencing available here and now. Up to 100 users can participate in a video conference, share files, access each other’s desktops, and tons more. Adobe Connect may be a bit over-the-top for a small business owner or two pals who are just looking to chat, but it’s a prime choice for corporations in need of a reliable and flexible video conferencing option.

Need more recommendations for video conferencing software? Visit: 

Best Web Conferencing Software at PC Mag

5 Best Video Chat Applications at LifeHacker

Best Video Conferencing Software at About.com 

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