If I had a Billion Dollars!

Lately the Powerball lottery has been on everyone’s mind.  Gosh, who wouldn’t want a billion dollars? I know the answer to that one also. Anyone who believes that gambling is a sin, will not participate in such activities. I imagine if you are already a billionaire like Zuckerboy then you don’t buy a lottery ticket either. The odds are so unbelievable, but yet, years go by and eventually there is a winner, or winners.

 

It’s a pipe dream fantasy. Rescued from your financial responsibilities and live the life of a king or queen. I don’t think gambling is a sin, so I bought ONE ticket. Unlike the millions of gamblers, I am one of the few that would actually tithe my part back to my spiritual source. If I was placed in the same situation 2 years ago, that would not have been my answer or immediate response. Money makes you only “more of” what you were before. Many say that they would give to charity and then I ask what charities they give to now … many don’t give, but think IF they won money they would give. Maybe they would, but most wouldn’t.

 

A long time ago in life I discovered a little secret about life. You don’t have to win the Powerball to get what you want in life. Let me say that again. You don’t have to win the lottery to get what you want in life. Believe it or not, but those are some powerful words my friend. When I was younger, I wanted a Bowflex. At that point in my life, I did not have the disposable income to purchase a Bowflex so I kept wishing. I later realized the power of credit, and voila! No Powerball needed to get what I wanted. I also wanted a big screen tv. Now keep in mind, this was in the 90’s when people still watched 27″ tube glass tv’s. The one at Best Buy was $2k, which was a lot of money for me at the time. Again, wished for the Powerball with no results. Instead I got a part-time job at Best Buy and I used all my earnings to pay for the big 60″ rear projector tv. My boss got really nervous when I purchased the tv with my earnings, as he was afraid I was going to terminate my employment since I had achieved my goal.

 

I have also discovered that each of us needs to have some sort of purpose to feel happy. If you had all the free time you could possibly imagine, after awhile you would get bored and need some sort of stimulation. But those things only last for a little while and your active inner child lusts for more. You think that you would read those books on your list, travel the world, and shop like a Kadashian. But all of those things also just occupy your time. Material objects only satisfy your needs temporarily.

 

Time is a luxury that is afforded to everyone exactly the same every day. How you choose to spend it is up to you, … most of the time. While you still have the financial commitment, you may hang onto that job.
So to answer the question of my article today, what would I do with a billion dollars? I would start by using the free publicity to promote my book of course. “International #3 Best-Selling Author of Angel Academy wins Powerball.” With that kind of budget I could paper every magazine with a full page ad of the book. God’s message would be read/heard by everyone. I like that idea. Of course 10% to God. 39% to Federal, and also to the State.  Another percentage to the accountant, financial planner, and the lawyer. Sounds a lot like the publishing industry as the author usually gets the last cut.
One of the things that I would like to do if I had investment money is build 2 Runza restaurants in Denver. Actually, one would be next to Cabela’s in Thornton, and the other would be at Denver International Airport in the main concourse. Part of it would be purely selfish as I love Runza’s and so do millions of other Nebraska visitors/alum.  It would be a genius cash cow investment.

 

Colorado is such a magnificent place to live. It is rather unfortunate our housing costs continue to rise, pushing many people out and preventing others from entering. I’d like to invest in a tiny apartment community targeting millennials and anyone who wanted to live a tiny lifestyle. I’m thinking 1,000 apartments at $500 a month all inclusive. Running on solar and other techy cool advances would make it super desirable. My imagination and design skills would make it spectacular. If it did well, build more. With all the new light-rail stations built between downtown and the airport I’m sure it would be successful.
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WordPress Site Hacked?

As much as I hate it, websites get hacked. They are actually more vulnerable as WordPress allows more and more plug-ins that have weak security which in turn can infiltrate your site.

 

I have several sites that have been hacked and I have spent many countless hours sorting through evil lines of code, deleting scripts and files. It’s not a lot of fun, but it needs to be done. If you are not a code geek, then I wouldn’t recommend doing this. Hire a professional.

 

If your site goes down, pray that you have a WordPress xml backup file somewhere. It is really easy to do. Go into your WordPress dashboard, if you can, and go to tools, export, all content. Save it to your cloud or Dropbox.com account. This is all your precious hard work you have created.

 

If you can’t get into the dashboard, then you might be able to salvage it if you can get cPanel access to the file manager. If you can, then zip up your WordPress core files, mostly the wp-content folder. Save it to your hard drive. Hopefully you don’t have to use this and you have the XML file.

 

So, how do you know if your site has been hacked? For starters, it might not load at all. It could still load, but in the background secretly have malicious malware or spam files hiding in deep folders. Ultimately what is going to happen, is your web host server is going to shut down your account and delete the site all together to prevent any infection of other sites. Chances are, your site is on a shared host with other websites. Your site could have been infected simply by being on a server that was attacked.
GoDaddy, Bluehost, and a few others are targets and have had sites go down due to hackers.

 

After much technical research, hours of reading other people’s issues, I finally came up with my own solution. Delete the infected site. Start over. This sucks, but it has to be done. Don’t try and edit files that that were binary code. Every answer you search for online gives you very technical, difficult, time consuming possibilities. None that are easy.
  1. Contact your host and change your server password, and your cPanel password. They should be impossible to ever crack.
  2. Log into cPanel, go to Legacy File Manager. Find the infected site. Delete it and all the files under it. You are starting over. Everything in that website directory will be removed.
  3. Open Sofaculous, and if the site is in the “overview”, then you will need to remove it. If it is not listed, but still an active domain, then you will need to install a new copy. Install “limit login attempts” during installation.
  4. Log into the WordPress dashboard, go to plug ins and install Wordfence and Jetpack.
  5. Activate both plug ins and set the security level in Wordfence to “Attack Imminent”.  Activate Jetpack jump start and also limit logins. This will help protect your site.
  6. Go into Wordfence and whitelist your ip address. Ban all I.P. addresses who try to use “admin” as a user, and who access the wp-admin folder. This will help keep your site safe from hackers. Make it impossible to get into your site.
  7. Delete any plugins that you don’t use. Delete “Hello Dolly”. Delete all the themes except the default theme.
  8. Install your desired them, and import your WordPress XML file. Proceed to set up your site as normal.
If you don’t have the XML file, go into cPanel file manager and upload the wp-content file you saved to your hard drive. Hopefully, it will load the content.
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Guerilla Marketing – Goodreads.com

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My book, Angel Academy, has been popular on many platforms since last November when it launched. One of the best little secrets out there is Goodreads.com. I decided to share some of the magic of pay per click.

Stats for All Time

Status running
Start at 2015-06-22
End at when credit runs out
Remaining credit $50.00
Daily cap $50.00
total credit purchased $100.00
Total views 134,340
Total clicks 25
CTR for all time 0.02%
CPC for all time $2.00
Auto renew off
Daily email reports enabled 
What I want you to notice is the number of total views and the number of clicks. As you can see, my book was seen by a lot of people for very little amount of money. My add keeps running on the side of the website (Goodreads) on specific authors that I targeted. Below you can see whom those authors are.

I just added additional funds to the campaign. Facebook is great to establish a platform but perhaps is not the best targeted due to the nature of the website. People don’t go to Facebook to buy books. They may like a book page, but they read and add books to read on Goodreads.

Stats for February

Spent $24.00
Views 49,721
Clicks 12
CTR 0.02%
CPC $2.00

 

Create a New Ad in This Campaign

Ads in This Campaign

 

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Interview Questions for Authors

InterviewsThere will come a time when you, as an author, will be asked to speak in public or in private. Your journey as a writer and soon published author, has been an incredible journey and people really do want to hear how it happened and what it entailed for you. I have been interviewed on the radio once, newspaper once and television once. As an author I highly suggest you seek out these vehicles and see if you can get some exposure. There are lots of internet radio shows as well as local radio stations that may be interested in what you have to say.
 
Here are some questions that will aid in creating an intriguing conversation.

 

What inspired you to write your first book?
Do you have a specific writing style?
How did you come up with the title?
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
How much of the book is realistic?
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
What books have most influenced your life most?
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
What book are you reading now?
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
What are your current projects?
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Do you see writing as a career?
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Who designed the covers?
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

 

Think about some of these questions and actually take the time to write out the answers, and then practice doing a talk with these questions as your foundation. The worst thing you can do for your book is to “wing it”. Go unprepared and make a fool of yourself. Don’t do it. Work hard and reap the rewards. Use your smartphone and record yourself. Watch your video. Listen to how you sound. Practice until you are perfect.

 

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Why Fitbit is my new best friend.

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Hello new friend. You motivate me. You make me smile. I jump out of bed and immediately see how long we were sleeping together. I am so thankful you wake me up with a gentle little buzz, reminding me I have a whole day of exercise ahead of me. I love how you have friends that connect easily with our smartphones. I love our walks together. I stay competitive and march to a new beat. I am healthy. I have invested well in my future and healthy happiness. When I have to let you go, even for a few hours to charge your batteries, I feel lonely and lost without you. Thanks for always being there for me, making me stay on the move. Fitbit, you’re the best! I love you.
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The Entrepreneur Boot Camp

With more and more millennials leaving the nest later in life, society and the workplace has seen some dramatic impact on the job market. Many economists have analyzed the baby boomers and for many companies, they have focused their marketing efforts at this large group of buyers. What probably is shocking for a lot of people is the overwhelming number of baby boomers who are leaving the workforce, now able to retire.
 
As I predicted a decade ago, the job market would eventually shift and those upper level management jobs are now being filled by their younger counterparts, the Generation “X”. What they leave behind are many middle management and specialist position that remain open. I did some research in the Denver market on what employers are hiring, which jobs and where there is a huge gap in talent. For anyone to say that there are no job, then they are not looking hard enough. Are more companies moving to Colorado? Are new jobs being created? Yes and yes. Are there a lot of people who have the luxury to retire early, leaving more career advancements for others? Yes.
There are also millions of inspired individuals who have an idea for a small business. Some create it by ingenuity and intelligence, others take what they learned from a master and branch off as a specialist or a generalist. I myself am one of those people. I have a formal education and I still found things challenging. Back in the day I did not know that entrepreneur, self-employed, and sole proprietor were all the same thing. Funny right? A majority of the things I learned to be successful I learned by asking questions of people who failed and people who did not fail. I watch. I learn. I observe. I have an uncanny talent for processing large amounts of data and putting it into valuable data.
What I have noticed, is despite the large number of business schools, there really isn’t a lot for everyone else.  There are some things that need to be taken into consideration when starting a new business, and right now, there is not one book or manual that can guide you through all of the things that you need. As more and more aspiring artists and authors spread their wings they are going to need some help. I still have not looked or read Darren Hardy’s new book. Yes it has a bunch of 5 star reviews but we all know that they were by friends and employees. Whether or not it would meet my expectations for a great small business owner start up book is still to be seen.
So right now, I am in the process of putting together the marketing plan for my book so I can share that with a client. What I have found is my spreadsheet of all the things to check off, are the blueprints of what anyone would need to do. It will take some explaining on the how, why and when of each. After analyzing each portion and what is involved with learning each new item, I decided that I really should put together a boot camp. It could be a few days or even up to a week, depending on how much information I am going to compile and include. Ideally I would start the camp with training trainers, who would then work for me presenting the material for me. The first few camps of course I would conduct and do the training. Many people would find value learning from my expertise and experience.
My bootcamp would literally educate leaders on all the aspects of a new business and what they will need to continue to be successful. This could be in addition to a formal education, but chances are the things you will learn will be much more valuable. For instance, there is not a class that teaches you how to advertise on Facebook and how to maximize your marketing dollars. Sure there are lots of blogs and articles out there on the internet, but everyone’s experience is different. Or as I like to say, your mileage may vary. YMMV.
I have run the idea by a few small business owners and already the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The future is in small business to medium businesses. Many people were deterred to go work for themselves due to the fact there was no insurance options that were affordable. Now with Obamacare that removes that barrier. Be prepared as a new revolution of entrepreneurs explode. You can be prepared and cater to those new businesses. They are all going to need my book, workbook, and or bootcamp. Everyone needs a website.  What are you doing to maximize your talents on this emerging market?
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How do I become a great writer?

Many people have their own set of rules that they consider when determining if something is a good piece of work. Whether it be a short story, a television episode, a novel or even a movie, there is something deeply hidden within it that give people a feeling or emotion to moves them to recommend it to a friend.

While not really fair, many writers know some little tricks that can aid in the development of your fondness for that story. One trick that I know near and dear to my heart, is the killing off of a likable character. Some writers hate this part of the story development. Others, know that this is critical to the plot and for the reader to experience some sort of loss.

Aspiring authors come to me often asking for advice about their story. I am not a literary agent, but I do know what makes good writing, great writing. I usually will ask for a short 30 second overview of chapter 1 and then ask the plot. What happens and why would I want to read more? You can find out so much in the first chapter. In many classic stories there is always a “hook” in the first chapter. Something exciting happens, there is a discovery, maybe someone dies right away. Whatever it is, something is there to draw you into the story. Did you know in the classic story Psycho, it is not about a motel, but about a large some of money?

If someone is writing about their life story, I ask if it is actually an autobiography? Are you telling me your life, or are you painting a picture so I am so deep lost in your past thoughts and words I forget that I am only a bystander? Or am I living your greatest accomplishments over and over again as I FEEL your words and emotions?

Many writers will tell you what happen. Few are talented word smiths who can really make you feel attachment to their characters. Some will let you live in their world, seeing, hearing, and smelling all of the ambiance of that virtual reality.

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Book Marketing Plan?

Are you an author or contemplating being an author?

Okay, if the answer is no, then perhaps you have a book inside of you? Is your journey so amazing that other people would want to hear it also? If so, that is your autobiography or your memoir. A lot of people “think” their story is interesting. It’s not. That is the reason there are literary agents in the world. Their job is to prevent bad writing from making it into the mainstream literary world. I don’t have to tell you that the world is full of struggling authors.

Think of being a writer just like any other skill. Typing for example is a skill. The first time you touched a keyboard or an actual typewriter, you had NO idea how these letters ever made any sense. The A was by the S? Everyone knows that A goes next to B. The thought of using this machine and knowing where all the letters were was pretty overwhelming. I learned on an IBM Selectric. That shows how old I am, right? WRONG. You are only as old or young as you choose.

So on to today’s lesson, the book marketing plan. If you were not aware my background is marketing, my bachelor’s degree is in marketing and I was a product manager and marketing manager for a good portion of my professional career. Amazingly it has come in handy. My point is, I am experienced in this arena. You, just like your book, need a marketing plan. Hopefully before your book has ever launched you have spent some time and energy on your personal branding and now your book branding.

Your book needs a S.W.O.T. analysis with detailed marketing data. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. How you look at your book and who will partner with it is monumental if you want massive success. I have a client who asked me to develop a marketing execution plan for her book. Basically my success of my book and platform put into an easy to follow workbook, marketing plan. I have a pretty good idea of what it is going to include, specifics to marketing strategies, which routes I chose.

Why did I self publish versus going with a literary agent and traditional publisher? What were some of the financial pitfalls I hit and missed? How did I amass such a large following and what were some of the specifics? I would like to say that someone took me by the hand and said, “First you are going to do this. When you complete that you will move to phase 2, which is this …” but it wasn’t anything like that. I spent hundreds of hours doing research, reading other authors blogs, and investigating anything and everything I could find online.

There is a hidden world of eBooks. There are so many eBook retailers that do not exist to the average American. Most of the United States is focused on printed book sales. Getting their books in stores, at Walmart or Costco. Anything to get the marketing and exposure that they desperately want so bad.

You and your I.S.B.N. is also important as is the “imprint” of your book. Whomever owns the imprint is the owner, bottom line. That is who gets paid. If it is not your name, then you have to wait until that entity decides to pay you your percentage. If you go the traditional route with an agent, keep in mind that you will probably be paid just a little better than your agent. 15% of the sale price. If your book retails paper for $19.99, it may sell for $9.99 and you 15% of that.  Bookstores get 60% off of list price, that is why Amazon and B&N can discount books so heavily.

Distribution is also very key in your book marketing plan. Newsflash — not everyone shops at Amazon. Some people HATE Amazon. Some people only shop local, some only shop at Barnes & Noble, some only shop at airport bookstores. Some people only read books from their public library. Did you know that your electronic book can easily be listed in your local library? Yep, it is true.

Your power partners are also important in your success. Who are power partners? They are the group(s) or individuals who are helping your cause. Your partners are also part of your tribe. Your tribe is your 1000 true fans. This is a theory I have talked about before so I won’t rehash it. You can research the details, but basically you need to have 1000 people who will buy your product or service.

Regardless if you self publish or go traditional you will be told by many people you need to build a platform of readers. It is a huge gamble for a publisher to print books that won’t sell. You have to prove that you have readers who are willing to fork over their hard-earned cash. Your power partners or tribe will be a large majority of your sales initially.

I have already been approached by many professionals who want this same marketing plan. Why? Because what I have done has worked quite nicely for me. It’s a proven fact that there are millions of people who are successful simply by following the actions of those who have demonstrated success.

I haven’t decided how I am going to pursue this endeavor. Do I write another book for the world to read? Do I have a full day workshop? A Friday, Saturday and Sunday event where people all over the nation fly to Denver and sit in my energy and learn all the things they need to know? How much would people pay for such knowledge? I could easily put that together. I could very easily incorporate small business know how that would be valuable. Finances, sponsorships, investors, things along those lines. Maybe someone believes in you and wants a cut of the profits?

I think I would definitely devote a large portion to training professionals, how to use their website, make the most of “out of the box” marketing tactics. I bet that portion would be very popular. Right now I am thinking $5000 for 3 days, and I share all my wealth of knowledge. You pay for your own way to get here and stay. You can bring a second person, like a business partner for half price. During that time, we build your website, develop your marketing plan, strategize your book, and partner with other authors to build your social media.  As an added bonus, I read some manuscripts and give some feedback. It could be a lot of fun.

I know for a fact that some authors have spent tens of thousands of dollars and never achieved the results that I have. If you think you might be one of the few that will be interested in this workshop feel free to let me know. I am thinking of keeping it to a low number of participants so I can work closely with everyone.

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Confused with hastags? #hashtags

Welcome to the 21st century

 

Where the little tic tac toe, from your old dial tone phone is now called something else. It’s called a hash tag.

#

I know, it sounds like the stupidest thing to rename something that we all call a pound symbol. Either way it doesn’t really matter what you call it, it matters what you do with it, what you label, and how you retrieve it. It is also very important when it comes to gaining new readers.

Chances are you might know what these little doo hickeys are, but if you don’t then you are in good hands. No one actually taught me about them but I figured them out and have been making them work for me quite well for some time.

Basically because Twitter only gives you 140 characters, you had to somehow “code” your tweets so you could find them again, and other people could find them. It is a code that starts with a # and is followed by a word. They need to be connected #twitter, and they are not case-sensitive. You can use capitals but it won’t matter.

 

Twitter started the hashtags, but its popularity quickly jumped to other mainstream social media, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and many more. Many companies and products have created their own hashtags to brand themselves.

I have used my own #QuotesByAaronMstephens when I write something and think I may want to read it again. It also is helpful for people to find your updates. So if people know this is MY hashtag, then they can easily pull it up without having to go through so many thousands of tweets or posts.

Once I started using hashtags that were more common for people to think of, I started gaining more followers. Now I use them for SEO and search engine relevance. When you are in WordPress composing a new post, there are tags you can use which are in your article/blog.

These are actually just like hashtags, but for search engines. If you are just randomly throwing in illogical words, it is going to have a negative effect on your rankings.  I would say that only 10% of bloggers who understand SEO actually use these hashtags, tags and categories correctly.

 

I have experimented using different hashtags, using ones that are trending, and also posting things without hashtags. It is safe to say that you should ALWAYS use at least one hashtag. I am a writer, so I use a lot of writing reference hashtags.

I have a lot of readers who are authors, aspiring and published, and they look to me for education. “If it is working for Aaron, then it can work for me.”  Some easy to remember hashtags can be #blog #write #writer #author #indie . There are millions of people who love to read blogs. You might be one of them. Make things easy for your reader. If they know they can find you or your blog by a clever or common hashtag, you will gain more followers/readers.

Be a messenger and share your new found knowledge with a friend.

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Tiny House Movement

Did you know that there are thousands if not millions of homeowners who are sizing down? Big houses are out and smaller more efficient houses are in now. Believe it or not, I know a ton of stuff about economics. It actually was my passion when I first started my undergraduate degree. I did a lot of research on the demographics of generations. For instance, my grandma was called the “Bob Hope” generation. Most of you don’t even know who that is. That’s okay. Everyone has heard of the Baby Boomers. I guess they didn’t have good birth control back then.

After them came the Generation X’ers or as I like to call them, the Nintendo Generation. That is what I am, part of the X group. There was another group that was called Generation Y, but I think after realizing how different this group is, you couldn’t just lump them in as the next letter. I know, lame right? So they sort of named themselves the Millennials.  So you take the Boomers who now are about 75 million and the Millennials which are 82 million, and you have the largest buying group in history ever. What happens when both of those generations want smaller houses? Tiny houses? You have a movement.

The best way to discover the Tiny House movement is to just start looking. Go Google it, look on Pinterest, and go watch Tiny Nation on the DIY channel. Go like some pages on Facebook and you will quickly find all kinds of articles, pictures and websites dedicated to Tiny Houses.  Tiny living is something that some parts of the world already know and are near and dear to their heart. NYC, Paris, Sweden, Hong Kong are just a few place that have learned to adjust due to a lack of space. San Francisco is another place with really high-priced housing for little amounts of space. Portland actually has its own community of tiny homes.

A tiny home can be as small as 115 square feet and up to 500 square feet. Many tiny homes are actually built on a flatbed trailer and can be pulled by a truck. Most cities have ordinances in place that prohibit small houses/dwellings. A flatbed tow gets around this. Lots of people actually park their tiny house in their friend’s backyard.

I found out this weekend at the Denver Home Show I found out that there is a new Tiny Home hotel that is being constructed in Lyons Colorado. Lyons is just outside of Estes Park, and would be about an hour or so to get there. I think it would be cool to go stay in a tiny house for a little while before actually investing and building one.

The name of the new little tiny hotel is called “Wee Casa”. A queen bed is $179 USD a night and $199 for 2 queen beds. One of the tiny houses I saw had a Murphy bed, just one bed, and was a little more spacious. Obviously the more people you have in a small space the smaller it is going to feel. Kids, pets and luggage and you don’t have a lot of room. Just keep that in mind. Ideally I think a tiny house is perfect for two people or one person and a pet.

Keep in mind that many hotel rooms are larger in size than a tiny house. This type of living, amazingly is appealing to a lot of people. It was the busiest part of the home show. Millennials are not so much into hoarding possessions.  Boomers are scaling down and living simpler. Keep in mind that a lot of people can’t afford a house. There is only a limited amount of affordable housing anywhere. It is difficult for people to save up 10 or 20% for a down-payment. A tiny house is around 50k built for you. I happen to know you can get it done a lot cheaper than that.

Personally I love living outdoors. When you have a tiny home you extend your living space outside. I do that already. I have my hammock and desk outside. Plenty of sitting places. I like to work outside. I can see myself building a really nice tiny house and then parking it somewhere in the mountains, or at my family’s property in Pensacola Florida.

 

So if you have ever wondered about a tiny house and wanted to see one up close and personal, the Denver Home Show is still going on today at the National Western Complex. It is a fun afternoon of seeing all kinds of cool stuff for your home, indoor or out. Tuff Shed is smart. They are converting and decorating small sheds into things like a Man Cave or a yoga studio and even one as an office.  If you don’t plan on moving it around, then getting a Tuff Shed is a lot smarter option. You can still put a sofa bed in one of those, a desk, small fridge, burner. There just is no water or sewage. You can get a Tuff Shed for a few thousand, versus 50 – 60 thousand.

 Tiny homes are the next big thing.

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