The 18 Highest-Paying Master’s Degrees

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This story originally appeared on Zippia.com.Over 1 in 4 working professionals now have a bachelor’s degree, an all-time high. With such a competitive and saturated job market, it can be challenging to stand out to employers.
Earning a master’s degree is a way to separate yourself from the crowd, unlocking career paths otherwise hard to break into. However, with the time and financial investment required to obtain a graduate degree, it’s important to choose the right one.
The folks here at Zippia have done the research, so you don’t have to. We’ve compiled a list of the highest-paying master’s degrees to accelerate your income and career.

The main criterion in ranking this list was income. However, we have tried to include degrees of varying fields to appeal to all interests and abilities.
1. Nursing anesthesia
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Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients during medical procedures that require it. They are critical team members who work with surgeons, dentists, and other qualified health care professionals.
A master’s degree in nursing anesthesia also unlocks the path to becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) with further training. CRNAs consistently rank among the highest-nursing jobs in the United States, with salaries averaging over $180,000.
Anesthesiology is an especially high-paying field in Texas and Florida.
The health care industry is expected to grow quickly over the next decade, making this career’s growth potential high.
National median salary: $176,386
2. Information technology
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A master’s in information-technology unlocks a wide range of information-technology management careers.
These include roles such as IT risk manager, chief technology officer, and data analytics manager. These careers’ common duties are designing, implementing, and monitoring systems that hold client or company information.
National median salary: $121,769
3. Business administration
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A master of business administration (MBA) degree ranks among the most useful and flexible graduate degrees available.
You’ll acquire both theoretical and practical training in managing and operating businesses. Leadership and teamwork skills are taught, as well as the specifics of managing budgets and strategic thinking.
In addition to starting businesses, graduates apply their degrees in specific areas, such as marketing, accounting, and finance.
MBAs also leverage their critical thinking and collaboration skills to succeed in completely unrelated fields.
This degree is often found among chief executives, a top-paying position in states like Massachusetts.
National median salary: $114,083

4. Finance
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Although less flexible than an MBA, a master’s in finance is perfect for those planning on specializing in the field.
You’ll acquire the skills to handle investments, trade securities, and manage risk.
With this degree, many students can land investment banking jobs at top institutions straight out of school. Other careers include financial analysts and advisers.
National median salary: $108,518
5. Software engineering
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Software-development is a field where demonstrating ability can compensate for a lack of any formal degrees.
However, provided you have those skills, earning a master’s in software engineering can separate you from the crowd.
You’ll be immersed in software systems and architecture, learn complex algorithms, and fine-tune your foundational programming skills.
This degree opens doors to competitive roles at top companies and will help you quickly advance your career.
National median salary: $107,366
6. Nursing
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Master’s programs in nursing typically offer many specializations, each leading to top-paying career paths.
Nurse practitioners are responsible for diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medicine and treatment, and educating their patients on how to maintain their health.
Popular specialization areas include women’s health nursing, family nursing, and pediatric care.
In addition to specializations, graduates have many options regarding their work setting.
Nurse practitioners are often found working under supervising physicians at hospitals and clinics. They may also start their own independent practices or become consultants.
This degree is highly valued in states such as North Carolina, where the top-paying jobs are related to health care.
National median salary: $107,076
7. Electrical engineering
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A master’s in electrical engineering allows one to specialize in skills that are in high demand among employers. Such specializations include computer engineering, photonics, and circuits.
This opens the path to high-paying careers such as genetic, communications, and computer hardware engineering.
Specializations relating to computers are especially flexible, allowing you to work for top companies across numerous industries.
National median salary: $104,119
8. Statistics
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This degree will help you develop and strengthen a foundation in statistical theory. You’ll also learn how to apply statistical methods to business, as well as use related technology and software tools.
Your skills will be desired anywhere decision-making and data analysis are important.
As this describes most companies in every field, a master’s in statistics offers extreme flexibility.
Statisticians are in demand across countless fields, including those not directly related to mathematics. Such fields include marketing, public health, and medicine.
National median salary: $104,009
9. Physician assistant
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Physician assistants are essential members of the medical teams that assist surgeons and physicians. They work in settings such as clinics, hospitals, and laboratories.
Duties include assessing patients, ordering diagnostic tests, and prescribing medicine and treatment plans.
In addition to acquiring expertise in anatomy, pathology, and patient care, you’ll have the option to further specialize in over a dozen fields.
Such specializations include:
Dermatology
Emergency medicine
Critical care
Hospital medicine
Addiction medicine
High job growth is expected for this field over the next decade. The average age of the population is steadily increasing, which will result in higher demand for specialized health care.
This job ranks among the highest paying in California and Louisiana.
National median salary: $103,648
10. Economics
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Many assume economics graduates are only involved in research, becoming professors or economists.
In fact, economics is among the most flexible disciplines available, opening paths to job opportunities in dozens of fields.
Students of economics acquire expert insight into complex economic and financial situations. They learn how to analyze complex systems and interpret data.
These are universally useful skills, allowing economics graduates to work as statisticians, consultants, market researchers, and much more.
11. Chemical engineering
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Graduates with this degree acquire skills in core chemical engineering concepts, such as fluid dynamics, mass and energy transfer, and stoichiometry.
Chemical engineering is also an increasingly multidisciplinary field. Specializations will allow you to focus on related areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceutical engineering, and process engineering.
These skills are in high demand by pharmaceutical, power generation, and oil extraction companies.
National median salary: $93,454
12. Physics
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Physics graduates hold important skills for a variety of engineering and research careers.
Your understanding of complex physical systems and mathematics will allow you to work in fields such as mechanical engineering, aerospace and defense, and nanotechnology.
The problem-solving and software skills you acquire will also allow you to transition into fields such as software engineering and data analysis.
Multiple specialization options can further the range of viable careers. Examples include medical, nuclear, and telecommunications-related fields.
National median salary: $91,080
13. Petroleum engineering
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A master’s in petroleum engineering allows you to work not only as a petroleum engineer but in careers relating to geology, prospecting, and geophysics.
As a student, you’ll acquire specialized knowledge in topics such as reservoir analysis, fluid flow, and petroleum production.
National median salary: $82,330
14. Computer science
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This degree allows professionals to acquire an edge in today’s technology-driven economy. Computer-science graduates are in high demand at nearly all companies, across every industry.
Students strengthen their foundational programming and computing skills by studying fields such as databases, advanced algorithms, and computer architecture.
Further specialization areas are also available, including artificial intelligence, data analytics, and network security.
Job growth in this field is expected to continue over the next decade.
National median salary: $81,680
15. Industrial management
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Students in industrial management master’s programs can expect to strengthen their core business and engineering skills. They also acquire specialized knowledge in topics relating to operations and productions.
Example topics include managerial accounting, production systems, and operations management.
Graduates lead successful careers as industrial, production, and supply chain managers over a variety of fields.
These fields include:
Plastics manufacturing
Pharmaceuticals
Electronics manufacturing
Printing
National median salary: $80,200
16. Applied mathematics
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A master’s in applied mathematics is an extremely flexible degree.
Students graduate with strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They also develop skills in specialized fields, such as computer science, numerical analysis, and combinatorics.
These strong analytical and mathematical skills allow graduates to branch into a large variety of careers.
Some examples include:
Chemist
Software developer
Operations manager
Mechanical engineer
Applied mathematics graduates experience rapid job growth in any economy, as their widely applicable skills allow them to transition into whatever industries are growing.
National median salary: $79,815
17. Marketing
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In addition to foundational marketing skills, students take courses in finance, database management, and strategic planning. They can also specialize in fields such as brand management and digital marketing.
Marketing graduates are valued by both marketing agencies and large companies with in-house departments. They work as sales, relations, and advertising managers, to name a few.
Companies are always attempting to reach larger audiences, target certain demographics, and convert sales. For this reason, job growth in this field is expected to be above average for the next decade.
National median salary: $79,175
18. Health care administration
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Graduates lead high-paying careers in the health care management field. Such roles include:
Hospital CFO
Hospital Administrator
Health Information Manager
Students are taught the interdisciplinary factors required in managing medical institutions.
These include health care-specific topics such as health care information systems, health care operations management, and health care strategic planning.
They also learn general management and business principles, as well as how to lead and organize personnel.
These skills are especially valued in states like New York and Minnesota, where the top-paying careers are all related to health care.
National median salary: $77,528

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Building an International Brand: What to Centralize, and What to Localize

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March 4, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Over the past few decades, the world has become smaller, providing new opportunities for businesses. Technology has had an enormous impact on the ways we buy and sell, opening up access to broader markets for brands looking for growth. At the same time, tech continues to evolve, as does consumer behavior, meaning brands that stay still risk stagnation or obsolescence far faster than at any other point in history.
Innovation is more than a buzzword these days — it’s a lifeline for any brand aiming to be one of the recognized, dominant global players. The path to global business success is littered with brands that failed to innovate, like Blackberry, which ignored the move to touchscreens, or Kodak, which invented the first film-less digital camera but didn’t see the potential of digital photography. The lesson is clear: Don’t be one of those brands.
How can you predict what’s coming? Don’t just look at what the big guns are doing. That next disruptor could very well be a startup. For example, the skincare cream I’ve used every day for five years is part of a startup, and that startup recently signed a partnership with L’Oreal — the goddess of skincare. When done right, a startup’s products can get noticed by the big cheeses.
Related: 5 Strategies to Build a Global Brand
Navigating the entrepreneurial seas
On the whole, startups have proved to be more agile than big businesses and therefore better positioned to disrupt the status quo. Startups are also going global earlier in their growth trajectory than ever before simply because they can, and taking advantage of an international market can be especially fruitful.
With this global access, though, comes a dilemma: what to centralize and what to localize. Tapping into multiple markets isn’t easy. It involves making decisions around what should be done where and how that product or service will be perceived by audiences from different cultural backgrounds, speaking different languages. That’s a lot to process.
In an ideal world, a startup would come up with a great product or service, put it out there with some clever marketing and swiftly be rewarded with customer take-up. It seems, though, that taking a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to brand-building. Centralization can bring advantages, lowering costs and making the most of a company’s best products and marketing ideas, but it can also miss the mark in a less familiar market.
Related: How to Take Your Company Global
So, what should I keep local, and where should I expand or diversify?
In my work, we balance global efficiency with local effectiveness by first asking the question “Does it affect the customer’s experience with the brand?” If it does, we seek to maximize effectiveness by prioritizing localization. If it doesn’t, we prioritize global efficiency.
It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition though. Centralization and localization can coexist. There are plenty of examples of manufacturers marketing the same product under different brand names (cocoa crisps in the U.S. are called cocoa pops in Australia); or the same product with a different formula (Mexican Coca-Cola is made with cane sugar, while American Coca-Cola is made with high fructose corn syrup); or creating a product specifically for the local market (in Shanghai, KFC serves Peking duck burgers).
Go global or bust?
Even if you do hit upon a product that is universally accepted, the chances are the marketing message will need to be localized. Examples abound of errors in translation that have led to costly product failures, and there are an equal number of errors in cultural translation.
The biggest issue, then, in building an international brand isn’t whether to go global; it’s how to go global. There’s a delicate balancing act between creating a global brand and being flexible and innovative enough to maintain relevance in each market. Innovation is not a process that ends with a product. As the world changes, so must products and brands. Those that stay ahead of the game and find the intersection between centralization and localization that fits their brand, product and markets will be the big brands of tomorrow.
Related: 4 Simple Steps to Begin Building an International Brand

Creating and Inspiring Confidence Through a Business Model

Building a business where people go to feel inspired and confident is much easier said than done. Replicating and franchising that concept, all while making the important things stick, is even harder.
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March 4, 2021 4 min read
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Behind the Review host and Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.
Building a business where people go to feel inspired and confident is much easier said than done. Replicating and franchising that concept, all while making the important things stick, is even harder. Jami Stigliano, owner and founder of dance studio franchise DivaDance, managed to make it happen. On this week’s episode, we talk with Jami about what inspired her to open the business, how she creates such a positive and welcoming environment, and how she turned it into a growing franchise.
To really understand just how welcoming and inspiring DivaDance truly is, we need to first hear from our Yelp reviewer, Emily A. Her first experience with the studio gave her the immediate “sense of women empowerment and community”—something she hadn’t experienced in a long time. As she shares in her review, Emily survived a domestic violence relationship, which inhibited her freedom and left her feeling isolated. Through DivaDance, she found a place where she was welcomed with open arms. “I never feel judged or out of place. DivaDance is the most inclusive dance, gym, squad, business ever.”
When Jami set out to start DivaDance, she wasn’t even really thinking about the “business” aspect of it. She, in her own words, “did it because I wanted to create something that was accessible, inclusive, and helped people feel good.” It’s that pure intent that enabled Jami to create such a successful business—one that has now franchised into 20 states.
All of the DivaDance franchises operate with the same shared values. To Jami, these values are more than just a marketing ploy. They genuinely and authentically represent who they are and how they show up in their day-to-day business operations. This is how Jami’s initial mission with her New York City location has translated across 20 locations. It is a place that welcomes all and fosters an incredible community, including the Austin location where Emily was able to find confidence and make lasting connections.
Here’s a quick highlight of what else you’ll learn from this episode:
Think about your audience. Jami set out to start a studio of her own because of an experience she had at a dance class—one that was exclusionary and competitive. So instead of searching for the experience she wanted, she decided to create it herself. At DivaDance, she prioritizes inclusivity. Through simple things—like not using complex dance terminology—she’s able to create a welcoming environment.
Eliminate excuses. When looking to start the first DivaDance, Jami couldn’t afford to buy a New York City studio. But she didn’t let that deter her. She just created her own model that allowed her to move forward. She started renting existing studio spaces throughout the city, wherever she could make it work. If you’re thinking about starting a business, think about out-of-the-box ways you can make it work. Try eliminating the “excuses” standing in your way.
Be open to change but not afraid to take a moment to regroup. When the pandemic hit, in-person dance classes were of course off the table. Jami had never operated virtually before, and she had to rethink everything they knew about how they operated—and they did. She also gave her franchisors a moment to breathe. Some had moved into home-schooling roles, and most were dealing with the overall stress and weight of a pandemic. Jami knew that and allowed everyone to take the time they needed to adjust (as much as possible in a pandemic) and then get back to work.
Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Jami and Emily, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday. We want to give a special thank you to Emily for sharing her story with us this week.

MIT Authors Create TikTok Campaign For Charity: Points Of You

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Normally  I’m talking with entrepreneurs about their startup company stories, but today I’m sharing a tremendous story from some inspiring young authors. A group of recent MIT alums —  Drew Bent, Julia Rue, Mina Fahmi, and Vick Liu — wrote a book in 2018 talking about the struggles every young person deals with as they head into adulthood: depression, relationships, and the inevitable mistakes of youth — particularly poignant topic given what teens and young adults have had to deal with the past year in both school and life. 
Like many of the young people I’ve had the honor to speak with, they weren’t out for just themselves. Admirably, the group has pledged to donate the proceeds of their Spring 2021 sales to both the Khan Academy and Teach for America, and has partnered with TikTok influencers to get the word out about the book and the donation drive, garnering over 2 million views thus far. 
Liz Seibert, one such Tik Tok Influencer, said “I was a bit skeptical sharing a book on social media with my audience, but after I read it, I knew it was a good fit. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, the book gave me a sense of comfort and support that others were feeling the same way I do sometimes. It’s like getting a bunch of advice from some older siblings and I was really happy to share it with my audience.”
I had the pleasure of talking with two of the book’s authors, Vick Liu and Mina Fahmi, about the inspiration for creating the book and the process of taking it from idea to publication. 

Points of You
Vick Liu

Mary Juetten: What’s the name of your book, and where did you all meet?
Vick Liu and Mina Fahmi: Our book is called Points of You. You can find it on Amazon!
The four of us (Drew, Julia, Mina, and Vick) wrote the book together while we were undergraduates in university at MIT. We all come from relatively different backgrounds and studied different subjects in university. 

Mina studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT, graduated in 2019, and is currently a Technical Program Manager working on neural interfaces at Facebook Reality Labs. Mina grew up along the Chesapeake in Southern Maryland and is currently based out of New York City, NY.
Drew grew up in Northern California  and studied Physics and Computer Science at MIT, graduated in 2018, and is currently a Knight Hennessy Fellow at Stanford where he completed a MA in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies and is on leave from pursuing an MBA at the Stanford while he launches an edtech startup called schoolhouse.world. He has been interested in education reform ever since he was at Khan Academy in 2012 and 2013 as a software engineering intern.
Julia studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT, graduated in 2018, and is currently a Mechanical Engineer Designer, Senior Analyst at Accenture. Julia grew up in Southern California and is currently based out of Cambridge, MA.
Vick studied Finance at MIT, graduated in 2020, and is currently an Operations Associate at Scale AI, a tech startup out in SF focused on accelerating the development of AI. Vick grew up in Southern California, backpacking the Sierra Nevadas as a Boy Scout. He is currently based out of Boston, MA.
Juetten: How did the idea for the book originate?
Liu:  When I was younger, I was always afraid to talk about my feelings with others. I didn’t want to admit I was struggling as much as I actually was. I think this is especially pervasive among high schoolers who feel a need, for one reason or another, to put on a very put-together act. I just want people to know that they’re not alone. They’re not the only ones struggling and if they are, it’s absolutely normal. This book is everything I wish I had known when I was younger. It’s what I would tell my 16 year-old self if I could go back in time. I started writing the first draft when I was a sophomore in college, initially as something I wanted to give to my two younger brothers. One night while I was writing away on my computer, a roommate at the time suggested I turn it into a book and the project took on a life of its own after I convinced the three other authors to join. 
Fahmi:  Vick reached out to me and the other authors with an idea to write a book in early 2018. From the beginning I was excited, but also nervous. I was motivated by the chance to help people feel less alone in their experiences growing up. But the thought of writing such personal material and putting it out for the world to see was pretty intimidating. Ultimately though, I think it takes vulnerability to demonstrate genuine empathy, and I’m glad we saw it through. 
Juetten: What problem(s) are you addressing in the book?
Fahmi: Transitioning through early stages in life can be lonely and confusing. Many young people don’t have others to turn to with their questions. And the tricky thing is, there are no certain answers to begin with. I think this is especially important now during COVID, when people are feeling more secluded and distant than ever. 
In this book we aimed to share real and unfiltered accounts of what we wish we’d known while growing up. By presenting the perspectives of four very different people, we hope that teenagers and young adults can find understanding and new points of view. 
Juetten: Who is your audience? 
Fahmi:  Our book is written for teenagers and young adults – especially those who are reaching the end of high school or are already in college. Over 3,500 people have already picked up a copy of our book so far, thanks to word-of-mouth from friends and family. 
Juetten: How did past experiences help with this project?
Liu:  Before getting started on Points of You, I had worked on another project called TravlerPack relatively seriously. It was a custom sleeping bag specifically designed for Syrian refugees struggling to stay warm during the winter. I had taken the project from the initial ideation to prototyping, fundraising, manufacturing, and most recently distribution. One of the most important lessons I learned with TravlerPack is that meaningful results take a lot of time (and hard work!) to materialize. I’ve tried to keep this in mind as much as possible, especially when things aren’t going as well as I’d hope they would be. 
Juetten: Writing a book is a bit like launching a startup. Do you have a favorite story from the experience? 
Fahmi: One of my favorite memories is the night we spent hunkered down in Julia’s apartment getting the book finished. I remember spending hours just to get the spacing to be perfect. We ended up staying much later than expected, but it was a lot of fun to go through this journey together.
Liu: During the summer of 2019, we were negotiating a publishing contract with a publisher in China to try and take our book international. Drew was already in grad school while Mina and Julia had just graduated university. At the time, I was in Jerusalem teaching entrepreneurship classes to Israeli and Palestinian high school students. I was getting on a bus at the Jordanian/Israeli border when we had to have a last-minute phone call to discuss some final details before we planned on finalizing the contract. The data on the sim card I had bought was about to run out and I was also trying to pull up the email with my ticket on it while the driver kept asking to see it. The timing couldn’t have been worse and we never published in China, but it’s a memory that has always stuck with me.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
Liu:  I would consider it a success anytime we find out that someone has read our book and took something meaningful from it. One of my favorite success stories is from the time a mother told us about how her daughter in high school found it reassuring that college students had gone through the same struggles she was currently going through. The mother also told us that she would also dip into the book every now and then to get a sense of what her daughter might be worried about. We hadn’t anticipated that, but it’s something we’re happy to hear.
Juetten: What’s the long-term ambition for your book?
Liu: I just hope that a few young adults read our book and learn from some of our mistakes, plus hear another perspective. What I really hope though is we help a few high school or college students see the world in a slightly different light.
Thank you to Vick and Mina for sharing and to all four authors for having the courage to be so vulnerable . As a parent of adult children, I saw how they kept issues to themselves during their teenage years. The book itself is doing considerable good, and the drive to raise money for worthy charities is truly inspiring. #onwards.

Cute Paper Dolls Printable Free For Kids

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After 14 years of marriage, my now-ex-husband abandoned our family and my two kids and we ended up homeless.
Refusing to let someone else raise my kids, I worked hard making money online to support my family. Now I run a multi-million dollar empire online. It still amazes me how MUCH God has blessed me!
Dream big! Anything and everything is possible for the one that goes after it! If I can do it, so can you.

Diversify Your Financial Portfolio by Investing in Real Estate

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March 4, 2021 2 min read
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The stock market may be soaring up, but volatility is second nature: It could just as quickly take a turn for the worse. Even if you’re pulling in the dividends now, it may be worthwhile to look into a more stable long-term investment in real estate. Whether you’re a current homeowner who’s thinking about buying an investment property or you’ve never purchased property at all, The Complete Real Estate Investing Bundle can help you make a smart investment.
This nine-course bundle is led by several real estate investment professionals. Regardless of your experience in the industry, you’ll get the education you need to purchase a property, fix it up, and flip it for a major profit. You’ll get three courses dedicated to property flipping taught by Khari Parker, a real estate company owner who has flipped dozens of properties. He’s also the author of the Amazon best-seller, The Lost Curriculum: What School Didn’t Teach Us About Personal Finance.
Beyond flipping, you’ll get a comprehensive overview of residential real estate in the United States. You’ll get a fundamental education on real estate investment analysis, property valuation, and all of the pre-investing steps you need to take to ensure you minimize your risk. There’s even a course dedicated to examining all aspects of the residential mortgage industry so you fully understand what you’re getting into before you buy.
Start working towards a more lucrative future by investing in real estate. Right now, you can get The Complete Real Estate Investing Bundle for just $39.99.
Prices are subject to change.

From Email to TikTok, This Digital Marketing Training Covers It All

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March 4, 2021 2 min read
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The world of digital marketing is constantly changing, but that’s no excuse to cut back on your business’s investment in digital channels, especially considering how much business is being conducted through online channels nowadays. You may not know now how to best leverage the leading digital marketing channels, but you can get a solid idea after The 2021 Complete Digital Marketing Super Bundle.
This 14-course bundle is packed with 52 hours of training in all things digital marketing for 2021 and beyond. Instructors include Isaac Rudansky (4.7/5-star rating), founder of digital advertising agency, AdVenture Media, Australian entrepreneur and founder of Entrepreneur Academy, Benji Wilson (4.4/5-star rating), professional designer Khalil Ibrahim (4.3/5-star rating), and many more.
Across these extensive courses, you’ll learn how to develop a complete sales funnel and leverage an omnichannel marketing strategy to grow your business. You’ll learn how to find customers everywhere, with crash courses in SEO for WordPress, video SEO for YouTube and Google, and many more lead gen tactics. There’s also an extensive focus on social media marketing. You’ll learn how to advertise and gain traffic on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and more social media platforms. Additionally, you’ll explore more conventional marketing avenues like designing an email marketing campaign with Mailchimp and leveraging Pay Per Click ads through Google. There’s even a course dedicated to helping you grow your brand and hold more successful virtual meetings through Zoom.
Start growing your business rapidly through the power of the internet. Right now, The 2021 Complete Digital Marketing Super Bundle is just $49.99.
Looking to diversify your investments in 2021? Check out DiversyFund to start dipping your toes in private real estate for as low as $500.
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How to Keep Teams Connected When We're Apart

March 4, 2021 9 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It can be easy to put team-building activities on the back burner these days. Who wants to schedule another video call? However, it’s a leader’s job to ensure the team is engaged and functioning well. And if you’re not making time for team building, you’re actually making your team less productive.
Although employee performance optimization — improvement of an individual’s own skill set — is important for personal growth, studies have shown that individual expertise is not what ultimately makes teams and companies more competitive and innovative. As clichéd as it sounds, teamwork really is what makes the dream work. Google’s well-known research into team dynamics reinforced what Amy Edmondson has been saying for the last 20 years, that psychological safety — a group’s culture that ensures employees feel safe, comfortable, included, and respected — is the most significant factor for team success. 
Related: How to Create Psychological Safety Among a Team
Connected teams work better
It makes logical sense. Social interactions are what connect us and help us relate to one another. The more easily we relate to each other, the more comfortable we feel opening up, sharing ideas and asking questions, and the better we work together — critical for high-functioning teams.  
Another study conducted by researchers at MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory showed that the best predictors of a team’s productivity were the levels of team members’ energy and engagement outside of work meetings in social settings. In the study, when the manager synchronized employees’ breaks so they could socialize, the company saw a significant increase in productivity as well as in employee satisfaction. 
The upside to a manager’s responsibility for fostering social interaction and team building is that it can be enjoyable. Yes, remote work, video calls and lack of practice can make “social” seem slightly awkward or next to impossible. But many teams are doing it successfully, and they’re having fun in the process.
Being social in a remote world
Once you’re on board with the idea that creating space for team building and socialization is important, how do you actually do it? Shouldn’t social time be spontaneous? Maybe it used to be, when we could bump into one another in the office hallway or chit chat at our desks. Now, with social interaction at an all-time low, companies have to strategically create opportunities for folks to interact. Below are some ideas to help managers create ways for cultivating connections and manufacturing occasions for social interactions while we’re all working apart.
Related: 3 Smart Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Teams
1. Make it purposeful  
Although avoiding virtual conference fatigue requires limiting video calls to those deemed “necessary,” team-building video calls are absolutely necessary for a team’s health and performance. Prioritizing live team-building events and making other meetings, such as presentations and updates, asynchronous (recorded to watch whenever), can be a good solution. 
Make sure to leverage some of your team’s “live time” for important collaborative activities, such as strategic planning and offsite-style meetings to talk about past learnings and the future vision. A good example of how some companies are doing this is with curated “annual kickoff events,” bringing together leaders from across the company for a virtual retreat. These events allow leaders to share stories, connect employees to the company’s mission and values and build excitement for the upcoming year and the company’s goals. Unlike the in-person approach for these events, companies are spreading the content out over several days, making sessions work across time zones and building in time for mindfulness, physical activity and wellbeing.
2. Make it casual 
Not every event has to be planned to the minute. In fact, social connections can flourish if you set up meeting time with no agenda at all. For example, try an open virtual lunch confernce hour during which people jump on to eat together, a “bring your pet” happy hour or a new employee “shindig” for new hires to meet and also chat with old-timers. You can make these casual events even more successful by making an effort to reach out and invite people who may feel like they shouldn’t attend because they’re busy but would like to make connections. Keep these social connections going by also leveraging workplace messaging apps to share photos (check out my cute dog!) and funny stories. 
3. Make it personal
It’s important to keep celebrating the individuals on your team and not lose the traditions that are part of your company culture. In our past work life at Udemy, my team and I would always order cake for someone’s birthday and sit together in the kitchen to enjoy. These days even simple celebrations require a bit more effort, but the results can be just as satisfying. 
In lieu of cake, my team curates virtual birthday parties for teammates by creating group activities centered around the birthday person’s interests, like playing board games or having a casino night with a croupier. You can find creative ways to celebrate new babies, weddings, retirements, and holidays. Sign virtual cards, photoshop a “group” team picture, or make congratulatory or silly videos.  
At Udemy we’ve also included our employee’s new “coworkers” in some of our events. Recognizing many people are working from home alongside their roommates, significant others, families or while parenting, we hosted a virtual learning fair with story time and craft sessions for kiddos, music classes for the whole family, and cocktail and mocktail classes for all. 
Related: 6 Keys for Getting Temporarily Remote Teams Back Together
4. Make it different
Going outside the box from time to time to plan unexpected activities you can do together over a video call can make team bonding extra fun and memorable. For example, you could ship a boxed kit of ingredients to each employee and hire a professional chef for a cooking “offsite” where everyone eats together. Work together to solve the puzzles in a virtual escape room or do a scavenger hunt and “show and tell” what you found around your home. Play trivia, Jeopardy or Among Us online, do a yoga class together, sing karaoke, build floral arrangements, hire a magician or make (free) pixel art by coloring in a spreadsheet template. One team at Udemy actually went on a virtual event to visit llamas at a local farm. Ship beautiful, curated boxed gifts, like snacks, plants or holiday decorations and open them together as a group.
At Udemy, we have a tradition of doing end-of-year music videos, creating funny parodies of pop songs. This past year, our Culture Crew stepped a bit outside the box by supporting employees in making videos at home and assembled them all into a feature video that was shared across the company. The songs celebrated shared experiences from the past year and touched on the challenges we all faced working from home in a pandemic. It brought us all together, despite being so far apart. 
Make it happen: Practical tips 
As you think about what sorts of team-building events you might want to plan for your team, here are some practical tips to keep in mind to help boost success. 

Make it a team effort: Don’t put all of the planning on yourself. Ask your team what they want to do, and share in the effort to make it happen. 

Be visual: Social events don’t really work unless you can see faces. Make sure everyone has their camera on so that you can interact. 

Put it on the calendar: While it can be fun to surprise people with a magician, typically it’s a good idea to give people a heads up so they can plan to attend. 

Make it regular: Celebrate birthdays and life events as they come, but also regularly schedule social activities for your team one to two times per month. Larger, company-wide events should happen at least one to two times per year.

Be inclusive: If you have employees or teams in different time zones, try to find practical times for events when everyone can participate. Or, create multiple events for employees in the different time zones. Also be mindful of other kinds of inclusion – the goal is to build a sense of belonging, so you don’t want to create an event that alienates, marginalizes or excludes.

Keep it reasonable: Being on a virtual conference can be tiring, so scale back your usual three-hour strategy session to a shorter meeting, or break it into multiple sessions. Also, be sure to schedule in some breaks so that team members can stretch, grab a bite, or take a bio break. 

Social director is in your job description
A year into the current crisis, it’s obvious that these virtual team-building solutions are not a temporary fix — you’ll need social events like these in place for the foreseeable future, as many employees will continue to work from home throughout the next year. And with more than two-thirds of employees indicating they’re experiencing burnout, putting social virtual events on the team calendar is not a trivial matter. Social time is actually incredibly important to fostering your team’s ability to work together. 
Related: 7 Mistakes Leaders Make When Managing a Remote Team

Supercharge Your Digital Marketing with Augmented Reality Campaigns

Aryel is the world’s first WebAR marketing platform.
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March 4, 2021 2 min read
Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.
The business world is constantly innovating and if you want to be successful, that means being willing to adapt with the times. It also means you should strive to keep your business on the cutting-edge from time to time, especially when it comes to increasing customer engagement with your products and services.
Augmented reality (AR) is changing the way people shop, play, and experience products before buying. Now, it’s also making a push into product discovery thanks to marketing tools like Aryel AR Marketing Platform.
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Aryel is a former #2 Product of the Day on Product Hunt that allows you to revamp your marketing campaigns while optimizing your budget. It’s the first WebAR marketing platform that allows you to launch engaging campaigns without requiring any coding skills or downloading additional software. With Aryel, you get an intuitive AR campaign builder where you can simply upload your digital assets (or choose from third-party libraries), choose between multiple AR solutions, and access more than 300,000 ready-made AR assets to upgrade your campaign. Once you’re ready, you can share your campaign across any channel, monitor customer behavior, and adjust your strategy in real-time.
With white-labeling, every AR experience is 100 percent custom-branded for your business, while Aryel gives you reports and analytics to see how your campaigns are stacking up. You can get to know which devices and operating systems are the most popular, analyze user and visitor demographics, and much more to optimize your campaigns.
With an Aryel license, three users can manage up to five AR marketing campaigns at once, supporting 2,000 views per month. Normally, that license would cost nearly $1,000 for lifetime access, but you can sign up today for just $69.99.
Looking to diversify your investments in 2021? Check out DiversyFund to start dipping your toes in private real estate for as low as $500.
Prices subject to change.

11 Tips to Help You Post More Consistently

This post is based on episode 101 of the ProBlogger podcast.
When it comes to blogging, consistency is very important. It keeps readers coming back, and ultimately determines whether or not your blog becomes one of the millions of blogs that have been abandoned over the years.
However, knowing you need to be consistent is one thing. Actually posting consistently is another. So to help keep you blogging for years to come, here are 11 tips to help you blog more consistently.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Many bloggers start out with good intentions about how often they’ll post. “I know all about this topic, so it should take any more than a few hours to write each post. That means I can publish five times a week and still have the weekends to myself.”
Then they start writing, and quickly realize that writing down their ideas in a way people can easily understand takes a lot longer than a few hours. And from there they have to decide whether to revise their schedule (and possibly eat their words) or just publish whatever they can manage in those few hours.
You’re much better off publishing consistently but less often than to promise something you simply cannot deliver. Even if your readers don’t realize you’re publishing less often than you said you would, the fact you’re not delivering on your promise will dishearten and possibly demotivate you.
Try writing a few posts and see how long they take, and work out your schedule from there.
2. Generate as many ideas as you can ahead of time
To be consistent, you need to make good use of your time. And that means knowing what you’ll be writing about before you sit in front of the keyboard. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to come up with an idea when you should be writing.
Ideally, you should have an entire list of ideas you can choose from. And to create such a list, you need to devote some time to come up with them. (Not sure how to come up with them? Here’s a post that will help.)
And keep making time for these brainstorming sessions whenever your list of ideas is getting short.
3. Block out time to create your content
You also need to devote blocks of time to actually write your posts. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just sit down whenever the mood hits you and thump out a post. Writing is a discipline, and to become good at it you need to do it regularly and consistently.
On some days the words will flow easily, while on others they may barely trickle onto the page. But there’s only one way to write a post, and that’s to keep showing up in front of the keyboard and pounding those keys.
And like most disciplines, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
4. Block out some more time to polish what you’ve written
As much as you might think your first draft is perfect, chances are you can make it even better by editing it. It’s a chance to not only fix up any embarrassing, typos, but also to tighten the opening, make the transitions smoother, and even give it a better headline.
And you should always do this as a separate process rather than while you’re writing. Why? Because creating and editing use different parts of the brain, and so you need to treat them as separate processes.
And if you need some pointers on how to go about polishing your posts, we have a post than can help you with that as well.
5. Add some easy posts to the mix
Whatever niche you’ve chosen, chances are some posts will be easier for you to write than others. So make a note of the types of posts you can create quickly, and use them to give yourself a bit of breathing space when you need it.
Some posts I find relatively easy to write include:
reader discussions
polls
reader challenges
link posts
archive/’best of’ posts
interviews.
You can also invite other people to write guest posts for you.
And depending on how often you’re posting, you could create a schedule where you publish particular post types on particular days – reader discussions on Mondays, link posts on Tuesdays, reader challenges on Fridays (so they can work on them over the weekend), and so on.
6. Create an editorial calendar
Speaking of schedules, another great way to post more consistently is to create an editorial calendar.
At a basic level, it can help you plan your posts ahead of time so you can see what deadlines are coming up and when you need to have them written by. But an editorial calendar can also help you see where you can build on previous posts to create a series – a great way to hook readers into your blog.
And if you use an application such as CoSchedule (which we use for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School), you can even schedule your posts to automatically publish at a particular time on a particular day.
Which is especially handy when you…
7. Write in batches
When you sit down at the keyboard to write, it can often take a bit of time to get into the flow. But once you’re there, the writing suddenly becomes a lot easier.
So why not take advantage of being in that’ flow state’ and keep writing? Instead of stopping once you’ve finished your post, start writing the next one. And if you’re still in the flow when you finish that one, start on the next. You’ll get a lot more done (because you’re not wasting time getting into the flow), and the quality will probably be a lot better than if you stopped and started again each time.
And when you’re done writing (and polishing) them, you can add them all to your editorial calendar in one hit.
8. Write for your audience
Writing fresh content week after week (or whatever schedule you’ve set for yourself) can be quite draining. Especially when you’re writing for complete strangers who may not even read your content, let alone enjoy it.
So don’t write it for them. Instead, write it for people you know and care about – your readers.
Some of my best posts were written on a plane while returning from a conference. Why? Because I wasn’t writing them for a stranger. I was writing them for someone I’d met at the conference, and writing about the problem they told me they were having.
So make a point of writing for your audience. And if you’re not sure who they are and what issues they’re having, it’s time to find out.
9. Create content that’s meaningful
Another tip is to remember why you created your blog in the first place.
While some people create blogs for the sole purpose of bringing in traffic (which as I mentioned last week is not a good idea), most bloggers set out to create meaningful content that can change people’s lives in some way. It’s their ‘Why?’
And your ‘Why?’ will keep you writing, because you know it’s helping someone else get through their day. Whether you’re helping them sort out their finances, fix their relationships, or even forget their troubles for five minutes, you’re making a difference to their lives.
And that’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.
10. Create content that drives you
When you’ve been blogging for a while, the process of writing fresh content, going through the polishing process and finally publishing your post might start to wear a little thin.
So why not try creating your content in a different way?
For me, podcasting was a game-changer. Not only did it help me reach a new audience who prefer listening to reading, it also brought a lot of energy to my content creation.
And with Facebook Live and YouTube, you can now add video to the mix.
So if your energy is starting to wane, it may be time to try something new.
11. Be spontaneous
While I’ve talked a lot about planning and scheduling in this post, sometimes it’s worth being a little spontaneous.
Sometimes you come across a piece of news that’s practically begging to have a post written about it. It’s as if you’ve been given a gift.
When that happens, I suggest you start writing straight away and publish quickly before its news value disappears (and before your enthusiasm wanes). Yes, you still need to polish what you’ve written, but because you were so enthusiastic it probably needs less work than you’d expect.
(Whether you publish it as a ‘one-off’ event or adjust your editorial calendar to accommodate it is up to you.)
So while planning will certainly help you more consistently in the long run, don’t be afraid to change those plans occasionally.

So there you have it: 11 tips to help you post more consistently. Are there any that I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash