Forced to Redirect but not stop Helping

Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.
Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.

Good Day to You,

A Tough Post

I’m going to start right off by telling you that this is a very difficult post for me.

This Redirection in my online activities is coming about due to my need to “make a buck”, plain and simple.

I’m not a “Sales Man”

If you take the time to look at this project, you will clearly NOT SEE ANY promotions or other means to try and get you to BUY ANYTHING.

I am basically a “Helper” and plan to continue being.

Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.
Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.

Why Supplementing my Retirement Income Needs to Happen.

I’m quite sure that many of you can relate to the fact that our pay checks just don’t support ourselves or our loved ones, as they once did.

In my thirty (30) years as a Maine State Employee, we have continuously been forced to make concessions in many ways.

To those of you who are under the impression that your local government employees “have it made”, this may well be somewhat of a shock to you.

FACT:

Government employees are subject to the whims of every change in political agenda, after each election and/or when the next fiscal year budget is on the legislative agenda.

Every time someone has “good intentions” to “cut the budget”, “reallocate funds”, or in some other way “balance the budget”, the first thing that is considered is the “Pay Check” or “Benefit Package” of your local government employee.

More Disturbing Facts:

In my thirty (30) years of service, the eligibility age for retirement was changed from the age of fifty five (55) to sixty two (62), with suggestions that the minimum retirement age may even rise to become still older for newer employees.

Nearly every time we have gotten a significant raise in pay, we have been forced to suffer through State “Shutdown Days” or “Furlough” days (without pay). This happens when suddenly, the state is “out of money”.

Our employee benefits have suffered greatly in other ways as well.

A Disturbing Trend

All of the above issues are not only affecting government employees, but the greater majority of us “working class” citizens as well.

It seems less and less of us can afford to retire any more. Things have gotten even worse than just faced with not being able to afford retirement when we reach “retirement age”.

More of us are realizing that we MAY NEVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO RETIRE, no matter how much longer we work.

PLEASE NOTE:

This is in no way intended to be a “political statement” and has absolutely NOTHING to do with politics. I will not disclose my political preferences publically EVER.

Why I choose to Retire – Part 1:

Up until the last year or so of my state employment, I had a substantial amount of sick leave and vacation built up. I even had some comp time on the books.

Last November 2014, my wife became ill. Her disabled brother lives with us. He is the person who is also responsible for my online name of “Arth”.

I was forced to take an extended “Family Medical Leave”, in order to take care of my family. My paid leave time was all but depleted.

After returning to work, the “Family Medical Leave” continued to cover me for taking my wife and her brother to doctor appointments.

Just so you know, being approved for the “Family Medical Leave” program, allows us to be able to keep medical appointments, without being restrained by the “needs of the office”. We are still required to use any paid sick, vacation, or comp time we have on the books.

Should you find yourself in a similar position, remember to contact your employer’s personnel office, and ask them to approve it for you. If you meet the guidelines, your employer must comply with this Federal Law.

The continuous doctor appointments, forced me to continue to deplete my paid sick leave, vacation and comp time.

In fact, if I had not retired, the “Family Medical Leave” approval would now be expired, along with all my remaining paid time off.

Why I choose to Retire – Part 2:

The single most devastating change in our state employee benefits is something I’m sure we all can relate to.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

We have gone through many changes in coverage, dealing with copays, subscription medication and more.

The DECIDING FACTOR that just put me “over the edge” in deciding to retire regardless of if I COULD AFFORD TO OR NOT, came when we were forced to accept our Health Insurance Company requiring an Annual Deductible increase to FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS “$4,000” A YEAR.

Frankly, I couldn’t afford to pay that amount of money, before my health insurance company decides to start paying the bills, EVEN IF I KEPT WORKING FULL TIME.

THIS IS AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE???

Even worse, if we don’t pay for this SO CALLED Health Insurance, we are penalized with having to PAY HIGHER TAXES.

Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.
Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.

Where is our FREEDOM OF CHOICE?

Not Politics, just Frustration:

Before I explain just how I plan to “Redirect” my efforts, I need to express this as an American Citizen and Veteran.

I am going to quote the U.S. Constitution, by reminding everyone of the very first words in the original document:

“WE THE PEOPLE”

How long are we as American Citizens going to allow the above three (3) words to be so corrupted by the very people who are supposed to have our “best interest” in mind?

Yes, I’m talking about the very people, who are charged with creating laws and policies that affect all of us.

You know, the ones who are supposed to be supporting “WE THE PEOPLE”?

Now, instead of Health Care being “affordable”, we have OUTRAGOUS conditions, where our doctor is governed by what our HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY will cover.

How often have you been in a situation when you or a family member, or even a close friend, had to pay for something “out of pocket”, because the Health Insurance Company, wouldn’t cover the cost?

Never happen?

IT WILL!

How many times have you or someone you know had to go without NECESSARY TREATMENT OR SUPPLIES, because the “Experts” (who are paid by the INSURANCE COMPANY), decide that “best” or “accepted” practice didn’t dictate it?

Did your doctor agree, or even have a choice in the decision?

A Serious Threat to our Freedom of Choice

How is it that some company can overrule or impede our personal and private treatment plans between ourselves and our doctor?

Why is this being allowed?

Because “We the PEOPLE” are being overruled by “We the SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP”; “We the CORPORATION” and “We with the DEEPEST POCKETS”.

So, now you understand why I need to “redirect” my efforts into a new direction in order to generate income to supplement my retirement.

I am not abandoning Professional Licensing Helper, just focusing my efforts on income generation for now.

The New Direction, is still as a Helper

I’m sure most of you know what Affiliate Marketing is.

Generally, an Affiliate Marketer is paid a commission, when a product or service they promote, is sold.

The most prevalent advice given for becoming a successful Affiliate Marketer, is to find a niche you are interested in (hopefully a popular one). Find a special need in that niche and fill it.

The above explanation is an over simplification, but serves our purpose here.

My Affiliate Process Checklist

I want to take the concept of Affiliate Marketing, and do something special with it by Learning about and Sharing:

  • What’s Trending
  • What’s getting the fewest returns (refunds)
  • Finding Independent Online Product Reviews
  • Linking to independent findings when possible, rather than just “testimonials” provided by the seller.
  • Sharing the Refund Policy and Return Policy of the affiliate whose product I’m promoting (and link to it if possible).
  • Encouraging you to leave your own comments, expressing your own experiences, product suggestions, or any other recommendations.
  • Providing purchasing opportunities for the Affiliate Products and Services, found to be of quality.

Staying Compliant with the Policies of my Affiliates

I’m going to have to be very careful to stay within the policies established by my affiliates.

It may not be possible for me to promote like products from different affiliate programs.

Other restrictions may also exist.

I will be spending time studying policies, terms of use and other requirements, in order to do this properly.

Hopefully, the end result will be an online market place you will have confidence in, because you can find the tools you need to make your own informed choices.

Customer First Focus

Not all the successful Affiliate Marketers agree that concentrating only on products and services we are personally interested in and use is a requirement.

Having to “purchase and test” a product first is also not a necessary requirement, provided we can ensure the quality of the products we promote, through research.

Nothing says I can’t share my research results with you, in a non-biased way, when testing is possible.

My Concept:

I want to provide you with Resource Links to the Results of my own Independent Research, to help insure a realistic degree of Quality Control that you can access for yourself.

Of course, when possible, I may test a product or service myself and share my own experience with you as well.

Continuing to be a Helper on Both this site and the new Marketing one.

  • By providing “Resource Links”, to the information you need to make an INFORMED choice, when considering the products offered, or relating to Professional Licensing as my priority.
  • By Linking to Information that has no connection to my affiliates or myself.
  • By allowing you to provide your own comments and suggestions.
  • By providing you with a Contact Form, so that you can get a personal response from me.
Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.
Image by Ryan McGuire at GRATISOGRAPHY.com. – Click/Tap the Image to view the source.

An “Almost” Apology

I apologize for having to redirect my attention to sales.

Not so much for “telling it like it is” and being transparent about the circumstances involved in making these changes.

About the New Site

Site creation and development will begin, after doing some more preliminary research and planning. I’m “learning as I go” with this, so bear with me.

This will be an interesting learning experience for me, and a wonderful resource for you to learn about some product research resources as well.

All the little details are not worked out yet, but I will share with you the site title and domain name I’m considering.

The most promising name being considered for the site right now is:

“Customer First Marketer”

Do you think the name fits my concept for the site?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or by using the Contact Form.

Don't be Afraid - Go For It!!! - LEARN - HELP - GROW

LEARN – HELP – GROW

Staying true to this concept is still very important to me.

“Don’t be afraid” to see the value you can share with those around you.

Sometimes believing in ourselves means we just have to “GO FOR IT!!!”

I believe that keeping YOU FIRST, is the best way to proceed with integrity, while maintaining our MUTUAL RESPECT and TRUST.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and start a conversation in the comments.

Let me know how you feel this redirection can best be used to provide the kind of informed and reliable “freedom of choice” in selecting the products or services you see on the new site.

I am only now, beginning to fully develop this concept. It will take some time to turn it into a reality.

Thank You, to those of you still reading this rather long and complicated post. I appreciate your understanding and hope to continue to earn your trust.

My Best to You
Arth

Welcome Licensee!

Good Day to You,

Relax, be comfortable.

You have just arrived at a HELPING place.

It doesn’t matter if you are only considering becoming a professional, or are currently a licensee. You can look for links to information and resources, using the tools on this site (still a “work in progress”), or simply use the Contact Form to ask for one-on-one help.

Consumers can find help here as well. You can find links to “License Searches”. You can look up licensee information, to check if the person or company you are considering to hire, has a clean license history, free from disciplinary action. You will find links to license searches, located on the official websites, where it is possible to get those answers, often at no fee.

You can get help finding answers to questions relating to everything from educational requirements and finding accredited schools, to asking where to find laws and regulations. You can even ask for help finding resources to Start a Business in your State or Territory.

Professional-People-Silhouette - Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.
Professional-People-Silhouette – Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.

Not Official, just Experienced

No, this is not an OFFICIAL website. The owner has no ties to any government agency.

You can benefit from my 20+ years as a customer service representative, working for the State of Maine, as a state employee. Now that I’m retired, I’m no longer bound by restrictions to give information that “only relates to the specialized resources” attached to one specific “piece of the puzzle”, the one in which I worked. I am not restricted by any “conflicts of interests”, now that I’m retired.

No Hard Sell

Helping you, while avoiding the ever growing practice of the “HARD SELL”.

You don’t have to worry about being BOMBARDED with advertising and promotional emails. Blog posts are intended to be helpful and informative, not a platform to SELL.

Know that you can ask questions, seek help finding a resource and request a service, without being concerned about hidden costs or a long wait, after payment, for your service to be delivered. I am not “fast”, and you will not be charged until your product or service is ready for delivery.

Even better, you have the opportunity to help improve this site, when your request helps me author something that can be repurposed to generate income. You will not only receive the service at no cost, but are encouraged to give feedback, telling me how I can do better. You can even suggest an appropriate fee, that you feel should be charged for that product or service.

Be encouraged, when you don’t see a specific product or service listed. Consider this your opportunity to contribute to this “work in progress”.

Helping works both ways here. Your questions and suggestions will help with the development of this site, and the improvement of the tools you find here. While your input helps me to “focus” on your needs, you will get help finding the resources and answers you need. I am not the “official”, just an “enabler” or “helper”.

Together, we can help each other.

Professional-People-Silhouette - Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.
Professional-People-Silhouette – Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.

Maine licensees are especially lucky!

Most Maine administrative agencies maintain webpages with specialized information and resources for each License Type, associated with each Profession. You will find a special links page for Maine Professional Licensing, in the Main Menu.

Remember, if you don’t see what you need, just ask me. It will take a long time to put together all the Resource Links Tool Pages. You don’t have to wait for that to get the answers you need, just use the Contact Form.

Help for licensees from any U.S. State or Territory.

The “Professions” Menu, located to the right (and after the comments on smaller screens), is where you connect with the links pages, listed by Profession, in Alphabetical order. Where possible, each page, dedicated to that Profession, will list each U.S. State and Territory, having relative official resource webpages.

The “Maine Professional Licensing” and “Professions” pages make up the Resource Links Page Tool.

Professional-People-Silhouette - Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.
Professional-People-Silhouette – Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.

Using the Resource Links Tool Pages

Isn’t it refreshing to know that, alphabetically indexed link pages are in the process of being created, to help you locate the information and resources that can be buried in the maze of official government websites?

Think of the Link Pages as your tool, created to take you directly to the official’s page, where that specific resource is located, without having to search their site to get there.

Use the Main Menu to access the Maine Professional Licensing resource tool, if you need to find resources and information specific to Maine.

Use the “Professions” Menu on the right (and under the comments on smaller screens), if you need to find resources and information in another U.S. State or Territory. The “Profession” names link you to that dedicated Resource Links Page. New Professions will be added as the dedicated Resource Links Page is published.

A Work In Progress

Developing these tools is a “work in progress”. You don’t have to wait for these tools to be published. Take advantage of the Contact Form to tell me how I can help.

Rest assured, all answers to questions and resources provided, come directly from official sources. All answers are provided, complete with “reference links”.

Protecting Your Privacy

You can protect your privacy by using the Contact Form to ask for help (without making a “public” comment under a post), knowing that your email address will not be shared, and only used in response to your request. Not only will your privacy be protected, but you will get one-on-one help from me.

You will only receive update emails if you subscribe to posts. You can always unsubscribe, at any time.

Professional-People-Silhouette - Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.
Professional-People-Silhouette – Go to the Source by clicking/taping the picture.

Share this Resource

Do you know someone who needs answers to professional licensing questions? They are welcome to ask questions ‘unofficially” here first, and benefit from this HELPING place.

Reassure them that the resources they find here are real, without a “sales pitch” and operated by someone with experience dealing with government resources. Someone who can find the hidden resources and information buried within those webpages.

THE BLOGGING 101 CONNECTION

This post reflects three (3) days of assignments.

ASSIGNMENT:

“Publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-you element in it.”

The first part of this post is a little more targeted toward my “ideal audience”. I try to engage you with a supportive “tone”, inviting you to relax and reassuring you that this is a “HELPING” site.

This assignment was easy. I hope you always feel welcome here, and are encouraged to ask, when you need help.

I will do my best to provide you with helpful and relative content, using my experience to help guide me in the direction you need to go, bring you the information you need.

You will also notice that images have been added to today’s post, they are the “new –to-you element” part of the assignment.

This exercise feels like a really good idea. Now you should have a better understanding for what this blog is for, how to use the Resource Links Page Tool, and how you can ask for help.

ASSIGNMENT:

“Create and publish your “About” page, then either adapt it into the widget on our home page or add it to your menu.

My “About” pages are already part of the main menu.

My Gravatar has been updated.

Both the About P-L-H, and the About Arth pages have been re-written.

I’ve added something else new to the bottom of the “About Arth” page.

You’ve been reading about my years of experience. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the proof.

ASSIGNMENT:

“Try out at least three other themes – even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.”

Below is a screen shot, showing how this site looked using the Twenty Twelve Theme:

The previous Twenty Twelve Theme - Click/Tap image to view source.
The previous Twenty Twelve Theme – Click/Tap image to view source.

One of the big problems with the old theme was trying to figure out how best to create a second menu for the “Professions” links pages. The purpose of this second menu is to provide an easy way to access all the Resource Links Tool Pages that are planned.

The email instructions from our Blogging 101 instructor always arrive complete with links to helpful support documents, helping us succeed with our assignments.

This helpful article does a really good job, walking us through the process of finding, and selecting a WordPress theme:

Get Personality – PICK A THEME – Learn WordPress.com

The above article explains some important things for you to consider. One consideration that helped me narrow down my search for a new theme, is to narrow down your possibilities by customizing your search perimeters. You do this in the Theme Showcase by selecting “…MORE” in the main menu.

The “…MORE” link opens a box with columns of radio buttons that we can select to narrow our results, to show only the themes that have the features we need most.

The column headings include:
“TYPES”
“FEATURES”
“LAYOUTS” (Be sure to select “Responsive” to look good on all size screens.)
“COLORS”
“PRICE”

One thing I love about my WordPress Business hosting account is that I don’t have to worry about how much a theme costs. This plan allows us to choose freely between all the themes, without limits. Our $299 per year subscription cost covers being able to use any Premium theme with no additional cost.

Want to skip the support documentation and get right to looking at themes?

Here is a link to the Theme Showcase:

WordPress Themes – WordPress.com

Here is a direct link to the home page of my new theme called “Cerauno”:

Cerauno – WordPress Themes – WordPress.com

Once again, it has taken a long time to complete my Blogging 101 assignments. This time I have combined three (3) assignments into one.

Professional-People-Silhouette - Click/Tap image to view source.
Professional-People-Silhouette – Click/Tap image to view source.

Closing Words

I want you to know that everything written in the first part of this post is sincere. You are very welcome here and I want you to feel my helpful attitude in every post published.

I have left off a lot of detail regarding my experience changing my theme.

One very time consuming and challenging issue was finding the right image for my header (including finding one that fits).

Another time consuming process was figuring out how to come up with code for the link in the text widget, going to the source of the image used for my header. I am happy to share more (including the html code used) with anyone who asks.

Thanks for visiting and reading this post. I hope you’ve found it helpful.

My Best to You
Arth