PDF tools for every occasion

In the modern everyday work environment, the need for frequent and constant sharing of digital documents, especially PDFs, is paramount for keeping your business running smooth and without any hiccups, no matter what exact type of occupation you are currently involved with. Of course there are some distinct differences between jobs, but in areas of marketing, banking, bookkeeping, accounting, analytics, human resources and many more, it is pretty safe to say that a lot depends on the uninterrupted and even flow of information.

On the other hand, one specific issue has been plaguing the business world basically ever since the inception of digital communication, and that is the difference of interpreting the formatting of all files. Every operating system has its own way of extracting and presenting the data that every file is built from, and this can create some serious unpleasantries if the file was created on one OS, and is being viewed on a different one. Usually this issue is presented by the file being displayed with some major or minor glitches, depending of what it is consisted of, and in rarer cases it can be completely unviewable by the recipient. But naturally there is way to overcome all of this, and it’s actually quite simple; convert the file to PDF form before sending it.

The Portable Document Format is exceptionally great for sharing important business documents because it can be perfectly viewed on all operating systems and devices, so you don’t have to worry if the receiver will have problems with viewing your file. Luckily, converting your file to PDF is very simple and can normally be performed from inside each software where the file was created in (just switch to PDF in the Save As window). The only lacking of the PDF is that it cannot be edited in any traditional fashion, but it requires software that can extract all the information from it and recreate it to the format that it previously was (before the conversion ever took place). This format also offers other useful advantages, like securing your file with passwords and limiting permissions.

Depending if your job requires you to travel a lot, or spend substantiating amount out of the office, we wanted to share with you a couple of highly useful online tools and software solutions, with whom you can perform literally all operations related to PDF files, either from your office, or from portable devices while you’re on the go.

Work with PDF Files from a Desktop Computer
The most practical and user-friendly way of handling any PDF-related activity is of course via your computer, offering many advanced choices that other types of software simply cannot. Besides the most frequent conversion operations, they allow rotating, splitting, merging several PDFs into one, batch conversions of multiple files at the same time etc…

PDF Converter Elite 5 allows all of these options, and it comes with a custom editing of scanned documents, editing files while still in PDF form. It also comes with a 7 day free trial period, so you can check out all of its features in great detail.

DoPDF is a similar program that has a lesser amount of precise options, but for non-english users it can be more useful, as it offers over 30 languages.

Use Online PDF Tools When You’re on a Business Trip
Not being able to access your paid desktop program can be troublesome if you have to perform a conversion while on a business trip, but there is an adequate alternative; free online tools. Normally, they cannot perform all the work such as custom PDF to Excel conversion that PDF Converter Elite has, but you can use them for some basic conversion from PDF to Excel, Word, PowerPoint or to merge PDFs.

PDF to Excel is a simple tool to use when you need to convert PDF tables to Excel spreadsheet. It doesn’t require an email address so you don’t need to worry about your privacy.

Cometdocs is suitable for all types of conversions and PDF creations. You can choose to register or to use the tool without any registration.

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Education Work

The app that helps students put down that mobile

Maths Mathisen, the CEO and Co-Founder of Hold explains how the app came about, and the benefits of using it and get students to put down that mobile.

Each year, we become increasingly reliant on our smartphones – from ordering our favourite take-out, to checking for news (true or fake) and, of course, looking for entertainment.

However, mobile phones aren’t great when for those in full-time education, those who need to concentrate – whether it be it during a lecture, or as in the scramble to finish an assignment on time. This is the gap that Hold is trying to fill.

Hold is a Norwegian app that rewards students for choosing to ignore their mobile phones while they are on campus. The free-to-use app allows students to collect points for every 20 minutes that their phone isn’t used, and once enough points are accumulated they can be exchanged for rewards, such as Amazon vouchers, scholarship prizes and cinema tickets. 

Evidence behind Hold

The idea for Hold came about during my time as a student, as I knew first-hand how difficult it is to concentrate on studying, when you have the option to text, Snap or play games on your phone. I also knew that for a student to give up their phone for any length of time, there needs to be a good motivation, which is why instead of penalising students for using their phones, Hold rewards them for choosing to ignore it.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effect of smartphones and studying. For example, a 2017 study by the University of Texas, found that smartphones have a ‘brain drain’ effect, as they can affect intelligence and attention span, just by being on the student’s desk. Similarly, the University of California Irvine found that if we get distracted from a task by a mobile phone notification, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully regain our focus. All of which suggests that smartphones, while fundamental to day-to-day life, are detrimental when it comes to studying.

Norwegian success
We launched the Hold app in Norway in 2016 and accumulated 50,000 downloads in the first three months alone, with 40% of all Norwegian students onboarded currently. The average student will use Hold for 2 hours each day, ensuring that during those 2 hours their productivity is at its height, which in turn, leads to higher engagement and better grades. We have 120,000 users across Scandinavia and are partnered with major brands such as Coca Cola, Microsoft and Scandinavian Airlines, and aim to replicate the same success in the UK.

London pilot
As part of our launch strategy in the UK, we partnered with the School of Management at University College London, offering the students the chance to trial the app, boost their productivity and improve their grades.

At the start of the launch, Richard Pettinger, Principal Teaching Fellow at UCL School of Management said:

‘My initial interest in the app stems from my belief that technology is an essential part of daily life, as well as business, which can’t exist without it. By rewarding students for ignoring the distractions of social media notifications, Hold has been hugely successful in both Norway and Denmark, and I am very interested to see how the model will translate to the UK market. Phone addiction is a global issue, and using the phone to solve this issue is an innovative and unique way to combat this. I am looking forward to seeing how the UCL pilot will go, how much improvement the students will see in their work, and how Hold will develop and grow in the UK’.

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Education Work

Kickstarting kittens to teach coding

The team behind the coding game Erase All Kittens has launched a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter to raise funds for an expanded iPad version of the game that teaches children, especially girls, how to code.

Launched today, the aim is to support the creation of the first ever game that inspires girls to code and create. A game that makes code education meaningful — by allowing girls to apply practical skills in a creative way instead of just giving them instructions.

E.A.K are looking to raise £15,000 to fund a project with award-winning game developers Playerthree to develop E.A.K. for the iPad, building game levels to teach HTML, CSS and Javascript, so that the target audience of girls aged 8-13 can learn to design their own simple websites.

The Kickstarter project has a range of pledge levels from simple access to the iPad version of the game, through to donating licences for schools or organisations, to a corporate sponsor level donation.

E.A.K. ‘Chief Scribbler’ Dee Saigal said: ‘There’s plenty of research tells us that girls find coding boring and aimed too much at boys and we want to redress that balance. We’re making an extended version of our game that we already know that girls love and we want to bring it to as many as possible. If we can get the right level of support, we can really tackle the gender imbalance in tech at the very earliest stages.’

The game that saves kittens and teaches coding

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Education Work

Why the writing should be on the wall for the interactive whiteboard

It was my first international school and they were doing a quick tech presentations (setting up email, our electronic grade book, etc.) One of those presentations was with the school’s new Promethean Interactive Whiteboard.

At first blush I was impressed. I really was and wish I had one in my class. There appeared to be endless possibilities for student engagement. It seemed like a perfect marriage of technology and education. A great compliment to great lessons.

That’s the problem. The interactive whiteboards are not complimentary to lesson plans. In order for them to be effective, in my opinion, the interactive whiteboard has to be the center of the lesson and you have to use it all the time.


You may ask yourself Patrick, what’s the big deal? I am so glad you asked. Let’s start with the menus. Dear God the menus. There are way too many of them. Just to bring up that coordinate plane, it would take 3-5 clicks (or taps using the pen). You have to go from menu, to menu, to menu to find something and if you didn’t know where it was and had to looking forward then you have a few minutes of dead air in your classroom.

Then there is the alignment and calibration. Calibrating the pen for the boards is usually quite easy, but if the projector is not properly installed, sometimes calibrating the pen can be a real pain. The reason is, the software usually has places for you to tap with the pen in order to make sure when you place the pen on the board it lands true and makes the selection or annotation that you want to make.

You see good reader, if the projector is installed incorrectly or not set up well enough, then those calibration targets may be on the border of off the whiteboard all together making accurate calibration a pipe dream. Sometimes, this can be remedied with a quick adjustment on the projector, but there are other times, when the projector itself will have to be moved and remounted – a time consuming and depending on your interactive whiteboard provider could be an additional cost.


You can’t talk about a major addition to a classroom or school without considering cost. As we all know money does not fall from the sky and schools need to work within a budget (if they want to keep their doors open that is). So one needs to consider these costs:

  • Unit itself
  • Installation
  • Upkeep
  • Repairs

Now these costs differ from vendor to vendor and depending on your particular contract. I am going to say $5,000 per unit which includes a projector. If you pay more than this, please don’t go to your vendor, show them this piece and say Hey bub! What’s the dealio? I’ve known schools who pay muchmore just because of their location and services available.

Now, one thing that most schools don’t think about is the long term with these devices. Once it is installed and working properly it will take care of itself. Like a refrigerator or a stove. This is true . . . for a while. The very first time you turn on the projector, the picture will look great (at least I hope it does). However, if you compare day 1 to day 50 to day to day 365 you will notice that the picture will be dimmer each time. It’s just how light bulbs work and that is the heart of that projector. When that light bulb goes out, you need to replace it. These bulbs are not cheap and if you’re replacing 20% of your bulbs every year, then your costs go up. Be sure to tack that onto the original budgeted item. As you can see these costs can add up quickly.


So there are my problems, so what can schools do about this? What options do they have? Schools and teachers don’t want to not have an interactive display in their room. It looks good for parents and guests walking through the halls. There are some teachers who do use them.

There are alternatives out there. There are interactive displays (no projectors) that can replace your school’s interactive white board. The advantages to these boards are numerous.

  1. Dim much slower
  2. No bulbs to replace
  3. Easier and cheaper to mount
  4. No pen calibration or very easy pen calibration
  5. Lower costs over time
  6. Higher resolution (better picture)

Microsoft makes one called the Surface Hub which comes in two sizes – 55″ and an 84″ Their prices are $9,000 and *gulp* $22,000. Yeah that second price is a little hard to swallow. If your school is on Office 365 it might be worth considering and there may be a discount. It does some neat things too and would be great for Skype in the Classroom.

Google has the newly minted Jamboard (what a terrible name) made by Benq for $5000 which looks pretty promising.

This is more of what I am talking about and while 55″ isn’t as large as I would like and the rolling stand is an extra $1000 and of course what would an IT product be without licensing which you have to pay every year.  However, add all that up and I still think the Jamboard would win out over a traditional interactive whiteboard.

Bottom line is I don’t like them. They don’t deliver on their promise of really enhancing a classroom. They are too cumbersome to use and just not super effective.

If your tech choices aren’t student centered, then you’re doing it wrong

More from Tony DePrato here.

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How data is helping to create healthy chocolate

While chocolate isn’t typically thought of as a healthy food, the nutritional value of chocolate is often overlooked, especially in its rawest form. Store-bought chocolate can sometimes be packed with sugar and preservatives, which lowers its nutritional value. The best type of chocolate to indulge in is definitely dark chocolate. The reason for this is that dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa, than milk or white chocolate, and cocoa is rich in antioxidants (polyphenols and flavanols), which helps improve concentration and mood, as well as preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

With this in mind, health app Lifesum decided to treat its New York-based users with a delicious (and healthy) treat. To do this, Lifesum’s nutritionist, Frida, analyzed anonymized data from 100,000 New Yorkers, to see which nutrients they were missing. The data showed that a New Yorkers’ diet was typically lacking calcium, potassium, vitamin E and zinc. Calcium is key to healthy and strong bones, potassium is essential for a feeling of calm, vitamin E promotes skin health, while zinc is key to a strong immune system. Once these nutrients have been identified, Lifesum set to work with NYC-based coffee culture chain FIKA, to come up with four unique chocolates, aimed at solving the dietary deficiencies of New Yorkers.

The following were created:

Calcium Colada, as the name suggests, is designed to boost calcium intake, which contributes to bone health and strength. Flavor-wise, it is reminiscent of a pina colada cocktail.

Ingredients: Matcha, Low fat yoghurt, Pineapple, Lime, Vanilla, Stevia, Dark chocolate 99%

The second chocolate, Raw Radiance, contains vitamin E, a fantastic antioxidant that helps to protect the body from free radicals. As well as working to prevent heart disease and to balance cholesterol, vitamin E offers a beauty boost by decreasing environmental damage to your hair, and can repair damaged skin.

Ingredients: Cashew nuts, Coconut, Salt, Dark chocolate 99%, Quinoa, Cinnamon

New Yorkers are constantly fast moving and on-the-go, which often contributes to stress. The analysis of Lifesum data revealed that residents were lacking in potassium, which is a known reliever of anxiety and stress. Cocoa Calm was created to offer a hit of potassium, and encourage relaxation.

Ingredients: Dates, Cashew nuts, Vanilla, Lime, Dark chocolate 99%

Finally, the Cleanse and Reboot chocolate is packed with zinc to support run-down immune systems, with added antioxidants from cayenne pepper and ancho chilli to elevate body temperature, which increases immune system activity.

Ingredients: Pumpkin, Low fat yogurt, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ancho chilli, Cayenne pepper, Dark chocolate 99%

Boxes of four chocolates will cost $10 + tax, and will be initially available to purchase online and at FIKA’s Tribeca café & chocolate factory.

Now New Yorkers can get healthy by eating chocolates, and also enjoy the wonderful Swedish concept of a fika, a short break that typically involves a coffee, pastry, and, most importantly, some time to relax and reflect…

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Prostate cancer: What you need to know

What is prostate cancer?

Only men can be affected by prostate cancer, as only men have a prostate gland. The prostate gland is essential in the making of semen and increases in size as men age. Prostate cancer happens when certain cells within the prostate start to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. While it can be a slow-growing cancer, some forms of prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body and require immediate medical treatment.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

The earliest sign of prostate cancer is usually a problem with urinating, either in the form of needing to urinate more frequently, especially at night, or having an inconsistent flow when urinating. It is important to note that this might not necessarily be a sign of cancer, as with age, the prostate becomes enlarged and can result in the above anyway.

Other symptoms of prostate cancer can include lower back pain or rectal pain or discomfort, as well as difficulties relating to sex, such as blood in the semen, pain when ejaculating or erectile dysfunction.

How can you check yourself?

As mentioned above, some of the early symptoms of prostate cancer are the same as those of an enlarged prostate. However, if you find that you are displaying a number of the above symptoms over a period of time, then definitely make an appointment with your GP to discuss these.

Additionally, once you reach the age of 55, it is a good idea to be mindful of your health and attend your annual checkups, which will include a prostate exam and are essential for spotting any abnormalities early and receiving timely treatment. One in seven men will get prostate cancer, so keep an eye out for any unusual changes and listen to your body.

What are the treatment options?

For prostate cancer, treatment options can vary from patient to patient, depending on the stage of the cancer. The most common surgical procedure is a prostatectomy, but it can have a big impact on a man’s life, as men can become impotent or suffer from incontinence following the surgery.

Other treatment options include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or high-intensity focused ultrasound. Each of the options can its pros and cons, so you should sit down with your doctor and discuss each option in detail, to choose one that will be most effective and suitable to you.

Where can you get treatment?

From looking at our own data at Medigo, most patients suffering from prostate cancer remain in the UK for treatment, as there are virtually no delays in the NHS providing treatments for the condition. However, for those patients that do choose to travel abroad for treatment, German hospitals are renowned for  having considerable expertise in oncology.

See also: Why breast cancer is something men should know about too

Dr Jan Schaefer is Chief Medical Officer at Medigo, the leading booking platform for safe medical travel.

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Why you should audit your body language in the workplace

Many of us KNOW our body language influences our communication. But how often do you audit your actions?

Yes! Audit.

Habits come and go. Perhaps you stopped avoiding eye contact. Nice going! But what if you compensate by fidgeting? Do you even know which habits you should stop?

And no, you can’t expect everyone to simply accept you as you are. If you’re in a business environment, you rarely have time to build trust or evoke respect. Your etiquette during a first meeting determines what others think of you.

What if one individual is the key to your future success? Will your current etiquette and body language seal the deal?

You have to monitor your eyes, facial features, hands and even your positioning in relation to others.

That’s a lot to keep track of! But getting the hang of is worth it. One simple handshake can communicate the confidence your new boss is looking for. Prevent accidentally insulting your new colleagues. You don’t want to ruin your brand new working environment.

And that’s the power of using business etiquette and body language optimally. It literally determines your future.

We compiled a few guidelines in this infographic by Swiss Canadian Capital to help you understand these nuances. If you want to be successful, know exactly what you’re communicating from now on!


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Why breast cancer is something men should know about too

While women are significantly more likely to suffer from breast cancer, it is an issue that can affect men as well. In fact, men have a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting breast cancer and, while the risks are significantly higher for women, men should also be aware of any potential warning signs:

Is breast cancer a concern for men?

While women are 100 times more likely than men to get breast cancer, it is still important that men are aware of the condition. Sadly, the main concern for men is lack of awareness and therefore, late diagnosis. In cases of male breast cancer, once the condition is diagnosed, 30-40% of the time it is at a III or IV stage. At my company Medigo,  a handful of the 80,000 patients we have helped were men with breast cancer and, unfortunately, all of them were already at a late stage, which supports the fact that there is a lack of awareness, not just amongst men but amongst their partners and caregivers too.

Risk factors

Not much research has been done into the causes of male breast cancer, as the chances of men having it are so much smaller. However, there are a number of factors that might increase the risk in men.

First of all, family history and genetics have a role to play. Men whose relatives had breast cancer are more susceptible to developing the disease in later years – especially in their 60s and 70s. Other known factors include radiation exposure and increased levels of, or exposure to, estrogen. Estrogen in men could be increased through medication, obesity and liver disease. Additionally, alcoholism has been found to have links with breast cancer in men.

What to look out for

Given the fact that the male breast is typically smaller than a woman’s, this makes spotting any symptoms easier, which is why it is essential that men know exactly what to look out for, to catch the condition early and get the required treatment.

First of all, it is important to know how to check yourself for any early signs of breast cancer. Whenever you have the opportunity, whether in the shower or just before bed, press your fingers flat against your chest (right hand for the left pectoral, and left hand for the right) and move your fingers in a clockwise motion. Check the entire area, starting from the outside and moving towards the nipple, looking out for any unusual bumps or lumps. An unusual lump is typically hard, not painful and doesn’t move around.

Once you’ve done this, check your nipples, looking out for any unusual discharge by gently squeezing each one in turn. You should also check for visual signs, such as the nipple turning inwards, a sore or rash around the nipple, or the surrounding skin becoming hard, red or blistered.

Lastly, you should also check your armpit for any unusual bumps, which can indicate swollen glands.

When to see your doctor

The chances of men developing breast cancer are very low; however, if during a routine self-check you find any warning signs, like lumps, unusual discharge, rashes, or puckering of the skin, make sure to visit your doctor. If you and your family have a history of breast cancer, make sure to mention this during your visit, along with any of the symptoms that you are experiencing.


Dr Jan Schaefer is Chief Medical Officer at Medigo, the leading booking platform for safe medical travel.

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Ten things to think about when considering medical tourism

Medical tourism is on the rise, with estimates suggesting the industry is growing by 15-25% each year, but it is something that some people still have reservations about. Whether you have already decided to seek treatment abroad, or it is something you are considering here’s a list of things to think about before you opt to travel abroad for medical treatment.

1 There are international groups to review medical facilities abroad and ensure they are up to expected standards – Organisations such as JCI, ISQua, and Temos are particularly relevant to people considering treatment abroad (these accrediting bodies evaluate clinics and hospitals to a set of international standards).  At Medigo, we clearly list the accreditations that a clinic or hospital has earned. Many countries also have national or regional accreditations, too. This doesn’t mean they are of a lower quality, just that they aren’t recognized internationally. Reliable providers will also be nationally certified by their relevant medical organisations.

2 Consider recovery time Certain procedures require more recovery time than others, particularly if you are flying back home, so you need to consider how long you are happy to be away for.  Your doctor should explain how much recovery time is required for your procedure. Also, be sure to allow yourself enough time in the unlikely case that a complication extends your stay abroad.

3 Is there someone who can accompany you? – While you can certainly make the trip alone if you prefer to, it’s almost always a good idea to have somebody accompanying you for support. Clinics often offer accommodation deals for travel partners – it’s good to be aware of these so you can factor in the overall cost for both you and anyone else travelling with you. We’ve seen many people opting to travel with a partner for treatment, with both parties undergoing dental or cosmetic procedures.

4 Will there be a language barrier? – Procedures are generally more expensive in native English-speaking countries, so you need to consider whether language barriers may present a problem if you seek treatment at a clinic elsewhere. Almost every clinic abroad that offers treatments to medical tourists will speak English though.

5 Research clinics extensively – Make sure you choose a clinic that has a good reputation for your particular procedure, and one that is accredited – nationally or internationally. Read up on patient reviews. Obviously, these are not always accurate or vetted on various sites but, for reputable companies, they will be.

6 What will be the overall cost? – For necessary surgeries, the NHS can often cover the cost of the treatment itself, and the stay in hospital for recovery, but not the travel. For cosmetic treatments, you will have to pay the full price out-of-pocket. It’s important to make sure that what is covered in your treatment is all clearly outlined before you travel – this way you can prepare a budget for the overall treatment cost.

7 Make the treatment your number one priority – It can be tempting to choose a clinic based on its location, but it’s important that you first narrow down your options according to where is the best place for the treatment before choosing a clinic. Different countries are renowned for their expertise in particular medical specialties, so it’s advisable to go wherever is best equipped to carry out the treatment you need.

8 Does your travel insurance cover your stay? – Medical travel insurance is different to regular travel insurance – the latter will not cover you should any complications arise causing you to need additional care or extra recovery time. Make sure to do your research, and purchase a policy that will fully cover you in any eventuality.

9 Can you claim some, or all, of the costs back from the NHS? – Consult with your GP before seeking medical treatment abroad, and follow the correct protocol to ensure your costs can be claimed back. Only medically necessary treatments can be claimed back, not elective procedures, but you will need to be assessed by your GP who can verify whether or not they believe the surgery to be mandatory. For example, bariatric surgery can be covered by the NHS, but only if it is considered medically necessary.

10 There are different options for treatment within Europe – Entitlement to free, or reduced cost, medical care within Europe, can vary depending on the route you take. If you choose the S2 route, the NHS will cover the cost of your treatment, but you may be required to contribute to health care costs. Through the EU directive, you will need to pay costs upfront and then apply for reimbursement through the NHS post-treatment. The NHS won’t, however, fund treatment that is obtained outside of the EU.


Medical tourism, also known as medical travel, is the practice of individual people leaving their country of residence to seek medical care in another country to save on costs, to find better-quality care, or to avoid the long wait times for treatment at home. In 2015, research by MEDIGO found that nearly 9 million people in the UK would consider medical treatment abroad, and the medical tourism market is growing rapidly. If you are considering treatment outside of the UK, discuss your plans with your GP or dentist, who can advise on the best options for you. For more info, visit Medigo.


Ugur Samut is CEO of Medigo.

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Five platforms that can help you move your interests from being a hobby into a successful career

Elsewhere on these pages, we have looked at ways to turn your hobby into a career. Here, in the follow-up post, we look at the platforms that can help you achieve that.

Skillshare  is an online learning community, with thousands of courses to teach you everything from design, to calligraphy, coding and cooking. Whether you want to hone your own skills or teach a growing audience of learners, then sign up to this platform.

YouTube is a video hosting platform that is perfect for anyone who enjoys vlogging, editing video and talking to and educating a massive audience. Whether you are interested in doing make-up tutorials, reviewing gadgets or simply vlogging about your life, all you need is an account and a camera.

Etsy is an e-commerce platform which allows you to showcase and sell items that you make yourself. Whether you are fantastic at creating wedding stationery, party accessories or jewellery, this platform allows you to sell your products and communicate directly with your customers.

Acast  is an audio platform and podcasting app which hosts thousands of podcasts on every topic – from pop culture and politics, through to travel, food and history. If you are interested in hosting your own show, getting your voice heard and producing engaging content, then podcasting is definitely a good option for you.

SoundCloud () is an online audio distribution platform, which allows budding musicians to record, upload and promote their original music. If performing is all you ever dreamt about, uploading your music to SoundCloud is a great way to grow your fan base and make sure your music gets heard.

Caitlin Thompson is US Director of Content at Podcasting platform, Acast

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