December 26, 2016

Become a live-in landlord and let your tenants pay your mortgage

Eager to purchase a home to live in but worry about affording the financing? Wouldn’t it be great if a mortgage could somehow pay for itself? There’s a tried-and-true method for accomplishing the latter goal, which equates to having your real estate cake and eating it, too. It involves purchasing a two- to four-unit multi-family rental property, occupying one of the units as your primary residence and serving as the landlord, and collecting enough rent monies from the other attached units to cover most or all of your monthly mortgage payment—and possibly even your other real estate-related costs well.

Learn more about this strategy by reading my latest article for The Mortgage Reports here.

December 9, 2016

Getting interpersonal equates to higher employability and earnings

Barbra Streisand once famously sang, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” They may also be among the most employable. According to a new Pew Research Center study on jobs released in October, employment of positions requiring stronger social skills – particularly interpersonal, communications or management proficiencies – rose 83% between 1980 and 2015 (from 49 million to 90 million, respectively).

If you're over 50 and hunting for a new job, social skills are more important than ever. Learn why in my latest article for AARP The Magazine by clicking here.

November 28, 2016

Private mortgage insurance explained

If you want to be a homeowner, you’ll need a mortgage, you’ll need insurance, and you may even need mortgage insurance – often called PMI, or “private mortgage insurance.” If you need it, you’ll be responsible for paying for it, despite the fact that this type of insurance isn’t in place to protect you; it exists to safeguard your lender.

Learn more about how PMI works by reading my latest CTW Features real estate article here.

November 13, 2016

Welcome to the golden age

If you want bling that really zings, make it gold jewelry, say the experts. Gold is often favored as a jewelry material because of its bright color, high luster, malleability (which allows it to be molded into many shapes and styles), tarnish resistance, and relative rarity. Gold is also timelessly vogue thanks to its classic look, coveted quality throughout history, and romantic allure.

Learn more about why many consumers prefer gold jewelry as well as tips to help make your gold stand the test of time by reading my newest article for The Costco Connection magazine, available here.

October 17, 2016

Golden peach

There's more to Atlanta than merely the Braves, Hawks, and Falcons (and, starting next year, Atlanta United FC, the city’s long-awaited pro soccer team). This town is also famous for being the home of Coca-Cola, CNN, Gone with the Wind, and two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Jimmy Carter. With its numerous festivals, parks, museums and historic buildings, as well as its rich history and cultural diversity, Atlanta is an increasingly popular target for tourists and business meetings and conventions.

Check out all there is to do and explore in and around Atlanta by reading my guide for tourists/visitors, published in CSP Magazine, by clicking here.

October 5, 2016

10 hot prospects for age 50+ job seekers

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. Even if you’re literally a Rolling Stone like Mick Jagger, who’s still strutting his stuff on stage well into his seventies. Perhaps Mick’s had to scale back a bit on the setlist and nix a few of the more acrobatic poses from his repertoire, but he’s learned to flex and adapt in his golden years.

And so can you. Because the truth is that ample opportunities abound today for older workers seeking a late-stage career reinvention or return to a previous vocation they left behind.

In my latest article for AARP The Magazine, I explore 10 trendy career opportunities for folks in their 50s and beyond. Click here to read the full story/slideshow.

September 19, 2016

Publicity that's downright scary

Not all of my clients are newspaper, magazine, website and newsletter publishers. I also handle public relations duties for a number of businesses across the country, including a creative entrepreneur from my neck of the woods who likes to give people nightmares. He operates a seasonal commercial haunted attraction during the Halloween season called Midnight Terror that attracts thousands of visitors every October. This is his third foray into frights-for-a-fee, and he's out to make a splash with his biggest and best haunted house attraction yet.

Learn more about this unnerving exhibition by clicking here and reading the news release I created for Midnight Terror, which is generating healthy placements in Chicagoland print and online publications.

September 4, 2016

Want a kitchen that makes a splash? Think backsplash

It may not cover as much surface area as your floor, countertops or cabinet fronts, but make no mistake: the wall above your sink is often the first place the eyes fix upon when looking into a kitchen. That's the backsplash zone, and it's important real estate when it comes to creating a focal point and key design element in the most used and valued room in your house. Learn more about how to create the ideal backsplash by reading my most recent article for HomeStyle Weekly, published in various papers across the country, available here.

August 21, 2016

Lower rates = more purchasing power

The mortgage interest rate you score plays a large part in how much money your lender will allow you to borrow and how much home you can afford. Which begs the question: How would your purchasing power change if rates crept up a half a point or even one full percentage point by the time you were ready to purchase? Much more than you might think, which is why it pays to shop for a mortgage now and lock in soon at a favorable fixed rate while mortgage interest rates remain near historical lows.

Learn more by reading my newest article for The Mortgage Reports, which you can access by clicking here.

August 7, 2016

Why home prices and purchases are up and inventory is down

The real estate market is in full comeback mode, per the latest data – thanks to strong sales, continued low interest rates, and more motivated buyers and sellers. That means both buyers and sellers will need to adopt shrewd strategies to improve their success in a market that decidedly favors sellers.

In my newest article for CTW Features (accessible by clicking here), I explore the latest real estate market data and how buyers and sellers can benefit.

July 31, 2016

Welcome to the wide world of wearables

Seventy years ago, Dick Tracy’s futuristic two-way wrist radio captured the imagination of a public intrigued by the limitless possibilities of technology—even if it was only a silly comic strip character’s fictional gadget. But as the years advanced, pop culture didn’t relent in its creative depictions of geek-geared gizmos, as evidenced by the popularity of the shoe phone on “Get Smart,” the Gadget Copter from “Inspector Gadget,” the TV glasses used in “Back to the Future II,” and the countless doohickeys and concealed contraptions worn by James Bond.

Fast forward to 2016, and it’s easy to see why wearables—from the Apple Watch and Fitbit Flex to Google Glass and the Nike Fuel Band—are all the rage among consumers seeking compact and portable digital resources to help them better manage their activities. Learn more about the wearables trend by reading my latest article for The Content Wrangler, which you can access here.

July 17, 2016

Bird baubles

Life for a pet bird can get pretty boring. That's why it's important to equip their cages with fun toys and accessories designed to decrease the monotony. I round up the newest avian amusement products in my latest monthly column for Pet Age Magazine, which you can read here.

June 22, 2016

Can the digital tip jar save electronic publishers?

Digital publishers continue to struggle with finding the right monetization method, with some pursuing subscription paywalls and micropayments while others rely on ads or a combination of all of the above. In an era when adblocking software is prevalent and consumers continue to insist on free content, however, these strategies may not be enough to keep e-content peddlers in the black. Interestingly, a new twist on an alternative revenue generator has emerged: the democratized digital tip jar. The latest example is Flattr Plus, a browser extension/app that enables users to remove online ads from sites they visit while also contributing a monthly payment in an amount they choose that will be distributed proportionally to publishers of the sites they surf.

Learn more about this trend by reading my newest article for EContent magazine, available here.

June 13, 2016

Mortgage rate forecast for the rest of 2016

Keeping a close eye on fixed mortgage interest rates and curious as to where they are headed? Itching to lock in soon but worried that you’ll regret that decision if rates tick lower soon afterward? You’re not alone – many prospective borrowers wish they had a crystal ball that could peer into the future and help them decide when to pull the mortgage trigger.

In my newest article for The Mortgage Reports, I ask the experts where they think rates will go before the end of the year. Read more by clicking here.

May 30, 2016

Tapping into the truth about drinking water

The toxic water crisis in Flint, Mich., has caused many Americans to ask a very important question as they thirst for the truth: How safe is my tap water? The answers can be slippery to obtain and startling to grasp yet imperative to pursue—along with available solutions—if you want to safeguard your family’s health, say the experts.

In my latest article for The Costco Connection magazine, I investigate healthier drinking water options.

May 23, 2016

Dollars and sense

Convenience store retailers may be the ultimate multitaskers—after all, they’re responsible for keeping tabs on the pump, counter, aisles and everything in between. But at the end of the day, their main concern remains the same: It’s still all about bills in the till. And therein lies the rub. Because opening that cash drawer is often akin to opening Pandora’s box. Whether it’s miscounts, skimming off the top, stickups, or not-so-smart safes, a plethora of cash management and handling challenges come with the convenience territory—a land where cash is still king and the coin of the realm can be a downright heavy burden.

These are the challenges I explore in my newest article for CSP Magazine, which summarizes the results of an exclusive survey about cash management issues--read it here.

May 11, 2016

Beating the office bully

It can happen suddenly and without provocation – often face-to-face, on the phone, or in an email, text or post. It can take the form of an insult, shout or unfair criticism. Some experience it as an obscene gesture, slanderous statement, push, poke, or act meant to isolate them from others. Many are afraid to acknowledge or even call it by name – despite becoming a familiar term in the vocational vernacular. It’s called workplace bullying, and it’s far from an uncommon occurrence: over 1 in 3 employees have suffered its cruel effects.

Learn more about the epidemic of being bullied on the job by reading my latest article for AARP online, which you can access here.

May 2, 2016

Fast stepping to the home equity tap dance

With the resurgence of the housing market in recent years, home values aren’t the only things on the rise. Home equity—the difference between how much your property is worth and the amount you owe on your mortgage—is also increasing, as are the average homeowner’s chances of qualifying for a home equity line of credit (HELOC), a valuable loan that can come in handy and cost less overall than other borrowing options.

I explore HELOCs and their pros and cons in my latest article for Content That Works, which you can read by clicking here.

April 25, 2016

Passport to academic adventure in Southeast Asia

Loyola University students eager to spread their wings beyond Chicago and explore exciting academic opportunities overseas often choose to study at the university’s centers in Rome or Beijing. But a third locale exists that many undergraduates may not be aware of: Loyola’s Vietnam Center, which offers a variety of classes and excursions since the program expanded from a summer session to a fall or spring semester option in 2010.

Learn more by reading my debut article for Loyola Magazine, which you can access here.

April 18, 2016

Old school print mint

Ever seen an antique printing press machine at work? Curious how books are bound together? Marvel at the artistry and ingenuity of an intricate pop-up book? You might want to take a trip west to visit the San Francisco Center for the Book, a school/museum/studio that teaches students and visitors about old school bookmaking and printing techniques.

Read more about the Center and its amazing offerings by clicking here.

April 4, 2016

Saving in cyberspace

If you’re like many people, you salt away rainy day funds in a savings account at a neighborhood bank, where your money is safe and can at least accrue some interest. Problem is that many banks offer a paltry annual rate of return for savings accounts, often 0.01%, meaning $10,000 saved could accrue only $1 in interest after a year. But that same $10,000 could reap a more robust $110 in interest if kept in an OSA, where the annual percentage yield is as high as 1.10% at the time of this writing.

Learn more about the pros and cons of online savings account by reading my latest article for AARP The Magazine, which can be accessed here.

March 29, 2016

How low can rates go?

To win the limbo rock game, you have to remain on your feet and not fall over as you shimmy down under a stick that goes lower as the music progresses. To score a win in the mortgage interest game, by contrast, your goal is to lock in at the lowest rate possible—only this rate stick is unpredictable; you want it to go down but it can quickly edge up when you least expect it.

Over the last few months, that stick has steadily plunged, leading to favorable financing conditions for prospective mortgage borrowers. But how low can mortgage rates go in 2016? That's the question I attempt to answer in my debut article for The Mortgage Reports, which you can read by clicking here.

March 28, 2016

Virtual ventures beyond the mainstream

Even if you missed the Time Magazine cover article last August, weren’t able to attend CES 2016, or have overlooked the countless headlines, posts and tweets about it over the past several months, it’s hard to ignore the facts: Virtual reality is a reality, and VR technology has captured the awe and imagination of consumers hungry for a disbelief-suspending computer-rendered simulation of the real and the fantastic.

Learn more about the latest advances in VR--particularly technology affecting publishers and electronic content providers--by reading my newest article for EContent Magazine (click here).

March 21, 2016

Will new data lead to more credit?

Bright borrowers are aware that a higher credit score, which indicates a person’s creditworthiness, can aid them in qualifying for more preferred loans and lower interest rates. Now, Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO), the company responsible for creating your FICO score—the credit score most valued and used by lenders—has launched a new type of scoring program. Called FICO Score XD, the new score factors in alternative forms of data in order to qualify more consumers for credit.

Learn more about FICO Score XD in my newest real estate article for CTW Features, published in various papers across the country, by clicking here.

February 29, 2016

Code pink rethink

Preventing an infant abduction (referred to as a "code pink") is a top priority at hospitals. To beef up security measures and better safeguard these vulnerable inpatients, healthcare facilities conduct a range of safety and security drills – including mock tracers.

The importance of mock tracers is explored in my latest article for The Joint Commission's Environment of Care newsletter. Click here to read the full story.

February 21, 2016


If you run a retail brick-and-mortar establishment, you know that it's important to engage customers and offer targeted and personalized deals and promotions that appeal to them. But doing that in real time while patrons are walking through your store isn't so easy. Thankfully, social WiFi can help.

Unlike traditional WiFi offered within buildings—which usually requires smartphone users to choose your network and ask for/type in a password—social WiFi makes it simple for customers to quickly and easily connect to your public WiFi network by allowing them to log in via their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social network account. Once logged in, the user can be prompted to “like,” “check in” and “follow” your business, and they can receive a targeted promotion/mobile coupon designed to build a social engagement.

Read my article on social WiFi - the first topic I've tackled for my new client The Content Wrangler - by clicking here.

February 15, 2016

Paying mind to tweets, posts and timelines

Back in elementary school, “social studies” was likely one of your least interesting subjects—a groan-inducing class that involved hefty textbooks and boring lesson plans. Fast forward to 2016, and the study of all things social takes on a whole new, different and exciting significance, one in which public networking via online communications has changed the world and opened up exhilarating and profitable possibilities for marketers, publishers and digital content providers alike.

To read my analysis of the state of social media in 2016, freshly published by EContent Magazine, click here.

February 8, 2016

All atwitter about the great outdoors

Bet you didn't know that 47 million Americans are bird watchers, representing about 15 percent of the population. Or that approximately three million American households purchase wild bird seed at least occasionally, contributing to a $6.3 billion market in the United States for wild bird feeders and seed. That kind of business is definitely not "for the birds."

In my latest column for Pet Age magazine, I explore the topic of trends and products geared toward wild birds, which you can read by clicking here.

February 1, 2016

World wide wed site

Erik Martin has crafted winning PR campaigns for numerous corporate clients over the years, garnering impressive placements in newspapers, magazines, TV/radio programs and online publications. Now, he's taking his prowess for promoting directly to the people - betrothed people, that is - with the launch of I Thee Web, a wedding publicity service. I Thee Web announces a couple's engagement and nuptial plans to the world via a personalized love story article that can be published in local online newspapers as well as a customized wedding website featuring an animated slideshow, couples Q&A, milestone timeline, links to gift registries and more.

You can view I Thee Web's first completed wedding website and included love story article by clicking here.

January 25, 2016

The great rate wait

For the first time in nearly 10 years, the Federal Reserve has slightly spiked interest rates. Which begs the questions: How long before mortgage interest rates also inch higher, and how much longer can you afford to delay your decision to buy a home if you're on the fence?

These and other matters are explored in my newest real estate-related story, published in various newspapers, which you can read here.

January 14, 2016

The tooth of the matter on marijuana

Most people are aware that smoking cigarettes can stain your teeth, cause bad breath, lead to cavities, harm your gums and increase your risk of oral cancer. But many don't realize that using marijuana can be equally harmful to your mouth. That's the topic I examine in my newest cover story for AGD Impact, the newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Open wide and click here for all the details.

January 3, 2016

Ad hoc strategies for ad block tragedies

If the world of digital publishing were a hockey game--with the content providers on one team and consumers on the other--the outcome of tomorrow's matchup would be all but certain: The latter would trounce the former in a lopsided shutout. That's because consumers have the ultimate goalie in the net: ad-blocking technology, which prevents digital advertising such as banners and display ads from appearing on device screens. But digital publishers and e-content providers can neutralize this threat by adopting effective strategies.

Read more about this topic, my latest for EContent Magazine, by clicking here.