Author: George Ponce

The PPP Loan Extension Offers the Gift of Time: Use it Wisely

On March 30, 2021 President Biden extended  the PPP loan application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program.  The extension pushes the deadline from March 31, 2021 to May 31, 2021.  It includes PPP loans for nonprofits as well. In addition to the PPP loan extension, this also allows for an extension of the SBA PPP processing time to June 30, 2021. 

This is a major win for small businesses, as the program’s PPP loan forgiveness provides businesses a way to keep going despite the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic. 

The PPP Loan Extension is a Major Win For Small Businesses in More Ways than One

This serves two purposes. First, it allows more small businesses time to get their PPP loan application completed and turned in. At the same time, it gives the Small Business Administration more time to deal with any technical issues that may pop up with SBA PPP loans funding and processing. 

Why Is a PPP Loan Extension Needed?  

An extension is necessary to provide more support for businesses while the U.S. population is getting vaccinated for COVID-19 over the coming months.

It will give businesses more time to apply loans.  This includes both first-time loans, and even a second draw PPP loan if applicable.  The second draw is a second PPP loan available to some businesses that have already received one Paycheck Protection Program loan.  Those who have issues with the application process will also be able to spend more time working through those problems.

Other PPP Loan Changes

Other recent changes will help even more applicants.  This includes the smallest of small businesses, as well as minority-owned businesses and those located in rural communities. A two-week period in March was set aside only for businesses with fewer than 20 employees to apply.

That time is over, but still helpful is the fact that the administration is also now calculating the loan formula for sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals differently.  Furthermore,  gone are the restrictions that prevent business owners with prior felony convictions not related to fraud, or those who have been delinquent on federal student loans, from receiving assistance. 

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.

What Can You Do In the Meantime? 

There is no question that the PPP loan program is a savior for many small businesses.  Still, the money doesn’t come automatically. What if you need money right now? What if you can’t wait for the sometimes long PPP loan application process? Maybe the PPP loan won’t be enough. How can you supplement it? 

Here are some ideas to either bridge the gap or take the place of a PPP loan.  

Credit Line Hybrid

The credit line hybrid is business financing that does not require security.  It is available to pretty much anyone for any type of business expense. You can use it for real estate, equipment, working capital, and even startup expenses.  Furthermore, there is no down payment, and you do not have to provide income documentation. It is completely no-doc financing. 

You need to have personal credit of 680 or above, but keep reading if you don’t because there are still options. .  Also, there cannot be any late payments in the past 12 months, there can be no open collections or bankruptcies, and there should be less than 4 inquiries in the past 6 months on your consumer credit report.  There also have to be at least 2 open credit cards with a $2,000 limit or higher with 2 years of good payment history. 

If you do not meet these requirements, including the minimum credit score, you can take on a credit partner who does meet them. 

You can get up to $150,000, and often interest rates are as low as 0% for the first 6 to 18 months.

401(k) Financing 

The 401K financing program offered by Credit Suite is a flexible and powerful way for a new or existing business or franchise  to leverage assets that are in a 401(k) plan or IRA. These are assets which are tied up in stocks. 

It doesn’t take long either.  In as little as 3 weeks you can actually invest a portion of these funds into your own business. Then, you not only have more control over the performance of your retirement plan assets, but you also have the working capital you need.

This type of program even has the blessing of the IRS. In fact, they  have their own name for it. It’s called a Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS). 

Do You Qualify for a ROBS? 

Surprisingly, this type of financing is pretty easy to get. You do not have to submit financials or have good credit to get approval. In fact, all the lender will ask for is a copy of your two most recent 401(k) statements.

If the plan has a value of more than $35,000,  you can get approval. This is true even if you have really bad personal credit. You can get however much of your 401(k) is “rollable.” Sometimes, you can secure a low-interest credit line or loan for 100% of your current 401(k) value.

The plan you use cannot be from a business where you currently work. It will have to be from previous employment. Also, you can’t still be contributing to it. 

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.

Business Revenue Lending

If your business has consistent revenue of $120,000 per year or more, you may qualify for business revenue lending. Lenders verify revenue using bank statements.  There can be no recent bankruptcies, but the minimum credit score to qualify is as low as 500.  

A business must also be in operation for a year or more, and they must do more than 5 small transactions each month to get business revenue financing. 

Merchant Cash Advance

If your business accepts credit card payments and you have at least a 500 FICO, you could get up to $750,000 in a merchant cash advance. Credit rates are usually lower compared to traditional financing as well.  

There must be $100,000 or more per year in credit card sales, and typically you can get approval equal to one months credit card financing volume. 

Account Receivable Financing

Outstanding account receivables can also be a source of funding for your business. Get as much as 80% of receivables advanced in less than 24 hours. You get the rest of the accounts receivable amount once you collect full payment for the invoice. Closing takes 2 weeks or less. 

Receivables should be with the government or another business. Getting financing with receivables from individuals is not as easy. If you also have purchase orders, then you can get financing to have those filled. You won’t need to use your cash flow to do so.

Enterprise SBA Loans

For these loans you have to have collateral worth up to at least 50% of the loan amount, but you only need a FICO of 620.  There also can be no bankruptcies in the past 4 years.  Only for profit companies qualify, and they must have positive trends in sales growth. Generally amounts are available of up to $12 million with terms up to 25-years. 

Credit Suite can help you get funding with these options and show some other possibilities.

Use the Time Allowed By the PPP Loan Extension Wisely

Getting funding for your business is not always easy.  There is more to it than just applying for a loan. Business credit can get sticky.  Having expert help can save you a lot of time and money.  While you are waiting for your Paycheck Protection Program loan, consider working with a business credit expert to help you better position your business to access the funding it needs quicker and easier in the future.  

A business credit expert can help make the most of the PPP loan extension time.  They can work with you to evaluate the fundability of your business. The stronger your fundability, the more likely you are to get funding with the best rates and terms available. You can get a free consultation to help ensure your business is set up properly to build fundability

An expert can help you evaluate the many factors that affect fundability.  There are over 100.  With so many factors, it can be hard to figure out where you stand without an expert. They can work with you to figure out where your business falls short and help you improve.  Fundability is a tangled web affected by many things, and the time and money saved having an expert walk you through it is extremely valuable. 

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.

What Else Can a Business Credit Expert Help With?

They can also walk you through the steps to establishing a business credit profile separate from your personal credit profile. Once that is done, they can help you find accounts that will report to that business credit profile.  

This is key, because many vendors do not report.  Those that do report, do not make it easy to find out that they do.  A business credit expert has relationships with a number of vendors.  They can help you find the ones that will successfully help you build your business credit score. 

PPP Loan Extension: You Still Have Time

Thanks to the PPP Loan extension that President Biden signed, you still have time to get your PPP loan application in.  No matter how fast you act however, some things never change. Especially with the PPP extension on the SBA side, you will likely be waiting a bit for your approval and to actually receive PPP funds.  

If you need money right now, try one of these funding options.  Then, put to good use the time the Paycheck Protection Program extension allows you.  Use it to get in touch with a business credit expert.  It’s a great time to start the process of building strong business fundability. The stronger your fundability, the easier it is to fund your business whatever the world throws your way, even a global pandemic. 

The post The PPP Loan Extension Offers the Gift of Time: Use it Wisely appeared first on Credit Suite.

AtoB (YC S20) – Stripe for transportation – is hiring founding team engineers

Article URL: https://www.notion.so/Founding-Team-Engineers-AtoB-1db448bd0b8c482db48857f04c7244cf

Comments URL: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25980837

Points: 1

# Comments: 0

The post AtoB (YC S20) – Stripe for transportation – is hiring founding team engineers appeared first on ROI Credit Builders.

How to Use Instagram Shopping to Drive Product Sales

Have you used shops on Instagram? With over a billion active users and growing, Instagram may already be one of your favorite places to promote your e-commerce store. However, lots of opportunities exist for marketing on the channel, so it can be a great place to build a follower base and get the word out about your products and brand.

What if you could take passive interaction to the next level and actually buy and sell directly from the platform? That’s possible with Instagram shopping. This can be enticing for Instagram users and e-commerce shops who want to keep their interaction, from discovery to sale, right there on Instagram itself.

What Is an Instagram Shop?

Instagram shops are an option for Instagram account holders who have e-commerce brands to sell directly from the Instagram platform.

They provide a way for Instagram users to interact and shop with brands they love, find new brands they might like, and purchase through the Instagram app.

An Instagram shop exists like a mini e-commerce store, within Instagram, as an extension of your brand’s page. As a brand owner, you can build collections that are customizable and reflective of your style and perspective.

Shops can choose to allow purchasing directly from the app, using Facebook Pay, or they use their Instagram shop to point to an off-site e-commerce store. Either way, they can build a more interactive shopping experience for their users.

How Does Instagram Shopping Work?

Instagram Shopping is a pretty simple process for Instagram users. The whole idea of this feature is to make things more enticing, so users spend more time on the app, checking out the shops they love, as well as discovering new brands.

To find shops you want to explore or buy from, go to the little shopping icon that looks like a shopping bag on the app: 

How to Shop Shops on Instagram

From there, you will see shops from brands you already follow, as well as some that are recommended based on your interactions on Instagram. You can also check out “Editor’s Picks” to see different categories, such as Gift Guides, and to explore collections and other recommendations.

If you click “Browse Shops,” you’ll see a listing of brands you already follow who have shops on Instagram. This can be a great place to start when you’re exploring because you probably already have an interest in the products and may have even purchased from them in the past.

How to Browse Shops on Instagram

Once you click on a shop, you’ll see the products and collections they have available.

Instagram shopping example

From there, you can learn more or choose to buy, just like you would at an e-commerce site.

How to Set Up an Instagram Shop

To set up a shop on Instagram for your brand, you must have an Instagram Business account, and you must be eligible. According to Instagram, eligibility includes but is not limited to:

  • Operating in a supported market (dependent on your location)
  • Having an e-commerce website from which you sell products

Remember, an Instagram shop is an extension of your e-commerce store, not necessarily a replacement for it.

You will then have to connect your Facebook account. More later on how those two are connected and why it matters for your Instagram Shopping account.

You then follow the steps to set up your account, load your product images, and “turn on shopping.”

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you go through those technical steps:

  • Use high-quality, editorial images for your products and collections: Think of your Instagram shop as a type of interactive catalog. Be selective about the images you are using for your products. Make sure they stand out and show lots of detail.
  • Have all your product information on hand: Again, thinking about this as a catalog, you will need to enter all the descriptive information about each product, including prices, colors, sizes, flavors, types, etc. You’ll also need information about shipping and other details. Keep it all at the ready before you dive in.
  • Get ready to tag: After getting your Instagram shop set up, the last step Instagram recommends is to start tagging. When you upload an image, select “Tag Products” and type in the name of the product you want to tag to that post. You will be able to do this in Instagram Stories as well.

Benefits of Having an Instagram Shop

Why would brand managers want to take the time to set up shops on Instagram? First, let’s look at some numbers. According to Instagram, 60% of people interviewed said they discover new products on the app. Facebook says 70% of people referred to as shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram to shop, and 36% of all Instagram users consider shopping to be a hobby of theirs.

The best reason to set up shops on Instagram is to tap into that enthusiasm. Think of Instagram Shopping as the trendiest mall from back in the day, with eager buyers walking around and window shopping. You want to be there with your brand too, right?

Here are some more benefits of having a shop on Instagram:

  • It’s free: Yes, you can set up your Instagram shop for free. The only fees associated would be a selling fee when customers place an order and the fee for any ads you use to promote your products or shop.
  • It’s another online storefront: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, they say, and that applies to online shopping too. If a hiccup occurs with one platform, you’re already set up somewhere else.
  • It’s a mobile catalog: Instagram has designed these shops to be very clean and scannable. They are easy to peruse and to get an overall idea of a brand’s look, as well as to dig in and learn more about the products. For this reason, you can think of shops on Instagram as a kind of mobile catalog. You may even find yourself sending people there to get a feel for what you sell, just because it’s so easy to scroll through.
  • It’s a way to build your following: As we talked about earlier, people are going on Instagram looking to shop. Setting up your shop there is a prime way to draw buyers who are ready to make a purchase, as well as to build a following for your Instagram account (which probably supports your overall social media marketing strategy).

Instagram Shopping vs. Facebook Shops

You may be wondering how shops on Instagram compare with shops on Facebook. While they are different platforms, they are both under the Facebook umbrella.

Remember that corporate Facebook owns Instagram, which means Facebook powers Instagram Shopping. To set up your Instagram shop, you will need to link to your Facebook account, and, as mentioned, payment is processed through Facebook Pay.

Should you set up an Instagram shop and a Facebook shop? Here are a couple of considerations to help you decide:

  • Link easily: Because you need Facebook to launch the Instagram shop, it may be worth having products on both platforms. You can use the same products and collections on each if that makes sense for your target market and brand.
  • Consider demographics: Your target market may spend more time on Instagram than on Facebook. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure you set up an Instagram shop. If your target market straddles both the demographics of Facebook and Instagram, you may want to set up a shop on each.

Submitting and Receiving Payment for Instagram Shopping Products

How do you go about actually buying and selling with Instagram Shopping? A big part of this question is how money is exchanged.

Remember you can choose to have your products point to your e-commerce site. Buyers will then be directed to your website, in a browser within the Instagram app, rather than processing the purchase through the Instagram platform.

However, if you want to save buyers that step, you can set up payment options to allow the transaction through Instagram. When you set up your shop, you’ll need to link to Facebook Pay. We noted above the relationship between Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Pay is how you receive payments for purchases made.

When you purchase something from shops on Instagram, you’ll need to submit your credit card, debit card, or PayPal information to use Facebook Pay to finalize the transaction.

How to Promote Your Instagram Shop

Once you have an Instagram shop up and running, you’ll want to find ways to promote it and draw potential customers to your new location. Here are some tips for achieving that:

  • Launch timely collections: When you create collections or groupings of products to showcase in your shop, think about the browsing buyers first and what they are searching for right now. Instagram recommends thinking about seasons, holidays, or pop culture moments to create collections that connect with and attract buyers.
  • Make it easy for shoppers: When you create posts and stories, make sure to choose the “Tag Product” option to link directly to your shop products. Also, Facebook recommends adding calls-to-action in your captions to remind buyers of what to do. Another recommendation is to update your bio with shopping information.
  • Invest in ads: Want to reach even more people with your Instagram shop? You could consider launching an ad on Instagram with clickable tags that draw people to your shop.

Alternatives to Instagram Shopping

There could be a few reasons why a shop on Instagram is not the right platform for your brand, or maybe you want to explore other shop options to find a better fit. Some of those reasons may be:

  • It’s not the right demographic: Yes, Instagram is wildly popular, but not everyone is shopping there. If the target market of your brand is not tech-savvy, doesn’t tend to use Instagram, or prefers not to shop on new platforms, you may not want to set up an Instagram shop.
  • There aren’t enough products: Shops on Instagram showcase collections of products well, allowing brands to launch or promote groups of products. If you are only selling one item, it may not be worth your time to set up a shop. However, even one product, if photographed and promoted well, could be popular there.
  • They aren’t physical products: You do need to sell a physical product. Digital products or services are not sellable with the app.
  • It’s not in the right location: As mentioned earlier, you do need to operate in a location where Instagram Shopping is available. If you don’t, you’ll need to find an alternative.

In these cases, or if you’re just looking for more customization or wider tools, you may want to choose an alternative to Instagram Shopping. Examples may include:

  • Like2Buy: With Like2Buy, you can build shoppable solutions, as well as create other calls-to-action, such as requesting email addresses of potential customers.
  • Yotpo: In addition to several e-commerce marketing tools, Yotpo offers an Instagram integration tool.
  • FourSixty: Advertising a design-centric aesthetic, FourSixty provides Instagram marketing tools, including shoppable galleries and scheduling.

Conclusion

Shops on Instagram allow you to interact with your followers (and new buyers!), in a seamless way. You can create collections just in time for a season or holiday and promote your products to an audience that is eager to buy.

This feature allows brand owners to sell on Instagram dynamically. While it may not be the only solution you need, it can be a great addition to your Instagram sales strategy.

Will you be shopping and selling directly on the Instagram app? Or do you prefer a more traditional e-commerce platform?

The post How to Use Instagram Shopping to Drive Product Sales appeared first on Neil Patel.

Stock Photos are Dead: Create These Blog Images Instead

Illustration by Laetro

The use of images in your blog posts is a no-brainer.

Images are an easy way to break up chunks of text, add context, or give your readers a more accessible medium through which to digest your content.

With the growth of written content online, it’s harder to have your content be unique from others. Writers need to adapt to the changing landscape.

How can you continue to engage your audience when so many bloggers have written on the same topics—and will continue to do so?

The answer is original imagery.

Blog Image Trends: Why Stock Photos Are Dead

With more content available on the web every day, it’s more important than ever to stand out.

While finding ways to put a unique spin on your blog post topics is critical, there are only so many angles on one subject. You need other types of content, such as photographs and illustrations, to make your mark.

Unfortunately, stock photos just don’t cut it anymore when you have the resources and time to make an impact.

stock photos are dead- use these blog images instead
Illustration by Laetro

This reason is in part because blog images don’t only live on your blog. They make the rounds on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest whenever your posts are shared. Chances are, your users have seen similar stock photos many times already, and they’re bored with them.

With so many articles to read, videos to watch, and social media news to ingest, the average reader won’t spend hours looking for the best article on your topic. They’ll choose the most visually appealing option nearly every time.

This is backed by visual content statistics, such as those collected by Venngage. When surveying marketers on content that helped them reach their marketing goals, original images performed best 40% of the time compared to stock photos at 13%.

So before you use stock photography in your next blog post, ask yourself:

Will my readers interact with the same stale image they’ve seen numerous times when researching this topic? Or will they choose to interact with an original image that more perfectly captures the content?

Top Reasons You Should Use Interactive and Original Images on Your Blog

Your goal as a digital marketer is to increase conversions.

So how do you do this even better than you already are, given the changing online landscape?

There are plenty of ways to drive traffic to your website. But what’s more important is driving the right traffic—the users who will engage with your content.

Images can help. According to BlogTyrant, images can up conversions by over 300%.

stock photos are dead - use these blog images instead
Illustration by Laetro

But keep in mind the kinds of images you use can have an impact on your conversions, too.

For years, stock imagery was the norm. But, it’s time to move away from those pictures.

Why? According to a study done by Marketing Experiments, readers are 35% more likely to convert when presented with a non-stock photo.

Original images offer authenticity stock ones can’t provide. They offer your readers a peek behind the curtain, allowing them to see a deeper side of your content.

Unique blog image content can offer other benefits, including increased customer trust and brand recognition.

According to Brain Rules, a slogan alone only sticks in the minds of 10% of people. When related imagery is added, though, retention rises to 65%. That’s an increase you can’t ignore if increasing brand recognition is on your radar.

Original image content has an often-overlooked SEO benefit, too, and that’s the improvement of Google’s E-A-T score. The E-A-T score lets Google assess content quality based on these three standards:

  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness
stock photos are dead, use these blog images instead
Illustration by Laetro

How can original imagery improve your E-A-T rating?

Whether you shoot and edit photography on your own or you work with a digital illustrator, your unique imagery will have a personal spin. If done right, this will become a vital part of your personal brand strategy.

You show expertise by including images that clearly demonstrate you understand your content.

You show authoritativeness by having consistent, unique branding people recognize immediately.

You show trustworthiness by providing information through images that are accurate and increase user’s knowledge.

A strong personal brand will bump all three elements of an E-A-T rating.

Placing Images on Your Blog

Images, just like text, can also be perceived as “fluff.” Because of this, you need to know when to use pictures on your blog to optimize user experience and benefit your SEO.

You should use images to do three very specific things.

Break Up Large Chunks of Text

According to a study by Microsoft, the average attention span of heavy screen users is a mere eight seconds.

That means you have eight seconds to captivate your audience—and large blocks of text may make them click away pretty quickly.

However, you don’t have to write two sentence posts to make them take fewer than eight seconds to read. Instead, employ clever tactics to keep your readers engaged.

breaking up text in blog images
Illustration by Laetro

One tactic is to introduce other media, such as photos or digital illustrations. This creates a less intimidating reading experience while also making the post more visually appealing.

Explain a Concept

Some concepts are too abstract or complex to explain effectively in writing, especially if your audience isn’t strictly experts in your topic.

Custom diagrams and visuals can help readers understand the material.

Enliven the Content

As much as you like to think your content is witty and engaging, some topics just won’t interest readers for very long. You can use original visuals to add some life to otherwise “dull” content in these cases.

When Should You Use Custom Illustrations or Photos?

The cost of custom graphics may be prohibitive for some bloggers, but it is possible to find some middle ground.

Use custom illustrations and photography sparingly. Ask yourself where they make the most sense and insert them accordingly.

If you’re creating a landing page for a new product or service, for example, this would be the place to splurge. After all, you want this content to stand out from your competitors—what better way than with a custom graphic?

You can also utilize custom illustrations to drive a point home or explain data.

Whether a comic strip panel, a diagram, or a flow chart, you can use custom illustrations to share ideas with your readers in a way words simply can’t.

When Should You Create Interactive Graphics?

You can take your blog’s imagery one step further with interactive graphics.

Interactive graphics are custom graphics that support reader interactions like mouse pointer movement, clicks, or keyboard input.

This form of original imagery is commonly used in infographics, though other display types include side-by-side comparisons, flow charts, and graphs.

The most obvious use for interactive graphics is to catch the reader’s eye.

Perhaps more importantly, they can also be used to break complex information down into bite-sized chunks. For example, take a look at this nifty interactive graphic that shows users how Google search works without becoming overwhelmed.

Examples of Successful Blog Images

There are plenty of ways to use images on your blog.

Here’s one creative example from Oberlo:

Examples of successful blog images

Instead of one lengthy infographic, the content creators chose individual infographic “slides” to answer each question on their post about social media statistics.

This use of graphics achieves two things:

  1. It makes the information easy to digest.
  2. It makes it simple for readers to share information on social media.

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of original blog imagery is the personal branding aspect. When you use a particular style consistently, it becomes synonymous with your brand.

Copyblogger provides an excellent example of this:

Copyblogger example of blog image

Their featured images consistently use quotes overlaid on eye-catching images. They work as a watermark of sorts, as anyone who sees their imagery elsewhere will be able to identify them as belonging to Copyblogger immediately.

And what about interactive content? Your options are only limited by your imagination.

Take a look at this comprehensive timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

marvel examples in blog images

As you scroll through the timeline, new images and text content can be seen. This example tells a complex story in a linear, non-intimidating format.

What to Use Instead of Stock Photos

You know you should be using unique imagery on your blog. But what should you use instead of stock photos?

There are plenty of options for every budget and skill level.

Take Your Own Photos

You don’t need a professional setup to take photographs for your blog. Even a smartphone camera can be used to take your own photos.

Depending on the amount of time you have and your budget, you can edit these photos on your phone or by using software like Photoshop.

Edit Stock Photos

Not all stock photos are bad, but you must be purposeful in the ones you choose.

It’s best to choose stock images that haven’t been used too often. How can you know. Using Google’s reverse image search, you can search images to see how many results they get. The less, the better.

Even more than that, though, you can make tweaks to existing stock photos to give them a new look.

Some quick edits include:

  • Flipping the image horizontally
  • Adding a text overlay
  • Adding an image effect or filter
  • Cropping the image (from rectangle to square, for example)

The easiest edits can be done using free or low-cost online tools or your computer’s in-built image editing software.

Use Online Tools and Software

Tools exist which enable you to edit or create images in any format and style. You can use these tools to edit stock photos, as mentioned above, or build imagery using digital assets.

Many tools like Lucidpress even have pre-built templates to inspire your designs.

Use Custom Images

Images are so much more than photographs, and you don’t need to rely on photography alone to add visuals to your blog.

Custom images can also include digital assets, illustrations, and iconography.

How to Get Original or Interactive Blog Images

It’s never been easier or more affordable to get original and interactive blog images.

When it comes to hiring a professional, you have options. You can easily find freelancers on sites like Fiverr or Upwork or use a service like Design Pickle.

If you know of a digital artist with a style you like, you may be able to commission them. They are often more expensive than the freelancers you’ll find on the websites mentioned above, but they’re great if you need a specific style.

For bloggers strapped for time, there are services you can hire to do the heavy lifting. The service may be a creative agency or a blog content specialist. Either way, you provide details, and they’ll commission work on your behalf.

Do you have more time than money? You can also create blog images using tools like Canva, Pixlr, or PicMonkey. For a more professional finish, you can invest in a creative suite like Adobe Creative Cloud.

How Much Do Original Blog Images Cost?

As with most services, there are options for almost every budget.

If you hire a freelancer for a one-off gig, then the price varies based on the number of images, the complexity of the work, and how you plan to use the final product.

In some cases, you may be able to get a discount when you buy in bulk.

Commissioning a professional is likely to be the most expensive option. Unless you have money to burn, this should be reserved for high-impact projects, like illustrations for sales landing pages or campaign launches.

Tools to Create Blog Images

Whether you’re on a limited budget or just want to let the creative juices flow, you can opt to create your images.

There are free and low-cost options, such as Canva and PicMonkey. These tools have limitations, including watermarks, if you don’t opt for premium memberships. You also need to be sure all assets used in your design are copyright-free.

For 100% original work, you may find creative suites like Adobe to be the best bang for your buck. With access to tools like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, you can create and edit various blog illustrations, diagrams, and original photography.

There are plenty of tutorials available online for creating graphics using Adobe Creative Cloud—so if you’re unable to pay a designer for their services, you don’t have to just guess about how to do this.

If you’re in a time crunch, there are even services that offer quick turnaround times on unique illustrative designs. With tools such as Laetro, you can have a one-of-a-kind illustration in only 24 hours.

Conclusion

There’s no need to scroll through page after page of stock photos to find the right images for your blog post. You can create original blog images, whether by yourself or with the help of a professional.

Original blog imagery, including photography and graphics, can take your blog posts to the next level. It also helps build your overall brand and take your marketing to the next level.

With plenty of options at your fingertips, from free tools like Canva to paid software like Adobe to freelance artists, there’s no reason not to use original images on your blog. 

Which of the tools mentioned above are you most likely to use to create images for your blog? Or do you prefer ones we haven’t mentioned? Let us know!

The post Stock Photos are Dead: Create These Blog Images Instead appeared first on Neil Patel.

How to Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession

Yes, You Can Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession – This is Foolproof!

Do you know your small business’ business credit score? And is it, maybe, not so hot? Then consider these simple tips for how to easily improve your business credit scores in a recession.

Every Small Business Needs Business Credit Building

This is especially true in an economic downturn, when bank loans can be scarce.

Company credit is credit in a small business’s name. It doesn’t attach to an owner’s personal credit, not even when the owner is a sole proprietor and the sole employee of the small business.

Thus, an entrepreneur’s business and personal credit scores can be very different.

The Benefits

Because small business credit is distinct from consumer, it helps to protect a business owner’s personal assets, in case of litigation or business bankruptcy.

Also, with two distinct credit scores, a small business owner can get two different cards from the same vendor. This effectively doubles purchasing power.

Another benefit is that even startup businesses can do this. Visiting a bank for a business loan can be a formula for disappointment. But building small business credit, when done right, is a plan for success.

Personal credit scores are dependent on payments but also additional considerations like credit usage percentages.

But for small business credit, the scores truly just depend on whether a small business pays its debts timely.

Find out why so many companies are using our proven methods to improve their business credit scores, even during a recession.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Take Steps to Improve Your Payment History

How do you improve your payment history? It’s easy – just pay your bills on time, and as close to ‘in full’ as possible. Of course, that is not always as easy as it sounds. The truth is, just as you need to keep your personal spending within your means, you will need to keep your business spending realistic as well.

We cannot predict the future. Who can tell if your company’s particular widget will suddenly take off? All you can do is go by whatever data you can get, and interpret it in a manner that is not overly optimistic. For new companies, that means looking at industry trends. For more seasoned companies, it means closely examining your business’s performance under all sorts of conditions.

Therefore, if it looks like your company can make $1 million next quarter, but you need to borrow money, don’t borrow more than $1 million and, in fact, you probably want to borrow less than that.

Keeping your business spending in check and not gambling the company’s future on a hunch are both good ways to get your credit balances down and, as a result, improve your payment history. After all, your biggest supplier could go out of business, your best worker could retire, or crops could fail or any of a number of setbacks could occur. Being bold in business can often be a virtue – but you still need to pay your company’s bills.

It Pays – Big Time!

The single most vital step you can take to improve your business credit scores is to improve your payment history. Every credit reporting agency weighs this factor heavily.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Keep on Top of Your Credit Scores

This means regularly getting and reviewing your credit reports. And not just for your business! For new businesses and sole proprietorships, credit bureaus often look at your person credit as well. And this goes double if your business just so happens to be both.  Therefore, you will need to keep on top of both sets of scores, which is a good financial habit to get into, anyway.

Why do this? Because credit scoring reports can have errors and you have the right to dispute them. But you will not know there’s an error unless you check.

Disputing credit report errors generally involves sending a paper letter with copies of all proofs of payment accompanying it, such as receipts and cancelled checks. Of course, you do not want to send the originals – always send copies and retain the originals. Precisely itemize any charges that you are calling into question. Use certified mail so that you will have proof that you sent in your dispute.

Of course, if there are no mistakes on your credit reports, then you will need to move onto the next step. Don’t try to pull a fast one and dispute your credit score if there is really nothing wrong with it! Credit reporting agencies understandably do not like that.

Find out why so many companies are using our proven methods to improve their business credit scores, even during a recession.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Keep a Handle on Your Credit Utilization Rate

This goes right along with improving your payment history. Your credit utilization rate is an easy calculation: it’s just your balances divided by your total available credit.

You want to keep this figure under 30% if that is at all possible. So if you borrow less money, and you pay your debts off as quickly as possible, you will keep your business’s credit utilization rate in check.

Credit reporting agencies look at this figure, so if you keep it low, that will help with your score.

Furthermore, credit utilization rate tends to go toward your ability to better balance your budget and work within your means. Of course there can be unexpected expenses. But those should be rare.

Find out why so many companies are using our proven methods to improve their business credit scores, even during a recession.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Monitor Your Business Credit

Know what is happening with your credit. Make sure it is being reported and attend to any inaccuracies ASAP. Get in the practice of taking a look at credit reports and digging into the particulars, and not just the scores.

We can help you monitor business credit at Experian and D&B for 90% less.

At Equifax, you can monitor your account at: www.equifax.com/business/business-credit-monitor-small-business.

Update Your Record

Update the relevant information if there are mistakes or the information is incomplete. At D&B, you can do this at: https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/viewiUpdateHome.htm. For Experian, go here: www.experian.com/small-business/business-credit-information.jsp. And for Equifax, go here: www.equifax.com/business/small-business.

Fix Your Business Credit

So, what’s all this monitoring for? It’s to contest any inaccuracies in your records. Errors in your credit report(s) can be fixed. But the CRAs typically want you to dispute in a particular way.

Get your company’s PAYDEX report at: www.dnb.com/about-us/our-data.html. Get your company’s Experian report at: www.businesscreditfacts.com/pdp.aspx?pg=SearchForm. And get your Equifax business credit report at: www.equifax.com/business/credit-information.

Disputes

Disputing credit report errors normally means you mail a paper letter with duplicates of any proofs of payment with it. These are documents like receipts and cancelled checks. Never mail the originals. Always send copies and keep the original copies.

Fixing credit report errors also means you specifically spell out any charges you challenge. Make your dispute letter as crystal clear as possible. Be specific about the concerns with your report. Use certified mail so that you will have proof that you sent in your dispute.

Dispute your or your small business’s Equifax report by following the instructions here: www.equifax.com/small-business-faqs/#Dispute-FAQs.

You can dispute inaccuracies on your or your small business’s Experian report by following the directions here: www.experian.com/small-business/business-credit-information.jsp.

And D&B’s PAYDEX Customer Service contact number is here: www.dandb.com/glossary/paydex.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession Credit Suite

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Personal Credit Score Reports

You can use AnnualCreditReport.com to get your credit report from Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Business Credit Score Reports

You will need to keep on top of three separate reports: Equifax, Experian, and your business’s PAYDEX report.

Equifax

Order your business’s Equifax report here. Dispute your or your company’s Equifax report by following the instructions here.

Experian

You can order your company’s Experian report here.  You can dispute any errors on your or your company’s Experian report by following the directions here.

PAYDEX

Get your PAYDEX report here and you can contact their Customer Service department (it’s a part of Dun & Bradstreet, as they also generate PAYDEX reports) here. D & B’s PAYDEX Customer Service phone number is here.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Patience is a Virtue in the Credit World, Too!

Finally, you will need to be patient. In particular, because credit reporting bureaus look at payment history. And they also look at the length of your payment history. So this goes directly to how long your company has been in business.

As a result, one piece of the score improvement puzzle is to just let some time pass. Get some distance you from your opening day. Good business credit scores aren’t built in a day.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: A Word about Business Credit Building

Always use credit responsibly! Never borrow more than what you can pay back. Monitor balances and deadlines for payments. Paying off in a timely manner and in full will do more to raise business credit scores than nearly anything else.

Establishing small business credit pays off. Great business credit scores help a small business get loans. Your lender knows the company can pay its financial obligations. They recognize the company is bona fide.

The business’s EIN attaches to high scores and lending institutions won’t feel the need to request a personal guarantee.

Easily Improve Your Business Credit Scores in a Recession: Takeaway

Business credit is an asset which can help your small business for many years to come. Learn more here and get started toward building company credit.

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