Audm Acquired by the New York Times to Turn Articles into Digital Audio

Audm, the subscription app that turns long-form content into digital audio that is narrated by professional voice actors, has been acquired by The New York Times Company. The terms of the transactions were not disclosed. Founded in 2016 by Christian Brink and Ryan Wegner, Audm had only raised a mere $ 120K in reported equity funding as […]
AlleyWatch

Accelerators/VCs/business angels investing in data privacy?

Hey everyone!

I was wondering if you guys know of any accelerators or VCs or business angels that have a tendency to invest in data privacy focused startups?

Preferably located in Europe or the US. Investors that typically invest in solutions focused on data privacy, cybersecurity, cloud security, etc

If you have any names or recommendations it'd be super helpful, thanks!

submitted by /u/coolyo78
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups

There is so much confusion and misinformation out there about the government sponsored “payroll protection plan” loans to companies that the heads of every small business CEO in the country must be spinning. We have been advising a lot of entrepreneurs so I thought I’d “open source” some of the advice I have been sharing.

I am not claiming to be the world expert on this. But I have been in close contact with the NVCA, many of the major law firms and many of the major VC firms. Along with my partner Stuart Lander, who runs operations at Upfront and is a former lawyer, we have scoured through, debated and helped scores of companies make this determination. So my only goal is to give you insights into the conversations we’ve been having in case you don’t have the same access or advice.

I am not a lawyer nor can you use my advice for the basis for your application but I’d rather provide more public information to help you have the right conversations so please take this posting for what it is (and accept that I may have typos or inaccuracies, which I will amend if pointed out).

Am I eligible for the PPP Loan?

If your US-based business is adversely affected by Covid-19 such that you would need to lay off employees imminently and having access to capital would enable you to keep more employees on the payroll then you might be eligible. You need to:

  • study the rules,
  • make sure that you don’t violate the “affiliate rule” (more later),
  • consult with your Company Counsel,
  • consult with your board and investors and then make your own determination.

If you do apply you must certify that your information and application are true and honest.

Who is this program for and why does it exist?

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security) Act provides $ 2 trillion to businesses and individuals affective by Covid-19.

$ 350 billion of this money is dedicated to small businesses under a loan program called the PPP (payroll protection plan). This money is administered by the SBA (small business administration) and is obtained through an approved bank who reviews your application.

The goal of the program is in the name — payroll protection. The US government believes that keeping more workers employed, even if they’re not immediately productive due to WFH (work from home) or loss of revenue is better than all of these employees being laid off, where they will likely seek relief via unemployment insurance claims. There were 10 million claims in the past 2 weeks alone, the largest 2-week request in history. The government believes that it not only is better keeping employees in jobs where possible but also in helping these businesses remain solvent.

Am I ineligible since I’m VC-backed?

There is nothing in the rules that state that VC-backed businesses are ineligible. There are certainly some people who are publicly saying that VC-backed businesses shouldn’t take government money. There are some business people who think this is ethically wrong for a VC-backed business with a highly-educated founder and there are also likely to be some populist outcries that the money should have been reserved for Main Street workers and not tech workers.

This is a matter of opinion or belief system but not a matter of legislation or policy. The program is designed to keep employees on the payroll so ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you are a worthy recipient and to weigh the benefit to your company and your employees against the potential perception the market may (or may not) have in the future.

One thing that is clear. If you plan to lay off employees and if the PPP Loan will help you to keep more people on your payroll and you ultimately believe that getting through the next couple of months will enable you to productively employ these people on your own dime in the future — this is precisely the policy goal of the US Government. Perception is not equal to policy or legislation. If you want to be perceived well in the future then make sure that your grounds for applying are sound and that you’re truly preserving jobs.

If the US Government didn’t want to support VC-backed businesses they easily could have excluded them and they knowingly did not.

I am hearing from all of my peers that everybody’s applying — shouldn’t I?

The short answer is “no.” Applying for a government loan that was created to serve US small businesses and employees in the times of an economic crisis is not something you should do just because all of your peers are telling you that you should. It is not “free money.” You should apply if your business is in duress, if the loan can help you preserve jobs, if you qualify and if you’re supported by your board and your investors.

Do I need to repay the loan?

You might. It depends. Below lists how the loan program is calculated. If you maintain your employment level at your current rate much of this loan can be forgiven but it’s likely that a portion of it will not be. If you do massive layoffs (RIFs) you can assume that you will need to repay your loan since the intent of the loan is to protect jobs.

Do I need to rush my application?

One of the most unfortunate aspects of the legislation is that it states that applications will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. That means that every business who believes it qualifies is rushing in its applications, which doesn’t leave much time for reasoned discussions with your relevant stakeholders on whether or not you should and it means that banks and lawyers are being forced to rush things. I get that in a crisis the government needs to act quickly and fix things later. But this FIFO approach has created undue urgency. So sadly you do need to rush things if you want to improve your chances of being approved.

Why is there so much confusion about whether banks accept applications?

Banks have a difficult task. They don’t want to hand out loans and later learn they gave money to fraudsters. They have regulations that dictate things like KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti money-laundering) and other regulations designed to avoid abuse of our financial institutions. As a result, many banks are only taking applications from existing customers and in some cases only customers who have existing credit arrangements. Additionally, some Main Street banks aren’t able to process VC-backed applications because they are designed to handle individual owned, local businesses.

The two primary banks that service the VC industry are SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) and FRB (First Republic Bank) and both understand the intricacies of VC-backed businesses and are more easily able to assist you.

Everybody is talking about the “Affiliate Rule” — what is that?

Ok. Now things get complicated.

Step 1 is deciding “am I qualified for a loan under the rules” and step 2 is determining whether or not you can validly apply based on something called the “affiliate rule.” It’s complicated but essentially if a SINGLE VC can veto certain actions that are approved by the board then you violate the Affiliate Rule (or if a single firm owns > 50%). There is a lot of chatter about companies that own > 20%. This is completely unrelated to the Affiliate Rule. The application form states that any > 20% owners must disclose certain information in the application process so it often gets confused as being related. It is not. The NVCA (National Venture Capital Association) Guidelines are below.

Am I free and clear as long as no investor owns more than 20% of my company?

No. This is another misconception. The 20% threshold has nothing whatsoever to do with eligibility. It simply determines whether you have to provide additional information.

So to be clear, if a company owns 8% of your company but has negative blocking rights as outlined above in the NVCA guidelines, you are ineligible for the program unless you modify your legal governing documents.

How do I amend my legal documents so that the Affiliate Rule doesn’t stop me from applying for a loan?

For starters you will require investor consent to amend your governing documents and since some of these terms were negotiated to protect shareholder rights they may approve the changes and they may not.

I have found that it is easier to get VCs to amend the governing documents when there are several VC investors such that none has the overwhelming majority ownership relative to others. This is because the affiliate rule is only tripped if one single firm has blocking rights. Therefore you can amend the governing documents to a “simple majority of the preferred shareholders” can block one of the known affiliate rules rather than a single firm. I have found VCs to work collaboratively on these to help entrepreneurs in this time of need.

It’s slightly harder if you’ve only done an A-round and therefore have just one VC around the table who owns more than a majority of the preferred stock. In this instance they would need to give up the right entirely. If your company is in dire straits (let’s say you’re a transportation company or a hospitality company) then you’re likely to find an amenable investor. If you’re in a company where the investor views your application as more of a “gray area” then you may not easily receive consent for changes.

Finally, there are several discussions about how to “get around” the Affiliate Rule. Please be careful because having a “side agreement” (verbal or written) to “spring back” to the old agreement in the future is tantamount to fraud. You can expressly mention that the governing docs are only valid for the period of the loan but I believe this may open you up to the SBA second guessing the validity of your loan on a “look back basis” (meaning in the future they come back and state that you violated the rules).

If you’re going to amend, then amend. If you’re playing games — don’t apply.

When the $ 350 billion is fully invested will more be made available?

Nobody knows for sure. There are lots of discussions about the need for more stimulus and the lasting effects of the Coronavirus, etc. Ultimately whether there is a further SBA stimulus will depend on whether it was deemed effective, whether the crisis is longer-lasting and deeper than expected and whether handing more money to small businesses is deemed politically acceptable.

I’m getting so much conflicting advice, whom should I listen to?

Ultimately it is up to you to make the determination if the PPP Loan program is meant for you. You should have a discussion with your legal counsel first. You should discuss with your board second. You should discuss it with your investors third. If you are convinced after this that you are eligible and worthy, then the only remaining thing before applying is to decide how the markets will judge your actions in the future. If you saved jobs, saved your company and are a productive member of our economy and if you feel that this program played an important role in helping you succeed and you didn’t have other options that were as immediately able to help — you can at least sleep better at night believing that this SBA Program met its intended goal.


How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Both Sides of the Table – Medium

Agritech startup DeHaat raises $12M to reach more farmers in India

DeHaat, an online platform that offers full-stack agricultural services to farmers, has raised $ 12 million as it looks to scale its network across India.

The Series A financial round for the eight-year-old Patna and Gurgaon-based startup was led by Sequoia Capital India. Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, and existing investors Omnivore and AgFunder, also participated in the round. The startup, which began to seek funding from external investors last year, has raised $ 16 million to date and $ 3 million in venture debt.

DeHaat (which means village in Hindi) eases the burden on farmers by bringing together brands, institutional financers and buyers on one platform, explained Shashank Kumar, co-founder and chief executive of the startup, in an interview with TechCrunch.

The platform helps farmers secure thousands of agri-input products, including seeds and fertilizers, and receive tailored advisory on the crop they should sow in a season. “We have built a comprehensive database of crop tests to offer advice to farmers,” he said.

DeHaat, which employs 242 people, also helps them connect with 200 institutional partners to provide farmers with working capital, and when the season is over, helps them sell their yields to bulk buyers such as Reliance Fresh, food delivery startup Zomato and business-to-business e-commerce giant Udaan.

DeHaat today operates in 20 regional hubs in the eastern part of India — states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand — and serves more than 210,000 farmers, said Kumar.

Shashank Kumar, Amrendra Singh, Adarsh Srivastav and Shyam Sundar Singh co-founded DeHaat in 2012

The startup has developed a network of hundreds of micro-entrepreneurs in rural areas that distribute agri-input goods to farmers from their regional hubs and then bring back the output to the same hub.

“We have an app in local languages and a helpline desk that farmers, many of whom don’t own a smartphone, use to reach out to us and explain their pain points and needs,” he said.

DeHaat does not charge any fee for its advisory, but takes a cut whenever farmers use its platform to buy agri-inputs or sell their crop yields.

The startup will use the fresh capital to extend its network to 2,000 rural retail centres, on-board more micro-entrepreneurs for last-mile delivery and reach 1 million farmers by June of next year, said Kumar. DeHaat is also working on automating its supply chain and developing more sophisticated data analytics, he said.

At stake is India’s agriculture market that is worth $ 350 billion and serves nearly 100 million small and independent farmers, said Abhishek Mohan, VP at Sequoia Capital India, the VC fund that writes more checks than anyone else in the country.

“This industry is on the brink of a massive transformation thanks to ease of regulation, farmers getting organized and increasing penetration of smartphones. DeHaat is leveraging these trends to build the next-gen product in agricultural supply chain,” said Mohan in a statement.

“The tipping point that led to Sequoia India’s decision to partner with them was the field visit, where the farmers expressed how proud they were to be associated with a platform they felt truly worked in their favour. This impact and deep brand loyalty stems from the leadership team’s razor-sharp focus, deep empathy and fine execution,” he added.

Startups – TechCrunch

[PlaySight in SportsTechie] PlaySight’s Pivot: Inside Its Portable Solution for Streaming Sports

With sports almost universally postponed or canceled for the foreseeable future, PlaySight has been soliciting feedback from its clients across the pro and amateur ranks.

Read more here.

The post [PlaySight in SportsTechie] PlaySight’s Pivot: Inside Its Portable Solution for Streaming Sports appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

The Best Practice Management Software

When operating a medical practice, the primary focus is on helping patients feel better, enjoy their lives more, and improve their health. But to do that effectively, it takes expertise in multiple other areas.

You need to be able to track appointments, stay on top of billing, manage the scheduling of employees, and stay in contact with patients. The best practice management software can help you do all of this, while saving time and effort.

But if the management software for your medical practice is difficult to use, any timesaving benefits disappear. To save the sanity of employees and to allow your practice to run at the best possible efficiency, consider one of our best practice management software recommendations.

The 10 Best Practice Management Software Solutions

You need to present a professional appearance to the patients at your medical practice. Management software does this by enhancing your ability to manage your practice’s day-to-day operations. Some of the key components of this software include:

  • Scheduling of appointments
  • Generating bills
  • Creating insurance claims
  • Generating financial reports for the practice
  • Generating financial reports for individual patients

If your practice cannot generate accurate bills or cannot book appointments without making errors, patients will begin to lose trust in the medical practice. They may wonder whether the practice can care for their health properly if employees cannot even file insurance claims properly.

When you want to create a professional appearance for your medical office, using any of the 10 best practice management software solutions on our list will help.

AdvancedMD

• Excellent feature set
• Simplifies scheduling
• Clean interface
• Verification system
Get Started Now

For those who already own the AdvancedMD EMR software, its compatibility with AdvancedMD’s practice management software is seamless, creating a powerful combination.

But even if you use a different EMR software, you still can use AdvancedMD as your best practice management software, as it has compatibility with many EMR systems.

AdvancedMD’s interface is clean and well-organized, but some users will find it time consuming to figure out all of the various features, especially the advanced features.

Pros

  • Has an excellent feature set
  • Software’s verification system catches simple coding errors on insurance claims
  • Clean interface that simplifies scheduling
  • Strong interaction with same brand’s EMR

Cons

  • Does take quite a bit of time to learn all of the features
  • Overall cost is above average

Advanced Data Systems MedicsPremier

• Reasonable prices
• Easily customizable
• Helps you reduce errors
• Extensive training services
Get Started Now

For the right medical practice, MedicsPremier will be an excellent choice. But this is a software package that you must choose carefully, because it doesn’t work for everyone.

It will especially help a medical practice that needs customization options at a reasonable price. It also has strong insurance claim generation features. However, training is expensive, and some users will find the navigation features difficult to understand.

Pros

  • Easily customizable for your particular practice
  • Tracking insurance claims progress is easy
  • Able to help you reduce errors in insurance claim coding
  • Extensive training services that are helpful

Cons

  • Training is extremely expensive
  • Interface is dated and really needs a refresh to make it easier to use

AthenaHealth

• Streamline billing & claims
• Patient portal feature
• Detailed reports
• Great customer service
Get Started Now

If your practice struggles when it comes to billing, the creators of athenahealth had you in mind. This software streamlines your billing processes, as well as submission of insurance claims. It even generates highly detailed reports that show areas where your practice’s billing results are lagging behind others in the industry.

We also rank athenahealth highly in terms of the training it provides to its customers, getting them up to speed faster than some other software packages.

Pros

  • Excels in billing and insurance claim generation
  • Good customer service
  • Has a strong patient portal feature
  • If you like generating detailed reports, this software excels in this area

Cons

  • Doesn’t work as well for practices that fully outsource medical billing
  • Takes some time to figure out the advanced features

CareCloud

• Easy to use
• Well designed patient portal
• Extremely detailed reports
• Verification to reduce errors
Get Started Now

When you want ease of use above everything else in your practice management software, CareCloud delivers. It has a well-organized interface, making all of the key features easily accessible.

We really like CareCloud’s patient portal, which patients will find easy to use. This encourages them to spend more time entering their own data, saving your employees time in the long run.

CareCloud also offers a strong EMR system, so you can mesh the two easily, if you’re in the market for an EMR system too.

Pros

  • Generates extremely detailed reports to help your practice
  • Patient portal is well-designed and easy for patients to use
  • Calendar feature allows for generation of many kinds of reports
  • Has verification features to reduce insurance claim filing errors

Cons

  • High initial investment required
  • Some key insurance monitoring features require an add-on fee service

DrChrono

• Very versatile software
• Minimal upfront costs
• Highly efficient patient portal
• Streamlined scheduling
Get Started Now

With DrChrono, you’ll receive a versatile type of software that can handle the needs of small and large medical practices, offering an efficient interface that will save your employees time. It also has the ability to match any specialty needs that you may have, giving you customization options.

Its cost is below other management software solutions, especially the startup costs.

Pros

  • Versatile software for all office sizes
  • Includes a highly efficient patient portal
  • Upfront costs are minimal
  • Streamlined scheduling of patients and employees

Cons

  • Customer service responsiveness is hit and miss
  • Report generation isn’t as detailed as some others

eClinicalWorks

• Best for smaller practices
• Easy to use patient portal
• Helpful onsite training
• Reasonably priced
Get Started Now

When you want a reasonably priced best practice management software that also provides high end billing services, eClinicalWorks is well worth considering. It fits nicely with practices that need extra help with verifying insurance claim codes before submission, which should reduce the number of rejected claims.

If you’d like a software package that can grow with you as your medical practice expands and needs extra services, the multiple customization features in this software give you that option.

Pros

  • Nice patient portal that is highly efficient
  • Especially strong in billing services and insurance claims
  • Reasonably priced, especially for smaller practices
  • Delivers helpful onsite training for new customers

Cons

  • Has some extra costs for those who need more features
  • Customer service responsiveness could be better

Greenway Health Intergy

• Multiple customization options
• Versatile interface
• Compatible with Excel
• No hidden fees
Get Started Now

For a medical practice where you’ll have multiple people entering data and using the interface, the Greenway Health Intergy software is helpful.

It allows people to enter data and perform tasks in several different ways, so they can work in the manner that makes the most sense to them. This will confuse some people, but it’s perfect for practices where employees like to learn to use software by jumping in and exploring on their own.

Pros

  • Versatile interface that allows for creativity in solving problems
  • Multiple customization options
  • Reporting feature is compatible with Microsoft Excel
  • Doesn’t have hidden fees

Cons

  • Training is long and involved
  • Interface could use a design update

Kareo

• Easy to learn to use
• No long term contracts
• Great reporting
• Very reasonably priced
Get Started Now

When a smaller practice is looking for practice management software that isn’t going to break the bank or require a long subscription commitment, Kareo is an excellent choice. The interface is easy to use, but the design is a little older than some others.

For those who need full billing services, Kareo has an EMR that works seamlessly with its practice management software.

Pros

  • Very reasonably priced
  • Easy to learn to use, so you’ll be up and running quickly
  • Reporting feature outperforms some other low priced options
  • Good billing generation features, but they do cost extra

Cons

  • Interface is a little dated
  • Starter package is basic, so it may not fit those with complex needs

NextGen Healthcare

• Great for smaller practices
• Easy to setup and use
• Competitively priced
• Very good customer service
Get Started Now

Small practices that need multiple services will appreciate NextGen Healthcare. Its customer service is better than what you typically find for smaller practices, especially considering this software’s low price point.

If you also need EMR software, NextGen Healthcare’s EMR will mesh well with the brand’s practice management software.

Pros

  • Very good customer service
  • Works nicely for smaller practices
  • Handles all of the basic features that you need in practice management software
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • May not be complex enough for larger practices
  • Report generation features lag behind other options

SimplePractice

• Best for specialty practices
• Wide range of features
• Simple interface
• Strong brand loyalty
Get Started Now

For specialty practices, SimplePractice has features that will help them manage their specific and unique needs versus general practitioners. This is a popular software package among its customers, generating quite a bit of brand loyalty.

It has a competitive price for the small practice, and it has plenty of features to help you stay in contact with patients.

Pros

  • Good management features for patient interactions
  • Simple interface that still lets you get a lot done
  • Has a decent insurance claim generation feature
  • Easy to ignore parts of the software that don’t fit your needs

Cons

  • Extremely basic, so it may not meet the needs of large offices.
  • Customer service responsiveness is below average.

How to Choose The Best Practice Management Software For You

What you’ll quickly learn with practice management software is one product does not fit all clients. With so many choices on the market for helping you manage your medical practice, it’s important to focus in on the features that will help your practice deal with its particular needs.

Calculating Payments

With the billing and patient management information all in one location with practice management software, you have the ability to calculate the out-of-pocket cost for a procedure before it happens. A patient will be able to make smarter financial choices about when and how he or she would like to have a procedure done.

Additionally, when the patient knows exactly what he or she will have to pay out of pocket before coming to the appointment, the medical practice will have a far better chance of being able to collect payment at the time of service, reducing paperwork.

When patients feel as though they have more control over their healthcare decisions and costs, their experience is more satisfying.

Coordination of Scheduling

One of the key components to running a medical practice efficiently is proper scheduling. Double bookings of patients or not having enough nurses in the office introduce hiccups in the office’s workflow.

Medical practice management software keeps the office running smoothly, allowing the proper scheduling that matches the number of planned patients with the personnel required to handle them.

Generating Claims

One of the most frustrating aspects of medical care for patients is the timeliness of billing statements and insurance claims. No patient wants to receive a bill a few months after an appointment because the medical practice failed to anticipate an insurance claim denial, delaying the entire process.

Through practice management software, you can generate reports that show which types of insurance claims often generate rejections on the first attempt, allowing the office to change  how it submits those claims.

You also can generate reports that show any bottlenecks occurring in the processing of patient billing statements, ensuring that patients receive their charges in a timely manner.

Improving Efficiency

Employees at your medical practice often must handle a variety of tasks, especially at a small practice. Your practice management software interface should not be a hindrance to what you’re trying to accomplish. The interface must be easy to understand and use, allowing one employee to handle scheduling or to generate a report on his or her own.

If the software’s features take a long time to learn or add unnecessary steps to performing simple tasks, employees will balk at having to use it.

A complex software package may generate impressive statistics about how your practice is running. But if entering the data takes employees so long that they look for shortcuts or skip entering the data entirely, the data in the generated reports will be worthless.

Self-Managing for Patients

Many practice management software solutions have a patient portal. This system creates a number of benefits, including:

  • Patients may set up and manage their own appointments remotely.
  • New patients can enter personal data before coming to the office, saving time.
  • Existing patients can update insurance provider information or drug lists before an appointment.
  • Patients can choose how they would like to receive appointment reminders, which reduces the number of patient no-shows

This automation reduces the number of phone calls into your practice and shortens the length of those phone calls. This allows front desk personnel to handle other tasks, including focusing attention on face-to-face interactions with patients.

Specialty Needs

If your medical practice handles one or more specialty areas, it’s important that the practice management software can handle that specialty. If the software is too general in nature or doesn’t allow customization, it may not work well for your practice.

Figuring out whether a particular piece of software can handle the specific needs for your specialty areas can be tricky. This is one area where you may want to speak to practices who have a similar situation to yours and who are already using the software you’re considering. The vendor should be able to put you in contact with some of its other customers for questions.

Studying Cash Flow

Ultimately, you want your medical practice to succeed. The right practice management software can help by generating reports that show your cash flow and your level of profitability.

Some software will be able to create more detailed reports than others. A basic system’s reports  will show you which types of appointments or physicians are generating the most revenue.

More complex reporting software may be able to drill down to show you the demographics of your patients, allowing you to generate efficient advertising or helping you figure out what equipment purchases you will need to make in the future to match the needs of the client base as it ages.

System Integration

Many medical practices have other types of software already in use. The practice management software you select needs to be able to mesh smoothly with these other types of software.

For example, if you have an EMR solution already in place, some of the information inside the two systems could overlap. Rather than having employees waste time by entering data into two different systems, the two systems need to share data, so employees only need to enter it once.

Practice management software should be able to share data with software running billing systems, as well as EMR and EHR software. (Because of the occasional overlap, if you are wondering whether you need both EMR/EHR and practice management software solutions, understand that EMR/EHR software contains medical information about patients, while practice management software gears itself toward the clerical operation of the practice.)

Summary: Delivering Efficiency With Best Practice Management Software

When patients visit your medical practice, they want to feel better as quickly as possible. They don’t really care all that much about the day-to-day work that your employees must do behind the scenes to make that happen in an efficient manner.

But you have to care. Making your medical office run efficiently often means having the best practice management software in hand. With the right software, your employees spend less time on mundane office tasks and more time meeting the needs of patients.

Keeping your patients happy and healthy is far easier with the right practice management software, and it will help employees feel happier too.

Quick Sprout

Steps for Writing a Blog and How to Add them to Your Calendar

Last weekend I hung out with some friends who I haven’t seen in a while. Out of the blue, one of my best friends blurted out that he wanted to start blogging. It caught me by surprise. He had never expressed interest in this before. So, I asked what made him want to launch his blog. Here are the steps for writing a blog and how to add them to your calendar.

Blogging can help you grow as a person. It encourages you to learn new things, help others, and strengthen your communication skills.

When asking why my friend wanted to blog, his response impressed me even more. The friend wanted blogging to be a hobby. He explained that he had a lot of things he wanted to say, mainly about sports, and share those thoughts with others. Eventually, if the blog gained a following, he would explore podcasting. But, for the time being, he was going to give writing a shot.

I was proud of my friend here. Sure. He did a little bit of research. But, he understood that blogging isn’t a way to get rich quick. It’s a way to share your thoughts or story. It’s a tried and true method to promote yourself, business, or products. And, it’s an effective way to build a community.

Knowing that I had been writing online for some time, and we rarely get to see each other, my friend decided this was the perfect time to pick my brain. And, I was more than happy to oblige.

So, what did I tell him? Well, here’s a recap if you also want to start your own blog. And, as a bonus, I’m going to throw in some advice on how to create a content calendar.

Misconceptions about Blogging

Let’s get some misconceptions about blogging out of the way first.

For starters, you don’t have to be a skilled writer, to begin with. You don’t even have to publish the “perfect” piece of content either. Does that mean you should pass-off your garbage? Of course not. But, we’re all human and make mistakes — this is especially true if you don’t have a second set of eyes reviewing your work.

When it comes to blogging, the key is to deliver quality content that’s unique and is valuable to others. For example, if you are a mechanic offering advice on how to maintain a vehicle, readers don’t care if there are grammatical errors. They just want straightforward and helpful information.

Another misconception is that blogging is difficult and expensive. You have to put in some effort when it comes to blogging. But, if you’re familiar with your topic, this should come naturally to you. As you go on and develop your own voice, you’ll get more comfortable with content creation. What may be a challenge for you is finding the time to promote your content.

As for the price, blogging is pretty cheap. A lot of people will tell you it’s free. That’s not precisely true unless you’re using Google’s Blogger. If not, you still need to purchase a domain and web hosting — which even should cost you under $ 100.

And, while you may be able to turn a profit turn the road with affiliate marketing or sponsored content, that shouldn’t be your end game. It’s going to take time and effort before you make any real money through your blog.

How to Start Your Own Blog

Are you ready to start blogging? If so, hold your horses. You first need to set up your blog. But don’t sweat it. It should take you under a half-hour to create your blog. And it’s a reasonably uncomplicated process that involves the following steps:

Step 1: Choose a blog name and home.

Sometimes this is obvious. If you’re a freelancer, then your blog name would simply be your name. If you own a business, then it could be the name of, well, your company. Stuck? Think of a name that’s related to your topic. For instance, if you focused primarily on dog training, then the name could be something like EZDogTraining.com.

Whatever name you select, it should be as short and descriptive as possible.

If your desired name is taken, consider adding dashes or small words, like EZ-DogTraining.com. You could also use a different extension like .org. However, if you used a site like Instant Domain Search, you can see if your name is available. If not, the site provides a lengthy list of alternative names.

After settling on your domain, register it through sites like GoDaddy or Bluehost. While there, you can also use these sites as a server host. ICYDN, you need a server to get your blog online.

I’d also suggest installing WordPress. It’s a free and popular website and blog creation tool that’s supported by BlueHost and GoDaddy.

Step 2: Customize your blog.

Regardless if you’re using WordPress or another website builder like Squarespace or Wix, you can customize your blog. Choose pick a theme and tinker with it until it appears how you want it to. That means you can change the colors around, add your logo, or create specific pages.

If you’re using WordPress, here’s a handy beginner’s guide on how to customize your site.

Step 3: Start creating and publishing content.

Now that your blog is ready to go, start creating and publishing your content. I’m going to go into this in more detail in the next section. But, for the time being, have fun with this. Experiment with finding your voice. And, don’t obsess with it being “perfect.” Just be consistent and deliver quality content.

Step 4: Promote your blog.

Unlike “Field of Dreams,” visitors aren’t just going to come because you build a blog. You’re going to need to do some shameless self-promotion. Post your content on your social media accounts. Or, create dedicated accounts that are tied into your blog.

You may also want to try out email marketing or joining online communities or forums. As your blog grows, you could also try your hand at content syndication or guest blogging.

Step 5: Grow as needed.

You need to grow with your blog. That could vary from person-to-person. But, you may have to upgrade your hosting plan, download new tools, or hire other people to write or promote your content. It just depends on your needs and availability.

Writing Blog Posts

Circling back to this, here are some pointers for writing a blog post. I’ll try and keep this section on the shorter side.

Plan your post.

Here’s where most of the work related to blogging takes place. Before creating a piece of content, you need to research your audience and topic. Ideally, this should be something that you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. But, if you need some inspiration, use tools like SEMRush or KeywordTool.io. You could also visit blogs that are related to your site or Quora.

Next, create a list of topics and outline them. I use a Google Doc for this. But, you could also create a spreadsheet using Excel or Sheets. One advantage of this is that you quickly turn this into a content calendar by assigning dates to each topic.

Write a compelling headline.

Your headline should quickly explain what your content is about. Most importantly, it should grab the attention of others. Because of this, your headline can make or break your blog post. So, don’t overlook this step.

Experiment with different headlines and see what sticks by analyzing data like page view or social shares. But, because this is so important, I recommend you give this article from a HubSpot a read to help you generate more compelling headlines.

Write your blog post.

Personally, when I have a topic and a loose outline, I just start writing. I can always go back and clean things up. Additionally, to save time, I try to write a blog post in one session so that I don’t have to keep returning to it.

To help you speed this process along, keep the following in mind:

  • Formatting is crucial. Think about using subheadings, bullet points, and images to break things up. Also, keep sentence and paragraphs short
  • Optimize for SEO. I’m talking about proper Meta Titles and descriptions, keywords, and interlinks.
  • Write in your own unique voice.
  • Include a clear call-to-action.
  • Admit that your post won’t be perfect. Get it over it and do the best you can.

Because this could deserve more time, you may also want to gain even more advice from the good folks over at ProBlogger.

Creating and Sticking to a Content Calendar

Finally, when you have ideas or finished pieces of content, add them to your calendar.

Now, if you’re working solo, this could be a breeze. You could open-up your digital calendar and select the date that you want to publish your content. You could even set a reminder that notifies you to publish that article on an exact date.

Personally, this isn’t a bad method if you are only publishing content a couple of times per week. Maybe that’s because I have a minimalist mindset. And, this technique helps me live a clutter-free life because I’m not relying on too many tools.

Unfortunately, this probably won’t work if you’re publishing daily content or working with others. Instead, I would create a content calendar.

As Abby Miller explains in a previous Calendar article, this is “simply a planner, spreadsheet, or calendar that details the content you’ll be publishing for weeks or months in advance.” Besides giving “you a quick overview of your content schedule, it can also be shared with your team so that they’re aware of deadlines and project details.”

“By creating a content calendar, you’ll be able to plan and maintain a consistent content production schedule, generate new ideas, and encourage teamwork,” adds Abby. “Additionally, a content calendar encourages accountability, use a variety of formats, and see which type of content resonates most with your target audience.”

Best of all? Developing a content calendar can be achieved in just five simple steps, some of which you may have already done:

  • Brainstorm content ideas. These should be topics that answer your audience’s questions, matches your persona, or establishes you as an expert.
  • Determine your publication channels and frequency. Since we’re focusing on blogging, you should do this daily. But, if that’s not possible, focus on quality over quantity.
  • Use a spreadsheet to map everything out. Your spreadsheet should include publication date, author, title, description, publication channels, goals, and keywords. Don’t forget to include the status as well, such as draft, complete, or published.
  • Define the workflow. Develop a content strategy that is comprised of goals and guidelines. If working with others, share this information with them. And don’t forget to assign the right tasks to the right people.
  • Schedule, publish, promote, track, and tweak your content. Set realistic time frames and review data like visits and engagement. It’s the only way to see what resonated with your audience and what didn’t.

The longer you blog, the easier it will be to add titles to your calendar. For example, you may opt to assign a theme to each month as you notice what your audience is looking for. Let’s say in the summer; visitors want advice on how to keep their business operating while on vacation. During those months, your content would guide how to achieve this.

Additionally, as you create more content, you can repurpose it. For instance, a popular blog post from two years ago contains outdated facts and research. You could update it by including the new information, but the meat and potatoes of the best remain intact.

Steps for Writing a Blog and How to Add them to Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by Howie Jones.

The post Steps for Writing a Blog and How to Add them to Your Calendar appeared first on KillerStartups.

KillerStartups

4 Types of Interim Financing While You Wait for SBA Assistance

Congress has passed the CARES Act, which includes more than $ 367 billion in loans for small business owners through Small Business Administration lending programs. These loans come in the form of:


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

There are many good reasons to apply for these loans, including low rates, deferred payments, and even a loan forgiveness option/grant for businesses that qualify. As far as small business loans go, SBA loans are often considered among the best.

But while there is an effort to get funding from these loans into the hands of business owners as quickly as possible, that won’t be easy. SBA loans have not traditionally been known as a fast source of financing. And there’s never been an immediate and overwhelming nationwide demand for these loans as we are seeing right now.

While you wait for an answer on these loans, you may be wondering what sources of financing are available in the meantime. Here are four to consider:

Credit cards

No one wants to carry a balance on their credit cards, and it’s certainly not ideal. But you probably already have a few of them, and they may fill in as a short-term financing gap while you wait for other funding.

Check your interest rate on each card before you use it and consider a 0 percent credit card or balance transfer to keep costs to a minimum. Note that all credit cards (including small business cards) require a personal guarantee, so if your business can’t repay the debt, the issuer will look to you for payment.


Related: Resources for Small Business Aid Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis

Invoice factoring

If you have outstanding invoices from customers that are considered good credit risks, invoice factoring will allow you to get paid more quickly. If approved, the factoring company will advance you a portion of the invoice up front and the rest when the invoice is paid, minus their fees.

There may be a soft credit check involved, but these firms are usually more interested in the credit of the company that owes the invoice, making these a more flexible form of financing for those with less than perfect credit.

Online loans

While lender programs and requirements are changing rapidly, there are still a number of online lenders making financing available quickly to customers — often in a matter of hours or days. These are usually short-term loans and some have high costs, so make sure you apply through a reputable and secure site. And, you will likely be asked to link your bank account so revenues can be verified, so make sure to have all of that information handy.

Crowdfunding

If your business has established loyal customers or fans, crowdfunding may be one way to let them support you during this crisis. Here are four types of crowdfunding to consider:

  • Reward-based: Through sites like Kickstarter, you can offer a reward, which could be something backers get soon or at a later date.
  • Donation-based: Use a platform like GoFundMe to solicit donations. There are many individuals who want to continue to support small businesses, and this is one way they can do that.
  • Loan-based: Use a microlending platform like Kiva to get a 0 percent loan of up to $ 15,000. There is a six month grace period on payments for loans under their newly expanded program for U.S.-based small businesses.
  • Equity-based crowdfunding: These platforms allow you to find investors for your business. Wefunder, for example, has launched a revenue share agreement that allows you to raise between $ 20,000 and $ 1 million with payments deferred until 2021. Investors can fund as little as $ 100, and they can include your customers as well as the 400,000 plus Wefunder investors. Repayment is based on a share of future revenues.

Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

As you look for interim funding, be careful to avoid scammers who are trying to prey on coronavirus victims. Beware of websites that say you are automatically eligible for financing and then tell you to pay an upfront fee (usually by wire transfer or a prepaid card) before you get the loan. They are looking for desperate borrowers who let their guard down.

Be careful, and stick to reputable lenders with secure websites.

The post 4 Types of Interim Financing While You Wait for SBA Assistance appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation