Words that Make an Impact on Blog Traffic

Blog words

Using certain impactful or ‘power’ words in your blog posts is known to attract more traffic than generic, bland alternatives. This is particularly so in the case of the title, which needs to immediately grab the attention of the reader and make them want to find out more.

It is said that our average attention span is now eight seconds, and assuming that we read one word per second, it’s clear that our blog post titles need to be pretty darn compelling.

Try these power words in your titles and blog posts, and see if they make a difference to visitor numbers:

  • You
  • Because
  • Best
  • Free
  • Tips
  • How to
  • Why
  • Surprising
  • Top
  • Urgent
  • Alert
  • New
  • Secrets
  • Latest

What’s the Best Time of Day to Publish Your Blog Posts?

Blogging

Research by Hubspot’s Dan Zarrella has shown that early to mid-morning is the best time of day to blog. This makes sense when you think about the number of people who read blogs like a morning newspaper – over breakfast or a mid-morning coffee.

Eighty percent of respondents said they read blogs in the morning, with numbers steadily declining throughout the rest of the day. So if you only publish once a day, make sure it’s in the morning to achieve the best results. You can even schedule posts for the early hours if you like.

Check your figures

To delve more into the detail, try posting at the same time of the morning for a few days, and then a different time for another few days, and so on. At the end of the month you’ll get a good idea of the best time to post by analysing your viewing figures.

Are late payers the final straw for struggling small businesses?

late paymentsHow can small business owners take control of their cash flow when the average time taken to pay their invoices is reported to be 38 days?

‘The cheque’s in the post’ used to be the standard delaying tactic for not paying an invoice, but according to BACS, the most frequently heard excuses now are that the payment is ‘awaiting authorisation’ or that it’s being ‘processed by accounts.’

It is believed that large companies are the worst offenders for delaying payment, with the retail and distribution sector suffering the most at the hands of late payers.

So what options are open to beleaguered and stressed small business owners to overcome the problem of slow payers?

  • Automated payments

Automated payments save time and money in administration and invoicing costs, and can allow for overdue amounts to be broken down over a period of time so that full payment is at least more likely, if not definite

  • The Prompt Payment Code

Make your late payers aware of the Prompt Payment Code, an initiative championed by major business organisations including the Confederation of British Industry, and sponsored by some of the major UK banks.

Stressing the importance of prompt supplier payment within agreed timescales, the Code promotes best practice, not just in terms of payment, but also in procedures for dealing with any problems or issues surrounding specific invoices.

In January, the Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon, published a list of all FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies who had failed to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code in an attempt to ‘name and shame’ them into taking action.

The Prompt Payment Code website states,

“Independent analysis by Experian suggests that current signatories to the Code represent over 60% of total UK supply chain value, so the Code is making a difference.”

So it looks like small business owners are finally getting the support they need to keep their cash flow more reliable, and their heads above water. Let’s hope it does make a difference before it’s too late.

How taking out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement might financially affect your partner

Individual Voluntary Arrangement

 

Taking out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement won’t directly affect your partner financially, as they’re not expected to contribute towards repayments, but it can affect them indirectly in several ways.

 

Disposable income

Your partner will be expected to pay a fair proportion of household living expenses, which is calculated relative to their income. For example, if their salary constitutes 40% of the total household income, they’ll be expected to contribute this percentage towards general expenses such as food and utilities. This is done to prevent people declaring that they alone pay all living expenses, which would reduce the figure available for repayments under the IVA.

Credit reports

If you hold joint accounts or have joint liabilities with your partner, taking out an IVA could have an effect on their credit rating. A note will be placed on your credit file when you take out the IVA, and it remains there for six years.

Should your partner request a loan or new credit, lenders might be reluctant to lend to them based on the fact that you are financially linked. The electoral roll is used to confirm your partner’s identity and will show that they are financially linked to someone with an IVA.

Equity in property

One of the terms of the IVA might be that you have to put forward some equity in your property as part of the repayment schedule. If the property is jointly owned your partner’s equity isn’t affected directly, but the overall amount available for you both to borrow against the property is reduced.

The majority of couples are linked financially in some way, whether by a joint mortgage or simply a joint bank account, but your partner can’t be held directly responsible for your debts.

Personal financial records: what information do we need to keep?

Financial paperworkFinancial paperwork is needed for so many things in life, and keeping records organised and easily accessible makes more sense than scrabbling around looking for official bits of paper when you need them in a hurry.

 

What personal financial information are you most likely to need?

Income from employment

If you’re in employment the most important documents are your wage slips and P60, which is a summary of salary, tax and National Insurance for the financial year. If you intend to borrow money the lender will ask for several recent wage slips as proof of earnings, and without this proof it’ll take longer to obtain the loan.

Employee benefits like running a company car require various pieces of supporting information, such as business mileage and the cost of any car repairs. Find out which receipts you need to keep to complete form P11D (summary of all employer-related expenses and benefits) at the end of the tax year. Financial paperwork

Money going out

After submitting a tax return, HMRC may ask to see proof of the expenses claimed, so having an organised file of tax-related documents and receipts will make the whole process easier.

Insurance documents

From house contents to mobile phone insurance, it’s hoped that you will never need these documents but if the worst does happen, having them to hand will speed up the claims process.

Warranties and guarantees

If the washing machine or fridge freezer stops working you’ll be glad you know where the warranty is, and if they’re all in one place you can shred the old ones as they expire.

It’s a good idea to buy a concertina file for all financial paperwork so that everything’s clearly labelled and in one place.

Business insolvency

5 signs that business insolvency might be just around the corner

Insolvency isn’t something that happens out of the blue – there are clear signs that indicate cash flow problems within a company, and what most people regard as a ‘successful’ business can go under very quickly, even if sales are up and profits are good.

So what are some indications that business might not be quite what it seems?

1.    Late payment of supplier invoices

If using delaying tactics to extend periods of credit has become standard practice, then it might be time to seek the guidance and advice of an insolvency practitioner. Disputing supplier invoices or writing post-dated cheques suggest that cash flow is a real problem. Suppliers will become reluctant to extend credit if they’re having to send final demands on a regular basis, and may even place a stop on the account.

2.    Using too many suppliers to obtain credit

Using many different suppliers in order to be granted larger amounts of credit overall might disguise the problem for a little while by spreading the load, but will make no difference in the end.

3.    Not knowing how much is owed to the business

Often due to poor internal procedures and systems, this is one of the easiest problems to rectify. Efficient credit control procedures can be implemented quickly, making a huge difference to the flow of cash through a business. The number of days a debtor takes to pay is a key figure that needs to be monitored closely, with strict follow-up procedures in place to make sure no-one falls through the net.

4.    Not limiting the amount of credit given to new and existing customers

The company has to balance the risk of their customers looking elsewhere if their demands for credit aren’t met, with the cost of potential bad debts. It’s a fine line between the two, but carrying out formal credit checks can help to get a picture of how solvent they are.

5.    Relying on just one or two large customer accounts

If the company is reliant on just a couple of large customer accounts the business will be exposed to their financial difficulties. Spreading the risk by having different income streams or several smaller customers reduces the impact of one customer failing.

Insolvency doesn’t just happen overnight and can be avoided if warning signs are noticed. Professional insolvency practitioners offer valuable preventative advice and support to a business that’s struggling to stay afloat, and can make the difference between success and failure.

Increase productivity

How can invoice factoring encourage growth and help an ailing company?

Factoring companies generally take over the credit control function of a business, and are responsible for collecting outstanding payments. Usually within 24 hours of an invoice being issued the factoring company pays a percentage of the invoice, often around 85 per cent, to their client.

For companies on the verge of insolvency this immediate injection of cash, in addition to a reduction in administrative costs, can make a huge difference to financial stability. The cost of chasing debts can be high in terms of time and staff wages, and having this burden removed can breathe new life into a flagging business.

The factor pays the balance of an invoice (minus fees and interest charged on the loan) to their client on collection, and controlling the debt-collection process like this enables factoring companies to lend a higher percentage of the value of invoices than banks.

Attract new business with invoice factoring

Using the services of a factoring company means that businesses are able to attract new clients who are looking for credit terms, without having the problem of waiting thirty days or more for payment. Knowing that most of the money will be available straight away facilitates growth and helps to drive the business forward.

One disadvantage of adopting this system is that customers may be unhappy with the involvement of a third party in chasing debts. Also, it might be difficult to end a factoring arrangement as the business would need to buy back the value of the sales ledger, which could cause new cash flow problems.

On balance though, anything that improves the flow of cash through a business that’s struggling shouldn’t be overlooked as an option, and might just be the lifeline needed to survive.

Can you really pay off your overdraft in four steps?

overdraft debtIf you’ve been offered an overdraft facility by your bank, you’ll probably feel grateful for the extra financial breathing space it can offer, but there are drawbacks. Overdraft facilities can be cancelled by your bank at short notice, leaving you with the entire amount to pay off in one go or face huge interest charges. So if your overdraft’s become unmanageable, just how do you pay if off for good?

Step 1: Prepare a budget

You need to know exactly how much is going in and out of your current account each month, and without preparing a formal budget it’s difficult to analyse spending. Take firm control over your finances by preparing a detailed account of all incomings and outgoings.

Step 2: Open a second current account

Start afresh with an additional current account with no overdraft facility. Make sure your salary is paid into the new account, and have all standing orders and direct debits moved over. The idea is to recreate your old account, but without the borrowing.

Step 3: Set up a standing order to pay off your overdraft

Check that no standing orders or direct debits will come out of the original account, including annual payments which can easily be overlooked. Now that you’ve got a detailed picture of what you spend each month, set up a monthly standing order to pay a fixed amount off your overdraft.

Even if it’s only a small amount it will steadily reduce the debt and you’ll be able to see exactly how much you owe at any one time. The amount will be isolated in your original account with no other transactions going through.

Step 4: Close the account and save

Once your overdraft’s been paid off, redirecting your standing order into a savings account will give you money for emergencies or as a ‘nest-egg’ for the future. Close the account with the overdraft facility to avoid temptation!

Self sufficiency

If self-sufficiency is your dream, what’s the reality like?

The fallout from the credit crunch has forced many people to consider some form of self-sufficiency as a route to saving money. Solutions such as growing your own fruit and vegetables and collecting rainwater to beat the hosepipe bans and water your crops, are simple ways to reduce food bills.

But what if you’re thinking big and want to take self-sufficiency a step further?

This might involve altering your house in some way or keeping livestock if space allows. So is a ‘house with no bills’ a possibility?

Well, a ‘house with fewer bills’ certainly is.

Although it may take some time to enjoy the benefits of lower utility bills, installing solar panels can be a huge long-term money-saver at a time when oil, gas and electricity costs are literally ‘going through the roof.’

If outside space isn’t an issue, your home could be converted to incorporate such additions as a mini wind turbine to generate your own power, rainwater harvesting and filtering systems, and under-floor heating using a ground source heat pump.

Even though you’ll probably need to use power from the National Grid on occasion, the difference in heating bills will be significant if you can afford to pay the initial installation costs.

Putting food on the table

Living a self-sufficient lifestyle, although simpler in some respects, is definitely not without worry. Caring for livestock and relying on the weather for some of your food is not for the feint-hearted, but many people do live this way and enjoy the type of freedom it gives them.

Once systems such as rainwater harvesting are in place, everything ‘joins up’ in that you know that your crops can be watered, and the land irrigated if necessary. It does take a great deal of pre-planning to become truly self-sufficient, but those who achieve it are free from the exorbitant costs of running a house that the rest of us are forced to suffer.

Why You Should Keep An Eagle Eye On Your Credit File

credit file

Three main credit reference agencies in the UK, Experian, Equifax & Callcredit, help lenders to assess an individual’s creditworthiness.

Information from one or more of these agencies is used before granting credit, in addition to personal details from the application form.

Your credit file is a reflection of your historical and current use of credit, and it’s advisable to check that it’s accurate every few months to improve the chances of being accepted for borrowing of any kind. Checking your credit file regularly will enable you to:

Correct any mistakes on your credit file

Errors can sometimes appear on a credit file, and if left unchallenged, can have an adverse effect on your credit score. Ask the credit reference agency to mark the entry as disputed, so that any lender will see that certain information is being queried, and may make allowances.

Reduce the chance of identity theft

Fraudsters can use your personal information to obtain credit cards, loans, and open bank accounts, so scrutinising your credit file every 2 or 3 months to see which financial institutions have requested information, will help to combat this.

Obtain a lower interest rate

People who have a low credit score may be charged higher interest rates on loans and overdrafts. Credit providers look favourably on consumers who have built up a healthy credit history by making repayments in full and on time, and they tailor their interest rate offers accordingly. By checking your credit file regularly, you can see how previous borrowing is impacting on your current chances of obtaining credit.

By keeping an eye on your credit file every two or three months, you stand a better chance of obtaining new credit, or loans at beneficial rates.