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The Constant Thorn in SunPower’s Side


When SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) reported fourth-quarter 2019 earnings last week it seemed like the company’s performance was as good or better than what investors expected. Revenue rose from $525.4 million a year ago to $607.0 million, and gross margin improved from 6.9% to 20.8%, an impressive turnaround for the business.

But most of the improvement SunPower saw in the quarter was in its manufacturing business, which is being spun off as Maxeon Solar Technologies later this year. The residential and commercial business was far less impressive, with a gross margin of just 13.7%, and there’s a big reason for that. Commercial solar continues to be a huge disappointment for SunPower.

Large commercial rooftop solar installation.

Image source: SunPower.

Commercial solar disappoints

SunPower has the #1 market share position in commercial solar, and you might think would be a good thing — but the company can’t seem to make money in commercial solar. In the fourth quarter, commercial solar sales were $98.8 million, and gross margin was just 4.5%. This is following quarters of -2.5%, 7.8%, and 2.5% gross margins to start the year.

The fact is that commercial solar is still not profitable, and even with an announced restructuring to reduce fixed costs and put more installation onus on third parties, it’s only expected to generate $5 million of EBITDA in 2020. For a business that generated $284.2 million in revenue last year, that’s an extremely low EBITDA margin.

Delays related to permitting and interconnections were blamed for the poor performance last quarter, but this is a theme for SunPower. The company has built a huge business in commercial solar, and can’t seem to make it profitable. And investors are starting to think that it never will be. 

Residential solar is the rock star

As commercial solar struggles, residential solar continues to perform well and is driving financial improvement. After reporting an impressive 18.2% gross margin in the fourth quarter on 132 megawatts (MW) installed, the company expects to install 430 MW to 480 MW in 2020, with margins moving closer to a long-term goal of 25%. 

SunPower is leveraging industry-leading technology and a dealer model that allows it to grow scale without hiring a large crew of installers. And after the Maxeon spinoff, the company will be able to focus on this model more closely, providing the technology installers need. 

Can SunPower turn commercial solar around? 

There’s a blueprint for SunPower’s commercial business that comes from its residential business. The company can use third party installers to actually put solar panels on roofs, while working on technology and lead generation in-house. 

Management is focusing its attention on making some of these changes, but it’ll take most of 2020 to change the business strategy. Investors should be cautious about buying into the commercial solar recovery that’s being promised in late 2020, but even with a weak commercial solar business the “New SunPower” is expecting to have $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion of sales, gross margin of 14% to 17%, and a growth rate of 10% to 20%, so the overall business should be doing well. Long-term, that should lead to a profitable business, and if commercial solar turns around this could be a hit renewable energy stock for investors



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7 Phone Interview Tips For Remote Job Seekers : Career Coach Advice


Phone interview tips are a must know for the remote job seeker. After all, the position you’re interviewing for is a remote one. It only makes sense the hiring process is done remotely too.

An all virtual hiring process is a great way for the hiring manager to gauge whether or not you present well remotely. That’s where phone interviews come into play. No pressure, right?

Don’t worry. Even though you won’t get a chance to meet your interviewer in person, shake hands and make a great first impression, you can still stand out with these phone interview tips for remote job seekers.

1. Do Your Company Homework

Congrats! Your resume and LinkedIn profile were optimized and you actually got a call back. Now, a remote friendly wants to interview you. It’s exciting and nerve-racking all at once.

One of the best ways to nail your phone interview is to do a little homework beforehand. First up, research the company you’re interviewing with.

You should understand what the company does, the customers it serves, and its overall mission, values, and goals. Typically, you can find all of this information on a company’s website.

Let’s look at remote-friendly company Buffer, for example.

If you scroll to the bottom of their homepage, there’s an entire “Company” section in the footer:

Phone interview tips for remote job seekers: Learn about the company you're interviewing with.
About Us, press, and careers pages are filled with useful interview info

When you explore the “About Us” page, you will notice Buffer is quick to share its company values:

Understand a company’s values before you interview with them

This is valuable information you need to read up on BEFORE you interview. As you read up on the company and learn more about its mission, take notes. You can use these during your phone interview.

If you can’t find much information about the company on its website. Don’t panic. Head on over to LinkedIn. Chances are they have a company profile there where you can find tons of valuable information.

Remember, an interviewer’s job is to eliminate you as a candidate. Get ahead of the game and present yourself as an ideal fit for the company’s values and cultures.

2. Set The Scene

One of the surprising phone interview tips you might not think of is preparing your space before you interview.

Even though the person interviewing you won’t see where you’re interviewing from, that doesn’t mean you should conduct a phone interview from just anywhere.

Instead, pick a quiet area that is free of distractions. Your home office is a good place. Public spaces or anywhere with lots of background noise is a definite no.

Additionally, make sure the place you pick has amazing cell phone reception. If you’re like most people, you don’t have a landline. That means you’ll rely on your cell phone to help you get a job.

There’s nothing worse than having a call cut out or be interrupted with static. This will frustrate you and your interviewer and can quickly turn a great interview into a disaster.

3. Know Who’s Calling You

There’s nothing more awkward than having a phone call with a complete stranger. That’s why you need to know who is interviewing you before you hop on a call with them.

When you schedule the interview, you’ll be given a name. Head on over to LinkedIn to scope this person out. Your objective is to find out what their role is within the company. Chances are, this person will be a recruiter or HR person. They will not be your supervisor, manager or boss.

If this is the case, you can expect a pretty basic interview. That is, they will gather general information about you to determine whether or not you have the skills and experience to fill the position.

4. Re-Read The Job Description

If you’ve launched a full on career campaign as a remote job seeker, you’ve probably applied to quite a few jobs over the weeks. You may only vaguely remember the position you’re interviewing for. And that’s okay. But don’t just leave it at that. Instead, head back to the job listing and re-read it.

Now you’ll have a refreshed idea of the job and its responsibilities. That way you can better position yourself as a good fit for the role during the phone interview. It’s also a good idea to have your remote resume available during the call. You can reference it throughout the conversation or when answering questions.

This is why it’s important to organize your job search! When you’re organized, you can quickly find jobs you’ve applied to at specific companies. All that information comes in handy when it comes time to interview.

5. Prepare Answers In Advance

Now, you won’t know which questions the interviewer is going to ask you. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare some answers ahead of time.

This is important because it can help quell any nerves you have about the phone interview and helps you avoid any long pauses or dreaded uhs and ums.

Some common phone interview questions you might get include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are you looking for in your next role?
  • How did you find this position?
  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • What is your greatest strength? Weakness?

As a Certified Professional Career Coach, my best advice for answering these questions (or any questions during interviews) is be genuine.

Recruiters and hiring managers are smart. They’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates before you. They know the “common answers to interview questions” that are readily available on Google. And they simply don’t want to hear them.

So, stand out and provide a fresh answer that is anything but cookie cutter.

6. Slow Down & Stand Up

It’s human nature to speak quickly when we’re nervous. But this can spell disaster during a phone interview. Remember, your interviewer cannot look you in the eyes or read any other visual cues while you’re speaking. What you say and how you say it are the only impressions they’ll get.

So, slow down. Think about what you’re going to say and keep a steady pace. Doing so will project confidence and make the conversation flow much easier than if you sound anxious or hurried.

And one of my favorite phone interview tips that I always tell my clients: Stand up!

There’s a reason opera singers and performers stand up on stage. Voices carry and project much clearer when we stand. Give your voice (and self) a confidence boost just by standing up.

7. Follow Up During & After The Interview

Before the phone interview wraps up, be sure to ask some questions of your own. Remember, you’re interviewing them too. You want to find a remote job that fits your ideals, not just any ol’ job. Your questions don’t have to be super in-depth. Again, your first phone interview is likely a preliminary one. Now’s your chance to ask the recruiter what to expect moving forward and what the hiring process looks like.

Also, ask your interviewer if they have any more questions for you. The last thing you may want is to answer any more questions than you have to. But, asking this simple question makes you stand out as very few interviewees ask. Plus, it makes you seem engaged in the process and genuinely interested in the position.

And, don’t forget to follow up after the interview is over. You absolutely should write a thank you email to your interviewer. It doesn’t have to be long or over the top. A simple thank you for taking the time to speak to you goes a long way. It demonstrates good manners and your written communication skills — which is super important as a remote job seeker.

Phone Interview Tips For Remote Job Seekers

Phone interview tips are absolutely necessary for the remote job seeker. Remember, you won’t get a chance to meet in person for a remote position. That means you’ll be doing a TON of phone interviews as you work to kick your cubicle to the curb.

A little planning and preparation before the phone call can help you stand out as a candidate and eliminate any nerves you may have. Plus, it helps the interviewer see that you’ve come to the phone prepared.

If you need help practicing phone interview tips, send me an SOS. As a Certified Professional Career Coach I can help you ace your phone interviews so you move onto the next round.

You’ve got this!

Happily,

Ashlee Anderson, CPCC

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Top 13 Ways To Make Money Playing Video Games Online


How To Make Money Playing Video Games Online (1)

Playing video games has been one of the most exciting ways to relax, blow off some steam or kill time. What if playing video games was your full time job? If that sounds too good to be true, it’s not. In this article we’ll reveal How To Make Money Playing Video Games Online.

How Much Can I Make Playing Video Games?

Depending on your talent, the game platform and other factors, an average professional gamer on the internet makes anywhere between $10,000-$100,000 annually. 

But the most successful gamers can make millions in ad revenue, sponsorship deals and winning tournaments. 

You can even make a full time income writing about gaming. If you’re interested in that then check out My Best Work At Home Recommendation

6 Ways To Make Money Playing Video Games

If you own a video game console or even a gaming computer, you can earn a living doing one or more of the following:

Becoming a Video Game Tester

This is perhaps the dream job for any gamer. Video game companies pay experienced and professional gamers to test new games before releasing the market-ready versions. 

As exciting as this job may sound, it’s not all that you think it is. Video Game Testers say 90% of the time your job will be finding bugs, writing reports, answering Q&As and so on. 

So although you are getting paid to play games, the reporting part drains the fun out of it for many gamers. 

Start a YouTube Channel

Vlogging is no new way of making money on the internet. So setting up a YouTube channel around video games makes “cents”, literally. There are tons of angles you can take to convert your video game skills into money on YouTube. 

You can review games, record tutorials, go live and so on. Once you have a large enough audience, YouTube allows you to monetize your channel videos with ads. However, starting a YouTube channel around gaming doesn’t come cheap. 

According to successful gaming YouTubers, launching a gaming channel from scratch can cost you upwards of $1,000 as the equipment don’t come cheap. But your return on investment can be quite worth it if you’re really good at what you do. Your biggest hurdle may be to convince your education-oriented folks to fund your new-found career playing video games!

You can start by letting them know that there are gamers making seven figures annually on YouTube. But as you know, how much you make on the Tube depends on viewership, ad revenue and bagging sponsorship deals.

Streaming on Twitch

Video game streaming service Twitch allows users to watch gamers play video games. As a broadcaster you have two ways to earn; either as a Twitch partner earning from video views or receiving donations. 

Twitch’s CPM varies from $2-$10 per 1000 views. You can also earn from sponsorships and subscriptions just like YouTubers. On average, most Twitch partners earn anywhere between $5,000-$50,000 annually. But the top 10 Twitch broadcasters earn a combined $20 million per year. That’s a pretty fat paycheck pressing buttons given your overhead is rent and the electric bill at the end of the month!

However to monetize your Twitch account you’ll need to have at least 500 minutes of broadcast time in the last 30 days, 7 of which have to be unique broadcasts, an average of 3 repeat viewers over 30 days and at least 50 followers. 

Farming Items for Gold

You can also make money by earning virtual currency and items on games and then selling it to other games. A typical way to farm items for gold involves playing a game like World of Warcraft or Counter Strike, earning coins, gold or whatever currency the game rewards you with and then selling your earnings at a store like Stream

But earning rewards that convert to a decent sum takes time, effort and skill. You definitely won’t retire early farming items for gold, but it’s another popular way to make a little money on the side playing games. 

Writing Game Guides and Walkthroughs

This is basically involves creating a text-based version of video tutorials. You’ll need to know the game inside-out though as inaccurate information can lead to pretty brutal feedback. Reputable game guide developers sell eBooks, tutorials and walkthroughs on their social pages, blogs and even YouTube.

But remember, to make real money doing this you’ll need to be an authority figure, and learn how to market the content. You can create a blog around this on your way to making six figures annually. You can go here and learn how to create and market an authority website from scratch using the Wealthy Affiliate and Authority Hacker Site System.

Join eSports Tournaments

If you’re looking to put your gaming skills to the test, you can join an eSports tournament in the hope of winning the prize money. Giant gaming developers like EA Sports, Konami, NBA 2K and Riot Games have over the years been creating digital versions of real sports like soccer, Football, Baseball and so on, giving way to creation of tournament around these games, both online and offline. League of Legends is one of the most popular eSports tournaments 

The most lucrative eSports tournament is the FIFA eWorldcup soccer tournament that’s basically the digital version of the FIFA World Cup. The winner takes home well over $3 million and several more millions in sponsorship deals. Besides that you will definitely find a gaming tournament studio in your area. 

You can also game online or offline for money. So if you know a game inside-out, you can walk into a tournament studio or competitive gaming website and either gun for the prize money or gamble with like-minded gamers.

Top 7 Companies that pay you to play video games online

Previously we discussed how to make money with game consoles. But there are many websites willing to pay you to play games online. All you need is a computer and stable internet. These include:

Swagbucks – Besides playing games, you can also make money doing other things such as visiting websites, reading emails, watching videos and more at SwagBucks. Joining is totally free and it’s available internationally. You even get a $5 sign up bonus immediately you join. You can read my full SwagBucks Review here. 

Inboxdollars – Similar to SwagBucks, InboxDollars also allows you to play games and make money while at it. You can additionally earn more money doing simple tasks like watching videos, answering surveys, reading emails and more. Joining is free and you get a $5 sign up bonus as well and it’s available internationally. You can find out more about the company here in my full InboxDollars Review here. 

Pointclub– Pointclub is well known for surveys, but you can also make money playing video games, watching videos and more. But you’ll need to be at least 13 years of age and live in the US to join. You also get $5 upon signing up. You can read my full Pointclub Review here. 

Bingo Mania – Bingo Mania is a long-standing website that pays you to play Bingo. You start by earning $1 and the money keep on increasing until the final winner is declared. The site offers bingo games exclusively. You can go here to sign up if you live in the US or UK and are over 18 years of age. You can go here to sign up. Keep in mind you need to place a wager to make real money playing Bingo games. The highest jackpot winner pocketed $8,000 recently. 

Pogo – Pogo also allows you to make money playing a variety of online games. However, you’ll first need to view ads for the first five days as a new member. You can then start collecting tokens that you’ll use to play games and earn money while at it. There’s a daily draw of $10,000 and you can earn as much based on your ability to collect tokens viewing ads. You can go here to sign up. 

Paid Game Player – There are over 600 games at Paid Game Player, all free to download and play. These games include slots, arcade games, online casinos, puzzles and more. It’s available worldwide but you’ll need to be at least 18 to play. You can sign up here

GSN Cash Games – You’ll be given an initial 12,500 tokens upon signing up at GSN to use to play casino games and other video games. If you win a game you’ll earn “Oodles” that you can later convert to cash. Joining is free and you can do so from anywhere in the world. Best part is, you’re given the chance to try a game before entering a competition. They’ll also recommend games that match your skills, giving you a better chance of winning. You can go here to join

Can you really make money playing video games? 

Not only can you make real money playing video games. Depending on how you do it, you may even land sponsorship deals and become a celebrity gamer earning a living doing what you love. 

There has never been a better time to get into the professional gaming industry. The earlier you get in the game, the better, since the industry is ever-changing.

If you’re interested in creating a blog or website around gaming, you can get started with My Best Work At Home Recommendation and learn how. 

Well I hope you found this article useful. Have you ever made money playing games? Does this article help you? Feel free to chime in within the comments section below!

Until next time,

Eddy with a Y

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The Best Small Business Lenders of 2020


I personally hate debt. Both in business and my personal life.

That said, there’s a time and a place for it. Whether it’s for startup costs, equipment, expansion, refinancing, or just some help covering operating expenses, a loan at the right time can make all the difference.

But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places to get a small business loan. The options are overwhelming.

If your business needs money at favorable lending terms, I’ll show you the best small business loans, the different types of small business loans, and how to find the best lender for your needs.

The 10 Best Small Business Lenders

Most small business owners start their loan search at a bank. But according to Forbes, just 27.3% of small business loan applications are approved at large banks.

This is a new record high approval rate, but it’s just barely above one in four odds. I don’t like those chances. That’s why you won’t find any big banks on my list.

These ten small business lenders below are the first places I’d look if I needed a loan today.

BlueVine

BlueVine offers business loans from $5,000 to $5 million, with rates as low as 4.8%. You can get approved in just five minutes by applying online.

This lender has three different funding solutions based on the specific needs of your business:

  • Line of Credit — Borrow up to $250,000 on a revolving line and only pay for what you use. No prepayment penalties.
  • Term Loan — Lump sum of cash up to $250,000. Pay a fixed weekly rate with no origination fees.
  • Invoice Factoring — Use unpaid invoices to get a credit line up to $5 million. No long-term contracts and only fund the invoices you select.

BlueVine has helped more than 15,000 customers secure over $2 billion in funding. They have an outstanding reputation and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Kabbage

Over 200,000 small business owners trust Kabbage for their lending needs. This is one of the most popular loan solutions on the market today.

With that said, Kabbage is not for startups. There are two main requirements before you can consider applying for a loan:

  • Your business must be operating for at least one year.
  • The revenue of your business must be $4,200 per month or $50,000 per year.

Assuming you meet these qualifications, you’ll give Kabbage read-only access to your bank account so they can review the performance of your business.

Once approved, funds are available immediately. You can withdraw funds from your line of credit from any device at any time.

Kabbage offers up to $250,000 at 6, 12, or 18-month loan terms. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. You won’t be charged anything for getting approved. Only pay when you withdraw from your line of credit.

Lendio

Lendio is a bit different from some of the other options on our list. It’s a loan marketplace, so you aren’t borrowing directly from them.

There are more than 75 lenders in the Lendio network, including Chase, American Express, Kabbage, and some of the other lenders in this guide.

Just take 15 minutes to fill out an application online, and Lendio will automatically match your business with potential lenders for your needs. They’ll show you the list of loans that your company qualifies for and give you access to cash as fast as 24 hours after approval.

Since Lendio works with so many different lenders, the platform offers a wide range of small business loans:

  • Business line of credit
  • Equipment financing
  • Commercial mortgage
  • Term loans
  • Startup loans
  • Small business credit cards

Lendio has funded 73,000+ loans totaling over $1.4 billion.

Fundbox

Fundbox offers lines of credit to small business owners. To apply, simply connect Fundbox to your bank account or accounting software.

Their algorithm will give you a credit decision in just a few minutes. If approved, you’ll be able to transfer funds into your account as soon as the next business day.

One potential drawback of using Fundbox is the loan must be paid back in 12 or 24 weeks, depending on the terms you choose. So it’s not ideal if you want to borrow a lump sum and pay it back for over the next two years.

Fundbox will automatically debit weekly payments from your account, so you won’t have to worry about paying the loan back manually or forgetting to write a check.

Another interesting service offered by this lender is the ability to extend credit to your customers. If you’re a merchant that sells high-ticket items and want to give your customers the ability to buy now and pay later, Fundbox can get you paid upfront and they’ll assume responsibility for collections. You’ll just have to pay a merchant fee depending on the lending terms.

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is one of the largest and most well-established small business lenders. They’ve loaned $10.9 billion to 77,000+ business owners across the globe.

Small business owners can borrow between $25,000 and $500,000 with Funding Circle at rates as low as 4.99%. Choose repayment terms between six months and five years.

Unlike other lenders on our list, Funding Circle does charge a one-time origination fee, which costs between 3.49% and 6.99% of the loan amount. But this is really the only drawback of getting a loan from this lender, and it’s common practice for larger loans.

Fortunately, you won’t incur any prepayment penalties if you decide to repay the loan early.

I’d recommend Funding Circle for the following types of loan purposes:

  • Equipment financing
  • Purchase order financing
  • Inventory financing
  • Business expansion

It takes just six minutes to apply for a small business loan online. Once approved, you can have access to funding in as little as three business days.

Kiva

Kiva is perfect for microloans under $10,000. It’s a nonprofit crowdfunding platform offering loans at 0% interest. To qualify for a Kiva loan, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be living in the US
  • Use the loan for business purposes

While you won’t have to pay interest to borrow money from Kiva, the approval process is quite lengthy compared to other loan options on our list.

The application itself takes up to 30 minutes and the fundraising process takes another month. However, Kiva lets you repay your loan up to 36 months, which is exceptional at no interest for a small loan amount.

If you’re launching a startup and need access to smaller sums of cash, but you’re not in a rush to get it, Kiva should definitely be on your radar.

Accion

Accion is another nonprofit small business lender. For more than 25 years, they’ve delivered loans to more than 500,000 entrepreneurs across the US.

You can get a term loan from Accion for up to $250,000 at fixed interest rates as low as 7%.

The whole purpose of this nonprofit organization is to empower entrepreneurs and create jobs in their communities. They go beyond lending money by providing other business resources and guidance to business owners. Every borrower is matched with a dedicated loan expert to guide them through the entire process.

Accion lends money to:

  • Business owned by women
  • Minority-owned businesses
  • Businesses owned by veterans
  • Businesses owned by people with disabilities
  • Small business owners
  • Companies “going green”
  • Startups
  • Food and beverage businesses

The application process is simple and straightforward. Apply online in just 15 minutes.

OnDeck

OnDeck has loaned $12+ billion to businesses throughout the world. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a 4.9/5 star rating on Trustpilot.

There are two types of loans you can get from OnDeck:

  • Line of credit from $6,000 to $100,000 with rates starting at 10.99% APR.
  • Term loans from $5,000 to $500,000 with rates starting at 11.9% APR.

OnDeck serves more than 700 industries, but it does have some industry restrictions. For example, they won’t loan money to drug dispensaries, firearms vendors, casinos, adult entertainment companies, nonprofits, and a handful of other high-risk businesses.

There are also minimum requirements you must meet before applying for a loan with OnDeck.

  • Business must be operating for at least one year.
  • Personal credit score of at least 600.
  • Business annual revenue of $100,000.
  • Need to have a business bank account.

With that said, OnDeck says their typical customers have been in business for more than three years, generate $300,000+ in annual revenue, and have a personal credit score of at least 650. So meeting the bare minimum requirements might not be enough to get favorable loan terms.

StreetShares

StreetShares offers business loans up to $250,000. This lending service lets you borrow money from a network of nearly 70,000 members and investors. They provide:

  • Unsecured business loans
  • Secured business loans
  • Veteran business loans
  • Business lines of credit
  • Short term loans
  • Inventory financing
  • Equipment financing
  • Merchant cash advance loans
  • Working capital loans

StreetShares has a reputation for funding veteran-owned businesses. However, you don’t have to be a veteran or have any affiliation with a veteran to apply for a loan.

Loan terms range from 3-36 months. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and takes less than ten minutes to fill out a form online. Alternatively, you can call StreetShares, and they’ll walk you through the process over the phone.

Currency

Currency specializes in equipment loans and working capital loans. They offer various funding options and loans up to $500,000. You can get flexible loan terms up to 72 months.

Currency doesn’t charge prepayment penalties and even has some 0% interest programs for eligible businesses.

In addition to the loan options, Currency also provides payment processing solutions for large ticket items. They specialize in processing transactions over $10,000.

So if you’re in need of a loan and a new high-ticket payment processor, you can potentially get both from the same provider.

Currency’s loan process is very fast. You can apply and get funded within minutes.

Types of Small Business Loans

There are several types of business loans that can be used for different purposes. The type of loan you get will also impact your interest rates, payback period, and other term details.

Here’s a quick overview of the different ways to get a small business loan:

  • Business line of credit — Lenders approve you for a revolving line of credit (similar to a credit card). You’ll be charged interest only on the amount you borrow, as opposed to the maximum limit of your credit line. A business line of credit can be used for any business-related needs.
  • Term loans — Get a lump sum of cash for a fixed term and repayment amount. Each payment covers both the principal and interest of the loan.
  • Equipment loans — As the name implies, these loans must be used to finance equipment purchased by your business. In many cases, a down payment will be required, and the equipment will serve as collateral against the money you borrow.
  • Invoice financing — Also known as invoice factoring. Best for businesses struggling with cash flow because of unpaid invoices. You can sell portions of outstanding invoices to lenders at a discount for a fee based on the percentage of the invoice, plus interest on the cash received in advance.
  • Merchant cash advance — Lenders provide your business with a lump sum of cash in exchange for a percentage of future sales. You’ll pay back the loan, plus fees, with debit and credit card sales on a daily or weekly basis. These loans typically have high interest rates.
  • SBA loan guarantee — SBA-backed loans are offered by commercial lenders approved by the Small Business Administration (a government agency). The SBA guarantees 85% of loans up to $150,000 and 75% of loans higher than that amount. This reduces the risk to lenders, so the borrower can get favorable lending terms.
  • Real estate loans — These are usually long-term and fixed-rate financing for real estate projects and equipment. Funds can be used to purchase land, buildings, machines, construction projects, or renovations.
  • Franchise loans — For business owners who want to purchase or expand a franchise. You can use the funds to pay for things like franchise fees, operating expenses, and marketing costs.
  • Business credit cards — Just like a personal credit card, a business credit card is a great way to pay for everyday expenses on credit. The approval process is quick, and you can get multiple credit cards from different financial institutions.

How to Choose The Best Small Business Lender

With so many options to choose from, finding the best small business lender for your needs can be challenging. This is the methodology that we used to decide which business lender is the best.

Type of Lender

These are the different places you can get a small business loan:

  • Banks and credit unions — In most cases, banks loan money to large and well-established businesses. That’s why such a large portion of small business loans get rejected. But if you have an existing relationship with a bank, you can start your search here. This is the best way to get an SBA-backed loan.
  • Direct lenders — A direct lender funds your loan without a middleman. So there’s no broker, private equity firm, or investment bank involved in the loan. You’ll borrow money directly (hence the name) from a direct lender.
  • Alternative lenders — An alternative lender can usually offer more flexible terms compared to large national banks. That’s because there are fewer restrictions and less regulations on the types of loans they can offer.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders — Online P2P lending connects business owners with investors. The loan amount of your small business loan will usually be divided among multiple investors in the P2P lending network. P2P financing poses a greater risk for lenders, so interest rates are generally higher.

Assess the different lender types to see what you’re most comfortable with, and what you’ll qualify for.

Loan Amount

The funding amount you’re seeking will have a significant impact on the lender you choose.

Some lenders only offer microloans of up to $10,000, while other lenders will give small business owners loans of up to $500,000 or $5 million.

Make sure you find a lender that can fund the loan amount you need.

Loan Type

All lenders do not offer every single loan type.

One lender might offer equipment financing, but that’s useless to you if you need the money to buy inventory or pay for operating expenses.

Lenders that offer business lines of credit will usually be your best option. You can use a line of credit for anything, and you only have to pay interest on the amount you borrow.

Qualification Terms

Most lenders will require specific qualification terms to accept an application. Depending on the lender, some of these terms are stricter than others.

In most cases, qualification terms include:

  • Minimum length of time in business (usually one year).
  • Minimum personal credit score.
  • Minimum annual or monthly revenue.
  • Age requirements.
  • Residency requirements.

Always check the qualification terms before you apply for a loan. Some lenders will require “read-only” access to your bank account to verify your business history.

Application Process and Funding Time

The application process varies by lender. Some online forms can be filled out in just a few minutes, while others will take about half an hour.

Once your application has been completed, how long will it take for you to get approved? In some cases, lenders give you an approval answer immediately, with access to funds in less than 24 hours. Other lenders have a more lengthy approval process.

For me, waiting a few days to get money isn’t a big deal if it means getting the loan I need at terms I’m comfortable with. But if you’re in a jam and need financing ASAP, you’ll need to find a lender that can accommodate you.

Interest Rates

Always shop around for the best interest rate. Loan terms will vary significantly based on the lender, loan type, your qualification terms, and the loan amount.

There are some 0% interest rate options out there, but usually, rates range from 7% to 39%.

BlueVine has interest rates as low as 4.8%, but you’ll need to have exceptional credit to qualify for those terms.

If you don’t need a loan right away, it’s worth waiting if you can improve your credit score to get favorable financing terms. The difference between paying 11% interest and 5% interest is enormous, especially for larger loans.

Don’t rush this process. It’s worth taking the time to find the best lender and loan type for your small business needs.

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Tax Deductions Explained (and Common Ones You Could Claim)


Part of being an American is looking toward Tax Day with either dread or anticipation. Will you have to cut a check to Uncle Sam, or will you get a plump refund? Tax deductions can tip the scales — a lot — meaning you’ll end up sending less money to the IRS.

We all want that, right? 

Read on to understand which common tax deductions you could claim when you file your 2019 return. Note that we use 2019 numbers because these apply to the tax return that’s due April 15, 2020.

What Is a Tax Deduction?

Tax deductions, also known as tax write-offs, lower your taxable income so you’ll pay less overall. You can either go with the standard deduction, which is a predetermined amount that is subtracted from your income, or itemized deductions, which take into account your particular expenses such as charitable donations and some health care costs. 

Tax deductions are different from tax credits. A tax deduction decreases your taxable income, whereas a tax credit lowers the amount of taxes you owe the IRS.

Calculating Your Adjusted Gross Income

Deductions are typically calculated from something called your adjusted gross income, or AGI.

Do you know how much you make each year? What about the amount you contribute to retirement? The IRS uses this information and more to calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is the starting point for figuring out your tax bill.

Your AGI includes your wages, alimony, dividends, retirement distributions and business income. If you’ve paid student loan interest, contributed to a traditional IRA or paid into a health savings account, those expenses are deducted. What’s left over is your AGI.

Changes From 2017 Tax Reform

In late 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code. The main change affecting everyday Americans was to the standard deduction; before 2018 it was $6,350 for single filers and $12,700 for married couples filing jointly. Under the new law, it nearly doubled: For 2019 taxes, it’s $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married people who file a joint return.

While the 2017 changes were good news for some people, they came at the expense of several popular deductions that were eliminated. These include:

  • Job-related moving expenses for non-military
  • Home equity loan interest deduction, unless the loan is used to improve the home
  • Alimony for the person paying spousal support
  • Job search expenses
  • Unreimbursed work expenses

Standard vs. Itemized Deductions

Still, a number of itemized deductions remain in play. Whether you choose the standard deduction or itemize them depends on your personal situation. 

If your potential deductions equal more than the standard deduction, itemizing will lower your taxable income and save you money. 

Here’s another way to think about it: If you’re a young, single person with a full-time job, you’re healthy and you rent rather than own a home, you will almost certainly take the standard deduction because your deductible expenses probably won’t total more than $12,200. 

But if your financial profile is more complex — think mortgage, property taxes, medical expenses — then you might benefit from itemizing.

Popular Tax Deductions for Itemizers

Getty Images

If you’re thinking of itemizing, you need to know what is and isn’t tax deductible. Here are some common deductions.

1. Charitable Contributions

If you gave money or goods to a charity during the year, you could be eligible for a tax deduction. The organization must be designated as a nonprofit by the IRS. Usually these are religious, educational or charitable groups.

There are some limitations on what you can include in this deduction. For example, if you donated to your local PBS station and they sent you a “thank you” T-shirt, you can’t deduct the value of the shirt. So if your contribution was $100 and the T-shirt was worth $10, you can only deduct $90 on your tax return.

Additionally, you can only deduct charitable contributions up to 50% of your AGI. (Most people can’t donate half their income to charity anyway.) But there are additional limits depending on the organization. Donations to churches, hospitals and colleges qualify up to 50% of AGI, but contributions to veterans’ organizations and fraternal societies have a lower cap — only 30% of AGI.

You can deduct expenses from charitable work.

Pro Tip

For example, if you knit hats for a homeless charity you could deduct the cost of the yarn you used. Make sure you save your receipts in case you’re hit with an audit.

2. Mortgage Interest

The interest you pay on your home mortgage can total many thousands of dollars, particularly at the beginning of the loan. Luckily, you can deduct that interest from your taxable income. This is applicable for debt up to $750,000 or $375,000 if you’re married filing separately through 2025 . If you bought your home on or before Dec. 15, 2017, you can deduct mortgage interest on debt up to $1 million or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately.

3. Property Taxes

The 2017 tax reform put new limits on property tax deductions. Beginning in 2018, you can deduct state and local taxes up to $10,000 or $5,000 if you’re married filing separately. Those caps are for state and local income, property and sales taxes combined. 

Let’s say you paid $8,000 of state income tax, $7,000 of property taxes and $6,000 of sales tax. Your deduction is limited to $10,000. Prior to tax reform, you could have deducted each of these expenses in full. 

4. Medical Expenses

If you had significant medical expenses last tax year that weren’t reimbursed by insurance, you could get a deduction. The bills must equal 10% or higher of your AGI to qualify for the deduction in 2019. Even then, you can only deduct the amount above 10% of AGI.  For someone with an AGI of $50,000, that means you can’t deduct medical expenses until they exceed $5,000, or 10%.

Pro Tip

If your state has an income tax, you may be able to deduct a percentage of medical expenses from your state taxes as well, though the amount will vary.

Qualified medical expenses include:

  • Bills paid to doctors, dentists, chiropractors and more
  • Hospital visits or stays
  • Nursing home care
  • Some weight loss programs
  • Addiction programs
  • Prescription medications
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments
  • Acupuncture
  • Dentures, crutches, hearing aids, wheelchairs and service animals
  • Reading or prescription glasses or contact lenses

Deductions You Can Claim With the Standard Deduction

Even if you don’t itemize, there are some valuable deductions you can still claim. They’re known as “above-the-line” deductions.

1. Educator Expenses

In an ideal world, teachers wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for school supplies. In reality, most teachers routinely dip into their own funds to buy pencils, paper, glue and other items for their classrooms. The IRS allows K-12 teachers to deduct up to $250 for educator expenses such as classroom materials. 

2. Student Loan Interest

If you paid interest on your student loans, you can deduct up to $2,500 in interest payments if you earned less than $$70,000 for single filers or $140,000 if you’re married filing jointly. Above that, the deduction phases out, but those earning up to $85,000 as single filers or $170,000 for those who are married filing jointly can get a reduced deduction. 

This only applies for people filing their own tax returns; if you’re still listed as a dependent on your parents’ tax return you can’t claim the student loan interest deduction. You also can’t claim this deduction if your loan isn’t in your name. So, if your parents took out the loan on your behalf, they will get the deduction instead.

3. Moving Expenses for Military

Members of the military are eligible to deduct moving expenses from their taxable income. In previous years, civilians could also deduct moving expenses, but the deduction is now limited to military personnel.

4. Health Savings Account Contributions

Health savings accounts, or HSAs, are accounts you can use to save for medical expenses if you have a high-deductible health insurance plan. A high-deductible plan is defined as one that has a minimum deductible of $1,350 for a single person or $2,700 for a family. 

You can deduct contributions of up to $3,500 if you’re single or $7,000 for a family in 2019. 

5. Self-Employment Expenses

If you’re self-employed, you can deduct quite a few expenses. These include:

  • Home office: You can deduct the space devoted to your home office at a rate of $5 per square foot for up to 300 square feet of space. However, you must use this room exclusively as your home office, so you can’t set up a desk next to your spare bed and claim that as your office. You also must use that room regularly for business.
  • Education: As a self-employed individual, you can deduct things like tuition, books and lab fees for education that “maintains or improves skills needed in your present work,” according to the IRS.
  • Car: If you use your car for business, such as driving to meetings with clients or vendors, you can deduct 58 cents per mile as of 2019. You can also deduct things like gas, licenses, tolls and parking fees.

6. Health Insurance Premiums

If you are self-employed, you can deduct your health premiums.

You can also take the deduction, minus any subsidies you received, if you get your health insurance through a state or federal marketplace.

7. IRA Contributions

You could get a tax deduction if you contribute to a traditional IRA as part of your retirement savings portfolio. The maximum contribution for 2019 is $6,000, and $7,000 for those over age 50, and it’s fully tax deductible. But your eligibility also depends on how much money you make and whether you or your spouse has an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Consult the IRS guidelines for those income limits.

Catherine Hiles is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Can You Make Money From Online Casino Slots


With the age of the Internet these days, online casinos have become a popular industry, especially for those who are looking for fun and entertainment. However, more than being a pastime, the common question asked by people worldwide is can they really make money from online casino games—particularly, slot machines?

Typically, an online slot machine is one of the many online
casino games of chance. It involves a set of virtual reels with an infinite
amount and types of symbols on them, thereby giving you more chances of winning
combinations. Some of the popular casino slots you can pay online include Wheel
of Fortune, Blazing 7s, Megabucks, Monopoly, Double Diamond, and many more.

So, if you’re interested in playing online casino slots, keep
reading this article and learn how you can make money from them.

Choose The Right Game
To Play

With a variety of casino slots available online, it isn’t very
easy to choose the game that can give you more chances of winning and making
more money. So, if you want to win, it’s essential to be smart in selecting the
right casino slot game to play. And given the different online slots to choose
from, find time to get to know each one of them, including their winning mechanics.

For example, you can use slots with three or four reels like the
online slots at Slotty
Vegas
for your first tries. Although these types of slots come with
smaller jackpots and bonuses, they can still improve your possibilities of
winning. Not only that, but playing them for the first time can help you get
the feel of how this casino game works for both fun and profit.

Be Responsible In
Playing

Generally, casino slots are considered games of chance, which
means that your chances of getting the best winning combinations don’t depend
on your skills and strategies. However, just like other virtual casino games,
playing slots should be taken seriously. You need to be wise and responsible
about how much you bet to make more money on these games. If possible, set
realistic expectations while playing so that your emotions will not overpower
you.

For instance, determine the amount of money you can afford to gamble and make sure you’ll not overspend as you begin playing. If you’ve earned more winnings for that day, keep them in your pocket and bet only your original capital. And if you think you’ve won more than what you’ve expected, secure your winnings and leave the casino website. That way, you can keep your capital as well as the profits.

Take Advantage Of
Bonuses

Another way of making money from online casino slots is to get
the most out of bonuses. In most cases, online casino websites provide free
money, a free spin, or a free play to
entice more clients. Typically, these are the regular bonuses you can take
advantage of while playing slots and other well-known games.

Moreover, one of the best things about using the bonus is that,
a lot of times, it can turn the odds in your favor. As a result, you’ll leave
the casino website with more winnings in your wallet. However, you should keep
in mind that bonuses and other promotions aren’t there forever. Thus, be sure
to fully benefit from them whenever they’re available. Doing so can help you
rack up some easy cash.

Be Part Of The
Casino’s Rewards Club

Most online casinos offer loyalty cards to attract more
customers to use their sites and make their bets. These cards usually come with
additional rewards and valuable discounts, which you can get while playing
slots and other games.

Thus, if you want to make more money, join the online casino’s
rewards club and start taking advantage of these perks while playing on their
website. Remember, the more you play online slots, the more you can
fully benefit from the casino’s rewards and discounts, which means more money
for you.

Final Thoughts

Aside from being a source of entertainment, online casino slots
are there to help you make profit. However, it’s essential to bear in mind that
all casino games, whether it’s a slot, cards, or sports betting, can also cause
you to lose money.

Because of this, make sure to choose the slot game of your choice and stick with it for a certain amount of time.

And as you’ve reached this point of the article, hopefully, you
already know that making money from online slots is possible as long as you
equip yourself with the right strategies to maximize profits and avoid more
losses.  

About The Author

vipul

Vipul is a professional blogger and online advertiser based out of Bengaluru, India. Always in a quest for new ways to make money, Vipul detail out all possible opportunities that can help anyone to earn passive income online. You can connect on Twitter, Linkedin & Facebook



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Megan and Harry pictured together for the first time since MEGXIT stepping off a plane in Canada


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were spotted together for the first time since Megxit as they stepped off a plane in Canada on Valentine’s Day. 

Pictures obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com showed the Royal couple were all smiles as they landed in Canada minus baby Archie after taking a flight from the US.

They touched down at Victoria airport at around 4:45 pm Friday, with what appeared to be a small group of security.  

The couple chose to take a commercial flight this time, having previously been slammed for preaching about saving the planet, and then flying around the world by private jet. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were seen together for the first time since Megxit as they stepped off a plane in Canada on Valentine's Day

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were seen together for the first time since Megxit as they stepped off a plane in Canada on Valentine’s Day

The Royal couple were all smiles as they landed in Canada minus baby Archie after taking a flight from the US, in pictures obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com

The Royal couple were all smiles as they landed in Canada minus baby Archie after taking a flight from the US, in pictures obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com

The couple appeared to have left behind the turmoil of recent weeks as they seemed happy and relaxed from their trip away

The couple appeared to have left behind the turmoil of recent weeks as they seemed happy and relaxed from their trip away

In a departure from their Royal ways, Harry and Meghan carried their own cabin bags off the flight

In a departure from their Royal ways, Harry and Meghan carried their own cabin bags off the flight

Meghan was wearing a striped shirt, black cardigan and black jeans and her hair was loose around her neck

Meghan was wearing a striped shirt, black cardigan and black jeans and her hair was loose around her neck

Harry sported a grey sweater and baseball cap and was beaming as he touched down in his new home

Harry sported a grey sweater and baseball cap and was beaming as he touched down in his new home

The Duchess led the way out of the plane, with her husband following closely behind.  

Meghan was wearing a striped shirt, black cardigan and black jeans and her hair was loose around her neck. 

She was carrying a bag over her shoulder with a bulky grey sweater tucked into the strap.

Meanwhile, Harry sported a grey sweater, jeans and a baseball cap.

In a departure from their Royal ways, the couple carried their cabin bags off the flight. 

Meghan looked like she meant business, with what appeared to be a black leather laptop case or portfolio tucked underneath her arm.  

The couple were presumed to be in the States for business meetings as they look to break away from the Royal family and start making money independent of the crown. 

Judging by their smiles as they walked along down the plane steps and onto the tarmac it seems their ‘business trip’ was a success. 

The couple appeared to have left behind the turmoil of recent weeks as they seemed happy and relaxed from their trip away, beaming at one another and at their small roster of staff. 

Meghan looked like she meant business, with what looked like a black laptop case tucked underneath her arm

Meghan looked like she meant business, with what looked like a black laptop case tucked underneath her arm

The couple had been in the States on 'business' as they look to break away from the Royal family and start making money independent of the crown

The couple had been in the States on ‘business’ as they look to break away from the Royal family and start making money independent of the crown

All smiles: Judging by their smiles it seems their 'business trip' was a success

All smiles: Judging by their smiles it seems their ‘business trip’ was a success

There was no sign of baby Archie, who is thought to be being looked after in their $14 million Canadian hideaway while the couple set to work carving out new business ventures.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in the US since last week when they made their first public appearance as a couple since their shock announcement that they were taking a step back from royal duties and leaving life in the UK behind.  

The pair visited luxury five-star hotel 1 Hotel South beach in Miami for the JP Morgan summit on February 6, where Harry gave a keynote speech to the crowd.

During his speech, Harry told American bankers he has been in therapy for seven years to cope with the loss of his mother. 

An expert estimated the couple would have been paid up to $1M to appear at the star-studded bash.  

The couple then paid a visit to the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on Tuesday, according to royal sources. 

The Royal couple appeared to be joined by a small group of security

The Royal couple appeared to be joined by a small group of security

The couple touched down on the commercial flight at Victoria airportaround 4:45 pm Friday. They have previously been slammed for preaching about saving the planet, and then flying by private jet

The couple touched down on the commercial flight at Victoria airportaround 4:45 pm Friday. They have previously been slammed for preaching about saving the planet, and then flying by private jet

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in the US since last week when they made their first public appearance as a couple since their shock announcement that they were taking a step back from royal duties. The pair visited luxury five-star hotel 1 Hotel South beach in Miami for the JP Morgan summit, where Harry gave a keynote speech to the crowds

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in the US since last week when they made their first public appearance as a couple since their shock announcement that they were taking a step back from royal duties. The pair visited luxury five-star hotel 1 Hotel South beach in Miami for the JP Morgan summit, where Harry gave a keynote speech to the crowds

An expert estimated the couple would have been paid up to $1 million to attend the star-studded bash. The couple then paid a visit to the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on Tuesday, according to royal sources.

An expert estimated the couple would have been paid up to $1 million to attend the star-studded bash. The couple then paid a visit to the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on Tuesday, according to royal sources.

As reported by the Today show, Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are said to have attended ‘brainstorming sessions’ with several ‘professors and academics’ from the university, who have been helping them to work on the concept and creation of their new charitable organization. 

When the couple first announced their plans to step back from senior royal life they made mention of their plans to launch a new charity, writing on their website that their decision to split their time between North America and the UK would help them in this endeavor.

‘This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity,’ they wrote. 

It is unclear what role the Stanford professors and academics have within this new entity, nor have Harry and Meghan made clear exactly what cause, or causes, the organization will focus on.

Their decision to work with academics at a university in California will no doubt raise more questions about whether the couple plans to relocate to the West Coast permanently.

On Wednesday, DailyMail.com exclusively reported that Harry and Meghan are still weighing up their options as far as their decision to settle down, with Malibu, New York City, and Vancouver all in the running as potential home bases.

Meghan’s mother Doria lives in Los Angeles – a six-hour drive away from Stanford – a possible factor in their decision. 

There was no sign of baby Archie, who is believed to be being looked after in their $14million Canadian hideaway while the couple set to work carving out new business ventures

There was no sign of baby Archie, who is believed to be being looked after in their $14million Canadian hideaway while the couple set to work carving out new business ventures

The couple then paid a visit to the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on Tuesday, according to royal sources

The couple then paid a visit to the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on Tuesday, according to royal sources

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are said to have attended 'brainstorming sessions' with several 'professors and academics' from the university, who have been helping them to work on the concept and creation of their new charitable organization

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are said to have attended ‘brainstorming sessions’ with several ‘professors and academics’ from the university, who have been helping them to work on the concept and creation of their new charitable organization

When the couple first announced their plans to step back from senior royal life they made mention of their plans to launch a new charity, writing on their website that their decision to split their time between North America and the UK would help them in this endeavor

When the couple first announced their plans to step back from senior royal life they made mention of their plans to launch a new charity, writing on their website that their decision to split their time between North America and the UK would help them in this endeavor

Their decision to work with academics at a university in California will no doubt raise more questions about whether the couple plans to relocate to the West Coast permanently

Their decision to work with academics at a university in California will no doubt raise more questions about whether the couple plans to relocate to the West Coast permanently

On Wednesday, DailyMail.com exclusively reported that Harry and Meghan are still weighing up their options as far as their decision to settle down, with Malibu, New York City, and Vancouver all in the running as potential home bases

On Wednesday, DailyMail.com exclusively reported that Harry and Meghan are still weighing up their options as far as their decision to settle down, with Malibu, New York City, and Vancouver all in the running as potential home bases

While the Duke and Duchess appear content, their staff may be less so, after the Mail this week revealed they were given their marching orders.

The couple are in the process of closing their Buckingham Palace office and axing their hugely experienced 15-strong team of London-based staff.

Almost all major decisions – and certainly their social media strategy – are now being made by the couple themselves, who are basing themselves in Canada for the time being, and a coterie of US celebrity agents and publicists.  

Insiders have told the Mail that the couple’s decision to hire a ‘meddling’ group of celebrity US-based agents and publicists has made life difficult for their palace staff.

The couple have been organising private engagements and briefings with their new team, and even hired a Canadian designer to create a new website without any involvement from royal advisers.

While the Duke and Duchess appear content, their staff may be less so, after they were given their marching orders

While the Duke and Duchess appear content, their staff may be less so, after they were given their marching orders

As revealed by the Mail this week, the couple are in the process of closing their Buckingham Palace office and axing their hugely experienced 15-strong team of London-based staff

As revealed by the Mail this week, the couple are in the process of closing their Buckingham Palace office and axing their hugely experienced 15-strong team of London-based staff

Almost all major decisions – and certainly their social media strategy – are now being made by the couple themselves, who are basing themselves in Canada for the time being, and a coterie of US celebrity agents and publicists

Almost all major decisions – and certainly their social media strategy – are now being made by the couple themselves, who are basing themselves in Canada for the time being, and a coterie of US celebrity agents and publicists

Insiders have told the Mail that the couple’s decision to hire a ‘meddling’ group of celebrity US-based agents and publicists has made life difficult for their palace staff

Insiders have told the Mail that the couple’s decision to hire a ‘meddling’ group of celebrity US-based agents and publicists has made life difficult for their palace staff

The couple have been organising private engagements and briefings with their new team, and even hired a Canadian designer to create a new website without any involvement from royal advisers

The couple have been organising private engagements and briefings with their new team, and even hired a Canadian designer to create a new website without any involvement from royal advisers

This comes as Royal aides were reportedly left ‘cringing’ this week after the Duchess of Sussex posted a ‘behind the scenes’ video from her Vogue magazine editorship showing her putting on a silly hat and playing with a party blower. 

Meghan and Harry uploaded the clip to their Sussex Royal Instagram feed to celebrate the fact that the Forces For Change edition in August was the best-selling of the decade. 

The Mail understands that Meghan and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful had been keen to put the video out since last summer but had been advised by palace officials because it was seen to be too ‘inane’ and frivolous.

They feared the image of Meghan wearing a party hat with a blower in her mouth could come back to haunt her, and could even be made into a ‘Megxit meme’, a humorous viral picture. 

Their return to Canada comes as Royal aides were reportedly left ‘cringing’ after the Duchess of Sussex posted a ‘behind the scenes’ video from her Vogue magazine editorship showing her putting on a silly hat and playing with a party blower

Their return to Canada comes as Royal aides were reportedly left ‘cringing’ after the Duchess of Sussex posted a ‘behind the scenes’ video from her Vogue magazine editorship showing her putting on a silly hat and playing with a party blower

Meghan and Harry uploaded the clip to their Sussex Royal Instagram feed to celebrate the fact that the Forces For Change edition in August was the best-selling of the decade

Meghan and Harry uploaded the clip to their Sussex Royal Instagram feed to celebrate the fact that the Forces For Change edition in August was the best-selling of the decade

The Mail understands that Meghan and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful had been keen to put the video out since last summer but had been advised by palace officials because it was seen to be too ‘inane’ and frivolous

The Mail understands that Meghan and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful had been keen to put the video out since last summer but had been advised by palace officials because it was seen to be too ‘inane’ and frivolous

They feared the image of Meghan wearing a party hat with a blower in her mouth could come back to haunt her, and could even be made into a ‘Megxit meme’, a humorous viral picture

They feared the image of Meghan wearing a party hat with a blower in her mouth could come back to haunt her, and could even be made into a ‘Megxit meme’, a humorous viral picture

. As revealed by the Mail yesterday, the couple are in the process of closing their Buckingham Palace office and axing their hugely experienced 15-strong team of London-based staff

. As revealed by the Mail yesterday, the couple are in the process of closing their Buckingham Palace office and axing their hugely experienced 15-strong team of London-based staff

The couple was all smiles and appeared more relaxed than they have in a long time

The couple was all smiles and appeared more relaxed than they have in a long time

They appeared to be heading to their new home

They appeared to be heading to their new home

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7 Practical Tips on How to Be a Successful Blogger in 2020


Ever wished you could earn at home?

You can with a successful blog. However, there are so many blogs flooding the Internet today. It’s estimated there are well over 600 million blogs live and active right now.

Related blog posts and resources:

Unfortunately, so many of them go unnoticed. Avoid this by learning how to be a successful blogger, one that grabs people’s attention. Become the authority that people visit regularly.

Not sure where to start? It’s easy!

Check out these 7 tips showcasing how to start a successful blog:

1. Pick a Platform

Before you ever write your first blog post, you’ll need to first pick a platform. Keep in mind that your choice will forever affect how you manage your blog site.

WordPress, for example, has a high learning curve but it offers the most flexibility thanks to all its plugins and themes. Wix, on the other hand, offers fewer plugins or customization features but it has a unique AI-centered website builder.

List down the important features or plugins you’ll need, especially those for SEO purposes, chatbots, and design. Weigh which platform gives you more bang for your buck and which one you’re comfortable working in.

2. Know Your Niche

One of the reasons many blogs go unnoticed is the fact they don’t focus on a specific niche. Avoid this problem early on by identifying your niche and your target audience. Refine this even further later on by studying your visitor metrics — check the age, location, and other important demographics that make up your readers.

Don’t simply write about anything in your niche either. Yes, your blog might be about video game news but this doesn’t mean you should post every bit of gaming news out there. Go to Reddit or Twitter and check which topics people want to discuss and read about.

3. Diversify Content

Yes, your blog will focus primarily on written posts but it shouldn’t stop there.

Break up your paragraphs with images. This prevents monotony and raises the entertainment value of your post. Images can also help educate people more, especially those who rely on visuals to understand the content.

If you can, use videos too.

Videos will account for over 82% of all Internet traffic by 2021, which makes sense since videos are quicker and easier to consume compared to written blog posts. Some companies like Wired feature both a video review and a more in-depth written review of tech gadgets.

Why not step into experimental technology too? Diversify your content by adding VR or AR content? Use polls and fillable forms to encourage interaction from your visitors and readers.

At the end of the day, your blog should have more than walls of text.

4. Invest in SEO

You could have the prettiest site and the most entertaining content in the world but it won’t matter if people can’t find you. Your site will gather dust if it can’t increase traffic and this requires boosting expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

Achieve this through proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Trusted and reliable web platforms recommend using tools like Yoast SEO to audit your blog posts, meta descriptions, alt tags, and titles. Use Google Keyword Planner to identify which keywords to prioritize and create content around. Approach other blog sites for guest posting opportunities and backlinking options.

If you’re on social media, encourage people to share your content. Use proper lead generation tactics and forms on your site to boost your email marketing strategy.

5. Educate and Entertain

Always prioritize two goals: educate your readers and keep them entertained. Reading your blog shouldn’t feel like reading a wall of text from a school textbook. However, as easy and fluid as it is, your post should still pack a punch in terms of content and useful information.

One of the best examples is affiliate marketing. It’s a system where you can earn by educating people about products.

This is all about reviewing products and giving the average reader a good idea of whether or not they should buy. If they click the affiliate link on your review, you’ll earn a commission.

You can check here to learn affiliate marketing basics and tactics.

6. Encourage Interaction

Don’t let your blog be a one-sided platform. Encourage interaction because this can help in terms of SEO, brand awareness, and reader loyalty.

Not sure which one of the five topics you have is interesting? Put up a poll and ask your readers! Now you know for sure which topic is going to get more readers.

Did you post an epic 2,000-word review of the latest hit movie? Ask people to share it with their movie-buff friends and always encourage them to leave comments — keywords in the comment section helps!

7. Market Your Blog

If SEO is the backbone, proper marketing is the rocket that’s going to propel your blog forward.

Get busy sharing your blog posts on social media, forums, and on Reddit. Leave links to your blog site on your social media profiles. If you’re on platforms like Facebook, boost your posts so that people outside your usual followers will discover your content.

Again, encourage people to share your content. Get in touch with other bloggers and ask if you can guest post on their site or if they can mention or link back to your blog the next time they post something.

If you have the budget, invest in a PPC campaign. Paid ads can go a long way to spread awareness and build traffic.

However, keep in mind that getting traffic is only the beginning. Keeping people interested in your blog is the more important factor to work on.

Now You Know How to Be a Successful Blogger!

Learning how to be a successful blogger isn’t easy but these 7 tips can give you a good head start. Don’t hesitate to experiment. It’s okay to stumble around a bit since most platforms like WordPress and Wix offer free options to start with.

Of course, there are more advanced tips to follow if you want to get the most out of your blogging career. If you want to learn more, feel free to read all our other guides right here, today!



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From Get Started To Get Hired


So, you want to become a remote medical coder? It certainly is an in-demand profession that also happens to pay well. 

In fact, a CNBC survey found there were far MORE remote medical coder jobs than there are trained professionals to fill them. 

In other words, if you want a remote career path that has plenty of job opportunities, this is it. Plus, as a whole, the healthcare industry is booming. Currently, healthcare is now the U.S.’s largest employer.

As a bonus, you won’t have to spend years in school to break into the well-respected medical field (more on that later). What’s not to love? 

An entry-level, remote-friendly career in health care that pays well and is in demand may sound ideal. But, are you really ready to become a remote medical coder or are you better suited for something else? 

Let’s find out. This guide will provide a quick overview of what you need to know to become a remote medical coder (and whether it’s the right career path for you). 

What Is A Medical Coder? 

A medical coder is a trained professional that transforms diagnoses, procedures, and equipment into universal alphanumeric (letters and numbers)  ‘codes.’ 

Every time you go see a doctor or medical provider, your visit becomes part of your medical records. Included in these records are every single diagnosis (from the common cold to more complicated matters) and any procedures performed.

It’s a medical coder’s job to assign a specific code to each of these diagnoses and procedures so that they become a universally understood (and permanent)  part of your medical history. 

What Are The Job Responsibilities of A Medical Coder? 

There are two common medical coding classifications: 

  1. International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 
  2. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) 

Most medical billing and coding professionals will use BOTH classifications throughout the course of their work. 

To do that, a medical coder reads a patient’s chart to find any procedures performed or diagnoses given. Then they assign a code (from the classifications mentioned above) to each one. 

These codes are often submitted to insurance for reimbursement as well as relate one diagnosis or procedure to another. 

In addition to assigning codes to patient records, medical coders: 

  • Review medical records for accuracy and completion
  • Analyze records for previous diagnoses 
  • Maintain strict confidentiality and accuracy when handling records 

Needless to say, medical coders provide an important service for patients, providers, and insurance payers! 

Would I Make A Good Medical Coder? 

As a remote medical coder, you’ll spend a lot of time in front of a computer. There’s also a good amount of typing, research, and documentation on a daily basis. And, even though you’re part of the medical field, you’ll have no direct contact with patients. 

So, if you were hoping to find a healthcare career that allowed you to interact with patients regularly or played an active role in patient care, medical coding is not for you. 

However, if you thrive in a solo environment and enjoy digesting large amounts of information regularly, medical coding is right up your alley.  Similarly, you would make a good medical coder if you: 

  • Can quickly process a lot of information 
  • Have basic clerical skills 
  • Use logic and reason to resolve problems
  • Are able to organize, plan, and prioritize work independently 
  • Possess an attention to detail that allows you to be thorough and accurate 

Check out the video below to see if medical coding is a good fit for you: 

Is a medical coding career right for you?

What Are The Education Requirements? 

To become a remote medical coder you do not need a degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most medical coders are high school graduates with a post-secondary certification.

If you do not have your high school diploma, start there! Any certification program will require you to have it or your GED before enrolling. 

If you already have your high school diploma or GED, you can enroll in a certificate program. Note, completing a certificate program and being a certified medical coder are two different things! 

When you enroll in a medical coder certificate program, you will receive training in medical coding. The training you receive will prepare you to sit for (and pass!) your certification. But, you have to complete your training before you are eligible to take any medical coding certification exams. 

There are several certification exams you can take once you graduate. And, you can even pursue higher education, if you so wish. This can lead to more job opportunities and higher pay. But, that’s putting the cart before the horse.

At a bare minimum, to be considered an entry-level medical coder you need a Health Information Management (HIM) Certificate and at least one of the following certifications: 

  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA) 
  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC) 

That’s it. Once you have those under your belt, you are a trained medical coding professional and are eligible to apply for entry level jobs, which can earn an average of $40,000 annually according to the BLS

Remote Medical Coder Training 

A quick google search and you’ll find A LOT of websites that offer medical coding training. But, not all of these programs are created equal. 

Always choose a course that issues a HIM Certificate upon graduation AND prepares you to take a certification exam. 

I recommend the Career Step Medical Coder certification program

In less than a year, you can: 

  • Complete the expert-designed program 
  • Sit for the CPC or COC exam
  • Take supplemental coursework that places you ahead of other entry-level candidates 

The career-focused training is completed at home and allows you to learn at a pace and schedule that works best for you. 

Plus, as both a student and eventual graduate, you receive one-on-one support throughout your career transformation. That includes individual help as a learner and guidance during your job search. 

How Much Can I Earn? 

As a freshly certified medical coder you can earn as much as $56,000 annually. However, most graduates average about $40,000 each year. Your location and specific certifications will play a role in your individual earnings. 

On a positive note, the BLS estimates career growth of 13% for medical coders through 2026. So, there will certainly be opportunities to earn more as you advance your career. 

Where Do Medical Coders Work? 

Medical coders work in just about any healthcare setting. This includes: 

  • Doctor’s Offices
  • Surgical Centers
  • Hospitals 
  • Clinics 

Any place that works with patients will employ a medical coder to manage records and insurance reimbursements. But, not all medical coders have to be physically present in these settings to work there.

Many hospitals and healthcare companies hire home-based medical coders. Instead of working in office, these same medical coders get to work out of their home offices and enjoy all the benefits associated with remote work

Which Companies Hire Remote Medical Coders? 

Medical coding is a remote-friendly career path. Now you’re probably wondering how to become a remote medical coder. 

Once you complete your online education and gain certification, you’re officially ready to begin your job search. Instead of hunting at traditional locations, ie., hospitals and doctors offices, you can look for remote options. 

10 Companies That Hire

  1. Franciscan Health 
  2. Vantage Healthcare
  3. Precision Medical Billing 
  4. Oxford Global Resources
  5. Excite Health Partners
  6. Inovalon   
  7. R1
  8. Health Information Associates
  9. Aviacode  
  10. Xtend Healthcare

Remember, getting a remote job is a little bit different than securing a traditional one. Not only does a remote job search take more time, you need to approach it differently. That’s where I can help. 

Remote Career Coaching Help

As a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) I specialize in creating career campaigns for remote job seekers. Check out my remote career coaching services to find out how I can help you too! 

Happily, 

Ashlee Anderson, CPCC

P.S. This post contains affiliate links for Career Step. When you enroll in a Career Step course through my affiliate link, I receive a small commission. It costs you nothing. I only recommend products, businesses, and services I trust and know you’ll love. Learn more about my use of affiliate link by reading my disclosure statement.

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Top 7 Best Legitimate Sewing Jobs From Home 


Most of us would love to turn our hobbies or passions into a career. But for most people, that’s not really an option. However if you love sewing, the internet does actually have tons of opportunities to help you earn an income working part time or full time. That said, we left no stone unturned while compiling this list of the 7 Best Legit Sewing Jobs From Home you can start today.

What Do I Need To Start A Remote Sewing Job?

You don’t really need a fancy degree or certification to sew at home. But you’ll need the skills and equipment required to complete the job effectively. The equipment requirements vary depending on the task. If the gig requires a sewing machine you may need to invest in one. But if you’re part of an assembly line maybe all you need is a sewing needle and thread. 

If you’re working as an employee, some employers may supply you the equipment needed to do the job, unless you can source the equipment on your own. 

Either way, it never hurts to have the basic sewing tools and equipment like scissors, a measuring tape, hot iron, thimble, threads, a sewing machine and so on. 

What Types of Sewing Jobs Are Available?

There are several career options available in the sewing industry, including but not limited to:

  • Tailor – Tailors basically create, repair, and alter items of clothing.
  • Shoe Expert/Worker – A shoe worker mainly creates and repairs leather footwear and related items like luggage and saddles.
  • Pattern Designer – Pattern makers design, mark and cut fabric to desired shapes and sizes. 
  • Fabric Mender/Embroider – Fabric menders are usually part of an assembly line mainly working on fabric that’s not clothing like curtains, beddings, outdoor structures and so on. 

How Much Can I Make Sewing From A Sewing Job?

As a business owner, your income is basically unlimited. Most employment-based sew-at-home jobs pay between $10-$25 an hour. But how much you make from sewing jobs depends on a variety of factors including your popularity, expertise, nature of job and the value you add to the final product.

If for example, you are adding value to a scroungy piece of clothing and selling it for thousands of dollars online, your income will be based on your profit margin. So how much you make is highly subjective. 

How To Avoid Online Sewing Jobs Scams 

Unfortunately there are scammers that want to prey on your desire for a sewing job. And they aren’t always easy to spot them. So here’s how to avoid ripoffs while looking for freelance sewing jobs online.

Never give a client your bank/credit card information – You’ll meet all sorts of clients in freelance websites, all with their own set of demands or requests. Some may ask you for your bank or card information in order to “pay you”. Well, companies like Upwork and Freelancer have their own payment systems, designed to protect both you and the client. Giving out your personal information exposes you to all sorts of risks including fraud, identity theft and other nasty stuff these scammers may be up to.

Avoid working outside the marketplace – If you’re working with a new client for the first time, always work within the constraints of the marketplace. Scammers tend to avoid the systems companies have put in place to protect workers. So the best way to avoid a scam is following the marketplace rules. Remember, if you are working outside the system you’re vulnerable to a ripoff, whereas a marketplace will protect your earnings and will eventually give you what’s rightfully yours. So chances of getting screwed over by a client are technically zero. 

Make sure the job sounds legit – As they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will use every trick in the book to bait you into falling for their schemes, and one popular way is to promise heaven on earth. Well, if the deal is too good, you’d better keep your guard up. 

Never pay an upfront fee – A popular way to fall for a scam is paying for some sort of training, registration fee, a “starter pack” and so on. Remember stuffing envelopes scams? Think about it; If a client wishes to pay you for a job, why would they require money from you?

To learn more about how to avoid scams online, read this article

Top 7 Sources of Sewing Work-At-home Jobs

If you’re looking to work at home sewing, here are the companies that are willing to hire you as a remote worker. 

WunderKin Co – The company periodically looks for seamstresses to make miniature clothing items dainty bows and scrunchies for kids. They pay anywhere from $15-$20+ per hour based on your expertise. If you live in Denver, Colorado and its environs, you can keep tabs on available positions here.

FranciePants – Want to get paid for making women’s underwear? You can work remotely for FranciePants and earn a commission for every item sold that’s made by you. All you need to do is attend a trio of classes, earn a certification plus a $100 bonus and then work at home as much as and whenever you want. You can go here to get started.

Very Vintage Designs – If you live near Canoga Park, CA (or can attend bi-weekly meetings at their headquarters), you can make $15 to $30/hour making collars for dogs. You can go here to check out the opportunity. 

Far Bank Enterprises – This company looks for sewing experts to work at home remotely sewing, knitting, crocheting or making jewelry in the fly fishing industry. They’ll require you to attend an in-house training course at Bainbridge Island in WA, but once you get recruited you can work flexibly at home. You can go here to apply

Stitch Diva Studios – If you’re a yarn or expert knitter, you can make $50-$300 working on a variety of knitting projects creating knit patterns for the company. Some projects require you to produce ready-to-market products to get paid. Others pay you for your time and expertise. You can go here to check out the opportunity. 

Upwork – You can find all sorts of remote sewing jobs in freelance marketplace Upwork, mainly involving being part of the assembly line of fashion products. All you have to do is create a profile around your skills. You can work as a sewist, seamstress or tailor for remote clients having set your own rates. You can go here to sign up at Upwork. To find out more about the crowdsourcing company, read my full Upwork review here

Guru – Similarly to Upwork, you can lock in a sewing contract with remote clients at Guru. Once you sign a deal with a client you’ll be required to honor the contract to get paid. Most sewists here set their rates starting from $20/hr but you’re free to set your own rates. Guru pays via direct deposit, PayPal, Prepaid MasterCard and wire transfer. You can go here to create a Guru worker account. 

Can I Really Work At Home Sewing?

You can definitely work at home sewing and there’s a plethora of ways to launch your sewing career. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to work for someone, work as a freelancer or run your own business. Legitimate online sewing jobs exist and continue to grow. But be careful. There also exists sewing jobs scams online, so you ought to be careful before signing up for any opportunity.

Well, I hope you found this article useful. Would you work at home sewing? If so, what route would you take? Feel free to chime in your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Until next time

Eddy with a Y.