Can I ask you a question? I do not know if you will appreciate it, because I will try to find out more about you. It may be bothering you. My question is, why are you writing? Why do you spend so much time working on your blog, writing articles?
Sincerely, what makes you sit down at your desk and write? Because you’re not doing it just for fun, are you?
Of course, blogging pleases you. You write on a topic that you like, you write articles on a subject that you are passionate about, you give your best advice to help your readers … But there is something behind all that. A big, important thing that has scale.
Correct me if I am wrong, but deep inside you, there is this desire, this dream inaccessible. You may have repressed him. You think it’s naive to believe in it and hope it comes true. But buried and hidden deep in your heart, he is there: the hope of living your blog. The truth about blogging and life in general.
One day, a friend of mine, Lucas, decided to lose weight. He was unwavering: once his decision was made, nothing and no one could stop him. He made concrete actions by going to the gym five times a week, running on the treadmill like a patient, determined to achieve his goal.
Losing 10 pounds in 3 months: that’s what motivated him. He put energy and intensity into his training, determined to reap the benefits of his hard work.
Yes, but here it was: Lucas was doing all he could for physical exercise, but when he came home, he would annihilate his progress in a moment. Pizza, sugary drinks, fast food, fatty food … Her diet was horrible. I’ll tell you one thing: Lucas never lost weight.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but dieting is simple. He only had to do two things every day: exercise and eat healthily. Only the respected only one of the two conditions. He was playing sports, but the diet did not follow. And because of that, he never achieved his goal.
The truth is that blogging works the same way: if you want to live the life of freedom you dream so much through your blog, you must do things right.
Creating content is good … But it’s not enough. You must perform one more action.
If you want to live on your blog, you have to write fascinating articles. Do not waste time writing average articles and waiting for a miracle, waiting for people to recognize your talent.
Make it happen – create great content that people love, content that people love.
If you do that, you will succeed in creating a real community around your blog. Your readers will become your fans: they will read all your articles and will keep coming back to your site. They will share and comment on your articles. And most importantly, they will buy your products. Because you give exceptional content, they will trust you: your blog will generate sales.
You can finally quit your job, spend time with people who are dear to you and work from anywhere in the world.
I’m not a dream salesman, and that’s why I’m telling you this: interesting writing articles is hard. It takes a monster job, but it’s not impossible. What you need is a method. And that’s precisely what I’m giving you: here are 47 elements in the form of questions that you can answer to turn a mediocre article into an epic content.
HOW TO WRITE A TITLE THAT CLICKS AND SLAMS
Your title is the first (and sometimes the only) impression your readers will have of your article.
Publishing an article without a valid title is like building a house without solid foundations. The title is the base of your essay, and if you want it to be concrete, answer these questions:
1) Emotion: Does your title contain a strong passion? A positive or negative feeling asserted ten times the power of a title. Use powerful words like “failed, doomed” or “inspiring, epic” to get more clicks and more sharing on social networks.
2) Curiosity: Does your title pique the interest of your reader? A good title disturbs the person who reads it. Your title should look so intriguing that your reader will not be able to stop clicking on it (where if he does not, he will be angry all his life).
3) Clarity: Does your title show a clear, unique, and enviable profit?
4) Honesty: Does your article fulfill the promise made in your title? It’s primordial. If you say “How to double your traffic in 30 days” and that all you give is just little tricks and that do not achieve this result, you lose credibility. This is a public phenomenon.
5) Simplicity: Does your reader immediately understand what the article is about by reading your title? If it is not the case, try again. The best titles are the simplest.
HOW TO WRITE A POWERFUL INTRODUCTION
If your title is concrete, then your introduction should be hardened steel. The title is essential because it is thanks to him that we will click on your content … But you have no guarantee that it reads.
That’s the job of the introduction. So, if you want articles to read (to the last word), shared and commented, answer these questions:
6) Consistency: Is your introduction consistent with your title? Your reader must feel that he is in the right place, from the first words he reads.
7) Hook: Are your first 10 lines magnetic? Harpoon your reader, leave him no chance to escape.
A great way to do this is to describe the problems your readers have from the beginning. He will recognize himself and want to read what you have written, to the last word.
8) Fancy: Does your first sentence make you want to read the second? Does your second sentence make you want to read the third, and so on?
HOW TO WRITE A CONCLUSION THAT WORKS
Unfortunately, the conclusion is too often overlooked in blog posts. Avoid this error by asking yourself the right questions:
9) Commitment: Are your latest lines motivating, inspiring, and pushing your readers to apply your advice? Otherwise, do it. An energizing conclusion is a key to your readers acting (and by that I mean to share and comment on your article).
10) Call to Action: Have you finished your article by telling your readers exactly what you expect from them? Be authoritative for the blow: ask them to subscribe to your newsletter, share your material with their friends, apply your advice …
HOW TO WRITE WITH A POWERFUL TONE
Your tone of writing is what makes you different from the mass. If you want to be more than just a voice among a hubbub, your sound must be remarkable. And there are some tips for that. Here they are :
11) Conversational: Does your article look like communication between one human and another?
12) You: Do you speak directly to your reader (as I have done since the beginning of this article)? Your text should contain 3 times more the word “you” than the word “I.”
13) Language: Do you use the style of your audience? Avoid jargon and clichés.
14) Exciting: Is your text pleasant to read? Or are your sentences heavy and monotonous? Be passionate when you write. Make your readers laugh, enervate them, inspire them … They will not want to read anything but you.
15) Exclamation: Have you removed the exclamation marks? Because it is a sign of weak writing. Instead of saying, “It’s big! “Try,” It’s enormous. ” Instead of “It was brave! Say, “It was heroic. “
16) Dangerous: Are you serious when writing a new article? If you want to be listened to, then you must start by taking yourself seriously. Do not see your blog just as a blog, but as an opportunity to change the world.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR ARTICLE COMPELLING
Even the best advice in the world is worthless if your article is not credible. You must show your readers that you know what you are talking about, that you are trustworthy.
Answer these questions to make your writing persuasive:
17) Profit: Do you clearly show the benefits to your readers? An example: do not say that your article learns to write a right sales page (that’s the feature). Say instead that your essay can increase sales (that’s real profit).
18) Because: Do you show your readers the importance of your article? Tell your readers why they should listen to you, and use the word “because” because it is persuasive.
19) Image: Do you support your speech with talking images? Remember, “A picture is worth 1000 words”.
20) Social Proof: Are the advice you give supported by credible sources? Include quotes, expert testimonials, famous examples …
21) Precision: Are you precise in your text? Add numbers and statistics to prove your story and establish your expertise.
22) Science: Do you use scientific studies? Science is the most powerful way to boost your credibility.
23) Depth: Do you get to the bottom of things when you write? Post long, complete, detailed articles. You will be the blogger you listen to when he speaks because you bring value.
24) Research: Do your research, then structure your ideas before you start writing?
25) Understanding: Do you understand your readers? You must know your theme at your fingertips.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR ARTICLE PLEASANT AND DELICIOUS TO READ
26) Simple: Is your text minimalist? Publish your article, cut the passages that are not essential. Keep only the best.
27) Rhythm: Are your sentences always the same length? Or do you alternate between long and short sentences to create a catchy rhythm? This is the mark of a (very) good blogger.
28) Action: Do you have a passive voice in your text? If so, eliminate it. Keep only the active voice for a toned version.
29) Readability: Are your paragraphs long blocks like the Great Wall of China? Leave spaces. My advice: no more than 5 lines per paragraph.
30) Question: Do you ask questions in your article to make it alive?
31) Reading: Do you read your article aloud once you finish writing it? I also thought it was not good for anything … until I tried. You will see all the imperfections of your text, and you can turn it into an incredible story.
32) Standing out from the crowd: Are you using promise chips? They allow :
To catch the eyes of your readers;
To pause in the text (it feels good);
To get your ideas out of the lot.
33) Caption: Do you accompany your images with legends? Do not have captions on an image is like watching a sublime yellow Lamborghini at a dealership, without the seller telling you anything about this jewel, without any explanation. It’s frustrating.
34) Subtitle: Do your captions make you curious and make you want to read more?
35) Police: You’re arrested … Ok, sorry for that shabby joke. Is your text full of words written in bold, italic, underlined, and all colors? Tip: Use only italics to highlight important words (and bold when a sentence is a capital).
HOW TO GO FROM “MOUAIS” CONTENT TO “WOW” CONTENT
36) Practice: Do you write and read a lot? There are no secrets: to be an excellent blogger, you have to practice these two things daily. This is undoubtedly what Stephen King advises (and I fully agree with him). Try to write 1000 words a day: you will make tremendous progress.
37) Meaning: Do you use sensory words that allow people to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell words (e.g., bright, noisy, sharp, tasty, fragrant)?
38) Trio: Do you use the rule of 3 to make your content epic, magical, and heroic? This rule is the one I just used: line up three adjectives or verbs side by side.
39) Power: Do you use powerful words? Instead of saying big, say giant. Instead of great, great. Instead of scary, terrifying. These words awaken your readers and make your article fascinating.
40) Story: Do you tell a story to support your message? Storytelling is an atomic bomb.
42) Empathy: Do you show your readers that you are there for them? Calm their fear, help them reach their dreams … They will thank you by sharing your content. By returning to your blog. And by buying your products.
43) Safety: Are you writing on a random subject (and therefore you are not sure about the buzz of your article)? Or do you use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out what works best to write a viral essay?
44) Contrast: Are you using this little trick that can bring you gigantic results? The principle is simple: contrast two words (as I just did with “petite” and “gigantesque”).
45) Demonstration: Are you showing instead of describing? I give you an example: “Theo is weird. There, I describe. “Theo arrived on stilts at the party”: here I show. You too, show your readers, it’s infinitely more talking. By the way, the “Theo” we’re talking about is me. Nice to meet you
46) Pride: Are you proud when you push this “Publish” button with your mouse? Only post amazing content: you’ll have a torrent of traffic, as well as sharing and commenting en masse.
47) Inspiration: Do you take time to read and learn new things? Feed your brain so that great ideas germinate afterward.
You can do it.
You can live the life of your dreams.
Give up mediocrity.
The hollow articles that do not vibrate anyone? It’s not for you anymore.
Now you will take your blog seriously, publish epic content that will change the lives of your readers, as well as yours. Because if you’re ready to do whatever it takes to build this popular blog that everyone will hear about, that’s what will happen: your life will change.
Do not worry: you have all the necessary tools, all the cards in hand to provoke your luck.
Now, it’s your turn to play. Go ahead to win. I count on you.
The benefits of using the cloud at work are unquestionable. Not only does this allow us to access our files anywhere, anytime and on any platform, but it also makes it much easier to collaborate on the data we need to share.
All this without mentioning the unexpected peace of mind that it gives us to have no longer to worry about losing our work because we forgot to register or because of a defective USB key!
However, choosing the cloud service that suits us best is a bit more problematic.
How to choose your cloud corner
You can do Business with multiple companies to use a cloud service. To know which option to choose, you must first ask yourself what are your priorities:
Are you writing and would like to be able to edit your documents on any computer without duplicating or worrying about backup?
Would you instead facilitate teamwork with your colleagues?
Would you instead use the cloud to replace your external drive than you’re tired of hanging around?
What is the level of confidentiality of the documents you work with, do you need protection by top-level encryption?
In short, your priorities and needs should guide your choice because the options I am going to propose to you all have strengths and weaknesses to consider.
We must first know that there are two main categories of users: those who use it as the mass backup to archive and keep their files (such as businesses) and those who use them for their daily activities (like the employees).
Here, we will instead be interested in the second option, for day-to-day use as part of your work.
Three of the most popular cloud storage and file transfer services for the average user are Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
These three services have a lot in common. All three of them allow you to store and share files with anyone from the cloud, collaborate in real-time on the same data, work offline, and they can be used in multi-platform.
Let’s see what are the particularities of these clouds, their strengths, and weaknesses, so that you can choose what suits you best. We will first introduce them briefly, then confront them in three rounds: round 1: the features, round 2: security and finished 3: the fare.
Even though Google started working on a cloud-based registration and sharing service in 2006, it was not until 2012 that Google Drive was launched.
However, its growth was speedy, so it dethroned Dropbox as the most popular cloud application. This is no doubt thanks to the integration of the G Suite and Google Docs desktop applications: Docs, Sheets and Slides (the Google versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint), which are free and can replace the Office suite for basic needs.
The Drive app downloads on Android, Windows, iOS, and Mac. So we can access our documents on the vast majority of computers, tablets, and smartphones, either online on the Google Drive site or from folders synchronized to a computer.
The service, launched in 2007 as Windows Live Folders, changed its name a few times and was eventually renamed Microsoft OneDrive in 2014.
Many of us have been introduced to OneDrive when switching to Windows 8 or Windows 10 because it has been integrated with these operating systems. This is, roughly speaking, the Microsoft version of iCloud.
OneDrive is linked to a Microsoft account that also gives access to the Xbox Live account, Outlook and Skype.
Dropbox is a company that was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi.
It was the frustration of forgetting his USB key that prompted Drew Houston to write the first lines of code for the application while waiting for the bus to New York in Boston’s Chinatown in 2006.
Shortly after that, Ferdowsi joins him to found the company, and they can benefit from the Y Combinator Fund to develop it. The following year (2008), Dropbox is among the 50 finalists who can present their company at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco.
Dropbox launches its service on this occasion with a waiting list of nearly 200,000 people who counted the days before being able to use the application.
Dropbox is one of the pioneers in popularizing the cloud as a personal tool for data backup and sharing.
The application is easy to use and has always been up to the expectations of users despite the ups and downs that a company of this kind is destined to know.
Round 1: Features
Features weigh heavily in the balance when choosing which cloud service to use. This is what makes it fit our needs or not to facilitate our work and improve our efficiency.
Google Drive is the perfect platform to collaborate with colleagues and work on the same documents using Google Docs.
Its system of backup and synchronization is very developed. In other words, no risk of ending up with 10 different versions of the same document or with errors that prevent opening a file.
Several colleagues can work on the same file and see the changes made by each in real-time without any problem. No need to wait for someone else to close the data on his workstation!
Besides, we can manage the permissions of people to whom we share our files. We have the option of inviting them to read-only, to choose whether they can also comment, or we can give them the freedom to edit the text and make suggestions directly.
There is also the option of leaving comments throughout the document or using the integrated messaging system, which makes communication even more efficient.
Besides, Google Docs offers an unknown function: optical character recognition (OCR). Which means that it is possible to take a photo of a text, save it in the drive, select with the right-click “open with Docs,” and Google Docs will “read” the image and convert it in text.
Compatible formats are PDF, JPEG, PNG, and GIF. However, the text on the image must be straightforward (such as Arial or Times New Roman) and avoid handwriting.
At the folder organization level, Google Drive offers simple but effective options: color codes and folder descriptions, which can be found in the “details” section of the right-click. This is the perfect place to add keywords, which makes it easy to search when you have a lot of files.
Integrations and automation
In addition to the Docs, Sheets, and Slides office suite, other Google apps like Google Forms, Google My Maps, Google Drawing and a host of apps developed by other companies can be integrated and used in Google Drive.
It’s also possible to integrate Google Drive into other apps like Asana, Slack, Lucidchart, or Evernote, just to name a few.
Automation of different actions using Google Drive is also possible using tools like Zapier or IFTTT.
Office Online and Office 365
One of the main interests of OneDrive is that this service works hand in hand with the Microsoft Office suite. Formerly very expensive, the Office Suite is now available (free of charge) with Office Online, and affordably and cost-effectively with Office 365.
Office Online allows you to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote from any online device. It’s the equivalent in terms of the possibilities (pretty much) to have Microsoft Office family and small business, but at no cost!
However, some options, such as the mail merge and the “referrals” section, are missing from Word Online (however, footnotes are accessible through a separate tab).
For those who need a little more than creating essential documents, Office 365 offers the ” full package ” that can be used with OneDrive.
In both cases, it is possible to share the files with anyone and choose whether they have read-only access or whether they can also modify them. When several people work on the same document, we can see the changes in real-time and the person who makes them through a small cursor in the name of the user who follows his movements.
You can also edit a cloud document in an offline version of Microsoft Office (such as Office 2016), and the changes will be synchronized.
Finally, Office Online is also available offline, which means that you can edit a OneDrive document even offline and sync as soon as an internet connection is detected.
Since Microsoft ID is also used as a Skype ID, this instant messaging service is available from OneDrive. This is an integration that can be very useful for chatting directly with collaborators on a document.
Integrations and automation
Apart from the Office and Skype suite, OneDrive does not really offer the combination of other applications, and other forms rarely offer to integrate OneDrive.
However, it is possible to automate specific OneDrive actions through Zapier or IFTTT.
With a basic Dropbox account, you have access to basic features, which is very little compared to Google Drive and OneNote.
At least, this was the case before January 30, 2017.
It was on this date that Paper was launched, a surprising and little-known publishing and collaboration tool since it started in the bath quite late and faces several well-established competitors.
In addition to the necessary capabilities of the personal Dropbox account – multi-platform use, document sharing, and collaboration – Paper is moving collaborative authoring to another level.
The Paper tool differs from other document editors both visually and in terms of usage. Everything is optimized for creating versatile documents that foster collaboration.
First, the appearance of the editor is very uncluttered and without distractions. In addition to being able to add images, tables, numbering, and dot lists as in traditional text editors, you can also add checklists and assign tasks to other employees with a due date. It’s also possible to embed elements (like YouTube videos, SoundCloud soundtracks, Pinterest boards, etc.) and lines of code.
Three packages are available for Dropbox Business: Standard, advanced, and enterprise. Depending on the package chosen, the storage space increases, security is increased, and the user has access to advanced administration commands.
Dropbox Business customers also benefit from 120-day data recovery and Smart Sync, which reduces the weight of files on the computer by performing intelligent and selective synchronization.
Several other Dropbox partners offer integrations, such as Symantec, Blackboard, VMware AirWatch, and okta. It’s also possible to sync Google Calendar to, for example, take and share meeting notes between colleagues.
Dropbox can also be integrated into a large number of other applications to facilitate file sharing, as in Asana or Slack for example.
It’s also effortless to use to automate some tasks with services like Zapier or IFTTT.
The winner is…
The match is so tight that it’s impossible to declare a winner: Google Drive and Dropbox are tied.
Before the arrival of Paper, Google would have won hands down in the features pane. Since the availability of this new tool, Dropbox offers not only an alternative for collaboration but also a complement to the G Suite because links from Google documents can be imported into Paper.
Everything depends on the needs. For the variety of tools and integrations, Google Drive is still a step ahead, but for the collaboration and the follow-up of the work, Paper passed it in the race.
Round 2: Security
Data security against hacking and information theft is a critical consideration before choosing to upload files to the cloud.
Obviously, security needs are related to the confidentiality of the data in our files.
For example, it would not be the end of the world for me if a hacker had access to my drafts of blog posts. If I kept confidential information about customers and that could allow identity theft or bank fraud in case of a fault … It would be another pair of sleeves.
That’s where Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox are about data security.
The transfer of files in Google Drive is protected by 256-bit SSL / TLS encryption and 128-bit AES when storing “idle” data.
It is also possible to enable the two-step authentication function for added security.
However, Google has already been involved in stories of non-compliance with service terms and internal security issues.
Barely a month before the scandal, Google announced that its level of security would be increased. What a coincidence!
For my part, I do not keep anything on my Google Drive that could interest the NSA, so I do not care more than it should with this point.
Another danger is that Google uses the same username and password to connect users to a range of services, which increases the scale of the risks in case of a glitch. It is therefore particularly important to choose a complex password and change it from time to time.
In OneDrive, data is protected by SSL when it is transferred and backed up on its servers, but only business subscribers have the right to encrypt data that is “idle” and immobile after the transfer is complete.
For additional security, users of a OneDrive basic account have every interest in enabling two-step verification.
Files stored in Dropbox are protected by AES 256-bit encryption and 128-bit AES SSL / TLS or higher on transfers. Just like OneDrive and Google Drive, the two-step verification option can be activated.
The Dropbox Pro version enhances security by enabling collaboration permissions and sharing link expiration, which requires users to enter a password to edit documents and not have access to it only for a while.
That does not prevent Dropbox from being sporadically the target of hackers. For example, the accounts of some customers have already been hacked by sending a message claiming that someone wanted to share a link with them and asking them to enter their login credentials. In doing so, the hackers could not cross Dropbox’s protection barriers but still managed to hack the accounts by focusing on the naivety of the customers.
The winner is…
Without hesitation, Dropbox ( click here to see all the security details regarding their services).
Their flaws over time have been mostly external, unlike Google and Microsoft, who are not the champions of privacy …
However, it must be kept in mind that the most significant security risks do not come from the encryption of cloud registration services, but from the users themselves who are most often the prey of hackers. Social naivety remains the weakest link!
Round 3: The tariff
The basic free Google account includes 15 GB cloud hosting.
This space is shared with the Gmail account inbox (beware of large attachments), Google+, and Google Photos.
However, if our smartphone is synchronized with the Google account, the space required for automatic saving of camera photos is only taken into account if we decide to save them in full resolution. Also, all documents in the Google Docs Suite are hosted without taking up space.
If needed, the storage space can be reduced to 100 GB for $ 2.79 / month, 1 TB for $ 13.99 / month or 10 TB for $ 139.99 / month.
The free OneDrive account includes 5 GB of storage space. If you want more space, you can get 50 GB for $ 2 / month or take a subscription Office 365 Personal for $ 69 / year that gives us 1 TB of space, or Office 365 Family that gives us 5 TB.
The free account of Dropbox includes 2 GB. However, it is possible to unlock a lot of space by doing different actions, like inviting other people to use Dropbox (+500 MB / referral), using the synchronization feature of the phone’s camera (+ 3 GB) by performing the Getting Started tutorial (+250 MB) and mobile learning (+250 MB) by matching a professional account to a personal statement (+2 GB) and overtime other options are added to be able to “scratch the bottoms of drawers” and accumulate additional space. For my part, I am at 11.5 GB in total.
To have more space more quickly, you must adhere to one of the proposed business packages.
Standard for 2 TB at $ 17.50 / month (per user, from 3 users), Advanced for all space $ 27.50 / month (per user, from 3 users) or Business that is not a fixed package but rather a call to discuss with them to develop a customized solution.
The winner is…
Google Drive. This service wins both on the side of the largest free storage capacity, but also the quantity/price ratio of their packages. At $ 2.79 / month for 100 GB of storage, especially when you know that Google Docs do not weigh in the balance, it is very profitable.
To summarize …
Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox are not among the most popular services for no reason, they each respond in their own way to the different needs of users.
At the feature level, all three offer easy document sharing and collaboration from built-in tools like Office Online, Google Docs, and Paper.
In terms of security, Dropbox offers excellent protection while allowing users to take control of some of the safety of their documents. However, the three options require you to be always vigilant, to choose passwords challenging to hack, and it would be wise to activate the identification functions in two steps.
Finally, at the price level, Google Drive eclipses the competition with its flexibility and low price.
Why choose only one?
The good news is that you do not have to limit yourself to one service. They may very well have complementary uses.
For example, a good combo would be to use Google Drive for everything from spreadsheets, Powerpoint style presentations, writing, reviewing, and editing text documents, but to use Dropbox Paper as a brainstorm, workflow, and project formatting. Files that require a higher level of security can be stored in Dropbox, and a large amount of space available on Google Drive allows you to place all other commonly used documents.
Those who swear by Microsoft Office will also be happy to use Office 365 / OneDrive and the integration offered by Dropbox Business. In this way, all the features of the Office suite are available and the Paper tool by Dropbox complements very well the few collaboration options that OneDrive offers.
In short, in my opinion, DropBox has become a must since the integration of Paper, and it is a wise choice to save a copy of the most important documents. Google Drive and One Drive offer versatile desktop tools that meet different needs, but Google Drive is definitely more cost-effective and integrating with other platforms.
While Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox are three of the most popular services, several other companies offer cloud storage services, such as Box, Amazon Drive, pCloud, MediaFire, OwnCloud, or Yandex Disk. Name that one. So if you want to compare more offers of services, I invite you to take a look at the sites of these companies!
In any case, document storage in the cloud is an ideal everyday tool, but it is not a reliable method of preservation. It is best to keep one or two copies of essential documents in different places to avoid losing our data in case of a glitch.
And what do you think about Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox? Do you intend to try any of these tools, or do you have any comments or experiences to share with us about the cloud? The comments section just below is there for that!
Tell the story of your business more effectively by giving specific details that interest investors.
The ability to succeed in pitching (presenting the company quickly to an audience to generate interest) can make the difference for a start-up. You are every day bringing your business to a wide variety of people, such as potential employees, investors, and prospects.
Put yourself in the shoes of people who will judge your presentation. They are educated, they know a lot about start-ups and they have business acumen. They want to love your project because it is a role cut for the big optimists.
They will not know this area as well as you and will not have studied the issues, unlike you. They may not be familiar with the context of this sector and its jargon.
In your pitch, explain this context as you would explain to a wise friend working in another area. Deliver a clear story.
People who judge your pitch will probably be overwhelmed with information because your presentation will surely not be the first or the last of the day.
Evaluators of start-up accelerators and emerging venture capital firms attend hundreds of presentations each day, typically two minutes each. Your goal is to incorporate as many positive points as possible within these two minutes and to ensure that your contact keeps the basic concept of your project so that you can pass it on to someone who asks for information about your company.
The evaluation process continues for several days. He is exhausting. Many presentations always repeat the same speech.
Help your interlocutor understand quickly (and keep in mind!) What makes you stand out from the crowd.
The investor is not a user of your products. Thus, presenting your business to an investor and a user are two very different things. The investor will almost always know less well the sector of activity, the problem, the solution, and the jargon used.
MICHAEL SEIBEL, YC
Put your skills and those of your team forward
Most companies are not exceptional at first. That’s why we talk about “growth phase.” The evaluators will be able, through you, to determine the growth potential of your company in the event of financing. Be sure to mention in your application file the most difficult or the most striking thing that you have done, even if it does does not belong to the professional field and especially if it “thinks outside the box.” The majority of candidates are founders of well-known companies, former model students who have attended prestigious schools.
They will have a hard time adapting to the functioning of a start-up, where there are no pre-established programs, good points awarded to the best elements or teachers to ensure that deadlines are respected.
Investors know it well.
If you can boast of having achieved something, do it. Being an Olympic swimming medalist does not make you the best software creator, but it shows that you can provide continuous effort and work for long hours. No need to be a Nobel laureate, the complex projects that you have completed despite the obstacles are just as exciting because they are similar to the challenges of start-ups.
If you have made money on the Internet in the past, even a little shameful (affiliate marketing, eBay arbitrage, etc.), it is a positive point. Recall the most important thing you have designed or manufactured. Start-ups make products and convince consumers to use them. However, creative talents are much more challenging to acquire than those of marketing specialist. Possessing such talents is a definite advantage.
If you can not cite any outstanding project or engineering skill, praise your technical skills with hard evidence. Do not say “I have a technical degree,” but rather, “I worked in a chemistry laboratory during my graduate studies. A four-page document had to be filled in to buy $ 8 worth of chemicals. I created the software from a spreadsheet and the Python application. After that, the paperwork was over. My invention has been around the Chemistry department. The purchasing department wanted to block the application but could not do it because my colleagues liked it too much.
This type of anecdote will probably not allow you to land a job at Google but shows that you have the talent to develop a product that appeals to the public. It also shows that you know how to be pugnacious about the refusal. These qualities take precedence over the fact that the application was designed in one day, and only a dozen people use it. Remember that you only have two minutes to convince. Describe what you do, what you did in your career, and skip your failures. Addressing chess is only relevant if you talk about the lessons you learned from it. You are probably submitting your application on behalf of your team. Explain how the team members met. One of the main risks for the founders of a start-up is that the team bursts under the pressure of accumulated stress. A strong team is less risky. State that your skills are complementary.
It is also essential to convey a sense of urgency and dynamism. Successful start-up creators can work on long-term projects, but also to cut down important work in the space of two weeks. If you have already set up an ambitious project in a short time, it’s time to talk about it. To quote YC partner Michael Seiber, the project you’re working on now must show that you’ve “done an awesome job” in the short time you have. “
Give concrete details
Briefly describe exactly what you are designing and who this product is for.
The defect most often found in the presentations we are studying at Stripe Atlas is the lack of precision in the product description. Evaluators rely on an individual’s ability to describe their project to determine if they will be able to complete it.
As an example, this brief description does not say anything concrete:
The COMPANY will help online stores sell more products through advanced artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning.
This pitch does not demonstrate enough machine learning or online business knowledge to convince an appraiser that the start-up is bound to succeed. She did not explain what concrete product. Be particularly explicit about the user experience. The evaluator is likely to be seduced by your product and to be the first user, which is why he likes to imagine himself using it.
Here is another description, just as brief, of the same product:
THE COMPANY has turned Google’s AutoComplete feature into a Magento plugin. This increases the conversion rate of product searches, as well as the average value per order (average basket).
This description is full of concrete and convincing details. The investor can immediately get an idea of the product and compare it to another known product. This description implies that a product or prototype already exists (given the use of the past “transformed”).
It mentions the technical solution (Magento) and the market to which the product is addressed (SMEs without specific technical training using Magento). It shows that the founders have a good command of online business. It gives two good reasons to use the product while avoiding stereotyped marketing terms (such as “rush”) that reviewers have heard thousands of times. This pitch arouses the curiosity of the examiner.
Clarity is especially outstanding when dealing with popular concepts such as blockchain or machine learning. Some entrepreneurs are right specialists in these technologies, but many are content to read a few lines on the subject in newspapers and are unable to talk about it in detail. Your goal is to prove that you are not one more person to follow suit.
When you talk about your product, you have to describe exactly where you are and where you will be in a few weeks. You can talk about your long-term ambitions when you talk about your market.
By giving precise facts, you will not be able to make a
mistake. Evaluators expect you to be a specialist in your field or about to become one. If you know the numbers of the sector, give them. Any opportunity is good to take to avoid approximations.
Concrete details allow investors to visualize your project. If you give me that kind of detail, I will not only listen to you but also understand and remember what you are telling me. Often, when a business creator tells me three sentences, I understand less than 5%. Concrete details solve this problem.
MICHAEL SEIBEL, YC
Target an attractive market
Investors are great optimists. They will project the success that your company could have. A company whose potential success is low will most certainly stay the course but will be a bad investment.
Venture capitalists are looking for companies whose future revenues will reach hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Niche products with revenues in millions of dollars are only relevant if they provide access to parallel markets with increased potential. Imagine that you invented the Altair Basic and think of the speech that might convince investors: “This is now a shell for amateurs, but tomorrow we will develop this product to make it a suitable operating system to all the microcomputers and we’ll call it Windows. The success of Microsoft since Windows 1.0 is more to prove, but who could have predicted?
Investors do not want to bet on one of the market leaders, but on_the_leader. Your goal is to dominate the market and not to share it. You must both occupy the ground of your current competitors and adopt a concrete marketing strategy that will allow you to stay ahead of future competitors.
A fragmented market that can be centralized is always of interest. In both cases, the chief innovation lies in creating a better product with significant network effects. These two inventions transformed a market with many geographically distant players into a single global market dominated by an actor.
Some markets have potential that can be estimated in billions of dollars: cancer treatments, search engines, online advertising, etc. If your market is not part of it, prove by A plus B that it can be part of it (or quote a reliable source that proves it), or give an argument proving that dominating a niche market may allow you to conquer a broader and more attractive market.
The Fermi estimates are a great way to show the extent of the market and the quality of your analysis briefly. Count out the number of consumers that exist in this market then multiply that number by your market share. Multiply this number by the number of times that consumers will use your product during the year, then multiply that number by the revenue (or margin, if margins are low in your area) collected for each use. Why not target a broader customer base? Targeting a distinct restricted segment suggests that you are ready to optimize your product and business strategy to conquer those customers. This is much more positive than wanting to reach a wider audience without seducing anyone.
Opt for a brief overview. A detailed financial model may seem inappropriate. Give the evaluator the feeling that you can quickly identify opportunities because that is what will be expected of you.
Sometimes the market is not very developed, but it is not a problem if you can describe to your partner how it will change over the next ten years.
MICHAEL SEIBEL, YC
Explain how your company can grow exponentially to generate billions of euros in revenue. Describe how the business will grow if everything goes as planned.
Following the creation of your start-up, you will spend several years studying the smallest details of a specific problem. You need to think about it now and start your research, whether you’re reading anything on the subject or contacting potential customers.
Show the evaluator that you have already started this research.
Your reviewer will undoubtedly be insightful, but probably not an expert in your industry. Reading your presentation, he must learn things, including information that does not flow from a source for an educated public. Just like talking with a customer, giving an investor unpublished information can give them a reason to remember.
For example, if you sell learning management software for start-ups:
Traditional eLearning solutions are designed to meet the needs of businesses with a large number of office employees, such as hospitals or staff with a high staff turnover rate, such as the restaurant industry. Nobody proposes an adequate solution to the employees of the hyper croissante start-ups who do not resemble either of these two categories. A 100% annual workforce growth means that 50% of your engineering team, your finance team and the management team are new to their position, and this fact never changes. That’s why we offer personalized, fast pieces of training for office workers.
“Accountants in start-ups have as much seniority as employees of fast-food restaurants.” This is an astounding fact that no one, not even in start-ups, had had to worry before, and whose implications suddenly become apparent. Of course, continuing education does not meet the needs of standard business accountants. After demonstrating this, you can explain why this involves making a specific product, marketing, and sales decisions.
Your pitch must also prove that your vision is unique in the market. Talk about your competitors (if you do not have one, it means that the target market is not at all attractive or, even worse, you have not done any market research). Explain what sets you apart and what this benefit brings you.
It is essential to build your case based on real facts. If you have numbers, mention them. Be careful not to be too vague and talk about specific facts. Providing the investor with the information he or she is not aware of is the best way to show that you are in control of your subject. Your knowledge will have ten times more impact if you explain how you acquired them.
MICHAEL SEIBEL, YC
Understanding who your users are is fundamental to seeking funding from YC. We first noticed that our customers hated to enter their transactions manually when they were tracking their cryptocurrency portfolios. We spoke with hundreds of users (including those who chose to stop using our product!), And this allowed us to present our project to YC based on real user testimonials. Moreover, this is even more convincing if the testimonials come from users who bought your product!
Many successful companies around the world were not successful start-ups. People who rely on emerging companies do so because they believe in the growth potential of these companies.
Investors remember the beginnings of the current giants of the industry that are Google or Facebook. These were not companies run with an iron fist by a competent management team. On the contrary, these large companies started with a ridiculous budget and were managed by unlikely people who were doing almost everything wrong, but whose incredible potential eventually exploded.
Facebook was a pirated toy that had almost no functionality, but this invention has spread like wildfire. Google was just one search engine among many, but it was significantly more efficient.
Many presentations are similar to “business plans,” that is, a presentation of different aspects of the business. Business plans, which are institutions, rarely give a detailed overview of the project, but usually, contain a myriad of unimportant information. You have very little time, so focus on your strengths.
Remember that while the company’s ultimate goal is to generate profits, investors know they are geared to young shoots, not century-old oaks. At this point, it’s pointless to prove that your business is profitable. If you dwell too much on this, investors may think you do not understand their expectations. You have to sell growth and nothing but growth. Less than 50% of the companies that have recently taken the YC program generated profits at the time of application.
Being able to approach the financial aspect of your business is a good thing, especially if the numbers are attractive, but your growth potential will be your main asset. For example, being able for a company that sells ready meals to calculate profit per order is a perfect thing. The same is true if you can calculate customer acquisition costs for a given channel.
On the other hand, knowing that your profits of the current month have exceeded the number of your expenses of 2000 dollars, is not very interesting. In the same way, your tips for saving a few hundred dollars by remodeling your application or changing host are not likely to interest big world. It is not by reducing costs that we become the next Google.
A good argument must take the form of a fluid and clear narrative. It should reflect your vision of the future, how you plan to achieve your goals, and why you think you have the right team and strategy to succeed. This argument must tell a story and not spread a set of facts.
JOHN COLLISON, STRIPE
Provide evidence of your success
When it comes to measuring your success, you need to ask yourself three questions: do you know the data to be measured? Do you measure them? Are your figures particularly useful compared to the period taken into account?
It is essential to know which key indicators start-ups in your sector or start-ups using your business model are judged. A16Z has written many articles on crucial indicators of start-ups. You can also ask for help from friends or more experienced colleagues working in similar companies. Do not reinvent the wheel, and there are already quickly calculable vital indicators for your sector.
If you sold a product online, you probably have analytical data to understand how it is used. This data will not only help you improve your product faster, but also show that you can analyze user behavior. This makes you more credible to investors.
Specify, for example: “60% of our users instantly invite their team members because teamwork is the real added value of our product. That’s why they give up Excel to migrate to our product.”
Give the right numbers, especially when it comes to your recipes. Do not quote the total amount of sales as your revenue amount. If you act as an intermediary and charge a transaction between two parties, this transaction will be called the “total sales amount,” but only your share will be considered real income. Do not consider a one-time payment for long-term service as a recipe for a given month. For example, you can send the bill for an annual subscription to software in March and collect the money in April, but the revenue is spread throughout the service, not just in March and April. Recipe approximations are synonymous with evil intentions or incompetence.
If you have “traction,” put it forward. Remember this concept. It’s a vague term that comes from the arts, but you’ll hear more about it in the years to come. “Traction” can be defined as quantitative proof of the product’s suitability for the market. The definition of this term may vary from one company to another. Apple and Berkshire Hathaway are worth billions of dollars, but just by looking at their website, you will see that these companies are committed to very different values.
Start-ups often ask us what the targets are for investors. It is difficult to generalize because these objectives are very variable. Investors want you to provide evidence that you have made considerable progress in your current stadium, as well as indications of even faster progress after that.
The figures you supply does not have to be all dramatic, but they must show that you be on track and that you stand out from the crowd. For example, Snap users launched the application 7 times a day on average (while other applications struggled to pass the two launches per day).
Your evaluator will read thousands of encrypted data in a day (a pitch has an average of more than 10 encrypted data). Nobody can remember as many arbitrary numbers, which is why the evaluators classify them as “no one,” “interesting,” “impressive.” Since it is worth quoting a few figures, here are some rough estimates that can help a very young start-up move from “great, they have designed a product” to “excellent, their method of acquiring customers is very effective .”
For low-touch SaaS B2B software, such as Basecamp: $ 10,000 + recurring monthly revenue, over 100 active pay accounts
For high-impact B2B SaaS software, such as Salesforce: at least one driver per software (no consulting services) worth more than $ 50,000 or more being created, evidence of the existence of a sales channel (one to two signed letters of intent, etc.)
For mobile applications: hundreds of thousands of free users or thousands of paying users, ideally with a growing acquisition rate over at least a few weeks
Websites funded by advertising: millions of visitors per month, ideally with traffic increasing over at least several weeks.
The earlier your company’s creation date, the higher the bar. A sentence such as “We have 20,000 active users” will have a much more significant impact on a company created last Tuesday than for a company in place for 3 years. Here is a (realistic) way to help investors see your business at its best: if you’ve been working on a project for a while but have just started to do this, please mention this crucial step as the date of your project. Creating your start-up rather than the date you thought about it for the first time in the shower.
These goals may seem difficult to achieve. They are. However, some of the companies that will apply at the same time as you have already achieved them. If this is not your case, you will have to redouble your efforts and refine your application to show that you have the skills, the energy and the opportunity to achieve these goals quickly, and then continue to develop through the after.
Create a convincing prototype
Bring a prototype if possible. The prototypes show your ability to design a working computing solution. The creators of emerging start-ups capable of developing software are far fewer than we think.
You have only two minutes to present your project. You could get five or ten if your pitch attracts investors. However, that’s not enough to evaluate an IT solution as a whole.
Use the few minutes you have to impress your audience with your software.
Nobody ever said of a company “Great! I was speechless in front of their login page, and I want to invest in this login page. »Give investors direct access to an authenticated session that already contains fictitious data.
Do not take this interview for a training session; no need to explain to investors how to use each of the features of your software. Show them the incredible interactivity of your application. You can also start by talking about the purpose of your application and let the user operate retroactively. For example, if you are trying to impress your contact with your e-mailing software, present the user with a fully-written e-mail or almost, and then invite them to complete and send it.
Deliberately cheat the system. If an interaction requires the action of a third person in a real context, simulate an immediate response (you can be transparent on the subject).
Offer a quality of design adapted to your product. Many start-up accelerators favor founders who have a “product sense,” ie, people who have an undeniable artistic dimension, know what positive user experience is and know the characteristics of the best market products. Be sure to emphasize your product sense, mainly if you’re operating in a market where this quality is essential, such as designing mobile apps for the general public.
Do not think about demonstrating your product at this time. It is quite rare that the investors to whom you present your product become the first users, as convincing as it is. A demonstration is not the best selling point for your business. However, there are exceptions to this rule, especially for consumer products.
MICHAEL SEIBEL, YC
During the interview, you should not bet everything on the demonstration, but make sure you can present something in 20 seconds. Partners may have trouble visualizing what you describe. In our case, the partners did not see the added value of our reservation system: “It’s just a copy of OpenTable? “. Being able to show them our product saved us.
You can introduce humor, optimism, and joy into your presentations if it comes naturally, so much, the better. It is not necessary to write a sober presentation to appear professional. If you lack eloquence, you can work on your narration later. For the moment, simply list the facts as you would tell them to a good friend.
Can we go too far in terms of humor? Although some investors are not against a hint of irreverence when it comes to following unnecessary rules, remember that a start-up is a workplace and your investors must be held accountable. Do not mention in your story the fact that you are sorely lacking in judgment, and do not expect your audience to congratulate you for this lack of judgment.
Risk-taking is encouraged in the start-up community, but not the reckless risk. Pushing the door of a manager’s office without an appointment is a risk, but it shows your ambition and your business skills. On the other hand, to evoke the details of a crime that you would have committed testifies to a cruel lack of judgment.
Ask for a recommendation if you think it can help you.
Silicon Valley has a particular culture of recommendations. As Marc Andreessen explains :
Getting a recommendation to be introduced to a venture capital firm demonstrates strong networking skills. … It turns out that the skills needed to get to know a venture capital firm is the same as those required to make themselves known to a customer, a supplier, the press, or a recruitment firm.
If you can get a recommendation, ask for it. A good recommendation has two characteristics: it must come from a credible person in the eyes of the decision-maker and prove that you are in some ways above the market average.
A recommendation from, for example, someone who has already received investor funding is a good recommendation:
I have worked in the past with $ ENGINEER. They are the most successful people I have met. Our technology manager has estimated that the deployment will take six months. They did the work in two weeks.
A recommendation that does not come from a credible person in the eyes of the decision-maker is not right, regardless of its content. Any recommendation that does not demonstrate superior market skills or strong and valuable personal support is not valid, no matter who provided it to you.
A recommendation of this type is, at best, neutral, and in the worst case, a negative point. Do not waste your time asking for irrelevant recommendations to get a recommendation.
People immersed in the culture of Silicon Valley are very attentive to the recommendations because they are precious on the social level. A recommendation is not a simple e-mail. A definite recommendation benefits those who give it by strengthening the relationship that it has with both the person it recommends and the recipient of the recommendation. It is by recommending everyone for no good reason that the recommendation loses its value.
No recommendation is required to submit a project to YC. This is one of the reasons for their success. They chose from a wide selection of talented candidates who were not recommended to any Silicon Valley venture capital firm. In one of the last YC classes, almost half of the participants had no relationship with YC. However, if you can get a quality recommendation, do not hesitate, it will be useful.
Do not give up, no matter the result
Many companies have had several refusals before they are successful. A refusal does not necessarily mean that your project is uninteresting. YC explains that only a limited number of start-ups can participate in the program and that those who are rejected late in the selection process are often in favor of another candidate who just had something extra.
If your pitch does not fly this time, do not get discouraged and keep developing and tweaking your project. You will have other opportunities to present it to investors, just as there are many opportunities to attract potential clients or job candidates. You could even end up seducing the same investor who failed you! In one of our latest promotions, 50% of the companies had at least one creator who had been rejected by YC in the past.
Do not let go. You will probably experience other hardships throughout the life of your business, be aware of this failure, and continue your efforts. Develop your skills, your business, and try to improve your pitch to hit a new opportunity.
If your application to a start-up accelerator is accepted or you have found funding, congratulations, but nothing is won! Celebrate it, then go back to work. Success brings more significant challenges and bigger challenges.
Whether you’re just starting your project or you’re ready to tackle more significant challenges, we’re here to help.
This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.
You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.
Why do this?
Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.
The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.
To help you get started, here are a few questions:
Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
What topics do you think you’ll write about?
Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.
Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.
When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.