This is something a little bit different, so it deserves a bit of explanation.

Last week my buddy Holly Jahangiri shared a link on Twitter going to an article titled 6 Ways to Get Creative with Writing Your Blog Content. One of the writer’s recommendations was to Spend a Few Moments Coloring, which I thought was a ridiculous idea. Holly issued a challenge where she’s going to write about doing it as a positive thing whereas I’m going to write about it as being… well, hogwash! 🙂

create
look closely at the picture

To begin with, I understand the writer’s motivation, at least for a few of the points in the article. The belief is that a disruption in what you’d normally do will help you be a more creative writer because you’re moving outside of your comfort zone. In this case, coloring is one of the ideas; exercising is another idea of something to do beforehand. In other words, doing things that have nothing to do with writing will help you become more creative is what the writer’s saying.

Being someone who’s taken a shot at what I’ll call extreme exercising, along with not actually coloring anything in probably 40 years or so, I’m thinking that there are a lot more ways to find enough ideas to be creative. I mean, once I wrote about changing the colors on one’s blog as a way to shake things up or to stand out from the norm. Have you noticed that the links in my blog post are a different color than what most people have, and when I want to make something bold is shows up in a nice looking dark blue?

If I was going to offer something extraneous that might help you get into a creative mode for writing, I might suggest playing piano. I played for 29 years, but over the course of the last 19 I was always writing something, whether it was music or a lot of stories and books I started and eventually stopped. What would happen is that I’d first get into the music I was playing, and then I’d start improvising, and eventually I’d start getting ideas for either songs, lyrics or stories. This was way before the days of blogging but I believe if I needed it for creativity I’d probably still be playing.

Let’s get back to creativity and ideas for writing blog posts and articles. I’ve written a number of articles on this blog addressing creativity, which started back in 200 with the 2nd step in my book writing series where I talked about outlines and journals. I don’t journal as much anymore but whenever I’m going to write a major piece like when I wrote about 30 mistakes people make with their blogs, I always start with an outline. Think about it; how many of us would be able to sit down and start writing knowing we actually wanted 30 points of anything? 🙂

storytelling

I’ve talked about the art of storytelling as a way to be creative. I read so many articles that feel like dissertations instead of conversations. I’ve never met a single person who didn’t have a story to tell, whether it was true or not. I’ve written quite a few stories on this blog, true adventures I’ve had, while Holly has shared a lot of fictional stories on her blog showing off her creativity. I even mentioned Holly in a post about concepts of writing (which she probably never saw lol).

In that post, I talked about creativity on things outside of writing. For instance, there’s a video on there which became the first viral wedding video from YouTube that was very creative, that most of you will probably remember.

Creativity doesn’t have to be complicated. You can take something relatively small and turn it into something big… while still making it small. For instance, I’ve written two very short posts on this blog giving 10 writing tips, short enough for most people to need less than 2 minutes to read yet 20 pretty good points if I say so myself.

Let me ask this question; do you think inspiration and creativity are at least similar concepts as it regards writing? If so, check out this link where I mentioned 10 things I was doing that gave me inspiration to write something (one of those talks about walking at the gym; that “might” count as exercise lol).

Do you read other blogs? Books? Magazines or newspapers (offline or on)? Do you watch TV or movies or videos? If so, wouldn’t you agree that a lot of inspiration can be found from sources like that, and that you can figure out different angles on what you’ve read or consumed?

20161029_143109

Maybe you’re a niche blogger looking for a creative way to write about your topic. Instead of pulling out a coloring book and figuring out what color you want Donald Duck’s beak to be, why not find inspiration and creativity while trying to learn something, whether you agree with it or not? Some of the most creative things I’ve read are the result of someone taking a counterpoint against the article they read.

I might be tooting my own horn a bit, but it’s not my intention. My intention is to say that I believe that doing things that usually take your mind off what you’re hoping to write about isn’t as conducive to being creative as many of the things I mentioned here might be. Even though I mentioned that in one of my articles I was walking and came up with an idea, truth be told whenever that happens I usually have a nugget of something I want to write about but need time to bring it to fruition in my mind. I’m trying to imagine having a nugget of something in my mind and starting to color, and having it format properly while I’m trying to stay inside the lines. lol

I think that’s enough to support my side in this little debate. This line will change once I have Holly’s link (which I now have: Coloring Creativity into Blogging so you can see what she wrote and then chime in with agreement or disagreement or opinion. We’re having some fun with this particular item in the initial link I shared, but in the end I’m missing the coloring idea… if you agree with it please help me understand. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Almost 4 years ago I wrote a post talking about how much I love Instagram. For the few of you who don’t know what that is, it’s an app you can add to your smartphone where you can upload images you take with it and also look at a lot of pictures other people put up. Since I love looking at pictures of all types, this bad boy was meant specifically for me. 🙂

Motivation Board
My new motivation board

Or at least it “was” for me. Over the last 4 years there’s been a lot of changes, some for the good, some irritating. For instance, there are a lot of people who are trying to do business on there by posting motivational messages along with advertisements… those aren’t really pictures. Instagram also now allows advertising of the video variety, and though I don’t like that I understand that companies deserve to make money (it’s owned by Facebook).

There’s also a lot of trolls and nasty people who say and do a lot of hateful and disgusting things that makes part of the experience become diminished a little bit. I’m not getting anything close to that kind of attention so it’s not a problem for me, but sometimes I’ll look at the comments other people write on some of the pictures; it’s just like reading the comments section of a local newspaper.

Nope, I don’t get that kind of attention. But I have been getting a lot of attention lately, which I don’t understand. In the vernacular of my youth, a lot of “hot chicks” are suddenly following me there. I’m not lying; these are some very attractive ladies, very young… and they’re following me!

That part is confusing enough, but the majority of them are Russian or Asian, and they’re coming out of the woodwork. What the hey?

Being older, I don’t just up and follow every pretty face that graces my fiend of social media vision; being married stops that also. lol However, I do check out people when the follow me, just to see if they might be real or not.

The accounts that have 7 or so pictures that have all been posted within a few days of each other are easy to figure out that they’re some sort of spam or something. Those usually have a hidden link that they’re hoping you’ll click on; don’t click on those thing… ever!

What I’m seeing mostly lately are women with tons of images on their page; that’s unexpected. I don’t see a link on any of them either. What I do see… and don’t see… is interesting though.

What I see are tons of hashtags for almost every picture. Since I’m someone who rarely uses more than one, that’s a bit odd. What I don’t see is any kind of explanation of what the picture is about, which kind of fits if it’s all face or body shots, but wouldn’t you think that some of the images would have some kind of explanation, or a quick word on what they were thinking at the time they posted the image?

I’m asking this as someone who has one friend on the site who posts a picture of herself every couple of days without any kind of explanation. It’s always the same pose; only the clothes change. I asked her about it and she said that seeing herself smile as she improves her life makes her feel good. I can buy that. However, she also posts a lot of other pictures of friends and family, and lots of food pictures (something I usually love to see but I don’t like a lot of her food lol).

I mentioned that most of the accounts are Russian or Asian women; but all of them aren’t. I get followed by a lot of fitness women also; that one’s confusing because I’m certainly not the icon of fitness… sigh… I do post a lot of pictures of my food, some of it homemade, and I’ll use that as a hashtag, but a lot of that stuff wouldn’t be considered healthy either… well, I guess it’s healthier than the stuff I buy out as most restaurants… sometimes.

I don’t end up following the overwhelming majority of these people. The same goes for restaurants, which also seem to follow me, but those have business logos. Like most of my social media accounts, I have way more people following me than I follow.

It’s also strange that as I’m working towards more peace and happiness by reducing the number of people I’m seeing on social media sites (this weekend was spent going through LinkedIn) that more people are starting to follow me on some of these same sites. It’s like I’m dealing with Newton’s Third Law of Motion, where the more I try to kill the more people there are trying to connect with me.

What are the bulk of you seeing as it pertains to your Instagram account? Is it as confusing as what I seem to be seeing or do you believe your accounts are just fine? I’m not worried about any of it; just seems strange is all. Let me know; I’m outta here. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2016 and I’m thinking that I’ve been writing a lot of long posts lately. Today, not only have I changed the date of the blog post (Wednesday’s post went to my business blog since it would have been my dad’s 85th birthday), but I’ve decided to shorten the post just a little bit.

Spam ... it's what's for dinner!
Creative Commons License Wandering Magpie via Compfight

It’s been a long time since I’ve written specifically on the topic of spam, just about 2 1/2 years, and even though a lot hasn’t changed as it regards spam, I knew I had more ways to help people identify when a comment is spam.

First, check out this post from September 2013 giving 9 ways to identify spam and then proceed… heck, read this one first, then go back to the other post; that makes more sense. lol Hopefully most of you know this already. If not, you can thank me later:

1. Multiple comments within a short period of time.

Sometimes you’ll get someone who’s visiting your blog, decides to read a bunch of your posts, and comments on a lot of them. When it’s legit, that’s pretty cool. When it’s not, it’s easy to tell.

If you’re looking at comments in your Admin panel, it tells you the time and date of a comment. If you have 2 or more comments from the same person within a minute or two, it’s spam. Think about how long it takes you to read someone’s blog post, let alone comment on it.

2. Many different names but the same email address

This one should be easy but a lot of people don’t pay attention to it. You might get multiple comments quickly, but if the spammers are savvy they’ll space these out.

3. Many different email addresses but all from the same IP address

You know easy it is to get a Gmail account? For that matter, you can fake an email address and link it to a real website or blog (sneaky punks). What you can’t fake unless you have specific software is the IP address, which is just under the email address in the Admin area.

4. The comment is directed at an image.

If you ever see an image in the area where it tells you which article someone is commenting on, it’s spam. Most of these comments are fake anyway and should be easy to spot, but you might not be paying attention, especially if you’ve got a lot of comments to go through.

5. Well written comment but doesn’t address anything in the post

not spam
not spam lol

These are pretty good comments… but they’re fake. Maybe 1 in 20 gets close enough to the topic where it looks legitimate, but if you’re paying attention you’ll realize that they haven’t addressed a single thing you wrote about.

6. Great comment… but there’s something familiar about it…

This one is tricky and even I’ve missed it a few times. The comment looks great and is on point with the topic. Just one thing; you think you’ve seen it before because the words seem familiar.

This in a great scam because it’s easily missed, especially if you have a lot of comments on your article. In essence, it takes either a portion of a comment someone else has written on the same post or copies the entire thing. If you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it and start responding to the comment. Sometimes while you’re doing this you’ll ask yourself “didn’t I say that before”?

7. Comments written in all caps

How many people do you know who write in all caps (well, my wife does it so I know one lol)? This usually denotes bad software that someone’s purchased. Since these comments usually don’t pertain to the article, they should be easy to spot.

8. Multiple links in the comment

On this blog, even one link in the comment sends it to spam because I use the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin. For most blogs, you can get away with popping in links without retribution, although a lot of spam will only pop in one link to try to improve their odds that you’re not paying attention. If it’s not someone you know, immediately move those comments to spam or remove the links without clicking on them; trust me, that’s the safest thing to do.

9. The comment uses your full name or states your name multiple times

Back in the day you knew a comment was good when they knew your name. These days, the spam software has gotten so good that it can scrape the name of the author of the article. If it uses your full name that should make it easy for you to know it’s a spam comment. If you see your name multiple times that’s another easy one to call. If it uses your name once… well, read the comment and ascertain whether you think it’s legit or not.

There you are, 9 more ways to tell if a comment is spam. Although I kind of indicated that most of these are automated, not all of them are. Some people are paid to drop the same comment on multiple blogs, which helps them get through your spam filters. The best rule of thumb is to view any comment that looks even a bit dodgy as spam and delete it. If the person comes back and asks where their comment went, you can deal with it then. If not, you can feel pretty good that it was fake to begin with (I’ve never had anyone in all these years come back to ask about a missing comment that was truly spam; just sayin…).
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

I almost quit social media last week.

This won’t surprise anyone who knows me, but I was floored last week by the election results. Actually, the Spidey senses went off Tuesday morning and, unfortunately, they’re never wrong.

peace and happiness

I barely ate anything on Tuesday. I forgot to take medication. when I went to bed Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I never fell asleep… I knew what was coming and I was so worked up about it that sleep never came.

Around 4:30 in the morning my wife awoke and realized I was still awake. She started talking to me, trying to get me to relax, and it took maybe 3 hours or so before any of it started to take.

During her calming words to me she uttered something that I finally decided she was correct on. She said that I should eliminate or drastically reduce those things that are bringing me turmoil and to start concentrating on doing things that might make me feel better and bring me a bit more peace and happiness.

I knew that she was correct, since this is something I actually started back in January when I talked about sculpting my Facebook feed and I did the same on LinkedIn. I knew that I had to take a second look at both and some of the other places I’m hanging out online.

I decided to start with news… almost all of it. The one account I was following on Twitter that wasn’t following me back was one of our local TV news stations. I decided to remove that from my Twitter following, as I had it in my Syracuse group column. That turned out to be amazing because it never occurred to me how dominating that was in that column. The number of accounts I have there is way more manageable since I removed it.

I’d been removing a number of people from my Twitter account for nearly the past calendar year, and not just people I disagreed with. You sometimes find that in the case of something like politics, too much can be a bad thing even if it’s a good thing… if you know what I mean. lol I really don’t like politics to begin with, just like religion, so if there’s a lot of either coming from someone I really don’t need to see it. I probably need to do more but for now I’m feeling pretty content with my efforts.

more happiness

Next I decided to remove the general news column from my Flipboard account as well. Before last week I had already been removing many news sources from there, mainly those large news sites that only let you see so many articles before you have to pay to see them. What this has done is eliminated a lot of national and world news that I not only was allowing to get me upset but the stuff I really didn’t care much about.

This one hasn’t worked as well as on Twitter but it’s easy enough to see when other news sources pop up so I can delete them. The one thing I still have to think about is whether or not I want to remove Huffington Post, since it’s not really news and it’s only a small part of what they do, but right now a lot of political stuff is popping up and frankly that’s irking me.

I mentioned above about Facebook sculpting. I decided I needed to define it further. I first went into the F.B. Purity app and added more words and phrases I didn’t want to see anymore. I then went and looked at every single person I didn’t know “uber” well, changed most of them to “stop following”, and even moved a lot of them into the Acquaintances area. I didn’t unfriend anyone, since I’d done that earlier in the year, but I set it up so that it’ll take a fluke for me to see anything they put on Facebook and a fluke for them to see anything coming from me.

This still leaves LinkedIn and Google Plus for me to get to. Google Plus will definitely be last because, frankly, I’ve only seen maybe a couple of political things on there since Wednesday morning, and things move so fast there that it’s possible I might never see anything political in the coming week. I think that’s one reason why it’s a tough platform for people to warm up to, but it’s probably weathering last week’s issues better than all other platforms.

perfect life

LinkedIn… that’s a much different animal. As an independent business it’s good to have the number of people connected to me that I have, but I’m thinking that probably 95% of those people I’ve never spoken to and aren’t even in a field I deal with, so maybe it’s time to cull that list a bit more… we’ll see how well that one goes.

I will say this though. Strangely enough, I was ready to totally disappear from social media. I did change my avatar on Twitter and Facebook, and I mentioned why on Facebook. A lot of people reached out to be on that article and through private messages saying some of the nicest things and offering me support. That helped me work through a lot of my negative feelings and depression faster, as it was something I really didn’t see coming. That showed me the true power of social media; it can make some people depressed but it can also offer a way of uplifting others when they need it.

It also helped me to start thinking about writing again. I wasn’t feeling it except for a sentence or two, but I knew I had to break out of that, so this is the first thing I’ve written since last Tuesday… and I wrote this Sunday morning. Since I usually write every day, that’s saying something.

If you feel like you’re being inundated with a lot of things that are making you feel bad, maybe instead of just leaving you eliminate the parts of it that are making you feel worse than you want to feel. I know that my buddy Donna said she was doing just that very thing on Facebook because she didn’t want to deal with all the negativity. Like minds, even if we headed in different directions (she’s a New Yorker who moved to Maine while I lived in Maine and moved to New York lol). 🙂

What kinds of things do you do to reduce being bombarded with a lot of outside negativity. Do you up and leave or do you modify things so that you have more control over what you’re seeing? Let me know; I wish you peace and happiness.
 

Ah, once again the topic of guest posts on blogs. For all the grief I feel about these things, while recognizing that they can offer some value, it turns out that I haven’t talked about it as much as I thought I had. It seems I mention it and then get away from it like I did with last week’s post on social networking (see #10).

Guest House
Well-Bred Kannan (WBK Photography)
via Compfight

Yet, I have written about it; I’ve even done videos about it. Thus, it’s not my intention to repeat everything word for word again. Instead, I’m going to share the videos and the links of my previously talking about it while griping about a few more things this week regarding the subject.

The first… I’ve mentioned that I have an on my finance blog, the only blog of mine that I’m presently taking articles for (although I’m thinking about accepting them for my medical site; no one’s asked about that one yet). These aren’t guest posts though; they’re sponsored posts. In other words, if anyone wants to put an article on that site, they’re going to pay for the honor.

Why? I covered that back in 2013 on that blog; it was just so frustrating having to do all that editing all the time, especially while I was on the road consulting in another city. I mean really; if you’re asking if you can put a guest post on someone else’s space, at least make sure your article is written well. Is that really too much to do?

Actually it must be, because I’m still getting email from tons of people who ask if I accept guest posts (it says no on the main page), if I accept advertising (it’s right on the main page) and how much I charge (it’s in the advertising policy, which is on the main page). That’s what led me to write this article in 2012 griping about the problem with people who send guest posting requests.

Too many canned letters, too many people not even visiting the site to see what’s there; sigh… those and the lies they tell about how wonderful the blog is and sending me a link to an article I wrote (or a guest post that someone else wrote when I did accept guest posts), without saying anything about the article. Really; does that work on a lot of people?

It’s not that I’m against guest posting in general. Heck, I even gave some guest posting tips and talked about how to write a guest post, and you saw that my last article was originally a guest post on another site. I even wrote an article talking about using guest posting as a traffic strategy, as it can be a very valuable way to market oneself (though I don’t think it’s at the top). I’m not hating just to hate; I’m fussing because of the goofiness of it all sometimes.

Last week someone wrote me asking what the advertising policy was on my finance blog; sigh… I wrote and told him where to find it, since I happened to be out of town when I saw the email. Then we wrote me back and asked me how much each sponsored post was, which is in the policy. I wrote back saying how much it was and asking if he’d missed it in the policy.

He then wrote me back making me an offer that was less than half the amount I ask for, saying he was willing to send me 8 sponsored posts… which I really didn’t want to see coming from one source I didn’t know. I wrote back saying that was unacceptable and the rate was the rate. Then he wrote me back asking what my final offer was… what?!?! Y’all know I deleted that in a heartbeat.

This is a good time for a video about guest posting so I can take a breath…


https://youtu.be/UxUkoTMZqx0

Are y’all feeling me? I think I’ve covered about all I want to cover here, and for once you’re getting a relatively short article from me. I gave you lots of links and a video; nothing else to cover on this front for the moment.

I’d really like to know what your opinions are on guest posting requests, because I know I’m not the only one getting them. If you’re someone who uses guest posting as a strategy, do you think what I’m saying is fair or unfair? Go ahead, let me know; I’m out!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell
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