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What’s Missing In Your Videos?

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 29, 2015
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Talking video today, and what kind of video post would it be without a video?

Here’s a reality. Most videos on YouTube have very few visits at all. The reason is simple; no one knows about your video because it’s not entertaining. It may be informational but we all know that to make a video go viral, it takes more than that.

Of course it also comes down to purpose. If you’re looking to make educational videos to highlight what it is you do so you can put them on your website, that’s one thing. But if you’re looking to advertise your business it takes something else.

Living in the Syracuse NY area, I remember back in the 80’s when this guy came on talking about buying cars from his auto dealership. It was a cheesy local video, like most of them are, but one thing stood out. He didn’t say “huge”; it came out sounding like “Youge”. And within days everyone I knew was walking around saying that word.

The guy was no dummy; he graduated from Syracuse University after all. So, every commercial he made after that had him saying that word and making sure it was emphasized. He now owns multiple car dealerships across the country, and it all started with one word that entertained people, even if by accident.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and of course share it if you wish. I’m not the most entertaining guy so this is the best I can do… for now. :-)


 

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Having Guest Posts On Other Blogs As A Traffic Strategy

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 26, 2015
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Guest posting is a strategy that you might have read about on some blogs or in other online spaces as a way to drive traffic to your website or blog. It can be, but I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s as good as having great content on your own site. Still, with the right type of guest post on the right blog in front of the right audience, it might not be a bad idea across the board.

Wind farm and greenhouse gas farm, together
Creative Commons License Kevin
Dooley
via Compfight

To guest post, you have to be willing to follow the rules of the site owner. I used to allow guest posts on my finance blog, Top Finance Blog, and when I did I had some rules. Unfortunately, so many people weren’t following the rules and I didn’t have time to keep up with what I was seeing that I had to stop taking them.

Anyway, here were the main rules: one, if someone requests a guest post, they had to put my name in the email so I know they saw the guest posting policy; two, the topic had to be financial; three, the post couldn’t be blatant advertising; four, I got to decide if the post would be free or had to be paid for based on my criteria; five, all guest posters must respond to comments within 2 weeks, otherwise any links in their posts would be deleted.

My rules were tough, but that blog made money for me and I set the standards for its use. I think every person allowing guest posts needs to have standards; otherwise, you end up with a lot of junk and a blog no one ever wants to visit.

You need to be ready to really give your all. A guest post isn’t a reason to write a throwaway post that you’d never put on your site If you’re hoping to drive people back to your site it needs to be top quality.

If you have someone else writing for you, that’s fine as long as you look at what they’re submitting in your name. If you trust your writer it’s all good. What I see happening most of the time is the person reaching out to a site to submit a guest post isn’t actually the writer but a marketer for a content company of some sort. They almost never read the posts either; if they did I’d never have to edit anything. Those guest posts are a reflection on your business so be careful.

If your website isn’t up to snuff, or your blog’s content is weak, then you’re just wasting your time linking back to it. I’ve seen some horrid sites that people want to link back to and sometimes I just said no without even allowing someone to send me an article.

If you have some standards, don’t accept anything you don’t agree with, even if the other party is willing to pay you. I disagree with the concept of payday loans, so anytime I received a pitch with that as the topic and it wasn’t a negative piece about the subject, I turned it down. I would also turn it down if the subject is fine and the article was well written but it linked back to one of those sites.

Guest posting to drive traffic isn’t a bad strategy but it comes with its own issues. If you have problems writing your own blog or web content, do you really want to spend the time boosting up someone else’s traffic with the hope of getting some residual traffic back? Pick your spots and it can work out; get it wrong and you’ll just be spinning your wheels.
 

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When Free Plugins Ruin Your Life

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 22, 2015
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The best thing about free stuff is that it’s free. The worst thing about free stuff is that they can indiscriminately change it up, mess it up, make you do things you didn’t want to do if you want to keep using it and pretty much ruin your life… okay, that last point is a bit over the top, but it did mess up the blog. lol

Expressions of Shock
Thomas Gehrke via Compfight

Today’s gripe is about a plugin called AddThis, which had been recommended to me in 2013 as a great social sharing program. Lots of people were using it, and it allowed me to get rid of the 4 independent plugins I had for Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn, the only 4 sites I share stuff to. I liked its design and how easy it all seemed to be.

Then they went and changed things up. Deciding it wasn’t so convenient for them to allow you to make changes on your own blog, they set it up with their 4.whatever update that you now had to create an account on their website and manage things from there. I assume they did that so they could pitch other services to you that you’d be charged for, since I saw something there where you could get certain types of reports and education.

All of that might not be bad; I don’t know. What I knew was that I didn’t want that kind of change. I’m kind of an insular guy; I like fooling myself into thinking I’m controlling my own stuff. Thus, I didn’t want to go to another site to take care of my business.

That wasn’t the biggest issue though. The big problem is that the widgets disappeared from the blog. Right at the point where I’d had a blog post go live reminding people how hard it was for their content to be shared if they didn’t have these buttons, mine disappeared. Well, that was slightly embarrassing; actually, I wasn’t embarrassed since I didn’t know for a day or two and, when I discovered it, knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Actually, that’s kind of a misnomer. I did was most of us do, which was to immediately upgrade when WordPress said “Hey, there’s something shiny and new”.

I should know better. There are upgrades when it makes sense to immediately do it. For instance, if you have version 3.5.2 anything (just as an example) and the upgrade is 3.5.7, that’s almost always just a bug or security fix that doesn’t change the version any, and you should go ahead and upgrade. However, if the upgrade goes to the immediate next number, such as from version 1.1 to 2.1… that’s when you should take a moment, go to the website and find out what’s being added or what’s changing.

After things disappeared on this blog I went to check my other blogs, all of which were running the same plugin, and my widgets had disappeared from all of them; sigh… Oddly enough, within a few days they came back on one of my blogs but not all of them. I complained on Twitter, then went to Google to do some research, thinking that maybe it was an issue with me, and found that there were lots of people who were complaining about the same exact thing… it’s true, sometimes, that misery loves company. :-) And I wrote on Twitter how bad it was that a company didn’t respond to so many 1-star reviews.

Lo and behold they did finally respond to me, after I’d written them something on their website, and asked me to explain my issue. So I did, and they responded that it was their intention that everyone go to the website now to manage their tools, and asked why I’d had a problem doing that, which I had.

Here’s the thing. You don’t take something that was relatively simple and change it to where your users need a crash course. In my case I did try creating an account and going to the site where I was presented lots of different links, none of which said “manage your tools here”… at least I couldn’t find it. Course I was in a state of frustration so maybe I just couldn’t see it.

No matter. I’ve inactivated it and deleted it and now on this blog I’m using something called Simple Share Buttons, which was the 4th plugin I tried because, for some reason, the first 3 I tried after I shut down AddThis wouldn’t show up here. The look is a bit different but I like it, and it works!

Because, when all is said and done, the other good thing about free is that you’re always free to find something else that works for you without lamenting your waste of money. Who’s with me on this one?
 

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Securing Your Online Presence

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 19, 2015
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Last year, while flying down to where I was consulting at the time, I found that my business email account had been shut down. I figured that I would find out soon enough what was going on so I didn’t fret all that much about it. Actually, I pretty much was betting I knew what the issue was and my only question was why it took so long.

Agent [smith]
[martin] via Compfight

On the previous Sunday I noticed that an inordinate amount of spam was coming back on me via bad email addresses, way more than I’d normally seen. At some point last year I figured that my business email account had been spoofed, which is what they call it when your email address has been somehow taken from your website. I thought it was via some script.

When my email was shut down, it turns out someone had actually hacked my email account, which was set up at my host, and all this time they’d been sending these spam emails through that account. I was slightly stunned because I thought my hosts site was more secure than that, especially since no spam goes out through any of my other email addresses created there, and yet I’d wondered why it was still so strong after more than a year of my removing a script that had caused the original problem for me back in 2006.

I accept the fault for two reasons. One, my belief that my host wouldn’t be hacked for my email when it had been hacked months earlier through two of my blogs. Two, the password I had on that email account wasn’t particularly strong, as I’d set it up almost 9 years ago, and I just never thought about it all that much; idiocy. lol

There are these things we do and don’t do that threaten our online security, and we all need to be smarter about it. We don’t create passwords that are at least a little bit more difficult for a spambot to crack easily. We don’t update our software or our blogs when we’re notified of an update. We don’t check on some of the things we’ve attached ourselves to all that often, thus don’t know what’s being said or what’s going out in our names.

The thing is it’s really easy to protect yourself. For blogs, just update the software when the updates are available. For passwords in general, even if you have problems remembering them longer is better, and having at least one capital letter somewhere in there is even better than just going longer. For instance, you could have the word “invincible” but make the C capital, which suddenly makes it a strong password. Many sites require at least one number; do that as well.

On social media, don’t make all of your usernames and passwords the same on every site. If someone figures out one they’ll have access to everything. Some people will recommend that you change your passwords at least once a year but if you can make it pretty difficult up front, you might not have to do that as often.

One final thing. For any site that has anything to do with your money never save your username and password via the browser. All of us at some point inadvertently end up on a site with malware that’s looking to steal those things, and if you don’t have pretty good software to stop it at least you’ll have protected your most important information.

Think security first online; there’s just too many people looking to hurt you.
 

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Blogging Dedication

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 15, 2015
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You want to know a truth? Blogging isn’t easy. Blogging is one of those things where, unless you love to write or share your thoughts, you just might not like it all that much. That’s because it takes a lot of dedication to the craft; yes, I’m calling it a craft.

Determination.  Or is There Another Word For It?
Creative Commons License Jackie
via Compfight

I’ve always heard this statement that says if you do something often enough it’ll become a habit that you’ll continue doing for the rest of your life. We all know by now that’s pretty much inaccurate. I remember working out 63 straight days once, sometimes twice a day, and right now I’ve been to the gym once in the last 6 months.

The problem is that there are two types of habits; good and bad. Bad habits are easy to do because they require little effort and they make us feel good; or at least they don’t bother us at the time. Why do people continue smoking when they know it’s bad for them? Because dopamine makes them feel good. Why do people sit around and watch TV? Because it makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.

If you decide that blogging is going to be a business strategy you have to treat it with as much passion as you do the rest of your business. Business blogging’s purpose, after all, is to show your expertise and get people interested in what you do. Nothing says you have to write like Stephen King; that being how much he writes, not writing scary things. Truthfully, if you’re only capable of writing two posts a month, spacing them out, that’s a good thing. One post a month won’t help as much, but at least it’s something; consistency is a big deal in the world of blogging.

The main thing you have to do with your blogging is to be honest about it. This means you don’t steal content from anyone else. This means you don’t plagiarize; that if you use even portions of what someone else has written you give them attribution. This means you check your grammar and your spelling. This means you don’t make things up just to try to drive sales or business. This means you treat your reader with respect. And finally it means you offer some kind of consistency, and then if people respond to what you’ve written you comment on their comment.

All of these are business principles as well; isn’t that a nice tie-in to blogging? Along with the fact that as you’re reading this I’m in Orlando? :-)
 

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