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9 Ways Blogging Can Help You And Your Business

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 24, 2016

By now, anyone who’s visited any of my blogs knows that I love the concept of blogging. Just as I was telling a group of life and business coaches a couple of weeks ago, when I gave an online seminar about business blogging, there are a lot of benefits to the process, some of which people just don’t think about. I figured that this would be a nice change to some of the articles I’ve written this month; we all can use a little motivation and consulting.

1. You get to show your expertise.

pizza grilled cheese
pizza grilled cheese;
I made this!

This is always my number one statement whenever I talk about business blogging. No one knows your business or what you can do better than you. The hope is that you’re not a one trick pony who only knows one aspect of what your business all about. Blogging on a consistent basis helps to show people that you’re someone who can definitely help them.

2. You control your message.

One of the major gripes of people who get interviewed by the media is that they spend upwards of an hour or two talking to someone, only to have someone take a few soundbites of something they said and twist it around so that they feel like total idiots having to defend a statement that’s been quoted out of context.

With a business or personal blog, you get to control your message. Not only that, but if someone misinterprets something you wrote, you’re the one who gets to go back in and make it better. This is one of the few times where, unless you’re a big time celebrity, you get to change what’s on the internet to a degree. Even if the Database Archive happened to pick up what you said the first time around, it’s unlikely to ever rear its ugly head if you keep adding more content to your blog.

3. You can get things off your mind.

Writing is cathartic; I didn’t make that up. I find that when my mind feels cluttered and I’m not sure what else to do, writing helps me get back into the groove of things.

This isn’t the only reason one might have to get things off their minds. For instance, an issue might come up (Trump) that irks you so much (Trump) that you feel the need to say something about it (Trump) because it keeps making you mad whenever the topic comes up (Trump). Every once in a while on this blog I’ve talked about racism, freedom of speech, inequality, bullies, and health care (which I would since I’m a health care consultant, all topics that aren’t the norm on this blog… or my other blogs.

At least I’ve never talked about politics (Trump); we all have to have standards, right?

4. You can show your creativity.

homemade jewelry
homemade jewelry

How many people remember when the term “think outside of the box” was prevalent, so much so that we got tired of it so some guy we all want to slap changed it to “change the paradigm”?

Truth be told, knowing how to help people with their problems isn’t always as straight forward as it might seem to be. For all the years of knowledge I like to think I have in health care, every once in a while I get thrown for a loop when someone mentions a certain problem that have that, upon reflection, doesn’t quite fit the parameters of your knowledge. I’ve had to come up with some truly creative ways to figure out what the actual problems are and then get more creative to apply a fix.

The same goes for blogging. When you can show people you have he mind to be creative when it comes to subjects you write and talk about, it helps intrigue people who might be interested in your services.

5. The longer you do it, the more social cache you build up.

Most of you won’t know what this is, but for my main career I’m a charge master consultant. I just looked up the term “charge master consulting” on both Google and Bing; you know what I found? On Google I’m in the top 3 spots; on Bing I’m at #1 and #5. Yes, I have content on my main website that talks up this type of consulting, but what’s helped me stay at least in the top 5 over all these years (that site was built in 2003) is that I’ve also written about it multiple times on my blog (which I started in 2005). Having 11 years worth of posts talking about something specific and technical like that has helped my site stay prominent, and it can do the same thing for you.

6. Did I mention SEO yet?

Indirectly I did with #5, but let me go a bit further with it. You know how I said that Google has me in the first 3 spots? It also shows my site in 4th, 6th and 9th being mentioned by other sites who’ve linked to me. I’m actually pretty prominent in the top 20; that’s the power of SEO and the right keywords for whatever industry you’re a part of.

20160702_143248

7. Give people something to share with others.

One of the best things about social media is that people love to share the content of others. Not only can you market yourself on social media but if people like you or what you write they’ll help you do it at no cost to you. Every day someone new becomes an underground superstar and it’s probably based on either a blog post or a video, maybe even a blog post you’ve put a video on.

8. Personality; believe it or not you have one.

Almost every study that’s been done says that people want to work with someone they feel comfortable with. When you write a lot, you’ll find that you’ll find your writing “voice”, which tends to allow people to see what your personality is like. If you’re engaging then people will want to read your posts to not only learn about your topic but about you as well. The thing about blogging is that it’s not a one-and-done proposition. Regular content is necessary to make it work for you, and the more you write, the most benefit you get out of it.

9. Blogging is the least expensive way to market.

If you hadn’t figured this one out yet, I’m here to tell you that the only real costs to blogging, if you don’t want to pay for it, is time. Although I’d recommend that you pay for hosting or add it as a subdomain to your current website, there are lots of free blogging platforms that will let you get your mind into the of blogging to see if you can actually do it. It’s content that can live forever, you can modify it whenever you want, you can interlink old articles or some of your webpages to current blog posts (which I’ve done prominently here so you can see how it works) and it’s totally in your control.

My final words… start blogging! 🙂
 

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My Quest For Better Mobile Speed; Things I Can’t Figure Out

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 21, 2016

I know I said 4 weeks ago that I was done working on increasing the mobile speed of my websites. Actually, what I said was I was done for a long while… I’m thinking 3 weeks is a long enough “while” so I’m coming back to the fold to talk about it once more.

Speed ahead
SprinterJockey via Compfight

The thing is, there are some issues that I just can’t solve, and all my research isn’t answering any of it. I’ll own up to seeing a lot of solutions here and there, but I have to add that none of them either make any sense or don’t work.

One other thing that’s happened, at least for one of my regular websites, is having pages that are slower than other pages when the content is literally the same, and the page speed error messages are the same as well. Why does one page pass the test when the other doesn’t?

All this and more follow, but I want to mention the two reasons I’m putting this one together. The first is to show other people who might be fighting these issues that they’re not alone. The second is hoping that someone with some “real” knowledge will pop in and explain what some of these things are and how we might actually be able to fix them.

1. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content

This one is at the top for my regular websites. For both sites, the issue is the CSS file, since I figured out how to correct javascript. There doesn’t seem to be a way to defer CSS files loading, and supposedly what this means is that we should put most of the code we have in a CSS file into the actual pages.

That’s fine, except… that’s the reason we’re using CSS in the first place, so that if there’s a change we want to make to affect all pages at once we only have to put it in one stupid file! All the research I did said to first try to minify the file (which means clean is up; there are lots of pages that offer links that will do it for you) but even after doing that it didn’t change my speed any. The second recommendation was to leave it alone and just thumb your nose at Google. Since I can’t find a better fix to this issue that’s exactly what I’m doing… but it’s unsatisfactory.

2. Leverage browser caching

This one recommends setting what’s called expiry dates to certain types of files, where the intention is to tell the browser of your visitor whether it needs to actually download those files to the browser again if you’ve already visited the site within a certain period of time. The site I linked to actually gives you the code to add to your .htaccess file, which I mentioned in the last page speed post, only… it doesn’t work!

I’ve tried changing some of the numbers. I’ve tried converting some of the numbers to the number of seconds those numbers represent (which was another recommendation). For whatever reason it’s just ignoring that code, and in all the research I’ve done I have yet to find even one person who might have an idea of why it doesn’t work… and lots of other people who have said it doesn’t work for them either.

3. Reduce server response time

IMG_20160712_094226
Need this to calm down lol

In essence, this one is blaming the host you’re using for your websites. The recommendation is to track it to see what’s going on and then… fix it. FIX IT?!?!? How do we do that? I actually called my hosting company and eventually hung up because they had no idea what I was talking about.

I could blame the hosting company but my research has shown that no one else has any real idea how to do it either except to change hosting companies. Let’s be real here; why the heck would most of us want to keep jumping around to hosting companies just to see if this possibly works?

4. Prioritize visible content

This is the strangest one. What it tells you is that you have issues with your HTML that it supposedly can’t render completely the first time around that’s above the fold. This one is problematic for two reasons.

The first is that, at least for me, the two things it’s telling me it’s having a problem with is my main image and some Google Adsense code. On the first, I’ve reduced the image and don’t have any actual HTML around the image, so I’m not sure what to do about that, especially since the entire code is actually way above the fold since it’s at the top of the page.

The second is that, even based on all the research I’ve done, they really don’t tell you what above the fold means in this particular context. For instance, on the page speed screen it shows you what you believe is the above the fold area. Yet, all the research says that’s not quite the above the fold Google’s talking about, and the only way to figure it out is to go step by step, testing each little change.

Not only do I NOT know who has the time to do all of that, but on one of my sites I totally eliminated the HTML for the content, going totally with CSS content. Unless CSS is now also HTML, Google’s gone bonkers! lol

One last thing. For my medical billing site, I actually removed both the image and the two places where I have the Google Adsense code just to see how much my speed would improve… and it didn’t improve! What the hey? I also took a different page, saved it as something else on my computer, and copied just the content of the page that’s dragging into it; eureka, it worked! That is, until I changed the Title of the page to what it should be and the title on the page for what it was supposed to represent… all broke once more; sigh…

5. Size tap targets appropriately

This is another one that’s kind of goofy. What this supposedly means is that things you want people to click on, whether it’s a menu item or links to other pages within your content, are too close for mobile users to get to easily enough.

On my main business page it’s telling me that the menu items are too close to each other. Unfortunately there’s little I can do about that because the menu was created for me 13 years ago by my friend Kelvin, and I rarely dig into javascript code to make changes because I don’t know the ins and outs of it (although I did go into it to make a menu correction; I was proud of myself when it worked).

On my medical billing site, the content it’s telling me is too close to each other is, once again, within the Google Adsense code. I mean… really?!?!? What the heck am I supposed to do with that? By Google’s own terms of service you’re not allowed to mess with their code, and one would assume that if they’re going to report on themselves that they’d fix themselves while they were at it. Then again, why expect common sense from Google when Warner Brothers has reported their own site for stealing their content? Sheesh! lol

Those are the top 5 things I haven’t been able to figure out. I’ve actually figured out almost everything else, which is how I achieved the speeds I did. One last thing though; I want to reiterate that, though those error messages above keep popping up, they don’t seem to affect all my pages the same… even though the structure of all the pages is the same. I think I need a computer Sherlock Holmes to figure it out… or maybe someone out there much smarter than me who’ll see this post and stop by to help. We can only hope… 😉
 

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Innovation Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 19, 2016

I’d like to begin this article by sharing a couple of videos. Let’s start with this one:


https://youtu.be/zd-fOdKS6ok

And now this one…


https://youtu.be/fWovOLFh76s

The first one was initially exhibited on the show “Shark Tank”, but since I’ve never seen the show (I rarely watch TV these days) I was introduced to it in Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought it in a heartbeat. I have my own video but never uploaded it to my video page, which is why I’m sharing their commercial for it. This thing is cool; go check it out.

cereal_001
This is a real cereal lol

The second one was obviously my video, and the first time I shared it was on a post from 2013 about innovation and blogging. The thing is it was probably the shortest post I’ve written here in, at the time, probably 4 years, yet it got a ton of comments and views… did I mention it was short?

There are two main things about innovation that all of you need to know to help get along in the world… that is, if you’re the type that’s up for trying to innovate something.

The first is that innovation doesn’t have to be overly complicated; you can either create something new that no one else has done or you can take something existing and improve on it.

The second is that, even if your innovation is relatively simple, it’s still going to take some work to accomplish what you’re aiming to do.

My latest innovation, if you will, started at the beginning of this month when I advocated that I was going to write 12 posts on this blog for the month. That might not seem much like an innovation until I ask you this; how many of you have tried doing it?

I created a post a day for my business blog this past December. I did a video every day for my business YouTube channel and then I did the same on my other YouTube channel (which you can check out and subscribe to over there in the right sidebar) a year later. It’s not so much that I did those things as much as the fact that for the most part I did all of them within 3 or 4 days… just like these posts (this post was actually written on the second day after I decided I was going to do this project). Thus, in a relatively short period of time I had to innovate, establish, initiate, create, inaugurate and commence to writing, posting and adding images to each of these articles so I would be free to do the same or other types of things with both my other blogs and the marketing of my business.

Was any of this all that complicated? No, I wouldn’t say that. Even though I’m different than a lot of people when it comes to coming up with ideas to write about, I know a lot of people who come up with publishing calendars and write a lot of ideas out on what they want to talk about on their blogs, or even in books they’re writing. On some writing projects and for my marketing I tend to create outlines so I know the things I want to address and then I go after it.

That’s the easy part, and the way I see it, it’s the beginning of the innovation part; not all that complicated at all.

The creation part… that’s the actual work. No matter how many times I’ve written about blogging here, I try to find new ways to present the concepts I believe in differently so that I’m not boring anyone. To this point, not counting this particular article, I’ve averaged 901 words per post. That’s not counting the articles I’ve written for my other blogs during this same time period. I think I’d put that up against any article of 2,000 words or more than someone else writes when they’re only writing once a week (yeah, I went there lol).

Enough talking about myself; we’re all tired of that! lol Instead, I’d like to give you 5 ways to think about innovation as it applies to you:

Big Remote

1. What would you like to see in something you use?

Sara Blakely thought the traditional girdles and other intimate wear for women wasn’t achieving what she wanted for herself. Instead of starting from scratch, she came up with a design for something that worked for her, went through the process of creating more items and getting funding, and the next thing you know is she’s created something known as Spanx and has become a billionaire in the process.

2. How can you improve on something that’s already out there?

Who remembers a little computer game from the early 2000’s where you had some polar bears who made a game out of seeing how far they could flip penguins? I don’t know if the creators of what I’m about to mention ever saw that but in its own way Angry Birds was that same game, only with different animals, more colors and better sound. They also created it for multiple platforms and made millions off it.

3. What’s something you wish you had that you haven’t seen anywhere that you can create?

Illumibowl is a great example of that. The creators made something that I’d been wanting for many years because, as a glasses wearer, the only way I could see the toilet at night beforehand was to turn the lights on, which is disconcerting when you’re woken up to go. Obviously these guys had the same issue, based on the commercial.

4. What’s something you can do or create that many others either can’t or won’t do that you can add your own touch to?

I’m going to talk about myself again, but I’m going to bring someone else into the mix. Years ago I created an evaluation module for employees to use to evaluate current employees as well as help set up the parameters the wanted in new employees they wanted to hire. When I finished it I called my friend Kelvin to talk about it.

I said I wasn’t sure whether it was all that good because all I did was sit down, use an outline to come up with the criteria and then created forms on Excel. In my eyes, this was something anyone could easily create. He said “nobody else has except you, no matter how easy it was”. That was that; no matter that it hasn’t been a big seller, it’s there and I created it.

5. What will it cost you if you’re not ready to innovate anything?

You know those glasses you can wear that magnifies what you’re looking at? I thought of that back in 1983 but never acted on it. You see that picture above of the big remote control? I thought of that in the early 80’s also, but no one produced one until the late 90’s. Even without the technical skill to create either of them, how different would my life have been if I’d gone to someone with the proper skills and worked on creating them and getting them to market? What are you willing to do, and how are you willing to change your thinking to take a shot at something new or different to see where it might take you?

That’s all I’ve got for you; how will you innovate your thinking?
 

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7 Ways To Market On LinkedIn… If You’re Up For It

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 17, 2016

Yeah, I know, that’s not quite fair. lol After my post about LinkedIn being like Facebook what else could one expect? 🙂

LICincoDeMayo-2
Jo Chou via Compfight

Truthfully, even though it’s rare that I do it these days, it not only can’t hurt to do some marketing, networking or outreach on LinkedIn if you’re a sole proprietor, consultant or looking to upgrade your position but it’s almost imperative to do so. No matter how much I might think it’s failing as a social media platform, truth be told there’s no other site I know of that’s still more geared towards people and business than it is.

With that said, I can talk about different ways you can market yourself or your services on LinkedIn. I’ve done a little bit of all these things, with differing results, thus it gives me a bit of credibility to talk about them. I’m not going to tell you how successful or unsuccessful any of them were because you should discover these things for yourself. I will say that over the past 2 years I’ve been way more successful at it than I was back in 2012. 😉

1. Post articles

Full disclosure; I stopped publishing posts on LinkedIn in December, although I haven’t totally ruled out going that route again. I posted 100 articles and they had varying success. The shares started out like gangbusters and I was getting a lot of attention but at a certain point things dropped off drastically.

However, the reason this is a good thing to do is because of that initial boost. You’ll have to post at least 10 times and spread them out at least a few days, maybe even a full week. You get to select up to 3 categories that you feel your article addresses. If you’re lucky, at least one of them will go “LinkedIn viral”, which means you’ll get over 1,000 views, and if a lot of those people end up following you at least you’ll have created a new audience.

2. Set up your blog posts to automatically go there

Although I have 5 blogs, I only have two of mine set up to send posts there automatically, this one and my business blog. For years I only had my business blog posts going there but recently I changed that up to share these posts as well via Twitterfeed. By the way, I use this same program to post all of my blog posts to Twitter when they go live, and I use it to post my business posts to my business Facebook page.

3. Post some of your older articles or new videos to your status

I don’t do this all that often, and I won’t be doing it for the month of September since I’ll have a lot of posts showing up there, but this is another way to get some of your content in front of other eyes and sometimes you might get some feedback on it. You can’t automate this process, which is why it’s down further on the list, but it can’t do anything but help you… unless you post something stupid. lol

Beatles old and new

4. Comment on some posts in groups

Someone else might recommend that you post links in groups related to your niche but I’m going a different way. The reason for this is because almost everyone posts nothing but links without saying anything about what they’re sharing. This means most people ignore the links because there’s not much compelling about that sort of thing on LinkedIn; you can get that from Twitter instead.

However, commenting on posts does a couple of things. One, it might help you connect with the original poster, since they’ll be notified that someone commented on their post. Two, those people who actually sometimes writes comments are more likely to leave a comment on a post that already has one. I don’t know why this is but I used to notice that it happened quite often after I commented first on an article.

5. Post a discussion topic in a group

Instead of posting links, think about a topic you believe might generate discussion instead. Set it up by either giving some background on the issue or giving your opinion on it. Most people will be more comfortable with giving background information and then asking people their opinion on it. That can get people responding and sharing their thoughts, and it gives you the opportunity to network with those who you feel comfortable with.

6. Reach out to people you’re connected to with an original message for each one

I’m connected to over 1,000 people on LinkedIn, and at least 40% of those people are in health care, which is what I mainly consult in. I did a campaign where I decided to try to reach out to every person I was connected to that I’d never had a conversation with, or didn’t remember talking to.

I’ll admit that because of the number of people I was connected to and the time it was taking to go through the list, I stopped after the letter “L”, which means I made it almost halfway through the alphabet. I had conversations with a few of those people by reaching out to them first. I was able to script a different message to each person by first looking at their profiles again and, because I’m in the industry, having an idea of what to ask them or share with them individually. I’m still talking to a couple of those people months later; that’s pretty cool.

7. Rinse and repeat

Like all marketing efforts, nothing works if you only do it once or twice. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time because you never know when people are potentially going to see what you’re putting out. Don’t overdo it but be softly persistent.

If you get lucky enough to talk to someone, do that… don’t market up front but talk to people. They might learn enough from that to ask you more specific questions, then you’re good to go.

That should be enough to get you started, or at least get you thinking about how you might want to change something up. If you have other ideas, go ahead and share them. If you have further questions, or you try some of these, please feel free to let me know how it’s going for you; I’d love to hear it.
 

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Anatomy Of A Blog Post & How I Break The Rules

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 14, 2016

I’ve been blogging for a very long time, and I’ve read thousands of blog posts, probably tens of thousands, over the years. Because of that, I know all the rules that we bloggers are supposed to follow so that our blogs will be successful.

Rules
Jodi via Compfight

Me being me though, I tend not to always follow the rules. Sure, there are some things I do that are considered standard writing, but I tend to deviate from a lot of the rules as they pertain to blogging because I am an individual. I figure these are my blogs, and I’m going to do things my way while working hard to make sure I get my point across.

Let’s talk about the anatomy of a blog and how I break The rules. I’m not saying you should be doing what I’m doing; what I’m showing is that no matter what anyone says, including me, that there are always other ways of doing things for whatever your reasons might be… and hopefully those reasons aren’t stupid. lol

Every person who tells you how to write a blog post will say that you should begin with a strong title. About half the time I don’t have a title when I start writing, so it’s hard to start with a strong title. Often I need to find out where the post is going as I write, just like fiction writers do, and every once in awhile I have no idea what to title the post until I finish writing it.

Back in March I wrote a post about someone who had what I considered to be a misleading title and had the temerity to beat up the original post and show people other ways of finding ways to create new content; I’m nice like that. My gripe about many titles is that they’re not only misleading but border on slander, like calling something a scam in the title to get people to come, only to tell them it’s not a scam.

I’m not saying titles aren’t important; I’m saying there’s no pure rules to creating them that anyone needs to follow… except to have one.

The second thing the experts will tell you is that you should mention in the very first paragraph what you’re going to be writing about so that everybody, including the search engines, knows what’s coming. I tend to violate that rule about 95% of the time because I like to have my own exposition and set things up the way I want to do it, once again pretty much like fiction writers. Think of a title like To Kill A Mockingbird; do you know how far into the book that sucker was?

I like leading into topics my own way, just like you see above, and often I’ll put some kind of link in the first paragraph going to either a previous blog post or some other article elsewhere, which is definitely something I don’t see a lot of other people doing. I’ll lead into my articles my way, and hope to keep people’s attention until we get to the second paragraph.

perfect life

The third thing a lot of experts recommend is that you separate a lot of your content with headers; some of them even recommend you add an < h2 > tag to it. What they’re saying is that you should have a bolded header, write a paragraph about it, and then rinse and repeat multiple times in every article you write.

From my standpoint a lot of that has more to do with the kind of papers we wrote in high school and college than with actual writing. I know that newspapers and magazines do this type of thing. There are times that I do it, but usually I’m numbering things because I know that people who read blood love number post. Overall, I like to write and do things my way and hope that whatever audience I have comes along with me.

Number four, even though I talked about images a couple of posts ago, something a lot of experts will recommend if you write on a topic where you can’t find proper images is to grab a nice picture and then type your subject over the picture so that people will know what it is you’re going to be talking about.

I don’t do that because I figure the title of the post is going to give some kind of idea of what I’m talking about, even if it takes until the second paragraph for me to get to it. I would rather have other kinds of images to put in as eye candy for my post. Of course, the other reason is that I haven’t quite figured out how to make images with messages going across them look any good. LOL

The final thing experts will tell you is to make sure to have a strong close to your article. Truthfully, I always hope that I will have a strong close, but most of the time I figure that I’m either going to have a funny close or I’m going to ask a question. I have to admit that closing strong isn’t one of my strengths, probably because most of my early writing when I was younger were song lyrics, and there’s no such thing as strong closing song lyrics since most of the time you’re just repeating the chorus over and over; you know it’s true. lol I guess I probably should have spent more time in English class figuring that one out.

That’s the basic anatomy of conventional blog posts that I pretty much give up on. It’s my belief that if you as the writer can be engaging and still get your point across that it doesn’t matter what the anatomy of your post is. Always remember my three main things about a blog post; inform, educate, or entertain.

I probably should add don’t be boring, but you probably know that one already. 😀
 

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