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My End With Commission Junction – B&N And Franklin Covey’s Fault

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 17, 2016

I should have known this day was coming. I initially talked about it in 2011 when I wondered why I have so many problems with Commission Junction, an affiliate program I’d signed up with a few years earlier and actually loved to use for a long period at the time…until I started having problems getting paid. I then waited another almost 3 years before I asked is it time to get rid of Commission Junction, after a few more incidents that were, frankly, starting to get on my last nerve, once again not getting paid and having affiliates dropping me for, of all things, not making sales for them even while I was promoting them.

avoid affiliate scams
Creative Commons License Wes Schaeffer via Compfight

The final straw for me has been two separate incidents that have happened within the last month or so, and frankly, it’s making me wonder about affiliate marketing across the board. I don’t know anything about Amazon as an affiliate program, but it seems like it might be the only one that can be trusted since they’re running their own system. We’ll see about that later on; for now, let me tell my tales.

The first one involves Franklin Covey. I’ve always been a fan of their planners, having owned one type or another since 2005. Over the last few years, instead of going to Staples to buy one, I started buying them through my affiliate program, which was always allowed under Commission Junction’s rules previously. I only made a small percentage off buying from myself, but I bought planners for both my wife and I at close to $90.

I did the same thing this year… only I didn’t get paid for it. When I reached out to the Franklin Covey affiliate program, the person told me I wasn’t eligible to get paid for using my own program. I wrote back saying that was never the policy before, and it wasn’t anywhere on the Commission Junction page that I could find. She never wrote back, and that irked me so I went into the system, closed my Covey account, and went to my websites to remove any reference to them.

The next story involved Barnes and Noble. I’ve loved this bookstore since I discovered it in the 90’s, and I’ve bought almost all my books through them. I’ve purchased 4 Nook products for myself, 2 for my wife and one for my mother. I’ve been a B&N member for at least 10 years, maybe longer, and I’ve always supported them in every way I could.

Many years ago I learned that they had an affiliate program through something that used to be called the Google Affiliate Network. I signed up and was approved and started promoting books I reviewed through their affiliate program. I didn’t make a lot of money but no one could say I didn’t try. At some point they moved to Linkshare, which later became Rakuten, and I went over there, signed up, and kept promoting both books and DVDs through them. I never had to buy anything using their program because, as a member I would take my 10% discount and be happy with it, and of course I’d always already read the books or watched the DVDs before promoting them.

bad affiliate programs
feel like I’ve been clowned…

At some point last year, it seems B&N had moved their affiliate program to Commission Junction… without notice. On a fluke, there was a book I recently wanted to promote, so I went to Rakuten… and no B&N! Research told me they’d moved, and I was irked because that meant all my book links had been bad for a long time.

Still… it was B&N, and my love affair with them said “okay, let’s just sign up with the affiliate program there and move on with life.” Hey, if I had to update all my links for all my sites then I was ready to do it. After all, I had a link on one of my other sites to lots of books, most through affiliates, and I figured it would be a relative easy switch.

Only… B&N rejected me. And without any reason… or notification. We used to get email notifications when affiliate programs declined us; not anymore it seems. I’m not sure if it’s B&N’s fault or CJ’s fault that I was informed, but that’s not the real issue here. My issue is that without knowing why I was rejected I have no way of deciding whether or not I agree with it or not; I can’t even appeal.

And… truthfully, I didn’t want to appeal. If you know anything about me, my number one morality and ethics point is “loyalty”. I’ve been loyal to these folks for all these years, even while their model and products have been failing. Frankly, I can get books less at Amazon, and I can get movies for much less at both Target and Walmart. The only thing I can’t get anywhere but B&N is their cookie… and now I’ll never get that again either.

To this end, I canceled my Commission Junction account last Thursday. When you don’t make a sale in 3 months or so they start feeding off anything you’ve earned. Because I’ve had so many of my sales not counted (even when other people have made purchases) and CJ says it’s not their problem, and affiliates don’t always answer, my account was down around $14 anyway; sigh. They wrote me on Friday as I was leaving town saying they’d closed my account and would send me a check; I guess I’ll be getting pizza whenever it shows up.

I’m not getting rid of my Nooks, but I’ll never buy another one. As much as I’ve enjoyed having them, these days I can’t even download most of the digital movies I have to the SD card because the movie apps (except Flixster Movies) say they don’t support the Nook, even though they also say they support Android and the latest Nooks are Android.

I’m ending my membership with B&N, and I’m canceling the magazine subscriptions I have with them. I’m unsubscribing from the newsletter, and as much as I can I plan on never setting foot inside one again.

are affiliate programs a mess?
What to do…

As for the Franklin Planner… well, I have a love/hate relationship with that. I love having it but I hate using it; how goofy is that? I’ll have to think about whether or not I’m irked enough to stop using it entirely, go to another planner, or set up a totally different system that would do the same things the planner does, only electronically (which I partially use now anyway).

With that said… this also now means a lot of work for me, and this is the thing to warn everyone else about that uses affiliate marketing plans. One of the things I’ve been doing since I worked on my mobile speed issues is going back through old posts of mine that I’ve been internally linking to, cleaning them up and removing old code. I’ve also gone back to the earliest of my posts to see if I need to either remove old code or make the posts private if they serve no relevance anymore.

What I’m now going to have to do is go through this blog, 3 of my other blogs, and my Services and Stuff website and remove lots of code all over the place. I’ve already removed the link to books that I had on this site and I won’t be putting it back until I remove all the books I had on there that were linking to B&N wherever they might be. I also have to now speed up going to my business blog and removing all book codes to old newsletters that I’d left on the site even though I’d stopped writing new ones in 2013.

Ugh! All of this is going to take a lot of time, which I really don’t have, yet I also know that cleaning up old, bad code is essential to helping my rankings continue to climb.

This is why it’s better to create and then market your own products. No matter what else happens, you own your own stuff and if you have buyers you’ll get to benefit from those sales without having to give anything to the middle person. Then again, I need to think about re-pricing some of my stuff; at least that’ll be an easy fix.

That’s my story. How have the rest of you been dealing with affiliate marketing programs over the years? Also, for those of you using Amazon, please clue me in as to whether it’s worth bothering to take a look at it or not.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Results Of My Mobile Speed/12 Posts In September Test

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 10, 2016

I took last week off from writing a new blog post because I wanted to give my epic post on blogging mistakes a chance to gain some traction. I also figured it would be a good time to see how some of my efforts worked out as I worked on increasing my web presence after all that work I did on my mobile speed.

mobile speed
This is speedy!

First, let’s talk about the goals I set out to accomplish when I announced at the beginning of September that I was going to write 12 posts in the month:

1. Kickstart the search engines
2. Show people that it can be done
3. Inform, educate, entertain
4. Show expertise

Let’s get #2 out of the way. I indeed wrote 12 posts for the month of September, which included that monster last post. Eight of the 12 were more than 1,000 words, with a total word count of 17,330 for the month. That’s about a 3rd of the way to having an entire book; I can live with that.

We can also get through #3 and #4 pretty quickly. I wrote what I consider one entertaining post which also was informative, and I think I wrote one educational post about images, with the rest being informational; at least that’s how I categorizing them. Some of those posts showed my expertise in blogging after so many years; I may not make a lot of money but I certainly know how to crank out some articles. πŸ™‚

I know, it’s #1 that most people want to know about, since that was the biggest thing I was worried about when I started talking about the difference between being mobile friendly and mobile speed, and how all my rankings had suffered drastically this year. I also know I wasn’t alone on this one, but as always I’m willing to take on the challenge of doing the testing.

When I wrote about my test in writing a post every day in December on my business blog, I noted that it hadn’t worked and I had no real clue why. This time, I thought it might have to do more with the mobile speed, which was probably lacking back in December on all my blogs since I didn’t even know it was a thing to consider. If that were the case, then it’s no wonder that my content aims didn’t work.

increase blog traffic

I also did a bit of research in August & September and noticed that for all of my blogs almost none of my new content was being seen by at least Google, although Bing seemed to be finding me. I have to admit that was kind of scary, since I’d written a few things I really believed would have done really well with a lot of people. Even looking up some of my titles word for work on Google didn’t show any of my articles on the first page unless they showed up on someone else’s blog that I’d commented on. That’s when I knew I was in some serious trouble.

Thus, the 12 posts test. What’s happened has been kind of amazing; let me share some details:

1. On August 31st, my Alexa ranking was 859,918 and the blog was in free fall. On September 15th, the ranking was 934,330. As of yesterday, October 9th, my ranking was… 644,985! No matter what you might think about Alexa not being totally accurate, that’s still a pretty nice recovery if you ask me.

2. Because I took all of last week off, I went to look at my Google Analytics on Sunday to see what they might tell me. First, my overall traffic has doubled from the month before, as well as my pageviews; that’s not depressing at all. As a matter of fact, September was my highest month for both since last September; nice!

3. Something else Analytics showed me was that 7 of the articles I wrote this month were in my top 10 in the last 30 days… which is something that’s never happened before! My post from the 30th about blogging mistakes is at #5 with “30 mistakes you’re making blogging” and if I put the entire title in, without the quotation marks, it comes up #1… which is what it’s supposed to do. That means Google is indexing me again; yay!

That’s not bad, right? It gets even better for me across the board. I had 4 posts on my business blog in September and my Alexa ranking went from 1,114,055 to 881,170 in the same time period. In actuality, 4 of my 5 blogs increased their Alexa rankings in September, even with little content. The one that didn’t actually increased from the 1st to the 15th because I’d posted a pretty nice article in the first week of the month but it slowly fell after that; it really needs more content. πŸ™‚

I’m feeling pretty good about things at this juncture. I think it shows that if you can achieve proper mobile speed numbers and have enough new content that your traffic numbers can improve. It’ll be interesting to see how well this blog does as I go back to a mainly once a week posting schedule, which hopefully will leave me more time to write for my other blogs as well.

Are you now encouraged to try to increase your mobile speed?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

30 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Blog

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 30, 2016

This is the last new post of the month of September, and the only one I didn’t write within 3 days of making the decision that I was going to do it. I wanted the last post to be, well, kind of epic, which means it took some deep thought on what I wanted to write.


I’m thinking that 30 mistakes people are making with their blogs is a nice followup to a post I did back in March on 31 mistakes people make blogging and in social media. In that post, which ended up being 4,600+ words, I wrote 15 things about blogging, and I’m not guaranteeing that I won’t touch upon any of those recommendations on this one. I’m not even going to guarantee that this post won’t end up being that long… but I hope not. πŸ™‚

These are in no particular order except for the last one. I tried keeping themes together as much as possible, but I’m not lying when I say that my eyes started to cross as I was putting the list together. By the way, when I talk about images below, you’ll understand why I’m using the images I’m using on this post. Doing the best I can; let’s get started.

1. Not writing enough content

Very rarely is a paragraph a blog post. Neither are two or three. The only time that seems to work out is if you’re breaking news that no one else has and you get that post out quickly. That happened for me back in ’08 or ’09 and it took off… then six months later I had to make it private because it had no meaning at that point.

Even though there are a lot of big time bloggers saying that posts should be around 3K words these days, I’m going to call that a bunch of rubbish. While a lot of those posts do very well, blogging is about message more than length.

In other words, if you believe you can explain a concept you’re writing about in 200 words or less, go ahead and do it; just don’t do it often if you want the search engines to take you seriously. If you don’t care… you do you Boo!

2. Not writing regularly

I know a few people who write every single day. I know some people who write one post every 3 months. I also know some people who only write when they feel the urge to write… even if that’s less than once a year.

Understanding that it’s your blog and that you can do anything you want with it is one thing; trying to figure out why you have a blog that you don’t feel like contributing to is another.

No one builds up an audience if writing is sporadic and sparse. Someone who visited your blog 3 months ago is probably going to write you off if you don’t have something at least once a month… and that post better be epic.

3. Not enough white space


Writing online is much different than writing in books. The biggest complaint I’ve seen from people who read blogs is that there’s too much text in a paragraph for their tastes way too often.

At first I didn’t get that because when I went to school, I was taught that your paragraph should contain everything your first line states it should be, no matter how long it is. Then I started visiting a lot of blogs and I got it.

For whatever reason too much text in a small space, especially on mobile, is hard to process. Thus, it’s better if you can make your paragraphs shorter and make your thoughts a bit more concise.

4. Every paragraph is one line

There are times when having a one-line paragraph makes sense. If you have a long sentence then it looks good having it be the only line in a paragraph. If you’re setting something up, a one-line paragraph is a nice way to do it.

From my perspective however, having every single thing on your site being one line is irritating. It makes me think that the writer couldn’t keep a cohesive thought together for longer than a sentence, especially when those sentences are short.

If you have sentences that seem to go 3 lines, go for it. If you have one line 10 times in a row… please, please, don’t do it!

5. Not putting your social media information in your share buttons

This is mainly a Twitter gripe for me, but if it’s happening for Twitter then it’s probably happening with the rest of your share buttons.

I share a lot of content, and at least half of what I’m sharing comes from blogs. It’s amazing how many share buttons I click on where there’s no Twitter handle attached to it.

If I’m on a blog where I know the person, it’s not that big a deal. However, a lot of articles I share either came from seeing a post on Twitter that someone else has shared or finding it on Flipboard. This means that, if I want to give attribution to the person whose blog it is, I have to go searching for it.

The other reason you want to have your Twitter handle on there is so you can see who’s sharing your content. When people share, they usually post your title, the link and your Twitter handle. If it’s there, you get a notification telling you it was shared; that’s pretty cool. Without it, you have no idea how well your articles are doing or who’s possibly sharing your stuff. You miss out on a lot of engagement possibilities by not having your handle in there.

6. Not having your social media accounts listed on your blog


You know what else I see? People have these share buttons with every single social media possibility showing… but don’t have accounts on those sites.

At the same time, I notice that a lot of people don’t have a way for others to subscribe or at least go look at what they might be putting on their other social media accounts (since I consider blogging part of social media).

Look over to the right of this blog. You see my Instagram link, my YouTube, my Flipboard and my Facebook business accounts. I want people to check those things out and possibly subscribe. I have my Google Plus link on my left sidebar; I need to think about moving that. If you’re trying to grow an audience, you need to share the places you can be found with those folks who visit your blog.

7. Not responding to comments… even if you respond on day one

I’ve gotten into the habit of not leaving comments on blogs where the owners don’t respond to comments. A lot of those blogs I refuse to even read anymore, even if I think they’re pretty good, because it feels like they’re taking visitors for granted.

Something else I’ve seen are blog owners who only respond to those comments that show up on day one. I’m sure they feel confident in saying “hey, I responded to some comments”, but in my eyes it shows that the writer wrote something and has already moved on to the next thing. If you’re writing a story blog then cool. If you’re writing content with the intention that it’s going to be evergreen, you need to treat your visitors better.

8. Moderating comments for too long a period

I hate comment moderation. On my blogs, if your comment is being moderated it’s either because my GASP plugin thinks your comment is spam, or because you’re commenting from Chrome (I still haven’t figured that one out; it’s bugging me lol). This means that the majority of comments flow through properly, so I don’t have to do anything with them.

People who moderate comments on purpose are either worried about spam (number one reason) or the type of content someone’s comment might contain that they’re worried about. I get it; if that’s your comfort level then go for it, but I can tell you that unless you’re really big on social media and getting hundreds of comments you’re putting too much work into it.

How do I know this? Because it seems like there’s way too many blogs that moderate comments where the owner takes close to a week or even longer to make those comments live. Wow, that a great way of making people feel a part of your community… NOT!

There’s so many more ways of protecting your site from spam or the types of comments you don’t want to see, either using a plugin or going into your Admin panel (if you’re using WordPress software) and changing a few settings. You should probably be using a lot of those things for security anyway. In any case, it’ll take a load off you and be more friendly for your visitors.

9. Too much profanity


As someone who’s never uttered a profane word in his life (lots of witnesses to that lol), I can say this isn’t a problem I have. I recognize that for some people there’s a time for using profanity to express themselves and I don’t have a problem with that. Heck, it’s in too many movies I like for me to be prudish about it. πŸ™‚

Yet… when I see it written on a blog, where it sometimes feels like every paragraph is littered with it… I often leave without continuing to read it. I always think subject matter should be the determiner for language.

For instance, I was reading a Cracked article about Dolemite (aka, Rudy Ray Moore, for those of you who don’t know who he is) and his first movie. The movie… well, back in the 70’s it was considered an X-rated movie (not like today’s XXX movies, just to be clear). This means it had a lot of sex and violence… and every other word was foul.

Reading an article with a lot of cursing in it fit because it took on the tone of the movie it was reviewing (trust me, worst movie ever lol). However, if the article was on puppies and kittens and babies not getting along… come on, who wouldn’t agree with me that it would feel out of place?

10. Not moderating for bad language, attacks, trolls etc

When I talk about the need to moderate comments, I mean you should be looking at the comments that show up on your blog to see if they’re addressing the content. If they’re not, it’s probably spam and you should remove it. If there’s a lot of bad language and your audience isn’t meant to be quite that adult, you should remove it. If you see one person personally attacking someone else on your blog, you should remove it.

Why? Unless you’re an online newspaper (y’all know those comments are the worst thing right?), I’m assuming your intention is to draw the audience you want to interact with and have your blog be a safe harbor for anyone who wants to talk to you. Debating the merits of the last presidential debate (don’t even!) while staying civil, if that’s the topic you wrote on, is one thing; having it devolve into petty arguments with no substance and someone being potentially threatened… no one wants to deal with that. If you don’t moderate it your visitors will… by leaving and never coming back.

11. Too many ads/javascript

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post here talking about my experience with blocking javascript on my browser and how I’m enjoying the peace.

The thing is, I now get to decide which blogs or websites I’m going to allow to intrude on my peace of mind with their incessant popups for subscriptions or sales pitches. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, and if you see me comment on your blog, you can bet that I’ve determined your blog isn’t irritating me and that I feel fine allowing whatever bit of javascript you have on your blog (which actually includes many people’s share buttons and CommentLuv).

On some blogs though… as I mentioned in that post, some blogs and websites end up not showing me any content whatsoever. If that’s you, it means you have way too much javascript going on. Y’all do know that come the new year Google’s going to be penalizing sites for that right? It’s already irritating, but now Google’s going to lay the smack down on you because… it’s not mobile friendly.

Too many sites have popups that won’t show the X on some mobile phones so people can close them. Google’s going to take care of those of us who hate that… I might change my javascript policy once that goes into effect… although I’m sure it’ll be a long time before I’ll even think about doing so.

12. Popups!

Did I mention popups? I hate popups with a passion! I’ve even told people how to block your newsletter popups; I’m not ashamed!

I’ve always made a clarification that my biggest gripe is having those suckers show up before I’ve even had a chance to see if your content is worth my time. Nowadays some of you are using the trick of dropping your site down almost to what’s known as the “above the fold content” to make us scroll down to see your content. Frankly, I don’t think anyone’s worth that much time and effort to see if you have anything worthwhile to say.

If everyone’s popup was nearer the bottom of a post, I could get behind that. Since that’s not the majority, not even close… well, you know what’s coming…

13. Too much selling/ads


I’m not against people trying to make money by any means. I do think that some people will go to the extreme in trying to sell products though.

Look at my left sidebar for a minute. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff over there. Three of those things are books I’ve written; one is a webinar I created. One of those things is actually a free download. The only “real” product that doesn’t belong to me is the Mailwasher thing. On the right side, the only product thing I have is a link to take you to a Fitbit page on one of my other websites.

What’s not there? Any javascript for any products! Nothing pops out at anyone. with my blog posts, it’s rare that I even put a link in an article to something I’ve recommended, and often it’s a book (check out next week’s post here, as I have a minor rant about that…).

Some people sell, sell, and sell some more within every post. I think it’s a put-off because it becomes more of a commercial than an actual blog. Then again, it might explain why some of those folks make more money online than I do; personal preference (like popups). I’ll just ask you to think about it from the perspective of a reader/visitor, even yourself, to see if that’s the kind of content you want to be constantly absorbing.

14. Having more guest posts than your own content

Having guest posts on your blog is an intriguing strategy. When I was taking them on my finance blog it was one of the highest ranked online. That’s because I was able to consistently have at least 2 articles a week on it, sometimes 3, and it allowed me to only have to write once every couple of weeks.

The problem? Well, it wasn’t a blog like this. Many of the articles I accepted on that site I knew nothing about… I even got paid for some of them. However, I got very few comments, very few returning visitors, thus little engagement.

In essence, what I eventually felt one of the problems was (there were many problems) that there wasn’t anyone coming to the blog to see what I had to say. Why would they; I mean, no one really knew when I was going to write any of the articles there. If anyone was coming to see what I had to say or wondered what Mitchell was going to write about next… I didn’t have a clue about it.

I’m seeing more blogs lately, blogs I used to visit a lot, where there’s almost never an article from the person who owns the blog. Frankly, I’ve stopped visiting almost all of those blogs because you never know who’s writing the content. There are a couple I still visit because it turns out that sometimes I know the person who’s writing the guest post; I’m nothing if not loyal. If I visit and don’t know the person… I’m outta there!

I think if people like having guest posts it will definitely help get their sites ranked better; it might even help them make more money. What gets lost is the personal touch. On my finance blog, I was initially making sure the ratio was 50-50; a guest post, one from me, a guest post, one from me… that faltered when I started traveling a lot for business; instead of writing, now I was editing all the time… and the thrill was gone.

If you’re going to accept guest posts, you also need to remember why people started coming to your blog in the first place. As I said, I’m loyal… but only to people I know. I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way.

15. Making it too hard to comment on your blog

I hate funky blog commenting systems (Disqus, Livefyre, etc…). I hate captcha. I hate having to create an account or log in to leave a comment on a blog. So I won’t do it; never have, never will.

I have a setting on my blog that makes you write at least 10 words to leave a comment. I ask you to use your name, first and/or last if you wish, but a third name will reject you. You’re also going to get a notification if you don’t have an avatar, but your comment will still go through.

You need to have some standards on your blog, and a commenting policy should be a part of it (look above the comment window & you’ll see mine). If you ask me, those are pretty simple rules to follow; the only one that trips some people up is the one about the avatar, but I tell people all the time how easy it is to get one and why it’s important.

Making people prove who they are in other ways, having funky commenting systems… way harder than my way. Still, once again it’s a personal choice.

16. Not verifying that people know you’ve responded to their comments


This post is being written on Tuesday. In the last 3 days I’ve left comments on 11 blogs. To date, I’ve only received notice from one of those blogs that I got a response back (thanks Rummuser). On two of the blogs I know I got a response because I remembered I’d left a comment and went back to look. The other 8… no idea. That means I have no idea whether my comment will be responded to or not; isn’t that a shame?

This one is a relatively easy fix, which I wrote about in an article asking people if they knew if their visitors were getting responses back showing you responded to them. I’m not going to go through the process again but you should check out the article, and then check out your blog.

17. Not fully answering questions/fleshing out your meaning you or others posed as your topic

First, let me thank all those people who try to help others; you’re fully appreciated. One of the things I also do is try to help people when I can.

With that said, one of my biggest gripes on many of the sites that do offer tips is that their information is incomplete. I’ve been having major frustrations trying to find the answers to a lot of questions I have regarding some of the recommendations to increase the mobile speed of my websites. The problem I have is that no one gives you complete information, so I keep having to bounce around from site to site, picking up something here and there; that’s quite irksome.

Is it possible those posts will be a bit long? Absolutely! Can they also be short? Yup, that works also. Still, it’s always better to tell everything about a process you’re sharing, whether it’s a tutorial or you telling someone how you do things, like I did when I was talking about how I schedule posts to show up on Twitter last year, even though I now use Tweeten, which follows the same exact process. You become a more valuable resource when your visitors know you’re not leaving out potentially valuable information they may need.

18. Not linking to other articles you’ve written on your blog

Something I covered in my article giving 55 blogging tips and ideas was this concept of internal linking. That’s what I just did; I linked to another article I wrote on this blog that I believe will be helpful to you readers and helps the search engines know what I believe is related content; they like that. πŸ™‚

Thus, its beneficial to at least 3 sources; you, your visitors and search engines. This is a SEO practice many people forget to employ. Some people use a related posts plugin that lists some articles at the end of the article. That’s nice… I guess. lol You’ll get more benefit if you take a little bit of time to go through your archives and post something you know is pertinent instead of trusting it to something else.

19. Not giving attribution or linking to other articles when you bust on their topic

A good recommendation for finding things to talk about is to visit other blogs and websites. If you find inspiration, not only is it good to write about it but it helps your cause and theirs if you’ll link back to them… and if it’s a blog let them know you’ve done it.

You may have read about the topic of “influencer marketing”. I’m not a big proponent of that, but I am a proponent of sharing and giving attribution to people who help me in some way, whether they know it or not. It’s about networking, courtesy and fairness… along with being smart. πŸ™‚

20. Not editing your articles

Write Out Loud!
Creative Commons License Brian Turner via Compfight

I’m the last person to be one of the grammar police because I know I learned some lessons that others learned differently when it comes to grammar. Regardless of that fact, there are some universal rules that all of us should think about following for readability.

The same goes for misspellings, incorrect usage of words, typos, etc. Look, all of us make mistakes and all of us miss things; that’s human nature. But if you wrote 400 words and 50 of them don’t make any sense, or are misspelled… credibility goes out the window.

I believe all browsers now have some sort of spell checker that highlights words in red that shows you when you’re spelled something wrong; or at least it thinks you have. Isn’t it worth the effort to verify that? For most of us all it takes is a right-click on the word and the proper spelling will come up. If it doesn’t, it either means that’s not a word or it’s not so common a word that you’ll want to add it to the dictionary, or tell your program to allow it for the day… or just ignore the red line entirely. At least you’ll have done something.

21. Stupid commenting systems

Y’all know that having those commenting systems limits the number of comments you get; I’m not the only one who’s mentioned that over all these years. I already talked about the spam thing; think about it if you’re not someone who’s getting at least 20 comments on every single post you write. One of the blessings of not having javascript on my browser is that, since all those comment systems are heavy on it, comment areas don’t even show up, which tells me I wouldn’t have commented on it anyway; works for me! πŸ™‚

22. Making people subscribe to comments when they already have

I’ve complained about this one often enough. If I’ve already clicked the button after leaving my comment telling you I want to see responses to my comment, please, PLEASE, turn off the autoresponder that sends me a stupid email asking me to confirm it. Really? REALLY?!?!? Y’all know I’m not going to do it, and if I’m not, I know I’m not the only one. It’s so irritating

23. Not checking to see if everything’s working from time to time

Some of you know about my three weeks of a mobile speed quest for all my blogs and websites. I did a lot of testing on all my sites, trying to make sure everything I did still left the blogs working properly.

I ended up removing some plugins I’d had for a long time because, for one reason or another, they no longer worked. Even with that, just last week I learned that another tweak I’d made left 3 of my blogs without the ability to comment. I didn’t know it until Arlee Bird send me an email informing me of the problem. It was related to an older plugin that I’d meant to remove and had forgotten about. Once it was removed, everything was back to normal.

One of the things we don’t do often enough is keep up with our plugins. This is an older blog, and it turns out there were a lot of old plugins I was still using here that I’d also added to some of my other blogs that had never been updated for one reason or another. Some of those conflicted with mobile speed; some of them conflicted with a couple newer plugins I wanted to use to increase mobile speed.

One in particular, Akismet, turned out to not be working for, what, years, because they had gone to a paid model and I never knew it because WordPress had added it years ago, it kept updating, but I’d never seen anything come through saying they’d changed things on me. I’m throwing this out there because I’m betting most of you who might think you’re using it might not be.

24. Not checking dead links on your blog


You know what? It turns out that search engines will penalize your site if you have too many dead links on them. They don’t have to be links that you’ve shut down on your own; often it’s links that you’re included in your content or, believe it or not, dead links from people who’ve commented on your blog.

I go back and forth on this one but at this juncture I’m back in its corner… with some reservations. There’s a plugin called Broken Link Checker that can help you find all the broken links on your blog… even if some of them turn out not to actually be broken. What you need to do is activate it every once in a while, let it do its thing, eliminate or fix those links, then deactivate it. Otherwise, it’ll slow down your blog and potentially cause some issues with your other plugins, which was an issue I was having a few years ago.

If you’re running CommentLuv Premium, there’s also a CommentLuv Link Checker you should think about running every so often, since Broken Link Checker won’t remove those particular links.

By the way, a sidebar; Andy Bailey, the guy who developed CommentLuv Premium and the original, is physically unable to update the plugin any longer. If you have a problem and write a ticket, you’ll get an email telling you that and giving you some tips on what might be wrong. That’s the best you’re going to get from now on, but those tips turn out to be pretty good. I have a belief that this plugin won’t ever be updated again; that’s not as important as wishing the best for Andy, who’s a great guy.

25. Not promoting your blog in other places

This is the only issue I’m talking about that takes you directly off your blog. It’s also something I had to learn that I’ve now gotten way better about.

Your blog isn’t Field Of Dreams. Just because you write it doesn’t mean they’ll come, whoever “they’ll” is supposed to be. You need to market it, share it, publicize it… that’s pretty much it. Share buttons are nice, but if no one’s coming to your blog then no one’s going to be sharing any of it.

There’s all types of social media sites to share your content on. There’s all types of ways to get it done. You can automate or you can share when you’re ready. It doesn’t matter how you do it (well, it does, but it’s not as important as making sure you share), just figure it out and start doing it.

26. Not having images in your content

If you haven’t gotten the message that having an image within your blog post is a good idea you’re either new to the game or just don’t care. lol I don’t know the science behind it but visitors are drawn to images, and if it’s in your content they’ll give it a look. The new question is what to do if you can’t find images that match what you’re writing about; I addressed it by saying it’s more important to have an image than what it actually is, and I gave some examples of why I believe it.

27. Not checking your mobile speed

I just learned in August that when Google was talking about mobile friendly sites they were actually talking about mobile speed friendly sites. I went on a quest, which I wrote about in 3 posts in August, to correct that issue with my blogs and websites.

Video recording
Creative Commons License Kirill Kniazev via Compfight

Since that time I’ve been looking at the links of a lot of blogs I visit, curious to see how many other people have taken a look at it. I have to say it’s shocking what I’ve been seeing; some of y’all are not only in trouble but you’re going to be in a lot more trouble come January, when Google is going to make that another ranking point along with the javascript thing. If you take a look at the article I just linked to, there’s a link on it that’ll take you to a page where you can check your mobile speed and a few other things. If you see your site is getting killed and you’re on WordPress… well, I have 3 articles you can look at that might help you out. πŸ˜‰

28. Not being original

You know what? Being original doesn’t only mean you have to write about something that no one else has ever written about. What it means is being creative enough so that if you end up writing about something someone else has already touched upon, or something you’ve mentioned previously, you’re able to write about it in a different way so that it comes across as being unique.

I bashed someone on a post about writing something different because all she did was copy what others had written about and wrote almost word for word what I’d seen lots of time before. I was so aggravated that I refused to even link to the blog. lol

If you want to write like everyone else be unique… like everyone else! πŸ™‚

29. Sharing too much of your private business

As much as I work on convincing people that I’m an open book I’m really not. There’s lots of things you don’t know about me because, frankly, it’s none of your business. πŸ™‚ Something else I’ve done is protect the privacy of my wife as much as possible. Out of over 1,700 posts, I’ve mentioned her name 10 times over the years; that’s it.

When you bring people into your private circle like that, it should be a privilege for just a few people. Telling too much allows people to use it against you when they’re angry, make you feel bad for something you were hoping would show how honest you are, and once it’s out there you not only can’t control it but it never goes away… people like me will always know how to find that information if you try to take it down.

Be honest and upfront with your readers… but always hold back the most intimate stuff, especially where it concerns your family.

30. Not being yourself

Whew, it’s taken a while to get here hasn’t it? I hope it’s been worth the journey; at over 5,000 words if you’ve made it this far I want to thank you and commend you on your stamina.

This is my last and final point, and I’m not going to beat it into the ground. People hate phonies. If you’re phony you might think you’re getting away with something but you’re not. Unfortunately, it’s hard for most people to be something they’re not.

If you’re not rich, don’t write as if you are because people will see through it. Don’t give out false information to make yourself look more impressive; don’t tell lies about others. If you’re actually a jerk… well, try to learn not to be a jerk because people don’t like jerks any better than phonies. lol

I own up to a lot of things on this blog and my other blogs. I’m not rich. I sometimes have anger issues. I’m diabetic. I’m starting to feel really old, even though I walk almost 20K steps a day and my wife says I still act like a 12-year old (what is it wives have against 12-year olds anyway?).

I will always be authentic and talk in my own voice. I’ve been doing it too long to change now. I’ll also always be honest and open… but you’re not going to know everything about it… ever!

If you can live with that, then I can live with it from you. If I can live with it, others can live with it. Be yourself; it’s so much easier than being anyone else.

That’s it; that’s all I’ve got. I hope you liked this, I hope you’ve learned some things, I hope you comment whether you liked what I had to say or not. Please share this post; I don’t ask that often enough. I love you all (okay, no I don’t, but that’s what entertainers are supposed to say lol)! πŸ˜‰

(PS – This post turns out to be just under 5,800 words; sorry for that lol)

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Why I Try To Help

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 28, 2016

Back in June of 2001 I decided it was time to try to work for myself. I was tired of losing jobs because of things that weren’t within my control. On June 24th of that year I went and registered myself as a business with New York state and was on my way to a bit of independence.


In October of that year I was kind of in recovery mode. I’d had one short gig, given a presentation on leadership in Ohio, my first live presentation, but was mentally still in recovery from what happened on September 11th of that year. I was starting to realize that I wasn’t really sure what to do; after all, when you work in most hospitals in the country there’s not really much advertising going on because most markets only have one hospital. Also, the business of health care is much, much different than any other, although at the time I was trying to be a consultant/trainer in the area of leadership and diversity; I still had no idea how to proceed.

I floundered for about a year after that, first learning of my dad’s cancer diagnosis, then attempts at stemming the tide, which were to no avail. I finished writing my first book Embrace The Lead so Dad would have some time to read some of it before he’d get to the point where he couldn’t do it anymore. Then he passed away and, though it actually took me years to recover from it, initially I was out of it and didn’t care much about anything.

By October of 2002 I was ready to try to get back to work, but I didn’t have a clue how to proceed. The first year, which turned out to only be months, had confused me and I just didn’t know what to do; didn’t know where to go.

Then I got a break. I heard about a meet and greet event at the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce (it goes under a different name now) and decided to check it out. There were a lot of people there and I did my best to press some flesh, if you will. However, the coup I walked into was grabbing the last remaining copy of the Chamber directory, which listed every single member. I figured this would give me a chance to find some people I might be able to talk to.

After a couple of days I’d marked all the people I was going to call. None of them were in my field, but all were either listed as consultants or sole proprietors. This was my first foray into cold calling, but since I wasn’t trying to get any business it was pretty easy to proceed.

PCA guys

If I thought this was going to be easier than prospecting, I was out of my mind. Instead of finding some souls who might talk to someone new to the business, not a single person would talk to me. At least 3 of them said that I could be competition some day and that it wouldn’t benefit them to talk to me; what the hey? There was only one person who talked to me longer than a minute, and he invited me to a meeting that would eventually lead me to join an organization called the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York. All these years later I’m not only a member but I’m on the board, I’m the manager of the website and the main blogger on the site; some things never change do they? lol

That first meeting was illuminating, and not only did I become a member but I made a resolution on that day that whenever anyone contacted me and asked me for business advice, even if it was in my areas of expertise, that I was going to help them out. Although many people don’t believe me when I say it, I don’t believe anyone is my competitor. If there were myself and 9 other people who presented the exact same material to 100 people, each of us would walk away with at least a couple of clients. It might not be totally equal at the end, but it would prove that everyone has an audience, someone who’s ready to listen to them for advice over someone else.

That’s why over all these years I’ve worked to give advice and help people out, when I’m not trying to entertain them. From the 5th post I wrote on this blog talking about SEO & natural search through my Saturday post on ways business blogging can help, I’ve tried to offer a lot of help on the concepts of blogging and writing, SEO, social media and a host of other things. Sure, I deviate here and there, and I’ll go way off script with posts like talking about favorite children’s stories, but for the most part I’m trying to be helpful; why else would I have written a monster post on mobile speed and detailed all the steps I took unless I was trying to be helpful? It’d be much easier eating cake (mmmmm, cake….).

I’ve been a helper all my life; my wife used to always call me Dudley Do-Right but has appreciated that I’m always trying to do the right thing. I know I’m not alone in trying to help people; after all, there’s Donna and Ileane and Kim and Steve and Suzie and Dana and Chuck and a host of other people who, while trying to also get business, are in the game of helpfulness.

All of us are trying to give back in our own way, and we hope to inspire others to do the same type of thing. Think about your life for a moment; are you trying to be helpful to anyone? Will you be helpful to anyone today?

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Why I Stopped Staring At Attractive Women And What It’s Got To Do With Marketing

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 26, 2016

I’d like to say that I grew up differently than a lot of other boys… but that wouldn’t necessarily be true. Sure, I was a military kid, which made a big part of my life different from the norm, but all that did was make my experiences different.

Creative Commons License Drew Imagery via Compfight

This means that when I reached the age where I thought girls were pretty, I’d stare at them like most of the other boys. That is, we’d stare until we thought someone was looking at us, and then we’d look away quickly. It was like every class had a different pretty girl in it, someone new to stare at, and I’m not going to lie, my grades probably slipped for a short period of time until I learned how to stare and still listen to what teachers were saying.

This continued through high school, through college (even when I had a girlfriend; sorry Nanci lol), and through my first real job working at a music store. So many girls, then women, so many attractive and stunning… I could have gotten whiplash with all of that.

It finally ended after my first year of working at a hospital. The first reason wasn’t a conscious decision; the second reason was. The second reason was I wanted to be in management and realized that I wanted to make sure I treated everyone fairly, something I didn’t think could happen if I kept staring at the attractive ladies.

The first reason… at a certain point I realized it was a major waste of time. Why? Because I realized that if you’ve seen one attractive woman that not only were there more, but that they would always be around; if one left another would come, then another, then another. At some point I knew there wasn’t anything special about attractive women when compared to any other woman. In essence, I recognized the fact that, except in certain circumstances, women were women, and there was more to those I might be attracted to than their looks.

What does this have to do with marketing?

Did you know there are literally hundreds of different brands and kinds of spaghetti sauce? A lot of us have our favorites, but few of us think about why those particular brands are our favorites. Want to know why mine is? Because my mother bought it the first time when I was 13 years old, I liked it and that was that. There’s nothing anyone can do to change my mind on my favorite brand; it is what it is and it’s rare that I venture outside of what I like.

What about everyone else? If you don’t have a favorite brand of spaghetti sauce, what would tip your mind towards buying one, outside of someone recommending one to you? I went online to do some research; I wasn’t able to find the best selling spaghetti sauce, but I found the “best” spaghetti sauce… maybe. Here’s what I found:

Huffington Post – Giada de Laurentiis for Target — Vegetable Marinara

Family Circle – La Famiglia DelGrosso

Cooking Light – Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce with Basil

Food Network – Trader Giotto’s Organic Tomato Basic Marinara

Bon Appetit – Barilla Traditional Marinara

Wow… that doesn’t help does it?

How about this:

In case you didn’t watch the video, Malcolm Gladwell was talking about Prego and their battle against Ragu, a brand their tests showed was considered an inferior product yet one they couldn’t surpass until they discovered something intriguing. Turns out they still couldn’t surpass Ragu with one product… but with multiple products, they finally knocked Ragu off the pedestal… at least for a while.

There are 3 major issues with marketing. The first is that there are a lot of other people and companies you’re competing with. The second is that it’s hard to figure out how to get your brand to be seen as being superior to other brands. The third is that sometimes it doesn’t matter if your brand is superior if someone else is already top dog; you might have to find a way to get around that so you can compete.

People in my local area and in Florida might remember a guy named Jim Shapiro. I can’t embed the video here, but I can link to one of them in case you need reminding or have never heard of him, one of the first lawyers (kind of lol) who advertised on TV. Instead, I’ll show you this one, which was quite popular in a 4-state area which includes New York:

That brings back memories doesn’t it? At the time of that commercial and the one I linked to, it helped drive revenues to unknown heights, to the extent that lots of other people started doing the same type of thing until, finally, the market was flooded with so many crazy commercials that they stopped making the kind of impact they used to and eventually started dwindling away.

This is proof of three things. The first proves that getting attention is key to success, even if you’re not that good (or fake). The second proves that it takes great effort to stand above the crowd, but you’ll probably only get a short term boost from it before everyone else starts copying you. The third proves that we all have to be willing to take chances, some of them pretty bold, because when all is said and done, getting that boost and making a lot of money is better than not making money at all… at least if you’re honest (these guys had problems later on; that’s what doing illegal things will do to you).

Marketing isn’t easy. That’s not quite true; marketing is easy; getting attention from your audience isn’t. The biggest question I always have for my business is how to get my marketing to the place where people are calling me up wanting to work with me instead of the other way around. After all, hospitals rarely call anyone looking for consulting, and they almost never pick up the phone in the C-suite (I know this one personally).

Outside of that area, I generate enough interest but never enough to get the people I want contacting me as often as I wish so I can become independently wealthy and eat nothing but hamburgers all day. Social media marketing is intriguing because it helps you reach out to way more people, but at the end of the day it might take a stunt like writing 12 posts in 3 days for a specific month on one blog or a blog post a day for a month or even a video a day for a month for the right audience to start finding you.

I’m not a master of marketing but there’s one thing I definitely know; we have to do it and we have to do it often. That’s pretty much the only bit of advice I can give you or take for myself. I mentioned above that there are so many attractive women that I stopped staring at them. Yet I know some famous attractive women, and I know them because their names keep popping up, their pictures keep popping up, they’ll end up on TV or in movies all the time… over and over and over. Repetition is key; you might not get your message through the first time so you have to keep pimping it out.

I tell myself this all the time, when things get slow and I’m wondering what to do next… do it again, keep doing it and then do it more! You can modify it all you want, but keep doing it. Get your message out, work on connecting with others, and unless you strike gold the first time around keep at it, rinse and repeat.

Do you have marketing tactics that work well for you? I’d love to hear about them.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell