Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 23, 2014
7 Certainties Of Blogging
My name is Mitch Mitchell and I’m many things. Today, I’m a blogger. I have 5 blogs of my own (soon to be 4) and have written for many others; still do in fact. I’ve been blogging since 2005 but for my most popular blog, I’m Just Sharing (which is this one of course), I’ve been writing for nearly 7 years.
Over the course of all that time I’ve come to realize that there are some things that are certainties when it comes to blogging. Those are the things I’ll talk about in a minute.
What I want to get out of the way is that there’s no one way of doing anything. Everyone ends up having their own style and that’s pretty cool. Some people have multiple styles depending on what it is they’re writing about or who they’re writing for. Some people hate writing, others like it and some just dream about it. I’m of the opinion that if you’re reading this you actually want to write and are most probably writing.
This post is geared towards people who are fairly new at blogging, or are considering it.for the most part. Some of you will have seen some these tips before; it never hurts to have them reinforced.
However, as I get to the last 3 I can honestly say that you’ll find bloggers who have been writing for years who haven’t learned these lessons, which means if you do them, you’ll be way ahead of those people and your readers will thank you for it; trust me on this one.
Are you ready for the journey? Here we go:
1. Don’t start if you don’t think you can keep it up
There are more than 350 million blogs on the internet, and there are thousands that start anew every day. The overwhelming number of blogs you come across have fewer than 5 posts on them; that’s just a shame. More than 70% of all blogs you come across haven’t had a new post in at least a year; that’s a shame as well.
Truth be told blogging takes dedication. Some people find it a chore. Some people find it intimidating. Some people think they have nothing to say. Some people are too finite in what they think they want to write about. Some people lose the thrill because they want more comments, more participation on their blogs, and can’t figure out where the readers are.
There are lots of posts that will tell you how to drive traffic to your blog; I’ll leave you to find those. What I will say is that blogging takes courage, imagination and, as I said before, dedication. If you’re thinking about blogging but don’t think you have all 3 of the above, don’t even start, especially if you were thinking about doing it for business purposes. The world doesn’t need more clutter on the internet.
I’ll offer you a caveat though. If you’re unsure and want to give it a try then set up a blog in a free space and give it a shot. When you get serious about blogging you should at least buy a domain name and pay for hosting, but to see if you think you can do it, try one of these places. These last two tips I’ve mentioned often here.
2. You can get better if you care
I read where people say “I’m a terrible writer” or “my grammar is horrible” or “I make so many typos” or… well, you get the picture. You want to know a truth? Every great writer started out just like you somewhere along the line. Some get it sooner than others, but no one starts out like whoever your favorite writer happens to be.
Not only that but almost every great writer had someone who initially thought what they’d written was awful, even when it wasn’t. What this tells you is that no one is perfect, not the writer, not the reviewer, and not the reader.
Still, if you want to get better you can. Here are some simple steps:
* turn on spell check
* read what you’ve just written out loud
* if you use certain words too often remove some of them and try to find a different way of stating your case or use a different word
* just start writing
That’s it; not too hard to do is it?
3. Write about what you know
There are a lot of people who write about how to make money online. The overwhelming number of those people have no idea how to make money online. Some actually do make money, but not a living wage. I don’t mind there being so many people writing on the topic; I do mind people writing about things they know nothing about.
I hear some voices now saying “But no one would be interested in the things I know”. Says who? Here’s a few truths about this type of statement. One, it’s never the topic but how you write about it. Two, every niche has someone who wants to learn more about it or comment on it. Three, depending on why you’re writing, even if you only end up with 100 dedicated readers that’s much better than someone with 10,000 visitors a day who don’t engage with you.
When you write about what you know, and when you can show passion about what you write about, it attracts those who care about the same thing. If you decide you want to try to market based on what you care about, those visitors are more apt to buy from you if they can identify with you, definitely if they care about you and what you’re writing about.
Earlier I mentioned that I have multiple blogs. Someone might ask “how can you know something about multiple things”? Are you kidding me? Who among us only knows one thing? For that matter who among us only knows one thing well?
I don’t recommend that everyone have multiple blogs though; it’s hard to keep that sort of thing going. I do recommend that you write about what you know, and if what you know doesn’t always work for one blog, then think about a second blog if you believe you have enough to contribute.
4. Length means nothing; content does
I sometimes write some very long posts; this one is going to be long like my post a month ago offering 55 blog tips. Most of my posts come in around 500 words or so. To some that’s too long; for me, it is what it is.
There are lots of discussions as to what the proper blog length should be. There is a reality that if search engines can’t figure out what your blog is about it’ll be hard for them to rank you and log you on a consistent basis. And yet, there are some pretty cool blogs out there with a nice following that are mainly images.
In those instances it probably comes down to how they promote their blogs and to whom. Some fancy bloggers will tell you to write for search engines so that they’ll rank you higher. I’m not going to say that SEO isn’t important, but I will say that offering compelling content is way more important than SEO for blogs. After all, do you want people coming back or search engines?
It’s up to each blog owner to determine what they think is compelling content. If you as a blog writer believes that writing a quote a day as a blog post is compelling, then go for it. However, that probably will only be compelling to the you. If you want more you’re going to have to write a little bit more and more often.
The “how much more” depends on you, but I will add this. Just like good stories you need a beginning, middle and end. I know people who write 2,000 word posts that could have been written in 400 words if they had stopped repeating themselves over and over. I’ve also known people who stick to 250 to 300 words that leave so much out that it’s frustrating to read. Try to go by the Mozart principle; write what you need to get your point across, then end and move on.
5. Diversify every once in awhile
My business blog is on the topic of leadership, though I touch upon other business issues that involve people. To some, leadership can be a boring subject, tough to stay interested in and even tougher to make interesting. Yet I’ve written posts comparing leadership to Cling Wrap, discussed the leadership styles of Charlie Brown, Kermit the Frog and Harry Potter, talked about leadership lessons by taking piano lessons, written multiple series posts, etc.
Every once in awhile I’ve gone off topic as well. I talked about why it’s smart to always have an emergency bag packed in case you have to leave town in an emergency. I’ve talked about tragedies that have happened here and there. I’ve done book reviews, and every once in awhile I answer questions.
Diversification gives you a lot of things to talk about, overcoming the worry that your niche might limit what you can talk about. Always remember that it’s your blog, and even if you’re trying to show your expertise, it never hurts to show people a positive side of your personality; just make sure you don’t make yourself look like a jerk. lol
6. Be a gracious and a discriminate host
If people take the time to comment on your blog the best courtesy you can offer is to respond to those comments. No one says your response has to be War and Peace, but it certainly needs to be more than “thank you for your comment.” What is that anyway? Whenever I see that I’m mad at myself for wasting my time and I never go back. Is that how you want people to see your blog? Do you want to waste all that time promoting your blog (if you are promoting it) to get people to come and leave comments and then give them that? Really?
At the same time you need to remember that your blog is representative of you, and that includes comments. Very few people want to be associated with a blog that allows a lot of bad language, hate speech, or spam in the comments. I write often that the concept of free speech doesn’t apply to you if you’re paying for your space.
Don’t ever censor someone’s opinion that doesn’t agree with yours; use your skills in responding to those who disagree with you. But make sure people behave in your space; deleting comments isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it’s spam. How do you know it’s spam? If the comment doesn’t address what you’ve written about in some fashion, it’s spam.
7. Have fun
When all is said and done blogging is supposed to be a fun venture. Unless you’re being paid to write and manage a blog for someone else’s business, what’s the point of doing it if you can’t get some enjoyment out of it. Even if you’re trying to promote yourself, if you really can’t stand blogging then find other ways to promote yourself.
Blogging is the best way to have your say without it being filtered by someone else. It’s the best way to promote yourself or your product. The two things that get shared the most on other social media spaces are blogs and news stories. If you write content that’s compelling enough to get others to share it… well, you can’t pay for that type of thing. At the very least you’ll have something to promote if that’s what you want to do.
Let blogging be a positive outlet for you. If it can’t be that, then just sit back and enjoy reading blogs and get your fun that way instead. Oh yeah; and sometimes add a picture of you, or multiple pictures of yourself, so people feel like they know you.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 20, 2014
One of the best things about advertising and working online is that if something isn’t working, you can change it pretty easily. Testing can take some time, but it’s less expensive than printing $10,000 worth of material, mailing it out to thousands of people, getting nothing in return and having to do it all again.
One of the worst things about advertising and working online is when you get things so screwed up that you lose any business credibility you might have had. Sure, many times you’ll get another shot at making a go of things, but you’ll probably never get any of those people back that stopped by, disapproved of what you did, left and talked about it later on.
One Sunday last year I did a Google Hangout with my Hot Blog Tips crew on the topic of writing paid posts and blogging credibility, which I’m sharing below. It’s my position that if people do things that are unethical just to make money that eventually it will kill them and their business prospects. There are a lot of bloggers who write paid posts, or put up posts with someone else’s words, and say a lot of glowing stuff about something they’re not familiar with. Some will be promoting a product using an affiliate link that they know nothing about and writing something overly positive without knowing if it is or not.
When it comes to your business and advertising it online, I feel that what you don’t want to do is say you can do things that you can’t do. At the same time, overstating your capabilities doesn’t do you many favors either. I remember having a conversation with someone a couple of years ago where he said that if you’re asked if you can do something or provide something you always answer “yes”, then you go out and find the person who can really do it. To me, it might be true that you can find someone who can do the work, but if you don’t know that person and they do the work badly, you’re the one who’s going to suffer.
There’s nothing wrong with self promotion. There’s really nothing wrong with a bit of hyperbole, although if you say you’re the #1 whatever in your market I tend to believe you’d better be ready to prove it by showing me something, since I might not even allow you to work with me unless I get testimonials. These days people are more savvy than ever, and they can check everything online. Try to fool someone and it will come back at you eventually. Nothing disappears online; remember that.
By the way, you need to know that if you happen to use words that aren’t your own, sent to you by a marketer that they believe will help you sell their product, that it’s a violation of FCC rules and it could result in both fines and losing your domain; just thought I’d mention that.
Check out the video below, as it addresses this topic with a few more ideas on the subject than just mine:
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 16, 2014
We have another Blog Action Day upon us, one where I get to share in my little space my opinion or story about the main topic of the day. I hope some of you are writing and participating as well on this day, though I know it’s not going to come true because it never has before. Oh well…
Today the topic is inequality; where do I begin? There’s so much of it and so many levels of it that if I tried tackling it all I’d either go nuts or wouldn’t be able to finish writing this at all. And since some of my posts are overwhelmingly large I don’t think we want that for this one.
The thing about inequality is that, for the most part, it’s not the majority that’s actually in charge. When first reading that it might look strange until you remember that the top 1% as far as wealth is concerned has more wealth than the combined wealth of the remaining 99%.
What this means is that if I just said, as I could, that white people have all the money and all the benefits in this country, I’d be wrong. Some of the poorest people in this country are white. Poverty doesn’t know color, it only knows inequality and limited options for getting out of it.
It also knows limits apply to women, who are 54% of the population and yet make 68% of what men make (or something around that figure; it’s always changing but it’s still low), which, though higher than minorities across the board, still isn’t fair.
And it’s not just in this country. Every single country has the same thing going on, where the elite are drastically in the minority but have all the power. Some might think that politics could change that but when it comes to who gets in office in those positions that really matter it’s all about money. The number of people in every country who are in top positions are all rich. In the United States, I don’t think there’s a single senator now who’s not a millionaire, or pretty close to one. You just can’t get there nowadays without lots of money. I’m sure it’s the same everywhere else, even in Communist countries.
There’s even inequality when you look at the critical jobs that our countries need and the money they make, although there’s really nothing one can do about that and, overall, I don’t have a major issue with it for reasons I won’t get into here. Law enforcement, teachers, people in the military, fire fighters… find a position that’s critical and also needs a lot of people and you’re going to find low pay and long hours and no possibility of getting it all done, let alone getting it all done properly.
For once I’m not sharing a story from my own life, although it would be easy to do. Have I seen it? Yup. Have I experienced it? Yup. So I could go down that road. Instead, I’d like to offer 3 ways to try to end inequality, which will never happen but I can dream right? Here we go:
1. Level the playing field. What the world needs is more fairness, not necessarily equality. In essence, people need to get the same education, have the same chances at jobs, and have the same possibilities to live a better life. How does one do that? Raise the poverty level to a living wage, more training programs so more people have skills that don’t require full school educations, still work on creating better education based on real world needs for the majority of people and of course feed the poor so it’s one less thing they have to worry about. All this costs money, lots of it; ain’t happening is it?
2. Put a cap on yearly wealth for individuals and spread it around to others. This isn’t me hating on anyone but does any one person really need to be earning $10 billion dollars a year? For that matter how about $500 million a year? Put a cap on wealth with the caveat that if anyone reaches that cap and the rest is distributed, that person doesn’t pay any state or federal taxes, and if they use any of their faithfully earned income towards charitable causes they still qualify for refunds. What cap would I put on? No idea, though it would still be pretty high, and it doesn’t matter because it’s not happening.
3. Any company that has a salary difference between men and women or the majority within a country and its minority population of more than 15% has 3 years to reduce that or gets fined heavily, with half of that money going to the disenfranchised within the company and the rest to the country to fund diversity programs or things such as feeding the poor, funding bad schools, etc. And those fines have to be heavy so it behooves companies to get it done. I would make slight allowances for companies that employ a lot of mothers if they create daycare with medical benefits so that a big chunk of their income isn’t going to pay for those things.
As I said, none of this will happen, and I’m not even sure if it’s feasible, but it would go a long way towards reducing inequality all around the world. For now, I’ll say that I hope more people will do their part with the people they know and those they don’t know that live in their community to see what they can do to help. I’m on the board of an organization that works to protect the rights of the disabled and helps them live independently; that’s how I help, as it’s a group that definitely suffers from inequality in a major way.
What are you doing to help?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 13, 2014
Often on this blog, and in comments I make on other blogs, I talk about the concept of engagement. I use this term when I’m talking about meeting people and networking on social media because I tend to believe that it’s the most important thing anyone could ever do online.
What do I mean by engagement? Overall I believe it means that you have to either talk to somebody every once in a while or actually comment on something so that if either the person who generated a topic of conversation responds to you or possibly someone else sharing that information responds to you, that other people who may see it after the fact might respond to you.
This doesn’t mean that if you put something out first that you have to actually add something extra to it to get people to talk to you. As a matter of fact, other than blogging, even though you’re hoping that people will respond to things you put out that are original, the reality is that, for the majority of us, more people will respond to things that other people initially put up that we share.
Let me give you some examples.
On Twitter, I like to share different things that people post. Sometimes those things are a retweet from someone else. When it’s a retweet, I try to do what I can to get the name of the person I’m connected to who is retweeting the item into the tweet. If there is no room for me to make a separate comment then at least I’m acknowledging the person who I’m connected to and in my own way thanking them for sharing that information.
Also, at least half the times that I retweet something I will add a / and then comment after it. The person I’m retweeting will definitely know that I’ve commented on what they shared, and it’s my hope that other people will recognize that extra comment as mine.
By doing each of these actions, every once in a while someone will start talking to me. Whenever someone talks to me first I always respond, although I don’t get that back all the time. Still, at least the attempt has been made to get to know someone better and to generate conversation. Thus, the beginning of engagement.
As it regards Google Plus, I try to do the same type of thing even though it’s slightly different. Sometimes I just comment on what someone puts up. Other times I’ll reshare it, and when I do that I always have a comment before I share the item.
What sometimes happens is that people will come by after seeing I shared their item and give me a +1. Every once in a while they may thank me for sharing the item. Most of the time if I at least comment on the original they may just say thank you or they may start a conversation with me. That’s actually what I’m shooting for because, once again, I tend to believe that engagement is the key to getting to know one another. That’s what true networking is all about.
The last one I’m going to touch upon is blogging. If you read this blog often enough you know that I am always saying that you should respond to comments. I also say that there are times when people leave lousy comments, or comments that there’s really nothing to respond to.
There’s someone who’s been leaving comments on this blog that, by the time this article goes live, I’ve either started to delete or the types of comments have changed, where the words “thanks for the informative post” are in every single comment. Even though my name is used, since there’s never anything else that’s new it looks like a spam type of comment.
Engagement begins when someone leaves a comment and mentions at least one thing in the article or addresses at least one thing that was in the article that either they want to agree with, disagree with, or specifically say whatever they want to about it. Without addressing anything that’s either in the post, or give a point of view on something that’s related to the article, or even telling a story that the article reminds you of, you have lost your opportunity for any kind of engagement and look like you’re just trying to get a backlink.
Maybe I’m just being a bit pigheaded when it comes to this concept of engagement, so I’ll ask you. Do you write your blog, or produce anything else that you send out to the masses, hoping for engagement, or just because you want to talk to yourself out loud and hope others will check it out? If you don’t want to engagement, then how do you know they’re even reading anything you put out? If you don’t care then it’s no big deal. If you do care, then you have to follow the concept of giving to get.
Let me know your view on this topic.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 9, 2014
I’m so glad I’m in SEO to a degree. If I weren’t, it’s possible that I could be one of those people who falls for those emails that show up saying “I found your site and noticed that you’re not ranked on the first page of Google. We can take care of that for you with a free assessment.” Maybe those aren’t the exact words, but I’m betting most of you that have a website have seen something like that here and there.
Or maybe you see something like this in your comments if you have a blog: “Wow, you’re really smart and this post is amazing. I’m going to subscribe and read everything you write from now on.” Tugs at your ego in a positive way doesn’t it?
One of the major problems in being online is that people come up with unique and sneaky ways to either take your money or get information from you so they can take your money in a different way. Many of them have learned that flattery will get them far, but if that doesn’t work then worrying you into thinking that you’re not doing enough will. And they don’t care if everyone doesn’t jump on the bandwagon; they trust that enough people will and they’ll make their money.
The other problem is that those people ruin it for the rest of us who try to market or do business online. For instance, I’ve never told anyone that if I did their SEO I would get them to the first position on Google; I don’t even promise them that I’ll get them on the first page for their search term.
Those are impossible things to promise without doing some fairly nefarious stuff that might not be considered nefarious by all corners. I’m using the term because Google, the top search engine that everyone knows about, believes it’s gaming their system, and they’ll penalize you for it and then what will you do with the SEO company that may have gotten you there but not has gotten you banned?
B. T. Barnum said “There’s a sucker born every minute.” You know what? He never said it; no one’s sure who said it, though there are some postulations, but we now know that he never said that. Were you gullible enough to believe that one? What about the lie about the Harvard graduates who supposedly wrote down their goals and how those that did it achieved great things while those who didn’t write them down failed in their careers? Sorry, that wasn’t true either.
Many people tend to believe things without trying to confirm them. It’s in our nature to trust people, even if we’re not all that trusting. We trust when we don’t know, but we always have the ability to research and find out for ourselves what’s true and what’s not. I always tell people what I’ve done as far as services I offer and what I’ll do for them. I never say they’ll be “here or there”; I always say they’ll be better than they were. To date, that’s always come true.
I don’t want to have to fool anyone into using my services, reading my blog, buying my products. Those folks will never be repeat customers, and will never refer me to anyone else. I also will never fall for anything that anyone tells me, even friends of mine.
As Mad-Eye Moody said in Harry Potter, “constant vigilance“. Never let yourself be fooled by anyone on anything. Don’t be gullible, and don’t count on the gullibility of others for your benefit. We can be better than that, and we should expect those who market to us to be better as well.