One of the most freeing things I’ve done recently is deciding that I don’t have to try to be Neil Patel any longer because overall, Google’s never going to see me as an authority. I might get in the lucky post here and there but all those posts over 2,000 words aren’t getting it done.

guest posting requests
She only requested a push

With that said, this is probably going to be the shortest post I’ve written in a long while, and it’s on a touchy subject for me; guest posting requests. If you want a little background on this topic and my reticence check out 5 Lies Of Guest Posting Requests before you go any further.

I’m writing this one in a different tone than most of the posts I’ve written on this subject. I’m doing that because someone I know said that sometimes my titles come across as me being mean to people because they’re messing up in my eyes.

I’d have to agree that’s possible, but it’s rarely my intention to be mean on purpose, especially since I normally speak in generalities… even when I’m talking about people lying! lol However, in general I’m usually the nice guy in the room, so I’m going to try to be nice… but no promises!

Guest posting requests… well… sorry but I have to say that a lot of people are failing in this area. That’s why I’m being proactive and as nice as I can be indicating what people should be doing to potentially increase their guest posting opportunities overall (except on this blog; you’ll know why if you read this post) and not irritate the people they’re writing to.

1. Visit the blog in question

Most of the guest posting requests make it too easy to know that people didn’t even visit my blogs. I have a lot of people who want to write about things that those particular blogs don’t even cover; that’s a pretty big “tell” (poker term) and most of the time you might not even get a response. Some of my other points are going to pony off this one.

2. Look for the blog owner’s name

There isn’t a single blogger in the world whose name is “Admin”; trust me on this one. That’s not even the worst letters I receive. The ones I get often begin with “Hi there” or something similar, then go into the narrative. Marketing 101; always send email to a “person”, with the best way being to use their name.

3. Look for a guest posting/advertising policy

Not all blogs will have something like this but some blogs do. I have an advertising policy on my finance blog because it’s one of only 2 blogs I have where I’ll accept sponsored posts (I need to put a policy on my other blog, though no one has yet to ask me about it yet). It will answer a lot of questions up front and keep you from once again looking like you’ve never even visited the blog.

4. Look to see if there are any guest posts on the blog

Christmas 2014
Creative Commons License Caitee Smith via Compfight

Even if there’s no guest posting policy, it can’t take that long to check out the blog to see if there are any recent guest posts, which is a good indication as to whether those blogs accept them or not. Of course, it’s possible that some of them are like this blog, where the last guest post I had, a post on positivity by my friend Kelvin Ringold, was in April 2016, and I didn’t indicate it was a guest post in the title. The last actual guest post I had here was in 2012; this is the one that lets people know I don’t accept guest posts as a general thing, and this one was allowed because the guy had interviewed me on his blog a couple of years earlier. 🙂
 

5. Leave a “real” comment on a previous blog post

Almost all the email requests I get (which are pretty much form letters) will add a link to an article on the blog saying how much they enjoyed it… without saying why they enjoyed it… which they can’t do because they obviously never visited the blog (okay, that’s not nice but it’s true). The biggest problem with this is that it shows the blog owner that the person asking to guest post could care less about their blog, which means they’re trying to get something for nothing.

No one wants to feel they’re being taken advantaged of, or lied to by someone trying to flatter them with an empty compliment. I recently got a guest posting request where the guy said he’d left a comment on a particular post but didn’t; he couldn’t have thought I wouldn’t go looking for it could he (I’m trying not to use the “L” word again)?

Leaving a comment on a post or two shows the blog owner that you’ve actually visited the blog previously and really understand the types of articles the owner might be open to accepting… if they accept guest or sponsored posts (which I don’t here; I hope no one seriously asks to do either on this blog because of this article…).

6. Have links to articles you’ve previously written; don’t send files…

Less than half the requests I receive sends links to article that I could check out… if I was going to accept guest posts (actually, on my finance blog I did until December 2013). I know that’s because many of the people sending the letters aren’t writing the articles (which is one reason I stopped accepting guest posts and switched to sponsored only) so they’re not even going to try to validate the quality of something they didn’t write and possibly didn’t even read.

Some of the requests attached a file to their email that they wanted me to open, or a link to a Google Doc; nope, ain’t no way I’d do it, and I hope no one else who accepts guest posts do until they get to know the requester. See, there’s these things called viruses that can get onto your computer by clicking on dodgy things in email and I like my computer way too much to even take the smallest chance that could be happening to me (check out this article on ransomware; this is a real thing…).

7. If the blog owner has a written policy for you to view and you actually check it out, don’t try to change their conditions

There are a few people who ask to sponsor a post rather than a guest post. Often I’ll just send those folks the advertising policy, which has specific rules. Invariably, every single person except one has asked me to change one thing or another, even though the policy adds “this is non-negotiable” to a few of the items in there. If you never get another response from the person you initially wrote to, this is probably why…

I think that’s enough… I get the feeling I wasn’t as nice as I set out to be and the article was definitely longer than I planned for it to be. lol Well, I tried! I hope I got my point across the helped some of you who are drinking the guest posting kool-aid and about to embark on this as a crusade to greater prosperity and publicity. In the meantime, since I don’t think I was as nice as I set out to be, I think it’s okay for me to share this video I did a few years about griping about people who don’t request to do a guest post properly; enjoy your day! 😉


https://youtu.be/UxUkoTMZqx0

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

I read a lot of blogs and I write a lot of posts. I’m certainly not perfect when it comes to the articles I write but most of the problems I see on other blogs or websites (especially news and information websites) are things that are easily avoidable… things I don’t tend to do myself.


Since I haven’t talked about writing issues in a long time, I thought it was time to offer some tips and critiques about writing, blog writing in particular, since this is an article on a blog.

1. The 2nd writing tip I offered in my 2nd article of writing tips in 2014 mentioned this particular tip that I still can’t believe most people miss. If you see a squiggly line underneath a word like in the image, it either means you misspelled a word or it’s not in your computer’s dictionary. Either way that’s a major clue that no one should be missing.

2. The biggest issue I have is spelling words correctly but having them not be the word I meant to use. It’s so easy to leave a letter off and still have it be a legitimate word. It’s strange to type a word that wasn’t in your mind when you were contemplating what you wanted to say.

In this case, the only thing you can do to catch these errors is to read your article out loud after you’ve finished writing. This is something I used to do more often in the past that I need to pick up doing again. Of course, if you’re writing long articles like Neil Patel it might take you a while to get through it. 🙂

3. If you read a lot of blogs you’ll notice one of two things that happen most of the time. The first is having one sentence being a paragraph, no matter how short the sentence might be. The second is having a paragraph that’s longer than an Anne Rice diatribe.

Let’s address the one sentence thing first. Most bloggers do this because they read somewhere that white space is preferred by people who read blogs. That’s the same reason many of them are eliminating their sidebars also. The other reason is that it cuts down on people being able to scan your articles easily, forcing them to read every single line.

For someone like me who learned how to speed read in 8th grade, this is quite irritating because it disturbs my normal reading flow. I have to like you a lot to even think about reading your blog if you’re doing this. Yet I can’t deny that it’s a sneaky trick that might achieve your purpose for some of your younger readers.

Which now leads to the second thing I talked about, the long paragraph. Long paragraphs work fine in books, but I realized some years ago that long paragraphs don’t work as well on a blog for some reason. It also doesn’t work all that well on webpages either.

Check out this example from Huffington Post talking about skills that could improve your life. Notice how relatively short the paragraphs are, with most of them being 2 or 3 sentences at the most.


Something I’ve learned over time is that, unless you’re writing dialogue where one person is speaking, most long paragraphs have natural breaks that all of us can look at to reduce their size. One of the major differences between my first book Embrace The Lead and my second book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, both on leadership with one completed in 2002 and the other in 2015, is that the first book has some pretty long paragraphs that could make it hard to read, whereas the second book has paragraphs that might be 3 or 4 lines and that’s it.

Obviously I have a preference in what I want to read, but it’s up to you as the writer to determine whether your style fits you best or is the best for those who are going to read your blog articles or possibly any books or ebooks you decide to write along the way. Most people will tell you to write for your audience but I’m telling you to write however you feel comfortable… while thinking about those who you’re hoping will read it.

4. Watch out for your “filler word” patterns. I’ve always been partial to starting sentences with the word “well”, and I wasn’t close to being a Ronald Reagan fan (for you younger folks, he began a lot of his sentences when answering questions with that word). Many of my early posts on my business blog and this blog have a lot of paragraphs with that as the first word. My first book also had a lot of those; ugh!

I started watching for that pattern a few years ago when I first started writing my 2nd book, which is a compilation of previous articles I’d written on my business blog and my newsletters back in the day. It was my biggest editing issue, along with a bunch of other words and phrases I was known for.

Another pattern I had was writing passively. For instance, I just rewrote that first line because I’d initially written “a pattern I used to have that I had to learn how to break was…) The first line is stronger and gets to the point quicker, whereas the second line is unnecessarily explanatory and long. Notice the second line took 15 words and I hadn’t gotten to the point yet? I think this is what contributes to my sometimes writing a different word than I had in my mind because these days I do a lot of editing in my mind to tighten up the prose.

Filler words are distracting. It’s better to get to the point sooner, unless you’re telling a story… we love stories that add a bit of drama to the process don’t we? 🙂

5. People love list posts; that’s pretty much a known fact. What’s not known as much is that not all lists posts need to be overly short or long.

For instance, my original post giving 10 writing tips is very short because I had the intention of having the readers be able to consume it in 2 minutes or less, whereas my post giving 55 tips and ideas about blogging around my 55th birthday was just under 3,600 words because I wanted to put a bit of meat into my tips. The results are (based on DuckDuckGo since Google hates me lol) is that my first article comes up in position #98 and my second comes up at #1. This proves that even other search engines love the more comprehensive posts, but if you can reach your audience directly (like through newsletters) then it’s not such a big deal.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Let me know your thoughts on these tips and whether or not you think they’re helpful.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

You probably think that’s a clickbait title, don’t you? In a way it is, but in another way it’s a declaration of something I’ve finally come to grips with, something that almost everyone else in the world also needs to come to grips with.

Mitch the Blogger
Mitch the Blogger

It’s taken me a while but I now realize that it’s a fruitless quest to even aim for. No matter what I do with the remaining years I have to blog here, there and everywhere else, I’m never, ever, going to get to the level of blogging success that Neil Patel is at. The closest we’re probably ever going to get at this point is following each other on Twitter (which I actually thought had happened but I guess not lol).

You know what’s funny? I was never at his level, but this blog and my business blog used to be ranked fairly high back in the early days. This blog once dipped under a 90K ranking by Alexa, while my business blog was around 145K. Then Panda and Hummingbird and all the other Google animals got in my way and I tumbled so far that I stopped checking Alexa and pretty much any other ranking because it was just too depressing.

Let me get this out of the way; I don’t hate Neil Patel. Matter of fact, I’m fascinated by the things he puts out, so much so that I share a lot of it on Twitter and even put in his Twitter handle so he or his minions can see that I’m giving him lots of love. I even print out a lot of his posts in a pdf so I can take extra time to go through them again at a later time. I respect the guy that much…

Here’s the thing. Although every once in a while I’ll put together a post I feel is fairly epic, like my article on 31 Big Mistakes People Make Blogging And In Social Media, I don’t have the time to do a lot of the type of research he and his people can put together. I also have more than one blog, a mother living with me that has dementia and a few other things going on that it just isn’t prudent for me to even think I could take the time it would require to get it done.

Not only that, but I don’t write those kind of posts to begin with. As my friend Mitchell Allen stated in a comment on my 6 Blogging Tips That You Need To Consider, where he also mentioned Neil, he said this to me, which I’ll always treasure:

“I fear that many readers will overlook something very important: that your blog style is an aggregate of your philosophies. In other words, it is as unique a beast as any fingerprint.”

That’s kind of cool, right? Thanks Mitch (sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself when I say that; then again, I always talk to myself… lol)!

2007 workshop
FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
via Compfight

It’s not that I don’t write some articles based on research here and there. I could have never told people about fixing the parsing JSON error for CommentLuv or giving a lot of tips on how to achieve better mobile speed numbers without putting some significant time into both research and testing.

It’s also not that I haven’t put more time into trying to write some longer posts, since that’s one of the biggest recommendations everyone’s putting out these days. Out of the 17 blog posts I’ve written so far in 2017, 11 of them are over a thousand words (2 of those just under 3,000) and 6 are under, with the fewest words I’ve written coming in at 825; I must have been slacking off on that day.

Here’s the thing. I recognize that no matter what I do, the Big G is never going to recognize me or my blog or any posts I write as being worth all that much. Another bit of research I did shows that my post titled What Is An Authority Blog Post comes up in position #10 on Google, even though only one of the links above me mentions the topic, and it’s a link to a pdf (which is a new one on me because Google never used to recognize pdf links). Put that same title in on Duck Duck Go or Bing and it’s the #1 post.

You want a bit more? When I check Analytics it shows that only 5.3% of my overall traffic comes from Google; isn’t that shocking? Even by using some of my SEO efforts (though I’m not doing anything drastic) I find that most of my posts never appear within the first 150 links (yes, I do check at least that far).

Every once in a while I get lucky, but I tend to always do better with the other search engines. I’m betting I’m not alone on this; how many of you will own up to being in the same position?

The fact is that most of us don’t write the type of posts that Google’s ever going to see as authority posts. Maybe we get lucky here and there, but we’re never going to be able to keep up with the output that people like Neil and Anna of Traffic Generation Cafe can, and even Anna can’t keep up with Neil! lol

What I am able to do is write about things I’ve experienced, things I’ve seen and things I believe should be true. Since I’m already breaking blogging rules made by other people way too often, since I’m already always telling people to write as much or as little as you want to (although writing too little won’t bring you many visitors, if that’s something you can about), and since I’m always encouraging people to write for many good reasons, I guess I’ll keep on writing about things like that because I’d rather work on being encouraging and entertaining and educating and just talking to people in my own way because I love blogging way too much to try being someone I’m not meant to be.

I’m good with that; I really am! Who’s with me on this?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

As my friend Kelvin likes to say, sometimes we’re more suited to offer someone else advice than remember how to use it for ourselves. Occasionally this happens to me, but at least I’m always ready to try something rather than just sit around wishing I had. However, this all starts with a story from some years ago.

offline marketing
Offline marketing with help

In a Facebook group, a lady was asking for advice on how to better offer her services, as she was self employed and was struggling to keep her business afloat. She owned, and still owns, a dance studio. She’d done a few things such as advertising in the newspaper and putting flyers up around town, and she also has a website.

I decided to take up the challenge because I’m such a helpful sort. I asked what kind of ads she had run in the newspaper, then asked if she’d ever run any specials for visitors to get a taste of what she does or offered discounts for signing up if they mentioned the ad.

I asked her if she’d thought about doing the same type of thing from her website. She writes a newsletter, so I asked if she’d ever thought about putting something in her newsletter, or offering something to her present customers if any of them brought in a new client who signed up for lessons.

I asked more about her flyers, wondering if she’d ever contacted any of her local production theaters to see if she could put flyers up, or could pass out flyers during events such as recitals. I offered a suggestion of putting on an exhibition at some of the local malls, since I know we have a lot of those in my own area. Those folks are always looking for free entertainment on the weekends, and if kids are involved she’s got a winner.

At those exhibitions, she could set up a table to sign up people for either dance lessons, her newsletter, or just get names and numbers to contact later on. I also suggested the possibility of a dance contest that she could sponsor, maybe giving away a free year of lessons to the winner (my consulting group gives away one year of free membership at the yearly business show) or whatever she felt might be appropriate.

Last, I made the suggestion that she could offer clinics, more speaking than exhibition, in places such as her local library or chamber of commerce, on topics related to dancing or even physical education or exercise, which would help get her name and face out there. She’s very attractive, and I believe people would flock to see her and would at least check out her services.

marketing by speaking
Marketing by speaking

That’s a lot of stuff isn’t it? I know she did some of it, and these days her business seems to be working much better for her. I’m not sure if I helped all that much, but I’m glad I came up with what I did as pretty good suggestions, if I say so myself. 🙂

When I look at all the different things I do, I can say I’ve done similar things over the years that I recommended. I’ve offered discounts from time to time on products I’ve created. I’ve offered free stuff to people who can get others to sign up for one of my newsletters (which I no longer have). I’ve put on presentations and performed a good number of speaking engagements, both around town and in other states. I’ve also taken out an ads in the past on both an online newspaper and a business journal, advertising local seminars I was conducting.

I’ve sent out letters, flyers, and postcards. I email people from time to time, though I identify and research who I’m going to send email to so that I won’t be accused of spamming anyone. I’ll pick up the phone every once in a while, which is a big deal since I hate talking on the phone. I do live networking events, though I’m not always crazy about those either. I’ve also written tons of articles and been interviewed a number of times (this is a pdf; I’m 5-9), most of them online but a lot of them in offline publications.

I believe that I’ve done as much as one could possibly do when it comes to marketing, other than making tons of phone calls; that probably isn’t going to happen, though. Oh yeah; I’m not launching a thousand ships with my picture either. 🙂 I’ll often tell people that it’s hard to market one’s business for the masses without being on social media. I don’t tell the other side as often that relying totally on social media to market your business is limiting.

Marketing is something one has to get used to doing if they hope to be successful in business, especially if you want to be self employed. Strangely enough, my offline marketing has been much better than my online marketing, even though I don’t like it as much. I share lots of material online, comment on blogs, and I’m very active on social media.

I’ve learned a heck of a lot, enough so that I can talk the talk with almost anyone. Offline… turns out I’m not so bad there either; I’m just in a tough business to market well.

Are you making sure your marketing efforts aren’t totally one sided? Are you shooting for some kind balance, or are you satisfied enough in what you’re doing?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

Many years ago I read a blog post called Customers Won’t Discount Your Dishonesty, where the author was basically talking about internet tricks a lot of online marketers try. The article specifically mentioned this sneakiness when you’re trying to leave a website, only to have a pop up window stop you with a discounted offer without just letting you go. I didn’t like it then and I’m still not a fan of popups.

pop-up windows hate

I remember when my wife and I first moved into this house and we thought we needed new windows. This guy came to the house and was here for 3 hours, first measuring the windows, then supposedly doing all the calculations he had to do so that he could talk to us further. He then dropped the price on us; $36,000. I actually laughed out loud, which is so unlike me, but it was more than 1/3rd of what we’d paid for the house.

He left, but three days later we got a call offering the same package for $16,000; once again we said no. Then four days later we were offered the same package for $9,000. At that point I told the person that I didn’t want their company calling me anymore because I didn’t trust them.

A couple years later, my wife contacted one of the big home improvement chains and asked someone to come look at our windows. This guy gave us a quote where most of our windows came to $70 each, with the big bay window coming to $1,000 on its own; I could understand that, as it’s a different style. We didn’t go for that one, but we did replace a lot of the other windows, at a very affordable price.

You’re probably wondering why I told the story about the windows after introducing my issue with popups. Suffice it to say that I’m not a fan of popups, which used to be referred to as popup windows. I’m the guy who’s gone so far as to eliminate javascript from all the browsers on my computer so I would stop getting those stupid newsletter popups that so many people are using these days.

That’s actually worked quite well on my main computer… but it’s done nothing for me as it pertains to my smartphone. And Google was supposed to take care of that for me.

The thing is, it’s much worse having popups on the phone than it was on my computer… for the most part. The problem is that often one of two things happens way too soon. The first is that you’ve just arrived on a page and you’re ready to check out the content when suddenly this long thing pops in from the top, totally obliterating what you were about to read to smack you in the face with a newsletter or product offer. The second is that you actually get to start reading when this popup appears and not only blocks the content but is so big that you can’t even X it out.

It’s in these moments when I think back on my initial windows issue back in 2000 and makes me not want to trust the people whose content I was hoping to read. I spend a lot of time online and on Flipboard looking for content to read and later share with my online audience. I hate having my time wasted because I got sucked in by a blog or article title that looked intriguing, only to get a bait and switch that won’t let me see what I thought I was going to see.

Do Not Trust Robots
Creative Commons License Matt Brown via Compfight

It brings two thoughts into my mind. The first is that the content might not be all that good, which is why the owner is trying to get me to sign up for something without being able to read it first. The second is that now I don’t trust them because it seems they’re more concerned with getting subscribers than is catering to their audience.

Just so you know, even though I hate all popups, I do understand why people use them. Some studies have shown that one can increase their subscribers by as much as 40% by using them. Those same studies have shown that traffic and visits to those sites decreases by about 10% over time. If you’re running a large site or making money from your newsletter that’s probably negligible. If not, why are so many so willing to alienate visitors so early?

I may hate popups, but because I understand why some people use them I’d like to put in a request for using them more responsibly.

First, stop making them so big that we can’t close them out on our smartphones. All you have to do is check your own site on your phone to see if it’s bothering people.

Second, stop adding things that have nothing to do with your site as a popup. I have no idea how this happens, but sometimes I’m either getting affiliate program popups or that weird window talking about some type of Facebook survey where I can either win some prize or that I need to take in order to read more of the content. I mean… what the heck?!?!?

Third, stop having popups go live within that stupid 30-second window. If your content is actually good (which means it’s got some meat) then you could set it to go live 60-90 seconds after someone’s been on your site.

Fourth, stop having your popup drop from the top seconds after someone’s gotten to your site or, better yet, block all content immediately unless you click on a stupid X or a stupid link telling someone you don’t want to play right now (I’m talking to you Neil Patel lol). My favorite request, the one thing that could get me to add javascript back to my computer (nah; ain’t gonna happen…) is to have something pop “in” from the side as the reader is getting close to the end of the article. For those of you doing this… yay! 🙂

I know mobile’s happy with me because I don’t have any popups on any of my sites. I’m not sure that’s translating to more visitors since only 15% of my traffic comes from mobile (more than half of those being Apple phones; I should be nicer to Apple people lol). I’m also not sure if Google’s supposed mobile penalty is actually working against anyone because it seems to still be prevalent based on what I’m seeing.

If you’re a content publisher using popups, have you modified what you’re doing since Google made its proclamation?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell
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