Before I get deep into this blog post I’d like to share that I made a list of top leadership blogs. Pardon me while I take a quick moment for myself. 😀

Mitchell writing
young Mitchell writing

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about blogging. About 2 1/2 years ago I wrote a post where I, on the last point of the post, stated that blogging is hard/easy. I said it that way because blogging can be easy or it can be hard; I’m sure most of you know that, and I’m betting the majority of you think it’s pretty hard.

Let me ask you this question; have you ever challenged yourself to try to write a blog post every day for at least a month? If you haven’t, why not? I’m going to assume that puts you in the “blogging is hard” camp. If you have, what kind of experience did you come out of it with?

I know so many people who often get into a place where they can’t even write a blog post more than once every 2 weeks, sometimes once a month. Whereas that’s not the worst thing in the world, I also know that many of those people have lofty goals for their blogs.

Blogging takes work; trust me, I know, and I can sympathize. While I was traveling a couple of years ago I found that it was hard to blog on all my blogs as often as I wanted to. Even so, I made a commitment to blog at least once a week on two of my blogs, which I’ve continued to this day. Whereas that’s still pretty good, every once in a while I figure I not only need to do more, not only because it helps SEO but because I need to challenge myself and my perceptions of not being able to do the deed.

Not that I’ve ever doubted myself when I have the time. The first 3 years of this blog I wrote just over 1,000 posts, which means I rarely missed a day when I didn’t write something. I knew that every post I wrote wasn’t going to be War and Peace or even a Pulitzer Prize winner. Some of the posts were going to be dogs, but at least a few were going to knock it out of the park.

I’ve taken on some challenges within the last couple of years to not only show that I could be prolific but to challenge myself to do it. For instance, last September for this blog I said I was going to write 12 posts for the month and I did. That’s 3 posts a week, along with all the other writing I do, and I got it done. On my business blog (the one referenced in that first link above lol) in December 2015 I decided to create a post a day for the month, and I did. On both of my video channels I picked a month and did a video a day. And this month on my local Syracuse blog I’m once again putting together a post every day for January.

HFA's Tech-a-pedia 84
Creative Commons License Hector Alejandro via Compfight

Here’s the thing. I put out notice that I’d like to see if anyone wanted to join me on the quest; I got no takers. Truthfully, the only person I think I know who did something similar at least once in the last few years is my buddy Holly some years ago. I really thought that at least one person would give it a shot with me; nah!

This time around, on the Martin Luther King Jr holiday, I’m putting out the challenge via this blog, but it’s more of an encouragement than a challenge. It’s the beginning of the year, which makes it a good time to break out of your blogging funk and giving it your best shot. However, I’m not going to totally leave you hanging. Instead, I’m going to give you some ideas of things you can do, some of them with examples you can check out.

First, not every post needs to have a lot of words or verbal content. In this post I’m linking to, I put together 26 motivational quotes from my years of blogging on my business blog and included an image with each one. It took time to find the images I used to match up with the quotes but it was still a pretty good post if I say so myself.

Second, I did a similar thing on my local blog this month where, instead of images, I posted 9 short videos highlighting things I’ve seen & filmed around central New York in 2016. I gave a short blurb and then added the video, which it turns out you can load from your computer without having to upload it to YouTube first, and the WordPress program will condense it for you; sweet!

Third, it’s not about trying to write Nobel Prize in literature worth articles every single day, it’s about being creative. In this particular post I took some lessons I’ve learned from Star Trek over the years and turned it into a pretty epic post, while still staying on my topic of leadership. You might not believe how easy that post came to me, since it was over 2,500 words, but Star Trek is a subject I know pretty well. I’ve always said that people should try to write about what they know best and try to fit it into their niche if need be; this was proof that it can be done.

Fourth, you can try finding something you can repurpose while adding new things to it. That’s what I did in this relatively short post where I gave 10 communication tips that were pretty short, then linked to every other article that was part of a years long series of posts where I gave short “10” items posts and threw in a couple others. It not only achieved internal linking processes but gave those other posts a nice little boost again.

I’m going to stop there, otherwise I’ll never finish this post and go to bed. I want to encourage you to give it a shot… the post a month shot. If that’s a bit much for you then how about doubling your output for a month, which means you’ll write less than 30 (or 31) posts but you’ll still write more than your norm? Trust me, you’ll discover things about yourself that you’ve never expected to learn, and it’ll definitely help your blogging long term.

Come on; get ‘er done! 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

That’s an ominous title, so let me first say that I’m not ending this blog, not leaving my relationship, and nothing else bad has happened to me. Not that any new readers will care, but some of the consistent readers might be wondering what I’m talking about; all is good with me. 🙂

services stuff

What’s not good is one of my websites, one that I’ve had since 2006. It’s called Services and Stuff, and I’m not going to link to it. The reason I’m not going to link to it is because when it expires in March I’m not going to renew it, and I’d rather not have to try to remember to remove the link from this particular article, especially since I have to try to remember to go back and remove it from any other articles I’ve added those links to over the years.

When I created that site, it was my intention to create kind of a portal site where businesses could add their links to and I could make money off it via affiliate marketing. The two images above represented “services” and “stuff”, since I hadn’t fully defined what “stuff” was going to be back then. It turns out that over the years I never fully defined what stuff was, so it turned into anything that wasn’t services.

The difference between my portal and all those directories you see everywhere else is that I was personally reviewing each site, which means people couldn’t just add their wacky sites to it. If a site didn’t fit my own quality standards, then it didn’t get listed. I also indicated that to anyone who visited the site, hoping that they’d see what a difference it was from other sites purporting to do the same thing.

I changed the initial look pretty quickly, within a couple of months actually, and what you see is what it looked like after the change. It was a lot cleaner than my original main page, which was more of a splash page without any real content on it. I thought I was on my way to making at least a few hundred dollars a day. Who doesn’t dream big?


early look after 2 months

Within a year I had added a lot more affiliate links and way more categories of both services and stuff. Yet I wasn’t making all that much money, and almost all of it was through Google Adsense, which isn’t always the best option because when people click on those ads they leave your site. Still, I was averaging maybe $2 a month; that’ll buy you a candy bar but not much else.

Over the next few years I’d keep adding pages and subtracting pages and adding links and removing links. When I wrote about leaving Commission Junction back in October, I was griping about not making a lot of money through its affiliate program. What I didn’t mention is that it and other programs of the past (like the Google Affiliate Network) kept adding and removing affiliates, sometimes totally shutting down, and most of the time they wouldn’t tell you they’d done it. Not only was that hard to keep up with but sometimes a link I’d added for one of those affiliate programs would expire, and they didn’t tell you that either. It was a lot of work for little money; sigh…

I knew problems were there long ago. Heck, my 2011 goals even mentioned that I was thinking about changing it to some kind of online store because my original idea wasn’t working that well. It took me 4 years to give that a shot, when I created a page of all the books I’d been recommending over the years on all my blogs and other books I liked. That all came crashing down with the B&N fiasco that I hadn’t realized occurred months earlier; now the only page I still have on there is my Fitbit page, which I’m not linking to yet because I’m going to move it elsewhere, possibly linking it directly to IJS… which means I have to change how it looks, which probably isn’t a bad idea. Luckily I went the route of not using CJ for any of those products; whew!

The last time I renewed the site was in 2014, and I did so because I was out of town consulting and I didn’t have any time to think about it. After all, it was kind of my baby, my dream, and I was holding onto it for all it was worth.


S&S now

Well… it’s time to let it go. What you see above is what the page looks like right now… and it’s all wrong. The movies are old; about 80% of those affiliate programs are gone because they were part of CJ. All those other pages are still around, but there are banner ads on all of those pages and, frankly, I don’t have the time or inclination to go and remove them from each of those pages. Instead, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to start removing all the content from that site. When I’m done, I’ll only have an index page, and I’ll probably link it to this article explaining why I’m shutting it down. I’ve given it a good 10 years; who wouldn’t agree with me that it’s time to let it go?

I should have done this years ago, but now that I’ve come to this decision, I feel a bit of pressure off my shoulders. It’s like when I decided in November to give up news and to focus more on happiness. Sometimes we all need to learn when something’s not doing us any favors, or some people are hindering our progress, and we just need to let it go.

At least it didn’t take me 18 years like it took Elsa! 🙂


https://youtu.be/moSFlvxnbgk

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

With the first post of 2017 I thought I would talk a little bit about something bloggers can do to make money on their blogs. That would be accepting advertisements. If your blog is popular it can be quite wonderful and lucrative, but it can also be dangerous and bad for your blog. Let’s try to take these one step at a time, since there are many things to consider.

advertising
pretty blatant advertising!

The first is their relevance to the content of your blog. For instance, there’s a local bakery in town called Harrison Bakery and I happen to like some of their products… a lot! If I went to them and said “Hey, would you like to advertise on my blog”, and I was talking about this blog, I might have some issues with search engines (y’all know who I’m talking about lol).

The reason I would have problems with search engines is that this blog has nothing to do with food or baking and that could be seen as someone buying paid ads on the blog. Obviously that’s what it would be, and that’s what all advertising is, but because there’s no relevance to the content on this blog then that would be problematic. I know the dangers in that because back in 2009, Google took away my page rank (anyone remember that?) because of the text link ads I was accepting, which were paying me a lot of money, and once that was taken away the advertisers stopped coming, I stopped making money, and put through a request to get my page rank back… which took 6 months.

Of course it’s not that I couldn’t link to the bakery anyway, but let’s look at this in a different way.

I actually have a local blog, and since the bakery is local, in general that type of thing should be legitimate for advertising purposes. Unfortunately, the search engines would have no idea that my blog is specifically a local blog (even though I’ve been optimizing it in that way for years), and they wouldn’t pick up on the relationship between the local business and that particular blog. That means I would have to add nofollow tags to the link or banner ad, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit, but if the advertiser was savvy it might make them a bit reluctant to advertise with me.

However, I did link to them in this post; kind of. I linked to their Google Plus page, which is allowed by all search engines and probably ignored as well. I could have linked to their site if I’d added the rel=nofollow tag, but I decided to go through the other route; I couldn’t tell you why now.

cake!

The rules by the Federal Trade Commission, which we have to deal with here in the United States, says that if we have any kind of affiliation with a business, or if someone sends us something free, and we write about them and it’s favorable, that it must be disclosed up front, especially if we get paid. I’ve always disclosed when someone has given me something free, although in my case it’s always some kind of book, of which the last one I reviewed that I got for free came from my friend Rasheed Hooda called Life: It’s A Trip.

On my local blog because I write about places and events all the time, but I tend to make all links nofollow to avoid issues with the search engines. Since none of those businesses don’t know I write about them at the time, and since I’m not always nice, legally I’m fine and the search engines can’t bother me.

What if it’s your own product you’re advertising? For instance, 4 of those things over on the left are products of mine, and I advertise something on 4 of my blogs and my business website. Do the search engines know they’re all related to me? Could I get in trouble?

It turns out they do! I’ve registered all my sites under my name via Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. I also attached all those properties to my two Google Plus accounts because I didn’t want to take any chances, and I’ve done the same thing for both of my YouTube channels. You know what else? Since I have all of my sites on the same account via my hosting company, they all share the same IP address; winning! 🙂

Next, let’s talk about those folks who want to write guest posts for you and link to another company; should you accept those posts, especially when they don’t want the links to be nofollow? That answer is “no”, but it comes with some caveats.

GREATNESS BEYOND THE GRIDIRON: 143D ESC UNITE FANS AT FLORIDA CLASSIC
Creative Commons License 143d ESC via Compfight

For instance, if you have “sponsored post” in the title then you’re probably good because you’re disclosing that there’s some kind of relationship. If you ask me my opinion on that, I believe you should be getting some kind of payment for it… while still putting “sponsored post” in the title.

This is different than people who want to write a guest post for you with the intention of sending traffic back to their site. Accepting guest posts can help build up the traffic on your site and if you’re up for the editing it can become a win-win for both parties. In that case you might want to weigh whether or not you want those posts to have the nofollow tag or not, but if the website isn’t overly prominent and is a blog instead of a website, you could get away with adding a link without any further attribution. That’s because there’s no money involved and no trading of services.

If it’s an actual website and it’s not related to your blog’s subject… well, that could end up being pretty dicey, and either you or they risk being penalized somewhere down the line (y’all remember all those letters asking you to remove links from your blog?).

The last consideration is traffic… but it’s not always a lot of traffic, and if you’re savvy you might figure out a way to get around the search engines and still make a good amount of money. For instance, in my post last year when I was talking about going to the Blogging While Brown conference, I linked to one particular fashion blog of one of the presenters at the conference.

Based on traffic numbers, the blog might be considered a failure by many regular bloggers. However, they gear it towards their particular local audience, they do almost all of the modeling, and they get out into the community and market themselves to the extent that they’ve become fashion consultants and make most of their money off that than with the products they market. Even if the search engines de-listed them, they’d be doing just fine because they’re not as reliant on social media as the rest of us might be, thus they can break the rules and not have anything to worry about; that’s kind of cool, right? Then again, though they have advertising on their blog, they rarely add links to those folks, so once again they’re getting away with murder, and looking good while doing it. 😉

One of my considerations for this year is making a better income via all the blogging I do. I only make money off one of my blogs at this juncture, and not all that much. It’s not as easy as the “experts” make it out to be, and one of the most honest and revealing articles about this was written by Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe, which I recommend you read, because no one knows more about generating blog traffic than she does.

My plan is to do more writing, more promoting, and contacting more potential suitors for my services in 2017. As an independent business, it’s all on me to decide how I’m going to generate income and how much, and I can’t tell y’all anything if I’m not doing anything.

Take into the account the things I wrote about above and give it some serious thought. Then get out there and make 2017 your most successful year ever!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

It’s time for the annual year in review post. I’m not going to lie; 2016 was one of the worst years in my life. The only year worse was 2002 when my dad passed away. I’m really glad this one’s over, and the best thing I can hope for is that 2017 won’t be even worse after January… that’s as far as I’m going with that.


To that end, I’m going to keep this one relatively short because at the end I’m going to add a video that’s going to end up mentioning what some of my business and blogging goals are going to be in the coming year. I figure why duplicate the process; this is my final week of “sort of” relaxation before I go into full blown monster mode… and I have 2 books to read before the end of the week.

Let’s get to it. Every year I list both my top 5 blog articles based on the number of comments and then based on traffic per Google Analytics. First, let me share my top 5 based on comments:

31 Big Mistakes People Make Blogging And In Social Media 96

The Spam In Our Blogging Lives 58

30 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Blog 57

Popups Ruin A Blog Readers Experience 57

How Are You? Life And Blogging 38

Next we have my top 5 articles of the year based on traffic, and this year there’s a couple of anomalies. First, all but one of these was written in 2016; that’s a total reversal of how things usually work. Second, three of these are from November! That’s either the result of doing all that work on making my sites mobile speed friendly, which got Google to get off my back, or it’s possibly related to some strange Russian spam that inflated my numbers in December; there’s no real way of knowing so I can only go by the raw numbers. Some of these are already above:

When “Scam” Is A Scam Of Sorts 622 (2011)

31 Big Mistakes People Make Blogging And In Social Media 546

9 New Ways To Identify Spam On Your Blog 518

Hot Chicks Dig Me On Instagram… Not Really… 457

30 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Blog 355

Also, back in July I had blog post #1,700, which was pretty cool, even if I missed it by one article. Unfortunately, that was my only milestone of the year on this blog since I highlighted my 15th year of self employment on my business blog and never said a thing here; oh well…

As for goals, dreams, and aspirations… it’s all in the video below. I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the year and is ready for a much better 2017. I hope you come along on the journey and we all become successful together!


https://youtu.be/sCv5SASCGvw

 

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By now, many of you know I have this thing about guest posts and the people who request to leave one on my blogs. Even though I’ve had some on this blog (I think 14) over the course of 9 years (my anniversary was on the 12th; yay me!) and I accepted them for a while on my finance blog, overall I’m not a great fan of them across the board.


Why? Well, instead of just talking about it I think I’ll turn this into a list post of why I probably won’t share guest posts and, well, what might get me to share one somewhere on social media or even to link one to a blog property I own. I think that’s fair; let’s have a conversation about it.

1. Why did I come to your blog in the first place?

Why? Because I liked you, your writing and what you wrote about. That’s usually how the majority of blogs start; we create them, write all the content in our own words, hopefully add a bit of personality and engage with those people who deign to comment on them. That’s the true part of purely blogging; you as the owner creator, the rest of us as the commenters.

2. Why did you start accepting guest posts?

This one is probably twofold.

All but one of the guest posts on this blog over the years came because I asked someone to write about something they had better knowledge of than I did. These were people who were participants on the blog and whose blogs I visited as well, and I’d gotten to know them a little bit and knew that I could trust them to not only deliver something special, but to come back and respond to any comments those posts received. In this case, I did it for my readers; ain’t I magnanimous? 🙂

For my finance blog, I did it to generate traffic so that my advertising would generate income via affiliate links and banner ads. It worked really great I must say, to the extent that at one point it was one of the higher ranked financial blogs online.

This is probably why so many people start accepting guest posts, along with the fact that so many people start requesting to have a guest post that it alleviates all the pressure of your having to keep coming up with content ideas. For me, I started traveling a lot for work, so this helped a great deal.

3. Where does accepting guest posts go wrong?


This one has a lot of answers, but I’m only going to mention three of them; two under this header and the last one under a separate header.

The first issue is the quality of the posts. So many of them read horribly, to the extent that they’re really boring. Just yesterday I came across 4 blog posts talking about content marketing that pretty much said the exact same thing, and two of them were written poorly. I can’t imagine why anyone would want that type of thing on their blog as a guest post unless they’re just being lazy and don’t care about quality.

The second issue is that it’s hard to get those people to come back and respond to comments. Sure, some people are good at it, but more than half of what I see has comments without a response from the writer (although sometimes the blog owner will step in) and that’s an abomination in my eyes.

That was a major problem I had with most of the posts on my finance blog; the people who contacted me about the guest post turned out not to be the people who wrote the article, and the people who wrote the articles didn’t understand what they were writing about enough to come back and comment on it. Those few that did gave one line comment responses of thanks because that’s all they could muster; how engaging does that sound?

4. The #1 sin of allowing a lot of guest posts is…

The blog owner stops writing their own posts… which leads back to #1 on this list talking about why I was coming to your site in the first place. I mean, look at the ratio on this blog; over 1,730 articles with 14 guest posts; that’s 99.2%. On my finance blog, the ratio started out at 25% guest posts, but once I started traveling it probably fell to around 33%, as I made sure to keep writing at least one post a week while posting 2 articles from someone else.

Writing
Creative Commons License Moyan Brenn via Compfight

Frankly, that started to bother me because no one else could write in my style, and other than the editing I had to do I can’t say that I understood what everyone else was writing about at least 60% of the time. Almost none of it was either engaging or fun; at least they were educational… if anyone cared to read any of them (which rarely happened).

5. When will I share guest posts on other blogs?

I did say I do it from time to time, right? There are two instances where I’m known to do it.

The first is if I know the writer of the guest post because I’ve visited their blogs previously and know them. In those cases if I’m interested in the article I have no qualms about sharing them, and I might even comment on them because I know they comment back. That’s what I did on this post by Lisa Sicard on Ileane Smith’s blog (okay, I happen to be in it, but still… lol).

The second is if I happen to read an article on Flipboard and decide to share it. I don’t always know if the writers there are the blog owners or not until I click on the link later on to verify the post (I always send these articles to myself via email so I can track down the person’s social media profile) site, since sometimes Flipboard gives you a link back to their site rather than the original source. I also like to give credit to the writer as part of my Twitter strategy; who doesn’t love knowing that something they wrote is being shared?

Yeah, I know; some of my standards seem a bit rigid to some people. Yet, I share a lot of content and promote a lot of people every day, mostly on Twitter but occasionally on other platforms as well. There’s only so much I can consume and decide on its worthiness to share with my audience that if I didn’t set some rules for myself I’d never have any time to write or make a living. Those of you who comment and know that I’ve shared some of your articles can tell the others how fair I am. 🙂

Is this a mistake you’re making with your blog? Have you forgotten why your visitors started coming to your site in the first place? Just something to think about. 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell
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