Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 15, 2014
LinkedIn is a social media platform specifically for businesses. It offers a way to connect with people who not only could be potential customers and consumers, but people who were in the same industry. Yet, almost every day I see things happening that are irritating to the point that you just want to slap somebody. Okay, that might be a bit over the top, but they make you mad. And some of those people trying to reach out to you which makes it even worse.
All of you know the saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. Well, there is a of bad first impression. I’m going to name four of them, and hope that none of them are you.
1. Connecting with someone new but not changing the default description. This is probably the most irksome because the default description says that someone has indicated you are a friend. Every once in a while it says I find you a trusted person. The thing is these people don’t know you, and you don’t know them, so who can trust who?
Don’t be a lazy first connector; if you’re looking to meet someone at least right something different, even though you don’t get a lot of space to do it. You’ll be more memorable and people will be more likely to connect with you there.
2. No picture and no flushing out what you do. People trust what they can see and what they can read better than seeing almost nothing. There are some people who join the site and immediately start sending out invitations for people to connect with them without giving people a reason why they should even think about connecting.
Unless I know who you are, if I’ll see a picture I’m not connecting with you. If I go check out your page and all I see are three or four separate lines of things you’ve done in the past without saying anything about it, I’m not connecting. I know some people who will connect with anybody who reaches out to them, but the quality of your connections has to count as much as how many connections you have.
3. Don’t immediately start selling after someone connects with you. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who look at the profiles of people who want to connect with me. I have found over the years, and I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for nine years, that people whose profiles have nothing to do with anything that I’ve listed on my profile only want to sell me on something or try to get me to help them do business.
Unless they’re local, or I see a number of people that I actually know who are connected with that person, I’m not connecting with that person because I know what’s coming. Trust me, a short introduction saying hello and telling the person you’d like to know more about them goes a lot further in networking that that person then immediately trying to sell them on something.
4. If you join a group with an intention to actually participate, don’t start off introducing who you are and telling people what it is you do. It’s always best to stay on topic, and if people are intrigued by what you have to say it will follow you back to your profile to learn more about you. And if you’ve taken the time to flesh out your profile (see #2) you’ll intrigue people and on their terms.
I’ve written before that every business should be on LinkedIn, but just being there isn’t enough to give you the opportunity for proper business networking. Work on some of the things I mentioned above and you’ll be well on your way.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 12, 2014
Today is the 7th anniversary of I’m Just Sharing; yay! The very first post was pretty short and lousy and went live just after midnight, but the second post, which I wrote on the same day and launched an hour later, was about credit card debt. It probably would have gotten way more attention if it wasn’t the first real post on a brand new blog but hey, it ended up doing okay long term. Not a bad start to a new blog if you ask me.
I’ve learned a whole bunch of lessons since those early days, and I figured I’d share a few things, for no other reason than I figure it’s time for another post like this about blogging. It also follows up on the last post I wrote that was about writing list posts; how about that for timing?
Also, this one kind of follows up on the 15 lessons post from March highlighting 1,500 posts on this blog. This is post #81 since that one, which is strange for me because when I first started writing, I was creating at least 300 posts a year for the first three years. Hey, such is life right?
Do I have 8 different lessons than the 15 from before? Let’s find out:
1. You can’t just throw products onto a blog and expect people are going to buy them. For the first 4 years or so, I would pop products at the end of posts that I’d pull up from Commission Junction, Clickbank, or a host of other places. I never sold anything from those sites from here. Matter of fact, besides selling one of my own books from here, the only product I ever sold was Mailwasher, which I still use, and I sold 3 of them; woo-hoo! Oh wait, that didn’t make me rich; hmmm… lol
2. You can be bypassed by folks who are willing to do more, even if you keep producing content. As some of you know, I’m an independent consultant, which means blogging isn’t close to my regular job. Because of that, there are times when I have to do other stuff that’s more important that blogging; I should be slapped for saying that.
Back in the day, this blog was ranked pretty highly. I was producing lots of content and I still had lots of time to comment on other blogs. This is before things like Facebook, Twitter was new (in those days having 10,000 people following you was a big deal) and nothing was automated.
These days, you can write a blog post and set it up with some software to post that bad boy once every 15 minutes if you so choose. You can also mix in as many old posts as you can, constantly keeping your name out in social media circles. Sure, commenting on other blogs still works great, but if you’re willing to automate you can conquer mountains.
I’ve refused to over-automate, allowing my new posts to go live and to have it tweeted and sent to LinkedIn when it happens, and that’s it; otherwise, if my posts show up again later it means I’m posting it. That’s why I appreciate and talk about my buddy Adrienne so much; she’s doing it the old fashioned way, networking and sharing and commenting; what a kid! Have you checked out her course yet (and remember, I’m not an affiliate, so I get nothing out of this)?
3. If you write only for ratings you’re not really writing, you’re marketing. Yeah, I know, most people are trying to make some kind of money via blogging. I’m not immune to this; trust me on this one.
I refuse to go out of my way to do a lot of keyword research and the like for each post. I know I’m a dinosaur in this blogging game, thinking that the content should be enough. I mean, I have about 1,580 live posts on this blog, but it’s like the internet keeps saying “what have you done for us lately”.
If you want to write, write; if you don’t, don’t. If you believe you don’t write well enough get better; you do that by writing or taking lessons. If traffic doesn’t come don’t blame it on the writing; at least not initially. Go out and get visitors if you can. How? Are you ready for the work?
4. I really make a lot more work for myself than is needed. I gave you the link to 15 blogging tips above while forgetting that back in September I gave you another 55 tips and ideas about blogging; glutton for punishment I am. Still, I only have 4 more to go, including this one, so let’s push on…
Have you ever heard of a blogging club? It’s not quite like blogging sites where people join, share their posts and other people’s posts, vote on them, and have one overall person trying to promote them to heck. Instead, it’s where you have a number of folks, maybe 5 to 7, who all agree to comment on each other’s blogs as well as share those articles on social media.
At one time they were pretty popular… at least to start with. It’s a great idea and it’s a lot less structured than the other groups. It can work, but there’s a catch. You have to be interested enough in what someone is writing to be able to leave a legitimate comment. Otherwise, some comments look forced or amateurish, almost like spam, and nobody benefits in the long run and the groups fade out.
Instead, it’s better working towards creating a community of people who respect your work enough to at least want to stop by and read it often. Of course you have to be willing to do the same; being selfish never helps anyone.
5. Research before you make changes to your blog. What’s this about? Recently I shut down a business and a blog. One of the things I remembered at the last minute was I hadn’t moved the link to the first product up there on the upper left (which you probably ignore most of the time you visit, if you’ve been here more than once lol). So, in another few days, if you happened to click on the link it would have gone nowhere, and I’d have been none the wiser; that would have been stupid.
Well, there are lots of folks who make changes to their blogs without doing a bit of research first to see what might happen. My buddy Brian of Hot Blog Tips recently changed his commenting process (Why Brian! lol) and discovered that it wiped out all the gravatars on previous posts, and he’s had that blog for years.
Sometimes people change themes without realizing that all the customization they did on the previous theme doesn’t move along with the change, and they might not know how to do the work, and the new person doesn’t know how to do the work.
Sometimes people change plugins or add new plugins that don’t get along with what they already have. That can cause issues also.
Before you decide to make big changes to your blog, remember that we have these things called search engines; check stuff out before you wreck something.
6. With the good comes some bad. In my case it’s spam. I don’t get the amount of spam that many people say they get because I’ve set up a lot of filters. However, spam is ever changing, and I’ve seen some smart spam as well as irritating spam over the years.
It’s something you have to deal with if you decide to exert your rights to self expression on the web. Don’t fear it and don’t hate it; just recognize that if your blog and your posts mean anything to anyone, that makes it attractive to spammers, or people who write lousy comments. Manage it and move on; don’t let the suckers get you down.
7. Whew, this time it wasn’t easy; I think I’m in holiday mode. Well, that plus the day I’m writing this is also the day I started creating a presentation I’m giving to a medical group, which will happen two days after this post goes live. So I’ve already been doing a lot of writing and creating today and had to change gears for this post.
And I think that’s the last lesson I’m going to throw out there, that I hope I didn’t mention before, though now that I think about it I’ve addressed the topic. Either write what you have to or write what makes you happy but write.
Over the course of 7 years I’ve maintained 36 specific categories of posts, and not all of them about blogging or even internet related stuff. There’s nothing wrong with expanding niches when it suits you, even on a niche blog. For instance, on my finance blog I have 60 categories; I’m betting you didn’t know there could be so many thing about finance to talk about eh?
When all is said and done, unless someone is paying you to do it blogging is supposed to be an enjoyable thing. Even if you’re trying to make money, if people think your posts are forced they’ll feel it and they won’t enjoy them either.
I love blogging; heck, I’d better with all the blogs I have and write for. If you don’t like it, don’t do it; trust me on this one.
That’s it; gotta put this one in the can and move to the next bit of business. Thanks to the few of you who are still here after 7 years; let’s see what other trouble we can get ourselves into.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 10, 2014
Well, here’s a topic I haven’t touched upon in a very long time, so let’s look at it again shall we?
If you’ve checked out any blogs on the topic of blogging, you’ve probably read that one of the post popular types of posts are list posts. It is what it sounds like; it’s a post where you have anywhere from 3 to 20 numbered lines where each one tells something about the topic at hand. I’ve written lots of list posts on this blog, some long, some short, as well as my other blogs.
John Ryan via Compfight
Why are these posts so popular? Here’s a list lol:
1. Lists are easy to understand because they usually begin with a highlighted line so you know what each line is about. Sometimes the list only consists of lots of single lines.
2. Lists can be pretty easy to read, and fast as well. If you only have to take in a few words, less than 20, things move along fast.
3. List posts indicate in the title most of the time how many points there are going to be. This can be a misleading indication of how long a post will be. You can bet that a post with only 3 points is going to be much longer than you think, whereas a post with 10 points could be either long or short, as this post of mine on another blog listed 10 points but was close to 2,000 words; I’m kind of proud of that post, just so you know.
4. List posts can help you get people to ask you questions. You can use a list to highlight things without getting into detail, and if people are interested you can bet they’re going to ask you more. That could be good for business if used properly.
5. List posts are very easy to write. As opposed to having to write a lot of words to try to draw readers in, like I do, a list could just be a bunch of random thoughts strung together and yet still convey everything you want it to.
Go ahead, try it out to see how it feels. Just so you know, there are many blogs where every post is a list post, and it probably suits the writer and their readers just fine.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 8, 2014
Imagine you’re searching the internet looking for someone to provide services for you. Imagine that you come across a website that looks pretty neat and professional. It not only offers the services you’re looking for but many others. And look, there are lots of testimonials on the site, and even pictures of the people who gave those testimonials, just like this one:
Looks pretty good, right? Now imagine you’re someone going about your business, and you find out about a site like this, go to take a look, and lo and behold, there’s your image clear as day, supposedly advocating for a site you’ve never heard of, with a totally different name and in a business that’s not your own.
In this case the lady’s name is Kristi Hines of Kikolani, not Pamela, and she’s one of the top internet writers in the country. She knows a lot about SEO, but that’s not her primary focus. She was stunned to find out that this company had someone obtained her image and used it in their advertising.
I’m not going to mention the website because I don’t want to give them the publicity; she might be trying to do something about removing her image as we speak. It’s possible that the company hired someone else to do the work and that company scarfed up the image from somewhere, figured no one would ever find out, and, well, it’s a super cute face with a great smile, so why not.
As you can imagine, within her circles this is getting a lot of buzz. And since these people profess to do something among their multitude of services that she does, and I’d have to say does better than them, word will be getting out all over the internet & social media circles (that’s where I learned about it), and it will put this company into a compromised situation because this is someone a lot of people like.
The point is that it shouldn’t have come to this. Most of us know that the people shown on many websites, especially in the header area, don’t really work for the company. We’re used to stock images and the like; we get it, because no one stands around posing like they do in some of these pictures.
There are so many sources for finding images that one can use for free that it’s amazing whoever decided to grab this image for its use didn’t go that route. It makes them look bad and, online, once word spreads that you’ve possibly done something unethical, even if it wasn’t specifically you, it’s hard to regain any momentum you or your business might have gained.
Remember, your website is your business, not the business of the person who created it. Don’t get caught up like this, and if you’re thinking about doing it don’t do it. I might say who this is one day… let’s see if someone comes along to identify them so I don’t have to.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 4, 2014
On Monday I wrote about how I got hacked last year and what I had to go through to fix everything because it also ended up taking out some of my other websites for awhile. I also mentioned in that post that it was due to some free themes that I’d downloaded years earlier that I never used, but forgot to remove from my blog at the time.
This brings us to the discussion about paid versus free themes. Often you’ll read where some blogging “professional” is telling people that a paid theme will help you make more money because it’ll work better with your keywords and thus Google will love you. They’ll also tell you that if you want to look like a professional you’re going to need to get a neat photo icon to pop on there to help your branding.
I agree with only one part of this; you want to have a blog that looks nice and professional. It turns out that you don’t have to go the paid route to get that, although you’re probably going to need some technical expertise or a couple of friends to help you out. I’m telling you this one from experience as someone running 5 blogs.
What makes a blog look professional? That’s kind of a tough question to answer because there’s no one way to look like you know what you’re doing. Instead, let’s go from the aspect of what makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
First, colors. If people can’t read what you have to say then you’re just wasting time. Hey, my favorite color is red, but a bright red background, no matter the color of the print, is going to freak people out. The same would apply if I had red print against almost any color. This blog stands out because my print color is burgundy; how many other blogs have you seen using that color? But it fits well with the overall color of the blog if you ask me.
Second, your header. You want something that’s at least a little bit unique. In my case I use the banner that’s also at the top of my website. Some people use colors, some have images created that fit well up there. Going with the WordPress header is quick and convenient but truthfully, so many other people use it that you not only won’t stand out from the crowd, you also won’t look very professional. If you don’t care and just want to write then it’s fine. But if you hope to do business, you’ll want to change something up.
Third, your sidebars. There’s nothing wrong with pimping a product or two on your sidebars, but being too busy can be distracting for people who you hope are there to read your content and learn more about what it is you do or can do for them.
With all of these things, if you go the free route then you’re probably going to need some help, at least initially, to help you get it right. If you pay for your theme then your learning curve is much easier and you can get some expert help. Still, you’re paying for it whereas you might not have to pay a friend. Or you might if you want a nice fancy business logo.
What I want to mention in closing is that even paid themes can get hacked if you don’t keep up with software changes. WordPress is great because they’re always updating for security, but if you’re not updating your blog, the theme won’t matter. Decide whether you want to spend more money or more time getting your blog correct, and then go forth and write.