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5 Things I’d Do Differently If I Was Starting Blogging Today

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 25, 2016
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Guess what; I’m part of another blogging roundup. This time, I got to be one of 37 people who was asked what our biggest blogging mistakes were. Check that out because there’s some pretty big names on that list; that I got to be a part of it is pretty cool.

Picture 35

Actually, my little contribution led me to looking at some of the things other people had written on that post. It got me thinking more about what I would have done differently if I were starting a new blog today and had someone like those folks, or myself, to give some guidance on the process that would help me to get off to a good start.

Today y’all are lucky because you not only have that link to go to but you have me writing this particular post; you can thank me after you’ve looked at it… and I hope I don’t scare anyone off. Here are 5 things I’d do differently, or at least recommend to anyone thinking about starting a new blog.

1. Write 10 articles

It seems I mentioned this on my post giving 55 tips on blogging but not with much context to it. There’s more than one reason to do this.

First, most people forget that they hated writing in high school and college. If they couldn’t write 500 word papers then, why should they think it’s easy to do now? That’s why they should sit down and try to write 10 articles on their topic.

It might take a week; it might take 3 months. It’s a great learning curve to see if you have what it takes to not only write articles, but you can evaluate yourself to see if you want to continue writing.

Second, this is a great way to have ready made content when you’re ready to launch your blog. You end up having one article you can post immediately and 9 articles you can schedule over time. This gives you more time to write more articles or you can wait until those articles are live before writing some more.

2. Find your writing voice

When I started my first blog I’d already been writing two newsletters for 2 years. When I went back to work on my 2nd book on leadership, which is a compilation of newsletters and blog posts I’d written up to the end of 2008, I realized how rough it was to read those early articles. I was all over the place, trying to stuff as much stuff into an article as I could without any direction.

At some point I seemed to have found my writing voice. If you read my posts over the last 7 or 8 years you’ll see that my style has been pretty consistent. That helps your visitors get used to how you write and what your words will sound like in their ears. Everyone might not like it but if you’re authentic you’ll reach the people you want to reach.

3. Set something up for email subscribers

@-Symbol in Glass Light Orange
Creative Commons License via Compfight

I hate popups with a passion; everyone knows that by now. I’ve never signed up for any type of autoresponder. In retrospect I probably should have thought about it, which I’m still thinking about now, because there’s more than one way to get it done.

I still use Feedburner for my RSS feed, and I always thought that would be enough. Yet, when I launched my last book, it wouldn’t have hurt to have a real mailing list to send notice to the readers of my business blog.

4. Copyright protection

If you look at the bottom of this article you’ll notice a copyright notification. That helps to protect me from content thieves, which unfortunately can be fairly comprehensive from time to time. There was a time period when a lot of my content was being scraped.

I made it hard on myself to find it, and though I found them all, one was hard to get rid of because it was located on some offshore island whose ISP I couldn’t reach. That’s when I decided to start using the plugin called Digiprove, also known as Coyright Proof. It makes it easier to prove that you own the content, because in the day you had to fill out all this paperwork to get your stuff removed and then they took time to verify it before they’d do something about it. Check that site out; it might be valuable long term.

5. Figuring out how to use more of my own images

For some reason it helps to have at least one image in a blog post, no matter how short or long that post is. Turns out we’re all pretty visual people. The hard part is trying to find images that fit every topic, or a topic you happen to be writing on at the time.

For instance, blogging; what do you put up for blogging? There are some images I’m able to get from Compfight, which searches for Creative Commons images you can use via Flickr, that work nicely. But sometimes you just can’t find the right image for everything.

I have at least a few thousand images of things I’ve taken on my own. True, many of them might not fit a specific topic, and “experts” say that one should try to fit images to whatever you’re writing about. But as I read tons of blogs and news stories and I see images that skim the edges of a topic at best (let’s face it, when all else fails a lot of these websites with articles just throw up pictures of beautiful women) I’m thinking that there might be a place for more of my own shots.

This is one reason I’ve been putting up more of my own images on my posts this year. I figure putting a picture of myself, either alone or with someone else, works well since I’m the writer. If I had the talent I could caption many of the images I have to make them fit; that’s something some of you could learn. There are few images from the early years of this blog or my business blog, and I think I could make those articles more appealing with an image or two.

There you go; 5 things I wish I’d started doing when I started my blog, that I’d do if starting a new blog. What do you think?

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Takeaways From The Blogging While Brown Conference

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 21, 2016
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A week and a half ago I wrote a post talking about the need I felt to go to the Blogging While Brown conference in Washington DC after a week of reading & hearing about too many racial issues in the news. My initial plan was to write my follow up post about the conference and post it this past Monday.

George & I

Two things got in the way of that. The first is that I realized that I had missed writing about my 1,700th post by one, so I had to get that in there. The second is that I didn’t get home until after 1AM because my flight got delayed a couple of times, then I couldn’t find my car at the airport (hey, I was tired! lol), so I wouldn’t have been in any condition to write the article once I got home. Luckily I wrote the other article before I left & scheduled it for this past Monday, while saying I would write a second post this week talking about the conference… this is it. 🙂

Those of you who read these posts (I think 10 of you lol) know that I don’t necessarily write traditional posts like everyone else. Thus, what I write might not conform to your expectations. They’re going to be my honest thoughts, so if you went to the conference be prepared for that. However, I didn’t have a bad time there so there won’t be any negative shockers that will upset anyone… at least I don’t think so.

Further down I’ll be embedding the video I did of my entire weekend in DC to add a bit of flavor to the presentation, but for now, let’s get into my observations, takeaways and commentary.

1. The location wasn’t what I was expecting

This isn’t good or bad… just different. It was held at the Marvin Center… which turned out to be at George Washington University… which happened to be a college that’s actually a bunch of buildings on city streets with restaurants and shops around it that would be easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there.

That part is shocking because supposedly they have an undergraduate class of 26,000 students. However, those numbers are different than any other university I’ve known. For instance, out of that number only around 11,000 are undergraduate students, which means the majority of the students are graduate students; that’s just phenomenal! Second, there are more female undergraduates than males; that would have been a nice ratio when I went to college. lol Third, the college is just under 57% white, which means the college if fairly diverse, ranking at #477 in the nation.

Most of the presentations at the conference were in the theater, which was intriguing. There were breakout sessions in a room on the 3rd floor and in the cafeteria area. As for the food… well, at least they had food. 🙂

2. The people were what I was expecting

It’s rare that I’ve had the opportunity to be around so many black people like this. Not counting family or weddings, the last time I was around this many black people was 1995, when I left my job at Syracuse Community Health Center to go work up north in Wayne County (that’s in New York for those of you who don’t know where I live).

This was a pleasure because I had a feeling I knew what I was walking into and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Everyone in that room gave off a feeling of accomplishment, whether they were young or older (I was one of the oldest people in the room; gasp!). If y’all had any stereotypes of what a gathering of black people might look like this would have blown your mind.

It was nice being in a room full of professionals in many industries. Some were solopreneurs (that’s a word now lol); some worked traditional jobs. Everyone was extremely nice. I only ended up getting a picture with one of the presenters, but could have had way more. I felt really comfortable with this group, which doesn’t happen often these days; that was nice.

3. No one knew me

Me & Yasmin

That’s not totally true. I knew my buddy Yasmin Shiraz was going to be there and it was great being able to finally meet her in person.

However, no one else had any idea who I was or what I did and that was kind of a shocker. As I said in the video, it’s the first time I’ve ever gone to a conference where no one knew who I was. I thought that with all the things I’ve done and people I’ve met over all these years online that I might meet at least one of the folks I’ve talked to. Nope; didn’t happen.

Thus, for the most part I tried to stay quiet and just take things in. I almost did it for the entire conference but I asked one question and that turned into something else that I wasn’t expecting. Folk were trying to give me advice that would have been helpful if I didn’t already know what they were advocating. Yet, because of all the attempts they made I’m doing an experiment on Facebook the next couple of days that I’ll get to write about at another time, so that worked out fairly well.

4. Few real bloggers or conversation about blogging

Okay, time to get real. During the opening session on the first day of the conference the moderator asked the audience how many people didn’t have a blog… and half the people in the room raised their hands. I was shocked by that because I had assumed that the overwhelming majority of people were bloggers. Turns out that was the first shock.

The second shock was that, in general terms, no one really talked about blogging… at least not in the ways I’ve always talked about blogging or the way a lot of bloggers talk about blogging.

There were no real conversations about writing, content, how often, etc. True, there were a couple of people who talked about scheduling blog posts along with scheduling how to promote oneself using tools, and there was the conversation about trying to find one’s voice when blogging. A guy named Linal Harris talked about storytelling and how it can make your blog compelling; I liked that a lot.

So, if no one talked about blogging all that much, what did they really talk about?

5. It’s all about the hustle, recognition and sponsorships


If you want to feel old, just listen to younger people who are bloggers but not the type of blogger you are (or at least I am) talking about how they’ve figured out how to engage their audience so that they can generate money from their readers. Some have been highly successful at it, even if they were what I’d call non-traditional.

For instance, one young lady named Cari Rene and her sister have carved out a style empire by making one unique choice. They model all their own pictures but they only wear either white or black clothes for the most part. The images are high quality and compelling, and they’re masters of photo editing. By switching to that style they’ve been able to make a career of being image consultants as well as models. As for the content, you can look at 2016 and see they’ve only posted 5 articles, and in the previous two years just 72 articles. As I said, to people like me it’s a non-traditional way of blogging, yet they figured out how to use the blog to create a career; that’s so smart!

At one point Yasmin said to me “We’re doing things all wrong.” It certainly felt like it, that’s for sure. And yet…

6. Almost no one who presented is sustained by only blogging

This is important, and it’s something I had to figure out later on. Some folks were independent but had used blogging as a means to a better end, something I’ve talked about when I’ve mentioned the different ways people can make money via their blogs other than trying to sell products.

I consider myself a content creator, but I’m also a consultant. I make the majority of my money by consulting, yet I haven’t figured out how to translate my business blog into a money making machine. The thing is, I’d rather turn this blog into that machine because it’s better placed. I’d also like to figure out how to turn my finance and medical billing blog into money making machines because both are better niched for specificity. These young people have that part figured out, and with way less content than I have. I ain’t pretty but I do have a following in some places; maybe…

7. Other platforms are valued more than blogging

Well, this was a blow to me. More time was spent talking about all the other ways to reach people than blogging. Sometimes the talk was about how to promote one’s blog posts but overall the conversation went towards things like podcasts (which I’m not doing) and live video (which I’m definitely NOT doing) using platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope.

Those are definitely viable ways to reach an audience and lots of people seem to enjoy that these days. Frankly, it’s another thing that makes me feel old because for the life of me I can’t figure out why so many people are interested in absorbing a few seconds here and there of someone’s life (Snapchat) or need a daily dose of wisdom that may only last for a day (Periscope). What was interesting is that a few people did acknowledge the longevity benefit of YouTube; whew! lol

I think that’s enough of that for now. All in all I had a good time, learned a lot even if it wasn’t what I was expecting, met a lot of nice, intelligent people and might even think about going to another conference some day. In the meantime I’d like to highlight a few more people who I saw at the conference that I haven’t already mentioned; not all of these folks are bloggers:

Gina McCauley – she’s the founder of the Blogging While Brown conference
Dayvee Sutton
Arsha Lones
Lucrecer Braxton
Sheila Marmon
Vashti Patrick-Joseph
Alexzandria Cormier-Hill
Dasha Guyton

And now, the video I talked about:


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1,701 Blog Articles… Oops!

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 18, 2016
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I’m probably having two blog posts this week. The next one will be my synopsis of the Blogging While Brown conference I went to over the weekend. This one is about hitting 1,700 posts… a post late. That’s okay though; at least I realized it and now have something new to talk about.


As I did with Post #1,600, I get to mention highlights of the past year as it pertained to my life, positive or negative, and then I get to highlight some of my favorite posts of the year. While that’s always fun, I’m going to begin this one by talking a bit about my present blogging mood.

My mood is kind of “meh” lately. It’s not because I don’t still enjoy the process of blogging. The issue is that real life has been affecting me more than anything else. I’m worried about my mother’s mental health, and it seems to be carrying over into my own health. I’m averaging 2 1/2 hours of sleep a day, which sometimes includes a nap; that’s not great.

It means that my mind is a bit foggy, which I really can’t afford being self employed. It’s also affecting my overall writing, which means my income. Other than this blog and my business blog, I’m not paying much attention to anything else. I’m not even doing as many videos as I usually do, although I did do this one which, though geared towards YouTube, applies to some of the folks who comment here from time to time:

Still, I get by, so if you’re worried about me don’t be (like you’d worry lol). After all, within the time it took to write the last 100 posts, I’ve had some intriguing things happen.

I had the anniversaries of both my 14th and 15th year of self employment. I had the 8th anniversary of this blog in December (which I forgot to write about) and the 11th anniversary of my business blog. I wrote my 2nd book on leadership titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy. Finally, I was interviewed by podcast on the topic of leadership by Jesan Sorrells, whom I also interviewed on YouTube.

That’s not too shabby, even if I still had bigger plans for myself. I’ll get beyond this brief funk I’m in, hopefully inspired by many of the people I’ve just seen at the conference this past weekend I work best when I have something to compete for. 🙂

This is usually the point where I’d just list all my favorite posts of the year. I’m still going to do that but, because these days people are also hoping you’ll share something of value that they can use, I’m going to write 5 tips that have helped me this past year, things for you to consider:

1. Be consistent

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote at least a post a week on two of my blogs this year, and those have proven to be the most successful. Except for two anniversary dates, I posted the blogs on the same day, this one on Monday, my business blog now on Wednesday, as it used to be Thursday. It’s helped because people get used to looking for a post on a certain day, and that helps keep visitors coming.

2. Promote

I started promoting my blog posts more in 2015. I realized that I wasn’t promoting them enough, as I was only doing it twice at the most. Now with each blog post I promote it twice on the first day, and then at least once the next 4 days (sometimes I’ll skip either Saturday or Sunday) and I stagger the times. An important time was late at night for me because the other side of the world is just waking up so they’ll see it early day where they are.


3. Some automation

I’m not big on a lot of automation, but I finally acquiesced this year and started using first Tweetdeck and now Tweeten to schedule both older posts and my little motivational missives. I realized it not only saved me time and allowed me to concentrate on other work, but I get to select what people are seeing that I’ve previously created, and I’m not hammering the same thing over and over so people can get tired of it (you should see my files lol).

4. Writing ahead

Most of my articles are written at least a couple of days ahead. When I can, I’ll write multiple articles on one day, at least 2 or 3. That helps to cover those times when there are other projects to get to but I still want to get a post out. It’s what helped me write a post a day on my business blog last December. I need to get back to that for my other blogs because it’s really a good idea.

5. Be authentic

A few month ago I fussed about people who write things that not only seem to be carbon copies of what someone else has done but are boring as sin. What I’ve noticed on blogs I visit more than once is that a lot more of my blogging favorites have started to do the same type of thing, and that makes what they’re doing more enjoyable. It kind of touches on the concept of pure blogging that Danny Brown talks about all the time, which he’s absolutely correct on.

There you are; if you can’t do anything with those 5 tips you’re not even trying. lol Enough of that; let me share my favorite posts in the last 100 so you can get on your way. There are more than normal, and this is because last year I started trying to write more comprehensive posts so, in my opinion, the quality went up a bit from what I was writing previously. Of course this is my belief; hopefully you’ll agree with some of these. 😉

9 Relationships Between Blogging And Social Media

The Stuff You Haven’t Been Told About How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

5 Things You Should Do Before Commenting On A Blog

Why I Hate Auto DM’s And First Contact DM’s

6 Answers To Questions From New Bloggers

The Ethics Of Social Media

7 Definite Rules Of Marketing Online And Offline

10 Ways To Find Inspiration To Write About In Your Niche

9 Social Media Mistakes People Make

9 Reasons You Need To Keep On Writing

Someone’s Still Going To Hate You So Do Your Thing

The Proliferation Of “Fake” On Social Media

The Case Against DM’s On Twitter As A First Contact

Controversy, Publicity And Social Media

Try Something Different, Say Something Different On Your Blog

Popups Ruin A Blog Readers Experience

Misleading Titles, Disappointing Blog Content

31 Big Mistakes People Make Blogging And In Social Media

The Spam In Our Blogging Lives

What Muhammad Ali Meant To Me And The Social Media Lessons We Can Learn From Him

The Syracuse Orange & 5 Lessons To Learn About Social Media

How Are You? Life And Blogging

What Muhammad Ali Meant To Me And The Social Media Lessons We Can Learn From Him

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