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Do You Have The Creativity To Blog?

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 23, 2016
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After 8 months of working out of town, my wife finally showed up Friday night, driving over 3 days from Arkansas back to New York. I helped her bring lots of stuff into the house, as she has no concept of light packing.

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One of the things she brought home from the road was a 32″ flat screen HD TV, which I convinced her to let me set up in the living room with the caveat that I’d donate the Sony blu-ray DVD player I bought while I was on the road. She’d agreed, so we set out to put it into our entertainment center, which was more of a project than you can imagine.

See, the TV we were taking out was also a Sony, a monster of a TV that was probably the best TV we had in the house at one time. It was a traditional 32″ but you know how Sony is when it comes to their TVs. It’s easily 5 inches longer than any other TV we still have in the house and heaps heavier. This meant that moving the entertainment center away from the wall so that we could move the TV out was going to be a major chore.

It took about 25 minutes to take a lot of the stuff off the entertainment center, unplug a few things and unhook wires, wedge a couple of things underneath it so we could move it easier than without those things, and finally get it moved. Then both of us wiggled the TV out of the entertainment center, got it to the floor unscathed, and pushed it on the rug to a location where it would be out of our way.

Before I could put the other TV, she says to me “I think we should move the living room furniture around.”

I said “Aren’t you tired after driving 7 hours?”

She said “Since I have to clean around everything anyway, let’s just move some things around to see if we can make it better.”

So we did. Even I came up with a couple of ideas of where we could move some of the stuff we had and 2 1/2 hours later we were finally finished moving, cleaning, and my setting the TV back up. We’ve had our house 16 years and this is the 4th time we’ve rearranged things, and I have to admit that every time we’ve made a change it’s improved our space.

Even though I have a problem in relating it to redesigning my blogs and my websites, I can easily relate it to my process of blogging over all these years. When I first started blogging back in 2005, I really wasn’t sure how I was supposed to write, let alone really know what to write about.

Some of my earliest posts on my business blog consisted of a couple of paragraphs; every once in a while it was just one paragraph, often linking to an article or a video somewhere else; this was in the days before embedding videos. For the longer ones, I hadn’t figured out spacing or a true storytelling style. I also hadn’t figured out how to write posts that could teach anything or explain things all that well.

It carried over to this blog when I started it. I was all over the place, which I didn’t mind as much as the fact that even then I still hadn’t really developed a style of writing. I also never really considered myself as being all that creative since I talked a lot about the happenings of the day. Considering that I wrote over 900 articles in the first 3 years, that’s saying something.

You know when I finally started to realize that maybe my writing was turning the corner and that I was getting more creative? It was post #924, titled 5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker, when I finally wrote a post in what I consider a true story form and related each point to the process of blogging. It then made me take a look back at my business blog and I realized that just a few days earlier I had written a post there where I told a story and related it to a leadership issue, that being empathy.

It was at that point I knew that I had finally turned a corner; I had learned how to be a creative writer, not a boring writer like what I often see on a lot of blogs that I may visit only once and never return to. I don’t even mean those blogs where you might see a post every 3 months or so, or a blog that only has a few posts and the owner never writes another word.

Do you know why in general I dislike guest posts on blogs? Because the writing is usually fairly stilted and boring. They are sometimes pretty accurate, but at other times they’re pretty much a rehash of something you could find on a thousand other blogs, along the lines of what I talked about in my post about misleading titles and bad blog content. That’s one reason why, if I ask someone to write a guest post (the only way guest posts show up on this blog), I know they’re going to deliver something special, like my friend Kelvin Ringold did when he wrote this post on positivity.

I’m not going to lie; being creative, truly creative, isn’t easy. I can pretty much write whenever I want to. When I used to write music, I could write a new song in less than 30 minutes, with lyrics in probably an hour.

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For the last 6 years I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with one of my websites, and for the last 5 months I’ve been trying to figure out how I want my business website to look. Some have said I should hire someone else to do it for me but I already don’t think I’d like it; isn’t that a shame? I don’t have a vision of what I want either of them to look like, and I don’t have a true vision of what I want the one website, my Services and Stuff site, to even be about, since what I’d originally planned for it has never worked.

Thus, my creativity is limited to blogging and writing; maybe music if I ever decide to play piano again. So, along the vein of trying to help you figure out ways to be creative, to do something different on your blog as it relates to creativity, here are some tips you might try.

1. Try visualizing what you want to talk about as a story.

I know you have at least one adventure a day, whether it’s big or small. You saw the story I told to being this post. Well, that was only a few hours out of a day of stories, yet it was the best story I had to relate to this topic. It’s okay to integrate a personal story to help highlight what you want to talk about. Take a look at this post on personal empowerment by Dana Gore. She tells a personal tale that leads you to what she does to help get her perspective back in order so she can push forward when she needs a boost.

2. Write like you talk.

When I had a few people read portions of my last book, I wanted them to look at the content and tell me if I was getting my points across better because I’d had to rewrite most of the early content of the book. Instead, most of them wanted me to change my grammar, saying it wasn’t proper for a book.

I ignored all advice relating to that because in my mind I was writing the book in my own vernacular, with my own rhythm and cadence. I did clean up some things here and there because I tend to use certain words in my normal pattern of speech that are pretty passive and I knew that wouldn’t work as well in the book. For that matter, I’ve tried to change it up on the blog as well.

Outside of that, I write pretty much the same way that I talk. Sometimes I use big words; sometimes I use slang. I don’t cuss so you’ll never have to worry about seeing that here. I’d like to think a good example of my pattern of speech was when I talked about my plan to make repairs on my house but the ladder came up missing. Truthfully, that’s pure “me”, if I say so myself.

3. Don’t be afraid to star in your own story, even if you’re the set-up person.

There’s a lot of things I do right and things I do well. There’s also a lot of things I’m bad at. Finally, there are times when I’m a visual participant and not actually a part of the story, even if I was there.

When you’re looking to be creative, nothing says that you have to win every step of the way. Nothing even says you have to even be in the story; observation isn’t such a bad thing. I wrote a post years ago where I told the tale of someone I knew who lost a lot of business because of bad blogging behavior. I was only a minor part of the story because I was first the observer, then the guy who went looking for an answer to a minor mystery. It led to a great point about making sure you’re not doing things with your blog that could cost you money, prestige and friends.

That should be enough to get you started. Let me know your thoughts and successes if you decide to give it a shot.
 

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Not Making Money Blogging? It Might Not Be Your Fault

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 16, 2016
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Can I share something with you?

Look down below at the big window where you’d write a comment… whether you’re going to write one or not. Look just above that space. Do you see the little message about donation and the Paypal button? Would you believe that’s actually been on this blog since 2009? Would you also believe that I’ve only ever had one person donate something to me… which was back in 2009… and he’s now, unfortunately, deceased?

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Knew business;
closed anyway…

I added that to the blog after a blog comment I got from a lady who runs her blog on real estate with her husband who calls herself Coco made the suggestion on a post where I was talking about all these affiliate ads I used to have on both sidebars, of which I only have one now (the Mailwasher Pro link just below my book Embrace The Lead, there on the left). She thought it would work well because back then I had a lot more people coming to the blog and leaving comments.

I’d actually forgotten I had it, and wasn’t reminded of it until my buddy Rasheed started his recent Patreon campaign. It sparked a memory in me that I thought I had something, so I came back to look at a post and realized I actually did still have it. However, when I added my comment policy in 2011, then posted part of it above the same commenting window, I ended up having that donation button above the policy. Since no one reads the policy, they never noticed the button, and I’d totally forgotten about it. Thus, I’ve just moved it so it’ll be easier to see.

First, I’d like to mention the reason for the donation button in the first place. It’s there in case you decide you happen to like a certain post a lot and your mind says “Hey, I think I’d like to give Mitch a couple of bucks for this one.” There’s no set amount on it, so if you ever decide you think anything I write is worth something and you’d like to contribute in some way, whether or not you comment, it’s there… and you know I’d thank you till the end of time… or at least that week. πŸ™‚

Second… I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that it’s time I start figuring out how to generate some income from all this writing, with the intention of earning enough money to pay bills, eat, have at least a little bit extra and write some more. There are other things I’d “like” to do, but my main intention is to be able to generate enough income so I don’t “have to” go on the road if I don’t want to. As I mentioned in my post about life and blogging, my mother’s health is worrisome and I’d like to be able to stay close enough to get to her as much as possible (as opposed to spending months at a time out of town like I did while I was in Memphis).

Third… what I’ve recognized after all these years is that I’ve done a lot of things, haven’t done a few others, and in the end the conclusion, which I’m sure most of the rest of you know, is that making money blogging, and I mean real, livable money by blogging, isn’t all that easy to do. There are some people who are getting it done, most of it having little to do with actual blogging, yet somehow they’re able to make money off the consequence of blogging, and I think that’s pretty cool.

With that said, there’s a lot of people who write things about how to make money that, in my opinion, have little to do with actually making money. Let me rephrase that; they might be components of the overall drive to make money but it’s not how they make money. How do I know this?

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It wasn’t this guy lol

Years ago I tried to get a guy, who I’m not going to name here (if you want to know who it was send me an email and I’ll tell you; and I mean an email; if you ask me in the comments I ain’t saying nothing lol), who was listed at one of the top 50 people online making big time money, to do an online interview with me. I told him that my issue was there’s all these people talking about how to make money online yet not a single one of them actually ever reveals anything.

I used to buy a bunch of books, listen to a bunch of webinars, and none of them offered anything except a “deal” on their $997 product that they were making a one time price of $497. Heck, it might have been good, but I predicate my buying on what I’m seeing before that, and not a single one of these people gave me anything that encouraged me to buy their product.

Back to my story, I asked him if he’d participate in my interview and he said yes. I sent him a series of questions, asking some specific things, and there were only 5 questions. Well… not only did he never answer them but he never wrote me again. I mean… I followed up 4 or 5 times with him by email, sent him a message on LinkedIn… nothing.

I recently came across another post by another guy, this time a guy named Ravi Chahar, who wrote a post titled Reasons Why Bloggers Don’t Make Money From Their Blog. He listed some pretty good thing about how to have a successful blog, but a lot of them have nothing to do with making money whatsoever. I’m going to call a few of those things out.

Boring Content

I’d agree that this will drive people away from your blog and they may never come back, but if it was this simple then there are tons of people who’d be making money hand over fist. I read tons of blogs and some folk are brilliant writers yet I don’t believe they’re making tons of money blogging, if any at all. For context, go read this post by my buddy Holly Jahangiri, who just participated in the A to Z Challenge in April, which means she had to write 26 articles in the month, titled Be a Data Driven Blogger as an example. Trust me, she’s not close to ever being boring!

Poor Business Skills

Does this help anyone? It might be true overall, but this doesn’t really apply to blogging as much as, well, being in business in general. I should know; next month I’ll have been self employed for 15 years. Business skills I have; marketing… that’s a different thing entirely. Without business skills you’re not going to survive in anything you do if you want to be self employed or trying to make money on your own. In all these years, I’ve had 2 years where I made more than $200K, yet I’ve still never made more than $5 a year on blogging. So that correlation is missed on me.

Spelling And Grammar Mistakes Suck

Once again, this has more to do with blogging in general than making money. I know this because I see some blogs where I know the owners are making pretty good money, as in a livable income, but their grammar and spelling isn’t all that great. These are folks for whom English isn’t their main language, so they’re forgiven for not being more accurate. Still, they’re able to communicate with their audience in some way that they’re doing fairly well.

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This has nothing to do with
making money blogging either

There are some others I could mention but I’m not going to; please, go read this post and you’ll see what I mean. I think it’s a great post about what not to do as it pertains to blogging in general, and in that vein I’d recommend it, but after reading the entire thing I left knowing that if I employed every single thing he wrote I still wouldn’t make any money.

For instance, one thing I’ve had people constantly telling me is that if I don’t have an email list that I won’t make any money. My response is that even if I had an email list, what would I market to them to make money with? I tell them that I actually used to have two email lists when I was writing my two business newsletters, and I never made a dime from either of them, though one of them I wrote for 10 years. I was marketing my business books and other related books on each post… nothing, nada, zip. The thing is, even if leadership is considered a tough topic to sell, these folk subscribed on their own, some stuck with me for all 10 years, and no one ever bought a thing. So much for being niched.

Just so you know, it’s going to be my intention to figure out this “make money blogging” thing. There’s got to be something that’s not a major secret, and I’m not supposed to be a dumb guy. Over the years I’ve gone the affiliate marketing route, the create product route, the pay-per-click route, but the only way I ever made money was via the paid link ads, which didn’t have anything to do with the blog and eventually lost me my Google page rank (which I didn’t care about but the advertisers did) and ended that bit of cash.

If, or when, I figure it out, I’ll let you know how I did it. Actually, if anything starts looking like it’s starting to make an impact I’ll probably be writing about it here. Y’all know I like to share things; all I do around here is share. I wonder if that’ll earn me a couple of bucks with my little donate button… hmmm… πŸ™‚

What do y’all think about trying to make livable income by blogging? Real dream or pipe dream? Products, services? Ideas?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Scheduling Time To Blog, Write, Work And Live

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 9, 2016
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Back in 2009 I wrote a post titled How I Write Blog Posts. I talked about the process I go through when I’m trying to figure out what I want to write and how I want to write it. I’ve also given lots of tips on blogging in general.

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I thought those things were fairly simple and would help a lot of people out. Yet over the years I see more people who write comments saying they can’t figure out how I have the time to do any writing at all, let alone all the writing and other things I do. Truthfully, writing is the easy part; the rest of it isn’t always so smooth.

That is, unless I schedule my time out in advance. When I do that I accomplish a lot of good thing and push forward on others. I thought I’d share some of my processes in that regard because I’m about to put it into practice over the next two weeks, Monday through Friday, as I get prepared for my wife finally coming back home after 9 months. I think it would be nice to spend some time with her before she’s off again; I might talk about that part at another time.

Just so you know, I’m changing things up a bit this week. I always schedule my time the night ahead and usually that’s as far as I go. This week I’m scheduling out the entire week in advance because I have some things planned that I need to schedule around and I’m also going to be trying to get more rest to see if that helps my concentration any, which I mentioned in my previous post.

The first step is to schedule what time I’m going to wake up. Usually I start my real schedule pretty late, like around 11AM, for those times when I figure I’m probably not going to bed until 3AM or so… sometimes later. Over the course of the next two weeks, the plan is to go to bed by 1:30 and wake up at 9AM. Luckily, with Android I can set the alarm so it’ll go off at that time every day I need it; this week only Friday won’t be scheduled like that because I have a meeting at 8:30 on Friday with my consultant’s group.

Next, I set something that many of you won’t but it’s not a bad thing to do. I set my alarm to tell me to write something in my gratitude journal and then to eat something. This is something I started last June and wrote about on my other blog talking about 5 Steps To A Better Day. Thing is, I don’t do the gratitude journal every day, but I’ve noticed when I do that my days actually do go better. I also realize that waking up earlier means I’m going to have to eat something earlier, which I rarely do, but this might help give me more energy.

Now it’s time to plan the rest of my day. There are things I have to work around, such as today, where I’m being interviewed by someone on the topic of values for a podcast; isn’t that kind of cool?

Here’s how I’ve learned to plan my days. I plan them in time chunks depending on what it is I need to do. For instance, if I need to write a blog post, I schedule an hour. As I’ve started writing some longer posts I’ve found it takes longer than 10 or 15 minutes to write one, but by scheduling an hour it allows me to decide if I’m going to write two blog posts or not. Hey, y’all know how many blogs I’m writing for these days. πŸ™‚ For the book I’m working on I schedule an hour also.

Routines: checking the schedule.
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For email I schedule it in 30 minute chunks. Meals get 45 minutes. I also schedule in rest periods, but with my normal scheduling pattern I usually only schedule one break a day, which doesn’t include a second meal period. This week I’m scheduling two periods a day, but the second rest period will also denote the end of my work day. In my previous post I mentioned that I don’t sleep much, so this week it’s my intention to try to get a total of at least 5 hours sleep a day, and if it takes naps to get there then so be it.

As an example, here’s my schedule today:

9AM – Wake
9:15 – Gratitude journal & eat
10AM – Podcast interview
10:45 – return business call from Friday
11AM – work on book
12PM – research VA’s for research project
1PM – rest period
2:15 – post office
2:35 – email
3:15 – article for business blog
3:45 – work on book
4:30PM – pick up Scott from work

That’s pretty much how I do it. I can schedule my entire week based off the first day of the week. For instance, I obviously won’t have another interview this week that I know of, and I really will only have to address writing blog posts one other day this week, which means I can work in some walking time, which should work well since it’s finally going to hit the 70’s here by Thursday. I also won’t have to go to the post office again, and if I do the research properly I won’t need to do anything on the VA front again… but if I do one more day should handle it.

What this means is that I’ll be able to work a couple more things into the week such as marketing time, research time for my consulting business, and maybe a bit of local networking… which I almost never do because I almost never schedule it.

The thing about scheduling things is that you can alter plans when you can and still get most things done. For instance, you’ll notice above that I’ve already had to throw out my second rest period because I agreed to pick up my friend from work to take him to get his new car; aren’t I a nice friend? πŸ™‚ Also, my new book is a priority that I’d love to finish way sooner than the 2 1/2 years it took me to get through my last book; whew!

Truthfully, all of us can accomplish great things in short chunks of time. A couple of years ago I purchased an ebook from a friend of mine named Marelisa FΓ brega titled The One Hour A Day Formula that helped me get part of my mindset in check. I realized that I can’t sit down and write for hours at a time like I could 10 years ago. Breaking things up works well for me, and it’s worked for a lot of other folks you may have heard of. Anyway, check that out, and this isn’t an affiliate link of any kind so I’m not getting anything from it; how many of you would do something like this for free? πŸ˜‰

That’s my way of scheduling, using the smartphone of course. What do you think, and are you ready to try scheduling your time to see how productive you can be? Let me know; enjoy the week!
 

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