Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 20, 2014
Blogging isn’t all about you. Yeah, I know, most of it is, but the truth is that blogging is really about community. And if you know how to use the community, it can bring great benefits. What do I mean?
It’s rare that I don’t have anything to write about. My imagination is pretty good. But it does happen here and there. What I do when that happens is I go and check out other blogs. I’m one of those people that actually enjoys commenting on other people’s blogs, but in this case it’s not all I’m doing.
Something people don’t think to take advantage of is writing a long piece on their own blog based on inspiration from someone else’s blog. I do that often, and it works really well, even if I comment on someone else’s blog. But the extra step I take is that I’ll link to the article that I’m commenting on.
What that does is brings to my readers attention another blog and gives them a boost, whether they’re ranked higher than I am or not. It gives them a one way link which of course benefits their blog, and it gives me a topic to write on. We both benefit, and I show that it’s not all about me.
And here’s the thing. You don’t have to agree with whatever you’re writing that’s addressing the other person’s blog. I go both ways equally and both serves the same purpose, which is giving me something to write about and the other person a free link, even if they might not see the benefits of my disagreeing with them. It’s a win-win; search engines will love it.
This is a little tip but an important one for many reasons. Give it a try; it’s probably one of the easiest things you could ever do to give your blog more character.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 17, 2014
Can you change your habits? All experts believe you can if you want to change them. I’m one of those people; I hate calling myself an expert most of the time but hey, if I don’t every once in awhile then why would anyone want to work with me?
There’s a phrase where the number changes all the time saying that it takes “this many” times to consciously do something to change a habit. I’ve tested that one multiple times and have learned that it’s not always true. When it comes to working out, eating better, or generally enjoying yourself, it’s hard to sustain those habits; trust me on this one, unless your life is in danger, it’s not easy to do.
Having said that, you’re probably wondering what I’m leading to. I’m talking about blogging and coming up with content for your blog. I’ve seen a lot of bad habits, some that border on being unethical, some that border on lazy. What are they? In a nutshell, let’s look at these three.
The first, stealing content from other people. What happens is that a person sees an article someone else wrote, copies it, changing a word or two here and there, and sends it out as their own. Sometimes they don’t even go that far; they just copy and paste it, put their names on it, and go about their business.
Bad idea folks. One, it’s smarmy. Two, it could be illegal. Three, it’s definitely unethical. Look at my posts, near the bottom of each one. You see that copyright logo? That means it’s my work; don’t steal my work. And don’t steal anyone else’s work.
There is one time when this might not be so bad, and that’s if you’re stealing from yourself. In that actuality, you’re not stealing, just sharing with a different audience. Online newspapers do that all the time; you’ll notice that they write their own local stories, but other stories are written by national and international outlets. If you wrote something for someone else, ask them if they’d mind if you put it in your own space some months later. They probably wouldn’t care, but only do it if you’re not a prolific writer.
The second, writing sloppily. No one is perfect, but consistently misspelling words you should know how to spell that spell check is telling you is wrong each and every time, not using punctuation properly, and generally writing content that makes no sense… very bad idea.
Finally, the third, which is not being consistent in any way with your content. I hate visiting blogs where I see a post every 4 to 6 months; ouch! I’m not following any blog like that, and I’m not even going to waste my time leaving a comment on it, even if it’s written well. If you don’t care enough about your audience to even try to be regular, why should I? Maybe you’re not prolific enough to write a post daily, but writing at least one post of at least 300 words.. that’s too much of an effort?
That’s all I have for now. I could write a lot more but this one’s already over 500 words. See how easy this can be? If you’re doing any of those 3 things I mentioned above, break those bad habits. Trust me, your business will thank you for it.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 10, 2014
A couple of years ago on a different blog I wrote an article talking about re-purposing blog posts. That post was more about internal linking by making sure to take old blog posts and add those links to newer posts to help enhance the SEO benefits of new content.
In this instance the concept of re-purposing content is more than talking about blogging. Most people have something that they’ve written previously somewhere on their computers. What they forget is that much of what was already written would make great blog posts or articles to put on their websites. If you’re looking for a lot of content and don’t have the time to write something new, going back through old files could provide you with what you need.
Some of it might need to be updated or edited but that’s no big deal. Writing for people in your office or your clients is a bit different than writing for publicity or advertising purposes. Your other content might be written more directly or contain information that’s probably proprietary in some fashion; no sense taking any chances that you’ll put something out there that wasn’t totally meant for the general public. I often find outlines on Excel spreadsheets that I can turn into blog posts or articles.
Unless you’re a financial advisor, you probably have a lot of files that don’t have time limits on what’s going on. Tax information and investing changes don’t fare well over time. Talking about products or processes can be timeless.
Even if some of your previous content is already online in other places, you can get some benefit out of it by linking to it and then writing about it, talking about what was on your mind when you wrote it, what changes there might be to it now, or anything else you can think of. After all, it was original when you wrote it, and it still represents you in a positive light. I do that all the time since I have multiple blogs; I think it’s interesting using your own stuff for ideas, and the links could get people to visit your other spaces.
Take some time to go through some of your old files for new web content; you might be amazed at what you’ll find.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 23, 2014
7 Certainties Of Blogging
My name is Mitch Mitchell and I’m many things. Today, I’m a blogger. I have 5 blogs of my own (soon to be 4) and have written for many others; still do in fact. I’ve been blogging since 2005 but for my most popular blog, I’m Just Sharing (which is this one of course), I’ve been writing for nearly 7 years.
Over the course of all that time I’ve come to realize that there are some things that are certainties when it comes to blogging. Those are the things I’ll talk about in a minute.
What I want to get out of the way is that there’s no one way of doing anything. Everyone ends up having their own style and that’s pretty cool. Some people have multiple styles depending on what it is they’re writing about or who they’re writing for. Some people hate writing, others like it and some just dream about it. I’m of the opinion that if you’re reading this you actually want to write and are most probably writing.
This post is geared towards people who are fairly new at blogging, or are considering it.for the most part. Some of you will have seen some these tips before; it never hurts to have them reinforced.
However, as I get to the last 3 I can honestly say that you’ll find bloggers who have been writing for years who haven’t learned these lessons, which means if you do them, you’ll be way ahead of those people and your readers will thank you for it; trust me on this one.
Are you ready for the journey? Here we go:
1. Don’t start if you don’t think you can keep it up
There are more than 350 million blogs on the internet, and there are thousands that start anew every day. The overwhelming number of blogs you come across have fewer than 5 posts on them; that’s just a shame. More than 70% of all blogs you come across haven’t had a new post in at least a year; that’s a shame as well.
Truth be told blogging takes dedication. Some people find it a chore. Some people find it intimidating. Some people think they have nothing to say. Some people are too finite in what they think they want to write about. Some people lose the thrill because they want more comments, more participation on their blogs, and can’t figure out where the readers are.
There are lots of posts that will tell you how to drive traffic to your blog; I’ll leave you to find those. What I will say is that blogging takes courage, imagination and, as I said before, dedication. If you’re thinking about blogging but don’t think you have all 3 of the above, don’t even start, especially if you were thinking about doing it for business purposes. The world doesn’t need more clutter on the internet.
I’ll offer you a caveat though. If you’re unsure and want to give it a try then set up a blog in a free space and give it a shot. When you get serious about blogging you should at least buy a domain name and pay for hosting, but to see if you think you can do it, try one of these places. These last two tips I’ve mentioned often here.
2. You can get better if you care
I read where people say “I’m a terrible writer” or “my grammar is horrible” or “I make so many typos” or… well, you get the picture. You want to know a truth? Every great writer started out just like you somewhere along the line. Some get it sooner than others, but no one starts out like whoever your favorite writer happens to be.
Not only that but almost every great writer had someone who initially thought what they’d written was awful, even when it wasn’t. What this tells you is that no one is perfect, not the writer, not the reviewer, and not the reader.
Still, if you want to get better you can. Here are some simple steps:
* turn on spell check
* read what you’ve just written out loud
* if you use certain words too often remove some of them and try to find a different way of stating your case or use a different word
* just start writing
That’s it; not too hard to do is it?
3. Write about what you know
There are a lot of people who write about how to make money online. The overwhelming number of those people have no idea how to make money online. Some actually do make money, but not a living wage. I don’t mind there being so many people writing on the topic; I do mind people writing about things they know nothing about.
I hear some voices now saying “But no one would be interested in the things I know”. Says who? Here’s a few truths about this type of statement. One, it’s never the topic but how you write about it. Two, every niche has someone who wants to learn more about it or comment on it. Three, depending on why you’re writing, even if you only end up with 100 dedicated readers that’s much better than someone with 10,000 visitors a day who don’t engage with you.
When you write about what you know, and when you can show passion about what you write about, it attracts those who care about the same thing. If you decide you want to try to market based on what you care about, those visitors are more apt to buy from you if they can identify with you, definitely if they care about you and what you’re writing about.
Earlier I mentioned that I have multiple blogs. Someone might ask “how can you know something about multiple things”? Are you kidding me? Who among us only knows one thing? For that matter who among us only knows one thing well?
I don’t recommend that everyone have multiple blogs though; it’s hard to keep that sort of thing going. I do recommend that you write about what you know, and if what you know doesn’t always work for one blog, then think about a second blog if you believe you have enough to contribute.
4. Length means nothing; content does
I sometimes write some very long posts; this one is going to be long like my post a month ago offering 55 blog tips. Most of my posts come in around 500 words or so. To some that’s too long; for me, it is what it is.
There are lots of discussions as to what the proper blog length should be. There is a reality that if search engines can’t figure out what your blog is about it’ll be hard for them to rank you and log you on a consistent basis. And yet, there are some pretty cool blogs out there with a nice following that are mainly images.
In those instances it probably comes down to how they promote their blogs and to whom. Some fancy bloggers will tell you to write for search engines so that they’ll rank you higher. I’m not going to say that SEO isn’t important, but I will say that offering compelling content is way more important than SEO for blogs. After all, do you want people coming back or search engines?
It’s up to each blog owner to determine what they think is compelling content. If you as a blog writer believes that writing a quote a day as a blog post is compelling, then go for it. However, that probably will only be compelling to the you. If you want more you’re going to have to write a little bit more and more often.
The “how much more” depends on you, but I will add this. Just like good stories you need a beginning, middle and end. I know people who write 2,000 word posts that could have been written in 400 words if they had stopped repeating themselves over and over. I’ve also known people who stick to 250 to 300 words that leave so much out that it’s frustrating to read. Try to go by the Mozart principle; write what you need to get your point across, then end and move on.
5. Diversify every once in awhile
My business blog is on the topic of leadership, though I touch upon other business issues that involve people. To some, leadership can be a boring subject, tough to stay interested in and even tougher to make interesting. Yet I’ve written posts comparing leadership to Cling Wrap, discussed the leadership styles of Charlie Brown, Kermit the Frog and Harry Potter, talked about leadership lessons by taking piano lessons, written multiple series posts, etc.
Every once in awhile I’ve gone off topic as well. I talked about why it’s smart to always have an emergency bag packed in case you have to leave town in an emergency. I’ve talked about tragedies that have happened here and there. I’ve done book reviews, and every once in awhile I answer questions.
Diversification gives you a lot of things to talk about, overcoming the worry that your niche might limit what you can talk about. Always remember that it’s your blog, and even if you’re trying to show your expertise, it never hurts to show people a positive side of your personality; just make sure you don’t make yourself look like a jerk. lol
6. Be a gracious and a discriminate host
If people take the time to comment on your blog the best courtesy you can offer is to respond to those comments. No one says your response has to be War and Peace, but it certainly needs to be more than “thank you for your comment.” What is that anyway? Whenever I see that I’m mad at myself for wasting my time and I never go back. Is that how you want people to see your blog? Do you want to waste all that time promoting your blog (if you are promoting it) to get people to come and leave comments and then give them that? Really?
At the same time you need to remember that your blog is representative of you, and that includes comments. Very few people want to be associated with a blog that allows a lot of bad language, hate speech, or spam in the comments. I write often that the concept of free speech doesn’t apply to you if you’re paying for your space.
Don’t ever censor someone’s opinion that doesn’t agree with yours; use your skills in responding to those who disagree with you. But make sure people behave in your space; deleting comments isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it’s spam. How do you know it’s spam? If the comment doesn’t address what you’ve written about in some fashion, it’s spam.
7. Have fun
When all is said and done blogging is supposed to be a fun venture. Unless you’re being paid to write and manage a blog for someone else’s business, what’s the point of doing it if you can’t get some enjoyment out of it. Even if you’re trying to promote yourself, if you really can’t stand blogging then find other ways to promote yourself.
Blogging is the best way to have your say without it being filtered by someone else. It’s the best way to promote yourself or your product. The two things that get shared the most on other social media spaces are blogs and news stories. If you write content that’s compelling enough to get others to share it… well, you can’t pay for that type of thing. At the very least you’ll have something to promote if that’s what you want to do.
Let blogging be a positive outlet for you. If it can’t be that, then just sit back and enjoy reading blogs and get your fun that way instead. Oh yeah; and sometimes add a picture of you, or multiple pictures of yourself, so people feel like they know you.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 6, 2014
In the past I briefly talked about the controversy surrounding Chik-Fil-A. I’ve talked about controversy and having to deal with it often. I figured this was as good a time as any to talk about freedom of speech and controversy as it pertains to business blogs as opposed to general blogging.
When businesses are thinking about being controversial, they shouldn’t be thinking about being controversial on social issues such as politics or religion. Those types of things can take away from the reason you created the blog and your business as well.
Unless those issues are what your blog is about, it’s best to stay away from them; at least on your business blog. If you feel the need to express your opinion about other things, it’s best to create a personal blog, whether you use your real name or not, and go that route.
However, negating the benefits of going against the grain, which is what controversy is all about, as it pertains to your business, means you’ve giving up an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. For instance, on this blog, I’ve taken some contrary views to the norm as it pertains to backlinks. All that does is set me apart from others who do some of the same type of work I do and starts a discussion point. In a way, it also establishes me as a free thinker, someone who sees things from a different perspective, and potentially helps me get clients who have some thoughts that lean my way.
Using another example, let’s say that I do kitchen remodeling. Most people in that industry recommend granite counter tops because they’re sturdy and pretty, and they come in multiple colors. If I wanted to be like the majority, I’d also advocate granite counter tops.
However, I’ve seen a few people that advocate slate counter tops, saying they’re also sturdy, easier to clean, won’t stain and that you can even cut on them without worrying that you’re going to cut them up. So, maybe someone else starts writing about the benefits of using slate instead. It goes against the norm, but you can bet that someone out there doesn’t like granite and likes reading something where an expert in the field has a much different opinion. And let’s face it, even those that advocate using granite can’t say slate is horrible, even if it wouldn’t be their first option.
Now, I don’t know whether slate is popular or not; I’m just using this as an example of how it might be controversial within the remodeling industry because everyone else goes in a different direction. As long as it’s related to business, controversy could end up being a good thing. Now, if you were advocating paper counter tops, that wouldn’t be controversial; it would be crazy, and you’ll never work. So you have to pick your options based on your own business.
Final point. Freedom of speech means that everyone can say anything they want to, no matter what or where it is. It also means that others can disagree with you however and wherever they feel as well. Hopefully it only stays at a verbal level but that’s the thing about some controversial topics. You’re probably never going to have two social media consultants coming to blows over whether Twitter is better than Facebook, but social issues are a much different animal. That’s why it’s best to avoid those topics where your business is concerned.
So, have you started blogging yet? Come on, be controversial, say something!