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Everything Isn’t For Every Blog Or Website

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 5, 2015
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Most of you know I love the plugin called CommentLuv. I’ve been a fan of that plugin since 2008, so much so that I went ahead and paid for the premium version, which comes with a few more bells and whistles.

Sweet Sweet Sugar Candy!
Vinoth Chandar
via Compfight

Lat year, I noticed that it wasn’t working on this blog. That occurred after an update, which the premium version has at least once a month so it was easy to spot. That it only stopped working on here was odd, so I contacted customer service for help.

After going back and forth in a few emails, turns out the problem is that I removed the footer here years ago because it had this bit of code in it that was falsely indicating what the blog was about. Most websites don’t have this as a problem but most blog themes come with a footer where, if you want or its an option, you can add even more links to your site. I couldn’t add anything to it, and I had problems with any alterations, so I just removed it. The blog works perfectly without it, and I never looked back.

However, the upgraded premium plugin needs the footer to do its job. For me, it kind of stinks, as my theme is pretty old, but which I’ve modified over the years, and I’m not in the mood to get a new one. During testing I swapped to one of the current WordPress themes to see if it would work, and it didn’t. So, whether it’s the footer or not is still out there, but the reality is that I had to load a previous version to get it working again and I’ll just have to be happy with that for now.

What this points out is that the latest and greatest isn’t always so for everyone, and holding onto something old isn’t always the best way to go either. I’m sure there are still many XP users out there who think it’s the bees knees (does anyone say that anymore?) and swear they’re never going to switch up, but last year when Microsoft finally stopped supporting it. If anything goes wrong you’d best be ready to pony up some big bucks for someone to come fix it, as most have moved on to newer operating systems, or be ready to totally wipe your system and load the disk that came with it, without knowing if any of the updated files will still be available.

Back in the early 2000’s the big thing most people wanted was some kind of flash on their websites. It was pretty, bold, and, well flashy. It also didn’t look good for everyone because sometimes it didn’t match up with what their business said they did. I’ve seen a lot of those websites over the years, and most of them have no rankings whatsoever; so sad… As a matter of fact, I’ve removed Flash from my computers, which is problematic because I’m a major fan of Firefox and none of the Flash content on other sites will play on it. However, Chrome seems to be converting all Flash stuff to HTML5, so if I really want to see something I just paste it there.

This is why you need to take a look at your website and your blog every once in a while to make sure everything’s working the way you want it to, as well as to do an evaluation as to whether it’s really getting the message across that you’re hoping to get out to the world. Remember my post about another plugin that started giving me trouble?

It doesn’t mean everything has to change, but it does mean you need to know what’s going on so you can make the determination as to whether to keep on the straight and narrow or make some kind of modifications here and there.

Due diligence is always the best way to go.
 

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10 Blogging Lessons From 10 Years Of Blogging On A Different Blog

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 22, 2015
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I know some folks are going to be confused if they remember my post talking about my 7th anniversary of blogging on this blog. Well, that’s this blog… on my business blog, today is the 10th anniversary of blogging. If you look below you’ll see Mitch’s Blog and the link to today’s post highlighting it (click the picture lol). And, whereas it’s not always a good thing having a new post on a Sunday, this is the anniversary date; that’s that! lol

mitchs blog

The interesting thing is that in the 7th anniversary post I gave 7 things about blogging after giving 15 and 55 previous to that. You’d think I wouldn’t have any more blogging lessons to give but I actually do, coming at it from a different point of view.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what to do. I made tons of mistakes, had some comment that, by now, I’ve made private because it was pretty lame. As a practice I still believe it was best to have a blog; in reality, a lot of that early stuff was pedestrian. I’d cringe, but it was what it was, and truthfully, I had a gem or two here and there.

Still, I learned some lessons from that blog which helped me start this blog off just a little bit better than I might have; a little bit that is. It’s in that vein that I know I have 10 blogging lessons that are new and different from what I’ve said before. Let’s begin:

1. Putting any old thing up isn’t a blog post. Back then I had blog posts that might have been one paragraph. I had a few that were only one or two lines. I’d link to a story or a newsletter of mine and that would be that. In retrospect, I wish I’d talked just a bit more about the topic before doing that; I’m sure Google looked at those things and said “what the heck is this?”

2. Too many posts in a short time. I’ve talked about having to recover blog posts off Google after my original host crashed. What I did was recover about 155 articles, and instead of spreading them out I posted a lot of them all at once. Way too much content, and a waste of being able to reintroduce articles that were pre-written, thus saving myself having to work hard to come up with new content immediately.

3. Staying on message is a good thing. Even though I had a lot of short posts, I had some long ones also; like this blog. Thing is, some of the long posts back then, like some of my early newsletters, were all over the place. Back then I tried cramming everything I could think of into a post; now I know my topic, write only about that topic, and only toss something in every once in a while for perspective or to be funny. lol

4. Spacing of sentences. Or more specifically, not having paragraphs that were long enough to be chapters in a book. If you decide to read a book like Atlas Shrugged or anything Anne Rice writes, you’ll be convinced that long paragraphs make people happy; they don’t. At least not online. Whereas I hate seeing blog posts where every paragraph is only one line, I also hate seeing paragraphs that go into the next day.

me04
I really did look like this lol

5. Images; good! I wish I’d picked up on that one much earlier than I did. Every once in a while I’d put in an image but only if it was pertinent to the story. Images make blog posts so much better don’t they?

6. Standing up for a cause is also good. I’m a WWE fan, but back in 2005 they had a storyline that I had a major problem with. In essence they created an Arab-American character who spouted all this hateful stuff at the audiences. It was their attempt to capture the mood of the country at the time.

Unfortunately, it worked way too well. Not only was it racist, but some networks across the country refused to carry any show he was on. They removed the character pretty quickly, the guy was disillusioned (turns out he wasn’t Arabic) and he left the business.

I doubt I had anything to do with his removal (I know I didn’t) but the point is you must be willing to call out something that’s not right, even if it’s risky; just choose your words carefully.

7. Internal linking can be your best friend. I learned via that blog that linking back to content that’s either pertinent to what I’m writing about anew or certain words that I want to highlight within my content was smart.

8. Every niche can be expounded upon. I started out writing that blog only on the topic of leadership and diversity. I learned quickly that not only were there other business issues that interacted with those values but I also had my primary business that I could write on as well. When you’re trying to highlight yourself you should also be ready to highlight just how much you know… or at least think you know.

9. We all love stories. Who doesn’t like a good story? I found that the posts that worked best were those that told a story in which I was a part of. Not that people were necessarily all that interested in me but telling a story of something I dealt with or saw was much easier than telling a story in which I wasn’t involved. Not that I don’t do that even now but if you can touch people emotionally they’ll stick around longer and talk to you more often.

10. Do it or don’t. When I’d lost my blog (actually, I lost the entire website), I had a choice to make; quit or keep going. Once I decided I was going to keep going I have, obviously still writing 10 years later. During this time I also shut down a business and moved a lot of that content over here, which I introduce over time.

This is always a big decision by everyone at some point; to quit or go on. Some go on; some quit like my buddy Charles Gulotta did. Sure, there are times when it might make you look bad or might make you feel bad. Don’t worry much about that sort of thing; just do it or don’t, and let life go on. :-)
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3 Blogging Concepts That Do Work, No Matter What Anyone Says

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 12, 2015
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That looks like an antagonistic title, doesn’t it? In a way it is, but in a way it’s not. This is one of those posts where I’m going to use my own expertise to dispute something someone else wrote where, in my opinion, they’re totally wrong. I’m also going to link to the post because one, it allows you the visitor to go see the entire post, and two, linking to someone you’re talking about, good or bad, is just being courteous.

Architecture at Kings Cross Station, London
** Lucky Cavey ** via Compfight

Before I move on I just want to add that this is the type of thing that can help to make a business blog work well. It’s not bad when you agree with what someone else says and want to enhance it, but it’s also not bad when you don’t just follow along with what someone else says when you don’t agree.

Anyway, on a blog called Hongkiat, the writer wrote a post titled Popular Blogging Advice That Don’t Work (and What Does). Forgiving the grammar since English isn’t his first language, he listed 5 points that he believed don’t work, or aren’t true about blogging. I disagree with 3 of his points, and I brought those points up on his blog in the comments. But I wanted to say a bit more, hence this post.

Here’s the points and my commentary on them; I’m paraphrasing them since he wrote the points differently:

1. Blogging every day doesn’t do your blog any good.

His point was that no one could write every day because they’d run out of things to say and that the content wouldn’t be very good. I want to negate that statement; it’s not impossible but it’s not easy. On one of my blogs I was an almost every day blogger. I averaged just over 300 posts a year my first three years with that blog. In one stretch, I wrote 37 days in a row, 5 of those days 2 posts a day. Were there some duds? Yes, but I felt that all the rest were pretty good.

Here’s the truth. The more you write, the more traffic you’ll get. That’s been proven over and over. The other truth is that, for a blog, if there are too many articles in a day or in a week, visitors might get confused by what they need to read. Sure, I had a great output, and my traffic showed it, and thus my rankings went up; that was good. But I didn’t get tons of comments, and some posts didn’t get any comments at all.

Still, it built up my web presence, and I was willing to write that much to help that blog gain prominence, which it has. After 3 years I decided to slow down some, not commit to writing every day, but to commit to having a new post at least every 3 days or so. That I have stuck with, and I now get way more comments. But writing a lot established the blog, so it does work.

2. It’s impossible to write great content if you blog every day.

As I mentioned above, this is a fallacy, but let me take it a step further. In a post I wrote back in 2011 titled What Is High Quality Content, I stated that it’s a recommendation I see people making all the time but no one has ever tried defining it. So I did, and came up with these four points:

* If you’re writing about something that’s supposed to teach someone something new, did you explain it well enough?

* If you’re trying to tell a story and you don’t skip on details, such that people are left wondering “what the heck was that about”, then you’re creating high quality content.

* Are you writing something about a particular belief or thought? Have you taken the time to explain why believe as you do, or are you just saying something and moving on?

* Are you being true to yourself?

People from my generation remember B-sides of 45’s, and sometimes those songs were just as good as the songs being pushed by the studios. Not every post you write will be a home run, but if you tried to get it right in some fashion, were on point, and even if it was short it’s an honest post, it’s great content. You’re telling me that you can’t do that every time out, even if you wrote something every day? Sure you can; never sell yourself short.

3. Commenting frequently on other blogs doesn’t do anything for your blog.

In 2011 I did something as an experiment. I was interviewed on a very prominent blog by a young man who’s an up and comer in the online social media world. I also wrote a guest post for a very high ranking blog, something I don’t do all that often. During the same period, I decided to complete the test by making sure I wrote comments on 5 blogs every day for at least a week; I do comment on a lot of blogs but often I do a bunch in one day.

The results were staggering. Out of all the traffic numbers 85% of my visits came from blog commenting out of those 3 things. The guest post I wrote had around 200 comments, which is pretty phenomenal since I’ve never reached that on any of my blogs, but it only accounted for 9% of visits. The interview I gave accounted for the other 6%. I tracked these numbers via Google Analytics. Indeed, blog commenting does work, especially if you make sure your comments are good.

Since that time I’ve tested this one a few times, and blog commenting always works. They can’t be garbage, throwaway comments; you have to offer something based on the topic, even if it’s minor criticism or faint praise. If your comments are pretty good, people other than the owner tend to read them.

There you go. Myths dispelled with some home testing and proof. Now, does it take a lot of work? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. But if you have it, and can apply these 3 things, your blog will take off and you’ll be a very happy person.
 

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When Free Plugins Ruin Your Life

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 22, 2015
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The best thing about free stuff is that it’s free. The worst thing about free stuff is that they can indiscriminately change it up, mess it up, make you do things you didn’t want to do if you want to keep using it and pretty much ruin your life… okay, that last point is a bit over the top, but it did mess up the blog. lol

Expressions of Shock
Thomas Gehrke via Compfight

Today’s gripe is about a plugin called AddThis, which had been recommended to me in 2013 as a great social sharing program. Lots of people were using it, and it allowed me to get rid of the 4 independent plugins I had for Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn, the only 4 sites I share stuff to. I liked its design and how easy it all seemed to be.

Then they went and changed things up. Deciding it wasn’t so convenient for them to allow you to make changes on your own blog, they set it up with their 4.whatever update that you now had to create an account on their website and manage things from there. I assume they did that so they could pitch other services to you that you’d be charged for, since I saw something there where you could get certain types of reports and education.

All of that might not be bad; I don’t know. What I knew was that I didn’t want that kind of change. I’m kind of an insular guy; I like fooling myself into thinking I’m controlling my own stuff. Thus, I didn’t want to go to another site to take care of my business.

That wasn’t the biggest issue though. The big problem is that the widgets disappeared from the blog. Right at the point where I’d had a blog post go live reminding people how hard it was for their content to be shared if they didn’t have these buttons, mine disappeared. Well, that was slightly embarrassing; actually, I wasn’t embarrassed since I didn’t know for a day or two and, when I discovered it, knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Actually, that’s kind of a misnomer. I did was most of us do, which was to immediately upgrade when WordPress said “Hey, there’s something shiny and new”.

I should know better. There are upgrades when it makes sense to immediately do it. For instance, if you have version 3.5.2 anything (just as an example) and the upgrade is 3.5.7, that’s almost always just a bug or security fix that doesn’t change the version any, and you should go ahead and upgrade. However, if the upgrade goes to the immediate next number, such as from version 1.1 to 2.1… that’s when you should take a moment, go to the website and find out what’s being added or what’s changing.

After things disappeared on this blog I went to check my other blogs, all of which were running the same plugin, and my widgets had disappeared from all of them; sigh… Oddly enough, within a few days they came back on one of my blogs but not all of them. I complained on Twitter, then went to Google to do some research, thinking that maybe it was an issue with me, and found that there were lots of people who were complaining about the same exact thing… it’s true, sometimes, that misery loves company. :-) And I wrote on Twitter how bad it was that a company didn’t respond to so many 1-star reviews.

Lo and behold they did finally respond to me, after I’d written them something on their website, and asked me to explain my issue. So I did, and they responded that it was their intention that everyone go to the website now to manage their tools, and asked why I’d had a problem doing that, which I had.

Here’s the thing. You don’t take something that was relatively simple and change it to where your users need a crash course. In my case I did try creating an account and going to the site where I was presented lots of different links, none of which said “manage your tools here”… at least I couldn’t find it. Course I was in a state of frustration so maybe I just couldn’t see it.

No matter. I’ve inactivated it and deleted it and now on this blog I’m using something called Simple Share Buttons, which was the 4th plugin I tried because, for some reason, the first 3 I tried after I shut down AddThis wouldn’t show up here. The look is a bit different but I like it, and it works!

Because, when all is said and done, the other good thing about free is that you’re always free to find something else that works for you without lamenting your waste of money. Who’s with me on this one?
 

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Blogging Dedication

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 15, 2015
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You want to know a truth? Blogging isn’t easy. Blogging is one of those things where, unless you love to write or share your thoughts, you just might not like it all that much. That’s because it takes a lot of dedication to the craft; yes, I’m calling it a craft.

Determination.  Or is There Another Word For It?
Creative Commons License Jackie
via Compfight

I’ve always heard this statement that says if you do something often enough it’ll become a habit that you’ll continue doing for the rest of your life. We all know by now that’s pretty much inaccurate. I remember working out 63 straight days once, sometimes twice a day, and right now I’ve been to the gym once in the last 6 months.

The problem is that there are two types of habits; good and bad. Bad habits are easy to do because they require little effort and they make us feel good; or at least they don’t bother us at the time. Why do people continue smoking when they know it’s bad for them? Because dopamine makes them feel good. Why do people sit around and watch TV? Because it makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.

If you decide that blogging is going to be a business strategy you have to treat it with as much passion as you do the rest of your business. Business blogging’s purpose, after all, is to show your expertise and get people interested in what you do. Nothing says you have to write like Stephen King; that being how much he writes, not writing scary things. Truthfully, if you’re only capable of writing two posts a month, spacing them out, that’s a good thing. One post a month won’t help as much, but at least it’s something; consistency is a big deal in the world of blogging.

The main thing you have to do with your blogging is to be honest about it. This means you don’t steal content from anyone else. This means you don’t plagiarize; that if you use even portions of what someone else has written you give them attribution. This means you check your grammar and your spelling. This means you don’t make things up just to try to drive sales or business. This means you treat your reader with respect. And finally it means you offer some kind of consistency, and then if people respond to what you’ve written you comment on their comment.

All of these are business principles as well; isn’t that a nice tie-in to blogging? Along with the fact that as you’re reading this I’m in Orlando? :-)
 

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