Using Your Website
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What Does It Take To Be An Expert?

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 22, 2013
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In some ways I’m like everyone else when it comes to dealing with the concept of the term “expert”. The word has its connotations that make it something to eschew, and at the same time something to aspire to. I’ve hated being called an expert and tried to stay away from it at times. Then I came to grips with the reality that, as an independent consultant in different fields, the best marketing I can think of is to be seen as an expert in those fields where people might actually pay me for what I know and what I can do.

ph-10264
I taught these dogs to fly;
no I didn’t…

I remember reading a book by a guy named Brendon Burchard called Millionaire Messengericon, which I briefly mentioned in a post about two years ago, where his premise is that all of us are experts to someone, and we can turn that expertise into a career if we learn how to do it and have the confidence to do it. That kind of thing makes great sense to me, as in 2 days I’ll be celebrating my 12th year in business for myself. I guess that means I had that part figured out already to some degree.

However, you don’t have to always be making money at something to be considered an expert at it, or at least be trying to be an expert at it. I’ll go out on a limb and say that I might not have a skyrocking ranking when it comes to blogging, and yet I’d like to consider myself an expert at it. I actually gave a presentation on business blogging a year and a half ago that went over really well. Speaking in front of around 60 people or so, who crammed into a little room to hear me talk for about 45 minutes and seemed to enjoy themselves helped give me a bit of a boost that maybe I knew something of which I spoke.

It’s because of quite a few other things that I feel I have the right to call myself an expert on the topic of blogging. I’m expert on a few other things as well, and that’s more the premise of this post. What makes someone an expert, whether they want to call themselves one or not? I have some ideas, and I’m going to relate a lot of it to blogging. Here are 5 things I have for you; let’s see how you feel you stack up to it when I’m done:

1. Some knowledge of what you’re talking about – I like to think I know something about the topic of blogging. As it pertains to this blog, 10% of the articles I’ve written here are on the topic of blogging. Since I’ve written over 1,400 articles here, that’s not so bad.

But that’s not all. I also consider myself an expert on the topic of leadership and management, and to that degree 33% of the articles on my business blog are on that specific topic. Add to that the reality that I wrote a book on leadership and, until the last few months, also wrote a newsletter on the topic, and you could say that I’ve proven myself to be knowledgeable on the subject

2. Longevity – I’ve been writing and talking about leadership for 12 years now. I’ve been a healthcare finance consultant for 12 years now, with just about 30 years in the arena. I’ve been writing about leadership for that same period of time and blogging about it for 8 years, and I’ve been writing about blogging for 6 years now. For that matter I’ve been writing in some form or another for 33 years, which has prompted more than 3,500 articles online and nearly 100 songs and lyrics copyrighted; I hadn’t talked about writing earlier but I don’t necessarily consider myself an expert at that, even with the longevity.

3. Acknowledgement from others – This one is something you can’t really generate on your own (well, you can ask for endorsements on LinkedIn, but that’s not quite the same thing), so it’s nice when you get to be a part of something like this recent article including myself along with 32 others titled 33 Experts Share Their Secrets For Improving Reader Engagement. I’ve been a part of other interviews as well, and have been asked to write all sorts of guest posts and participate in forums here and there on the topic. And of course there’s my weekly Hot Blog Tips Hangouts on YouTube every Sunday, which is growing in popularity. There are many long time readers and bloggers who say a lot of nice things about my blogging ventures. Of course there’s many who have no idea who I am as well, but it’s not always numbers that make you an expert.

4. Willingness to continue learning – After all these years of all the things I’ve done, I continue trying to be better. I read more and I write more (maybe not so much lately but it’s coming back) because everything new I learn gives me a new perspective on things like and already know something about, gives me something new to write about and to help others with, and it all helps make me more of an expert which of course helps me benefit others.

5. Being willing to share – This is the big one. Back in the day there were a lot of people saying “You give too much away; no one has to hire you because you give it all to them already.” That may or may not be true; I really don’t know. I believe that over the years I’ve been willing to share what I think about blogging, writing, social media, and other things that I’m sure some people really couldn’t care much about but others might find somewhat interesting. After all, the name of this blog is I’m Just Sharing after all. :-) When you’re willing to give, you open yourself up to receiving as well; that’s what the cycle of life, or the laws of attraction, are really about.

There’s my 5 things; how do you match up to them?
 

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Why Breaking Through Locally Can Be Hard To Do

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 13, 2013
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Last November I addressed the issue of how lackluster most of our blogs are when it comes to getting local people to view them. I put up some stats, and I linked to some other articles in that post that I’m not going to link to again; check that one out because it’s different than this one, even though it touches upon the same theme.

Vegetables For Sale - Sacred Valley, Peru
Creative Commons License Theodore Scott via Compfight

Last time I pretty much lamented the situation of breaking through locally. This time I’m going to talk about why it’s harder to do than we think it is. I’m going to do it as kind of a list post, which means my explanations will probably be sort of long. But I’ll try not to make them too long; maybe if I get to 5 I’ll stop. :-)

1. Too little local competition. This one seems strange, but go with me for a moment. If you live in a small community people already probably know who you are. If you’re putting up information on a blog but you’re the only game in town, most people are either going to just drop in or call you on the phone. It’s only when there might be more options when someone actually goes online to find information or businesses.

2. Too much outside competition. Once again, this one might seem strange until you think about what it is you do and if there are lots of other people doing it.

On my SEOX Blog I talked about one of my clients, an accountant, whose site is the highest ranked accounting site locally. While that sounds great, if you look for the major search terms that I’ve worked on for her the site only cracks the top 100 on Google for one of those terms. She beats every other business in town, but all the other businesses that show up aren’t local. They’re national, which means they have the dollars to dominate the local markets in most communities throughout the country, potentially the world. That hardly seems fair but what to do about it?

3. No one really needs what you do locally. That one’s hard to deal with so let’s explore it. Let’s talk about my SEO/social media site and business. I battle national companies for a lot of services and lose pretty badly. But I’m ranked in the top 5 for some things, even at #1. Those things are:

central new york article writing services – Google, Bing & Yahoo #1
central new york blog writing services – Google #2; Bing & Yahoo #1
syracuse article writing services – Google, Bing #4
syracuse blog writing services – Google, Bing #1
syracuse search engine optimization consulting – Bing #5
syracuse search engine optimization consultant – Bing #2
using your website as a marketing tool – Google #2, Bing #1

I’m not even sure where Yahoo’s mind is if Google & Bing have me ranked but it doesn’t really matter. I worked hard on making sure my site was ranked well locally, and for those terms above, out of the 36 I track, I’ve succeeded. Yet, I don’t get any calls or email from anyone. I think there’s only 2 local people who have ever visited it, even after I gave a big presentation locally that garnered a lot of interest… at least on that day.

What this says is that no one locally needs or wants these types of services. The site and the blog get very little traffic in total, even with the blog (averaging 3 1/2 visitors a day) and in the last month there were 10 visits from all of New York state, 6 local visits; that’s kind of pathetic isn’t it? So, sometimes if you can’t break through in the big picture, you can’t break through locally either; that’s kind of depressing, isn’t it?

I’m going to stop at those 3 because I need to ask this question openly; should we care? That one depends on what you do and what your hopes are. I talked to my accounting client to determine if she still wanted me to write content for her this coming year. She said yes because she actually got a couple of clients this year because of both the website (which I created for her last February) and the blog, which, as I said, makes her the highest ranking accounting firm online in this area. People are always looking for accountants, and if they want someone local, they’ll dig deeper to find that person. I’m happy for her because it’ll cost me nothing to do my taxes. :-)

For me, it’s a more difficult question. I’m not going to advertise SEO or social media services anymore because there’s no market for it, and I can use my time otherwise. I’m cutting back on what I write on that blog so the wealth of articles that are there will have to carry the day more than new stuff. I’m also not going to advertise writing services anymore, at least not through that site or blog, since that doesn’t seem to be how people are finding me anyway. And, if I’m not getting national or international business from that site, and it’s getting few visits anyway, why bother with trying to do local business, or at least advertising for it?

This article makes it seem like it’s all about me but it’s not supposed to be. I ask you to put yourself in my place when evaluating what you’ve been doing online and try to make the determination as to whether it’s working for you if you’re local. Having a presence is one thing; that’s always important. But at some point if the benefit isn’t equating to the business, you might have to make some evaluations of it all.

If you’re not trying to get local business then this entire post might not mean much to you unless you extrapolate it into just who you’re hoping to do business with, and how you’re doing with that. It’s not always about business for everyone, but if it is what do you see when you look at what’s happening for you?
 

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Facebook Edgerank, Et Al

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 21, 2012
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Facebook pages; how much fun are they? Truth be told, obviously some people aren’t having much fun at all because they don’t put much new content on it, if they put content on it at all. Two weeks ago I spent some time going through some of the pages I liked to see if they were doing anything, and those that weren’t I “unliked”; you know, when I was a kid that wasn’t even a word. lol

Facebook pages are an odd duck, if you will. We create them because everywhere we’ve gone to talking about them says they can help us with our business. I’m not all that sure, but I do believe that if done right they can at least help give you a presence. But who’s seeing that presence, and what can you do to increase your presence?

There was this article on Jeff Bullas’ blog titled 6 Ways to Increase the Marketing Effectiveness of your Facebook Page, which includes this very cool infographic. It talks a little bit about Edgerank, which is the name of the algorithm Facebook uses to decide just how many people who have liked your page will have the opportunity to see whatever you put on your page. It’s based on a few things; how often those people have come to your site, so they participate in any way, do they ever share, etc. Actually, they use the same algorithm in determining how many of your friends and which friends see your general posts If you’re connected with 1,000 people on Facebook, you can bet that if 100 people ever see any of it you can count yourself lucky, unless you’ve made yourself popular.

Why do they do that? They do it because people share way more long form information on Facebook than they do on Twitter. On Twitter, every person I’m following has the ability to have me see everything they post via a general column. I have the ability to select certain people and put them in segregated columns so I definitely see what certain people post as opposed to everyone, but if I decide to check the general column the skies the limit.

On Facebook people share pictures, blog posts, etc. Some folks write long form prose of some type. If Facebook showed you every single thing that everyone posted, you’d be overwhelmed. Yes, you do have the ability to segregate your audience on Facebook at all, something I’ll cover at another time, but it’s still a lot of stuff.

So now you know why you don’t see everything from all your friends and why everyone doesn’t see everything you put on your Facebook page. How can you improve the odds of getting more people to see your stuff? The link I provided above gives you 6 ways. I talked about more ways in a blog post I did on my SEO blog titled Finding Material For Your Facebook Business Page, which is a pretty good follow up to the link above if I say so myself. The idea is that, at least for your business page, you want to add more content to it so people have more to see, and you want to add more images because it’s been proven that people react better to them, but what if you’re not a bit time photographer, or the images you have don’t quite fit what your business is about?

Now, you might want to know how it’s going for me, since I adopted the process I talk about in my link about 3 weeks ago. I mainly post links from my business site since, well, it’s my Facebook business page. lol I do post a link here and there from this blog, the motivational stuff, but not all that often.

For the full month period before the last 3 weeks Facebook was my 5th best source of traffic, and I only had 21 visits. In the last 3 weeks Facebook has moved up to #3 and I had 55 visits in that time. Not only that but I went from a page duration time of 1 minute and 4 seconds to a whopping 14 minutes and 39 seconds. Why anyone would stay on a page for that long I couldn’t tell you, but what could be happening is that people could be sticking around and looking at other pages. And one more thing; from Facebook it’s a lot of repeat visitors, as the rate of new visitors is only 29%, as opposed to 95% from Google and 79% from Twitter.

Not so shabby I’d say. Anyway, I’ve told you about Edgerank, shared a link to an infographic, and a link to my post about ways of finding things you can add to your Facebook business page to help raise the number of people who come by. What else would you like to know? :-) By the way, if you’d like to see my page look to the left and click on the link that will take you there; always happy to have more likes for that page.
 

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What Will You Do For More Followers?

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 30, 2012
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Once again it’s video time. The premise is simple, but I’ll lay it out in words, then let the video take over from there.

Those of you who read this blog know that I’ve talked often about the concept of influence. In my mind, influence brings you so much more than when people have no idea who you are. Influence is money; influence can be power, or at least having enough pull to get things done positively or negatively. When people trust you and see you as an authority, there’s nothing that can stop you, not even those people who inevitably won’t like you just because of who you are.

With that in mind, I ask the question and talk about this concept of just what will you do for more followers. This ponies off a conversation I was having with someone who’d canceled another meeting with me, which led me to ask the question about priorities and people, and a response she gave me that I countered later on. That part’s not in the video, but something else is.

So enjoy the video, think about some things I say, then let me and everyone else know what your opinion is. Go ahead; don’t be shy. :-)


 

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11 Lessons Learned From 11 Years In Business

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 24, 2012
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Last year on this date I celebrated my 10th year of working for myself. I love milestones obviously and I thought that was an important one because most people that try to work on their own don’t even make 5 years.


That’s not my desk lol

And yet, that was more of a nostalgic post about me than about anything else, and that’s fine overall. But this year, on this blog (since that post above goes to my business blog) I decided to share some lessons I’ve learned in these 11 years. They’re not all good lessons on the surface, but they all contribute in some fashion to helping others, and still helping myself, to improve in some fashion, whether you work on your own or not. Here we go:

1. Most people really aren’t prepared to do this. When I started my business I hadn’t actually planned on starting it then. I was working up to starting six months later, but circumstances were out of my hands. Still, even if I’d started six months later I wouldn’t have been prepared for what was coming. The book Before You Quit Your Job by Robert Kiyosaki hadn’t been written yet, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know, let alone what I knew. Preparation really is key, and it might have made some decisions I made a lot smarter.

2. Getting comfortable with marketing and sales is going to be crucial. You know the people who make me sick? Those that say “I don’t have to market because I get all my business by referral. Trust me, unless you’re an old salt who was in a particular business for 30 years and everyone knows you you’re going to have to market at some point. And if you’re like me, coming from a non-profit background where we were the only game in town, you’re going to have to learn a lot about it. Man, the mistakes I made, and the mistakes I continue to make would make for a book that some would claim was stranger than fiction.

3. You’re going to have your ego bruised, and it could be crushing. You won’t believe this, but my actual employed working life was about 85% perfect over the course of 18 years. I always got lots of kudos for the work I did and I got along with almost everyone. I knew my stuff cold; no one could tell me I didn’t know how to fix anything, or come up with the correct thing to do.


I wasn’t as sad
as I look here

But on my own? People question you even if they hire you because they don’t want to do what you recommend to them. The first guy who read the first 25% of my book asked me if I’d ever written anything in my life because it was the worst thing he’d ever seen. My first newsletter got so many bad comments, none on the content though, that I almost decided I was never going to publish one.

I worked with a guy in NYC that decided to try to tell people I was the worst consultant he’d ever seen (luckily, his reputation was so bad that people saw that as a good thing). I’ve had people who didn’t know me well hear me say things I didn’t say and not hear things I did say, and I took the blame for it. And even after all these years, all the articles and blogs I have online and the speaking engagements I’ve done, every day I have to start again because there’s still 99.9963% of potential clients who have no idea who I am or what I do.

4. Cash flow is going to be a major problem. My first year of working on my own I only made $7,000; good thing I had great credit and unemployment. My first 3 years were really tough. My next 3 years were awesome. My last 4 years have been fair to middlin’. If I wasn’t a great budgeter and someone who has figured out the hustle when it’s really needed I might be in big trouble now. As it is all big bills are paid except for my mortgage; whew! But none of it would be possible without my wife’s help and her insurance.

5. Time is not your friend. I have never missed a deadline on a project, but I have worked some extreme hours at times. For one project that had to be done for a client in a time zone 10 hours ahead of ours, I had 10 hours of sleep in 3 days because they really needed it. I got paid well for it, but it was a killer. Early on I used to work 20 hours a day; now I’m down to about 10 – 12 hours a day but I kill time here and there for balance, and still only sleep maybe 5 or 6 hours if lucky.

On the other end, I always feel like marketing at 10PM and never during the day; that’s obviously a problem. I’m always at work since I work from home and I’m always working for that next dollar. When cash flow is low there’s not enough time in the day to look for contracts, work on contracts, and eat.

6. Staying healthy in general stops being a priority. I mentioned eating as an issue, but there are other things we need to take care of. In the summer I tend to walk a lot. In the winter I usually did nothing, and since I sit at the computer almost all day and all night it was affecting my health. I ended up joining a gym so I’d take care of some of those issues when it gets cold, and I continue walking in the summer. I’ve had to schedule my time during the day to take a break and eat, otherwise I’d miss it.

I’ve had to schedule when I take medication and when to brush my teeth, otherwise I won’t do it. I need to schedule when to work out. And now, at least once an hour, I get up from my desk and walk to the kitchen and back because it’s the longest distance from my office, 65 steps. And I’ve lost 20 pounds, and still working on it; have to work on making health a priority.


My first girlfriend;
my wife’s still jealous

7. The good times aren’t constant but when they’re good, they’re great. How great are they? There’s absolutely no pressure when the good times come. I bought two cars with a check and no financing. I went to lots of conferences. I ate lunch out every day. I paid someone else to try some marketing for me. And I budgeted because I knew there would need to be some balance; thank goodness for that foresight.

8. The freedom is amazing. You know, even through the bad times and the pressure, there’s a freedom that’s unparallelled. You might work a lot of hours but you know that at the end of it you’re the one benefiting from it, along with those you’re doing work for, not some employer who could care less about you and your needs. If you get into the right career your income is dependent upon your efforts. You can make as much or as little as possible. You can pick your own hours to work. You can pretty much do anything you want to as long as you have the money to do it.

9. You learn that you really can’t do it all alone. There’s a lot of stuff I know and can do, and for the first 3 years in business I did it all. At a certain point though I realized I needed some help in different ways. I hired an accountant and that took a major load off my mind. I contacted others in my field of expertise who knew others and helped spread my name around, and I started getting some contract work from people I’d have never met otherwise.

I learned that sometimes advice you give to others is advice someone then has to give back to you when your mind has gone astray. I joined associations of people who do what I do and understand the issues of being an independent consultant because they know how to offer support. And I’ve learned how to work in collaboration with others for some projects, because even a little piece of something big is still pretty nice.

10. You need to be really judgmental in working with others. I’ve done fairly well in this regard but I have some horror stories as well. I got taken advantage of by a guy who paid me almost nothing to do 2 4-hour training sessions on a topic where I was the only one who could have done it because I hadn’t yet learned how to price my services better. I worked with another company doing some work where I never got any feedback on how to do it their way until I didn’t do it their way, and it was 7 months of frustration; if you can’t communicate with others you’re doomed to fail.

I’ve had people offer me things early on that sounded like they’d be a good deal, only to figure out they were trying to take advantage of me and trying to use me to sell their products and not sell myself, without being paid for it. And I’ve had people who agreed to pay me for things that never paid me, people trying to trick me by saying they were going to pay me that ended up being a scam, and people who told me one thing without being able to follow through in one way or another.

It can happen in the other direction as well though. You might be so cautious that you miss out on what would have been a great opportunity. I’m normally a good judge of character, and learned that desperation, or lack thereof, should never be considered when looking into potential opportunities or liabilities. I have a friend who saw an opportunity that looked really good because he knew the person who presented it to him and thus signed up, only to learn later on that person wasn’t actually the one running things and the person who was running things was unethical.

In general, if the Spidey senses tingle even a little bit, learn more, learn a lot more, then make an informed decision. But always trust your senses.


Why my moral base is strong

11. The majority of people will treat you as you treat them, so make sure your moral base is strong. Y’all know I’m not religious, so in my mind religion and morality are two different things. If you’ve been following this blog even six months you know my morals are based on three principles: loyalty, honesty and trustworthiness. I could add two more, but they’re in longer form: be as nice as possible as often as possible, and if you can’t be nice, be accurate so no one can accuse you of not thinking straight.

If you try to do right by people it comes back to you. If you try to help others it comes back to you. If you show loyalty to others it comes back to you, even if not from the same people. Be open, but don’t be a victim. Be wise and sharing but don’t give it all away. Think of yourself first (this includes your family), protect yourself first, ALWAYS, no matter what anyone else says, and then think of others and what they need; I think 51% to 49% is a good ratio. In business, as in life, you can’t help anyone if your life isn’t secure first.

Yes, this was long, but so is 11 years in business for a sole proprietor. If even one person learns something from this post that will help them make better decisions down the road, I’ll be happy; of course, I’d love thousands of people to read it anyway. :-) But our dreams and goals are for us and no one else; keep pushing forward, keep trying, and try never to see yourself as a failure; as I always say, tomorrow is another chance to start again.
 

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