Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 30, 2015
Although I find blogging to be a popular subject for many people to talk about, there are still a lot of businesses trying to figure out not only if there’s any kind of return on investment in doing it, as well as whether they have the time or the inclination to do it. I have a story that might be illuminating.
A few weeks ago I got an email out of the blue from someone wanting some consulting advice from another state. I sent her my phone number since it wasn’t included in her email (major lesson; always include all of your contact information in your business emails) and said she could call me the next day.
She did just that, and we talked for about 10 minutes about the possibility of my doing some work for her, work that will pay nicely. I asked her how she’d heard of me. She said that a friend had sent her some kind of newsletter that included a link to a blog post I’d written and that it intrigued her because it looked like something she needed for her company.
I asked her if she remembered which blog post it was and at the time she didn’t. She said that she’d find it and send it to me. When I got it I was surprised because it turned out to be a post I’d written almost 3 years ago.
So, someone else liked my post, used it as inspiration in a post they wrote for a newsletter, put my link in it, someone else got it and liked it and forwarded it to a friend, that friend then liked it enough to call me. And I have a shot at getting business out of it. Sure, years later, but what did it really cost me when I wrote that post many years ago?
I tend to write fast, so it might have taken me 5 to 10 minutes at the most to put it together, and it stayed on the blog for years, and now look at what’s happened. Even though I don’t get the contract, I had a shot at it.
That’s the power of blogging; that’s why I talk about it all the time. You never know who might find your content and be impressed enough about it to contact you for business.
Of course, now I have to address the question I’ve seen about whether every business should have a blog or not and whether it can work for everyone. That’s a question that’s hard to answer easily, although it’s an easy answer.
The answers are thus:
* If you can have consistent content, it can work for you;
* If you can’t it won’t work for you;
* If you can’t talk about what it is you do it won’t work for you;
* If you’re the only one who can do what you do in your area, no matter how small a business it is, it can work for you, but still refer to the first bullet;
* Same if there are a lot of other businesses doing what you do but few of them have a blog (I tell this one to accountants all the time, most of whom don’t have a blog);
* If you have a regular website that looks decent that you can associate your blog with it can help
My opinion; if you can blog and you can talk about your business, a blog will help more than it will hurt unless you stop writing on it.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 22, 2015
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
The interesting thing is that in the 7th anniversary post I gave 7 things about blogging after giving 15 (I actually did 15 twice) 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.
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 previous 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. Sometimes people will check out posts you link to; the longer you can keep people on your site because they like what you have to say, the better.
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.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 27, 2014
Last week I wrote a post addressing the topic of being controversial when it comes to a business blog, and how you might not always want to go that route depending on what the topic is and how it might impact your business. I’m realizing that I should have taken that further because it’s not only a blog that you have to worry about.
Back in 2008, I was new to Twitter. It was a presidential election year, and emotions were running high. Early on I wasn’t sure who I was supporting for president, but I did know one thing. I was ecstatic about Barack Obama having the opportunity to win the Democratic nomination for President; in my mind, having a truly viable black candidate was something I never expected to see in my lifetime.
He won the nomination and got to run against John McCain. Then the hate started against him, and it wasn’t pretty. Being against a candidate with different political views is one thing; you always expect that, whether you want to get into it or not. But things went way further than that. It got racial, hateful and ugly. I know because I saw a lot of what was streaming on Twitter at the time. I hadn’t really gotten to the point where I was perspicacious in who I was following; I was trying to build up numbers.
The thing is that on Twitter, at some point it’s not just the people you’re connected to, but the people they’re connected to as well. And things blew up. I started deleting people from my stream, not because they had a different political point of view than mine, but because of what they were saying about Obama in racist terms; have to call it out as I see it.
What was shocking to me was that some of the people saying these things were fairly well known in online circles. This was before celebrities had embraced Twitter, so the big names were all internet people, some people in other fields here and there, but mainly internet stars. These were people who taught others how to behave in their own space, and here they were, failing in public.
You know what happened? A lot of those people went away in 2008 because of their hateful words. People saw what these people were really made of and decided they didn’t want to work with these folks or buy products from these folks. The internet celebs said that they should have the right to their opinion, but you find that every time you decide you should have the right to your opinion, no matter how hateful it might be, you forget that others have the right to their opinion as well, and their right comes with the option of spending their dollars elsewhere.
At this point in my life I’ve decided I don’t want to deal with that kind of controversy. Therefore, I remove anyone whose political positions are against mine in all social media spaces. I don’t swing too far when it comes to things I believe in either, so I sometimes kill my connection with them also. I’m a fairly balanced guy who doesn’t like extremes unless I’m pulling for my favorite sports teams.
What this means is that there are business opportunities I could be missing, but it also means there are business opportunities those people could be missing as well. Almost no one gets to spew vile things in one minute and conduct business as usual in another once word gets out.
Case in point as a closer. There was a guy I knew some years ago who used to like to make videos to express his point of view on things. The topics weren’t extreme but his language was. He did this on a personal blog, and to him it was just a bit of fun.
Until one day one of his clients came across it and didn’t like the content that was on the blog. He immediately closed his account, and as people who are upset with things often do, this guy called a few other people and told them about the blog. Two others decided to disassociate themselves from this guy because they didn’t want to take the chance that one of their customers might come across it and think they approved of this behavior.
The guy immediately tried to fix things but it was too late. He shut down his blog, removed all his videos from all the places he had them, and worked for the next year trying to replace the business he lost. I lost track of him after a few months as he ended up shutting down his website as well, so I never got to talk to him again, and had to rely on someone else to give me an update.
Cautionary tale that I wanted to share here. As I always say in many places, if you’re not ready to back up your position for everything you might want to say, you just might want to keep it to yourself, or at least don’t let it get onto the internet.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 20, 2014
One of the best things about advertising and working online is that if something isn’t working, you can change it pretty easily. Testing can take some time, but it’s less expensive than printing $10,000 worth of material, mailing it out to thousands of people, getting nothing in return and having to do it all again.
One of the worst things about advertising and working online is when you get things so screwed up that you lose any business credibility you might have had. Sure, many times you’ll get another shot at making a go of things, but you’ll probably never get any of those people back that stopped by, disapproved of what you did, left and talked about it later on.
One Sunday last year I did a Google Hangout with my Hot Blog Tips crew on the topic of writing paid posts and blogging credibility, which I’m sharing below. It’s my position that if people do things that are unethical just to make money that eventually it will kill them and their business prospects. There are a lot of bloggers who write paid posts, or put up posts with someone else’s words, and say a lot of glowing stuff about something they’re not familiar with. Some will be promoting a product using an affiliate link that they know nothing about and writing something overly positive without knowing if it is or not.
When it comes to your business and advertising it online, I feel that what you don’t want to do is say you can do things that you can’t do. At the same time, overstating your capabilities doesn’t do you many favors either. I remember having a conversation with someone a couple of years ago where he said that if you’re asked if you can do something or provide something you always answer “yes”, then you go out and find the person who can really do it. To me, it might be true that you can find someone who can do the work, but if you don’t know that person and they do the work badly, you’re the one who’s going to suffer.
There’s nothing wrong with self promotion. There’s really nothing wrong with a bit of hyperbole, although if you say you’re the #1 whatever in your market I tend to believe you’d better be ready to prove it by showing me something, since I might not even allow you to work with me unless I get testimonials. These days people are more savvy than ever, and they can check everything online. Try to fool someone and it will come back at you eventually. Nothing disappears online; remember that.
By the way, you need to know that if you happen to use words that aren’t your own, sent to you by a marketer that they believe will help you sell their product, that it’s a violation of FCC rules and it could result in both fines and losing your domain; just thought I’d mention that.
Check out the video below, as it addresses this topic with a few more ideas on the subject than just mine:
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 7, 2014
Why do you blog? You know, I’ve kind of broached this subject in the past but I came at it from different directions. First, in 2008 I asked the question Why Do You Write Your Blog, which was based on a couple of articles I’d read on the subject of using one’s blog to make money. The second, in 2010, was part of my Sunday Question blog series asking specifically Why Do You Blog, and in this case I was asking people what they were hoping to get out of their blogs, whether it was business or pleasure.
Goodness, it’s been 4 years since I talked about this subject? Time to broach it again, but I’ll tell you why I’m doing it this time. If you’ve noticed, over the past couple of weeks I’ve put up some posts here that relate to business blogging. Although I talk about blogging often, specifically talking about blogging for business isn’t something I’ve spent lots of time on. Sure, I’ve talked on the subject of trying to make money blogging and why it’s more difficult than people think but that’s not quite the same topic.
In this vein, it’s talking about having some kind of business and using blogging to either help promote the business in some fashion, show expertise or actually using the blog as the business, not specifically a make money blog but making connections so you can sell product or services.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I use my main business blog as a way to show my expertise on certain subjects and, hopefully, to get clients of some kind from it. I haven’t talked as much about this blog and how I work on using it for business but truthfully, one speaking engagement I got locally came mainly because of this blog. Nah, I didn’t get paid, and I didn’t even get a nibble for business, but it was still fun being seen in a professional light by some folks in my area, since more often than not I work out of town or my clients are out of town.
Over the next few months, I expect to have more articles on this blog about business blogging in the vein I was talking about above. However, I know that there are a lot of people who don’t see that type of thing as the reason for why they write their blogs. So, I’m throwing the question out there, asking what I asked in 2010 and seeing if some of the responses are different.
See, I think it’s an important question more for you than for me. The one thing I get asked over and over is how do I come up with so many ideas to write about, especially after I passed 1,500 posts back in March. One reason is because I have a passion for the topics I write about. The other reason is because I do market some of my writing services, I charge a pretty nice dollar, and I like to be able to show someone just how proficient I’ve been in my own space, and then possibly point them to other spaces. In the end, even though this is my “fun” blog, it’s also my portfolio of diverse topics; wouldn’t you agree?
This should be fun; let’s see what you have for me.