What Is Your Reason For Blogging?

Some months ago I wrote an article here based off a question one of my friends asked me. He asked me “what are you getting out of making videos?” I responded “I like it.” Actually he never heard or saw that response, as I did a video first, then wrote the post.

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Me speaking to a baby 🙂

In the last few weeks I’ve started thinking about this in a different way after having a Hangout conversation with my friend Joanne DelBalso. We were talking about business in general and she asked me what my intention was for blogging. She further explained she wanted to know what my purpose was, or what I was hoping to get out of it. Finally, she wanted to know if I had expressed that purpose anywhere, if I even knew what it was.

Of course I’ve known since late 2008 what I wanted the purpose of this blog to be. Okay, it has many purposes, but the main purpose is to get organizations to request me to come speak to them, and get paid for it. My long term ambition is to be a professional speaker and presenter. At this point I’ve spoken in 8 states but I haven’t given a presentation outside of my own area in 4 years now.

I had to think about it a bit to see if, at least on this blog, I had indicated that anywhere. I looked at my About page and realized that I had linked to a bio on my business page but never mentioned speaking. I looked at my contact page but there’s nothing on that page about it. It seems the last time I even mentioned it on this blog was on June 16th, 2010, on a post talking about social media strategies. Wow!

You can imagine how disconcerting that was to discover. How is anyone supposed to know what my intention, purpose and reason is for writing this blog if I don’t mention it anywhere? Heck, I didn’t even mention it on my focus post at the beginning of the year, nor put it into the video I recorded about the same subject; Oy!

All of us hate selling so much… at least directly. We also have this thing in our heads where we believe that self promotion is a bad thing. I’ve worked hard on breaking both of these because I’m self employed, and if I don’t promote or market I won’t get business, will starve, my wife will leave me and the dog won’t come home (I don’t have a dog; see? lol) and I’ll be forced to get a grocery cart to push my stuff in and eat in shelters because I won’t have enough money to put gas in my car (which is paid off; whew!) to stay warm.

Educational Postcard:  "If you want me to engage in learning..."
Ken Whytock via Compfight

By the time you read this I’ll have fixed that About page and added a little something to my contact page, but now it’s time to ask all of you if you’ve stated the reasons for your blogs somewhere? I’ll pick on my buddies Brian Hawkins, Adrienne Smith and Peter Pellicca, aka Sire for a quick moment. 🙂

A true intention for all of them is to make money in some way. Brian kind of hides it in the middle of a very long paragraph on his About page, but it’s there. Peter talks about it early on, saying that once he learned he could make money blogging and had passion for writing he was hooked. Adrienne doesn’t specifically say she blogs to make money, but she does mention her intention well by telling us she makes money via affiliate marketing and consulting others on how to create a presence online.

It behooves all of us to have a stated intention, especially if you’re kind of like me and you’re not writing a niche blog. Even with a niche blog, you should want your visitors to know whether you’re talking about something because you like it or because you’re hoping it works out in bringing you business in some fashion, whether through consulting or selling products or getting hired to do some work for them.

And… well… I guess you should mention it more than once every 3 1/2 years. 😉
 

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People Aren’t Getting Your Response To Their Comments – A Redux

Wow, how time flies. It was just over two years ago that I wrote a post asking people to check their blog commenting systems because many times when I comment on their blogs I’m not receiving anything telling me my comments have been responded to. That post was well received, and got a nice number of responses.

Thomas Leuthard via Compfight

You know what? It seems that it’s time to bring this subject up again, and in a weird way it ponies on a topic Brian, Sheryl and I were talking about once in a video. I was lamenting how it seems that so many times I visit blogs that have titles making me think I’m going to see something new, only to see the same, tired thing I’ve seen previously. And Brian said that even if something is old to us because we’ve been around a long time, it’s a new concept to someone.

That being the case, I’m bringing this up because I figure that many of you aren’t intentionally ignoring me and my comments. The thing is I visit so many blogs and many new ones that I don’t often remember where I’ve been. If I’ve been to your blog often I’ll at least remember to check back on that one but many others… nope, no clue. Thus, I might be thinking you’re a blankety-blank when in reality your commenting system isn’t letting people know you’ve responded to them. By the way, I always check the boxes asking to be informed of responses, though not all of you have that on your blogs.

What should you do to check things out? As I said two years ago (just so everyone knows I’m being consistent lol), go to your blog post (you might have to sign out or use a different browser), sign in as if you’re leaving a comment but use a different email address, write yourself a comment (make it short), and after you get your notification of your comment go into your blog, respond to yourself, and see if your other email address gets it.

You can do this on an existing post (if you do, I’d recommend being the first commenter so you’re the only one who’ll see it & you can delete both before anyone else sees it) or create a test post and go through the motions, then delete everything.

If you get it, then others should get it. If not… well, now it’s time to see what’s wrong. You might have your setting wrong or you might need a separate plugin to get it taken care of. At least you’ll know to take care of the issue.

My final words… this is happening on some of the blogs of those of you who comment here, whose blogs I may have written a comment on. I’m not calling out any names; if you check, you’ll know who you are. lol
 

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SimplyNoise And Calm

One of the problems in trying to focus is that sometimes things around you are either too loud or too quiet. It’s easy for one’s mind to wander, and suddenly you find that you’ve wasted 3 hours playing on Facebook or reading blog posts (mine better be a part of that) and not getting anything done, even though you had plans to do so.

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That’s where the two websites I’m about to share with you come into play. The first one I’m going to talk about is called SimplyNoise. It’s exactly what it claims to be; it plays a few sounds that you can alter by clicking in one of 3 different colored buttons. You can control how loud the sounds are by using either their volume button or your own. I like using theirs so I don’t have to change mine around.

But that’s not all (hey, I’ve heard that on TV lol). There’s a second thing on the right that allows you to listen to what they call “simplyrain”, which you can also purchase. That’s the one I listen to most of the time because you get the option of adding thunder and altering the intensity of the rain and thunder. There’s something soothing about rain and thunder for me, and occasionally I’ll use that sound in a different format to help me get to sleep. The thing is that this noise never stops until you either turn it down or close your browser; at least that’s how it works on the laptop.

The other side is slightly different. It’s called Calm, and I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a massage but the site plays that kind of music for you and it’s quite calming, which is its purpose. It also has these visuals if you need that to relax, if that’s what you want to do instead of using it as background noise, and it plays actual songs. The thing about this page is that it won’t continuously play the music, and it’s hard to figure out when it decides it’s played enough.

Sometimes it’ll stop after one song, sometimes it’ll play a bunch of songs in order, but at some point it will stop playing. If you’re concentrating on other things because it’s helped you get there you might not notice it but I found that if it stopped after one song I always noticed it. You can always start it up again though. By the way, I got this one from a video by Kim Castle who included it when she was talking about apps one can use on an iPhone or iPad, but since I don’t have those things this was the only thing I could access, and I love it.

I actually did have one more site I was going to share with you, but it shut down as of December 31st, which is depressing but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes. Check out the sites I’ve just shared and let me know what you think and if they offer you any type of comfort.
 

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Learning About Evernote – An Interview with Mitchell Allen

Mitchell Allen is a prolific writer, pretty good chess player, and all around technophile. He did a Q&A on the topic of online cloud storage with Sharon Hurley Hall and one of the programs he talked about was Evernote, which I use and love but know I don’t use all that well. After discussing whether this should be a guest post or a Q&A we decided on the Q&A. Don’t get confused with both of us being “Mitch” here; I asked the questions so I’m in bold; thus, Mitch gets the first word here. 🙂

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Mitchell Allen

Mitch, thanks for inviting me to answer some questions about one of my favorite productivity tools. I’ll leave the techno-babble on the doorstep and bring in this little basket of basics.

1. For folks that don’t know (because they didn’t read my Evernote for Android post), tell folks what Evernote is.

Evernote is a tool for saving just about anything. Notes, pictures, music clips, videos and files. Once you have saved your stuff, Evernote helps you find it later. It is like having your own little World Wide Web.

Like the real web, you can access your stuff on many different devices. That’s because Evernote automatically syncs your devices with your online account.

Finally, you can share your stuff. I will talk about that in a moment.

2. At a very high level, can you tell folks how you personally use it?

Here are the top five things I do every day:

•  Save web pages
•  Jot down ideas for stories
•  Update to-do lists
• Hunt for references (stuff I said a long time ago, links to resources)
•  Manage my disaster recovery plan

The web pages are better than bookmarking because the text is right there. Sometimes it looks awful, but most pages are legible.

I have dozens of notebooks, each of which could be the next Great American Novel. LOL Most of the time, I’m just feeling creative and I like to jot down the ideas while they’re fresh in my mind.

Evernote has a very simple keyboard shortcut for creating a checkbox in a note (Ctrl+Shift+C). I create lists and try to check them off as soon as I can.

Hunting for references is probably the most frequent activity. I am always looking up stuff about Microsoft Excel, for example. I also spend a lot of time tracking down web addresses to include in my email correspondence.

Because of my freelance software business, I am always looking for the best ways to safeguard my stuff. Evernote is the perfect tool for me to keep track of my progress, as well as my thoughts about different backup strategies.

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3. You pay for Evernote; what extra benefits does that get you and is it worth the expense for most people?

The limits on a free account are very generous: 100 notebooks, 60MB upload per month, 25MB per note and 25MB per attachment (actually, the attachment plus the note together cannot exceed 25MB). I was pushing up against the 60MB limit, so I don’t mind paying 5.00 a month for a premium account. I get 250 notebooks, 1GB upload per month, 100MB per note and 100MB per attachment (same restriction on combined size of note and attachment.) I am always editing my notes and all that syncing counts toward my quota!

Folks who only occasionally hit the limit on uploads can pony up the cash for just the months when they need it.

4. I just discovered that I can keep a journal or log by using Notebooks on Evernote. Can you explain Notebooks better and how people can really use them to their advantage?

Well, I promised not to get too technical, so think of a notebook as a steno pad. For a journal, you add a new note each day, similar to starting on a fresh page in your steno pad. You know those colorful sticky tabs that folks use to bookmark different sections of a report? Well, that’s your tags. Only, with Evernote, you kind of have to remember what tags you use. Otherwise, there is no point – you won’t be able to search for them later!

Actually, you don’t have to use tags, because Evernote will let you search for phrases, just like a Google search. Here is a useful link from the Evernote blog.

5. Is there a way to set up Evernote as a task manager?

As recently as February, 2013, the CEO of Evernote stated that the tool wasn’t all that great for to-do lists. But, if you Google task manager +evernote, you’ll find a bunch of people who seem to manage it.

Personally, I stopped using Evernote for task management. Gmail, Basecamp and my own custom-built tools are more suitable for the types of tasks I need to manage. I use Evernote to keep to-do lists for personal stuff, if I don’t need a reminder.

6. We actually share a notebook; can you compare the differences between sharing notebooks as opposed to using Dropbox for sharing?

This is one feature I don’t care for. It clutters up my space. I have joined a few shared notebooks and I have to wade past their tags. Ugh. I prefer to use Dropbox to transfer files and Google Docs for, well, documents!

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7. I’ve never understood how to use the Shortcuts area; can you talk about that?

The new version of Evernote shortcuts took some getting used to. Instead of bookmarks across the top, the shortcuts now appear on the left side, along with the tags, notebooks and everything else. The trick is to drag the note from the preview area onto the Shortcuts title or within the section itself.

I discovered that, if you drag a note onto a tag, that tag is added to the note, which was not what I expected! As a further experiment, I dragged a note onto the title Notebooks and it moved the note from its old notebook into my default notebook.

8. What’s that Atlas thing all about?

I never paid the Atlas any attention. From the Evernote website and forums, I learned that it uses geotagging to establish where the note originated. So, if you take a lot of pictures, this might be useful. Of course, that brings up the issue of privacy and security surrounding geotagged images. If the notes are private, that should be no problem. But if you link to them or share them, be careful about the information you are sending along with the image!

9. I tend to mainly use it for saving URLs to look at later on when I’m either on the Nook or my phone, and I have my grocery list there as well. You know me a bit better than most; how better could I use it?

I don’t subscribe to a best practices philosophy for productivity tools. Each of us has his own way of viewing the world and how things should work in it. If the two uses you just mentioned make your life easier in some way, then Evernote has done its job.

What I will say is that you should play with it as much as you can. As you get comfortable with the features and annoyances, you will come up with more ideas.

The beauty of Evernote is that you don’t have to commit to anything. I used to save my freelance proposals on Evernote. It was a hassle, so I stopped.

10. I know you use a lot of things. Is Evernote the easiest, the best, or is there something better or easier?

The only thing easier than Evernote is pencil and paper. There may be better-designed alternatives but I am satisfied with 90% of Evernote. The lone 10% annoyance is that it freezes temporarily while I am typing. Not always, but enough to get on my nerves if I’m trying to get some ideas down. I have a lot of software running on my laptop, so it may not even be Evernote!

The best thing about Evernote is that it does not force you into a specific way of working. As I work with it more and more, I continually refine my interactions. Yet, like most productivity software, it just sits in my taskbar until I need it.
 

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Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

In my last post talking about Commission Junction & my problems with them, I left off by saying there is a question about affiliate marketing in general, and the title above is that question.

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Frances Hui via Compfight

Let’s look at this thing from the big picture perspective. How many ways are there to make money online? A bunch of ways truthfully, as I shared in this post years ago talking about how Lynn Terry does it and then talking about how one can legitimately make money blogging, saying it wasn’t how you were thinking.

I’ve said that over the years the one thing that’s made me any real money has been Adsense, and not on this blog but most of it on one of my other websites. I’ve made very little money via affiliate marketing, no matter who it is, and I did a six part series in 2011 talking about all the affiliate programs I’m connected with and how much (little) money I made from them all over the years if you want to check that out.

Frankly, the effort isn’t really worth it anymore, but I’m wondering if it’s ever been worth it. True, there are some people who make a lot of money online via their blogs and affiliate programs, but let’s think about a couple of things here.

One, how many of those affiliate programs are the same types of things we have?

Two, how many of those folks are getting paid a much higher rate than most people will get, mainly because of their associations?

Three, for that matter, how many of these folks make a lot of money by promoting each other’s programs and products as opposed to going the route that the overwhelming majority of us go?

Before I go on, let me state this for the record. I never begrudge anyone for making money or for figuring out how to make money. Unless they do it in an unethical way, I figure people are entitled to whatever money they make or whatever money someone is willing to pay them, even if I may not like them (for who they are, not for making money). Can we learn lessons from these folks? Absolutely, as long as we look at the right thing.

In this instance I’m going to use one of my buddy Brian’s favorite people, a guy named Pat Flynn, who publishes his monthly income report each month. This guy’s raking it in; there’s no disputing that. He’s working it like a pro; great for him. But let’s look at only his affiliate programs for a moment.

He shows that he made more than $38,000 in November for his affiliate programs; that’s fantastic. He made around $23,000 of that via BlueHost, and he made it via his YouTube channel talking about how to create a blog using them. YouTube is the way a lot more people are making money these days, and he’s a charismatic guy, so talking about it in a video and getting lots of visitors to it would sell a lot of product.

drinks machine via Compfight

He made more than $3,600 via a program called Long Tail Pro, something I’ve never heard of, but it’s an independent program that he helps promote. Another $2,700 via LeadPages, $2,100 for the Thesis theme, $2,000 for Market Samurai and $1,400 for Aweber, and then lesser amounts for a lot of other things; I’m only talking affiliate programs here.

What isn’t he doing? He’s not using things like Commission Junction, Clickbank, LinkShare, Bidvertiser, on and on and on. As a matter of fact, most of the things he’s marketing other than BlueHost aren’t the types of things most of us probably think about when we’re thinking affiliate marketing.

I thought about pulling someone else’s monthly income report, decided I didn’t want to embarrass anyone, and instead decided to share one of my old income report from September 2010, before I stopped doing them, as a point of comparison. This was the most money I ever made in one month, $562, and that was because I sold one of my websites. Without that it would have been $262, and though I made more money than that later on, it was always Adsense, not because of affiliate marketing. I’m betting that many of you would love to make $200 a month, and that’s not all bad, but can any of us live off it?

I ask the question “is affiliate marketing dead” not because no one makes money off it, but after so many years and so many more people who have tried it and not made a livable income off it, which outnumbers those who do make a living off it 99.8% to .2% (and I think that’s generous), if it worth the effort to continue trying to make money off a model that, for most of us, is not only inefficient and cumbersome but we can’t even trust that they’re giving us the real stats, let alone will pay us? I add this as I just received my one and only payment from Amazon a couple of weeks ago for… 50 cents! Had them for 4 years and I made 50 cents; that’s a darn shame! lol

What’s your thought on this? I know some will think (even if you don’t say it here) that you’re going to be the one who breaks the mold & makes all the money. Oh really? By blogging? By lots of squeeze pages of products that everyone else is already marketing? I’m doubting it but I could be wrong; y’all let me know.

Hey, someone had to ask right? 🙂
 

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