All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Do You Need A Certificate To Prove Your Blogging Worthiness?

Last week was the final meeting I had with University Hospital here in Syracuse. I was part of a diabetes study, the results of which I’ll hear about sometime in 2014. It was in its own way a 12-week study that lasted 12 months; figure that one out. lol

At the end of the meeting, the lady handed me an envelope, which contained the certificate you see to the right. She congratulated me for not only getting through the entire study but showing an improvement, and then maintaining most of the improvement. Everything stayed the same except my glucose readings; I have to work on bringing that down again unfortunately.

In my last post I talked about dealing with our irrelevance and how we’re not all that irrelevant when we think about it. And yet, sometimes we still feel that way in our lives, in our blogging, in our careers. Sometimes we feel that need for validation of some type from someone else; it doesn’t always feel like it’s enough when we validate ourselves.

What am I getting at? I’m going to ask 5 questions. If you can truthfully say that you are or have done these things, then I award you the certificate at the end of this post. All you have to do is print it out, put your name on the line, and put it… somewhere, anywhere. You can scan it and put it on your blog. You can put it on your wall or on your computer. You can copy it and just leave it on your computer; whatever you want to do. Or you can ignore it if you don’t feel you need it. Still, the questions, which are thus:

1. Do you see yourself as trying to contribute to the overall community in some fashion with your blog? In other words, are you writing your blog because you feel you have something to share, as opposed to only trying to make money from it? Nothing wrong with making money, but if those are your only motives then your reason isn’t pure; my rules today.

2. Do you get comments on your blog that you respond to? Even if you’ve written 100 posts and only have one comment, did you respond to that comment if you determined it wasn’t spam? Spam comments I understand; delete those things and move on. But if you got at least one good comment, did you respond? Do you try to respond to as many comments as possible, especially if the comment was a good one (heck, sometimes if you get a one line comment there’s nothing to respond to; I’ll give you that one).

3. Do you ever comment on other blogs? You might not understand what that really has to do with your own blog but you’re not really part of the community of bloggers if you’re willing to entertain guests who come to your blog without checking out what others have to say. Did you know that I did a little research project and proved that commenting on other blogs drives more traffic to your blog than anything else?

4. Do you promote your blog in other spaces? Blog commenting is only one way to promote your blog. You ever heard of social media? Have you heard of newsletters? Have you heard of linking to your blog via your email signature line? Often people say they don’t get many visitors on their blog, to which the question “what are you doing to promote your blog” always comes out.

5. Do you write your own content without plagiarizing, come up with topics that no one else may have written on, stay true to yourself no matter what you write about, give the best effort you can every time out (no one hits a home run every time), not fear controversy when it’s needed, and don’t believe the hype when someone tells you that you’re not good enough?

If so, then you deserve to be rewarded. I’m not giving you money (You buy my book? Of course you didn’t, so I don’t have money to throw around like that lol), but I will share the certificate you see below. As I said, it’s yours if you want it, but don’t lie to use it. Congratulations; you deserve it. 🙂


 

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Dealing With Our Own Irrelevance

Last year around this time, I was asking people on all 5 of my blogs to vote for me in blogging in the Shorty Awards online competition. This year I’ve decided totally against anything like that for my own sanity, pride, and peace of mind.

me 1991

What’s the deal? Last year at this time I was feeling as though I was actually something sort of special. I had a highly ranked blog, was writing lots of posts everywhere, starting my Black Web Friday series because I just knew that I had the juice to get things done, to change some minds, to actually make a difference.

You know what; none of it made a difference. I got 26 votes in the Shorty category after working it hard for almost an entire month. Not only did the Black Web Friday series mean nothing to almost anyone but it didn’t mean much to the people and websites I profiled either; they didn’t care. And even though my blog was ranked nicely then, around 78,000 on Alexa (don’t give me any grief about Alexa; I don’t want to hear it), the rank is now sitting around 160,000, even with consistent posting, and feels like it’s falling fast (although traffic has been up since the beginning of January & Alexa works on a 3-month model so within a couple of weeks it should start moving up again).

Some of you know that I’ve written a number of posts on the topic of influence, and why having influence can help you not only make a better income, but get things done in ways that being more anonymous, or irrelevant, can do for you. Well, while that’s still true, it seems that irrelevance is destined to follow all of us around for a long time, which is basically our entire lives.

That almost sounds depressing doesn’t it? Well, I’m not going to let it go quite that far, but I do need to explore this topic a little further. How many of you folks who read this blog know the name Chris Brogan? What about Scott Stratten, or Gary Vanderchuk or Marcus Sheridan or Ileane Smith? In blogging and social media, these are pretty big names. Take them out of blogging and put them on the street, and maybe one day in six months someone will walk up to one of them and say “Hey, aren’t you…” So much for influence or relevance.

Want more examples? How many people think of Tony Orlando these days? What about Brittany Morgan? Ric Ocasek? Michael Anthony Hall? Robert Townsend? All of these were super huge names at some point, all had influence in multiple ways, and all have, or seem to have, disappeared; I bet most of you have no idea who any of those folks are.

You want more? The nominations for the Academy Awards just came out last week. I knew almost none of the movies and almost none of the actors and actresses who are up for those awards. Last year’s Grammys, I asked myself why I would even think of watching it when the only name I knew that I’d heard of previously was Taylor Swift; that will be the same thing for this year’s ceremony, another one I won’t be watching.

See, we’re not alone. And truth be told, the guy who got the most votes for blogging last year was totally unknown in the United States, so even though he got an award, what did it get him in the long run? Maybe in his country he was elected Pope (I know, I know…).

What does all of this mean? Do we stop trying for significance? Do we stop participating in social media, in blogging, in our local activities and such? Do we crawl into bed, watch TV and eat chips and give up the rest of our lives to this reality?

Ain’t no way! Here’s another truth; we’re not as irrelevant as we think we are. For all the lack of relevance I’m talking about here, there are nearly 375 people who are subscribed to the feed for this blog. There’s lots of people higher but I’m happy with that figure. There’s nearly 300 subscribed to my main business blog. And I have a nice number of people subscribed to my business newsletter, though I couldn’t tell you if people are reading it or not.

The videos I do with my Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew have reached close to 8,000 views; that’s not bad for just over a year of videos; at least I think we’ve been doing it that long. My own video channels are quite paltry by comparison, yet I have had some views so I’m not complaining.

In other words, irrelevance doesn’t mean obsolete; it doesn’t mean hidden, and it doesn’t mean useless. Each of us, through our blogs, our outside actions, what we do at work, etc, are relevant to someone. That’s important to note because sometimes we feel as though no one notices what we do. We want more comments on our blogs; we want to make more money across the board; we want people to call us up and tell us how much they want us, need us, can’t live without us.

Tough to be us isn’t it? Well, here’s the thing. We are what we are. We can decide to try to be more, we can decide to try to be better, or we can try to be ourselves. Frankly, being ourselves might or might not put us over, but what more comfortable spot is there when all is said and done? Strive to be the best you can be, strive for bigger and better things if that’s what you want. But when you start thinking about insignificance, think about someone else. You are special; we all are.
 

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Nook HD From Barnes & Noble

Last March I wrote about the Nook 8GB Color Tablet that I bought for my wife the previous October, saying how much I liked it, though I didn’t have one, and how she was happy to have it. Well, this year I bought one a few days after Christmas, only better than the one I bought her, and I’m talking about it as well as putting in a product link if you want to check it out; hey, I’m allowed to try to make money here and there, right? 🙂

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Nook HD

The tablet I purchased was the Nook HDicon, and it’s a major step above the one I bought her, in more ways than one.

I’ll get to the immediate details that concern the HD part of it all. Initially I couldn’t figure out why I wanted the HD; turns out I didn’t have much of a choice. They discontinued making the one I bought her in favor of the upgrade, and it only makes sense. While she could watch videos that we can download off YouTube (Nooks play MP4 video files), she couldn’t watch any HD videos on hers, and sometimes that’s the only choice you’re given. On mine, I get full HD, which is pretty cool.

Next, let’s talk capacity. Her Nook was an 8GB, which was as high as it went, and you could put a 32GB microSD card in it for more storage. Mine came in either 8 or 16 GB, but I can put as much as a 64GB microSD in it, though I went for the 32GB for now because of the price. So you know, I bought the microSD at Staples rather than at B&N or at Best Buy because it cost less; that might not always be the case. Why do you need more capacity? Because HD files take up a lot more space, even at 16GB, which I filled up, surprisingly.

Because I bought my own, I know more about it and thus I can now talk more about all the features. I have paid for and downloaded two books onto it. One of those books I actually purchased for real, but it was too big and unwieldy to carry around anywhere, and way too big to even read in bed. The Nook HD is 7″ high, light and easy to carry, and has a nice range of brightness so that I can make it either really bright, which is crystal clear, or darken it, which I do when reading late at night and my eyes don’t want to deal with all that light.

A neat thing about the books is that you can change sizes of the font, font colors, fonts themselves and the color of the background. That’s pretty neat, something the old one couldn’t do. And you have them for as long as you have your Nook.

Magazines will be interesting for me. There’s one I still subscribe to, PC World, and I’m thinking about switching it to the Nook. The magazines stay as long as you want them, and of course it’s easier to carry magazines around with you on the Nook than taking them outside of the house. And it turns out that the price of the magazines is the same as the price of regular magazines; neat. You can also subscribe to newspapers but the choices are limited, and I couldn’t find one that addressed local news so I won’t be going that route.

You can move both audio and video files, as well as images. The sound isn’t bad, and you can buy small speakers to attach if the sound isn’t loud enough for you. However, I’ve found that the sound on the HD is better and louder naturally than on the original. And the types of videos I’ve been adding have been things like TED talks, documentaries, and some cartoons. Some of these things I watch, then delete; a few I plan on keeping, such as the 20 minute opening to the movie The Secret, which always seems to make me feel better.

It’s also wi-fi if you happen to be in an area where you can access it. If you’re in B&N itself you can read books for up to an hour on the Nook for free, which could be a way to get around having to buy a book if you’re sneaky like that. However, you have to sign in with a credit card, which I wasn’t up for. Still, being able to access the internet is cool. And there are apps you can search for and add; I added Evernote since I have it on my computers and my smartphone; access everywhere!

One last thing. The battery holds much longer than using my smartphone, which immediately makes it a better reader overall. I’ve loaded some of my pdf files (yeah, I have lots of them) and my Word Doc files (I’m working on a detective story, as some of you know), as it accepts those formats as well as many others. Frankly, last year I was kicking myself because I didn’t buy one sooner, and now I think I’d have been kicking myself if I hadn’t waited for the HD.

That’s all I can think about to say so I’ll leave it there. By the way, it’s still rated higher than the Kindle; just thought I’d toss that into the mix. I love this thing, so I have no hesitation in talking about it and in trying to help market it. Any questions, just ask, but I hope you check it out if you want something that’s more than just a reader.
 

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Innovation And Blogging

Why yes, we have video and I’ve still got something to say.

You hear it said all the time; everyone’s blogging about the same thing over and over. That may be true; after all, how many posts do I have on this blog about blogging?

Well, here’s a news flash; everyone has shoes as well, but not everyone has the same shoes. Even if the color and style is the same the size probably isn’t, and they were probably made by different designers.

The truth in life isn’t that maybe there are no totally new ideas of things no one else has seen (there are, but go with me here), but that even if that’s true there are always different ways of presenting something.

For instance, let’s take blogging. We can write; we can have pictures; we can have infographics; we can have audio or podcasts; we can have video. Even if the same message is delivered it can come at you in different ways. Both Marcie Hill & Brian Hawkins like the little thing above that says “read” so you can listen to what I’ve written if your eyes are too tired to read, especially if I’ve written a long post.

In any case, I’d love you to watch the video, which is just over 2 minutes; come on, you can’t give me 2 minutes of video love? 🙂 After watching it, let me know your thoughts on innovation, blogging or otherwise. What ideas can you come up with to separate yourself from the rest?


 

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Why Breaking Through Locally Can Be Hard To Do

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.

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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