All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

The Images Issue And Getty Images

Last week was interesting for many reasons, but one was somewhat troubling.

One of my clients called me up saying she’d received a letter from Getty Images saying she owed them $800 for using one of their images. Since there were only 4 images on her site and two of them were of her and her business, I thought it was kind of a crank.

What it turned out to be was an image that was embedded in the free WordPress theme that I’d put on her site because the colors matched up with her site nicely. Most of the time I use this theme that I can customize, but this one seemed to do the trick.

Anyway, turns out that the image in the header was a copyrighted image. Whether the creator got permission to use it or not I have no idea, but supposedly even if that person had the right to use it, no one else has the right to use it, even though all of us downloaded the themes with the impression that all was right with the world.

In any case I called the guy at Getty, who was relatively nice but clueless. I gave him a website that showed the theme I downloaded, which is one of many. He said I should go after the people I downloaded the theme from; that was six months ago so that’s not happening since I can’t remember. I told him that it’s not everyone else’s fault if they downloaded a free theme, something that probably happens at least tens of thousands of times a day, and he said copyright is copyright.

We said a few other things to each other, which I’m going to leave alone for now, but I told him my client wasn’t paying and I wasn’t paying and if everyone he was now going to try to contact, since this site listed that 570 people had downloaded the image, got lawyers and decided to fight back that the company would find out soon enough that it wasn’t worth going after so many innocent people. That plus if they thought that one image was worth over $450,000 (just from this one site) they were out of their minds.

It does point out the issue of trying to make sure that images you use can be used on your sites or blogs. I usually go to Flickr if I don’t have an image of my own, and yet last week I also was contacted by someone whose image I used on one of my blogs. I gave attribution as I was supposed to, but this guy said I was supposed to link back to their website. I said there wasn’t anything showing that on his page and he said they were limited in space by Flickr. I said I’d followed the terms as listed on Flickr, but I was going to just remove the article because I wasn’t in the mood to link back to their site. And trust me, my site was easily ranked higher than theirs, so irking me did them no good.

What’s your thoughts on all of this? Meanwhile, my Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew explored this very issue, as well as the topic of free vs. paid themes, and here’s the video if you’re interested in checking out a bit of it:


 

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10 Writing Tips In 2 Minutes

Three weeks ago I wrote a quick post here giving 10 blog tips that could be read in 2 minutes or less. Seems that was the 3rd most popular post written in the last 30 days; figures right? I figured that I write about more than blogging around here, and that I’d take a shot and see if I could do the same type of thing regarding writing. Embrace your writing like the kid in the picture has. lol Anyway, let’s see if it can be done (of course it can be done):

1. When the mood hits you, write as much as you can. You can always edit, and you might end up with more than one post or article.

2. Watch your nouns and adverbs. Some are okay, but go overboard and you risk the power of your message.

3. Spell check is your friend; use it.

4. Punctuation is your other friend; don’t forget about semicolons.

5. If you believe you can’t think of anything to write think about your last 6 waking hours. There’s always a tale somewhere in there.

6. Write in your own voice. If you try to sound too smart or too perfect your message will come across very stale.

7. When you’ve finished writing, if you need to read it out loud to yourself; mistakes tend to stand out better that way.

8. Long posts are fine but don’t keep repeating the same message over and over. If you said it once, leave it be and move on.

9. Never forget to give attribution to your inspiration, otherwise someone might think you’ve plagiarized them.

10. Don’t over-think. Write the best way you know how, feel your words, and others will feel them as well.
 

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Blog Posting Frequency; Beating A Dead Horse?

I’m always reading blog posts on the topic of posting frequency. It seemed like this was a topic that was so pervasive that I had to have talked about it tens of dozens of times over all the years of writing this blog. Turns out I’ve only mentioned it 8 times throughout more than 1,300 posts, and even then I only talked about it as a specific subject 4 times. Thus, others have beaten this dead horse (no, that’s not a picture of a dead horse; how morbid! lol), not me, but since I’ve been thinking about it lately I guess it’s time to bring it up again, since the last time I wrote about it was more than 15 months ago.

live horses of course
by Raymond via Flickr

There are multiple modes of thought on this issue. The most important mode is to at least write something every once in awhile, preferably at least once a month, more preferable at least once a week. If you’re not a bit more consistent with your posts it’s hard to both build up a following and achieve any SEO prospects you might be hoping to achieve.

Once you get past that stage though, what’s up next? Once again I was having a conversation with the ever lively and uber-smart Adrienne and at one point we got to the topic of how often one should post. She stated that she releases a blog post twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays. One, it gives her a consistent schedule that people get used to. Two, it gives her time to promote those posts by visiting other blogs and whatever else she’s doing to promote herself. And three, she feels it gives people time to find a post and to read it.

I countered with the fact that if one has a lot to say that writing more often isn’t so bad. I also said that studies really have proven that the more one writes the more traffic one gets.

After that I had nothing; what else is there to say?

Well, one of those things to say is that traffic really isn’t everything, even as I’m smiling because this blog finally has gotten back into the top 100,000 on Alexa after taking those stupid Google update hits. Someone’s going to say “Who cares about Alexa”, to which I’ll respond “If it’s under 100,000, I care!” Truthfully, as a statistic, it’s as valid a goal as any other.

As I were talking about this issue I mentioned that I’ve never had a single post in all these years that’s ended up with at least 100 comments. The most comments any of my posts has ever received is 73. Yet Adrienne regularly passes 100 comments, and yes, a lot of those are her responding to comments, but there’s nothing wrong with that; as a matter of fact, that says something positive about the blogger.

Still, I’ve never hit 100, and as I looked at some bloggers whose sites I respect in some way I see many of them end up with more than 100 comments on a consistent basis, and almost all of them rank higher than this blog, even if I have way more content. What’s that about?


There now, isn’t that relaxing?

It could be overwhelm to a degree. I used to follow Mashable but they had more than 10 posts a day sometimes; that was overwhelming. The same went for Lifehacker, and a few other mega-blogs. Sure, they had multiple writers, but the topics were still compelling. It was just way too much to process from one source, and it was every day. If it’s overwhelm then it would explain why the Analytics show that I have less than 20% of repeat visitors. My belief would have been that people would always come back because, with lots of content, there’s always something for everyone; maybe not.

I’m not saying that all my posts are winners, but I think a lot of them are. And, in retrospect, it’s possible that my brief blogging series on Better Blogging didn’t do as well as I thought it would became it was a total of almost 5,800 words in two days; that’s a lot to read or listen to, even for me, and they were in the middle of a period where I had written 32 days in a row; wow!

So, here’s the summer plan. I’m going to space it out so that there’s 3 blank days between posts for the most part. If something happens that’s kind of breaking news and I want to comment on it, then I’ll write a new post, but it will still leave at least a day between a previous post and a day after the new one. I’m going to that kind of schedule on 3 of my blogs just to see what happens with traffic and, well, comments. I want to see if I can get a post to reach 100 comments just once, and I also want to see what happens to traffic. Will my rate of return visitors go up; will traffic go down? Will both go in the same direction, both up or both down? I don’t know; let’s find out.

One last thing. I’m also going to re-up the Better Blogging series, but with a twist of sorts. I have another blogging series some of you newer folks might have missed in a page there to the left, the Blogging Tips series. It was popular back in the day when all those posts originally came out but I think people are missing them now. So, I’m going to use those tips as part of the reboot as well. When, when all of the posts have shown up eventually, I’m going to add all the new links to that page and build that sucker up. Can one say too much about blogging? I don’t tend to think so.

Of course, all posts won’t be about blogging, but a bunch will be. What else will I talk about? Whatever pops into my head; this is I’m Just Sharing after all. 😉
 

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Waiting For Social Media To Fail Is A Waste Of Time

Earlier today, there was a news alert that came through from CNN saying that the major portion of the health care bill has been ruled unconstitutional. Since Twitter is usually quick with news the flurry of reports of the story hit the airwaves and exploded. Minutes later, there was a retraction of that and it was then reported that the Supreme Court said instead that the health care bill was constitutional, and of course the conversation turned another way.


via birgerking via Flickr

Out of the blue, one of the people on Twitter came out with this statement:

I love Twitter, but I love seeing it get its comeuppance even more.

I thought it was kind of a stupid statement, so I responded by saying this:

Illogical statement since none of this had anything to do with Twitter getting it wrong.

His response back to me was thus:

I think we can all agree that Twitter is no match for a Supreme Court decision.

To which I responded:

“Apparently neither is CNN, which reported it first in a news release.”

I have to admit that the initial part of the exchange threw me off. Why would someone on Twitter, who must like it to some degree, be happy when ‘they’ took a hit, especially when they didn’t take a hit? I thought about that one for a moment, then realized that I probably do the same thing from time to time, as there’s a lot of things Google does that I don’t like, yet I use their services in many different ways.

So I concentrated on the second part instead, that being that Twitter wasn’t to blame for any of what occurred. Just like probably so many other people, I saw a news alert come to my phone telling me that the law had been ruled unconstitutional, went to Twitter to comment on it, and about 5 seconds after I typed my one line another alert came through issuing a correction. I at least waited 5 minutes before I wrote what I wrote, but the information wasn’t correct, and I wrote my little retraction.

Still, it wasn’t Twitter’s fault, but the exchange got me thinking about those people who are ready to find something wrong with something they don’t like, without any real background or reason for being against it, and then pouncing when they feel justified. We all know people like that, the negative Nellies that hate pretty much everything and, when something goes wrong, stands up like the paragon of righteousness, feeling superior to everything that eventually went their way.

Except things almost never go their way. Here’s a truth; everyone eventually will be correct if that’s not their natural state. It’s like hearing that someone 75 years old passed away and having someone say “see, I told you cigarettes would kill him some day.”

Now, I’ll put out a caveat here. I don’t agree with everything. But when I disagree with something, I almost always have a reason for it. I do get bad vibes about some people or certain things that I might not be able to explain initially, but usually my reason for it comes fairly quickly. I try to be fair, even with things I’m not in total agreement with, but if there’s something I really don’t like, I’ll have reasons. And if something goes wrong for the reasons I put out there… yeah, I might feel a little smug. But I’ll have stated my reasons; I won’t have just sat around waiting for something bad to happen without a specific reason so I can say I told you so.

Folks, here’s a reality; social media isn’t going away. No matter how many people say they’re against this or that, Pandora’s Box has been opened, and those things aren’t going back in. Lament all you will about the loss of people talking to each other or not communicating as well, but we all had best be ready to embrace social media because it’s only going to become more of the norm as time goes by. Goodness, large corporations have already embraced video conferencing so they don’t have to spend millions of dollars shuttling people all over the world for a 1-hour meeting.

And don’t worry. Social media will not replace everything. It won’t replace family; it won’t replace good friends. If you like going out to the bar it won’t be replaced by social media. Restaurants; I’m still coming. Romance… well, some folks might enjoy only what they find online but the majority still want someone in their lives.

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or whatever replaces any of these things as time goes by, I recommend learning about them, decide if you’re going to participate or not, and then get on with life. You’ll be happier that way.
 

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Lebron James, A Champion Revisited

A quick upfront disclaimer here. Every image in this post is an affiliate product, which means if you click on it you’ll be taken to a website where, if you like what you see and buy it, or anything else on that site, I’ll earn money from. Hey, at least I’m telling you about it, and it’s Lebron after all.

King James - Cavaliers Parade 2016
Carlos Javier via Compfight

That would be Lebron James, the MVP of the latest NBA Championship Series won by the Miami Heat in 5 games over the Oklahoma City Thunder. I felt so good for him, as I was cheering for Miami to win this series as kind of a “take that” at Cleveland and everyone else who was hating on Lebron for being, well, Lebron.

If you click on that link about you’ll see that I wrote about him last year around this same time, wondering why there’s so much hate for the kid from so many quarters, and even this year there was a lot of that.

It’s with some relief that it seems that a lot of that hate is dissipating now, even from seasoned journalists who are finally owning up to the fact that maybe their beliefs were a bit off about this guy. When all is said and done Lebron has been nothing but a guy who’s tried to please others, tried to do the right thing, was one of the best players in the league but had to learn that, when it comes to crunch time he just has to be the man and get it done.

James & the Golden Halo
Steve Jurvetson via Compfight

He did that very well in both this series and in the last two games of the Boston series where there was pretty much nothing anyone could do to stop him and nothing anyone could do to score on him when he decided to shut them down. Let’s see, who’s that guy people were trying to compare him to last year? Well, he’s still not that guy, and he’s not Kobe Bryant either, but he’s finally on his way to being legitimately seen in that rarefied air.

See, I like to think I know a jerk when I see a jerk. Terrell Owens is a jerk. Mike Tyson was a jerk. Some people say Barry Bonds was a jerk; I think Barry just wanted to be left alone. I tend to believe that how a person acts in regular life is more a story of what they are than how they act when still in “athlete” mode. We all have our own criteria.

Lebron James has never been a jerk on the court, and he’s never been a jerk off the court. As I was saying to someone a couple of days ago, even after he left Cleveland he’s gone back to help with fundraising for one thing or another because he still sees that as home. Does that sound like a jerk?

I’m really glad Miami won since neither the Lakers or the Knicks could get it done. And I have one last thing to say, that being that the players on the Oklahoma team (man, even a few years down the road it seems strange that a professional basketball team is in Oklahoma) were the classiest group of guys I’ve ever seen after losing a championship. I was never so proud of a bunch of young guys stepping up and being real men, unlike some of the players on the Boston Celtics (hate them) team after losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. The cream always comes to the top.

Overall, my favorite player of all time is still Wilt Chamberlain, my favorite player right now is still Kobe, but I’ve got nothing but love for Lebron’s game and his character; I gotcha back ‘Bron! 🙂
 

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