All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Black Web Friday – 05/11/12

This is week #17 of Black Web Friday, and it’s a couple of days before Mother’s Day, so if you didn’t already know about it or didn’t remember it you now know. I’m not doing anything special with this post for that reason, but I have come to a decision about the series.

Black Web Friday

I started the series with a specific purpose, that being to help bring to the forefront the reality that there are websites and blogs written by people of color. It’s been a glorious and fun journey, but in looking at things now I don’t think I’ve been able to achieve the purpose I wanted to achieve.

What’s happened is that most visitors know what’s coming on Friday, and since overall it’s not their cup of tea they’re just skipping these posts. The initial hope had been that folks would at least take a look, see the topics black folks might be writing about, and decide if the topic was worth looking at. Instead, not only are they bypassing it, but most of the time the people and websites included here are bypassing it as well. Since there’s no real way to achieve its purpose as a live event, so to speak, I think it’s time to put it on hiatus.

But the hiatus isn’t today. The hiatus will be May 25th, the last Friday of the month, heading into Memorial Day weekend. That means 2 more weeks after this one, unless they’re suddenly an outpouring of people clamoring for more; yeah, like that’s going to happen. It’s been fun, but all good things must end.

With that said, let’s get into it.

This is definitely something different. The blog Beyond Black And White is managed by Christelyn D. Karazin, and is more of a consortium of bloggers with a common goal. There are 5 other black women and one Asian male that write on the site, which means there are often multiple posts on the same day. The topic are pretty general; they can be fashion, politics, technology… pretty much just like every day life, with one exception. There are also lots of articles about interracial relationships and race relations in general. As I said, it’s something different and I like it, so check it out. It’s a Livefyre commenting system.

For once I’m highlighting a new blog, but there’s a reason for it. It’s called The Money Chat and it all about financial issues. Dorethia R. Conner is the owner of the blog and she has other contributors that help her out. She gets a mention because she just went the self hosted route in April after writing on Blogger for a long time, so there are a lot of older articles there that I assume she’s not going to move to the new space, yet are worth checking out. Unfortunately the new blog is also a Disqus blog, so I might read but obviously won’t be commenting.

Stella Anokam‘s eponymously named blog talks about internet marketing, something I know a lot of people love to read about. She talks a lot about blogging, getting traffic, business tips, building mailing lists, and social media. There’s a lot of good stuff there and it’s written concisely and well. One topic in particular that I bet a lot of you would like to check out is this post titled Profit Financially From Blogging In 9 Simple Strategic Steps, For Beginners. And it’s a standard commenting system; can’t beat that.

Finally today I present another black news and commentary source, Your Black Bloggers. Multiple writers comment on the topics of the day, which includes President Obama saying yesterday that he now endorses same sex marriages (about time). Let me warn you; everything here isn’t necessarily warm and fuzzy, since some of the opinions and topics will be perceived as controversial. But being a little bit edgy hasn’t hurt that many people, has it?

That’s it for today; two more weeks to go.
 

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My Irritation With WordPress.com And What I Recently Learned

Yeah, I know, there’s a bunch of you using WordPress.com as your platform for free blogging. Whereas I always preferred it over Blogger if someone had to have a free blog, now I’m not so sure anymore.


via Flickr

The comment system used to look exactly like the one we employ, for the most part, on WordPress software oriented blogs. The issue was that we had to subscribe to comments by responding to that immediate email we received after each and every post if we wanted to know that someone had gotten back to us. Since I’m not a subscribing kind of guy, especially not every single time, I wasn’t doing it.

Then within the last few months, WordPress.com changed up some things. One, they changed the look, which wasn’t so bad since it kept everything we were used to. But two, they also changed the ability to just leave a comment and go on with your life.

I just had it happen to me again; tried to leave a comment on a WordPress.com blog only to run into this:

Please log in to post your comment.

mitch@ttmitchellconsulting.com belongs to an account you are not currently logged into.

WordPress.com or Gravatar.com credentials work.

For the first time last week, I noticed the Gravatar connection and wondered about it. So I did some checking and realized that WordPress.com had purchased Gravatar back in 2008; nope, never knew that before. They had never connected the two services, and other than a press release there was no notification on the Gravatar site, so it wasn’t something commonly known to a lot of people, since I’d never seen anyone else write about it.

So I decided to try a different email address; nope, not happening. It seems that if I have a Gravatar account hooked up I’m not going to be able to leave any messages on any WordPress.com sites without signing in. Frankly, I know it’s a minor thing to a lot of people, but I’ve kind of stuck by this mantra since the beginning of blog commenting way back when and I’m not suddenly changing over now.

Just to verify this by the way, I finally left a comment with an email address that doesn’t have a Gravatar, and it accepted the comment just fine. I did get the standard email saying I had to subscribe to receive comments, but that’s okay because at least I got my comment through.

This is irritating, and I don’t know if WordPress.com users can change that setting, even if they know it’s happening. Overall, it looks like it’s another blog platform that I probably won’t be commenting on all that often, and that’s unfortunate. Why are these things so keen on restricting the ability to comment? Yeah, I know, worried about spam; bah!
 

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Is HARO For You?

Back in January I wrote a post titled Our Reluctance To Market Ourselves. One of the things I talked about in that post was how so many of us miss out on opportunities to get publicity that don’t cost us any money, maybe only a little bit of effort. And I added that I’m the same way often, which is easily true.

Enter HARO, which stands for “Help A Reporter Out”. Its main purpose is to connect reporters with people who might have information they need and the urge to gain publicity. From our end, the non-reporters, we can sign up to receive email 3 times a day with requests from both news and magazine reports to respond to any of the multiple links that may be something that describes us. This isn’t like a job where you respond to things that don’t quite fit what you do but you have the skills for. The needs are very specific, and thus if it’s you, you’ll know it.

This is my second foray into HARO; I don’t even remember when I was a part of it the first time around. I also don’t remember why I signed up to try it again, but somehow I’m thinking I have to blame Beverly Mahone in some fashion because of her talking about PR and getting publicity for your business. After being with it for the last 3-4 weeks, it’s time to ask the question “Is HARO for you?”

As I mentioned, you get email 3 times a day if you sign up for it. The email always starts off with an advertisement, but it’s totally text. I don’t have a problem with that, and you shouldn’t either. Next comes the requests, and I’ve seen as few as 25 and as many as 60. They’re categorized to help you get through them quicker, although it’s possible that you may be able to address the interests in categories that aren’t specifically geared for your business. For instance, I once responded to a query from someone looking to talk to dependents of military personnel who traveled a lot, since I certainly lived that life.

What’s my issue? Including the first time I was with HARO I’ve never had one person ever respond back to me. Now, one could surmise that they found what they were looking for beforehand, and that’s obviously true. Still, how do you feel when you visit a lot of blogs, leave what you think are pretty good comments, and never get an acknowledgment?

You feel like you’ve just wasted your time, that’s what. And that’s how I often feel with HARO. I’ve tried it a couple of different ways. A few times I responded and gave my story entirely, thinking that if they saw everything up front they’d at least contact me to ask for more, whether they used it or not. A few times I’ve gone minimalistic, giving some information but not going into any details, seeing if the “tease” was enough to get their attention.

Nope, nada, zip. Now, the site tells you that all these big time news sources use their services in looking for people to talk to and get information from, which is pretty enticing. But when you look at the emails, the majority of what you get certainly isn’t coming from big media. However, I didn’t sign up expecting NBC to come calling to ask me about anything. My hope was to possibly get into a couple of magazines, where people can read what you have to say and hopefully like it enough to look for you online.

So, is HARO for you and me? I’m not really sure yet, but I remember I had the same feeling the first time I left, and I’m getting that same feeling now. I mean, going through potentially hundreds of links and responding to some via email only to hear the sound of a vacant room without the echo as a response… is it worth the time? I’m thinking I learned better methods from Bev’s book How To Get On The News Without Committing Murder, and have made a couple of local contacts because of it.

Still, I’m not ready to let go just yet, so I’m going to give it another couple of weeks to see if I’m getting more irritated or whether I feel it’ll all work out in the end. Right now, I know which way I’m leaning, and I bet you do as well.
 

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Blog Maintenance – Broken Links

The last couple of days have been interesting with this blog. Some of you might notice I’ve created a new header. Yeah, not fancy, but I like it. It’s an expansion of the one I created for my Facebook page. Nothing fancy, but I think it’s me, and I hope you like it at least a little bit.


by Gord Webster
via Flickr

The other thing I’ve been doing is fixing broken links. Well, that’s not quite accurate. What I’ve been doing most of the time is killing links and every once in awhile fixing a link. I have the plugin Broken Link Checker, but I had turned it off some time ago because it can slow your blog down if you’re doing things in it and that was irritating me. I also really hadn’t paid all that much attention to broken links, figuring it was all stuff in the past; seems that’s not quite true.

As I was griping last week about the loss of traffic I started looking around for answers. Two were actually provided by a comment on that post by Lisa, who mentioned two things. One was the sitemaps thing, another plugin that I’d deleted from this blog, and the idea of broken links. Although I didn’t see a lot out on the search engines talking about sitemaps and traffic, I did find a lot of people have written about broken links and traffic, especially search engine traffic.

I decided that I did want to clean up the blog, so I turned on the plugin and let it do its thing. I was hoping it wouldn’t do what going online and doing a search did for someone else, which was to alert him to over 18,000 broken links on his blog; ouch! I got lucky; I came up with just over 750, and I didn’t think it was that bad.

What was surprising is just how many of those links actually came from people who had left comments on the blog, and now those blogs or websites don’t exist anymore. Initially I was looking at a bunch of them, and that was time consuming and frustrating so I decided I wasn’t going to waste that much time.

However, there were still some I did decide to look at, and those are the ones I’m going to talk about more because I still talk to some of you. What I found is that you either changed your permalink structure or the location of where you put your blog or blog posts, or you’ve changed websites or blog locations and either didn’t remember or decided against bringing some of your old content with you. In one case one of you has started a new blog space and left more than 3 years of content elsewhere that can’t be accessed anymore; that’s a shame because it was great stuff.

Any time you change how your information has been put out there, if anyone has linked to you it suddenly becomes a bad link. If you’re keeping your content, at the very least you need to make sure there’s a way for people to find the new link if they care to try. For my purposes if a few people were using the Archives widget I could have easily found what I was looking for. However, so many people decide to use either that one or Categories and not both, as I do, and thus I had no chance to find the posts I wanted and just gave up.

In any case, it points out the importance of doing maintenance every once in awhile and in making sure people can find your content in whatever way they deem easiest. And look, my traffic has gone up; whoopee!!!
 

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Don’t Lie About Your Health

Some of you might remember that last week I helped my friend Beverly Mahone promote the free download of her book Don’t Ask & I Won’t Have To Lie. Since that day I started thinking about some things that I’d been keeping to myself, and then a brief encounter with my mother on Thursday got me thinking even more about my silence as it pertains to my health. I decided that I needed to finally come clean, and last night I decided to record the video below explaining myself while hoping that you listen to what I have to say and start thinking about your own health. First, the video:


https://youtu.be/CAtVv_Pxjy8

There you are. By the way, I’m now down 14 pounds and with the doctor reducing the amount of insulin I inject twice a day, we’re both hoping it helps my weight loss goals. So, now that you’ve heard my tale, I hope you do the right thing for the right reason for yourself, your family, and of course your overall health.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell