All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Sidebar Toolbars; The Next Scourge Of Blogs And Websites

For those of you who are relatively new to this blog, let me tell you something I hate: toolbars. That is, I hate them on websites and on blogs; I don’t mind if you want to have a toolbar on your browser because that’s not getting in my way, although I keep fighting the Google sidebar (a toolbar in its own fashion).

Of course I just led into my newest gripe; sidebar toolbars. In a rant I wrote last June on things that irritated me about blogs, I commented on these toolbars getting in the way of trying to read a post for a couple of reasons.

One, I like reading things a little larger than the norm. When I increase the size of the font, these toolbars increase as well, and suddenly they’re blocking all the content, making me bring everything down to size again. That’s irritating.

Two, you have your sidebar following me down the side as I try to get into some of your content. Now it’s not only big, but I can’t outrun it; that’s irritating as well.

You know, I get it. You read somewhere that you need to make sure people know how to share your stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc. You’ve tried other things and you’re not sure if people are actually seeing these things because you have no idea if your traffic is going up or not. So you’ve figured “hey, if this thing is always in their line of sight, there’s no way they can miss it.

You got that right; what you don’t have right is that now people can’t read your content, and if they’re like me they’ll just leave and, well, so much for anyone sharing anything. And if I don’t like you I’m never coming back; so much for traffic as well. See the image above? That’s what I’m seeing with my text enlarged. Not only did it cover text, but as you can see the bottom part is cut off anyway, so if I’d wanted to share it via the final 3 options it gives me I’d have to reduce my text just to see it.

The funny thing is that what finally prompted this post is that someone I like recently wrote a post talking about how her traffic has dropped, and I can’t read it unless I make everything smaller because there’s this large sidebar toolbar blocking everything on the left side, and no matter where I go it’s there. I’m thinking that can’t help. And no, I’m not naming names; I’ll say something if she sees this post.

Of course, though I’ve been busting on sidebar toolbars, I can’t resist busting on those other little toolbars that follow you as you’re scrolling down a post as well. They’re sometimes on the bottom and sometimes on the top, and the purpose is the same as those moving sidebar toolbars; irritating as sin because it distracts you from reading. At least it distracts me.

I’m seeing these things starting to pop up on news sites as well, and it’s driving me nuts. I know I talked about our reluctance to market ourselves but this isn’t the way to overcome that if you ask me.

Folks, how many times does one have to state the fact that if you have things on your blog that irritates people and it’s not the content that you’re going to drive people away? Toolbars, popups, music playing when you get there, too much flash, people walking out from the side and talking to you (that always freaks me out)… stop it! lol

I know I can’t be alone on this one; speak y’all!
 

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Our Reluctance To Market Ourselves

I love social media. I love how there’s just so much going on and so much information being shared by so many people. I love sharing information myself, which is why Twitter is my favorite place to be, because you never know what someone will share there and there’s lots being shared.

Dad and Me

You know what I also notice? I notice that there’s not as many people actually sharing their own stuff. I’m guilty of that myself. I often believe that since my blog articles automatically post when they go live that I don’t have to do anything else to promote them, hence, I don’t have to do anything else to promote myself. Man, how wrong I am, and those who believe as I do are.

I first touched upon this question back in May 2008 when I asked the general question How Far Are You Willing To Go For Promotion. That was based on something a local guy did (he’s now retired) where he wore certain types of clothing and a gold badge everywhere he went to always be promoting himself, and I wondered if anyone else would ever have the guts to do that. Seems the answer was no.

Over the years I’ve asked a lot of questions about marketing. I once asked if we could stomach sales. I once asked if we hate marketing so much because of what we’ve seen others do. I’ve talked about reasons why we don’t trust salespeople, and thus don’t want to become them. I once even announced that I was about to step up marketing efforts; that didn’t last, if it ever came to fruition or not.

What turns out to be interesting is just how little most of us end up marketing ourselves. A funny story from last week is that I was talking to my buddy Beverly Mahone about writing something for her that would help promote both of us. I put it together and sent it to her, exactly what she asked for. The next day she called and said I didn’t write a bio; I said she hadn’t asked for one. She also said I didn’t add a title page and I said once again she hadn’t asked for one. In essence, what she was saying to me is how could she promote both of us if I hadn’t given her anything to promote myself. Now that’s a shame.

I tend to believe that many of us miss opportunities to promote ourselves, our blogs and webpages, and our blogs. If you ask me, I think a lot of people end up doing it wrong on social media when they go through social bookmarking sites like Visibli before trying to push their content themselves first.

None of us likes “pushy”; I think that’s fair to say. We don’t want to get hammered daily, sometimes even once a week, with a sales message to buy something. I was reading yesterday where Sharon Hurley Hall wrote that she was unsubscribing from a number of newsletters that no longer suited her purpose. Probably a lot of those newsletters were marketing something on too consistent of a basis; that’s why I’ve unsubscribed from so many.

But there are some truths. One, we all need more outlets to advertise or market ourselves and our wares, and we have to be willing to do it. If you can’t advertise in your own space every once in awhile, if not have something ready on a 24/7 basis, well, how fair is that?

I have some products on 4 of my blogs that anyone can buy if they so choose at any time; is it wrong for me to want to have the ability to make money here and there? To the right, by the picture of me and the bird, I have links to some of my other pages where I’m selling stuff; will people hate me for having the audacity to try to make money that way?

Let’s talk about blog posts, or articles. How many times to you promote your own articles and posts on Twitter, where there are literally millions of people saying stuff every day, we have at least hundreds if not thousands following us, and yet we all know that the same people on at 10AM are probably not always the same people on at 8PM, or even 2PM. Who says you can’t pop your own links out more than once?

IMAG0360

Me & writer Don Yaeger

If you have a Facebook page, are you taking advantage of it by sharing your content, or every once in awhile sharing a product of yours? What about your Google+ page? None of these things are aggressive enough for anyone to gripe. Now, if you’re doing it once an hour or more, yeah, that will get irritating pretty quickly. But here and there… do you really care if a few people begrudge your opportunity to make a living?

Quick story. I was telling Beverly that I knew a local TV news personality but felt strange talking to him about things I do because I felt it might be manipulative in some fashion. She said I should contact him because people in the news are always looking for experts in different fields. I figured I had nothing to lose so I sent him a private message on Twitter, telling him I do things with blogging and social media and could possibly offer an older point of view on these things. He wrote back thanking me for telling him because he hadn’t realized that I did this type of thing. Will it end up with me on TV? Who knows, but at least I’m now known by someone in a prominent position for this sort of thing.

Most of us have to be ready to talk about ourselves, share our links, sell our products, let people know we and those things exist. I’m just as bad so this is a joint project. Sometimes we can do it while we’re supporting others; do you think I didn’t feel I was getting some benefit when I was helping John Garrett market his book How To Deal With Stupid Clowns? What about when I helped Beverly market her book Don’t Ask, or my artist friend Isaac Bidwell market himself and some of his art? Anyone see how that kind of thing helps me and them at the same time?

We can get this done. We can double our efforts, which pretty much means if you’re not doing it already anything you do will be a major step forward. Even if you’re not trying to sell something, if you’d like more visitors to your blog, go ahead and put your link out there somewhere, in a space you have more control over, and get yourself known.

And I’ll try to do it as well. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

5 Lessons Learned From Creating Videos

I did my first video on December 30, 2010, when I was testing my new webcam. Since that time it seems I’ve created 13 videos, 12 from the webcam and one from my smartphone. I can honestly say I’ve learned a few things and I think I’ve gotten better since that first one.

The 5 lessons I’ve learned aren’t major things probably, but I think each of them are first steps towards figuring out how people want to put their videos together. Of course I’ve tossed my own flair in because, after all, it’s me.

I’m also doing something a little different for me in that I’m putting this same video on two blogs at the same time. I figure that in general the audience for each is different, but the video will work well for both. The video is below this, but for those who don’t watch the video, here’s the list of my 5 lessons:

1. Video’s not so easy to do.

2. One has to consider their background.

3. One has to figure out the best lighting to highlight their face.

4. One should rehearse their presentation before just sitting down before a camera and going for it.

5. If your video has anything to do with business, mention your website, including the domain, and spell it if necessary.

And now, video!


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

What Does Your Site Look Like On All Browsers?

Last week while I was over a friend’s house, I wanted to show him my local Syracuse blog. He uses Internet Explorer (seems there’s still a lot of those out here lol) so I pulled up the main page and all looked fine. Then I pulled up an individual post and… ugliness!


bad code

I forgot about it until I was reading a post on a blog called IBlog4Dollars titled 35 Serious Blog Design Mistakes That You Should Avoid At All Costs written by Dennis Marshall. I got to #10, where it talked about making sure your website is cross-browser compatible, and then I remembered the problem I was having with IE.

I pulled it up on my IE and I had the issue like my friend did. I then went to work, and for the next 4+ hours I went through all the CSS code and checked all the PHP files, looking for something. I ran it through the W3C CSS Validator, which found some errors but nothing causing the issue. Man, was I frustrated.

Luckily, I play chess with Mitch Allen, so I threw the question out to him via one of my chess moves. He came back with a diagnosis that it was some javascript in the code, probably the Google Analytics script.

As I’d been researching the issue, I had come across something where it had been predicted that javascript could cause issues, but it never occurred to me it could be that one.

I went to the theme and then had to search for where I’d put it. Most of the time Google Analytics script works best in either the header or footer, but I realized I’d put it somewhere else, and then I remembered why. For some reason I can’t save many of the files on this particular theme. I get sent to a 404 page after attempting to do so, which was irksome. I found the script in a PHP I’d never put it on anywhere else because it turned out to be one of only 2 files I could actually save.

Once I removed it the site came back to life for IE8, which was great, but I still had a problem; how to get that Google Analytics code in. After all, if I couldn’t track my traffic, I wouldn’t know how I was progressing or digressing right?


good code

Then I remembered that sometimes you can fix things through your FTP program. I use something called WS_FTP for that purpose, so I opened that up, went to the plugin file and clicked once on Header.PHP. Then I right-clicked and went to Edit, and I popped the code in and saved it.

Came back to both my Firefox browser and IE, ran my tests, and all is working perfectly still. Just to make sure I also tested it in Chrome and Opera; looks good so far. Whew!

You can pick up things from other blogs, that’s for sure; heck, even this one I suppose. I had obviously taken time to see what that blog looked like before, but only the main page; that was a mistake, one I need to remember not to do again. One little code; with IE, sometimes that’s all it takes to mess stuff up.
 

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50 Questions To Free My Mind

Well, I thought this would be an interesting way to help get the year off right… or not. I came across a blog called Marc and Angel Hack Life, a married couple that talks about finding positive outlooks on life. In a post titled 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind, which they actually wrote in July 2009, then offered the 50 questions below as a way to, well, free your mind of worry, stress, whatever.

The funny thing is that they must have gotten overwhelmed at a certain point with the comments, about 200 of them, because Marc only wrote one response, though he addressed maybe 10 people in that response. They actually have a pretty cool site, so if you check out this particular post, you should see the new stuff they have to offer.


Anyway, I decided that I would take up the challenge and respond to the questions in my own way, which will probably be a mix of silly, serious and thought provoking because that’s just how I am. On their site, many people answered the questions in their comments while some others answered the questions on their own blogs, like I’m doing, and linked back. For those of you who always ask “where do you come up with ideas for blog posts”, this is one of those ways. Okay, let’s get this party started.

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
  2. I’d be as old as I was.

  3. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  4. Never trying.

  5. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
  6. Because we’re not always in control of every aspect of our destiny.

  7. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
  8. Probably, with all the writing I do.

  9. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
  10. I wish we were all nicer and more cordial to each other.

  11. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
  12. Writing, although I might expand it to musical composition and lyric writing.

  13. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
  14. I’m pretty much doing what I believe in, though I wouldn’t be depressed if it paid better.

  15. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  16. I wouldn’t be here so I guess I wouldn’t be living my life at all.

  17. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
  18. I became a sole entrepreneur 10 years ago so I’d have more control over my destiny.

  19. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
  20. Doing things right because doing the right thing seems to come naturally to me.

  21. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
  22. I speak up very quickly so they’ll stop embarrassing themselves and I don’t have to leave, though I might. Then again, people I admire would know better.

  23. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
  24. Live life the best you can.

  25. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
  26. In a heartbeat.

  27. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
  28. If seeing how an artist creates a painting, then yes.

  29. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  30. Make sure the frosting on my cake is to the left before I start eating it.

  31. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
  32. Because we’re all individuals and dance to the beat of a different drum.

  33. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?
  34. Sing the National Anthem at a baseball game. I stopped singing in 1999, so it’s an impractical wish now.

  35. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
  36. Probably, but I’m not always the “letting go” type.

  37. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
  38. I’m living exactly where I want to live. I’ll say New Mexico because I’ve never been there and hope they have a lake nearby.

  39. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
  40. No.

  41. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
  42. Worried genius; they eventually accomplish something.

  43. Why are you, you?
  44. Because I’m good at it.

  45. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
  46. Pretty close to it. I don’t talk to any of my friends as often as I probably should but I’m easy to reach.

  47. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
  48. Losing touch with a good friend near you because these days you can always keep in touch with good friends if they move away.

  49. What are you most grateful for?
  50. That chocolate is amazing.

  51. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
  52. Ah, the Alzheimer question; I’d rather never be able to make new ones I suppose.

  53. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  54. Yes; I know no one comes back from dying, so I’d rather not try to prove it incorrect.

  55. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  56. No; I hope I have 50+ more years before it even thinks about it.

  57. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
  58. Actually I do, and no, it doesn’t matter but I still can’t forget it.

  59. What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?
  60. The day my dad surprised us by coming back from Vietnam early, although he was in a half body cast. I think the answer to the first answers the second.

  61. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  62. I don’t have any moments in my recent past; now that’s a shame.

  63. If not now, then when?
  64. Soon.

  65. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
  66. Nothing; still have to figure out how to achieve it.

  67. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
  68. No.

  69. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
  70. Because religions don’t support love; they support themselves.

       

  71. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
  72. Unfortunately no, because people grow up in different environments.

  73. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
  74. Yes.

  75. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
  76. More work I actually enjoy doing.

  77. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
  78. Yes.

  79. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
  80. Five years ago when I created a website that, to date, hasn’t really worked for me.

  81. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  82. No one; that would be too depressing to deal with.

  83. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
  84. Not at this stage of my life.

  85. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  86. We’re all alive; truly living is when you’re enjoying it.

  87. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
  88. When you’ve reached that point when you realize you’re ready to take your shot at it.

  89. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  90. Because it’s a misnomer that we all learn from our mistakes. We only learn from some of them; others are just nuisances that distract us.

  91. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  92. Nothing. Anything I did differently I’d deserve to be judged on.

  93. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
  94. This morning as I was trying to sleep.

  95. What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
  96. Since the question is “what” rather than “who”, I’d have to say nothing, and thus no to the second question.

  97. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?
  98. Depends on what it is I did. I tend to remember dates of things that made enough of an impression for me to remember.

  99. Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
  100. Great final question. Being truthful, I’d have to say others are making the decisions for me instead of my being in control as much as I’d like to be. Such is the life of a consultant. Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

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