All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Five Things To Stop Doing – My Take

A recommendation I’ve made on this blog when it comes to finding things to write about from time to time is to write about an article you read somewhere else and give your take on it. In this case it works well for me because the blog in question has a comment system I don’t feel like dealing with and yet I have something to say.


Gonna be on fire in 2012!

The article is written by Dorie Clark on the Harvard Business Review site and it’s titled Five Things You Should Stop Doing in 2012. I loved the article for the most part, and because I think you should check it out I’m not going to repost everything she wrote. But I am going to post the specific topics and address them in my own words. Remember, these are things to stop doing:

  1. Responding Like a Trained Monkey. I’d have to say that this is the hardest thing for me. I trained myself years ago to stop answering the phone if I didn’t know who was calling, even for business calls, and that’s eased my mind a lot. However, I still find that I have certain online habits that I wish I could break, and other habits I need to create to make a healthier me, such as eating better, resting more, and coming to grips with the reality that I don’t have to try to produce something new every few minutes, or respond to chess moves or any of the few other games I play online, just because someone has made a move. Ridiculous thing to be addicted to; I need to go back to counting things. lol
  2. Mindless Traditions. I’ve been cutting back on Christmas and holiday cards over the years because I can connect with so many of my friends online these days. In the past it was a necessary evil because I might only talk to these folks once a year, that being during the Christmas holiday. As it pertains to traditions in general I’ve given some up that impede what I want to do with my life, while sticking to others because, well, I just have to do it. lol But I don’t find myself stressing over any of them, and that’s the major point here. My mother used to get sick at every holiday when I was a kid; her life is so much healthier now that she’s given that kind of thing up.
  3. Reading Annoying Things. In September 2010 I wrote a post talking about de-stressing my life by not commenting on some blogs and also not reading some things that I knew would irritate me and rile me up. Sometimes you just can’t help reading certain things because they draw you in like quicksand, but for the most part, I’ve been able to stop myself from reading things I knew would either depress or anger me. I don’t like to get into arguments just for the sake of it, but I also know I won’t back down and will offer my opinion when I feel strong enough about the topic. But I also know I don’t know how to let go, so it’s best most of the time to not even go there.
  4. Work That’s Not Worth It. Ten years ago I went into business for myself and celebrated my 10th anniversary in June. I’m not gonig to lie and say that everything has been easy. I will say that working for myself has been pretty satisfying in that I don’t have that daily pressure to perform so someone else can reap all the benefits. I don’t have anyone hanging the risk of being unemployed over my head. I don’t have to deal with making sure I get along with all the other people working at my company. I get to work with whoever I want to, turn down things as I see fit, and all the other benefits that are associated with being independent. Of course I also have to scramble for clients here and there but overall, it’s worth it to me because I get to do what I like.
  5. Making Things More Complicated Than They Should Be. Talk about timing being everything. I had just written an article on my business blog yesterday titled Simple Solutions where I talked about how we tend to look at problems as these major things and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix things when sometimes simple solutions are sitting right in front of us. This is one of those things I talk about all the time as it pertains to blogging. Sure, if you have a niche blog maybe things are slightly complicated, but look at how I just got an entire blog post from an idea someone else started. How hard was this?

Wow, that was interesting for me; what do you think? How would you respond to each of these? Hey, why not make this kind of a meme; give your answers on your own blog and invite people to check it out. Or just respond here; I’d love to know how you feel about it.
 

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Engagement Or…

A few days ago I came across a blog written by Robert Dempsey of Dempsey Marketing and read a post titled Is A Blog Really Meant For Engagement? His overall premise was that blogs indeed were for engagement and that social media offers many ways to help create that engagement and that it can be measured using Google Analytics through one of their new options titled, appropriately enough, Engagement.


No, we don’t mean this lol

As it figures, the first bit of irony I came across is that you have to log in to leave a comment on his blog, and that took me 3 or 4 minutes to find. So much for easy engagement, since y’all know I don’t log in to anything to leave an opinion.

First, you have to find it. It’s listed under Audience, then social, and it’s your first choice. What you’ll immediately notice is that it looks just like the overview page; what the hey? Well, that tells us nothing. Under mine for this blog there are two listings, one saying “not socially engaged” and the other saying “socially engaged”; that one has only 19 visits under it, while the other is well over 6,500.

That meant nothing to me so I clicked on the one that said socially engaged to see what that 19 represented. What came up is a listing of just what socially engaged meant, and it meant that 19 people either liked it or gave it a +1, as it’s associated with Google Plus. So, it’s not counting Twitter or Facebook or anyone else? Okay…

I went back and clicked on the not socially engaged link and nothing comes up. Actually that’s not quite true; it says it has no information to share with me. The actual words are “There is no data for this view.” Four years worth of data and it has nothing?

I went back to the socially engaged group because there are other stats you can glean from them. If you click on a tab that says “secondary dimension” it gives you choices of stuff you can find out about the folks you’re engaged with. Mine says these people average around 25 minutes on my site; oh yeah! And my bounce rate is only around 34%; not bad. Finally, those 19 people visit an average of 3.3 pages on every visit; not depressing.

But it’s skewed. For one, it’s including me somehow, even though I’ve never come to my own site via G+; just wouldn’t make sense. Then someone from Abuja (where?) came by, looked at 2 pages, and stayed for more than 2 hours. That kind of thing will really play with one’s numbers. And I couldn’t figure out what anyone had viewed; ugh.

So, let’s start with this. Engagement is pretty fancy for “look at how Google+ is helping you… or not.” That doesn’t quite help.

Next, let’s talk about the topic in general, that being engagement and whether it’s what we want. Of course it’s what we want; if not, I wouldn’t write all those posts about making it easy to comment on your blog! I wouldn’t talk about comment systems. I wouldn’t bust on Seth Godin so much if I didn’t believe in engagement. I wouldn’t have given love to so many people if I didn’t believe in engagement.

Is there anyone, other than Seth Godin (heck, I did it again), who doesn’t believe in engagement when it comes to blogging?
 

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10 Things I Learned In 2011

This was quite an intriguing year for me. There were some changes I made, some changes I will be making, some things I won’t be changing, some things I wrote about here that worked and some that didn’t. In essence, it was an incredible year, and unfortunately I can’t say it was all good or bad. But it was honest, and on this Christmas day I’d like to share some thoughts, feelings, and ideas with you to see what you think, what you’ll do as well, and what you think might just be nuts.


by Don O’Brien via Flickr

1. I learned that I am better live than on video. This was the year of video for me as I got my first camera and made my first 11 videos ever. I even learned that I had a YouTube channel that I knew nothing about. I gave 3 live presentations this year and got better feedback from all of those than I did for at least 9 of my 11 videos, but that’s okay. Live I get to move around and laugh with people; on video, I have to sit at my desk and just talk. Yes, I’ll be making more videos this year as I endeavor to get better and to just create more content; think about subscribing to my page, although I expect I’ll be embedding those videos on my blogs as well. Oh yeah, a major lesson; if you’re making videos to drive people to your website or blog be sure to tell them what the link is; ugh!

2. You never know what’s going to catch on with people or how it’ll manifest itself. Would it surprise anyone that the top 5 visited posts of mine in 2011 were written before 2011? Well, that’s not totally true; post #5 was written this year, which is pretty cool. My number one post is that tongue in cheek post about “cleavage” that I wrote in January 2010, and it’s so far ahead of all the other posts that I’ve decided it’s time to remove it from being viewed anymore.

You might ask why, or maybe you don’t care, but I’ll tell you why. It’s been viewed 4 times more than the next closest post, and that’s just ridiculous. At the same time, I think it throws off anything else this blog might be about. The number one search term for this blog is “cleavage” with “cleavages” coming in at #8; I didn’t even know that was a word. So it’s gone. I expect my traffic to drop a bunch over the next few months but as my friend John Dilbeck recently wrote, it’s about ethics and integrity sometimes.

3. That post at #5 that I mentioned above proves that there’s not only a lack of attention for some groups of people in social media, but that some people are ready and willing to help make inclusion of others a part of their mission. That of course was my post on 21 of the top Black Social Media Influencers. That one touched a nerve and sparked a lot of interest, and I saw where there were posts from others having lists of folks that weren’t the same as what big media lists all the time, which is often devoid of persons of color. Of course, it also got quickly forgotten, which pretty much helped to lead to my post about feeling like an old black radical, which was one of my most commented works of the year.

4. People love to hate what you love to hate. That’s a strange thing to say but it seems to be pretty true. When you don’t like something it seems to touch a nerve for a lot of other people who have hated the same thing but either couldn’t figure out how to say it or didn’t want to say it first. My post on the Top 21 was my most commented on post of the year, but the next 5 were all from some kind of rant I wrote about concerning either blogging or social media. The top commented on post was when I avowed that I wasn’t registering to comment on other blogs and a few other things I didn’t like, with 60 comments. Yeah, that may seem pitiful when many other bloggers have hundreds of comments on their posts but so be it. Maybe this does mean that being controversial does work; still, you’d best be ready for it.

5. Sometimes your worst isn’t so bad while other times it really is. I had 15 posts in 2011 that didn’t even get 10 comments, and since I respond to most comments, that’s pretty bad. Actually, it’s less than 5%, but I still don’t like it. The post that tanked the worst for the year was when I wrote about AffinityClick, an affiliate program that everyone else must have already knew was pretty bad before I wrote about it since not even the 2 people that commented on it referenced it. Now that’s a real shame, as it ended up with only 5 comments. The next one surprised me, that being when I asked people what makes you smile and included the cutest video of a penguin being tickled that just made me smile a lot. This last one didn’t surprise me all that much as I gave a CPAP followup; if you don’t have sleep issues why would you care?

Having said that, some posts that seemed like they didn’t do well did okay in other ways. For instance, I wrote an Easter post where I shared some Peanuts videos, and though it only go 10 comments my bounce rate was only 46%; that’s not bad, though I wonder where people went. Also, the second part of my better blogging series only got 9 comments, yet it averaged 6 minutes and 18 seconds per visit, which means people actually read it.

6. You can get people to stick around to read a post when you’ve got their attention. This year I had 3 posts that people stayed for longer than 10 minutes reading, and even commenting on here and there. One was motivational: Only Concern Yourself With What You Can Control, 10 minutes 14 second. One was controversial: Penn State & Joe Paterno – My Take, 10 minutes 25 seconds. One was a rant: WordPress 3.3; It’s On My Nerves Right Now.

7. You can write posts that drive people to other posts. Bounce rate refers to whether a person will visit another page of your blog or website after reading the one that got them there in the first place. My average bounce rate on this site is 73.13%, which is probably normal for most bloggers, even though some will try to tell you they have phenomenally bounce rates; yeah, right. Anyway, I had 16 posts this year with bounce rates under 50%; these 5 were phenomenal though:

Some Blogs To Share 33.33%

Affiliate Programs I’m Connected With – Part Two 33.33%

An Important Blog Page If You’re Looking To Do Business 27.27%

Twitter Mix Of Sociability And Business 22.22%

Check Your Blog Commenting System 12.5%

8. I’ve learned how to handle grief way better than I ever thought I could when I was younger. I lost my grandmother this year and a great friend from college, and as tough as each was, I realized that none of us are getting out of this existence alive and thus we need to make sure to live for the moment. When some bad things happened I didn’t feel the crush of any of it, from what I mentioned above to having to sue someone for payment to having my first bouts ever of not wanting to do anything at all, even though I pushed on. There are fears we all have and the ability to push through them and learn that, for the most part, none of them are close to being as bad as we thought they’d be is a great lesson to learn.

9. I learned that I’ve become one of the great survivors. I celebrated my 10th year anniversary in business on my own, and when you consider that more than 90% of small businesses fold within 5 years I’d say that’s not a bad accomplishment. Of course I’m still learning great lessons almost daily and I’m not close to being Bill Gates rich, so I have a long way to go. I’m hoping for a great start to 2012; actually, I already have, but I’m not talking about it. šŸ™‚

10. I learned that others value loyalty as much as I do, whether they’ve thought about it or not. ā€œIf loyalty is to mean anything, there must be a risk attachedā€œ. ā€“ Frank DeFord

Loyalty is at the top of my morality and ethics list, and I believe that loyalty deserves to be rewarded if it hasn’t been abused. There are some people who were commenting and participating on this blog at the beginning of the year that are still commenting and participating. I’d like to give them some love as my final act on Christmas day, although the first person I’m going to mention doesn’t have her blog anymore, or will be transitioning to a new blog, or something. lol Anyway, here we go; I thank y’all with a big thumbs up (from a tiny baby) and wish you and everyone else a great Christmas and great success as we move towards the new year:

Val from Absurd Old Bird

Beverly Mahone from Beverly Mahone

Sire from Wassup Blog

Rummuser from Ramana’s Musings

Allan Douglas from Simple Life Prattle

DeAnna Troupe from Learn Small Business

Melinda from Finding The Humor

Mitchell Allen from Morpho Designs

Charles Gulotta from Mostly Bright Ideas

Carl from Webmaister Pro

Ajith Edassery from Dollar Shower

Scott Thomas from Views Infinitum

Gebriele Maidecchi fro Esimple Studios

John Dilbeck from 21st Century Affiliate Marketing

Vernessa Taylor from Local Business Coach Online

Ileane from Basic Blog Tips

Evelyn Parham from Evelyn Parham
 

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Too Many Facebook Friends?

Do you have too many Facebook friends? Rather, do you have so many that there are people you’re not sure why you’re following anymore, whether they’re updating or not?

I ask this because I’m often reading where people have said that they’re about to start whittling down their Facebook connections because of whatever reason they decide to pick on. It got me to thinking that maybe I should take a look at some of the more than 550 people I’m connected to there to see if I should be paring my list.

First, why would one want to pare their list? Lots of reasons; I’ll name some here. One, just too many people, such that you miss the stream of people you really care about. Two, you might not like some of the updates you see from certain people. Three, you may never even talk to or hear from someone you’re connected to. Four, they might not even be active on Facebook anymore; what’s the point? Five, you have some folks still connected you that you have now decided you don’t want seeing any of your updates anymore. I think that’s enough for my purposes right now.

I decided I was going to pare my list down as well; I certainly know there’s a lot of people on there that I added for some reason or another that maybe I don’t need to be connected to anymore. I went looking for something like what Twitter has to help me out; you know, Friend or Follow or maybe Twit Cleaner, but I couldn’t find a single thing. This meant that I would have to do it manually, looking at names, looking at their accounts, and decide that way instead.

You know what? That turns out to be way harder than I could have imagined. I didn’t want to just drop someone whose name I didn’t recognize because they might be subscribed to my Facebook business page (by the way, why aren’t YOU subscribed to my Facebook business page?) and that would be insulting to them. That and they might have connected with me because they’re friends of someone else I know better, and I don’t want to insult them either.

I looked up some names I didn’t know and saw that they were current on the site, and they weren’t putting out anything that was irritating me. I decided to leave them, just in case. I saw people whose pictures I recognized for some reason, even if I couldn’t ever remember seeing them saying anything in my stream or to me. And I actually found a few people who fit my criteria for deleting; nothing new on the site, few friends, etc.

That was kind of the problem; after almost 45 minutes (I’m surprised I stayed that long) I’d found only 3 people that I decided I no longer needed to be connected to. I think I’d only looked at 15 accounts; at more than 550 people, throwing out the at least 100 people I know very well, I realized that would be 30 hours worth of time that I’d never get back; no thank you.

I’m a lot more judgmental these days in who I’ll add to my Facebook account, but that won’t help me for my past connections. Actually, I have to admit that I was surprised that I didn’t see the names of a few people I know I’d connected with; did they up and drop me first or leave Facebook without saying anything? One of those people was supposed to be my college roommate my junior year, then he ended up not coming back. He reached out to be first, then totally disappeared; his name no longer even appears on Facebook, which I’d thought people had said was hard to do.

No matter. I’m sticking with the people I’m connected to, whether they care or not. However, if anyone finds a program that works like the two I mentioned works with Twitter, please let me know and I might revisit it. Right now, too much work. šŸ™‚
 

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Check Your Blog Commenting System

More than a year ago I wrote a post titled Is Your Comment Process In Error? In that post, I talked about two things that are irksome in regards to commenting on other people’s blogs. One of those things was when people write posts and immediately close comments. The other point is still a gripe I have, that being people who have comments open, you leave a comment, and then you never hear back from those folks.


via Flickr

Today I’m only talking about the second one because it’s hit me that even after more than a year that there are still a lot of people who aren’t recognizing that people aren’t seeing that their comments are being responded to. This isn’t a problem like what we deal with on systems like Blogspot, WordPress.com, Typepad or many other blog services which some of you know I absolutely hate. In this case, folks don’t have anything extra on their blog such as a checkbox where we can decide if we want return messages, and the blog owners, who are being good by responding to comments, don’t know that no one is seeing those comments, hence they’ll never get any return comments from those folks.

I made an assumption that some people would add the threaded comments plugin if they had a WordPress blog, but I realized that there’s no way for me to know. I also thought about it and wondered what people that didn’t use WordPress (who could that be?) wouldn’t have access to the plugin. Finally I said “Heck, if people don’t know people aren’t getting responses, then why would they even think about it at all?”

Therefore, this is a brief educational pause to all of you that have noticed that you never, and I mean ever, get anyone to return to your post if they’ve left a comment you haven’t responded to. There’s actually one things you should be paying attention to, one thing you need to do, and I’m going to help you out right now.

The first is to ask yourself if you get email notification that someone has written a comment on your blog. If the only time you know there’s a comment is when someone writes you to tell you they left one, or you have to go to your blog and that’s when you see comments, then your comments probably aren’t working.

The second is if you’re unsure if it’s working or not, then you need to do a test. Even though I knew it was working on all my blogs, I still did a test with the last 3 blogs just to make sure. This is really simple. What you do is go onto your blog site and write a short comment on one of your posts. Sign in using a different email address than what’s associated with the site; you don’t have to put in a url because you’ll be trashing the comment pretty quickly.

You leave a comment, then check your email to see if you got notification of the comment. Whether you do or not, go into your admin panel, look at your own comment, and reply to it. You don’t have to write a lot; just write something like “test” on your original comment and your reply. Then check your email once more to see if you’ve received a response. If not, then you know that no one else has been receiving your replies either.

At that point you can either check all of your settings to see if you’ve missed something, add the plugin I’ve recommended above, or find something else that can help you monitor comments while giving people the option of receiving comments or not. This is a very proactive way of making sure people are getting your replies, and that helps build community. After all, people love knowing you cared about their comments, and if you’ve been doing that but they don’t know, it’s the same as not doing it at all.

And there you go; another blogging tip from Mitch! šŸ˜‰
 

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