All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

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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Does Blog Traffic Drop Over The Christmas Holiday?

Most years I find that the number of blog posts that other bloggers put out goes down during the Christmas holiday. I figure that’s because many of them are traveling or have guests showing up, and thus they have other things to do. However, I’ve also wondered if people have a belief that there will be less traffic to their blogs during the holiday because they themselves aren’t online as much.

Or are they? I decided to do a little research project because, as you know, I get curious sometimes. I wondered if the traffic on my blog dropped during Christmas or not. So I went into Google Analytics to take a look back at things.

I ran into an immediate problem. I noticed that indeed my traffic drastically dropped, but the last two years Christmas has been on a Friday and Saturday, when blog traffic traditionally drops. So, was it Christmas or the weekend that caused the drop?

Luckily, I started this blog in December 2007 (oh yeah, its 4 year anniversary was on the 12th; missed it!), which means I had December 2008, when Christmas was on a Thursday, to look at. And it seems that even though I wasn’t a world breaker with traffic back then, I had more traffic on Christmas Day that week than any other day; interesting I must say.

But I didn’t let it go with just this blog. I have my business blog, which I started in 2005, that I could go back to. I could only go back so far since the original host had crashed and I had to locate and re-post lots of articles, but I could still go back to Christmas 2006, 2007 and 2008. Throwing out 2006 because I wasn’t writing much back then, I thought I could see traffic numbers for 2007 and 2008.

Turns out I hadn’t added Analytics in 2007, so I had to start with 2008. And my traffic was abysmal across the board back then, so the numbers are dismally consistent. The same goes for 2009, but 2010, strangely enough, shows that even though Christmas was on a Saturday, and my traffic wasn’t as high then as it is now, it showed up upswing from the previous couple of days.

My main point is that the drop in blog traffic might not have to do with the holiday at all. It might have to do with a lack of new content, or it might have to do with lousy content. As I look back on this blog in 2008 and 2009 I didn’t have a post on Christmas Day, and last year my post was only videos of the Muppets Christmas special with John Denver from many years ago. So, was it my fault that I didn’t have much traffic on Christmas Day?

Why not take a shot? This year I’m going to have a regular post showing up on Christmas Day. Remember folks, you can always write your posts ahead of time and schedule it to show up whenever you want it to. Why not see if it’s the post instead of the holiday. That is, if you care. I have to experiment; it wouldn’t be me not to do it, right? I’ll follow up in a week or so after the holiday to see how it all went. Wish me luck!
 

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Disappointed By Your Videos Viewer Count?

Early this past year I did my first video and popped it up on YouTube, then onto this blog. It was very short and just an introduction, and I knew I had to get better at it. To date I think I’ve done 9 videos, and I think my last one wasn’t all that bad, even if it wasn’t totally for the masses.

However, I have to say that I was kind of shocked when I looked at the numbers of people YouTube said had seen it. Actually, for the longest while it showed only one person had seen it, and I was surprised by that because a number of people had told me they had looked at it. Today it’s up to 4 views, which is still way down. Then I looked at the numbers for my other videos and only one of them seems to have kind of popped. What’s strange is that another video of mine only shows 4 views, yet I know more people than that viewed it because I put it up on Facebook and it was probably one of the most commented on posts I’ve ever had, if not number one.

Then I started to realize something. If you post your video anywhere else YouTube can’t count it. I started doing some research about it and it seems to be true based on a number of people writing about it. Even Google, in its own subversive way, indicates that those numbers won’t show.

Well what the hey? How are we supposed to know how effective our videos are if we can’t get an accurate count? Are we supposed to drive everyone to YouTube instead of our own sites just so we can find out how many people are really viewing our submissions?

Although I’d already been thinking about this for a couple of weeks, it was a post on Adrienne Smith’s site titled How To Get More Views On Your YouTube Videos that got me to think about writing on the topic. I asked a question about the post, where she’s promoting a guy named Paul Wolfe that’s put together something telling us how to get more visitors to our YouTube site. Her response to me was that getting people to your YouTube page could help get more visitors to your blog or website.

Love Adrienne but frankly, seeing the numbers I do, I’m not sure that’s going to occur any time soon. To date I have 13 subscribers to my page, and to be truthful I didn’t learn until the beginning of November that one could subscribe to a YouTube page; shows how little I’ve paid attention to the video aspects of social media other than one’s webpage. I’m not sure how many of those people have turned around and visited any of my blogs, and to be truthful I’m not realizing that I’ve missed out because I’ve never given the URL on any of my videos to this point, and seeing I’ve done videos for 3 different sites that’s a major thing to overlook.

Now that makes 2 questions I have no answers to; how many people have visited my site(s) because they’ve seen a video and how many people are watching my videos when I post them elsewhere. Man, I hate not knowing stuff like this, but there seems to be no way around it.

Do I decide to stop doing videos then? No, that’s not the answer. Do I stop posting videos on my blogs? No, I don’t think that’s the answer either. I think if one wishes to get some kind of idea on how a video might have performed one has to look at other analytics. In this case I went to Google Analytics to take a look at this post on my business blog celebrating Post #900 there.

I only wrote 2 paragraphs on that post and then popped in the video. According to Analytics, people have spent an average of 4 minutes and 54 seconds on that page. I know almost no one needs that long to read 2 paragraphs, so this tells me that there had to be a good number of people watching the video, based on the number of people that actually visited based on those same analytics. The video is just over twice as long as the time on that post; no, I’m not about to dig deeper. lol

This is one of those times where the numbers one gets aren’t even close to accurate, but you have to be prepared to push past it. If I didn’t have other ways of checking my statistics, I’d think no one cares about my videos and would stop making them. Course, it’s not like I’m getting Bieber numbers, but maybe one day… šŸ˜Ž

And I wish I could figure out how to get YouTube to stop on a picture without my having that goofy expression on my face all the time!
 

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