All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

When Your Cause Isn’t Worth The Fight

I found this interesting. I was reading a blog post by someone I interviewed for my business blog back in September, Angelique. Her post is titled Angelique Suspended from Google Plus. She was suspended because she doesn’t like to use her last name, feels it doesn’t support her brand, and of course Google+ expects people to use real names; they didn’t appreciate her last name being “Creativity”.

I found it interesting, as well as her follow-up post, for a few reasons (and I didn’t comment there because it’s a Disqus blog, which y’all know I hate).

One, I had the same discussion with her when I did the interview on my blog. I had found her last name and added it to the post, and she was deeply shocked and implored me to remove it. I hesitated at first because I have a set format for doing interviews on that blog, as opposed to interviews I do on this blog, and I felt it would throw off the continuity in some fashion. In the end I relented because I felt I might have been making too big a deal of continuity for the blog, just because it’s a business blog. It didn’t hurt anything.

Two, I had this conversation on someone else’s blog earlier this year as that person was also complaining about it. Since it wasn’t a Disqus blog, I responded that I understood the issue because how would they determine to list people with names that everyone knows that aren’t real, such as Lady Gaga or Will.I.Am? If they came onto G+ and used their real names, no one would know who they were, and if they put up their real pictures G+ might think they were perpetrating a fraud in some fashion and ban those accounts anyway, if you know what I mean. To date I don’t know if that issue has been addressed.

Three, I thought about my own blog. I have a policy where I won’t accept keywords as a true name of a comment poster. I need a first name of some type, and it can even be a nickname (cue Sire), but I need something to call you if I’m expected to possibly respond to your comment. If I don’t have that then I delete the comment, no matter how good it might be; the policy is just above the comment box and if you miss it, then it’s on you.

And finally four, as soon as you start to gripe about it in some fashion you almost have to catch yourself and say “it’s their playpen, so it’s their rules“. This doesn’t mean you can’t complain to yourself, or in your blog, but if you decide to complain to someone else you’re wasting your time and energy.

I’ll go personal on this one. I don’t think it surprises anyone when I complain about a Facebook change that I don’t understand, when suddenly I can’t find something. I do that for two reasons. One, I know that if I’m complaining someone else is complaining as well. Two, I hope that someone can provide a fix or idea of how to get around in some fashion. For instance, I griped when they seemed to get rid of a way to get to pages that I had subscribed to, which meant people weren’t going to find my page either. Someone finally gave me some guidance in finding it, and it’s still in a ridiculous place, and I moved on, knowing that there wasn’t anything I could do to change it.

Last year Google decided this blog doesn’t qualify as an Adsense purveyor based on a post I wrote almost 2 years ago on the topic of cleavage, a very tongue in cheek post with no nudity and what I thought was a very interesting point, and one where even if I’d agreed to remove it they weren’t going to reinstate this blog. I didn’t bother with it, just as I didn’t bother responding to them when I lost my page rank on this blog (I did get it back earlier this year). Google never responds to anyone other than possibly sending an automated message, so what would have been the point?

In other words, we all have choices to make when it comes to dealing with someone else’s rules. We either follow them or we don’t. This means we either participate or we don’t. You don’t get freedom of choice when someone else is paying for it; you don’t get freedom of speech in someone else’s space. At least you don’t get either unlimited.

What Angelique is fighting is the same thing some Egyptian students tried to fight Facebook with when they were protesting the government and were worried that their names would get them in trouble. The rules are the rules; no exceptions. If Facebook wasn’t going to change for students whose lives were in potential danger, Google’s not going to change for her, even if she’d written lots of positive things about them. Goodness, Facebook banned Salman Rushdie for awhile (you might need to have a NY Times password to view this one) and he’s well known.

You want them to change? Work on your website and blog, get it ranked really high, participate a lot in social media so a lot of powerful people know who you are, then take your shot. Now there’s a goal worth reaching for. 🙂
 

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Where Do You Come Up With This Stuff? – Guest Post

Most of you know that Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs and I are pretty good friends. We play email chess together and work on encouraging each other to do great things. He’s also one of the most creative writers I know. I’ll admit that I may not always understand it, but it challenges me, which doesn’t happen all that often. I asked him to write this guest post on his thinking process and, well, how he comes up with his stuff; this is his response.

Mitchell Allen

I often get asked this question when I post a piece of fiction. I love answering the question because, over the years, I can see how my answers evolve. I take more credit for the process than I used to. Yet, I’m quick to acknowledge that elusive spark when I’m at a loss to explain where that stuff came from.
Continue reading Where Do You Come Up With This Stuff? – Guest Post

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Are You Keeping Your Browsing History?

Have you ever wondered why, when there are raids on businesses and individuals by the police, they always take the computers with them? It’s not always because they hope to see what files there are on those computers; they want to see what your browsing history is like, see what you’ve been looking at, to see if what you might be accused of is sitting right there waiting for them.


via Flickr

Back in the day we all worried about cookies.txt, a file that supposedly tracked all the websites you went to and a file that was easy for virus folks to access. That’s not a big issue anymore but it doesn’t have to be because they can steal pretty much anything they want from your browser, no matter what it is.

We all hear about security, but very few people take any real time to look at their settings or even just take a look through some of their programs to see what’s in them, or what they might be doing. For instance, if you never clear out your temp files, or files of programs you upload, someone with even a little bit of savvy can see what you’ve added and when, because many programs leave something residual behind, and sometimes those files are large.

Let me ask you this; beyond a day or two, why would you ever want to keep your browsing history? I had this conversation with my wife and she said it’s because she sometimes doesn’t remember a site she visited and needs to go back through to find it. I asked her why she doesn’t just bookmark those pages instead; she said she hadn’t thought about it, and now that’s what she’s doing. It became a topic because, like many people, she sometimes does some searching through her computer at work, and even though the IT people have ways of seeing what people do, I knew she’d be appalled if her coworkers had easy access to seeing what she might be looking at, even if it was work related.

We all have our secrets, things we’d rather not get out, or things that we just don’t want to deal with anymore. Every once in awhile you come across something that you weren’t searching for; I know I have since I do a lot of research online. Months down the line, if I were ever accused of something and there was someone who was very diligent in knowing how to find stuff, well, who’d want to have to try to remember what you were really doing at that time and then try to have to explain it? Doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, but in today’s world the concept of being innocent until proven guilty is gone, no matter what law enforcement tells you. Ever notice how the press talks all about people when they’ve been arrested for something, yet never publishes anything when you’ve been exonerated?

Think about changing your settings in your browser so it will erase your history at some point, and don’t go too far out. I’ve set mine to erase all browsing history after a day; if I don’t go searching for something after 24 hours I probably won’t need it, and I can always find it again. Something for you to think about to help protect your privacy.
 

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Making Money By Blogging – Let’s Talk

I tend to violate some rules that those who say they make a lot of money from blogging believe are essential. This is one of those times, but I’ll get back to the main subject in a minute. First, the latest progress from my offer on being available for doing an interview has led to two new posts elsewhere. The first is an interview I did with Olawale Daniel on his blog TechAtLast blog. The second is a guest post I wrote for Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs titled “70’s Music – The Last Days Of Innocence“. I hope you check them out and thanks to both of you.


via Flickr

In previous interviews I’ve done, I’ve been asked this question about making money by blogging a few times. I used to always say that it was never really my intention to try to make money by blogging, and lived by that, even though, before this year, I always popped in an affiliate ad, just in case someone saw something they liked and decided to check it out. I can easy say that was NOT been successful, which is why I dropped it. I still run some banner ads here, but I’m sure they’re being missed by almost everyone as well.

I now have to modify my statements from back then a little bit. I still don’t try to make money off “all” my blogs, but I do try to make money specifically off one blog, and encourage others to help my income on others. It’s time for a breakdown because I’m going to be the one to tell you an amazing truth about making money online, but especially with blogging; it’s not going to happen the way you think it will.

I have earned a few dollars here and there from this blog over the years, but very little. I’ve sold a couple of affiliate programs, know I sold one of my books (up there to the top left) from this blog, and made, I believe, a whopping $1.35 from Adsense before it was pulled from this blog. That’s it; almost nothing. I’ve made nothing whatsoever from two of my blogs, those being my Syracuse blog and my SEO blog. The first has no advertising on it so far, and the second is just past 3 months old.

My main business blog, Mitch’s Blog has made more money than the other 3 blogs, but not how you’d think. What it’s done is helped me get a speaking engagement and a presentation to a company that both paid fairly well. I have also sold a couple of books on management and one of my CD series from that blog, but the first two things I mentioned makes it my biggest money maker by far, if not my most consistent. See, the purpose of the business blog is to show authority in my fields of business, and it worked well enough to get me two projects that paid nicely. So, I can say I made money online, even if it was for offline projects.

My finance blog, Top Finance Blog, is my most consistent money maker, and in some ways more in line with how some people might think of making money online; sort of. I make almost all of my money on that blog through paid advertising. Companies pay me to put banner ads on the site. They pay me to add their links to previous posts, and some pay me to put a post on there that they wrote. Some even pay me to write a special post for them, knowing it’s going to cost them more because y’all know me, I’m going to write what I want to write about when I want to write it unless I’m getting paid. Even though I have a couple of products on that page and my own banner ads, they don’t generate anything close to the advertising.

That’s not how I saw it coming when I started that blog. I always believed that if I wrote in that niche that I would sell all sorts of products and information geared towards it. That’s how it all began with me as well, having all kinds of sales stuff on there. What happened instead is people with business interest in the financial niche wanted to be a part of it as its rankings and position increased. If there was ever anything to be said for the power of finding a niche and sticking within it, this is it for me. I didn’t manifest income in the way I thought I would, but I’ve manifested it all the same. Now, before you run off trying to do the same thing, let me make this point clear; I’m not “yet” making enough to live off on that blog, and unless I totally write only that blog I don’t think I ever will. But it’s a nice income, and though the last 7 days are kind of a fluke, I did make close to $500; I’ll take that for now. 🙂

Can you make money blogging? Yes you can. Do I recommend trying it? Can’t hurt, as long as you know what the realities are. My finance blog will be 3 years old in December, and it’s taken that long to generate enough interest so that it can make money. If you’re looking for a quick hitter it’s rare that it will happen, so don’t hurt yourself trying. If you have the time, you’ll make something.

And now it’ll probably be another 7 to 9 months before I touch this topic again. lol
 

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Too Many Tags And Categories?

A couple of days ago I was reading a guest post by a guy who wrote on the topic of bounce rates. He started that he only had a 2% bounce rate; every person that commented, including yours truly, found that hard to believe. Goodness, the best bounce rate I have on any of my blogs is around 66%. That may have been the most controversial point, but there was something else in that post that got my attention.

top tags on I'm Just Sharing

It was his mentioning tags and tag clouds and how, by keeping them relatively low, they can help shape what your blog is all about in a better fashion, as well as help reduce your bounce rate. That one caught my attention because I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. And, by extension, categories as well, which sometimes mirror the tags.

For the uninitiated, categories help people find content they care about quicker. If you look to the right sidebar of mine you’ll see it just before my product pages listing. I have 35 article categories on this blog; in a way that’s a bunch, and I know that some of these can be merged. Not all of them, but some of them; then again, I talk about a wide variety of things on this blog, so maybe that’s not so bad.

However, I also have 1,899 tags and counting on this blog; that might be a bit of overkill. The idea behind tags is to refine what you’re talking about in your blog posts. So, I might be talking SEO in general as a category, but on one day I might be talking about keywords, on another I could be talking about linking, etc. Therefore, one might tend to have more tags than categories.

But how many tags and categories are too many in general? I tend to believe it depends on what it is you’re writing about. Let’s compare this blog to 3 of my other blogs. The first business blog, which I’ve had the longest, has 19 categories and 919 tags. The second business blog, which I’ve only had just under 4 months by now, only has 6 categories and 50 tags. And my finance blog has 45 categories and 901 tags.

Do two of those above look excessive to you? On the surface they do, but in reality I tend to think not. Tags help you zero in on a topic, and search engines seem to take more credence in your tags than they do in categories anyway. I’ve noticed that categories seem to show up in blog readers more often, as they do in my Feedreader program. True, it might help if you could find ways to use similar tags over and over, but sometimes I think it’s imperative that you drill down further, be a bit more specific with your topic.

For instance, my last post was on video blogging. I could have just put “blogging” but that wouldn’t have really been sufficient. So I added “video blogging” to the mix as well as “vlog”, a term a lot of people use. I then decided to toss in a keyword phrase, “future of blogging”; after all, there might be people that search for that phrase, and with all the other keywords it might help make the post prominent enough to be found for that term by some people.

By the way, I will say that it’s possible that either tags or categories will help reduce your bounce rate. If people want to learn more or see more of what you’ve said in the past they might decide to click on your categories or, if you have them somewhere, your tags; I’ve taken mine down but I’m thinking about putting it back up somewhere, probably on the right sidebar again.

What’s your take on tags and categories? I know some people haven’t used them; why not? And while we’re at it, do you pay attention to tag clouds on blogs you visit?
 

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