All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Figuring Out Trust Revisited

I’ve written about this concept of trust quite a few times on two of my blogs, which includes this one. The last couple of times I’ve specifically addressed the topic here here was when I wondered why we don’t trust sales people and then when I wrote about why it’s sometimes hard to trust people in general. Now I have another tale for you.


by Thomas Nes Myhre

For about six weeks my brakes had been squealing. I thought it was related to the brake job I’d had 3 weeks earlier at Midas (yes, I’m naming names). I waited 3 weeks, then took it back to them to take a look at the work they’d done. After 10 minutes the mechanic comes to me and takes me into the back to look at my back brakes, as I’d replaced the front brakes. He tells me that they’re metal on metal and that they’re in real bad shape. He also tells me that I need brand new tires. Then he gives me an estimated cost; I’m thinking “are you out of your mind?”

I decide not to do the work there, mainly because as I was sitting in the chair waiting for them to take a look, I started thinking that I’d just had my back brakes done last year, and remembered that I’d actually had them done at Goodyear. My thinking was that if it were the pads, I’d take it back to them and that should be that.

At the same time I started thinking about a few other things. I’d just had my car inspection in July and passed with flying colors. They had mentioned that at some point in the next year I should look at my tires, but there were no red flags. I wondered if my bad brakes were so bad why didn’t the inspection catch it, since that’s one of their checks. Then I wondered why these guys hadn’t said anything about my back brakes when I’d brought the car there weeks earlier. Frankly, things didn’t add up.

So I waited until one day this week and finally took it to Goodyear. Everything was still squeaking, but all I asked them to do was take a look at my brakes overall.

Less than 30 minutes later I got a call at home. The guy said they had taken a look at both my front and back brakes and that there were no problems with either of them. He said they weren’t sure why there was a squeak (more like a squeal), but that the brakes were fine. He then said I would need to replace some tires before winter and that there was a tire sale coming in October and that I should wait for that.

Wow, what to do? Who to trust? The Goodyear guy tells me my brakes are fine, but are they if they’re still squealing? I mean, since they’d have to replace the pads for free, are they pushing me back until something else goes wrong? And what about the Midas people? I’m still feeling insecure about them as well. At least I don’t owe any money.

Move the story ahead to yesterday. My wife’s brakes were also squealing, and she’d had her brakes done last year at Midas a week before I’d had mine done. She decided to take her car to Goodyear after hearing my story about Midas. I figured we’d see what they had to say about her car.

She calls them back after a couple of hours, as we’d gone out for awhile. They tell her they can’t find anything wrong with her brakes and aren’t sure what’s causing it. She’d also had her car inspected in July, and she had no red flags about anything, including her tires. So they didn’t charge her for taking a look and all is as it was.

Wow, talk about major differences. My trust level has gone way up with Goodyear and way down with Midas. I used to always go to Midas whenever I needed brakes, and that particular Midas for nearly 25 years. Of course it’s changed hands often, which means you never really know about the people running things after awhile. But there’s a major difference in $450 and zero, and zero twice against the possibility of close to a thousand dollars means a big deal to me. Guess who’s going to be taking care of my car from now on.

We don’t always get a chance to find out whether we’re being lied to or not. I got a major break this time around because I got to test the truthfulness and reliability of one company versus another company. I’m not going to say that all Midas stores are dishonest, but I’ve certainly just run into one that I don’t trust all that much.

With any business you provide, including your blog posts, are you always making sure you’re being as honest as possible? Have you visited blogs that make you feel like they’re lying to you, or being dishonest? Do you call out dishonesty when you see it? Would you have had the guts to write a post like this one? Go ahead, share your thoughts and your tales.
 

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4 Things You Can Do With Your WordPress Blog You Might Not Know Already

You know, every day it seems like I discover something new about WordPress. Some of these things I’m betting many of you know, but I’m also betting that the majority probably doesn’t know these things. So, I thought I’d share a few things to help everyone become more proficient with their WordPress blogs.

First, let’s talk about the Add New Post area. I’ve always used the HTML version instead of the WYSIWYG version, which means I code all my stuff. However, in this newer version it actually gives me some choices of things I can do that I don’t have to specifically write code for anymore. By just highlighting the text, I can then decide to bold, italicize, link, and do a host of other things I had never noticed before. That stuff hasn’t always been there, and like ads on many blogs, you just go blind to stuff. For me, the only ones I’ll probably use are bold, italicize, ul, ol and li. List posts will be much easier now; whew!

Second, while still here, y’all know about the Upload/Insert thing as it applies to adding pictures and the like, correct? You know that little box next to these words is if you want to add an image to your blog post, right? When you click on it, you can select an image from your computer and pop it into your post. You’re usually given four choices to select from if your image is large enough: thumbnail, medium, large and full size. Did you know that you can change the sizes of the first three?

What you do is go into your settings at the bottom left and select Media. Once you click on it you’ll see the 3 choices. I alter the size of medium to have a width of 235, which is just slightly less than half the width of my content area. I have the max height around 300. For the large, I changed the size to 480 because that’s the full width of my content area on this blog, and I made that the max height as well. I left thumbnail alone because making it smaller makes the image hard to see, and making it larger means it’s not quite a thumbnail anymore. If you like the images you’re putting into your blog to always be the same size, this works wonders.

Next, have you been getting more spam comments than normal lately? Do you look at the IP addresses and notice that many of them that come in on the same day come from the same IP addresses? If so you can have these particular IP addresses send these comments directly to your spam filter instead of having to do it manually.

You do that by highlighting and copying the number, then go to setting and Discussion. Go all the way down to where it says Comment Blacklist and paste the number in there. Save and you’re on your way. I also use that for some people that come by often to comment but their comments are a bit dodgy, as Sire might say.

This way it’s kind of a moderation for you to determine whether you want to allow that comment to show on your blog post or not. Some might say I’m now moderating comments, but these are people who have proven that they really aren’t participating in the process, including ever responding to questions you might ask them in a comment; trust me, I’ve tested this.

The last thing I’m going to talk about are screen options. Every page you go to in your admin area is also called a ‘screen’. If you look at the top right of each page you’ll see something called screen options. If you click on that, a menu drops down that shows you everything on that particular page except your menu to the left. You can now select stuff you want to see and stuff you don’t want to see.

For instance, on my posts page I keep things really simple because I don’t need to see all those tags and a lot of other stuff next to each post. I limit mine to title, categories, comments, date and Post Rank, which is a plugin I’ve talked about in the past. I know I’m the only author on this blog, so I don’t need to keep seeing my name.

As a by-the-way item, you can also move most things around on your screen to where you’d rather see them. Just put your mouse over the top of each window, hold down on your left mouse button, and drag the window to where you’d like it to be. Move it slowly and you’ll see impressions show up and drop your window where you’d like. Sometimes you might have to move in increments if you’re making a drastic move.

There you are, 4 things you may or may not have known. Of course, this might spark someone to write a post of their own on things they know that I didn’t know, but if you’re going to do that make sure you’ve looked at my post on 5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area and then the followup, 5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area.
 

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When Do You Unsubscribe From Posts?

Before I begin talking about the subject, I thought I’d put this message out first to see if those folks I consider as comment spammers will actually read it. This blog has never accepted keyword names, but if a first name is present I’ve always left it alone. Other comments, if I thought they were good, I’d go in and edit the name so that only initials showed up. Thing is, not one of those people has ever come back to say anything about it or leave another comment. Therefore effective immediately, any comments with only keywords in it will be deleted; I’m not even going to take the time to read the comment. I need a name, something to call you besides “Vacations In Paris”, or whatever goofy thing someone wants to promote.

via Flickr

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Because I comment on a lot of blogs, I often subscribe to the post for a while to see if someone will respond to it. That is, when it’s an option; otherwise I’ve just figured I’m already subscribed and I’m good with that. I don’t mind seeing other comments… for a while at least.

We all know what happens most of the time. Blog posts aren’t known for their periods of longevity when it comes to getting comments. A post can get a comment many months later, but most of the activity happens very early. Just a few days ago I got notified of a comment on a blog post on someone else’s blog that was written more than two years ago; that’s actually pretty neat because it gives you an opportunity to go back to that blog post to see what it was all about and possibly read it again.

But what do you do if you’ve commented on a blog kind of early and then you’re starting to be bombarded with a lot of other comments? How do you personally handle that type of thing?

The way I handle it is to first wait to see if the blog owner starts responding to any of the comments. I’ll give that a few days or so, and if the blog owner hasn’t started responding to any comments by then I will usually bail. I know that people go on vacation and have other things to do sometimes, but in today’s world everybody has access to the internet within at least a couple of days.

Also, if I’ve written a comment and already gotten a response but there’s still tons of comments coming, I’ll take a look at the comments to see what types of things people are writing. If after a while I notice that almost every comment is kind of junkie, I’ll leave. After all, one always hopes that other people’s comments are going to add to the conversation, and if that’s not happening then why bother?

In being truthful, I have to admit this isn’t a problem I have to deal with all that often. There may be a few blogs that end up with tons of people who comment all the time that I have to deal with. I actually applaud those few blogs because the owners are also responding to the comments. But I like to think I know when it’s time to move on.

So I’m asking you, do you ever unsubscribe from comments at a certain point or do you stick with a blog post no matter how many comments and up showing up until they just finally stop?
 

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Being Good In Business

I’m not a great business person. True, I did celebrate the 10th anniversary of my business this summer, so I have found a way to stick around for a good long time. But I’m not a great business person; sometimes I’m not even sure I’m a good business person. Let me tell you why.

Two weeks ago I had to go to small claims court to get money that someone owed me for work I completed. The thing is I made one of those crucial mistakes that probably hits all business people at some point in their life. I did the work before I had the person signed the contract, and then he decided that there was something about the work he didn’t like and he didn’t pay me all he owed me. I did the work because this is someone I’d known for a while and thought I could trust; Judge Judy would have chewed me out for this mistake.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me since I’ve been in business. It is the first time I was owed enough money to sue for. Luckily I won; yay! Or did I? What I agreed to is half that day and half the following Friday, and to also help finish the project, which this guy hadn’t finished even though in court he tried to tell the judge that he’d gone to somebody else to help him with it. Of course I knew better because there are very few people that do this particular thing I do. I did my part, and today if he does his part I should have a check in the mail. The thing is it’s five days later than I should have had this money. That’s being a bad business person.

On another front, I’ve been waiting to be paid by a company I did work for back in April. In this case I did sign a contract which said that I would get paid when they got paid. This was with another guy I have known for some years who told me that their clients usually pay them within 30 days so that I should have my money relatively soon. This could have turned out to be a very big contract so I went with it.

Instead, new players got into the game, the contract got cut short, and I have been waiting for my payment ever since. I had actually been told that I would have this payment a month ago and I’ve been looking for it for a while. Then last Monday the same guy contacted me and tells me there had been an error in the office that was finally corrected and I should have my check this week. Of course nothing has shown up yet.

If you’ve read this blog or my business blog for a while, you know that I basically have three tenets that I base my perception of every person I meet on. Those tenets are honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness. Sometimes in business we tend to make allowances for things that we wouldn’t make allowances for in our personal lives. This sometimes impacts us negatively when it comes to business, whether we work for ourselves or for someone else. After 10 years I’m supposed to know better; I need to start proving it.

Here are five rules I’ve got to put into effect for myself if I’m going to stay in business. These wouldn’t hurt anyone else to follow if they needed business tips, whether your business is online or off-line, and in some cases whether you work for someone else or not. So here we go:

1. I will no longer do any business with anyone without at least getting a deposit up front. The amount of the deposit will vary based on how big the contract is, but it will be anywhere from 25% to 50%. Truth be told, on the first story I told you if I hadn’t got the amount of money I got up front I wouldn’t have been able to get the entire amount in small claims court, and I would have had to make a decision whether to take him to full court or not. That would’ve been really expensive based on the amount of money he owed me, and I could’ve lost out totally. So maybe I wasn’t such a bad business person at all.

2. I will stop lowering my price for most services I provide for someone else. I mainly do this for people I know, but that turns out to be a bad thing when I’m doing something that’s very technical. One of those things you start to learn is that people don’t respect you as a professional, even if they know you, if your price is too low. I was trying to do the first guy a favor which I thought could result in a lot of business on the back end, and he used it to his advantage by delaying the payment I deserved. Sometimes we need to realize when we do specialized services that we need to stick to our guns and our price and dare people to find someone else who can do the work for them. And if they go searching and can’t find someone, if they come back to you raise the price for their wasting your time.

3. I will better define certain terms of my contract so that there is a definitive as to when a project is completed. In this case I did the work in the time I said I would do it, but I never really indicated when I expected to be paid. I did write that I expected to be paid within two weeks of the end of the project, but that left him to interpret that the project ended when he thought it was over. That left me without being paid for seven months. That’s a mistake that won’t happen again.

4. I will better define what will be delivered and what the client can expect. When it comes to SEO work, clients need to understand that the only guarantee they can really get is that their presence on search engines will improve, probably a lot if they have no ranking, but if they have a presence already results might not be as drastic.

When it comes to the specific healthcare work I do, realizing that everyone can’t do it and those other people that do this type of work, which are mainly the very large consulting companies that charge upwards of three times what I normally charge, are someone that I can beat with a better price and better customer service attention.

5. I will not only work to maintain my integrity and the standards and tenets I’ve set for myself and people in my personal life, but I will hold people in business, whether it’s their company or themselves, to the same standards if I’m the one who’s going to be working with them. This is a concept known as “finding the type of clients you want to work with”. I will not work with just anybody for the sake of getting money. I have found that to be mentally draining and not much fun. True, work isn’t always supposed to be fun, but if work is beating you down get away from it and go do something else.

And those are my five things. Is there anything you’d like to add?
 

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Guest Posts, Comments Or Interviews; Which Drives More Traffic To Your Site?

I don’t often talk about driving traffic to one’s blog unless it’s a little research project. That’s what this is, and since you see the title, you know what it’s about.

David Peralty is Huge on the Internets
John Federico via Compfight

In the last few months I’ve written one guest post that got a lot of attention, did an interview on another blog that did pretty well, and of course I’ve commented on lots of blogs as I often do. Last night I was sitting around thinking “I wonder which of these things drives more traffic to a blog.” Since this is the only one of my blogs that can address each of these criteria I have to use it for this test. The results are somewhat shocking, at least to me, and might be to you as well.

The study period is June 1st through August 31st. This actually works really well because I wrote the guest post on May 31st and the interview was posted on June 1st (this link now goes elsewhere; the link will explain why lol). Comments are of course an every day thing, and one might think this skews the results, which it would if I was taking all blogs as one. Instead I’m only taking one blog, that being Pete’s Wassup Blog. Why? You’ll see.

The source that brought me the most visitors in this time period was of course Pete’s blog, with 147 visitors coming from there. As a matter of fact, he’s #10 after all the search engines, where 5 different Google’s have sent the most traffic overall. I comment on Pete’s blog often, and we of course have banter here as well. I think that could have an effect since we’ve been doing it for years and I’m sure a lot of people have seen my name because his blog is popular.

Second is the guest blog post, which was on Ileane’s blog, with 89 visitors, and that link is sitting in 14th place. This obviously means the interview comes in third with 53 referrals and sits in 18th place. That all 3 made the top 20 is pretty amazing in and of itself. Just for historical perspective Twitter sits in 11th place, a site called Business2Community, where I was quoted by Ari Herzog and left only one comment, was 15th, and a site I’ve never heard of and have no idea what they do called Gaia Online was 17th; all other referrers were search engines.

Now, I’d be irresponsible if I said that my results will be the same for everyone, but I have to say that based on what I’m seeing it seems that commenting really does drive traffic more than anything else. Maybe it’s because it’s something you do more often and thus always stays fresh. Maybe it’s because people get intrigued with what you have to say, or see a link via CommentLuv and decide to follow it back. I’m not really sure.

However, I hear some people saying “hey, what about that first month, June, when everything took place? What did things look like then?” Glad you asked. For just June Ileane’s blog ended up in 10th, Pete’s blog was 11th, and the one where my interview was sits all the way down in 29th.

Yup, seems commenting is the best thing for me; what do your blog stats show?
 

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