All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Why Do I Have So Many Problems With Commission Junction Affiliates?

It must be something with me because I don’t see all that many other people complaining about these things, although I bet they are and I’m just missing them. Once again I’m having an issue with a Commission Junction affiliate that won’t pay me and another affiliate that’s dropping me; sigh…

The one that won’t pay me is called NothingButSoftware, which of course means they’re all about technology. I purchased a LCD projector from them for one of my local organizations, a non-profit, and I should have gotten a very nice commission from them. Instead I’ve gotten nothing. I’ve sent them 5 emails, 3 regular emails and 2 through CJ, but I’ve not heard a thing.

Here’s the other side of this, though. CJ states that the best they can do is contact their affiliates and ask them to respond to their publishers. That’s the response I’ve gotten every single time from them. That and their standard “if we haven’t heard from you in 3 days we’re going to assume the problem has been taken care of.”

What the hey? You know, I’ve had this love/hate thing with CJ. Some of the affiliates they’re hooked up with have been wonderful. I would easily recommend 123inkjets because they usually pay you within hours. I had that one issue with GoDaddy but once they learned about it they took care of me. Once I had an issue with FootballFanatics, a sports apparel company, but once I provided them proof they paid me (well, eventually anyway). But some others, like these NothingButSoftware people and 101Phones (which still shows me as an affiliate even though I yanked them over a year ago) are horrible. I did have a problem with Finish Line as well but that was through Google Affiliate Network.

I can’t be the only one who believes that if a company signs an organization to help push their products that they should establish some standards for how they’re supposed to work with you. I get the impression that each advertiser is running things their own way and CJ is just the puppet intermediary. That’s a shame, and they probably wouldn’t like the association, but I keep getting cheated by their publishers and it’s not fair. And if it’s happening to me consistently then it’s happening to others as well.

I did say I have another affiliate dropping me, right? This time it’s a company called Organize.com, and they’re dropping me because I live in New York, and our state has decided that these companies are supposed to be tracking any commissions I might have and paying taxes on anything I make. And Organize.com has decided I’m not worth it; okay, all New York publishers aren’t worth it.

I have to admit that years ago I didn’t like any of this, and now I’m siding with the companies against the state. Sure, states need money, but what gives them the right to pretty much take money out of my pocket, money that I’d be spending in the state and paying taxes on the stuff I purchase, to try to get funds that, for the most part, I’m not really earning anyway? I can imagine the trouble it must be for some of these web companies to try to track all these different state rules; I’m not mad at them for this. At least they didn’t drop me because supposedly I wasn’t making them sales like Brookstone did. And get this; even PokerStars hasn’t dropped me, although I pretty much can’t do anything with them for now since I can’t advertise to an American audience and thus it pretty much kills what I can do with them.

Affiliate marketing isn’t supposed to be this difficult. You make a sale, you get paid, you move on. This type of thing keeps coming up, not having affiliates pay you, and then it destroys the confidence we have in the process. It’s no wonder we’re always writing and worrying about scams.

Except this isn’t a scam; it’s just bad business practices.

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Is Your Work Worth Nothing?

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Ileane’s blog, Basic Blog Tips. The article in question is titled 5 SEO Scams You Should Avoid At All Costs.

Mitchell name

It was written by a guest blogger, and 4 of the 5 points aren’t bad. It’s #4 that I, and almost everyone else, has a problem with. That fourth point states that people who do SEO shouldn’t be paid until some results are seen, and that a quality SEO person will wait for their money, hoping to get other projects based on their performance of the first. By the way, this person also states that this isn’t work they do.

How many of you do work without any type of pay? How many of you that do freelance work base your payment more on performance than on the project?

Truthfully, I only know one person that works in such a manner, and it has nothing to do with SEO or computing. His company is called Price Reduction Partners, and what they do is go into companies, do evaluations of their technology, then offer ways for the company to save money on expenses. They take a percentage of the projected savings initially, then for two years they get a percentage of actual savings when compared to previous costs. The payouts from these contracts can end up being hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he doesn’t take on any projects where he feels the savings will be minimal; after all he has to eat like the rest of us.

So in his business, after 20 years or so, he’s comfortable with the business model of waiting for payment. In a way, one could say the same about real estate agents I suppose, since they get paid when a house is sold. Okay, there’s two professions; can anyone think of more?

No one at this point should be naive enough to know that SEO can be dicey for some people. If you’re in a crowded market you can do the best you can do, but you may never reach the first page of Google; sorry to tell you that. Or if you have a site that’s heavily laden with flash and all sorts of other “pretty” things such as music and images, but no real content, SEO is going to be problematic. And I helped to warn people about certain SEO scams as well.

But in general, with most businesses, you get what you pay for. If you’re not willing to pay someone before performance sometimes, it’s just not going to work out. You pay plumbers the minute they walk in the door. You pay doctors whether or not they’re able to totally cure you or not. Payment for some services might be delayed, but you’re going to pay or you’re going to be sued; that’s just how it works in the United States.

As an independent, I don’t undertake any project (especially after this happened to me) without getting at least a deposit of some kind up front. People can always say they don’t like your work, even after you’ve put hours into it, and then turn around and use it. That’s one reason why I stopped sending any company my full outline of a presentation or training session I’m planning on doing for them; I’ve had two instances where those people ended up taking my outline and doing the training themselves.

Just as some people who hire you might not trust you, as a worker you can’t always afford to trust those people who say they want to hire you; at least not fully. A deposit is a bond between consumer and contractor, and if that bond is broken, the consumer hasn’t lost much and the contractor will actually lose more in the long run because word gets out.

Your work is worth as much as your name; hence, the reason for today’s image. By the way, sidebar training, it seems that with some blogs you have to click on the image a second time if you want to see the larger version of it, and that’s the case with my blog. So, if you want to read what the plaque says, you have to click in it, wait until you’re at the next page, then click on it a second time. I have no idea why WordPress is making you do that but in this case if you want to see what it says that’s what you have to do.

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Talking Blog Content Strategies… Boring!

I really don’t mean to beat up on the post I’m about to link to. However, after reading this guest post on Marco Saric’s blog titled Why You Need A Content Strategy For Your Blog and having it be the 4th article I’d come upon on the night on the same topic, I decided I’d had enough and had to write something on it.


by Stefan Erschwendner
via Flickr

It’s not that the content I keep reading is bad. It’s that its, well, boring. Everyone pretty much keeps saying the same thing in the same way and the explanations seem to be the same and the output seems to be the same and there doesn’t seem to be any real passion or sense of any of it.

Yeah, I know, someone’s going to say “Hey, you wrote two posts on better blogging and probably touched upon the subject as well.” Okay, so I did; but there are some things I’m reading that I didn’t touch upon, or touched upon that I said in a much different way. Let’s look at some of these concepts.

1. The concept of blogging strategies; ugh! Every person who wrote about this said that you had to decide what your ultimate goal was for your blog and that you needed to think about it before you started.

I said think about what you want to write about before you start blogging because you want to make sure you’ll have a topic you can write on for a long time. In my mind, you’ve probable already thought about the reasons you want to have a blog; to show expertise, to make money, to communicate your thoughts, to rant, to pray, to be a jerk, etc.

Actually, I broke it into 3 concepts: what to write about; what’s your passion; niche or non-niche.

2. Publishing calendar; really? What is a publishing calendar anyway? It seems to depend on who you ask.

Some will say it’s a way of planning what types of posts you’re going to write and when you’re going to post them. Some will say that it’s a way of telling people what’s coming so they can look forward to the next post. Some people say it’s what’s necessary to make sure you keep writing and know what topic you want to address each time. They say you should have a schedule that goes out weekly, monthly, even yearly.

Posh! If you’re someone writing for yourself, I will say that I believe it’s important to be as consistent as you can with your posts so that if you find people that like to follow you, they get some kind of idea of what to expect from you. I’ve yet to meet the individual that can actually stick to some kind of schedule forever.

Heck, I’ve tried writing a post every single day and I find that every once in awhile I can’t do it; I might even be backing that up some. Yet I write about what I want to write about whenever I want to write about it.

I tend to believe it’s much more important to get content out on your topic, whatever it might be, than to have to back yourself into a publishing corner to try to force yourself to do something. You’ll get bored, your writing will be boring, and people reading will get bored and leave.


by FindYourSearch via Flickr

3. Write good content, be precise, and always have a call to action; duh! When I wrote a post on high quality content, I stated that one of the problems with phrases like that was that very few people ever stated what it was supposed to be. Well, the same about good content and calls to action. I tried to address it in that post and on one of my Better Blogging posts, and yet while I was doing it I was thinking “do I really have to tell people what good content is?”

Call to action is something totally different, though. I tend to believe that not every post written has to have a call to action. Some internet marketers have exactly that in every post; how many people will continue to read something that’s selling to them every day?

However, writing thought provoking posts, or asking questions, is its own form of “call to action” writing, although its purpose wouldn’t fit a marketer. I like to think of a blog writer like my friend Charles, who used to write very entertaining posts that made us smile and laugh, but what couldn’t necessarily be categorized as “call to action” posts.

Is there such a thing as a blog content strategy? Yes and no.

For my finance blog, even post must be about finances in some fashion, otherwise it doesn’t get on there. But there’s no particular style for it; other than finance there’s no particular niche either. I sometimes have a post a day, and sometimes a post a week. So, it’s got a strategy of sorts, yet not a strategy that’s so finite that I’m compelled to try to make it more than it is.

Same with this blog. My only strategy is to keep new content on it; yup, that’s it. To a lesser degree that’s my strategy with my local blog; it’s not much of a strategy.

My business blog… well, I’ve been thinking about that one a lot lately, and I’m starting to realize that maybe the categories I’ve been using for all these years don’t always fit what I’m writing about. All posts are somewhat related to my business, but I’ve been wondering if I’m stifling myself by trying to fit within the categories I’ve established. If that’s the case then the strategy needs to be changed, but even so, it’s a fairly loose strategy. It has a goal of course, but that goal is more broad than what most people might think it should be.

So be it; I’ve stated a lot of stuff here so now it’s your turn. Hot air, boring, on point, what the hey? Your thoughts please (see, that’s “call to action lol).
 

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Traffic’s Not Down, So Why Is My Alexa Rank Down?

I’m probably one of the few people that still touts Alexa as a valid informational tool in making at least a cursory determination on how well one’s website is doing online. Even if it’s not precise, as many lament, it’s a good indicator as to whether you’re traffic is doing pretty well when compared to everyone else.


by Chris Brown

So it’s with dismay that I look at my Alexa rank today and see it hovering around 114,000. Yeah, that’s not bad, but just four months ago it was around 75,000. I look at the numbers and for some reason see myself as a failure. And yet, I know I’m not a failure. After some research I’ve figured out what the deal was, and why it might take me a long time to get something like that back.

Some of you might remember that back in November I decided it was time to do a little bit of publicity as it pertains to products I’ve created, as well as talking about myself a little bit. I started on this blog, then did something similar on my business blog. However, instead of replacing the normal posts, I decided to write a second post for each blog to show up in the evenings. In other words, I was writing at least two posts a day for upwards of a week or more on both blogs.

What that resulted in was my normal traffic for the day posts, then some booster traffic on my evening posts. Those weren’t as well read as the other posts, since they were obviously of a sales nature. Yet, they still generated traffic, and that helped my Alexa status jump nicely for awhile. I went back to look at Analytics and around the same time this blog jumped, my business blog jumped as well, and at one point that site’s Alexa rank was under 200,000. Alas, it’s now around 329,000, and I hope it’s stabilized to some degree, but probably not.

What this proves is that even if traffic isn’t great, writing more posts a day can actually help your traffic grow. This isn’t really news, though, since many bloggers, especially group sites, end up with multiple posts a day, and that would explain how they rank so highly.

Of course the question is can most of us keep up with that kind of schedule and is there a downfall to it. On the first I’d probably say no. On the second, I’d want to say possibly; yeah, that’s definitive, isn’t it? lol Here’s my thinking. Over the past week, as my posts have been slightly erratic for me, some of the posts have gotten a lot more comments, even if it’s taken a couple of days for them to be found. Writing daily helps traffic stay up, but not writing as often helped comments grow. Writing two posts a day on a consistent basis, with no other reason than to drive traffic, just might be overwhelming for readers and people who might want to comment here and there.

It’s something to consider, I suppose. I’ve definitely considered it, and the way my thoughts are at the present time is that I only want to have multiple posts a day if I have something to say that I feel is significant. If it’s going to be a regular post, I’d rather space them out so that I can try to have continuous content instead.

Of course, this is just my thinking; what’s your take on it all?

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Dylan’s 70? My Top 5 Dylan Songs

As I say about blogging, sometimes you get inspiration from reading other people’s blogs and then commenting on them in some fashion. In this case it’s the blog of a local young guy who not only works for the local newspaper, but is a DJ. He has an interesting connection with all types of music, even music that, in my strange opinion, I would never expect him to know; it shows there are some younger people with an appreciation for older music.

Anyway, his name is Geoff Herbert, @deafgeoff to us here because he’s also legally deaf, and his post was titled Chillin’ like a villain: My all-time top 5 Bob Dylan songs, only he had 6 songs instead; kids, can’t count. lol Of course, he has some of these from movies and some of these with other people singing; I can’t roll like that. I’m giving you Dylan, the best of him and, well, him anyway. lol So, here we go, not necessarily in any particular order.

Just Like A Woman

I think this is the first Bob Dylan song I ever heard, from the Blonde on Blonde album, and though he had this really weird voice, there was something about this song that captured my imagination.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

This is the first of two songs in a row from the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It was also in a movie called American Pop, along with the next song. This is one of the most musical songs Dylan ever put out, very catchy tune.

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

As I said above, same album and same movie. This was probably one of the best albums he ever put out because I liked almost every single song on it.

Forever Young

Of all things I couldn’t find this one on YouTube, but I find it elsewhere. This song is from the album Planet Waves, and I sang this version of the song at a wedding, believe it or not. It’s not a love song but the bride, the sister of a friend of mine, heard me play it and requested it for her wedding; who was I to say no?


Bob Dylan-Forever Young(from The Last Waltz)

Melody | Myspace Video

Tangled Up In Blue

Well, I guess I did end up putting them in order because this is my favorite Bob Dylan song of all time, and it’s the “newest” song on my list. What a great story this song is, and some of the lyrics are classic, one of the best songs lyrically I’ve ever heard. I have to admit this isn’t my favorite version of this song, but it seems that no one has created a video with the original so it’ll have to do. At least it’s Dylan live.

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