All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Where I Find Inspiration

Our friend Peter asked an interesting question in one of his comments. His question was where I find the inspiration for all these posts and newsletters that I do. I guess it’s because I have a large output for all my blogs and my one newsletter, and of course all the writing I do for other people here and there.


I find inspiration in many places. Almost anything could spark an idea for writing a blog post. Even visiting other blogs or reading news stories or seeing what’s going on via Twitter or Facebook can spark something. And sometimes it’s a comment, like this post. Let’s take a look at my previous 10 posts on this blog to see where I got the inspiration from; I’m not going to link to them, just so you know.

I wrote about evaluating when to end something because I was reading another one of those blog posts where it was recommended to never give anything up because success is just around the corner. I had just a couple of weeks earlier stopped writing one of my newsletters because I realized I didn’t have what it took to write it anymore, and thus I felt what I was reading was contrary to what I was doing, and so I wrote about it.

I wrote about the song We Are the World because I was walking on the track at the gym listening to my MP3 player and it came up and I got chills listening to it. The impact was still strong when I got home, and there you go.

I wrote a Sunday post on cravings because I’ve been having a lot of them. I had just days earlier started a new metabolic eating plan that I’m being evaluated on, and I had been craving chocolate almost nonstop.

I wrote a post on the Count Per Day plugin because on one of the blogs I write for they had it, and I tested it to see how it compared to Analytics and wrote my thoughts on it all.

I wrote a post on blogging and Twitter because of a local event that showed just how fast news, good or bad, can spread based on a blog post and its popping up on Twitter, and how a business can either be ruined or have a chance to save their reputation.

I wrote a post on simple answers to what seems to be difficult problems because I’d just gone through two things, one literally a couple of days earlier, where I’d done a lot of work for nothing.

I wrote a post on the things a blog should have because of a comment someone left asking about it. Then the next day I wrote a post on the administrative area of WordPress because I had just helped a friend of mine set up a new blog, and she looked inside it and was really confused over what she saw.

I wrote the next Sunday post on trust because it’s the political season, and thus all those political commercials are on TV these days. It’s interesting how much we all hate them because they’re so mean, yet these people keep putting that trash on, and thus we don’t trust them because we know they could care less about us and are only in it for their own reasons.

And finally I wrote about the components of a newsletter because my friend has been thinking about writing one and kept asking me about length, images, etc, and it seemed like a good idea to write a post about it in case someone else had been wondering.

And there you go. See, it doesn’t take a lot to determine what to write a blog post about, even if I were writing a niche blog. Of course, this is the fun blog, so I write more posts on this one than the others. Inspiration really doesn’t have to be hard most of the time; all you have to do is pay attention to what’s going on, what people are saying to you, and of course your own feelings.
 

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The Basics Of Writing A Newsletter

I’ve been writing a newsletter for more than 7 years now. I was writing two, but I already wrote about why I gave up writing one of them.


When I started, there weren’t tons of email newsletters out there. Not that there weren’t any, but I’d seen very few when I decided I was going to write one. Over the years I think I’ve refined it somewhat, to the point that I believe I can now tell others my thoughts on writing one. Sure, everyone has their own style, and that’s fine. You can see what I have to say, then take from it what you will and do your own. My opinion, my blog, and thus I’m writing my beliefs on the subject. By the way, if you’d like to subscribe to my business newsletter, there’s the link for it.

The first basic is that you have to have something to say. Just like the recommendation I make to bloggers, if you don’t think you can write about something for at least a few years don’t even start it. I know people who start writing one and give up after 3 or 4, or go six months or more between them. To me, that’s a waste of time and insulting to your readers, since they took the time to sign up.

The second basic is determining a style. The lucky thing is that you don’t have to keep the style you start out with. When I first started writing my business blog, there was little personality in it. As I kept writing, I knew that people might like seeing more of what I was about and why I might come to the conclusions I do when writing my newsletter. I’ve come to a style now where I start off with some kind of story most of the time, then use the story to get to my point. Not that I have thousands of subscribers, but I can say that once I went to a less formal format readers seemed to enjoy it more, and I started getting some comments, which almost never happened before that.

The third basic is determining what your purpose is. Will your newsletter be to showcase your expertise? Will it be a sales and marketing newsletter? Will it be a combination of both? Will you post a product, and will that product be related in some way to your topic? Will you highlight your business in some fashion, or just entertain? Will your newsletter have new content, or will it be a recap of blog posts you wrote during the week? My newsletter is to highlight my expertise in certain business areas, and I’ve stuck to that all these years. It took me awhile to realize I should have not only my business listed on it but my products and some of my other websites. And it wasn’t all that long ago that I started adding two books that I recommend in some fashion with every newsletter that addresses the topic, at least most of the time, as I haven’t been able to resist popping something in every once in awhile that I just happened to like.

The fourth basic is determining the look and format. The newsletter I have now is the culmination of maybe 10 different styles or colors. It used to be really colorful, and every newsletter had a different color. Now it’s pretty clean; all white background, dark blue print and framing, and the books. As a matter of fact, I’m going to let you see one of my newsletters, the last one I’ve written, because I not only want you to see it, but because I was somewhat inspired by a blog written by one of my favorite commenters here, Karen Cruz, and she honored me by not giving the link out to the newsletter and I want to thank her for that. The title of my newsletter is Money, Power and Respect, and Karen’s post was titled Letter of Resignation.

By the way, a quick sidebar to Charles, who comments here and writes a great blog as well. What I just did in linking to a specific post on Karen’s blog is a trackback. If she’s got it turned on, her blog comment will show this link in it saying I have linked back to, or tracked back to, that specific blog post.

The fifth and final basis is determining how you’re going to send it out, or delivery. I’m not going to get into how to market it or publicize it, as that’s another topic entirely; just stemming that question for now. Anyway, You can decide on a number of things; send out email, post it to a website or blog and let people know about it, print it and send it out in regular main, set up a forum, etc. What I do is send it out in email along with the HTML attachment, and then I put the link online. I’m thinking about either creating a membership site at some point with all my newsletters in there, since new subscribers don’t have access to older newsletters, or taking what I consider are my best written ones, re-edit them, and put them in a book format. I’m just not sure yet.

Oh yeah; how many words? That’s up to you. I’ve seen some newsletters that are barely 300 words, and others that are nearly 2,000 words; I think I’ve written one or two of them. Someone said the standard should be between 500 and 750 words; I tend to think, just like blog posts, you write as much or as little as you need to and then move on. For instance, if you’re writing an instructional newsletter, you might be using images and thus cut down how many words you’re writing. Or you might have a long story to tell to get to your point, in which case you write longer newsletters. Mine come in between 750 and 1,100 words most of the time.

And that’s that. If there are other questions I’ll be glad to answer them. Otherwise, good luck!

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Sunday Question – How Easily Do You Trust Others?

I’d be lying if I said I was the most trusting soul. I treat everyone equally when I meet them, but I don’t take many chances with people until I’ve gotten to know them.


Trust Us, We’re Experts
by Paolo Massa

This is an interesting topic because many people will say that they’re not the most trusting of souls, yet their actions will betray them. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. She was telling me a story about things that kept happening where she works. I asked her why she hasn’t learned the lesson about people and stopped saying things in front of those who she knows will turn against her in a moment’s notice. She said that she gets mad, gets careful, but as things calm down she drops her shields and forgets the previous problems, and then it happens to her again.

It’s not that there aren’t times when I trust people to do the right thing. I tend to believe that most people will try to do the right thing. And I trust that they believe they’re doing the right thing. It’s just that I don’t trust everyone’s judgment at all times, and I worry about how it might negatively affect me.

So, I work hard at maintaining a sense of neutrality across the board until I do figure people out. Good people will always flesh themselves out. I truly believe in my three core principles when evaluating everyone: loyalty, honesty, and trustworthiness. You can’t ever tell that based on a first impression, which is why I take my time in evaluating people who will stay in my life a long time.

How easily do you trust others? Do you take time to make sure, or do you make friends easily, only to lose some of them just as easily?


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Indigo Blue

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5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area

This post is kind of a request, but in actuality I knew I was going to be writing something on it anyway. In the last 10 days I’ve created 2 blogs for clients, and so far neither client has done anything with the blogs because they said they don’t know what to do. I took to it like it was nothing, but I’m starting to recognize that it’s obviously not as simple as I think it is for everyone. And even if you know how to use it, maybe I know some things you might not have thought of. So, let’s get started.

1. Users. I’m betting most people thought I was going to start with Posts. That’s number two. Users has its own category on the left menu. Click on that and you’ll see all the names that are registered on your blog. Most probably it’ll only have your name or “admin” there, but if you see other names don’t panic, as some people like to subscribe to your blog that way.

Click on Edit under your name and you’ll be taken to the area where your settings are. The first choice you have is whether or not you want to use what they call the Visual Editor or not. This means do you want the site to add coding to certain things such as when you want to bold something or put a link in so other can just click on it or not. If you don’t know how to do any of that stuff via HTML, leave it alone. Next, decide if you want either blue or gray, as the default is gray. After that, you can change your Nickname, so if all your posts are going out under “admin”, which is the default, they don’t have to. You really don’t have to do anything else here unless you want to. Don’t forget to click Update Profile or else nothing you did will be saved.

2. Posts. Click on the Add New link. If you’ve been writing you know that this is where you write your posts. What you may not have known is that all the other things you see on this page can be moved around. All you have to do is go to the top of any of the boxes, such as categories or Publish or whatever and you’ll see your mouse arrow become a 4-way arrow. Hold down your mouse key and drag it wherever you want it to be, and you’re done. That’s neat to use if there’s something you do all the time and don’t want to have to jump around a lot. Many plugins you might decide to add later on will show up in here. I have 5 things that you may or may not have that show up here, and I’ve moved things around for my benefit.

The Publish area is one you should know about. I’m not going to rewrite a post I did called Future WordPress Posting, but I will say this is where you can change the date for posts if you want to write some ahead of time, make a post private so no one else can see it, or make it sticky so it’s always at the top of your main blog page. You can also click on Preview and it’ll open a new window so you can see what your blog post will look like before you publish it. I do this often to check my links and images beforehand.

Finally, this is the area where you can decide if you want comments or trackbacks on an individual post or not. This will override global settings. I have gone and turned off comments on old posts where it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to comment on anymore, and thus it blocks spam from finding those posts. Same with trackbacks; if something was time sensitive and we’re past that time, a trackback can only serve to tell you someone tried to steal it.

3. Comments. Some people respond to comments on the actual blog post. Others respond to the few comments they see in the dashboard. I always respond to comments here because sometimes you want to do some other things to them. For instance, in my comment policy, I mention that I don’t accept keyword names unless I know someone’s first name. Most of the time those comments are spam, but when they’re not, I edit the names. If you notice, under every comment there’s a menu of things you can do. I hit Edit, then go in and alter the name based on my policy. Strangely enough, I’ve never seen any of those people who I’ve edited come back; think it’s me? lol Also, this is where you can see your counts for how many comments a post received; depressing if you have none, I’ll admit.

4. Discussion Settings. Go to Settings and click on Discussion. This sets how you want the flow of your posts to go once you’re written them; this is where the global settings are (that means the normal rules for posts you decide not to override later on). For instance, you can determine whether people have to have a name and email address to leave comments on your blog; I strongly suggest you do that. You can set how long you want a blog post to be live to accept comments before you turn them off; I don’t use this, but many folks do (Rummuser, I’m talking about you lol). If you want comments to be threaded you can do it here; I’ve found, though, that some themes don’t offer this choice, so if you don’t have it, your theme might be old. Look at all the choices and determine what fits you. Especially look at the gravatars thing at the bottom and determine how raunchy an image you’ll accept on your blog; mine is set to PG.

5. Links. Yesterday I talked about blogrolls a little bit, but whether you want it for blogs, business, information or whatever, this is where you’d put those things in. You might already have some here that you want to delete; WordPress gives you about 7 when you first set up your blog. To add a new link of some kind, obviously click on Add New. The four important things to know here is to put in the name, put in the link to go to, put in the category you want it listed under (it allows you to create new categories), and finally what you want to happen if someone clicks on it. I always click on _blank so people go elsewhere and my blog is still sitting there.

That’s it. A very brief tutorial, but if you didn’t know all that stuff, now you do. And if you want to know more, then make sure you check out my post called 5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area.

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5 Most Important Things Your Blog Should Have

I’ve been blogging for a long time now, and I’ve also seen lots of blogs. I’ve come to the opinion that not everyone has a good understanding of the most important things their blogs should have for them to be successful in some way.


by cambodia4kids

I’m not talking about making money. What I’m talking about is offering your visitors access to information that they might want that can only help you in the long run. It’s the overall combination of certain things that make your blog user friendly, and I’m all about being as user friendly as I can be when it comes to accessing information. So, here’s my list of the 5 most important things your blog should have.

1. Search function. I know that not all themes come with a search function, but I believe it’s imperative. Sometimes your topics might not fully indicate everything you’re talking about, and allowing people to search for certain terms or subjects helps them find what they’re looking for. It benefits you because you spent all that time writing those posts, so you might as well help people stay on your blog longer. If your blog doesn’t have the search feature then add the one from Google, which means you have the opportunity to make money and still offer something good to your visitors.

2. About/Contact page. Mine are separate, but you don’t necessarily need two separate pages. Showing people a way to contact you shows you care for people as consumers of the information on your blog. If it’s a business blog it’s imperative that you have this information, with at least an email address. If not, if you want to be taken seriously and not have people think you might be a scraper or have something to hide you should have that contact information somewhere. Adding it to your about page is a great way to do it, but if you want to say something more about yourself, which I obviously did, then have two separate pages.

3. Categories. No matter what your blog is about, having categories gives people the opportunity to lock in better on the content they want. For instance, I have lots of categories, but they’re specific to what I talk about. If you want social media you can get all articles in that category. If you want writing, the same thing goes. It’s definitely reader friendly.

4. Archives. This one might be debatable by some, but I think it’s an imperative. Your visitors can come by and see just how long you’ve been blogging, and if you’ve been blogging a long time it enhances your authority for others on your subject matter. It might not be as important for brand new blogs, but once you reach six months worth of material, no matter how often you write, it’s great to have this widget on your blog.

5. Blogroll. This one is definitely controversial to some, but I see it a different way. If you want to highlight blogs you like and want your visitors to see that’s fine. If you only want to use it to link to your other websites that’s a smart business decision. Many people miss this opportunity to always have a link to their personal websites. You get to set up the titles of the categories on your blogroll, so you can have blogs, business, information, etc.

Those are my top 5 most important things. Do you disagree or agree?

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