All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

How Social Are You Ready For?

How social are you really ready for? Whether you’re into social media for marketing or pleasure, you have to be careful when determining just what it is you want to do and how you want to do it. Social media can be overwhelming; if you don’t believe me, remember the first time you were in a live chat room, if you ever did that, and how difficult it was holding multiple conversations at once.

Yoel Ben-Avraham via Compfight

I only did that a few times before I realized how overwhelming it could be. One night I kept up 16 conversations for 2 hours, and I think I rarely blinked; I couldn’t even get to the bathroom! It was fun, but I couldn’t get to anything else I wanted to do.

That’s how social media can be for some people when they overextend. Sometimes one can overextend with just one thing, such as spending hours upon hours on Twitter or Facebook or whatever social media option you’ve chosen. Sometimes you can overextend yourself by trying to get into too many things, then trying to find the time to do them all.

I see that when I read some people’s Twitter posts. Do you know there are over 100 different ways to track Twitter posts now, and that’s not including mobile phone apps? Who has the time to try all these things out? Definitely not me, but some of the younger set does because they seem to be hard to please; yeah, I said it! lol Not that it’s a bad thing, because out of those things they want come new platforms, but it’s a never-ending search for perfection that just isn’t going to happen.

Then there are people looking for new ways to meet people in places other than Twitter or Facebook. That’s not a bad thing except some people sign up for everything, and once they’re there they send requests to all the people they talk to in other places, trying to get them over there as well.

It’s the programs and websites that ask them to do this, but sometimes it’s overwhelming. I get probably 5 or 6 new requests a week for sites and applications I’ve never heard of from someone I may or may not know all that well. I also get repeat requests that I’m not sure the people know are being sent to me because I refuse to join.

The thing is that I’ve figured out my limits, and I’ve figured out my time and strategy for both business and personal use. I’m already pushing those limits while still trying to do other things. Introducing more things into my life that essentially are the same as what I already have isn’t in my best interest.

What do you feel is in your best interest when it comes to social media? Are you satisfied with what you’re doing now? Are you always on the lookout for a better way to do things? And do you feel stressed or satisfied with the amount of time you’re putting into your social media projects, which by the way includes blogging?
 

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Sunday Question – Is 50 The New 40?

I happen to be 50 years old; I figure if I say it enough times I’ll get used to it. However, I’m not used to it for a few different reasons.

me at baseball game

One, mentally I don’t think I’m close to that age. I feel like I’m actually 21 years old most of the time, educated yet barely an adult. Never having any kids, often I feel like I haven’t had to grow up all the way. I haven’t gotten used to being called “mister” yet, and somewhere in my mind I think I’m still cool enough to talk to the kids and get respect. Yeah, right.

Two, I don’t look 50, other than my hair. And I figure that doesn’t really count because I started getting gray, rather white hairs, when I was 21 years old. Here and there I’ve colored my hair because I thought that was way too young to have my hair changing color, but these days I just deal with it most of the time. Most people think I’m around 40 years old; I like that, though I miss the days when they thought I was in my early 30’s. I have no wrinkles, which helps.

Physically, I feel like I’m 65 many times. I have back issues. My memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. You’ve read about my health club escapades; my body used to respond much easier and quicker to the same things I’m doing now in working out. I can still lift some amazingly heavy weights, but my back yells at me for doing it. I can still play a good 90 seconds of heavy paced basketball before I need 3 hours to recover. That’s a shame, but it’s reality.

On balance, I feel more like I’m about 38-40, but 40 is a nice round number. Thing is, there are a lot of very nice looking women who are in their 40’s and early 50’s these days. Where was that when I was 30? True, I still see some people younger than me who look much older, but overall, that doesn’t seem to be the case. For all the talk that people around the world are getting heavier, I think people are looking better far longer in general. As long as they don’t overindulge, no matter whether it’s food or drugs or drink or sun, people are looking amazingly younger at older ages. Who hasn’t noticed how great Raquel Welch looks as she’s just turned 70?

Oprah said some years ago that she thinks 50 is the new 40. Now that I’m there, I’m thinking the same thing overall. Heck, if I can get myself in shape, I might even lower that one a bit. What do you think?


High-Quality iPod/iPhone Accessories

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The Problem With Editing

As y’all know, I fancy myself as a writer. I think at this point I can qualify that statement with all the different types of things I write and have written. I thought about recounting all the things I write, but then decided it was easier to link you back to a previous post on how much I write. Actually, I’m writing more than what was in this post at the time, which is scary.

However, I wanted to talk about editing for a little bit. There’s always problems with editing, especially when you’re editing something that someone else wrote. Editing really comes down to the issue of what you like and are looking for versus what someone else has said. I find that it’s a fine line sometimes between editing to help someone fix typographical or grammatical errors and changing the entire tenor of what someone has written.

About six weeks ago I helped a friend edit her book. She’d had some other people look at it and I guess they’d made some suggestions here and there. I went at it with a critical eye, first looking for typing errors, then looking for grammatical errors, and finally what I consider errors of omission. Let’s take these in order, because they’re quite different.

Typing errors are more than just misspellings. A typographical error could mean things that are capitalized that shouldn’t be and vice versa. They could mean words that are spelled correctly but not the right word for the sentence, such as when we see people always getting wrong the concept of ‘there’, ‘they’re’, and ‘their’. This is actually the easiest thing to fix because most often the rules are cut and dry.

Grammatical errors are in a way the hardest edits to make. One of the issues with grammatical errors is that you have to take into account the fact that people speak differently depending on where they live, and of course where you live. For instance, most places I’ve lived in, when you went outside to throw the ball around, you were ‘playing catch.’ In downstate New York, and it appears areas of Pennsylvania, they call that ‘having a catch.’ Another example is that when I was younger we would ‘go to lunch’, and now people ‘do lunch’.

Those are small examples, but they become important when you need to make sure a person’s home voice is heard instead of the voice of the editor. There are words I often use when writing something that someone will say “I’d have used this word instead.” My general thought is that “You might have used that word, but I wrote it”, so I tend to stick to my guns. However, if someone used the same word four times in one sentence, suddenly it’s a different issue because the readability of the sentence is in question, whether the writer understood what he or she meant to say. There’s also the issue of writing for your audience to understand you, yet, because it’s how you talk, suddenly throwing in a word like ‘perspicacious’ because it hits your fancy, and now you’re sending people scrambling to look it up because you didn’t think of writing ‘using good judgment’ at the time. If it’s honest and how someone speaks, every once in awhile you just have to leave it alone.

Errors of omission are either difficult or hard, depending on the reader and the types of things they’re used to looking for. At my writer’s group, one of the participants is always looking for more detailed descriptions of people and what they look like, little touches in rooms to help her see it in her mind, and other thing such as what foods smelled like, did mouths water, what kind of sound a car made, etc. That kind of thing doesn’t always enter my mind. What I look for are things that don’t explain something that a writer has put into a story. For instance, a character’s name being mentioned without any explanation before or afterwards as to who that person is or was. Or a tale being told that’s missing so much detail that you wonder why it’s there in the first place.

Something I don’t do all that often on this blog is edit. When I write here, I’m kind of in my own Mozart zone; what I say is what I say, and when I’m done saying it I move on. I do look for typos, but as Sire has shown, every once in awhile I miss a word. This blog is freestyle, and I enjoy it for that reason. I edit much more thoroughly on both my business blog and my finance blog, because the audience for those blogs is much different than this one, and the topics always more serious. When I wrote my first book I edited it 7 times, and I asked a few other people to edit portions of it as well. Remember I helped Guy Kawasaki edit his book Reality Check back in 2008, one of many people he asked for help (talk about feeling honored!). That was one time I didn’t speed read.

Editing is a very important component of writing, but its importance devolves depending on what it is you’re doing and your audience. While no one wants to read a lot of stuff that’s missing simple words over and over so that it gets in the way of easy reading, studies have found that most of us will insert words here and there that are missing so that it’s not a big deal. If you’re writing your own blog, do the best you can with some effort, but don’t hurt yourself. If you’re writing for others, or hoping to make money, that’s a different story altogether. Remember the three critical areas of editing, whether it’s for yourself or for someone else.

Godinger 25335 21 Inch Crystal Fish Bowl

Godinger 21-Inch Crystal Fish Bowl

Price – $118.46






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New Site Vs. Cleaning Up A Site

Are you a professional? Do you have a website? Does your website represent you as a professional?

Many professionals decide to create their own website using products such as MS Publisher, Frontpage, Word, etc. The thing about programs like these are that they use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) technology, which makes it easy for them to use because they don’t have to learn code, but also creates many issues that don’t help them get the professional look they’re hoping for. Now, if you’re only creating one page, you can probably do a fairly competent job with things like this and move on with life. But almost every time, if you want to add more than the one page, things start going haywire.


coding example, modified

I recently had conversations with a couple of friends who do a lot of what I do. I asked one question; if you had your choice, would you rather create a new page from scratch or would you rather fix up a page someone created using WYSIWYG. Both said they’d must rather create from scratch, and that it would cost the client less to do so most of the time.

See, there’s the caveat… MOST of the time. Let me explain. Back in 2008 I wrote a post after I had finished working on a client’s site. He had used MS Publisher to create his site, and if he’d only stayed with the main page it wouldn’t have looked so bad. But every succeeding page looked different. The menu kept changing colors, the background moved around, he had a picture on one page that totally threw off the spacing, multiple fonts, sometimes multiple colored fonts… it was a mess. He did the best he could, but when he couldn’t get things looking right, he contacted me.

What I did for about 3 hours was try to remove code. He only had 10 pages, but there was so much code that it took me all that time to take care of 3 pages. That was ugly, and I was irritated. And I noticed that as I was removing code, his menu really wasn’t working anymore. It was totally skewed by Publisher because it had decided to create the menu on each page as an image, which means I couldn’t make it standard. Eventually what I decided to do was recreate his first page cleanly, figuring out his colors and changing a few, and that included his menu. It took a couple of hours, but once I got it done I then had a template that worked for all of the rest of his pages except one.

That was the one page with the image, and it took me a couple of hours trying to figure out how to get everything on that page to balance with all the other pages based on the new template. Eventually I got it figured out, moved all the other content, uploaded to his new host and all was right with the world. That took 10 hours to do, but would have taken much longer if I hadn’t been able to just create the template.

Recently I did another similar project. This one wasn’t as simple; more pages, more pages that were designed differently than the other pages. This was going to involve removing code, but also adding code. WYSIWYG allows for some formatting things that it doesn’t necessarily add code for, such as numbering and listing items, and it sometimes does some funky things with images. If you’ve ever noticed how some blogs have images that sit above or below the content instead of having the content wrap around images, like mine, you can bet those sites are most probably set up for WYSIWYG, although depending on the theme sometimes you’ll need to add some code to get those images to look right (I do).

Anyway, I had to remove a lot of code. Because of some tables on some pages, I couldn’t just create a template page for everything. However, I’ve learned some lessons over the years, and one is that when you can, copy newly cleaned code from one page to the other, always making sure to put it in the same place. That helped greatly when it came to the business name and the menus , and probably saved at least 3 hours of coding; many pages on the site, as I said. I found a few other places where I was able to do something similar, all saving time, and the final thing I did was to create a CSS file so that colors and fonts and other specialty things could be handled from one place.


color chart example

Of course, there’s still the little bit of extra coding one does when fixing things, and it’s always wise to make a copy of a page so that you remember what things looked like before you started so you can try to put them back where they belong. But it’s always important to make sure a website has some type of balance. If your site has a title, the title should always be in the same place. If it has a menu, the menu should always be in the same place. Think of it this way; if you were looking for someone to take care of you and went online to search, unless you knew them wouldn’t you potentially gauge their competence by how smooth their website was? No one needs to be perfect; you just look for some things to be standard so you can navigate through a site easily enough.

Oh, by the way; it only took me 13 hours to do more than 3 times the pages of the first site. We’re always learning more efficient ways to do our work so that we can hopefully save clients money and ourselves time and frustration. When you can, it’s probably better to allow the person working on your website to redesign certain things that will still look good but save you money. When you can’t, just acknowledge that it’s going to take time, that time costs money, and either bite the bullet or make changes one step at a time. That’s harder to do when you want a professional looking site, but you can only pay for what you can pay for. Yes, I meant to say that. đŸ™‚

Internet Radio

Price – $149.98






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Social Media Marketing Strategy, Phase III

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m going to be doing this social media marketing workshop on July 22nd locally, which is next Thursday. My friend RenĂ©e Scherer of Presentations Plus! and I have been working this thing both online and offline, although she’s much better offline than I am either online or offline. I initially brought up this subject in a post talking about my social media marketing goal, which was to put bodies in the seats at Hope Lake Lodge in Cortland, and wrote a follow up post on how I was applying the social media strategy early on. I’d like to progress from that point to tell you where things are now as far as the marketing efforts.

Hope Lake Lodge

You might want to know why I’m talking about it. Whether it’s a great success or not, when I do the workshop next week, I’d like to talk about the online strategy I undertook in trying to promote this event. My goal, of course, is to put bodies in seats. My other goal, however, is to make sure that there’s not a single local person who I’m in contact with online who can say that they didn’t know I was doing this thing. If people can’t come, that’s one thing; after all, it’s summer, vacations and the like. It’s another if someone who would have wanted to come said “You were doing that; man, I’d have loved to come to that.”

How have we progressed since the last post on the subject? First, I finally went down to see the place, and I have to admit that I was amazed. You know, you get impressions about places, and knowing that it’s originally a ski lodge, and I don’t ski, my imagination was running wild. It’s an amazing facility overall, and it’s much bigger and more spread out than I’d known it would be. The lodge is pretty big also and they’ve laid it out so that you can get either basic accommodations, which are fairly nice, or really soup it up and go luxury, which will include kitchens, multiple bathrooms, fireplaces… the works! The indoor water park wasn’t what I was expecting either, and it’s neat because the outdoor pool actually works like a hot tub when it’s cold, and a regular pool when it’s warm, as it’s always 84 degrees. Just an amazing place overall.

That visit ended up prompting this video that RenĂ©e shot, though she shot it up this way in front of the sign highlighting the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which we’re both members of, since they’re helping us promote by sending an email blast in support of our putting this thing on. Here’s the video:

Not bad, eh? Anyway, this allowed us to add the link to the video in the latest email blast, and of course to pop the video link on both Twitter and Facebook. I’m going to pop it on LinkedIn as well, and in my last email blast I’ll make sure it goes out. This was actually pretty important because I now know how to help people set up a YouTube account, although for whatever reason it wouldn’t let us upload an image last night; these things can be hinky sometimes.

Of course email blasts are important for us to do, and RenĂ©e has been using Constant Contact to sign up for your Free trial, which is offering a free trial, to send her email out. She’s going to be teaching that portion of the workshop, as it’s something I still haven’t tried out, but I really need to one of these days.

indoor water park

Meanwhile, you’ve probably seen the sticky post, and for others who come into the blog they’ll see it as well. I’m going to be leaving it up after next week, but changing the date to August 19th, as that’s the date of our second presentation. I also finally wrote about it on my other two blogs, so that made it a 3-pronged attack on Twitter, since every blog post shows up there.

The rest? I’m making sure I post the link to the registration page at least once a day on Twitter. I’m probably going to step that up over this last week, since I seem to always be up, to make sure I hit both the morning crowd and the evening crowd. I have a lot of local folks following me, so I’m taking no chances. One more email from me and that’ll be that. And get this; we were able to get the people at Hope Lake Lodge to send an email blast to their mailing list, which was around 20,000 people; neat! RenĂ©e can talk people into doing some very interesting things, I must say.

Also, I realized that I needed to create an event on my Facebook business page. I was under the initial assumption that creating an event the normal way would move over to my business page since I was the guy creating it, but it doesn’t work that way. So I created the event and popped it onto my business page there, and I helped RenĂ©e pop a link on her Facebook page as well. I didn’t have her create a new event because it would have read the same way as mine, and I figured that since we have many of the same people on both of our pages that would be a bit redundant.

Right now, I can say that we have enough bodies so that we can do this thing, and that was the initial goal. Of course we want more bodies, so it’s time for the final push. How will it all end up? Stay tuned!

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