All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Is Instant Messaging Dying Out?

I remember when I first got into instant messaging. It was 1997, and I had just learned about ICQ, which is still around. There was AIM, and I don’t remember if Yahoo Messenger was around at that time. But ICQ offered just what I and my family members needed.

Through ICQ, I was able to connect my dad to all of his brothers and sisters, a couple of my cousins, and some friends I’d met through newsgroups. Later on, I had some friends I would talk to. We’d talk often, pretty much every night, and it was fun. Of course, ICQ tanked in a big way, but still, there are other instant messaging systems; even Facebook has one.

These days, I can’t find almost anyone who’s using instant messaging. It’s pretty much been replaced by Twitter and Facebook, and even a little bit by email. Sure, email was around back in ’97, but many friends wouldn’t use it for whatever reason.

Is instant messaging dying out, or am I just too old to have many friends who want to use it anymore? I ask that because it seems the people who say they still love instant messaging are all younger than 30. Obviously most of my friends are older. I only have one family member who still has an instant messaging account, and he’s rarely on. The friends I have accounts for almost never show up. There’s a couple of people I talk to sometimes during the day while they’re at work, and when I’m out of town my wife and I will try to have conversations through Yahoo (though I use Trillian), but that’s about it. I don’t even know anyone who uses Facebook’s instant messaging, though I’m sure there are people who do.

I also wonder if it’s why having Meebo on my business sites doesn’t seem to bring me much communications during the day when I hold office hours, which I announce on Twitter every once in awhile. I mean, one would think someone would take me up on the chance to speak to me live, but nope, doesn’t happen.

What are y’all thinking about this? Anyone else lamenting the demise of instant messaging, did you care, or have I just passed by the age where it makes sense for my friends and my business?

November Income Report – Going Backwards

When I posted my October income report, I really thought that was about as far back as I could possibly go. Well, I was wrong. This month’s income is even worse, and I have to admit that I don’t have high hopes for December at this juncture.

First, the numbers; short indeed:

Adsense – $50.62
Google Affiliate Network – $3.07
Infolinks – $7.90

If there’s any bonus for the month, it’s the strong jump in income from Infolinks. What I decided to do early in November is add it to my Medical Billing Answers site on a trial basis. Seems it’s working, and I’m going to leave it there for now. I also decided to add it to my Smoke Not So Much site as well, but that site generated almost nothing. However, that site did generate its first Adsense money in November, so maybe it’s close to being ready to start generating something positive.

I guess the good news is that I’ll be getting an Adsense check at the end of the month; who-hoo! I probably need to figure out a better way to drive people to my sales page, which is highlighted by me holding that parrot on the right, as well as figure out how to drive more people to my other sales pages, if I’m going to continue doing this stuff. At least this blog sent 6 people there in November, Commission Junction should be bringing in nice money; I know I’m doing it all wrong, though.

And that’s that; let’s see what the final month of our first decade in the 21st century has in store for me.

Microsoft Store

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Deciding When To Go To A Paid Model

I’m not going to lie. I love finding free stuff on the internet. If it’s applications I can use that will handle little stuff for me, it’s all good. If it’s information that I’m looking for, even better. It’s not that I’ll never pay for anything, but I find most of the time that the free stuff addresses my specific need and nothing else. Most of the time that suits me just fine.

I also recognize when I have to be realistic and pay for something. Depending on what it is and how much it is, I will look around for a bargain. But sometimes there’s only one place, or one way, to get certain information. if I need it bad enough, I’ll pony up the cash and get it done.

Sometimes it’s us who are giving away a lot of free stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but every once in awhile we have to look at what it is we’re giving away, how much of it we’re giving away, and whether it’s time to start charging for at least a portion of it. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’ve started out establishing that you’re doing a lot of things for free.

Such is the case with my Medical Billing Answers site. Many of you know that I’m also a healthcare finance consultant, centering on revenue cycle issues. That’s charge capture and billing for most of you. Anyway, I set up that site to try to give information to people in terms that were fairly easy to understand. I add articles to that site from time to time also.

I actually created the site for people who wanted to learn some things about insurances and the like and to get some information on how medical billing works as far as getting their bills paid. I also said that I would answer medical billing questions, one per customer, for free.

What ended up happening is the people who were asking me questions were people in medical billing. And some of the questions they were asking was some pretty technical stuff. I had answers for everyone, but sometimes I had to do a bit of research. That didn’t trouble me all that much; however, when more of them wanted me to provide links to prove that my information was correct, I figured that was the last straw, so to speak.

About 8 days ago, I decided it was time to go for a paid model as far as answering questions. I set it up on my consulting services page that I would now answer medical billing questions for a fee, $4.50 per question. I would also entertain as many questions as people had, as long as they paid for it, which obviously was a change in the business model. And, while I was at it, I set up a monthly consulting fee that I don’t think is overly high and is a pretty good deal for smaller hospitals or physicians offices that don’t the money to bring in a high priced consultant to help them out.

Then, while I was at it, I figured it was a fairly good business model to add to my business website also. After all, if I can provide consulting services and stay home, all through email, and can get enough people to pay my monthly fee, why not take a shot, right?

So, how have things progressed thus far? First off, no one has paid for anything, but it’s still early, and we had the holiday. As a matter of fact, I figure that all the bad stuff I’m going to mention can be blamed on the holiday week, so I’ll probably have to check the stats after another week to see how things really are. Anyway, second, I haven’t made a penny since last Monday, and this is my biggest Adsense money making site. However, my consulting services page is also the 5th visited page over the course of the week, which means people are at least looking at it. And they’re reading it, as they’ve spent an average of a minute and 55 seconds on it.

How about on my business site? My new consulting services page was the 8th most visited page for the first week, and people stayed there an average of 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Now that’s a bit of overkill if you ask me, but in my mind it’s telling me that people were at least thinking about it, even if they didn’t pull the trigger. Maybe it was because of the holidays; I can only hope. Since I only have Adsense on a couple of pages on my business site, I didn’t expect it to bring in any money.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to make money from your specialty. I can honestly say there are a few blogs I visit where I know they have some stuff that they should probably be charging for. Not everything, of course; I’d never charge anyone for reading my blog, like Garry Conn did at one point for certain posts (I’m not sure if he’s still doing it, but it looks like he’s started accepting comments again, and he has good stuff so give it a look). But I have been asked why I’m charging for my webinar when many people use theirs as freebies to help promote themselves. And I answer because I didn’t give a fluff presentation of nothing to entice people to pay big money for something later on, I gave real information that people could immediately use and thus I charged for it.

It can be a struggle in deciding what, and when, to start charging for certain things. If any of you have tried it, or have thoughts going to a paid business model of some sort, please share them, because I think it’s something valuable that many people should think about every once in awhile.
 

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A New Thing In Subscribing To Comments

I happen to use the Subscribe To Comments plugin for this blog. My version basically just adds this little box at the bottom so people can check it and get notification to any post they’ve left a comment on.

It seems that’s not quite enough for most folks these days. I’m starting to notice more and more than I’ll leave a comment on a blog, and almost immediately I’ll get an email saying if I want to subscribe to comments I have to click on a link.

I have yet to click on any of these links. I know why people are doing it, or at least I think I do. In their own way, it’s to try to cut down on spam, although I’m not sure that’s quite correct. After all, it’s not like any of the blogs I’m talking about haven’t shown my comment as soon as I’ve written it, which means any spam comments would automatically go through.

Frankly, I can’t think of any other reason for people to have added this particular wrinkle to their blogs. Once again, we get into talking about making the commenting process easier for those people who leave you good comments, and telling people that if they want to see if they’re being responded to that they have to click a link in an email and then they’ll hear back from the blog owner just doesn’t seem all that friendly to me.

Of course, I could be way off base. For anyone who has this set up and feels there’s a good reason for doing it, please enlighten me. The only other thing I can think of is that someone is worried that the person leaving the comment isn’t actually that person, and I can’t think of a single time that’s happened on any of my blogs, and I mean ever.

Blogging can be interesting, can’t it?

Westport Big & Tall: Look Your Best

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Rocky And Bullwinkle Turn 50

I always knew 1959 was a special year for more than the fact that I was born that year. Turns out Rocky and Bullwinkle debuted on TV the same year this month.

rocky and bullwinkle

My earlier memory of Rocky and Bullwinkle was actually in the mid 60’s, when my family returned from Tokyo. By that time, is came on Sunday mornings, but it seems that it started out as a prime time cartoon, like the Flintstones.

That’s because it wasn’t really a cartoon for kids. Sure, the animation was goofy and the dialogue, for the most part, was kind of silly. But it was a thinking person’s cartoon. There were a lot of in-jokes and things that you had to have read as far as literature goes, or had to be up on the news. In an odd way, it was the Family Guy of the past, only clean.

It was easily my dad’s favorite cartoon. It was one of the few things we watched together, and he would laugh outrageously at it. I would laugh also, at different things, although I also loved hearing my dad laugh, so that made me laugh too. He also loved Fractured Fairy Tales while I was a Mr. Peabody fan, and every once in awhile, we’d deal with Aesop’s Fables. The little interludes with Bullwinkle’s Corner and Mr. Know-It-All were fun as well, and even now, every once in awhile, I’ll say to my wife “Watch me pull a rabbit out of the hat.”

One of my best memories of Bullwinkle and Rocky actually came while I was in college. My friend Scott and I decided to go to Syracuse University for a Bullwinkle marathon. I don’t even remember which one we saw, but we laughed long and hard throughout the night. We finally got all the jokes that we’d missed when we were younger. What a rush!

At this point, I have two DVDs of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, and 4 or 5 VHSs, although I don’t get to watch those all that often; man, what are we all going to do with all those VHS tapes? I was probably one of only 25 people who actually liked the live action mix called The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and I might be the only one who enjoys the new cartoon they’re working on now. How’s that for being a fan?

Happy Birthday to Rocky and Bullwinkle; what memories do you have of this dynamic duo?

Rocky and Bullwinkle, Complete Season 2


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