All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Elance, Guru, And ScriptLance

In looking for some extra cash, you know I’ve started doing some freelance writing on the side. Ever since I wrote about Helium, then had the guest post by Barbara Whitlock talking about its benefits (which I still haven’t really noticed, but that’s okay), I’ve been checking out some other sites that offer different types of freelance items, not just writing. But I figured this article is a pretty nice follow up to my last article on writing articles for others.

One day I came upon a post on a blog called Just Make Money Online, my friend Shai Coggins‘ site, titled Freelancing For Cash. It was a guest post by Lisa Folder of the blog Practical Money Maker. In the article, Lisa referenced three specific sites to look at for freelance writing work: Elance, Guru, and ScriptLance. This is my review, of sorts, of the three.

Elance was the first one I looked at, and the only one of the three that I discarded, though I might still go back. Overall, it looks like a site where you might get paid better for services you provide than the other two sites. However, as a service provider, you also agree to pay them a percentage of whatever you get paid. This means Elance is taking money from both sides, which is probably why those who advertise on it have higher paying jobs than the other sites.

You have the option of registering as either an individual or as a business, but if you register as a business there’s a higher fee. However, the fees you either pay or don’t pay give you the opportunity to bid on more jobs and the like. I guess it’s not bad, but it wasn’t the option I wanted to go with at the present time.

Guru was the next site I looked at, and I did sign up for them. With Guru, you create a profile and you can add samples of your writing, as well as a resume if you’re looking for other types of work.

Something I hadn’t paid attention to, though, was that you don’t get paid directly through them. Instead, if you get a contract that you bid on, the purchaser of services puts a portion of the pay into what they call an escrow account, and Guru holds your money until the project has been completed and approved of by the client. In essence, they’re kind of the arbiter to make sure both parties do what they’re supposed to do.

One of the problems with Guru is that you have to create profiles, but you only get to create one profile for free, which means you need to select the right profile up front if you’re looking to highlight one specific thing. Instead of going for writing, I decided to create a profile for my business consulting, which might not have been the best move, because I have fewer options to choose from than I might have if I’d selected freelance writing. Oh well, lesson learned.

The final site I checked out, and also joined, was ScriptLance. This site offers computer projects as well as writing assignments, so I signed up, then went to check out some of the offers.

There’s a mixture of both low and high paying assignments on this site, but most of the writing assignments don’t pay all that well. Also, some of the people who post projects have them sitting there for upwards of a month, which means if you’re looking for something quick, you may not find it here. I found that problematic because there was one I thought would be great, but they weren’t going to be making a decision for two weeks.

However, I still got on their mailing list, which I get once a day. It shows me the latest projects out there based on my profile.

And there you go. If you’re interested in freelance or project work of some type, you can’t hurt yourself in taking a look at any of these sites to see if there’s something for you.

SEO Project – The Update

For those of you who remember, I wrote a post on April 7th titled An SEO Project I’m Undertaking. I was going to try to raise my search engine ranking for three websites using traditional SEO techniques for certain keyword phrases.

A brief history first. I decided to undertake this after Khaled wrote me and had an idea on how I could do this. I figured I was ahead of the game generally, since one of my businesses is SEO related, but usually I work on sites that have pretty much nothing going for them at all, or brand new sites. I don’t do a lot with sites that, for the most part, are optimized for their own reasons.

In any case, I decided to try. Here are the results of that trial; they’re not pretty.

Starting with this blog, I said I was going to try to get ranked for the term “affiliate internet marketing.” At the time, I was only showing on MSN search, and in position 825. Now I’m only showing on Yahoo, dropping off MSN altogether, but in 231st position. That’s interesting, but not quite what I was shooting for, as I’m still nowhere in Google’s top 1,000.

What did I do? I went back through all my posts, all 400+, looking for everything in categories related to “affiliates”, “internet”, and “marketing”. Then I started all my internal linking, using the search term I wanted by slightly rewriting some copy, and linking to articles that helped support that term. This was the longest part of the project. It didn’t end up working, but at least if people decide to read any of the old stuff they’ll be linked to newer stuff also.

Next, for my SEO site, I wanted to get ranked for the term “internet marketing consultant.” Before I started, I came up 54th on MSN and 14th on Yahoo. Right now, I only come up on Yahoo, in 479th position. Man, that’s a royal drag. How the heck did I drop so far? No real idea on this one.

What did I do? I first wrote an article on what I thought an internet marketing consultant was. Then I went through my pages and added that search term to them, linking back to the article. That was pretty much it; I added the term to maybe 1/3rd of the pages on that site, including the meta descriptions and in meta keywords, which supposedly work better on other search engines than Google; nope, nada. Now, oddly enough, my Alexa ranking did go up, so it wasn’t a total loss.

The final attempt was for one of my monthly clients. I was hoping to move his rank up for the term food doctor I didn’t think I was going to be able to do much for him, since he doesn’t have a lot of pages, but I slightly rewrote his copy to fit that in better. Initially he was 106 on Google, 45th on Yahoo, and 60th on MSN. Now he’s at 110 on Google and 54th on Yahoo; MSN stayed the same.

So, what does this tell us about SEO? I’m not quite sure. Well, I am, and I’m not.

One, trying to change things with a blog that hasn’t been geared towards a certain topic in the past is difficult, and could actually be impossible, without some drastic rewrites and possibly killing some older posts; that’s just not going to happen.

Two, SEO onto itself isn’t always enough to start ranking for something new, something you’ve never tried to rank before. In this case, for my SEO site, I either needed to write more things about being a consultant and the internet in general than I actually have on the site.

Three, I also probably should have run an Adwords campaign, not necessarily to drive traffic to the site, although that’s a big part of it, but those impressions showing up on other sites with my link couldn’t have hurt.

Four, I didn’t have the time to try to incorporate a link building strategy into all of this, which might have helped. I tried doing it all with internal linking and changing copy; I think this experiment shows that’s not enough to conquer the world.

Anyway, that was a lot of work for a lot of nothing, and I don’t see myself trying anything like that again around here. Oh yeah; my Alexa ranking here stayed pretty much the same, as it did for my client’s site.


Emails for Small Business with Constant Contact

How To Write Articles For Others

As some of you know, I do writing on the side from all the other stuff I do. You know about my book writing series which is listed above, and of course I’ve talked about writing articles for pay and creating article packages, of which one is now off the market.

A question I wanted to address is how one can write articles about things one knows nothing about. Most of us adults have forgotten what it was like to have to write research papers when we were in school, and truthfully, I’m not sure that skill hasn’t been lost with today’s kids. Anyone can parrot back what they can find on the internet. The real test of skill is taking researched content and putting it into your own words.

I’d like to talk about a writing project I did last Sunday for a new client, which will give an example of how it can be done. I was tasked to write 7 articles on a subject that I knew nothing about. Though I was given some keyword phrases, the purchaser told me I could pretty much write on anything I wanted to, as long as I got the topic right.

The first thing I did was copy his keyword phrases into Excel. Then I went to Google and typed in the main topic, just to see what came up. Based on the first page, and I have my main Google page set to give me 50 links at a time, I came up with 13 article topics I thought I could write on. I wasn’t sure those would be the final choices, but I was going to start there.

I went to 25 of the first pages that were listed, just to see what they were all about. When I saw information that I thought would help me, I copied it and pasted it into a different Excel spreadsheet, then formatted the columns so I could read it all. I then looked at certain words I was going to highlight, and looked to see how many different articles I felt I could get out of the original content I’d copied.

I came up with four ideas immediately, and three of them fit the topics and keywords that I’d initially been asked for. I decided to start off writing about the main topic, which I knew would lead into writing the other articles. This is always how I do things; for instance, when I wrote my first article package, which was on Twitter (that’s the one that’s now been pulled), the first article was on what Twitter was all about. That’s always the easiest article to write when you know something about the topic, but even when you don’t, it’s usually the easiest topic.

Next I went ahead and wrote the other four articles based on the information I already had. I didn’t plagiarize a single thing; every line I wrote was original, even if I used the same content. It was easy to do because I had multiple sources for each topic, and they all described the same thing either with the same exact words or different words. If the words were all the same, I’m creative enough to figure out other words; if they were different, I just altered some of them, rearranged others, and still came up with original wording.

At this point I still had three articles to write, so I decided to do some research on a couple more specific topics the client had mentioned, just to see what I could come up with. And I was able to figure out how to write two more articles on those keywords, and it really wasn’t all that difficult in the end. The thing is, if there’s enough research information on any topic, it’s fairly easy to write articles, and on these topics, there was.

Now it was time for the final article, and with the original research, I actually already had another topic in there, so I decided to go ahead and write it, and then I was done.

I shared the first article with the client to see how he liked it; he loved it! He liked it so much he went ahead and paid me before I’d even asked him to; how’s that for writing love? Two days later, he commissioned some more articles, and life isn’t so bad writing for him, even though one of the topics was somewhat difficult, as it didn’t have as much original material to pull from.

These articles ended up being between 439 and 656 words, and he only wanted each article to be more than 400 words. And, for that first set, it took me less than 2 hours to write them all. What’s he using them for? I didn’t ask, as, when you’re writing for someone else, you just write and give them away, and that’s that.

Anyway, that’s how I did it. If you have any more detailed questions, other than what the articles were on (no, I’m not giving that up), I’ll be glad to answer. For those of you who do write articles on something you have to research, how do you go about it?

April Income Statistics – Getting Better, Getting Worse

As we head into May, it’s once again time to look at the previous month’s income. Once again, only the actual numbers:

Adsense – $76.50
Paid Advertising – $37.30
Commission Junction – $26.80
Kontera – $.04
Link XL – $2.50
Chitika – $.11
Infolinks – $.72
Grand Total – $143.97

So, this was either my most successful month, or a setback on a couple of fronts. Let’s look at it.

First, My Adsense went down from its record $100+ last month, which is slightly disappointing, but it still topped $75, and that means I’ll be getting a check in July of some type, as it has to be over $100 at the beginning of the month to receive payment.

Second, my paid advertising went up, but I lost my page rank. Of course, y’all know that I have said that I think other things are more important than page rank, and one of those is money. Now, how long the paid advertisers will stick around on a site with no PR will be interesting, but we’ll see as time goes by.

The Commission Junction payment should have actually been in March, if you remember the March statistics report, but it didn’t get recorded until April. So, April could have been the monster month, but then April would have shrunk drastically and I might have been crying like a little girl, so I’ll take what I can get.

Also, it’s the first full month with Infolinks, and though it doubled what it was last month, I’m thinking this type of contextual advertising just might not be the boon it was advertised as being. Luckily, it’s not on this blog anymore, only on one of my other websites, so no biggie there.

So, I figure it’s time for some drastic measures, not necessarily to spice up sales, but because I’m coming to some conclusions.

One, I’m going to remove all the products I’ve been advertising that concern Clickbank. I’ve had CB for about 4 years now, and I think it’s a dog. Yeah, I said it, and some of you agree, so it’s gone. I mean, according to their stats, I’ve never ever had a hit, which I know is wrong, so I’m just not in a trusting or considering mood. Now, this doesn’t mean if I specifically buy something that turns out to be from them, test it, and like it, that it won’t be shared, but the box that, as I write this, is on the right side,… it will be gone by the time you read this.

Something that might not have been noticed is that I removed two of my products from the left side, those being my book and CD set on leadership and management. Obviously, it seems no one comes to this blog for that sort of thing, so I’ve removed them from the top left and moved them to the bottom of the right side. Hey, I did create them after all, and I’m proud of them, so they stay, at least somewhere.

I’m probably removing SEO Book also, not because I don’t believe in it anymore, but it’s not really a book at this point, but a program, and my theory is that almost no one who visits this blog has the time to put into a long program. A real book, maybe, but not a full program. I have to think about what I want to put there, though. Truthfully, I wish Joel Comm was still selling his Adsense Secrets book as a standalone, because I’d put it there, but he’s giving it away and encouraging people to buy this recurring report thing, and I’m just not comfortable with that.

That’s about all I have. Not sure what other changes I might make to some of the products, as most everything I have is related to computers in some fashion, other than the image, which I love, and I think I’m going to continue promoting an image every month, mainly because I like seeing it; heck, I’m thinking about moving it up to make sure I see it all the time; what do y’all think of the picture?

No Money Down Marketing: Discover How to Quickly and Easily Market Your Products Without Using a Dime of Your Own Money!








A Look At Page Views

Last time we talked about traffic and visits, and this time we’re going to take a look at page view statistics.

I tend to think of page view statistics as more important to how people feel about my content than the traffic, which is really more to help impress those who might want to advertise on my site. Page views show just what people are looking at, and how long they’re looking at it.

Doing it like last time, we’ll start with my web host statistics on page views. My hosting company, 1and1.com, only gives me two statistics on page views. One is the total number of page views I receive per day, which is a statistic that does nothing for me, and the other is the total number of visits each of my articles has received for the month. Since that’s one I can compare with Google Analytics, we’re going to start there.

One odd thing about web host statistics is that they seem to track plugin activity as a page on your site, which Analytics wouldn’t do. It’s important that I mention this up front because, per my host, my most visited page each month is my Broken Link Checker plugin, which of course no one else would see. Also in the top five are the admin panel, threaded comments, and robots.txt. So, I’m ignoring those and only going for actual articles.

A quick reminder; the words in this color, except for these two, are links to articles within my site. I remind folks of that from time to time. The navy is just for highlights.

In looking at what 1&1 believes are my most popular articles, this is what we have:

January

My Big RSS Subscriber Contest – 386
Page Rank SEO – A Short Blogging Research Project – 251
About page – 249
My Favorite Eighteen Blog Posts Of 2008 – 233

February

Why Don’t More People Comment On Blogs – 251
Top 100 Singers Of All Time – 219
My Favorite Eighteen Blog Posts Of 2008 – 203
The Ads On This Blog – 195

March

The Keys – 353
Visa Black Card – 302
About page – 294
Blogging Tips – 271

According to Google Analytics, these are my top articles for the same time periods:

January

My Big RSS Subscriber Contest – 116
Page Rank SEO – A Short Blogging Research Project – 70
How Do You Twitter – 45
December Statistics Report – Everything – 41

February

Top 100 Singers Of All Time – 85
Upgrade To WordPress 2.7.1; How – 81
Nine Best Blogs Of 2009 – My List – 54
At Least Be Professional In Your Writing – 54

March

The Keys – 140
Visa Black Card – 137
Top 100 Singers Of All Time – 110
Nine Best Blogs Of 2009 My List – 69

One thing I like is how some of my articles show up two months in a row; that always feels good, knowing you’ve touched enough people that an article has more life than some others.

Now, I’ve said page views is the most important thing to me, but the main statistic for page views has to do with length of time someone stays on the site. The longer people stay, the more you know they’re reading your article, or articles, and that means you’ve captured someone’s attention, and that they’re not only popping by, looking at a few words, leaving a comment based on a couple of lines, and moving on. At least you hope that’s not what they’re doing.

Hosting companies don’t track this, which is why it’s great having Google Analytics. For these same three months, here are top times for my articles, with at least 10 visits:

March – the average was 3 minutes and 27 seconds:

Keys To Leadership – 8:55
Is The Dream A Fraud – 7:59
Upgrade To WordPress 2.7.1; How? – 7:58

February – the average was 4 minutes and 21 seconds:

At Least Be Professional In Your Writing – 9:07
The Art Of Hype – 7:41
My Big RSS Subscriber Contest – 6:45

January – the average was 3 minutes and 2 seconds:

The Psychology Of Gambling – 9:03
SEO & Multiple Web Pages – 7:19
Page Rank SEO – A Short Blogging Research Project – 7:05

To me, for the number of visits I had each month, and the length of some of my articles, knowing that the average time people spend here means to me that people are actually reading the content, and that makes me feel pretty good, better than the traffic numbers indicate. It’s probably the people who know me and keep coming back who are the ones actually reading, but that still feels nice.

It’s also interesting to see that the articles that people stayed around the longest to read differentiate from the articles that had the most page views. Just so you know, if you’re looking at these stats, you could decide to pull together a combination of both the main article itself and the comments page, which Analytics also keeps statistics on, but I left that one alone for now.

So, that’s the two part study on traffic and page views, the two most important things for your blogs or websites. There is one last brief study, but I’m saving that one to add to my little SEO project, rain or shine. Stay tuned.
 

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