All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Spam Is Getting Sneakier And Sneakier

Lately I’ve been getting a different kind of spam, and I know I’m not the only one. Y’all know how much I hate spam, but this spam is sneaky. It’s a kinder, gentler spam, messages that seem like they could possibly be legitimate, and they give you pause for a short time because you just don’t know.

I’ve seen these same types of comments on other blogs, and every once in awhile you’re just not sure. What we have to do is figure out just how close the message seems to come to what our topic was about, but even then, it’s hard to tell sometimes. For instance, I received a message saying how much the reader loved my blog, and how he was concerned about diabetes also. Well, of course I’ve written about diabetes, so my first inclination was it could be legitimate. However, it was on a post about CommentLuv, and not the post about the plugin, but the post about the CommentLuv Contest, which made no sense. That’s when I decided it probably had to be spam; when I get a second comment from the same name ten minutes later on the original CommentLuv post, it was confirmed in my mind that it was spam.

And that seems to be the main trick about it all; the email doesn’t only go to one post, but it goes to multiple posts. For instance, I had a post show up on the topic of SEO, which I’ve started writing on here and there, and the writer was for a SEO company; I know because I checked it out. If it had remained only on the one post, I might have left it alone. However, it showed up on a second post about 25 minutes later that had nothing to do with SEO, and once again, confirmation that it was spam.

These guys are really getting good at writing their generic message, such that we believe it’s the real thing. It’s probably why Dennis and Sire decided to write comment policies, even though I’m still fighting the urge to write one. My only gripe, as you know, is people not using their real names at least once, so I know who I’m writing back. What some folks may not have noticed, those I figure are “drive-by” posters, is that I’ve gone in and reduced their fake names to initials, so that I can respond to something that at least makes some kind of sense to me. I haven’t had one of those folks ask me why their names were changed, which is why I figure they probably won’t ever be coming back. For tht matter, I don’t know if they ever check the box to receive comments back; it’s easy to do, something that Blogger doesn’t allow you to do if you don’t have a Blogger account (did I go there again?).

I hope y’all are at least trying to be vigilant when looking at these relatively short, yet courteous messages, and trying to verify whether or not they’re legitimate comments or not. If you don’t believe they are, don’t just delete them; if you have the choice, mark it as spam, and let Akismet, if you’re using it, learn the pattern. Man, I hate spam!
 

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February Statistics Report – Still Growing

Once again, time for a monthly finance report, and anything else I want to talk about. And the good news is that this is my best month ever online.

Let’s do the breakdown of making money, this month only talking about things I made money on. That means the list will be short, but the last item will be a small surprise. Here’s the list:


Adsense – $77.69
Commission Junction – $37.04
TLA – $32.30
TTZ Media – $.25
Kontera – $.06
Startup Rebel – $.00, with qualification
Grand Total – $147.34

So, it was my best month financially. Now, I did show Startup Rebel, which above shows no dollars. I actually made a sale, but the next day the customer asked for a refund from the program, and that brought it back down to zero. Still, it was a sale, and if it had counted, I’d have made another $23. So, the numbers show us that Adsense is kicking behind, and Commission Junction took a nice little step forward. Nothing much directly from this blog, though. Most of that Adsense money came from my medical site again; I need to think of another niche I care about and build another website at some point.

Of course, this is the first month where I changed the types of ads I was putting on the site, as well as moving my own products into the top left, which many people questioned. I did say I was testing, and of course most affiliate marketing books say one should try to market their own stuff first. It would seem that this blog isn’t a good source of traffic to any of my products, though. At least in the first 24 days, it didn’t drive a single visitor to any of these products pages; that either means no one cares, or I’m the worst marketer in the world, to not even drive one stinking visitor. Then again, overall it’s pretty pathetic; this blog drove only six people to visit my main site during the month, and only one person to visit my other blog. That’s in direct comparison to my main business website driving 161 visitors to this blog, but my business blog didn’t drive a single person here. That’s actually kind of weird, now that I think about it, but I’m not going to go crazy trying to figure it out.

What does that mean for the upcoming month? I’m not really sure. I love how Adsense is doing its thing, but I need to step up the affiliate marketing thing a bit more, and I’m not really talking about this blog as much. I’m about to do a minor redesign on one of my sites, and I also have a plan on adding some affiliate links to my medical billing site, topics that are related to what the site is about. On my finance blog, I’ve already added a couple more finance related affiliate products. I’ve got some other ideas in the pipeline also, but I’ll keep those to myself for now. And, oddly enough, last month I said I wasn’t going to promote Startup Rebel anymore, then I made a sale, though it was taken away. So, I’ve added it to my list of recommended products over there on the right, and of course you’ll see the little affiliate ad at the end of this post; strike while the iron is hot!

And there you go. Sure, I’m not in the stratosphere with the big boys, but I took a big step forward in February, and I can only hope to grow from there.

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How To Know If Your SEO Is Working

Since this is about to be my third post, I guess I can officially call this a series on SEO, my first official series of 2009.

There are lots of people who write about SEO, search engine marketing for the uninitiated, and there are lots of tips given. Heck, I gave five tips myself, as well as talked about how multiple web pages can help your efforts on your regular website. So, in one way, I’m like a lot of other people.

But in another, I am my own man. In this case, I’m going to tell you something that I’m not sure anyone else will tell you, another tip if you will, that I know I’ve never read anywhere else, but it’s possibly out there.

One of the questions that may be out there for some folks who aren’t quite up to snuff on SEO is how one knows it’s working. For some, SEO is only working if their websites or webpages are in the top 10 on Google. Since there’s a big world of websites and blogs out there, making sure everything you do ends up in the top 10 is a daunting task. If that’s the only standard for everyone then there’s going to be a lot of people thinking they’re doing a bad job.

So, here’s an easier way, and all it takes is Google Adsense. Yup, that’s what I said, Adsense. Google has set Adsense up so that it’s supposed to bring up ads that are related to the content on your webpage. If you’re checking your main blog page, which will usually show multiple articles in some fashion, you may not be getting exactly what you’re hoping for, which will happen if you write on multiple areas of a topic. However, if you check individual posts, you should notice that the advertisements showing on Adsense are related to what your post is about. As a sidebar, you might have to sign out of your account to see the ads from the point of view of your visitors.

I decided to look back through my last 20 posts to see what came up on Adsense. I used IE, since it’s not my main browser, and therefore I’m not signed into it, to view them. Out of those 20 posts, 17 of them are optimized properly. Well, let’s define that; there were 3 posts on blogging, so my ads were about blogging, and I guess that’s standard. On my blog, whenever ads don’t quite match up to what I’m writing about, Adsense shows posts on either blogging or Adsense; I wonder how much Google pays itself when their own ads show. πŸ™‚

Anyway, if I wanted to, I could go back and change the language of my posts somewhat, or maybe add something different into my All In One SEO Pack, to see if that might change some things up eventually. Or I could just move on, because, let’s face it, we all hopefully know that not every single one of our articles is going to knock the ball out of the proverbial SEO ballpark (that’s a baseball reference, for those who aren’t from the U.S. and may not understand the reference). Sometimes, it’s best to move on and work on the newer stuff, or maybe, if the article was a particularly close one to your heart, then do something with it.

Anyway, that’s a quick down and dirty way to check your SEO. Give it a shot and see if your SEO efforts are working; that is, if you’re giving it any effort. πŸ˜‰


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Book Writing Series Part Seven – Contacting Publishers

As many of you know, I started a series of articles that I called the book writing series, for which I also have a link at the top. I went through some issues on planning, writing, then publishing. Well, some people still want to try to get a real publisher for their books, which is a laudable goal, but may not have any real idea of how to go about it. That’s what this article is about. Of course, I hope you go through the other issues first before you get to this one if you’re a new visitor, but you don’t have to.


the Pen

To begin with, if you’re going to try for publisher’s, a must have book is Writer’s Market, because that’s where you’re going to start looking for the names and addresses of publishers you’re hoping will accept your book. However, the book doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, so stay tuned.

To start off with, whether you submit your book by regular mail or email, you’ll need to supply an outline, or synopsis, of the book. My book was non fiction, so I supplied an outline of what each chapter’s topic was, along with its title, and an outline of what was covered in the chapter if I was touching upon more than one theme. Also, every publisher or agent either wants one of two things: a complete copy of the book, which, if you print it out, has to be on individual pages, double spaced (that’s kind of costly and wasteful, but if that’s what they want then you give it to them); most publishers only want a sample, maybe like the first 50 pages or so. If you’re sending something by email, you may need to contact the publisher first before sending an attached file. This is one place where having Writer’s Market helps, because it will tell you how the publisher wants you to contact them.

However, here’s the big part that no one ever tells you. Unless you’re already famous, you have to put in your greeting letter, and you must ALWAYS have a greeting letter, not only what the book is about and the characters and synopsis, but how YOU would sell and market the book if it were totally up to you. You have to tell them who the target audience is, and why that’s the target audience. And it needs to be a big audience, one that has the possibility of selling at least 100,000 books. That was one of my problems; my non fiction book might have had a big market, but books on management and leadership rarely sell that many books unless you’re a big name. The One Minute Millionaire really was a fluke (I met Ken Blanchard, by the way, and he actually read a copy of my book). Anyway, the marketing aspect has to include things like book signings, certain types of radio shows you’d try to get on, television interviews, how much travel you’d be willing to do, etc. The problem with that is that a lot of that stuff would come out of your own pocket; they’ll pay you something up front, but you then have to figure out how to fit everything else into place with that money.

The best thing to do then, obviously, is to try to get an agent, but they’re tough to get through to also. They don’t like signing what they consider as a “one trick pony”; in other words, they usually want to know that you’ve written more than one book, no matter how good they are, because they want to pitch the writer as being somewhat prolific so they can get multi-book deals. So, unless your first missive is just so fantastic that the agent knows you’re the next coming of J.K. Rowlings, it’s a difficult sell. She’s actually someone who’s a great example of how to do it. She got an agent not because of the first book, but because she had a full outline for the entire series of books, and the agent just loved that, even though she’d only written the first book at the time. Even then, he had a tough time getting it to someone initially, but that was then his concern, not hers, since agents still work on commission. I don’t think any of them are unhappy at this juncture.

If you’re looking for an agent, you pretty much have to go through the same process you do for a publisher. There are only so many agents, and because most of them are one person operations, they only have so much time to read only so many books. The reason you might shoot for an agent, though, is because some publishers will only work with agents, not directly with writers, and agents have access to many more publishers than you might on your own.

Now a little bit more on figuring out the categories for your book. Though I love the idea of a book falling into multiple categories, publishers won’t. In the Writer’s Market book, many publishers only market a few types of genres, so they’d need something specific. These days, more publishers are starting to get scared of “true story” books because of the ones that have been outed as fake recently, so if you reference anyone specific in the book they’re going to want to know who those people are, and of course want to obtain releases from those people, or most of those people, and that gets expensive. If it’s me, I’d probably want to market it as fiction based on your own experiences. In any case, deciding upon your genre will help you decide how to help market your book.

It can be a tough environment, but if you’re committed to trying, I hope those steps above help.

Samsill Sterling Writing Pad

Samsill Sterling Writing Pad

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At Least Be Professional In Your Writing

I understand that we’re living in different times. The need for some to communicate their thoughts faster, and sometimes in fewer words or characters, is more common now than ever before. Schools seem to be more interested in grading students on the content of what they’re written, rather than the words and sentence structure used to create those words. I asked this one awhile ago, and I’ll ask it again; does anyone except me still use semicolons?

What am I commenting on now? This is an email I received yesterday:

Hi,

I visited ur site n am interested in doin Link Exchange wid ur site, if u
r also interested thn pls get back 2 us on the above email.

i too got few automotive sites and blogs with good visitors on it ….
would u like to link exchange for betterment of both our sites ?

let me know if interested πŸ˜‰

Link Exchange wid Blogroll

What the heck is that? Did a 10 year old just send me a marketing email? Oddly enough, I was insulted, and I’m still not sure why. Just an hour later I received another one, though longer, on my TFB blog, which I just sent to spam and deleted, written the same way. Not to mention that it had nothing to do with the topic at hand, just a stupid generic sales letter. Here’s a portion of that letter, and remember, that particular blog of mine is on financial issues:

I am a webmaster maintaining some finance related sites & blogs with good pr & good traffic. I have just seen ur sites, it is really very informative & related to my topic also. If u don’t mind I want u as my link partner.
I think this is the only way to get high traffic & pr soon, in other side this is very safe way in front of the search engine. I do interested abt healthy content or banner link exchange with my top quality finance sites & blogs. If it is needed I will go for article or useful finance widget link exchange.
If u agree with my proposal plz feel free to reply me with ur good finance sites & blogs urls. I will also do the same with a revert mail.

That’s exactly how it came. No spacing for paragraphs; lots of truncated words; nothing about my topic at all. Is this serious business? Would anyone in their right minds consider this as appropriate business conversation?

We talk often about writing new, good, and original content for our visitors on our blogs. One shouldn’t suppose, however, that blog writing is more important than business writing. When I was a director, I used to edit every letter that anyone on my staff wrote that they were planning on sending out to our clients, if you will, not because I wanted them to write as I write, but because I would see examples of their writing and formatting “skills” and decided that wasn’t the image I wanted to convey to our clientele. At some point I created templates for them to use, where they could just fill in the blanks for those issues that were common. Unfortunately, that type of thing doesn’t work across the board, and sometimes you do have to craft original letters.

I don’t begrudge anyone an occasional typo, but those two letters above were written that way on purpose. Frankly, the only reason I kept a copy of each of them was so I could write this post; I’m not responding to either one of them. If that’s how someone wants to write on their blog, or if that’s how someone wishes to comment on another person’s blog, that’s just fine for them. But when it comes to business communications,… well, if they start wondering why they’re not getting much of a return on their marketing, I bet we could tell them why.

Or am I talking like an old person? Someone let me know.

Shih Tzu 2010 Pocket Planner

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