All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

The Sense Or Nonsense Of Captcha

I’ve written a lot of posts about commenting on other blogs, so many that at times it seems that’s all I talk about. Luckily, with as many posts as I write, it’s not true, but I still write about it often. My very first post about it was more of a rant, as I asked the question is it easy to comment on your blog? I’ve addressed a good many areas of commenting, but I’ve just noticed that there’s one thing I really haven’t talked about, and I’m surprised by it because it’s one of my big time rants, obviously to myself.

Funny CAPTCHA
Luke Jones via Compfight

I hate dealing with most of the “captcha” that people have on their blogs. For the uninitiated, “captcha” is what it’s called when people set up these special conditions for being able to leave a comment on their blog. I don’t mean registering; I mean having to type in those goofy little characters, or do a math problem, or answer the question ‘what is your mother’s maiden name’ or ‘what are you wearing’.

Okay, I’ve only seen that last one once, and I never went back to that blog (don’t ask which one it was, because I really don’t remember). Heck, for that matter, I’m going to include those few blogs where you leave a comment, then you receive email saying you have to click on a link before your comment will show up; are you kidding me?

I understand why people have captcha. We’re all irritated any time we get spam, and, supposedly, by setting up these captchas, it helps to eliminate almost all of these spam messages from getting through to our comment sections. I’ll also admit they’re pretty effective, but not perfect.

Heck, I advocate Akismet all the time, and I find it to be the most effective spam blocker for WordPress blogs that there is, but it doesn’t get it all because, well, spam is always evolving, and it takes Akismet time to learn how to deal with some of it. Still, it’s pretty good, and I couldn’t, at this juncture, recommend anything better.

It’s strongest suit is that I don’t have to have any kind of captcha on my sites. I don’t have to set up the ones where you have to type in some goofy letters, especially those where letters are either hidden slightly with lines being drawn through them, or with a similar background color as the letters, only slightly lighter so you can supposedly see the darker letters.

You know what? I have difficulty seeing these letters, and, at a certain point, I’m not going to comment on anymore blogs that have these things on them. There was a wonderful blog I read last night and went to leave a comment, and it was red lettering against a bright pink background. I had to try three times before I got it right. I mentioned it to the writer of the blog, who said he’d try something else, and the next colors were green against green; that wasn’t much better. I saw later that he tried blue against blue; ugh!

The Hardest Captcha.
Britt Selvitelle via Compfight

Then there’s the captcha that has the letters with swirly lines between them, and if you can’t see the letters it offers you the opportunity to listen to the letters. I’ve never been able to decipher a single one of those things, so I usually end up hitting the button that will recycle the letters at least once, sometimes multiple times, until I get a letter combination that I can actually interpret. Talk about being comment unfriendly.

I don’t mind the math captcha as much because I can at least see that. And there are some captchas that are easy enough to read that I don’t mind, but others I hate. For instance, I hate when you’ve written your comment, hit “send”, then you get another window with a captcha in it that you now have to fill out before you’re done. Why not have it already there so we all know it’s there beforehand?

Yeah, it’s only another few seconds, but quite often I’ve hit “send” and moved on to the next thing, only to come back to that window later on and find that my comment hasn’t gone through because I hadn’t completed their captcha thing yet; ugh!

Folks, for as many posts as I write and as long as some of them are, I also consume a high number of blogs and blog posts from other people. This means that when I leave a comment, I’m ready to move on (btw, most of the time I’ve perused the other comments before I write mine, unless there’s a lot of them, just to see if I’m going to be in agreement with many of them or taking a different avenue).

We all talk about wanting more visitors and subscribers. But when you make it hard on your visitors in any way whatsoever to interact with you, you risk alienating a lot of people, almost as many as when you have those subscription popups (yeah, y’all know I find those things irritating also).

I do understand that some blogging platforms, like Blogger, don’t have access to something like Akismet to protect them. At least, for the most part, I can read the letters on the traditional Blogger captcha. For the rest of you, please, find an easier, more inviting way to protect yourselves, and encourage your visitors to participate in the process.
 

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How Do You Twitter?

What, another Twitter post from me? At this point I’ve written 32 posts that have mentioned or concerned Twitter. I talked about Twitter when I mentioned how, during the election, social media “outed” a few people as to how they really think and act. I talked about the types of things that make Twitter interesting. I ever shared a video with this very cute young lady talking about different applications as they apply to Twitter.

This time, it’s a much different conversation. Whereas there are some people who hardly write on Twitter at all, there are some people who lose their minds and have to tell everyone what’s going on every step of the way. Here’s an example of someone who might be like that:

Anyway, one of the people I follow on Twitter, Beverly Mahone, had an interview with Wendy Y. Bailey that I listened to on a podcast, and the conversation turned to how each of them wanted to use Twitter. Beverly stated that she enjoyed using Twitter to have conversations with people, as well as to learn something about others. Wendy stated that, for the most part, she used Twitter to promote her business and her interests, and didn’t spend as much time just socializing. There was also a conversation as to whether it’s “snobbish” or not to not add everyone who adds you as a friend.

It led me to think about how I use Twitter. I mean, when I first signed onto Twitter back in April, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to use it. I knew a couple of people who were on, so I looked them up, but after that I just wasn’t sure what to do. I then decided to check out who they were following, and added some of the same people. After that, a few people started following me, and things were on.

At that point, I still wasn’t sure what to do. So, I thought about it a little bit, then realized that I could share my blog posts with people following me, and they might visit my blogs. And some did, which was really cool and neat, and now I had another way to use Twitter.

However, I still wasn’t sure what to do outside of that. So, I started reading more of the posts, and I started responding to some of what people were talking about. And they started responding, which was neat. Twitter has people from all over the world, which of course means from all over the United States, and I was talking to some of them; neat!

I’ve talked to some famous people. I’ve talked to some top internet marketers. I’ve talked to some big time bloggers. And I’ve met more people who live in my own area of the country since May than I’ve talked to in probably the last 5 years, and I go out to networking events and belong to two Chambers of Commerce.

I realized that I do more socializing than marketing of my business. That actually suits me, because there is one top internet marketer who pretty much only markets on Twitter, which can be somewhat irritating until I realized that the reason I follow him is because I want to learn about internet marketing. I follow some people who talk about some of the goofiest stuff in the world because they make me laugh, and keep me entertained. I realized that Twitter is pretty much everything to everyone who decides to participate. The only rules are you can’t be too crude, and you can’t spam people, which is a good thing because I absolutely hate that.

As I mentioned in the post about my Big RSS Subscription Contest (you didn’t think I was going to forget mentioning it, did you?). I’m looking for more Twitter followers, but I’m not begging people to follow me, ala the video above. She’s cute, though, isn’t she? Let’s see some more:

Okay, she’s irritating at the same time; now, where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about how I use Twitter, and how I think Twitter can be of some benefit to a lot of other people. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but then nothing is. But, in the last few days since I’ve been back home, I’ve had 3 people ask me more about Twitter than I had expected at this point. I’ve helped this as much as I could, but I’m thinking it’s time for a bit more than what I’ve given. So, because I’m in video mode this evening, here’s one last video, not with the young lady this time, on how to use Twitter. Enjoy!

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Is Control A Facade?

Today I’m flying back home, after finding that, when I got back to Reno, the CFO of the hospital I was consulting for had hired another consultant to take over what I’d been doing. The odd things are that I didn’t report to him, but someone else, and that person had sent an email out last week saying he was appreciative of the good job I was doing. Anyway, as a consultant, it’s the type of thing one has to deal with, so I get to come home and reload.

Gun Control
HELEN M BUSHE via Compfight

These types of situations always lead to many questions, and one of those questions that also applies to internet marketing and affiliate marketing and our blogs and websites is just how much control we really have over all of it. It sounds strange when one considers what it is many of us are trying to do with our blogs and websites, which is to generate some kind of income, because we’re the ones who build the websites, and we’re the ones who write the content for our blogs, and we’re the ones who select the items we want to market on our blogs. It all gives us this facade of control, but just how much control do we really have?

Let’s look at affiliates first.

The main two that I belong to are Commission Junction (which I dropped in October 2016) and Google Performance Network (which went away in 2013). Overall, they’re not bad, though I’m not making nearly the income I thought I would.

Since May I have lost many affiliates because New York state decided that online affiliate companies have to collect taxes from sales made by New York state affiliate marketers. I ranted about the taxes a few days later when I lost a few more affiliates. And then last month I lost even more affiliates for the same reason, just when I thought that time period had passed. Both CJ and GPN know that I’m from New York, so you’d think they would automatically disqualify me from some programs where their advertisers have informed them that they don’t want to work with New York marketers.

That’s not the only issue with affiliates. Lately there have been a number of affiliates through Commission Junction that are changing their payout schedules, as well as changing the marketing rules for how you’re allowed to advertise for them, and you can bet that none of it is in our favor. Some other affiliate types are discontinuing signing bonuses for new marketers, citing cash issues, which to me is an incorrect tactic in a negative market because those companies that did offer it also had a goals level that one had to attain in sales before they could collect on it. Frankly, it might have made more sense to raise that level for new affiliate marketers than what they’ve done, but it’s still proof of one more thing that’s out of our control.

I also believe my December report, which Ajith had indicated wasn’t very good, shows that as much as most of us work to attain high visit numbers to help generate some sort of income for not only our blogs but our websites, sometimes it requires some extraordinary effort that, though itey might seem it’s within our control, really isn’t. My little research project showed that it’s really not all that easy to figure out just what’s going to impress visitors, search engines, and advertisers, but that still doesn’t apply to making more sales.

Does this mean we give up and let anarchy take over? Not at all. It does mean that all of us need to think more about these types of things and be ready to alter our processes for maximum effect without too much effort that brings low returns. Heck, y’all have seen my goals, and I realize that to reach these goals, and my personal financial goals, I have a lot of work to do and a lot of thought to put into it.

What do you think of my reasoning, and how would you decide to progress where your effort equals your input?
 

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December Statistics Report – Everything

Last month I said that I was going to start giving my entire online profitability, not only the blog, because, well, truthfully, only reporting on the blog ends up being a bit depressing. So, I’m going to not only talk about the blog, but about my online income as well, since my overall goal is to make significant money online, and not only on the blog. Kind of a branching out for me, but hey, if Yan can talk about branching out, then so can I.

So, here we go. My total monthly online intake was $60.22. That’s down from November, but that’s okay because I noticed there wasn’t a lot of activity the last week due to the holidays. I was on a great pace, though. The blog income was $15.75, also down from last month. That might be incomplete, though, and I’ll get to why. I made $12 from Text Link Ads, 10 cents from Widget Bucks, 19 cents from Kontera, $3.00 from ScratchBack (thanks to Dennis and Sire), and 46 cents from Chitika. Link XL is the anomaly here, because it only has a report from November and nothing else, which is odd. I might have to reach out to John to find out what went wrong there, but most probably I didn’t make anything. Anyway, this tells me overall that I’m averaging about $500 a year online, which is more than enough to pay for my online expenses, so I’m seeing that as a positive. But, for those of you who saw my online goals for 2009, it means I have to increase that figure 4-fold. How will I do it? Not sure, but I’ve got a few ideas here and there.

Per Google Analytics, I had 992 visits to the blog this month, which is my first decrease in 10 months, and drastically so. My ISP also reported reduced numbers, down to 16,208. Very disappointing numbers, but the reduction explains why I made less income this month. However, since I still wrote 24 posts in the month of December, I think it starts to validate Peter Lee’s post about commenting on other blogs, since I didn’t get to visit as many blogs and make as many comments as I’m used to doing in December. I do believe now even more than before that there is a direct correlation between commenting on other blogs and the visits you get to your own blog.

It wasn’t all bad news, though. I did finally crack the Technorati top 100,000, hitting 96,562, although, as I check today, it’s done some weird readjustment and I’m now looking at 183,557; can one drop that far in less than a week? Especially when I’ve increased my authority and fans in the same time period? Well, it is what it is for the moment, but that’s really weird. I’d also hit a top number of RSS subscribers as of last week with 55, but today it’s down to 47; I guess I need to make sure to not miss as many days in a row, I suppose.

So, those are the numbers, fresh and honest. This is going to be a tough month because I’ve got some major travel coming up, but I’m going to see what I can do anyway.

Body Pillow Large New York Giants






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My Online Goals For 2009

I see the year 2009 as kind of a bellwether year in my personal and professional life, and therefore I figure I have to have goals that help me get to places I want to be eventually in both of my lives. Though I’m still working on coming to grips with it, I’ll be turning 50 at some point this year, even though, overall I don’t feel any older than 19 or 20, which is what my dad used to say to me all the time. But I am older; I feel it when I get on the floor for something and then have to try to get back up. I feel it in the mornings when my body aches and creaks as I try to get out of bed. I have a disease that I’m fighting all the time and not winning the battle, unfortunately, but I keep working on it, in my own way. Yet I’m always optimistic about life in general and my life, and my mother said she sees that as my strongest point.

So yes, more goals. I’ve been writing goals for years, probably starting in 1999, the year I turned 40, but I didn’t start putting them on the internet until 2006. I haven’t always reached my goals, but I don’t let that stop me from writing them and putting them in public, because one, we still have to have goals, and two, one is more apt to at least give a better effort to goals that they share with others than goals they keep to themselves.

First, I’m going to address last year’s goals, but I’m also doing something a little bit different this time around. In previous years, I’ve only put five goals together, and only written it on one blog, my business blog called Mitch’s Blog. This year, I’m putting the same beginning on each of my three blogs, then I’m putting different goals on each of those blogs, which means I’ll be accountable for 15 goals rather than just five. Talk about pressure! And yet, it’s no pressure at all because I should be able to achieve at least half of them this year, with some renewed faith, more and better planning, and of course all of you looking at me and saying “hey, what’s going on there?”

So, let’s look back at last year’s goals and see how well I did.

My first goal was to lose 25 pounds. No, that didn’t happen, and I’m ashamed that it didn’t happen, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying, at least initially. My weight stayed pretty much the same while I was home at the early part of the year, though I was exercising at least 4 days a week. I continued on my exercise plan and my eating plan, where I had a major change in February that didn’t result in weight loss, but did result in a drastic decrease in my glucose level, which was very important.

Then I started going out of town more, and on the first go-round I started gaining weight and my glucose went out of control. When that contract was over I came home, lost that extra weight and got my glucose back under control again, but didn’t lose any more weight than the bit I’d gained. Now I’m on a new consulting assignment all the way across the country, and even though glucose has gone up I haven’t gained a single pound since I’ve been gone. But I also haven’t exercised. So, I will be working on fitting exercise time in when I go back out of town, and work on modifying how I eat while I’m in a hotel room, especially now that I have a room with a kitchen in it. I’m sending back containers to pre-cook and measure some meals, which I’ve not been able to do before while on consulting assignments, so hopefully this will help me get everything back under control.

My next goal was to get caught up on my taxes. No, that didn’t happen, mainly because my consulting assignments were so spread out that I couldn’t put anything consistent together.

My next goal was to give speaking engagements in five states that I didn’t give one in before. That didn’t happen because the person I’d hired to help me book speaking engagements decided to get out of the business.

My next goal was to finish writing one of the many books I’d started. That didn’t quite turn out the way I had intended, but I did write an ebook on using one’s website as a marketing tool and started selling it online.

My final goal was to find the time to take a 3-day vacation. I haven’t had a vacation since 1998, or taken any real time off since 2001 (when I was still employed with someone else), and I had hoped this would be the year. I get to claim one trip a year as a business expense, but I didn’t get an overnight trip in this year, so no vacation. That’s not good, but I guess that’s my life to date.

Anyway, that’s a quick recap of my goals for last year. At this point, my goals will be different on each blog of mine, and I’ll be giving the links to each blog post so the most intrepid of you can check them all out to see what I’m hoping to do with myself in 2009. A couple will be repeated from what’s above, but not on the same blog; at least not all of them.

On this blog, I’m going to list my top five professional and personal goals for 2009. They are:

1. Earn at least $2,500 online. This is kind of an audacious goal for me, and yet I keep thinking it shouldn’t be this hard to do. When I gave my November report, I only gave the numbers for this blog and nothing else. I think I’m going to change that up for December and ongoing because I’m truthfully not expecting that blog to make that kind of money, though the money it makes I’ll love anyway, but I’d love to get to a point where I’m making enough online income that I really don’t have to do anything else if I’m not in the mood. However, one has to have a starting point, and I figure that since my overall online income for 2008 has increased about 300%, I have shown that one can make some money online, so why not have a stopgap goal that’s possibly attainable if I do a few more things? And the thing is, y’all might benefit from the information if I get there; what’s to lose, right?

2. Revamp my S&S site. S&S stands for Services and Stuff, and it was my dream of having a web portal of sorts that hasn’t done close to what I had hoped it might be. I actually did get an offer from someone to buy it this year and turned it down because I felt there was still some great potential with it. So, I’m keeping it, but thinking about how to change it around.

3. Work my way up to 500 subscribers to my blog. That’s not such a bad goal, even though, to tell you the truth, I’m not fully sure how to do it. I mean, I write pretty good content here, get lots of comments, comment on other blogs, and even wrote a post saying that I wanted more RSS subscribers, which perked up the subscription base a little bit, but then it tailed off again. If I’d put that my goal was 100, that would be a nice improvement, but hey, let’s think big here. By the way, I want more RSS subscribers!

4. Determine at least three series to write on this year. I wrote two series this year that I thought were pretty good, one on blogging, the other on writing a book. The series on blogging got lots of hits, but the one on writing a book didn’t do as well. Yet, I still think both were important. I’m not sure what this year’s series will be on, but I want to have three more sources that show I’m at least somewhat knowledgeable in some particular fields.

5. Get into Technorati’s top 60,000. You know what actually drove this one? It was this post on the top ten black blogs of July 2008. That was the article that made me decide I wanted to have a highly ranked blog, and then after checking out Winning The Web’s Top Internet Marketing Blogs, where I’m sitting at 248 at the present time, I realized that Technorati was my way to work my way up into the mix. Right now I’m sitting on 101,157, which is a nice increase for a blog that’s just past its first year in existence, but I want more. I thought about working it through my business blog, but realized this is really the one where I have a chance to get it that high, and of course with it being my main commerce blog, the higher it’s ranked, the more advertisers of all types might come ‘a-calling.

And that’s that. you’ll have to check out Mitch’s Blog to find out my personal and business goals for 2009. To learn about my financial goals for 2009, you’ll have to check out Top Finance Blog.

So, I’ve stated my goals. What do you think of them? What are your goals for 2009? Share them, if you dare. 🙂

Heroes of the Dc Universe Green Lantern Bust

Price – $59.95






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