All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Google Analytics Goes Wonky

Check out my Big RSS Subscriber Contest after reading this article.

Talk about your oddities. Deciding to do a regular check of statistics on Google Analytics for this blog, I came across some of the oddest figures I’ve seen in a very long time. I don’t believe them and I’m not trusting them; let me tell you why.

According to Analytics, this blog was visited 661 times yesterday. Remember, that’s not unique views, but supposedly actual visitors. That’s just phenomenal; it blew my scale away. Except I don’t believe it; couldn’t happen.

Why? Because none of the other numbers make any sense. Supposedly, it wasn’t one article that attracted someone’s attention. Every article on the site was visited at least once. The average time per page view was only six seconds. Now, pageviews could be accurate, but it doesn’t correlate with the number of visits.

Out of those 661 visits, 652 of them came from the United States. No, that’s not necessarily uncommon. I thought that maybe it was me, sitting on one of my pages all day, but I didn’t; matter of fact, I actually shut the computer down for a couple of hours yesterday. And, when we look further, 639 of those visits came from California; I live in New York. And even more, 637 of those 639 came from the California city of,… Montara. Where the heck is Montara? My wife said “it’s probably that big dot there”; she’s a poor man’s Bugs Bunny.

So, someone from Montara could have decided to look at every page on my blog, as that’s possible, but that wouldn’t account for 637 visits, would it? I mean, can anyone see one person coming to my blog, looking up a page, then leaving and coming back? And, that person didn’t come back through the main page if they did do it, because the main page doesn’t even show 20 people coming through that way.

Part of me wondered whether it was some sort of botnet attack, but, since I don’t know much about those, it would make me wonder why none of my other sites were “blessed” with such traffic at the same time, since they’re all on the same server. I just don’t get it; strangest thing I’ve yet to see.

Does anyone else have any ideas on this? Obviously there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit here being freaked out and a little bit stunned. I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on things to see if it goes back to normal by tomorrow, but still,… Weird.

Microsoft Corporation Microsoft Office Word 2007 – Complete Package






Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2017 Mitch Mitchell

The Psychology Of Gambling

Check out my Big RSS Subscriber Contest after reading this article.

This might seem like an odd post for this blog, but stick with me for a bit. Over the last couple of days, I’ve read some stories about people in positions of some type of authority that have been caught stealing money from their organizations and using that money to support their gambling habits. Locally, there is the story of a man who was just sent to prison for stealing $272,000 or so and spending it all on gambling. Then there’s another story of a former local school superintendent who embezzled at least $176,000 from his present school district, and has our local folks wondering if he did the same thing here. And I wrote in a newsletter how another person, this time at a hospital system in California, was able to embezzle over $750,000 over a two year period, and spent most of that on supporting her gambling habit.

I can tell you honestly that I can see the appeal to gambling, and I can also understand how it can consume you. I’m a poker player, and I have those periods of time when I want to retreat into myself and just go play poker. It’s a good thing I’ve become pretty good at it, so that, if I play long term, I will usually come out at least even, if not slightly ahead (I ended up coming back from Reno after all those weeks ahead by around $350), and that’s its appeal Everyone sees that big time score around the corner, that chance at the big, instant money, and the glory that comes with it. And glory does come with it, along with envy, because when you win, everyone else thinks they can win big also.

Anyway, I have felt that tug many times. I didn’t feel it in Reno, but I felt it when I was at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I felt it when I was at a conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Gambling is a solitary and social event all at the same time. If you play slot machines, you can sit at a machine for hours, but you’re out in public with a lot of other people doing the same thing, and you also have someone coming by you every twenty minutes or so to see if you want something to eat or drink. If you play poker, you sit at a table with a lot of other people. Sometimes it’s relatively quite, but other times it’s quite a social event, and man, I love hearing older people tell stories, whether they’re old poker stories or other types of stories. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good story.

When I go to the casino, I have one of two mindsets. There’s the mindset that I’m there to have fun. If that’s the case, then my intention is to be able to stick around for a very long time, sometimes as long as 14 hours, but I’m having fun, I’ve decided how much money I’m willing to lose for it all, and I don’t often come home a winner. Then there’s the mindset that I’m there to win. In this case, I know I’m going to stay for a relatively short period of time, maybe 2-3 hours, the amount I’m willing to lose is minimal, but I now start applying more of those poker skills that I’ve learned over the years, not taking any unnecessary chances, watching every player so I can figure out how they play, and I’m willing to sit for hours and just keep tossing my cards into the muck and wait for only those hands that I know will win, pretty much for sure. Because, in poker, there’s rarely a sure thing (four aces and royal flushes are extremely rare), so you have to be astute and keep your eye on everything, and then hope for the best, based on your calculations.

So, inherently, there is a psychology of gambling. Of course, this isn’t only an article about gambling at a casino. Every day there’s someone who’s ready to take another gamble at something. And, in this day and age, many people are gambling on some sort of business that they can run on their own. If I can, let me tell you about my entry into the consulting world.

I was working at a hospital system, and I started to notice that some thing were occurring that just didn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy about the status of the organization. I like to think that, with enough information, I can read both people and situations, and I had a feeling something was about to occur. One day I was home on vacation and had what I call a Spidey sense moment. Something told me to go online and read the Rochester newspaper; just out of the blue, just like that.

I went to that site, and the big headline was something like “Hospital system closes hospital.” I knew that was coming in my heart of hearts, and had predicted it almost 3 months earlier. Sure, the proclamations had come down saying they’d never close that hospital because there wouldn’t be enough beds in the city to support it, but I had my information, and I knew it wasn’t true. I just didn’t know when; yeah, maybe I have my own ESP sense of things from time to time. From that point on, I knew I wouldn’t be working at this hospital system within 9 months.

Three months earlier, I had started thinking about my own exit strategy. I was 41 years old, and I knew that was a major defining moment in the life of a man, as to whether a man decides to stay with the status quo, or take a chance to do something else, whether extreme or just something they’ve never done before. I already had it in my mind that, though I might interview for another position, I really wanted to work for myself. I started doing some research, and I also put a little bit of money away, because I knew I wouldn’t jump right in and start earning the kind of money I was earning already, but had a shot at it eventually.

Less than two months after the one hospital had closed, I got word that my department, and two other departments in my own hospital, were being moved to another city. And, because they already had all the directors they needed, they’d create a supervisor position for me, but I’d have to take a 25% pay cut. Well, not only was the other city now another 30 minutes away from where I lived, and I was already driving 70 minutes to work each day, but a pay cut and a loss of freedom that I was used to in my present position, as the guy I’d be reporting to, well, I thought was kind of a jerk. So I said I wouldn’t go, accepted my severance and the offer of going on unemployment, and registered my business name two weeks after my last day on the job.

Talk about your major gamble! When one works in healthcare, they don’t really think of themselves as working in a business. In New York, all hospitals are not for profit, and the rules are different than for profit hospitals. Normally, if there’s only the one hospital in a community, you don’t have to worry as much about advertising because you’re the only close choice and everyone knows you’re there. So, I came into working for myself without some basic marketing or sales skills; I had no real clue.

That first year working on my own, which started in the middle of the year, I earned a little bit of money, nothing great, but fiscally the year ended pretty good. The next year was murder, though. In my first full year of working for myself, my profit was only $7,600; my second year profit was only around $17,000. Good thing I had a lot of credit, and good credit, but, as you know, one can’t live off that, even with my wife working a full time job. But everyone already in business said that if I could last to the third year, things would start to turn around. I wasn’t sure how, since I couldn’t really figure out what would magically change in my life to help it turn around. I had learned a little bit more about marketing, and had talked to a lot of people across the country, but I just wasn’t sure about it all.

On the verge of thinking about declaring bankruptcy, because I just wasn’t sure about it all, my mother called and wanted me to watch some program on TV. I did, and the speaker was giving some motivational words about never giving up, and always keeping a positive spirit and thought alive. Around that same time, I had started listening to motivational tapes and watched the movie The Secret, and started feeling pretty good. I got a paid request to repair someone’s computer, which I can do small repairs, and that paid something, not lots, but it was the start, as it was the first money I’d made that year. Then, only four working days later, I got the call I’d been waiting for, and my consulting business started to take off, and I’ve never looked back. Sure, there are ups and downs, but overall, my income had that opportunity at times to skyrocket, and I like that. Sure, there are those times when I’ll feel as though any control I have is a facade, but in general I have enough control to make sure that my yearly income is fairly steady.

But am I done? Well, obviously not. I actually have two dreams, rather goals, that, long term, I want to get to, and of course they’re going to involve a gamble of sorts. One, I want to be an almost full time professional speaker and seminars. I’ve actually already done a good number of each of these, but not enough so that I could consider them as second nature. I couldn’t live off the number I do now, but I’m working towards that. The other is to learn now to be an internet marketer, such that I wouldn’t have to worry about the long term consulting assignments again because I’d have a consistent income every month coming into the house from the internet. I think this second one is one that a lot of you have also.

But both are gambles. For instance, the time it takes right now to get one big time speaking engagement a year is phenomenal. There’s a lot of research that has to be done, then back and forth negotiations on the fee, then the outline and practice time and the rest of it. Frankly, while working for oneself, it’s hard to do and keep up with everything else. A part of me says that I might have to take a gamble and be ready to give up working on finding consulting assignments to try to get more speaking engagements. That’s not going to happen right now, but it’s something I have to think about. Internet marketing is another story. I don’t have to give up consulting to probably do it right, but I would have to give something up so that I could have more time to learn more things so that I could have the possibility of earning more money online.

It’s a gamble because sometimes it costs us to learn how to do it. In 2008 I spent around $125 to learn how to make more money online, and I did start making more money, oddly enough. The money that I’ll probably consistently make now will pay for the training material I’ve paid for and all of my online time. So that’s a good thing, right? Well, it’s a good start, because I have way more material, ebooks, reports and sound files, that I need the time to get through, that I need to make notes on that I can implement. All of you already know this; internet marketing isn’t as easy as those bad television commercials make it out to be. How many of you are making enough money with your blogs to support you for the rest of your life?

So, there’s really the thing about the psychology of gambling. It has to be recognized that everyone does it in some fashion, and that everyone needs to be able to find a way to control that gamble, or overcome the occasional bad gamble. Would you quit a job that was paying you $75,000 a year to buy your own rig and become a truck driver? I know someone who did, started slowly, then started making a lot of money, and now is back at a tough place because of the economy. However, had he stayed where he was, he’d have lost his job 2 years ago and had to figure out where to go next.

Life is a gamble, no matter what you do. If you think of it that way, you realize that sometimes the gamble is worth it, sometimes it’s not, but with enough information and study you have a better chance to succeed.

Persian rugs from Rugman.com

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2021 Mitch Mitchell

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.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2012 Mitch Mitchell

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!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2017 Mitch Mitchell

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?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016-2017 Mitch Mitchell