All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

November Report; Be Very Scared

Time for the November blog report, which of course details how this blog did for the month of November. It should be interesting to compare it to the October report, because I added a bunch of programs, but it’ll be interesting for a different reason than one might imagine.

I do want to start with this, though it has nothing to do with the blog. I made just over $42 in general from Adsense in November, which is easily my best month. I made most of it from my medical billing site, which I introduced on this blog in early November. I didn’t quite double my best month to date, but I came very close. So, niche sites can generate pretty good monthly income.

Now, to this blog and its stats, starting with income. For the month of November, this blog earned $20.37, which is up almost $11 from last month. I made $12.00 from Text Link Ads, $6.83 from LinkXL, $1.31 from Adsense, .13 from Kontera, and .10 from WidgetBucks before I pulled it from this blog because it was affecting the speed of the blog. So, it’s going in the right direction, but I obviously have way more work to put into it.

Now, some other stats. Per Google Analytics, I had 1,602 visitors to this blog in November, up 432 from last month, another high for me. Per my ISP, I had 19,105 unique visits, up almost 7,000 visitors from October, which had been my previous high. That’s not so bad, if you ask me. I also added this widget, which you can see to the right, and as of right now it’s saying that this blog is ranked 284th under the category of internet marketing blogs; I’ll take that also. I’m ranked at 119,551 on Technorati, 163,921 on Alexa, and 445,334 on Compete, which I still don’t care about. LOL

So, everything’s moving in the right direction, and I can only have high hopes as we move into the holiday season, but based on my own analysis, December stats usually go down because people are concentrating more on the holidays than on being on the internet reading stuff. Still, I’m happy with the progress, and hope y’all continue helping to support me on my ventures. And I’m really close to post #300, which I’ll hopefully have an opportunity to hit at some point in the next two weeks. I could have hit it by Friday if I hadn’t had to go on the road; the things we’ll do for money.
 

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Time Is Always A Factor

For the next few months, some of you are going to be disappointed, while some of you are going to be extremely happy. The frequency of blog posts are going to slow down a little bit, and it’s possible that I might only be able to get a post in every couple of days instead of my two posts a day pace. One never fully knows, of course, but there’s a reason for it all.

As y’all know, I’m a health care consultant who lives in New York state. As of yesterday I am all the way across the country, Reno Nevada to be exact, where I’ll be working on a long term consulting assignment, which doesn’t include the last two weeks of this month, which is the holiday season. I’m not saying where I’ll be at, but I will say that there’s going to be some major adjustments as it pertains to time.

Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it? For instance, I’m writing this at 6:15 in the morning where I am, but if I were home it would be 9:15 and this would all seem normal to me. In flying here yesterday, I left at 7:30 my time and got to Reno at noon their time, which means my travel day was seven and a half hours. It’s amazing that one can get across the entire United States in such a relatively short time.

But time will play havoc with your life, even while in the same country. For instance, I wanted to order dinner from the hotel last night, but in this time zone it was too early for anyone to deliver, even though at home it was 7:30 in the evening. So I had to alter plans and go to find food. Then I was really exhausted last night and thought I’d go to bed early, then realized that going to bed early here would have had me waking up at probably 2 in the morning here, as I usually only sleep 6 hours at a time, and that wouldn’t do because it’s going to be a long enough day for me today, the first one on a new contract, so I forced myself to stay up until 11PM, which, at home, would have “only” been 2AM, a time I regularly stay up past, but without the “luxury” of flying across the country.

And, now that I’ve flown across the country, I realize that I’m going to have to change all of my time pieces to reflect where I am, since I’m going to be here three weeks, otherwise I’m going to drive myself nuts. This means my watch, my laptop, my Palm, and my phone. Well, actually, not the phone, which automatically reset the time when I made my first call home to tell my wife I was here. When I changed the time in my Palm, I then had to remember to go back in and change all the alarms that I’d set for this upcoming week, which I’d originally set for 3 hours ahead.

But eating is going to be the hardest thing to deal with. Luckily, the hotel breakfast starts at 6AM, so I’ll catch that easily enough. But dinner,… I usually eat dinner around 6PM, but here that’s 3PM, and being diabetic and trying to stay on some kind of schedule, waiting another 3 to 4 hours to eat isn’t going to work for me. So, I’ll have to figure something out there. Luckily, I’m staying in a Homewood Suites, which means that once I find a grocery store, I can at least make some prepared meals, but I’m also going to have to buy containers, disposable ones so I won’t have to worry about trying to transport those things back and forth across the country.

By the way, just to talk about my first day here a little bit, I drove under the famous Reno gambling sign last night, though it wasn’t planned, while I was out on one of my excursions, scoping out where I’ll be working. Oddly enough, for me anyway, I’ll be working one block away from three casinos; ouch! On my drive to where I’ll be working, on one road I passed two casinos, and on another I passed 5 more. For a poker player like myself, this is going to be an interesting place to be on the weekends. Reno itself is very brown; no grass to speak of, or at least no real grass. When you come into town, all you see are mountains, some with snow on them, most no snow, but brown everywhere. How people decide to live in a desert is beyond me, but at this time of the year the temperatures are pretty much the same as where I live. The only difference is that yesterday here the sun was out all day, whereas at home they had a flash snowstorm, then a flash ice storm, and they’ll see very little sun over the next five months.

Anyway, this is my explaining why I won’t be around as much. This doesn’t mean that I may not have one of those creative bursts and write a bunch of articles and future post them; that’s one of the beauties of WordPress, I must say. And, occasionally I may tell a story or two about my adventures here; I hope you won’t mind.


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Purchasing An Existing Domain Name

Today was a day of interesting frustration as it pertains to doing some things online. I’m sure I’m not the only one to go through something like this, so I’m sharing my tale with you. On Friday, I purchased an existing blog, which I’ll be bringing up pretty soon. Actually, I’ve already tried bringing it up, but I don’t want to jump ahead in this story.

On Tuesday, someone posted on Twitter that there were two websites that someone was selling for a relatively low amount. I’m the curious sort, so I figured I’d meander over to see what all the fuss was about. Indeed someone had posted on the Warrior Forum that they were selling two websites, and one of them was a blog. This particular blog is something I know a little bit about, but want to know more about, and it was relatively new. The owner had decided he didn’t have enough time to work on these two projects and decided to unload them. I wanted this one, so I wrote him. Actually, I had to write a comment on one of his blog posts, because he hadn’t created a contact page, so I had no other way to reach him.

The next morning, he responded to me and said that no one else had put in a request for it, and if I wanted it then it was mine. I was happy; I figured this would be an easy conversion, it already had a couple of posts, and because he had written basically every 10 days or so I could take some time with it, as it hasn’t really built up any following yet. I finally wrote him and asked if we could take care of the transaction over the weekend, since I was packing so I could go to my mother’s for the Thanksgiving holiday. He agreed, so we said we’d contact each other on Saturday.

Instead, I ended up coming home relatively early Friday afternoon because I had another commitment planned, but that got canceled. Sitting around on a Friday night with nothing else going on, I wrote him to see if he was available, and he was. So, here’s the process of purchasing and transferring a domain name to someone else.

I started off by paying him the amount he’d requested for the domain. He gave me his Paypal email address, so I went into my Paypal account, clicked on the option that said “Send Money’, put in his email address and the amount, and away the payment went. I got an almost immediate notice saying the payment had gone through, so I felt pretty good about that. Then I sent him an email mentioning the payment, and I gave him my GoDaddy account number, since that’s where he’d purchased his domain name. That’s all he needed; he didn’t need my password, which was a good thing. Now, if we hadn’t had accounts at the same place, I’d have had to create one wherever he’d purchased his domain from, and then I could have transferred it to whomever I wanted to at that point.

Within minutes after he’d set the transfer in motion, I had an email from GoDaddy saying there was a transfer in motion, and I had to sign onto the site to accept it, which of course I did. About five minutes later I received an email saying the transfer was complete; it can take up to 48 hours in some instances, so I was pretty happy.

The next step for me was to go to my host and set it up for acceptance of the new domain. As usual, when you do this you get the DNS servers for you to put in where you’ve temporarily parked the domain name, and while you’re doing that your account is being created by your host. I went to GoDaddy and did what I needed to do, then waited. The first notice I got was from GoDaddy saying the nameserver transfer had gone through. I then went back to my host, 1&1, and saw the message that my account had been created and was ready for full processing; sweet!

I went into the domain account, created a directory and set up a password, waited about five minutes for it to be created, then I started loading the database that the guy who’d sold me the domain name had backed up. That took awhile, since it’s a WordPress blog (most of you know it’s an easy process, but can take awhile sometimes). When it was finally loaded, I was ready to go see the fruits of my labor.

This is where the problems started, but they’re not going to be what you thought; don’t jump ahead. I typed the domain name in, expecting to see the blog fully set up, and instead I had this message that said “Error establishing a database connection“; I was not a happy man. I thought that maybe I had done something wrong, and indeed I had, as I hadn’t saved the correct files in the correct place. So I had to load all the files again, knowing that this time around it was all going to be good.

Nope; I still had the same error message, and now I really wasn’t happy. I wondered if I was supposed to run the blog process through the host first, as they have a program which will create a WordPress blog for you on your domain. So I signed into my account and selected that option, figuring that I didn’t mind if it overwrote what I’d uploaded, since I could always upload whatever I wanted to again. This time it was going to work, right?

Nope; it still didn’t work. Now I was frustrated, so I called the hosting company to ask for some assistance. One of the problems you sometimes have with customer service when it’s based in another country is that you may be using the same words, but you’re not speaking the same language. In this case, the person on the other end first said that I’d created the wrong kind of directory, which didn’t make sense since I’ve done this many times before, and then he said that maybe I need to make some corrections in my data.

I took that to mean that I needed to go into my account through my ftp server and delete some files. I ended up deleting all the files, which, unfortunately, takes much longer than uploading them, because you can’t delete a folder until you’ve deleted everything in that folder first, and of course some folders have multiple folders themselves. I spent pretty much just over 3 hours deleting every single file I’d uploaded so I could try the process again.

This time, I decided to call customer service back to ask about this directory thing, which I knew had to have been correct the first time around. I got someone else, still in another country, but we were understanding each other better. He said the directory was fine, but said he didn’t see anything in it. I told him that was because I’d deleted everything in the directory, based on the previous conversation with another representative. He then said the system was showing that the full transfer of the new domain to the new nameservers was still in process, and could take from 24 to 48 hours. I said I thought it had already completed, and he said no; that explains why I couldn’t see anything online. Ugh!

So, I had to upload everything again, and this time I guess I’ll be patient and keep checking over the next 24 to 48 hours. I hope it’s sooner than later, but until I see it for myself, I’m not going to mention the name. But there’s another lesson learned, and now I hope I’ve helped y’all learn a thing or two also.
 

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WP Super Cache

There’s a plugin for WordPress called WP Super Cache that I’ve been experimenting with lately. The main purpose of it is to helps speed your WordPress blog up by creating a series of HTML files out of your PHP files, and thus it speeds up your site because PHP can be a heavy load. I’m not going to get into all of the science of it, because frankly I don’t quite get how it works, so instead I’m going to talk about what I’ve seen thus far.

First off, you have to remember to do a little bit of configuring before the plugin works. I’ve noticed that the first time I ran the program, then the second time I’ve decided to run the program (I inactivated it once; I’ll come back to that), I forgot to enable the cache, which it mentions on the plugins page. If you forget to do that, your blog will hang, and it’ll take you forever to get back into it; anyone else, for that matter. Also, there are other choices and recommendations for things to do after you’ve enabled the cache; some I’ve activated, some I haven’t. For instance, you can enable the compression of files, which helps things move faster, and I’ve done that, although it does warn that some ISPs might not work well if you do that; so far, so good. At the same time, I didn’t enable something called Lockdown, which is supposed to protect you against a spike in comments. Trust me, I’ll feel elated with a spike in comments, at least the first time around.

The first time I inactivated the program because my blog started running really slow, and it was the last thing I’d remembered adding at the time. Later on, I thought about the javascript, which I wrote about here, and of course it did turn out to be the javascript issue all along. So, I brought the program back, and things have gone along pretty well.

I did have one more issue, though, which led to my forgetting to enable the cache again. This morning I tried to update my blog to 2.6.5 because of more security flaws, and this blog just wouldn’t load using the WP Automatic Update program. I wondered what was wrong, so I went and updated my other blog, which is also WP, and it worked just fine. I then figured it had to be this plugin, so I inactivated it, and voila. I then reactivated it after the update, and, of course, just now went through that problem of not being able to get to the blog until I enabled the cache; ugh. I wonder how many people tried to come to the blog and couldn’t because of that idiotic mistake. Oh well,…

Right now, the jury is still out on this plugin, but the blog does seem to be moving pretty fast right now. Unfortunately, using this plugin didn’t affect the bad performance of the javascript in any fashion, which was disappointing. However, I’m doing some research on that issue, and if it works out I’ll write about it here, so stay tuned.


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Book Writing Series Part Six – Publishing Your Book

This is the final part of the book writing series, and today we’re going to talk about the process of trying to get your book published by someone else, as well as self publishing your book. Before we get there, though, let’s do a quick recap of what I’ve talked about thus far.

Part one talked about coming up with the concept for whatever it is you want to write about. Part two discussed how to plan the steps you want to take before writing your book. Part three talked about determining when you wanted to write and what method you were going to take. Part four talked about ways to tell your story, no matter if you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. And part five talked about the editing process.

Now we’re up to the publishing part of the story, which is the final piece of it all. This presumes that you’re looking to try to do something with what you’ve written; if not, you can skip this part.

You’ve now edited your book and it’s time to find a publisher, or an agent. There are a few things you need to know before you try. Publishers don’t have any idea how to promote your book; plain and simple. Sure, if you’re already a big time writer, or a famous person, they’ve got a clue. But don’t expect any publisher to even look at your book unless you can sell them on what your book is all about. Not only that, but you have to try to convince them why your book is worth their attention, who the market will be, and how they should market it. You’ll need to have a catchy title, which can be a major problem for some, and it has to make some kind of sense to the rest of the story. You’ll need to have an outline of what the book is all about. You may need to send either the first few chapters of the book or even the entire book. And you’ll need to have a killer cover letter that’s not too long, or not too short.

Yes, that’s confusing, but here’s how you end some of that confusion. There’s a book called the Writer’s Market, and it’s where you’re going to find the list of publishers of all types of books or magazines and the genre’s they cover. Each publisher lists their guidelines for how they want you to submit your book to them. Some of them are going to say they don’t take any original manuscripts directly from the writers. This always means they only work with agents; some publishers will tell you that directly. You can either buy this book, or go to the library, as every library in the country probably has this book in circulation.

Either way, you’re still going to have prep work to do, whether you’re trying to pitch to an agent or a publisher. There’s a debate as to whether you should send your book to only one publisher or agent at a time; some say yes, some say no. I tend to go with the side that says it’s okay to submit your book to more than one publisher at a time, for two reasons. One, if you’re a new writer, you’re probably going to have difficulties cracking through in the first place, so why not get as much early feedback as possible. Two, if you’re lucky enough to hear from more than one publisher, you get to pick which one to go to, and it will probably be the last time you get to make a decision for yourself for a long time.

My tale is that I sent my book out to ten publishers at a time. Some of them accepted email submissions, which made it easy. I started at the beginning of the alphabet, which made it easy to keep track of. Sometimes you might have to submit something more than once to a publisher after the time they say they’ll take in the book, but you get to make that decision for yourself. When I’d heard from at least five publishers, I’d try again. All in all, I sent my book to 67 publishers, and heard back from 47 of them. Of course, every one of them rejected my book, but not all of them rejected it without a reason. About half of them rejected it saying they weren’t publishing anything of that particular genre “this season”; this was back in 2002, and remember, the genre was leadership and management, which hadn’t quite grown at that point.

Just over half of the rest of them said they didn’t know how they’d market the book; that was purely my fault, because I didn’t know at the time how to tell them to market it. Truthfully, before I’d written my book, I had never read any other books on the topic, because I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s process. If I’d done it properly, I should have checked out the market after I’d written my book so I’d have had a better understanding of how to promote my book. I also had a problem with the title; I didn’t have the title Embrace The Lead until over two years after I’d written it, so I really hadn’t given anyone much to go on. Some of these people must have actually read whatever I’d sent them, because they said some nice things about it while saying they didn’t know what to do with it. The last bunch just rejected it outright, with the standard “no thank you” letter, and left it at that.

At that point, I could have considered myself at a crossroads. Instead, I decided I would self publish my book. Now, there are four options one can decide upon when it comes to publishing one’s own book. The first option is to go the ebook route, which I started out with. I began by selling my book off my website in two forms. One could purchase the entire ebook, or one could purchase the book in three individual sections, since it’s broken out that way.

The second option is to go to a vanity publisher of some type. There are multiple types of vanity publishers, and you’re going to end up paying some kind of money for all of them. The one I know the best is Publish America, but I’ve also heard some fairly nice things about Lulu. Each of these offers the opportunity to pay someone to help edit the book, which you might want to take advantage of if you decided not to spend all the time I did in self editing mine. What they both offer are custom made covers, print on demand books (this means you pay them if you want more books to sell for whatever reason), assistance in obtaining an ISBN number (International Standard Book Number; this is the publisher number which allows you to sell your book on sites such as Amazon and Google Books), and so many “free” copies initially for however you choose to use them. This isn’t such a bad way to go, but I decided it wasn’t how I wanted to go.

The third option is to go to a copy center such as Kinko’s and have your book made by them. The problem I had there is that they’re not really book binders, so they would have created my book with a spiral binder, and that was unacceptable to me. It would have been very cost effective, but it would have looked more like a manual than a book.

I wanted it to look like a book, so I chose the fourth option, which was taking it to a printing company. The costs associated with doing this will vary based on what you ask for. In my case, I decided that the only color I wanted on the cover was having the title and my name printed in blue ink. Color gets very expensive, and had I wanted every page of my book in color, the cost would have jumped. If I’d chosen a color background it would have gone up a little bit, and if I’d chosen more than one color, the cost would have gone up drastically. That would apply if you decided to put any pictures in your book also; black and white images cost nothing extra. What surprised me is that they wanted the book in a .pdf format instead of a Word document; I gave it to them both ways, just in case.

I decided I wanted an initial run of 300 books. That cost me around $1,300, and I was happy with that price. That came to $4.33 a book, which was well worth doing it. At that rate, I would have to sell 52 books to make my money back if I sold it at $25, which is the price I sell it at now off my website. However, when I take it with me on speaking engagements, which was the reason I wanted so many books, I usually reduce the price to either $20 or, every once in awhile, $10 a book, depending on who I’m speaking in front of. I have easily made back my initial investment; thank goodness. I still have about 150 books left, though, in case anyone wishes to buy one, and I even autograph it if requested. The most important thing for me, though, is that it looks like a book. Sure, a pure white book with no frills, but still a book.

As for the ISBN number, I purchased my own at the link above, paying for 10 ISBN numbers, which means that I can write nine more books and already have a publisher number for them. I didn’t have the publisher number when I published the first book, but when I write my next books, I’m going to be sure that number is on the book. It adds extra credibility to your book to have that number on there, even if you don’t decide to sell it anywhere other than on your own website, or with the assistance from other places.

My book is listed on 10 other sites, none of them paid for, and only one of them asked for a reciprocal link, that being Published.com, and I’m happy to give them that link. Basically, it’s like any other internet marketing venture; the more you can get the word out, the better the opportunities you’ll have to sell your book.

I want to mention this one point, if I may. There are different benefits between getting your book published by someone else and doing it yourself. Big time publishers will give you an advance on your sales, but if your book doesn’t end up selling some request the difference back, though most will just cut your contract and move on with life. Most books that are published by new writers don’t make a lot of money, even some of those that gain nice publicity. There’s a lot of work involved, as publishers expect their writers to travel to support the publicity of the book, but if you’re not a big name, you’re going to pay for your own publicity tour. Therefore, though you got an advance on future sales, you could end up eating some of that while on some kind of tour. And, the amount a writer gets from each sale isn’t all that much; sometimes not even 5% of whatever the book is selling for. If you end up being popular, that’s not a bad deal because your next contract will be much better; if not, the publisher may never recoup their money, and you’ll never make another dime.

By self publishing, if you know how to market, you get full profits from your book sales. That’s how I made my money back. In today’s world, many musicians are finding that they’ll make more money from fewer sales than they did with bigger sales. Prince was the first big time musician to realize that when he sold 350,000 copies of one of his albums online at $15 a copy as compared to how much money he made when Purple Rain sold 18 million copies. When you self publish, you can cross genre’s, because at that point it’s all about the writing and however you decide to market, not the whim of some publisher who wants you to make a lot of changes so that it will fit into a category of their choosing.

And that’s the conclusion of this series on writing a book. Within a week or so it will appear as a headline topic in the header. I hope I’ve given some valuable information to most of you. As always, I encourage your comments and your questions.

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