All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Planning For Building A Commerce Website

Let’s get this out of the way; I have Spidey senses. Yup, that’s right, I’m the kind of guy who can meet someone or talk to them on the phone and pretty much know what’s coming. I’m not Kreskin, but I sometimes amaze myself on how accurate a strong feeling I get very early comes to fruition later on.

website ideas
Sean MacEntee via Compfight

Thus was the case when, yesterday, I got a call from someone who wanted to talk to me about the possibility of my creating a website for them. When people call you about the possibility of contracts, usually you’ll get that little spark of interest (okay, big spark of interest) and you become animated, even when you’re trying to stay in control of yourself.

In this case, within about 10 seconds, I knew he wasn’t going to be a buyer. He hadn’t stated it, but the Spidey senses picked up on it. Still, I went ahead and made an appointment to meet him for breakfast this morning at Denny’s; not that I necessarily feel Denny’s is the best restaurant in the world, but it was a convenient place for both of us, plus I knew they’d always have tables available.

I met the “potential” client, and I kind of knew what was coming. For the next 90 minutes, we talked all sorts of things, mainly website things, but he wasn’t really listening. He had his ideas and thoughts on things, but none of it had to do with what I’d tried to tell him as far as steps were concerned.

When he got around to asking about price, I tried telling him that he had a lot of work to do as far as deciding how he wanted his layout, what he wanted to do, etc. Then I gave him a price, and at that point he started quoting me prices from other websites that he’d been visiting, and of course they were all lower than what I charge. He even gave me the domain names so I could check them out later, which I took because I always like looking at websites, even of people who do what I do, as a point of comparison.

I probably need to learn to charge for this kind of access to my time, even on a Saturday. I gave him 90 minutes of consulting that I’m sure he’s not going to use even 10% of. It was a major waste of my time; at least he decided he didn’t want to eat anything, so I only had to pay for my meal. He was a nice guy, and we talked about a couple other things, so it wasn’t a total waste. But I could have used that time for other, more productive things.

Pick me
Aftab Uzzaman via Compfight

By the way, I have checked out the two websites he told me about, along with the pricing. My thought on the site going in, that he said would build him a total website, with everything he wanted, for only $500, was that they’d start off with a template that he’d have to use. Instead, what they offer are website packages based on the number of pages you want, and, based on what they’re showing as examples of their work, they’re not going to be able to give him what he wants for the prices they’re quoting. He saw a low price, but without understanding exactly what his needs are, which I tried to tell him, he’s not going to end up with what he wants.

I’ll charge to go back in and fix things, which I’ve done on a couple of occasions, including some optimization, but it’s so much easier to work on getting the whole thing correct the first time since, as with the project I highlighted above, I just might have to go in and recode things. The other site was only a hosting site; nothing much more to say about that.

Looking to cut corners on price won’t do you a lot of good if you can’t get what you want. If you’re not sure what it is you want and someone is offering you advice, especially free advice, usually it’s a good thing to do more listening than talking, unless they ask you a specific question.

I definitely need to learn to start charging something for my time, in advance, if I think it’s going to go long because, as a consultant, I believe I offered some very good and specific advice. I could have told him everything he needed to hear in 30 minutes and been done if he would have only listened; if that was free time, I wouldn’t have minded so much.

He also took 3 calls during that meeting. I would bet I’ll never hear from him again, but there’s no way he could ever tell anyone that I didn’t give him superior information; I’m like Joe Dimaggio in that regard. Reputation has to always be maintained, especially when someone recommended you.

Enough of that; I know what you’re asking me: “What did you tell him?”

I’m not going to recount the entire conversation, because we’ll never get out of here, and I’ve already been accused of writing some very long posts. Here are the basics if you’re going to have a commerce website:

* Realize that, at the very least, you need to have an idea of what color you want the background and fonts to be

* You need to list how you want your products to be aligned. For instance, if you’re selling shoes, do you want a page of all blue shoes, all size 7 shoes, all Hush Puppies (only brand of shoe I know off the top of my head), designer shoes, sneakers,… in other words, how do you want to categorize your inventory

* How do you want your inventory to show on a site: big or small images; 4, 8, 16, etc, number of images on a page; rotating images on a page; descriptions on each item or one major description for each page

* Is your inventory replaceable, or are you selling one of a kind items

* How you hope to price your items; will each item have a flat rate; will you offer coupons or discounts based on different criteria

* How are you hoping to market your site, or how are you hoping to use it

imag0232

These are the things I told him he needed to think about before moving forward with a plan on wanting a commerce website; he didn’t write any of it down, which is why I’m thinking he’s not going to get what he wants. If you think of these things first, then it’s easier to talk to someone about building your commerce website for you, or even for you to build your commerce website yourself if you have the knowledge on how to get it done, because everything else can be discussed on the back end.

I also told him two other important things that don’t necessarily need to be discussed up front, but are very crucial:

* One, who’s going to write the content for the site. If you as the client write some of the content for your own site, it’s much easier for the person creating the site to either just plug in what you wrote or, if you have someone trying to optimize your site, it’s easier to optimize and alter something else that’s already written. If the website creator has to do it, you then impact number…

* Two; pricing for building websites is always based on time. If someone tells you they can build you a website in a couple of hours, it probably means they already have templates available, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you want custom websites, all the variables you might want adds to the time it takes to build one. I actually wrote an article on whether people should have a website that talks about some of this, along with an outline of things one should consider.

I’d love to hear other views on this concept of planning before one builds a website. I can honestly say that I’ve done that for all my websites except one, and right now I’m in the process of thinking about how I can modify that website so it’ll start doing for me what I was always hoping it would do. I wish I’d had someone who could have given me even 30 minutes before building that one; oh well,…
 

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World Diabetes Day – My Story

Today, November 14th, 2008, is World Diabetes Day, something I initially mentioned when talking about National Diabetes Month. Each year, millions of adults and children learn that they’re diabetic; some don’t learn it until they’ve done serious damage to themselves. Being aware of changes in your body that you can’t explain and not being afraid to find out what might be going on could help you avert major problems later in life. I am a diabetic, and I’ve been diagnosed for 11 years. I’d like to tell you my story.

The Pincushion Effect
duisburgbunny via Compfight

Eleven years ago, I was having the best and the worst year of my life. I got married in May of 1997, my first and only marriage, and I’ve had nothing but a great time ever since. In 1997, I took the very first vacation of my life, which was the week after I got married; man, that was a long time before taking a vacation, but my dad never took a vacation until he was in his 50’s; guess I’m a slacker.

Eleven years ago I also had breast surgery to remove a lump that was causing me pain. It wasn’t cancerous, and I have no idea where it came from, and I’d never even thought about the possibility of it being cancerous, but it was my first surgery ever. And I got it approved and paid for by the insurance company; talk about how knowledge will help you achieve things that others might not know about.

Eleven years ago, a few days after my 38th birthday, I was driving back to work from lunch in another town about 10 minutes from the hospital I was working in at the time. I had a co-worker with me, and we were going through a construction zone. In a couple of minutes, I was pulled over by a police car. The officer came to the car and said I was speeding through a work zone. I said that I knew what the speed limit was and wasn’t speeding, but he said the speed limit was reduced in that area. I said I never saw a sign, and my co-worker said there was a sign that I must have missed. I took the ticket and continued driving back to work, but I did notice that I could barely read any of the signs.

That wasn’t the first day, however. I’d noticed it most of the time for a few weeks while driving home from work. I lived over an hour away from where I worked, and it wasn’t a major highway that I drove on, so there weren’t a bunch of signs, and rarely much traffic. Yet, I noticed that I was having vision problems. I’d mentioned it to my wife, and said that it was only when driving home in the evenings; I never had the problem in the morning. So, on the day I drove home after getting the ticket and mentioning it to her again, she said we should head over to the ophthalmologist to have him take a look.

Diabetes! 217/365
Dennis Skley via Compfight

Talk about serendipity. I had gone to the same place, Sterling Optical, for about 18 or 19 years, and I’d had this same guy looking at my eyes for at least 13 of those years. My prescription hadn’t changed in at least 10 years, and I’d just had an eye exam a month before I got married. So, it was easy for me to walk in and have him take a quick look. He didn’t like what he saw, and said my vision had changed drastically from the last time I was there, and his conclusion immediately was that I might be diabetic.

The breath caught in my throat at his words. Not that I was overly surprised, because it ran in my family, but because out of all my relatives who’d gotten it, I possibly was now the youngest to get it. I figured I had at least six or seven more years before I had to think about it; now it didn’t look that way.

He recommended that I see my primary care physician, which was slightly problematic. I had never selected one because I hadn’t been to the doctors in many years. The last time I’d seen a doctor was 11 years earlier (that #11 pops up all over the place lol); typical American male in that regard, even though I’d had some issues that I probably should have seen a doctor for.

I was raised in a different time; you only went to doctors when your mother took you, when you broke something, or when you were on death’s bed; that was the rule at the time. My wife wanted me to go to a doctor, but I took a detour step first. Since I worked in a hospital and the emergency room was right behind my office, I went in there the next morning and talked with the physician assistant about it. He took a quick glucose test, saw that my number was just under 300, and told me I had to see a doctor; if it had been 50 points higher he’d have had to admit me.

That was that. I called this one doctor with whom I had a cordial relationship with, he took me in, diagnosed me, and started me on the first round of what would become regular check ups and visits with someone about diabetes, including education. Though I’m not the best patient in the world, I do know how to take care of myself and how I’m supposed to eat, and I follow it more often than I don’t follow it, which is a good thing.

Within a week my glucose came down, which was a good thing otherwise I couldn’t have had my surgery, and over the course of the last eleven years I’ve been pretty good for the most part. If they hadn’t changed the high limit from what it was when I was diagnosed I’d be considered as almost perfect for nine of of the eleven years.

As time has progressed, I have had to go on medication, and presently take two different pills a day and two shots of insulin, which I started a year ago on November 2nd. I’m not considered dependent, as it turns out there are different variations of insulin, but it’s helped me boost what the pills can’t do on their own. If I can drop some weight, I could probably get off insulin; but, as some of you know, that’s not quite as easy as I wish it was.

The main point of this story is that everyone needs to pay attention to symptoms that may not necessarily be what you might think are diabetic symptoms. My mother noticed my dad’s diabetes because he started losing a lot of weight, which he himself didn’t notice. I’ve met people who noticed it because they were having numbness in their limbs, and many people notice something wrong when they’re going to the bathroom all the time, or constantly thirsty. Here’s a link to many of the symptoms of diabetes, things you should be looking at if you notice any of them occurring with you or your friends and family members. Caught early, at least you have some kind of fighting chance.

There, my contribution to World Diabetes Day. If you get a chance, check out this interesting post on the day, with videos no less.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

Rethinking Adsense On My Blog

This is not about to be a rant against Google Adsense. I’m actually appreciative of the opportunity I get to earn a little bit of change here and there from Adsense on my website, and now that I’m earning money faster than I used to with it, I’m not looking to have it gone from my life any time soon.

Felix spam!
Melly Kay via Compfight

However, I am thinking about reducing just how much Adsense I have on this site. To that end, I’ve already done it, replacing the skyscraper ad I had on the right side with my Widget Bucks ad instead. But I still have two sets of Adsense on the left sidebar, and I’m thinking about removing the second one, the lower one, and putting a block of 125×125 ads in that spot instead.

Why am I thinking this way? Well, I’m coming to the conclusion that blogs are not conducive to great earning potential from Adsense. Blogs really are more participatory than static websites. People come to read, and then they come to comment (okay, big hopes at times, but go with me here).

Sometimes people will look at the box ads you have if something catches their eye, or if they’re in a buying mood. But people don’t usually look at the Adsense on your blog, especially if they’re used to seeing the same thing on their blog.

As a for instance, I looked at the Adsense blog on the main page of this blog. Every ad talks about how to make money with your blog, including the one ad for Adsense. The second block is actually more interesting, but I’m figuring that if the main box, which is in a prime spot, is being ignored, then the second block is also being ignored.

I may keep two ad blocks, but move one right into the posts itself. There’s a WordPress plugin that actually will pop that in for you, though I haven’t explored it yet, and I’m thinking that if I have it directly in the posts that it might be seen better. However, I’m hesitant to do that until I see what either Kontera’s ads or LinkXL ads look like, which are supposed to be integrated into my content.

By the way, almost two weeks on each of them, and not a single ad has shown anywhere yet. I’m wondering if I’m not writing about anything that their advertisers could talk about; heck, that article on music sites, and the one on health should catch someone’s attention, one would think, but they’re both new.

Anyway, if I do it, I’ll do it over the weekend some time, and I may not announce when I do it. But if I write a long post, and something looks different, and you’ve read this post, you’ll get it.
 

Hating Spam

I’m starting to feel like a success with this blog. It’s not the subscribers, although I want to thank all of you. It’s not the money that’s rolling in (said tongue in cheek). It’s not how I’m moving up on Technorati or Alexa.

Spam ... it's what's for dinner!
Wandering Magpie
via Compfight

It’s the spam count. I’ve always felt that the amount of spam one receives is directly related to how much activity and prominence your blog must be gaining. I’m not sure if that’s totally true or not, but I can honestly say that I’ve never had more spam than I’m having lately. And it’s a great test of the Akismet plugin, which has been fantastic.

True, it wasn’t all that good on the Russian spam, but I don’t think that any of the spam filters could have caught that stuff initially. And yesterday, myself and a lot of people throughout the blogosphere started receiving some interesting spam that was making it through. However, what I did was start flagging it as spam, rather than just deleting it, and within a couple of hours Akismet had figured it out and no more of those messages got through to my posts. I’m very impressed by that, I must say.

Now, someone needs to explain some of this spam to me. I actually understand the advertisement spam; those folks are hoping that we’ll stupidly buy their spam program, which actually sends your messages and therefore recreates the spam we’re all trying to hide from. I weirdly understand the spam that comes through with multiple links to pharmaceuticals, porn, etc, because those folks also are hoping that enough of their ads will stay on some of those blogs that are defunct, to help them with perceived link juice; suckers.

But the one line Russian spam, along with the one line “I am happily agree with your post; I will come again” posts, or the posts without any real words,… do people really believe all that nonsensical stuff really gets them links on the back end, or that anyone will possibly click on their ads?

I found it really ironic in the wake of yesterday’s new about the shutdown of an internet hosting site known for sending out tons of spam, and how we should have seen it decrease, when exactly the opposite happened. And, it seems there’s really a big economic impact of spam, and not the way we usually think of it. Bruce Schneier wrote in his blog about the economics of spam, where a study was done that determined that, based on volume, even at 0.00001% a spammer could be making at least between $7,500 and $9,000 a day, because it seems there’s always someone who clicks on, then buys, one of these products; wow!

Well, I refuse to be pushed around by any amount of spam that comes this way. Akismet has been my blogging hero for a long time, and I’ll trust it to continue working on my behalf. For those of you who still don’t see spam as being as big an issue as it is (yeah, like there’s anyone out there who doesn’t get it), here’s a little video for your enjoyment:
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Curious About Your Backlinks?

I was reading a post on the Linkers Blog titled Danny, How Many Backlinks Do I Have, and decided it was time to check my own blog just to see how many links I had.

~ lzee ~ not-really-all-here via Compfight

I decided to go through the same steps he did, which means I started at Google, which is always the most imprecise. Google thinks I only have 31 backlinks, so it’s already discounted.

Next, I decided to go to Yahoo. Just so you know, you type into its search engine link:http://www.domain.com, replacing “domain” with your domain. Yahoo said I had 8,696 backlinks; whew! I had to think about that one for a bit, wondering if I’ve really written that many comments, and now that I think about it, probably not, but I’m probably close to it. Because I have many other places I’ve left my link, such as forums and social networking sites. But it’s mainly through blogging and blog comments, so it shows that I’ve been active in my 11 months with this blog.

As I looked down the list of the first 100 I remembered each of the blog titles on all those blogs, so I probably wrote some kind of comment on them; and here I am calling Peter mouthy! 😀

I decided to check one of those links out, where I commented on the blog Small Business Trends on the topic Ten Reasons I Won’t Use Social Media Sites. My searchr said there were 228 links on this page, but the page only got 62 comments, and to get to that 228 it has to count its own comment links, which are created with each comment that’s posted along with a link to the person’s homepage, if they left one. Since it’s counting those then it’s skewing the stats just a little bit, as there are a lot of other links on the page, but they don’t total up to the 228.

Of course, on this blog, since I have CommentLuv, basically every person that leaves a comment, that has a blog and leaves their address link, gets two links, so I guess it counts. The point is that you’re supposedly getting more link credit on posts that have fewer links that lots of links. I’m thinking that, if you get too caught up on that one, you could end up freaking your mind out. With this tool, you can also check whether the links are nofollow, as well as what the anchor text was on those posts.

Interesting stats, I must say. I guess I’ve had a lot to say, and not only on this blog. I guess I’ve really promoted this blog better than my business blog, which I’ve had for over 4 years but “only” have 4,191 backlinks. I don’t mind; the purpose of the other blog is much different than this one.

How are you doing with your backlinks? Do you care?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell