All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Subscribing To RSS Feeds

RSS stands for “really simple syndication”, and basically it gives people an opportunity to follow new content from websites or blogs that are often changing what’s being presented on the site. For instance, if you notice on the top right side I have a little icon giving people the option to syndicate my blog, so that they will be informed every time I write something new. I want people to subscribe to my blog so that my message will spread, but there’s reality that many people may not quite know what RSS feeds are.

The video below talks about it in a little more detail, as well as how to use it witnin Internet Explorer. I use a separate program that’s not associated with my browser called Feedreader to put all my feeds into, and it’s free.

After watching that, I hope you decide to subscribe to my feed; I won’t be mad if you do. 🙂 Meanwhile, I can’t take full credit for finding the video, so I thank Barbara Ling for writing about it on her blog.

Click here for 387,000 sheet music titles

Twitter’s On My Nerve, And I Just Got There!

I’ve been on Twitter for less than a month, and I’m already starting to get irritated with it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Sure, I came to it kicking and screaming because, like most people, I just didn’t quite get the concept. Basically, it’s fast and immediately blogging, or more like quick notes of what you’re doing at that moment. You’re only allowed 140 characters, including spaces, to say what you want to say; this makes you think just a little bit more concisely, which is hard for someone like me who wants to go on and on.

Once I started, it just grabbed me and I thought it was pretty neat. I found a few friends to follow, and as time went on, people started to find me, people I didn’t know, and that was neat. What happens is that you can follow people throughout the day and they can do the same to you. I’m following 3 or4 more people than follow me, but that’s okay. At least half the time I post a link from a new blog post, whereas 25% of the time I’m putting out a thought, and the other 25% I’m talking to someone.

One of my friends introduced me to TwitterFox, since I use Firefox, so I didn’t have to always sign onto the Twitter site I thought that was pretty good also, until I started getting these strange messages, “rate limit exceeded”, with a different number all the time. I thought that was odd, and asked my friend about it, but he said he hadn’t noticed it, probably because he’s not as anal as I am at looking at stuff. I also noticed that, quite often, the light blue “T” of TwitterFox that’s sitting at the bottom of my browser goes red, and that’s when you know it’s down.

I tried to figure out what the problem was, couldn’t, deleted it and reloaded it, and nothing was solved. I then went to Google and did my research, to see if anyone else was having the same problem. And that’s when it hit me; it’s not Twitter Fox at all, it’s Twitter. It would seem that it’s experiencing the same problems that both Facebook and MySpace experienced with rapid growth, which then brings on server issues. Just this past weekend Twitter announced they’d had a major server crash and were rerouting things, but they never fully shut us down, or so I believe.

So, though I’m still going to be “twittering”, I have to admit that it’s not fun when I go to post a message and everything is frozen. And it doesn’t matter whether I use TwitterFox or log onto the page and try to post something; when they’re down, they’re down, and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, I know the visits to this blog have increased since I hooked up on Twitter, so I’m not going to complain too loudly. They haven’t increased on my other blog, though; I find that interesting.

Anyway, if you ever get the urge to follow me on Twitter, just click on this link. I don’t think I’m going anywhere for awhile. You can learn more about it by checking out this link to eNetworking 101.

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Let’s Talk About Commission Junction

As you’ve noticed easily enough, with most of my posts I have some sort of affiliate link or product at the end of each one of them. Most of them come from Commission Junction, and that’s who I’m going to talk about this evening.

Commission Junction is one of the largest big name affiliate programs out there. There may be affiliate programs that have more products, but Commission Junction deals with some of the biggest name companies and personalities. For instance, I’m an affiliate marketer for products from companies such as Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, GoDaddy,Kodak, and NBC/Universal. They have almost 2,200 different companies that people can do advertising for, including the one at the end of this post.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about affiliate marketing thus far; I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. I know we’re not really supposed to talk about things we haven’t done well yet, but so be it; the fourth wall is down, and I’m now George Burns talking to the audience.

I haven’t made a lot of money through CJ, their nickname. I’ve made some, enough so that I even got a check once. Truthfully, you don’t have to sell a lot of product in order to make some money. However, you have to sell some, and it would seem to be much harder than just putting up a link of some kind that looks pretty, possibly flashes, and hoping people will click on it. I know this because I check the statistics, and I see very few clicks on these bad boys ever. As a matter of fact, almost all the money I’ve made has come through 1&1, which probably means someone who knows me needed hosting and decided to help me out a little bit; thanks friends!

For one of my sites, I’ve created pages that highlight some of the products, and tried to show a nice range of prices. On another site, I’ve put a couple of products on one side of each page, hoping the picture might entice someone to click on a product to see what else a site might have. And here, as well as on other sites, I’ve posted the affiliate links with the company name, figuring one of them might click with someone one day.

Of course, sometimes CJ, or their affiliates, don’t help me much. For instance, companies are known to move around their images, and of course sometimes they discontinue a product, or a link. It’s easy to always check the links on your own website, but I don’t go around testing the links to the products on a regular basis because I don’t want to skew the numbers that tell me how many people are checking stuff out; not like it’d be all that many anyway. And there are enough companies that keep dropping me as an affiliate because I live in New York, or some other stupid reason; hard doing internet affiliate marketing sometimes. 🙂

Still, I can’t say any of this is Commission Junction’s fault. I know there’s a formula somewhere, and I’m going to keep trying to figure it out. However, I will say that CJ has some wonderful companies it represents, and if you’re a true affiliate marketer, and know better than me what you’re doing, you should check them out.

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Thoughts About Facebook

On my Reviews of Everything site, I wrote a review on Facebook, around the same time they started advertising.

Now I’m more months into it, and I’m still wondering about the overall value of Facebook as a true social networking site. Here’s my issue; there’s not much networking going on at all, let alone socializing. The site is replete with groups that either are set up to recruit people to become friends with, or groups whose overall purpose is to satiate their lascivious tendencies (go look that one up; not a word I get to use often).

I’m certainly not a prude, but there are only be so much of this sort of thing before one gets bored. I’ve created two groups of my own there. One is for support of people who have diabetes, as I do, and the other is for people to post their blogs and talk about blogging in general. On one of the groups, I have maybe 25 people who’ve signed up, but mainly it’s just me talking and posting links to news about things related to diabetes. I can’t get a conversation going to save my soul. On the other group, some people are finally sharing their blogs, but no one wants to talk about anything, only to share their blog. On that group I don’t necessarily mind so much, as I love looking at new blogs, but I can’t believe people would join these groups, then have nothing to say.

I only have one friend on Facebook who’s actually found a group that has people who have real conversations, and it’s more of a group that does the same work as she does, so of course they’re talking shop. I’d love to join a group in one of the industries I’m a part of myself, but every group I looked at had no one talking to anyone, only a lot of people posting links to try to sell something.

Frankly, if this is what social networking is about online I’m kind of depressed. There was more conversation back in the old BBS bulletin board days; how many of you remember that? Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, Black Planet, Izania,… nope, so far I’m not all that impressed.

Of course, I’m not leaving Facebook any time soon, because of only one thing; that Scrabulous thing, the game that’s actually Scrabble. Now that I can’t get enough of, and if that’s all I have, then so be it. It’s not overly social either, but at least it’s fun.

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Do You Avoid Scams?

I was talking to a friend of mine last night in Australia and he was telling me how he once fell for an online scam where he thought he was getting a list of companies that would pay him to do surveys for them. Of course he got nothing of the sort. He was out $40, and had no recourse in getting his money back because the people went through some hidden source in setting up their shopping cart.

torbakhopper via Compfight

I told him that often in my adult life I’ve been tempted to do something that just didn’t quite sound right, and in every instance except one I didn’t follow through.

The first time I did follow through was right out of college, where a friend and I paid some guy $20 to become wholesale marketers, and realized within hours that it wasn’t the job for us. For our troubles, we got to each keep one thing the company was selling, with my “gift” being a backgammon set that I still love to this day, so I feel as though I got my money’s worth out of it.

Also back in the day, I was trying to be a big time songwriter. I’d spend hours writing songs, some I thought were pretty good, some I knew were just for me. I did research at the library for publishers I could send some of my music to, and I did; lots of rejections. I even entered song contests, and had one of my songs finish in the top 600 out of 35,000 songs; I felt pretty good about that.

I also got contacted by a lot of people who said they wanted to record a song of mine and put it on a record to market to publishers and radio stations, which sounded pretty good. However, they all wanted me to pay for it and for someone else to record my music; that didn’t sound right. The books I was using for research said if someone asks you to pay for something instead of them offering you money, it was probably a scam. The pull was strong, I have to admit, but in the end I didn’t go that route; whew!

Most of us are inundated with the latest and greatest thing daily, and some of it sounds quite intriguing. A few weeks ago a friend of mine kind of ambushed me into a phone conversation with this other guy to start marketing online travel services, and it was “only” going to cost me $500 to join in. I was disappointed because I didn’t see it coming. Then he asked me if I’d watch a couple of videos and if he could call me back. The Spidey senses kicked in, I said no, and never talked to my “friend” again.

I don’t go for glitzy presentations, video or written. If I get through the first 3 paragraphs of something, or into the second minute, and haven’t been told what the product or pitch is, I leave.

There are lots of people marketing MLM products and services. Most of them aren’t making any money from it. They purchase the stuff, try to push it as hard as they can, usually to their family and friends first, then they get beaten down by the resistance and bail out. It’s not that the products or the services are always scams, but the prospects they dole out to you as far as telling you how much money you can make marketing it is unrealistic.

Internet marketing isn’t easy; I’ll tell you that up front. Heck, regular marketing isn’t easy. Even if you’re an exclusive, where no one else does exactly what you do, there’s a world of competition out there doing something similar enough to make it hard for you to break through. Any time someone else comes along and says you’re going to make a world of easy money if you just do this, or pay for that,… take a second minute to think it over with your non-greedy mind.

This doesn’t mean I’m not still going to pitch a product or two at you; I am marketing on the internet after all. What it means is that I’m not going to try to sell you a quick money making thing or something I don’t believe in… well, hopefully I won’t! 🙂

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