All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

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.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2015 Mitch Mitchell

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.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

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! 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Blogging Step Four; What And How To Write

This will be the final installment of the blogging series for now, and I hope it’s helped illuminate what blogging can be about. If you have questions or other topics you’d like me to address, leave me a comment and I’ll see what I can do. Here’s the links to parts two and three in this series:

Blogging Step Two; Where To Create Your Blog

Blogging Step Three; How To Create Your Blog

Donald Keene at home: Tokyo, 2002
Aurelio Asiain via Compfight

If you’ve read all the previous installments, then you remember that step one dealt with think about what you want to write about. Now we get a bit further into it. A recommendation I’ll make is, if you’re not sure how to get started on your topic, write down 10 things you believe you can write something on. If you can’t think of at least 10 topics from the beginning then you’re already in trouble, and you didn’t learn anything from step one.

This part should be fairly easy, though. For instance, let’s say your blog is going to be on show dogs. One would assume your first post is going to be about dog shows in general, just to get started. Then you could write about what judges look for in individual dogs, or you can pick specific dogs to talk about, which would be a bunch of topics. You could talk about the history of certain dog shows, or previous winners of the dog shows, both the dogs and the trainers. Heck, you could talk about trainers, and families of winners throughout history. For someone who may be thinking about this as a blog topic, I’ve just given you at least 100 posts.

The “how” is somewhat different. A question I’ve heard asked over and over is how long a blog post should be. The true answer is a blog post should be as long or as short as it needs to be. If you look at the last 10 posts on this blog, for instance, you’ll see that four were long, four were short, and two were somewhere in the middle. A blog post really can be one paragraph; probably shouldn’t be one line, unless you’re highlighting an image, movie, or sound file of some type. A blog post can be long, but just how long is long? If you’re writing a dissertation it’s too long; no one is going to stick around that long reading a blog post. It’s too much like work; blogs aren’t supposed to be that detailed.

That’s why I’ve broken this up into a series, instead of putting it all into one post. But another reason for doing it is that it’s given me four posts instead of just one, which obviously helps me build up my content, but it gives me more opportunities to advertise some stuff; yeah, it’s a little crass, but hey, a guy’s gotta try to make a buck, right? If you can break a very long post up, you still get to say everything you wanted to say, but spread out, you give people a reason to keep coming back for more.

And there you go; we’ve made it through a whole short series on blogging. Now I can chill and maybe post a video of something; yeah, we all need more videos. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Go Daddy $1.99 Domains 468x60
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Blogging Step Three; How To Create Your Blog

This particular post isn’t going to detail the process of downloading software or how to set up a blog on a blogging site. The “how to” is regarding how you want your blog to look, based on the purpose and your personal style.

As a for instance, when I decided I was going to create this blog, I knew that I wanted to have the middle for the content and sidebars on both sides of it. In other words, I knew coming in I wanted a 3-column template. You can get a blog without any sidebars, one sidebar, or even 3 sidebars, giving yourself four columns.

What are the purposes for all those columns? Let’s look at it in a little better detail, starting with only the one column. Basically this means you just want to write your blog and don’t want anything taking away from what you have to say. You’re not looking to advertise anything. The problem with this is that you probably won’t have many people link to your blog because many people like to at least have the opportunity to receive a link back, and a one column blog wouldn’t have a place to link. Also, blogs will keep archives of past posts, and it will break them into both categories and date ranges, but there won’t be a place for that to display so you can’t even show people that information. What I don’t know is how one would get into a one column blog to sign in, though there’s obviously a way. Overall, you lose a lot with this format.

Looking at a two column blog, usually it means the column where you’re entries are is wider than the other column, which can be on either the right or left side. This is the most common template, as it allows a person to show everything that’s meant to be shown, such as all the things I mentioned above, as well as allowing for some type of advertising if one so chose. The problem with only having one column is that you may end up having too much stuff in the one smaller column that your site looks junky. At the same time, since your content will probably be long, you have a lot of room to get things on there.

A three column blog offers more flexibility if you’re looking to advertise and also want to keep all the other stuff mentioned earlier. You can also add a calendar and many other things, and it offers you the ability to have some balances with your blog; I’m all about balance. What you have to think about, though, is whether you want the sidebars on each side of your main content or both on one side or the other. There’s no negatives to either, so it’s more of a personal choice.

A four column blog allows you to break things down even more, but in my mind, it’s too much and it’ll take away from whatever you’re writing about on your blog. A four column blog allows for the most diverse type of advertising, because you could have all your Adsense in one column, and all your affiliate ads in another.

The final thing to talk about, no matter which style you choose, is deciding on color. Overall, it doesn’t really matter what colors you pick depending on what you like, but you need to think about the readability of your blog for everyone who visits. For instance, picking green and pink for your blog might impede someone who suffers from color blindness from being able to read your blog easily. If you have a dark background with your blog you’ll want lighter print to offset it. Things always work best when there’s enough of a contrast to have either dark print against a light background or light print against a dark one.

Finally, be sure that the title background fits the image you’re trying to project in some fashion. I picked the background image for this blog because it was red and red is my favorite color. I saw some that had nice picture backgrounds, but those didn’t fit my style. I saw some that I thought might look pretty nice, but in the end decided they also didn’t fit my style. If you have the knowledge, you can always change the pictures or colors later on, though, so the most important thing overall is choosing the style you’d like.

And there you go. What’s coming up next about blogs? Stay tuned.


Dan's Chocolates

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell