All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Online Marketing, Blogging, Social Media… It’s All About Traffic

Let’s get the promotional stuff out of the way. In 2013, I was part of a group of 33 bloggers who was asked a question about how to increase blogger engagement. A few months ago I was part of another group of people that includes some fairly big names on a website called First Site Guide. We were all asked to give our 3 best blog monetization tips. I’m included with some fairly well known bloggers, few of whom know me; that’ll change one of these days (gotta have hope). Then about a month and a half ago I wrote in this space about trying to market my latest book on leadership titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy.

Freeways and Purple Buildings
Rick Hobson via Compfight

With all of that, you’d think I would know what I was doing. In a way I do, but in a way I don’t. Let me clarify that one. I know what I need to do to make more sales. I actually know what it takes to drive more traffic to my blog and my websites. After all these years, there’s lots of that kind of stuff I know.

However, what I wasn’t sure of was just how much more traffic I might need to make a dent in selling things online. You know, marketing online isn’t all that much different than real marketing, or offline marketing if you will. In both, it’s all about one or two things.

One, who you know that might be able to help you with things you’re not good at for the mutual benefit of both.

Two, the numbers, as in the more people you can reach, the more traffic you can drive, the better the opportunity you have to be somewhat successful.

The one thing I’ve never really known is just how many numbers you need online to make real sales. I have made a few sales over the years but, being more of a consultant offline than online, I’d never put together any numbers on my own.

Who did I get some numbers from? None other than my old buddy Lynn Terry of Click Newz. I asked her to take a look at the sales page for my book in her private Facebook group to see what I might be missing. She gave me some tips, then asked me how much traffic I’d had. I gave her the numbers and she said “That’s not nearly enough. You can’t make any real sales until you can get at least 3,000 to 10,000 people to your site.

In other words, it takes a lot of traffic, targeted or not, to make any real money online. And those numbers are pretty high.

Truth be told, the only numbers I can get are from Google Analytics, which are slightly suspect. My host, 1&1, doesn’t have Cpanel, which means I can’t look at any traffic figures from them unless I pay an extra fee; sigh. I don’t have a compelling reason to move to anyone else (so don’t even mention whose hosting your site because I’m not switching) because, no matter what people say, they’re as good as any other shared hosting company these days. For anyone who doesn’t believe me, just ask someone how many times Hostgator has gone down in the last couple of years and then ask me how many times 1&1 has gone down in the same period… to which I’d answer “none”.

Rushing to get home on Interstate 405
Matthew Rutledge via Compfight

I know an argument someone will make is “what about niche marketing and niched blogs. Whereas you have a better chance of attracting the people you’re trying to reach, it’s still about the numbers, about the traffic. My book was on leadership, so I reached out to people interested in leadership through my business blog, a couple of groups on LinkedIn concerning leadership, and my articles there on leadership. For me, the traffic wasn’t bad; for making sales, there just wasn’t close to being enough traffic.

Now, that doesn’t mean if you hit upon something that no one else is doing that you won’t make any money at all. What it means is if you’re hoping to make enough money to sustain yourself by selling things online, you need thousands of people stopping by who are interested in what you have to say, then in what you have to sell. Even if you know how to monetize your site, as my buddy Peter wrote in his post called The Truth About Blogging For Money, it’s about getting the right traffic, marketing the right thing, and touching the right nerves.

That’s mainly why I wrote 3 years ago that if you’re going to make any real money blogging you probably need to change your focus to “service” as opposed to product, even if you’re creating the product. Maybe if your product is teaching other people how to make money you’ll get some sales, or teaching almost anything with the right market. Otherwise, you need to decide whether you want to offer writing services, consulting services, training services, etc. That’s really what it’s all about.

Even Ryan Biddulph, who wrote the book and has the website about Blogging From Paradise, admits in the book (yes, I bought & read the book) that most of the money he makes is from freelance writing, although he’s starting to do well selling his books these days. Another famous guy, Darren Rowse, aka Problogger, became the first millionaire blogger by setting up forums and other sites with other marketers and becoming more of a comglomerate instead of purely blogging (selling photography equipment he wrote about didn’t hurt, as he made a lot of money that way, but it was the other stuff that took him over the top).

Let me be clear on this; all of that still takes a lot of traffic, but maybe not as much traffic to make enough money to live off if you pick the right thing you want to do that people will pay for. It’s something to be considered in any case. Give it some thought, and if you agree or disagree, let me know.
 

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Why I Hate Auto DM’s And First Contact DM’s

This wasn’t going to be the post I had for today. I decided to push the one I was going to write back to Thursday and put this one out because, frankly, I’m irked and it’s about time I wrote about this topic, which of course is about DM’s, or direct messages, on Twitter.


Not that I expect anyone to listen to what I have to say on this subject. After all, no one’s listening to a true expert in social media, Marji J. Sherman, who actually wrote a full post titled Kill the Auto-DM. Please, and thank you. She said nothing but great stuff in that post. This is my take on it, and I hope not to intentionally steal anything she said, though we agree on a lot of it.

Here’s the dope. I was gone for an overnight trip to my mother’s this weekend. I didn’t take my laptop with me, so all I had access to on my phone and Nook were actual messages and nothing else. I don’t know why Tweetcaster, which I use, doesn’t tell me when I have new followers, but it doesn’t.

So, when I got home and got on my computer, I had around 12 or 13 people who had decided to follow me while I was gone. I have to admit that’s a high number of folks connecting with me in such a short period of time, but 3 of them were… well, a big dodgy for one reason or another. Two others were basically only retweeting other people; nothing new, and not talking to anyone. You know I don’t like that.

Thus, I connected with 8 of them. Out of those 8, 2 sent me Auto DM’s and one person sent me a DM after maybe half an hour. That irked me to no end. Why?

First, because on my Twitter profile, I specifically ask people not to Auto DM me, and I say I’ll unfollow; I did. To me, if you’re not checking people’s profiles and then seeing what type of thing they’re posting then you don’t really care about them, only your own numbers. I don’t have time for that.

Second, overwhelmingly most people connect with me first on Twitter, which makes me think that possibly they’re interested in what I’m sharing and might want to talk to me. Yet, when those folks send me DM’s, almost all of them are sending me links to their blog, their product, or some other such nonsense.

Sorry, but where did I indicate that I wanted my Twitter account to be like I opted into your product or newsletter? Why didn’t you ask me in the open if I might want that information? Actually, I know that one; because you didn’t want to be embarrassed by anyone who might be looking at our communication watching me probably turning down your offer.

Let’s face it; you’ve never tried just talking to me and you’re already marketing to me? Either way, I’m turning you down, but in the open I’m probably not unfollowing you immediately like I am with the DM; I’m nice like that.

Portrait
Faisal Photography via Compfight

You know, I’m pretty nice on social media. If I visit a blog that one of my online friends recommended and I liked what I read, whether or not I comment I’m probably going to share it on Twitter. After that, if you want to connect with me I’ll possibly be pleased… unless you DM me. Once again, that shows you didn’t care enough about me to look at my profile or what I might share with others; I’m dropping you and probably never sharing your stuff again.

Why does this bother me so much? Because overall Twitter is my favorite social media platform. I actually have periods where I’m talking to someone live, whether it’s local or somewhere across the world, and that’s pretty neat. The initial idea behind social media is to be social… what a concept!

You can’t do that with Facebook, Google Plus or LinkedIn. Maybe there’s some chatting app where you can do something similar but it’s not going to be me using it. Twitter’s my dog; that’s where I’m heading.

The Auto DM’s and first contact DM’s… impersonal to a fault. I get it though, because there are so many articles written telling people that we love receiving free stuff and that marketing should be a 24/7 thing. Maybe… but give me the opportunity to seek you out first okay?

This isn’t a B2B (business to business) thing; this is a B2C (business to consumer) thing, only it’s not because you haven’t vetted me, you haven’t tried to learn anything about me, and even if I respond to your DM immediately we both know you’re not there and I’m not going to hear from you for hours. Thus, you’ve just wasted my time.

A few days ago I contacted someone I’ve been connected to on Twitter for a couple of years now. We haven’t talked often, probably not at all in over a year. But I wrote something and thought it might be something her particular audience might like.

I sent her the message in the open, not in a DM, and I asked if I could send her the article link either in the open or via a DM. No, I didn’t hear from her, but in my mind that’s how that type of conversation should go since I don’t know her well, especially in this day where Twitter now allows people to send DM’s to folks they don’t know (ugh!). If she never responds, I haven’t lost anything.

That’s my Monday rant; stop the DM’s like that folks. Course, you’re not going to listen to me, but obviously it’s not stopping me from asking you to… just like Marji.
 

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Ask By Ryan Levesque – Marketing & Selling – A Book Review

At the risk of making Holly mad by violating her rules of disclosure, I still indeed plan on doing a book review today. The disclosure part is that I got the book for free in the mail last week. There were no conditions on my writing the review, so the opinion is my own; y’all know how I roll.

Ask by Ryan Levesque

The book is obviously called Ask by Ryan Levesque, and basically it’s both the story of a guy who developed a marketing and sales process based on surveys that help you drill down to what your audience might want to see and buy from you, and the full process itself. When I was explaining part of it to my wife she got me to buy the Nook version of the thing and lend it to her so she could read the case studies, and she’s in love with what she’s read so far. There, I’m done. Nah, I guess I should say more.

Ryan is a guy with a lot of intelligence. He got a degree in neuroscience while learning Chinese, decided to go into finance so he could work in China, and was doing really well. Then he realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do anymore and decided he wanted to see what he could do for himself. Thus, he decided to get into online marketing; how many of us have thought this?

This is a guy with a thirst for learning, so he read a lot of books on sales and started out with a product that did okay… until it wasn’t doing okay anymore. By doing more reading and meeting a guy named Glenn Livingston Ph. D., who’s also known as a sales guru, he eventually came up with a way for businesses to figure out what their clients want, and then works with businesses to help them figure out how to deliver it. He decided, after a medical crisis where he almost lost his life, that he wanted to share what he’d learned with others; thus this book.

The book is in two parts. The first part is more about his background, what drives him, and all his adventures. Frankly, I loved reading it because I like knowing more about the people I’m reading about, and on Amazon, the only two 1-star reviews were from people who didn’t like this part. To me, if that’s the only gripe you have with a book you’re not worth worrying about.

The second part is where the meat is, and truthfully, you’re going to have to read it more than once to understand it all. Levesque even admits that you might not need all the steps he points out in the book, but believes if you follow them that you’ll be more successful in the long run. He also suggests you initially skim the entire process, then go back and start taking notes. That’s the part I have to go back and do next.

rl_01
Ryan Levesque

Basically, he’s created what he calls the Survey Funnel Strategy. The basics of the strategy come in 4 parts:

1. The Deep Dive Survey

This is the first step, and it’s very basic. You send out a survey that’s fairly open ended. Your questions are designed to illicit general responses, which you want because without these answers, you’re not really sure where you want to go.

2. The Micro-Commitment Bucket Survey

With this survey, you’re hoping to get more information from your audience, which includes tightening up and getting the permission to send them whatever you’re trying to market. His suggestion for how to do it is pretty brilliant, but I’m not giving it away now. 🙂

3. The Do You Hate Me Survey

This is the point where you’ve sent your sales letter out, hopefully you’ve made some sales, but there’s a group of people who either visited and didn’t buy or didn’t visit; they might not have even opened the letter. Thus, you’re now sending something out to find out why they didn’t take the action you were hoping for. The way he suggests you do it is clever; I like it.

4. The Pivot Survey

The final email (by the way, this is all via email) you send is for those people who didn’t take any action after you did the first 3 letters. This not only gives you another chance to market and to gain information you might not have received earlier on, but at this point you might determine that this person might not really want what you have to market and you can remove them if that’s your preference.

Obviously I’ve just sketched things out here to give you a taste of it all. After the first two parts he shares a couple of case studies and, if what he shares is accurate, you’re going to think “WOW!” That’s what drew my wife in.

I’d recommend Askicon, and obviously I’d love you to buy it via my link above (you can also click on the book), which is via Barnes & Noble. At that link you can get either the regular book or the Nook version. However, if you wish you can buy it from Amazon; I couldn’t find it on his business page. He was giving away free copies back in April, but I didn’t know about that otherwise I’d have certainly shared this information way before now.

My overall take is that it’s a great system for long term success, especially if you know how to create products and informational packages. Some of the ideas can be done by everyone, especially the first one, if you have a responsive audience. Go ahead, take a chance and have a good read!
 

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Writing Styles For Others – Subtitles, H Tags, Etc…

A couple of weeks ago I thought about trying to write for one of those sites that accumulates posts on a lot of different topics; nope, I’m not even going to tell you the name of the site because I don’t want to even give them the hint of new writers they can take advantage of. Anyway, that’s not quite how they had advertised themselves. What I saw was them looking for someone who could write on specific topics that I know pretty well. Once I went to look I saw that’s not what it was at all. Still, I thought I might be interested in giving it a shot to make a little extra chunk of change.

Smoking as Fiction
Frederic Guillory via Compfight

That is, until I looked at the requirements for the site. In essence, it was formulaic, not unlike years ago when I was trying to write for Demand Studios. In essence, they wanted all this stuff instead of just an article, and they wanted at least 1,500 words for the honor; ouch!

What kinds of things did they want? Well, in general, for some folks it might not seem like all that much of a big deal. However, for me it was, and I decided that they didn’t just want articles, they wanted a lot of extra stuff that, for what they were going to pay, it just wasn’t worth the effort.

Is it worth the effort on your blog posts? For me, rarely. For you… let’s look at some of these things to see.

1. Subtitles.

They wanted multiple subtitles in the article, at least 3. Here’s the thing, at least from my perspective. Unless one is writing a list post of some type, like this one, or a monster post, you’re not always going to come up with at least 3 subtitles. Goodness, some of my articles don’t have a subtitle at all. Sure, I know newspapers do it all the time but how many of us want to write like we’re reporters?

2. H tags. For those who aren’t familiar with this, H tags are code you use before specific sentences that tell search engines what you’re supposed to be writing about. In essence, they look at what’s in the H tags and then match it up with your content; that’s the easy version of it all.

You can have H1, H2, H3 and, if you’re feeling really happy about things, H4 tags. You can even have multiples of each of these tags in your article. Frankly, that gets a bit goofy and, in my opinion, it can look like you’re trying to game Google.

Here’s the thing. Most articles use H1 tags for the title. That’s because that particular tag changes the size of your font. You can use other code to reduce it but if you’re using it for your title then you’re good. On WordPress blogs, the software automatically adds H1 tags so you don’t have to bother with it, although some people like doing it twice; ugh.

In any case it’s not really natural to writing, and if you don’t know coding all that well you could royally mess things up. You’d probably use H2 – H4 tags for your subtitles. Still, it’s another element that’s not really part of writing, which makes the process bothersome.

Immagine 120
en- ri gioca sott’acqua via Compfight

3. Images.

This one is interesting. We all know (lots of folks, including me, have written about this) that images can help enhance a page. For these people, because they wanted the articles long enough, they wanted you to find at least 3 images for each post, and you had to make sure they were allowed to be used. No problem in doing that except that it’s always hard finding the proper images to use when you’re doing something for someone else.

For instance, on my blogs, if I use my own images people just have to deal with figuring out how, or if, the image fits what I’m writing about. For these folks, they want it spelled out in a way that shows the image is related; that’s time consuming and, once again, not really part of anyone’s writing style. If you know how to create images and such maybe you’re ahead of the game; I’m not close to being that creative.

4. Authority links.

These folks requested at least 3 links that could support what you’ve written about. There’s two problems with doing something like this.

One, they want links from sites ranked pretty well. How many people know how to find links that are ranked well? Actually, it’s not overly difficult to determine link strength because when you do a search on Google they put things in order based on your search terms, thus they’ve determined the high links for you. The problem is that just because a link ranked high doesn’t mean what’s behind the link contains what you need. Thus, you might have to look through a bunch of links to find what you need to confirm what you wrote.

Two, what happens if you happen to be an authority on the topic you’re writing about? In that case you probably never considered looking for links because you knew what you were talking about. Now you’re in unfamiliar territory, looking for something that validates your knowledge.

What if it doesn’t exist? That’s what I ran into years ago with Demand Studios; I was writing on health care finance stuff, one of my specialties, and none of the confirming information was online because insurance companies like Medicare didn’t put that stuff online. The only way you’d know it is if you were in the industry. Ugh!

Now… you decide to try to do all that and you’re successful and submit the article. Now you have to go through a waiting process while someone goes through to see if you’ve done everything right, and of course checks your article out for typos and language and all that other stuff. If they turn you down you have to fix whatever they don’t like… with the caveat that since that happened you can still submit your articles but you have to wait at least six months before you can apply to get paid for it.

If they approve you… you’ve just earned $20. Yup, that’s right, $20.

Before twitter and facebook...
Beatriz Gil via Compfight

Let’s look at this more thoroughly. Luckily, I tend to write pretty quickly if I know what I want to write about. So, let’s say that it takes me even 10 minutes to write an article, which this one is probably taking me. To find 3 images their way might take me 15 minutes. To find links might take me 30 minutes. I know the coding part of subtitles but I’d have to figure out where to put subtitles, which means I’d have to be prepared to rewrite some of my copy to match up with them.

This would mean that, if I got paid, I was earning, if I’m lucky, about $12 or $13 an hour. Since this type of writing isn’t the kind where you could possibly pound out 5 articles a day, and since those articles would take time to put together, you end up basically having to work at least 12 or 13 hours a day.

How do you get there? Because writing isn’t just “writing”. You have to come up with an idea, maybe do some research (after all, even if we know our topics we don’t know it all…), rest, eat… rinse and repeat. All that and you could be turned down; ouch!

So, that’s writing for others. What if you’re writing for yourself? I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately by people saying we all should be trying to write these mega posts. Many of those articles are recommending some of the same stuff I mentioned above, only they’re looking for articles of at least 3,000 words; ooooo, I’m dyin’! lol

How many of you feel like you have that kind of time all the time? I mean, writing can be hard enough for some of you; are you willing to go through all that other stuff? Well, maybe if you’re writing only one article a week and don’t have anything else to do, and you’re actually making a living off your blogging it’s possible.

But in general… oy!

Maybe I’m crazy so I’ll ask you your thoughts on all of this. Meanwhile, I’d like to share this little video I did where, believe it or not, I compare Kool Aid to long posts. I know you’re gonna want to see this. 🙂
 


https://youtu.be/Z7OlnUz_T5A

 

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Why It’s Hard To Do Business On LinkedIn

I have to admit that I have a love/dislike relationship with LinkedIn. It’s not the site’s fault; it’s all mine.

IMG_0899


Jo Chou via Compfight

I mean, I’m the guy who wrote a post talking about ways to use LinkedIn effectively. I’m the guy who wrote a post about marketing on LinkedIn. Heck, I’m the guy who recently wrote a post about writing articles on LinkedIn

It turns out that I’ve written 8 articles specifically about LinkedIn over all these years, and included the site in 96 articles in total. Not all of them have extolled its virtues because, like everything else, not everything is good there; not all the time anyway.

Still, you’d think that after all these years (I was one of the first 600,000 members there; they even send me a letter of thanks lol) I would have a handle on how it works, how to get business there, how to make true connections and the like.

You know what? I haven’t learned anything. Okay, that’s not quite true. I obviously have learned a lot. But I’ve never gotten any business via LinkedIn. I’ve never generated a single thing that would help me make any money. As I start to close in on my 14th year in business, I have to figure this out, and it’s better to do it sooner than later.

What’s the problem? Truthfully, I’m not quite sure.

It’s not that I don’t talk to people, because I have. It’s not that I haven’t had some nice conversations in the groups there because I have.

It’s that I get the wrong people connecting with me there. Rather, the wrong people who connect with me and then send me a message.

Y’all remember my post on Monday on blog commenting? Remember my very first point on that post, where I said “try reading the article?

That’s something it seems that no one who sends me something does… not read my articles, but not read my profile.

LI_profile

Maybe it’s me, either expecting too much or not wording my profile properly. Either way, the messages I get are either from people who want me to market their product or services as part of what I do, or want to sell me services that I can’t use because I’m a sole proprietor, which they’ve missed from reading my profile.

You know what else? At least half the people who write me put some derivation of the same title, which is “Business Proposition.” Wow, that’s inspiring isn’t it? And in the message they send, they don’t say anything except “I’d like to present a business proposition to you. When would you be available to talk?”

That’s kind of bold, pushy and in a way insulting isn’t it? Those messages always immediately raise the hackles on the back of my neck (linking to the definition for folks not familiar with that term like folks talking to me about MLM stuff (more definition stuff). You know, when they won’t tell you what it is but try to play on your emotions and give you all the platitudes about how much money you can make?

The issue for me is that I don’t want to be pushy. Truthfully, though I’m connected to nearly 1,000 people now (that’s a big jump in the last year), I’m not connected to any of the people I need to talk to that can use my services. Those of you who know me know that I offer lots of different types of services, but my biggest two are leadership and health care finance (linking to something you might not understand, but in case you’re interested…). Through this blog I offer writing services.

The folks I keep hoping to attract and those who can hire me for those types of services. Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, I don’t get those folks.

Instead, I get people who either want me to sell for them or want me to teach them what I know so they can progress without wanting to pay me for it. I used to give up a lot of my time in trying to teach people some of these things, which can get pretty technical, and I realized I was giving up a lot of time and not getting anything back.

Linkedin

Mambembe Arts & Crafts via Compfight

I offer lots of advice on this blog about a lot of things. I offer a lot of other advice on my business blog. I will talk to anyone about business in general, people who are thinking about going out on their own or young people who are graduating and would like a bit of advice here and there.

I don’t mind that kind of thing; heck, that’s who I was looking for when I first went into business on my own, and no one would talk to me. I’ve actually talked to some of those folks on LinkedIn, even locally; that’s been fun.

But business? Nope, nada, zip; not even a request for a speaking gig via LinkedIn.

My fault… all my fault.

What to do… hmmm…

For once, instead of giving advice, I’ll ask for some. My friend Peter says that sometimes we give so much information away in our posts that people aren’t sure what to comment on or what to say.

So, here’s your chance. How do you do LinkedIn? Have you been successful in getting any business there, and if so how did you do it? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back? If you’ve never used LinkedIn don’t even comment on this one; I’ll save you time and effort in saying “I don’t use LinkedIn…” I mean, after those words or anything similar, there’s no purpose in commenting this time around if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be thinking about how to rewrite the beginning of my profile because that part must be deficient. At least parts of my page look pretty cool, if I say so myself. 🙂
 

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