All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

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. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

5 Things You Should Do Before Commenting On A Blog

In March of 2014 I wrote a post titled 5 Commenting Courtesies. That post talked about some things that are fairly common that people who aren’t used to commenting seem to miss. Well, those people and spammers, but we’re not going to change them any time soon.

Mr & Mrs WordPress
Nikita Kashner via Compfight

This time around I’m looking at the process before you comment, not necessarily being courteous, although it’s in the same vein. In essence, I’m going to teach people how to leave a blog comment. This comes from when I wrote a post about blogging 10 years on my business blog at the same time I was part of a blog carnival. A lot of the comments I got were… well, they just weren’t all that good (our buddy Troy was a part of it and he’d agree).

So, my intention is to hopefully give 5 nice tips on how to address the process of writing better comments on blogs. You don’t have to write War and Peace, but if you want people to take you seriously and decide to visit your blog you’re going to have to put forth a little bit more effort. Here we go!

1. Try reading the article.

You wouldn’t think I’d have to say that but I know I do. I get lots of comments to posts where I’m doubtful that the person read the post at all. I mean, one or two lines addressing a post that ran close to 1,000 words, even 500 words, is kind of disappointing, especially on those posts where someone has taken the time to explain something. So many comments could pertain to almost anything someone writes; I delete a lot of those here.

2. Find something in the post that you liked and mention it in your comment.

This is a great way of making sure your comments have at least a modicum of respect for the writer. For instance, if the article points out 5 things, 9 things, 20 things, finding something you believe has touched you in some way and mentioning it works wonders in boosting a writer’s mood. Try not to always make it either the 1st or last point; that’s so passé.

3. Don’t tell people what the article means in your comment.

If I write an article about good SEO principles, your comment shouldn’t say something like “following good SEO principles is crucial to a blog’s success.” Really? Didn’t I just say that? Maybe you didn’t read the post; see #1. Maybe you’re trying to help reinforce what the article meant; trust me, it’s not needed.

4. Offer an opinion on the article when you can and not the author so much… unless the article is about the author.

On the article I linked to about the 10th anniversary of my business blog, many of the comments said something like “there are some valuable lessons here that will help me blog better.” Really? Like what? One in particular? All of them? I know I gave you #2 above, which is pretty good advice, but how about some feedback on it, whether you agree with it or not?

5. Read the comment policy.

Not just my blog, but a lot of bloggers who’ve had blogs for a long time add some kind of comment policy to their blog. Mine is just above the box where people can leave their comments, and I even made the text a pretty dark blue and bolded it.

Although there are a few people who end up going to spam because of some kind of conflict between Chrome and my blog (odd thing, but it’s not only happening to me), a lot more end up there because they violated one of the principles contained within the comment policy. Of course, these days the majority of first time commenters end up in the spam filter because they haven’t added a gravatar to their email address, but that’s also in the comment policy.

Here’s the overall thing about commenting. People do it for 3 reasons. One, because they have something to say. Two, because it’s part of their strategy of either getting links or trying to get people to come back to their blogs. And three, because they like the person blogging and want to offer some encouragement.

If your reasons are #1 or #2, then you should be taking more time and devotion in leaving your comments. If it’s #3… well, we all forgive our friends and are just happy they stopped by, because most of our friends and family don’t read what we have to say… come on, we all know that’s true! 🙂
 

Are You As Popular As You Think You Are?

Of course I’m starting this with a link to my latest book, Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, because it leads into today’s topic. That and I’m hoping you’ll at least go check it out.

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I’m so tired…

One of the things that got me to release the book when I did is that in many ways I have been enjoying and bit more popularity than I had been for a while. Once I started traveling for work, I stopped commenting on as many blogs as I had been previously, and even though I still spent a lot of time on Twitter, I’d start sharing my blog posts there or pretty much anywhere else. I had been sharing them on Facebook, but no one reads blog post on Facebook for the most part.

I’d also been writing articles on LinkedIn, and for the most part did in generating a lot of publicity as well. And, because I’d figured out new ways to get more attention on Facebook, I was thinking that it was time to strike while the iron was hot and releasing my new book. However, I didn’t just release it as a book, but as a package of goodies as I’ve mentioned previously.

I then went on a major marketing push in all these different places, which I wrote about a couple of articles ago. Truthfully, it’s not like I expected a whole bunch of sales. After all, my general belief was that it might only attract people who are already leaders of some kind in their job to think about purchasing it as an entire package is to adjust the book.

I figured that I might sell a few packages, and that a few people might take me up on my special coaching offer that’s listed on the package. In that instance I would’ve had to make a full bunch of sales just a couple of quick ones, and a cash wouldn’t be so bad in the long run.

You know what I discovered? I basically discovered I’m not as popular as I thought I was. Sure, the pages actually gotten a lot of visits, but nothing commensurate with the number I had thought might visit. And strangely enough, not all that many people from LinkedIn came by, and that was initially surprising based on how well I’ve been doing there.

That is, until I actually went back to look at things. Three weeks ago I had a post on their that had almost 700 readers. However, since that post it’s been hard to even get close to 100, and my last article I didn’t even reach 40 readers. Since I thought I had a formula that could get me a lot of readers, I have to admit that brought me down a little bit.

What Google Analytics tells me is that, for the book, the majority of traffic has come from Twitter. I only received one visitor from LinkedIn; isn’t that a shame? That’s from the social link that shown on Analytics. As it pertains to source, the majority of traffic has actually come via this blog; I’m not overly upset with that. Goodness, I got more traffic from Facebook than I did from LinkedIn, and I know those people aren’t even reading my blog posts.

By the way, an article I had written just a couple before the one they got almost 700 readers had 1,300 readers. So, I pretty much figured I had to be good enough to at least get one or two buyers that way.

It’s somewhat disappointing to realize you’re not as popular as you think you are. One would’ve thought that I would have been prepared for that one I look at the figures for this blog in general. At one point a few years ago I was ranked in the top 70,000 by Alexa, and now I’m sitting around 304,000.

At least half my visitors use to be returning visitors, and now that percentage is around 37%, which is still actually considered pretty good. However, after people from the United States the biggest group of people who are supposedly visiting the blogs are from Russia. Frankly I’m doubting that greatly, which makes me start to believe that may be I’m not even getting close to the visitors I think I’m getting, that instead it’s some kind of bots visiting the site and building up the numbers.

I don’t know. What I do know is that as a package the book didn’t sell, so tomorrow I will officially start selling it as a standalone product. It will be on the same page as the package so that people can make a decision as to which one they want once they see the pricing of it.

Once I officially launch it, I will be adding new marketing processes along with keeping the same marketing processes I did before in trying to get to by the book on its own, in .pdf form in case I haven’t mentioned it previously. And then we’ll see what happens, and I get to see if I really know anything about marketing or whether I’ve just been talking nonsense all these years; sniff! lol

How many of you have struggled with this idea of wondering how popular your blogs and websites are? I figure I might as will put the question out there and see what others have to say about it. Have a wonderful Thursday.

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Flipboard – Check Out My Magazine, Make Your Own

I have some pretty good friends. In this case, my friend and fellow consultant Jesan Sorrells introduced me to Flipboard… even if it took me a couple of months to go back to. I’m not sure why I was curious, but eventually I was, and man, I’m glad I went to the site, set up my account, and them added it to both my smartphone and my Nook.

flipboard03

In essence, Flipboard is kind of a news aggregator and RSS feed reader. When you sign up, it already has a couple of things for you to look at, such as news stories. You get to select specific subjects, some which the program will recommend to you once you select a couple of things, and then you’re pretty much ready to go.

Once you start reading different stories, if you want to share them in different social media formats you can set up your devices with your usernames and passwords to those sites you want to share to. If you use an alternative application to access those sites, you have the option of selecting them without having to worry about signing in (I use different apps to access Twitter for instance), but you can go either route. After that, the process is easy to do.

For the longest time, that’s all I was using it for. Then I was talking to my buddy Yasmin Shiraz, and she clued me in on many other uses for the program.

For instance, the RSS part. I now follow a few blogs, including my own (I want to see what others see), because you can add the RSS feed on either your devices or the Flipboard website. If you wish, you can also comment via the platform, although when you’re done you’ll have to back up a couple of times to get back to Flipboard if you’re on your device. No biggie there.

It’s the magazines feature that makes you a publisher of another kind. Not only can you decide on subjects you want to read, but you can decide to create what they call “magazines”, which are categories of things you’re interested in that you either want to share with others or save for yourself to access whenever and wherever you wish. You can always delete what you decide you don’t want anymore, which is a handy feature if you put it into the wrong magazine. You can also leave a note on whatever you save in a magazine. Why would you want to do that?

Because you can subscribe to other people’s magazines, and they can subscribe to yours. That’s the fascinating part if you ask me. I’ve subscribed to Yasmin and Jesan so far, and as I find other people I’ll probably subscribe to them as well. If you look to the right —-> you’ll see where you can subscribe to my magazine. That gives you access to any magazines I’ve created, and then you can set up your own magazines as well.

You can also comment on whatever I share on my magazine, which is pretty cool, which includes my own blog posts if I happen to pop something in one of my magazines. I won’t abuse it, and so far I haven’t seen many other people abusing it also by putting all their own content into a category. But I will do it from time to time; after all, I write most posts about things I’m interested in, so why not share more right? 🙂

One last thing to share is a link to a browser plugin they call Flip It, which gives you the ability to add any article you see to your magazines by clicking on an app that you can have located on your toolbar. I believe it works for all browsers, but you can check it for yourself; it works great on mine, as I’m on Firefox.

The best way to show you how this stuff works is to share a couple of videos with you. The first is a very brief introduction of what it’s all about:
 


 
https://youtu.be/OMCl3bCYe7s

The second is how to create and use magazines:
 


 
https://youtu.be/c0PeBt1S3w4

Trust me, this is pretty cool. Now I have something to do if I’m away from home and have some time to kill. Check it out, check me out, and create your own magazines.

By the way, you didn’t think I was going to forget to pimp my latest book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy did you? If you haven’t heard about it, check out the link. If you have, check out the link and think about buying the package… 😉
 

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