All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

10 Blogging Lessons From 10 Years Of Blogging On A Different Blog

I know some folks are going to be confused if they remember my post talking about my 7th anniversary of blogging on this blog. Well, that’s this blog… on my business blog, today is the 10th anniversary of blogging. If you look below you’ll see Mitch’s Blog and the link to today’s post highlighting it (click the picture lol). And, whereas it’s not always a good thing having a new post on a Sunday, this is the anniversary date; that’s that! lol

mitchs blog

The interesting thing is that in the 7th anniversary post I gave 7 things about blogging after giving 15 (I actually did 15 twice) and 55 previous to that. You’d think I wouldn’t have any more blogging lessons to give but I actually do, coming at it from a different point of view.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what to do. I made tons of mistakes, had some comment that, by now, I’ve made private because it was pretty lame. As a practice I still believe it was best to have a blog; in reality, a lot of that early stuff was pedestrian. I’d cringe, but it was what it was, and truthfully, I had a gem or two here and there.

Still, I learned some lessons from that blog which helped me start this blog off just a little bit better than I might have; a little bit that is. It’s in that vein that I know I have 10 blogging lessons that are new and different from what I’ve said before. Let’s begin:

1. Putting any old thing up isn’t a blog post. Back then I had blog posts that might have been one paragraph. I had a few that were only one or two lines. I’d link to a story or a newsletter of mine and that would be that. In retrospect, I wish I’d talked just a bit more about the topic before doing that; I’m sure Google looked at those things and said “what the heck is this?”

2. Too many posts in a short time. I’ve talked about having to recover blog posts off Google after my original host crashed. What I did was recover about 155 articles, and instead of spreading them out I posted a lot of them all at once. Way too much content, and a waste of being able to reintroduce articles that were pre-written, thus saving myself having to work hard to come up with new content immediately.

3. Staying on message is a good thing. Even though I had a lot of short posts, I had some long ones also; like this blog. Thing is, some of the long posts back then, like some of my early newsletters, were all over the place. Back then I tried cramming everything I could think of into a post; now I know my topic, write only about that topic, and only toss something in every once in a while for perspective or to be funny. lol

4. Spacing of sentences. Or more specifically, not having paragraphs that were long enough to be chapters in a book. If you decide to read a book like Atlas Shrugged or anything Anne Rice writes, you’ll be convinced that long paragraphs make people happy; they don’t. At least not online. Whereas I hate seeing blog posts where every paragraph is only one line, I also hate seeing paragraphs that go into the next day.

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I really did look like this lol

5. Images; good! I wish I’d picked up on that one much earlier than I did. Every once in a while I’d put in an image but only if it was pertinent to the story. Images make blog posts so much better don’t they?

6. Standing up for a cause is also good. I’m a WWE fan, but back in 2005 they had a storyline that I had a major problem with. In essence they created an Arab-American character who spouted all this hateful stuff at the audiences. It was their attempt to capture the mood of the country at the time.

Unfortunately, it worked way too well. Not only was it racist, but some networks across the country refused to carry any show he was on. They removed the character pretty quickly, the guy was disillusioned (turns out he wasn’t Arabic) and he left the business.

I doubt I had anything to do with his removal (I know I didn’t) but the point is you must be willing to call out something that’s not right, even if it’s risky; just choose your words carefully.

7. Internal linking can be your best friend. I learned via that blog that linking back to previous content that’s either pertinent to what I’m writing about anew or certain words that I want to highlight within my content was smart. Sometimes people will check out posts you link to; the longer you can keep people on your site because they like what you have to say, the better.

8. Every niche can be expounded upon. I started out writing that blog only on the topic of leadership and diversity. I learned quickly that not only were there other business issues that interacted with those values but I also had my primary business that I could write on as well. When you’re trying to highlight yourself you should also be ready to highlight just how much you know… or at least think you know.

9. We all love stories. Who doesn’t like a good story? I found that the posts that worked best were those that told a story in which I was a part of. Not that people were necessarily all that interested in me but telling a story of something I dealt with or saw was much easier than telling a story in which I wasn’t involved. Not that I don’t do that even now but if you can touch people emotionally they’ll stick around longer and talk to you more often.

10. Do it or don’t. When I’d lost my blog (actually, I lost the entire website), I had a choice to make; quit or keep going. Once I decided I was going to keep going I have, obviously still writing 10 years later. During this time I also shut down a business and moved a lot of that content over here, which I introduce over time.

This is always a big decision by everyone at some point; to quit or go on. Some go on; some quit like my buddy Charles Gulotta did. Sure, there are times when it might make you look bad or might make you feel bad. Don’t worry much about that sort of thing; just do it or don’t, and let life go on. 🙂
 

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Three Crucial Items Before Creating Your Website

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Second, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCOTT! LOL

On the 5th of this month I put out this question: should you have a website. If you’re going to have a website, there are some things you want to consider when having one designed for you. These things not only have to do with how your site will work on the internet, but have to do with how you want yourself being represented for your business.

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Alex Avriette via Compfight

The first is a sense of symmetry. For your main page, you want things to be aligned in certain ways so that the site isn’t visually offensive to your visitors.

Having pictures scattered all over the site instead of placed in strategic places looks junky.

Having text show up in different areas on the page looks amateurish.

Having multiple fonts throughout your text, without a specific reason why, destroys ones credibility.

Having your content centered in some fashion is a must, whether you decide to have your page left justified or not. Your customers are going to question your judgment and competence because your site won’t look like it represents a professional, whether a professional created it or not.

Symmetry goes beyond the first page, though. If you have multiple pages on your site, trying to maintain some semblance of similarity for each page is preferable to having each page look totally different. Moving your menus around is a terrible idea, and not having each menu item work on each page is a mistake I’ve seen over and over.

There can be changes here and there, as long as the basic structure has been kept. For instance, on one of my client’s sites, there are two pictures of the client on the first page that slightly throw off one of the menus as far as alignment goes, but the menu is in the same spot on each subsequent page so that the visitor knows to expect that menu in that place.

Color is a part of symmetry, and changing colors and fonts for each page could be risky. If you have a specific reason for it, then that’s fine. For instance, for one of my client’s sites, the individual articles off the articles page have a totally different layout and color than the rest of the site, because the articles open up in a different window, as kind of a stand alone site. However, the rest of the pages, which are linked, have the same look and feel on each page.

The second thing to consider is making sure you have keywords and keyword phrases scattered throughout the pages that you actually expect people to search for on search engines, if you’re hoping to be found.

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Anyone who’s used a search engine knows that if people go looking for shoes you’re going to end up with millions and millions of pages. So they start refining their search terms. Something like “shoe” will get millions of pages. “Blue shoes” will start to reduce the number a bit more. “Leather blue shoes” will reduce the number even further. “Handmade leather blue shoes” reduces the number even more.

Now that you’ve got one search term, you think of another that someone might put into a search engine to find your items. The trick is to find search terms that someone might legitimately put into a search engine that will help separate you from the pack; with the above example, even the last term I chose ends up being too broad. That’s why it’s best to find multiple search terms, even in businesses that don’t have as much competition as the word “shoes” might.

The final thing to consider is the amount of content you want to have on your site. For instance, going back to “shoes”, if you wanted to try to have one single page for all the shoes you sold, you’d be doing yourself a disservice and you’d make very few sales. That’s because there are many different varieties of shoes.

You probably want to think about dividing up your site into the different types of shoes you might market: sneakers, books, loafers, heels, etc. Each one of these types of shoes would have its own page, which now gives you more chances to optimize your site even further with keyword phrases. All of these pages help your site to be found by search engines, and it makes going through your site easier for your customers in general because they can go to the pages they want to specifically visit.

This works the same with a business website as opposed to a sales website. You always want to say more about your business than what you might mention on your main page, and if you have other pages to talk more about your services, your bio, your customers, whatever, it all helps in the overall optimization of your site. That, plus the more pages you have, the more your potential clients may see how valuable your services are. It may only be perception, but any benefit your site can give you in a positive.

Think about these things before you get too deep into creating your website; they could save you a lot of time and grief in the long run. It may not hurt to talk to an internet marketing consultant to help you sort these things out.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

5 Ways To Be Better On Social Media

We all know that social media is here to stay. What those of us who actually look at what’s being said and shared on social media see is a lot of people making mistakes that should be fairly easy to overcome. I use “fairly” because all of it takes some action, and some of that action takes longer than others, and some is more risky than others. And yet, if done correctly, or with the proper frame of mind, it all helps greatly.

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I make videos to help
my social media presence

With that said I’m giving 5 ways here, only because I’m hoping to keep it simple. It’s my intention in 2015 to talk more about social media theory, presence, networking and theory on this blog than anything else, and this is the first article of 2014, as I took a nice long break. So, here we go:

Gravatar – Gravatars have been out there for more than a decade now. Basically a gravatar is that little image that you see next to people’s blog comments; on other platforms it’s just called an image. Last April on a different blog I talked about 5 reasons you need a gravatar. The main reason is that your image helps people associate a face with the comment, and that identity is strong in making connections. People remember faces more than names, and images more than, well, nothing.

Promote others while promoting yourself – If I took the time to mention you while sharing something you did on this blog, would it make you feel pretty good? If so, think of how others might feel if you reference them here and there in your space, whether it’s on your blog or retweeting something they’ve shared on Twitter or just sharing something someone else has done on other social media platforms.

These don’t have to be famous people, and truthfully it’s probably better that it’s not them, at least most of the time. In that vein I’m going to promote a young man named William Haynes, who’s been putting together a wealth of topics on all sorts of both social media and being social in general that are pretty funny on his YouTube channel and deserves a bit more attention if you ask me. The kid makes me laugh. 🙂

Be present – If you want to be a presence via social media and be found by others who might need or enjoy what you have to share you actually have to be out there pressing the digital flesh.

Alex Eylar via Compfight

I have 4 blogs (actually 5 again) and try to make sure I have at least one article on 3 of them weekly. I’m on social media every day, even on days I’m traveling, for at least an hour. I try to mix it up among all the social media sites I’m on and I try to be engaging with people; I may not be famous yet but I have people sometimes surprised to hear from me because they think I’m big; all that and a bag of chips gets me on almost no lists, ever. lol Still, there’s nothing else like that in the world.

Don’t look curmudgeonly -Trust me, I understand now that I’m in my mid 50’s. Society feels like it’s changed so drastically. People use a lot of foul language, don’t seem to know anything about history, and are always flitting around onto the “next big thing” (still have no idea what Tsu is; not interested) while the big thing is still pretty viable. If I wanted to I could spend entire weeks hating on every single blog post I come across; how well do you think that would work for me?

We all have to be ready to step back and see what others are doing, evaluate them for ourselves, and then decide what we want to do or say. Having an informed opinion on something you don’t like is way better than hating something just because it’s not what you used to like. Of course if you only spend time hating things you’ll look like a jaded old person, even if you’re young. So find good in things as well; trust me, there’s a lot more good than bad.

Be willing to be confronted, but not condemned – So many people play it safe; sigh… There’s nothing wrong with being cautious because you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. I’m of the opinion that if you’ve given something a lot of thought and have something to say, even if you know there will be someone out there who won’t like it, say it anyway if it’s honest.

You might not like the concept of political correctness but it’ll help you get your message across way better when you’re not constantly defending yourself from negatives messages that you generated. People like knowing that others aren’t afraid to have an opinion that’s well reasoned, and that just might be your unique selling proposition that helps you get fans and customers.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

3 Blogging Concepts That Do Work, No Matter What Anyone Says

That looks like an antagonistic title, doesn’t it? In a way it is, but in a way it’s not. This is one of those posts where I’m going to use my own expertise to dispute something someone else wrote where, in my opinion, they’re totally wrong. I’m also going to link to the post because one, it allows you the visitor to go see the entire post, and two, linking to someone you’re talking about, good or bad, is just being courteous.

Before I move on I just want to add that this is the type of thing that can help to make a business blog work well. It’s not bad when you agree with what someone else says and want to enhance it, but it’s also not bad when you don’t just follow along with what someone else says when you don’t agree.

Anyway, on a blog called Hongkiat, the writer wrote a post titled Popular Blogging Advice That Don’t Work (and What Does). Forgiving the grammar since English isn’t his first language, he listed 5 points that he believed don’t work, or aren’t true about blogging. I disagree with 3 of his points, and I brought those points up on his blog in the comments. But I wanted to say a bit more, hence this post.

Here’s the points and my commentary on them; I’m paraphrasing them since he wrote the points differently:

1. Blogging every day doesn’t do your blog any good.

His point was that no one could write every day because they’d run out of things to say and that the content wouldn’t be very good. I want to negate that statement; it’s not impossible but it’s not easy. On one of my blogs I was an almost every day blogger. I averaged just over 300 posts a year my first three years with that blog. In one stretch, I wrote 37 days in a row, 5 of those days 2 posts a day. Were there some duds? Yes, but I felt that all the rest were pretty good.

Here’s the truth. The more you write, the more traffic you’ll get. That’s been proven over and over. The other truth is that, for a blog, if there are too many articles in a day or in a week, visitors might get confused by what they need to read. Sure, I had a great output, and my traffic showed it, and thus my rankings went up; that was good. But I didn’t get tons of comments, and some posts didn’t get any comments at all.

Still, it built up my web presence, and I was willing to write that much to help that blog gain prominence, which it has. After 3 years I decided to slow down some, not commit to writing every day, but to commit to having a new post at least every 3 days or so. That I have stuck with, and I now get way more comments. But writing a lot established the blog, so it does work.

2. It’s impossible to write great content if you blog every day.

As I mentioned above, this is a fallacy, but let me take it a step further. In a post I wrote back in 2011 titled What Is High Quality Content, I stated that it’s a recommendation I see people making all the time but no one has ever tried defining it. So I did, and came up with these four points:

* If you’re writing about something that’s supposed to teach someone something new, did you explain it well enough?

* If you’re trying to tell a story and you don’t skip on details, such that people are left wondering “what the heck was that about”, then you’re creating high quality content.

* Are you writing something about a particular belief or thought? Have you taken the time to explain why believe as you do, or are you just saying something and moving on?

* Are you being true to yourself?

People from my generation remember B-sides of 45’s, and sometimes those songs were just as good as the songs being pushed by the studios. Not every post you write will be a home run, but if you tried to get it right in some fashion, were on point, and even if it was short it’s an honest post, it’s great content. You’re telling me that you can’t do that every time out, even if you wrote something every day? Sure you can; never sell yourself short.

3. Commenting frequently on other blogs doesn’t do anything for your blog.

In 2011 I did something as an experiment. I was interviewed on a very prominent blog by a young man who’s an up and comer in the online social media world. I also wrote a guest post for a very high ranking blog, something I don’t do all that often. During the same period, I decided to complete the test by making sure I wrote comments on 5 blogs every day for at least a week; I do comment on a lot of blogs but often I do a bunch in one day.

The results were staggering. Out of all the traffic numbers 85% of my visits came from blog commenting out of those 3 things. The guest post I wrote had around 200 comments, which is pretty phenomenal since I’ve never reached that on any of my blogs, but it only accounted for 9% of visits. The interview I gave accounted for the other 6%. I tracked these numbers via Google Analytics. Indeed, blog commenting does work, especially if you make sure your comments are good.

Since that time I’ve tested this one a few times, and blog commenting always works. They can’t be garbage, throwaway comments; you have to offer something based on the topic, even if it’s minor criticism or faint praise. If your comments are pretty good, people other than the owner tend to read them.

There you go. Myths dispelled with some home testing and proof. Now, does it take a lot of work? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. But if you have it, and can apply these 3 things, your blog will take off and you’ll be a very happy person.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

What Are You Willing To Risk Your Reputation For?

In May 2013 there was an incident online that culminated in a fairly well known online personality losing her gig as a spokesperson, two other people losing their jobs, and a fairly well known conference losing its luster. In the long run everyone was tainted, everyone was to blame, and it ends up giving us some lessons to learn about just how powerful social media can be. And, for once, it involved someone I know, so I hope I present this as fairly as possible.

Reputation
F Delventhal
via Compfight

Here’s the general overview. Two guys were at a conference sitting in the audience and saying some things to each other that weren’t quite proper in public. The person in front of them heard it, didn’t appreciate it, turned around and called them on it. They apologized for it and maybe all should have been over then and there.

But it wasn’t. The person in front, who happens to be the person I know, turned around and took a picture of the two guys and uploaded it to Twitter, with a brief report. That’s when things got out of hand.

The two guys were representing a company that was advertising at the conference. Once they were recognized they were fired.

The person who took the picture was representing someone as a personality who was sponsoring the event. Many people felt she went overboard with the picture, especially since the two guys had apologized, and that made the sponsor genuflect and relieve her. And since a lot of what she did involved some of the talent of the conference, the trickle down meant having to now scramble for someone else to handle what she’d been doing, someone not as well known and not as skilled.

Would you say that everything that could go wrong went wrong? Who’s at fault here? Is this cut and dry, or is it pretty complicated?

It is and isn’t complicated. Let’s run down a few things here.

1. In this day and age, people tend to believe they can say whatever they want to say whenever they want to say it. The loss of decorum is problematic, but that’s a separate issue.

2. The real issue is that almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera, and they could have been recorded being stupid as well as having their picture taken. If you’re in public, even if you’re not well known, you can’t afford to be saying overtly stupid things. We never found out if it was sexist or racist, but if this person I know reacted that badly to it, it had to be one of those, as she’s a black female.

3. Based on what was said, did she go too far, not far enough, or not in the proper manner? It’s hard to say. As I get older I let more of that type of thing roll off my shoulders, though I’d have said something, but when I was younger I’d have gone for the jugular, knowing I was right whether I was or not.

4. Still, being in her position, she had to know that something was going to happen, at least to the two people. What she didn’t count on was the reaction of other people to what she’d done. Do apologies overcome all bad behavior? Not even close. Is there a time and place for everything? Absolutely.

5. The thing is that even being known by people at that event, she wasn’t on the level of a TV or movie celebrity where everyone would have immediately sided with her. Even so, do you think if it had been someone like Selina Gomez that she’d have been treated much differently?

6. The company that fired her; did they over react or do the right thing? They were not being tainted by bad publicity but did they stop to consider her feelings? Should they have? Did they consider the consequences of how it could affect the conference? Did it matter?

At this point there are no more answers to be found. The two guys were fired and their 15 minutes are over. The person I know has gone into a self imposed exile for awhile. The buzz has died down so the sponsor is probably going to be fine, and the conference will probably survive for another year but it’s been diminished a bit because even though there were some people who felt what the person I know did was wrong, there were a lot of people who said they’d have done the same thing.

The major lesson is that if you’re representing someone, even just yourself, in a public space for business purposes, your decorum has to be higher than normal. Even if you’re in the right, you could end up on the wrong side of things in the long run. Think about this cautionary tale; what are you willing to risk your reputation for?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell