Category Archives: Blogging

10 Blog Tips In 2 Minutes

This is something different. I’m giving myself 2 minutes to write 10 blog tips, short missives that might hold as much power and influence as some of the longer posts I write. These are so short that I’m not even scrounging around looking for a picture that’s apropos to the post, so just enjoy the puppy as you read these 10 quick tips.

1. Write about something you enjoy.

2. write about something you know about.

3. It’s okay to get personal in your blog posts; just don’t reveal anything that could come back to hurt you.

4. Blog with some kind of consistency.

5. Respond to “good” comments; if they’re not good enough to comment on, they might not be good enough to leave on the blog post.

6. Be generous with your blog topics. If something inspired you to write acknowledge it, link to it, mention people’s names.

7. It’s okay to sell with your blog every once in awhile; if it’s a sales blog, it’s okay to sell all the time.

8. Be as entertaining as you can, whether you’re talking about social media, games, fashion or even forensic loan analysis.

9. Be fair. I was going to say be nice but that’s not always what’s called for. If you’re being mean be mean for a reason and give details.

10. Remember that every blog post is potentially a game changer for someone, so do your best. Remember what Joe DiMaggio said as to why he played so hard in every baseball game: “Because someone out there might have never seen me play before.”

There you go; hopefully you read fast enough for that to only be 2 minutes. 🙂
 

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Guest Posting Scams

You know, it probably seems like I’m totally against guest posting lately. I’m not, even if I did write a post about guest posting lies. I just tell it like it is, and then I show you what I mean.

In this case, I’m going to share what I believe turns out to be a guest posting scam by someone representing themselves as working at a company called Greenlight Digital. It turns out this is a legitimate company; how legitimate the person who wrote me is makes me curious. My issues were thus:

1. She seemed to not know what she was doing. She kept having problems understanding me, as I did her.

2. She parceled out information one bit at a time.

3. She tried to get me to sign up for something where I could “get” articles to put on my finance blog that they were going to pay for, but she sent me the first one.

4. She tried to tell me that I wouldn’t get paid for two weeks, but I had to run the article with their links during that time.

Those are just the highlights. It’s better to share our correspondence here, and you tell me your thoughts on the matter. Hers will be italicized, and mine will be in blue; I know you like that. 🙂 Here we go:

Hi,

We are currently running a campaign in combination with one of our major UK clients, and were wondering if you would be interested in hosting content on http://www.topfinanceblog.com/

One of our major clients is currently focusing on increasing the visibility of their pages on the web, and it would be great if you could play a part.

I have several flexible possibilities in mind including bespoke guest posts and articles.

Our writers are flexible and are willing to write the articles based on your focus (also being happy to take topic suggestions should you have any particular topics in mind). The content is bespoke and based on your site so will certainly be in regards to your site’s subject – once it is written you are, of course, free to review the content before placing it on your site and any changes you wish can be made for you to ensure you are comfortable with the content.

In exchange we would offer you payment dependent on the visibility of the content.

If you would like further information or if this has sparked your enthusiasm then please feel free to contact me via email Veronika.Kustrova@greenlightdigital.com .

I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Veronika Kustrova
Web Relations Executive | Greenlight

Greetings,

This is the advertising policy of Top Finance Blog: (not sharing advertising policy here, but it’s my standard policy for that blog)

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

We are currently running a campaign for our finance clients such as XXX and XXX (not going to “out” her clients, in case they’re not her clients) and were wondering if you would be interested in this advertising opportunity. I have briefly outlined below exactly what we do and what we are looking for from you.

All we are looking for up to 3 article/blog posts. Our writers are flexible and are willing to write the articles based on your focus (also being happy to take topic suggestions should you have any particular topics in mind). The content is bespoke and based on your site so will certainly be in regards to your site’s subject – once it is written you are, of course, free to review the content before placing it on your site and any changes you wish can be made for you to ensure you are comfortable with the content.

The content can remain live for as long as you like unless the specification of the client changes, in which case we would ask you to remove the content. We do ask that there be a homepage link (internal) to the content so that your users can read it. Each post must meet CAP regulations, we provide details on this alongside the content.

You can see some examples of our articles at XXX & XXX. Please note these are examples, do not place this on your site and that your articles will be based on the focus of your site and so will be different from these examples

For the posts we offer a one-off payment per article of £75.

Do you have price for one-off payment per article?

The reason for offering this price is that I expect that the review will be posted in the form of a blog post, which would be top news while it is still fresh (a month or so), to be replaced with newer content as time wears on.

Our partnerships are built on maximum flexibility as we recognise that circumstances can change, for example you may wish to redevelop or refresh your site and may no longer wish to have our items on the site. If the case arises where circumstances do change you need only inform us and we can either renegotiate or end the partnership, and vice versa.

What are your thoughts on this?

Regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

We’re going to have to clear up some terminology because I’m not sure what you’re saying.

One, I have no idea what CAP regulations are. Two, I have no idea what “one-off” means. I can’t respond to this without that knowledge. At least I knew what “bespoke” meant; not a term used here in the U.S. I want to make clear that this site is in the United States, and all content on the blog must be geared towards an American audience. As long as it’s on a finance topic and not something we’ve had on the blog within the last month, all should be fine.

I will answer what I do know. Each article gets to have a link in it going back to the site in question, but the link can’t be a blatant ad, and the link has to have relevance to the word it’s linking to. For instance, if the article says “credit card” and the link goes to a credit card company, or a finance company of some kind, it’s a good link. If the article says “credit score” but links back to “Bob’s Young Horses”, that wouldn’t work at all. I’m sure you know this, but I’m just making sure.

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

One-off payment means paid just once and CAP regulations mean that the article content and publishing needs to follow correct SEO rules.

As I mentioned in the previous article the content is unique and it is relevant.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Greetings Veronika,

Just to clarify this part first, you’re saying you’d pay $XX to place each article? Second, I do SEO as one of my businesses, but even a paid post follows the rules of this blog, although I don’t often turn down what’s requested unless it goes against the format of the blog. I still need to see the websites being linked to ahead of time, and need to mention that anything regarding payday loans, either in an article or the website being linked to, won’t be accepted.

If I’m clear in what you’re saying then we can go forward and I will gladly take a look at the posts you have.

Hi Mitch,

Yes that is correct we would pay $XX/£XX per article.

I have already sent you a few examples of our articles for Santander.

I am also happy to take any suggestion of the topic for the article to make sure it will fit your audience.

If you are interested please send me your full contact details for our records (Payee Name, Payment Method (Paypal) Phone Number, & Address) and I shall get the content commissioned for you; you should have it within a few weeks.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

I’d be interested, but the two articles you sent me had blatant advertising in them, and that wouldn’t be allowed, even for a paid post. I just want to be clear on that up front. As long as the articles pertain to something that would interest an American audience, we can take a shot at it. I’d like to see an article to review before I send my payment information, and please remember that every article must have a one line bio with a person’s name that will be responsible for responding to any comments the article receives on the blog.

Hi Mitch,

Please see the article in the attachment.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Greetings Veronika,

I have to modify a couple of lines but otherwise the article works, and your link will still show. If you don’t have a problem with that then I’ll go ahead and schedule it and let you know when it’ll be going live.

Hi Mitch,

Yes that is fine the article can be modify by yourself.

Please can you add the attached text image “advertorial promotion” to the bottom of the article. Just save file on your pc – please ensure image remains GIF format. Please rename the image to any number, e.g. “23”.gif.

When the article will be publish send us the link and we just check if it meets the CAP regulations.

Please send me your full contact details for our records (Payee Name, Payment Method (Paypal) Phone Number, & Address).

Kind regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

If I add that image I’m going to have to charge you an extra $XX for it, since that’s obvious advertising. This means the cost of the article is $XXX. If you agree I’ll add the image; otherwise, it’ll still be $XX for the article itself.

My pay information is thus:

Hi Mitch,

Unfortunately we have to use this image according the CAP regulations that is beneficial for both sites.

I understand your point. Please can we try to negotiate for $XXX/£XX per article? The price would include also the PayPal fees.

Thanks,

Veronika

Before I had time to respond to the earlier email, I received another email from someone that said the same exact thing as Veronika’s original email. I wrote her back mentioning Veronika, and she wrote back saying to just work with Veronika. Then I got this:

Hi Mitch,

We contacted you recently about hosting content on your site for some of our clients, and you’ll be pleased to know we may have some content for you.

We’re doing some work for XXX, and wanted to know if you’d consider the following proposal.

Proposal details (this lead to a link that wasn’t on their site, and, because I have Mailwasher, would have led to one of those strange links that would have altered the link on my site, something I warned about Gera Agency)

As soon as you’ve accepted, one of our editors will prepare the content for you, and get it over for you to approve.

Also…please note that if you haven’t accepted or declined within 7 days we may automatically assume you’ve declined, and this opportunity will expire, so please be sure to let us know either way.

If you have any questions about this request, or email, please don’t hesitate to contact us, either directly on the number below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Veronika Kustrova

I had actually scheduled the article for publication and sent a date telling her when it would go live; then the email above showed up and irked me to no end, to whit:

Veronika,

No, I’m not doing that, and I’m not clicking on that link. If that’s the only way for me to participate then I don’t want any part of it. If that’s how this works and the only way it works, then I’ll just delete the article I already have ready to go next week and we’ll part ways now.

Hi Mitch,

I am afraid I have to do this. Otherwise I am not allowed to raise the payment for you.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Then I’m sorry we can’t work together. I will remove the article so you can place it elsewhere. Maybe another time.

Hi Mitch,

After talking with my manager. I can approve it.

Please let me know when the content is life.

Thanks,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

As I previously mentioned, the article will go live on XXX by 10AM EST. I won’t be around, so you’ll have to check based on time conversion. Hopefully payment will be made within 24 hours of its going live. Thanks.

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately the payment takes approximately 1-2 weeks to transfer. I will try my best to proceed the payment as soon as possible.

Cheers,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

Your company seems to have a lot of rules I’ve never had to deal with before with anyone else. I’ll wait 24 hours and then I’ll remove the links until I’m paid; that is, if you still wish to go through with this project. I’m not feeling like a valued partner, and thus I will not feel like being taken advantage of for one or two weeks of links to your client’s sites without payment.

Hi Mitch,

Apologies I cannot proceed further.

Best,

Veronika

And that was that. Now, I mentioned the 4 issues I had with what went on; was I sensitive, overly protective, or spot on in my assessment of the situation?

Here’s the thing. I’ve talked before about how we get offered certain amounts of money and it can help to make us kind of stupid sometimes. If you’ll do anything to make money, you set yourself up to be taken and scammed. There was just too many strange things that occurred here for my comfort level. If I was making the contact, I’d have put it all up front so there wouldn’t be any questions. I should have known earlier that they’d want to add a banner ad, that they’d think I would want to sign up at some kind of link go to get articles (which makes no sense) and that they hoped not to pay me for two weeks. I wouldn’t have gone for it, but at least it would have been honest.

That’s why I share this stuff. It just feels like a scam, and it leaves me wondering if it’s legitimate or not. The link make me suspect. Always take care of yourself, because it’s your blog or website. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of for pursuit of the almighty dollar.
 

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Post #1,300, And On Friday To Boot

What a great way to end the weekend, with a monument post. This is #1,300, and it took me just over 5 months to get there. I had said I was going to slow down some, and based on what’s occurred I can’t see me writing 300 posts this year. Still, I’m on pace for 240 posts on the year, and that’s still saying something, though I’m not holding myself to that number. Whether it’ll end up higher or lower… well, we’ll see.

It’s been an odd last 5 months since we reached #1,200. It’s a period where my traffic dropped drastically because of Google; that’s just how it goes, and of course if you saw yesterday’s post you know how I feel about some of this. It’s a period where only two posts written in it made the top 10 viewed, those being the posts about the Smush-It issue (which was written just a month ago so that’s pretty good) and the one about my biggest issues with social media. It’s a period where I did what I said I was going to do, that being to write my Black Web Friday series and the prediction that traffic wouldn’t support it; man, I hate being correct about that.

It’s a period where I created a custom header for the site, which I like but just can’t seem to get it to want to stay in place. It was a period where most of the posts were on blogging and social media again, but I took some strides forward in talking about marketing, real marketing, which isn’t easy. And it was a period where I wrote some nice motivational posts, something I think we can never get enough of.

That’s what I’ve done. What’s coming? Truthfully, I have no idea. Strange as this sounds, as I write this I really don’t know what’s upcoming here or anywhere else. I’m close to reaching my 1,000th post on my business blog, I just passed #600 on my finance blog, and I’ve still yet to hit 100 posts on either of my other two blogs. Frankly, a part of me is thinking that I need to start concentrating on business as much as I’ve been concentrating on blogging.

This means I could slow down across the board or continue as I’m going and find a business focus that brings in more income so I can keep blogging as much as I want to. The one thing you don’t have to worry about is that I will stop blogging; I still have too much to say and too much to share.

Of course, there’s an intriguing change that’s come because of Google. They’re started ranking and penalizing sites with a couple of things known as Penguin and Panda. This is a landscape changing bit of work, so let’s briefly talk about it.

Penguin is going after sites that have a lot of unnatural links. It’s actually ironic because they’re the ones who created this culture, and most of us have had to deal with people trying to get us to trade links to their sites or write guest posts for us that, mostly, aren’t up to snuff. I know what’s coming; lots of people are going to be scrambling and asking us to remove links that they paid someone to leave; ugh! That’s going to be messy, and none of us really want to deal with that.

Panda is going after sites where it considers that a lot of the content isn’t all that useful. Initially that’s going to be scary because how does one analyze what’s useful? Are we expected to write longer posts or posts that are educational and well researched? Are we not allowed to offer our opinions anymore because, well, how would that be considered useful? Does it change the overall culture of blogging or web content? Finally, do we all acquiesce to the Big G and only write content that satisfies them?

Well… yes and no. What it’s going to take is an observation of rankings of some type. You might have to look more deeply at your traffic figures, like I mentioned above while talking about mine. I’ve gone from one of the highest ranking blogs in the United States to a place I don’t really recognize. I can only hope that I don’t end up having to go back through all 1,300 articles and having to either edit them or rewrite them; what a project that would be! lol

In any case, I hope you stick with me as I enter this next phase of exploration. I think this next 5 months is going to bring great strides; that is, if I can get beyond these Google updates and get some of my traffic back. Now there’s a subject I hope I don’t have to talk about again in the next 100 posts.
 

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Internet Protection Act

Most of you aren’t used to my writing shorter posts, but I think this one should qualify as that, even if the video adds another 4 1/2 minutes to your pleasure. lol

In New York, there’s something new that’s been introduced in Albany that’s going after anonymous trolls online. It was introduced by two downstate state senators and it’s purpose is to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”

Serious stuff. What’s my take on it? See below:

Now, what’s your opinion on this?
 

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The 5 Lies Of Guest Posting Requests

I allow almost no guest posts on this site. In the 4 1/2 years I’ve had this blog, and almost 1,300 posts (I’ll pass that moment next week probably), I’ve had 14 guest posts on this site. Some of the people who’ve written guest posts I’ve asked to write them, and I love that they did and appreciate those folks. The rest asked me, and here’s where I’ve had some kind of issue for the most part.

Why you ask? Well, let me name them and tell you something brief about them:

Diego Norte – actually wrote 2 guest posts, but never came back to respond to any of them and has never come back to the blog again. Heck, he never even left a comment on any posts previously.

Barbara Whitlock – She wrote a post supporting Helium, whom I later trashed, after seeing one of my posts talking about some early problems I was having trying to figure them out. She never responded to any comments on the post and obviously had never read anything else.

Christian Arno – Another one and done who reached out to me to write a post on language translation services. I thought it was a cool topic so I went for it. It only got 2 comments but he never responded to either of them and I’ve never seen him again.

Tom Walker – wrote a post on a topic I knew something about and he also reached out to me. But he’d never commented on anything previously, never responded to any of the comments on his post, and never came back.

Wes Towers – Wes used to comment often, disappeared, then showed up one day asking if he could write a guest post, which I went for because he’d been a contributor. He wrote is his piece and, to his credit, at least responded to the comments on the post. But he’s never come back.

Murray Newlands – Murray had done an interview with me years earlier and even though I was reached asking to write a guest post for this blog, the person who wrote me had no idea who I was, nor had known that I’d even been on his blog. Still, I allowed the post to come through as a sense of obligation, even if I wasn’t so sure of the topic. Murray also responded to one of the comments, which I appreciate, but overall he’s never come to the blog before or since.

Do you see a pattern here? Sure, I understand that everyone has their own goals in mind, and for some those goals are to help spread the word about what they do, or try to drive traffic to their websites. I also understand how, in many cases, guest posts can help a website or blog to grow, as is the case with my finance blog. Still, even with my finance blog, I have as a criteria that people must respond to comments left on their post, otherwise I will remove all their links and contact information.

Why do I do that? Because often people write guest posts on a topic that I don’t know all that much about, and thus I can’t respond to the comments with any real knowledge. As we all know, the best way to grow a community with a blog, which helps to keep regular visitors, is to respond to them when they write a good comment. If guest posters don’t respond, they don’t deserve any boost their guest post was supposed to give them. And that’s why I almost never accept guest posts on this site unless I ask people to write one.

IMAG0364

Having said all of that, I still get a lot of requests to write guest posts on all of my blogs. And I’ve noticed there are 5 main lies that these requests have that immediately let me know that there’s a major problem with their request. Here they are:

1. They’re a long time reader of the blog. That’s a lie because they can never tell you anything about the blog. Often they’ll include a link to a blog post that’s a new link, and not have a comment on that particular post. It’s because they didn’t read it; they’re just trying to flatter me.

2. That they’ve read my guest posting policy. I know that’s a lie because at least half the requests I get don’t have my name on them; this is for my finance blog. That’s actually a qualification for me to even read the email, so if I don’t see my name on it I immediately delete it.

3. That they’ll “write” a quality guest post. Truth of the matter is that most of the people who contact me aren’t writing the articles at all. I know that because most of the people reaching out to me are actually advertising people trying to get their clients links on my blog. Come on, I’m not an idiot; if your email address or company name is different than the link you’re showing me that you’re going to link to, I know you’re not the one writing the post.

4. That it will be a quality post. If you saw some of the email I get, even when they put my name in the email, you’d shudder. The language is horrible, and I know these aren’t all foreign writers. If the email is written poorly then I’m not even going to bother looking at any kind of guest post.

5. That they love my writing style. Remember how I mentioned earlier that some of these people will put a link into the email from a post on the blog? Often it’s a link from a guest post, which obviously means I didn’t write it.

By the way, let me quickly thank those people whom I’ve asked to guest post here; and yes, they’re getting their names bolded:

Sire

John Dilbeck

Connie Baum

Carolee Sperry

Scott Thomas

Rachel Lavern

Mitchell Allen

I’m certainly not trashing the concept of guest posts. I just want to see more honesty, better writing, and of course responding to comments. For this blog, if you’re going to ask me if you can write a guest post you’d better have a history of some kind with either the blog or with me. That’s how I roll; how do many of the rest of you see guest posts on your site?
 

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