Category Archives: Blogging

Engagement Or…

A few days ago I came across a blog written by Robert Dempsey of Dempsey Marketing and read a post titled Is A Blog Really Meant For Engagement? His overall premise was that blogs indeed were for engagement and that social media offers many ways to help create that engagement and that it can be measured using Google Analytics through one of their new options titled, appropriately enough, Engagement.


No, we don’t mean this lol

As it figures, the first bit of irony I came across is that you have to log in to leave a comment on his blog, and that took me 3 or 4 minutes to find. So much for easy engagement, since y’all know I don’t log in to anything to leave an opinion.

First, you have to find it. It’s listed under Audience, then social, and it’s your first choice. What you’ll immediately notice is that it looks just like the overview page; what the hey? Well, that tells us nothing. Under mine for this blog there are two listings, one saying “not socially engaged” and the other saying “socially engaged”; that one has only 19 visits under it, while the other is well over 6,500.

That meant nothing to me so I clicked on the one that said socially engaged to see what that 19 represented. What came up is a listing of just what socially engaged meant, and it meant that 19 people either liked it or gave it a +1, as it’s associated with Google Plus. So, it’s not counting Twitter or Facebook or anyone else? Okay…

I went back and clicked on the not socially engaged link and nothing comes up. Actually that’s not quite true; it says it has no information to share with me. The actual words are “There is no data for this view.” Four years worth of data and it has nothing?

I went back to the socially engaged group because there are other stats you can glean from them. If you click on a tab that says “secondary dimension” it gives you choices of stuff you can find out about the folks you’re engaged with. Mine says these people average around 25 minutes on my site; oh yeah! And my bounce rate is only around 34%; not bad. Finally, those 19 people visit an average of 3.3 pages on every visit; not depressing.

But it’s skewed. For one, it’s including me somehow, even though I’ve never come to my own site via G+; just wouldn’t make sense. Then someone from Abuja (where?) came by, looked at 2 pages, and stayed for more than 2 hours. That kind of thing will really play with one’s numbers. And I couldn’t figure out what anyone had viewed; ugh.

So, let’s start with this. Engagement is pretty fancy for “look at how Google+ is helping you… or not.” That doesn’t quite help.

Next, let’s talk about the topic in general, that being engagement and whether it’s what we want. Of course it’s what we want; if not, I wouldn’t write all those posts about making it easy to comment on your blog! I wouldn’t talk about comment systems. I wouldn’t bust on Seth Godin so much if I didn’t believe in engagement. I wouldn’t have given love to so many people if I didn’t believe in engagement.

Is there anyone, other than Seth Godin (heck, I did it again), who doesn’t believe in engagement when it comes to blogging?
 

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10 Things I Learned In 2011

This was quite an intriguing year for me. There were some changes I made, some changes I will be making, some things I won’t be changing, some things I wrote about here that worked and some that didn’t. In essence, it was an incredible year, and unfortunately I can’t say it was all good or bad. But it was honest, and on this Christmas day I’d like to share some thoughts, feelings, and ideas with you to see what you think, what you’ll do as well, and what you think might just be nuts.


by Don O’Brien via Flickr

1. I learned that I am better live than on video. This was the year of video for me as I got my first camera and made my first 11 videos ever. I even learned that I had a YouTube channel that I knew nothing about. I gave 3 live presentations this year and got better feedback from all of those than I did for at least 9 of my 11 videos, but that’s okay. Live I get to move around and laugh with people; on video, I have to sit at my desk and just talk. Yes, I’ll be making more videos this year as I endeavor to get better and to just create more content; think about subscribing to my page, although I expect I’ll be embedding those videos on my blogs as well. Oh yeah, a major lesson; if you’re making videos to drive people to your website or blog be sure to tell them what the link is; ugh!

2. You never know what’s going to catch on with people or how it’ll manifest itself. Would it surprise anyone that the top 5 visited posts of mine in 2011 were written before 2011? Well, that’s not totally true; post #5 was written this year, which is pretty cool. My number one post is that tongue in cheek post about “cleavage” that I wrote in January 2010, and it’s so far ahead of all the other posts that I’ve decided it’s time to remove it from being viewed anymore.

You might ask why, or maybe you don’t care, but I’ll tell you why. It’s been viewed 4 times more than the next closest post, and that’s just ridiculous. At the same time, I think it throws off anything else this blog might be about. The number one search term for this blog is “cleavage” with “cleavages” coming in at #8; I didn’t even know that was a word. So it’s gone. I expect my traffic to drop a bunch over the next few months but as my friend John Dilbeck recently wrote, it’s about ethics and integrity sometimes.

3. That post at #5 that I mentioned above proves that there’s not only a lack of attention for some groups of people in social media, but that some people are ready and willing to help make inclusion of others a part of their mission. That of course was my post on 21 of the top Black Social Media Influencers. That one touched a nerve and sparked a lot of interest, and I saw where there were posts from others having lists of folks that weren’t the same as what big media lists all the time, which is often devoid of persons of color. Of course, it also got quickly forgotten, which pretty much helped to lead to my post about feeling like an old black radical, which was one of my most commented works of the year.

4. People love to hate what you love to hate. That’s a strange thing to say but it seems to be pretty true. When you don’t like something it seems to touch a nerve for a lot of other people who have hated the same thing but either couldn’t figure out how to say it or didn’t want to say it first. My post on the Top 21 was my most commented on post of the year, but the next 5 were all from some kind of rant I wrote about concerning either blogging or social media. The top commented on post was when I avowed that I wasn’t registering to comment on other blogs and a few other things I didn’t like, with 60 comments. Yeah, that may seem pitiful when many other bloggers have hundreds of comments on their posts but so be it. Maybe this does mean that being controversial does work; still, you’d best be ready for it.

5. Sometimes your worst isn’t so bad while other times it really is. I had 15 posts in 2011 that didn’t even get 10 comments, and since I respond to most comments, that’s pretty bad. Actually, it’s less than 5%, but I still don’t like it. The post that tanked the worst for the year was when I wrote about AffinityClick, an affiliate program that everyone else must have already knew was pretty bad before I wrote about it since not even the 2 people that commented on it referenced it. Now that’s a real shame, as it ended up with only 5 comments. The next one surprised me, that being when I asked people what makes you smile and included the cutest video of a penguin being tickled that just made me smile a lot. This last one didn’t surprise me all that much as I gave a CPAP followup; if you don’t have sleep issues why would you care?

Having said that, some posts that seemed like they didn’t do well did okay in other ways. For instance, I wrote an Easter post where I shared some Peanuts videos, and though it only go 10 comments my bounce rate was only 46%; that’s not bad, though I wonder where people went. Also, the second part of my better blogging series only got 9 comments, yet it averaged 6 minutes and 18 seconds per visit, which means people actually read it.

6. You can get people to stick around to read a post when you’ve got their attention. This year I had 3 posts that people stayed for longer than 10 minutes reading, and even commenting on here and there. One was motivational: Only Concern Yourself With What You Can Control, 10 minutes 14 second. One was controversial: Penn State & Joe Paterno – My Take, 10 minutes 25 seconds. One was a rant: WordPress 3.3; It’s On My Nerves Right Now.

7. You can write posts that drive people to other posts. Bounce rate refers to whether a person will visit another page of your blog or website after reading the one that got them there in the first place. My average bounce rate on this site is 73.13%, which is probably normal for most bloggers, even though some will try to tell you they have phenomenally bounce rates; yeah, right. Anyway, I had 16 posts this year with bounce rates under 50%; these 5 were phenomenal though:

Some Blogs To Share 33.33%

Affiliate Programs I’m Connected With – Part Two 33.33%

An Important Blog Page If You’re Looking To Do Business 27.27%

Twitter Mix Of Sociability And Business 22.22%

Check Your Blog Commenting System 12.5%

8. I’ve learned how to handle grief way better than I ever thought I could when I was younger. I lost my grandmother this year and a great friend from college, and as tough as each was, I realized that none of us are getting out of this existence alive and thus we need to make sure to live for the moment. When some bad things happened I didn’t feel the crush of any of it, from what I mentioned above to having to sue someone for payment to having my first bouts ever of not wanting to do anything at all, even though I pushed on. There are fears we all have and the ability to push through them and learn that, for the most part, none of them are close to being as bad as we thought they’d be is a great lesson to learn.

9. I learned that I’ve become one of the great survivors. I celebrated my 10th year anniversary in business on my own, and when you consider that more than 90% of small businesses fold within 5 years I’d say that’s not a bad accomplishment. Of course I’m still learning great lessons almost daily and I’m not close to being Bill Gates rich, so I have a long way to go. I’m hoping for a great start to 2012; actually, I already have, but I’m not talking about it. šŸ™‚

10. I learned that others value loyalty as much as I do, whether they’ve thought about it or not. ā€œIf loyalty is to mean anything, there must be a risk attachedā€œ. ā€“ Frank DeFord

Loyalty is at the top of my morality and ethics list, and I believe that loyalty deserves to be rewarded if it hasn’t been abused. There are some people who were commenting and participating on this blog at the beginning of the year that are still commenting and participating. I’d like to give them some love as my final act on Christmas day, although the first person I’m going to mention doesn’t have her blog anymore, or will be transitioning to a new blog, or something. lol Anyway, here we go; I thank y’all with a big thumbs up (from a tiny baby) and wish you and everyone else a great Christmas and great success as we move towards the new year:

Val from Absurd Old Bird

Beverly Mahone from Beverly Mahone

Sire from Wassup Blog

Rummuser from Ramana’s Musings

Allan Douglas from Simple Life Prattle

DeAnna Troupe from Learn Small Business

Melinda from Finding The Humor

Mitchell Allen from Morpho Designs

Charles Gulotta from Mostly Bright Ideas

Carl from Webmaister Pro

Ajith Edassery from Dollar Shower

Scott Thomas from Views Infinitum

Gebriele Maidecchi fro Esimple Studios

John Dilbeck from 21st Century Affiliate Marketing

Vernessa Taylor from Local Business Coach Online

Ileane from Basic Blog Tips

Evelyn Parham from Evelyn Parham
 

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Check Your Blog Commenting System

More than a year ago I wrote a post titled Is Your Comment Process In Error? In that post, I talked about two things that are irksome in regards to commenting on other people’s blogs. One of those things was when people write posts and immediately close comments. The other point is still a gripe I have, that being people who have comments open, you leave a comment, and then you never hear back from those folks.


via Flickr

Today I’m only talking about the second one because it’s hit me that even after more than a year that there are still a lot of people who aren’t recognizing that people aren’t seeing that their comments are being responded to. This isn’t a problem like what we deal with on systems like Blogspot, WordPress.com, Typepad or many other blog services which some of you know I absolutely hate. In this case, folks don’t have anything extra on their blog such as a checkbox where we can decide if we want return messages, and the blog owners, who are being good by responding to comments, don’t know that no one is seeing those comments, hence they’ll never get any return comments from those folks.

I made an assumption that some people would add the threaded comments plugin if they had a WordPress blog, but I realized that there’s no way for me to know. I also thought about it and wondered what people that didn’t use WordPress (who could that be?) wouldn’t have access to the plugin. Finally I said “Heck, if people don’t know people aren’t getting responses, then why would they even think about it at all?”

Therefore, this is a brief educational pause to all of you that have noticed that you never, and I mean ever, get anyone to return to your post if they’ve left a comment you haven’t responded to. There’s actually one things you should be paying attention to, one thing you need to do, and I’m going to help you out right now.

The first is to ask yourself if you get email notification that someone has written a comment on your blog. If the only time you know there’s a comment is when someone writes you to tell you they left one, or you have to go to your blog and that’s when you see comments, then your comments probably aren’t working.

The second is if you’re unsure if it’s working or not, then you need to do a test. Even though I knew it was working on all my blogs, I still did a test with the last 3 blogs just to make sure. This is really simple. What you do is go onto your blog site and write a short comment on one of your posts. Sign in using a different email address than what’s associated with the site; you don’t have to put in a url because you’ll be trashing the comment pretty quickly.

You leave a comment, then check your email to see if you got notification of the comment. Whether you do or not, go into your admin panel, look at your own comment, and reply to it. You don’t have to write a lot; just write something like “test” on your original comment and your reply. Then check your email once more to see if you’ve received a response. If not, then you know that no one else has been receiving your replies either.

At that point you can either check all of your settings to see if you’ve missed something, add the plugin I’ve recommended above, or find something else that can help you monitor comments while giving people the option of receiving comments or not. This is a very proactive way of making sure people are getting your replies, and that helps build community. After all, people love knowing you cared about their comments, and if you’ve been doing that but they don’t know, it’s the same as not doing it at all.

And there you go; another blogging tip from Mitch! šŸ˜‰
 

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Does Blog Traffic Drop Over The Christmas Holiday?

Most years I find that the number of blog posts that other bloggers put out goes down during the Christmas holiday. I figure that’s because many of them are traveling or have guests showing up, and thus they have other things to do. However, I’ve also wondered if people have a belief that there will be less traffic to their blogs during the holiday because they themselves aren’t online as much.

Or are they? I decided to do a little research project because, as you know, I get curious sometimes. I wondered if the traffic on my blog dropped during Christmas or not. So I went into Google Analytics to take a look back at things.

I ran into an immediate problem. I noticed that indeed my traffic drastically dropped, but the last two years Christmas has been on a Friday and Saturday, when blog traffic traditionally drops. So, was it Christmas or the weekend that caused the drop?

Luckily, I started this blog in December 2007 (oh yeah, its 4 year anniversary was on the 12th; missed it!), which means I had December 2008, when Christmas was on a Thursday, to look at. And it seems that even though I wasn’t a world breaker with traffic back then, I had more traffic on Christmas Day that week than any other day; interesting I must say.

But I didn’t let it go with just this blog. I have my business blog, which I started in 2005, that I could go back to. I could only go back so far since the original host had crashed and I had to locate and re-post lots of articles, but I could still go back to Christmas 2006, 2007 and 2008. Throwing out 2006 because I wasn’t writing much back then, I thought I could see traffic numbers for 2007 and 2008.

Turns out I hadn’t added Analytics in 2007, so I had to start with 2008. And my traffic was abysmal across the board back then, so the numbers are dismally consistent. The same goes for 2009, but 2010, strangely enough, shows that even though Christmas was on a Saturday, and my traffic wasn’t as high then as it is now, it showed up upswing from the previous couple of days.

My main point is that the drop in blog traffic might not have to do with the holiday at all. It might have to do with a lack of new content, or it might have to do with lousy content. As I look back on this blog in 2008 and 2009 I didn’t have a post on Christmas Day, and last year my post was only videos of the Muppets Christmas special with John Denver from many years ago. So, was it my fault that I didn’t have much traffic on Christmas Day?

Why not take a shot? This year I’m going to have a regular post showing up on Christmas Day. Remember folks, you can always write your posts ahead of time and schedule it to show up whenever you want it to. Why not see if it’s the post instead of the holiday. That is, if you care. I have to experiment; it wouldn’t be me not to do it, right? I’ll follow up in a week or so after the holiday to see how it all went. Wish me luck!
 

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Making Money By Blogging – Let’s Talk

I tend to violate some rules that those who say they make a lot of money from blogging believe are essential. This is one of those times, but I’ll get back to the main subject in a minute. First, the latest progress from my offer on being available for doing an interview has led to two new posts elsewhere. The first is an interview I did with Olawale Daniel on his blog TechAtLast blog. The second is a guest post I wrote for Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs titled “70’s Music – The Last Days Of Innocence“. I hope you check them out and thanks to both of you.


via Flickr

In previous interviews I’ve done, I’ve been asked this question about making money by blogging a few times. I used to always say that it was never really my intention to try to make money by blogging, and lived by that, even though, before this year, I always popped in an affiliate ad, just in case someone saw something they liked and decided to check it out. I can easy say that was NOT been successful, which is why I dropped it. I still run some banner ads here, but I’m sure they’re being missed by almost everyone as well.

I now have to modify my statements from back then a little bit. I still don’t try to make money off “all” my blogs, but I do try to make money specifically off one blog, and encourage others to help my income on others. It’s time for a breakdown because I’m going to be the one to tell you an amazing truth about making money online, but especially with blogging; it’s not going to happen the way you think it will.

I have earned a few dollars here and there from this blog over the years, but very little. I’ve sold a couple of affiliate programs, know I sold one of my books (up there to the top left) from this blog, and made, I believe, a whopping $1.35 from Adsense before it was pulled from this blog. That’s it; almost nothing. I’ve made nothing whatsoever from two of my blogs, those being my Syracuse blog and my SEO blog. The first has no advertising on it so far, and the second is just past 3 months old.

My main business blog, Mitch’s Blog has made more money than the other 3 blogs, but not how you’d think. What it’s done is helped me get a speaking engagement and a presentation to a company that both paid fairly well. I have also sold a couple of books on management and one of my CD series from that blog, but the first two things I mentioned makes it my biggest money maker by far, if not my most consistent. See, the purpose of the business blog is to show authority in my fields of business, and it worked well enough to get me two projects that paid nicely. So, I can say I made money online, even if it was for offline projects.

My finance blog, Top Finance Blog, is my most consistent money maker, and in some ways more in line with how some people might think of making money online; sort of. I make almost all of my money on that blog through paid advertising. Companies pay me to put banner ads on the site. They pay me to add their links to previous posts, and some pay me to put a post on there that they wrote. Some even pay me to write a special post for them, knowing it’s going to cost them more because y’all know me, I’m going to write what I want to write about when I want to write it unless I’m getting paid. Even though I have a couple of products on that page and my own banner ads, they don’t generate anything close to the advertising.

That’s not how I saw it coming when I started that blog. I always believed that if I wrote in that niche that I would sell all sorts of products and information geared towards it. That’s how it all began with me as well, having all kinds of sales stuff on there. What happened instead is people with business interest in the financial niche wanted to be a part of it as its rankings and position increased. If there was ever anything to be said for the power of finding a niche and sticking within it, this is it for me. I didn’t manifest income in the way I thought I would, but I’ve manifested it all the same. Now, before you run off trying to do the same thing, let me make this point clear; I’m not “yet” making enough to live off on that blog, and unless I totally write only that blog I don’t think I ever will. But it’s a nice income, and though the last 7 days are kind of a fluke, I did make close to $500; I’ll take that for now. šŸ™‚

Can you make money blogging? Yes you can. Do I recommend trying it? Can’t hurt, as long as you know what the realities are. My finance blog will be 3 years old in December, and it’s taken that long to generate enough interest so that it can make money. If you’re looking for a quick hitter it’s rare that it will happen, so don’t hurt yourself trying. If you have the time, you’ll make something.

And now it’ll probably be another 7 to 9 months before I touch this topic again. lol
 

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