All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Is Alexa Relevant Again?

Earlier this evening, while doing some research, I discovered that my primary business is listed at number one on Alexa for business training site against racism. I was feeling pretty good until one of my friends wrote and burst the bubble, saying I’m the only person she ever hears talking about Alexa anymore.

After kind of a snarky response on my part, I decided it was time to investigate Alexa again. Sure, in the world of SEO, Alexa ratings took a major hit years ago, and has been pretty much maligned ever since because they placed so much emphasis on people downloading the Alexa toolbar, which many people really didn’t want to do. Even Firefox came up with a plugin that supposedly could help your sites with it, but I know I wasn’t interested. I’ve talked about Alexa before, once when I was pretty much trashing Compete Rank, but at other times saying that even if people beat up on Alexa, it’s better to have some kind of ranking than nothing at all, and of course the better the ranking, especially without the toolbar, the better your site is performing.

First, a quick “what is Alexa” moment. Alexa is a system that ranks traffic, plain and simple. Traffic equates mainly to visits from others to your site, but it’s really about hits to anything that your site offers elsewhere. This means that if someone is searching for something and your site comes up, it might be counted as a hit, even if they didn’t make it to your page. Also, search engine bots are considered hits, even though a person didn’t actually come to your site. However, since bots only keep going to sites that have new content, it means if your site is ranked low on Alexa that you probably haven’t done anything new to get more traffic coming.

Anyway, it seems that even Alexa realized finally that waiting for people to download their toolbar to try to get accurate stats wasn’t getting it done, and they were falling way out of favor with people who they hoped they could do other business with at some point. So, they changed up how they were going to come up with their ratings by adding multiple other sources for tracking the traffic of all websites. They didn’t tell us who they’re tracking, but it seems that, for the most part, they’ve regained at least a little bit more respect than they had in the past. What resulted was interesting, in that many people with the Alexa toolbar suddenly noticed their rankings dropped, and along with those people were many people who were using the Entrecard program, which supposedly gave false ratings of traffic that Alexa somehow learned how to filter out. Some folks jumped nicely, while others dropped even further.

Two other things also happened. One, Alexa started ranking way more websites than they had been ranking before, so many websites whose sites used to show nothing were suddenly showing up with 8-digit rankings, which was unheard of in the past. Two, many overseas sites suddenly dropped dramatically because now they had to compete with the rest of the world on a more equal footing, and unfortunately there are still more sites in the United States than anywhere else in the world.

I decided to take a quick look at this site on Alexa, and I have to say that the traffic numbers pretty closely mirror what Google Analytics and my own ISP stats are telling me. I’m not sure how it’s done, but I’m believing it’s close to how Cool Blog Links and Winning The Web and other sites like them are tracking numbers of websites, only on a much larger scale.

Finally, I went looking for any new posts or articles on Alexa, to see if anyone was saying that Alexa wasn’t relevant anymore. Seems the last time anyone said something like what was last July, at least from what I could find, and anyone else who’s written on the topic has gone in a totally different direction than the constant derision Alexa has been getting for awhile.

Still, let’s have a little bit of common sense to all of this. As with all the other rating services, don’t go crazy in trying to make more out of the numbers than what they are. Right now this blog is sitting at 127,242, and that’s a fairly nice number. Unless you’re sitting in the top 50,000, it really means little, except you’re probably doing pretty well in optimizing your site. For me, I’m hoping that this new experiment with the robots.txt file works wonders over the next month or so; when does Google do their next little number anyway? No matter; it’s all fun and games overall, except for one thing,… I’m number one! 😀

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Massive Traffic To Your Website/Blog?

During my surfing party this week, I came across another article on how to drive massive traffic to your website. I don’t know why I keep reading these things because they all tend to say the same thing. However, this one just made me stop and decide that I wanted to comment on all of its points.

Wind farm and greenhouse gas farm, together
<Kevin Dooley via Compfight

The article is titled 20 Simple Ways to get Massive Traffic to your Web Site (at least it was; seems the title has been changed) by Penny C. Sansevieri, and it’s not that it’s a bad article, just that, in my opinion, at this time and place it’s somewhat misleading. It’s no more misleading than all the other articles I’ve read that say the same exact thing, but she’s listed her points, and I’m going to address each point individually. I do hope you go and read her article, though, which I’m not going to quote here, only her 20 points, with my commentary on each.

Before I begin, I want to make sure I get my point across. There are many things we can do to try to increase traffic to our sites. I’ve mentioned in the past how Twitter helped me increase traffic, and how commenting on other blogs helped also.

For my main business site, I haven’t talked much about how I got that one going, but I did some of the things mentioned in this article. The thing is, I did increase in traffic, but massive traffic? I don’t know that if I go from 5 to 25 visits a day that I consider that massive traffic. Massive traffic to me is 1,000 visits a day, and I don’t mean unique visits, which I get, but real live visitors that Google Analytics tells me about, or more. Still, let’s look at this list of 20 to see what I’ve done, or my opinions on them:

1) Write articles: believe it or not this is an incredible tool for driving traffic.

I have 10 articles on Ezine Articles and Evan Carmichael, and, according to Analytics, I’ve never gotten a single person to any of my sites because of them. They’ve been used elsewhere, though, so I’ve gotten links, but traffic,… nope.

2) Social bookmark *everything* – and I do mean everything

This one can take awhile, but I’ve done two things. One, I add the majority of articles I write on my three blogs to Delicious, and I also have every new blog post I write on all of my blogs showing up on my profile on Facebook. I know that at least two people have visited this blog because of a Delicious posting, but I only know of one person who’s even seen my blog listings on Facebook, and Analytics has never shown anyone coming to my blogs from there.

3) List yourself in the best directories

In this post, she was talking about paid directories, but I’m leery of many of these really big directories to begin with. As opposed to what I tried to do with my Services & Stuff site, you could end up in a category on a directory that has nothing to do with what you really do, or want to be known for, but you’re also then competing, at times, with hundreds of other people who do the same thing. I don’t know that I’d pay for it, let alone overly worry about the non-paid ones.

My main business site is listed in over 300 directories (I checked), and I certainly didn’t ask to be listed on that many directories, and I’m listed for diversity training on almost all of them. Thing is, I tried to go in and change some of them to something else, but you can’t, and they’ll only list you under one category for the most part. Hey, I’ll take the one way link, but traffic,… nope.

4) Get yourself listed at: DMOZ.org

At this point, DMOZ is kind of a joke. It’s so big, and they don’t have enough people working on it, that if you decide to try it might take 3 or 4 years before someone got around to adding you, if they decide to add you at all. My main business site is there, though I can’t remember how to find it, but none of my other sites are there because I didn’t even try to put them there. I’m lost in the shuffle, and, of course, almost no traffic has ever come from there.

5) Review: if you can review hot new products or books within your market, head on over to Amazon.com and start positioning yourself as an expert.

I can’t say I’ve done a lot of this, but I am listed as a reviewer on Amazon, and I’ve reviewed a few things. However, no one has ever followed any of my reviews back to any of my sites.

6) Offer a freebie on Craig’s List: you’ll be amazed at how much traffic you get from a single Craig’s List ad.

This one I’ve never tried. I have listed services I offer on Craigslist, and have received very miniscule traffic to one of my sites, but otherwise I’ve been pretty much ignored.

7) Create a “recommended by” list on your Del.icio.us page

As I mentioned, I submit my articles to Delicious, but I’ll admit I haven’t done any kind of list except for my own stuff. Still, if no one is even looking at what I post there, why would I expect anyone would care about a list I create?

8) And speaking of your email signature line…do you have one? If you don’t, create one.

This is an absolute for publicity, but the truth is that most people tend to miss it when they decide they want something. I can’t believe how many people will ask me for a link to my website, or when I send business email out, a phone number, and it’s right there in the signature line. People ask me for an address from my business site, and I have my address on every single page! This is important to do, but it’s never driven “massive” traffic to me.

The Lights of Japan
Trey Ratcliff via Compfight

9) Lend a helping hand: you can be an answer person at Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/)

I’ve set up to do this, and I did it fairly faithfully for a week. Number of visitors to my blog; zero. Now, maybe it takes more time than that, but, oddly enough, you find that there really aren’t as many questions you can answer as you might think there are, and sometimes, when you do find one, many other people have already answered it.

10) Set up a social networking site using Facebook.com, Linkedin.com, or Squidoo.

I’ve already mentioned Facebook, but I’m also on LinkedIn, Ryze, Izania, and about 4 or 5 others, and I’ve gotten little traffic from any of them. Ryze has probably been the most productive, but I’ve invested a lot of time there, and for what I got back, “massive” wouldn’t come close to describing.

11) Make sure your blog has an RSS feed

Heck, y’all know I have a RSS feed because of that RSS contest I tried to run at the beginning of January. I have that feed on all of my blogs, though I haven’t put it on all of my sites; might have to think about that one some more. Still, I haven’t gotten massive subscribers, and I’m doubting massive would describe traffic generated from those feeds either.

12) Join relevant groups at Yahoo groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/).

This I did, and then got out of. I think Yahoo Groups had its day, but it’s on the decline now, as there’s more spam related postings than anything else. As for traffic,…

13) Podcasting is another great way to drive traffic.

This one I’ve never done; the closest is adding the Odiogo widget to my blogs. I haven’t erased podcasting off my list of things I might want to do later, including video of some sort, so I’ll have to say I’m not sure how well this one would work, and I have no real history with it.

14) Start a blog and then once you do, start commenting on other people’s blogs, linking to them from your site or adding them to your blogroll.

Goodness, isn’t this what we always talk about around here, and amongst ourselves? This is the one thing I know has created more traffic to my blogs. Massive? Well, I still wouldn’t go quite that far, but interest and visitors, definitely.

15) Inbound links: don’t squander your time (or a perfectly good link) on smaller low-traffic sites. Instead spend your time going after high traffic, high quality sites.

Nice idea, but in general how would you know? I think we’ve debated whether it’s worth commenting on a big time blog with hundreds of other comments that don’t give a dofollow link versus commenting on a blog that might not have any other comments, but is a dofollow blog. We’ve even debated whether relevance in topics has to be there or not (I tend to believe it doesn’t matter as much as dofollow).

16) Start an email newsletter

I write two newsletters for my business, along with many other newsletters, but don’t have newsletters for my blogs. Man, that would be a lot more to deal with, wouldn’t it? However, there’s always been the question of whether newsletters drive traffic or sales. I think traffic would be stretching it because, with a newsletter, a reader doesn’t really have to visit your site unless you make it a condition of reading an entire article, which I consider as being somewhat smarmy. Now, you could send out a weekly “newsletter” telling people what articles were written on your blog or site for the week, with links to all the articles, and I guess that would be okay, but is that driving massive traffic to your site or just bringing back people who are looking to read what you’ve written back for another look? And, in this day and age, aren’t more of those people probably subscribing to your RSS feed, as it pertains to your blog?

17) And speaking of offline efforts: if you’re ever quoted in a magazine or other publication, make sure and mention your URL as its appropriate to the topic.

This I’ve done, but it’s never brought massive traffic. Like when I posted on my business blog the last interview I did (which can be found by going here, or downloaded and listened to as a MP3 file here). It got a lot of hits, but mainly because I sent it to all the people in my address book and they popped over to either listen or download. That was a one and done, and all those people knew me already. Anyone who didn’t know me,… nothing massive there. Still, it’s pretty good publicity that will always be there for me.

18) If you have products to sell why not get a store on eBay?

This might be a good idea, but more for making money than driving traffic to one’s site, unless you own a commerce site. It certainly wouldn’t drive massive traffic to your blog.

19) Load a video on YouTube and 57 other video sites.

Once again, something I can’t comment on since I’ve never done it. Of course, I do put up a post that’s mainly videos here and there, but without posting something I’ve created on my own and uploaded somewhere, I don’t know how well this works or not. I think every person has the opportunity to go viral, though.

20) If you’re going to go through all the trouble of getting traffic to your site, make sure your site is converting this traffic into something. Get folks to sign up for something, your newsletter, the RSS feed on your blog.

This one’s already been addressed in other comments above, so it’s more of a wrap up of other points than something new.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on these 20 points. I’m not saying they’re not good to do anyway, because publicity is publicity, and one or more of these might do wonders for you. And if one of you gets massive traffic because of it, then you’re just magnificent. But for the rest of us, the regular folks, unless we already have a big time following this isn’t what’s going to get it done.

What will get it done? Not that I really know, since I’m not there, but the two things I’ve found that seem to work the best are, of course, commenting on other blogs, and writing posts on a consistent basis, so people know you’re not a “hit and run” poster, someone who’s not going to write much of anything with any consistency. Those two things have helped me the most, and though I don’t consider myself as having massive traffic, I do have growing traffic, last week Feedburner actually told me I had 84 subscribers (though today it’s back down into the low 70’s; I wonder what drives that).

Okay, your turn; what do you think about these 20 points, and please, go read the other article for comparison?
 

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SEO Is Easier With Websites Than Blogs

If you remember, back on January 1st I had a pretty comprehensive post on Page Rank and SEO, where I did an examination of this blog, and another blog, to figure out where page rank and SEO might have some sort of affect on the pages within a blog. I pretty much came to a conclusion that it was hard to to proper SEO to a blog because even if you only write on one thing, there are so many other variables on a blog that it’s hard to get a good page rank; that is, if you really care. I decided to do another long project, adding something else into the mix. So get something to drink, sit back, and either read or listen, via that Odiogo button there at the top left of this post, because this one’s going to be long.

What I’ve done is gone through this blog, my business blog (Mitch’s Blog), and my main business website. I’ve selected the top 10 visited pages, or articles, for each of these entities, based on Google Analytics. I’ve checked them for page rank, and then I’ve checked them on Google Rankings to see, based on the main search terms, where they might come up, if at all; only the top 500 this time, though, so I could get through it all. My point, which will be proven, is that SEO efforts for websites can bring some nice results, much nicer than with blogs, even if the niche is more defined. Yeah, there’s a lot of link love I’m giving myself, in case you ever decide you’d like to see what all I’ve been writing and creating over all these years, but hey, it’s also a research project, so forgive the indulgence. I do this for you, my faithful readers. My story and I’m sticking to it. So, let’s begin.

Let’s start with this blog. To begin with, it’s not always easy to figure out which search terms to try to find blog entries for. This means that the ranking figure might be skewed too far one way or the other. But we’ll take it as it’s worth. Here are my top ten articles, my Google rank, and my Yahoo rank; none of these pages has a Google page rank, so why even chart it. Here are the other numbers:

9 Instant Tips On How To Leverage The Power Of Squidoo (used to be 1) 4 Google, 0 Yahoo

Be Responsible For Your Own Life Google, 0 Yahoo 0

A Point About Commenting On Blogs Google 0, Yahoo 0

Getting Google Desktop To Index Thunderbird (this page has a 0 page rank, instead of being unranked) Google 6, Yahoo 2

Another Rant On NYS Internet Taxes Google 48, Yahoo 0

Dofollow/Page Rank Discussion Google 31, Yahoo 1

My First Week In Reno Google 0, Yahoo 0

Kontera -Performancing Ads And TTZ Google 0, Yahoo 32

My Big RSS Subscriber Contest Google 0, Yahoo 1

The Dance-Off Google 0, Yahoo 0

Out of those 10 posts, I think only two can really be considered as legitimate as far as the search engines go, those two being the one on Google Desktop and NYS Internet Taxes. The rest,… well, iffy at best.

Next, let’s take a look at my business blog. This one, it’s slightly easier to see how the SEO efforts went, but this time some of the posts do have page rank, so it’s included this time around:

RAC Audits – A Commentary PR 0, Google 1, Yahoo 1

My Personal And Business Goals For 2009 PR 0, Google 19, Yahoo 1

Did Martin Luther King Jr Believe In Our Future? PR 1, Google 18, Yahoo 0

PR 1, Google 2, Yahoo 0

The 7 Habits Seminar PR 1, Google 1, Yahoo 0

Is Fox News Anti-Obama? PR 0, Google 14, Yahoo 0

Am I An Invisible Man? (this is actually one of my pages on that blog) PR 2, Google 53, Yahoo 24

Group Think Doesn’t Always Work PR 0, Google 3, Yahoo 1

Quotes I like (another one of my pages) PR 2, Google 0, Yahoo 0

Evaluating Employees And Yourself PR 1, Google 4, Yahoo 0

As I said, more of these work as far as being able to see how my SEO efforts worked, but probably four of them aren’t all that valid.

So, those are the two blogs, and truthfully, though some of the numbers on this blog look pretty good, I don’t think they’re valid. And for my business blog, more are valid, but I’m not sure anyone would be looking for the keywords I used to search for those articles.

Now, though, we’ll take a look at my business website, where most of the pages we’re going to look at would offer legitimate search terms I might be found for. Notice the PR difference, as well as the more legitimate search term rankings:

Employee Evaluation Module (this is actually my most searched and reviewed product page, which I’ve never mentioned here because I doubt there’s a single person who visits this blog who could use it, as you’d need to have employees) PR 2, Google 1, Yahoo 1

2009 CPT Code Changes (one of my healthcare newsletters PR 2, Google 2, Yahoo 4

Tribute (this is a tribute I wrote to my dad when he passed away) PR 2, Google 122, Yahoo 0

Records Retention PR 2, Google 106, Yahoo 0

Free Newsletters PR 3, Google 1, Yahoo 1
( for this one, since I offer two newsletters, I also did a second search term, for free healthcare newsletter, and it came up Google 6, Yahoo 2)

Biography PR 2, Google 0, Yahoo 0

Chargemaster Consulting PR 2, Google 6, Yahoo 2

Charge Capture Consulting PR 2, Google 8, Yahoo 0

Healthcare Consulting PR 2, Google 221, Yahoo 0

Executive Coaching PR 2. Google 0, Yahoo 253

As you can see, every page here except for my bio page is ranked by either Google or Yahoo (I didn’t even know what kind of search term to use for my bio, so I left it alone), and the search terms are more accurate because, on a website, it’s easier to define what each page should be about. Now, many people forget two important things about internal pages. One, to optimize them at all, which is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. That would explain why so many internal pages aren’t ranked on most websites; I’m happy to say that the majority of my pages have a page rank of some kind, if only because it shows that they have been optimized. Two, if they optimize, most people use the same exact meta description and keywords on every page of their site, which is a mistake because every page on a website isn’t optimized for the same thing, and the search engines will ignore pages where the optimization doesn’t match what the page is about.

Now, let me be clear here; I still don’t care all that much about page rank. However, unless they’ve banned you for some reason, it’s still a nice indicator of whether or not you’ve optimized your site pretty well. It still doesn’t mean anything as far as visitors or even making sales or more money, but it does mean you have a better opportunity to be found on the search engines, if only because someone just might put in search terms that will lead them to you. Just like we look at Alexa and Technorati, or any of the other little things we can choose to view (see the two ranking icons to the upper right, above the Twitter bird) that rank us in some fashion. It’s better being on a list, or a ranking of some sort, than not being noticed at all.

I believe I have achieved my purpose, but I need to define it a little bit better. There are things we can do on our blog to help generate more interest, to get people to read more of it, and hopefully to get it to rank in some fashion, long term, on the search engines. But when all is said and done, it’s quite possible that blogs are just so active that posts don’t really get a chance to get rankings, even posts that continue getting visits years after they’re written, if you’re lucky (that’s where internal linking might be able to help), so don’t kill yourself trying to make every one of your blog posts optimal. If you can stay somewhat consistent on a topic, as I do with my business blog, you will have a better chance of attaining and keeping a page rank, because every blog post I mentioned on my beginning of the year post, at this point, has lost its page rank. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

However, when it comes to your real websites, using good SEO skills can help your pages get ranked, which means you’ve probably optimized them well enough to have a legitimate chance to be found on the search engines. With blogs, it seems to be more important to generate visitors in other ways, such as commenting on other blogs, and many of the other ways that so many people have written about that I’m not going to bother going into it again. When it comes to your blog, just write, and write as well as you can. It’s a blog; have some fun with it.

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Spam Is Getting Sneakier And Sneakier

Lately I’ve been getting a different kind of spam, and I know I’m not the only one. Y’all know how much I hate spam, but this spam is sneaky. It’s a kinder, gentler spam, messages that seem like they could possibly be legitimate, and they give you pause for a short time because you just don’t know.

I’ve seen these same types of comments on other blogs, and every once in awhile you’re just not sure. What we have to do is figure out just how close the message seems to come to what our topic was about, but even then, it’s hard to tell sometimes. For instance, I received a message saying how much the reader loved my blog, and how he was concerned about diabetes also. Well, of course I’ve written about diabetes, so my first inclination was it could be legitimate. However, it was on a post about CommentLuv, and not the post about the plugin, but the post about the CommentLuv Contest, which made no sense. That’s when I decided it probably had to be spam; when I get a second comment from the same name ten minutes later on the original CommentLuv post, it was confirmed in my mind that it was spam.

And that seems to be the main trick about it all; the email doesn’t only go to one post, but it goes to multiple posts. For instance, I had a post show up on the topic of SEO, which I’ve started writing on here and there, and the writer was for a SEO company; I know because I checked it out. If it had remained only on the one post, I might have left it alone. However, it showed up on a second post about 25 minutes later that had nothing to do with SEO, and once again, confirmation that it was spam.

These guys are really getting good at writing their generic message, such that we believe it’s the real thing. It’s probably why Dennis and Sire decided to write comment policies, even though I’m still fighting the urge to write one. My only gripe, as you know, is people not using their real names at least once, so I know who I’m writing back. What some folks may not have noticed, those I figure are “drive-by” posters, is that I’ve gone in and reduced their fake names to initials, so that I can respond to something that at least makes some kind of sense to me. I haven’t had one of those folks ask me why their names were changed, which is why I figure they probably won’t ever be coming back. For tht matter, I don’t know if they ever check the box to receive comments back; it’s easy to do, something that Blogger doesn’t allow you to do if you don’t have a Blogger account (did I go there again?).

I hope y’all are at least trying to be vigilant when looking at these relatively short, yet courteous messages, and trying to verify whether or not they’re legitimate comments or not. If you don’t believe they are, don’t just delete them; if you have the choice, mark it as spam, and let Akismet, if you’re using it, learn the pattern. Man, I hate spam!
 

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February Statistics Report – Still Growing

Once again, time for a monthly finance report, and anything else I want to talk about. And the good news is that this is my best month ever online.

Let’s do the breakdown of making money, this month only talking about things I made money on. That means the list will be short, but the last item will be a small surprise. Here’s the list:


Adsense – $77.69
Commission Junction – $37.04
TLA – $32.30
TTZ Media – $.25
Kontera – $.06
Startup Rebel – $.00, with qualification
Grand Total – $147.34

So, it was my best month financially. Now, I did show Startup Rebel, which above shows no dollars. I actually made a sale, but the next day the customer asked for a refund from the program, and that brought it back down to zero. Still, it was a sale, and if it had counted, I’d have made another $23. So, the numbers show us that Adsense is kicking behind, and Commission Junction took a nice little step forward. Nothing much directly from this blog, though. Most of that Adsense money came from my medical site again; I need to think of another niche I care about and build another website at some point.

Of course, this is the first month where I changed the types of ads I was putting on the site, as well as moving my own products into the top left, which many people questioned. I did say I was testing, and of course most affiliate marketing books say one should try to market their own stuff first. It would seem that this blog isn’t a good source of traffic to any of my products, though. At least in the first 24 days, it didn’t drive a single visitor to any of these products pages; that either means no one cares, or I’m the worst marketer in the world, to not even drive one stinking visitor. Then again, overall it’s pretty pathetic; this blog drove only six people to visit my main site during the month, and only one person to visit my other blog. That’s in direct comparison to my main business website driving 161 visitors to this blog, but my business blog didn’t drive a single person here. That’s actually kind of weird, now that I think about it, but I’m not going to go crazy trying to figure it out.

What does that mean for the upcoming month? I’m not really sure. I love how Adsense is doing its thing, but I need to step up the affiliate marketing thing a bit more, and I’m not really talking about this blog as much. I’m about to do a minor redesign on one of my sites, and I also have a plan on adding some affiliate links to my medical billing site, topics that are related to what the site is about. On my finance blog, I’ve already added a couple more finance related affiliate products. I’ve got some other ideas in the pipeline also, but I’ll keep those to myself for now. And, oddly enough, last month I said I wasn’t going to promote Startup Rebel anymore, then I made a sale, though it was taken away. So, I’ve added it to my list of recommended products over there on the right, and of course you’ll see the little affiliate ad at the end of this post; strike while the iron is hot!

And there you go. Sure, I’m not in the stratosphere with the big boys, but I took a big step forward in February, and I can only hope to grow from there.

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