Back to his old tricks

Disclaimer: Geez, guys…if I realized I was going to inadvertently earn the ire of a nation of Stay at Home Babe fans, I might have thought a moment before I wrote that I thought she might not be a real person. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have changed my opinion if she hadn’t emailed me […]

rise above

[audio:RiseAbove.mp3]

so i had this long post all ready to run based on some stuff i discovered through clicking around a certain blogger’s twitter feed.  it became the fictionalized story of two like-minded neophyte bloggers who came to the blogging world from an altogether different online world — the online porn industry.  they both had similar stories of how they shared their names with notorious porn stars and somehow both found twitter rocket.  (all the above is actually true, the story that i wove from those details was fictional, albeit not entirely unlikely.)  needless to say, i didn’t run that story or  you’d be reading it now.  and i’m not gonna.

i decided i don’t care.  so what if a couple of former porn stars are using twitter rocket — that’s not the part that bugs me.  the part that bugs me is people being deliberately deceptive as a marketing technique.  sure, i get that marketing is all about little white lies, but being associated with it leaves a foul taste in my mouth.  i, too, am using a product that people are promoting by being deceptive.

it’s like, oh i don’t know, going to someone else’s blog and using it as a forum to make yourself look good and genuine and discredit the blog author.  going to someone’s blog for the sole purpose of discrediting them, and doing so repeatedly, is distasteful.  doing so deliberately to drive traffic back to your site or link is even more so.  but that’s exactly what @blogginghannah did.  she got her start by going to popular pro-blogger darren rowse‘s site and deliberately posting inflammatory comments to get attention.  sure it works.  it did exactly what she intended it to do — drove traffic to her site, where she posted a long article about how problogger was a swindle.  it’s distasteful.  but then, i come from the old school days of the net where you’d go to alt.topic.whatever and read 90% flame war and 10% real content.  i got myself flamed on alt.society.gothic by asking the incredibly controversial question (for a research paper) “what is goth?”  (the word kindergoth was flung at me.)

what’s worse is people who do the same thing — target a blog and then post inflammatory comments to drive traffic back to your link — but they don’t post their own website, they use an affiliate link.  it’s worse because you aren’t even giving people the benefit of judging you by your opinions, what else you have to say, you’re just throwing an ad in their face.  i don’t like junk mail, i don’t like rick rolls, and that, to me, seems likes the two things combined.  call it a junk roll.  it’s rubbish. it might work, but it’s lame.  especially when the blog you’re commenting on has no real value for generating traffic to your link.

it reminded me of this song by black flag.  i am chosing to rise above that level of name-calling and attention-grabbing, not adding to the misrepresentation.  it’s easy for me to get drawn into that, and i am guilty of being baited, but the best thing to do is to ignore it and it will go away, and remember what henry rollins said:

Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above
We’re gonna rise above
They distort what we say
Rise above
We’re gonna rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above
When they can’t do it themselves

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it’s no use

what can’t they do? provide content of any real value.  rise above, we’re gonna rise above.

the secret to making money online is there is no secret

seriously, there is no secret.  it’s just critical mass.

why is upstart blogger doing so well? because he has traffic.  lots of it.  and he has minions.  far-reaching minions that sell his product for him.  it’s great, almost unheard-of, that his affiliates make 50% commission off each sale of Twitter Rocket — that puts each minion in a great position to make a lot of money fast if they’re a good salesperson.  but as much as each individual minion makes, ashley morgan makes more — because he gets the other 50% from each sale every one of his minions make.  and that’s what pisses everyone who’s not in the club off.  he’s perceived to be sitting on his ass, doing nothing, meanwhile he’s making a killing because he has people doing his selling for him.

well, i doubt he’s actually just sitting on his ass, no matter how great the hardware that his ass is encased in may be.  if he stopped blogging today, the Twitter Rocket sales would taper off and die.  the timeline for that is probably pretty long, but eventually, no one would know what Twitter Rocket was anymore, what Upstart Blogger was, and it would fade away like every other internet flash mob.  and it’s true — every one of his most bitter critics are embittered because they want to be where he is.  i include myself in this category.

i just spent the last 2 weeks working my ass off, without taking a single day off (something we vowed never to do after i left WF), to get a huge project done by its deadline for two grand.  now, granted our prices are much lower than they should be — but we’re still trying to establish ourselves in a specific niche and in so doing, can’t charge $10k for a site like this one.  yet.  hannah says she can make that in one day?  yeah, i want to be right there.  i’ll be blunt — i have very little respect for hannah as a blogger.  but i’ll give her one thing — if she’s not a fictional character (fairly unlikely), if she’s not lying (possible, but probably not the case) or exaggerating (even more possible, especially for a teenager), and she can make that kind of cash, she’s right: her a levels are kind of pointless.

(note to those of us not in the UK: a levels are half the equivalent of SAT/ACT/AP tests, and half like high school exit exams or college entrance exams — doing well on your A Levels means you are guaranteed a spot in a good school.  doing badly means you’re not, and a lot of people who do badly on their A Levels end up not going to college at all, and instead take on more remedial or manual jobs.  it’s almost like an enforced intellectual caste system where the A Level exams determine what caste you will be in.  “caste system” may be a bit harsh, but you get the idea — if you do badly on your SATs, you can still get into a pretty good school if your grades and other stuff are in place.  I got an 1150, which, while not horrible, wasn’t anywhere near what my friends in my AP English class were getting, and yet i went to a private university and a highly specialized program that let me develop my own major.  of course, the other side of the coin in the uk is that not everyone goes to college like they do here — it’s not nearly as expected, which may be related to the fact that college education — up until a few years ago — was free.  anyway, i’m getting off on a tangent — these are things i learned when i studied abroad for a semester at the university of east anglia.)

i don’t particularly credit hannah with an overabundance of brains.  it’s mostly to do with her age — i was stupid, too at 17.  at 17, i was trying to find my writing voice, and more than likely i, too, would start a verbal war over the internet with an arch-nemesis.  what hannah has is a huge following, everything else falls along the wayside.  reading her twitter stream is like watching an 8 hour infomercial, but it doesn’t matter — because she has 10,000 followers.  let’s do some math:  if 1% of her followers clicked on one of her links to Twitter Rocket and bought a copy, that would be 100 sales — $4,700.  the actual results are more like 0.1% if she’s getting 10 sales a day.  and you know what? part of the reason i am willing to believe that Twitter Rocket does what it says is because i have little respect for hannah.  because if she can do it — a young, occasionally volatile, inexperienced and untrained neophyte blogger with no formal education past high school — and make that much cash reselling it, then anyone can.  and so i’m leaning back on the Twitter Rocket side of the camp.  except…

it’s one thing to say microsoft is evil.  microsoft makes a ton of money.  they spend a ton of money on making their products so ubiquitous that they are household names.  they’ve done some potentially ruthless things to become the single most recognized name in technology (at least for a while). ask any schmoe to name a single company in IT and it’s probably 50/50 between microsoft and google.  but microsoft is also a large company, with a lot of employees.  all that cash doesn’t go into bill gates’ pockets and it never did.  and i doubt there are as many people talking about microsoft right now as twitter rocket.  now, one may say that you could look at twitter rocket affiliates as employees paid on a commission basis — a very good commission.  but twitter rocket has just crowdsourced its’ advertising.  even salespeople on commission still make hourly wages.  it’s as if, rather than spend a penny on marketing, microsoft put all that money directly into one person’s pocket (and, look it up — microsoft spends a ton of money on marketing, especially now that they are still trying to re-legitimize their name since their antitrust case in the 90s and with Windows 7) and they gave their customers to opportunity to make a bit of cash by doing all the marketing for them. the amount of cash would need to be lucrative enough to give enough incentive to enough customers to support the production and development costs of the product, but in the case of twitter rocket — there are no production costs, there are no development costs.  there is one architect and he sits on top of the food chain.  no matter how not-a-pyramid-scheme twitter rocket is, there is still, irrevocably, one guy sitting on top.  and he knows it.  and he knows that you can’t touch him.  even critique of twitter rocket could still amount to a potential sale for twitter rocket, and at the very least people are talking about twitter rocket.  the more times i say twitter rocket, the more traffic he gets for twitter rocket.  he said so himself in his letter to his critics.  it doesn’t matter what anyone says.

i’ve had some great feedback recently from both people who are skeptics like me, and people who use twitter rocket, and defend ashley and hannah.  by all accounts, ashley is a great guy.  my own personal experience has been that, yes, he does respond to people.  even, unimaginably, to direct messages on twitter.  and if you can make the money you paid for twitter rocket back on just 2 affiliate sales, even if you never go the infomercial route, it could be said that he’s just giving something away.  except.  he’s not.  hannah’s arch-nemesis’ most valid and resonating criticism is how much actual work do you do to make that money? granted, working for cash is the opposite of passive income, which is what ashley morgan blogs about.  but if you actually read the horrible, evil vegan‘s blog (and just overlook, for a minute, the places where she makes mistaken assumptions about how twitter rocket and the affiliate program work), you will see a recurring theme: she wants to work for her money and get paid for a job well done.  it’s not a crime, or an affront to all twitter rocket users and affiliates to want to feel like you earned the money you make.  (and, also, guys, it’s not a crime to be mistaken either.  there’s plenty of bad information on the internet, and like ashley himself says, anyone smart enough to matter will take the time to get the facts straight — so there’s really no point in flaming her…) but again, that’s the opposite of passive income.  i would love money for nothing (though i’ll pass on the “chicks for free” — i’m taken, thanks), but i’m ambitious — if i’m making money for nothing, i want it to be part of my own empire, and not be a pawn on the chessboard of someone else’s empire.

so no twitter rocket for me.

yet.

and how am i doing on that topic?  well, i updated my graph:

graph

as you can see, my twitter following has grown at a regular rate.  now, i’m one week in, and i don’t yet have 1000 followers, so i can’t claim the success rate that twitter rocket does.  and this aggravates me to no end, and again, makes me want to just shell out the $97 bucks and get a copy. (actually, at this point, i’m waiting until he does another special offer and since i’m on his brand-spanking-new newsletter, i’m assuming there will be something for his subscribers eventually.)  but what’s most interesting to me is that i slacked the last two days in trying to get this project i was working on finished and didn’t follow anyone new, just followed back new followers for @teh_s3quence.  and yet my following remained self-sustaining, getting 40 new followers each day.  that’s not bad.  they’re probably all marketers, but whatever.  because it doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is the traffic.  and tweeting your own links drives traffic to your site.  and the more followers you have, the more traffic you generate.  that’s it.  that’s the secret.  it’s really not a secret, it’s just common sense.

i’m giving the schoolbus a month.  we’ll see where i am at the end of the month, and then, maybe i’ll get my own copy of twitter rocket.

postscript: yes, i do realize there are 23 references to twitter rocket — oops, 24 — and that almost all of them links to, that’s right, twitt–er, the home page for the product.  yes, i realize this is absolutely ridiculous.  but it’s intentional.  i’m making a point about how spammy it ends up sounding when every single one of your links and posts is about one thing.  when everything is a marketing ploy, everything else loses credibility.

a little argument with myself

image from Wikipedia
image from Wikipedia

[audio:littleargumentwithmyself.mp3]

this is the argument i have in my head:

upstart blogger has been around for a while. he’s established trust with his honest representation of things. he approaches topics reasonably. he’s also exposed a few twitter scams and pyramid schemes. he’s built a good reputation. also, he makes a lot of money blogging: a lot more than i do (which is none). the only money-making links he has on his site are his affiliate program with AN hosting and, now, Twitter Rocket. Twitter Rocket, therefore, must be like a gift from god, given all the reviews…

really? what’s so special about it that’s different than the scams he’s exposed? the language he (and his following) uses about it make it sound exactly like other twitter scams.

surely you can’t fault someone who’s discovered something worthwhile for trying to profit from it. that’s what any product is. you’re paying for something that someone (multiple someones) finds valuable. that’s not a scam.

the self-perpetuating cycle of twitter rocket -> affiliate links -> twitter rocket sales feels pretty scammy.

that’s just using the system.

seems to me that @blogginghannah abuses the system. her twitter stream is littered with twitter rocket aggrandizement, and she’s purportedly the top seller. as glorybug posed the question: is it possible to make money with anything else?

sure it is….in theory. but if it’s a great product, and you’re using it, and you think it’s great, you become the perfect salesperson. it’s just part of the system.

that kind of system will break, won’t it? i mean, if it was really so awesome, everyone would eventually either be using it, or refusing to use it.

we’ll see, i guess.  however, there are enough twitter users that that won’t happen for a very long time.

what about all the upstart blogger wannabe’s? luke davis’ (aka @sixfigureluke‘s) comment over here uses almost the same language as upstart blogger when dealing with people who haven’t used twitter rocket but make claims against it. even @blogginghannah occasionally uses the same voice in her blogmondo dynamo is no different. and they both use wordpress themes that are based on ashley’s own (or at least an older version of upstart blogger). could it be that they’re all just characters ashley morgan has created to sell his product?

occam’s razor: it’s easier to believe that they are actual people than to believe the web of intricacies necessary for them to be fictional. plus, it would sell his product a lot better if it actually worked.

that doesn’t mean it’s not true…

no. just highly, highly unlikely.

it would appear than that twitter rocket is without fail. so, what’s the holdup?

i can’t see it.

excuse me?

i can’t see it. when i go to best buy and buy a game, i’ve read reviews of it. the reviews talk about what the game is like, who it was made by, what the gameplay is like, what other games it resembles, and rates it accordingly. when i go to the store, i look at it, check out the graphics, read the description, and then decide if i want to shell out fifty bucks for it. since i don’t know the details of how twitter rocket is so great, and so much better than everything else, and completely NOT like those other twitter scams (although we’re not sure exactly why), i distrust it. it feels scammy. moreover, it feels exactly like all those other money-making schemes where there’s this great thing, but we can’t tell you what it is until you buy it:

what i have in this box is the most remarkable thing you’ve ever seen. once you see it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
what’s in the box?
i will reveal it to you after you pay me $97.
i just want to know what’s in the box.
i can’t tell you what’s in the box. i can only tell you that it is so very valuable, that you could potentially make that $97 back in a matter of hours.
um. great. what’s in the box?

that’s true. but what if it is true? what if i really can make that money back quickly? if it pays for itself, and then some, isn’t it worth the investment?

it depends. i hate being a salesperson. if using twitter rocket means all i ever do is tweet about how great twitter rocket it like hannah does, i would hate myself, passive income or no.

but twitter rocket claims that it can support any kind of revenue. and anyway, it’s just the method to get followers, it’s not a money-making tactic in itself.

no, but i’ve yet to see much evidence to the contrary.

…and so on. it drives me completely nuts. or at least, was driving me completely nuts until i decided to just try to figure out my own method. and that’s the thing: since revealing (sort of) twitter rocket, ashley morgan has polarized his followers. they’re either in the “yay twitter rocket yay” camp, or they’re in the “you self-centered hypocrite — you’re selling the same crap that you just revealed as a scam” camp. and i’m smack in the middle, swinging from one pole to the other.

that’s why i’m revealing my process. and that’s why, if my process results in enough sales (through my two, count them, two affiliate links on my blog — twitter rocket and 1and1 hosting), then i will check out twitter rocket myself and see how it works. and maybe i’ll become one of the people shouting to the masses what a wonderful tool it is. or maybe i’ll just be a tool for having spent money on something i could have figured out on my own.

(p.s. you can help “sponsor” the project by buying something, you know.  just click on the link and sign up for one of those two things.  i wouldn’t put them there if i didn’t think they were worthwhile.)