why i’m using twitter rocket

the following is a letter i wrote toglorybug.  she’s been getting a lot of heat from some twitter rocket users for posting some wary and skeptical opinions and musing about the possibility that it might be a scam.  later, she posted some questions for twitter rocket users (which drew some more fire, although i’m still not entirely sure why, other than it was a long list of questions), and, having just purchased my copy, i decided to take the time to answer as many as were applicable to me with regards to what went into my decision.

A while ago you asked for Twitter Rocket users to come forward for an interview and posted a list of questions.  Well, I’ve recently purchased a copy myself, so I wanted to take the time to answer some of your questions and explain what went into the decision for me.  We’ve had a similar skepticism with regards to Twitter Rocket, so, while my decision to buy myself a copy isn’t a complete 180, it’s definitely a shift in gears.

First of all, a little bit about where I’m coming from…

I am a graphic/web designer.  A little over 2 years ago, I quit a fairly cushy cubicle farm job where I made over $40k a year with full benefits doing server and client PC support for a major grocery chain to start building websites from home and spend more time with my wife and 2 kids. I’ve been blogging for about five years.  My blog has never been high in traffic, though sometimes I entertained the thought that maybe it could be, but for most of that time, I didn’t really care.  I wasn’t particularly writing for an audience.

However, since launching our business, I’ve been increasingly conscious of how much traffic our site gets and, by proxy, how much traffic my blog gets.  I think both can do better, and have been trying a variety of things to try to help that process along.  I’ve had some success, but progress is slow and a lot of work.  It would be a full time job just to get our regular traffic to where I want it to be, and I already have a full time job, making websites.

So this is my backstory, and this is the foundation for my curiosity about Twitter Rocket.  It sounds like the perfect solution for what I want to do.  Assuming it’s not a scam.

How did you hear about the Twitter Rocket, and when?
Did you hear about it from people who were known to you, either through the internet or in person?
I heard about it via Ashley Morgan’s blog, Upstart Blogger.  So, inasmuch as anyone knows anyone by their blog, I suppose I knew of Ashley, but don’t know him personally.

Do you personally know anyone directly responsible for the development of the Twitter Rocket?
No.  I’ve had a few direct correspondences with Ashley, but as stated above, I don’t know him personally.

Have you personally purchased the Twitter Rocket for the full advertised price?
If you did, do you have receipts of proof of purchase?

I personally purchased Twitter Rocket, but I purchased it at a special discounted price to his newsletter subscribers.  I have the PayPal receipt.

Did you already have an established website or blog of at least a year before your purchase?
Both my blog, jazzsequence.com and my company’s website arcanepalette.com have been around for much longer than 1 year (although my blog moved to jazzsequence.com several years ago from a free domain at jazzsequence.zapto.org).

How many posts does your website blog have now?
How many did it have before the purchase?

386, not including pages, not including the post that I will make from this letter.

How soon after your purchase did you receive the eBook?
About 6 hours after purchase.

Do you have affiliate links or adsense or any other marketing income from your site besides the Twitter Rocket?
Yes.  I have some amazon affiliate links, Jinx clothing affiliate links, 1and1.com affiliate links, some others.  None of them get a whole lot of conversion.  In fact, none of them get any conversion.

How often do you post on your site, and how many of your posts are content driven, and how many are affiliate driven?
I post a couple times a week generally, though there have been dry spells.  I do not post affiliate-driven content.

How many of your posts are related to the Twitter Rocket, and how many are not?
I have several blog posts that talk about the ongoing debate I’ve had with myself about Twitter Rocket.  None of them are what you would consider to be great advertising because I myself was not sold.  It’s a small handful, however, compared to the hundreds of other posts on the site over the last 5 years.

Are you using AN Hosting as your host?
If not, who is your host?

No.  I use 1and1 currently.

Are you using a variation of the Upstart Blogger website style?
No.  I like Ashley’s theme, but I’m not overly fond of solely typographic blog designs for myself.  Plus, as a designer who builds wordpress themes for a living, it annoys me to see a whole network of people using modifications of the same general layout/theme.

Are you a musician?
Um.  Sort of.  The jury is out whether you can call what I do music, but I have a bandcamp page, and I participated in RPM 09.  jazzsequence.bandcamp.com

Has your previous website been shut down for any reason?
Only when I’ve pulled things down or moved them myself.

What is your blog/site about?
Various things.  Stuff I’m interested in. I don’t really have a specific topic other than “geek.”

Do you sell products or provide a service other than promoting the Twitter Rocket?
Did you sell products or provide a service before you bought the Twitter Rocket?
Yes and yes.  I haven’t really promoted Twitter Rocket to date, there’s only a handful of tweets on a secondary account that I used to try to plug my affiliate link.  My main product or service is our web design company.

Are you promoting the Twitter Rocket without having a website or blog at all?
No.

If you had a preexisting business before your purchase, how were you marketing your product?
We use Elance.com to find  jobs, and a lot of our work is word of mouth and referrals.  And a lot of our business is ongoing or repeat customers.

Do you use Twitter to promote the Twitter Rocket?
If not, how do you promote it?
To a small degree.  There’s also an affiliate link on my blog.

How many Tweets do you do a day/week to promote it?
Maybe one or two a week.

How many sales a day/week have you made from the Twitter Rocket, at $47 commission each?
How many total sales have you made?
How many of those sales would be willing to take this survey?
How can you prove how many sales you claim?
How many of the sales you’ve made have posted on the internet about their purchase and their success?
How many of those sales are people who aren’t going to sell the Twitter Rocket, and are just using it to get more sales for their products?
How many of those people are willing to take this survey?
How many affiliate sales have you made for AN Hosting?
I have made exactly 0 sales to date.  I do not have an affiliate link for AN Hosting.

What were the numbers of your Twitter followers and who you follow before you used the Twitter Rocket, and how have those numbers increased by day/week?
My secondary account that I was using to collect followers currently has 493 followers.  @ArcanePalette has 228.

Do you believe it not possible to get Twitter followers any other way?
No.  but having done it the hard way, I’ve come to realize that getting 500-1000 followers is very time consuming.

Do you use Twitter to drive sales to your site, or use Twitter directly for sales?
Not overly so.  Mostly I’m just trying to drive traffic at this point.

Have you heard of any coverage of the Twitter Rocket other than the Upstart Blogger, people advertising as affiliates, or people questioning the eBook?
Other than your blog, myself, and various twitter rocket users who blog about it, no.

If you initially purchased the eBook at $97, and the AN Hosting, have you made your money back yet?
No, and I don’t really care at this point.  I didn’t pay the full $97, and if I don’t make my money back I’ll at least have learned something from the ebook (even if that something is that I’m a big schmuck).

How many sales of the Twitter Rocket and An hosting would you need to achieve to call the eBook a success for you?
How few in order to consider it a failure for you?

I don’t really think in those terms.  If I learn something and attract an organic following of Twitter users that actually care about what I have to say or what my business offers, I will consider it a success.  If that does not happen, I will consider it a failure.  If someone clicks on an affiliate link along the way, so much the better, but I’m not banking on that.

How long do you imagine it will take you to determine whether it has been a success or a failure for you?
Well supposedly it’s supposed to work within a month…

Would you sell this eBook to a family member or a friend?
We shall see…

What do you think of the people who express concern or skepticism about the Twitter Rocket or it’s longterm viability?
What do you think their motivation is?
Being one of these people I can say that I understand the skepticism and I can empathize with not wanting to pay for something shrouded in secrecy.

Why do you think they have not purchased the eBook?
Because it sounds too good to be true.

Do you think people expressing criticism of the Twitter Rocket have the freedom of speech to bring up questions about it, or does it make you mad?
I think the people attacking people who bring up questions about it are only making the product look more sketchy to those of us who were skeptical.

Do you consider yourself a hard worker?
Yes.

Are you working fulltime in a 9-5 job?
If not, what combination of working do you do?
I spend my day juggling two kids, several ongoing clients, and new design work.  To say my life is busy would be an understatement.

Would you feel bad if you made money selling the eBook, but the people who bought it from you did not?
Maybe only if their sole intent was to make money from it and they failed.

Because it is an intangible one time purchase, do you think there might be a time when the Twitter Rocket becomes too saturated in the market to sell?
Possibly, but I think that day is a long way away.  There are a lot of twitter users.  I’m more concerned with twitter evolving into a tool used solely for marketing and advertising.

many of your questions I don’t have answers to because I have not started using it yet, and I only just made the purchase today.  If you want, I would be more than happy to do a follow up that talked about my experience using it.  Assuming I get the ebook sometime today I just got the eBook today, so, I would probably be able to comment on using it after a week or so from now.

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.

twitter schoolbus, day 3 and 4

i’ve really enjoyed the discussion that my experiment has generated.  this has always been a really low traffic blog, although i’ve always felt like it could do better.  in the last few days i’ve somehow attracted the attention of people who would never have come here before, and i credit that, largely, to twitter.  so it’s true, you can use twitter to increase your site’s traffic (presuming you have stuff on your site that’s always being updated).

here are my twitter schoolbus notes from the weekend:

day 3

today i tried something different. i tried another trick that other people do which is follow who your friends are following. since this whole experiment came out of the twitter rocket thing, i decided to start with the source: @morganzero. except, @morganzero is following over 10,000 people, and has said that he follows everyone back (excluding, i assume, the spambots). how do i find anything relevant in that mess? i’m sure not going to go through all 10,000 (although, i’m also sure that if i did, i’d have a straight shot to a massive following). so instead, i went through his twitter stream and found anyone he @mentioned and followed them. the people he deems worthy of having a conversation with are probably worthwhile and fairly relevant. i went all the way through his feed back before twitter rocket existed.

then i had another idea.

after reading a couple posts on glorybug’s blog, i was inspired to to a twitter search for “twitter rocket.” as expected, most of the results were affiliates. a few were folks annoyed by all the twitter rocket spam. since that’s still topical (at least to my current topic), i followed all of them, too, again, going 5 pages deep into the search results (granted, as a rule, twitter rocket affiliates post multiple times about twitter rocket, so there were some repeats in there). that bumped my following count to 462. at the end of the day (midnight, MST), i had 204 followers.

day 4

today i searched for “indie art”. this was my favorite search yet as i saw a LOT of awesome twitter backgrounds. i got a few design inspirations for making twitter backgrounds for arcane palette in the process. this tells me that this is really the type of thing i should be doing, not only for my own blog, but for arcane palette, too. it would be easy to find followers in our niche by doing searches like this.

again i went 5 pages deep into the search results, although this time, if i noticed they @mentioned someone in the last tweet or two, i followed them, too. at the end of that process, i was following 524 people. i decided it was time to chart my progress. since it was too early for twitterholic to start showing stuff (since i hadn’t indexed teh_s3quence yet), i googled for a graph-making tool and found this.

graph
following depicted by the triangle, followers depicted by the diamond

as you can see from the graph, though there’s a big gap between how many people i’m following vs. being followed by, the progression is pretty much equal (except for day 4, where the followers tapered off. i blame this either on it being the weekend, lower user activity and older tweets from the search results, or possibly twitter rocket users who don’t appreciate my skepticism). this is all i ask for, in fact, this means that everything is working perfectly.

from this point on, i’ll be tracking the data but reporting on the progress less often. it’s boring blogging about stats and i can’t imagine it makes a good read. and anyway, you get the idea: do a search for something you’re interested in or is in your niche, and follow people who are talking about it. it’s not rocket science. (pun intended.)