Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Referrer Poem

How Did You Get Here?

When marketing your website, it's important to know which of your efforts are producing results and which of them are a waste of time.

You can learn a lot about this by analyzing your website's statistics (assuming your webhost offers this service).

However, even with the best statistics programs, it can be difficult to determine where exactly your visitors are coming from. Did they arrive on your product page by clicking a link in your newsletter or did they get there by clicking the banner you've paid to have displayed on Yahoo?

The best way to answer this question is to track your links. You can do this by buying link tracker software or by employing a third-party service to do it for you.

However, if your budget is tight, there's one way you can track your links without spending a dime.

This can be done by tagging a question mark followed by a piece of text at the end of your hyperlinks. This will not affect the way the link works, but will help you identify that link in your website's statistics.

For example, will point simply to as if the "?linka" were not there at all.

However, when you analyze your statistics, you will have separate results for both links. That way you can determine how many people visited page1.htm and how many people visited page1.htm by clicking the link marked '?linka'.

You can use this to test the effectiveness of any or all of your links. For example, if you want to know how many people are arriving on your product page from your newsletter, your banner ad and your home page, you could set up your links as follows:

The link from your newsletter:
The link from your banner on Yahoo:
The link from your home page:

When you analyze your visitor statistics you can clearly see how each of these links are performing and then act accordingly.

As there is no limit to the amount of distinct links you can create, you can easily track all your links at no cost.

Author, Michael Hopkins, is owner of BizzyDays eBook Publications. Download Brand New Original eBooks for FREE at: Download The eBook Publishing Success Package at: http://selfpublishing-ebooks.htm.

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Online Guru Serenade

Is There A Guru In The House?

The Internet has given us many marvelous advantages in international marketing, from the speed and convenience of email to the ease and economy of product downloading.

Yet these wonders pale by comparison when you realize the sheer volume of Gurus that inhabit the Web.

As a young boy growing up in Ohio I was impressed by the rarity of those mystics who with one utterance, could place in a nutshell all worldly knowledge.

On the other hand, there had always existed plenty of "experts."

In olden days folks were forced to rely on the now outdated, 'expert' for knowledge and virtuosity.

When it comes to Internet marketing there are no experts, only Gurus.

You remember what an 'expert' is, don't you!

Well, as a distinguished Chinese gentleman named Charlie Chan, once said, "An expert is a person who provides quick answers that are sometimes correct."

While, as Charlie says, an 'expert' may only from time to time, correctly assume a fact, a Guru never ever suffers from this fallacy.

A Guru just knows all!

You see, the only quality the 'expert' lacks is perfection, otherwise he would be a Guru!

There is one other distinguishing characteristic you'll notice when sorting out a Guru from an 'expert'. An 'expert' is either, self designated or quickly proclaims the title, while a Guru leaves that function to his associates.

As a lad I was just naive enough to believe that the world only offered us one or two true Gurus.

Naturally, I had heard of the mysterious Dalai Lama with his universal wisdom, and maybe about a couple of odd characters hanging out in Tibet, but that was it.

I truly believed that these few individuals summed up the entire Guru population. Then I discovered the Internet.

What a revelation!

When it comes to Internet marketing, the supply of Gurus gives the impression of being endless.

Every day I read of several new Gurus who have recently startled the Internet community by unearthing the 'real' secrets of marketing success.

Thankfully, these Gurus are graciously releasing their deep dark secrets of Internet prowess, even though it may be for a limited time only, and at a compensation said to be ridiculously low for a Guru of their obvious stature.

The Internet is amazing, even Gurus mark down their wisdom!

For awhile, I feared that once these 'secrets' were released our favorite Guru would quickly pack up and take their meditation elsewhere.

But not to worry, as new hidden secrets of Internet marketing are needed, more and more Gurus appear to permeate the Web thus eliminating any major concern of a shortage.

I often ponder, can this abundance of Gurus last, is there a University somewhere that grinds them out, a sort of Guru U!

Perhaps, we ought to just count blessings and gleam as much as we can from these modern day wonders of the cosmos.

After all, shouldn't we be content that there are helpful Gurus everywhere on the Internet, with or without a toga.

They seem to be everywhere these days. In fact, while shaving this morning, I could swear I spotted a Guru in my own bathroom mirror!

Author, Joe Myna, is webmaster at The Virtual Warehouse of in-demand products -, author of FREE eBook "Internet Profits The Quick Way" - Download now at Joe Myna is webmaster at and involved in direct marketing for the past 30 years. Mr. Myna first went online in 1996. Mr. Myna is author of several well known marketing titles.

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Netrepreneurs' Verse

Growth From Within

Business on the Net is a fast paced proposition. Net entrepreneurs are looking for the edge that will take their business to the next level. Who doesn't want more business, right? Here's a simple yet POWERFUL idea for increasing your income.

As business people we look at many propositions that will help us take that next, much desired growth step. We hear that we must "brand" ourselves and be easy to do business with. The list of ideas goes on and on.


Many people overlook how hard (and expensive) it is to create a new customer. Yet, we focus most of our time and energy in just this area, thinking that if we just could get more customers we would achieve our goals. But what about getting more OUT OF your customers?

If you have been around for a while you have a customer list. That list is GOLD. Please understand that I am NOT talking about renting out your customer list of email addresses. What I AM talking about it approaching those customers, who know you and trust you already, with a totally new and different product.

Why should we limit ourselves to selling only one type of product or service when by adding an additional item to our current offerings we can TAKE ADVANTAGE of the relationship that exists now? Will your customers resent this move? Not if you do it with some style.


One of the keys is to choose a product or service that COMPLIMENTS what you already do. Whatever your product or service is, think through what your customer is likely to buy based upon purchasing your product.

If you sell shoes, someone is going to sell them socks and it might as well be you. Not only will you increase your revenue but you will encounter less sales resistance and show your customers that you are thinking of them.

Another method is to choose a product or service that CONTRASTS what you sell now. If you normally sell a business related product come back at them with a personal product. Why should they NOT buy it from you? You have proven yourself as honest and dependable; now cash in on that hard work.


One final word. Your customers decided to trust you when they bought what you sell. Capitalize on those good feelings and ask them for their feedback on what you have in mind. This is by far the most powerful, yet virtually free, market research available in the land. Use it wisely and your EXISTING CUSTOMERS will tell you both what they want to buy and when they want to buy it.

All you have to do then is step up, fill the need, and go to the bank.

Author, Dan Brown, can help you take your income to the next level! Don't overlook the GOLD MINE in your backyard. Your customers are waiting for you to take the next step. Take that step today by visiting Dan on the Web and find a program that will ensure success. (c) by This article may be reprinted freely, provided the author byline remains intact.

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Chaotic Growing Online Opus

Growing Your Company In Today's Chaotic Market!

I think we've all heard enough bad news to last us few months to last us several lifetimes! Our mantra for clients is "get over it" - cut your losses when where you can and focus on the basic building blocks to grow your business. Here are some fundamentals we recommend to any company that wants to survive and grow in this chaotic market:

1. Practice maniacal focus! Who is your customer, how do you reach them with your advertising, partners, channels and/or OEMs? If you can't readily identify these benchmarks, then you may need to take a hard look at look at your business structure, personnel, costs of good/services, etc. and rework your model.

2. Outsource and build virtuosity into your company. We tell clients to minimize fixed costs like the feudal barons of old - they kept a core group of fighters to man the garrison walls and hired (outsourced!) conscripts when the baron from the next door came calling at the castle gates with a legion of longbows behind him to exact tribute. Marketing, finance, HR, IT infrastructure, even product development or manufacturing can be easily outsourced to specialists who have levels of proficiency that you might not be able to afford if you tried to hire them full time.

3. Flex and tier your pricing creatively to minimize barriers to entry. If chaos is the order of the day (and we think it is) then make sure your pricing is tiered or structured so your clients can afford to try out your products and services - and be flexible in your negotiations and look for creative ways to bring new customers aboard.

4. Make your suppliers real business partners! Fed Ex and UPS are setting up shop in their customer's shipping docks to save valuable time and money and become active business partners. You may not have the clout of a Fortune 1K company/behemoth to leverage Fed Ex but you can ask your suppliers to extend terms, work with you on just in time delivery schedules or get creative with pricing, joint promotions, etc.

5. Ensure your marketing fundamentals are up to snuff! We see so many sloppy web sites that do not address the basic fundamentals of good site design, menus, UI, etc., brochures that are out of date, power point presentations that are barely legible, etc. - basic marketing principals should be addressed; i.e. integrate your color scheme and logo across all marcom materials (digital and traditional), reinforce your branding and positioning with clearly worded value propositions ("we save you X by doing Y") and ensure your logo and tagline look professional and are used properly.

6. Create and deploy credible PR that isn't full of fluff; i.e. "market or cost leadership, best of breed technology, leading provider of …, high-performance, etc.; don't use terms any editor sees hundreds of times a day! Create PR that is original and truthful - you will stand out from the crowd much better.

7. It's truly a Global Market! Position your company so you can work with customers all over the world - if you don't have the resources or personnel (see two above) then partner with a local reseller, dealer or distributor who has an established presence in a country or market which you can't serve via your corp/home office.

8. Don't waste time chasing venture capital - fund your company creatively! Venture capitalists are busy today trying to save their existing portfolio of ".bombs" so don't waste a lot of your time contacting them! Be creative, talk to friends and family about investing or look to your suppliers to give you extended terms in exchange for a long-term contract, discounted parts, etc.

9. Leverage technology to help you grow your business. A good web site should answer questions for your customers, not leave them frustrated and confused - make sure you address fundamentals with an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), or even setup instant messaging via any number of chat technology providers so people can anonymously ask your sales or c/support personnel questions while they are on your web site.

10. Ignore marketing hype and concentrate on technology that really works. Tried surfing the web via your cell phone and finding a hot bistro in a new neighborhood recently? I hate to pick on this technology du jour, but it rates high on my "hypeometer" at this moment in time. There is a reason why opt-in e-mail advertising is the one of the best ways to reach a target market - its virtually instantaneous, is 24/7 in most cases, very targeted, provides global reach, and drum roll ... it really works!

Author, Lee Traupel, has 20 plus years of business development and marketing experience - he is the founder of Intelective Communications, Inc.,, a results-driven marketing services company providing proprietary services to clients encompassing startups to public companies.

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Amazon Traffic Ode

Don't Let Use Up Your Valuable Bandwidth!

You already know that affiliate programs are a great way to make additional income for your web business.

By promoting products that are RELEVANT to your target audience and presenting those products in a meaningful way through the pages of your ebooks, websites and ezines, you can build up a nice steady income with little effort.

Don't forget though, affiliate programs will only earn you money if you promote them the right way.

Otherwise they're a complete waste of time and effort.

A perfect example of how NOT to make money through affiliate programs is by carrying banners from big web companies like and Barnes & Noble.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking these companies.

However, you may as well try making money from selling used matchsticks as from carrying banner ads from companies like these on your website.


Well, firstly, most people are so familiar with these companies already, that the chances of them clicking the banner are next to nothing. You can expect at the VERY LEAST to go through 1000 visitors before you get a single click!

Secondly, even if a visitor does click the banner, the chances that he/she will buy anything are even less again. And, because and co. only pay out commissions if the visitor buys immediately, then the likelihood or you actually earning anything are just north of none.

Let's face it, these banner ads enable and their like to use webmasters to strengthen their brand name at zero cost.

They'll slow down your pages and will not benefit your business or your visitors in any way.

If you are an affiliate with Amazon, then the only way to effectively make money out of them is by hand-picking a few products that are of direct interest to your visitors.

If your website deals with fast cars, then promote fast car books. If your e-book is all about The Ramones, then promote albums from and books about The Ramones (Gabba Gabba Hey).

Then, promote those products as if they were your own. Nothing short of a rave review or a full-blown sales pitch will do. And place a "Click Here To Order On" link at the end.

Your visitors know you and your readers trust you. If you tell them that this product is right for them, then they'll buy it.

One final point.

Amazon's affiliate program, despite its widespread fame, is neither the best nor the most lucrative one around.

It may be worth your while to look around for websites that promote the same products but that have more effective affiliate programs. Programs that pay out more and that use cookies to record your visitors' click-thrus. That way, if your visitors buy the product at a later date, you still get the commission.

Author, Michael Hopkins, is owner of BizzyDays eBook Publications. Download Brand New Original eBooks for FREE at: Download The eBook Publishing Success Package at: http://selfpublishing-ebooks.htm.

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Homepage Working Opus


Does Your Homepage Work?

All websites have a homepage. It is the most important page of your site. It acts as the main gateway to the entire site. Most of your prospective customers will enter through it. Its vital to get it right. You dont want them to just turn around and go away again.

Take a moment to clear your mind. Now go and look at your homepage and take a minute to evaluate it. Does it work for your prospective customers?

Most will arrive at your homepage and quickly scan through the content. If they are interested in what they read and see they'll typically decide to click on a link that takes them to another page where they'll find more information. As they make that decision they'll be asking things like:

What do they do?

Do they look professional?

Whats in it for me?

Do i have the problem they describe?

Are they talking directly to me?

How can i get it?

Alternatively, if the homepage hasnt interested them immediately then they'll leave just as quickly as they arrived, unlikely to return.

Your homepage is the gateway to your website and plays a critical part in the prospects visit. First impressions count. The success of your site depends on your homepage. Now, before we look at what a homepage should be, lets look at what it shouldnt be.

It should not be a false homepage requiring you to click a link to get to the real homepage. It shouldnt be a page that fails to direct the prospect to further action. It shouldnt contain any content that doesnt serve an immediate and clear purpose. It should never read like a dull brochure, that does nothing to motivate prospects to seek more information or buy immediately.

What a homepage should be. It should have a clear message. It should be a dynamic page that instantly conveys a sense of what you do, how you do it, who you are, how you do business, etc. It should start to describe the direct benefits that prospective customers get by buying your product or service. It should create prospect interest and make them eager to find out more. It should provide direction and clearly marked links to get them there. It should focus entirely on serving the needs of your prospective customers and removing their anxieties.

The purpose of your website is to sell your products and services to your prospects. To be effective your homepage must meet the needs of your prospects exactly and provide answers to their questions. To do this you must know what your prospects want and how they want it. If you dont already know, find out. Ask them!

Also, spend some time looking at other homepages learning what works and what doesnt. Are there features and styles that you could adopt on your site?

Once you have these answers design your entire homepage around them. Spend some time getting it right and both you and your prospects will benefit. Dont settle for second best unless you want your website to fail as a result of being ineffective.

When you've done it. Take a moment to clear your mind. Now go and look at your homepage once again and take a minute to re-evaluate it. Does it work for your prospective customers now?

Good luck!

Author, Peter Simmons, is editor of the DYNAMIQ EZINE. GET MAXIMUM RESULTS FROM YOUR WEBSITE! Increase your traffic, prospect conversions, sales, profits, referrals and more... START GETTING RESULTS RIGHT NOW with your $129 WEBSITE EVALUATION ABSOLUTELY FREE at or email me anytime at

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Merchant Account Serenade

Choosing An Internet Merchant Account

Surf to Google and perform a search on "Internet Merchant Account". The results are staggering (472,000 results!) If you have created a web based business and need to accept credit card payments, your choices are limitless. Before you partner with a provider, take time to understand the different components of internet credit card processing, and know what to look for in a merchant provider.

How It Works

Accepting credit card payments through your web site actually requires multiple components. Between a paying customer and your bank account, three layers exist:

Payment Gateway - This is the code that will transmit a customer's order to and from an internet merchant account provider. The payment gateway provides you the ability to accept customer billing information (credit card number, credit card type, expiration date, and payment amount) and the necessary validation steps that must be followed before the credit card is actually billed.

Internet Merchant Account - A Merchant Account is an account with a financial institution or bank, which enables you to accept credit card payments from your clients. The payment gateway actually transmits the billing information to the internet merchant account provider. Unfortunately, most local banks do not provide internet merchant account capability.

The main reason why most local financial institutions or banks do not want to provide online merchant accounts is because transactions conducted over the Internet are totally different from face to face transactions where a signature is required to authorize the purchase. This makes online transactions prone to credit card fraud. Fraud protection should be one of your primary considerations when choosing an internet merchant account provider.

Web Site - Regardless of which merchant provider and gateway service you choose, your web site will need to integrate with your service providers. Most providers include detailed web integration instructions.

How Much Does It Cost

Understanding the total costs of your merchant provider can be tricky. Remember my Google example - there are more merchant account providers than there are people looking for internet merchant accounts so ask questions and be picky! Typically, an internet merchant account will have three types of costs:

  • Up Front Application Fees
  • On Going Fixed Fee
  • Discount Rate
  • Fixed Transaction Fee
  • Termination Fees
  • Miscellaneous Fees

Let us discuss each type of cost:

Up Front Application Fees

Many internet merchant accounts will require an up front application fee. This fee, supposedly, is to cover their costs for processing your application. In case you choose not to open an internet merchant account, they still cover their initial costs. Although common, many providers waive these fees and I recommend that you choose a provider that does not require an up front fee.

On Going Fixed Fee

Most all internet merchant providers require a monthly fixed fee or "statement fee" as it is commonly named, which is simply another way to cover their costs and make money. You will be hard pressed to find a provider that does not require this type of fee on a monthly basis. However, do not choose an internet merchant account that requires more than $10 per month. Additionally, most internet merchant providers require a monthly minimum (usually $25). The bottom line is that you will be paying at least $25 per month (on top of the monthly statement fee) for your account.

Discount Rate

Usually, the discount rate will be between 2 and 4 percent. The discount rate is the sales commission the provider earns on each sale. For example, if the discount rate offered is 3%, and you receive a sale over your web site for $20, you will owe 60 cents to your internet merchant provider.

Fixed Transaction Fee

Usually between $0.20 and $0.30, the fixed transaction fee is the fixed fee portion of each sale. Unlike the discount rate, the fixed transaction fee is the same for every transaction. Whether you get a $1 sale or a $100 sale, the transaction fee will be the same.

Termination Fee

A bit more hidden in the small print, a termination fee can apply if you cancel your merchant account within a specified period of time (usually within one year). But beware, some merchant providers require a three year commitment!

Miscellaneous Fees

If a customer requests a refund and they want their credit card credited, an internet merchant provider will charge you a separate fee (usually between $10 - $20). Read the contract carefully, as other special fees may apply.

Putting It All Together

Now that the different fees have been explained, let us look at an example set of transactions to help understand what an internet merchant account may cost your business on a monthly basis.

I have created a simple formula to help you calculate your monthly charges:

Total Charges = Statement Fee + Number of Transactions x (Average Sale x Discount Rate + Fixed Transaction Fee) + (Number of Chargebacks x Chargeback Fee)

For example, let us see you sell widgets over the internet. The sales price for each widget is $10. You typically have 100 sales per month and about 5 people request refunds (chargebacks). For this example, let us assume you have signed up with Jones&Jones internet merchant account services and have the following terms:

Discount Rate - %2.5

Statement Fee - $10

Fixed Transaction Fee - $0.30

Chargeback Fee - $15

Using my formula above, your monthly Jones&Jones charges will be:

Total Charges = 10 + 100 x (10 x .025 + 0.3) + (5 x 15) = $140

You can calculate your monthly sales revenue by multiplying your sales volume by your price:

Monthly Sales Revenue = 100 x $10 = $1000

Your internet merchant provider is costing you %14 or your total sales.

Making Your Decision

Before you choose and internet merchant provider, understand all of the cost components. Use your current or projected sales data to forecast what your internet merchant account costs will be. Planning ahead can save you time and money.

Author, Andy Quick, is co-founder of (, a free web hosting directory offering businesses and consumers a hassle free way to find the right hosting plan for their needs. Feel free to contact Andy at in case you have any questions or comments regarding this article.

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Online Branding Verse


Branding On The Web Is Like Mining For Fools Gold

I am sick and tired of marketing geeks touting the beauty of branding, brand building and just spouting branding in any context, especially when the term is used with "internet" or "web" or "digital!" You can't have a conversation today for more than five minutes without some marketing type throwing in a line about brand building!

Branding doesn't work with the net's warp speed - look at some of the leading online brand builders, including a certain big three TV network here in the states and a book seller in Seattle trying to do classic brand extension, from books to barbecues.

We tell our B2B clients to build a revenue-producing online brand by developing a campaign that sells the value of their goods or services! Forget the esoteric, very expensive brand building campaigns that have no measurable impact! Here are my ten "cliff notes" to building an effective B2B Brand Online, B2C coming next article.

1. Do a careful Competitive Web Analysis of your competitors - you can't build a unique brand without knowing the lay of the digital and real-world land! The beauty of the web is that it is a 247/365 resource for analysis and you can find out quite a lot from your competitor's web sites. We've created a comprehensive matrix of 75-200 items to assess when preparing a competitive analysis report for a client.

2. Identify your target audience early on as everything flows from this. You can't conceptualize your creative, graphical imagery, content or what type of online media you want to deploy until you know the size and characteristics of your target audience.

3. Think revenue producing branding - this translates to marketing campaigns that deliver sales (the goal of all good marketing campaigns) by customer acquisition. Meaning, develop messages that speak to your audience. B2B customers typically want referenceable data that addresses their needs. "Our xyz services help you leverage your IT resources by…." Think providing tactical information to enhance their decision-making!

4. If your early to market or just plain old early stage then you may want to develop some branding with other complementary partners who have established names (brands) in your market segment. This can include joint announcements, co-branded pages; direct marketing or opt-in e-mail pieces, etc. Here's an example of a co-branded page we did for an existing client, PolyServe, Inc.

5 .Make sure you PR agency and Interactive or Traditional Agency are all in concert when it comes to building a branding campaign. Your various messages and processes should be mutually reinforcing.

6. Select an Interactive or Traditional Agency that understands your unique B2B needs. Consumer branding is much different than B2B Customer Acquisition Branding. By "understand" I mean ask them about the types of campaigns they've set up for previous clients, what types of media they've used, do they know how to develop creative that speaks to a potential B2B client - I love the "do the Dew" campaign, but this isn't the type of branding you would want to deploy for an IT Manager who is contemplating a purchase of your software.

7. How do you measure effective branding on the web? I am not sure if I have any answer or if I have unlimited answers - this is such a difficult marketing characteristic to measure. But, again, be "customer-centric" - ask people who purchase your software or services what they think. Why did you purchase (or why not if you can), did our marketing address your needs, was it meaningful and informative?

8. Think digital shelf life when branding on the web - you have to build messages and content that will only last for a finite amount of time. You have to continually refresh your branding and positioning by developing new content for a web site, opt-in e-mail or banner advertising campaign.

9. Incorporate your offline branding (creative, content, graphics, etc.) into your online branding when/where you can. So your customer has a sense of continuity when they review all of your marketing and communications processes. This also sends a signal to them that you have carefully thought through your overall campaign.

10. Last but not least - build net speed into your overall campaign. I've said it before in many articles, but always essential to underscore; better to be quick to market with something that may need slight calibration later on that to delay a facet of a campaign of the entire campaign to get everything perfect! Revenue is the engine that makes a B2B Branding campaign work and you can't drive sales unless you are putting your branding message out there in front of your potential customers!

Author, Lee Traupel, has 20 plus years of business development and marketing experience - he is the founder of Intelective Communications, Inc.,, a results-driven marketing services company providing proprietary services to clients encompassing startups to public companies.

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Successful Affiliate Opus

Overcoming the Five Obstacles to Affiliate Success

Nearly every mass marketable product or service available online sports an Affiliate Program or MLM matrix to encourage small business people to sell those products or services to others.

For beginners in the online marketplace and even some pro's, these programs offer the best opportunity for earning substantial incomes to their participants.

Yet, despite the promise of Affiliate Programs and MLM's for making money online, fewer than 5% of all participants will ever be successful with them! Only one out of a hundred will ever earn more than $1000 per month from the programs!

There are several factors contributing to these dismal numbers:

  • Failure to try
  • Failure to learn
  • Building sales without any concern about building a network
  • Building a network without any concern for sales
  • Failure to duplicate


Many people will argue this point. They argue that they tried and the program failed them. Yet, if you were to persist in your queries, most people's idea of trying is throwing a banner on their website or running one or two untested ads. Folks, that just does not cut it!

Being successful in an Affiliate Program, MLM program or anything else be it online or offline requires much more than a half-hearted, short-lived attempt at promoting a program.


Whatever endeavor is undertaken, success comes with knowledge. College is good at teaching folks the basics of hundreds of professions. Folks understand that in order to be a CPA, an attorney, a chemist, an engineer or any of a number of professions, they must learn a great deal of knowledge before they will be successful in the field.

Yet, the same people will come online and believe they can turn on the computer and already know everything there is to know about running a successful online business.

To be successful as an online marketer, it helps to at least become acquainted with web design, graphics design, copy writing, marketing research, promotion, advertising, customer service and many other areas. It also helps to know about areas specific to the Internet such as search engine optimization, web traffic patterns, direct email marketing, and networking with others.

As an online marketer, you should either have knowledge of these various disciplines or be prepared to hire on people who already possess these skills. Unless you have very deep pockets, you should be prepared to learn a few of these skills for yourself.


The largest advantage of the Affiliate Program or MLM program is the ability to grow a network of affiliates underneath of you.

While you are able to sell a certain amount of products or services to the consumer, a team of people who can sell just as many products or services as you can, will add to your full income potential. Due to the nature of the Affiliate Program and the MLM program, you will earn a small percentage from the sales of all of the people in your network of sellers.

As an affiliate without a network, your potential earnings are limited by the number of products and services you can sell by yourself.

With the average Affiliate Program or MLM, the first tier of your network will generally net you a 10% to 20% cut of all of the products and services your first tier people sell. With only five sellers underneath of you on your first tier, you are at the minimum capable of doubling your monthly income.


The most devastating cause for failure is building a network of people whose sole focus is building a network of affiliates!

Folks, no matter the size of your network, be advised. No income can be earned until someone sells a product or service!

What good is a network of thousand marketers whose only concern is building a network and not selling the products and services which are required to earn commissions?

A thousand affiliates with no sales adds up to a whopping zero dollar check for you!


The most important person in your network is YOU!

You begin by making an honest effort. You follow-up by building your knowledge base, continuing to learn always. You then focus on actually selling products and services. Always in the back of your mind, you are looking ahead to the day when you will begin building your network of affiliates.

The important thing to remember is that your network is always a mirror image of YOU and YOUR EFFORTS.

Duplication is the process of actually teaching someone else to do exactly as you do. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you are doing everything right, then those who look to you for guidance and leadership will be making a sincere effort, learning, selling products and services, then building their network, and leading their people to success, just as you are.

It is up to you and you alone to avoid the common pitfalls in Affiliate Programs and MLM's. It is up to you to do what it takes to succeed in making money online. It is up to you to develop the skills necessary for success and to lead your team by example.

Keep things simple and manageable. Focus your attention to doing what it takes to be successful in whatever program you take on. Then find five good people to lead in the development of their online business and truly DUPLICATE YOURSELF with each of these five people.

You have what it takes to join the 5% who are successful with Affiliate Programs and MLM programs. It is now time to get to work and make your dreams of online marketing success a reality.

Author, Bill Platt, is co-owner of Double Eagle Business Center (DEBC). By providing an honest and well thought out MLM Opportunity, DEBC meets all the legal requirements for an online MLM plus offers products and services which can support any online business, along with an innovative and a generous commission structure for Affiliates.,52.

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E-commerce Wrong Ode


The Five Most Commonly Encountered, Off-putting E-commerce Errors

While getting less public handwringing than during holiday season, the "abandoned shopping cart problem" continues to wreak havoc on online sales. Recently I judged a raftload of sites for the Webby Awards (my second time) and for the Inc. magazine Web Awards, as well as for my own clients. Here are the five irritants and obstacles that most frequently disrupt the visitor's shopping experience at e-commerce sites.

  • Lack of quick orientation for first-time visitors. What does the site sell? I've had to poke around for several minutes sometimes to understand the focus of a site. Jargon is one culprit. Another is lack of context, like an airline site that sells tickets not giving a single clue on the home page in what countries or even what continent it flies.
  • Explanations that don't explain. What does the product do and not do? Another basic, but it happens often that a site doesn't explain whether their "Turbocharge VT27-Plus" is a one-time download, a subscription, a Web-based service or something else. An alternative payment system's site failed to offer a clear, systematic description of how it works.
  • Missing prices and shipping charges. How much? You shouldn't have to put something into a shopping cart or enter your credit card information to learn how much an item costs, including shipping. Unfortunately, you still find this mistake at sites that have had plenty of time to get their act together.
  • Unreadable text. Say what? Creativity gone haywire seems to be the hallmark of some Web designers. Orange letters on a blue background, olive green on black, light gray on white and blue on blue were combinations that sent me packing, as did lettering too small for over-40 eyes.
  • Inconsistencies. Huh? One site says, "To sign up, click on the Sign Up link at the top of every page." But the site does not have any "Sign Up" link, only "Sign In." Such carelessness wastes the time of earnest shoppers and gets them frustrated and fed up, never to return.

Blunders are equally rampant at well-funded corporate sites and those from home-based businesses. The good news is that many of the errors are extremely easy and inexpensive to fix.

Written by marketing guru Marcia Yudkin, author of Poor Richard's Web Site Marketing Makeover: Improve Your Message and Turn Visitors into Buyers, from Top Floor Publishing ( and numerous other books on marketing. She began offering Web site reviews for $40 (

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Online Business Poem

Guarantee For Success

If you're trying to get a new online business started, and you don't have a clearly stated guarantee policy, I can GUARANTEE you that a year from now, you'll still be trying to get your business OFF THE GROUND, unless you've gotten discouraged and given up!

Even in the traditional brick and mortar world of off-line sales, people need to touch and see a product before they have enough confidence to buy. That's why stores like Sears and JC Penny do so much more walk-in business than catalog sales. In an online business, this consumer apprehension is intensified by not having a physical store, or in many cases even a phone number to turn to if a product doesn't meet expectations.

Add to that the common fear many consumers have about credit card transactions in cyberspace, and it's not hard to see that you need to put your prospective customers at ease if they're to become buyers.

How can you make your customers feel that doing business with you is not a risky proposition? The answer is incredibly simple...offer a money back guarantee!

Let's take a look at the up-side of offering a guarantee. First, it provides a statement of personal confidence in your product. To be blunt, if you lack confidence in your product - you shouldn't be selling it anyway!

The same is true even if you're marketing someone else's product for a commission, or an affiliate program for a multi-level marketing sales program. If the parent company doesn't eliminate risk by offering to refund fees within a clearly stated time frame, find a different program to market. You'll be amazed how much easier it will be to sign up new affiliates if you eliminate the risk.

More on the up-side - A solid guarantee policy gives your enterprise a clear image of professionalism. After all, only a legitimate business would offer to give dissatisfied customers their money back, right?

There are so many entrepreneurial start-ups on the Net today, that many opportunity seekers are skeptical of any program giving the appearance of being a small home business. The assumption is: "They're no bigger than I am, and may not be in business next month, so why risk my money with them?"

Offering a money back guarantee dispels the small entrepreneurial image, and alleviates skepticism more than you can imagine.

Now let's take a look at the downside. If you offer a money- back guarantee, you'll be deluged with refund requests, right?

This is only true if you're selling something that is not as you describe it in your sales literature. If you've done an accurate job of explaining the features of your product to the customer before they make their purchase, there won't be any surprises that will trigger their refund reflex. In other words, give them what they paid you, and they'll be unlikely to complain about it.

Overall, the percentage of buyers asking for refunds from reputable online businesses is very low. A 10% return rate would be surprisingly high, and you would want to take a hard look at either your sales material, or your products themselves, to try to determine what was causing the dissatisfaction. Be sure you're not promising something you aren't delivering.

Of course, from time to time, you will probably get a refund request, people being generally a fickle breed. What to do? Process it immediately - no questions asked! Make it as painless for your customers to get a refund as you do for them to make a purchase. Stand behind your guarantee policy. Flaunt it - cheerfully take care of dissatisfied customers. Make it a pleasant experience, then request a testimonial about your guarantee policy...turn it into a positive part of your marketing literature.

Don't be concerned with losses; they'll be minimal. If you're shipping hard goods, of course, wait until the customer returns the product before you process the refund. However, if you're selling downloadable software or website access, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that you experienced a measurable financial loss even if a customer dishonestly didn't destroy the software they downloaded. With a website membership, of course, you should deactivate their password, but whatever you do, don't let pettiness or greed cloud your judgment and delay prompt processing of refund requests.

You should try to seek out comments from dissatisfied customers as to the nature of their complaint, so that you can take any action necessary to improve your product, but don't make this a condition of the refund. Send the refund notification in an e-mail, and then close by politely requesting comments as to where your product failed them.

A word of caution...DO NOT make your guarantee policy complex or vague...the cleaner and simpler, the better. Best is: "If you are dissatisfied with your purchase for any reason, we offer a 100% money-back, no questions asked, refund of your purchase price." It is acceptable to set a time limit if you must, but make it reasonable. If it will take them a month to use and honestly evaluate your program, don't limit the guarantee to a week.

Vague, unclear guarantees will place you under a blanket of suspicion, and will do more harm than good to your sales efforts. Leave the conditions out...simply accept ANY REASON, or even NO REASON, for customer dissatisfaction.

Don't nitpick in your policy. Even if your credit card processing company doesn't refund the service fee to your account, give the customer 100% of their money back. Losing a few dollars on a refund is far less costly than losing hundreds of sales with a convoluted refund policy.

The boosted sales that a liberal guarantee policy will give you far outweigh any minimal losses you might incur from processing infrequent refund requests.

There is simply no better way to increase sales than to make doing business with you a completely risk-free proposal for your customers. A guarantee is essential to a sound business plan.

Written by Bob McGrath, author of the acclaimed new eBook: 'Don't Quit Your Day Job...YET!' He is also the Founder of Web Home Jobs, a unique home based self-employment opportunity at:

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Costume Players Serenade

Have You Heard About...Cosplay?

The word "cosplay" is actually a blending of the words "costume" and "play". Cosplayers are called this because not only do they dress up like their favorite characters, but they also act out skits and pose for pictures as the characters - just like actors in a play.

Most cosplayers dress up for conventions, where they can participate in on-stage skits and costume contests. They mingle with other like-minded people who will often recognize their character on sight. Many web sites post galleries of pictures of cosplayers they spot at conventions, and some people even have stores where you can purchase a costume if you don?t feel like making your own.

Cosplayers gather from all over the world to attend conventions. Some practice speaking like the character and stay in character during the entire convention, especially while having photos taken. Others simply enjoy wearing the same outfit as their favorite character and don?t act any different than normal.

Occasionally cosplayers will pose for gag pictures in which they are doing something the actual character would never do. An example would be an extremely violent character suddenly hugging everyone and doing the peace sign at the camera with no weapons in sight.

In fact, some cosplayers? entire costumes are parodies! They will dress up as a made-up character that is obviously parodying the outfit of an existing one (example: Sailor Meatball Head.) Sometimes they dress up as an inanimate object - like a box of Glico's much-loved snack food, Pocky.

These cosplay parodies are funny to see and infinitely more amusing if you?ve seen the show or read the book that features the things they're making fun of.

Those who cosplay seriously often make their entire costume from scratch. This means sewing their costume - creating such items as swords and bejeweled shoulderpads. Depending on the character, they might even make prosthetic limbs! Any cat-girl cosplayer can tell you that having a well-made set of cat ears and a tail can really make the costume.

Others wear wings for angelic or demonic characters, apply makeup for characters who have unique complexions (like the indigo blue or obsidian black drows) and wear false fangs or long fingernails to emulate a character?s exact look. Many wear wigs, but some determined cosplayers even grow their hair out or cut it short and color it to match their cosplay character.

Cosplayers dress up solo or with friends and family, and sometimes they form cosplay groups. These groups all dress up as characters from one particular story, so that when they attend a convention it will look like the whole cast of the show or book is present! It's much more fun to act like a character if you have another character from the same story to act with.

Many cosplay groups do skits, as they have the whole story's cast at their disposal. Cosplay groups generally know each other in person, but I?ve found a few on the internet who only meet up to cosplay at conventions and don't live anywhere near each other in their everyday lives.

Cosplayers come in all shapes, sizes, races and ages. There is no age limit for cosplay and often adult cosplayers will bring their children along dressed up as characters too! Some couples cosplay as characters who are in love with each other. Some couples, if not for cosplay, would never have met each other!

Cosplaying is a hobby. As with most hobbies, it can get expensive and time-consuming. But any cosplayer who has had the pride and enjoyment of wearing the costume they created themselves and being recognized by other fans as that character can tell you that it's worth it.

If you are interested in learning more about cosplay, or would like to see pictures of cosplayers in their various costumes, try visiting these great cosplay sites! -- -- American Cosplay Paradise -- Lord of the Rings Costume -- Ushicon

Author, Mallory York, has been drawing since before she knew how to date a picture, and has been creating anime art for four years. Among her favorite anime series are Fushigi Yuugi, Gundam Wing, and The Slayers. You can read some of her fanfic at and view more of her artwork at HTTP://WWW.L7S.NET and also at HTTP://WWW.ELFWOOD.COM.

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Jazz Verse

Jazz Yatra

Jazz is arguably the most argumentative form of music (even has diminished and argumented chords). So at the outset let me present my side of the argument. Jazz is musical improvisation, right? Indian classical music is improvisation, still right? Granted Indian music does not have the harmonies of the west. But the keyword here is improvisation and not harmony, absolutely right? Indian classical music has been around for more than two thousand years. The Americans discovered Jazz less than a hundred years ago. Right then, now that we have established India as the birth place of Jazz lets head for the Indian Jazz Yatra.

Surfacing on day one are the cats (kangaroos?) from down under. Jamie Oehlers Quintet and the Perth Jazz Orchestra. Jamie opens. Good band. Great Jazz. Jamie and the boys are jammin’ alright. On to act two which is...ahem, an extended remix of act one. Jamie and the boys brought their buddies along to form the Perth Jazz Orchestra! It’s always a thrill hearing the powerful and dynamic sounds of a big band. Reminds me about what teamwork is all about. Each and every member looked really happy to be a small part of the big picture. Standing out and upfront with the big band was vocalist Mark Underwood with a rich and velvety voice that reached out and caressed the audience. Very enjoyable evening. Good start for Jazz Yatra. Met up with lots of old and new friends all sharing a common love for music being created live. Day one was the Aussies night out. Pity we didn’t get to hear their musical instrument called didgeridoo or didgerididnt or something.

Day two features Jazz Yatra’s trump card. Trumpet player Dave Douglas from the U.S. of A. Voted as worlds best trumpet player by readers of Downbeat magazine and Archie comics. Satya led by Dave settles down on stage, I mean sits down on stage. Just then heaven walks past me in her tiniest black number. Tosses her tresses and glances in my direction. Music begins. Band hasn’t begun. Chaos. Band begins. Wrench myself back to earth. Satya’s seated in a neat semi circle. Myra cross legged on harmonium. Dave cross eyed on trumpet. Samir and Sanghamitra cross country on tabla and tanpura respectively. Dave looks like a snake charmer about to charm a snake right out of Samirs tabla. Band’s playing. Music flows. Sounds charming indeed. I notice a lot of snakes in the audience slowly rise and slither towards the canteen hip flasks in hand. Crowd’s getting restless, collective murmurs, customary grunts and some oinks of disapproval about the raags being given to us by Satya...nass. Rang Bhavan is under threat of being converted into a huge open air Just not Jazz by the bay! Mr. Compere comes up and requests the crowds to stop disturbing the performers. I’m tempted to yell back, 'the performers are disturbing us'. The trumpet player may be hot but it’s the batatawadas (hot, spicy Indian snack) that are smokin’ right now. So I get up and head for the snakes, I mean snacks, at the canteen located next to the loo! And I’m not talking about the loo as in the Louies wife. Okay I’m back. I don’t quit so easily. And guess what? Half the band is joined by three other musicians to form Myra Melfords 'Same River Twice'! I’m slowly beginning to understand the mathematics of music. Things are getting interesting at Jazz Yatra. The river flows. This band is wild. Making avant garde efforts to push back the boundaries of Jazz. Pianist Myra’s brilliant and definitely an inspiring band leader. Dave is beginning to sound like he has earned his votes. The Jap chap playing bass seems to be getting more out of his headless and fretless bass.

Day three opens with Harsha Makalande on solo 'Hamburg Steinway piano tuned by Mr. Mistry' as Mr. Compere kept announcing a little more often than the necessary sponsor plug. Anyway, Harsha sounds like he is rehearsing for his next big solo performance. He probably feels that way too since there’s just a handful of Jazz enthusiasts present in their respective seats at 7.00 PM sharp. Then came the Vijay Iyer Quartet. Now here is a brilliant group of musicians, each a virtuoso in his own right, with strings of academical achievement behind their music. I could almost smell the textbooks from where it all came. This is great Jazz. The musicians on stage are incredibly tuned into each other. They have obviously been playing together for a long time or may be they can read each others minds or perhaps they read each others textbooks. Then again, it could just be the simple fact that they wear each others T-Shirts. Great performance. Good show. Brilliant musicianship. But for some reason the quartet doesn’t really make me want to stand on my chair and yell 'yebdiyow'. At one point though, in the middle of the bass solo I did feel like getting up and waltzing into heaven seated just two rows ahead. Unfortunately the tune was in five and a half time. This would certainly complicate things in the ballroom department of dance. Whats next ? Oh yes. Its Malcolm Mc’Neil, from New Zealand and you better believe this, he is being backed by Jamie and the Jammers from day one. Now Mally looked a little bewildered on stage. He was probably wondering what the heck is he doing on stage at an international Jazz festival when he should have been safely tucked into a cosy nightclub at some swanky five star hotel in New Zealand. He did put up a spirited performance however, and considering he found out who his back up band was only the night before showtime, he did exceptionally well. In fact I even overheard a couple of women expressing their intense desire to hug him as he sang, 'have I told you lately'.

Time for the grand finale featuring petite Louisa Cottifogli backed by the Louis Banks trio and act two featuring the big surprise, world renowned clarinet player Eddie Daniels and wife Mirabai who seems to be on her way to nirvana via the Indian Yatra. You’ve guessed right, the couples going to be backed by the Louis Banks trio. I guess India has yet to produce another rhythm section as awesome as Louis Banks, Karl Peters and Ranjit Barot. Little Louisa kicks off the grand finale with 'Vande Mataram'. Great. This little Italian has really got us Indians by the balls. Then she proceeds to twist them around miming vocalists from different parts of the world. I almost forgot what an Italian singer sounds like. Now comes the sucker punch, she goes and does a Dave Douglas on us (she starts miming a trumpet). And finally virtuoso clarinet player Eddie Daniels takes the stage with the tireless trio. Scorching solos. Dazzling display of musicianship and improvisational skills. Wifey joins the party. And promptly starts cookin’. Reminds me of our own version of an American Jazz singer, the ageless Pam Crain. A few exciting tunes down the show, differences seemed to creep in onstage. Differences probably musical, financial, political or some other ill seemed to crop up in broad spotlight. Differences at Jazz by the bay is war. Differences at an international platform like the Jazz Yatra is world war. And so finally the curtains came down on the world war, sorry, Jazz Yatra. The bottom line is, the boys at Jazz India did make it happen against all odds. Even if the batatawadas and babes were far more happening than the bands.

Author, Colin D'Cruz, is a jazz bassplayer currently based in India. Review some of his bands at

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Asian Dating Opus

Does Age Matter?

In the Asian online dating world it is not uncommon for a older gentlemen to marry a younger lady. If you ask why this is the case, you’ll get a varied amount of comments. The negative reasons usually have to do with an Asian lady wanting an older gentlemen for financial reasons. I have had some tell me that this not a negative reason, but what stems from this argument are a variety of unpleasant comments. For example, “gold diggers” “mail order bride,” etc.

In other articles I have written I agreed with the assessment that Filipina ladies want to improve their living status by stating that most ladies want to improve their status financially, no matter the culture. So this argument smells of hyprocacy.

Let’s get back to some of the more positive reasons. Most of the following comments are from me asking other Filipina ladies this question: “Why do you like older men?” or I may of asked: “Does age matter?”

Several ladies told me a younger guy is not settled. They are looking for someone who is serious and they seem to believe an older man is more serious about marriage. They did state that a younger guy may not have the financial means to come to their country to visit them and maintain a courtship. When pressed why they thought this, most simply stated “who would have a better job, a 20 year old guy or a 40 year old guy.” I didn’t get into the possibilities of a younger man having a good job with the ladies, but for the record, this seems to be the belief system of Asian women.

This tells me that these ladies weigh the criteria. They take getting in a long distance relationship seriously and don’t want to risk being involved with someone who doesn’t have the staying power needed to be involved in a long distance courtship. In some cases, these ladies had already experienced a relationship with a younger man and after six months was abandon. Getting your heart broken is no fun and most Asian ladies believe a younger man is more likely to do just that. To these ladies it doesn’t make sense to get involved with someone that may not be able to afford to fly to their country to meet them (this is one of the INS criteria for the K-1 process). These ladies realize this requirement and put more emphasis on this criteria then lets say a lady living in the states would.

All this talk about young versus old, led me to question the ladies motives. I simply asked, “if age is a factor in a man’s ability to see a courtship through to marriage, is this your biggest reason to marry?”. That’s when the subject of love came up. Most Asian ladies still want to be attracted to a gentlemen, but what attracts them versus what attracts an American lady seem to differ. Behavior is a big attraction. Most Asian ladies say if a man acts like a gentlemen, in time they find him very attractive and fall in love. Asian ladies don’t put as much emphasis on first looks or impressions. They are more open to courtship until they get to know your character .

This discussion about behavior, courtship, etc. led us back to the discussion of a man’s age. Again, most ladies believe an older gentlemen have rid themselves of his wild oats. They believe older men have learned how to treat a lady like a lady. They believe a younger male isn’t as patient and is more likely to have a wondering eye or worse, a wondering sexual drive.

After many conversations and emails, I can put this discussion about age in perspective. Age is a factor only because of an Asian ladies belief system. However, other criteria does weigh in. In this case, I can use my marriage to Liza (my Filipina Lady) as an example. Liza was courted by several gentlemen. I was far from the richest or best looking. However, I did have a stable job and could afford to be in a long distant relationship (I saved my $). Some of the gentlemen who had more money then I, actually turn Liza off. Even though she wanted to meet a gentlemen who could afford to be in such a relationship, she was not going to be bought. Any gentlemen who tried to shower her with fancy talk about his wealth was crossed off her list. I was much more humble and polite. That generated feelings which led us down the path to matrimony. There is no doubt if I couldn’t of afford to follow through with the courtship, Liza would of had no choice but to find someone else.

My example is typical. These ladies are not looking for wealth, but stability. They are not looking for a young stud, but a man who will treat her with respect, a man who wants to get married and will stay the course through thick and thin. Asian ladies just happen to believe that most older men fit this criteria. All I got to say to the older guys is count your lucky stars. For you younger guys you need to show the lady you are the exception to their belief system. Don’t try to buy them. Show them you care, you are serious about courting them, and that you have the will and maturity to make dreams come true.

Author, Steve Eyes, is a webmaster for FilipinaEyes Association and gains his insight from his online dating experience and helping others find love on one of his online dating web sites:,,,

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Camping Ode

Camping in Lead King Basin

The first Summer that I lived in Colorado provided me with an opportunity to spend six weeks camping in the western Rocky Mountains, during June and July. In preparation for a summer in the outdoors, I acquired an eleven-year-old1985 Dodge Ramcharger, a model famous for its 4x4 capability and ruggedness. Just the thing for negotiating the wilds of the West Elk Mountains. I cruised south from Glenwood Springs, turned short of the road to Aspen, and passed the beehive coke ovens of Redstone to the town of Marble. In some ways, Marble is a modern ghost town, with dirt roads and weather-beaten cabins, but as it hosts a Post Office and fire department, it retains its "living" status. True to its name, the local quarries provided some of the highest quality stone for monuments in Washington.

Pavement rapidly disappeared as I headed up the steep, one-lane road from Marble. I passed the U.S. Forest Service road sign that advised "4WD Only Beyond This Point" and my pulse quickened. I took the right fork and jounced slowly over twin ruts, the former road to an actual ghost town located some miles from Marble. As I rounded a bend blasted through granite, just wide enough to accommodate a horse-drawn wagon, I braked suddenly and gasped. The road in front dropped off into a steep pile of rubble that clung to the side of a mountain, high above the roaring Crystal River. Even the twin ruts degenerated into a jagged surface of jumbled boulders and cobbles. At the base of the steep bank of talus, off the road, a dented, burned-out Chevy pickup rested in the weeds, a derelict from a previous adventure in decades gone by. I shifted into 4-Low and dropped the automatic transmission into "1", such a low gear that even at engine idle the Ramcharger jerked forward and crawled to the tune of rhythmically whining gears. Two feet from the edge of the road’s drop-off, and mindful of the Chevy’s fate, I began the bouncing, swaying descent. Momentarily, the speedometer needle rose slightly from where it bottomed out at 5 mph, and it gently tapped the brakes. Too fast, perhaps 3 mph was more suitable. I crept down the ancient road, imagining how teamsters had once negotiated wagons over this treacherous track.

At last I reached the bottom, where the road was pot-holed and covered with dirt, presumably settled-out flood sediment from the roaring Crystal River, whose whitecaps danced at a level only slightly lower than the road. After some time, I ascended a rise and came opposite a weather-beaten, yet picturesque mill perched high upon a jutting promontory of granite above the river. Giant wooden beams, shed from the structure after a punishing winter, whirled in the vortex at the base of the millrace, smashed to splinters as the thundering current relentlessly pounded them into the unyielding granite. Beyond, the town of Crystal crouched alongside the road. Through town, the road had completely degenerated into a rutted, rocky, jouncing misery even at 5 mph. Rugged log cabin-type structures lined the street, constructed of rough-hewn square timbers notched together, boarded up and nailed shut. Aha, but I saw that this wasn’t strictly a ghost town! The last house on the edge of town had a somewhat cared-for appearance, with a circa 1974 Ford pickup parked in front that prominently displayed a bumper sticker that advised "51% Nice Guy, 49% SOB. Don’t Push It." No problem there, I’m just passing through.

As I continued out of town, the lush, green valley of Lead King Basin was sprawled out before me. I had broken out of the woods along the river bottom, and thick green grass sprinkled with yellow, blue, and white flowers swayed in the mountain breezes. All around, majestic, snow-capped granite peaks rose toward the sky, and the steep, jagged cliffs of the distinctively colored Maroon Sandstone jutted into the air. This is the same rock formation made famous in Colorado postcards of the Maroon Bells. I climbed the narrow jeep trail, carefully driving over a series of berms that, from the look of the surrounding prospect pits, had been piled up by a bulldozer to keep out the casual gawkers when prospecting had been more lucrative. I took a sharp left, and had to gun the engine to climb the steep, one-lane trail that ended at the boundary of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. What a gorgeous sight, as the classic U-shaped glacial valley spread out before me. The daily afternoon rainshower had begun, and so I elected to remain in the shelter of the Ramcharger’s backseat for the night. The giant windows afforded a spectacular view of the surroundings, and I gasped in awe as lightning bolts crackled from the snow-capped, granite peaks across the valley at my very eye level.

The rain gradually diminished and ceased by mid-morning, and it was time to continue on my way. I rolled out of my parking spot, back onto the shallow, twin ruts that would lead me the short way back to the main jeep road. Suddenly, apprehension gripped me as I noted that the ruts, so easily climbed the night before, had a pronounced tilt from my present approach. I had been proceeding at a relatively sedate 15 mph, but apprehension turned to panic as I felt the Ramcharger begin to slide sideways as gravity tied to pull it down the deceptively shallow, but increasingly steep slope into a shallow gully. For a split second I considered making a controlled, soft landing, but quickly realized that by the time I slid to the bottom of the shallow gully, the truck would be on its side with no hope of recovery. As an automatic reaction to avoid danger, I stepped on the brake and was horrified to feel the truck speed up as the tires broke loose on the wet grass and greasy mud. I could hear the slithering slap of wet, leafy fronds on the tires and felt my momentum increase, bearing me toward the declivity, as I screamed Oh, Dammit NO! Counter to panicked intuition, I clutched the ball of the transfer case lever and pulled it back sharply from 2-High into 4-High as I goosed the accelerator. Trying to slow down had nearly been disastrous, and my heart was pounding as I desperately hoped that the engaged front wheels would pull me back up onto the treacherous, deceitful twin-rutted path. By now leaning crazily, the spinning front tires found purchase and arrested my lateral slide into the gully, as the Ramcharger regained the shallow, muddy ruts with a final fishtail. As I began to relax, I realized that within five seconds I would have a more serious problem. I had regained enough momentum to climb back onto the gently tilted trail, but as I crested a slight rise, I stared straight down, past the adjoining main jeep trail and out into space past the edge of the cliff. While congratulating myself on avoiding one disaster, I was now rapidly speeding toward another, since I now had enough momentum to careen down the hill, shoot across the jeep trail, and fly off the cliff. Recalling my Wisconsin winter-driving experience, I shifted the automatic transmission into neutral to disengage drive to the wheels and began gently tapping the brake pedal at a furious rate. As the cliff edge loomed, I felt the truck slow and knew I had regained control. I crept down the steepest part of the rutted trail onto the main jeep road at the dizzying speed of about six inches per second. My heart was pounding, and my entire body was so tensed that I could barely command my leg to press the brake pedal, or my arm to shift into Park. I idled on the jeep road, as the adrenaline spasms rippled through my body and I tried to catch my breath. When I finally regained control of myself, I crawled along the greasy, shale-slicked road in 4-Low, and considered myself lucky to be leaving Lead King Basin.

Author, Sandin Phillipson: I am a geologist, and have spent time in several countries and worked on different civil and mining projects. I thought it would be fun to write about some of my experiences. I have other articles and photos at my web page, located at:

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Skiing Opus

The Ultimate Skiing Experience

For downhill skiers, “powder snow” provides the ultimate skiing experience. For most skiers however, good powder skiing is a short-lived and infrequent event. Ski areas in some geographic areas enjoy fairly frequent “powder days” but in most areas, powder days are rare and the dryness and depth of snow is often marginal.

In most ski areas too, when powder snow does occur, it is only a matter of hours before it is completely "tracked out”, lumped up and beaten down. Only those few early birds that ride the first chairs in the morning get the ultimate run of the day, in deep, consistent, smooth, untracked snow.

For years, diehard powder snow enthusiasts have headed for the backcountry to “ski the powder” among remote alpine peaks, far from crowded ski areas. Many enjoy the peace and quiet of ski touring and move and ski at a pace governed by their own physical fitness.

Others who may be less ambitious or have less time, but who have ample disposable funds, have headed for the backcountry in helicopters. For about $1000 per day or more, heli-operators offer small groups of proficient skiers 5 to 7 days of guided skiing on huge pristine slopes, high in the mountains. Guests stay in comfortable lodges and spend their days being shuttled back and forth with their guides, with each run on a fresh untracked slope. Heli skiing has its problems. There are “down days” when storms make flying impossible and there is always the inherent risk of all backcountry skiing: avalanche.

Avalanche risk depends on many factors. All reputable backcountry operators provide highly qualified guides who choose areas for skiing and a safe route down the hill. On days of poor weather or unstable snow, guides may avoid alpine areas and restrict their groups to "skiing the trees”. Tree skiing is a fixture of all mechanized backcountry skiing and is preferred by some skiers to the more open “alpine” skiing.

In recent years, a new type of mechanized backcountry ski operator has emerged. Snowcat skiing operators use snowcats to transport skiers and snowboarders into backcountry regions. Snowcats are fitted with a large cab that seats clients in a warm, comfortable environment. A snowcat typically carries a group of 12 clients, two guides and a driver.

Of course, snowcats are much slower than helicopters. They are also much less expensive and guests can expect to pay between $500 and $600 a day, including transportation, lodging, meals, and guiding. As slow as snowcats may be, most clients will wear themselves out every day and get just as much skiing as their group can handle.

The great advantage of cat skiing is that “down” days almost never occur. Clients ski every day and bad weather can often mean extra-good snow. Cat skiing is more relaxed and “laid back” than heli skiing as there is no need to share equipment between groups or to maximize equipment usage. Cat skiing is very “client-friendly”. Each group has a dedicated machine and it moves at the group’s pleasure. Weaker skiers can feel at ease and not “pushed”.

Snowcats provide a relatively quiet, comfortable, warm and relaxed environment in which the trip back up the hill can be almost as much fun as the run down. Guests can “unbutton”, dry out, warm up, converse and browse on sandwiches, cookies, cake and drinks. If a guest gets tired, it’s easy to “sit out” a run and ride down to the next pickup with the cat driver.

Snowcat skiing is more restricted geographically than heli skiing. However, that has a drawback. Since they can operate in a larger area, heli-operators may sometimes be less familiar with changing snow conditions and risk factors than snowcat operators who work in a more restricted area.

Most snowcat operators have ample terrain to consistently provide good snow, even in periods of drought, and to ensure that clients exhaust themselves every day. Chatter Creek Mountain Lodges Ltd. operates in a 95 sq. km area and ski between the elevations of 5400ft and 9500 ft. Monashee Powder Adventures advertises an area of 66 sq. km and operate between the elevations of 7800 ft and 3,000 ft.. Baldface Lodge uses over 140 sq km. Guests need not worry about running out of terrain!

Snowcat skiing provides a wonderful holiday for intermediate and advanced skiers alike. Individuals, family groups, groups of friends, business associates can have a “trip to remember”. Operators with remote lodges offer a real “backcountry” experience, usually with good food and very comfortable accommodations.

Author, Lockie Brown, is retired and lives near Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He has cat skied for about 10 years, taking groups of 12 and 24 friends to different cat ski venues in British Columbia. He now takes his groups to Chatter Creek Mountain Lodges near Golden, B.C. For more information, please refer to the Chatter Creek Web site at

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JAZZ Serenade

All About Jazz!

Q. What is the difference between a pizza and a jazz musician?
A. A pizza can feed a family of four!

What is it about jazz that makes a jazz musician stick to a form of music that A&R managers have scientifically and suspiciously proven to be a musician's surest route to death by starvation?

One good reason would be the fact that jazz allows me to be myself as opposed to pop that wants me to be Madonna. I would rather be me than strut onstage wearing conical jocks. I remember a male indipop album released by some genius A&R manager, titled 'mai bhi Madonna' (i'm Madonna too). Jazz as you will see, and if you've heard about 'mai bhi Madonna', helps me retain my individuality and what's left of my sanity in this big mad world of music marketing. Jazz, the most open, alive and evolving form of music, is the medium i choose to communicate and express myself musically. I know a lot of people in the audience may not understand my intense shoobee-doo-wop, shoobee-doobee-doo-wop and emotive twidlee-didlee, didlee-doo-dah along with some sensitive chaka-chaka, shaka-dish-boom-thaak. But there's always the few who can 'feel' what they can't figure. Most of the time the message i communicate may read 'hey brother, how about a loan..i'm broke again' but when i have someone in the audience enjoying my music, i become a millionaire.

Author, Colin D'Cruz, is a jazz bassplayer from India, review some of his bands at

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KISS Verse

How to be Successful in Life, Dating, and Business

A big question. I am sure that everybody on this planet would like to know the answer to that.

A few years ago, I worked for a British time share company. I am sure that right now there are many people twisting their faces: “time share? Oh. No! “. I agree – But this is not the point of this article.

While I was working there, I took some intern course in body language and “The art of sales”. Since then EVERYTHING i want to “sale”, I manage to. By saying everything, i mean business, things that I want from my wife, from my kids, from my friends and family and so on.

How do I do that, you ask? Well, here it is. You can try to use this method in every field, and I promise you it will work:

As an example, I will use my first date with my wife which eventually leaded to our marriage.

Picture this – My first date with her, nice restaurant, candle lights, wine and music (you do need to set the scene first).

She came; we said hello to each other, ordered some wine and then the “sale” started.

KISS – Which means: Keep It Simple & Stupid. This is a very important point in the whole conversation. The more info you give freely, them more they need to think about. You should give info about your self, but try to think about what you say as you can talk too much and give some info that should not be given…at least not right now.

WH questions – As the conversation roles, try to ask as many WH question as you can: why, where, how, what…You need to gather as much info about them as you can to understand who is sitting right now and talking to you, what is his/her type, what does she/he likes…Why is that so important? As I asked my future wife on that first date all the WH question, I found at that she is a “homey” type, love romance, love to coddle…If I would right away start talking about me and my “wild” life, I would probably missed her interest in me. I do not say you need to be someone else just to get their attention, but trying to “win” this meeting.

Tea or Coffee – Now you have gathered all the info you need, and it is time to start closing this deal. You are not about to close it now, but we need to get closer to the goal of our “sale”. Tea or Coffee questions are BASED on the info you got earlier and now you try to focus on the points. For example: “so what you are trying to say is that you rather be at home then go out to wild parties?” or “so… what do you prefer, Madonna or Jimmy Hendricks?” With this type of question you are now minimizing the info you got to more focused answers.

The Closing – You have now got the info, got the focused answers, it is time to “close” this “ Sale”. What you want to do is to get a yes or no answer (depends on you) from them. If you will get that answer – You have just reached you goal. Who do you do that? Very simple. Use ALL the info from the entire evening/meeting and concentrate on the particular questions you wan to get yes or no answers to. For example: “so what you are saying is that if I could make some nice dinner for you, just as you like, with candle and wine, could we meet again?” Of course, you are waiting for a “yes” here. It is EXTREMLY important to use finishing statements at the end of your questions, like: “so you do like coddling, don’t you?” Use you head to nod as you ask gives a “mirror effect” on people and they can’t help not nodding back.

As I mentioned at the beginning, you can use this technique ANYWHER on EVERYBODY…trust me it works, but as everything in life, you need to practise and a lot.

Hope you can and will use it in your life.

Author, Yair Czitrom, is the owner and webmaster of - An experienced online dater that took his dating knowledge and web skills as a dater and as an IT pro to help other daters/singles in today’s cyber world. He is an expert writer on and

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Spouse Apology Opus

Write An Apology To Your Spouse: How to Apologize In a Way That Really Works For You

Being apologetic doesn’t come easily for me. Unfortunately, being inconsiderate and self-centered does. So I realized long ago that my marital survival would depend on two things: 1) learning to apologize and 2) becoming less selfish and more considerate.

It was easier to start with apologies. Over time I got better and better at learning how to apologize. I was amazed at the effect.

First, it was the basic mumbling of, “I’m sorry.” Those two words were remarkable in healing bruised feelings. It was as if I had a license to do what I wanted-- as long as I looked sincere and said, “I’m sorry.” It was like having a “Get out of jail free” Monopoly card.

When my apology failed to produce the desired results, I spruced it up. I would put my apology in a tuxedo, and my wife would be so grateful that I would get another reprieve.

Given my personality, I had lots of opportunity to practice making apologies. Ultimately I created a formula. It’s for the bigger offenses or for smaller offenses that you have repeated so often they’ve created a lot of tension with your spouse.

Five Step Formula For a Really Good Apology

1. Describe your offense. This is necessary so your partner knows exactly what you’re apologizing for.

2. Describe what you think is the effect on your partner. This display of empathy is comforting to the other person.

3. Describe why you did what you did. This reassures your spouse that you’re on top of the problem and reduces their need to nag you about it.

4. Describe why you’re interested in changing the offensive behavior. This demonstrates an understanding of the big picture that as couple you’re a team.

5. Describe a self imposed penalty for not changing. This one is the clincher. Think of an appropriate penalty for your offensive behavior, and tell it to your spouse. Tell them that if you don’t change you will impose the penalty on yourself. This reassures them that you mean business.

I encourage people to write their apology. Writing it out first or writing it and then giving it to your mate has several advantages:

1. You can collect and refine your thoughts. It is very difficult to think through an apology on the fly, especially if your angry partner is on the offensive.

2. You will be heard all the way through. Nobody will interrupt and start yelling at a spouse when they are reading an apology.

3. You avoid the hostile questions that often interrupt you when you start speaking the apology. These negative questions have the nasty effect of derailing your good intentions and then you just have another argument which demands another apology.

4. You avoid the raised eyebrows and squinting eyes during the apology which just derail you again. (See the last sentence in number 3.)

5. It looks like you have given this some serious thought (which might even be true).

6. You don’t have to sleep on the couch tonight.

Putting It All Together

1. Honey, I’ve been thinking about your comments that I don’t follow through consistently when I say I’ll do something. I apologize for that.

2. Being inconsistent means you can never be sure whether I will follow through or not. I imagine it keeps you on edge and wondering if you should “remind” me or not. If you don’t speak up you run the risk that I won’t follow through and then it is too late to take corrective action. If you do speak up, you run the risk of coming across like a nag.

3. I hate to admit it, but when I agree to something, sometimes it’s just to get you off my back. I think, “well, I’ll do it if I get time.” But if it’s something I really don’t want to do, often I simply don’t make the time. I’m also unreliable when my priorities collide with yours--and my priorities too often prevail. This means I really haven’t thought much about us being a true team where we can each count on the other to follow through.

4. I actually have some interest in improving my reliability. I would feel more aligned with my higher intentions about being a good partner, and we could probably have more fun together.

5. Finally, I want you to get off my back as a policeman to make sure I follow through. Both of us will feel better about that. So when I don’t follow through or give you a timely warning (stuff does happen) then I will work on cleaning the garage the following weekend for at least two hours every time I blow it.

Our book, “Tell Me No Lies,” includes some helpful insights about apologies. For more information or to order, visit The Couples Institute.

May all your apologies be little ones.

Written by Dr. Peter Pearson. Since 1984, The Couples Institute has helped people create extraordinary relationships. They'd like to help you and your partner overcome your problems and evolve as a team. Visit to subscribe to their free newsletter.

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