Niche Site Project 4 Monthly Report for December 2018

By Spencer Haws |

As I sit down to write this new monthly report for Niche Site Project 4, it's hard to believe that it's been about 4 months since the first article was published on my new site.

I'll be honest, making it through the first 4 months was really hard.  It's difficult to be working on something and publishing content and not seeing any earnings for a few months.

However, the tides appear to be shifting ever so slightly in my favor!  As reported a couple of weeks ago, I made my first sale on the site!  In addition, as I'll share in this report the sales didn't stop with one.  In fact, I made a few sales and finally have some real income to report for the site.

Overall, I'll share what the income looks like, the traffic trends, and more.

Earnings for December 2018

I'm so happy to finally be able to say that my site made money last month!  The previous 3 months felt a little bit like pushing a big boulder that wasn't moving at all.  Well, last month the big boulder finally moved ever so slightly.  I'm hoping the momentum continues to grow over the next few months and more.

In total, I officially earned $23.66 for December 2018!  I know it's a small number, but remember, this just represents that things are starting to work and the momentum has begun.

It's the small amount of feedback I need to continue putting in the work.  Hopefully, we can start adding a couple of zeros to that earnings number at some point.

I want to point out something interesting from the above Amazon associates screenshot.  You will notice that I had 18 ordered items, but only 7 shipped.  So, the $23.66 in earnings is from those 7 shipped items.

Several of the ordered items that didn't “ship” were actually products that I ordered.  I had clicked one of my affiliate links to test things out, then at some point within 24 hours I had forgotten that I had clicked on my own affiliate link and bought several Christmas gifts on Amazon.  Whoops!

However, turns out that Amazon was smart enough to know that it was me and I didn't get any earnings credit for those items ordered.  So, the lesson here is don't attempt to earn through your own Amazon associates links.  But it also appears that Amazon is smart enough to just not give you credit for those earnings.

Finally, I actually made another sale that I didn't get credit for.  I ran some Facebook ads to a landing page and as a result, I got an affiliate sale…but I didn't get credit.  I'll explain the little experiment I ran and why I don't think I got credit for the sale below.


The overall traffic was actually down slightly in December when compared to November.  One of the main reasons was that in November, I had spent $50 on FB ads driving traffic to the site.  When I remove this traffic spike from November from paid ads, December traffic was higher.

Here's a look at the trend in traffic from all sources.

And here is a look at the traffic trend from Organic sources only.

Other than the weird spike in September (which is likely due to me searching my own website so much), the Organic traffic has been trending up as well each month.  Baby steps.

One thing that is a sure sign that things are moving in the right direction is the impressions on Google Search Console.  When your site is not getting a lot of traffic yet, you can be encouraged that your site is getting more and more impressions on Google.

Over time, people will start clicking on your site more from Google.  Here's a quick screenshot showing that my “impressions” are increasing over time.

In December, you can see that my impressions on Google really increased a ton.  I'm excited to see that trend continue!


In November, I was able to publish 11 total new articles on the site.  The site now has a total of 50 articles live. My plan was to publish several more than that, but the holiday season got in the way for both me and some of my writers.  

However, I already have 16 articles sitting in draft format just waiting for me to review and hit publish.  So, I should get at least 16 articles published in January!

In December, I hired a content writing service called Content Pit to write 10 articles for me.  So, that is the bulk of the articles that are now sitting in draft format for me.  From what I've seen, the quality is really good and I will likely go back to Content Pit and order some more.

In full disclosure, I am an affiliate for Content Pit.  However, I tried out their service because it was started by someone that has written several articles for me in the past, and he's always done a great job.  If you decide to sign up, the owner is offering a special bonus for my audience only.  You get 20% bonus words added to your project.  For example, if you order 10,000 words of content, you get 12,000 words (while still only paying for the 10,000).  

Go here to get the Content Pit special.

Link Building

I decided it was time to try my hand at some link building in December.  I decided to try out Brian Dean's Skyscraper technique.

Long story short is that it didn't work very well for me.  Let me explain exactly what I did.

In my previous monthly report, I mentioned that I had completed a “Pillar” article that was a massive 13,000 words.  I do believe it's the most in-depth article on the subject that I was targeting.

I felt like this was the perfect article to do some outreach for.  So, I hired a VA to find 200 websites related to my niche.  I wrote out an email for the VA to use and had her reach out to these 200 websites.

Out of 200 emails, I probably only got 10 replies.  About half of those replies were, “Sure, we'll add a link…just visit this page for our pricing.”  I would have to pay for the link, which is not going to happen.

The other half were responses that either said no or maybe.  I only had 2 or 3 that were considering adding a link, but no one did.  So, 200 emails, no links.  Ouch.

My thought is that outreach doesn't work real well in certain niches or if you don't have an established brand.  The technique worked great for Brian Dean and I'm sure it would work exceptionally well for because I've been around for a long time, know lots of people, and have an established brand.

However, maybe this isn't the best technique for a newer site…at least that's what my results are telling me.

I'm not sure what my next link building attempt will be, but something different.

Running a contest

During December I also conducted another experiment and wanted to share the results.

I tried to run a contest using FB ads.  The idea was simple.  I would send people to landing page that offered an Amazon product in my niche for free if they won the contest.  In exchange for their email, they would be entered into the contest.  They could get more signups by tagging friends and sharing on social media, etc.

As an FYI, I used Landing Cube to create the landing page.  It's not really meant as a tool for Amazon associates, so I had to tweak it to make it work.

After running ads for a little while, I was getting signups for $1 each.  Now, this would actually be pretty good if I was the owner of a product or in a more profitable niche.  However, as just an Amazon affiliate I was not going to make any money on the contest, so I shut it down after getting roughly 20 emails.

Now, the way I had the contest set up is that they would essentially get directed to an Amazon page through my affiliate link, so I was getting clicks.  And I actually got an affiliate sale!  (I actually got 4 sales, but I think 3 were mine by accident).

Here's a screenshot of the affiliate id I created for the contest:

So, one of these ordered items is from the contest…my plan was working!  However, I never got credit for the sale.  My guess is that somehow Amazon knew I was kind of incentivizing this sale.  I mean I was attracting people to click by signing up for the contest in exchange for a chance to win a free product.

That is my best hunch.  Amazon is all-knowing and never gave me credit for the referral.

I experimented, but it didn't work out.  Lesson learned.

What's Next?

For now, I am going to continue chugging along with adding more content.  This has always been my most effective strategy.  Target low competition keywords and produce quality content.  As the site ages and hopefully attracts a few natural links, the traffic and earnings will increase.

I may attempt another link building campaign, but I haven't decided what that will be just yet.

Other than that, I plan to just stay the course and continue to grow the site each month.  I'm incredibly patient, and I'm in this for the long haul.

Niche Site Project 4 Participant Reports

As usual, I've asked the participants of Niche Site Project 4 to report on their progress.  (You are still welcome to join the project here).

As you will see, people are started to make money!  So, the trend appears to be that you shouldn't expect your site to make any money for about 3 months, as I explained here.  Now people are started to see a little bit here and there.

Also, a couple of people earned more than usual.  Jae Jun continues to do well with, as he explained on this podcast episode.

I reached out to Lorenzo that earned $470 in December.  Here's what he shared,

i generate automatically content using the amazon advertising api and spinned content (in italian).
i did many good thinks but also i started with a dropped domain and i bought some spammy dofollow comment links that i am planning to replace soon.

But the results are great!
i cover every niche since is a price comparison general shopping site.
Here's a screenshot from Lorenzo:

So, even though Lorenzo is seeing some quick results, he admits that he has spammy links and the content is spun (low quality).  So, it's working well now, but I suspect at some point down the road, 2 months, 6 months, or at some point the site will get penalized.  However, who knows!

Finally, Chris made $3500!  I reached out to him for an explanation, I'll update here once I receive it.  However, I know Chris and know he has created his own info products in the past.  My guess is that he created a new info product and just launched it.  (So, this is not a traditional niche affiliate site).

Enjoy reading through the rest of the brief updates provided by participants below.

Real Name or Nickname  Number of articles TOTAL published on your site since inception? Number of Total “Sessions” your site received in December 2018? Earnings for December 2018?
What was accomplished in December 2018 for your site? 
smshs 21 103 0 NA
lorenzo 2000 8600 470
+110% from november. Product comparison review website
Jules 13 3641 20.5
The site had a nice spike (3X) in sessions! I added 3 new blog posts (again, far fewer than I hoped) and I promoted/prepared for a daily challenge for my Instagram followers (and blog readers) for all of January. I tested a writer and wasn't super happy, so I'll keep looking for someone, and in the meantime just write the posts myself.
Chris 0 542 3500 Finished key product
Kutluay 5 4145 107.47
No additional articles published (still using the initial 5 articles). The automated Pinterest traffic process is ongoing. Basically no work has been done on the site in December. Planning to work on the Pinterest site of the project a little in January.

The details can be found on my site:

Violeta 2 48 0
Two articles published, research done for other four.
Ryan Faucher 79 820 41.86
Website reveal! I also share some of my strategies for building authority and increasing dwell time. Full Details:
Hassane 10 50 0
Added 3 articles, didn't work on the site much
JA 27 1078 4.94
Trialed paid ads via Facebook. Ultimately, whilst traffic was good, earnings didn't reflect the amount paid to the amount earned. Continued to add content. Also put wheels in motion for eBook, which will launch in January.
Jesse 45 300 4.04
I got a few more articles published, but not as many as I'd hoped with the holidays. I have been monitoring search console and making a bunch of SEO tweaks to existing articles. In the first week of January my site has already made more than it has since inception.
Manas 15 277 1.31
I published only 3 articles just 3000 words.
Ben Doyle 44 77 14.95
Wrote 4 articles, that's it. Life kinda got in the way a bit with Christmas etc.
Chris 3 0 0
Finally found a niche. I have three articles posted and one scheduled. Youtube videos are next. Literally started it on December 29th so chose colors, made logo, set up site structure, recommended products page, and other legal pages.
Andrew Courtney 60 4876 20.05
Concentrated on writing content. 12 articles written. Opt in for email list setup and list at about 35. No monetization apart from on one article. Once hit 10k+ sessions per month will start to put ads on site and start adding affiliate links. Aim to write at least 15 articles in Jan and recruit 1-2 writers. Surprised how much hard work has been needed so far but really motivated to make site a success.
Mouad Real 29 412 00
nothing just post some article and add some backlink , i also start see some keywords in first page , also in webmaster tool i see that my website appear in 800 keywords this month
Alwayne 24 206 23.17
I only focus on creating white hat links
RichP 7 15 0
Our new writer is much better and although less content is produced it is a much higher quality! We produced 2 more articles.
Ogochukwu 8 0 0
I joined the project in December.
I found a nichesite with lots of products.
I have wrote and published 4 products review articles. Each articles have a length of 4,000 words average.
Also published 4 informational articles.
David 20 127 3.24
Nothing really achieved in December.
Frank Edens 3 2400 200
Mostly adding internal links in 1 or 2 posts, and popup coupon codes for Amazon. (Got a lot of direct traffic for this site, a bit tricky..)
Lucio My 7 38 0
Published five articles, rewritten the first two.
Justin 3 0 0 Another article published
Chadwick 16 230 0
I'm abandoning this site and taking my learnings to a better niche. I started a new site at the end of December using thrive architect. I have two articles up on it so far. I will report on my new site going forward.
OGS 0 0 0
Definitively decided to build out another niche site. Brainstormed an idea and started research on viability. I've done more since then but I'll save it for January's update!
Steve Allen 10 92 0
I found some products to promote on amazon. Have a list or nearly 60 article ideas with their keywords and implented some ads. Also published some articles.

I'm documenting my niche site project on my blog just like Spencer, you can find more details at

Jae Jun 0 613 2531 – Added requested features to the amazon app, created a seasonal forecasting spreadsheet for Amazon sellers, upgraded other Amazon related spreadsheets, upgraded our servers, improved pricing, buttoned up our documentation and help pages, took Spencer's linkbuilding course.

More refunds than usual this month due to missing features.

Emails are still going out consistently. Hopefully can get open rates to 50% one day.

December rush on Amazon really took a toll, but got through it.

Rohan 99 53 0
Nothing, I was on holiday…will jump back in now
David S 20 26 0
A very slow month. I'm going to take a break from writing articles, and see if the site gains any traction on its own. Not much to report in terms of organic traffic, but I do notice an upward trend in impressions, as per Google Search Console. I'm optimistic, but have a nagging feeling that I picked a niche that's too broad. Still enjoying the process though, and I'm learning a lot.
Towfiq 21 170 14
I've expected some earning from Amazon in December and this month the site earned 14$ also the article publishing is slower than November. Do some basic links like blog comment.
Rachel 15 499 12
No new articles published. Focused on reviewing and enhancing existing articles to boost keywords and rankings as growth in sessions slower than hoped. Pinterest audience and traffic continues to grow slowly, google taking longer.
Phil Bryan 1 0 0
Narrowed the topic. Strategized content, links, and angle to take. This project is a really unique one, and i hope to reveal something special to the community in a few months.
Yuyu 4 5 0 Topic research
Bill 38 101 0
Changing website structure and optimize on page from suggestion in SEMRUSH, publish some new article.
Jobe 20 168 0
I couldn't do much due to Christmas holidays as I went back home. A few more backlinks (DA=20), couple of articles and still working on improving SOP.


Success Stories | 48 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

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Nia Jax

This 4 months report is good to make someone impress. Your Bloggers those look for Blogging & Blogging success.

They should really read this post to know amazing 4 months report.

Ryan Faucher

Looks like some participants are dropping out. That’s unfortunate. Just be patient and put in the effort. The traffic and sales will eventually come. If you’ve made it this far, the hard work is mostly done. Stick with it and best of luck!

Spencer Haws

I agree. Love seeing your progress each month, Ryan!

Glen Allsopp

Nice update, Spencer.

“However, maybe this isn’t the best technique for a newer site…at least that’s what my results are telling me.

I’m not sure what my next link building attempt will be, but something different.”

I like to think this is my ‘area’ so if I can offer a suggestion.

Would you be willing to be patient for the links?

I think any new site can pick up links, even in tough niches, but you have to be focused on giving before you get.

The first outreach email you send (in my opinion) should typically never ask for a link, especially if you’ve never spoken with someone before.

The first outreach email should just be to start the conversation.

Offer suggestions on someone’s site. Praise their content. Tell them you found their comment on social media funny.

Something genuine about the people you are reaching out to.

Then, once you’ve “dug your well before your thirsty”, you can move the conversation forward.

This is a slower process, I admit, but it’s so much more natural. Once you’ve built up some kind of connection – it can be done in just 1-2 emails – then going for a mention makes so much more sense if you have something worth sharing and linking to.

It’s basically a play on the ‘dream 100’ angle but used in link building.

It isn’t fool proof or perfect, but it certainly feels better to do, and I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

Looking forward to more updates!

Spencer Haws

Hey Glen, thanks for stopping by and offering some tips! I think you provide some sound advice. I did indeed go straight for the link, even if it was after creating a “skyscraper” article related to something they had linked to before.

I do this naturally with Niche Pursuits, I just reach out to connect (don’t recall ever asking for a link for niche pursuits). I should follow a similar approach on this new site, as you are suggesting, even if it takes a bit more effort. Will likely pay off in the long run. Thanks again!


may we know how many articles are review info etc? how many links to amazon you have per article? do you use call to action or just text links?


I still haven’t made much sales trying to do the 2 week diet from clickbank using FB ads


Great update, Spencer.
Can you please let me know how much you paid a writer for writing a 1000 word article?


It would be $30. Per Spencer: it would take 6 hours to write 3,000 words, therefore $15/hr = $90.


Thanks, Nick.

Spencer Haws

Yes, this is about right.


Spencer, not sure if I can be added to the list or not. I’ve had my blog for a number of years, but in the last few months I’ve loosely been following your model. I made $14.70 in December via Amazon Affiliates!

Spencer Haws

That’s great!


Cool report (as always ;-))

How much did you spend for this project so far ? what is your budget for the first 12 month ? when do you expect to reach a direct ROI (total earnings from the start > total spending from the start) for this projet.

Just joined the challenge mysef. I am very late but I started my new site project just before Christmas.

Spencer Haws

I’ll have to calculate the total spent. I basically trying to publish 15 to 20 articles per month until I reach about 100 articles. Article cost is usually $50 to $100. (Depending on length, time spent, etc.). Thanks!


Thank you so much for a great project. I think many people will get better idea from your project. I am also trying to make a website and following your guidelines, hope will get a better result soon. Best wishes…


Interesting post by Spencer as is all the comments for affiliate website creators. One thing I notice is that the affiliate marketing business changes all the time and to be successful you have to be patient and adapt to the new changing challenges.

Thought I might bring up a dilemma I have encountered with my new affiliate site. I am a Thrive member so I have the luxury of using all the bells and whistles with Thrive Architect Page Builder. Have you noticed many gurus are now criticizing page builders because it can slow down page speed and interfere with ad networks ad placement due to the html coding in the page builders.

My point, it seems that with the new word press Gutenberg, the trend is to not use page builders for blog posts so you can have an effective ad network revenue without conflicts. Well what about landing pages: I wonder Spencer, if you are still using a page builder like Thrive for landing pages.

I have heard at least one bold guru has dumped page builders entirely.

Spencer Haws

I personally don’t use Thrive. The only reason I’ve used in the past is because other employees liked it. But I’ve never used page builders for stuff that I personally build. And I don’t like Gutenburg; classic editor for me.

Jae Jun

I’m on the fence with this. For blog posts, just using the editor is fine.

For pages, I’m using drag and drops all the time now.
Mostly for the flexibility and speed. Oh and the cost saving of no longer having to use more expensive services like leadpages, unbounce, instapage etc.

But I don’t like many of the default designs and widgets (especially Thrive style design). Thus the need to find one that offers good fundamentals – like the code, simple and clean design, UX, features, integration.

Spencer Haws

Yep, makes sense.

Ally G

Looks like people are doing great, including you Spencer. I never got the email this month to add my monthly report to the list. Doesn’t really matter though since my site gets no traffic (only 4 articles published) and, due to the holidays, I didn’t have any time to work on my site.

Spencer Haws

Sorry you didn’t get the email! Good luck.

Marcus Ollison

very valauble information. Seems content marketing is your best stategy so far. I will be adding this practice as my primary souce of action as well.


I’m wondering why Amazon didn’t send you any alerts as you bought items through your own affiliate links. It violates the Amazon Associates Program Policies, isn’t it?

Spencer Haws

It does violate policies, but I don’t think they sent out alerts…at least I’ve never gotten one. I think as long as it’s not a regular occurance, its not a big deal. They know people accidently click their own links sometimes, not a big deal.


my site earning also good in December

Jae Jun

Another idea for people posting articles is to also publish articles about which products NOT to buy from Amazon. Builds more cred and trust.

Because we all know that there are so many bad sellers and products where listings are switched, reviews are manipulated etc.

So a guide on how to better navigate and find the best product.
What to look for to avoid getting a dud etc.


Spencer, were the outreach emails sent in a batch format, as in the same emails going out to all 200? Good idea to test in smaller numbers to see what works and doesn’t work first!

Spencer Haws

A unique version of each email was sent to each recipient. (Same template email that was edited to reference their website, etc).


Hey Spencer,

I have been following your case study (didn’t start my yet) and I’m seriously pumped. You managed to earn $20+ in just 4 months and that’s a great sign of moving forward.

I’ll start my own niche website (probably this week), and report back to you.

Keep inspiring 🙂


Hi Marius, let me help you here.

Start today!

– Find a product catagory with products around 100 – 250 dollars.
– See how many customer reviews there are on Amazon to have an indication about how popular the products are.
– Get a short domain name and register it.
– Install WordPress.

Start and investigate the product category. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down interesting words and phrases. Also note good authoritive websites to link to from your articles. Now work out a sitemap for your site to plan a few pages ahead.

Every day spend at least one hour on writing, stay focused. First fire up a new page in WordPress and write down all headers and sub headers for your first article. This will guide you through the page. Write short paragraphs untill you hit around 2,000 – 3,000 words.

Find good images and give the images descriptive filenames and make sure you compress the images well for site speed. Place these images in the right paragraphs and find some good videos to embed into the page. Also sprinkle around some good outbound links to authoritive web pages.

Your first page should be an overall guide about the product category which will send visitors to more niched down products. So now you can make these niched down pages about a specific category or a type of category. Such as “Best built in refrigerators with water dispenser”. In the end of the sales funnel the customer is niching down their search phrases, so you have a big chance to rank because these are quite long tail.

Now try to built these pages for the first few months. An in-depth page can take up a few days to write, but it doesn’t matter it has to be good and informative. If you choose your niche wisely it is more ‘ever green’ product category. This is a category with products that are sold for a few years. The opposite are smartphones, laptops, these will change every month so you need to keep you information up to date. And that can be very frustrating.

Okay, I’m not sure why I’m writing all this – but I hope it will motivate you. Good luck with building your first niche site. Just do it, and don’t look too much at search volumes and competition. Just be sure that you cover all the topics in your niche. Think about it like writing a paper for school or writing a book, then there is no competition and you just want to cover the subject in the best way possible.

Signing off now, Pim

Spencer Haws

Sounds great, good luck!


Hello, spencer!

Thanks for the report!

Please tell me. When viewing traffic from Google Analytics, do we look at the number of users or sessions?

Important users or sessions?

Spencer Haws

I am reporting sessions.

Chris Murphy

Great work. Happy to see that the sales started coming in.


Love this update. Curious – what was the outreach template you used for Skyscraper link building? I found that asking for feedback on content is more effective than asking for a link upfront. Start a conversation first, then ask.

Mehadi Shawon

Hey Spencer
I am live in bangladesh and i am a student. I read your blog every day and I’m inspired to read blogs. I opened an Amazon Affiliate Website two months ago. Now I’m working on that website. Hope you encourage us by posting more such blogs.

Nadya from

Thanks for posting it! I really like following such posts to see how others are growing their websites.
Your part about adding more content really resonates with me since I am sooo sluggish on this side… and then I am wondering why my site is not growing ‍♀️

> And I actually got an affiliate sale! (I actually got 4 sales, but I think 3 were mine by accident).
> However, I never got credit for the sale. My guess is that somehow Amazon knew I was kind of incentivizing this sale.
Ouch! Isn’t it like playing with ? Amazon seems to ban affiliates for doing it? ✋

Spencer Haws

Amazon would only ban affiliates if there was a clear pattern of this. I think in my case it was an obvious mistake, I would never do it on purpose.

Nadya from

Also, thanks for providing info about the writing service ContentPit. Right in time when I was thinking of getting more content 🙂
I decided to give it a try but I am not sure I see the special offer you are talking about… I wonder if your Content Pit affiliate link is good?..

Spencer Haws

Just mention it when you order, they are aware of the issue, but you will still get the 20% extra content for free.

Nick Riebe

Spencer, this might be why you didn’t get paid by Amazon: “you MUST own and add Facebook Page you will be posting links on to your Amazon Affiliate account.

If they receive traffic from any Facebook Pages you do not own, and/or have not added, they will close your Affiliate account and not pay you.”

Source: Quora


Spencer Haws

I wasn’t posting affiliate links on FB, so that’s not it :).


Thanks a lot Spencer for sharing your report with us. I have also started my new blog after reading your articles.

Hope you see more sales next month.


Thanks for the update Spencer; have been following this for some time. Congratulations on getting your first few affiliate referrals.
Likewise, I’m now done with outreach in trying to obtain backlinks; I think this used to work and used to be great strategy but for some reason, there’s a lack of interest. Perhaps its because people know the hidden incentive and motive behind the outreach whereas before it could have been more easily concealed as you trying to help them.
All the best for the months ahead! Look forward to the next one.


Thanks for content recommendation. I just purchased their second to largest package and informed them that your referred my via support ticket. I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

Spencer Haws

Sounds great!

Uttam Simepuruskar

I am blogging from past two years but was never able to rank any of my websites. But finally m abele to come up to atleast the second or third page of the search engine which is quite a big thing for me. Being patient is very important and focusing on one topic can give better results. That’s what I have learnt so far. Nice information.

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