Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media Strategy

Are you Tracking Changes to Your Website and Strategies?
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As a small business owner or entrepreneur, how do you know whether or not a new strategy or tactic is working? If a month from now, you look at your Google Analytics and you see a significant change to your website traffic, will you know the cause? How do we know whether or not a new strategy or tactic is working? Which social media sites should we maintain our presence on? When is it time to cut our losses and stop doing something that isn’t producing the results that we desire?

Documentation: a Necessity for Businesses

Let’s face it. There’s a lot to keep track of and it can be time consuming to maintain documentation and to track what we’re doing. Whether we’re building a new blog/website or publishing a new article on our blog, there are steps that we follow. Hopefully, you have documented these processes and you only need to access a document to quickly know how to proceed. If you’re also tracking the key steps that you take, you will have the necessary insight to make informed decisions on which tactics you should continue and which ones you should stop.

Tracking Routine Steps in an Excel (Open Office or Google Docs) Spreadsheet

Maintaining spreadsheets to track the steps that we take can seem time consuming and it may be tempting to take a shortcut but I can think of three reasons for doing it:

#1 – Spreadsheets can be a simple way of ensuring that you don’t forget steps.

#2 -Spreadsheets can be used to pinpoint exactly what caused something to go awry.

#3 – Spreadsheets can be used to help make informed decisions.

I recommend creating a minimum of one spreadsheet for every website/blog you maintain and using that spreadsheet to track changes. If you regularly post articles, create a second worksheet for that. After publishing your post, use this worksheet to track the sites that you regularly submit your articles to (sites that you can’t subscribe your RSS feed to). After posting, copy and paste the list of sites that you submit to. Then update your spreadsheet with the new information such as the category you submit it to, the description, keywords and any other important information.

So what should you keep track of? Here are a few of the things that I keep track of using Excel spreadsheets:

Changes to Your Website/Blog:

  • New or Updated Themes
  • New Home Pages (for example, if your blog is your home page now and you change it to a static page)
  • Changes to Individual Pages
  • Changes to Your Navigation Menu
  • Changes to Graphics, Logo, Colors, Branding

Changes to WordPress Plugins, Joomla Extensions or Code:

  • Upgrades to Existing Plugins/Extensions
  • Adding Plugins/Extensions to Help with Social Engagement
  • Changes to Sharing or Follow Me Buttons
  • Changes to your commenting system (CommentLuv, Intense Debate, Disqus)
  • Adding Badges

New Opportunities and Strategies

  • Public speaking, events or workshops
  • Webinars
  • Actively Participating on Groups or Forums
  • Guest Blogging
  • Being Featured on Sites such as BizSugar or Blog Engage

Something as simple as adding a new plugin or code can impact your traffic. For example, originally I had a simple follow me on Facebook button on my blog. When I switched to using the Facebook social plugin, (the box in my sidebar with the pictures of the people who “liked” my KeepUpWeb fan page) the number of people who engaged with me on Facebook nearly doubled (from 118 in September to 230 in March). A similar thing happened to my Alexa ranking. Adding the Traffic Rank badge from Alexa helped my ranking improve dramatically (from 129,557 in December to 85,494 in March).

One of my favorite statistics to compare in Google Analytics is my referral traffic. By looking at the sources of my traffic on a monthly basis, I get a quick snapshot of which social media sites are driving the most traffic to my website/blog. Whereas at one time Twitter was my number one source of referral traffic, it now ranks much lower. The number of visitors are relatively the same but the overall percentage has dropped. This is due to my efforts on other sites such as my involvement on LinkedIn and BizSugar. Since those sites are now driving more traffic, I can make an informed decision to spend the bulk of my time there and automate more of my tweeting.

What have you learned from Google Analytics? Do you track similar data? Are you collecting other information? We’d love to hear from you.

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Author: Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

78 thoughts on “Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media Strategy”

  1. I agree with the need for Spreadsheet. Its really true. Only if we keep a track on the routine steps, we will get to know the result. Keeping track of updated themes can be really good to know the viewers interest.

    1. Hi Rita,
      I find keeping track of updating themes and plugins to be one of the most useful items I track. Sometimes an element of design will break after upgrading a plugin and I won’t immediately be aware of it. So, knowing which plugins I recently updated can really help track down the culprit.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..The Powerful WordPress Text WidgetMy Profile

  2. I agree with you. We really need to keep track of the changes that are happening in our websites and blogs. At least if we aren’t able to check for the changes on daily basis, we can still check weekly. By keeping track, we can know what is the status of our website; whether its page rank has gone down or not.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks for letting me know that you agree with the importance of tracking changes. I think the first time I appreciated the value of my tracking worksheet was when I first started blogging and I saw an unexpected spike in traffic. I had no idea what I had done right! After a little bit of detective work (using my spreadsheet), I was able to discover that submitting my RSS feed to a blog that I had discovered, I had introduced myself to a whole set of readers who found my blog interesting. That’s the sort of insight that I find to be invaluable.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Email Address Part of Your Brand?My Profile

  3. I work mostly with SPSS (statistical package for social sciences) but I will try MS Access and Project next time it’s feasible. Since I am not very familiar with them I will see if they are compatible with JSONData as well.

    1. Hi Adam,
      Personally, I found Project to be overkill unless you’re managing a large project where multiple people/vendors are responsible for different pieces of the project. It is wonderful for tracking big projects but for simpler projects, I’m in love with Excel.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..The Powerful WordPress Text WidgetMy Profile

  4. Thanks for this great info. I work with which just produced new freeware for people who want to embed code for their data into their site easily; it’s like Google Spreadsheets but better. Since we are still in beta there are changes being made constantly due to user feedback. Your suggestion of keeping a spreadsheet of the changes, I think, could really be helpful. Thanks for the advice.

    1. Hi Adam,
      Thanks for letting us know about JSONData. I’ll check back later to see if it’s something that I may be able to use.

      I’m glad you found my article helpful. Spreadsheets really are a simple way to manage projects. I used to use MS Project and MS Access databases for project management when I realized that there’s a lot to be said for simplifying things. The fact that spreadsheets are so easy to maintain makes me enter data that I might otherwise track. It’s surprising how often some of that data has come in handy.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Can Your Small Business Compete with the Big-Box Stores?My Profile

  5. trying to run a website should definitely be left to the professionals. Especially with all the Google changes.

  6. Hi Sherryl,

    Thanks for sharing a another well written and informative post. I must say, you have a style of writing that is very fluent and easy to read. Only one of the reasons for me making a return visit to read more of your posts.

    Thanks for sharing, looking forward to your upcoming posts.

  7. I am on the same page with most of your readers and commenters, after a while all these tasks of producing content and than tracking their success gets overwhelming after a while, but all these tasks are inevitable for success. The only way I could cope with this was to hire a few remote assistants who work for me online. Most of them are form overseas and because there is a huge time difference and also cultural difference, I needed a way to keep them under surveillance while they are working, which is sometimes during the night in my time zone. I found this great employee monitoring software that does everything I need from it, and it made this transition to having employees much easier to handle. Signing up for it is free, so anyone who wants to give it a look can do it without any risks. I hope my experience can help some of you get over this tough stage of having too much to do and too little time.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Leonard. Thanks for the link to the monitoring software. Do you use a remote assistant to help you track changes to your site or strategies? It would be great if you could give us an example of how you use assistants to help you. I know I’m at the point where I could use a virtual assistant but I don’t know what I’m willing to give up some control over. 🙂
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Does Twitter Drive Traffic to Your Website Blog?My Profile

  8. Hey Sherryl,
    Thanks for sharing a great, informative post with all of us here. It’s simple, but it’s so useful. Instead of beating about the bush, you’ve just hit the nail right on its head. And it’s easier for us (as readers) to understand what you’ve conveyed. These are certain basic things you can do to ensure your digital campaign is able to reap the desired results. Documentation is always an important part of any brand marketing campaign. It helps you keep a track of what is being done. And automatically, it helps you make practical decisions, as you learn from what you’ve done.

    1. Hi Sandra,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad that you found my post easy to understand. Sometimes, I’m a little worried that (because my posts can be rather lengthy) people might get bored. (Sometimes the topic itself doesn’t seem very exciting.) It’s always nice to hear from readers who appreciate the importance of tracking and documenting what we do.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Does Twitter Drive Traffic to Your Website Blog?My Profile

  9. Thanks for providing the review on tracking changes. I have a background in Finance and am amazed at all of the different ways we can use Excel for our business. I utilize spreadsheets to track keywords to see how effective recent marketing activity is. I also use Google docs to bring in twitter feeds to excel to track websites looking for guest post. Spreadsheets are an excellent tool to help us manage all of the data available!

  10. Hi Sherryl,

    Thanks for sharing a another well written and informative post. I must say, you have a style of writing that is very fluent and easy to read. Only one of the reasons for me making a return visit to read more of your posts.

    Thanks for sharing, looking forward to your upcoming posts.

  11. Hi Sherryl
    I want to try new strategies like guest blogging but i keep finding excuses. you have also given some other useful strategies which is worth following. Thanks for the share.

  12. I usually like to experiment with the design of my sites and with the topics I tackle. If I see noticeable improvements in traffic, bounce rate and other ratios, I know that these changes have made serious improvements. This is one of the techniques that helped me to gain new visitors and enhance the commitment of my readers.

  13. I installed a Wibiya toolbar on my website for better social media success. It allows the easy sharing of any page and even your site photos (if you enable that option). You can track your social traffic from your Wibiya control panel.

  14. Even a small change in layout or content presentation can have a long lasting implication on your traffic. To get maximum out of your traffic one need a great insight into the type of traffic that hits a blog or web site. Google analytics gives you a specialized coverage so that the traffic could be analyzed for different parameters and fine tune the content.

    1. Hi George,
      That was exactly the point that I was trying to make. A simple note in a spreadsheet can help us understand what we did that caused the change. I’ve made changes in my strategy that have had negative affects as well as positive. If it’s been a while, I may have forgotten what it is that I did. 🙂 Reviewing my spreadsheet usually sheds light on the cause. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Marketer vs Marketing: What Difference Does a Keyword Make?My Profile

  15. Nice post Sheryl but I totally depend on Google webmaster tools and analytic for check and balance for my websites.

    1. Hi Rizwan,
      I use spreadsheets in addition to Google webmaster tools and analytics. For example, when I test a new strategy, (such as tweeting less and subscribing more RSS feeds in Dlvr.IT), I log that into my spreadsheet. Then, after a month, I’ll check my Google Analytics to compare referral traffic from Twitter. I can then make an informed decision whether or not that particular strategy worked.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..What Makes Good Website Design? – (Part 3 of 3)My Profile

  16. Hi Sherryl.
    I use google webmaster tools and Google analyctics but my old favourite is Statcounter. You do need to pay a small monthly fee if your site is busy because a free account only shows your last 500 visitor details. It’s well worth it though. The visitor data is very detailed.
    You can break it down visitor by visitor to see who came from where, who found you in a seach, what they searched for, where you came in the search, where the visitor is from, what pages they visited, how long they were on each page, where they exited and much more.
    I also use it to root out new keywords to exploit as it throws up some unexpected ones in the keyword analysis section. As you might have guessed, I’m a pretty big fan of Statcounter. Lol.
    Steve recently posted..WordPress Plugins For SEOMy Profile

  17. I really appreciate your post Sherryl. It’s a useful and very informative post. Actually I am just starting on making a blog and I believe that this post will be able to help me on my journey on blogging. Thanks!

  18. Awesome Post, Sherryl!

    Never thought of using excel to keep track of all the changes and its effects (Like most others, I use just Google analytics for tracking the changes). But, at times, it is better to keep them track manually so that we will be able to identify the changes and do them again in a better manner to get more traffic.

    Thanks for the detailed post!

    Jeevan Jacob John

  19. Hi Sherryl,
    My Google Analytics data changes when I make some changes in my working pattern. I also use it to track my traffic and in this post you put light on a very important point that is ‘tracking’ to your website and it helps you to work on right direction which gives you success.

    1. Hi Pete,
      I think the idea of tracking causes and effects may be new to some readers. Doreen Pendgracs posted “I don’t like stats and avoid them”. 🙂 I know Doreen will pay more attention now to tracking things other than pure stats. We can use spreadsheets as a tracking tool without ever having to enter a formula. Thanks for joining us.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Simple Steps to Building Your Brand OnlineMy Profile

  20. Sherryl you have said much more accurate about the usages of Google Analytics and the Google Docs. But in my point of view there are some organizations who don’t wish to share their site info with Google! So at that time, the role of custom third party tracking system is required! and if nobody wants to share their site’s info with Zero expenses, the Open source tracking setup is the one which can make it done! The Piwik is one of the awesome open source tracking system! Thanks!

    1. If you feel uncomfortable about sharing your web stats with Google, you might want to consider Clicky at . There’s a free version, and the paid version is not expensive. It’s easy to set-up, very user-friendly and the stats and graphs are in real time. I’ve always been drawn to companies that go out of their way to ensure a great user experience. This is one of those companies.

      So bottom line is, a you noted, there are some good options beyond Google Analytics.

  21. Great article, Sherryll. In website redesign/launch, it is absolutely critical to track, measure, and improve. Otherwise, how could you possibly know what have a causation effect and not correlation.

  22. Thanks Sherryl. i am learning new things every time I visit your blog. Whenever I look the my Google Analytics , my page views were very few. So I stopped looking on it altogether.After joining the LinkedIn group, I started writing more and getting comments from real people.
    Now, I think, I am not afraid of looking on the statistics. So in the near future, I will start making a spread sheet for tracking the data.

    1. Hi Bindhurani,
      Thanks for letting me know that you’re finding my posts helpful I don’t get carried away tracking too much of the Google Analytics data in my spreadsheets because it’s so easy to compare online using Google’s tool. I do capture some of the data when I make a change. For example, I recently tweaked my Twitter strategy. When I did this, I noted the date, the change and the amount of referral traffic that I had got from Twitter for the past month. Next month, I’ll check that one number to see the affect my new strategy had.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Afraid to Move Your Website but Know You Should?My Profile

  23. Thanks for the great blog post, I haven’t heard of using spreadsheets before requires more work but sounds like a great way to keep track of what is going on, will try this thanks again.

    1. Hi Ryan,
      I use spreadsheets for the simplicity of managing the data. I find it easier to search, sort, copy and paste in a spreadsheet program than in a word processor. Also, I can have more information on the screen than I could with Word. As I mentioned in my reply to Doreen, there’s no math involved in most of my tracking worksheets. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you liked my article.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Ping Your Website Blog and When Not ToMy Profile

  24. Agreed Sherryl, for better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, all things should be tracked and then one’s campaign should be refined as you have refined yours.

  25. Hi Sherryl:
    Great post as usual.

    I don’t like spreadsheets and never use them. I don’t like stats and avoid them. But I always heed specific advice when given by experts (like you!) and am glad that you are here to guide me. I know that my writer’s blog is getting more traffic and more positive comments since you revamped it and I am grateful for that. But I really can’t wrap my head around numbers and spreadsheets make my head spin. So I think I’ll just go and eat some chocolate. 🙂
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..the different stages of a creative writing projectMy Profile

    1. You just made me smile Doreen. Eating chocolate sounds like a fun strategy. That’s usually what I revert to when my other strategies don’t work – or wine – a glass of wine can sometimes help too. 🙂

      If it’s any consolation, there’s no math involved in these spreadsheets. I just use Excel instead of a word processor because I find it easier to manage. I try to enter words like PROBLEM and SOLVED along with specific names of plugins or sites or strategies. That way, if I encounter something weird that’s happening and I think I’ve encountered it before, I can just use the Ctrl + F buttons to do a “find”. You could do this in Word too but to me, it’s just easier to manage in a spreadsheet. Plus, in Excel, I can have really wide columns that spread across my screen and it’s much neater and easier to manage. (Maybe I can help you embrace spreadsheets rather than avoid them.) 🙂
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are Your Website Visitors Sticking Around Or Bailing Out?My Profile

  26. Good suggestions Sherryl. As you know, I keep track on how my blog is doing on a continous basis. However, I don’t use excel and maybe I should be more meticulous with how I track what works for me and what does not.

    Recently left Pinterest because I, according to Google Analytics didn’t get any visitors from it. So what’s the point in taking the risk of being sued for breach of copy right when you don’t even gain from doing so?
    Catarina Alexon recently posted..How many people live in shantytowns?My Profile

    1. Hi Catarina,
      You may not be using Excel but I know you keep a close eye on where your traffic is coming from. I understand your reasoning for not participating on Pinterest. I don’t think it’s a good fit for you. I’m going to continue sharing infographics on Pinterest because I think it is a good fit for me. Although I don’t see any traffic coming directly to my site from Pinterest, I do see a lot of people re-pinning the infographics that I’ve pinned. So, although I can’t measure it, I believe I am building awareness of myself (and hopefully my blog). As for copyright issues, since the infographics I share clearly credit the source (through the URL or domain name), I shouldn’t run into problems there. (I’m actually doing those bloggers a favor by sharing for them.)

      Your cautions about Pinterest should certainly be taken seriously. (This could lead us into a whole new discussion! Thanks.)

  27. Wow – I didn’t realize I was missing so much! Thanks for the info. I’m definitely going to do the facebook social plug in and tweak my title tag. I’ll be back for more info in the future!

  28. Hi Sherryl

    While I’ve always tracked the common things in relation to blog growth and keep a fairly detailed spreadsheet on posts and the like, its never occured to me to track changes made to the site. It would make things a hell of a lot easier to find hiccups and problems as well as seeing increases in other metrics

    I’ve always just kept sort of mental notes on this, but there’s only so much the brain can hold…I think I’m nearing 99% capacity lol.

    Thanks for the suggestions, adding this to my tasks list

    1. Hi Jackie,
      I think I’m nearing 99% capacity too. The only thing that helps me keep my sanity is the fact that I try to track anything that I think is important. I’m sure you remember the post I wrote after the W3TC plugin destroyed my theme. I would never have thought I’d need to know all those little things like my column widths and the different fonts I used. I expected them to have been included in my backups. If it weren’t for an almost compulsive need to track things, I would have really been up the creek without a paddle. 🙂 It wasn’t pretty but I was able to recreate my theme thanks to one of my worksheets.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Can Someone Tell What Your Website/Blog Is About In 3 Seconds?My Profile

      1. Yes I remember it well Sherryl. All those little things that we think are insignificant can turn into really significant issues when there’s a problem. I think sometimes we rely to heavily on tech to save our bacon…like backups and the like, but the proof is in the pudding as you’ve displayed, without a little manual housekeeping on your part it could have been a whole other story for your site.
        We can all learn a lesson from this…none of us are imune to problems whether they’re of our own doing or caused by someone else.

  29. Organization really helps you grow or even just stay afloat. It is like a story if you have the proper organization you will know what happened to your business for what reasons. So you can change positively.

  30. Good gracious… I thought I was organized but it never occured to me to track such data. I do look on my analytics site regularly but have only stored trends in my head. Certainly seems worth the while to track visitors.

    I may have to try the Facebook social plugin you mention. Just recently I’ve noticed that all my “like” and “tweet” counters have gone back to zero. Not sure why. I had a decent following that is not being accounted for.

  31. I look at analytics stats, but I don’t really spend too much time with it. I know it is a powerful statistic tool.

    I do see the Facebook social plugin code thing on a lot of websites. Good to hear that it doubled your likes. I have thought about using it, but haven’t done so yet. I might test it out in the near future and see what happens. I don’t use Facebook as much as Twitter though.
    Ray recently posted..How to Enable Windows 7 GodmodeMy Profile

  32. Great tips Sherryl and as you said once you set it up it makes updating really easy. I don’t track all the changes on my site but will follow your lead as it makes sense. One thing that I am setting up and have done it in the past is use Excel to have a simple graph that is easy to update and shows the key activities, analytics and results so I can see the trends over time.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Susan Oakes recently posted..Grow Your Business With SegmentationMy Profile

  33. Just started documenting again. Funny how as a small business we forget that we forget. In corporate, everything is documented and time stamped. We need that discipline in all businesses

    1. Hi Roberta,
      It is discipline but it can be rewarding (especially to those of us like you and I who come from the corporate world). To me, it’s just a habit. Whenever I get ready to work on any website, I open the corresponding worksheet. Thanks for taking the time to come by. (I’ll be checking out what V.R.I.O. is soon. You’ve piqued my curiosity.)
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do You Have to Be Starbucks to Need a Logo?My Profile

  34. Sherryl, I don’t use a spread sheet to track the items that you mention, although it certainly seems like a good idea. One thing I did a few months ago was to tweak my title tag — the most important element to attract Google’s attention. That one change drove my average traffic up by 20-30%, which is a significant increase.

    I do track where my traffic is coming from every day. Since I started blogging, search engines by far have become my my biggest source of traffic. The downside is that many of those visitors bounce right off my site. I’m actually astounded at the length of time some people stay on my site who arrived via referral traffic, which I consider to be more important than the casual visitor from Google.
    Jeannette Paladino blogging, branding recently posted..Why Can’t Graphic Designers and Their Clients Ever Agree?My Profile

    1. That’s great Jeannette. You may not use a spreadsheet but you did keep track of the date that you tweaked your title. How you track your updates isn’t as important as the fact that you do track them.

      What tweak did you make to your title? Did you add your name or something else? You’ve mentioned before that you have a much higher rate of bounce traffic from visitors who arrive through search. I know my rate is higher but I’ll have to go back and take a closer look at it.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Website Hosting More than Just a Server?My Profile

      1. Sherryl —

        This is a duh! response (to myself). I researched the words that were being searched for my primary offerings: blogging, social media, employee engagement and branding. I also did a search on LinkedIn, which is my primary social media network, to see how I ranked for my key words. So that’s how I determined the ones I used. My title tag, which is readily available for anyone to see at the very top of my blog are: How to blog, social media writer, and employee engagement. I also kept within the recommended length of characters (most title tags are too long.)

        Maybe my posts were becoming so dazzling (doubtful) that it caused the spike in traffic. But I do believe it was changing the title tag which I thought to do after viewing a video on the topic. I knew the title tag was important but I didn’t realize just how critical it was until I changed it. So my advice to people — take a second look at your title tag!

        1. Thanks Jeannette. I can’t see blog titles in Google Chrome. (It may be the way I have Chrome configured.) That’s why I asked. (I should have just fired up Firefox but my computer was being cranky at the time.) I have both browsers open now and I see what you’ve done. So, you don’t have “write, speak” or “sell” in your title at all. That’s interesting. You’ve got me thinking about testing a few keywords in my title now but I don’t dare change it too much. My brand includes the words “Keep Up Web” and my name. So, that’s what I have in my title. I may test adding a couple of keywords after and see what happens. That’s great that this strategy worked for you.

          I’m curious, your Twitter ID includes your name. Did you test your name in your title tag?

          1. Sherryl, I didn’t test my name in my title tag. People who know my name can type it in search and they can find me – actually direct traffic is my second greatest referral source after search engines. I want to use key words that people are searching who don’t know me. When I chose my Twitter name I honestly didn’t even think of using key words. You might type in “keep up web” in Google and see how many searches it gets. That may tell you whether you might want to use other key words people are using to search for your kinds of service offerings.
            Jeannette Paladino blogging, branding recently posted..Why Can’t Graphic Designers and Their Clients Ever Agree?My Profile

  35. Well, here’s a lot of stuff I don’t do yet! It didn’t occur to me to track traffic in relation to new plug-ins, etc., but that makes perfect sense. As with everything, organization is key.

    I’ve actually been meaning to write you – at some point when you did some new things on my site, the Google Analytics stopped working. I haven’t checked back again, but it was saying “0” or visitors, and I know that’s not true!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

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