Personal Hell And Back

Dukeo » Dukeo » personal hell back
99 responsesDukeo10 min read

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.

The past 2 years have been the most challenging time of my life. I went through rough times and faced tremendous challenges. Whoever tells you that the entrepreneur life is a cake walk is probably just messing with you.

When quitting my previous job to commit full time with my online career, I knew it would not always be easy. You can’t expect to be constantly growing in today’s economy without hitting some bumps. And the bumps I’ve hit in the past 2 years were more like brick walls.

Join 12,020 bloggers taking my FREE Course: How to Start a Money-Making Blog in 7 Days»

Let me give you a quick overview of what happened to my business in that period of time.

1. Associating with the wrong people

associating wrong people

Two years ago, I was doing pretty well. My business was growing substantially every month and it felt great. I moved to a new country while keeping my business on the right track. I was planning to start a secondary company in order to develop my own traffic source.

When I arrived in my new place, an old friend from high-school reconnected with me. (I’ll call him M. because I don’t want to out his identity). My online successes were never secret and from what I understood, M. wanted a piece of the action. I was quite skeptical because he had zero experience at being an entrepreneur and no online venture of his own. He’d been living the 9-to-5 life forever, so I was afraid he would not be able to commit. (And boy, was I right).

But M. was a programmer and that’s exactly what I needed to start this new project… So I spent a long time explaining to him that being an entrepreneur is not like a 9-to-5 job, you have to put in crazy hours in the beginning and the return is minimal (i.e. you can’t pay yourself for quite some time). He seemed to understand so I gave him a chance.

We opened the new company and started working on the project. A deadline was set to a couple months later for an Alpha version of the project. Little did I know that he had absolutely no intention of committing to the project as needed. Instead, he kept his 9-to-5 rhythm for a while, then started getting crazy drunk every other day.

Whenever we went to networking events to test the waters for our project, he was bragging about being in a start-up and how we were going to capture people’s data and spam the shit out of them. Let’s just say: super bad image for our project. Instead of getting people excited about it, he was destroying its reputation before the launch.

Fast forward 2 months, he missed the deadline. No surprise there, he was slacking off like crazy. I got him to set a second deadline 2 months later, that he missed. Then a third yet another month later, that he missed as well. I was starting to get pretty pissed that he was not working enough so we had a mild argument. As a responsible adult & entrepreneur, M. stopped working totally during a week after the argument to show me that he didn’t appreciate being scolded. I was like “WTF dude?! You’re already 5 months late.

And finally, after 7 months of slacking off, M. decided to simply give up on the project.

To top it off, two hours after announcing me that he was quitting, he was having a meeting with a direct competitor to try to get a job while bringing our project with him.

As if it wasn’t enough, I was waiting for the project to be launched to get a visa to settle in that new country. Thanks to my big-time friend M. I never got it and ended up being kicked out of the country.

When looking back at this situation, I realize that nothing good could have come out of this situation. The hints were significant but I discarded them for the wrong reason: he used to be a friend.

M. is the kind of guy we call a “caviar socialist” in France. In other words, he talks the talk, but he doesn’t walk the walk. He’s going to argue with you for hours that rich people should pay more taxes in France, yet he lives in a tax haven, is married to an investment banker, doesn’t pay any rent (wife owns the place) and goes on vacation to dream destinations every 2 months (thanks to the wife again). I should have spotted right from the start that he was a leech, but I didn’t.

Here’s another word of wisdom for you: be careful who you’re listening to. Before we launched the company, everyone we knew was like: “That’s awesome, you’re going to do great together“. One year later, the same people were all: “We knew it couldn’t work, you know how M. is… The guy is just a slacker.

Always do your homework and triple-check everything before going on a joint venture with someone. Especially if they are wantrepreneurs instead of entrepreneurs.

From this point, I won’t get into any joint venture with someone unless they have a proven track record as entrepreneur. It simply doesn’t make sense to waste time and energy on people who want the benefits without putting in the effort.

2. All eggs in one basket

eggs one basket

At that point, I was left with a company being closed before even starting doing business, my first company was slowing down because I neglected it while developing the new business, and no place to live because I just got kicked out from the previous country.

While we were working on the new company with M., I left my first one on autopilot: big mistake. The profits decreased slowly but it was still coming in, so I didn’t worry too much. I enjoyed my time while traveling around various countries.

Two months later, I received an email that crumbled my world: the affiliate program that was making 99% of my income got terminated.

I had a panic attack.

I had grown reckless over time, and I didn’t want to see that I was in a very dangerous situation. All my eggs were in the same basket, and in the blink of an eye I lost that basket.

I completely freaked out because I was left with zero income, and it paralyzed me for several months.

3. Downward spiral

downward spiral

When I was making good money, I had decided to grow some side projects and I didn’t stop them when I lost my source of income. As a result, I kept pouring money into them for months.

After a few months of complete paralysis, I started some smaller scale projects to secure a regular income that would be my safety net when I get hit like that a second time. I started building authority sites in a few niches, convinced that SEO would be the key to more security.

The traffic started picking up and I started earning a small income from these sites. But it was not covering the costs involved into developing stellar content and growing a decent audience for them.

In order to decrease my personal spending, I had also moved back to the family home.

After 9 months in the red, reality hit me: my company was bankrupt.

I was back to square one with a few extras: broke, in depression, overweight (thanks to depression, I had put on some weight), and with no business.

4. Getting my shit back together

fresh start

When you hit rock bottom, you have only 2 options: give up, or go up. (Click to tweet)

I realized that I was not being held down by what happened in the past 2 years, but I was paralyzed by my vision of these events. When you fail big time, it’s not easy to get back on your feet.

My failure looked so big that I was scared shitless of failing again. I was completely depressed, but not yet ready to give up on everything. I still got a shot at life.

Health first!

First thing was to get my weight back under control. Being a depressed couch potato was not for me anymore.

When I lost my mom, I learned the hard way that when health is not good, other things in your life tends to go wrong as well.

I started eating more healthy and in more reasonable quantities, and doing a little exercise.

Since I took the decision of getting my life back, I’ve been consistently losing between 1.1 and 2.2 lbs per week. To date, I have lost almost 30 lbs and I feel so much better!

When I was eating crap all day long, I was feeling like crap. Now that I eat healthier, I feel a lot more energized and my productivity went through the roof.

Then capital!

the second step was to grow some capital to:

  1. Cover my minimal living expenses,
  2. Grow a business again.

To grow some capital fast, there is no better way than CPA arbitrage. Once you get some working campaigns, you can literally blow things up.

The downside is that you need some seed money for hosting, tracking, traffic… So I scraped together all the remaining monies I could find to use as seed money.

Since I was on a very tight budget, whenever possible, I used free trials or $1 trials to get data from tools I needed to build some campaigns. I prepared a list of all the information I needed before signing up anywhere, and watched video tutorials for these tools so I knew my way around before even signing up.

After signing up for the trials, I knew I was on a tight schedule so I was getting all the data that I needed as fast as possible, then canceling my subscriptions before the end of the trials.

Once I had data, I started building some very small campaigns and ran them with limited budgets to optimize them on-the-go while limiting my losses.

I soon hit some winning campaigns that I managed to grow very fast thanks to weekly payment terms with my preferred affiliate networks.

One of the biggest challenges for me is to focus on what brings the best ROI. As online entrepreneurs, there are always new opportunities and new ideas to develop. It’s important to learn to say “no“.

I have new projects’ ideas every single day. But instead of jumping from a project to the other, I’m now focusing exclusively on the tasks that will put the most money in my pockets. I’ll have time for new projects when I won’t have to worry about paying for food anymore.

Building assets!

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. (Click to tweet)

In the past, I used to build basic CPA arbitrage campaigns: buy traffic cheap, send traffic to offers, make a margin. The problem with that model is that it’s a hit or miss: when traffic stops, so does your income. I made this mistake once before, I’m not going to make it again!

To secure an income, I’m using the capital from my CPA arbitrage campaigns to build some long term assets. The idea is to build 3 websites is specific niches. I plan to use these 3 websites with both SEO and paid traffic. Each of them has their own persona as the face of the website owner. I crafted detailed biographies complete with Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts, so the visitors of each site can relate to them and it’s way easier to build an audience.

These 3 websites are still in very early stages because I’m a lot more careful with my capital, but they’re going to be awesome resources for everyone in these niches. When you lose everything once, you learn to manage things better.

5. To sum it up

Shit happened, snowballed from bad to worse, then slow recovery. (Click to tweet)

Well, that’s it for today. It feels both weird to sum up over 2 years of my life in a single blog post, and good to share it with you. I hope you appreciate the blunt honesty in there. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, it would mean the world to me if you could use one (or several) of the social network buttons up there to share this article with your friends. Thanks!


Start Your Blog Right Now!

Join 12,020 bloggers taking my FREE course:How to Start a Money-Making Blog in 7 DaysSimply input your best email below to get started.



  1. Ray John

    Hey Steven!

    I’m really glad you’re back! Your blog is one of those that I first stumbled upon when I was learning about setting up sites and seo. Nice to know that you decided to come back!
    Keep moving forward!

    Love the new look of your blog by the way!

    1. Steven

      Thanks a lot for the nice words Ray.

      It’s truly heartwarming to know that you’ve been following Dukeo since you started working online.

    2. Ray John

      When you’re down, there’s no way but UP!

      Like what Napoleon Hill said:

      “Remember, too, that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they “arrive.” The turning point in the lives of those who succeed, usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their other selves.”

      I’ll be looking forward to your future posts Steven!

  2. Robert Connor

    Live and learn right! Failure gives you the opportunity to begin again more wisely – best regards Robert Connor

    1. Steven

      Unfortunately, not all failures are created equal. Some are a lot harder to overcome than others. Things are looking better now.

  3. Russ

    Steven: Thanks for that candid summary. Given the quality of content that you provide at Dukeo (and probably other platforms, too), I can only say that there are many of us out here that appreciate your insights, your candor, and will find this inspiring. Congrats on moving in the right direction!

    1. Steven

      Thanks for your comment Russ. I’ve always been trying to provide the highest quality of information for my readers. Hopefully this post will help some people to avoid some of these mistakes.

  4. Lindsay

    WOW! – Kudos to you for making positive changes, difficult decisions and turning the boat around – onward and upward!

    1. Steven

      As I’ve said in the post, it’s been a very challenging time for me. The important thing is to never give up and keep moving forward, but when you’re hit really hard, it’s not that easy.

  5. Sunrise Guided Visualizations

    I am sorry to read that your friend betrayed you. You gave him your best, and you deserved the best in return. You are a good person — trusting, honest, mature, and open.

    You are so right — set-backs are inevitable, and we just need to learn how to deal with them and recover from them. Life goes on.

    As I have often said, “Oh, no, here comes a personal growth experience! I hate personal growth experiences!” But they happen to us all, and if we are smart, we do grow.

    I wish you all the best! From one entrepreneur to another, from my heart to yours – Sunrise

    1. Steven

      You know what they say… Shit happens.

      What I learned is that you shouldn’t mix inexperienced friends and business. It leads to complicated situations.

  6. Andi Leeman

    Wow, honesty on the table. Very glad you are back on an upward path. That is one hell of a story. I was once in a partnership and sometimes they say ‘Partnership, sinking ship’ it can be hard when one is not pulling the same way or doing the required amount of work.

    A lesson I have learned is to not neglect the business that is feeding you. Great honest post and I look forward to reading more. BTW, need any writing doing for your sites, feel free to contact me. I might not be good at the CPA Arbitrage and stuff like you but my writing is pretty good :-)

    1. Steven

      Hey Andi, you’re absolutely right. I guess we should have written more clearly from the start what would be the tasks of each one and a way to make sure we respect that.

      In most partnerships, people don’t have the same area of expertise, it’s good when they add value to the table and when they’re able to pull their share of the weight.

      But in my case, it didn’t happen.

  7. Connor


    I am saddened to hear of your struggles, but also relieved to know that you’ve found the strength to rebound. Loving the new look of the website. I’m sure you’ve got some great things in the works and I hope we can stay in touch so that I can witness your resurgence and continued dedication to the online community of entrepreneurs. Thanks for sharing, it makes reading a post on Dukeo more relatable than ever.

    Good luck and best wishes,


    1. Steven

      I guess we all go through some struggles at some point in our entrepreneur career.

      Before it happened to me, I thought that people who were giving up on life because of a major setback with their business were fools. Now that it happened to me, I find it to make a lot more sense.

      I probably won’t be as active on Dukeo as I once was because I don’t make much money from this site, but I’ll certainly keep you posted on my comeback.

  8. Jerri Mccombs

    Thanks for sharing your experiences over the last two years. I have subscribed to your blog for quite some time and learn and enjoy. I am glad you are back! I wish you well on your next chapter. And I suspect that you will do very well this time around :)

    I absolutely agree that working for yourself is much more intense than working for anyone else, if you are a true entrepreneur. I requires more focus, more time and a whole lot more work.

    Good Luck, I am excited to see you back.

    1. Steven

      The major difference this time is that I’ll be prepared for when the next wave hits me. I won’t be caught with my pants down a second time.

      Focusing on profitability is my new motto.

  9. Patricia Haag

    Steven – I was delighted to find something from you in my e-mail. I would sometimes check your site hoping to find an update.

    What a hard time you’ve had, though. So glad to see you are getting back on your feet. Stay strong!

    1. Steven

      Hello Patricia, this was my pleasure ;)

      Thanks a lot for the words of encouragement. It means a lot to me.

  10. Howard Lee Harkness

    ” But instead of jumping from a project to the other, I’m now focusing exclusively on the tasks that will put the most money in my pockets.”

    I’ve seen variations of that advice enough times now that I’m finally following it myself.

    Focus — and choose ONE path (at a time, and follow it to completion). Shiny Object Syndrome is a primary cause of failure.

    PS — I wondered if you intentionally pulled the plug on Dukeo.

    1. Steven

      So many people are struggling with shiny object syndrome, that’s crazy. When did we became creatures with such a short attention span?!

      Pulling the plug on Dukeo was more of a consequence. I was in heavy depression for some time, then I simply focused on more lucrative activities.

    2. Howard Lee Harkness

      I think the shortening of attention span started in the late 1950’s when television started its major penetration into our lives with completely passive entertainment.

      People are now migrating to online entertainment, but the passive model still dominates.

      I consider myself fortunate that my parents limited my TV watching in the 60’s, and that I did not fall into the 20+ hours/week TV habits that seems to be the rule these days. In the past 3 decades, I have watched maybe 300 hours of TV, total. In the past 3 years, that has been closer to 10 hours total.

      I also dislike internet video, although I can clearly see that it is the current Big Thing, and I will be trying to leverage that into a money maker over the next few months.

  11. Commonsensebrent

    Great advice Ste’. The failed partnerships happen to most entrepreneurs at one time or another.

    I’ve learned (the hard way) NEVER go into business with friends or family.

    ps, what you call a “caviar socialist” in France, here in the states, we refer to them as ‘Limousine Liberals’.

    1. Steven

      It’s been a tough lesson for me. Probably even more because of the unfortunate timing of several setbacks that ended up piling up on each other.

      Ha, I didn’t know about the american version. Thanks a lot for letting me know :)

  12. Donna Foreverserenity

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your experience Ste´. Congrats on finding your way back. Thx for being upfront and honest with us your readers. I hope that guy gets his for being such a menace. Looking forward to reading your new writings!:-)

    1. Steven

      I used to be quite spiteful about what happened with that failed partnership, but I realized that it was just a waste of energy and that I’d better use my time and energy in positive ways and just let it go.

      You reap what you sow. It will come back to haunt him soon enough.

  13. Donna Foreverserenity

    You are right of course. Wasted energy to even talk about , I know.

  14. Darren Streibig

    Great article, thanks for sharing.

    I know from my own experience that all of these subjects are spot on. When dealing with people, you must always ask yourself if that person has the capacity to operate in an entrepreneurial capacity. Can they take the risk of creating something themselves? Big question!

    And it is especially true that you need to be diverse and creative with your skills to keep you from putting all your eggs in one basket. Eventually, we will all find our niche, and possibly focus on one type of activity that is most profitable. But we will always need the capability to keep agile and competitive.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Steven

      Hey Darren, thanks or stopping by!

      IMO it’s mostly a matter of drive. Most people are wantrepreneurs but they don’t have the necessary drive to achieve anything. This was clearly the problem with M. He fantasized the entrepreneurial lifestyle but he forgot that this lifestyle is achievable only after you put in a ridiculous amount of (unpaid) work.

      What I learned about not having all your eggs in the same basket is that there’s a tight balance to find between being a one trick pony and spreading yourself too thin with many projects.

  15. Tony Humeston

    I had my own business for thirty years and retired early to write. In order to be successful one must pray, be brutally honest with yourself, Put in a endless number of 72 hour weeks.

    Deny yourself little pleasures for big ones at a later date. Never consider defeat. Success in business is timing as much as anything. tonyh

    1. Steven

      Tony, you’re spot on with delayed gratification: concept totally foreign to a lot of people.

  16. Nita Couch

    I appreciate your honesty and feel for your discomfort. My sister and I, at her suggestion, decided to set up an LLC to publish our books we were writing for children. She ended up leaving all the work to me as she took off on other projects. I have been struggling with who to follow and what do I actually need to keep this afloat. I have made less than $50 in the last year in commissions on the books. I have gained some odd jobs with other authors, illustrating for them or editing their book. I am so stubborn I just won’t give up. I have just started up a class to teach children to write and illustrate their own books. I will not make any money but I will at least be doing something.

    I wish you every ounce of success you deserve and would like to know how you are doing in the future. Nita Couch

    1. Steven

      The problem with these situations is that even if she’s your sister, when it will be time to reap the profits, she might “forget” that you were the one doing the work all along on your own.

      It’s great to hear that you’re working with children. Best wishes for your business!

      Keep me posted on your progress. :)

  17. Tony Quinn

    Dude I was wondering what happened to you. I am still new to this and I was getting several emails from you when all of a sudden they quit coming in. Glad to see you are back on track and look forward to receiving more info. from you in the future. If you don’t mind go check out my web sites and let me know how I am doing,as I said before my friend I have only been working online now for about 6 months. Right now I am still a bit leary on how to build my own products so I am just working the affiliate angle right now until I learn more. You article was very inspiring to me as I am still in my beginning stages. Please check out my sites and let me know how I am doing, you can criticize all you want it want hurt me at all, it will help me to do better next time. Yor friend in cyber space,and keep up the good work man. Tony L. Quinn

    1. Steven

      Well, Tony, as you can see, I’m still alive. :)

  18. Iva

    You know what they say – (with hind sight) – “Never work with friends or family.” Daughter tried to run a beauty salon, taking on a friend, with my daughter as Manager, friend couldn’t hack my daughter being in charge and quit – business failed but daughter is on to next business idea.

    If you want an inspiring story read about Thomas Edison who said about his incandescent light bulb

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
    ― Thomas A. Edison”

    His complete story here

    Good Luck in your new ventures

    1. Steven

      Hey Iva, that’s the general saying, but I also know of some very successful people who are working together as friends or even as couples. However, it’s true that there are more disastrous stories that happy ones.

      I’ll check Thomas Edison’s story soon. Thanks for sharing it with me.

  19. Sherry

    It’s good to hear from you again! I had been wondering what happened since I haven’t gotten any emails for a long while. Sorry to hear of all these troubles you’ve had…that really is terrible of your old “friend” to let you down like that.

    I truly appreciate the honesty in your post. I find it inspiring that you were able to build your way back up again after all these difficulties. The past year and even the start of this year has been a rough time for me, so I sure needed the inspiration to keep on going. Thank you!

    I’ll be looking forward to reading your future posts!

    1. Steven

      As you can see, it’s been a tough period of time for me and I was deeply into depression, thus unable to keep things going in here.

      Thanks for your nice words. I think there’s no need to pretend and I’ve always been completely honest with my readers.

      I wish you the best!

  20. Jan

    thanks for the honest update, glad you’re back and healthy!

    1. Steven

      Thank you for your nice words Jan. It means a lot to me to get these nice messages from everyone.

  21. Frederica Ehimen

    Steven, wow what an awful story, some times our friends do us the worst! SO happy that… That’s all behind you now and you’re back to writing great blogs and giving your readers all of the information that they need.

    Best regards,


    1. Steven

      Hello Frederica, from what I’ve experienced, it’s usually our friends that end up hurting us the most because they are closer to us.

  22. Tibi

    Hi Steven,
    Your determination to come back is inspiring!

    This post might be the “sign” I was waiting for. Lately I was talking to a programmer that is doing projects from time to time for my business, trying to get him as a partner, even though in the back of my mind his forever 9 to 5 job rutine didn’t really sound encouraging.
    My future partnership looks too similar to yours, and I think that for my safety I will not go with it anymore. It was feeling like I was more interested in it than my friend anyway.

    So, thank you for sharing your story! It was like the advise I couldn’t find until now.
    Glad you’re back!

    1. Steven

      Tibi, there are plenty of partnership that are working perfectly well. But as I explained in the post, my own experience was absolutely terrible.

      I’m sorry to hear that you won’t get into that partnership anymore. To make sure you’re taking the right decision, just ask yourself if you really NEED to get into a partnership with that person. Will that get things better than the current situation? If not, don’t get into it.

  23. Raghu

    Hi Steven,

    Dukeo is one of my first blog subscriptions ever. Being a learner in this industry and not a techiee.. I can imagine the step u had taken reg ur techiee friend! To put it straight, your experiences provided me with great insights. I wish you get back asap.

    Just a thought and hope it would be helpful to you. Why dont u hire a techie and designer in India to get ur projects done? U will get great resources here at a minimal cost.


    1. Steven

      Raghu, I’m really happy if my (bad) experience provided you with some actionable insight. The worst situations are not complete losses if they teach you something.

  24. Oana

    Hi there Steven!
    really glad to see you back. I thought you might have stopped writing on dukeo for good.

    Looking forward to your weekly newsletter :)

    1. Steven

      Hey Oana, thank you for your comment.

      I don’t think I’ll be posting as often as I used to, but I’ll do my best to keep you posted on my progress :)

  25. David Starke

    thanks for the insightful blog Steven. I’ve been thinking about developing an app lately, and this really opened my eyes to some possible problems. Thanks for helping me avoid pitfalls ahead of time.

    1. Steven

      Best of luck with your app development David!

  26. Hadass Eviatar

    Glad to have you back, Steven! What you are doing looks very interesting … good luck with it!

    1. Steven

      Thanks for the nice words Hadass

  27. Patricia Dowdy

    So much of what is blogged today is a variation of Sameness. We know; social media, traffic building, content vs images—

    We go through a lot of health destroying crap that can often lead to nowhere. Billions of people repeating what the other person just said–whew!

    Thanks for setting the record straight Steve. You look good here. Your words leaves us all saying–finally someone to whom I can elate.

    To your health and your prosperity!

    1. Steven

      Hey Patricia, this was pretty much the topic of my previous posts. A lot of bloggers keep regurgitating the same stuff over and over again.

  28. Rosa

    Thanks for sharing the struggles and wisdom gained in this episode of your life.

    Life IS a stuggle. Marriage and relationships can be a struggle. And of course, launching an blogging career or becoming an entrepreneur in any field is definitely a struggle. The real truth is self-employed folks work more hours than typical employees.

    Undergoing a life experience like yours is one of the best teachers. YOU are wiser now than when you first started out…your posting proves that.

    Your list of tips of what you have learned to do or not to do is a good way to evaluate this new wisdom and I thank you for the honesty. (We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror every morning.)

    What is missing from the list is the spiritual component of this path you are one. All good folks who recognize the values of contributing to society, good business practices, recognizing solid character in others, a conviction in our own personal ethics and a belief that the work one does CAN and WILL make a difference in the world—are needed in business. This foundation can be evidence that a uplifting spirituality in our work-life cannot be ignored. OR IF spirituality IS ignored—the result manifests itself in business scandals like the Madoff Ponzi crime that even the affluent were not able to brush off.
    I loved reading the comments from all the others, too. You have sparked a good conversation. Congratulations on hanging in and hangin on!

    As a colleague tells me: “Not all tecchies are robots, we have hearts, souls and a are pretty damn happy to be alive doing what we do….for the good of humankind.”

    Be well.

    1. Steven

      Thanks a lot for your comment Rosa. This brings even more food for thoughts to me. We all face struggles at some point in our lives, but losing pretty much everything you sacrificed most of your adult life for, is terrible. Rebuilding yourself is a time-consuming and painful experience when you went so far down the rabbit hole.

  29. Jeffrey B

    Hi Steven –

    Cathartic column. Anyone who’s every accomplished much of anything in the startup world has some version of your story to share. Not necessarily as extreme as yours, but impactful nonetheless. Sounds like a total helluva hassle – emotional, disruptive in many, many ways, and hugely distracting from the direction(s) you want to pursue.

    I tuned into your blog maybe 8-10 months ago and was very impressed with the quality AND quantity of your posts – all solid, well written, and useful to any of us who are interested in establishing a quality online presence. Now I know why you disappeared. Sorry you’ve been in such a hole and had to deal with such a ridiculous business “partner” over the past number of months. Just be glad you discovered and dealt with this guy early on. Unfortunately, there are far too many charlatans masquerading in this field (like most fields), and they cost us so much more than the actual $$ involved.

    Glad to know you are in recovery and moving ahead again. Next time, make sure you have the highest degree of confidence based on empirical knowledge before entrusting your future… you deserve far better and hopefully you are experiencing a “new dawn” that will help you accelerate toward the goals that really matter to you.

    Best regards and wishes for renewed success!

    1. Steven

      Hey Jeffrey, it’s been both painful and liberating to write this post. I think it was the last step I needed to take to push me on the recovery route. What I went through was tough but I try to take it with more distance now and get something positive out of it.

      I’m really glad that you’ve been enjoying the blog since you found it. I’m certainly putting a lot of effort even if I barely made any money from it.

      Helping others is a rewarding thing to do, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay for the rent or for food. This is why I probably won’t invest as much time as I used to in this site. On the other hand, I’ll try my best to keep providing as much value as possible for everyone.

  30. Karen Cote

    Betrayal is hard to overcome which is most likely what you were hit with the hardest. Here is what I’ve discovered about you my friend and I’ve only been following you for about a year. YOU are talented. YOU have known success and it will be yours again. YOU contribute to lives and make them better. YOU constantly give to others in sharing your talent.

    A well-known motivational speaker named Jim Rohn had this quote and it applies to you in so many ways.

    “It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire in the first place.”

    The person you are and wish to be is the person you’ve already become.

    Thanks for sharing and I’m excited to see how you bounce back and I can’t wait to learn of your triumphs.

    You are special. Thank you for giving all that you do…even when you’re down.

    1. Steven

      Thank you so much for the comforting words Karen. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

  31. Anneliz Hannan

    Great to have you back and appreciate your sharing your personal story. I look forward to your excellent work. May 2014 bring you success and good health.

    1. Steven

      Anneliz, thanks for your comment. I’ll be looking forward for more comments from you in the future :)

  32. Andrew

    Exercise and proper vitamins (like D) help get your test and mood back to an even keel… Good luck with your ventures. Most entrepreneurs have a large failure, bankruptcy or legal action, and they bounced back. Now you have a good story for the book you will write when you make it bigger than before!

    1. Steven

      Hey Andrew, I’ve already improved a lot my eating habits. When I’ll reach my target weight, I’ll look into complements to stabilize.

      The book thing is an interesting way to put it. I’ll think about it. hehe

  33. Mery Bracho

    Hi Steven, it has been a very dificcult time for ypu, I read it allí. Thanks to Giod you are better. I missed not receiving your posts and wonder what happened to you. I encourage you to go ahead and be strong , you have new oportunities to be successful. Take care and thank you for all you blogging Help.

    1. Steven

      Hello Mery! I’m back on the blog and I’m super motivated to reach an even higher success than before!

  34. Mate

    Hi Steven! ;)

    I’m really glad that you are back man and as you said shit happens sometime. Just focus on the things that are important to you now and like Marley says: “every little thing is gonna be alright”.

    Cheers man. ;)

    1. Steven

      Thanks for your comment, Mate. It’s been very encouraging to read all the positive messages in these comments.

  35. Magdalena

    Dear Steven, Reading your story brought back memories from my own life. I know how it feels loosing everything to have no home, income and more. Life comes around in a full circle as it came to you. Perhaps your journey was necessary to show you where your business talent and passion should be. With your hard work and practical advice you built a community that is dedicated to you because you have been contributing into peoples life’s in a positive way. Thank you for sharing your story and welcome back. P.S. I too, like your new outlook. Magdalena

    1. Steven

      Dear Magdalena, I’m sorry to hear that you went through some big struggles as well.

      These difficulties certainly taught me some invaluable lessons, but I’ll still need time before taking them as blessings in disguise.

  36. Adam Rowles

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    I would like to know more about your social personas you created.
    Where did you find appropriate images (profile images etc)?

    1. Steven

      Hey Adam, thanks for your comment.

      These new sites will be the subject of another post in the near future. Stay tuned!

  37. Blake

    Thank you you for adding value and encouragement to my initial blogging startup. You are gifted to help others. Continue and you will always be successful.

    1. Steven

      Blake, than you for posting a comment in here. I’m really happy whenever I hear that I’ve been a source of inspiration for other people.

  38. William Butler

    Hey Steven,

    I’m so sorry what you went through, and I empathize with you. As soon as I got your Email, I read your story, then shared it with my wife, asking her how familiar your story is to something very similar that I have been through in the past 2 years as well.

    You think you know certain people, that you can take them at their word, that they can be trusted. But to ask all that of some people is like squeezing sand too tightly in your hands.

    I wish you every success in all you do. If there is any way that I can help you, please let me know.

    Kind Regards,

    1. Steven

      Hello William, the problem is that mixing people you like, with business and money is a recipe for disaster. Some people will always try to get as much money as possible out of you, and preferably while putting as little effort as possible. I’ll certainly never work again with someone who’s previously a friend.

  39. Lee J Tyler

    I read a quote recently that to be a real success (and to know what you’re doing inside and out) you have to fail at least three times. I think this one counts for all three and I send you all good thoughts as you use your inciteful mind to conquer this hurtle. Another quote goes something like putting your energies into success rather than revenge. I think you already have succeeded by being the good and honest person you have always been. Helping people rather than hurting them. That’s the gold right there, and you’ve got it.

    1. Steven

      Thank you for the encouragements Lee! Hopefully I’ll steer clear of this type of situation long enough to be able to recover.

      A friend of mine gave me the best possible advice after this happened: “Don’t try to get back at him, instead focus your energy and time on positive things, it will make you happier and more fulfilled. M. is not worth any of your time and it will get back at him one way or another. That’s karma.”

  40. Holly Jahangiri

    I wondered what happened to you – good to see you back,
    Steven, and glad to hear you’re on track to recovering both health and wealth!

    1. Steven

      Thank you for your message Holly. I wish you the best as well.

  41. Jacob Curtis

    No joke, I actually Googled “What happened to Steven from Dukeo” after observing your long hiatus. Glad to have you back and appreciate you giving your loyal readers a candid peak behind the curtains. I think it’s easy to forget that behind the amazing resource that is there is a real person.

    Do work, Steven!

    1. Steven

      haha Jacob. I guess Google didn’t give you such a detailed reply as this post ;)

  42. Anouk

    Thank you so much for your story and your honesty. I started following your blog when I was no longer able to work due to ms and a blood disease and tried to earn money online. My heart wasn’t in it so it didn’t work. Time to sit down have a hard look at myself,make adjustments and restart. Bon courage

    1. Steven

      I’m sorry to hear about your health issues Anouk. I hope things are getting better now.

  43. Jennifer Furlong

    Welcome back! I appreciate your candor and your “no-shit” approach to answers. What can I say? Life throws us a crap load of curve balls and although we manage to avoid getting hit by some, we end up getting hit right smack in the face with others. It hurts like hell but the bruises go away in time. I too have had to learn my lesson to say “no” the hard way. Perhaps its the curse of being an over-achiever. Or it could just be the ADD. Hell I don’t know. I know it’s good to have you back though!


    1. Steven

      Thank you Jennifer. I make it a rule to always be very honest and upfront with Dukeo’s readers. Some of these curve balls hit you right in the face and it’s hard to recover.

  44. Lisa

    Hi Steven, I wondered what happened recently to you – WOW, is about all I can say. What an experience, glad you could share it with us. My mom recently has been diagnosed with terminal cancer as my divorce is being finalized. Life changes can really throw you for a loop. It’s how we react to them that can make or break us Steven.
    Glad to see you are getting over the most difficult life changes can bring us – best of luck for good health and success. Look forward to reading more of your upcoming posts.

  45. Khalil Aliy

    Hi steven! I am a writer and and a man with multiple talents and qualications in so many area’s. I left home very young and due to domestic failure at the highest end.

    I was guided by social services and mental health ss early as secondary school days, while i would always niavely be thinking that friends and fiancee wanted the best for me, I was informed by my solicitor when I was incarcerated many many years later, that the greatest reason behind all actions against a person is due to solely one word? That word is called “JEOLOUSY!”.

    I have witnessed this via my whole life, via family, Foes, Friends, fiancée’s, fiends, Fractions, faces!

    That which you deem as “wantapreneur” or ” Cavier killer” or “Limousine hopper” “window shopper”, in actuality is really none other than a variation of a “HATER” In the guise as a friend!

    When I read your story it felt like de ja vu! I have witnessed it all my life and I am tied now! Most people do not understand, and the ones who wanted you to fail add insult to injury by even having the audacity to say you are weak?

    Can you imagine for example a disabled man trying his best efforts to carry heavy shopping up a snowy hill to his home, while this is happening people are robbing him and set obsticles so he slips and cripples himself further, Then they all start laughing at him, when he goes to hospital, the witnesses say hes lying and made it all up, when he can not travel any further like he use to and gets social aid, they say he does not deserve it and start all the abuse from another angle!

    (That is the story.. but is only the metaphor of my life)

    Can you believe it? The things people go through, I use to be an amateur boxer and was one of the best in the country! But I soon realised that especially in sport, success is not built upon how good you are, quite the contrary, Rather who you know, I.e Affiliates, Fathers work associates, family liaisons, sponsors? chance meeting?

    2nd, If the affiliations are not greedy? And are not just trying to abuse you for their own purposes?

    3rd, Luck, my old coach always told me you have to be lucky in life, I guess that is true, Because although I was once one of the best boxers in the country, I gave everything on growing up from an abusive poor home, with nothing but envies girl friends and friends.

    The good people one meets in life? who would always give me advice where always far and few as the minority!
    Which is not enough to break via the fields of scorn for a poor person with all the negatives against him, which was my name ethnicity religion poverty seclusion depredation!

    Now I have arthritis, since 2008, although the doctors told me it is unusual for this to register in your body so young, they informed me if it runs in your family somewhere plus you have a over energetic life with stress? You will most certainly get it young?

    What luck doctor!
    I replied! Sarcastically!

    I so understand where you are coming from, I stay away from people now adays.. when before years ago I use to have matches in well turned out events!
    My dreams where never realised and I can mot go back and would never want to, it has caused me nothing but, pain, humiliation and regret, all because I was very good at it! Now if I was poor at it, imagine how you would be left alone, like how I am now!

    Never ever trust nobody steven, nomatter what they say, I have been seeing psychologist since I was young but I wish I trusted their words more as they new! They always did and was not wrong, They have studied human nature and have realised human traits!

    They tell me people always say they mean well, and in some cases they do, but the vast majority do not, and by the time you as a single desolate entity realise the gist of humanity? It will be always unfortunately too late,

    A psychologist told me this 12 years ago!
    The week he left the job on my last appointment with him!

    Your friend steven was never your friend, I know this from my personal experiences, I think he planned it all along, he devised to disrupt your bussiness, as you stated he heard of your succes via other friends, this is called Jeolousy!

    I totaly concur with every word you said and more, plus I read every statement!

    I take strong antidepressants now adays but I would like to build a strong platform for my page.

    Your more than welcome to follow my blog any time and any posts on opinions are welcomed here or on my blog..
    This is all that keeps me going now adays, I do not plan on staying in this world forever mind, too many dark memories inside my head!

    Thank you steven

  46. John Reeves

    Thanks for sharing.
    It’s good to know I’m not alone in bad online experiences.
    I am eagerly looking forward to your insights once again.
    I’ve always considered you “good company”.

    “Perhaps the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.”
    Rachel Naomi Remen

  47. Jayaraman Kiruthi Vasan

    Hi Steven,

    Great come back. It’s awesome skill to chronicle the failures as most of us would like to forget and dismiss them as bad dreams!

  48. Elizabeth Efthy

    I always found your articles informative and relevant and I’m happy you’re ready to jump again in the whirlwind of blogging and everything SM , not the least because it is always uplifting to see someone stand on his feet after a difficult time. Thanks for sharing.
    I wish you a bright and successful come back.
    Salut à toi et à la Belle France!
    Elizabeth E.

  49. Rajendra Bhirud

    Hey Steven,

    Mind boggling come back! Coming back on track is the easy part but retrospection and correcting act was commendable. You are inspiration man.

  50. Ton In 't Veld

    Hi Steven,

    Your story touched me. But you you are so good. You wrote the best story on SEO I ever read. So – for sure – you will survive and (translated from a Dutch verb) he who laughs last, laughs best. Thumbs up!

  51. Alicia

    This was quite a story, but I am glad that you found a way to rebound. That’s what life is all about. As long as you have breath, you can reclaim your life. I am looking forward to learning some new things from you. Be blessed.

  52. Dean

    Hi Steven

    It’s a great article! Cool that you shared that. I had a few ups and downs in similar areas, and have adopted solutions which are now working well. The funny thing is, these things make you stronger and wiser, but they’re pretty crap at the time! Anyway, thanks again, keep up the excellent work, and the honesty. So refreshing these days. Dean

  53. Nothando Mhindu

    what a story you got there, my husband always tells me that you cant have all your eggs in one busket its very hard especially us who are trying to make a living in a foreign country. iam looking forward to learning more from you, so that we are able to build something of our own.

    wish you all the luck too.

  54. Richk

    God is faithful because He always provide a way out for his children.All you need to do is to commit your ways to Him and He will bring it to pass(psalms 37:5) Please stay faithful and committed unto Him HE is a good God

  55. John Earl Wright

    I like your article, I too have been scammed by those I trusted. When you have a good heart you are open to being hurt. But rather than get roots of bitterness I leave it up to God to give His Vengence. Sorry I tried to spell it right.

    I don’t know if you believe in God, but I do and trust Him fully. I skipped the first article to read this one. Will go back to it. You seem to be a good blogger.

Start Your Blog
Right Now!

Join 12,020 bloggers taking my FREE course:
How to Start a Money-Making Blog in 7 Days

No thanks, I have enough money