Every month I recap the past, present, and future of my personal journey and the voyage of Value of Simple.
This “Pulse Check” is intended to be an honest, transparent, and (hopefully) inspiring assessment of where I've been and where I'm going.
This is the Pulse Check for December 2012.
I Hope You Felt It
Last month was a reflective and fun one for me.
I hope you felt this in:
- The “Invaluable 2nd Year Blogging Lessons” post
- The questions I asked Jen Koontz and Scott Dinsmore
- Our exploration of the unintentional benefits of intentional living
- The formation of what's going to be an amazing Value of Simple Declaration
- The newsletters I sent on December 3rd and 31st with holiday cheer and unseasonal greetings
During December, I also spent six days creating my personal and business strategy, goals, and action plan for 2013. Instead of only using a goal setting workbook like the past couple of years, I added some exercises from Shanna's course.
Besides being incredibly invigorating, here's some of what I have to show for those six days of planning:
- My top nine goals for 2013 (along with why they're so important and the steps to achieve them)
- A detailed write up – down to fifteen minute intervals – of how I see my average week being in five years
- A categorized and tagged spreadsheet with eighty-one reoccurring business tasks, who's involved, the frequency and duration, notes, assumptions, and best practice info
- A very busy looking calendar for the indefinite future
Last year was an awesome one as I broke away from Corporate America and started Value of Simple. But as much as I loved 2012, 2013 is shaping up to be better in so many ways.
Peep the end of this Pulse Check as I reveal more about the 2013 plans.
On a personal level, December was a ton of fun! Celebrating birthdays for my mom, brother, dad, Melinda, aunt, and close friends always makes for a good time. As a bonus, I did all this without the back pain of November and without the craziness of launching Start Investing with $100.
Successfully resisting the sugary heaven of Melinda's company holiday party was also a feather in my cap. I'm nine weeks sugar sober and believe I finally have the momentum to break my sugar addiction. Isn't that right Grant and Mr. Snowman?
The rest of the month was spent watching the Vikings kick butt, my annual trip to the in-laws for Christmas, a family friendly New Year's celebration, and my fifteen year high school reunion.
Side note: high school reunions can be shockingly fun when you interact with everybody like you were great pals back in the day. Yes, even the people you barely spoke with.
Oh, and don't let me forget. Here's a gratuitous picture of Grant's first sledding experience last month!
A lot of people are interested in the stats behind Value of Simple. I am too because it helps me understand what's working, what's failing, and what I need to emphasize in the future.
But more than that, being upfront with you and sharing these numbers lets me display some core values of candor, vulnerability, and accountability. The more you know about this refuge of simplicity, the more you know whether this community is a place you want to be long-term.
Now, on to some numbers.
Visitors to Value of Simple
The most glaring number in December was sixty. As in my income for the month which happened to be $0.60. More on that in a moment.
Despite guest posts in prominent places like Lifehack, ProBlogger, and Puttylike, none of them drove many subscriptions to my newsletter. That's a bummer because some of my best stuff comes from the newsletter and is a primary metric for my overall business growth.
On a lighter note, more first-time visitors are ending up on the “Start Here” page and that's important. Although I've tried to make my home page useful and engaging, I realize it's not the most rewarding first-time experience. This is why it's nice that more people are going to “Start Here” since it's a roadmap of this entire joint.
Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist was even nice enough to change a link to Value of Simple on his website from the home page to the “Start Here” page at my request. That's appreciated because he sends three times more traffic here than any other source. It also proves that when you focus on being helpful to everyone else, no request is too small to lend a hand.
Perhaps you can also be more intentional the next time you link to a website? I find value in thinking about where a first-time visitor would be most rewarded when linking to someone else's website and you might too.
Here are some other stats for the month that give an objective view of engagement in and by this community. If a number is in parenthesis, it's the net increase or decrease of the same stat from the previous month. This also includes the income I made so you can see how this site supports my family, charities like Second Harvest Heartland, and the greater community.
- Level of Engagement
- Comments (not including mine or guest post related ones): 58 (-27)
- Smart and Simple Matters iTunes Reviews: 1 (+1)
- Non-Income Stats
- Value of Simple Products/Services Income:
- Start Investing with $100: $0.00
- Affiliate Income (Affiliate Links Below):
- A-List Blogging Bootcamps:$0.00 (my personal review)
- Bluehost: $0.00
- Clicky: $0.00
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking: $0.00
- Elance: $0.00
- Headway WordPress Theme: $0.00
- iTunes: $0.21
- Legalzoom: $0.00
- Manilla.com: $0.00 (my personal review)
- ODesk: $0.00
- Optin Skin: $0.00
- Premise: $0.00
- The Bootstrapper Guild: $0.00 (my personal review)
- Total Income: $0.60
Check out my Resources page if you want to know why I stand by these products and services.
Article Round Up
Here is all the content I was responsible for in December. This includes content not published on Value of Simple like guest posts, YouTube videos, other people interviewing me, and more:
- Invaluable 2nd Year Blogging Lessons (Recognize Any?)
- How You Get the Puttylike Snowball Effect (Guest Post, Puttylike)
- Warning: These 4 Steps Will Make You a Confident Investor (Guest Post, Lifehack.org)
- Pulse Check – Monthly Report for November 2012
- SASM 011 – Becoming an Accidental Daily Money Manager with Jen Koontz (Podcast)
- How to Fill the Giant Guest Post Hole On Your Blog (Guest Post, ProBlogger)
- Insider's Insight: Creating the Value of Simple Declaration
- How You Get Amazing Unintentional Benefits from Intentional Living
- SASM 012 – Remarkable Relationships and Doing the Impossible with Scott Dinsmore (Podcast)
- Your Community: Their Questions, Struggles, and Triumphs
What I Learned in December
I'm not gonna lie.
Parts of December hurt. Specifically, it's painful to sell zero course passes to Start Investing with $100 since I launched on November 20th.
The product post-launch experience has taught me a lot though. I learned it's good to set goals with tempered expectations for the parts I can't fully control.
I mean, sure. The sales page could be better. I could have offered an affiliate program (and still might). I could have focused last year on building a list of potential buyers for my products instead of cultivating a vibrant community at Value of Simple.
But I didn't do any of those things.
Now it's crystal clear what the financial downsides are to my business model and business ethics. Yet I don't think forsaking short-term growth for long-term gain was a bad idea. I freely admit there were tons of things I coulda/shoulda/woulda done better.
<This is where my mastermind group would tell me, “Earth to Joel! You've only been an entrepreneur for ten months, dude!“>
Should I expect to be firing on all cylinders by now? That's not reasonable based on my personality, business model, ethics, and my uncompromising need to be present for my family (rather than working 60-70 hour weeks).
Being an unconventional entrepreneur in an unconventional niche makes for some unpredictable results. Some smart fella once said:
Life's an experiment. Be your own mad scientist.
Continuing on an experimental mad scientist path seems like a good idea though, don't ya think?
I'm confident that means more than $0.60 in January and a living income in the future.
What's Around the Corner
I just flew back yesterday from New Media Expo in Las Vegas and technically, this is in the past. However, I won't be able to consolidate my thoughts about this unbelievable experience for a few days. The possibilities in relationships, future blog posts, products, joint ventures – you name it – excite the hell out of me though!
And speaking of products…
Start Investing with $100 has been a financial dud so far, but I'm going to test a new approach for a mini-product launching soon. I strongly believe this mini-product has the potential to help anyone creating their own products and services, even though it's not a “spend hundreds of hours slaving over the project” product.
Am I being coy right now? Yeah, I'm being coy.
This month is about a lot of things that I'll be expanding on later. I'm talking stuff like:
- Turning new habits into permanent habits (like systematizing eighty-one reoccurring business tasks)
- Finishing up the content for my mystery mini-product
- Laying the groundwork for a Continuous Creation Challenge resource kit
- Resuming work on the first newsletter freebie since The Personal User Guide
- Prepping for travel to New Jersey in early February for my grandpa's 100th birthday celebration
Those are just the big rocks. There are many small rocks moving around too that will directly benefit you.
I hope your new year is off to a phenomenal start! Celebrate the achievements, learn from the mistakes, find fun new ways to fail (and grow), and generate as much value as possible to everyone around you!
Let me know in the comments if you don't see something around the corner you were hoping to see.
Thanks for being interested enough in me and Value of Simple to read this report!
Your partner in simplifying,