Pulse Check

Time Sensitive Announcement: There's still time to join the pre-launch team for The Digital Launch Playbook! Check out this introduction article and scroll down to the bottom for the form to get inside access to wicked awesome stuff.


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 February 2013.

Hmmm. Let's See…

I struggled at first to recap the general activity and mood of February as I sat down to write this. I'm one of those guys who say, “C'mon! There's always stuff happening.” when I ask someone what's been going on and they say, “Ahhh…nothin' really.”

So I had to tell myself, “C'mon, dude! Buck up! You have plenty to write about.”

(And a perked up Joel gets ready to do this!)

First off, it felt good to have three podcasts go live in February. It's the first month that's happened – and in a short one no less.

Smart and Simple Matters is increasingly important to the Value of Simple brand and I'm still committed to an eventual once-a-week episode. So if you liked one or all of the episodes in February and like the trend toward once-a-week episodes, let's hear it for the boy! (Yeah, I went there with a 1980s reference to Deniece Williams)

In other news…

The Value of Simple DeclarationRegular readers (and members of the Refuge of Simplicity) should know about my grandpa's 100th birthday and how amazing it was to see him as he hit the big 1-0-0. You might also know that I'm contributing to The Huffington Post and won a lifetime membership to Scott Dinsmore's How to Connect with Anyone community. That's pretty badass stuff right there!

But the thing that brought me more joy than everything (except seeing Big Irv turn 100) was The Value of Simple Declaration.

It's amazing to have a single image perfectly sum up the community here! Because it's so freakin' rad, I did think the Declaration would spread faster than it has.

But we build our declarations, our community, and our goals for the long-term, not some short-term “feel good but nothing really changes” stuff. Obama hasn't called yet to congratulate us on the achievement…but he will.

The Numbers

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

Pulse Check

Pulse Check

The overall numbers for the month were respectable thanks to Laura at Org Junkie. She included my Professional Organizers Hand Guide in the #1 slot in her post about some favorite organizing links. It doesn't mean that my article was her favorite over the past couple of months, but that one link drove more readers here than anything else in February.

One thing I'm curious about is a drop in website RSS subscribers from January to February. That's the first time RSS subscribers have decreased and I don't understand why. Let me know if you have a hunch because I'm baffled (and a little concerned).

Adding to reduced enthusiasm (still ridiculously high in absolute terms) is stagnant newsletter growth and a monthly income of $0.25.

Imagine me wincing and mentally saying, “Oomph!” as I typed that.

Both are sadly predictable because nothing in February – except the Declaration – had any major marketing sway or added to my ability to generate some income.


With “49 Powerful Lies We Tell Ourselves and How to Speak the Truth” published already, The Digital Launch Playbook going live on March 26th, and the scariest frickin' post I've ever written being published on the 18th, March could be a big one.

Here are some other stats for February 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.

  • 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)
    • Amazon: $0.00
    • Aweber: $0.00
    • Bluehost: $0.00
    • Clicky: $0.00
    • Dragon NaturallySpeaking: $0.00
    • Elance: $0.00
    • Headway WordPress Theme: $0.00
    • iTunes: $0.25
    • 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: $0.25

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 February. This includes content not published on Value of Simple like guest posts, YouTube videos, other people interviewing me, and more:

What I Learned in February

You probably want to know what I learned besides that I'm able to donate a double batch of blood without passing out or feeling light-headed.

One of my biggest lessons was actually from a trivia contest. You see, I've participated for thirteen straight years in an annual public library trivia contest fundraiser in Melinda's small Wisconsin home town. I contributed mentally to our trivia team for the first decade, but lately…not so much.

There's a direct correlation between when my personal renaissance began and when I started getting useless at trivia. Pop culture escapes me now (intentionally and unintentionally) and, despite feeling an imperative to stay aware of events happening locally and globally, I'm not increasing my trivia related knowledge. In fact, it's decreasing relative to everyone else.

You know what though? I'm OK with being worthless at a trivia contest. It's a leading indicator that my time and energy is being spent outside the mainstream and is focused on creating, not consuming.

(Hey. The public library raises the same amount and my friends enjoy my company whether I suck at trivia or not.)

I also learned that self-publishing is formidable.

“What's this about self-publishing, Joel?” you say (assuming you don't already know from getting the newsletter)? Well…

I'm in the planning stages of writing a self-published book resource kit. The timeline isn't concrete yet, but I do have a concrete title, focus, and value proposition.

Doing this justice would take more room than a Pulse Check allows. So consider yourself warned that I'm going to be an author on a topic that I'm fanatically jazzed about (I'll give you three guesses).

What's Around the Corner

Speaking of resource kits…

Did you know I'll have a Continuous Creation Challenge (CCC) resource kit ready for the “official” first CCC of the year? That's April 9th – 12th and I want you to either be doing your CCC with me or planning to rock one shortly after mine.

I'm still wavering on how extensive the final version will be as this could get rather elaborate quickly.  If there's something you need to see in the CCC resource kit though, it's not too late to let me know!

I also have a lovely new experiment/challenge coming up in May that's all about love. Specifically, “I…love…you.” It's original, it's insane, it's free, and I think it's potentially more disruptive than even the CCC. That's all I'm saying for now.

But there's no need to be coy about the launch of The Digital Launch Playbook on March 26th! If you're not already on the pre-launch team with special access and groovy goodies, we'd love to have you join us.

I'm super stoked to see what other creative forces can do with a playbook that shows them how to rock their own digital products, services, and websites!

I'd love your help to generate awareness about The Digital Launch Playbook and support the launch in whatever way you can.

That's a wrap for this month, folks. Let me know in the comments if you don't see something you were hoping to see.

Thanks for being interested enough in me and Value of Simple to read this report!

Your partner in simplifying,


Photo Credit: fmgbain