Pulse Check – Monthly Report for December 2012

Pulse CheckEvery 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:

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:

  1. My top nine goals for 2013 (along with why they’re so important and the steps to achieve them)
  2. A detailed write up – down to fifteen minute intervals – of how I see my average week being in five years
  3. A categorized and tagged spreadsheet with eighty-one reoccurring business tasks, who’s involved, the frequency and duration, notes, assumptions, and best practice info
  4. 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!

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

Value of Simple Stats

Value of Simple Stats

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.

  • 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:

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.

All I’ll say for now is that it’s a hybrid spreadsheet, curating, checklist, best practice thingamajig unlike anything else out there.

Am I being coy right now? Yeah, I’m being coy.

(Cue Jerry and George accusing Newman of 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,


Photo Credit: fmgbain

16 Responses to Pulse Check – Monthly Report for December 2012

  1. Ethan says:

    Joel, I have no doubt that you will find success here at Value of Simple. Your attitude, persistence and heart are all in the right place.

    On another note, this pulse check is inspiring to me simply thinking about how much organization and documentation you must have had to just be able to put something like this together. Thank you for your transparency!

    • Thanks Ethan. My version of success is pretty funky looking and I’ve already found a good amount of it in some non-traditional ways. I’d like a little traditional success too of course.

      Rounding up the numbers, links, and everything else for monthly reports gets pretty easy once you do it a few times. Having everything in a spreadsheet and using a template for the Pulse Check doesn’t hurt either.

  2. Erin says:

    Ditto what Ethan said. All of it :)

    It’s amazing how much you manage to pack into these pulse checks, the depth and breadth of what you consider when reflecting on and analyzing each month. I’m sure much of it is in a spreadsheet, of course, but still! It makes me think of the M in SMART goals: measurable. You know where you started, where you are, where you want to be, and plenty of in between stuff.

    What’s cool, though, and difficult (at least for me) is that you don’t lose that higher-level focus. It’s never ALL about the numbers for you. That’s a balance I think many people strive for but haven’t quite figured out yet (myself included).

    • Numbers and stats are great Erin, but most of us know they don’t tell the whole story. That’s what all the qualitative stuff is about (also known as life). I sometimes think I pack too much into these monthly Pulse Checks, so it’s encouraging to know the breadth of the posts is appreciated. I suppose that’s why we chunk things out though, right? So people can just focus on items relevant to them and skim/skip the rest.

      Do you want to know how I keep the higher-level focus in these Pulse Checks? I study great articles by people like you and analyze how to do the “yo-yo thing” (copyright Shanna Mann 2012) between going deep and going long.

  3. Shanna Mann says:

    I can’t WAIT for your best practices thingamajig. I’m always interested in people’s best practices.

    Like Ethan, I find your transparency inspiring as well!

    • The thingamajig will be sweet Shanna. It’s going to involve all my aggregating, synthesizing, and value-squeezing skills into one “thing.” By the way, right back at ya on the transparency comment.

  4. Priska says:

    Thanks for sharing so openly. I think that you have done very well for 10 months and I’m sure you’ll continue the trend toward a more successful 2013.

  5. Sarah says:

    Joel, forgetting about the $0.60 for a minute… you have such a great attitude and approach to all this, that I think you’ll be seeing much bigger success soon.

    Also, I totally agree with you about high school reunions. I like to say that it feels like all the drama and all the “walls” of back then just fall away, and everyone can just be friends. I love going to mine – it’s an awesome feeling.

    Oh, and that picture of you and Grant and the snowman is awesome.

  6. Denise says:

    Agree with Ethan – the transparency is appreciated. You’re actually doing great with subscribers in a short time. I don’t even check my stats to this depth. I think I’m a little scared to! But, it’s worth considering.

    • Don’t bother checking your stats any more than you have to or feel you need to Denise. Way too many bloggers are obsessed with their stats and view them as the entire game instead of a a yardstick of progress. I think not checking them often is a healthy thing actually.

      I’m pleased with the non-financial growth in Value of Simple and really, that’s the most important thing to me. Let me know if any of my peer development can help you grow the Nurturing Creativity stats (even if you won’t know it because you don’t look).

  7. Joel, I think your experience here is common on the path of the online entrepreneur. The early months of relationship-building and guest-posting are critical to establishing the authority for your online sales. And, to echo so many other opinions here, your attitude truly sets you apart from so many others in this space.

    Here’s to a great 2013.

    • Imagine a glass of water, since that’s all I drink, hoisted up in the air and a big smile on my face. If that’s not enough Michael, imagine Judge Smails from Caddyshacks giving the following toast:

      “It’s easy to grin when your ship comes in and you’ve got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat.

  8. Amit Amin says:

    As I was reading the stats section of the post, I was thinking, “dude, has Joel hacked into my accounts?”. Almost exactly the same.

    0 sales sucks man – but your attitude rocks. You seem well able to learn from your mistakes, so you’ll get there eventually. Hopefully soon :)

    • Oh, did I say this was the Value of Simple Pulse Check this month? I meant the Happier Human Pulse Check. I better fix that. :)

      I know we’re both doing good things Amit. I’m totally with you on the “hopefully soon” part though. Long-term growth is my focus, but a little short-term bump wouldn’t hurt either.

  9. Your experience is not unique – we are all there with you. My blog earnings? Zero. However the money earned from my web presence… $5,000. My keeping my name out there – art collectors find me. Now my goal is how to turn my blog into a real business rather than weekly posts/thoughts. You have crazy talent and knowledge – success will come. I’m with you – I checked my annual stats but in 2013 I am not going to focus on the numbers – just making Art Epicurean all it can be. You are a good role model for me.

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