Pulse Check – Monthly Report for May 2013

Pulse Check

Note: A special welcome to our new friends coming over from my recent guest posts on Lateral Action and Traffic Generation Café! Grab a beverage and enjoy this month’s Pulse Check, friends.

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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 May 2013.

Testing… Testing…

You know I’m the mad scientist of my life, so it’s no surprise that I experimented in May. Some of the experiments were on me, and some of them were on you.

Let’s break those down.

Experiments on Me

Joel Zaslofsky Public Speaking at IgniteMy biggest personal experiment was the challenge of speaking at an Ignite event.

Ignite events are world-wide and are all about education, inspiration, and entertainment. “Enlighten us… but make it quick” is Ignite tagline and it’s damn fitting.

I was given exactly five minutes, exactly twenty slides, and exactly fifteen seconds before each slide auto-advanced to the next one.

It’s the kind of potentially harrowing experience that people have been known to freeze at, not say a word, and look upon their audience with abject terror or silence.

But that wasn’t going to be me. “I got this.” I told my wife Melinda (my +1 for the event) right before standing up to take my position as the next speaker.

As the MC handed me the microphone, I literally walked into the spotlight for the first time, and I stared out at that crowd of 400 for a moment, I felt buoyant. This is what I developed my self-confidence and Toastmasters training for (and about fifty hours of work plus prep).

You may not have noticed yet, but I… have superpowers! They’re invisible and they aren’t sexy. But these superpowers help me and everyone else in insanely valuable ways.

That’s how I opened my talk, Experience Curating: Filter, Organize, and Share Your Best Moments for Success With Anything.

Those five minutes flew by as I stayed almost perfectly in synch with my slides.

Because your experiences don’t happen to you. Your experiences make big things happen for you.

As I said those words, I lowered the microphone and went quiet. Umm… where was the applause I was supposed to be getting like all the other speakers when they finished?

I then realized that I finished my talk early by about six seconds, and people didn’t know I was done speaking with my last slide was still shining behind me.

Awkkkkkkwaaaard.

I thought about raising the microphone up again and saying, “Hey. I’m done. Start clapping.”

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary as the crowd finally got it and the clapping started.

I thought I rocked this big opportunity as I rejoined Melinda in the crowd. She told me that the guy sitting in front of us said that my talk was the best one of the night. After the event, a random woman in the parking lot rolled down her window and shouted, “Nice job, curating dude!” People at the after-party even told me that I was anything from “mesmerizing” to “pretty decent.”

The YouTube recording will be uploaded soon and I need to watch it back to more objectively understand how I did

But I’m proud. Proud of living up to the experience. Proud of the topic I delivered. Proud of my high ceiling and continuous public speaking improvement. I hope you’re proud too when you see the talk because I was representing you and this community up there.

So that’s that.

In other news…

Jockey Ridge State ParkMelinda and I spent two plus days in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for our “babymoon” before kid #2 comes along in mid-September.

My big experiment here was going on a trip and not having any of it planned in advanced. I’ve been an uber vacation planner in the past. This time though?

I drove the rental car while Melinda told me where we were eating, when to take walks on sand dunes, where the hotel was that night, and which lighthouse to visit next as the wind wiped through my her hair in the constant ocean breeze. I had no idea what to expect.

And you know what? It was fun. I’d do it again. Of course, I’d do anything again with Melinda (except having kid #3).

Experiments on You

I seriously picked up the content publishing pace at the start of May. There were seven posts published here from May 1-15 and I’ve never previously come close to publishing every other day.

It turns out that most people didn’t care for (or notice) this content bonanza.

My second Spreadsheet Spotlight was as big of a flop as my first one was a hit. I tried enticing people to sign up for a simplicity, organizing, or personal finance chat on Google+ Hangouts… but you weren’t feeling it.

Nobody seemed to care much about a real simple solution to avoid the demise of Value of Simple either.

The results of this experiment mean I’m planning to publish less frequently in the short-term. I’m still going to experiment – and I’m still eager to have you tell me what new things to try – but not all tests work out the way you think they will (or hope they can).

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.

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.

Now, on to some numbers.

  • Traffic Stats
    • Website Visits: 2,812
    • Unique Visitors: 2,164
    • Pageviews: 4,844
    • Bounce Rate: 73.12%
    • New Visit %: 70.23%

Here are some other monthly stats that give an objective view of engagement in and by this community.

Note: amounts shown are after PayPal fees and affiliate payments are made.

  • Total Income: $117.88

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

What I Learned in May

There’s one more experiment I want to tell you about.

I ran a “pay what you can” promo for Start Investing with $100, The Digital Launch Playbook, and Unsexy System Sessions last month.

The goals were to raise as much money as possible for Second Harvest Heartland and to see how much people were willing to pay for my products and services in an anything goes environment.

The bummerooski was that the data set was small.

Only one person got in on the action (thanks, Pat!) I worked so hard to structure in a win-win-win way. I’m glad I did though because I might want to try it again and the next time will be cinchy.

However, this continues to prove I need help with marketing, sales, and creating products and services that are no-brainers for this community. That’s a perfect lead-in to what’s next.

What’s Around the Corner

There’s tons of schuper-schweet schtuff coming up!

I’ve started work with a branding and marketing expert who’s helping me tighten up my core messaging, leverage my existing resources better, generate more income, and much more.

You won’t see a radically changed Value of Simple or Smart and Simple Matters brand, but there’s definitely a refresh under way. A groovy survey is coming your way soon as I try to really understand things like what makes you come back to Value of Simple, why you listen to the podcast, and how you want me to create awesome resources for you in the future.

The results of this survey will mean a lot for you and the direction of my brand… but only if you help your fellow simplicity seekers out by filling it out.

What would you like to know about the people in this community? Perhaps:

  • How their lives have changed as a result of coming here?
  • What type of content they most enjoy?
  • What about personal finance frustrates them the most?
  • What part of simplifying their life feels like it should be easy, but is normally wicked hard?

I’d love to hear your insight in the comments. Thanks in advance for helping to shape the destiny of Value of Simple!

Speaking of destiny-changers…

As I get one month closer to having a second son and one month away from attending the World Domination Summit, I’m filled with a sense of promise (and a minor dose of trepidation).

The future is limitless. Yet I worry that if some of my key business numbers don’t start spiking, I might need to shift course in unexpected ways.

For now, I sally forth (warning: gratuitous Army of Darkness clip) with a slew of guest posts. I keep my focus when writing the book on Experience Curating (chapter one is almost done!), continue loving all things curating, and happily educate people about its potential (1 or 400 at a time).

If you have any tips on how I concentrate my creative potential in the spoken word and away from the written word, I’m listening. Because let’s be honest: I’m a better speaker than I am a writer and it will always be that way.

Besides, lots of text (like this Pulse Check) aren’t appealing to everyone. But you got to the finish line and I’m giving you a digital high-five!

Thanks for being interested enough in me and Value of Simple to read this report! Let me know in the comments if you don’t see something around the corner you were hoping to see.

Your partner in simplifying,

Joel

Photo Credit: fmgbain
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5 Responses to Pulse Check – Monthly Report for May 2013

  1. Look forward to seeing the Ignite talk. That was great feedback from people.

    On a side note, for your curating book, you might focus one chapter or part on visual curating (Pinterest, etc.)

    We had a speaker in our office yesterday whose next book is on the power of visual storytelling. Several things I keep on reading recently talk about the visual impact of curation, storytelling, etc. Just thought I would mention it in case you weren’t considering it already.

    • I wasn’t considering highlighting visual curation in a specific way, Wendy. I didn’t think about it before you mentioned it, but I’m not surprised I hadn’t considered showing off the power of tools like Pinterest. That’s because my curating is super minimalist in plain spreadsheets. But I do feel like I owe it to readers to give them a bigger picture of what curating might look and feel like for them.

      I planned to cover Evernote, Springpad, Catch.com, Scoop.it, and a whole lot more. So it makes sense to at least have a sub-section about visual curating somewhere in the book. Thanks for the suggestion! It’s a good one and you continue your streak of helping me see my blind spots. I feel very fortunate for that.

  2. Just discovered this new media curation tool – CratePlayer. We are thinking of using it at work. Thought you might be interested in it or you probably already know about it!

    https://www.crateplayer.com/about

    • Hey Wendy,

      Robin Good – my go-to guy for any online curation tool – had a Scoop.it post about CratePlayer recently. It looks pretty handy even in its beta form. I’m not an early adopter for new tools, so I’m going to wait to see what this looks like when it comes out of beta. I can understand how someone would be excited about it though. Let me know if you start using it at work and what the results look like. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi there!

      Glad to hear that you found CratePlayer. I am the lead designer on the project and I would love to hear feedback / feature requests / etc.

      We are in the middle of creating a simplified, new and improved version of the platform that will include many more sources of content including images and notes. We are building the product for YOU so any input you have will help us shape this product into something that is extremely useful to you :)

      Cheers,

      Alexander King

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