Public accountability is a powerful force.
I have seen the simple act of keeping a written progress log in a public place (or semi-public) mean the difference between spectacular success and failure (or worse, not starting at all).
I’m going to show you how you can take advantage of public accountability journals, and how you can use them while participating in the Million Dollar Blog Project.
If you’re just tuning in, the Million Dollar Blog Project ($1MBP for short) is a new project we’re taking on here at Think Traffic, and we would love you to join us.
We will be building a new blog, from scratch, and we’ll be showing you exactly how we do it, step-by-step. The goal of the project is to create a blog that earns $1 million over it’s life.
There’s another big goal for the project as well. We want you to create a blog and follow along with us, building your blog at the same time. We want the blogs that you all create to collectively earn at least $1M as well over the next two years.
I’ll be telling you exactly how you can participate in the project later on in this post. You can also read the full introduction to the $1MB project if you haven’t already.
The Art of Public Accountability Journals
In several of the online courses and programs I’ve built over the past year (notably Traffic School and The Hustle Project), we have used accountability journals (or progress logs) with great success.
The distinction has been clear and simple: people in the courses who keep an accountability journal consistently outperform those who don’t keep journals by a wide margin. And every one of the most successful people from those two programs regularly kept an accountability journal.
We started using accountability journals for a couple of reasons (thanks to Traffic School member John Azarro for the original suggestion).
First, I had read several studies on the effectiveness of joining together, publicly stating goals and reporting on progress, especially in the weight loss market. The Jenny Craig weight loss program is effective partly because of these effects.
Second, I had seen personally experienced the benefits of group and public accountability both in a mastermind group I was in for over a year, as well as through the monthly reports I’ve kept here at Think Traffic since the beginning.
By stating in a small group setting or publicly what my goals were, and how I intended to reach them, I was forced to hold myself to a higher standard. Letting my goals slip wasn’t an option because it wouldn’t just mean admitting failure to myself, it would mean telling my group (or the world) that I hadn’t followed through.
Simple, but incredibly effective.
How to Use an Accountability Journal
Here’s how the accountability journal works.
- Identify your community or join a group with common goals.
- Set the reporting period for your journal (or live meetings) and stick to it.
- Include the following in each report: what you did since the last report, what you learned and what you plan to do before the next report.
- (Optional) – set a penalty for not succeeding.
Someone (a small group, your classmates, your blog readers) has to be aware that you’re keeping the accountability log for it to be effective.
You can join a group (like a mastermind or the Million Dollar Blog Project) that will be keeping accountability journals, or suggest to your existing group that everyone start one themselves.
(Note: in a mastermind setting, you don’t have to keep written journals. You can instead report verbally each week on the items I’ll describe below.)
This is critical. You have to keep the reporting schedule, no matter what. Once you start skipping a report here and there, the whole system is in danger of collapsing.
I recommend reporting periods of weekly, every two weeks or once a month, depending on what you’re doing.
One option is to report more frequently in the beginning, and then less frequently after you get up and running. If you plan to go with this tapering option, build it into your plan in the beginning so you don’t risk tapering simply because you lose interest.
That’s the basic format. It’s really pretty simple.
What you did, what you learned, what you plan to do.
How much detail you go into is up to you. Sometimes it’s useful to “think out loud” in your journals simply to work out ideas that haven’t fully formed yet.
When it comes to “what you did” and “what you plan to do,” these should be clear and measurable. Whether you met your goal or not should be a yes or no answer.
For example: “I’m going to reach out to some other bloggers about my new project” is not clear or measurable enough to report on. Instead you should write something like this: “I’m going to email 3 bloggers and ask them to participate in my new project.”
That way you’ll know at the end of the reporting period whether you succeeded or not.
In one mastermind group we were in, we would contribute $25 to Kiva (a good cause) whenever we didn’t follow through on our goals for the period.
Your “penalty” doesn’t have to be big, (or even a true penalty, in the case of Kiva). It just needs to be a symbol and reminder that you didn’t follow through.
Missing a report or meeting is the same as failure and would also incur the penalty. You might also institute a rule that if you miss two reports (or meetings) in a row, you are ejected from the project or group.
Does that sound easy enough?
Try an accountability journal or report for whatever big project you want to take on. It will make a HUGE difference in your motivation level and ability to make progress.
If you have questions about how to implement this system for your particular situation, just write me in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.
More Details on How to Participate in the $1MBP
Over 400 people have left comments so far on the post introducing the Million Dollar Blog Project. I’m so happy this project is resonating with so many of you and I can’t wait to really jump in and get started.
If you left a comment on that post, congratulations. That simple act was a basic form of public accountability. Because you left a comment there, you’ll be much more likely to actually follow through on that commitment.
If you want to participate in the project but haven’t left a comment there, go tell us that you want to be involved. This is for your benefit as much as it is for us to see who’s joining us.
To participate in this project, there will be only five requirements.
1) Your site needs to be a blog, meaning it needs to be updated with new content on a regular basis, that content needs to be presented in reverse chronological format, and you need to allow reader interaction (likely through comments on the site).
2) You may start a new blog OR use an existing blog for the project. If you use an existing blog, it cannot have directly earned any revenue in the past.
You will need to allow public access to your traffic and subscriber data. We will be compiling a sortable online “leaderboard” of all the blogs participating in this project and we will show your number of monthly visitors and subscriber counts in this list at Think Traffic.
4) You have to keep an accountability journal to document your progress. The accountability journal can be kept anywhere online, as long as it is public so other participants can follow your progress.
We may create an accountability journal section here at Think Traffic if you would like to keep yours here (let us know in the comments if you’re interested). Otherwise you can choose what works best for you (start a tumblog, use a squidoo page, etc.).
5) You have to tell us a few details about your blog.
In the directory of blogs, we’ll include the following information:
- blog name + URL
- author name
- monthly visitors (using your Clicky tracking link)
- subscribers (using your FeedBurner link)
- total revenue
- progress log link
Note: we’ll calculate monthly visitors and subscribers automatically using the links you provide.
Revenue will be reported on a “total” basis and on your honor. We won’t have a way to automatically track revenue earned (because there are so many different ways). We’ll simply want your accountability journals to detail any revenue you earn and to keep a running tally. We’ll also want you to update your total revenue number in your profile here whenever you earn some (monthly at most).
OK, that’s it. Those are the only requirements to join us.
Otherwise anything goes. Any topic you choose is fine. You can publish any kind of content you like (video, audio, written, etc.). You can also publish as frequently or infrequently as you like. You can earn revenue through advertising, affiliate marketing, services, consulting, products, ebooks, etc.
If these requirements above seem like too much for you, you can always follow along without registering your participation with us. That’s fine too of course.
But if you do follow along according to the rules, you’ll get benefits from participating, like traffic and connections through the public leaderboard here at Think Traffic.
We’ll also be appreciative of your participation because it will help us track our big million dollar goal.
Oh, and there may be a prize or two for the leading blogs after the 6-month, 12-month and/or 24-month checkpoints 😉
What Comes Next?
We’re working behind the scenes to set up the public leaderboard and project registration system. I’ll update you as soon as that’s ready so you can register your site as part of the project.
Right now, you should be thinking about which topic you plan to start your new blog on (check out all the great nominations in the comments here for ideas).
If you have an existing blog, think about why your site hasn’t been a huge success, and if there is some way to narrow or refine your topic to make it better in the future.
For the blog we’ll be starting for this project here at Think Traffic, we just sent a list of nominations for Think Traffic email subscribers to vote on. We’ll take the results of that vote and choose one of the top selections to use for our blog.
The topic for our blog will be announced next Thursday (9/15).
We’ll show you exactly why we picked the topic, and you might learn something from our analysis and decision about how to pick your own topic.
More on that next week.
Then, we’ll get to work in launching our blog, and we’ll show you every step along the way. We’ll be talking about all the critical steps including:
- defining your market
- developing a unique selling proposition
- creating a killer brand
- designing a great looking (and effective) blog
- building your blog (the tech stuff)
- creating a launch plan
- developing launch content
And that’s just the stuff leading up to launch. There will be much more to follow after that, so I hope you’re feeling up for it 😉
Alright, questions, comments, concerns?
If you have questions or thoughts on the whole process or participation requirements, let us know in the comments below.
Cheers and thanks for joining us. This is going to be fun!
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