The Art of Public Accountability Journals + Participation Rules for the Million Dollar Blog Project

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.

  1. Identify your community or join a group with common goals.
  2. 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.)

  3. Set the reporting period for your journal (or live meetings) and stick to it.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  7. (Optional) – set a penalty for not succeeding.
  8. 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.

3) You have to install Clicky analytics on your blog and Google Feedburner (both free services).

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!

[catlist name=million-dollar-blog-project template=mdbp orderby=date order=asc]

Published by

Corbett Barr

Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.

106 thoughts on “The Art of Public Accountability Journals + Participation Rules for the Million Dollar Blog Project”

  1. That all sounds fab, can’t wait to get started. The only question is which blog to do – one which I started a while ago but has got stuck (on studying) or a new one I came up with this week about cruelty-free cosmetics.

  2. Awesome, I am just waiting until you set up the directory so I can hurry up and start! haha.

    Oh one concern, what if people don’t play fair and pay for traffic to their site?
    Or some do something shady to get subscribers?

    1. Chris,

      I am NOT a PPC user.

      But would PPC be cheating? I wouldn’t think so. It is a valid form of driving traffic and as long as they were above aboard something that people could learn from.

      (It takes X amount of dollar to drive XX traffic)

      It is something I WILL NOT, be doing, but I personally wouldn’t see it as being unfair.

      Of course this one should take a ruling from the judges.

    2. Since we are really trying to push engagement with and building up your audience, we should be able to tell if someone doesn’t actually have a following, but is just trying to game the system.

    3. I wondered about this type of thing too. If the overall goal is to make money, surely it’s a legitimate business model to build in some costs for some aspects of building the business.

      If people are logging what they’re spending as well as what they’re making (so we’re seeing a true net profit), that would be interesting.

  3. Hi, I am really up for this, Can you please clarify something….

    I understand that your project is not going to be about making money online, I have an idea that is based on achieving goals, mindset and breaking free from 9-5 job (which kinda fits into making money online), is this subject off bounds for participants of the challenge?

    I also have a weight loss/healthy living blog that I am considering, is this more inline with what you want?

    A bit OTT but I have been reading through your site, and noticed your link to IttyBiz, when I visited the site, it appears that she has been getting death threats and horrible stuff. As a woman myself is this something I should be concerned about, and is there any advice on this?

    Thanks for any feedback/answers you can offer.


    1. Julz,

      Having had a couple of regular stalkers in my day, the story Carol over at IttyBiz tells does not surprise me. It’s also the main reason I choose to “hide” behind my cute moniker of “The IM Koala.” If no one online ever finds out my last name, it will be too soon. I don’t put it on my sites, and I always use domain privacy. To put a further layer of protection between the world and myself, I created a business entity, which has its own name & own address (a PO Box), so that I don’t have to have my home address on any of my correspondence, affiliate checks, etc.

      If you’re concerned about such things, I’d suggest implementing similar steps. If it’s something that’s going to keep you up at night, I’d suggest pursuing a different career. :) Not trying to be flip, just reflecting on the sad truth that while the internet is a wonderful invention, it can be used for evil as well as good. This is also part of the reason I’m ambivalent about whether or not I’ll actually put my information and stats into the $1MBP database when it becomes available. I’ll have to wait and see if any of it will be traceable back to me before I make that decision.

      Best of luck whatever you decide,

    2. Hi Michelle, thanks for your response, it is something I have been thinking about a lot. Especially if you are going down the transparent blogging approach, what the come back might be. I feel for my business model I need to be myself, as I want to offer coaching / programmes. So maybe then I shouldnt be so transparent? But then being transparent builds trust, credibility, readership? Ahhh you see how the circle in my head goes round? Lol

      There is a Dr Seuss Quote I keep coming back to… Be who you are and say what you feel because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.

    3. Hey Julz, great questions.

      Regarding your choice of topic, anything is fine. We won’t be starting a blog about making money online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a topic. Choose whatever you think is best.

      Regarding anonymity, you can keep your identity a secret if you choose. I personally don’t worry about being public about everything I do, but you can decide for yourself. The stuff involving Naomi Dunford is really a unique situation and too intense to explain in one simple comment here.

    4. Hi Corbett, thanks for your response, yeah as soon as I hit submit I knew the subject was too intense to be discussed, but it is an important consideration I guess – it will greatly impact the strategy/content of your blog / online business. I do however feel that being yourself is a big plus in building relationships.

      Another quick question! You have two blogs, but if I recall correctly you said somewhere that you have thought about combining them. I am also interested in writing about entrepreneur mindset plus business skills and strategies as well as goal achievement in life in general. Do you think it is better to spilt it or start as one!? I am thinking now of combining ideas and having a goal achievement blog, tracking my progress with business and personal goals and sharing the skills, mindset, knowledge I acquired to set, tackle and achieve my goals. Is this too broad?

      I’m sorry if this is not appropriate question for this comment thread but I’m really going round in circles with this!


  4. I totally agree Corbett – accountability is an incredibly powerful tool. I have no doubt that it has helped me to keep focused on what I am doing. It’s something that everything should use, and is one of the reasons why I am such a big fan of the $1MBP.

  5. Corbett,

    Sounds great! Accountability is a wonderful idea and should certainly help to hold peoples feet to the fire.

    My only question is why “Clicky” rather than Google Analytics or another analytics program? Is it just an arbitrary (free) service to get people on the same page (so to speak) tracking wise?

    1. Clicky allows for public access, it’s free, and it has some cool features. If you like, you can run both Clicky and Google Analytics with no problem.

  6. I’m excited about this project. I think I’ll be using a blog I recently started on M-Audio speakers. I think this project is going to really build the reputation of this blog to another level. NOT that it isn’t one of the best places you can find useful information in the topic of making money/marketing online

  7. Hey Corbett – luv the accountability thing – it’s a grrreat idea, and something that I’m finally going to implement now.

    BTW – I want to join your “contest” with This blog has been sort of sleeping for the last two months, and it didn’t really make me any money yet (because I haven’t monetized it yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. I’ve been thinking about getting involved with this a fair bit since your first post Corbett and I’m developing a plugin for turning a blog into a fully fledged business atm so this could be a great excuse to set up a blog that showcases just how that works…Just need to find a good niche.

  9. As a Traffic School member, I can attest to the power of keeping an accountability journal. My entry for the month of June directly lead to help and suggestions from people who read the entry to more than double my traffic. Come to think about it, my August report is late! Time to get on it. . . Thanks!

    1. Thanks Vic for the testimonial to the power of accountability and congrats on your success. Now get to that August report ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I’m really looking forward to this! And the timing is so perfect. :)
    Question about Clicky and Feedburner – are you going to give some kind of tutorial on how to make those numbers/stats publicly accessible? Because I can’t figure that one out. And also, for Clicky, will the free version do the trick or will we need one of the upgraded options?

  11. I’ve been patiently waiting for an update on the next steps!

    Accountability Journal – check!
    Decided punishment for not reporting – a quick pinch – check! (hey, I’m kinda broke right now.)
    Blog Topic Chosen – eh! Working on it.

    Is it ok to make use of a dedicated blog as an accountability journal? I’ve set one up ( ) and have already begun writing what steps I’ve taken towards this $1MBP.

  12. Hi Corbett –

    I have 2 questions – you say to participate with our own blogs, our website has to be a blog – is it okay if it is a blog within a website? i.e

    I’d like to follow along with my own blog. I am a musician, making a living but in a very “starving artist” way and looking to bump those numbers up. (If some folks love my music, some more could I figure.) I am not yet sure that there is a “pressing need” for music, mine in particular, so I am mulling over ways in which my blog can be related to music and the lifestyle it represents, while actually helping folks in some way with their own goals, inspirations etc.

    Is it okay for me to participate under these conditions? Or best just to follow along silently?

    PS – I am rebuilding my site/blog right now, should be done in a few days.

  13. I can’t wait. I already started my blog even though it was suppose to follow along with this. I’m going to add Clicky to my to-do list next!

    Can’t wait until the things get fully rolling. :)

  14. This is great! I posted my first accountability post on my poor blog i’ve neglected the last 5months, but i’m afraid i may have lost a lot of my readers, so I would definitely be interested in an accountability journal section here in Think Traffic.

    Also, quick question about sharing Feedburner stats: i have several sites on my Feedburner account now that I would rather not share publicly. Should I set up a new Feedburner account or do you know of a way to only share one site?

    I’m super excited to start. I’ve had ideas incubating in my head for a while now and after reading some of the suggestions for blogs, I think I have been able to glean a little here and there and focus more on what my topic should be about. :)

  15. Ok great! Thanks. I think I will join in with the goal of refining how I help others in a way that incorporates what I am already doing/ passionate about. This will be fun!

  16. Looking forward to participating. I’m considering just setting up a hidden category on the blog itself for the accountability journal. Direct navigation to the URL would work but would appear in topic lists, etc. Anybody else considering same? Or better to just split out into another space?

  17. I have a few questions about the “location” of the accountability journal. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to having it on our own blog? Would we better off having it totally separate from our blog? If totally separate is better, than I’d love to have it here on Think Traffic. If it’s better to be on my blog, then there it shall go! Would love some input. Thanks!

  18. I really love this idea…my question is can I find time to participate ? I’m presently thinking of starting a third site or possibly taking one of my sites and re-doing(this one has not made any money)..hmmm ???

  19. Hi, I reeeally want to join but I’m not sure if my chosen topic (about living on low income) would really produce any form of revenue :( What do you think?

  20. Hi there!
    Is there any problem if I’m already using Mailchimp to collect subscribers? I like it a lot and would like not to have to change it since I already got some people.

  21. Hi guys,
    Can’t wait to get started. I think keeping an accountability journal at Think Traffic may be the best way to share experience and progress.. so yes, i’m interested in keeping my journal here :)

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  23. Hey,

    Quick question for you guys. If we already have our topic in mind, should we go ahead and purchase the domain or wait until you go through those steps? I already use Hostgator for my niche sites and would only have to purchase the domain – not new hosting. Just unsure as to whether I should wait until you advise us on how to choose a SEF domain for our topic of choice?


  24. Also: If anyone is interested in setting up an accountability group, hit me up. I’m based in Berlin, Germany, but I’m happy to work with anyone from anywhere.

  25. I really want to do this. I’ve been playing around with making a blog about board games. It will be a good thing for me to have an accountibility journal too. I’ve never really gotten my personal blog off the ground, and that could be a large reason.

    It scares me, but at the same time I’m kinda excited about it too.

    1. Awesome, Rob. We’ll have a registration page up soon where you can enter all your details for tracking. There will be another update on the project coming this Thursday.

  26. Corbett, count me in on everything.

    I’m just curious to know if the topic of religion can actually make anything online besides donations. What do you think? Thanks!

    1. Hey Manspaugh, I don’t have any experience with religion-based blogs. Anything is possible, but you should look for other examples along the lines of what you want to do.

  27. Remember to tell everybody that they have to check “Allow Public Access” in the Advanced Settings so that the stats on Clicky can be public. I thought it was automatic, but I had to go back and check the box for this challenge.

    1. More like tips on being frugal. How to get your food to last longer, shopping cheaper, finding freebies and stuff like that. I don’t want to do something entirely about coupons because there are a bunch of those…

  28. Is it okay if our blog doubles as an accountability journal? I need to learn French for the Peace Corps and was going to use my blog as a daily place to recap lessons to make sure I don’t slack off.

  29. This is going to be fun. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll be going in with my existing blog, and I am looking forward to seeing how I and everyone else does.

    1. I think constant contact is good if you are only going to send newsletters? If you want to send auto responders then it is nt
      So good as it is very limited.

      Might be wrong but last time I checked that’s why I moved to a weber.

  30. I think this is just what I need! I started my blog earlier this year but it keeps getting relegated to the back burner. This project and an accountability journal will help me finally get it going.

  31. Clicky Analytics is only free up to 3,000 daily page views, then you have to buy a subscription!

    Once someone’s site get’s successful enough to get over 3k daily page views they will be forced to pay to remain in this contest? Or will participants then be able to switch to a truly free analytics system?

    If you give away prizes, this is turned into a contest. It’s illegal in many places to require any sort of payment to participate in a contest.

  32. I am totally green to the blogging/tech world and I”m struggling with ways to learn the ropes and get solid guidance without falling prey to “You Can Make a Million Dollars in 10 minutes With This Course” stuff or affiliate marketing. Am I too green to join or do you think you’ll explain everything in a non tech way that makes sense for the everyday non blogger/tech person?

    1. No you are not too green… While there are a lot of great courses out there that can get you up to speed quickly. I find that you can usually find great free content on the basics. Good news is in most cases you don’t need any technical skills as the software does most of everything you need. WordPress is a great place to start and of course I am sure we can help you out right here :)

  33. Im using a blog I started just a few short months ago, but that was before the traffic school class, so I hadn’t set it up the way you teach. I’ve been going back and revising the site according the the principles in the class and it’s been working out well.

    I did my first giveaway on the site, which has been the single biggest boon to traffic so far. Interesting.

    Anyway, I still keep my progress journal there too, but my journal for the MDBP is updated now through google docs and can be found here:

  34. I’m still confused on how to set up an accountability journal and how to use it. I’m probably thinking too much about it that I’m making it more complicated than what it really is.

  35. CAn you provide me the link to submit my accountability details for the MDBP?
    blog name + URL
    author name
    monthly visitors (using your Clicky tracking link)
    subscribers (using your FeedBurner link)
    total revenue
    progress log link

    I have added Clicky and Feedburner to my blog now I just need to set up my accountability Journal so i can send you the link. I know I learned of this project a bit late – yet I am committed to catching up and following along before Expert Enough formally launches. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  36. This is an amazing project! I only just found it last night. Is it too late to join in officially/publicly? I’m so inspired, I will be following along and joining in whether or not I can still do so officially- but I’d really love to if it’s still open.

  37. Just came across this so starting a little late but going ahead none the less. Looking forward to re-launching one of my blogs with a better focus!

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