Progress Report – Project Lifestyle Design: February 2011

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by Brenton Russell on

This month’s Project Lifestyle Design progress report reflects on the progress of Uncork Your Mind in my first full month of self-employment. A big month both on and offline saw a significant increase in traffic as well the purchase of a block of land to build our family home on and the receiving of an Australia Day award.

Here are all the details and statistics:

January Stats

January saw a great 78% increase in traffic compared to December.  I’m pretty happy with this!  I’ve still got a bit of work to do to get the bounce rate down and the average time on site up and the only way to do this is through a continued commitment to great content. I’m not really sure what the bench marks are for bounce rate and average time on site.  I’d love to hear from other bloggers out there if you’re willing to share your percentages.


  • RSS: 20 (4 new: + 25%)
  • Twitter: No longer reporting – See ‘Goals Achieved’ section
  • Newsletter: 15 (6 new: + 66%)*
  • Alexa Ranking (one month): 301,572 (improvement of 13%)
  • Google Page Rank: Lifestyle Design – 555 (prev 637 improvement of 13%) (Market Samurai was playing up tonight so no screen capture this month)

Another month of steady subscription increases although these figures are suggesting to me that I need to offer more to attract a higher number of regular readers. This will be a focus area for my February goals. My Alexa Ranking was as low as 280,000 at one stage but snuck back up at the end of the month.

*With my newsletter subscriptions, three people didn’t re-confirm their subscription when I transferred from Mail Chimp to Aweber.  I have taken these numbers off last month’s total to calculate the percentage increase this month.

Top Traffic Sources

Traffic from Google doubled this month which I am assessing is a result of more content for Google to index and an increased commitment to better SEO. I still have so much to learn about SEO but I am happy my results are demonstrating improvement.

Traffic from Feedburner also increased which I take to be a direct reflection of an increase in posts each week. I also note the increased traffic from social media sites such as Delicious, Stumble Upon and Twitter. This is also encouraging and I think that it just takes time to develop these sources with improvement a result of persistence and continual growing of the website.  Now I understand why many bloggers commit to posting every day!

Top Content

Its great to see my more actionable posts featuring in the top 10 of posts. This is definitely the style that I want to continue with. It is also interesting to see that my second top post is one on homebrewing that I write last year while I was still exploring what I wanted to write about. I have done nothing to perpetuate or promote this post so maybe this is an opportunity in the future to create a new website on another one of my passions!

Newly Discovered Websites

Here are some of the better websites that I discovered throughout the month:

January Review

One of my main aims for January was to focus on building up my traffic and with a 78% increase I am pretty happy that I achieved this to a reasonable degree.  I am working on further implementing Pat Flynn’s Backlinking Strategy and Steve Scott’s Blog Lead Generation Diagram during February so I will continue to keep these as a focus. I really need to work harder on the Backlinking Strategy as while my traffic saw a significant increase this month, my keyword ranking in Google continues to stagnate.

During January I really wanted to affirm my commitment to making Uncork Your Mind about actionable lifestyle design information.  With a number of practical coaching activities included in posts and the monthly newsletter I am satisfied that I am moving in the right direction.  More great lifestyle design activities to come!

Goals Achieved

One of my goals for last month was to develop an informational product that I can use as part of Steve Scott’s Blog Lead Generation Diagram. I significantly progressed this project during January and it should definitely be ready for release this month.  This also ties into another of my goals for January to develop an email list plan so between the development of my info product and the implementation of Steve Scott’s Lead Magnet blueprint I assess this goal as being achieved.

I did write my monthly newsletter and focussed it on getting to know yourself through understanding your values. If you’re interested in reading it as well as conducting the free coaching activity to help you better understand your values, sign up to the newsletter on the right and January’s newsletter will be sent directly to your email inbox.

One of my goals for January was to write two guest posts. I did write two guest posts but one of these posts I didn’t think was good enough to use on someone else’s website.  I only want to export my best so I turned this into an article that I will submit to an article directory.  My other post did get published as my first ever guest post on the very popular Steve Scott Internet Lifestyle website.  Check out the guest post – Two Questions (Three Words) For Every Problem.

I have made significant progression towards the development of my first niche website using Corbett Barr’s Affiliate Marketing For Beginners training course.  After some final design work with my graphic designer (who doubles as my wife!) I will let you all know the name of the site if you’re interested in checking it out.  Once I can demonstrate some results (good or bad!) I will write a review on Corbett Barr’s course.

I successfully completed my goal of writing two articles for an article directory.  Both are currently in various stages of approval with Ezine Articles which does seem to be taking for ever! I guess the up side is that Ezine Articles takes the time to ensure that only higher articles are published.

After reading a number of different opinions about how to use Twitter I still remain a little perplexed.  I understanding the theory of following heaps of people on the basis that many of them will follow you back.  This gives you a heap of followers to read your tweets and hopefully drive traffic to your website.  But doesn’t this defeat the purpose of using Twitter to connect to people? If you are following thousands of people how can you read and interact with all of those tweets and if all of your followers are adopting the same methodology than surely your tweets will get lost in their giant pool of information.  I have decided that I am going to use Twitter for what I think is its original purpose – follow people who I genuinely want to interact with and send tweets to my followers as if I am having a conversation with them.  I’m also going to stop tracking my Twitter follower numbers as part of my monthly report as I don’t think the numbers are relevant with how I intent to use Twitter.

One of my big goals for January was to write something every day.  By my count there may have been one or two days at most when I didn’t achieve this so I count this as a resounding success.  I also aimed for commenting on other blogs everyday and while this was more of an aspiration I would have achieved this for close to 80% of the days in January.

As an aside, although my current aim is not about making money with Uncork Your Mind I did achieve my first (and second!) affiliate sales this month!

Goals Not Achieved

As I only finished reading Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Working For Yourself late in the month I haven’t yet written a review.  I will roll this back to next month.  I also didn’t write an article on the 80/20 Principle as it relates to lifestyle design as I had too many other topics that I wanted to write about!  I will also look to roll this back to February.

I have decided that Squidoo is not something that I want to pursue.  It no longer feels like something that I want to put time into so I am striking this goal off the list.

Books Read

I managed to get through a number of books this month.  Books that I finished:

Thanks to Chris Brogan for the book recommendations of the last two books; both  great reads.

Books Reading

The following are books that I will read this month:

January Posts Summary

February Goals

My key focus areas for February are to continue to create useful and actionable lifestyle design content, further implement Pat Flynn’s Backlinking Strategy and to further implement Steve Scott’s Blog Lead Generation Diagram.

If you read my post about my first personal Big Audacious Challenge, you’ll know that I am also developing a plan to interview the self development blogging superstar Steve Pavlina. I have the basis of a plan now and will be writing more about this plan within the next week.

Here are my specific goals for February:


  1. Finish info product.
  2. Write a guest post.
  3. Write monthly newsletter that includes another self-coaching activity.
  4. Create a video post.

Website Marketing

  1. Use info product to implement Steve Scott’s Blog Lead Generation Diagram.
  2. Write no less than two articles for article directories.


  1. Publish my first affiliate website (I’ll be sure to let you all know the web address!)

Self Development

  1. Read Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.
  2. Read Hypnotic Writing.
  3. Read The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself.
  4. Implement my plan to interview Steve Pavlina.

Online Connecting

  1. Keep the aspiration of daily blog commenting (noting that this won’t always be possible).
  2. Connect with five great bloggers via email.


Overall a pretty exciting month both offline with the purchase of our block of land to build our family home on and my Australia Day award and online with a significant increase in overall traffic.  February is all about more valuable content and maintaining momentum!

Uncork Your Mind is now a “DoFollow” website.  If you choose to leave a comment you will get a link back to your website.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve@Internet Lifestyle February 3, 2011 at 12:41 am

78% damn, I wish I could get that type of return on my money. :) That is a really good traffic increase. Keep it up!

It is nice to see you are doing well. Hopefully this month should be even better.

Twitter: there are certainly two schools of thought on Twitter. Both are valid, IMO. Sheer numbers gives you a chance to reach more strangers who might find something interest (specifically if you try to target out of the gate). BUT as you say a smaller following allows you to connect a lot better with those who do follow.

I try a third way, by listing people that I interact with. Trying to interact with them (ok I will get better!) AND building a large list for sheer numbers purpose. BUT, yeah…this is not easy to do. So choosing one of the first two may be fine ideas :)

Sidenote: Ezine articles does take forever… at first. after 10 article they *may* bump you up to the next level, where your articles get approved a lot faster (1-3 workdays average) If they don’t do it at ten they relook at something like 36 articles and some other milestones. For some web 2.0 links Hubpages and Squidoo are both instant, and generated decent ranking/links. (always good to mix up those link sources too)
Steve@Internet Lifestyle recently posted..Get More Blog Traffic Blueprint Week 12


Brenton Russell February 3, 2011 at 9:04 am

Hi Steve,

Thanks for such a detailed comment particularly from someone like yourself who I consider to be an expert in online matters!

Thanks for the Twitter thoughts. I haven’t considered using the list technique that you outline above. This could be a great compromise to reach lots of people but stay connected with a smaller group. This idea really appeals to me.

I had it as a goal to create a Squidoo page but just struck it off my list. Maybe I need to reconsider putting it back on! Thanks also for the info on Ezine Articles. As I am not really looking to made a stack of money out of my website I am finding myself (for good or bad) becoming a little more ‘purist’ with my online activities so I like how Ezine Articles has a stricter vetting process. The more I continue with my online activities the more I realise how much crap is out there and anyone who is helping to filter some of this out gets a pat on the back from me!

Thanks again for your expert advice.


Ryan Renfrew @lifestyle design February 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

Hey Brenton,

Looks like Jan was a busy month for you. Well done on your stats mate.
Did you make your affiliate commission through this blog?

What did you think of Napolean Hills book?
I have orderd Chris Gillebeaus book – im hoping its here tomorrow.

All the best with your Feburary goals and the launch of your niche site.

Ryan Renfrew @lifestyle design recently posted..My Blogs Statistics For January


Brenton Russell February 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Hi Ryan,

I did make my affiliate commission through this blog although as I wrote in the post that I’m not really trying to make money. I really only have links to a couple of products because I do truly use and love them.

I really liked ‘Think and Grow Rich.’ If you’ve read other self development books than the concepts may not necessarily be new or earth shattering but I found it to be well written and very applicable. Have you read it? I bought Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide To Working For Yourself and it was good but I haven’t read his new book. Maybe you could write a book review on it on your blog once you’ve read it?


Murlu February 4, 2011 at 5:20 am

Hey Brenton

Amazing work buddy – your’e really rockin’ it and I can’t believe that you’re already getting down to business about creating an info product; that’s productivity at it’s finest!

Thanks for bringing up SSS’s diagram, I bookmarked it but forgot about it until now – I’m totally down for using it as well, we should compare notes once we get the ball rolling :)

It’s amazing how it feels once you get down and bang out articles each day – I don’t do them for Murlu on a daily basis but I still write for freelance sites and clients; having that schedule keeps you extremely edgy and it all builds and builds and builds.

You’ve come a long way man, keep at it!
Murlu recently posted..Beyond Blogging- Transform your Skills into a Bartering Powerhouse!


Brenton Russell February 7, 2011 at 6:18 am

Hi Murlu,

The Steve Scott Site (SSS) has so much good info, doesn’t it! Yep, definitely keen to compare notes and suggestions while implementing Steve’s lead magnet generation plan.

You are absolutely right about how daily writing just keeps building your content. Even when I don’t feel like writing I will commit to writing for only ten minutes and its amazing the amount of times an hour or so flies by and I have a some well progressed content. It does take discipline but the results keep me motivated.


Jason from Skyward February 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm


First of all, congrats on the property and your new home…..that’s awesome!
Second, congrats on the Australia Day Award. I read your post about it and that’s is very honorable and let me just say, even as an American I appreciate your efforts in Afghanistan.

Thanks for the mention as well….much appreciated my friend!

I really enjoyed this post because you just put it all out there, and I think that’s great. It’s obvious that you’re extremely ambitious and goal driven, so your success is inevitable so long as your persistent.

I have several E-zine articles out there and my experience with them is that as long as they are sound from a keyword perspective, they generate good traffic.

Looks like January was an awesome month for you, hopefully February will be killer as well!


Brenton Russell February 7, 2011 at 6:24 am

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your congrats on our new property and the Australia Day award. Much appreciated!

It was great for me to find your website this month and is well aligned with my thoughts on life. I will definitely be reading regularly.

I am finding that this monthly report takes a significantly amount of time and effort to write but is very useful for facilitating analysis of my results and keeping myself honest with worthwhile goals as I move forward. Its also a useful motivating tool throughout the month knowing that if I complete some useful actions and achieve worthwhile results that I will get to write about it in my progress report.

I am still very new to the article writing business and I think that I need to do some more research to make them more effective. I do enjoy writing them though and now I just need to make sure that they are working for me as best as they can.


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