One of my favorite running jokes on Happy Endings (RIP, you were gone too soon) was the Year of Penny. Not JUST because it was funny, but because it was inspiring.
God bless Penny Hartz and her optimistic energy. 😍
If you didn’t watch the amazing silly sitcom, “Year of Penny” was just the character’s mantra while she was trying to stay positive throughout the show’s 3 seasons of mishaps.
No matter what happened to her, no matter how many times she fell down…she got back up, did a little dance, and yelled “Year of Penny, suck it!” or something.
It’s EXACTLY the kind of energy I want going into 2019.
So I hereby proclaim 2019 the Year of Bberg. 💁🏻 SUCK IT.
Welcome to this year’s recap, nerds.
Revisiting Plans for 2018
So the last totally new blog post I created here was a full year ago with my 2017 recap. (And I’m not sorry at all, given the changes to my business…I’ll get to that in a sec!)
Clearly, I have some ish to catch you up on.
Here’s last year’s review vlog as a reminder of what was going on 12 months ago:
I was only a few months into self-employment and recovering from years of denying my chronic illness, disability, burnout, and deep depression. I was working extremely part-time hours, had multiple medical & health appointments per week filling up my schedule, and was working on personal stuff that required a lot of reflection time & white space.
All that to say…
My business wasn’t my focus in 2017 or even most of 2018, but I’m REALLY proud of the changes I made in other areas of my life…ones that I know will eventually impact my business.
I want to emphasize how much those changes around mental health and self-care are starting to indirectly impact my business, because I know of a lot of friends in similar places.
So many of you contacted me after this vlog to let me know how refreshing it was to hear someone say that they didn’t care about not meeting their business goals for the year, because of the personal growth that happened in its place.
Since “self-care > business” is still a super strong theme in my life right now, I knew another year-end post was a must-write.
Here’s a quick recap of what I wanted the year to look like back in January:
Better balance between long-term and short-term planning
I’ve always been way better at planning than I am at following plans. And one thing I frequently suck at is remembering to look at both the big picture and the nitty gritty at the same time.
To balance the big long-term dreams I love with the day-to-day systems and project management…that I also love. I love them both so much that I get drawn into one and forget the other.
Def needed to work on that!
Diversifying my business (again)
Before I left my full-time job, most of my business income came from digital products and affiliate marketing. That’s what I was more interested in and what I was better at, as opposed to services/freelancing/consulting/whatever I’m supposed to call it.
But once I didn’t have a paycheck, I needed to focus more on services and the immediate income they offered. I knew that I didn’t want to be a full-time service provider, but I didn’t really know how I wanted to structure my business long-term.
So writing clients it was, at first. A big goal for 2018 was making decisions so I could start diversifying that again and play into my strengths.
Develop a clearer brand and packages
Because of how I jumped into client work, I didn’t do much work around branding or positioning myself as a freelancer at first. All of the clients I brought on when I left my day job were friends/colleagues, so it wasn’t high priority then.
I was still pretty niched down, just since I always went with what I knew, but tbh there wasn’t much intention or strategy behind it. 😬
So a big goal for 2018 was clarifying my personal brand as a freelancer/consultant, and what I specifically offer beyond “blog & email content for B2B SaaS” (which again, is still prettyyy niche lol).
Keep in better touch with biz friends
I’ve always prioritized building relationships in my career. Not for any strategic or networking-like reasons, just because I needed friendships to get through all this. But since I never went into relationship building with business in mind, it’s always been awkward/uncomfortable for me to use the network I have.
For example, it was SO difficult for me to put the word out to friends that I was looking for clients when I first left my day job in 2017. But once I did, I had enough ongoing clients within 2 weeks to consider myself booked out.
So in 2018, I wanted to get better at nurturing my friendships with marketing/entrepreneurship friends…and actually do things that helped us as marketers/entrepreneurs.
Talking about work. Collaborating. Referring each other business. Introducing people I knew would love each other. Stuff like that.
Like I say in the video, I’d already built a strong network, but I wanted to start using it.
Find my new voice
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Finally, one of my huge goals for the year was to find my voice again and start using it. My voice as a writer, as a marketer, as a productivity enthusiast, as a chronically ill/disabled human, as a feminist, as a Jewish woman, etc.
The past few years, I had been so sick, so low energy, so depressed, so burnt out, that it’d been awhile since I’d had the strength or energy to really think about my opinions and how I voiced them.
How I show up on the internet, both as a business and as a human who goes through things.
This year was time to start figuring that out again.
So those were last year’s goals. How did I do?
Balancing long-term and short-term planning
Oh man, have my planning systems been in limbo this year. As a planning geek, I’m still not where I want to be with this, but I HAVE gotten a lot better.
I’ve changed up how and how often I plan and developed new routines. Now that that’s settled, I’m reevaluating the different tools & softwares I use accordingly. (In fact, I just did a Facebook live on that 🙌)
Working with a business strategist on a true business plan also made this a lot easier for me.
(Huge shout-out to Nevica Vasquez – everything I did this year was thanks to her help!)
Diversifying my business & income streams
This is going GREAT. I made even bigger shifts in my business model this year than I planned, but we’ll get to that later. But because of those, I’m now back to a pretty even split between services/client income and income from my own brand.
In 2018 I developed the Confident Content Workshop and Content Remix Planner for this site, and launched the Work Brighter Clubhouse over in my other business. And I’m SO much more excited and passionate about these than I could ever be about client work. 😍
Developing a clearer brand & packages
OH WOW this one didn’t go how I thought it would! And I mean that in a great way.
At the beginning of the year, the goal was to put my all into my personal brand as a content marketer so that Work Brighter could go back to being a fun (and monetized) hobby/side project. So the plan was to separate the two brands by launching the new Work Brighter site, then redesign this site putting my services and packages as the main focus.
But at the beginning of my work with Nevica, we realized how much I wanted Work Brighter to be my full-time focus…I just had a lot of mindset blocks telling me that wasn’t possible when it TOTALLY was.
So mid-year, the plan changed.
Instead of a rebrand focusing 100% on services and hiring me as a content marketing strategist and writer, it became one more focused on digital products and coaching/consulting instead of done-for-you stuff. 😎
Keep in better touch with biz friends
This one went so well! My friendships and relationships were amazing this year. 😍 I talked to friends way more often, developed deeper friendships and connections with them, and was able to be there for them when they needed me.
I definitely need to write a whole post on Work Brighter, but the key to this was creating systems, habits, and automations. 🤖 (Of course it was, I’m me!)
Last spring, I built an Airtable base to help me keep up with my friendships because I could not be more nerdy. 🤓
It has everyone I want to make sure to keep in regular touch with, the channel the respond quickest on (Messenger, Insta, email, etc.), and when I last spoke with them. That way, I can easily see who I owe a check-in or am overdue for a Skype call with!
Find my new voice
This one is so vague that I don’t really know how to measure success for it other than confidence and mental health. But going off of those, this work in progress is going well.
In terms of my work, it went amazingly. I found my voice and what I stand for in both businesses and have clear ideas on how to incorporate those more into my messaging in the future:
- As a content marketer, I stand for minimalist content marketing and focusing on quality, distribution, and repurposing over churning out lots of content.
- As the founder of Work Brighter, I stand for ending the obsession with “productivity for productivity’s sake” and hustle at the expense of health and self-care.
- As an entrepreneur in general, I stand for ending the glorification of overwork and overwhelm, and both of my businesses address that in different ways for different people.
In terms of my personal voice, I’m still very much figuring it out.
Social media has been amazingly helpful for that though! Shout-outs to Spoonie Twitter and Jewish Twitter, two communities that have helped me learn more about and understand myself so much better this year.
Some of the Best Highlights
Working with other people
From the foundational and career-changing work with Nevica I’ve already mentioned, to finding masterminds that are a better fit for my values and business model, I love the people I worked with this year.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always had professional/work friends. But being more intentional about both who those friends were and how often we kept in touch, partnered with working with consultants and strategists, made for a phenomenal year.
Some of the people that made it so (follow them, they’re wonderful unicorns):
- Zoe – my best friend, masterminder, and mental health accountability buddy
- Nevica – the business coach/strategist that helped me make decisions and come up with business plans
- Ginny – the branding strategist I’m working with on the in-progress rebrand of this site
- Chanti – the quiz funnel strategist whose online workshop I attended to come up with the BESTTTTT opt-in for the new site 😍
- Hillary – a group power hour and feedback from her helped me figure out some of the messaging and positioning coming in the new site
- Amber – after finishing my one-on-one coaching work with Nevica, I joined Amber’s Freshly Implemented group program for 2019, after months of seeing friends in the program make major progress through it.
Plus, every single human in the Work Brighter Clubhouse has had a unique impact on me, whether we cowork together every week or have just chatted here and there.
Going all in on Work Brighter
I’ve been working on Work Brighter for years, without knowing what I wanted it to be or what I wanted to get out of it.
It might have been making business-level income, but was very much a side project. In fact, a year ago I was planning to demonetize it completely and turn it into a purely creative, just-for-fun website. I didn’t have any type of long-term plan for it, and that was fine with me. It was serving its personal purpose.
But the more I worked on my own balance between productivity and self-care, the more I talked to other people across industries who were dealing with the kind of all-consuming, health-endangering burnout I experienced, the more I met other creatives dealing with chronic and mental illness in addition to everything else in business, the more I wanted to do more about it.
Now, the entire trajectory of my career looks different.
I’m going all in on Work Brighter, redefining productivity and work, and providing a perspective on productivity most mainstream advice forgets. 🤘
Starting the Work Brighter Clubhouse
Launching the Clubhouse, Work Brighter’s first official, paid offering, to its first beta members in August was a huge milestone for multiple reasons.
In addition to it being the first step in the “all-in” plans for Work Brighter, it was also the first time I was trusting my instincts as an entrepreneur and business owner versus going with the framework of a more experienced one.
For example, right before I’d launched the Clubhouse, I was trying to come up with premium service offerings and a signature service all that jazz.
Why? Not because I wanted to or felt that option suited my strengths, but because in 2017/2018 that was the popular solution to the problem I was having.
But the Clubhouse and Work Brighter’s whole business model is going to be focused on *my own* strengths from the start. Here’s how a membership does that right now:
- I teach and guide through creating content. Content = strength.
- It’s a recurring product, like the SaaS products I’ve spent years marketing. MRR-focused biz model = strength.
- I check in and interact with customers through text and calls instead of video, since my illness makes videos calls hard. Energy management = strength.
And there we have it! Logic, folks. We don’t always use it, but we always should!
Speaking at INBOUND
Getting to take the stage at INBOUND was another multifaceted career milestone. Of course, on its own, speaking at a big conference like that is exciting. 💪
It was the first time I traveled for work without my illnesses flaring up, meaning I’ve finally figured out how to balance work and self-care when I travel.
It was the first time I went to a conference without a single “professional” outfit in my suitcase. I dressed for my comfort and my personality. I even spoke wearing polka dotted leggings! I was *completely* there as myself and no one else.
And it was the most “me” presentation I’ve ever given in terms of voice. The whole thing was pop culture themed, with every section starting with a pop culture example that content marketers can learn from. There was literally a slide dedicated to the Spice Girls. And that made people like it more, not less!
It was a great moment in finding my voice and having the guts to completely bring that into my work.
It was a transformative year
Obviously the whole year wasn’t great. I don’t make as much money as I want to, it takes me longer than I’d like to create things, and I definitely don’t have the whole work/health balance completely figured out yet.
But compared to where I was a year ago? Or two years ago?
I really feel like a different person, especially when it comes to work and business.
I’m more confident, more self-aware, and more in tune with my purpose and big picture goals. As cheesy as it feels to use the phrase “my purpose,” and believe me, I’m uncomfortable with using it, it’s accurate.
In 2018 I planted seeds. In 2019 they will grow.
I love science
— Quinta. (@quintabrunson) January 1, 2019
I may not have done any big launches or made six figures, but I became the person I needed to be to do those cool things in the future.
Gah, the cheesiness of all this!
It’s all very Eleanor Shellstrop-feeling, to be honest.
I’m going back to basics and learning how to be a healthy person like she tried to learn how to be a good person.
What’s Next for 2019
So now that I’ve planted the seeds for cool shit, 2019 is time to let it all grow. Last year was about making decisions and shifts. But now I’ve decided where I want to go, and shifted myself in that direction. And it’s to start moving! 🙌
Here are some of the big things happening around here in 2019:
- Finish rebranding this site: the visual brand elements are done, and I cannot wait to show you all 😍 This month we’re going to start working on the website design and copy, so hopefully it’s ready soon!
- More trainings & resources: I’m definitely focusing more on creating digital products now that I’ve realized it’s how I can most effectively help people instead of service packages. I’m currently working on a challenge/mini-course to help create a consistent writing/content habit – something I know so many people need more than another course on content strategy.
- Speaking and consulting: as I make more space for the Clubhouse in my schedule, I want to do more speaking and consulting to spread the minimalist content marketing mindset. Like products, they’re a way I can make a different with content without creating it all myself.
- Putting more into Work Brighter: and lastly, I’m soooo excited to keep putting more into Work Brighter and the Clubhouse. 🦄 I’m forcing myself to take things slow (I’d rather do it right than do it fast), but the momentum is building and I can’t wait to see where it ends up.
It’s been YEARS since I’ve been this mix of excited about my ideas, *and* optimistic I’ll be personally up to executing them. I’m just totally embracing this New Years enthusiasm for all its worth while it lasts, because I don’t experience this feeling often enough to ignore it.
How about you? What have you got on deck for the new year and how are you feeling about it?