Oh, jeez. I normally do a longer intro, but this review itself is long enough. 🙈
So I’ll jump into it quickly. Just a few notes:
- If you like this, you can catch up on my 2017 and 2018 review too. I’ve been doing them since I left in-house work to do my own thing.
- This long review doesn’t necessarily mean I had a busy year or a successful year. It means I had a lot of thoughts and things to process.
- For the third year in a row (aka every year I’ve been doing this), you’ll see that a theme was personal improvement over professional improvement. I do this because I care about my self-care more than my revenue numbers, and because I’m confident that improving myself as a person is the best way to improve my business.
Now let’s get into it! 🎉
(Some of these links are affiliate links. So if you decide to buy anything, I’ll receive a commission. Most creators say something like “100% of this goes back into the business,” but I’m not most creators. Some months it goes into the business, others it will be used to buy inappropriate amounts of chocolate. Remember, working brighter is about balance!)
Table of Contents
Original Goals for 2019: How’d I Do? 🤔
So, what did I originally set out to do in 2019? My main goals were:
And how did I do?
FINISH REBRANDING BRITTANYBERGER.COM:
This turned into an expensive lesson in how to choose who to work with, the dangers of ignoring red flags, and the importance of a good client experience and communication. 😬
The new plan is to just update the current website/theme with new copy and a bit of a graphics facelift.
DEVELOP NEW DIGITAL PRODUCTS
Originally, I had meant this goal for BrittanyBerger.com as part of the new brand and direction. In addition to the Content Remix Planner and Minimalist Content Planning workshop, I had ideas for a lot of other workshops and templates that went to the backburner as Work Brighter became my primary focus.
I still love the ideas, I’m just not in a rush to get to them. Instead, I’m focusing on expanding the product suite for Work Brighter.
SCALE THE WORK BRIGHTER CLUBHOUSE
I pressed pause on this over the summer as an audience survey told me that the majority of my most engaged audience members simply aren’t at the point in their own working brighter journey where they’re ready for an ongoing community.
The Clubhouse is still smaller than I expected at this point, but oh how I love the members that are there, so I shifted my focus from driving recurring memberships to developing resources from the Clubhouse into their own products (see above).
The new business model I’m exploring is a suite of under-$100 trainings as the main / intro offers, with the ongoing support of the Clubhouse as the next step after that. All roads will still lead to the Clubhouse, but I’m building rest stops for my customers into those roads.
Highlights from the Year 🌀
MAKING TIME FOR ENTERTAINMENT
You don’t have to spend much time interacting with my brands to see how much I love pop culture. TV, movies, music, books, all of it. Entertainment, art, media, I love it no matter what you call it.
And this year, it showed in the way I spent my time and money.
Some of the things Alex and I saw were:
A live taping of Busy Philipps’ talk show
A week before we went to LA, I tweeted and emailed Busy Tonight about attending a live taping. The week we got home, the public found out it wasn’t getting renewed. Perfect timing.
The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Farewell Concert
It was here in the city at Radio City Music Hall. I love that the same stage that has hosted the Rockettes and Riverdance has also hosted “Heavy Boobs” and “Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too.” 🤣
A Schitt’s Creek live panel thingy in Brooklyn
Eugene Levy & Catherine O’Hara talked about their 40-year working relationship, Dan Levy shared his creative process, and Noah Reid (who plays Patrick) performed his incredible and romantic acoustic cover of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”…along with an acoustic version of A Little Bit Alexis 😜
Went to the movies more regularly
Including Fathom Events like seeing a recording of an old cast of Kinky Boots, and Ladies Get Paid screenings for women-led movies like Hustlers 🙌
The next subheading 😉
TEACHING A DANCE CLASS
I’ve been dancing (on and off) since I was 2 years old (I’m 29). I’ve danced competitively, for performance, and for fun. I’ve assisted and student taught. I’ve choreographed.
But I’d never taught my own choreography in my own class before.
And because I am so experienced with dance in other ways, I wasn’t expecting how HUGE this would feel. But the first moment I saw someone else’s body doing movements from my mind? Reader, I cried. 😍
I am so, so grateful to my studio, Broadway Bodies, for really practicing what they preach when it comes to empowering their community and giving students the opportunity to become the teacher for a day.
Plus, the class was filled with my friends, from childhood neighbors to business coaches and customers, and even my partner, who I’d never seen dance sober before…in 11 years together.
LIVING A RIDICULOUS LIFE WITH ALEX
Speaking of my partner, this was a really great year for Alex and I. We both grew a lot both individually and as a couple and made some exciting decisions about the next few years.
This is more personal than I usually get, but the idea of ending up with someone I hooked up with when I was 18 seemed so ridiculous to me. Back in the day, I used to laugh off anyone that would suggest we’d end up together. It wasn’t that I was opposed to it, but I knew the changes.
But 11 years later, that’s what happened, and our life and relationship IS ridiculous, in so many amazing ways. 😍
FINDING (OR…UNDERSTANDING) MY PERSONAL STYLE
At 29 years old, I feel like I finally know and understand my personal style. Not just with clothes, but in general…including my clothes.
The past few years have been big on societal unlearning, and shaking off the different “shoulds” I’d accumulated. And I’m realizing how many of them were related to how I should dress and talk and stuff like that.
But for once, I feel like I can accurately sum up my style, which I’d describe as “late 80s/early 90s athleisure.” Maybe just because my everyday outfit has turned into bright leggings and an oversized sweatshirt with a side pony that makes me feel like Kelly Kapowski. 🤣
LEVELING UP WORKFLOWS
My fellow Type A nerds know how exciting this item and the next one are. 🤓
I’ve been in sort of a systems flux since I left in-house work. Before then, I had separated everything heavily: day job vs. side hustle vs. purely personal were all in different tools for things. Part of that was because I NEEDED heavy compartmentalizing between my jobs.
But once I became self-employed full-time, even though I essentially still have two jobs (a freelance writer at BrittanyBerger.com and the community founder here), I don’t need that compartmentalizing as much anymore.
And a tools crisis was born.
I’d been trying to find the right system, the right combination of tools, to encompass everything the way I needed them to since 2017.
It took til 2019.
A big part of that was Notion, so more on that below.
Another part of it was that in the first year of full-time self-employment, I was still figuring things out and changing things so much that systemized processes could only help so much.
But now that I’ve found my groove with my actual work, the workflows came easier as well.
I’ve leveled up my automation skills, adding Keyboard Maestro to my toolkit and mastering new areas of Shortcuts, document processes as I figure them out, and have so much automated it’s ridiculous. 🤖
(Yes, I will be updating Work Brighter Automation Academy with all I’ve learned!)
LEANING INTO NOTION
Oooooh mama. This one.
I used to believe that the perfect all-in-one productivity tool didn’t exist. And I still don’t, but damn if Notion isn’t as close as it gets!
Pretty sure I started using Notion in 2018, but just for content planning. It wasn’t until 2019 that it really started taking over my workflow. It has now completely or mostly replaced the following apps from my tool stack:
- ClickUp (completely replaced)
- Pocket (completely replaced)
- Trello (completely replaced aside from client boards)
- Google Docs (completely replaced aside from client work)
- Todoist (partially replaced)
- Airtable (partially replaced)
- Evernote (partially replaced)
Once I’m done tightening up the back end of my content strategy and focus on blogging more, you’re gonna hear ALL about it.
I’ve said it on Twitter and I’ll say it here: once it integrates with Zapier, I will be unstoppable in terms of productivity and digital organization.
FINDING MY GROOVE WITH WRITING CLIENTS
In last year’s review, I said I wanted to pivot my client services from writing and implementing content marketing strategies towards consulting.
I take it back! I take it all back!
Lol I was overlooking a very important factor for my personality type: consulting involves more talking with your clients than writing for them.
So the original mental math I’d done to make that decision didn’t really pan out. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
My thinking was, I only have the creative energy to write so many words per week, and I want to save as many as possible for Work Brighter. Quite rational.
I ALSO only have the social energy to spend so much time talking to people per week as well. And it’s more important that I save my socializing energy for the Clubhouse members than hopping on lots of client calls.
So instead, I went back to writing, and just focused on working with my most amazing clients, who’d be worth those words I’m “taking away” from Work Brighter, on an ongoing basis.
And mission accomplished.
I’m fully back in the B2B SaaS niche, have tripled my average rate, and have worked with literal dream clients like Monday.com and CoSchedule.
I feel like I’ve finally found a groove of balancing content marketing work (the stuff that pays me most) with Work Brighter (the stuff that fulfills me most), and am excited to keep writing for these perfect ongoing clients, and maybe find one more as great as the rest.
CREATING BRIGHTER BALANCE
2018 was also the year I finally created my second course. Even though it’s not even a course anymore. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
It’s weird. I’m known in certain circles as an “online course person” or expert or whatever. But I’d only created one, and I’d only launched twice before putting it into an evergreen system. And all that was years ago.
But with Brighter Balance I was back at it again.
The dissonance of having “course expert” sometimes attached to my name, paired with not being able to figure the Brighter Balance course out, led to a rocky launch. I also wasn’t that confident throughout the beta course, not going hard with reminders for the live calls and whatnot.
Since then, I’ve figured out the problem: the transformation I’m trying to take people through with this, isn’t best done through a course.
With WBAA, an evergreen course is the perfect format for it and it will always be sold that way. But Brighter Balance is sooooo different.
So this month, I’m running a second beta round, this time running it as more of a group coaching program than a course released on a drip schedule. If all goes well, I’ll run a live round again this summer!
CREATING THE MINIMALIST CONTENT PLANNING WORKSHOP
Finally, we have something that was both in the original business game plan AND a success!
Back in the fall, I led another workshop over on the BrittanyBerger.com side of things. It was a live content planning workshop walking marketers through how to plan out content calendars using minimalist content marketing.
I was so in my element that I wrote the whole script for the 2-hour workshop in about 25 minutes. (Not word for word, but still.)
Not only am I going to be running it again, I’m going to be doubling down on this type of product for that business.
Sure, I could create a big, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink course on minimalist content marketing that costs four figures to join. I still might, honestly!
BUT I also see such an important place for these more niche workshops solving specific problems. Especially with what I’m doing: giving marketers a new way to think about stuff they’re already doing.
My current audience there doesn’t need to know how to build a content strategy from scratch, they need to know how to optimize what they have. And what they have depends on their own audience.
So I’m really drawn to the business model of having a few different workshops on how to apply minimalist content marketing principles to different areas of your content marketing.
I’ve already covered planning, writing, and project management. Next, I want to explore workshops for specific channels, like on repurposing for social media, repurposing for email marketing, repurposing video, etc.
Mindset Shifts 🧠
If you know me, you know I’m always learning and have always been into self-improvement. In fact, you might have been able to tell me this before I realized it myself!
(When I made the “big announcement” to my best friends about my business in 2018, that Work Brighter was moving more into the personal development space, one’s reply was, “you’re already there”…and explained why she was right.)
So I’m always working on things in some way. This year, in particular, I worked on my mindset around:
CHRONIC ILLNESS AND INDEPENDENCE
Like so many other entrepreneurs, I can get caught up in income goals from time to time. I’m normally good at managing that feeling. But in 2017 and 2018, this ALWAYS led to me falling back into the cycle of working myself into a flare-up.
I realized part of this had to do with how much pressure I was putting on myself to contribute as much as possible to the household finances. But part of the improvements in my relationship with Alex was me becoming more comfortable with accepting help when he offers it, including with finances (and I recognize the privilege in that).
So much content for entrepreneurs is about becoming independent, how no one is coming to save you, and that you shouldn’t rely on other people. But I realized that’s Hustle Culture talking, and if someone you love is literally offering help, you’re allowed to say yes.
VIEWING MYSELF AS A COACH
Over the past 2-ish years, people have started calling me a productivity or mindset coach more often. I have yet to really call myself that.
But I am trying to lean into the idea of being a coach more and test the waters.
I did a few one-off coaching calls for Work Brighter this year, and have evolved Brighter Balance from a course to more of a group coaching program, but I still have some blocks around calling myself a coach.
This year I hope to confront them and bring more coaching into my existing offers like the Clubhouse.
HAVING UNMONETIZED HOBBIES
If you’ve been hanging out with me awhile, you know that I’ve made a big effort to rediscover hobbies since I left in-house work in 2017. While I never gave them up back while I was still “in Hustle Culture,” I was trying to monetize them all.
And up until this year, the urge to do that was still in the back of my mind a lot, I was just actively fighting it.
I feel like this year I finally shook the last remnants of that ridiculous “you must monetize everything you love” belief, and stopped checking the dates of teacher auditions for my dance studio or brainstorming shop names for the cards I hand letter.
I’ve been focused on the balance between productivity and self-care, burnout, and Hustle Culture for a few years now. But this year specifically I dug deep into burnout.
And the more I read and consumed, the more obvious it became that burnout is not an individual failure, it’s a societal one. It’s happening too often to too many people for it to be solely on us. It’s systemic.
This was a big realization for me personally, shedding the shame I still carried from “burning out of full-time work.” But it was also big for the way I talked about burnout in Work Brighter content and messaging.
RECOGNIZING MY INTELLIGENCE
The final mindset shift I really want to talk about is realizing that…hey, I’m a smart person. It’s something that I’ve always sort of known. Like, I knew I was at least average when it comes to smarts.
Sure, people always told me I was smart, but mental illness tricks you into not believing the things other people say about you. So I truly didn’t believe it.
But I still vividly remember a conversation I had in March with two people I admire A LOT where I was informed I was indeed really smart. And I don’t know what made this conversation different from all the others, but this time I believed it.
Then when I told a few other people I’m close to about this, I was informed that “the smart one” has always been part of my identity to other people. So now it’s part of my identity to myself.
Since then, I feel like I’ve been totally able to own (most of the time at least) that I’m a strategic genius, have a unique ability to connect dots, and am a unique blend of scientific and creative.
Media Highlights 📺
You know I love pop culture. But that doesn’t I’m adventurous with it. I tend to reread the same books over and over and rewatch the same movies and TV shows. In 2019 I made a conscious effort to branch out and find more new things.
Here were some of my favorites:
WOW, one of the best books of the year. I released the Happy Habits course a month before it came out, so I had a ton of imposter syndrome going into it, but everything in it either validated what I already taught or gave me supplemental material.
I finished it both inspired to improve, and proud of how much I had figured out on my own through the Happy Habit framework.
Okay, this was a reread, but I was in such a different place personally that I’m counting it as a whole new experience. It’s changed the way I think about bodies, weight, disability, and chronic illness. All things that have consumed the past few years, so it was a needed transformation.
I wish I could make this book a requirement for talking to me about appearances or bodies in any way.
This one was honestly depressing as hell to read lol. But I’m glad I did, because of the context and freedom I ultimately got from it. To oversimplify the very not simple topic, it’s about the ways sexism and patriarchy manifest in productivity and work culture. Aka 110% my jam.
And as someone aiming to build an explicitly inclusive community around productivity, I really want to understand the different ways in which productivity can be political. A lot of the books I read this year touch on that.
If you get bummed out reading Overwhelmed, read this right afterwards. It’s similar to Overwhelmed in its focus on connecting dots back to patriarchy, but is less of a journalist’s take and more of a self-improvement one. Whereas Overwhelmed focuses on the story of what’s going on in society that’s causing so many women to burn out,
Skip all the books about digital detoxes and confront the root problem, the 24/7 attention economy we’re in right now.
This book was a great take on information and technology overload, and how to opt out and take back control completely instead of simply slapping a band-aid on the problem, like digital detoxes tend to do.
If you thought I was obsessed with bullet journaling before I read this book, get ready for a new level of nerdery! I’ve been keeping bujos on and off since 2014, and almost daily since 2017.
I was already clearly a fan, but reading this book didn’t just give me new strategies for my journaling. It also made me realize that for all of the bujo fangirling I was already doing, I still wasn’t giving it enough credit for all the improvements in my life over the past few years.
And finally, The One About Friends (fans will get that 😉).
This book was amazing. I have a complicated history with the show. Meaning I was completely and utterly obsessed and in love with it as a kid, before I could see the problems with it. It’s different now to hear, for example, the Fat Monica jokes. So while I don’t watch it much anymore, there’s still a place in my heart for it.
And this book talked about it all, it’s strengths along with it’s flaws, and mostly why we’re all still talking about it so much 25 years later. It also had some awesome insights for writers and creatives of any medium, not just sitcom writing and acting.
It’s so weird to think that Schitt’s Creek came into my life less than a year ago…I feel like it’s always been part of me. 😍 This show checks all of the boxes I need in a sitcom.
It’s pure joy and weirdness. It’s ridiculous yet relatable. It’s good hearted at its core.
It quickly become one of “my shows,” one that I keep on in the background and fall asleep to and go to live events for (see the “Making Time for Entertainment” section).
When Alex and I went to the live taping of Busy Tonight, Ben Feldman was that episode’s guest. So when we took takeout back to our hotel room that night, we started watching this on Hulu. It reminds me of Parks and Rec a lil bit, but that’s not something that ever came through in the previews I’d seen.
One minor mindset shift I made this year was that I started liking/watching reality TV. I wasn’t one of the “reality TV is trash” people, and frequently argue with those people. But it never personally appealed to me.
My mindset around most reality TV is, “I watch TV to get away from reality, I don’t want shows that give me more of it, however exaggerated.”
But this year it became like 10% of the TV I watch, and started with this RIDICULOUS show where luxury Airbnb owners compete against each other.
Dead to Me
This is one of those that I can’t share many details about without spoilers, since it’s a drama, but WATCH IT.
Christina Applegate! James Marsden! Linda Goddamn Cardellini!
And so many amazing twists.
So this movie didn’t blow me away, but I didn’t see many movies and I did enjoy it a lot, so here it is. I’m ridiculously attracted to Adult Seth Rogan, and love this modern feminist take on “high strung woman meets super chill guy and romance ensues.” Spoiler alert: HE’S the one that has to change, not the woman.
Always Be My Maybe
Between Long Shot and this, 2019 gave me hope big rom-coms aren’t uncool anymore. It was so hilarious I made my mom watch it with me the week after I watched it myself. She loved it so much she was yelling Yiddish at the screen (“they’re beshert!”).
I loved everything about this. My main complaint is that the previews made it seem like Lizzo was in more scenes. But looking back, she’s been busy as hell so it makes sense she wasn’t ALSO part of the main cast of a feature film this year. And as for THAT scene, here’s all I have to say:
Charlies Angel’s 2
Same with this. I love the first Charlie’s Angels movies, so much that I found bootlegged episodes of the old shows on…what was it back then, Kazaa? Napster?
Also lol to going viral for the completely unoriginal opinion that Kirsten Stewart was hot in this. A dozen people I hadn’t spoken to in ages sent me the BuzzFeed roundup that included my thirst tweet. 🤣
Learning Highlights 🤓
This is the year-long group coaching/implementation program from Amber McCue that I was in for 2019 and renewed at a more intense level for 2020. I’ll let that speak to my experience. 😀
When I joined, I had been using Amber’s business planning workbook for a few years already (the prompt about imagining your life as a movie told me she got me 🤓), and was looking for a combination of coaching and accountability.
What I love about Fresh vs. other programs I look at is that it’s not specific to a certain business model, so…
- You get out of the bubble of your niche and business model
- Amber & the program mentors aren’t invested in convincing you to go with a certain model, and will actually help you figure out what’s best for you personally
Plus, my mastermind partner and best friend Zoe is in it, so it provides awesome structure for the mastermind calls we had already been doing.
FEMINIST MARKETING WORKSHOPS
Each month’s workshop was focused on a different area of entrepreneurship and marketing and broke down how to do it from a feminist lens and in line with my own morals.
They are SO valuable to someone like me/in my situation, which is this: I was stuck in a place where I knew traditional online business and marketing best practices felt gross to me, but I couldn’t pinpoint why, or what to do about it.
And that’s literally EXACTLY what these workshops did.
(I know I said above I’m good at connecting dots, but this has been an area where I’m not…I guess I’ve been too “in it” for too long to have perspective. 😬)
Hooooly shit. I thought I was good at ConvertKit a year ago. I knew NOTHING.
This course is full of intensely detailed lessons on how to do things you didn’t know were possible in ConvertKit. If you’re an intermediate or advanced digital marketer and use ConvertKit, put it on your wish list.
I’m working on an entirely new subscriber’s journey and ConvertKit setup, based on what I learned in this and the ebook below. It’s a more complicated one than I realized was possible in ConvertKit, but is still familiar and simple to me, since it’s closer to what my old day jobs and clients do with marketing automation.
INTJ MARKETING REPORT
The Marketing Personalities brand is incredibly my jam: marketing advice all organized by Myers-Briggs personality type.
The report ebook on my type, INTJ, help me shed any best practices I needed to that Kelly’s workshops didn’t take care of.
It helped me realize that for me, strategies that seem complicated to other people or on the surface – like multistep automation flows like I learned in Mastering ConvertKit – are actually simpler to my brain and energy.
As a result, I stopped trying to get myself to like doing YouTube weekly and am focusing on my strength of writing, adding video when it makes sense and when I want to instead of regular videos.
KEYBOARDMAESTRO FIELD GUIDE
Part of leveling up my workflows came from taking Macsparky’s KeyboardMaestro Field Guide. I’d owned the app for awhile, but it’s definitely the most advanced and least easy to use Mac automation app I’ve tried, so I was scared away.
And honestly, I still only understand about 50% of the app, but that 50% is more than enough to feel like a robot wizard magician. 🤓
Seriously, the levels of automation possible with this is amazing and closed a lot of gaps/solved a lot of problems for me.
MENTAL MODELS FOR MARKETERS
Finally, I want to highlight Mental Models for Marketers, even though I’ve only watched the first few videos. I know it’s still going to be one of the best learning investments I’ve made in 2019.
If you follow me elsewhere, you know I’m over oversimplified frameworks and blueprints for business. Not that I was ever super bought into them in the first place.
For example, I always structured WBAA around teaching automation skills versus just handing people automations. Even though I do hand people automations at the end, I try to make sure they go into the strategy and mindset behind things too.
Anyway, along with skills, mental models like Jobs to be Done, first principles, and the law of diminishing returns are what I want to focus on understanding now.
Goals for 2020
LAUNCH A PODCAST
The secret’s out, I’m starting a podcast! 🎉
This has been something I’ve been thinking about for a few months and officially decided in December.
All the Marketing Personalities content has convinced me to stop “trying to be a YouTuber.” It’s not an energetic fit. I do love doing videos, but I can do them when I want to instead of making them the backbone of my content strategy.
Plus, the best thing about my videos is the writing, which will obviously come through with a podcast too.
Look out for its launch in the spring!
RELAUNCH THE WORK BRIGHTER SHOP
As I said at the top, I realized this year that new members of my audience aren’t ready to join the Clubhouse yet. The new business model positions it more as ongoing support for existing customers (what some call a continuity program) of my workshops, templates, and courses.
Those workshops, templates, and courses are already created: all the products in the Work Brighter Shop are things also found in the Clubhouse. This way, they serve as a sample of what you find in there, and if you want more than one item, you can save money by joining the Clubhouse for access to them all. Like I said, all roads still lead there.
So another focus this year is relaunching the site’s Shop area and creating sales sequences for the standalone products.
LAUNCH A QUIZ FUNNEL FOR BRITTANYBERGER.COM
Finally, I’m super excited to launch the quiz funnel that was supposed to be part of my rebrand for BrittanyBerger.com.
I have 3 products there:
- One for content planning
- One for content writing
- One for content repurposing
So instead of having separate opt-ins and sales funnels for each, I have a fun, on-brand as hell quiz for new subscribers that matches them to the product for their biggest problem at the moment.
I’m out of breath from all this, but so excited for the new year and happy with how 2019 turned out.
To come along for the ride, make sure to join Work Brighter’s weekly newsletter, where you get a personal letter from me every week along with tips to work, rest, and play brighter for the week. 🦄