2018 blew chunks. There, I said it.
On a personal level, 2018 was the hardest year of my life.
I looked some of my deepest flaws in the face and asked myself what I was going to do to be a better person. I lost some of my most important relationships due to those flaws. I ate a LOT of crow (which, for a pescetarian, sucks especially hard).
January through March this year, basically.
But weirdly, at the same time that my emotional life was completely unraveling, my professional life was picking up steam.
I was regularly being invited to speak at events. I was consistently bringing in 10k a month. I introduced a day rate offering and realized how awesome it was to go HAM on client projects all day.
I felt like I was living a double life: cheerful, fun and funny consultant on calls and in person, and complete and total mess whenever I was offstage and off-camera.
My biggest accomplishment of 2018: I kept going.
Historically, I’m the first to belittle or overlook my own accomplishments, but you know what? That one matters.
I just finished writing a bunch of cards to the friends who helped me get through in 2018, especially the first few months. I try to practice gratitude on a regular basis, but holy shit was this year good practice. I leaned SO HARD on my friends this year, and they held me up.
My mom, me, and 3 of my ride-or-die buds: Julia, John, and Michael.
Now for the rest of the year:
I created & honed the best talk I’ve ever given
I’ve never had more fun than when putting together the talk I gave all year: How to Be Funny (Even If You’re Not): Comedy-Inspired Copywriting Tips.
It’s a three-part romp through the psychology of humor and how jokes work in the brain; how to refine your style of humor and give your customers what they want; and line-level writing tweaks anyone can make to create funnier, warmer, more personable copy.
I worked with whip-smart speaking coach Lanie Presswood to structure and practice my talk before giving it for the first time at MicroConf in Vegas, which ruled.
Dressed like Peter Pan, cursing like Captain Hook on stage at MicroConf
… and I spoke at ~8 events
This year, I spoke at 6 conferences and a couple of other events, including:
- MicroConf Growth Edition – Las Vegas, NV
- MarketingProfs Email Marketing Conference – Virtual
- Blue Ribbon Ecommerce Mastermind – Denver, CO
- Baby Bathwater – Split, Croatia
- MnSearch – Minneapolis, MN
- ContentJam – Chicago, IL
It’s not as much speaking as some of the real Gs do, but dear God it felt like a lot.
Here’s a photo of the insane live sketchnotes of my Blue Ribbon talk, which the Smart Marketer team commissioned and sent to each of the speakers. I was FLOORED. What an incredible gift. These live on my office wall now.
I loved it all, and it continues to blow my mind that people want lil ol’ me to teach them about marketing.
Want me to speak at your event in 2019? Let’s do it.
I’ve got 6 events on the books already and I won’t be doing more than 10 because I want to survive 2019, so let’s talk about your event sooner rather than later.
I grossed six figures at Punchline Copy
Oh good, it’s the part of the post where we talk about money! This should make us both very uncomfortable.
Technically, I hit the six-figure mark for the first time in 2017 with income from both Punchline Copy and SNAP Copy, which I co-run with James E. Turner.
This year, I sailed comfortably past six figures gross revenue from Punchline alone. That felt pretty cool.
In July, I invoiced nearly $19,000. I was also busy AF.
But before you go getting jealous…
I also SPENT tens of thousands on expenses
This was the year of saying “Fuck it, why not invest in myself?”
My biggest expenses were business coaching, an invite-only Baby Bathwater event in Croatia, and membership to the Baby Bathwater group itself.
I feel like I lucked out last year when I started working with my business coach, Charlie Gilkey. There are a lot of bullshit coaches out there, and Charlie is categorically not one of them.
After working with Charlie for more than a year, I’ve baked his fee into my monthly business expenses. He’s got this blend of big-picture strategic oversight and daily, down-and-dirty execution techniques that make it impossible to not hit at least SOME of your goals (and believe me, I tried).
As for the hefty investments in Baby Bathwater — a terrifyingly intimidating group of people far smarter and more accomplished than me — I’m still completely swamped by impostor syndrome like, every single second of every day.
So I wanted to invest in being around the kind of people who AREN’T like that (or who at least hide it better. I am the queen of showing my own ass in posts like this).
Enter Baby Bathwater, where everyone is amazing but no one acts like a dickhead. At least in public. Well, except for me.
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officially a #babybathwater member!! here is a post-swim pic from croatia last month, wherein i'd just jumped into the heaving adriatic in my underwear and quickly realized "hey, u know what, i'm not as great of a swimmer as i thought" and then tried to play it off even though i was definitely drowning #impostorsyndrome #orsomething #morebabylessbathwater
Oh, another thing I super fucked up this year money-wise:
I totally spaced on my 2017 taxes after filing an extension. So I got socked with a $14k tax bill in October, right when I was buying my house.
Did I mention I bought a house?
I bought a house
I’m that person who’s been up her own butt for six or seven years about buying vacant land and building a tiny house on wheels.
You know the type. We rail against mortgages and home debt and the housing-industrial complex (which is not a thing). We never shut up about our #tinyhousedreams.
Consider this my official notice: I’m shutting up.
I bought a regular-ass house in New Orleans in October. It happened super fast and I’m still trying to figure out why, honestly.
But I’m pretty pleased about it, if only ‘cause I can knock holes in the walls and no one can say anything about it.
Here’s my house. Yes, it’s adorable.
I figured out who I want to be like… and who I definitely don’t
Part of this year’s tremendous[ly painful] personal growth involved taking a good look at the people I admire, and identifying the qualities I want to develop in myself.
I also met some of my heroes (you’re not supposed to do that, remember?). I was disappointed to discover that they’re fallible human people who are actually kind of assholes.
For example: earlier this year, a copywriter who shall not be named — whom I had long admired — happily took $500 for a half-hour-long phone call about one of my service sales pages.
This person had not read the extensive intake form they asked me to fill out. Their feedback on the page was repetitive and unhelpful. The call ended at minute 29, when they said, “Gotta run, my next call is here!”
And afterward, I never heard from them again — not even a “Hey, did you get value from our chat?”
Lesson learned: I never want to make a client feel like that.
Now for three people I DO want to be like:
Ezra Firestone, whose Blue Ribbon Ecommerce Mastermind event I spoke at in August.
Ezra is one of the smartest, most knowledgeable marketers out there, and he’s incredibly down-to-earth and genuinely funny.
He gives fantastic talks, is constantly sharing useful ideas on Instagram, and for some reason, he’s also really good at Ping-Pong? Jesus, Ezra, stop making the rest of us look bad.
Andy Crestodina, whose ContentJam event I spoke at in October.
Andy is one of those people everyone loves, and for good reason. Not only is he one of the best content marketers on the planet — who actually practices what he teaches — he’s SO NICE.
UNBEARABLY NICE. SUSPICIOUSLY NICE.
And I know calling someone “nice” sounds kind of lame, but trust me: Andy is the kind of nice where you’re like, “I need to rethink the way I treat people because I wanna be just like you.”
Andy and me at the ContentJam speaker party. Believe it or not, this picture was his idea.
I’m lucky to call Val my pal — between her wealth of knowledge on all things email marketing and her get-it-done work ethic, she’s one of my biz role models. She’s the real deal. And I’m determined to co-tackle an email marketing client project with her this year.
Here’s Val with the normally very grumpy Nadya Khoja in Vegas at MicroConf.
I could keep writing this list, starting by adding everyone in my mastermind group (shout out to the original Copywriter Mastermind, brought together by Copywriter O.G. Joanna Wiebe).
But I’ll keep it to 3, since as we know, 3 is the stickiest number.
Assorted other shit I’m proud of this year
- I got back into doing standup
- I read more books
- I established a journaling habit.
- I switched gyms (which was hard) and kept doing CrossFit (which is hard)
What I’ll be doing in 2019
Chiefly: More speaking, including putting together new talks and giving more private workshops.
Here’s a photo from a daylong deep dive I did in August with the fantastic team at oVertone Haircare:
I’ll also be experimenting with a January paid-ads sprint to sell more of one of my favorite services, The Uppercut. People love that shit, and I love doing them. So why not send some quality traffic to the sales page and see what happens?
Anddddd… I’m determined to finish and launch my humor copywriting course. It’s been an albatross around my neck. One of those cases where you’re so invested in making sure the thing is perfect and great and good that you’re too afraid to actually build the thing.
I’m gonna build the thing in 2019.
If you wanna come along for the ride, drop your email address here and I’ll tell you when it launches:
Happy New Year to you and yours, and remember: Time is a construct, the new year is not particularly significant, and you can decide to change your life whenever you goddamn well feel like it.