Year-End Round-Up: Happy Five Year (!) Blogiversary to Life After College

birthday candles - make a wish! This is a long (but juicy!) one, folks! Grab a cup of coffee or tea, pull up a chair, and c’mon in behind the scenes of all things JBE (Jenny Blake Enterprises) and LAC.

We’re celebrating five -- count them FIVE -- years of blogging today, and there is a lot of change on the horizon. Consider this my annual report, all summed up in one mondo blog post.

If you find yourself overwhelmed (or painfully bored), skip ahead wtih these links:

At a glance

As I looked back on the year to gather my favorite blog posts, I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed in myself at first. I could see that I was more quiet than previous years, less prolific, more introverted. I felt an almost-constant tug-of-war between wanting to completely retreat and to continue sharing.

But then I remembered, that’s okay.

It is most definitely a transition year, and even though these may feel uncomfortable, they are incredibly rich with insight and are important -- if not critical -- in their own ways. We need the transition time (days, months, years) to grow -- and there’s often much more growth than meets the eye. As I shared in 2011, just because you can’t see progress doesn’t mean it isn’t being made.

On that note, I have been cooking up quite a bit this month, back to my usual December work-like-a-maniac hibernation mode.

In one sum-it-all-up sentence: I'm going to be living in Bali for the first two months of the year to focus intensely on writing, launching and facilitating the Make Sh*t Happen course, yoga and coaching; I'm launching a site under my own name; and I'm bringing on a team of two other incredible writers here at LAC.

Thank you. This blog and my business would not be here without you.

In service to you,

Jenny

P.S. If you read no further, I’d be very grateful for you to take this reader survey and let me know how I can be most helpful to you in 2013!

About this post

In these round-ups, I outline my favorite and the most popular posts of the year, give statistics about blog traffic, and share personal milestones and achievements. It’s the best way to get a view of the entire blog on fast-forward and the full year in review.

I hesitate every year to publish these because it seems a bit self-indulgent, but it feels like the best way to honor all the work that goes into the blog. I hope that by the end of this epically long post that you learn something new, feel inspired or catch some helpful content you might have missed.

Previous Round-ups:

The 25 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned in 1.5 Years of Solopreneurship

2012 truly represents the year of learning how to run my own business -- without a guidebook, but with plenty of ideas and inspiration from my coaching clients, MSH course participants, friends, family and fellow bloggers.

My previous posts, 20 Lessons from 2 Months of Solopreneurship Part One and Part Two still sum it up the best. Here's the condensed version, with a few extras:

  1. On quitting: Fears are so much smaller on the other side.
  2. Readjustment takes time and energy.
  3. The old adages ring true: get comfortable being uncomfortable, and the only certainty is uncertainty.
  4. Monthly recurring expenses can add up VERY quickly.
  5. NEVER count (or spend!) your chickens before they’ve hatched.
  6. Routine is king.
  7. Health and fitness is queen.
  8. Your community are your new co-workers.
  9. Run your business otherwise it will run you -- be vigilant about making time for proactive, strategic work.
  10. However, sometimes you need to start with quick wins.
  11. Building “entrepreneurial resilience” is like building a muscle; it takes practice.
  12. No matter what business you’re in, you’ve got two priorities: learn about sales and marketing.
  13. Plan ahead for building months (as opposed to doing months).
  14. Stay grounded in your long-term vision.
  15. “What gets measured gets managed.” Set up systems to track key metrics, learn which ones are most meaningful over time.
  16. (The right) conferences are major business boosters.
  17. However, beware the many costs of travel.
  18. Peer support is key. It might be your first launch, but you are not the first to launch.
  19. Peer support and bootstrapping is great, but know when to hire professional help.
  20. Be creative with how you structure your time. Focus. Maximize your best energy windows.
  21. Follow your energy: take breaks without apology and ship at your own pace.
  22. Listen to your gut. Learn to "say no to the good so you can say yes to the great" when it comes to new clients and opportunities.
  23. Be authentic in your communication, even when it seems counter-intuitive.
  24. Schedule efficiently as a solopreneur. For example: I work with coaching clients on Mondays and Tuesdays, then take the rest of the days to do behind-the-scenes work -- writing, course building or facilitating, and planning what’s next. I am more likely to take Wednesday and Friday off than the weekends. In fact -- weekends and holidays are my favorite time to work; less input, more output.
  25. CELEBRATE! My words from the original post still ring true: "Despite the challenges (and the many more sure to follow), working on JBE full-time is still the most incredible, freeing feeling in the world. I haven’t looked back for one second. I feel like ME again. Or rather, like I finally have access to the best version of myself that I always knew was hibernating underneath the stress and uncertainty. I feel ALIVE."

Personal 2012 Milestones

  • Yoga - I finally finished my yoga teacher certification in January (in a Mayan cave), I took my first big trip and time off as a solopreneur to spend one month in Bali and Thailand (completed a two-week Thai Massage Training in Chiang Mai in May), and taught 28 Geek Yoga classes throughout the year at The Yoga Collective in NYC.
  • Make Sh*t Happen - I ran two awesome classes in 2012, and am super excited to re-launch for a fourth time in January of 2013. This course -- and the participants in it -- is truly one of the highlights of my work. I love helping people come alive through meaningful pursuits, form a community of support and encouragement with each other (often one of the most unexpected benefits people experience), and I love watching them walk away with a renewed sense of confidence and purpose.
  • Speaking - I had the pleasure of speaking at several awesome conferences, including Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, Cancer & Careers, World Domination Summit, and the closing keynote at Pratt’s Find & Follow Your Passion conference.
  • On a personal level - I’m celebrating over a year of living in my soul-city of New York, almost two years since the day I left my cubicle in March 2011, and am blessed to have amazing people in my life -- friends, family and The Man -- who support me deeply and constantly inspire me to be my best self.

My Favorite Posts

Big Goals:

Tools & Resources:

Uncertainty and Growth:

Yoga:

On writing:

Blog Statistics

  • Visits - The total visits for 2012 was just over 203,210 uniques (502,993 page views) from 200 countries, up from last year’s 124,821 uniques (365,449 page views) from 180 countries.
  • Quirky question keywords (my favorite) – does college make you happy? does it work when you trying to keep everyone happy? (definitely not), does love make you feel crazy? (definitely does!), how does the saying go - those who matter (don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter), is my turtle sad (hmmm - hard to tell, I’m sure), is it up to you to make others happy (definitely not, but we can all fall into this trap if we’re not careful), why can't i breathe whenever i'm doing a speech (it’s okay, I get nervous too)
  • Best “Jenny Blake” keywords - jenny blake would be my best friend (gee, thanks, I’m blushing), what is the answer to stress? (start with sleeping well, exercise and yoga), is jenny blake greek (nope - sorry to disappoint), how old is jenny blake blogger (29 years old as of October 9), i want jenny blake babies (eek - can’t help you there), jenny blake divide a post it (hell yes, I love post-its -- line down the middle - one half work, one half personal!), life after college by jenny blake txt file (hey now! stealing is bad karma), sexy jenny blake art (hmmm, not happening), who is jenny blake? (a question I am still trying to answer...), "i'm too sexy for my cube" (okay so that’s not JB specific, but high five to whoever searched for that!)

So what’s next?

1. New home underway! Jenny Blake website

It's time folks. I turned 29 this year, and the Life After College blog just turned 5 years old. I've said for a while that by the time I turn 30, I would like to be blogging under my own name. Life AFTER Life After College, if you will.

But have no fear! I'll still be running LAC, I'll just be bringing on two kick-ass writers who will do an incredible job helping me provide content for college grads. I've even given us a pet name: the Three LAC Blogateers! I’m ridiculous, I know. This transition will allow me to grow as a writer, and having a team at LAC will ensure that I'm still providing relevant, insanely helpful content for recent grads.

Once my new site launches, I will primarily be blogging there -- hopefully expanding my content to include everything that's going on in my life -- yoga, travel, business-building, and of course -- more soul searching :). I've been working like a maniac with a brilliant team of people to get the new site written, designed, and amazeified, and I'm aiming to launch it in February. More on that to come...

2. Newsletter Changes

As I mentioned in my most recent newsletter (oops...the first one in three months) -- I get a bit confused about whether to provide tips for grads, organization tools, Day in the Life of Jenny, business-building updates and resources, or all of the above?

To address this confusion (mine and yours!) here's what will happen starting in January: the LAC newsletter will go back to being sent regularly (monthly or quarterly) - score! - and it will be more focused on career tips and helpful resources and tools for life in general. It will also include very short "behind the scenes" updates from me and the LAC writers.

For those of you who want to follow me and my business specifically, I'll be sending a bi-weekly "behind the business" update from the new site, which will include my more personal whereabouts and thoughts on life and business. Get in early here.

3. How I can improve, and what would you like to see from me, Melissa and Paul in 2013?

I would love to hear your thoughts -- if you have a minute, I would be very grateful for you to take this reader survey.

See you in January, my friends!

THANK YOU again -- for everything.

Much love and enormous gratitude,

Jenny

The group photo from the MSH Creative Weekend of Genius in April. Cheers!