You've been getting a lot of hate. And man, I get it. You were super rough in a lot of aspects. You were violent, hateful, dangerous, misogynistic, unrelenting and incredibly selfish. You took many of our favorite artists, you divided our country politically, racially, through class and through orientation. You were too damn hot some days, and way too cold others. You were really just a mess.
But, you were really damn good to me.
You and I, 2016, we just got along. Famously.
Quite literally, from Day 1 (as in January 1) you turned my life on its head, in the best way possible (though it would take a bit for that to really sink in). January 1 was the day I peed on a stick (or three) and found out that we would be parents. January 1 was the day I quit smoking and had my last drink for quite some time. Of course, a week later, I'd be doubled over with some seriously awful morning sickness that neither appeared just in the morning, nor did it subside with the turn of the trimester. Nope, that shit was with me the whole damn pregnancy, just to varying degrees of awfulness. Every day since that day -- 366 days ago (because you're a leap year, yo!) -- has been a new challenge, a new adventure and a new learning experience.
Let's take a look at some of the goodness you brought my way:
Affiliate Marketing / Bourbon & Sparkle
I kicked off the year right, speaking on a panel, "Managing Blogger Expectations: Impressions vs. Coversions" with fellow blogger Mindy Marzec, Marketer and Blogger Carolyn West and Affiliate Manager Trisha Lyn Fawver in January at Affiliate Summit West '16. The session ended up at No. 6 on the Top 10 Sessions by Growth for the conference.
In May, I spoke at the one-day Performance Marketing Summit in Chicago, addressing "Risks, Rewards and Advantages of Niche Blogs."
Also in May, I attended and presented the closing keynote address at a conference near and dear to my heart, ShareASale ThinkTank in Chicago. I recapped some key points from the conference and provided some best practices in my presentation, "Grab the Unicorn by the Horn: Making the Most of What You've Learned."
Because I couldn't attend Affiliate Summit East '16 in New York, I opted to write my first article for FeedFront magazine, titled "Keys to a Good Blogger Recruitment Email." The article appeared in issue 35, which was published in July.
My second article for FeedFront magazine, "Bloggers: Adjust Your Mindset for Affiliate Success," appeared in issue 37, which has just been distributed to mailboxes and will be available in the goodie bags at Affiliate Summit West '17.
I was named a finalist for the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award in the Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year category. The winner will be announced at Affiliate Summit West '17.
Traffic and my client base for Bourbon & Sparkle saw immense growth over the year, including consulting with both bloggers and affiliate managers on their strategies.
The Broke-Ass Bride
Though inexplicably slow at times, I managed growth in traffic for the third year in a row.
Affiliate revenue grew by over 30%.
I managed and implemented campaigns with major brands, including David's Bridal, Cricut and Things Remembered.
I managed a team of 12+ contributors, the largest contributor staff yet.
Social media saw continued growth, including the 50k+ milestone on Pinterest, 1.5k+ on Instagram and 21k+ on Facebook.
Little Wedding Extras
In our first year as a legit business, we had our hand in 11 weddings this year, with me personally coordinating seven of them.
Little Wedding Extras was the official coordinator for weddings at Harvest House.
I found out I was pregnant on January 1.
I traveled to Las Vegas and Chicago (a first!).
We emptied our storage unit in Florida, reacquainting ourselves with beloved furniture and artwork.
We took control of our finances, paying off some major outstanding debts and prioritizing others.
We bought an almost-new sectional, our first grown-up furniture purchase together.
We got a new-to-us car, that's nowhere near "new" but gets the job done.
We got engaged in April ("officially").
We got married in May.
We celebrated four years together in July.
Dexter was born in August.
We celebrated our first Thanksgiving and Christmas as a family of three.
I turned 32 in October.
Mark almost caught a home run ball at a Rangers game, landing us on ESPN for a hot second.
While you weren't without your pains, 2016, including the loss of one of my uncles and a dear friend, you were overall a damn good year for me. On a global scale, you could have gotten your shit together a little more, but on a personal level, I am incredibly proud of how you turned out. I worked my ass off for all that I accomplished, and I appreciate you being conducive to my successes.
Now then, 2017, you have some big shoes to fill. Bring it on!