Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 10 Posts Of 2017

You guys. For real. 2017 kicked my ass. I struggled with money, depression, anxiety, single parenting. Health problems. Car problems. Dread. Fear. Death.

But I also rose above the challenges for the most part, and I like to think that I grew and learned and handled most of what came my way with at least some pretense of strength and grace. 2017's focus word was WARRIOR, and I lived this entire year with that mindset - fighting through the things I was dealing with, keeping my eye on victory. And I'm still here. I did it.

And I'm ready for 2018, ready for the promise of a new year and 365 new chances to succeed. I'm ready for new quarterly goals, Undaunted Interviews, new partnerships in the blogging community, and new opportunities to challenge myself.

But first ...


I wrote over 150 blog posts in 2017 - with a major focus on mental health and wellness, sprinkled throughout with the adventures of a single mom raising two daughters on her own. I talked about my PTSD and how I cope with it, talked about my daughters' challenges as they deal with feelings of sadness and abandonment after my split with their dad, and covered tons of the other lifestyle topics I love best.

But what did YOU guys love best? Based on shares and pageviews, here are the top ten most-seen posts (from this blog) of 2017:

1.) "Works For Me Wednesday: Teeth Whitening For The First Time" - This year I had the pleasure of partnering with Smile Brilliant for a product review, and I'm still loving how well this product works for me. I'm still using Smile Brilliant once a week to maintain my smile, and it never fails to amaze me how well this quick and painless process fits into my regular schedule. Want to try Smile Brilliant too? You can get 10% off your purchase of a Smile Brilliant kit with coupon code: authorbrandikennedy10. Now that's something to Smile Brilliant about. Or maybe it's a reason to #smilefearlessly. Either way works for me.


2.) "Interviewing The #UndauntedWoman: Elizabeth Brico" - This post bloomed out of a collaboration effort that was magic right from the very beginning. I first met Elizabeth through a blogging group we were both part of, and the more we interacted, the more cool she seemed. I loved how honest and open she was about her struggles with addiction and motherhood, and I loved how courageously she shared stories about her experiences with domestic violence. There could be no Undaunted Woman Interview Series without her, and I'm still just as honored to have been able to share her story here as I was when the post first went live.


3.) "Depression Is More Than A Keyword -- My Depression Is My Fault, Part I" - In April 2016, I really got honest about what depression was doing in my life and how it had even bled over into my writing - sometimes without me even realizing it was happening. I wrote a whole post series about it, and the post that made #3 on this list was #5 in that seven-part series. In it, I talked about how the world seems to view my "choice" to stay depressed, addressing the idea with as much ludicrous sarcasm as the concept deserved. In the post immediately to follow, I talked more honestly about what depression is really like for me, before wrapping the series up with a post about the importance of hope. This one showing up on this list was a surprise for me since it's an older post - but I'm glad it's still being seen, because the things in it really needed to be said.


4.) "Guest Post: Jennifer K. Ensley - This Writer's Dream Vacation" - I don't usually feature a lot of guest posts here, partly because I'm pretty possessive about this little space I've created, and partly because ... well, it's pretty much completely because I'm possessive about this space. I love this blog and I love the little community of people who come here to read - and while I love sharing this space through interviews and things like that ... I also love that this is MY place. My little corner of the world. It's a place where readers can come expecting ME.

But Jennifer Ensley is not only an amazing storyteller and talented writer, she's also an honest gem of a person and a total delight to be around. Opening my blog to a guest post from her was like opening my front door and admitting a friend, so I'm thrilled to see her post among the best of 2017.


5.) "Works For Me Wednesday: Habit Stacking" - I talked a lot about productivity this year, and how I manage to keep up with this blog despite my frequent bouts with crippling anxiety and depression. There are days when I barely function at all, but this blog is something that means the world to me - it's more than just a promotional tool for my books and a platform from which I can market my Patreon account. This blog is therapy, and not keeping up with it would likely leave my mental health in serious trouble. It truly is a lot to manage sometimes though - which is why routine-building and habit stacking are among my favorite and most useful productivity techniques.


6.) "Monday Movies: 13 Going On 30" - Monday Movies is such a fun post series, and I love that it allows me to take something as fun as a movie and use it to add great content to my blog. It's a fun way to break up the seriousness of a mental health blog while injecting a little bit of who I am and what I like into the posts. Not to mention, this was just such a cute movie!


7.) "Friday Feels: September" - Friday Feels is another one of the series I love best about writing this blog. One part listicle, one part journal - all parts self-love and introspection. In this series, I take a list of ten random emotions/feelings, explore the things in my life that have me feeling those particular emotions/feelings, and encourage my readers to share along in the comments. It's a fun series - still waiting on that reader participation to kick in though ... but that's okay. I love my lurkers too, even if I don't know who they are.


8.) "Storytime Saturday: Downtown" - I loved how fun it was to write this post, because I got to sit down and relive a great family day with the girls. One of the things I've been focusing more on this year was getting out of the house as a family and finding free or affordable things to do. This was a recounting of a truly great day for us.


9.) "Self-Care Sunday: How I Beat Burnout" - How timely that this was on this list! Lately I've really been battling burnout, with Christmas being rough this year, money being almost impossibly tight, and more problems than I was ready to handle coming at me all at once. I've been super overwhelmed and really struggling to keep up with everything in my life lately, which had me so burned out I didn't even want to write at times. This is always a sure sign that I need to indulge in some extra self-care, which is perfect because the self-care techniques listed in this post are my most favorite ways to beat burnout and get myself back on track.


10.) "Motivation Monday: Build A Life Of (Core) Value" - I love love love that this post made this list. It's a post I wrote - in part - to promote my Patreon page and let interested readers know a little more about what they could expect as one of my Patrons. My reward tiers have changed a bit since the writing of this post, but the general offering is still pretty much the same - and it still include my amazing podcast series, where I'm exploring core values, what they mean to me, how they fit into our society, and how we can all build a life based on the principles of these values. The podcast series is a real pride point for me, and I love recording them! There are currently nine podcasts in the series, covering:

My podcast is among the most fun of all the various things I'm doing these days, and I can't wait to see how far it grows. Want to listen in? My podcasts are available to all Patrons on the $5 tier (or above), and there are only 79 places left on that tier.


Wow, it has really been a busy year, huh? Sometimes while you're going through it, it's easy to lose track of everything that's happening and changing. Do you remember any of the posts that made this list? Were they posts you shared with your friends - or if you're a new reader here, which of the posts listed above looks most like something you'd like to see more of in the coming year?

If you liked this little round-up or if you know someone who would appreciate the kind of content I'm sharing here, please feel free to share the link with your friends or on your social media - it really helps me get the word out about my blog, and I love the way it brings new readers into our little community! I'd love to interact with you in the comments too, so if anything in this post touched or inspired you in any way, definitely leave a comment and tell me what you think!

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Not only is Patreon a great way to help manage the costs of running this blog (and life in general because hey, a girl's gotta keep the coffee pot percolating!), it's also where my readers get a whole new way to read my novels - while I write them! My patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors by choosing their favorite reward tier (starting at as little as $1 a month), and sponsorship gives Patrons access to all sorts of content: the $1 tier gets access to one new romance chapter a month, two brand new poems from my upcoming poetry collection, the weekly L.A.F.F.S., and occasional content polls!

The best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our goal right now is 25 patrons, and when we hit that goal, I'll start dedicating each of my blog posts to one special patron - which means YOU could be getting public shoutouts right here on the blog, just for being one of my Patreon subscribers!! Even better ... when we get to 50 patrons, I'll double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, you can always rest assured that my brand is built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal. Click here to find out more about what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

And as always, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

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