New Year’s Eve is upon us once again, and I am taking a minute or two to reflect on 2018. As I started to write this article, I have to admit that 2018 has been a great year for Small Scale Life. I feel like we have a lot of momentum going into 2019, and conducting this 2018 Year in Review helps me realize that we have built a solid foundation for the future at Small Scale Life. It might be cold and snowing tonight in Minneapolis, but I am excited about our future together.

2018 Year in Review Topics

As part of my 2018 Year in Review, I will discuss the following topics:

  • Podcast Talent and Guests
    • My New Cohost Julie
    • Our Reoccurring and Returning Guests
    • Tommy Cakes
  • Black-and-White Contest and My Weekend 3 Things
  • 2018 Goals
    • Goal 1: 52 Published Episodes
    • Goal 2: Futher Define Small Scale Life’s Why
  • 2019 Goals: Bring Me that Horizon

Podcast Talent and Guests

In 2017, I made a conscious decision to move hosting services so I could record and publish more podcasts with guests. I had a vision of someday hosting a live panel, but that is still in the near future.

As part of my 2018 Year in Review, we have to discuss my new cohost, our fantastic guests and of course host Tommy Cakes! It has been a fun year, and I thank everyone involved for their time, their talent and their flexibility.

My New Cohost Julie

Small Scale Life, Small Scale Life Podcast, team, family, tribe, blogging, urban farming, blogging, preparedness, brewing, gardening, food preservation, healthy lifestyle, about, Year in Review
Source: Adriana Elyse Photography

Did you know that the Small Scale Life Podcast has a new cohost?  Julie joined me on a few shows this year, and she really found her voice quickly.  Starting with Episode 80 titled “5 Steps to Developing a Simple and Intentional Life,” Julie did a great job leading the discussion. This episode is our second most popular show here on the Small Scale Life Podcast.  This podcast was laying a foundation for our focus on intentional living, minimalism, and simple living.  

Julie and I will be returning to healthy living, decluttering, minimalism, debt reduction and building community topics in 2019; we have a lot of plans for discussing those topics and building the Small Scale Life Community.  In 2019, Julie is going to also spearhead publishing recipes and managing Small Scale Life’s Pinterest account.

Julie also has been posting some images on Small Scale Life’s Instagram and Facebook accounts as well.  As we have been gearing up for the Renew You in 2019 Campaign and rebuilding the Small Scale Life Blog, we have been working on our focus and “voice” for Small Scale Life (more on that below).

Our Recurring and Returning Guests

Year in Review, Scott Hebert, Michael Bell, Bellcast, Urban Farming Best Practices
A view into the future where panel discussions can occur on the Small Scale Life Podcast

We have had some wonderful guests on the Small Scale Life Podcast, and no Year in Review would be complete without mentioning and thanking them. While this is not an exhaustive list, I really do appreciate the time, effort and flexibility of everyone involved in our podcast this year. Thank you so much!

2018 brought back some guests that had been on Small Scale Life in the early stages of the show.  We started 2018 with an interview with Scott Hebert, and on that podcast, he announced his very successful YouTube Vlog.  He announced that he would be publishing a daily vlog on his YouTube channel, and he has diligently recorded and published an episode almost every day.  It was pretty cool to watch him improve his skills and stick with it day after day, even when he might not have felt like it.

Michael Bell was a frequent guest on the Small Scale Life Podcast.  I appreciate working with Michael, and I am fascinated by his story and his farm in Dallas, Texas.  2018 was a tough year on the farm: from extreme cold in the winter months to extreme heat in the summer, Michael weathered the storm. 

I appreciate his tenacity and his willingness to try new techniques and ideas on his farm.  I am really excited to see his hoop houses in the winter and summer months that were so tough this year, and I am hoping that his focus on salanova and tomatoes brings great profits!

It was great having Scott Hebert and Michael Bell on a podcast to discuss urban farming experiences, and I firmly believe that some of the issues discussed on that podcast helped shape Michael Bell’s farming techniques, and I think Scott learned some things about Michael’s Instagram marketing strategies as well.  

Drew Sample returned to the Small Scale Life Podcast, and he announced his rebooting of The Sample Hour on the show.  At the same time, we discussed his urban farm called Capital City Greens and his new real estate interests.  It will be interesting watching how The Sample Hour and Drew continue to pivot into real estate and trading in the future.

Greg Burns and Mr. Tactical Jay returned to Small Scale Life.  We discussed homesteading. community building and starting with powerful why’s.  I love having these guys on the show, and their podcasts really hit home.  The Homesteading for Beginners: Start with the Why podcast is the most listened to podcast on the Small Scale Life Network.  I am hoping to do more with them in 2019.  I have some plans and ideas!

Tommy Cakes

Success, purpose, planning, preparation, midweek motivation, 3Ps of Success
One of the more popular Midweek Motivation Podcasts in 2018

What Year in Review would be complete without mentioning Tommy Cakes? In 2018, I introduced a new host and podcast to the Small Scale Life Network.  After the Miracle in Minneapolis (Saints vs. Vikings football game)/, I introduced Tommy Cakes to the Small Scale Life Network and dedicated the Midweek Motivation series podcasts to him.  With an East Coast accent, flair and style, Tommy Cakes brought us a little coastal cosmopolitan insight and motivation to our humble network. 

These were fun podcasts to put together and publish, and it is an example of how a goofy podcast personality can build an audience using this Small Scale Life Platform.  What started as an inside joke between Doneil Freeman, Greg Burns and me became a podcast that would get over 450 downloads per episode!  At times, the Midweek Motivation Podcasts were the only content I could publish during the week, and these relatively short podcasts gave listeners a little something fun to listen to during a given week. 

With his lounge lizard music, delicious drinky-drinks and socials, I think Tommy Cakes brought a little humor to the podcast network, and people wanted to see what he would say and do next.  Unfortunately, I had a shift in the podcast publishing schedule and a shift to Monday Motivation posts, and Tommy Cakes’ Midweek Motivation was bumped.  I am mulling over how to inject Tommy back into the line-up, and it might be for a Friday show or even a Friday video in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group.  I mean, who DOESN’T want Tommy Cakes talking about drinky-drinks and socials on a Friday?  Am I right?

Frankly, I like the character and doing those podcasts, so I want Tommy Cakes to return to the network.  

What do you think?  I would love to get your feedback and ideas!

Black-and-White Contest and Weekend 3 Things

Weekend 3 Things, Small Scale Life, Barn, Projects, Simple Living, Live Simply, Intentional Living, Year in Review
Weekend 3 Things has lead to interesting discussions in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group

As part of our 2018 Year in Review, we have to discuss some of the contests and discussion threads that have driven social media engagement. In 2018, we started the Black-and-White Photograph Contest on Instagram and Facebook and the Weekend 3 Things Discussions in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group.  Both have really been a lot of fun to orchestrate and put together.

Year in Review, Black-and-white contest, time, cozi
An example of a challenging Black-and-White Contest Theme: “Time Passing”

For the Black-and-White Photograph Contest, I select a theme for the week and post pictures that represent that theme.  The theme will not be people or pets, and I won’t explain the theme and announce the winners until the weekend.  This was the first year we ran this contest, and of the 52 total weeks in 2018, we had a theme for more than half the weeks.  I have to contact award winners and send them a prize.  Also, there have been a couple people who really did a good job with this contest this year, and I would like to recognize them.  Maybe I’ll mention them on the podcast in addition to sending a prize. Again, this is the first year we have run the contest, so we are improving the game as we go!  By the way, I am ready to start the first week of 2019, so be watching the Small Scale Life Instagram Feed and Small Scale Life Facebook Page.

The other activity I started in 2018 was the Weekend 3 Things Discussions in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group.  I borrowed the idea from Nicole Sauce from the Living Free in Tennessee Podcast, who has  daily My Three Things discussions in her Facebook Group.  The idea is that while you can develop a massive to do list with many items, you are forcing yourself to focus on the three most important things that will help you get closer to achieving your goals.  

It doesn’t always have to be work or projects: it can be going on a date, hanging out with friends, going to a concert, going swimming or whatever you wish.  They are your three things.  The key is to write them down and share them with others.  I check in with participants on the following Monday or Tuesday to see how you did and if you completed the three things.  It is a friendly discussion, and there is no judgement or condemnation.  We want to encourage each other and at the same time, you might just inspire someone to get off the couch and start a project or do something fun!

Overall, I really enjoyed both the contest and the discussions, and we will be continuing those two efforts in 2019.

2018 Goals

As 2018 started, I had some specific goals in mind.  I wanted to publish more podcasts than 2017, and I wanted to be more consistent with publishing shows.  At the same time, I wanted to better define our focus and voice in 2018. Of course we have to discuss these two goals in my 2018 Year in Review.

Goal 1: 52 Podcasts

One goal I had in 2018 was to complete at least 52 shows.  I wanted to get a year’s worth of shows recorded and published before December 31, 2018.  By Thanksgiving, we had recorded and published 52 shows, and that was a fantastic milestone. 

The funny thing is: I had recorded several other shows that never were published, and I have a backlog of ideas that I will be reworking and rolling out in 2019. 

One lesson I learned in 2018 is that it is great to have a backlog of shows, and I will be working on recording more interviews and other shows in the future. 

Also, one additional lesson learned is that you can get to ALL of our shows and posts using the Archive page on the top menu. You can see posts by month and year. With the blog reconstruction project, nothing was “lost.” Posts and podcasts have just been reorganized into categories.

Goal 2: Further Define Small Scale Life’s Why

A second goal I had in 2018 was to further hone in on Small Scale Life’s focus and message. What is our powerful why?  We shifted the brand a few times during 2018, and these changes are all part of the process in finding our voice and true mission. No Year in Review would be complete without discussing this process.

When I started Small Scale Life in 2015, I wanted to write about more than gardening.  I wanted to focus on getting healthy, gardening and having adventures.  Over time, we introduced some new topics including homesteading and minimalism, and we wanted to dig into those topics.  We wanted to focus on intentional living and simple living topics in addition to health and fitness and gardening.  

As we were working on rebuilding the blog, I started to think about the powerful why behind what we are doing.  Julie and I have had a lot of discussions about the future: where we want to live, what we want to be doing with our time and how we can help and inspire people.  I was having trouble wrapping my head around “lifestyle blogs and podcasts” and “intentional living blogs and podcasts.”  Those didn’t make sense to me, especially after seeing what blogs and podcasts dominate that space.  

Instead, something else kept rolling around in my brain.  This weekend, Julie and I were at a big box store, and I just blurted out that one theme that kept popping up in my brain:

How to build a life you don’t need a vacation from!  

Tom – December 2018

This theme ties everything together: our dreams, our goals, our philosophy and our work so far.  We will build this life that we don’t need a vacation from by focusing on these key aspects of our life:

  • Health and Fitness
  • Financial Freedom
  • Minimalism/Simple Living/Gardening
  • Building Community

Everything is connected, and everything works together to develop our own Small Scale Life.  Maybe your journey is different from ours.  Maybe your Small Scale Life looks totally different than ours.  That is perfectly okay: we are all on our own journey.  What Julie and I have realized after all these years is that you can get there a lot faster by being healthy and fit, not having debt, minimizing your footprint and having a solid community that has your back.

After all, Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” says it perfectly:

I got some good friends that live down the street

Got a good lookin’ woman with her arms ’round me

Live in a small town where it feels like home

I’ve got everything I need, and nothin’ that I don’t

Zac Brown Band “Homegrown”

Everything makes sense when we frame it as developing a life you want to live by becoming who you want to be and surrounded by people that you love.  We are going to explore this a lot more in 2019.

2019 – Bring Me That Horizon

Renew You in 2019 Kickstart; healthy lifestyle; wellness, intentional living
Wrapping up our Year in Review and preparing for the Renew You in 2019

Julie and I have a lot of ideas and plans for 2019.  It is going to kick off right away on January 7 with the Renew You in 2019 Kickstart.  Our hope is that we will kick off our health and fitness journey and finally turn the corner this year.  It is time to focus on your mindset, your movement and your nutrition.  Julie and I am starting right along with you; we aren’t perfect.  We are committing to this lifestyle this year, and we want to see some significant changes in our health and fitness in 2019.  

It isn’t a diet; it’s going to be our lifestyle.  This is how we are going to live.

I am working hard to put the last pieces of the puzzle together for this kickstart, and we will have more information for you this week and weekend.  We want you to try this with us.  If nothing else, this Renew You in 2019 Kickstart will get you thinking, moving and eating a little better than before.  We are going to start low and slow, but we are going to start our world together.  Head over to Small Scale Life for more on the Renew You in 2019 Kickstart.  

Stay tuned.  We are JUST getting started. It’s going to be a fun year and exciting journey that we can all do together! I can’t wait to write the 2019 Year in Review!