Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Go away…go far away

The terrorist attacks in Paris, on November 13, were a cruel reminder how so few can cause so much harm. The ripple effects, no doubt, were intended to send a message to the greater, global population – to keep people scared and off balance.

Just two weeks later, my husband and I would be flying overseas. To London. The trip had been planned since spring. There was no way we weren’t getting on the plane. Still, as the caution on global travel intensified, people asked – my mother, my chiropractor, my running buddy – whether we would cancel our trip.

We promised to be careful, but we were going to stick to our plans. And so we revisited the city where, decades earlier, we had honeymooned. Even back then there had been safety alerts in airports and public areas, both in London and in U.S. cities, about bomb threats and the need to report any unattended packages. Apparently “the good old days” weren’t as innocent and idyllic as we might like to remember them.

While we were away, more terrorist attacks did occur, not in London, but in America. First it was news of a gunman storming the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Then coverage of the San Bernardino attack, which came just two days before we were to leave London. Two days after we arrived home, there was a knife attack deemed a "terrorist incident" in the London Underground, which we had used extensively.

I don’t feel we were lucky to be out of harm’s way during our travels. It's hard to know when you’re going to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I just don’t want to live my life in fear or in reaction to possible negative outcomes.

So go away. Make your plans. Take whatever precautions necessary to be more comfortable while away from home. Check the State Department website for specific travel alerts and warnings, and sign up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to make it easier for U.S. embassies and consulates to contact you and your loved ones in case of emergency.

Then pack your bag and go see the world. You’ll find it’s bigger on the outside. It's real HD – even better than it looks on the Web. And it's so much more fun when you experience it in person.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Why I (still) blog

“The world doesn't need another blogger.” That’s how I began my very first blog post, in 2008. Then I clarified my view: “At least it doesn't need another ‘the world according to me’ blog. Instead, I intend to share interesting and thought-provoking articles, sites, and ideas in this space.”

And that’s what I did every few weeks. Personally, I was testing this  format, trying to get a handle on what blogging entailed. As I became more familiar with the medium, I began to rethink the purpose of my posts.

There were any number of bloggers curating content. The trend in content marketing was beginning to grow, and eventually platforms like LinkedIn became flooded with people publishing posts to share the latest and greatest ideas.

I needed to take a different tack with my blog if I wanted to stand out from the crowded field of voices vying for attention. So I went back to basics. The world didn’t need another blogger, but my clients, and prospective clients, needed a way to assess my writing skills.

If someone was going to hire me to write a speech, or magazine articles, or an annual report, they could read samples of my work on my website, amyink.com. But if someone wanted to get a feel for my writing, if they wanted to get to know me as a writer, I would need to engage them with stories. My posts would give them bite-sized examples of different writing styles and subjects, while entertaining them on a range of topics. And, because I tend to publish every few weeks, the content would be current, so they could tell I was still alive and writing.

There is another important benefit to writing these posts: it helps me wipe the cobwebs from my brain and loosen up my writing skills. Like stretching before a run or prepping the soil before planting in the garden, these posts are my writing warmup.

As I transitioned from sharing the content of others to featuring my own writing, I changed my blog description to better describe the new direction: Me? I write. You? Read and enjoy.”

I can’t prove this blog has actually gotten me any new clients, but I don’t think it has turned any off. At the very least, my posts – and LinkedIn and Twitter links to the posts – remind people that AMY INK is open and ready for business.

The feedback I’ve gotten tells me my friends enjoy reading the posts. And I enjoy writing them. If I get even one new client as a result, I consider that gravy. For now and into the near future, I will continue blogging unless and until technology delivers something even better for me to use.