It's not the flying that's tough, it's getting to the plane in the first place
I recently flew back to Utah to see people I care about but haven't seen in a very long time. Flying is something I don't do often. The last time I flew anywhere was from Duluth, Minnesota, to Chicago. That was long after 9/11. Strict security measures were in place then so I wasn't a total newbie this time around.
But what I discovered is the security gauntlet is different depending on where you are. Duluth seemed an utter madhouse at the time, although, part of that was my fault. It was my first time through the "taking my shoes off" security routine. O'Hare, on the other hand, seemed to have things streamlined and I breezed through on the way back.
Just So You Know...
This time, I discovered a couple of things about getting through security. First, breakfast bars are suspect. I am not sure why but the breakfast bars I had in a bag with other snack food items caused a lot of scrutiny in both airports. They let me keep my bars. At least I wouldn't starve.
And another thing — don't wear any type of shoulder padding when you fly. I didn't even know there was slight padding in the top I wore coming home. But, my shoulders set off an alarm. A simple shoulder pat, much like a parent does to a child, by the TSA agent cleared me. I had nightmares of strip searches before that shoulder pat, though.
You, Your Bread Maker & Airport Security
Did you know you can take a bread machine through security? That's one of the many odd items that are on the approved "What can I bring?" list. I really like my bread machine but I didn't feel the need to take it with me to Salt Lake. But, that's just me.
You can't bring bowling pins through the checkpoint, but boxing gloves are OK. And, your tortilla press? Bring it on. Leave the paint thinner at home, though. It's not allowed in either carry-on or checked baggage.
Let's face it, TSA agents have a tough job. Massive numbers of people come through those lines and lives depend on agents catching dangerous items. A salute to those hard-working folks. And, they're job's not all tedious. In fact, people have tried to bring awfully strange items through security. Like these...
Of course, I knew better than to take anything even remotely resembling the above list of "what were they thinking" objects. I didn't think about the shoulder pads, though. Live and learn.
Why taking a vacation is good for you
It's true! Taking a vacation is good for your health and state of mind. Why am I bringing this up now? Could it be that I am going on vacation and I don't want you to wonder about why I haven't posted on my blog for a while? You got it.
But, seriously, getting away from the stress of work and routine is good for us. And it's all very scientific. Here's why:
How, How, How?
I know what you're thinking — you're thinking "I can't possibly get away. They need me!" I am not telling you to drop everything, hop on a plane and leave your co-workers and team members holding the bag. You gotta have a plan.
Schedule your time off well in advance. Make sure everyone who needs to know is informed. Train someone for specific tasks if necessary. Prioritize your obligations and finish whatever needs to be finished before you leave. You can do this!
But, whatever you do, don't plan to work during vacation. A quick check of emails and availability if there's an emergency is one thing. But telling yourself "I'll just work on this project a little" is not a vacation. You won't reap the benefits you would if you let everything go and just have fun.
OK, hope everyone has a great couple of weeks. And while you're at it, start planning your next vacation now. Or else.
Can you and your blog can live happily ever after?
Yes, you can. But how? If you or someone on your team has the time and skills — including how to effectively incorporate SEO and write authoritative yet engaging content — to concentrate on blog posts each week, go for it. If not, hire a writer.
Where You Gonna Look?
What I am going to tell you here is not what you'll read in most "find the right blog writer" lists. Not that I think the lists are wrong, mind you. Most of the suggestions are, in my opinion, a complete waste of time.
Here are my handy-dandy "finding a blog writer" dos and don'ts:
Who You Gonna Call?
You have a shortlist. It's decision time.
You don't have to choose a writer who's an expert in your field. You do need to choose one who knows how to conduct research, utilize reputable sources, asks questions and requests supporting material from you.
Look for a writer who's interested in getting to know you, your business, your products and services. And look for a writer who wants to know who your customers and prospects are. If he or she doesn't ask about your business or doesn't have time to learn, find another writer.
The blog writer you choose has to be capable of capturing your voice and speaking to your target audience. Choose someone you feel comfortable working and communicating with. It's a partnership. You have to get along.
And one last tip — don't sign any type of long-term contract. You don't want to be stuck with a writer who doesn't work out. Pay by the project or piece, particularly in the beginning.
The Takeaway: You and your blog can live happily ever after. You just have to find the right counselor, er, I mean writer.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
* I reserve the right to refuse sample requests for illegal activities or about subjects of which I otherwise deem objectionable.
Ready to break up with your blog? There's still hope...
There it sits, staring you in the face. You know you have to do something about it. Few things affect your bottom line as much. That little ol' blog of yours has the potential to grow your business in a whole lot of ways. It brings in more traffic, increases engagement, attracts new prospects and adds lots of indexed pages in Google.
But, oh, the pain! You run a small business. You don't have time or the people-power to blog as often as you need to. Or, maybe you do, but you don't have the word-power. Or, maybe you do, but you don't know how to write for online viewers who generally have an attention span shorter than a goldfish.
So, you sit there and wonder how to salvage the relationship. Is a divorce on the horizon? Or, can you and your blog come to an understanding and live happily ever after? There is hope.
To Blog or Not to Blog — That is the Question
"Do I even need a blog?" you ask. The answer could be no. If you're a small local business with a devoted following, you may not need to reach out to new customers. A following on Facebook may be all that's required.
But if your business is a B2B, sells products online, provides internet related services or you have plans to expand beyond your local region, a blog is a cost-effective marketing tool that has the potential to drastically improve your online standing and boost ROI. And that's nothing to sneeze at.
To Write or Not to Write — That is the Next Question
So, you now that you know you need a blog, do you write it yourself or outsource the task? Great question. There are pros and cons whichever way you go.
There ya go — it's settled. You'll do it yourself, right? Well, take a look at the cons before you decide.
So what can you do? Should you write your own blog posts even if you don't have the know-how? Should you spend a little money and outsource your blog? Or maybe you'll just chuck it all and say bye-bye blog?
We'll figure it out in Part II — Coming Soon.