Not everything is perfect: The creative chilling effect of pathological positivity

There's an epidemic among digital marketers that I like to call "pathological positivity." You've likely encountered more than a few social-media accounts run by the victims of this disease, and you may even feel some pressure to inject yourself with the condition while crafting digital posts for clients. But here's the thing: too much of anything is often toxic, and positivity is no exception.

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Our Vienna Homecoming

After a summer on the road, I’m back in Tuscaloosa! In June, my partner and I headed to Europe to see some old friends and pilot a new approach to our dual careers as an academic (him) and a freelance writer (me): digital nomadism.

I posted a few thoughts about the challenge of balancing work and play on our family blog, and I realized that some of those thoughts might be of interest to y’all, too. Also, Vienna is the most photogenic city ever.

Anyway, it’s good to be back!

Knisely & Barnidge

We didn’t learn as much German as we should have while living in Vienna, but I did manage to pick up one lesson: The art of the German language is definitely not in the sound of the words themselves, but instead in the elegance of the ideas and images those words can evoke when they’re smooshed together into little linguistic Schichtkuchen (layer cakes). 

Take the word Sehnsucht, for example. Google translates it to “nostalgia,” but this seemingly simple thing is actually much more complicated — just like everything else in Austria. Break the compound word apart and the little words mean “to see,” “to investigate.” Put them back together, and you get something like “life longing,” or “a sense of separation from the imaginative experience we crave,” a translation I particularly like and picked up here.

Anyway, this nuanced sort of longing — not for the reality of an…

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Quick Tips To Get Your Small Business Started on Social Media

It would be ironic to write a 2,000-word post on how to write content that's only 280 characters (the length of a Tweet). So instead, I'll offer some short-and-sweet advice for getting your small business or nonprofit started on social media ... with a little help from Matthew McConaughey, King of the South.

Real Talk in the Coffee Shop: 3 Downsides of Remote Work, and Why It’s Still Worth The Trouble

For those of us who live and work outside of major media markets, the remote trend makes careers in marketing and business services more viable than those careers were a decade ago. But the digital landscape also presents some real and uncomfortable challenges for creatives, and I'll be honest: I'm still struggling to navigate them. Here are some of the issues I've encountered as a creative freelancer -- and why I think it's still worth trying to make this career work for me. We may work for ourselves, but we're in this together.

So, You Want to Write a Press Release

The press release is one of the most dog-eared pages in every marketer's playbook. It's a simple but powerful beast: You write it, send it a few media contacts, and one or two of them decide to feature your news/brand/event on their outlet. Fame and fortune ensue, right?

5 Tips from Forrest Gump for Getting Freelance Gigs When You’re New in Town

It's hard to get a freelance business off the ground. It's also hard to move to a new town. And it's especially hard to do both of these things AT THE SAME TIME. Thankfully, we have The Gump to guide us.

From Wisconsin to Alabama, by way of Austria

Here's a memory: I was 28 and sitting at a desk, surrounded by three white walls and a below-ground window that overlooked a dark patch of muck. I put up a giant poster of a leaf on one of the walls and told myself that would be enough. I had one neighbor on either side of my office, but both preferred to keep their own doors shut all day long, effectively isolating me in a silent corridor of a dark hall. Occasionally an insect would slip in through the old and flaky window pane, but that was about it for company on most days. I was supposed to be a storyteller, but I had no one to tell ... anything.