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Check Out Jenn Beard’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn Beard.

Hi Jenn, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started blogging 12 years ago to document a conservation trip I was taking to Madagascar. As a volunteer, I needed to do a public education project and blogs were just taking off as a mode of communication. I loved it so much, I kept up a general travel blog for the next ten years. As my decade blogging anniversary approached, I decided that it was time to either professionalize what I was doing or give up my hobby. I had no intention of quitting my day job, but I wanted to start building my audience and creating an organized content strategy. (My travel blog was more like what I had for dinner or did in a day of traveling, and not an itinerary for people to follow.) I attended a blogging conference called Bloghouse, and it pushed me in totally new directions. I learned about the importance of finding a niche that made sense for what I loved that I could also be strategic about. Since, to me, every good trip comes with great cocktails, I landed on Cocktails Away as a theme and direction for my blog in June 2019. I completely rebuilt and rebranded and launched my new site in July 2019. I chose to focus on cocktail bar guides, ingredient travel which includes everything from distilleries to origins of spirits or key cocktail ingredients, and (thanks to the pandemic) cocktail recipes and at-home bartending tips and tutorials. I was a biochemistry major in college, so cocktails are just an extension of that. I love trying new flavors and ingredients and making drinks for my friends and family. But, there’s nothing I love more than sitting at a bar alone chatting with the bartenders and other customers about drinks.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As someone with a fairly rigorous full-time job, it can be hard to have the time to spend on the blog. In addition to researching and writing my own blog posts, I also run all my social media accounts for the blog, write some freelance articles for other bloggers, work with affiliate brands on some sponsored content, and plan my travel and content strategy. I pay for all my own drinks and travel, so this also can limit how much I can accomplish. The two biggest challenges I have faced have been learning search engine optimization (SEO) and pivoting to “cocktails at home” content due to COVID-19. The good thing is that more time at home when I wasn’t able to travel as much gave me the time I needed to get deeper into understanding SEO and cocktail recipe creation. My home bar grew considerably over the past two years.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Over the course of my career, I have always looked for roles that have helped push me into new directions, places, and communities. I have been fortunate to travel extensively, work on things that really matter to the world, and meet amazing people from all over the world. These days, when I am not blogging about cocktails or visiting new cities to discover the best bars, I work for a public technology foundation. I make grants for work relating to artificial intelligence, art, and responsible computing. I am proud to be able to support the highly technical work of others through my skills as a relentless generalist.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up in a military family (my dad was in the Coast Guard), life was an adventure. I was always a very energetic kid who channeled that into doing as many activities, clubs, and jobs as I could handle. Moving around when I was young caused me to never know a stranger and I have continued to enjoy interactions with a wide variety of people as a result. I tried anything at least once and was always a storyteller (some true and some tall tales). I enjoyed entertaining people through singing and telling jokes. And, while I definitely knew how to have fun, I was driven and serious about school and getting to where I wanted to go when I grew up.

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