Author Archives: maggiem1

Writing and blogging are NOT the same thing

Bear with me. This is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness post, something I never do.

Writing and blogging aren’t the same thing.

Yes, writing is hard. Really hard. It drives people to madness. So, sure. Writing is really hard.

But blogging, I’d argue, is really, really hard.

Good writing requires that the writer possess a basic set of skills and a creativity driven by curiosity.

Good blogging requires that the blogger possess a basic set of skills, including good writing and creativity.

Bloggers, at least the good ones, need to be good writers. They need to be good photographers. They need to be good editors, publishers, and IT pros. They need to know a bit about coding and a bit about search engine optimization. They need to be good marketers and good planners. They need to develop creative ideas and then build an audience around those ideas. And they need to put all those things together WITH written work.

Just thinking out loud here… and wondering, then, why are bloggers paid so little?

Thoughts? Opinions? Arguments? I’d love to hear ’em. Catch me on Twitter @maggiemarton.

5 Steps to More Authentic Writing

How often have you, as a blogger, been told to write authentically?

How frequently have you read the advice to be authentic and your audience will find you?

Sure, you should absolutely write authentically. Yes, if you are authentic, the right people will find you.

But…

How do you do that?

How do you write authentically? How do you balance all the social media dos and don’ts with being your true self?

Here are my 5 steps to authenticity that apply to anyone creating content:

  1. Write like you speak. Nothing makes your work sound weirder faster than trying to write in a way that you think sounds “smart” or, really, anything other than your natural voice. Focus on being conversational.
  2. Cut the jargon. Related to the point above, jargon alienates most readers. Unless you’re writing for a technical audience who you’re sure knows what you’re saying, cut the jargon. If someone has to look something up, you’ve probably lost that reader.
  3. Edit for concision. Aim for clarity, not length. Check out these 5 editing tips to learn more.
  4. Write in active voice. Whenever possible, write in an active voice rather than a passive one. Check out this blog post for the hows and whys.
  5. Read your work out loud. Always. You could probably do away with tips one through four if you simply read everything out loud. Trust me on this one. Here’s more.

Not one of those tips will take you much longer to complete your piece, but every single one will improve your work.

If you want to dig into this topic more and really examine your blog for authenticity, check out my eBook, Authentic Blogging. With tons of worksheets to go along with the content, you’ll come out the other side feeling confident and self-assured in your writing! 

What I’m working on…

Balancing a new baby–our daughter is now 16 whole weeks old!!–with work has been a juggling act! Some days, it’s super easy to keep those balls in the air. Other days, they clatter to the ground.

#dirtyhairdontcare

Honestly, though, I’m someone who has always preferred to be busy, so I don’t really mind the juggling act. That said, I have cut down on some projects.

Here are three recent articles I’ve gotten to write:

  • BlogPaws, of course: This active voice vs. passive voice post was my favorite one to write all July!
  • PAW5: I love writing blog posts about enriching your dogs’ lives. It’s a true passion for me!
  • Pet Age: I recently wrote this story about anxiety products for dogs, which was eye-opening for me and my training with Cooper. We started him on one of the products I learned about for the story, CBD treats from Austin and Kat.

Unfortunately, my own pet blog has been one of the biggest cuts. But, this is just a season. And, it’s funny, but it sort of has helped to write far less on my blog. For a while, I felt burnout setting in, and now I’m giving myself time to think and brainstorm. Big ideas are percolating! I’m sure they’ll all bubble to the surface when the time is right.

I’d love to see what you’re working on! Fellow writers, tweet me @maggiemarton with your current projects so that I can read and share!

The one simple trick to make every blog post better

I’m about to drop a little truth on you.

Ready for it?

Your blog posts can be better.

It’s true. Mine can be, too.

See, the thing is, we rush our posts. All of us do. I spend a huge portion of my week reading and writing blog posts. I pour over content produced in nearly every genre on the web. Nary a day goes by when I don’t note dozens of typos, even more misspellings, and countless grammar mistakes. (Seriously, bloggers: Please learn the difference between too and to.)

No, it’s not everyone. No, it’s not all posts.

But it’s a lot of them. And I think most of the mistakes are unintentional. I think we’re all pressed for time. We have to write our posts, then we have to create all the social assets to market those posts. Then we have to reply to comments and read other blogs and leave thoughtful comments on those blogs and like and heart and share… and there’s just no time.

So, I’m here to share with you the only tip you’ll ever need to improve every single blog post and social share you ever write.

Seriously.

The one simple trick to make every blog post better is simply this: Read your work aloud.

I’m not kidding. Your writing will be revolutionized by taking an extra couple of minutes to read your copy out loud. Not only will you catch those little mistakes, but you’ll also catch errors of voice–those awkward sentences that just aren’t quite true to you or to your brand.

With your next post or social share, take a couple minutes to read it out loud before you click the publish button. See how many typos you can catch. See how many sentences jump out at you as sounding less-than-genuine. Then go back and fix ’em!

Try it, and let me know how it goes!

What I’m Working On…

It’s been a bonkers 2016 so far! (I feel like I say that about every year…)

I took on the role of Senior Editor at BlogPaws at the end of 2015, and it’s been a whirlwind of activity since. I’m proud of all that’s been accomplished on the BlogPaws blog and would love for you to go check it out.

I’ve also contributed two columns each month to Pet Age Magazine. It’s such a pleasure to work with leading pet industry manufacturers and media pros on a monthly basis. I learn so much with every story I write. Check out some of my recent work.

It’s been a travel-heavy year, too. It started with the BlogPaws team summit in Phoenix earlier this year, followed by Global Pet Expo in Orlando, and my trip to Best Friends in May. BlogPaws is around the corner, in Phoenix at the end of June. That’s followed by SuperZoo in Last Vegas and a girlfriends’ trip to Vancouver at the end of August. Whew!

I took on a bunch of other little side projects, too, like contributing blog posts to PAW5 each month. I love that gig because they’re an eco-friendly brand that’s all about enriching our pets’ lives. How great is that?

Lastly, I’ve been chipping away at OMD. To be honest, I’ve struggled to keep up with it, not just because of all the work stuff, but because it’s hard to find our herd’s new voice after we lost Lucas. Everything changed, and it’s just taken me time to wrap my head around it and find this new voice. But, it’s coming.

So, that’s where I’ve been! How about you? Connect with me on Twitter so we can compare project notes!

Why BlogPaws?

On a sunny May morning in 2010, I pulled into a gas station somewhere between Bloomington, IN, and Columbus, OH. I pulled out my phone while the tank filled. I spotted a ton of tweets from other folks who were on their way to the first ever BlogPaws conference.

I actually considered NOT tweeting that I was on my way, too, because I felt like such a fraud. Who was I to be going to a social media conference? Who was I–a blogger with less than a year under her belt–to think I could hold my own in a professional crowd?

Of course, it all turned out fine, despite myriad doubts and fears and insecurities. In fact, it turned out great. Some of the dearest friends and most important people in my life today were friendships formed at that first BlogPaws. I learned a ton, though I was incredibly intimidated. I vividly remember hearing a speaker say that you can’t really make any money at the blogging game until you have at least 5,000 followers. I balked. At the time, I don’t think I had more than 50 or 100 readers at that time. Not per day. Not per week. Per month!

Since then, since BlogPaws 2010, I’ve topped 20,000. I credit my herd with that growth because they’re the ones who give me the stories to tell. But, I also credit BlogPaws–not just the speakers and sessions and keynotes, but the relationships formed. If I have a WordPress question or need a contact at a PR agency, or if I just need someone to cry on the phone with (which I did when Lucas was diagnosed with cancer), that community is there.

Sure, BlogPaws isn’t perfect. But there’s truly no other organization like it, and we can all improve if we work together in constructive, positive ways.

We’re lucky: We’re in two growth industries. The pet industry has become a massive, innovative behemoth, and the blogosphere continues to expand and develop. Both industries are primed for development. We, as pet bloggers and social media influencers, are in position to lead, to direct the future of both capacities.

We have that power.

And that’s why I go to BlogPaws.

Join me?