What makes an expert?

As a writer, I frequently interview experts in various fields because their in-the-trenches insights help explain complicated concepts, or they’re the first to know the latest advances or changes in a given industry.

Then, imagine my surprise, when I’ve been called a handful of times this year to be an expert source for an article, a radio show, and on another blog! I was shocked that someone dug me up on Google and though that I had the credentials to be a source.

But, of course, that’s exactly how I do it when I’m looking for someone to interview.

So, how do I know who to call on? What makes an expert?

The first place I start is, of course, Google. First, I look for published articles. Experts are often published in scholarly or professional publications. Or, in many instances, if someone has been quoted in other mainstream articles, I can assume they’re versed on being interviewed.

Next, I look for social media presence. This varies widely by field, but if someone is active in the social space, I can usually count on that person to be responsive and able to convey ideas for a general audience.

Third, I seek out a personal or professional website. Honestly, these days, if someone doesn’t have a website, I discount their expertise. Even a single page that lists highlights and contact info is sufficient.

Finally, I toggle over to LinkedIn and check out the person’s profile.

Those four points give me a great indication if someone is widely published or cited, if they’re able to convey their ideas well, and if they’ll be responsive to working with the media.

Those are all “soft” criteria, of course, but it’s worked well for me. Time and again, by eliminating potential sources who don’t meet those elements, I wind up with the perfect person for the piece.

How do you seek out sources to interview for your stories? Any points I’m missing. Tweet @maggiemarton your suggestions!

My current reading list

I am a bookworm. Reading is my great escape, and it provides quiet, calm solace in the busy rush of life. Because things have been nutso lately – from sick dogs to deadlines – I’ve fallen behind on my reading.

So, I wanted to recap my current and upcoming reading list so you can follow along. (Any of the Amazon links below are affiliate links. If you purchase a book through those links, it won’t cost you a penny extra, though I’ll get a tiny commission.)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

I’m nearly finished with this book; in fact, I plan to finish it this afternoon. I’m loving it. It’s chock full of research about introversion and how introverts can harness their natural strengths. A must read!

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home
by Boyd Varty

I’ve had this on my Kindle for weeks now, as a NetGalley review. It’s up next, and I’m excited to dig in!

Dog Gone, Back Soon
by Nick Trout

I’ve never read anything by Nick Trout, which is sort of odd considering how immersed I am in the pet world. Regardless, I’m looking forward to this one. (And my review will be on OMD! with a possible giveaway, too!)

Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog (Karen Pryor Clicker Book)
by Emma Parsons

I purchased this book ages ago when I was going through an info-gathering phase as Lucas’ leash reactivity worsened. We’ve made huge progress in classes and with other texts, so I’m not sure how this fell off my list. Now that we’re going through reactivity training with Cooper, I picked it back up and have already learned a ton.

That’s it for my “next up” list. My “someday” list is a mile longer! Once I get through these, I’ll share my next round.

What are you reading these days? Tweet @maggiemarton with book recommendations and I’ll respond with some of my own! 

Upcoming pet writing projects – my fave!

I’m so happy it’s spring!

Spring has sprung!

This baby is practically glowing in our front yard!

I love this time of year. Flowers are blooming. The days are longer. The mosquitoes aren’t yet the size of finches. Ah, spring!

Since it’s the start of the second quarter, it’s also time for us small-business folks to reevaluate our goals and direction for the upcoming months. Did we accomplish what we wanted to in Q1? Where do we want to go in Q2?

I’m excited to take on a second assignment with Pet Age, adding a Groom&Board article on top of my Products&Trends piece. I adore this magazine and the staff, and I’m thrilled to tackle more assignments.

I’m also contributing more to Victoria Stilwell’s Positively.com blog, which I love because I get to talk positive training in a brand new venue.

There’s a ton of stuff going on the blog these days, too, including the newsletter.

And a few more details-to-come projects that are all about pets, crafts, and building a super strong bond with our dogs and cats.

I’m LOVING that so much pet writing work is piling up because it’s what I’m most passionate about!

Here’s to finding work that fuels your passion! Happy spring!

 

Book review: A Creative Toolkit of Meditations

Believe it or not (ha! I’m sure you believe it by now), I struggle with stress.

I put a ton of pressure on myself, constantly over-schedule my days and weeks, and panic when I can’t complete all my “to dos” or meet all my goals. However, as I’ve gotten older and – not necessarily wiser – but maybe more mindful, I’ve been trying to integrate ways to manage and eliminate that excess stress.

In theory, I’ve been interested in meditation for quite a long time. In practice, I just haven’t found a way to actually practice it. Everything I’ve read – from books to websites – and the online courses I’ve joined, it all just seemed so elusive.

A Creative Toolkit of Meditations

But, in his book A Creative Toolkit of Meditations, William Blake makes the practice seem so much more attainable or accessible. In fact, the whole idea of a “toolkit” appealed to me more because he allows you to pick and choose what parts of a meditation practice will work for you.

The book is divided into main sections, which are then broken into chapters. At the end of each chapter is a meditation (or, a few in some cases). By the end of the book, you’ve been given a handful of meditations to try. That process worked for me because I could decided to continue practicing the ones that worked for me and let go of the ones that didn’t. (Right now I’m working on the loving-kindness meditation.)

Overall, the book was easy to read and understand without a lot of esoteric, vague language that you find in a lot of similar-genre books. If you’re interested in mindfulness or meditation, I highly recommend A Creative Toolkit of Meditations. I plan to keep this one on my shelf to reference and reread periodically!

Pinterest boards for writing inspiration

I adore Pinterest.

It’s full of inspiration: from quirky DIY projects to healthy eating tips, plus lots of cute animals pics thrown in for good measure.

Recently, I started delving into writing inspiration on Pinterest, and I was thrilled to find a ton of motivating boards. Here are five of my favorite writing-related boards for your following pleasure:

Do you have any favorite writing-related boards? Truly, though, poking around Pinterest will give you a ton of ideas, even if you aren’t looking for anything writing-specific. It’s totally work a little creative procrastination!

Newsletters

What do you think about e-newsletters?

I’m torn. On the one hand, I love them… when they deliver relevant, fresh content that is useful/inspirational/entertaining. On the other hand, I hate them when they junk up my inbox with tons of sales-pitchy messages without offering anything of value.

So, on that note, I’ve launched not one but two newsletters! In an attempt to make the content super relevant to my subscribers, there are two different versions:

First is for the blog and for anyone who wants more dog, dog, dog! (And a little cat thrown in for good measure.) You can subscribe to that here.

Second is for marketing, communications, and public relations professionals who are interested in what projects are in the works. I share my blog editorial calendar, upcoming deadlines for my clients, and opportunities to promote their clients’ products and services. If you’re a PR professional, you can subscribe here.

This is my first year trying this out, so I plan to assess the newsletters at the end of the year to decide what’s working and what isn’t. If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it! Email me at info {at} maggiemarton {dot} com.

 

Will work for…

You’re looking for a mechanic. You call around and find one who is nearby, highly recommended, and has an opening in his schedule. So, you give him a call.

“I need a mechanic,” you say. “It’s sort of urgent because my car is making a funny noise, and I need the tires rotated and oil changed.” He schedules you an appointment.

You drive to the mechanic and he presents you with an estimate of what the work will cost. “Oh, no,” you say. “I don’t pay in cash. I pay in exposure! I’ll tell all my friends on Facebook about how awesome you are, and I’ll live tweet my appointment!”

Does the mechanic work on your car?

Of course not. And, truthfully, no one would ever consider even making that offer to a mechanic! Or a dentist. Or a cashier or personal trainer or stylist.

Why?

Because that’s how those people earn their living, of course! They need to pay their rent, buy groceries, heat their homes, feed their pets, and so on. So, obviously, you wouldn’t offer to pay them in exposure, and obviously they would never accept to be paid in exposure.

Yet, creative professionals receive that offer frequently.

In fact, there are tons of splashy articles and videos online of writers spectacularly declining said offers… and publications’ reactions of shock and horror.

Just a few weeks ago I received a pitch to contribute articles to a popular website in exchange for said website sharing my work across their vibrant Twitter channel. As soon as Twitter followers pay my rent, sure!

Until then, I’ll work for money. Just like everyone else.

New project alert: Positively Expert Blogger

At BarkWorld last fall, I met with the folks from Positively.com, Victoria Stilwell’s website and blog. If you’re unfamiliar with her and her work, the gist is that she is a champion for positive reinforcement training and for companion animal welfare causes. Since I first started watching her show It’s Me or the Dog on Animal Planet, I was a fan.

I’m giddy to announce that I am joining the ranks of her “Positively Expert” bloggers on Positively.com! The roster of bloggers reads like a who’s who of positive, holistic pet care, and I’m honored to be among their ranks.

I spent the morning working on my first post for the site, so I’ll be sure to share it once it’s live!

Travel schedule 2014

Conferences and meetings and trade shows… Oh, my!

I’m still nailing down a few dates, but I wanted to share my travel schedule (so far) for 2014. I’d love to meet in person. If you’ll be in any of these cities or at any of these events, please email me so we can get together!

Indianapolis and Bloomington: I just returned from a week in Indianapolis, but I’m going to be there again – and in Bloomington – in April, August, and October. I’m working to finalize dates, but if you’ll be in the area, let’s meet!

Global Pet Expo: March 12-14 in Orlando. I haven’t attended this particular trade show before, so I’m super excited to see what it’s all about. I’ll be attending this one as press, representing a mix of clients as well as my blog.

BlogPaws: May 8-10 in Lake Las Vegas. I’ll be attending this conference again. I was so disappointed to miss last year’s event, so I can’t wait for this one!

BarkWorld: October 30-November 1 in Atlanta. This is my second time attending this conference, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends and meeting new brands.

Those are the definite events for which I’m already registered and have booked travel. There are a few more to come, so I’ll keep you posted. But, if you’ll be at any of those events, let’s meet. I love the online world, of course, but nothing beats meeting your online friends and colleagues face-to-face!

Around here lately: What I’m working on!

I’m lucky. I work with the best people around. My editors and clients are all incredible people who achieve amazing things, and I’m honored to play a small part in their work. Here are a few things I’ve been working on lately with these wonderful people:

Newsletters and web content: I’m challenged to work on an exciting communications strategy with a consulting company that links stateside businesses with overseas partners. It’s been a fun consulting gig, and I’m thrilled I get to work with women leaders on this one.

Pet retail trends: I adore Pet Age Magazine and my editor, Michelle. This is one of the most fun articles I get to write every month. If you’re not familiar with the magazine, go check it out! My latest article is live on the digital edition of the magazine.

Pet products: Oh, how I love finding new and exciting pet products. Every month, I dig up a few new products or roundup where to buy the best pet products in stores for Shoptopia. Such fun! Check it out here.

Book reviews: Whooo, boy. My “to-read” pile has grown enormous, which makes me so happy! I have a couple flights coming up, so I plan to power through my stack while traveling. I have reviews slated to appear here, on OhMyDog!, and on Goodreads.

I’m also waiting on the ink to dry on a couple new, exciting projects, which I’ll announce as soon as I can.

What are you working on these days? I hope your work plate is piled high with fun projects!