Category Archives: work life

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.

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?

How did you become a pet writer?

Of the many questions I get about what I do, probably the most-often-repeated question is: How did you become a pet writer?

This is just a theory, but I suspect most people in the pet industry got here not because of a specific desire to work in the pet industry. Rather, I suspect most people in the pet industry are here because of a pet.

A special pet.

The special pet who comes in, sheds all over your house, and changes your life.

That’s how I became a pet writer. I recently got to tell this story to a group in my town. I posted it on my blog, and I’ve gotten a number of follow-up questions via email.

It’s interesting how my worlds overlap. The pet world seems to live on my blog, while this website is sort of a hub for storing not-specifically-pet-related ideas. I’m working out how to manage the cross over, though, and I thought this was a great opportunity to make progress.

So, if you’re a writer who’s interested in the pet industry, and you’re wondering how did you become a pet writer, here’s my full answer: It all started with a dog.

Here’s what I’ve been working on

Long time, no post!

Whew. Things have been busy, busy, busy. My goal for November was simply to keep my head above water! We relocated, and the move took up far more time than I ever imagined. And we’ve moved a lot. This one was an extra-big-beast for some reason. Thankfully, though, we’re settled in and (mostly) unpacked. I’m grateful it was all completed before the bustle of the holiday season!

In the meantime, I’ve been working away. I’m finishing up the semester teaching writing skills to an eager bunch of adults who are all working like crazy to get to the final paper.

I’ve also been writing for one of my favorite sites, PetGuide.com!

Plus, I’ve had the unique opportunity to serve as a campaign manager for several blogger campaigns for BlogPaws. It’s been an incredible learning experience. Part of the job requires reading a handful of blogs every morning, and I’ve spotted so many “best practices” and clever ideas. Soaking it all up!

There is so much on the horizon, so many big, huge things about to happen. I can’t wait to share them all as the projects get finalized. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, have a wonderful week and a productive start to December!

BlogPaws 2015 and eBook News!

I’ve attended all but one of the annual BlogPaws conferences (darn chemo ruined my perfect record), and this year’s was a remarkable experience. They’re all wonderful, of course, but this was the first year I got to speak.

Maggie Marton speaking at BlogPaws

That’s me. Speaking.

I need a haircut.

Anyway, it was an absolute pleasure to chat about authenticity in blogging. I truly believe that the key to long-term success is being completely, wholly true to YOU with your blog. In a cluttered online environment, discerning readers can pick out who’s being honest and forthright versus those bloggers who are just shilling. That isn’t to say you can’t earn money on your blog; you can and absolutely should–as long as you’re doing it authentically.

On that note, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m nearing completion on my passion project, an eBook on being an authentic blogger. There are some design issues that still need to be ironed out (in other words, I suck at design and am seeking help) before it can be released, but… stay tuned!

5 ways to feel crazy productive every single day

  1. Make your bed as soon as you get up. Seriously. It may seem unnecessary, but if you don’t get anything else done the rest of the day, at least you did that!
  2. Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. Put it on your to-do list, and relish crossing it off!
  3. Turn off notifications on your cell phone, tablet, and laptop for two hours every morning. You will be astounded – at least, I was – to see how much you get done without all those dings.
  4. As soon as you sit in your desk chair, pull out a sticky note or scrap of paper, and write at the top: The single most important thing for me to accomplish today is____. Then, do that thing! It seems simple, right? But how many times do you think, “It’s already 5:00, and I’ve gotten nothing accomplished!” This will ensure you have your Most Important Thing done!
  5. This last one’s a biggie and something I’ve only recently started. When I plot my day, I now estimate how long a task will take. I write that amount in pencil next to the task or meeting. Then, when I complete the task, I write down how long it actually took. Four days into this routine, and my eyes are open wide! I had my schedule all kinds of under- and over-estimated. Now, I’m honing in on a more accurate idea of what I can accomplish in a day. (By the way, I used almost one hour less time yesterday than anticipated. Hello, bonus nap!)

In pursuit of goals

Are you a goal-oriented person? I find that if I don’t have a set of concrete goals to work toward, I get distracted far too easily.

The trick, though, is remembering to hold check-ins pretty regularly to make sure you’re on track and moving forward. This year, I’m trying something new: Sunday night “Meetings with Me.” I’ve scheduled in my planner to meet with myself every Sunday evening for about half an hour to review my goals and determine tasks for the week ahead.

For now, the five goals I’m working on are:

  1. Book proposals. I’ve completed one of three proposals, have outlined the second, and only have the rough idea for the third. My goal is to complete and submit these throughout 2015. This Sunday’s “Meeting with Me” will be all about assigning deadlines for the year.
  2. Create and launch an e-course. Tentatively, I slated this project for Q2, so while I’m not actively chipping away on it, I am brainstorming a bit now and then.
  3. Pitch pet topics to general lifestyle mags.
  4. Focus on health and self-care. This includes juicing daily, drinking tons of water, re-planting a veggie garden, and shopping cruelty-free.
  5. Dogs, dogs, dogs. Of course. This includes walking routines, training, taking classes, and having fun together.

I also have some speaking engagements coming up (yippee!), travel, and teaching writing courses two days a week. All things I love but nothing that requires me to set specific goals with deadline-driven project steps.

What are your goals for 2015? Do you have projects you’re striving to achieve or lifestyle changes you want to make? I’d love to hear what you’re up to and how I can help support your dreams! Tweet me to discuss!

Here’s what I’ve been working on

Whew! How is it the second half of 2014 already? Doesn’t January seem like yesterday? But also so long ago when I look at completed projects for the year!

I can’t wait to see where the rest of 2014 takes me!

In the meantime, I’ve been working with two corporate clients – one on sprucing up the copy on an outdated website, and another on some engagement strategies for social channels. Seriously fun stuff!

I’ve also been working on fun projects for my favorite pet industry mag, Pet Age. Natural lifestyle topics are near and dear to my heart, and I was honored to write the entire Natural Supplement for them. Check out the digital version here.

I’m also taking the first coaching course I’ve ever joined – and loving it. I will share insights from the course as it unfolds.

Finally, I started moving many of my clips over to Pinterest. I love how visual and interactive that platform is for showcasing a portfolio. You can find my lifestyle writing and pet writing there!

As we prepare to move from Louisiana back to our home in Indiana, I’ll be taking some time off – all of next week, actually! But I’ll be ready to hit the ground running from our new (old) digs in beautiful Bloomington. Have a wonderful weekend and week ahead!