What I’m working on…

What I'm Working on via MaggieMarton.com

Somehow we’re well into 2018 Q2. I know I say this every year–every month, really–but the time is just slipping past.

In part, it’s because things have been so busy!

I say “busy,” by the way, as a positive thing. Productive. Full. Purposeful. I’m never anyone who would subscribe to the “busyness as a badge” mentality, so when I say it’s been busy, I mean full. Happy!

So, here’s what’s kept me full and happy:

West Paw: Oh, man. I love this brand. I’m so stoked to contribute to their blog, The Scoop. Watch Twitter where I’ll share my posts as they publish!

Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food: Healthy pet food at an affordable prince? Yes, please! I’m pumped to blog for their brand’s site. The blog just launched, so my work isn’t up yet, but I’ll share it on Twitter as soon as it’s live!

BlogPaws: Oh, how I’ve adored writing posts about writing, blogging, and storytelling! I’m off to the conference next week. Will I see you there?

The Zero-Waste Pet: This is a passion project, truly born of the heart. I seriously can’t wait to launch (it’s so soon!!!) and share this joy with you guys. If you haven’t yet signed up, better get on it! The free 7-day challenge launches April 16!

What’s kept you busy lately? I’d love to connect and share our projects on Twitter! You can find me @maggiemarton.

A True Passion Project: Introducing The Zero-Waste Pet

A long time ago… I’m not even sure how long anymore… I started to research zero-waste living.

Zero waste: Whereby you, as a consumer, produce no trash that goes to the landfill. Instead, you recycle, upcycle, compost, etc. to keep your junk out of the landfill.

I’ve been interested in eco-responsible living since elementary school–way back when we had to sort all our recyclables by material then by color, then drive it across town to drop off in sorted bins.

But, the thing with zero-waste living is that there’s a huge gap in the research. There is almost nothing out there about how to live a zero-waste lifestyle as a pet lover.

In fact, sadly, many zero-waste folks tend to argue that pets are anti-zero-waste since they produce so much waste. And they do. But that shouldn’t preclude anyone from saving a life, should it?

Of course not.

So, I poured my time and resources into the zero-waste pet question and came up with this: The Zero-Waste Pet.

Introducing The Zero-Waste Pet

It’s an ebook full of tips, tricks, and resources I’ve gleaned from research and lots of trial and error. I’ve also assembled gobs of free downloads and resources that come with the ebook.

Want to join in this journey? Want to learn more about enjoying an eco-friendly life with your pets? It’s easy and oh-so-rewarding to lessen your pet’s carbon pawprint. Check out The Zero-Waste Pet to learn more, sign up for challenges, download freebies and so much more!

5 Must-Have Reference Books for Writers and Bloggers

I hoard books.

There. I said it. My name is Maggie, and I’m a book hoarder.

We often joke that we moved into our bigger house a couple years ago because we ran out of space for our books in our old, smaller house. It’s a half-joke.

I love books, no question. Yes, you can get a ton of great information on the internet, but there’s something about thumbing through real paper. This is especially true when it comes to reference material.

Sure. I can google a specific grammar or style question, but it’s just not the same as picking up my well-worn style manual and finding the in-depth reference.

5 Must-Have Reference Books for Writers and Bloggers

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If you feel similarly or are simply into book lists (another thing I hoard!), I compiled my 5 must-have reference books for writers and bloggers:

  1. Top honors: Every writer and blogger needs this slim volume tucked into your desk drawer.
  2. The classic: Worth a read once a year, this accessible guide provides valuable advice to improve your work.
  3. The grammar guide: Equal parts entertaining and informative, this is a must-read for every writer. I regret lending my copy to a coworker several years ago and never getting it back…
  4. The style guide: Every client and publication is different, so it’s likely you need both. If you rely on Google for answers, beware. There’s as much misinformation on blogs as there is truth. The physical book, though? Never wrong. (You can pre-order the 2018 AP Stylebook on Amazon now!)
     
  5. The inspiration: I adore books about writing by writers. I’ve read so many beautiful ones, but the one I just finished has stuck with me. (I also recently enjoyed Stephen King’s.)

I also have a hard copy of this dictionary on my desk. Of all the reference books, I admit this is the most impractical because it’s so much faster and easier to Google specific words. However, is there anything lovelier than opening the dictionary to any page and poring over the tiny type at random? I think not.

I’d love to know what’s on your must-have list! Please share, and happy reading!

What I’m working on…

What I'm Working on via MaggieMarton.com

The past two months have been so exciting around here, you guys. But also crazy. And exhausting. And where is the time going? Balancing working from home full time with a ton of side writing projects with being a full-time mama to Violet–who’s now 10 months old–and the dog and cats… All I can say at this point is that I’m fueled by coffee. I no longer measure my intake in cups, instead choosing the more efficient pots measurement.

As for work, I have two big, huge projects that I’ve been working on to launch this spring:

First up is my next ebook, Zero-Waste Pet. This is a project near and dear to my heart. It’s been a significant undertaking in terms of research, and I’ve loved every minute of it. The topic, living an environmentally-responsible life, is so important to me, and I’m thrilled to integrate pet care into it.

Second, I’m launching a new website. OMG, I’m so stoked. It’s a side project that has sparked some serious fun and creativity. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Beyond those two passion projects, I’m digging into OhMyDogBlog.com with new stories and fresh content relevant to the current season of my life–that is to say, this insane time filled with chaos and joy in equal measure!

I also updated, revised, and relaunched my first ebook, Authentic Blogging! If you haven’t yet had a chance to check it out, please do! It’s a project I’m super proud of!

And, building off that point, it feels a bit odd to share this now, but I’ve gotten to contribute some posts to one of my all-time favorite pet brands, West Paw, starting with a post on turning Thanksgiving leftovers into yummy treats. I know it’s the end of February, so I’m wildly late sharing this and you might not have some spare turkey lying around… but you never know!

Otherwise, I’ve gotten to write some awesome posts for BlogPaws.com, including 10 tips to keep your blog’s content fresh.

I’m so excited for spring and my forthcoming launches!

What have you been working on lately?

Here’s the thing about time…

Time Management and Mindsets

I recently had the opportunity to chat with life coach Arienne Gorlach, and holy smokes. She just drilled right down into the core of what’s been holding me back. I left our session feeling enriched and empowered and inspired to take back my time.

See, here’s the thing about time: You get 168 hours each week. All of us do–even Oprah and Reese Witherspoon and Barack Obama and Beyonce, etc. What we do with those hours is what sets us apart.

My mindset around time–before I spoke with Arienne–was THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH! How can I be a good mom, wife, employee, business owner, and myself with so much to do and so little time in which to do it?!?! I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job at any one thing, but rather halfsies on all.

Clearly, that’s not positive. It’s not productive. It’s not sustainable.

So, from that convo, here’s my new strategy that has been ahhhhhmazing so far, and I wanted to share it with you in case it would help:

  1. How do I want to feel at the end of each day? At the end of each week? This idea came from Arienne and it’s all about determining to-dos not based on some arbitrary task or project list, but rather how you want to feel when you exhaust those 168 hours.
  2. What do I need to do today/this week in order to feel how I want to feel? What specific projects do I need to complete in each role (mom, wife, employee, person) to achieve those feelings? More importantly–for me, anyway–what should I not do?
  3. Track the reality of my time–projected versus actual. Arienne suggested a spreadsheet divided into the 168 hours. I’m a pen-and-paper gal, so I’m just using the left side of my daily agenda. Observe what works and what doesn’t; adjust for tomorrow or next week.

I’m a couple weeks in, and this shift has revolutionized how I spend my time. I hadn’t been to the track at the gym in months, and I’ve been twice a week since! Go, me!

All that said, if you’re looking for someone to talk you through similar issues, I highly recommend hiring Arienne. One conversation with her shifted my entire mindset, and I’m so grateful! And productive!

How to Be a Better Blogger in 3 Simple Steps

Do you want to grow your influence and command bigger marketing campaigns?

That seems to be driving many bloggers these days. Bigger audience = bigger influencer = bigger payday.

Of course, the difficult piece of that equation is the bigger audience one, but it somehow gets overlooked for quick tips and tricks on monetization.

I think that’s a mistake. A big one.

It’s time to go back to the basics.

How to Be a Better Blogger in 3 Simple Steps

As bloggers, the only way–I repeat, the only way–to grow your audience is by creating authentic content consistently.

You can learn every fancy trick in the HTML book, but unless you’re creating quality content that is genuine to you, you’ll never grow an audience of loyal fans. And without them, you won’t build your influencer, and you won’t command those big paychecks.

So, let’s go back to basics, shall we? How do you grow an audience of loyalists? By upping your blogging game!

Here’s how to be a better blogger in 3 simple steps:

  1. Post quality content. Don’t post crappy content. It’s as simple as that. Be thoughtful and purposeful in what you write, and edit ruthlessly. Don’t get sucked into learning every little tip and trick and “hack” on Pinterest. Focus on the work. Focus on the writing and the imagery. Do your best with every single post. If you don’t feel like it’s possible to do your best on every post, you’re probably posting too much. Scale back so you can do your best. Which leads me to…
  2. Post quality content consistently. You know you need to publish your best work. But, you need to be cognizant of your readers’ time and attention. If a post pops every day for two months, then suddenly it’s crickets for a few weeks (or vice versa), you’ll lose readers. Decide how often you can create your very best work, and stick to that schedule.
  3. Be true to you. If a collab feels wrong, it is. If a guest post exchange feels off, it is. If a product doesn’t fit you or your lifestyle–even if it comes with a heft check–you have to pass. As a blogger, YOU are the brand. You’re putting yourself on the line with everything you write, and if you write things that are inauthentic, readers will know and will abandon you. Be true to you in all things. Then you can never fail!

I think many people jump into blogging because it seems or looks easy. We know it’s not. But publishing awesome content consistently and staying true to yourself ensures your long-term success. Stick with those three tips, and you will grow your audience, you will build your influencer, and you will command those big paychecks.

In the meantime, if you want to dig super deep into learning how to be an authentic blogger, check out my ebook, Authentic Blogging. It contains everything you need to harness your authentic voice and grow your audience by leaps and bounds!

How to Land a Guest Blogging Pitch

In my former role as Director of Content for a digital media company, I received countless pitches for guest blogging. I would estimate–conservatively–that for every 15 pitches, one was worth pursuing. And of those, roughly half fall apart because the writer never replies to my response, the writer submits shitty copy that’s unsalvageable, or because the writer misses the deadline.

All the rest of the pitches–14 out of 15 or so–never made it far enough to have the chance to fall apart.

How to land a guest blogging pitch in 3 simple steps

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you know that if you pitch a website, part of being a successful freelancer includes finishing the assignment, doing it well, and turning it in on time. Let’s skip those should-be-obvious points.

Instead, let’s focus on securing the gig in the first place.

Here’s how to land a guest blogging pitch in 3 simple steps:

  1. Learn the publication before you pitch. Seems, I don’t know, logical. But somehow this step gets overlooked far, far too often. Read the website, and not just the single most recent post. Read the About and PR pages. Read the staff bios. What topics does the site cover? Not just generally–a website about dogs–but specifically–a website about training retrievers. When you write your pitch, indicate that you’re familiar with the site by citing specific examples or suggesting the appropriate category or column for your piece.
  2. Find their contributor guidelines. Please don’t just send an email that says something like, “I’d love to contribute this story I thought of for your website. It’ll be a great fit! Do you have any guidelines you’d like me to follow?” You should 100 percent know for a fact that they do or do not have guidelines online. Search the site. Search Google. Check repositories like mediabistro.com. Our site’s guidelines are in a dropdown menu on the top nav bar. What happens when someone emails me to ask if there are guidelines? Delete. Why? It shows that they didn’t follow point one above and don’t know the site, and it also shows that they’re not willing to take the two minutes required to do the research. That makes me think they won’t be a responsible contributor.
  3. Get the editor’s name right. No “Dear Editor” or “Hey, Websitename Team!” Again, it would take a minute or two to click on the team bios page, skim them, and identify me as the editor. Maybe that seems small or petty, but it demonstrates to the editor that you’re willing to take an extra step or two and that you’re a courteous pro!

Nobody’s perfect. Mistakes happen. But, considering how many freelancers are competing for the same few opportunities, it pays to take the time to demonstrate your professionalism. These three tips, when performed together, might just be the thing that gets your pitch greater consideration–rather than quick delete.

Writing and Blogging Aren’t 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.

Writing and blogging are NOT the same thing

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 writers paid so little? And bloggers even less?

Thoughts? Opinions? Arguments? I’d love to hear ’em.