What I’m Working On…

What I'm Working on via MaggieMarton.com

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?

Here’s what I’ve been working on

What I'm Working on via MaggieMarton.com

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!

5 Ways to Feel Crazy Productive Every Single Day

Do note that this piece isn’t called “5 ways to be crazy productive.”

This list of five wins will help you feel crazy productive every single day. And who doesn’t want to feel like they’re getting it all done?

5 Ways to Feel Crazy Productive Every Single Day

5 easy, simple, can’t-miss ways to feel crazy productive:

  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!)

What about you? How do you set yourself up to feel good about your accomplishments each day? 

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 other blogs! 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?

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?

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!

Does a work/life balance really exist?

Recently, I was combing through the January 2014 issue of Real Simple. I love this magazine. It feeds my obsession with cleanliness and organization.

Anyway, there was a piece about balance (I didn’t save the mag, so I’m sorry I can’t cite the author). Several contributors gave their definition of balance.

My overwhelming takeaway?

Balance means something different to everyone, and the important thing is to figure out your definition and aim for that. And – gasp! – it doesn’t necessarily mean putting in the exact same amount of effort with your kids as you do at work while maintaining a well-stocked, alphabetized pantry and a closet full of perfectly-tailored clothes.

I don’t know my definition yet – it has something to do with feeling professionally fulfilled while having plenty of time to walk and train with my dogs and hang out with friends and family – but I’m working on it.

So, does a work/life balance really exist?

Yep.

You just have to figure out what it is for you then work toward that.

Review: Stiletto Network by Pamela Ryckman

Disclaimer: The fabulous folks at FSB Associates sent me a review copy of this book, but don’t worry! I’d never review a book I didn’t actually like. This one really did strike a cord with me.

Stiletto-Network_Footer

I’ll admit: When I first cracked the spine of Stiletto Network I had pretty low expectations. I’ve read many business books targeted to women, and I’ve been woefully disappointed in many of them. Why? Because the advice usually centers on the idea that to “fit in” or to “excel” you need to present a specially-tailored version of you that doesn’t paint you as emotional/mom/wife/feminist/etc. Now, I’m not one for tears in the workplace, but I am a firm believe in authenticity. It’s more important to be you than to pretend to be someone you think your office might like better than the real you. How can you be effective at work if that much brain power is being channeled into creating a persona? Plus, many of those women-centric books focus on the importance of competition: out-competing your peers (men and women alike) to prove over and over that you are the best. I’m all for doing and being your best, but… at the expense of relationships? I don’t think so.

Anyway…

This book doesn’t do that. What it does, instead, is focus on the importance of friendship among women – and, in many cases, how those friendships lead to greater success in the workplace. How much more authentic can it get? 

Throughout the book, Ryckman shares interviews with successful women who belong to these networks. The interviews are the most valuable part of this book, in my opinion, because you get an in-the-trenches view combined with a heavy dose of I-can-do-that inspiration.

And this is important stuff across industries. As Ryckman reports, “According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, 8 million U.S. businesses are majority owned by women…. The number of women-owned businesses is growing twice as fast as the number of total businesses.”

It’s funny because at the same time that I received this book, I learned about a networking group specific to women in the pet industry. I filed it away in the back of my mind thinking that maybe I’d look into it… someday. But having read this book, I’m feeling more inspired to track down information about that organization or – gasp! – get together a small group of women to create a new Stiletto Network.

When women work together, we truly can accomplish anything. I love that this book isn’t a battle cry for women to soldier up, but rather to leverage one of our core strengths – relationships – to help each other succeed.

Add a little passion into your work day

I knew I wanted to be a writer in elementary school. Well, a writer or a paleontologist.

Had I been a paleontologist, my office would’ve looked like this.

I know how lucky I am that I get to do what I love every single day. Even though I love my job, I don’t love all of my projects. Sometimes, the work can become tedious, and I often feel uninspired. The way I’ve learned to stay motivated, though, is to add a little of my loves to every work day. In other words, I craft my time around my passions.

For instance, I’m obsessed with my dogs. I love the little buggers, so I launched a dog blog as a fun side project. Then I landed a guest post with a popular dog magazine and assignments from animal publications like Petside.com.

I’m also passionate about living an eco-conscious lifestyle, so I’ve tried to target publications that share my beliefs. Bonus: I landed a gig as the pet expert for an eco-friendly website!

Even though none of those are make-me-rich projects, they’re soul enriching. Cheesy? Maybe. But it’s true.

How can you infuse your passion into your work? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If your passion is totally unrelated to your day job – you love knitting sweaters for turtles but you work as a corporate accountant – launch a blog and use your lunch hour to write posts.
  • Find an interest-specific activity on Meetup.com or join a forum.
  • Create a Facebook page that revolves around your passion. Not only will you meet like-minded people, you’ll also discover tons of sites and resources that you were probably too busy to locate on your own.

If all else fails, use a picture of the cutest turtle wearing your chicest sweater as your screen saver. Everyone needs a little passion in their work day, no matter how you weave it into your routine!

Image: Kurt Thomas Hunt