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?
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?
A couple weeks ago, I had the honor of being a guest on the Pit Bulletin Legal Network’s weekly radio show. It’s a show I never miss, so I was thrilled to be a part.
If you have some time – and you want to hear me chat with the show’s fabulous hosts about all things dog – listen here.
I’m not one for resolutions.
It seems counterproductive to create resolutions that are so easy to break. Instead, I focus on goals. With a busy year ahead, I spent the last week putting my goals down on paper and making my 2012 plan binder. In it, I list all my goals along with their deadlines, action steps, and any data required to complete the goal.
I have tabs for my freelance work, my dog blog, the two writing courses I teach face-to-face, the business writing e-course that will launch in the fall, training plans for all three of my dogs, and personal goals.
But I know exactly what I want to accomplish this year – and, most importantly, how to accomplish it all.
With my plan binder next to my laptop, I’m excited and ready for a year filled with exciting writing projects, teaching, blogging, and so much more! How about you? Ready for 2012?
It happens. We all get stuck. It doesn’t matter the task, either. You could be painting scenery for your child’s class play, arranging columns and rows in your department’s budget spreadsheet, or writing the next great American novel.
It happens to me once a week. I’m plowing through client projects, updating social media campaigns, crossing tasks off my to-do list. Then suddenly I realize I’ve been watching bees buzz around the flowerbed outside my window for the last 20 minutes.
How do you know you’re in a rut? It’s hard to maintain focus. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s hard to keep your butt in your chair. It’s easy to find lots of other things to do (“That’s right! I’ve been meaning to rotate my mattresses!”) that have nothing to do with work.
Okay, so you’re in a rut. Now what?
- Allow yourself to set the project aside. Even if you’re on deadline. Even if your kids will be home from school soon. You’re not getting anything done staring at it. So allow yourself to put it down. I can’t tell you how often I used to force myself to work (“You WILL sit here and write this copy!”) even though I wasn’t actually getting any work down. Put it down. Walk away.
- Stroll around the block. Don’t think about your project. Focus on the sights and sounds of your neighborhood. Somewhere in the back of your mind, when you’re moving instead of thinking, your mind is working on a solution to whatever got you stuck in the first place.
- Snooze. Set your alarm for 30 minutes to recharge. If you wake up and still can’t focus, pull those covers back over your head.
- Call that family member who loves to talk. You need to call your mom/uncle/grandma/sister anyway, so do it while you’re already prepared to procrastinate. Bonus: If your mind starts to wander, you may just hit on the next big idea to propel your project forward!
- Visit Cute Things Falling Asleep.
- Do the opposite of what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to paint, pick up a crossword puzzle. If you’re trying to write, pay some bills. Exercise a different part of your brain to give your worn-out side a much-needed break.
- Tap into your inner child: blow bubbles, color with crayons, cartwheel across your backyard, braid your hair, ride bikes.
- That kid from high school you were jealous of/in love with/afraid of? I bet that kid has a Facebook page. You have permission to scroll through all 652 of his/her pictures.
- Write a love letter to your significant other or your cat or yourself.
- Eat a snack full of protein (or chocolate).
And if none of those work? Take the rest of the day off! You need a break!
Now that I work for myself, I can arrange my schedule to be flexible. While most days I’m tethered to my desk from 8 am until sometimes very late, I love the ability to work in some time to give back.
Writing, editing, proofreading, research… All the tasks I do are services that a lot of nonprofit organizations neglect because they’re so busy running their business! It’s really important to be to find ways to give, though financial giving isn’t always the best – or most needed – form of giving. Instead, I’m taking on a handful of service-related tasks, like writing press releases for my local Habitat for Humanity. I like that I can donate my skills to help a stretched-too-thin organization thrive.
How can you find ways to contribute your skills or talents to an organization that needs help?