Oh my, how I’ve neglected my blog! It’s the case of the shoe cobbler’s daughter who has no shoes. I actually found myself telling a client the other day that the worst thing one can do is start a blog, and then not post for a few weeks. Please don’t even look to see when my last post was! The truth is, I’ve been blogging like crazy…just for other people. I’ve been writing about everything from local education to Costa Rica to Vermont cheese. It seems that the biggest challenge most bloggers have is keeping their content fresh and robust, and most are blessedly relieved to have someone offer relevant and well-written content.
Here’s a link to a guest post I wrote recently for Active Travels that was also picked up by Everett Potter on Costa Rica: http://www.everettpotter.com/2012/06/active-travels-family-surf-camp-costa-rica/
And for Stowe folks concerned about school consolidation, here’s the blog I’ve been keeping as a member of the Regional Education District committee: http://www.lamoillesouthred.org/REDBlog2.htmlFiled under blogging | Comment (0)
Good writing today is very different than it was in past years. We are expected to be smart, witty and relatable, while spurning out fascinating content on a daily basis. It can be daunting to say the least. While formal, business-like writing has its place (somewhere, I think?) it’s becoming pretty archaic.
One of the most important lessons I learned about writing was delivered to me by my first boss, then chief-of-staff for Senator Leahy. I was asked to research a complex question around Medicare and then draft a response to an elderly constituent back in Vermont. Mustering all of my best college research and writing skills, the letter I drafted was flawless– the subject thoroughly researched, every “t” crossed, every “i” perfectly dotted. My boss called me into his office and started asking me chatty questions about my family back in Vermont. When the conversation started to narrow in on my elderly grandmother, my palms began to sweat. Where was this going? I should not have been surprised by the final question: What would your grandmother think if she received this letter? YIKES! She would barely understand it! She would find it pompous and cold! She would most certainly NOT be singing the Senator’s praises. Slam.
It was a huge challenge to un-learn the formal writing style that I’d been praised for during my education, but I think about this experience quite often. Formal, business-like writing is comfortable and safe. It makes me feel professional and smart. But the truth is, most people just glaze over that kind of writing (including me). And it certainly does not connect author to reader in any meaningful way.
So for all you recovering resarch paper, business report type writers, here are my tips for engaging writing:
1. Always keep your audience first and foremost in your mind.
2. Write so that your audience can understand you. Use familiar language as if you were having a conversation with a good friend.
2. Allow your audience to get to know who you are. This means using your real name and giving up a little personal information. Who are you? What are you about? Don’t be afraid to insert your personality into your writing.
3. Use regular words. Avoid the ridiculously overused “buzzwords” that permeate lackluster writing. I will never use “cutting-edge” or “game changing” again. Promise.
4. Write a concise headline. In today’s world of micro-content, your first 100 characters need to grab the attention of your audience AND convey the crux of your message. Take the time to write a good headline.
5. Keep it short. Make your point, make it well, and wrap it up.
6. Proofread your work. This is one old blast from the past that still is relevant. No matter how clever your writing, you lose credibility with your readers if you make silly typos.
7. Know the boundaries of familiar. I just read a post on the Bad Pitch Blog about a pr person who tracked down an editor’s cell phone number and texted a pitch. The editor was annoyed at this breach of protocol and also found the “cu!” at the end incredibley false, as if they’d been friends since grade school.
8. Blither is not familiar. Emptying out the contents of a running dialogue your having in your head is not the same as being colloquial. Find your point and make it.
9. Read every day. Find sources of inspiration, writing styles you like, blogs that make you smile.
10. Write every day.
Remember, if you’re having fun and enjoying what you do, it will come through in your writing. Don’t labor over every word. Some days it flows, others it doesn’t. Go for a walk next time you hit a wall and you’ll probably find your way through. Happy writing!Filed under blogging, pr | Comment (0)
Delving into the social media world of mommy bloggers sort of feels like going to a really cool party. Sure, I spent way too much time hanging out in the foyer nodding politely while people told me “It’s Friday! “and “I had a bagel for breakfast,” or showing me pictures of their cat. And I almost left the party, but then I found a whole other room full of really interesting, inspiring people with fabulous lives and opinions on everything from products to politics. Everywhere I turn one is recommending that I meet another, and so in just a short time I’ve found a robust community of other moms and professionals that I just can’t get enough of. Here are a few of my favorites who have inspired and motivated me personally and professionally:
- Kristen Chase and Liz Gumbinner, Cool Mom Picks. These ladies have been around for a while and have a great eye for the fabulous, but they’ve also nailed the familiar/funny/friendly writing tone so many of us covet. Plus, you have to give them props for turning motherhood and good taste into a thriving business.
- Amanda Kuhnert, Fourfold Legacy Blog. First of all, her writing is flawless AND insightful. So rare! Second, she has taken her passion for the stories of life and started a business capturing personal histories in audio format. Since the written word seems to be losing ground to audio and video, (Why YouTube Is The Future of The Written Word) she’s clearly onto something.
- Tiffany Washko, Naturemoms Blog. Tiffany reviews natural products, but her philosophy around green living and parenting have given me reason to reflect on more than one occasion. Take a peek at her “Raising Minimalist Children in a Society of Excess” post.
- The Green Mom Review – “Green” can mean so many different things to different people. I love that this site goes beyond surface green and really gets into products that are BPA-free and lists specific chemicals to avoid in foods, toys, cosmetics, and the home. These ladies seem knowledgeable and credible, which can be hard to come by.
- Rhiannon Hull, Eco-Family Blog – Rhiannon lives in California which she thinks is eco-chic, green, and exemplary of how the rest of the US should live. I feel the same way about Vermont! So, we have that in common. She also believes that natural living should be affordable to everyone– hallelujah!
- Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman – I just came across Ree’s site this morning and sat down to read her “10 Important Things I’ve Learned About Blogging” post. #4 says that if you’re a blogger, you need to get out and exercise so your butt doesn’t get jiggly. I pushed back from my desk and went for a run. Anyone who can motivate me to run gets my gratitude. And, her site has gorgeous photography.
There you go…hope you enjoy “meeting” these ladies as much as I have. And, if you come across another amazing mommy blogger I haven’t met yet, please introduce me!Filed under blogging, social media | Comment (0)
Starting a blog was way harder than I thought it was going to be. Getting my jumbled thoughts organized and centered around a common strategic theme was tough! One really useful tool I stumbled across is the “blog mindmap.” It helped me to think about my main focus, and then branch out into related categories from which I could begin to brainstorm actual blog topics. Being able to visually look at my ideas and see how they would interrelate and support different themes was really helpful. Plus, it’s a good gut check to make sure I’m not rambling too far off topic. For all aspiring bloggers, here it is. Hope it helps!blogging | Tags: blogging, mindmap | Comment (0)