Blogging Sample: Gift News Daily

Robin Catalano freelance blogger writer blog post Gift News Daily


The makers of Synqware, who create software that helps vendors and gift retailers nationwide integrate and connect with one another, came to me with an idea. They wanted to create a blog, Gift News Daily, that would be the “HuffPost for the gift industry,” where retailers could read about trends in the industry, as well as discover great indie designers they might not otherwise hear about. I worked with the founder of Synqware to develop a casual yet informative blog that helps retailers feel in the know and helps vendors and makers feel that their contributions to the gift world are valuable and noteworthy.

Fun note: After this post and a second post on Amanda Jones ran on the Fresh American Style blog, Jones’s book went viral, with appearances on no fewer than a dozen websites and blogs, including BuzzFeed, Mashable, and Bored Panda.

Read more samples of my blogging here.



Amanda Jones: Gifts for Dog Lovers


For portrait photographer Amanda Jones, the best subjects aren’t tall, leggy, and doe-eyed, but rather short, hairy, toothy, and, well, a bit drooly. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in cinema and photography and a dream of working for Rolling Stone, Jones realized that being the next Annie Leibovitz-style celebrity photographer required a schmooze-savviness she didn’t possess. Around the same time, a friend had brought home a Labrador retriever puppy, and Jones started photographing her. She found her subject a whole lot lower-maintenance than celebrities—and more interesting. Two decades and thousands of dog photos later, she says, “I love that each [dog] is different in their look and their personality. I love that they have different hair and are different sizes, that they have different energy levels. I see something new in every dog.”

Today Jones is a sought-after pet portraitist known for an approach that captures remarkably soulful photos of everyday dogs, cats, and even horses. Her just-released, fifth book Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then & Now (Chronicle Books, about $12), a look at 30 dogs in both their youth and golden years, is at times funny, sometimes touching, and always beautiful. Jones, who travels the country regularly for pet photo shoots, explains, “I kept coming across clients whose dogs were now much older but still alive and still full of personality. That encouraged me to look back and find more, to really explore this idea of how aging does—and doesn’t—change the dog.” The rich black-and-white photography is complemented by descriptions of the dogs, pulled from Jones’s interviews with the owners, which give the book depth and dimension not often found in pet coffee-table books.

Through her offshoot company, The Dog Studio, Jones, who lives and works in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, also creates lighthearted greeting cards, stationery, jewelry, and canvas wall prints. With more than 52 dog breeds to choose from, and prices that range from $4 to $95, any dog fan will find something to love and laugh at.

This fall, Jones will embark on yet another photography tour, and will include extra stops for signings of Dog Years. She’s looking forward to reconnecting with even more past clients, and finding a whole new group of four-footed friends who might just wind up being the subject of her next book, notecard set, and more.

Learn more about Amanda Jones’s work, books, and products on her website.

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