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Air Guns How to write a guest blog: Part One

How to write a guest blog: Part One

This report covers:

  • Difficult
  • Taste
  • Clarify
  • Too much!
  • Do not write in a word processor!!!
  • Every reader is different
  • Look over my shoulder
  • Invitation

Reader halfstep asked for a guest blog on how to write a guest blog. That’s right — he wants this to be written by someone other than me who knows how to write guest blogs.

My wife, Edith, and I wrote reports about this topic way back at the beginning of this blog. But our perspective was different from that of a person who was writing a guest blog. We wrote and edited blogs every day, so many things seemed natural to us. This would be the first time a guest blogger has addressed how to write guest blogs — I think. Are you understanding this or have I just muddied the water?

Difficult

Writing for someone else to comprehend is not easy! You don’t know how other people think and how you have to word things to make sense to them. And, when you compound that tens of thousands of times, crossing language and cultural barriers around the world, it becomes a nearly impossible task. Allow me to demonstrate.

Taste

In this case I’m talking about one of the five senses of the human body — sight, hearing, touch smell and taste. That kind of taste. Now — how would describe the taste of chocolate to a person who has never encountered it? What could you say that would make them understand how chocolate tastes?

Clarify

Have I confused you? Don’t spend much time trying to explain the taste of chocolate because I believe it’s an impossible task. But there are similar problems in our world that will arise when you write a guest blog. For example how would you tell a person who has only shot spring-piston airguns what it’s like to shoot a precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle? That one you will run into.

By the way — see what I just did? I wrote out the words “precharged pneumatic” and then put the acronym in parentheses just after that so people will know what a PCP is. From that point on in that written piece the acronym PCP can be used, because anyone can refer back to the full term that has been spelled out to clarify what the acronym means. It sounds simple but these days even newsstand magazines don’t always do it. That happens when an editor doesn’t know his or her job.

Also, when I write an acronym I only write it one way. I don’t write pcp in some places and PCP in other places. What I’m explaining is — I try to either eliminate or at least clarify the jargon because someone who speaks and reads Swahili as their first language will find English jargon difficult to comprehend. This is why I always write out foot pounds and not fp, or worse, fpe (foot-pounds of energy).

Before I move on, let me say that when I refer to airguns that use a spring-driven piston to generate the compressed air that pushes the projectile, I call them spring-piston airguns. I don’t talk about springers or sproingers. Native-born Americans, Canadians and Brits may understand the term sproinger but what about the guy whose first language is Tagalog? Oh — don’t know what Tagalog is? Ask reader Siraniko.

Too much!

“Okay, BB, you’ve convinced me! I will never write a guest blog because I don’t want to think about all that stuff. I just want to tell my story.”

Then tell it. I will edit what you submit. You aren’t alone when you write a guest blog; I’m right there with you.

Build a Custom Airgun

Do not write in a word processor!!!

When you write, use a simple text program. Word processors are killers in my world — especially Microsoft Word. They embed formatting in a document that can’t always be eliminated. That formatting clashes with the WordPress blog software big time! A thousand-word article (most guest blogs run about that long) written in Microsoft Word takes me several extra hours to edit because I first have to strip out all your words and put them into a simple text or rich text document. Documents written in this software often end in .rtf which stands for rich text format.

Sometimes I can’t strip out all the words because your MS Word document has embedded too much formatting. I make the necessary changes for WordPress to accept it and the document keeps reverting back to what was written. It adds bullets and spacing that I can’t clear out. When that happens I have to retype parts of your text into a simple text document. If it gets to be too much for me I will ask you to rewrite your entire guest blog in a simple text document and then you will find out how difficult it is for me. Invariably you will try to cut and paste your MS Word document into simple text and the embedded formatting will overwhelm you! Believe me — there are guest bloggers who have gone through this.

Every reader is different

When you write please bear in mind that all readers will read what you write with different perspectives. This guy just wants to learn how to do something. That guy already knows how to do it and wants to see if you do it a different and possibly better way. The other guy is just waiting for you to challenge him, as in, “Don’t try to resolder a barrel to a Sheridan Blue Streak. Once they start to separate resoldering is next to impossible.” That guy will say, “Oh yeah? Well, let me show you how it’s done!”

The good news is the readers will forgive guest bloggers a lot. So don’t be afraid to say what you really think.

Look over my shoulder

I went to the 2024 SHOT Show with reader 45Bravo this year. Each day after walking the show we went back to our room and he watched me as I put the next day’s report together. I was able to point out the things that really matter and make my job easier. He didn’t catch everything because I work fast when I’m at SHOT. I have to because the blog publishes at 9 p.m. out there, since Vegas is on Pacific Standard Time while the blog publishes on Eastern Standard Time. I hope he will tell you about those things I have overlooked. I’ve asked him to write Part Two of this report, since halfstep did ask for a guest blog on how to write a guest blog. And I’m happy to report that he has already consented.

Invitation

If you want to write a guest blog contact me first at blogger@pyramydair.com and I can save you a lot of time. I will send you the specifications for the photos, plus basic formatting instructions about how to lay out your story.

I respond to any blog reader who wants to write a guest blog, but know this — I get a LOT of inquires from little websites that see the footprint of this blog on the internet and want to be part of it. From their inquires I can tell they know nothing about what we do here — they just want exposure. Believe me — I have protected you from these people who only want to publish their commercials on this blog. In 21 years of doing this only one company got past me and I turned what they sent into a useful report.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

32 thoughts on “How to write a guest blog: Part One”

  1. B.B.

    I agree 100%! I went to a college where the nerds to make whole paragraphs out of acronyms.
    “how many licks does it take to get the the middle of a Tootsie Pop?”. lol.

    -Y

    • BB,

      Thanks for responding so quickly to my suggestion and thanks to 45Bravo in advance.

      I never actually learned, per say, that you could use terms or long names of things and organizations followed by the acronym and then just use that throughout the rest of the piece, but I noticed it being done over and over, reliably, in newspapers and magazines all my life and assumed that it was an accepted convention.

      As an apprentice I had to take a college English class on expository writing to teach me all the various patterns that were available in writing to express my ideas or explain processes to other people. In my case it was to be an exchange of ideas between an engineer and me, the maintenance guy he was depending on to carry out his idea, and vice versa. Up to then, any writing training that I got was in High School and was aimed more at creative writing. I learned on my first college paper that that sort of writing would get you an “F”, post haste! LOL

      To your point about knowing your audience, when I was selected to start teaching Hydraulics to the 400 or so other maintenance journeymen in my plant, I first had to take “Train the Trainer” classes to learn exactly how different people’s previous skill level, literacy, method of absorbing knowledge (some have to see, some have to do, some can just hear, some require all) needed to be addressed and how challenging that was going to be. We were taught that if you explain something to someone who doesn’t get it, explaining it again, only louder, isn’t going to help (that really stuck in my head). Your have to have more than one angle of attack ready. We had an exercise where two of us would sit back to back and one would try to tell the other how to draw a geometric line drawing that he was looking at. You would be absolutely certain that the guy you were paired with would have a perfect reproduction of what you were looking at, because you gave such expert instruction, right, only to discover that he had drawn yet another bowl of spaghetti. It was hilarious and eye opening. So kudos to you for writing with such skill because I probably have a better than average understanding of what it takes and recognize excellence when I see it.

      Back to the blog. I have one question for you.(for now) Does Microsoft Notepad generate simple text documents?

      BTW, I tested my G6 as we discussed and I left a comment in the G9 Part 5 entry.

      • Half,

        For the Microsoft Notepad you will have to look that up online. Just look for programs that can generate .rtf files.

        BB

      • Half,

        Your “Train the Trainer” paragraph hits it right on!

        I’ve found that when dealing directly with a student they have an opportunity to as questions and even if they don’t you can usually see if they are making the right connections. I started my classes with a 10 minute, 10 question, quiz to see if important points were understood.

        Writing a guest blog (and especially a Do-It-Yourself (DYI) blog) adds an order of magnitude to the challenge of conveying the information as there is no interactive “feed back”. Fun stuff!

        I “proof” my guest blogs by having a non-shooter (usually my wife) read the text. If she understands the blog then I’m good to go, if not I make sure to clarify as required.

        Looking forward to reading your blog!

        Hank

  2. Half step, I can’t answer that, but Tom just did.

    But after my first blog attempt using a Microsoft product Tom told me of the issues he had so I have stayed away from it since.

    I write the guest blogs and the other content I have written for Pyramyd AIR using Google Docs.
    With no extra formatting.
    No bullet points.
    Nothing extra.
    Just Times New Roman font, at a legible size.

    I use the same blank template as the basis for every guest blog so I don’t introduce any formatting by accident.

    The one time I tried bullet points, BB spent hours working on that guest blog to make it work, and some of the formatting was still in the final document.

    I then export the document out of Google Docs as a .rtf file.

    My day job is being a Computer Security Specialist for Uhaul.
    My certifications are all in Microsoft, but I use Apple products as my “daily drivers” at home.

    Another reason I use Google Docs i that it is cross platform compatible, and the document is stored online and is synced to all of the devices I use.
    Be it Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Chrome OS. (Windows, Apple computers, Apple mobile devices, or Google devices).

    I can start my article on my IMac desktop, (an old 2012 model), then add to it at a later time using my M1 MacBook Air (a gift from my daughter).

    When I think of something I want to add that’s important I can add a quick blurb to remind me, into the Google document with my phone.

    I write most of the content using a Chromebook.
    They are inexpensive, lightweight, and most of them are passively cooled.
    So the battery life is extremely long, as there are no cooling fans to spin.

    Also, the Chromebook keyboard fits me. My MacBook Air keyboard is just slightly different sized, and I have to retype a lot as my fingers hit the wrong keys when I am really putting words on the page.

    I have to stop, I just wrote half of the guest blog in this response…

    Ian..

  3. BB,
    Thank you for the invitation. I dream of writing a guest blog to share some aspect of air gunning that is important to me. I have learned an immeasurable amount of good information in this blog, from you and from guest bloggers who are drawn to speak to the readers who share their passion in being an air gunner. Someday…
    One small thing that I consider valuable enough to speak about right now is the use of a remote switch for your target lamp. If you shoot indoors and have a clamp light (sometimes they’re called studio lamps) focused on your target, why not have a remote light switch right at your shooting station? I enjoy the convenience, it’s like magic!
    Regards,
    Will

    • It really helps to have the target area brightly lit compared to where you are sitting. And sometimes the lights are just not positioned well to really light up the target. When I set up my basement range, the light in front of the target caused a lot of glare. So I got a couple of clamp on flood lamps and then put the overhead ight on a pull string switch. When I shoot, the flood lamps go on and the overhead goes off, no shadows, no glare. If I could wire all that back to a switch or two by the shooting bench, it would be great! +1, Will. Great suggestion.

  4. You all have confirmed why FM is no fan of Billy Gates and pretty much all things Microsoft; on his blogging days a long time ago, he used Blogger to construct his stories. Google Docs work well. By the way, to Tom’s point, writing a good blog and maintaining it is a LOT of work. FM appreciates what Tom and the guest bloggers bring to us on an almost daily basis and hope this will continue for many years to come.

    • FW,

      The Microsoft-Apple duopoly is creepy. I have two sons who work in high tech and oh the stories they tell. I am going to replace my current laptop with a Linux device. Linux has greatly matured as an OS and is more than adequate for my simple needs.

      MiTurn

  5. Half,

    Just do it. I have found that over the years BB is most patient with us. If he needs to massage the garbage we put out it may take some him some time and depending on just how busy he is it may be a while before you see it in print here, but eventually it happens.

    Over the years, BB seems to have less to fuss about with my guest blog attempts. I think I am still having some trouble with photos, though he has not complained too much about them. Do use the .rtf format, it will keep the fussing down.

    I do tend to use a lot of slang and made-up words which confuse some of the readers here. I do often explain the meaning, but sometimes I do not do such while writing and have to go back and explain myself in the comments. I really do not mind doing such and as I am attempting to live the life of leisure, I usually have the time.

    My usage of such words is part of my heritage as an Appalachian-American (hillbilly) and I enjoy watching Gunsmoke reruns so as to listen to Festus explain things. Once in a while I like to throw in a word or two that is a real word but is usually multi-syllable and obscure in today’s usage.

    How BB finds the time to do all of this is remarkable. I attempt to pass on some of the little tidbits I may pick up along the way, but he does this day in and day out, plus keeps folks like me in line. When does he find time for himself?

  6. Guest posts are one of the great attractions of this blog. As I’ve stated too many times already, I learn as much from the commenters as I do from BB. While this is also true at other blogs I read, rarely (if ever) does one of these capable commenters get the opportunity to share what they know. We can’t all be experts in all things, but we can be experts in somethings. And so I think BB is showing some savviness by tapping his readers as a resource for blogs.

    Bully!

    MiTurn

  7. BB, was that milk chocolate or dark chocolate? 😉

    For writing guest blogs I’ve copy/pasted one of your blogs into MS Word and turned it into a template that I use to get the formatting and fonts correct. I also make a point of not using and fancy stuff stuff like bulleted lists.

    I work in MS Word out of habit/preference and do a “save as” in .RTF format for the final draft to send to you.

    Are you seeing any residual formatting in my files?

    I want to be sure that my files are as “publish ready” as possible for you.

    Thanks!
    Hank

      • BB, et al

        Could someone give some examples of what you mean by “embedded formatting”? I have only recently learned how to hunt and peck on a computer keyboard and have never used a word processor. Not very long ago, I didn’t even know what the “TAB” key was for or when to use “BACKSPACE” and when “DELETE” was the appropriate fix for one of my many misstrikes on the keyboard. So don’t be afraid to really dumb it down. I require it.

        Half

        • Half,

          If you typed something and there was a bullet in front of it, or a number and if you hit the return key and the next number popped up automatically that would be embedded formatting. I recently had a guest blog where the writer put bullets in the list of topics at the top and it took me four hours to remove all of them because they kept coming back.

          You see, WordPress puts those bullets in automatically when I tell it that is a list. With the embedded bullets I got two * *.

          BB

          • BB

            OK that helps. Would setting column width and spacing, margin sizes, right justifying or centering a list be other examples of formatting? I sort of know what those mean, but don’t know how to do them in a text program and, conversely, I also don’t know how to avoid them, if they happen automatically and are problematic in WordPress.

            Maybe someone else will explain in a future blog. I’m in no hurry for the answer.

            Half

            • Half,

              Yes, those are all examples of formatting. Just don’t write in a word processor. I am the one who does them, not you. You just write your story.

              BB

  8. It’s been quite some time since I last did a guest blog (perhaps it was on embedding the action in a stock using someone’s epoxy kit?). But whether I was using Jobs or Gates (Apple or MS), I always did a “save as” and picked rich text format (.RTF). The choice was available in Apple, MS Word and Openoffice (which I use now exclusively). As Vana2 and 45Bravo have commented and BB confirms, that seems to be the easiest for Tom to work with.

    Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now in GA waiting for the tornado warnings to pass

    • I hear ya, Fred,

      Ya shoulda been here for the big ones that tore through the South in April 1974!!

      Get many twisters in the Old Peeple’s Republik?

      • While
        i was there for some 46 years, one near me. And there was an argument going on as to whether it was a microburst or had reached tornado status.

        fred

  9. BB: Got to thinking about this blog piece. You are absolutely right about those pesky document issues. For our Rail-Trail organization, my now deceased friend and former organizational secretary, would have to strip out the formating and get it under his control as secretary. I wonder if it would be helpful to have the body of an Email as the “text”? You could likely highlight and copy the body and maybe end run the format foibles?

    One thing I do suggest is that a summary of blog submission guidelines might be a useful thing to have appended to the PA Blog tab when it opens? Length, how to handle pictures or graphics (if any), form to use to submit, minimum identifying personal data, rules on quoted material (source citation?), and whatever other rules/suggestions might be beneficial for consumer-submissions? I remember such basic instructions from undergraduate days when Miami University profs required compliance with the APA Guidelines (American Psychiatric Association) on paper submissions. Might not need THAT level of precision, but some guidelines would likely be helpful in more simple form?

  10. Hello all,
    Does any one have experience with purchasing items at American Airguns Classifieds from seller Carel? His email there is i.cube.i

    Thanks

    • I will second dealing with Carel.

      Everything I have bought from him and people I know that have bought from him has been pleased with their purchases.

      That site has had many people post things trying to scam people.

      But like this blog, there is a core group of about 20 people that are on there every day.

      They work as a group to that keep that in check, and flag the scammers and remove them as they pop up.

      Ian

  11. B.B.,

    This subject for how to write a guest blog is as good as a topic gets! I very much enjoyed writing the five or so guest blogs I did, and your advice is quite helpful.

    My advice to anyone who is considering writing a guest blog is to simply jump in! Start writing with the mindset that you are simply talking to someone who also reads the blog, and keep going until you have more than enough writing. Then reread it and see what should be cut or altered.

    And don’t feel what you write has to be brilliant. Obviously, being not brilliant never stopped me!

    Above all, have fun with it.

    Michael

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