Elizabeth Doyle reports:
"Here are some general guidelines for writing blurbs to go with your adoptables’ photos...Before you write anything, stop and think about your goal. You have to want this animal to find a home. You have to feel that want. Don’t let any secondary thoughts interfere right now. Think 'I’m her greatest hope for a home in this moment. I’m going to make it happen.'...Write a show-stopping first sentence. Something that will make people stop and look at this animal. Do not write this sentence: Joey is a 5 y.o. neutered male Shep/Pittie/Lab mix w/white markings, up-to-date on shots. That’s all useful information that you can share once you have readers’ attention — and more important[ly], their hearts. But first you have to grab their hearts. How to do that? Look into the animal’s eyes and say something true about him — something about who he is, not what he is. Perhaps something that describes his need. If you’re working only with a photo, look into his eyes in the photo...Once you’ve grabbed readers’ attention, and made them take a look at the dog behind the name, age, breed and stats, then you can share factual information. But how you phrase that information is important...List the positives first. Don’t say first that he hates cats. Say first that he loves other dogs! Sometimes, on a shelter’s behavior evaluation, it will not even list the positives; it will just have the 'cannots' and 'must haves.' So you have to read between the lines. If the behavior section is blank, that must mean that she’s an extremely well-behaved pet. Confirm that this is the case, and then put that information near the top. Before you mention that she has arthritis...Spend as much time on the positives as the negatives. Or even more. Ask more questions about the positives. Often, a dog’s shelter or caregiver will give us a book-length explanation of a bad behavior to make sure we fully understand, but unless we ask, we don’t know nearly as much about the good behaviors...At the end, urge readers to take the next step. At the bottom of the blurb, remind them how much you want them to call, email you or approach the shelter desk. Near the end of the blurb is also where many people mention absolute requirements for adopting a particular animal, such as 'The yard must have a six-foot fence' or 'She must be the only pet.' When writing about a restriction or requirement, try to sound warm and encouraging toward the reader. The greatest danger when talking about restrictions is that while trying to ward off the unqualified applicant, you might scare away the qualified one by sounding unfriendly. It’s not wrong to say what the requirements are, but you want to avoid making it sound like you don’t want people to call. And that can affect the reader’s split-second decision about whether to pick up the phone, send an email or approach the shelter’s front desk...Finally, carefully reread the whole profile. Ask yourself, 'Would this make ME call?' If the answer is 'Well …,' then that’s not good enough. Go back over it — with your heart."
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