Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pet Blogger Challenge 2015

It's time for the Go Pet Friendly 5th annual Pet Blogger Challenge. I've never participated before, but after doing a recap of our 2014 events yesterday, it seemed like as good a time as any to reflect on the blog in general.

  • How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about. I started blogging in July 2012, mostly as a way to track training goals as I worked with my border collie mix Barley. Since then, the blog has become not just about training but also about hiking and fitness goals with a little bit mixed in about my handsome cat, Soth.


  • Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud. Jodi over at Heart Like a Dog put together the Caring for Critters round robin and I participated with three posts: one on FLUTD, one on Lyme Disease, and one on Xylitol poisoning. I'm really proud of my participating in this because hopefully they helped warn people about the dangers of sugar-free gum and let people with pets struggling with things like FLUTD know they're not alone.
  • What lessons have you learned this year--from other blogs, or through your own experience--that could help us all with our own blogs? I like going to smaller concerts--people like Sara Bareilles or the Avett Brothers--partially because those artists always seem really connected to their audience; they share personal stories, that they probably share at every single concert, but in the moment it feels like they're sharing a secret with their closest friends. I've found that the blogs I most enjoy reading are the ones that form a personal connection with their readers, too, the blogs where the authors respond to comments and occasionally comment on my blogs. I know that if I comment on one of Emma's posts, she's going to respond. If I write about the challenges of living with a herding dog with nothing to herd, Sage and her mom are going to offer support just like Mr. N's mom will when I lament about the challenges of having an active dog when the weather won't cooperate. I think the most important lesson I've learned is that if you want readers to keep coming back, you need to let them know they matter to you.
  • What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content? I've found that finding a community of people with similar interests is the best way to bring traffic to my blog. The FitDog Friday community has been a great way to see the country through other bloggers' accounts of their hiking adventures and learn about different training techniques as well as a great opportunity to share my own experiences with adventuring with my dog.

  • What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular? "Doggin' the Berkshires, Part 2" was my most popular post written this year. I was a little surprised just because it had many more page views than any of my other posts and I didn't think it was necessarily more interesting or exciting than any of the others.


  • What was your favorite blog post to write this year? It's a toss up between "My Dog is My Wingman (Just Not a Very Good One)" and "Celebrations". The first one was just really fun to write and it was a break from our usual content of how many miles we've walked to recount some of the awkward situations that Barley and I find ourselves in. The second one was fun because we'd met our 1,000-mile goal and it felt great to share that accomplishment with everyone who had been cheering us on for the last 12 months.
  • Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year? If you don't do reviews, is this something you'd like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way? I don't really do reviews. Occasionally, if I find a product I really love (like our Cody's Creations treat pouch), I'll share information with my readers, but I haven't ever been asked to do an official review of a product. I'm not opposed to doing official reviews, but once I get into paper-grading mode at work, it's hard to find the time to write a blog post much less do the networking and make connections to get products to review. 
  • What's your best piece of advice for other bloggers? I think it's important to do what's best for you/your blog. What makes reading blogs fun is to get different voices and perspectives. If you try to make your blog more like someone else's, you tend to lose yourself and what makes your blog unique, so it's important to do what works for you, whether that's setting a schedule for blogging or posting when the mood strikes (or time permits) or whether it's being a little wordy (guilty) or using a lot of pictures.


  • What goals do you have for your blog in 2015? I'd like to come up with some new topics to write about. Some times it feels like every week is more of the same--an update on our mileage and not much more, especially this time of year when the weather keeps us out of the parks. I'm hoping to beat the writer's block and find some other topics to mix it up. I'm also considering mixing up the layout of the blog a little bit--it really hasn't changed since I started the blog, so it might be time for a little revamping.
  • If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you're having with your blog, what would it be? I'm not sure I'm having any specific challenges right now, but I'm always open to feedback for making the blog better.



23 comments:

  1. Great answers! I like your advice best....in a world of A LOT of pet blogs, I think it's important to be unique, and true to ourselves. My favorite blogs are the ones that share their pets' lives with us....we get to enjoy the differences and the things we have in common as well.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like those blogs, too! It's always nice to know that I'm not the only one being driven batty by a dog that's trapped inside with the cold or it makes me thankful that Barley hasn't discovered some of the mischief other dogs have :)

      Delete
  2. Nice answers. I would say you are moving in the right direction writing what you like. It can be hard to find a subject to branch out though. Look around your life more closely, and something will pop up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finding new subjects is usually a little easier in the spring/summer/fall when we can get out into the world a little more. Right now, our world is limited to about 1 street and it makes it hard to find fresh ideas, but thank you for the encouragement--I'll keep looking!

      Delete
  3. I love your blog!! Great post! Barley and Soth are so cute!! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love yours, too! Your girls always looks so happy no matter what they're doing!

      Delete
  4. I definitely agree with opening up and connecting with your audience. It seems like the most personal stories we write always get the biggest response.

    We love exploring parks with our dogs. This is my first visit to your blog and I am excited to come back and read more of your hiking series!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found us! We have a lot of fun going on hiking adventures--I highly recommend Doug Gelbert's Doggin' America guide books if there's one for an area you live in or are visiting. We've found so many great trails because of them! I'm looking forward to visiting your blog, too!

      Delete
  5. Congrats on doing some great networking and making 1000 miles. Wow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! We probably wouldn't have been successful if we wouldn't have had so many great people supporting us as we logged our miles every Friday!

      Delete
  6. I really liked your analogy of blogging to music performers in smaller venues. It's really helpful as I have a tendency to feel bad that after five years I don't have the views of some other blogs.

    But I am thrilled that with my small audience, we really connect. I get emails from readers. I have a lot of readers who are not also bloggers. And I rarely have commenters who just leave one line comments.

    So I'll just tell myself I'm more Sara Bareilles and less Lady Gaga and learn to be happy.

    Thanks, I really needed that today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! I'm pretty sure I'm more Sara Bareilles and less Lady Gaga in all aspects of life--although Barley might be even better at heeling if I wore a meat dress! It is really nice fun connecting with such great people, isn't it?

      Delete
  7. I love the kitty picture with the feeties! Thanks for the reminder about FitDog Friday. I used to participate all of the time but have needed to reserve my efforts to just keeping my blog afloat while in school. I graduate in Spring and hope to start branching out again. FitDog Friday has been one of my favorite hops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one of my favorite pictures of my kitty boy! I understand the struggles of blogging and school--I teach, so once papers start rolling in, sometimes FitDog Friday is the one day I can find to carve out a little time for the blog and then I feel guilty when it takes a few days to respond to people! Hope to see posts from you on Fridays soon--good luck with the impending graduation!

      Delete
  8. What sweet pictures. :-) New follower here--found you on the Pet Blogger Challenge. I look forward to getting to know you and your blog better in 2015. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm looking forward to visiting your blog more often, too!

      Delete
  9. Very nice post and wonderful pictures! What beautiful babies you have! This is my first visit to your site, but I'll definitely be back! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! They probably get tired of the camera being in their faces all the time, but they do so many weird (and sometimes cute things) that they're turning into regular little models.

      Delete
  10. Using your own voice is an important tip it's what makes each of our blogs unique. I like to tell stories that relate to the main point of any of my blog posts and I'm working on my photography (not successfully)

    If I'm ever having trouble with new topics I usually do one of two things. Enroll my dog in a class like K9 Nosework, Agility, or Obedience. The second thing I do is make a trip to the book store and flip through magazines and books while sipping on a cup of coffee. Both of those two things get my creative juices flowing.

    Good luck with your blog in 2015!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tips! We're always enrolled in agility, but we keep our fingers crossed that nothing "blog-worthy" happens in class because we've worked so hard to get Barley to not wear her crazy pants to class ;)

      Delete
  11. Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge, Beth! I loved reading your answers and had to jump over to check out that treat bag for myself - I'm always on the lookout for another really good one! It's always great to meet another blogger and dog lover who gets out hiking and enjoying the outdoors with her dog. Barley looks like quite the character, and I'm sure you'll have lots of fun in 2015. Good luck with the redesign - you may find that changing the scenery (so to speak) also gets your creative juices flowing and helps beat the writer's block!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE our Cody's Creation treat pouch. The zipper pocket is big enough for my car key, license, and a couple extra bags if we want to just run up to the park for a quick walk without our full backpack and the magnetic clip on the treat part keeps treats from flying out when we're running around in agility class :) Barley is definitely a character--apparently she read that I was running out of ideas and she's been getting into all kinds of situations to give me ideas! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  12. perfect stories. can you please share it with us some more truths Adopt a dog

    ReplyDelete