Saturday, January 6, 2018

8th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge


It's that time of year again. The time to reflect on last year and set goals for 2018. The time to link up with all of the other great blogs participating in the annual Go Pet Friendly Pet Blogger Challenge blog hop. Amy at Go Pet Friendly posts a list of questions--including some submitted by other bloggers--and then bloggers answer those questions and link up their posts to the Blog Hop. One of the best parts of this challenge for me is realizing that we're all facing the same issues and we can learn from each other to grow and improve our blogs.

1. For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic? 

I wrote my first blog post "A Poor Orphan Dog Named Maria" on July 16, 2012. Barley and I were about a year into our formal training and were working on therapy dog training. My sister had started a blog to keep track of her half marathon training, so I copied her. The blog focuses on a literal and metaphorical travels as we check out different trails and breweries as well as tackle different training journeys. Most simply, though, the main focus of the blog is my life with this girl with regularly appearances from her little sister and cat brother.

One of the highlights of 2017--earning our Level 1 C-WAGS scent title.

2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2017? 
I don't know if I have a proudest moment, but probably one of the most surreal was when our blog post on Northeast Ohio Rocks went "viral" in the Ohio rock painting community and Barley and I got asked to be part of a story on CBS This Morning and Barley got to make her television debut.

3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)
I loved the post on the Northeast Ohio Rocks that I linked to above because it provided some answers to questions we'd had (and our Instagram followers had) for months and it was just a really fun story to learn. It's hard to choose a favorite, though. It's hard to beat "Barley and Rye: Play" the post where I revealed to everyone that Barley--my reactive girl--had accepted her new little sister Rye. I'd spent two months worrying that I wouldn't really be able to keep Rye and then Barley initiated play and I knew we'd be ok. I also loved our Positive Pet Training post on a training mentor where I got to pay tribute to Barley's first trainer who really changed our lives. Most recently, though, writing about the results of Soth's cystotmy was one of my favorites because we finally had answers and healing after 6 years of struggling and being able to share that with everyone who has supported us during those years was such a joy.

4. In terms of your blog, how do you measure success?
I don't know that I do. The blog ultimately has always been a way of tracking our training progress and preserving memories of specific hikes and vacations. This annual challenge is really the only time I ever look at analytics and see which posts got the most views and other data. For me, just writing a post that means something to me is success.

5. In what ways has your blog changed during 2017?
I don't know if there are huge changes that we've undergone in the last year. We continued to write about traveling, including trips to Pennsylvania and Vermont, and training with our first noseworks trial. We continued monthly reviews as Chewy Influencers. 2017 wasn't really a year of change in any aspects of my life--and after a year that brought lots of changes with my first foster dog and then Rye in 2016, we were happy to just have a year of existing. I did team up with our friends at Wag 'n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier to host the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop each month (we took a break for January, but be sure to join us the first Monday in February!)--we'd been participating for a long time, though, so this was just a tiny shift for the blog.

6. What was the biggest blogging challenge you overcame in 2017, and what did you learn that could help other bloggers?
Probably the biggest challenge was accepting that other things and other types of writing take priority in my life over the blog--and that's ok. After having a poem published in The Bark magazine in Fall 2016 and having another one selected as part of the Great Lakes Review Narrative Map project in 2017, I've rediscovered my love of writing poetry and I've been focusing on writing more poems rather than writing this blog. I also have a full-time job that I love and have been teaching new classes (or classes I haven't taught in 5+ years), so I've been spending more time reading, prepping, and grading for those classes than thinking about the blog. I guess what I learned is that it's ok for the blog to take a back seat and to focus on other things now and then.

7. When things get hard, what keeps you blogging? (Question submitted by Pamela of Something Wagging This Way Comes)
This one's easy: the blogging community. We've built some strong relationships with other bloggers and we don't want to miss out on that community. Barley doesn't have a lot of real life dog friends because of her reactivity, so our blog and Instagram dog friends help us remember that we're not alone even if we're not regularly meeting up with other dogs in person.

8. Looking forward to 2018, what are you hoping to accomplish on your blog?
I just want to keep writing. The last three years, I've been pretty consistent with the number of posts I've written, so I'd like to keep up that trend. There aren't really new goals that I have right now.

9. In addition to what you'd like to accomplish, is there one specific skill you'd like to improve or master this year? (Question submitted by Jodi of Kol's Notes)
Early in 2017, I created a Facebook page for the blog, but I'm terrible at remembering to share posts there! Since I schedule a lot of my posts on the blog, I often forget about actually sharing the links to them on Facebook. I'm going to try to be better at that. Maybe I'll start by sharing this one there right now.

10. Now it's your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community--is there a question you'd like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you'd like input on? Share it here, and we'll answer you in the comments!
What do you want to see more of in 2018? 2017 seemed like a pretty static year for me--we had some new health issues with Barley's dental problems and Soth's cystotomy and we had plenty of brewery adventures, but this year seemed like our theme was "Go Big or Go Home" and if we weren't doing something major like a trip or a surgery, I had trouble coming up with new things to write about. So are there specific questions you have about Barley, Rye, Soth, Me, and our lives together? Are there specific types of posts you'd like to see more of?


One of my favorite parts of participating in this annual blogger challenge is finding new blogs to follow, so be sure to check out the other blogs linking up through the Go Pet Friendly 8th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge.


21 comments:

  1. Happy New Year! The pet blogging community is a great one. Everyone is so positive and always their to help. As far as posting regularly to Facebook you might check out the Facebook scheduler, Hootsuite, or another that I've heard a lot of buzz, MeetEdgar (this one is pricey though). Congratulations on going viral! Those moments are hard to come by. All the best to you in 2018!

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    1. Thanks for the tips! Our viral moment was short lived, but a lot of fun--and we were just as thankful to get back to our normal, quiet life when it was over!

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  2. Congrats on your poems getting published! I will look forward to reading them. Way back when I used to write poetry and creative non-fiction and am hoping to find time this year to focus on that as well.

    I'm also really bad about remembering to share posts on Facebook, twitter, etc. and one of my goals this year is to get more organized about sharing.

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    1. Thank you! It can be so hard to find time to write creatively, so I hope you're able to focus on that as well, too! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who's bad at remembering to share posts :)

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  3. I also loved reading about Barley and Rye at play. I know how huge that was.

    Also love the point you make about the importance of the online community when living with a reactive dog. It is such a great place to realize you aren't alone.

    I second Colby's recommendation to use Hootsuite. It is very easy and painless.

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    1. The video of Barley and Rye playing just came up in my Facebook memories (I can't believe it's been a year already!) and it made me get teary eyed all over again :) It was definitely the biggest moment we had this year!

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  4. I love the Pet Blogger Challenge as it helps me find blogs like yours that I haven't yet stumbled upon and makes me so excited to get back into reading others posts!
    I loved your post on Ohio Rock Painting, such a cool idea and makes me think that maybe I should do a few here (I live right on the river so tonnes of rocks for painting).
    You have now gained yourself a new reader!

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    1. I'm excited to start reading your blog, too! I was so impressed by how much walking you got in during June! We set a goal each year to walk over 1000 miles for the year, so that definitely stood out to me when I was reading your post and I can't wait to read more of your blog!

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  5. Hi! I hopped over for the Pet Blogger Challenge and I'm completely inspired! I just read your post about the painted rocks and watched the CBS This Morning report! What a fantastic hobby that's so scalable to anyone's life. I've requested to join a Facebook rock group that's here in Tucson where I live. Looking forward to painting some rocks while listening to audiobooks and then adventuring with the pups to hide these kindness treasures!

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    1. It is so fun! I've loved seeing how many groups have popped up around the country and just how far the different rocks are traveling! I'm glad you're going to start doing it, too!

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  6. I think people can learn from "little" things just as well as from big ones. I wrote about my bandaging adventures and all types of little things people might still find helpful.

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    1. That's a great point. I think I've just been writing this long enough that when a little thing comes up, I feel like I've already written about it before and then I get discouraged and don't write anything.

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  7. Beth, congratulations on your poems getting published! I remember when Delilah first came to us and I thought the dogs hated each other and then they played. What an amazing moment! I'm so glad you got to keep Rye.

    I missed Soth's diagnosis, so I'm off to read that as soon as I finish this comment.

    What I love about your blog is the variety, I know that I'm going to find something different each time I come here, so I say keep on doing what you're doing. :-) And thank you for your very nice comment on my blog. :-)

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    1. Thank you for the kind words! I'm so glad I got to keep Rye, too.

      And your blog was one of the first I started reading! I wouldn't miss a post for anything!

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  8. Wow, you're a published poet - that's amazing! Thanks so much for taking the Challenge again this year, and congratulations on all your accomplishments in 2017.

    If you're looking for a convenient way to share your posts on social media try Buffer. You can schedule posts to your social media platforms in advance, and if you pay the $10 monthly fee, you can pull up to 15 RSS feeds into Buffer (including your own), which makes it very easy to share your content.

    Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge, and have a terrific 2018!

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    1. Thank you! It had been a long time since I'd had a poem published, so this was an exciting year for that!

      And thanks for the tips about sharing posts!

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  9. Beth and Barley on the news! How wonderful! I'm awful at reading other peoples' blogs but yours is always a joy to visit, and of course you often leave such lovely comments on mine! Thank you! And I hope 2018 is kind to you! :)

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    1. Thank you! I hope 2018 is wonderful for you, too! I know what you mean--sometimes finding the time to write mine is hard enough, then finding time to go read other blogs seems impossible!

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    2. I have come up with the solution of using my phone to read my blogs. On my laptop I'm too easily distracted. Seems to be working so far! 😊

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  10. Wow, congratulations on being published and on TV. I went straight to that post and love it as well. I think your take on the painted rocks is my favorite yet! I really like that you don't put pressure on yourself about posts and continue loving everything your doing!

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  11. I love that there are still some of us who blog mostly for the sheer joy of writing and sharing our lives with our pets through stories and photos. If I put analytics and stuff like that first, I would have quit a long time ago! I enjoy your adventures and your furry family so much; and I'm so glad to work with you on the blog hop.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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