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.