This is our second year participating in the annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Go Pet Friendly.com and Will My Dog Hate Me? as a fun way to explore how things have gone in the past year with wandering through the blog world so…here it goes!
1. How long have you been blogging? Please tell us why you started blogging, and, for anyone stopping by for the first time, give us a quick description of what your blog is about.
Since May 2011. I started blogging mostly to talk about my dogs, dog sports, everything related to the American Pit Bull Terrier and all other dog related madness. The insanity has grown leaps and bounds from there!
2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
I created a Facebook page and Twitter account for the blog and am just shy of my goal of 10,000 hits on my blog with 8,463 hits as of the time for writing this blog entry. I honestly never expected it but I’m pretty darn thrilled since I’m not a big time blog.
3. When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?
I’ve expanded a lot. I started doing Shelter Dog Saturday posts because of visiting two local shelters (currently on hiatus due to health constraints sadly but I’ll be back!). It got me back into the swing of things in the rescue community and gave me a way to give back – especially considering a lot of what I do people thing as only for “show dogs”.
4. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own sites?
Never give up. You may think your writing will never reach others or do a world of good but it can and it does. Your posts may not appeal to every single person but there will be even that one person who reads your blog and says, “Crap! That was a really good idea!” and it helps them in their lives – even in a small portion.
If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
Asking for help has always been hard for me to do but I would love to know how other bloggers get sponsors and products to review (we’ve only done one sponsored one thus far thanks to the awesome folks at BlogPaws).
I’d also love to get more involved in social media – specifically Twitter. I absolutely suck at Twitter.
5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
Facebook. Adding a home location on Facebook has allowed my blog entries to be shared more readily and reached a wider audience. I’m grateful for that especially for the shelter dogs I’ve featured who have been able to be adopted because of that on the Shelter Dog Saturday feature.
6. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
Not as much as I should. I share each post on Facebook and Twitter but I really probably should get more involved in it. I’m getting more involved in blogging communities but it’s hard to keep up with – especially with seven active dogs (even the seniors who need to relax some times!).
7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?
I watch the stats constantly and love reading the comments I get too.
I tend to write a lot about what appeals to me and it may not always appeal to every reader. Since the main goal I had for this blog when I started was just to share my dogs and my love of dogs with the world, it’s gone pretty well. Some people enjoy a topic and others don’t. It doesn’t make for continual growth but I’m okay wit that!
How do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?
When it becomes work. My blog is my escape time and if it becomes no fun anymore, it’s time to step back and take a break. I’ve gone a few weeks where I just didn’t have the urge to write and so I didn’t. The only thing that has taken a hiatus for something other than it becoming work was my Shelter Dog Saturday feature and that was because I wasn’t able to make it out to the shelters to photograph and get to know the dogs since I would rather focus on local dogs who need a place to go.
8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
Since most of the blogs I follow are typically pet related, it tends to be something I am interested or passionate about. I try and share words of encouragement when I can, offer a friendly piece of advice or even share a bit of experience.
9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?
If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?
If not, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?
I love doing reviews. I love letting my readers get a perspective on a product that they may not have had originally. I personally love reading the reviews and discussions on products as well because then I may have the urge to try that product too!
I had one product giveaway in conjunction with one and it was a bit stressful. I decided to look into other ways of doing them for the next one I’m able to do.
10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
I take a break and do stuff off the blog – typically with the dogs. It’s usually a few days but I’ve gone a couple of weeks before. It’s not always easy because I tend to want to write down an idea or something on my tablet, scrap piece of paper or my phone but it definitely allows for time to rejuvenate and get those blog juices going again.
11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?
Yes! It wasn’t very long. I usually just get burned out since we’ve got seven dogs in our house (one of them being a very naughty puppy!), a full time job, lots of volunteering with local shelters and animal rescue groups and other dog-related activities and clubs along with the blog. Sometimes you just need a break!
Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
No way! I enjoy blogging and I enjoy reading other blogs. They inspire me to look at myself and gives me an opportunity to possibly try something new and exciting with the hoard. Heaven knows I need all the help I can get!
12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
I’d love to get the blog paying for itself so I can put the money I spend on it toward other fun things to do with the dogs. I would also like to get more involved in the blogging community and learn ways to improve my blog and offer new things to new and old readers alike that can be beneficial while still maintaining that sense of personal identity that I originally started with.
And that’s it for my 2014 Pet Blogger Challenge! I’m grateful to have found it last year and I hope for many more successes and additions to the roster next year. I would like to give a major shout out to everyone who helped me improve my blog and gave me some awesome ideas and, yes, even criticism on how to fix issues I was having to create a better experience. Here is to a bright and wonderful year!