Friday, January 10, 2014

Fourth Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth go-round with the Pet Blogger Challenge – but here we are again! It’s time once again to look at the past year to see what I’ve done and to look into the future to see what I would like to do in the coming year!

Here are the questions to be answered by all the participants:

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. I have been blogging for the past four years. I just celebrated my anniversary on December 31st! My blog was originally written by my pet rabbit Bunny Jean Cook, but she passed away in June 2011. I continued the blog in my own voice after she hopped over the Rainbow Bridge.

2. Name one thing about your blog that you accomplished during 2013 that made you most proud. The one thing I am most proud of is a little post that really resonated with people called “When a friend loses a pet - 7 important Do’s and Don’ts from Petfinder Foundation”. That post had more hits than any other post EVER and clearly addressed a need with pet parents.

3. When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge what about blogging has changed the most for you? The biggest thing that has changed for me is the amount of time I have to devote to blogging. Last year, I was blogging six days a week. I tried to maintain that pace again this year, but changes in my personal life made it difficult. I will probably go back to blogging 3-4 times a week in the coming year.

4. What lessons have you learned this year that could help us all with our own sites? The biggest lesson I learned this year was to not put so much pressure on myself. I was putting pressure on myself to blog daily, to monetize my blog and work with brands – but really all I wanted to do was share information that I thought was important. This year I will focus more on that.

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 always interested in knowing the types of stories people are interested in reading. I like filtering information in a way that people find helpful, so if I can find things that will interest them and save them time, I’d like to do that.

5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content? Having great friends who are willing to share your content! Triberr is a big plus for my blog, as is Twitterfeed. I have a pretty small following, but occasionally a post will get a lot of hits because it is shared by another blogger. I also use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest to share my posts.

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? If by publicizing my blog you mean sharing on social networks, I’d say less than an hour a day. I do not aim to have the largest, most popular of pet blog – I’m happy with my audience. In fact, I think I would panic if my blog suddenly became too popular!

7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? Generally by the number of page views, retweets or shares. Occasionally I will write a post that generates a lot of comments, which is always nice.

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? Basically when my gut tells me it’s time. If my heart is no longer in it, then it’s time to let it go.

8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on? I don’t like leaving comments just for the sake of commenting, so it really has to speak to me. Something moving or funny or something I feel passionate about.

9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways? No, I do not. It just doesn’t interest me.

10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge? Generally, I just take a day off. Recently I took two weeks off (for the first time ever). I was always afraid if I stopped blogging I wouldn’t start up again, but that hasn’t been the case.

11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go? Yes, I took two weeks off in December. I felt I really needed to step away. At first, I felt a little panicky – like I made a mistake. Then I enjoyed the time off. Now I can say I’m happy to be back.

Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay? Yes – hasn’t everyone? What makes me stay is the fact that I love my blog and I love the pet blogging community. I will quit when I feel it no longer adds value to my life. There are lots of pet blogs out there – I don’t think anyone will miss my little blog when I retire.

12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014? Keep on blogging, baby!

13 comments:

  1. So totally agree with you about going with your gut and your heart, as well as your enjoyment of writing the blog to be the true keys here. Though I do some product promotion, that and monetization of my blog is not where it's at for me either.

    Though I rarely comment, I always enjoy your blog posts and fine them filled with good information. Which is why I frequently share them. I would definitely miss your "little blog!"

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  2. That's the best way to do it--your own way. Make your own rules and make sure you enjoy it. I may not comment often, but I enjoy what you post! Congratulations on four years!

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  3. Hello! I hopped on over from the Pet Blogger Challenge and just wanted to say what a gorgeous girl Bunny Jean Cook was! I'm also following you now on Google+!

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  4. Doing what you love in the way that you love it. That seems to be the key!

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  5. I missed your Dos and Don'ts post the first time, which is unsurprising because I actively try to avoid reading depressing things and about pet loss. But I went back and read it just now and I can see why it's so popular! It has good advice and there were some big losses in the pet blogging world in 2013. I once had a job where I wrote wills for people (less depressing than you'd think, and incredibly fascinating and entertaining), and though we never talk about death-related stuff (I just admitted to actively avoiding it) sometimes it's necessary or useful.

    I agree on the panic of someday having a huge audience! Blogs are personal and a huge readership is so... exposing!

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  6. I'm with you and Jen on panicking about being too popular. For some reason, the bigger a blog the more trolls they attract. I'm happy to be skimming under the radar.

    And I also loved the PetFinder post. Good advice that we can all follow, unfortunately.

    Glad to hear your time off in December was good for you and that you're energized to be back.

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  7. I'm so glad you are excited to be back - cheers to an amazing 2014 :)

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  8. I'm seeing a trend here with a lot of bloggers that we all just want to get back to having fun and enjoying blogging which makes me super excited to watch it all happen this year! I agree that taking a break can be scary but also very good at the same time!

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  9. I love reading about how many bloggers are redefining what success means and how it means something a little different to all of us. I think the more we all follow our own bliss, the better the entire pet blogging arena gets and the easier it makes it on new bloggers who won't have a single idea of what it means to be successful.

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  10. So weird....I could swear that I already commented on your post. I don't see it though. I guess my head is spinning with all of these blogger challenge posts :)

    I appreciate your blog because your posts are well thought out and many times your subject is of direct interest to me. I hope that your "don't put as much pressure on myself" thing works out and you continue your little blog for a long time. You would be missed :)

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  11. Thanks for linking to your post that makes you the most proud - I can understand why it has been so popular for you. I am also glad to hear that you have found a 'rhythm' in blogging that seems to be working for you, without being overly stressful. I hope you can keep it up for 2014.

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  12. We agree - the best way to blog is to do it without stressing, at your own pace and however is best for you! We can see why that link is your all time best post - pet loss resonates so deeply with all of us!

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  13. As a blogger, I’m a comment whore. No matter what my numbers show, I feel like no one reads my blog if they don’t comment. I can’t believe BJC has been gone so long.

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