It’s time for the 5th annual Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by Go Pet Friendly. This is our third year participating! This is a great time for pet bloggers to review where we’ve been this last year, and where we plan to go in 2015.
1. 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 all about. Two years and four months. My blog is about “all things pet related” ; my focus is on my own dogs and cats and my life with them. It is also about many pet related subjects; health and exercise, social issues, and anything I feel might be of interest or help to pet families.
2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud. During the summer I started to notice my numbers dropping off, so I decided to start posting more often. I went from an average of 3-4 posts per week to now 5-6. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I had that much in me….but it has turned out to be easier than I expected.
3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs? To be careful of burning out. I’ve seen a lot of great blogs drop off this year, and even though I don’t always know the exact reasons, I think burnout is a big part of it. Even though I’m posting more, I try not to overdo and to give myself a break. So what if my post doesn’t go up until noontime when others plan ahead and post early morning? I have to do what works with my schedule.
4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content? I still believe that visiting and commenting on other blogs is the best way. I don’t discount social media, but I believe reaching out to other blogs and interacting gets the best results.
5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular? “Strong, Active, Happy #Natural Stride (& Giveaway)”. I’m not really that surprised, I think giveaways are a great draw.
6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year? “A Good Life“ Even though it was emotionally difficult, this story about the passing of our beagle Kobi and his life with us was something I needed to write to help me grieve. I also think it was some of my best writing. I think that emotion can be one of the greatest drivers for creativity.
7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year? I really just started doing them this last year, and I’m happy with how it’s working right now.
If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all? For one thing, I try not to do too many because I think people can get bored with that. Trying to find a different angle, especially when reviewing treats, can be difficult. I try to find a way to tie it into something else that is going on in our lives. If I can, I’ll include a review in a post that has other parts to it as well. That way if people aren’t interested in the review, they can just skim over it. I especially do that when I can’t come up with an original idea for the review!
8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers? I try not to focus too much on the numbers. Enjoy what you’re doing and all that will work itself out.
9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015? I want to do some redesigning, with a new theme that will let my photos be larger, and just some general changes. I haven’t made any major ones, other than a new header, for a while now.
10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be? I installed Google Analytics a few months ago, but I don’t understand it, or have a clue how to use the information it’s giving me! Even though I don’t want to overly focus on the numbers, I think that can be a good tool and the stats can be interesting.
Groovy Goldendoodles says
So incredibly happy I found you – it’s such a joy to find you in my inbox in the morning.
You are so sweet, Cathy, thank you. I am so glad we found each other too!
I think you’re doing wonderfully. Keep up the good work.
I used to post every day and then I got burned out. Having a couple of days with set themes (Follow-Up Friday, You Make Me Smile) and allowing myself some flexibility in the other days I post has really helped. Don’t get me wrong, there are some days when I’d just like to shut the computer and never open it again, but giving myself some slack has made those days fewer and far between.
Other than those little WordPress monkeys, I try not to look at my stats. It’s very discouraging. I’ve been blogging for over four years and don’t believe I have the numbers I should, so I stop looking.
Thank you so much, Jodi, that really means a lot to me coming from a seasoned and talented blogger like you.
I have a feeling I may have to cut my schedule back at some point, and it might be just when the nicer weather is here. I have more time for it in the winter.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with trying to visit other blogs and that’s where I have to cut myself some slack too. I just do the best I can.
I tend to judge more by the number of comments I get than by any of those confusing stats anyway. GA stopped sending me email reports so maybe I’ll just let them fade away….
Thank you for participating in the Challenge again this year. I am so sorry about Kobi’s passing. It is so terribly difficult to lose them, and yet it’s something that most of us have been through, so there’s a lot of compassion and connection in the community, which helps.
Google Analytics can be a beast, but once you get it set up, it’s really handy and easy to use. I started by setting up a new dashboard (blank slate) and added all the stats that were important to me: visits, unique visits, page views, source, key words, source/medium, page, daily visits. Now everything I want to check regularly is in one place! I hope that helps a bit and that you have a fantastic 2015.
Thank you, Amy. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got through losing a dog without the blog. I get to write about it, working through my grief, and then I get the support of this wonderful community. It helps so much.
Thanks for that advice about GA! That sounds like a good way to start out and maybe it will all make more sense if I can organize it myself.
2 Brown Dawgs says
Congratulations on a great year. It was nice to see Kobi’s picture on the blog today. 🙂
Thank you so much, especially for saying that about Kobi. 🙂
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
This was a great read! You are one of my fav blogs and it was great hearing some of your views. I believe commenting and visiting other blogs is huge as well! Provides great results!!! I installed google analytics a while ago, and have given up on it twice, so if you figure it out, let me know! haha!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
Thank you so much for saying those nice things, Jenna!
I’ll be sure to let you know if I figure anything out in GA….. Don’t hold your breath though…LOL!
Samantha Murray Greenway says
There I was thinking I ‘got’ GA and here I read about things it does that I had no idea it could do! I think the Jetpack idea sounds very promising… And well done, too, for the Kobi post – what an incredibly moving piece of writing.
So much to learn, and so little time, right? That’s like any piece of electronics I own….they all do way more than I know about!
Thank you so much for reading my post about Kobi. He was a very special guy.
Jessica @ YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner says
I haven’t had time to visit many blogs this year so I haven’t noticed any that dropped off (but will probably be sad when I do). Who are some of those you have seen go?
Finn and Charlie Too is one that comes to mind. Mollie & Alfie, though they keep saying they’re coming back! I’m wracking my brain here…LOL…Walter’s Lunchbox (they might still post sporadically), Life With Duke. I’m thinking there are others too, but I just can’t think of them right now (out of sight, out of mind I guess, which is too bad).
Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes says
I also loved your beautiful Kobi post. Speaking from the heart is a precious thing.
And yeah, Google Analytics is for the geeks. WP stats are fine for me.
Thank you for saying that about my Kobi post. Writing it was something I really felt I needed to do to honor him.
Well, I’m far from being a geek, so no wonder I don’t understand GA! 🙂
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
I had way too many other things to do today to come up with answers to this year’s questions. Now that I’m done with all my chores, I’m reading everyone else’s answers. LOL. Glad you all enjoyed the challenge!
I’m thinking of making some changes to my blog, too. We’ll see if they pan out.
When I first read the questions I didn’t even have a clue how I was going to answer them….they seemed really hard! I guess my brain just wasn’t functioning at first (which happens…LOL).
It will be interesting to see what changes we both come up with!
Jackie Bouchard says
I could never think of something to say 5 days/week! That’s impressive!
I agree it’s helpful to write about a lost loved furry family member. I’m not sure it helps my creative, but it helps with the grieving process for me.
As for G.A., I have it but don’t know how to use it at all! It’s so confusing. Since I don’t care too much about my numbers though, I doubt I’ll take the time to learn it. (Wish I could just have someone show me a key thing or two to do on it.) Honestly the only thing I like to do on there is look at the searches that bring people to the blog, cuz they can be amusing. 🙂
Yes, but you can think of enough to say to write a whole book, and I don’t think I could do that! I guess I can say a lot, but just not all at once like you. LOL
See, when I got into GA I can’t even find where it tells you about searches. I guess I just need to take more time to look around….I’m so impatient!
The Island Cats says
That was fun to read! We’re just learning about the Pet Blogger Challenge. We wish we would have known about it sooner…maybe we would have participated.
You’re right about visiting and commenting. It’s one of the best ways to promote yourself and your blog. 🙂
Thank you! I’m so glad you agree with that about visiting and commenting. It’s a great way to find and make new friends too!
Maybe you can join the challenge next year, I’d love to see how you answered the questions!
Christina Berry says
So sorry for the loss of your sweet Kobi. What a handsome fella. I can totally see how writing about his life with you would be very cathartic.
As for Google Analytics, geez, I hate it! I’ve never been a fan and in fact, I rely on my stats from Statcounter OR the Jetpack stats you can get right off your WP dashboard. I’m not as concerned about the number of people who visit my blog, but I love that Statcounter and Jetpack make it easy for me to see WHERE my visitors come from.
Before Kobi our other dogs died at young ages….5, 6, and 8. There was something so different about having him with us longer and he really was just the best dog, so easygoing and always by my side.
I think I might try installing Jetpack which I think might give me some of the info I’m looking for. I get some from my webhost but I don’t think they filter out the spammers so my numbers are higher than they should be, and also confusing!
Val Silver says
So sorry about your precious Kobi. I’m glad writing helped you move through some of your grief. I did the same thing after my Lou passed. When our heart is in it we do some of our most heart-touching stories.
Thank you so much. I think the more deeply you feel something, the easier it is to find the words.
I have been playing around with Google Analytics for the last few months and although confusing you really can learn alot about your visitors and how they interact with your site. One of the coolest things to see is the real-time stats. This allows you to see visitors on a map as they come to your site and which articles they move to! Very helpful to see what readers seem to be most interested in!
I would also recommend a Google Webmaster Tools account. Here you can get great info on what keywords are being searched that lead to your site.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions – I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials to get started!!!
Thanks for the advice and offer to help! I don’t think I could even find specific numbers for individual posts. I really just need to take the time and sit down with it to figure things out. At that point I might email you with some questions!
Pam and Sam says
We love your blog no matter how often you post! I think it comes down to that…..blog when you want to – not when you “have” to. I do daily because I WANT to…………
Yes, I agree that everyone should do what works for them. If at any time I feel like what I’m doing now gets to be too much, I might cut back a day or so. During the holidays I let myself do that when I was busy with family stuff.
Those are great answers. It has to be fun, and it has to fit in your life at that moment. It goes to that the saying, If you have to force it, it’s probably…
You get the idea. LOL
Yup, I know exactly what you mean. I sure hope it never gets to the point where I’m forcing it. So far so good!
For us, we noticed the numbers thing is not so much tied to how many times we post as to a regular posting schedule. I know I get frustrated with blogs that post here and there, I feel like they aren’t real serious, but if I know you post M W F then I’m more likely to visit. That is my take on it and with our blog it was the case. Last year when we did the Advent Calendar with Jodi posting seven days a week for a month, we were scared to death, but as you say, posting more days isn’t as hard as it seems. Saturdays are our normal day off and we try to post the rest of the days. We like how you are a real blog with real pets and real issues with real solutions. A comfortable place to go.
Thank you, Emma.
I was posting on Saturdays for a while, but it was my worst day so when I started posting more I made that my day off, except for when there’s something special or if I miss another day because of something else going on. I do switch my days around some, to fit different hops that a post might go with, but for the most part I at least always post Tues-Fri, and then vary between taking Sunday or Monday off at times if I have other stuff going on (like the holidays).
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Great post, I so enjoyed reading your answers. I too think it is therapeutic to write about a lost loved one, it’s hard but I feel you need to do it. I looked into google analytics and I can’t figure it out either, I don’t even think I figured out how to install it.
My web host made it easy to install GA, but other than that I was on my own…LOL.
I definitely think it is very therapeutic to write about our lost loved ones. I’m glad I have the blog now, because I think it would have helped me a lot in the past when I didn’t have it.
Alix Mitchell says
Great post! I love your sentence about emotion driving creativity. I often feel pretty emotional when I write a lot of my posts, and I agree that those are usually the best kind of posts.
Thank you! Those are the kinds of posts you don’t really have to work at….the words just keep coming. Of course, you do still have to refine and rearrange them, but you don’t have to work at it other than that! 🙂