I’m a pretty decent writer, but a lousy business person and networker. For quite a while now, I’ve been trying to find other personal blogs about dogs, or even pets in general, so I could exchange links and acquire new readers. I thought it would be easy, but my poor networking skills translated into bad blog-finding skills. I found blogs that had been abandoned in 2008 after a single post; blogs that were pictures but no text; and glossy, intimidating blogs put together by magazines or non-profit organizations that were slick and professional and not likely to exchange links with the likes of me.
Finally, I typed the simple words “dog blog” into the WordPress search bar and found what I was looking for. And the first thing I found was the pet blogger challenge. Of course, typical of my professional luck in general and my blogging luck in particular, the entry date for the challenge has passed. I’m filling out the questionnaire anyway; what have I got to lose?
1. When did you begin your blog?
I started my blog at www.ourdogpark.blogspot.com on June 22, 2010. I then migrated it to www.thebarkpark.wordpress.com sometime in November or December. Right now I maintain the blog at both URLs. (I have since discovered that ourdogpark.wordpress.com is available too, and grabbed it, but can’t figure out how to move the blog to the new URL. Of course, what I really want is thedogpark.worpress.com, but it’s taken. And the last post there was 2007. Figures.)
2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?
Blogging serves a double purpose for me: to entertain and to alleviate writer’s block. I had not written in years; meanwhile, in the process of fostering abandoned dogs, we had come to own a large, anxiety-ridden, German shepherd/husky/malamute/Australian shepherd/you-name-it cross, who is both a nuisance and a delight. Our experiences with him, and our life at the dog park, provided a blocked writer with the necessary starting place for a blog.
3. Is your current purpose the same? If not, what’s different? If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?
I still struggle to write. Sometimes the posts just flow, and sometimes they sit in the draft folder and take ages to see the computer backlight. Although technically it’s a blog about dogs and the dog park, I’ve also blogged about feral cats and our fostering experiences.
The underlying theme of “The Dog Park” is what our experiences with animals and other pet owners show us about human nature. Part of the goal has always been to tell some funny stories, and reach people who do not own dogs or pets of any kind. If one of my non-animal-loving friends says she enjoyed a post, I feel my writing succeeded. The trick is getting people to read it in the first place, without assuming, “Oh, this won’t interest me, I’m not a dog person.”
4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you? If the former, how often — and what techniques do you use to stick to it? If the latter, do you worry about… well, whatever you might worry about (e.g. losing traffic, losing momentum)?
I wish I blogged on a regular schedule! We live in a harsh northern clime, so the poor dog (and we along with him) has been languishing indoors most of the time. Generally I write when I feel I have something to write about, but I know that irregular and infrequent posting is the kiss of death for a blog. If you don’t post regularly, people will stop checking you out. So I try to find something to write about at least once a week. I don’t always succeed.
5. Are you generating income from your blog? If so, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)? If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?
Money? First you need traffic…. Without enough followers, it’s hard attract sponsors or make money. I found AdSense on Blogger too complicated to deal with, and not worth the time for the limited number of hits I generated.
The pipe dream is that one day all these disparate posts will fall into a coherent whole, and I can publish them in book form. (There’s no law against dreaming, right?)
6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)?
I enjoy knowing that whatever I choose to write is available for anyone to read; they just have to be “lucky” enough to stumble upon it. My readers give me lots of positive feedback, though not necessarily in the comment boxes. And I think that what I do is a little bit different from other blogs about animals; I write about dogs, but about people too, and how our similarities often trump our differences. My favourite post is Unfinished Business, which is really about friendship, and how compartmentalized our lives can be.
7. What do you like least?
I had hoped to have a bigger readership by now… Blogging can be like shouting in the wind. Site stats tell you you’ve had readers, but when they don’t leave comments, you don’t know if they liked what you wrote or not, or if they’ll be back. I wouldn’t mind making some money from this, either.
8. How do you see your blog changing or growing in 2011?
I hope to write more posts, attract more readers, generate more comments, and have more fun!