The Pet Blogger Challenge – 2014 Edition

It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on our blogs, where it’s been, and where it might go. Excuse me while I clean out the lint prior to navel-gazing.

PBC

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 started blogging in June 2010. We’d had Our Best Friend just over a year, and decided that if I was unemployed and bored, I might as well write about my dog.

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.

I managed to keep up with my minimum one post per month. Given the insanity I call life, not just letting the blog die is a huge accomplishment.

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 didn’t put participate in last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge. I think the fact that I’m back this year (and was part of the recent Meet the Bloggers blog hop) shows a re-commitment to my blog and the blogging community. And I hit over 100 subscribers, some of whom aren’t even relatives. I had pretty much given up on that, so that was cool.

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?

So many blogs are professionally-run with a purpose and plan. GoPetFriendly and Will My Dog Hate Me, who are hosting this hop, are great examples; Amy has turned her passion for pet travel into a business, and Edie is a professional writer. The only way my blog could have been anything like theirs would have been if the Internet had existed when I was 16 and still had time and ambition. If you have a blog like mine– infrequent posts, a lot personal rambling and no particular agenda– you’re not going to gather thousands of followers any time soon. A successful blog requires time and effort, inspiration and investment. I’m content with what I have; it’s a hobby, not a business. If you’re a hobby blogger, but yearn for just a few more readers, there are two things you can do: 1) join blog hops and 2) follow other bloggers, and comment frequently. The pet-blogging community is pretty awesome. You can even make a friend or two (or twenty 🙂 ).

Isn't he a "love?"

Isn’t he a “love?”

5. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

How to make my blog more visually appealing without a lot of expensive design. I’m still using the old “Twenty-Ten” WordPress theme I started with almost 4 years ago. Pictures of the dog help, but I should be doing more.

6. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

Following other blogs, and commenting back and forth. That includes following facebook pages.

7. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?

The only publicity this blog sees is when I put the link on facebook, and when the automatic tweet goes out with a new post. Some of my friends are truly kind and re-post or re-tweet. Of course I should spend more time publicizing, but I doubt that’s going to change in 2014.

8. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?

Errr… Am I supposed to do that? I write what I like; I’m thrilled if other people like it too. Obviously more appealing posts get more comments, but I can only gauge that after the fact, and have no idea how to repeat it.

9. 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?

As I never have a theme or feature– next question. (But maybe I should shut up about school and how crazy my life has become.)

10. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?

Something that touches my heart– honesty, integrity, humour. A really, really beautiful photo. Smart bloggers end their blogs with a question to promote comments; I never remember to do that.

11. 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?

BWAH HA HA. Oh… it’s a serious question.

Two things stand in my way for contests, reviews, give-aways, and the like: my size and my nationality. I have too few readers to attract sponsors, and many American companies won’t ship to a Canadian address. And honestly, I don’t have the time (right now– call me in April) for book reviews.

A new blog called "The Cat Park"? Nah....

A new blog called “The Cat Park”? Nah….

12. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?

Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes the only thing that gets my ass in gear is the calendar telling me I have one day to post, or I’ll miss my every-month goal.

12. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?

As my blog is on life-support, a true break would be the kiss of death. I don’t dare.

13. Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?

Ummm… every other minute? My initial purpose was to look at human relations through the lens of pet ownership. I’ve strayed from that focus; it’s all become more personal. I stay because the only way I can still define myself as a writer is by having a blog.

14. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

Two posts per month? I’m heading for another huge life-change this year: graduation, followed by work OR unemployment. If I’m lucky enough to find a job, I won’t have much time for blog goals. If I’m unemployed, I’ll probably be too stressed. So, dear reader, you tell me: What would you like to see in this space in 2014?

(See? I ended with a question! I’m finally learning!)

This is a blog hop; hop on here!

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About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
This entry was posted in Blogging, cats, Dogs, pets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Pet Blogger Challenge – 2014 Edition

  1. Tegan says:

    Hello, nice to meet you. 🙂 I have gone through a couple of themes on my blog, but it’s a really annoying thing to change (I think). And then you ‘lose your identity’ for a little while, when readers visit but don’t know where they’re visiting.

    On your theme, I don’t find it problematic at all – but of course, if you don’t like it, that’s a good enough reason to change it. 🙂 Just go through the theme gallery and narrow down your choices until you have one clear winner.

    Also, I think it’s very cool that you blog once or twice a month and you’re happy with that. Excellent! Sometimes wish I could be satisfied with that.

    • If you look back a few months (not hard with only one post/month to go through 🙂 ), you’ll see that one post/month is all I can manage. I wish it was more, but I need to keep what few marbles I have left.

      I know how to change themes, but I’ve never found one as simple and clean as Twenty-Ten. I’m just bored of it. One day I’ll find a new theme. 🙂

  2. Edie says:

    It was very nice to reconnect with you this year, Lori — thanks for taking part. And I’m sorry to pee on your “put a question at the end of the post” parade! I don’t mean that people shouldn’t ask questions at the end of a post, just that they should feel organic. Or be funny. You really asked a meta question anyway, poking fun at question asking.

    • Edie, I got such a laugh when I read that on your post. It just goes to show that the most important thing in blogging is having your own authentic voice. If asking questions is artificial (and it feels that way for me), I agree 100% it’s better not to do it.

  3. Jodi says:

    Baby, themes are super easy. It’s just knowing what you want, that’s the issue. WP has a LOT of free themes. I can help you with that one day when you have some free time.

    As for goals, well having a goal no matter how small or large is important to have, it helps keep us on task. 🙂 Great answers!!

  4. Great post! Your dog is seriously gorgeous, and your kitty looks a whole lot like mine! LOVE!

    Hey, I wanted to let you know that I’d love to help you out in terms of your blog design! If you click over and check out my Pet Blogger Challenge post, there’s a link to my business website if you want to get more information, or just shoot me an email!

  5. Kim Clune says:

    I love you. I love you. I love you. Your words – so simply stated, so honest, so MY EXACT THOUGHTS!

    You, of course, have one leg up though, with your goals and your commitment to exactly what you can manage. I’m still flying freeform and have no idea how to move past prior burnout.

    I wish you a terrific graduation and best of luck on the job hunt. The blog will be what it will be… beautiful because you give it the time and attention you can. I would never ask for more. 🙂

  6. ThatJenK says:

    Yeah! Convocation! You’ve almost survived! Just a couple more months!
    YBF is adorable in that photo – I request regular photos of YBF! And the cats! You don’t need a decent camera – a polariod from the ’80s would capture their cuteness. (But I recommend saving up airmiles – takes a while, but hello, free camera!)

    • So tempting… free camera… but all my points, be they Air Miles or Visa, go toward travel. Have almost enough for a free trip to the Prairies!

      I will continue to capture the cuteness with Old Reliable. It’s five years old, gets a bit wonky at times, but it seems to do the job. (Pretending I don’t care that I don’t have the Canon Rebel DSLR… have I fooled anyone?)

  7. FleaByte says:

    Well hey! I didn’t know you existed until today! So. That’s one more reader of your blog, huh? 😉

  8. April is going to be really exciting. We’ll get to hear from you a little bit more. Spring will be making an appearance. I can hardly wait.

    I love seeing pics of YBF too. For a long time, even your dog was incognito. It makes my day to see his handsomeness here.

  9. At least you have a goal of once a month and you stick to it! I think you did a job with this post and you were totally honest which is awesome! You’ve been quite bust and the fact that you still mange to post is amazing!

    I think your writing is great! So I would like to see you write more creative stories!

    • I stopped writing fiction years ago– much harder than non-fiction. One day, when I stop living from one stress to the next, I’ll relax and write properly again. In the meantime, I’ll stick the to the achievable goals. 🙂

  10. rmudge says:

    There is nothing wrong with blogging as a hobby. Somebody’s gotta do it! 🙂

  11. Julie says:

    How huggable is YBF? and that adorable kitteh!! Making your blog visually appealing would not be hard at all (have you seen your pets??) I’m a firm believer in simple design 🙂 Congrats on graduation – how exciting!!

  12. I think that you take the time to post every month with all you have going on is AWESOME. You’re kind of a rock star.

  13. Yes, two blog posts per month! I love seeing photos in a blog post, probably 2 to 4 because sometimes people put in a dozen or so and that just makes it too long, because I want to get to a certain amount of blogs. Happy (early) graduation!!

  14. Good for you for knowing where you stand on business versus hobby blogging. Just so you know though, it is against the rules to “advertise” on a non-self-hosted-wordpress blog. Getting free product for writing about said product counts as advertising (although if you do it infrequently, the risk of getting caught isn’t probably that high). That is the biggest reason people move to self-hosted sites. You also are very limited with blog design options on free WordPress (can’t code the back end). If your blog is just a hobby though I wouldn’t necessarily switch. It can become an expensive hobby fast if you do. Just the self-hosting and premium plugins cost me around $300 per year.

    • I didn’t know that I’m not allowed to write reviews on a WordPress site– good thing I never did, then! I’d love to know what the penalty is.

      It seems kind of self-defeating. I get that WordPress doesn’t want you to make money on what they provide free (they should at least get a cut), but if you start to grow they will probably see money eventually. And no, I’m not in a position to toss a lot of money at a hobby.

  15. Pup Fan says:

    Well, you know I think you’re awesome – but in my opinion, it’s nice to hear it again anyway. So… you’re awesome. 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading your post, and I can totally relate to your point about keeping the blog because it’s the only way to define yourself as a writer. Obviously, I “write” in my day job, but it’s nothing like the creative writing I can do on my blog. I think that’s what keeps me going more than anything sometimes. Whether anyone else reads it or not, I simply enjoy the act of putting whatever I want out there. It’s fun (and you guys reading it is a nice bonus). 🙂

    Considering how hectic I know your schedule is, I think it’s great that you’ve kept the blog going anyway. I do enjoy hearing from you (and more photos of YBF are always encouraged)!

  16. Carol Bryant says:

    I’d like to see your struggles and all you are going through and how you are incorporating your dog into your life.

  17. I’m a lot like you, in my attitude about blogging. I do it for fun, but I am not professional, it’s a hobby. It’s for fun, and to share pictures and stories with other dog lovers. 🙂

  18. Kristine says:

    I would like to see more you, more cats, and more you. In that order. Oh, and more YBF photos. 😉

    But seriously, I am mostly just so happy you are keeping at this thing and read every post with greed whenever you have time to write. You are funny and kind and a fellow Canadian, the latter of which is lacking in the Petosphere in any vocal way. I don’t really care how often you write as I will keep coming back whether it is once a month or once a year. Your attitude is perfect and should be what blogging is all about. None of this unrewarded pressure for you!

  19. 2browndawgs says:

    It is nice to see you blogging again. 🙂 I rarely end my blog’s with a question unless it is something that really fits with my post. I guess I am a bad blogger….lol. WordPress has some nice new free themes if you are looking. They usually release new ones on Thursdays. I decided to go with a premium theme this year just because it was easier for me to make it do what I wanted, but there were a few newer free ones that I looked into using. The newer ones seem to have more things that can be customized on them without having to pay for the upgrade.

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