Friday, January 10, 2014

Pet Blogger Challenge

Today is the fourth annual Pet Blogger Challenge. This hop is hosted by Amy at Go Pet Friendly (one of my favorite pet blogs) and Edie at Will My Dog Hate Me? (a blog in transition after the passing of her dog, Frankie). This hop is a fun way for pet bloggers worldwide to share their thoughts on blogging -- What works? What doesn't? What would you like to do better? It's also a great follow-up to last month's Meet the Blogger hop.

Last year I entered the third annual Pet Blogger Challenge. It was my very first blog hop. My answers to that one are here. It's exciting to see how things have changed over the past year! Like last year I'm going to read every single post in this hop and share my favorites with you later. And now on to the questions:

Logan, the reason
this blog exists
  • How long have you been blogging?  I've been blogging since July of 2012. I started blogging after losing my heart dog, Logan. He was a great dog. I found him dying of heartworms in the shelter where I was working, called in every favor I had and got him treated. I only had him seven years, but he stole my heart. I had a hard time dealing with his death and started blogging to work through the grief. I still miss him. Fortunately the blog quickly morphed into a celebration of dogs -- because reading morose stories about a dead dog gets old quickly! Six months after Logan's passing I got Jedi and have been writing about the joys and trials of raising a new puppy. I've also been trying to fulfill my childhood dream of showing dogs. It's not as easy as it looks on TV. Especially when you're old, out of shape, uncoordinated and a big fat chicken. Lucky for you though: it makes for entertaining reading. Seriously, who wants to follow someone who gets it right all the time? Boring!
  • Give us a quick description of what your blog is about.  My blog is an eclectic collection of my thoughts and experiences with dogs. (And cats, and birds, and crazy people. There's even an alligator.) As I've stated in the past, this blog is a strange glimpse into the life of a crazy dog lady and her dogs. I'm an animal control officer, an avid reader, a wife, a mother, a dog lover and an active member of the community. I try to juggle it all. I suck at it. I've also admitted to neurotic tendencies and/or good-natured homicidal fantasies. Fortunately, blogging is cheaper than therapy!
  • Name one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.  I wanted to find a blog about being a newbie in the show ring thinking "surely there are other clueless wannabes out there." I looked and looked for a blog like that and couldn't find one, so I decided I'd have to try to write one myself. Well, it took waaaaay to long (refer to the "big fat chicken" statement above) but I finally got into the ring. Lookie! 
And to my surprise, other show people have come forward to offer support and advice. Good thing too because I've got A LOT to learn. [Insert a big shout out to Kathryn with Dog Mammas here.]
  • When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, what about blogging has changed the most for you?  Well, people actually read my blog now, so that's a plus! And I put an index in the side bar so it's easier for readers to choose specific topics. That was a suggestion from last year's hop. Thanks!
  • What lessons have you learned this year -- from other blogs, or through your own experience -- that could help us all with our own sites?  1) Be real. My favorite bloggers share who they are, warts and all. I really do care that someone's cat is sick, I understand the "do I blog or cook dinner?" dilemma, and empathize with the clutter queens. 2) Engage. Leave comments on other blogs and answer comments left on your blog, preferably with no ulterior motives. Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes always has a "Your Turn" prompt to open the conversation (I LOVE that). And finally, make sure there is an easy way for people to contact you or leave comments.
  • If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?  How do I increase traffic? And WTH is a raffle copter?
  • What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?  Blog hops may bring people once, but I think being authentic and engaging (see above) brings them back.
  • How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?  I have business cards that I try remember to pass out when my blog comes up in conversation, and I post links to both Facebook and Google+. Other than that, I do nothing. OMG, should I be doing something?!   
(Cool Card, hunh? Kimberly over at Keep the Tail Wagging told me about Fiverr, a place where incredibly talented people will do all kinds of things -- including designing unique business cards -- for only $5. That's Jedi on the card, by the way.)
  • How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?  I try not to look at the stats. I fail. It drives me nuts. I really appreciate the comments. A simple "Wow, nice job" can have me over the moon. Apparently I'm a praise whore. Who knew?
  • When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?  First of all, it needs to be easy. If I have to spend five minutes hunting down a "leave comment" button I'll probably just move on. Sorry. When commenting, I prefer to have something meaningful to add to the conversation, but if it's one of those incredible, blow-me-away posts I'll definitely post a "WOW" -- and then I'll forward it on Facebook and Google+.
  • Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?  I do review things but haven't for compensation. I have no affiliation with any of the products I review. It's just me sharing my opinions, regardless of who cares what I think (as usual). The only things I give away are sarcasm and snarky comments. I'm not opposed to reviews and giveaways for compensation, however it would have to be something I believe in. And I think I would want to limit my advertising. I see some blogs that look NASCAR racers with all their banners. It makes me question their integrity -- does the blogger really use all that stuff or is she just after a quick buck? Also, ad-crammed blogs take forever to load so I usually don't return to them.
  • When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?  I like to visit other blogs and see what others are saying. Sometimes it sparks an idea. I also like to step away from the computer completely. A walk in the woods or a good game of cards with friends can do wonders. 
  • Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?  Yes. My computer crashed last summer. It sucked.
  • What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?  How funny you should ask! I actually added a blogging goal to my New Years Resolutions this year. I want to post a minimum of 15 times a month. I'd also like to have more consistency. My posts -- like my thoughts -- tend to be all over the place and that's how I've been writing. As a reader, however, I like to have an idea of what to expect. I think Jodi over at Kol's Notes does a nice job of keeping things organized, which is one of the reasons I follow her.
So, are you tired of hearing about me yet? I am! Thankfully this is a blog hop. Let's go see what others have to say. Later, -- K