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Pet Blogger Challenge 2014 – Letting Go

January 11, 2014 54 comments

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

Out of an extreme sense of obligation I was going to write this detailed blog post for the Pet Blogger Challenge, but the truth is I don’t want to write it. I don’t want to examine my goals and accomplishments. I don’t want to look at my stats or my most popular blog posts. I don’t want to talk about product give-aways and publicizing my blog. 

I’ve been down this path before. I’ve written about my goals and my bright shiny aspirations for my blog before. And you know what? I don’t even remember what they were. I don’t remember what I wrote last year, the year before, or the year before that. Nor do I care.

None of those words matter because they don’t represent where I am today – tired.

Very tired.

Over the holiday season, I had the chance to take a break from my blog; to step away from it and let it all go. It was so refreshing, cathartic even. Instead of worrying about what I was going to post the next day, I did what I wanted to do. I played with my dogs, read a good book, met some friends for coffee, and spent quality time with family. Not once did I feel the need to stop what I was doing so I could write up some quick blog post for the sake of saying I did.

I felt unhindered.

Unencumbered.

I felt free.

I’m not sure what my blogging goals were when I first began, but I don’t think I ever envisioned them taking over my life. And yet, it has. To continue to feed the beast seems like a practice in futility. It will always want more.

At the risk of this becoming a self-involved, ego-inflated soliloquy I think I will just lay it all out there. I’m going to take a break from my blog for a while. I need to see what life is like without it. I need to know that I am writing because I want to and not because I “have to.” I need a break.

That doesn’t mean I won’t write a few updates on Maggie once in a while or that I won’t be back to share a few words or pictures when the mood strikes me (I still have a few more things to share), but I want to see how the other half lives. I want to know what it’s like NOT to have a blog as an obligation every day.

We’ll see his it goes. Perhaps there is more to life than blogging after all.

lucy 2

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The Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge (2013)

January 9, 2013 38 comments

Today is the 3rd annual Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by the wonderful, inspiring, and adventurous Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com and GoPetFriendlyBlog.com

Last year, Amy and Edie Jarolim (from Will My Dog Hate Me? and Freud’s Butcher) kicked off the 2nd annual Pet Blogger Challenge with a whole host of questions for new and old bloggers alike.  The result was a series of fun, insightful and interesting blog posts written by a wide variety of pet bloggers, all with differing perspectives and insights. I learned so much about my fellow bloggers, and in the process, learned even more about blogging!

I have come to love this annual event. I hope you will find it fun and interesting and enlightening. I know I do.

Not writing a pet blog yet? Maybe you should!

Click on the Pet Blogger Challenge link below to join the challenge. To read some of the other responses from other pet bloggers click here.

Here are this year’s blog challenge questions (and my answers):

1. How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

I have been blogging for 4 years now. I started blogging about my puppy mill rescue dog Daisy at Daisy the Wonder Dog back in October of 2008, but created this blog, No Dog About It, in 2009 for my pet sitting business. Here is a link to last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

To be more focused in my blogging and to be blogging less.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

Yes, but I would have to say that it didn’t really happen until the end of the year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was in a bit of a fog last year and I just now am coming out of it and realizing that I enjoy blogging but for reasons that have nothing to do with money or notoriety. I just enjoy writing. Will my blog be more focused in 2013? I don’t know, but I hope it will be more personal.

4. How often do you post?

6 days a week

5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?

No. I still write when the spirit moves me, I just have less time to do it now than before. On some days I find the words aren’t working for me yet or they are still weaving together in my mind, on those days, I let my pictures do the talking and go back to the writing later.

If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

Yikes. That’s a tough one. I don’t publish on a schedule because often my best writing comes when I am most “feeling” a story and not when it is most convenient to write. To be honest, it drives me crazy sometimes, but that seems to be how my mind works. I think there are times when a post I am writing is still formulating in my brain and when I go to write it and find that it’s not quite ready for me to post yet. Those are the times when I choose a less controversial topic or less emotional issue that I have saved as a draft for just such an occasion. For me, knowing whether a post is worthy of posting comes down to two things – most of the typos and run-in sentences have been eliminated and my gut says “Go.”

6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.

Ir depends. Some days I spend an hour working on a blog post and on others I spend several hours. How long it takes me to write one post determines how much time I have to go visit other blogger’s blogs. One thing I failed at this year was visiting some of my favorite bloggers. It’s something I am hoping to rectify this year. Jen, Kristine, Kelly, Alex and Miss Little Pea – I owe you an apology!
7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?

I think I measure by comments to some degree, and traffic is definitely great to watch, but what makes me feel like it was a good post is if people share it or ask to share it and it makes a difference. The post I wrote earlier this year about why your lost dog may not run back to you hit a chord with people and was shared widely. But, to me, it’s a great success if it helps someone to get their lost dog back.

Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions? I don’t really look at the numbers much. I like to know when there is a spike in my numbers (most often it’s one particular post on a good pitbull story), but other than that I don’t look at them much anymore. I like the interaction more.

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

I would love to know how other bloggers write on a schedule. I think this is perhaps the thing I have had the most difficulty with as I have gone back to a 9 to 5 job again. Balancing work, my dogs, my blog and managing a life for me can be hard at times. I would love to know how others manage this issue.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

To be more personal, more real and more connected. After living the last year and a half in a fog, I am ready to get back into writing in a way that connects with my readers. I am hoping I will also be less reactionary on certain issues (puppy mills, animal abuse, etc.), but no guarantees. There are simply some hot button issues that will always get my ire up.

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

Pet Blogger Challenge 2012

January 9, 2012 31 comments

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10
Today is the 2nd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by the wonderful, inspiring, and adventurous Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com and Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me?.

Last year, Amy and Edie kicked off the 1st Annual Pet Blogger Challenge after Amy posted a piece called Bullied By The Blog. Figuring that they couldn’t be the only ones bullied by their blogs, they created the Pet Blogger Challenge and asked other pet bloggers to join in. Each blogger was asked to answer eight questions designed to introspectively think about their blog – from the reason they started it to where they saw it going.

The result was a series of fun, insightful and interesting blog posts written by all kinds of pet bloggers with all sorts of pet perspectives. I learned so much about my fellow bloggers, and in the process, learned a lot about blogging too. So when Leo of Kenzo the Hovawart and Viva suggested that Amy and Edie make this an annual thing, the response was a resounding chorus of “Yes!”

So without further ado, here are the answers to this year’s 8 questions (I should mention that pet bloggers new to this challenge have a different set of questions – which are the same ones from last year.):

1. Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.
Here is last year’s entry into the Pet Blogger Challenge.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

My goal last year was to blog more about those things I thought might interest my clients (including doing more product reviews). Although I had initially started my blog to share pertinent information with my clients, I found myself blogging more about topics that interested me. My goal was to get back to a more client-focused blog and be a resource for my clients.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

Yes and No. After a lot of thinking and self-reflection, I decided to close down my business in April of 2011 and go back to work in the corporate world. It was a really tough decision and one I’m not really sure I am able to accept, even now.

As a result, my goals for my blog changed quite a bit. Instead of being client-focused, my blog became a sort of hodge-podge of the serious and the fun – pet ponderings, videos, pictures and deeper examination of some important animal welfare issues, etc. To be honest, I feel like my blog has a bit of an identity crisis, but then again, so am I. I’m still trying to decide what I want I to be when I grow up and I think my blog has been a reflection of that this past year.

4. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? Yes.

Which are you doing now? I am blogging on more of a schedule now whereas before I used to blog whenever the spirit moved me. It’s been quite a change for me and I’m not sure I like it. I’ve actually been giving this issue a lot of thought lately because I’m not sure I am happy blogging 7 days a week. In fact, blogging on such a regimented schedule leaves me feeling less satisfied and feeling more like I am being bullied by my blog than I ever did before.

Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc? I never really worried about traffic and momentum last year since the purpose of my blog was not to gain a huge list of followers but to be a resource for clients. I didn’t become concerned with traffic until I joined Triberr. Suddenly, I was seeing stats I had never seen before and I felt the need to keep maintaining those numbers. I cannot tell you why.

However, I am starting to rethink this whole Triberr thing and the need to increase my stats. I find that I am interacting less with the people I used to love talking to on Twitter and instead, I find that I am using it more to just spread my blog posts around. I’m not sure that is where I saw myself going last year. Now, I am rethinking everything. What is it that I want to get out of blogging? Is it numbers? Or interaction? Can it be both?

5. Are you generating income from your blog? No

Has this changed since last year? No. But, I also haven’t really tried.

If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how? Maybe. This is something I am still exploring. How much time do I want to dedicate to this? It’s a question that goes round and round in my head. I still haven’t decided on an answer yet.

6. Have your likes and dislikes about blogging changed since last year?

Not much. I still like the fact that blogging allows me to express myself creatively. It also feeds my need for doing research – something I love doing. It also gives me a voice and a way to interact and learn from others. I have been so lucky to have so many wonderful followers who have left comments that made me think or made me reconsider my view/approach or who have inspired me to want to do more. I still dislike blogging on a schedule and trying to meet a deadline.

7. Overall, are you pleased with the progress you made in 2011?

Yes and No. I think I wrote some powerful posts that stayed with me for days and I think I’ve written some crap too. I feel very much that my blog has lost it’s way and I need to redefine it before I can look back and know if last year was a year of progress.

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?

I hope to have a more focused approach and be blogging less. We shall see!

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