A whole year has gone by since the last Pet Blogger Challenge (kindly hosted by GoPetFriendly.com and Will My Dog Hate Me). I enjoy having a formalised way to summarise our experiences over the last year, and hopefully you find it enjoyable to read, too.
Most of all, I love connecting with a new lot of bloggers each year – finding new blogs to follow and getting all enthused about blogging.
Without further ado: The questions!
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.
It seems crazy to say that this blog has been going for 4 years now. It certainly doesn’t feel like that long – I still enjoy the blogging experience, and I feel proud of this blog’s content.
I started blogging simply because I think a lot about dogs, and wanted to structure and share these thoughts with the wider community. I also have a big interest in dog science, and wanted to share some evidence based conclusions on this blog, too. I find the dog world is a bit bogged down with myths and anecdotal evidence, and that just doesn’t wash with me.
As for a quick description of Some Thoughts About Dogs: We love dog science, but we feel compelled to write about dog politics more often than not, and sometimes we can’t help but share more personal stories and thoughts.
2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
One of my blogging goals last year was to recommit to the dog-research focus we originally strived for. However, looking back over the year, I only posted about four dog-research posts (and one of them was a guest post), which is a bit sad. One of the downsides of research blogging is that I often read research articles, and they end up not being very interesting, so do not make it to the blog.
That being said, many of the political posts I make, including submissions to government, are very research based, and involve a lot of references – so arguably, the evidence-based approach still runs true.
However, for 2013, what I would be most proud of is my post ‘How to save a swimmer puppy‘ and its success in Google rankings and its hits. When I had a swimmer puppy back in 2010, many websites online suggested euthanasia of swimmer puppies, which I knew wasn’t the only option. So, I am proud of my swimmer puppy post because I’m hoping that its view rate means that a number of puppies have been saved from alternative fates.
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?
My employment status has changed in the last 12 months, and is likely to change my blogging. I am now working more, and working in a non-dog job, which is likely to change the availability I have to blog, and the content that comes to me. That being said, I have recently launched my own dog training business (Dog Consultancy) and so I am likely to be blogging on dog training matters a little bit more.
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? If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
This is a difficult question, but for other bloggers, I’d mostly encourage other blogs to follow many blogs in order to see plenty of content, which will hopefully inspire you for your own blog. I know that after having a read a few blog posts I am normally a little jazzed up to get going on my own blog.
I would like more traffic on my blog, but I also know I’ve been a bit lazy in blogging and in promotion this year – so while lack of traffic might be a ‘challenge’, it’s a self-inflicted challenge that I can’t complain too much about before I make a better effort!
5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
Commenting on other blogs! The pet blogging community has a very good reciprocal commenting thing going on, where (generally) if you comment on a blog, they’ll comment back.
Also, according to Google Analytics, some of my puppy posts seem to be a little bit popular, and it seems they get shared on forums a lot… So make posts like that?
6. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
Like, no time of late! So I can only spend more time from here.
7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? 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?
With difficulty. My blog gets about 100-200 hits a day, but then I get very few comments or interactions on my blog, and everyone knows that’s the stuff that bloggers live off.
I almost don’t really care at the moment. I just want to produce content I’m proud of and that hopefully holds relevance over time. I’m not very interested in my audience right now. Maybe I’ve just become disheartened as I’ve tried to create an audience, and failed.
I stop blogging on a feature or theme when I’ve finished! Otherwise I feel like it’s an incomplete book.
8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
I often comment when I disagree with something, or if it’s content that makes me think, or if it describes something in a way that is more powerful than I’ve read before.
9. 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?
Yes, I’ve reviewed a few products and a few books. I find products really hard to review, as I’m a rather simple kind of dog owner, and so many products are just things that wouldn’t interest me. That being said, I have dogs that are hard on toys, so I enjoy showing how pathetic some toys are out there (and encourage others to save their money!).
I haven’t done any give aways, but I am open to it. Indeed, I’m open to doing a lot more reviews, I just need to be approached. Come at me!
10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
I don’t really get writer’s block – so far I’ve had plenty to say! But I do get lazy. Unfortunately, I just do what I want, and whenever I cease to feel lazy is when I blog. That being said, if I read something online that is dumb, I normally have to write a counter-post.
So, if you are asking, “How to you blog when you are unmotivated?” The answer is, “Get annoyed about something online and write a rebuttal. Or else just remain unmotivated.”
11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?
Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
I’ve never taken a formal break from blogging. Sometimes I just haven’t posted for a while. This has never been a decision I’ve made, it ‘just happened’.
I don’t think about quitting this blog at all. I’d probably be pretty unhappy if I didn’t have somewhere to share my opinion when the moment strikes. I stay because I like my blog, and I like sharing my opinion, and I feel it somewhat motivates me to keep engaged with research material. All good things.
The only ‘bad thing’ about blogging is sometimes I feel slightly guilty about not blogging. But it’s very temporary.
12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
Again I’ll say that I’d like to go back to the original focus of research blogging.
I’d like to commit to three posts a week: One The Week in Tweets, one research, and one ‘something else’.
But instead I’m just going to keep doing whatever I feel like at the time. I feel guilty about enough in my life – the blog’s not going to be one of them!
Until next time – thanks for stopping by.