I made a decision. Just a few months ago I was telling my husband that I was thinking about attending the BlogPaws pet blogging conference. Being a shy introvert, going to this conference wasn’t going to be an easy decision for me. But if I was going to continue this blog, I felt like it was something I needed to do. At that point I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to continue. My hubby suggested I give it some time, and not make a decision about the conference until I was sure about the blog.
I made a mental agreement with myself that I would decide after the holidays, after the first of the year. It was well before that when my mind was made up. I’m not sure exactly when things clicked, and I knew this blog was something I was going to continue to do. (**Update – I neglected to say that I WILL be going to the BlogPaws conference, and I am very nervous but also very excited about it!**)
The reasons I had doubts had to do with self-confidence. There were times when I felt like the readership of my blog was not growing. I don’t look at stats and numbers much; I mostly judge by how many comments a post might receive. I spent way too much time comparing my number of comments to the number of comments on other blogs. I would be highly disappointed when I didn’t get selected for a BlogPaws campaign. My whole life has been spent being mostly just above average. I was smart and performed well in school, but I was not the smartest. I succeeded at my jobs, but I never excelled. So I quit things. And that’s exactly where I saw myself headed with the blog, until I realized it and stopped doing that. This time I thought I’d work just a bit harder instead.
I decided to post more often, instead of 4-5 days per week, I upped it to 5-6. I’m not sure if that was the boosting point or not, but I haven’t compared myself to other blogs for a while now (well, maybe occasionally, but I stop myself). I’m happy where I’m at with it, and excited about where it’s going.
So when recently a Facebook support group I’m in shared a couple of posts by other bloggers who were quitting, or were just discouraged, that bothered me. One post was by a very popular and well loved pet blogger who was quitting. It was a heartfelt post about how she felt pet blogging had changed in the 10 years since she started blogging (you can click here if you’d like to read it). 10 years ago, I barely knew what a blog was. Her take was that back then people blogged for the joy of writing, and that now pet blogs were more about making money and commercialization. Since I’m fairly new to this after only 2 ½ years, this is all I know. Many of us blog not just for the sheer joy of it, but to make some income (for me it’s just some extra income, I know I’ll never live off it). For me it’s a dream come true to be a writer, but writing just for the sake of it doesn’t pay the bills.
The other post was by what I believe is someone called a “Mommy blogger”. She was not quitting, but she was bemoaning the hard work that blogging is (which it is). Her post was more of a sarcastic, tongue in cheek take on the subject. You can read it here, but I want to warn you that there is offensive language in there if that bothers you. Much of what she said was true.
I’m not here to criticize either of these posts, but the one thing that bothered me about both of them, when reading the ensuing commentary on our Facebook page, is that both were discouraging to some of my fellow bloggers (and me too). I feel that there were too many generalizations in both posts, and I just wanted to set the record straight and make it clear that we don’t all feel that way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to tell you that blogging is not hard work, that it doesn’t mean many, many hours of not just writing but photography, social media interaction, and promotion (not to mention computer frustrations). You can get caught up in stats and SEO if you even understand it and if that’s your thing (it’s not mine). But it only has to be what you want it to be. If it consumes your life, which it sometimes does mine, it’s your choice to let it do so.
I want to point out that it’s not just hard work, but there are many benefits as well. In the pet blogging world, there is a community of like-minded people, animal lovers like myself and unlike myself. In my world, my friends and family are busy with their own lives (and I’m not saying that critically, it’s just the way it is), so it helps to have blogging and online friends as well, and they are just like family. They support you, they commiserate with you, and they laugh with you. Your pets become important to them and vice versa. Plus I never would have imagined that I would have friends in other countries like Canada, Australia, and France. I visit, read, and comment on other blogs not just to promote my own, but to support my friends.
It’s not just the benefit of community for me, it’s also the benefit to my pets’ lives. Not only do my pets get lots of treats, food, toys, and supplements to try, but they get the benefit of all I have learned from other blogs about pets. Sure, before I blogged I cared about my pets’ health and weight, and I played with them. But there have been times I got lazy, and the dogs didn’t get all the exercise they might need. Then next thing I know I was motivated by fellow bloggers to join the Idita-Walk, or to participate in a walk your dog week or a training challenge. I DO so much more and I KNOW so much more now than I used to, and that’s to their benefit.
I’m not just out here grabbing random free products for my pets. I am thoughtful and discerning about what I choose to try for our pets, and I don’t accept any reviews for products I would not buy myself, and I do not believe in. I know a lot more about healthy pet food now than I used to. I not only share useful information but I ask others to share with me as well when I don’t know something.
Sure, there is some competitiveness out there….it’s human nature. But it’s a choice to buy into that competitiveness or not. I try to take that competitive spirit to improve myself. Some bloggers take (way) better photographs than I do….so I’ll work on my photography. Each blogger has to find the balance that works for them. For me it is sharing fun stories about my own pets, sharing the tough times, sharing information on things I’ve learned such as a health issue or training; and yes, sharing products that we are trying and believe in, sometimes for compensation, or sharing a good pet related book that I read.
Am I still overwhelmed at times? Absolutely! But honestly, I mostly enjoy that, and I work better when I’m under pressure. So I’m officially sticking around, I hope for the long haul. I’d love to be doing this when I retire from bookkeeping. Above all, if you’re going to blog, be yourself, and make yourself happy. This post has gotten way too long, and the experts will tell you that blog posts should be kept shorter. But I wanted to say all this, so today I am pleasing myself. I hope everyone didn’t just skim it, but that some of you actually read every word. Just in case, I did throw some cute pet photos in along the way. 🙂