I was thinking of skipping the Challenge this year. I wasn’t really feeling “introspective”, or like looking back at the year. 2015 wasn’t a great year in many ways – Sheba had 3 different surgeries, and we lost our cat Conrad to old age. We found out Samantha is hyperthyroid, Cricket has arthritis, and between all of that, our vet bills and pet expenses have been out of control. But when I looked back, I realized the Challenge is something I have done every year since I started blogging. The blog was a bright spot in the year, because the support I received through it has been immense. Plus looking back at the blog for the year showed all of the happy times we’ve had with the pets in between the struggles. I’m so glad I changed my mind, because doing this has made me feel better. On to the questions!
- How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog. Almost 3 ½ years now. My blog is about my life with my pets, three dogs and one cat, with a focus on fitness, training, health, and anything else that affects our day to day lives and might be of interest to pet families and pet lovers.
- What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud? I attended the BlogPaws conference in May. I am a shy introvert and social situations are really tough for me. I went way outside of my comfort zone to attend the conference and I am so glad I did. It was a worthwhile experience; not only did I learn a lot but I got to meet some of the wonderful people I had only known “virtually” up to that point.
- Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? This was tough! I’d have to say “For Love of a Golden Cat” which was my tribute to our elderly cat Conrad who passed away in May. Writing that post gave me a chance to really look back at Conrad’s life with us and it brought back a lot of happy memories, especially when looking through old photos for that post.
- A common theme from last year’s challenge was that many of us wanted to increase the size of our audiences. Whether or not we intend to monetize our blogs, it seems we’d all like to reach more people. It feels good to know that we’re connecting with others, sharing a laugh or supporting a cause, and it’s motivating to see those numbers grow! What is one thing you’ve done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog? Joining other bloggers to host events and blog hops. We joined two other bloggers for Multiple Pet Mania during the month of June, and our dog Luke was the “spokesdog” for International Box Day that same month – a mostly cat blogger event. There were others also, multiple blog giveaways and a Walk Your Dog Week event. With giveaways tied in with many of these as well, it really increased traffic to my blog, and my social media numbers also grew.
- Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? “Our Gift to You – Huge Holiday Cash Giveaway”. Well, everyone loves cash, right? I have always found giveaways to be a big draw, so when I am asked to review products I almost always ask if we can do a giveaway to go along with it. Plus I just love giving everyone a chance to win something for their pets or themselves.
- What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? (Please include a link.) Oh, that is so tough. I have so many I read daily and love. I will choose “Heart Like a Dog“. Jodi’s dry sense of humor and unfailing honesty keeps me going back. Plus her two Labs are adorable and entertaining.
- What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog? Anything and everything I can find, when I have time (which is not as often as I’d like).
- What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers? Follow your dream. If your dream is writing, then put writing first. If your dream is photography, then focus on those wonderful photos. Don’t get caught up in the numbers and let them interfere with what you really want to do. I feel hopelessly behind other bloggers when it comes to social media savvy, but I don’t want to get caught up in that and forget why I started this in the first place – to write about my passion for pets. Photography has come to play a big part for me as well, and that is a passion also resurrected from my younger years.
- What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals? I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now, so I want to keep going on as I have been. In 2015 I did a 6 part series on pet vaccinations. I’d like to do a similar series this year, I just haven’t decided on the topic yet. I’ve been getting more offers for product reviews, and I’m getting paid for more. I don’t want to get carried away with writing reviews though; so I want to try to keep a balance while making a little money as well.
- You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there one blogging challenge you’d like help with, or one aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? In the past I’ve written more serious posts on animal welfare topics, adoptable pets and things along that line. Do you want to see more of that on the blog, or are personal stories more relatable and attractive to you?
Thank you very much to Amy at GoPetFriendly.com for hosting this year’s challenge once again.