Pet Blogger Challenge: Year One

I saw some great posts from others for the Pet Blogger Challenge today so I decided to join in on the fun! I participated in the Meet the Bloggers Hop back in December (read more here) and this looked like another good opportunity to share more about myself and the blog as well as reflect in the new year.

PBC

1. How long have you been blogging? And, if you’re stopping by for the first time, please tell us why you started blogging and give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I started the blog when we got Duke, back in late July of 2013, so approximately six months.  My initial motivation was to simply document our experiences with Duke. We were both so excited to adopt a dog and I wanted to remember what we were thinking and feeling all along the way. Once I realized that there were others who would actually be interested in hearing about our Life with Duke, I realized it was a great venue to ask questions of all the experienced pet owners out there (you all give the best advice, seriously). I also use the blog to share what I’ve learned: about Duke’s progress with us over the months, dog friendly spots in New England that we visit, and the best tips from other bloggers!

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 2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you the most proud.

I’m proud that I actually followed through on my thoughts of starting a blog. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and when Duke came along, I thought “why not” and I’m glad I took the plunge!

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?

I wasn’t blogging (or a dog owner) this time last year, so a lot has changed! However, when I look back at my first posts my current posts are longer, but less detailed about our day to day adventures. I’m not sure if that’s because I realized that writing about what Duke gets into during the day gets old after a while or if we now have more ideas for a variety of posts.

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?

I’m a huge fan of asking my readers for help. I realize that isn’t everyone’s style though. In fact, many of you offer advice on your blogs for people just like me. Just remember the wealth of knowledge that your readers have! I also can’t say enough about how wonderful it has been to develop relationships with other blogs – I read their blogs, they read mine and I love tracking what is happening with other dogs and their families. It makes it all the more fun.

Alternatively, if you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re still having with your blog, what would it be?

I always have questions about how to best get off wordpress.com and grow up into a “big girl” blog. I wonder if I should do that sooner, when I have less followers to lose, or later, when I have a bigger following that justifies putting the money into the blog.

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5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

I have the most success when I participate in Blog Hops, even the smaller ones with 10-15 blogs. Sometimes those bring more thoughtful comments too! And I always try to get back to comment on my readers’ blogs.

6. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog — and do you think you should spend more or less time next year?

Not much. The main way I get the word out about my blog is by visiting other blogs. I think I should spend more energy on this aspect during the year, but I’m okay with keeping the blog small for now as long as it makes me happy and serves my purposes!

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7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? And 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?

My main gauge is my comments. I look at how many people were inspired to leave comments and the quality of the comments if I’ve asked for advice or shared something more than just pictures.

8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?

I really appreciate when people leave questions in their posts for people to address in the comments. Sometimes it is a simple as sharing an experience that you may have had, but those almost always get me to leave comments! I’m also more inspired to comment when I feel like the person behind the blog takes the time to read the comments and really enjoys them.

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Sleeping beauty

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?

Nope – we haven’t ventured into that side of blogging yet. Maybe one day! We only review products that we have purchased and genuinely love. We have never worked with any companies to promote a product. It isn’t where I am putting my effort right now. I’d like to see the blog get off of wordpress.com and become self hosted before we went down that road.

10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?

I put the computer away and play with my dog. Always works. 🙂

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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?

Never a planned, long break. Some weeks there are fewer posts than others and I’m okay with that because I’m a full time student and I have a really cute dog who loves to play. I try to make sure I don’t get so caught up in the digital world that I ignore the wonderful world around me. I’ve never considered quitting though!

12.  What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

I’d like to define the purpose of the blog more and to ask myself what I’ll blog about when I don’t have all the questions that come with the first year of dog ownership. I’d also like to figure out what I want to do in terms of self hosting and either do it or take it off the table. I would really love to have a more personalized header and design though – that seems like a good goal!

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Next Halloween, he’s going as Dumbo.

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16 thoughts on “Pet Blogger Challenge: Year One

  1. I remember when I was at your point… last year! Just have fun with it. It’s amazing how fast things can change when you’re working on a blog, in terms of becoming better known and getting out there and making connections. I am really thinking getting back to basics this year is what I need.

    Good luck in 2014!

    Christie from Life With Beagle.com

  2. I definitely think you should make the leap from a dot com to a dot org if you want to monetize and grow your blog. But if you’re not interesting in monetizing, you can just stay where you are. I always have to remind myself out entrenched my opinions are in my own experience and goals – not everyone is on my same path. LOL

    You’ll do great. I’ve really enjoyed your blog.

    • Thank you so much! It always helps to have reassurance like that! 🙂

      It’s a door I’d like to leave open. I have a feeling that after I’m out of school, I’ll be looking to grow the blog and go down that path, so maybe I should do it sooner rather than later!

  3. I have found it easier to experiment early on when I did not have many visitors. I am not a technical person so it was a huge learning curve for me. It took the strain off and I used forums to get advice and help. On the writing side I just do what I want. I think being true to yourself and enjoying it is what it is about. I think documenting your life with Duke is great and you can look back in time and there it is all recorded. A brilliant way to keep a diary. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

    • I do love how your blog is so unique and has such personality. I’ve tried to make a point to stay true to what I want to remember and write about it and not try to make my blog like anyone else’s, so thank you for the reminder to stick to that plan! I have a feeling there would be a large learning curve for me too, so I think the sooner the better! I have so much to learn!

  4. That’s the question for me too. Shall I switch to a selfhosted blog or shall I go to wp-pro or shall I do nothing? I have no clue, I worrie I will lose a lot of readers and I could be not able to manage the new blog and all will end in a disaster. I’m glad I found your blog and to see this fabulous pup is always worth a visit .

  5. My blog is self-hosted, and it’s one of the best decisions I made. Is there a right time to do it? The only thing I can say is the best time is when you have some time to dedicate toward it. The best thing about blogs and websites, though, is they are always works in progress. You can always add, change, upgrade, delete. It’s never final. So it’s easier to be forgiving of yourself and just take the plunge, knowing you can always change.

    –Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

    • What good advice, that sure does take the stress off to remember it is always a work in progress! Thank you! I’ll have to plan a time around a vacation or something so I can devote some serious time to learning about all the ins and outs of whatever system I go with!

  6. I also inquired about getting a ‘real’ blog, but I think the answers and advice I got easily determined it for me – my blog is pure hobby, and with that, I think the extra work and headache (and cost) of self-hosting is not going to be worth it. So I think that depends on where you want your blog to go. Though the other overwhelming advice was if you do it, do it early.

    Great photos as always! His ears perked in that last one – adorable!

    • Glad you like the pictures! His ears crack me up all the time. You bring up a good point that I need to think about where I want to take the blog – is it my hobby or do I want to monetize it? I haven’t decided but I should! I do worry about the cost and all the things I’d have to learn but then again, I can always learn!

  7. I think you’ve gotten some good advice from the previous comments – experiment now while you’re “young” and growing your blog. I can’t help with anything re: WP (mine is a Blogger blog with my own url) I wish I had more time to visit all the blogs I follow. Yours is one I always enjoy. I think you’re off to a barking good start 🙂

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