We're joining in on the fun for the Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge (though it's our first time taking part). We've answered the "first timer" questions below:
1. When did you begin your blog?
2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?
2009 is a little hazy but I recall stumbling across the blog Life With Dogs before they got their own domain and changed their focus. I loved their stories and the personality that is Nigel Buggers. I had been writing stories about my two greyhounds (Girly Girl and Blue at the time, now Blue and Bettina) mainly because they were so funny and had such distinct personalities. Funny things happen to us all the time. I would share the stories via email with friends and family. After spending some time on Life With Dogs, it occurred to me that they were doing what I was doing, only in a bigger way. A little part of me wanted to know if anyone else would read what I wrote. So I decided to throw it out there and see what happened. When Girly Girl got osteosarcoma, it also became a way for me to work through the incredible fear, grief and pain I was feeling about the impending loss of my heart dog.
3. Is your current purpose the same?
The purpose has morphed over time and this past year I got more serious about the blog as a tool to communicate with the world rather than just friends and family. There are days I marvel that people want to read the stuff I write and seem to enjoy it or resonate with it. That came as a bit of a shock and a huge compliment. When you realize that you start thinking about how you can be a force for good. One thing I did not expect at all when I started the blog was the amazing people I was going to “meet” who write about their pets. I had no idea of the size of the pet blogging world. And I didn’t realize the quality of humor and writing that I would find in this world. I also didn’t know how much I would come to consider many of these people my friends. Most of them I don’t know by legal name and I couldn’t pick any of them out of a line-up. Yet I do consider them friends. Pet bloggers are so open, helpful, kind and willing to share! Sorry I got a little off topic there.
If not, what’s different?
Now my purpose is to share the joy of living with greyhounds with anyone who cares to read about it. Also to share some difficult experiences so others who may end up in the same place can learn from the things we did, didn’t do or should have done. We also hope to educate where we can but that’s not a primary purpose. We do some work with our local greyhound rescue and it’s been nice to be able to send potential adopters to the blog to read first hand how wonderful it is to share your life with these funny looking dogs!
If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?
Our posts are mostly about the funny things that happen to us daily. But we have also shared a lot of information about canine cancer as well as several other medical issues that have occurred. I consider my blog a love letter to greyhounds from an absolute greyhound fanatic. In that, I do feel we’ve met our goals.
4. How often do you post?
Our posting is intermittent but the goal last year became to post at last one more than the year before. In assessing goals for the coming year the goal is to post once a week. Increasing my number of posts got easier when I finally decided to join in on Wordless Wednesdays. Somehow that felt like cheating but we had some really funny photos that I thought definitely said it all. So I broke down and occasionally post a Wordless Wednesday. My creative spark seems to come in bursts. So I may write a number of posts during a creative spate and then post them during the times I’m not feeling so verbose. There is never a lack of subject matter.
5. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?
Sort of a hybrid. The goal is once a week (no specific day). But as noted above, I may write a bunch of posts at once and put them up when I’m in writer’s block.
If you publish on a schedule, why? How strict are you about your publishing deadlines? What do you do for inspiration when it feels like you’ve covered every topic?
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?”
I don’t publish on a schedule for the simple fact that I have not managed the discipline to do so as of yet. I’d like to post daily but so far I cannot see that happening. I would love to grow the blog and publishing on a more regular schedule would most likely help me to do that but it may have to wait. As for a topic being post-worthy, I write about anything that I’m interested in. If I’m happy with the resulting essay, I post it. I don’t think so much about whether the subject matter is interesting to others. Perhaps I should!
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.
Averaging the time over 52 weeks, I may spend 1-2 hours per week writing for or working with my blog. Maybe another hour visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs. I don’t think I’ve done a great job staying on top of it all so I’m interested in reading other people’s tips! Especially those who publish on a schedule.
7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?
In general, I measure the success of the post by the number and quality of the comments. If I struck a chord or a nerve, people will share their thoughts and experiences with me. I love that feedback. I have learned that no matter what happens to us, something similar has happened to many others. It’s nice to feel you’re not alone. I can tell when the post is less interesting or not as funny as I thought it was. The comments are general and there are fewer of them.
Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?
I have recently started paying more attention to the numbers and learning to work with Google analytics. Much of this I learned from other bloggers who have shared that information in their blogs (thank you all so much!). And at first I got a little crazy with the numbers. How many people comment. How many people visit the site. How many tweet about us or how many fans on Facebook. But recently I stepped back and realized that it was getting less fun and I was trying to hard. I have more fun and write better posts when it’s not about how many people will read it but just sharing a funny event that happened to us. I guess it’s possible we’ll never make a job of this (and that wasn’t the goal when the blog was started but I suspect we all dream about that) or be a blog that companies ask to do reviews but I am OK with that.
8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
How do you get the word out about your blog and get people to come to your blog to begin with?
9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?
I want to try an editorial calendar for the blog this year (though I haven’t put it together yet so we’re already behind the eight ball). I want to stick to my plan to post at least 4 entries a month and end the year with more posts than the year before. I would like to get into the habit of writing more consistently, every week, even if it doesn’t end up on the blog. Eventually I would like to work up to a book and writing this blog can help me get the discipline I’ll need to accomplish that goal.