It’s Only My Opinion

We interrupt your regularly scheduled FUF post, for this important announcement.

Today we are taking the Pet Blogging Challenge hosted by Go Pet Friendly and Will My Dog Hate Me?  This is the 4th year this challenge has been offered and if you’ve taken it before, you’ll notice the format is slightly different this year.

But who cares about format?  Let’s get right to it.

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.

I originally started blogging to gain an online presence for my writing.  I had written a children’s book about Sampson that I was looking to publish, (I’ve since decided it’s rubbish.)  As we know, those really sweet, good dogs don’t really generate a lot of stories.  I mean, how many times can you post about him looking up at you sweetly, or snuggling contentedly?

Me and My SamMan1

It’s hard for me to pinpoint what my blog is about, I tend to focus on the entertaining aspect of having dogs, the trials and tribulations.  It’s more of a personal blog about how I feel dogs should be raised, trained and treated.

Oh, and to answer the first part of the question, my third year anniversary was December 1, 2013 and I completely forgot it!

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

Along with my friend Julie from the Daily Dog Blog we held a Calendar Contest in August and in doing so raised over $1,200 for one of our blogging friends in need.

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?

The last half of last year I struggled with where this blog was going.  How I could attract sponsors and advertisers and how to “brand it.”  I have very strong principles about products I use and how I use them, which really narrows the field for me.  One of my blogging friends Flea suggested I read Pro Blogger and honestly, within the first couple of chapters I decided, that’s not what I want for this blog. 

So to answer the question, what has changed for me is the need to have this blog ‘branded.’

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?

 Jodi Chick always tells me to “Follow my Bliss” and Julie once told me, “People give a shit about people who give a shit.”

I give a shit about my dogs and my bliss is making sure the relatively short time I have with them is the best it can be.  If I can share that on this blog and in doing so make a difference for a dog, that’s Amazeballs. 

I would tell you, to care about what you are doing and follow your bliss whatever that might be.

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

Guys, I’m still stuck with the technical side, if you know of any “Dummies” books, send them my way. :-)

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

The best way I’ve found to bring more traffic to my blog is network with other bloggers.  The best months I had this year in terms of traffic, were when we did the Blogville Calendar fundraiser and working on the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers.  Now whether that traffic hangs around, well it’s hard to say.

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?

This I suck at.  When I think of it, I post it on Facebook, but I’m not religious about it.  Tweeting eludes me, so my basic publicizing is Facebook.

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

I still mostly gauge that by the comments, it’s not just a comment but the detail involved.  When I get some good conversation going, I know my audience is interested.

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?

I guess it would be when there is no joy in writing about it, when I sit there dreading a post, theme or feature, then it’s time to let it go.

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

I know blogging is all about engaging your audience, but I won’t comment just for the sake of commenting.  I only comment when I feel I have something to contribute to the conversation, or something really moves me to comment.

9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?

I have done a few, but in general I do not.

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?

I’m combining the above two questions because I think they are relevant.  Originally I was gung ho on doing product reviews, I mean who doesn’t want free stuff for their dogs.  BUT product reviews are a lot of work and I’m very particular about what types of treats/products I use with my pups. 

Then you get to payment.  What is fair payment for a post?  Is a post that is read by hundreds of people and promoted in online media worth a bag of biscuits?  Do you ask for the product AND a fee for the post?  I’m just not sure how to manage it, so for right now, I don’t do it.

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

That’s hard.  I’ve actually allowed myself not to post.  But anyone who reads this blog knows when I’m looking for inspiration I usually get it by walking my dogs.

11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?

I haven’t taken a ‘break’ per say, but I have cut back my posting.  I used to post daily and now I’m basically giving myself the weekends off.

It’s working out pretty well.  But there are more changes coming to this blog in 2014 and we’ll see how that works.

Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?

Twice a day and twice that  on weekends. :-)  I stay because of you.  Because of your friendship and support.  You are amazing. And because Jan said I wasn’t allowed to stop blogging without getting her permission first. ;-)

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

I have one goal and that’s to be true.  To be true to my blog, true to my readers and true to myself.  Anything above that is gravy.

Many thanks to my friend Amy from Go Pet Friendly and Edie Jarloam from Will My Dog Hate Me?

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

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Comments

  1. says

    My blog recently had it’s 3 year anniversary too. The thing about branding is that 1) it doesn’t have to be a chore/complicated like some make it seem and 2) branding happens whether you want it to or not (or rather, try or not). Branding is about what people think of when they think of your blog. If you just be yourself, like you are, people will eventually grow to know you for something. That is your brand. “Branding” usually means efforts taken to somewhat control what comes to mind when people think of you. Not everyone feels the need to control that.

  2. says

    Wow! So great to get to know these things about you!
    I will be taking part in this hop as well, for the first time, I started blogging only a few months ago, so I am pretty excited to be able to do this one!
    People like you inspire me to write, and for that I’m thankful!
    And getting to know more like in these types of hops is great for inspiration!
    So thanks for this!
    ((Husky hugz))
    “Love is being owned by a husky”

  3. says

    If your blog had a tagline, it would be “Crazy Shit My Dog Does.” (And we know which Bisquick-scarfing, chicken-neck thieving dog that is, right?) So consider yourself branded. There. That’s off the to-do list.

    Jodi and Julie are wise women. And awesome to boot. That’s some seriously good advice, and I know you follow it. :)

  4. says

    I enjoyed reading your answers, although I could have guessed some of them. ;) I love your blog and the things Miss Delilah gets in to, (mostly her and not the golden-boy :)). Big changes in 2014…..hmmm.

  5. Frankie and Ernie says

    WE think your crowning glory for the year was the Calendar Project that earned $1,2000 fur helping a furend. BRAVO on that. WE read your blog beclaws it is always INTERESTING. AND you always leave NICE comments to everyone.

    THIS was a Great post. PeeS… I (Frankie Furter) have been blogging since Oct. 2008.

  6. says

    Damn — Lori of One’s Person’s View beat me to what I wanted to say, almost verbatim, that Jodi and Julie are wise women. I can’t think of better blogging advice and it looks to me like you’re taking it.

    Thanks for participating!

  7. says

    I don’t “get” Twitter either. All those #s confuse me. I often wonder what I’m missing.

    And thanks for your honest opinion on branding and product reviews/giveaways. I ask myself “Is this what I want?” too, and I honestly don’t have an answer. You are the first I’ve read that can articulate the no side. Food for thought. — Kelley

    P.S. If your blog had said “Shit My Dog Does” I would have found you months ago!

  8. says

    Hello! Found you through the Pet Blogger Challenge! Great post – thanks for sharing! You mention that you’re not technical, so I wanted to let you know that I’m always available if you need help! If you check out my Pet Blogger post, you can learn a little more about what I do!

    Looking forward to reading more and getting to know you better! Have a great weekend!

  9. says

    There is always fun and entertaining things over here with your two dogs. I think that’s what counts. And the review thing, I agree. It’s tough to know what or if to charge. I am not inclined to do as many as I have been.

  10. says

    I agree that networking – though I dislike that term or doing it in person – is definitely the way to build readership and community. Took me longer than it probably should’ve to figure that out but hey – eventually I got there.

  11. says

    Your post this morning is proof once again that we think alike in many ways. Personally, I prefer not to do product reviews mainly because I just don’t have the time, but also because I don’t post that often to begin with these days. I try not to take myself too seriously, so as a result I don’t take blogging too seriously either. To me, it’s simply a way to journal my life with my dogs. If other people enjoy my stories, that’s great and as you say “gravy”. I took the challenge last year for fun; this year I just don’t have the time, at least not right now.

  12. says

    Great information about your blog. I like that you keep things fluid and aren’t afraid to change your mind about where you’re headed. Sponsors, no sponsors, every day, weekends off, reviews, no reviews. Smart.

  13. says

    Cheers on the awesome fundraising, and even bigger cheers for staking your claim to your blogging on your terms. I think that’s a terrific way to go. The whole branding for the sake of monetizing and being “successful” really killed my love for the space where imagination and ideas flow. So, where you are now is where I fell too, but with much burnout in-between. Its different if you want to run a business. If you want to write about your favorite things, keep them close to your heart and guard them from capitalistic ventures. But that’s only my opinion – too. :)

  14. says

    Aw man! Did I screw things up? I’m sorry.

    Seriously, though, I’m finding that one of my main traffic sources is Stumble Upon. And Pinterest. Those cute, squishy dog photos? Pin them directly from your post. It links back to the post. Seriously.

  15. says

    I’m new to your blog. I found you through today’s Blogger Challenge, and it looks like you’re doing some great work here.

    I agree about the product reviews. You mean I get to spend hours writing the post and you’ll compensate me with a $7 bag of treats? Oh sign me up! Just kidding. I always ask for a reasonable payment, and if they decline that’s their choice. I don’t write reviews for free anymore.

  16. says

    You are amazingly funny and honest and that is what we love. Now that we think about it, you don’t do reviews. It would be nice to get more for doing them, but for now we do reviews when they fit. Looking forward to seeing what changes you have in store.

  17. says

    I, for one, am open to any and all reports of Sampson snuggling or looking up at you sweetly. Seriously. I think you already know I love Sampson, Delilah, your blog and you. I love the personal touch of your blog and your willingness to reveal yourself with humor and heart. I have no doubt your 2014 goal (to be true) will be met with great success and I’m hoping you’ll also receive tons and tons of “gravy” because you deserve it.

  18. says

    That calender was pawsome! And $1,200 in funds raised is absolutely pawtastic!!! Flea recommended Pro Blogger to me as well. I haven’t looked into it too much but I think it is ideal for my Pet Auto Safety blog, but not the American Dog Blog. One blog is for business and the other is for fun, although I do have fun with both of them.

    I love what you said about comments. There are so many dog blogs I love so it is difficult to comment on them all. I think your approach is a very smart way to manage your time.

    Comments

  19. says

    I didn’t realize that you had been blogging for 3 years! Where have I been?

    I admit I really need to buckle down on social media, it’s all there…I just need to make it happen! I really think we need that girls weekend this year. We need to pick a destination and just go for it! We could totally each bring a dog and then have it posted on Go Pet Friendly! Girls and dogs gone wild in the wilderness! Haha!

    Thanks for being such a great friend over this past year ;)

  20. says

    Following your bliss is key I think.That’s what I decided for my blog – I just want to do it because I enjoy it. I don’t care to look at how many followers/how many views and all that. Oh, I look at my stats once in a while for fun – mostly to get to the page with the funny searches that lead people to my page (“Naked Ass Neighbor” is a good one…) but I realized I just don’t care about the “numbers” side of blogging. I just want to enjoy it, and if folks say in a comment that the post made them smile or laugh, I’m happy. So keep following your bliss, girl! (Love that phrase that people give a shit about people who give a shit. Although… how does that explain the popularity of the Kardashians and their lot??) :)

  21. Denise Straulea says

    Enjoyed reading all your thoughts and answers!! Thanks!! Looking forward to the rest of 2014 writings from you!

  22. says

    Monetizing is such an ugly word, isn’t it? I think branding always seems complicated, but it really isn’t. People love your blog because of YOU, your point of view, and the fact that you are amazeballs :) I’m so happy to call you my friend!!

    How awesome is it that the calendar raised $1200 – bloggers ROCK!! I hope 2014 is everything your enormous heart desires :)

  23. says

    Congratulations on banding together and raising money to help a fellow blogger. You make a good point about “follow your bliss”…sometimes I get so caught up in all the “must do” I forget why I’m doing it.

  24. says

    What a lovely goal – and, to me, it’s so true to the spirit of your blog already! I’m with you on not commenting for the sake of commenting, but then I want to make sure the blogs I love know I’m there and reading regularly, so I struggle a bit with that. I’m excited to see where you go in 2014! And happy (belated) blogiversary!

  25. says

    Nice to hear, Jodi. I’ve cut way back on blogging mostly because now that I get paid to write, I have less time to do it for fun. But it is still so fulfilling to write about these dogs when the urge strikes, and it is always great to stay in touch with good friends I’ve made along the way.

    I like what you say about commenting only when you have something to say :) That’s how it should be!

    I hope you’re doing well Jodi–I’ve appreciated all your comments and will continue to enjoy coming by now and then for updates!

  26. says

    I have so many thoughts, but I’ll go with just one: Hell, yes! (I originally wrote heck, but then I remembered where I was. I knew you wouldn’t mind.) I love this post and I love that you’re finally finding your bliss and doing things your way. We’ve chatted about all of this often, and it brings me joy to see you figuring out what you want.

    You rock. :)

    Also, how much do I love that you used the term amazeballs in this post?

  27. says

    Great answers! I love your goal to be true. You can’t go wrong with that. I enjoy your sense of humor and your honesty. I’m anxious to see what changes are coming this year!
    Myself, I muddle through with the technical aspects of blogging. I enjoy a challenge and learning new things but sometimes that can be very time consuming too!

  28. says

    Happy anniversary! I didn’t celebrate mine last year, either, if it makes you feel any better. I used to think it was an important event and I put all this work into doing a giveaway that most people were pretty blasé about. So maybe anniversaries are over-rated. Maybe we should just focus on celebrating our life with our dogs every day we can.

    But I digress.

    I don’t know about all of this other stuff. After four years I don’t have it much figured out either. Traffic, branding, social media, I am just a bumbling fool. But I do know that I have always felt so at ease commenting on your blog. I know you give a shit and that you don’t take crap. I feel like I know you, in a weird sort of way, like I can tell you anything, even if a million of your readers are watching. For me, this is pretty big, so I think you have created a community that is pretty powerful. Even if it’s a small one, it makes a difference. So thanks for that.

  29. says

    I think it’s great that you decided “branding” the blog wasn’t as important as you thought it once was. Following your heart is so much more important…especially considering the title of your blog, eh? :-)

  30. says

    I think “staying true” is your brand. Reading your responses, I can see that you take your blog seriously and have high integrity. I foresee you carving out a niche to be a blog that we can come to that will tell us the truth about products we’re curious about. It’s so hard to determine which online reviews (not bloggers, but reviews on websites and Amazon) really relate to us. This is why I love bloggers, because we have a way to talking that just cuts to the chase and everyone is so accessible that if I have questions, I can ask.

    Best of luck as 2014.

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