I decided to be fashionably late to the blog hop and completely missed it. But I still wanted to share because getting my goals out there where others can see them will make me more likely to work on them.
Do you know January is named for the Roman god Janus. The god of beginnings and transitions is depicted with 2 faces. One looking to the future and one looking to the past. So this is the perfect time to do the Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Go Pet Friendly and Will My Dog Hate Me? and look at where we have come with our blogging and where we would like to go.
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.
February 17, 2007 is when I decided to throw my voice out into the blogosphere. I started my first blog- Pet Product Review (PPR) when I was working for an online pet supply retailer. We would get a lot of phone calls from people looking for more information on products than what was on the website so I thought it would be helpful to have a site where people could go to get that information as well as see how they product worked for someone in real life. Plus I figured it would be easy to do reviews since I could get stuff at wholesale pricing.
A few months after starting PPR, I started afFURmation to write about my pets, but as I wrote I found I was writing about pets in general so switched the focus. Then in 2011 I decided to change my focus to more local content and stopped blogging at afFURmation and began NEPA Pets.
Pet Product Review is a blog where I share product reviews. NEPA Pets is a blog where I share general pet information and write about pets and the pet community in Northeast PA.
2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
I made the decision to revive PPR and began redoing my blog design. I’m still tweaking (but would love any feedback on it).
I’ve gotten more active on my NEPA Pets Facebook page. Social media has been hard for me to jump into so my goal for 2013 was to become more active on it. I chose Facebook to concentrate on because I was a little active there with my personal profile and I felt that was the best place to connect with pet owners and pet organizations in NEPA.
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 think the biggest change is that I’ve been able to connect more with other pet bloggers. Pet bloggers were very hard to find in 2007. It was kind of a niche that was made fun of (pet bloggers were described as grandmas who wrote about their 9 cats) so I felt like a fish out of water. The pet blogging community has grown over the years so I feel I can say I found my people.
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?
If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned from other bloggers is that blogging is about connecting. Connecting with your readers and connecting with other bloggers.
Readers want to know about the person writing the blog. Putting myself out there has always been hard whether online or off. As an introvert I tend to keep things to myself and only share with those that are close to me so writing about myself and even about my own pets is a bit out of my comfort zone. I haven’t had a picture of myself on the blog or anywhere online actually. But I managed to get a decent selfie of myself with Mellie that I put as my avatar on some social media platforms. Then we did the Meet the Blogger Blog Hop and shared quite a few of them. I’m going to work on sharing more personal stories and pieces of my real (albeit boring) life with my pets.
Connecting with other bloggers has been a wonderful experience and one I really didn’t think too much about when I started blogging. Having people who can share experiences, give advice and feedback and support what you are doing is what helps keep me going.
I can’t think of a particular challenge I’m having right now, but when I do have a problem or just a question, I’ve found everyone in the pet blogging community to be very approachable and willing to help.
5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
Right now Triberr and Twitter are bringing the most traffic into NEPA Pets.
For PPR, search engine traffic is the biggest traffic source bringing people looking for product information. One of the biggest surprise sources of traffic is from the websites for the products I’ve reviewed. Some of them have linked back to my review. I also found an online retailer who linked to one of my product reviews on the product information page on her site. I hope this means my reviews are helpful!
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?
Not enough. Not enough. This is one thing I plan on revving up in 2014. Self promotion is another thing out of my comfort zone (I seem to have some issues I need to work on). Even with amping up my interactions on NEPA pets Facebook page, I really haven’t promoted my blog posts there much. I’m going to be intentional about doing more of that as well as sharing on my personal profile and other social media platforms. And since NEPA pets is hyperlocal, I’m going to do more offline marketing then I did in 2013 to reach more people in my area.
7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?
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?
Hmmm. I don’t really have a specific way to check and see whether my writing is appealing. I look at my analytics but it tends to be more out of curiosity. I do try to note which posts get the most visits and comments, but it’s not a big part of my blogging. Maybe it should be something I pay more attention to.
I decide to let go of features when they don’t get any attention, I’m no longer enjoying them or they no longer benefit me.I used to do a quiz feature on my old blog. I loved researching the questions and answers and I gave a gift certificate each month to one person from all who guessed right. But I never promoted it well and decided it was a lot of work so stopped it. But because I enjoyed it I decided to bring it back as a FB post feature. Just for fun, no prize. I’ll see how it goes.
8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
Content that moves me, makes me think, gives me new insight into something. Posts that are more of a discussion than a speech. One type of post I find hard to comment on are picture only posts. I never know what to say other than ‘Nice picture”.
The comment system also determines whether I leave a comment. Anything I have to sign into is a pain in the butt especially since I have profiles for all my blogs. I’ve left blogs without commenting because of having problems trying to remember what my freakin’ password is.
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?
I think with a blog named Pet Product Review you can safely assume I do reviews. I have done a review on NEPA Pets, but I’ve decided I’m not going to do anymore there. I want to keep the topic more local related.
I haven’t gone crazy doing reviews or giveaways, but I think what works best for me is doing reviews of products that do something (toys, pet odor/stain remover,etc). I find it hard to review foods, treats or nutritional supplements. There are quite a few sites that can go into the nutrition aspect of each food and since my dogs find cat poop appetizing, I’m not sure I trust their opinion on taste. So I’m no longer going to review those types of items.
10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
Honestly, I don’t write consistently enough to get writer’s block. I have a lot of ideas and post drafts, I just need to work on them.
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?
I took a long break a few months after I started blogging. Life got a bit crazy with me losing my job, starting a new one and finishing up my degree. It took a while to get back into blogging which I did after going to BlogPaws in 2011. That really helped remotivate me.
I’ve also taken small breaks, sometimes due to life getting crazy and sometimes just due to me needing a break. I do think my blog takes a hit when I do, but I’ve learned that I have to put myself and my pets first.
There have been times I’ve been searching the web for something bloggy and thought how mice it would be to surf the web like normal people. But in reality it’s not really the blog I’d want to stop doing so much as having to work a full time job. I have spent so much time working 2 jobs or going to school while working that I am burnt out on the 9-5 thing. I’d rather have that time to devote to my blogs. Still hoping to win PowerBall so I can do (if only I played).
12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
Goals: Pet Product Review- to get this baby running! I’ve let it sit for too long, just adding content every now and then. This year I want to start doing some different type of posts and work on building my readership.
NEPA Pets- To continue building my Facebook page. I’d like to double my followers there and stay active. I also want to work on connecting with my rescues/shelters in my area, adding more local content to my blog and promoting my posts more.
Maybe I really should play PowerBall…..