Pet Blogger Challenge 2015

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I began blogging in 2007. Wow. 7 years. Where has the time gone?

My first blog was Pet Product Review which I started when I was working for an online pet retailer. Part of my job was answering questions customers had about products which gave me the idea to have a site where pet parents could get more information on products before they bought. And having access to a whole warehouse full of pet products- BONUS! Then 3 months after I started PPR, the company I worked for was sold to another who moved all the inventory halfway across the US. Bye bye warehouse full of pet products. Bye bye job. PPR went into slow mode while I went back to school and found another job.

NEPA Pets was started in 2012 when I decided it would be hard for me to stand out from other bloggers on my old blog, afFURmation. I needed to make some changes. So I niched down and decided to to start a blog with my main audience being pet owners in my local area. Along with local topics my plan is to also write about general pet information.

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.

Facebook. I know. How can I be proud about anything going on with Facebook considering all the changes they have been making? Well, I’m proud of having grown my NEPA Pets Facebook page this year. Social media has been hard for me to get into but I have been staying pretty active on my page. With some occasional targeted advertising and more and more organic growth, I’m starting to feel comfortable there. Now to work on that engagement.

3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs?

No blog is an island.

When I started my first blog in 2007 I didn’t know any other pet bloggers.

It was a bit lonely.

Then I found Blog Paws and other pet bloggers and I found that being part of a community is what helps you grow. I feel lucky to belong to a small group that offers each other help and support.

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

I’d be able to answer this better if I wrote more. Right now search tends to be my biggest source of traffic and that’s probably just due to luck. I haven’t spent much time on optimizing my posts. I’ve been working on using SEO on each post and having pin-worthy shareable images for my posts so we’ll see what my traffic looks like next year.

5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?

On Pet Product Review my most popular post was my review of the AuggieDog.

I’m surprised yet not surprised this was my most popular. I didn’t know there were so many people looking for a way to make poop picker upping so much easier. But since there are so many people I’m not surprised that they would want to learn more about something like the AuggieDog before they bought one.

On NEPA Pets my most popular post was my Thrifty Thursday post Make Your Guinea Pig A Cage.

I’m not too surprised this was popular. I haven’t written many posts on NEPA Pets this year so there aren’t a lot of posts to be popular. And people are always looking for ways to save money. And guinea pigs need cages.

6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?

I don’t think I really have 1 favorite post this year especially since I didn’t add many new posts to my blogs. But I love doing my You Know You’re A Pet Parent  When… series on NEPA Pets. It still amazes me all the little things we do that show how pet-centric our lives are.

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year?

No, my policy is still the same. I do product reviews on Pet Product Review, but I don’t on NEPA Pets.

If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

I find doing in depth reviews is what works best for my blog and I hope they are helpful to the people that read them. I am going through my reviews and making sure they are all set with SEO. I think this will be helpful since most of my traffic for my review blog is from search engines.

This year I tried adding a blog hop for other bloggers to link up their reviews. I also featured one of the bloggers who had joined the blog hop. I didn’t have the time to promote the posts the bloggers linked up so it didn’t really get any momentum.

If you don’t do reviews, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

I made the decision to not do reviews on NEPA Pets. I think I’ve mostly made that decision because I have PPR, but I also think it’s because I have other ideas for how I want to grow the site and I am afraid if I start doing reviews it will take me off track.

8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?

See number 3. Become part of the pet blogging community. Best thing to do ever.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?

My goal for 2015 is to get out of debt. It might not seem like a blog goal, but it is for me.

Being out of debt means so much to me. It means less stress because I won’t have to worry about having enough money to cover my bills. It means not having to work overtime just to keep up. It means having extra money that I can spend on my blogging. It means no longer making stupid decisions because of money. It means a sense of freedom I don’t think I’ve ever felt.

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

Don’t give up on me! I’m not as active as I’d like to be mostly because of working toward my goal of being debt free and I always feel bad because I’d don’t comment or share as much as I’d like. It’s another reason I can’t wait to dump the debt- more time to spend visiting other blogs.