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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pet Blogger Challenge:
A Year in Retrospect

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Jumping in here at the last minute, I have to admit I've just read and am plowing through these questions at the last minute. I'd like to report that my answers are well thought out, but in actuality what you are getting is "by the seat of my pants". With that said, here are my answers to the questions posed by Amy of Go Pet Friendly, the organizer of the annual Pet Blogger Challenge.

  1. Last year's Pet Blogger Challenge may be found at this link. Although I began blogging in 2009, All Things Dog Blog was merely a diversion from my more serious topics at the time. Little did I know that my dog venture would take over my life and turn me in a new direction.
  2. "What do I consider the most important goals I set out in last year's post?": Along with the continuation of offering a place for pet bloggers to share their giveaways on Fido's Freebie Friday, the Super Dog Sunday™ charity fundraiser for Petfinder Foundation and our growing social media event partnership with DogtipperEvent Barkers, were and continue to be at the top of my radar.
  3. "Have I made progress toward these goals, or have my goals changed over the past year?"  An excellent question!  With Event Barkers growth I have increased the hours of my part time employee and found myself still looking for ways to tweak my business in order to offer the grass roots pet solutions I endeavored to provide in the beginning. The addition of my Weekly Wag 'bonding with your dog' column in January, 2012, has been a popular one. This year I decided to continue it and have modified the method of participation, trying to make it simpler to join in. Last week's comments were assuring that I have taken a good step in the right direction.  On another note, I've learned from experience that our Event Barkers Twitter Parties are not just a way to monetize our pet brand relationships. Much to my delight, my readers have shared their thrill with participating in and learning from the Tweets, product reviews and parties that are all part of the package of events included. This has been music to my ears.
  4. "How often do I post?" Sometimes lately I feel I'm really lagging here, as I spent the Fall busily participating in one of my kids' weddings and seemed to have dropped the ball in terms of quantity. When I look back at my mention of posting once per day, I am excited to say that my actual average for 2012 was 1.4 posts per day. I guess I was not as far off as I thought. Thank you to the organizers of the Pet Blogger Challenge for helping me to become aware of this statistic. I feel better already!
  5. "Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? What do you do for inspiration? How do you know what topic is post-worthy?".  Yes, I've changed my scheduling strategy.  As I write this I'm surprising myself. Being such a schedule-driven person, I never thought this would come to pass. I have found that my posting during the past year has revolved largely around events and themes that I have chosen to write about and participate in. There is definitely a lesson in there that will drive my decisions going forward. Motivation and inspiration seem to come from themes; form follows function.
  6. "How much time do I spend writing my blog each week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share my tips for staying on top of it all." Absolutely no clue! With so much of my pet industry work revolving around brand representation and social media work, it's hard to say how much time I actually spend writing on the blog that is not related to Event Barkers. Maybe a time log is in order, but I'm doubtful that will happen. Next year I'll still be saying "who knows!" To answer the second and third question I must first stop and put my tail properly between my legs. I spend little time visiting other blogs, not because I don't want to, but because I need sleep and wish to stay married to my husband of 35 years. I do have my priorities, despite the fact that I work 60 hours or more each week. Tips? Seriously? Ask someone who's better suited to give you a helpful answer. My inspiration is driven by a passion for helping dog owners make their lives easier and more fun, which generally equates with fewer turnovers to shelters. There is no staying on top of that!
  7. "How do I measure the success of a post and of my blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)? Do I look strictly at the numbers or have a way of assessing interactions?" My answer to this question has changed dramatically over the period since I began. Now I see my blog as a tool for not only sharing pet solutions and inspiration with my readers, but also as a place to share the events I have going on, in order to encourage participation. I have seen a significant increase in engagement with readers both on the blog and in my email. The few relationships I once cherished are now many. This is endearing to me and key to my continuing energy for this effort. I spend much less time tracking traffic and rankings at various social media venues these days. It seems less important to me now than the participation of my readers and fellow bloggers in the events I create and produce.
  8. "If I could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue I'm concerned about, what would it be?" Now you've opened a can of worms. Let's see if I can find them all some rich soil in which to burrow. This topic is not so much related to MY blog as it is to the pet blogging group in general. After 3 years of participating regularly in several industry and social media conferences and conventions, I've learned one thing that is startling and was unexpected. There are some pet bloggers out there that can be downright catty, so wrapped up in their own tiny niches that they can't see the forest for the trees. We are a small, yet very nichey group, with as many blog goals and themes as you can imagine.  I am sometimes surprised when I hear negative comments about bloggers who choose to monetize. We do all live in a capitalistic society, and we all have to pay our bills. Can't we all play nicely in the sandbox like the worms? 
  9. "What goals do I have for my blog in 2013?" I may answer this differently each day of the week, so here's today's answer for what it's worth. I get great pleasure out of a good challenge and meaningful work helping pet owners find the products that solve the problems in their life-with-dog lives. Helping to connect brands with the pet owners that need them will continue to be a focus, along with inspired and useful pieces that pursue my objective to make life easier and more enjoyable for dogs and their owners.
Happy tails,


Anonymous said...

Very nice post. Great goals and you have come so far already.

Peggy Frezon said...

I love your blog and what you do, how very helpful you are to people, how willing you are to reach out to others. Because of you, I learned first hand what a twitter party is and got to be involved in one! What I like best about your blog is that you have a lot of different types of information, all very well organized so that it's easy to find. Happy 2013.

Unknown said...

Wow Carrie - when do you sleep? You've accomplished so much with your blog since we first met, and I'm in awe of what you've done. I do understand your feeling about some pet bloggers looking down on those who have monetized their blogs. People blog different reasons - for some it's a hobby, for others it's how they give back to the community, and for still others it's how they make a living. But that's not to say that professional bloggers don't support animal-related causes; many do - like your partnership with Petfinder. Good luck with achieving your goals in 2013!

Anonymous said...

Hey Carrie! I'm always reading your blog and all the interesting things you have to share! Please keep up the awesome posts! I so look forward to reading more! BTW, you're always going to find cattiness, especially among women. Just shake it off and continue to do your thing! :)

lifewithbeagle said...

I've found cattiness to be true of all areas, including other blogging groups. I don't think there's anyway to keep it from happening, unfortunately. But I also find nothing wrong with monetizing. I someday hope to do the same.

Carrie, I like your blog. I know I don't comment often, but I want you to know that.

Christie from

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

@Brenda Lee: Great advice. That's pretty much what I do, but it still leaves a pit in my stomach at times. Thanks for stopping by!

Kim Clune said...

What a terrific realization that your motivation and inspiration comes from themes and that your form follows function. Being able to identify the well in which to draw from is a tremendous gift. And we all know that some new event is coming up around the corner - always. This niche is terrific in that sense.

As for the monetization gripes, I answered your mention of it on my blog so I won't reiterate here - other than to say I find it puzzling and unnecessary. I hope you find peace in that portion of your dealings.

Congratulations on a terrific and utterly ambitious 2012 and I already know you'll bring great things to 2013!

Charlie @ Weekends with Charlie said...

I liked reading your year in retrospect! Congrats on a great 2012 and wishing you lots of happy blogging in 2013!

Coralee said...

I've been to your blog several times before. I'm so glad to come as a part of the Challenge and hear your thoughts and goals. Best wishes in the coming year!

AJ of PupLove said...

I think you're doing fantastically with your blog! All the best for 2013!

Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Nutrition Blogger for Keep the Tail Wagging said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Carrie! I'll be happy to play nicely in the pet blogger sandbox. Of course, I'm just happy to be here!

Best of luck with your blog and family in 2013!!!

~ Kimberly

Amy said...

Holy bananas - 1.4 posts per day - that's fantastic! Good for you and I'm glad you've found such a neat niche that you're passionate about. I hear what you're saying about the cattiness. Try not to let it bother you - it's just someone's opinion and their their ideas aren't any better or more important than yours. Have a great 2013 and we'll be watching for upcoming events!

Tegan said...

I've been really wanting to go to some blogging conferences, but with your comments about cattiness, now I'm not sure. I haven't actually noticed too much cattiness from my current position. Now I'm wondering what I've missed...

Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes said...

Whew! I'm tired just reading about all your work much less imagining how you get it all done.

I will tackle your comment about disagreements regarding blog monetization. I don't know what specific complaints you've seen. Most of what I hear are bloggers getting angry with companies who expect bloggers to work for free.

Personally, I struggle with getting requests from companies whose values don't match my own. I suspect that the future of brand/blog relationships will include some sort of statement of principles to make more successful partnerships.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

@Pamela/Something Wagging This Way Comes: Absolutely! My best partnerships have come when I've had a meeting of the minds with the brand. When we're both barking up the same tree things just click!

Colby said...

WOW! 1.4 posts a day! I thought I did pretty good almost reaching 0.5 posts!

Do worms play nicely in the sandbox? I haven't really encountered the catiness yet or my likely I'm just oblivious to it (thank goodness). Maybe I just need to get more involved in the pet blogging community (one of my goals for 2013). Anywow I promise to play nice.

Best of luck with your goals in 2013!

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

@Colby: You too! I hope to meet you at Blogpaws, Global Pet Expo or Barkworld. Will you be joining us?

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