Friday, January 9, 2015

Pet Blogger Challenge 2015

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Keeping it Fun With Doga
For several years now I've been participating in the Pet Blogger Challenge, created and hosted by Amy at Go Pet Friendly. Today's answers to her list of questions take a very different approach to my prior years' versions. Having been dealt a fresh, yet unwelcome hand, I'm on a new track to focus more on my readers and less on my bank account. Bottom line; this seems to be taking some of the stress off of me, while I work to heal myself in other ways. Hope these answers are helpful to someone out there. Here goes:

1. How long have you been blogging? All Things Dog Blog was launched as an experiment in 2009, a spinoff of an organic living blog I started prior to this one. When All Things Dog Blog took off several months later, I decided to make it my primary focus in 2010.

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud. Working with a professional yoga instructor, I developed a set of short, instructional yoga videos designed to help beginners learn simple yoga poses while engaging their dogs in joining in with them to form a stronger bond. Currently I am expanding the poses by sharing modifications to ease each of them. You'll find links to all of these posts at my Doga page.

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?  Balance is needed in life! While I don't regret pouring 12 hours a day for the past 4 years into this website, I'm now seeing that I've created a situation that is hard to course-correct. Intertia has me involved in a daily routine of blog management. I now am working slowly at redesigning my days to incorporate more time for things like yoga, doga, cooking, walking and camping with hubs and my dogs.

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content? Create truly UNIQUE content. Event Barkers' Twitter Parties and exclusive Doga instructional series bring an unprecedented batch of unique content to All Things Dog Blog. We're trying to help our readers find new and relaxing ways to bond with their dogs, stay in shape, and win prizes. Our Fido's Freebie Friday giveaway linky is also beneficial for our readers to find all of your giveaways. 

5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular? Surprisingly, it was 8 Things I Learned from Practicing Doga. This post is now in my top 3 of all time. Who knew?!!!
Bonding, Stretching and Working on Balance
6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year? No great surprise here. It was the same post: 8 Things I Learned from Practicing Doga. The inherent lesson here is that when we do what we are passionate about, our words are more compelling to our readers.

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year? While I am slowing up a bit on product reviews, I'm requiring better giveaways when I do these. By better, I mean that I don't run one without a minimum number of winners, or a more substantial prize. I want it to be worth my readers time to enter my giveaways.
If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all? I do require a giveaway in order to run a review, and I always pre-check the product to assure that I'll have a largely positive message. In other words, I don't waste my readers' time with negative reviews. I take a pass on products that I don't like and hand select my reviews carefully.

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 108. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?  If you're in this to make even a part time income, you'll need to do something seriously different in order to make a go of it. Think outside the box to create a site that offers something no one else has; then find a way to create it. Invest reasonably in your site if you plan to make it a long term, income-producing blog, while keeping in mind that what you offer must be desirable by the pet-owning public. Measure that interest and match it to your need for growth. By using surveys, you may be able to quantify interest in a specific segment of your writing that will help you bring a sponsor onboard. Finally, if you're trying to monetize your blog, you should be behaving like a professional. Enough said.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?  All Things Dog Blog is good therapy for me as I move through some troubling health issues this year. I need something to focus my energies on, and this is where my focus remains: (1) Doga is good for me and my dogs, so we'll continue to share this journey with our readers who would like to work out at in the privacy of their own home and bond with their dogs while they enjoy their practice. (2) Event Barkers Twitter Parties continue to be a big hit. I'm proud to be a founding partner and happy to have expanded my partnership with Paris to include a new associate, Diane Silver of We look forward to seeing this venture continue to grow and prosper. (3) Finally, I'll continue to write about what I set out to share when I first began this site--tips on dog care that help to maintain a healthy lifestyle for both you and Fido. This includes training, nutrition, lifestyle articles, physical activities and more.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be? Great question!  I'll gladly offer a phone conference consultation to the person with the best answer to my dilemma: As I continue to develop my Doga series, I need to zero in on ways to help my readers get past their body image issues and worries about not being able to accomplish a particular pose in the way it is photographed. I'm trying to get the message across that yoga is a journey, not a destination. The goals are simple: (1)  Gain strength and flexibility through incorporating a regular yoga practice into your lifestyle, and (2) Include your dog into your practice to build your bond with him. By making it fun for you and your dog, you're more likely to continue to work at your yoga practice frequently, while continuing to bond more deeply with your dog. It's a Win-Win! The comment link is open; I invite your thoughts and ideas.

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Mary Hone said...

Boy, that's a tough question. So many women struggle with body image, it's sad really. I have done yoga in some very public places, and I have seen other women that are comfortable, and some not so much. I don't think you can teach anybody these things. They have to learn on their own to be comfortable in their own skin and not care what everyone else thinks or looks like.

Alix Mitchell said...

Great post! I'm so glad I found your blog through this blog hop. Your advice is wonderful and definitely left me thinking. I look forward to following your blog!

Jen deHaan | DOGthusiast | Stylish Canine said...

Lovely post! And I'm sorry to hear about your health issues (I'm facing some too, but aren't dogs and exercise great balancing tools for that!)

I'm not sure what might be a good answer to your body issue question - it's a tough one! My activity of choice is group exercise dance workout, and I got over my body issue by realizing a) no one really cares but me, and b) if I'm getting healthy and someone *does* care... that's their problem! I think it took me many years to sort that out, and maturing into my late 30s. Now I dance with abandon at the front of the room, jiggling all those flabby parts... and apparently people do watch (as I've had a few folks tell me they're following me! yikes!). I would have cared, but now I don't.

Why? It brings joy, health, and balances my stress.

Loooong story short - I think we get over our body issues by looking deep into our souls about what really matters in life: our health and well being, and those we love (best served by the first two).

Val Silver said...

Hi Carrie, Love the colors, style and energy of your blog. I know what you mean about yoga. I haven't done it much in a while, but it's always tempting to want to push further to make my pose look like the teachers - not! Maybe two videos - beginner and advanced for each pose. BTW, ever see the calendar with the dogs in yoga poses? Photoshopped of course, but cute.

MyDog Likes said...

I absolutely agree about the importance of finding your specific niche in the pet blogging world. You need something to differentiate yourself if you really want to make a living blogging.

I am really intrigued by your Doga series, and will definitely be checking them out. I recently went to my first Yoga class and really enjoyed it but I think I would be much more likely to continue if I could make it a fun experience with the dogs!

I did not know about your Friday giveaway linky - I will make sure to join in the future!

Pamela said...

Great advice for bloggers, Carrie. And glad to see you're trying to find some balance in your life.

One thought on videos and instructions for people with body issues--have you considered trying to find models with different body types?

No one's made of cash so you probably don't want to pay people. But perhaps you could create a collaborative relationship with a curvy fashion blogger or even someone with a physical disability who enjoys yoga.

It's really important to see all kinds of people so our eyes stay fresh and open to the wonderful variety in the human body.

Jessica @ said...

Boy, Carrie, do I hear ya on the blog inertia thing. When I used to have a 40-hour a week job, I would come home and spend another 30 at my blog. I loved it and I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't but I found I got stuck. Everything I did became about the "blog angle" and "material for the blog". I stopped finding time for much else that didn't further that agenda. I have been going through a bit of a blogging slump but I have rediscovered my down-time and I think that will breathe more life into my blog in 2015.

Colby, Adelle, Stetson, and Linus said...

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to your questions, but I do plan on checking out your doga videos. A few of my friends have been asking me to attend yoga with them. I'm not really interested, but maybe doga will be right up my ally.

I'm always searching for balance in my own life. At times I'll be devoting too much to blogging and not enough to other aspects of life. Hopefully I can find that balance in 2015.

Best of luck to you and to good health in the coming year.

Meghan said...

Nice post Carrie - you definitely nailed #4. Creating unique content should be the number one goal of all bloggers, and your doga pieces are truly one-of-a-kind and so enjoyable!

Vicki Cook said...

I can so relate with the balance thing - that's why I took a break from my blog this year. I had that luxury because my blog is a hobby, not a source of income. I love the Doga series. I think it's something that makes your blog unique. Wishing you a wonderful 2015!

Amy said...

Thank you so much, Carrie, for participating in the Challenge again this year. I love your advice that people who are hoping to make money from their blogs need to differentiate themselves somehow. Being unique is definitely a way to attract sponsors. Also, finding balance is the only way we'll maintain our sanity. I love yoga and do find myself pushing harder than I should. (I think it's my competitive nature.) But, my favorite yoga video shows several people in various versions of each pose, which I think helps me relate to the place I am in my practice. Perhaps you could do something similar, as well as reminding your viewers that yoga is not a competitive sport - going just deep enough that you can enjoy the sensation of stretch is the goal. Good luck to you - I'm wishing you all the best!

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