It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Edie of Will My Dog Hate Me and I hosted the first Pet Blogger Challenge. So much has changed. And some things are more the same than I care to admit. Whether I’m ready or not, the time has come … let’s take the lid off this blog and shine a light on it. We’ll see how far we’ve come and where we’re heading.
If this is the first you’ve heard of the Pet Blogger Challenge and you want to participate, you can find the questions in this post.
1. Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.
Here’s our Pet Blogger Challenge post from last year.
2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?
One goal really stands out in last year’s post … in fact I put it in bold: I’m going to savor the experiences that come with traveling in the Winnebago in 2011, and I will not sacrifice that enjoyment to meet an artificial (blogging) deadline I’ve imposed upon myself.
3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?
As I sit here, I cannot remember one instance when I sat in front of my computer cranking out a blog post rather than having lunch with a friend, visiting with family, or heading off to see some cool thing with Rod and the dogs. That was definitely not the case at the end of last year! The “obligations” continue to pull at me, but allowing myself a more flexible posting schedule has helped me feel more free to do the things I want to do without feeling as guilty.
4. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?
During last year’s challenge I decided to give up the strict Monday, Wednesday, Friday blogging schedule. I was shooting to publish three times a week, but not get hung up on what days the posts appeared. And, if I only posted twice some weeks, I wasn’t going to beat myself up. The theory was that the blog would be better and my readers would enjoy it more if we were out having fun, which would be reflected in my writing.
As it turned out, I published 152 posts in 2011 – just four posts shy of my three per week goal.
And, I have to say, it panned out pretty well. Looking back, I have no idea why I felt so nervous about the change. Honestly, would you want to read about people that drive around the country spending all of their time sitting in an RV typing feverishly? NO! You want to read about the places, and the adventures, and the funny things that happen when you travel with pets.
Which are you doing now?
I’ve fallen into a rhythm of posting on Mondays, posting once or twice Tuesday though Thursday, and then doing our Photo Challenge post on Fridays. It’s working for me and I’m sticking with the flexible schedule.
When we were on the West Coast, I also changed the time that my posts go live from 6am to 10am EST – and sometimes even later. Having those extra few hours in the morning has been a huge relief – rather than staying up late polishing a post and getting cranky, I now go to bed and finish up in the morning.
Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc?
At first I was concerned that my traffic would nose dive, and so I didn’t look at my analytics at all. But after a couple of months I could see that things were trending up and I stopped worrying. Now I check the stats about once a month, just to see where my traffic’s coming from and look for anything unusual. I’m definitely not as neurotic about the numbers as I was last year at this time.
As you can see, the flexible schedule has certainly not hurt things! We’re also getting a higher percentage of new visitors than we were last year, so more people are finding us all the time.
5. Are you generating income from your blog?
Yes, we’re making a little money on ads and text links, but we still have a long way to go to even cover the hosting costs for the blog and GoPetFriendly.com.
Generating revenue on a blog is tough. Marketing budgets are tight, and companies look at bloggers as a source of free advertising. The approach I take when dealing with advertisers – and any company that is looking for coverage on a blog is an advertiser – is to think of my blog like a roadside billboard. To get that space for the day you need to offer me one of two things: reasonable compensation for my time and the attention of my audience OR a subject so valuable to my readers that they’d prefer it to whatever topic I would have covered that day. It’s a high standard – and most companies opt to work with the bloggers who will write a post for little or nothing.
Has this changed since last year?
We made slightly more money on ads, but the real progress I’ve seen this year is in the relationships we’re starting to build. A PR firm working with the makers of Zyrtec allergy medication selected us to participate in a national promotion, several nationally recognized companies have contacted us about working together, and we’re in discussions about a spokesperson opportunity for another brand. It seems things are moving in a good direction.
If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?
My goal for GoPetFriendly.com has always been to cover it’s expenses and our travel costs. Making that happen is going to require some creativity, so I’m exploring how to leverage the blog, our newsletter, and the networks I’m building on Facebook and Twitter.
We all get inquiries about advertising on our blogs and this advertising page I put together gives companies some ideas of the ways we can work together. Most importantly, it allows me to quickly reply to those requests and determine which prospects are worth pursuing.
6. Have your likes and dislikes about blogging changed since last year?
My likes are still the same. I love getting to know other bloggers and my readers. The best part is meeting up in person as we travel around the country! I also still enjoy sharing our travels – giving people ideas about where to take their next vacation – even if it’s only in their imagination. And, spending every day with Rod and the boys is the icing on the cake. Really, what more could a girl ask for?
Last year one of my “dislikes” was obsessing over numbers, and that’s really non-existent at this point. I’ve discovered a new dislike though … viruses that attack your blog really suck.
7. Overall, are you pleased with the progress you made in 2011?
I am pleased with where I am this year compared to last year. Mentally, I feel I’m in a much better place … less neurotic and more confident. I’m also happy with the analytics for the year – which probably contributes to my improved outlook. And we’re in a good place physically – or at least as “physically” as a blog can be. The blog was completely redesigned and rebuilt from scratch in December, thanks to the aforementioned virus, and I’m thrilled with the new look.
8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?
The biggest change I’m anticipating is that as we travel we’ll grow our collection of posts on the pet friendly destinations we visit. It seems we have some ground to cover in New England and Canada!
That’s a wrap-up on the second edition of the Pet Blogger Challenge. Many thanks to my co-host, Edie who has some jaw-dropping news over at WillMyDogHateMe.com and Kim Clune of ThisOneWildLife.com who was kind enough to design the Pet Blogger Challenge badge. Thank you for making 2011 a success for Take Paws, and thanks to all the bloggers participating today!
Bloggers participating in the 2nd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge, please add your link and then include the link code in your post. Thanks!
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