Every year, GoPetFriendly.com hosts the Pet Blogger Challenge and we enjoyed participating so much last year that we’re excited to be joining again in 2018. Similar to our most recent post highlighting our adventures from 2017, this challenge asks pet bloggers to look back into their blogging goals.
With the need to focus on other projects and with Sora’s cancer treatment this fall, our blog fell to the wayside for several months. It certainly was not intentional, but just the way it had to be. If blogging has taught me anything, it is to be flexible!
For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?
We have been blogging since October 2014 (holy cow! It’s been over three years!) and we write about adventure travel with dogs. This ranges from stories from the road, roundups on our favorite places to visit, tips and tricks, and the occasional vegan dog treat recipe.
You can see a look back into our 2017 adventures in our most recent post that highlights all of the fun we had last year!
What was your proudest blogging moment of 2017?
Without a doubt, it was winning the Blog Paws Nose to Nose Award for Best Pet Photo on a Blog. The photo of Sora in the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is my absolute favorite photo of her, and I was stoked to see that it garnered some serious attention!
One important goal we have with our audience is to raise awareness about and funds for animal rights organizations and shelters around the world. In 2016, we spent two weeks volunteering at an animal shelter in Peru, and just before heading back to the United States, partnered with an amazing organization based out of Medellin, Colombia called Defenzoores.
The organization fell so smitten with Sora, that they made her the face of animal adoption in Medellin, a city where people prefer to buy purebred and designer dogs while hundreds live in the street. Together, we spoke before city council, interviewed on local TV networks, and answered questions about adoption and animal rights before an audience of some 100 people.
Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why?
This isn’t a blog post, but it is in a blog post and summarizes the three blog posts I wrote about the Oregon Rode Trip – the month long bicycle journey we took through Oregon in June. I created a video about our trip and was quite pleased with the outcome!
In terms of your blog, how do you measure success?
My first thought is to reply with “number of pageviews.” That’s a measurable goal that shows growth (or decline). But I think with something like a blog such as ours, which we have not yet grown to the monetization level we would like, my measure of success has to be does this make me happy?
Blogging is a lot of work. And if I’m going to keep coming back to and pouring hours into that isn’t filling my bank account, then I’d better enjoy it. And I do.
In what ways has your blog changed during 2017?
In late 2016, we overhauled our website and narrowed down our niche more for dog-specific content that performs well in organic search. This means that I have spent a lot more time trying to figure out what our audience is looking for and anticipating what they will want to see next.
What was the biggest blogging challenge you overcame in 2017, and what did you learn that could help other bloggers?
Our traffic went way down in the last quarter of the year. A few personal reason contributed to the decline, but we also spent less time on the blog over all. I needed to focus more on earning more stable income and had to let the blog slide down the list.
Sometimes, this meant turning the keys over to Dave, who makes occasional appearances on the blog. This was difficult for me at times because we have different writing styles and abilities, as well as different standards of how something should look. I had to learn to let go of my vision in order to keep the blog breathing.
When things get hard, what keeps you blogging?
I feel clogged in my mind if I don’t write for some time! I am constantly writing stories or blog posts in my head and need to get them out.
Other times, financial incentives bring me to the blog when I don’t feel like blogging. Our goal is to generate some passive income from the blog so that we can continue to focus on creating great content for our readers, as well as more time for us to do the things we write about – run, hike, and travel. We have zero desire to return to a 9-5 desk job and that is definitely one thing that motivates me to keep blogging!
Looking forward to 2018, what are you hoping to accomplish on your blog this year?
I really enjoy working with tourism boards on creating pet-friendly adventures and would like to increase the number of collaborative trips we take this year. It’s a super unique niche, because most bloggers or influencers are not traveling with their dog, so we have a very specific angle that I think makes us attractive to this type of work.
In addition to what you’d like to accomplish, is there one specific skill you’d like to improve or master this year?
I want to master the art of my pitch. Whether for my writing or collaboration projects, my emails often go unanswered, despite follow-up. I have done my research and am not sure where I am steering incorrectly. I know that editors and brand managers are busy and that is a big part of the reason, but then I see others with lower quality content than what I have to offer working with all sorts of brands. It’s a world I can’t seem to figure out.
I also struggle with finding brands to work with, I think often due to a case of fear, thinking that they’re too….small…big…out of our league…etc. I’ll make up an excuse, rather than just go for it.
So, my commitment to myself and this blog is to pitch more!
Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?
We’ve really struggled with casting a wider net for our audience. Maybe our posts don’t lend to a wide number of people. I can see how that was the case when I was telling more stories about our trip, but since we’ve begun to focus more on SEO and organic search, I’m a bit stumped.
We’ve struggled with trying to figure out if we’re a travel blog or a dog blog, and we ultimately decided to marry both themes with “adventure travel with a dog.” Since we travel internationally so much, however, and most of our audience is in the US, I feel like we’re just destined to remain small.
I guess what I would like to know are your thoughts on this dilemma. Is our blog just bound to be peanuts forever, or can we evolve into something bigger with this theme we’ve created?
Join the blog hop and check out what other pet bloggers have to say about their own blogs and the challenges and successes they’ve faced in 2017.