2018 Go Pet Friendly Blogger Challenge

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2018 Go Pet Friendly Pet Blogger ChallengeEvery 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!

2018 Go Pet Friendly Pet Blogger Challenge

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.

2018 Go Pet Friendly Pet Blogger Challenge

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.

Gear Review: Arkel Orca Panniers | Long Haul Trekkers

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!

2018 Go Pet Friendly Pet Blogger Challenge

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!

Oregon Rode Trip: Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway | Long Haul Trekkers

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.

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  1. I can relate to your struggles to cement your blog niche. I’ve been flummoxed by the question ever since we moved onto the boat.

    In truth, the really gigantic dog content on the web seems to that which is just cute pics of dogs in outfits. So comparatively, you will always be “small” and maybe that’s okay.

    It might be a matter of finding the right partnerships that work for you.

    In fact, from your post it sounds like your greatest lack is confidence. I think your blog is amazing. And it would be worth following just for the photos, even if I wasn’t a crazy dog lover.

    Maybe you need to follow some travel bloggers for inspiration. Goatontheroad.com post a lot about making money traveling.

    Of course the main lesson might be that you make the most money traveling by teaching other people how to make money while traveling. 🙂

    • What an awesome and helpful comment, Pamela. Thank you! You’re completely spot on in regards to the confidence. I just need to put myself out there more and see what happens. Adventure dog content for us has been tricky since we travel so much. We’ve spent almost a year in the PNW, so I should have more content there, and I feel like our audience is mainly in the US, so does it make sense to post about international places one can visit with their dog? Not really. Hence, I fall into this content trap.

      Thanks for the tip to check out goatontheroad.com!

  2. I don’t think the answer lies in making things “broader”. Finding a niche seems to be more effective. Perhaps the problem isn’t in what you cover but your keywords. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who travel with dogs.

    • I feel like I’ve done a lot of homework on keyword research and SEO and when I check my ideas against searches, I’m just not seeing the search traffic. I think that’s ok in some cases because I do think that adventure travel with a dog is growing. I don’t know, I feel like I just have these ideas that seem great to me and then I do the research and nothing. It can be discouraging!

  3. I love this post Jen! I think it’s so great to reflect on how far you’ve come. I think you do an amazing job and honestly wouldn’t have noticed that you were less active if you didn’t mention it. You seem to always have a new adventure! Can I do a post answering these questions too? I need to do a 2017 recap and this would be the perfect format! I just don’t want to step on anyone’s paws if this is exclusive to a campaign.

    • Yes! Any pet blogger is invited to participate. I think today is the last day you can add your link to the blog hop part, but definitely definitely join us!

  4. My first time here….

    I think you can definitely grow to something bigger. Not having read any of your travel posts though, I’m just going to tell you what I would be looking for if I were traveling with my dog abroad…I hope that’s okay.

    1) Whatever country your traveling to…what are their requirements in terms of vaccinations, quarantine, etc…?
    2) If you taking your dog and you’re flying, how does the dog travel? Can your pet be in the cabin with you? Can you buy a seat for your pet?
    3) If your dog flies cargo, how long after the plane lands before you can get your pet?
    4) How are animals treated in country you’re visiting? Can they go places with you, or must you leave them in a hotel?
    5) How hard is it to find pet friendly lodging in other countries?

    I feel like if you are answering those questions in a post, (whether it be paragraph form, or just hitting the highlights in a list post) they would be what would help propel and grow the blog. But those are just my thoughts. I’m not an expert. 🙂

    • Thanks for all these helpful questions, Jodi! We definitely have some content on these topics like flying internationally with a dog and how to find accommodation when traveling with a dog. The flying post is by far and away our most popular page, so we’re definitely going to be building more content touching that theme. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this post and give me some good ideas to think about!

  5. Nice to me meet you through the blog challenge. We talk about similar things, and it looks like our dogs the same too. I love reading about what adventures people take with their dogs, it helps me find and plan things to do with ours.
    It’s hard to find a niche when you have so many, Lol. I address this in my post too. You simply have to write you. No one else can do that.

    • How funny that you also know Jessica! We think she is just great! I completely agree that I just need to do me. I think that it will shine in the writing and other content, as opposed to feeling forced because I need to put something out there. I’m looking forward to seeing the similarities that you mention in your blog post!

  6. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been dealing with a cancer scare with Sora, Laura! I hope the treatment is going well and that she’s on the road to recovery.

    Congratulations on the animal rescue work you were able to do in Peru – changing minds in a culture that values purebred dogs is an uphill challenge, and it sounds like you guys were able to make a terrific impact.

    I love your measure of success … is this making me happy. We’d all be much better off if we could ask that question about all the things we choose to spend our time doing.

    In my experience, casting a wider net usually doesn’t lead to success. Getting deeper, more focused, and more dedicated to your niche leads to committed fans and brings people looking for true expertise. Also, brands are not necessarily drawn to the biggest blogs, but like to work with those whose brands and audiences align with their own. Don’t be afraid to reach out – the worst that can happen is that they say no!

    Thank you for participating in the Challenge again this year, and I wish you all a healthy and happy 2018!

    • I love this challenge so much and look forward to meeting new bloggers each year. It’s so nice to have a community that is there to encourage me through my doubts and struggles, and also be there to celebrate our wins.

      I am happy to report that Sora is doing fantastically. She went through electrochemotherapy in November and is trail running with us like she’s is not a 13 year old dog who just got over a cancerous tumor! We are so beyond grateful.

      You’re not the first here to mention that I am letting my fears get in the way of work. I even have a phrase I tell myself that “if I never ask, the answer is always no.” And I’m not following my own advice. Thanks so much for the encouragement and for putting this challenge together!

  7. Very nice to meet you through the challenge. I LOVE your photography. Everything is so gorgeous!! I would love to learn more about taking better pictures in the future.

    I really love the dog-friendly travel mission. I think a lot of people would enjoy it. I wish you all the best in 2018!

  8. 1st, I’m glad I read the other comments cause I was worried about Sora’s cancer scare and saw your reply that she is doing great. Sigh of relief…

    I PAWsitively love everything about your blog (your wedding was perfect). We have done quite a bit of traveling with our fur kids too as well as hiking, backpacking etc. I clicked into your year review post and can’t wait to follow your adventures.

    I think narrower and not broader niches are probably better and you have a topic with unique information. I agree with an earlier comment about finding brands specific to your content. Just looking at your Oregon trip video- REI, the company that makes the biking carrier Sora rides in, and Ruffwear (just to name a few) would be ecstatic to work with you. I’m sure Jessica (love that girl) could help with your pitch.

    Finally, I am finding https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/ a great blog to follow with amazing information. It is considered a “personal finance blog” but she has gone to traveling full time making money from her blog and shares the information. I took her affiliate marketing class after reading her blog for a while and learned a lot.

    • Hi Denise! Thanks so much for all your awesome comments and words of encouragement. I agree that the smaller niche is best, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. We definitely do work with some brands, I think I am letting fear get in the way of reaching out to others. Many have mentioned that in these comments, so I suppose that I will have to make 2018 my year of no fear!

      Thanks also for suggesting Making Sense of Cents. I love checking out financial blogs like that for inspiration. I look forward to digging in!

  9. Oh wow, your photos are lovely! No wonder you won an award for one! I think I have one of those blogs destined to remain small, but this one? I don’t buy it. I think you’ll go places – literally! Because travelling with dogs is fun! 😀

    • Thank you so much for the kind words on my photos and your positivity about the places our blog will go! I think that by putting more time into it, we can definitely make it more of a presence in the world wide web.

  10. Hello Jen, I’m hopping over for my first visit. I loved your Oregon bike adventure video. Such gorgeous views and all the food looked delicious. You’re also an incredibly civilized cinnamon swirl eater! My blog is just five months old, so I’m no blogging expert. Sounds like some of your dilemma is appealing to U.S. readers while writing about international travel. I don’t know if this idea is possible, especially if you haven’t been to the places first, but maybe you could pair international locations with U.S. destinations. Like “If you’re looking for the serene beauty of , then visit . And then show what these places have in common. If you focused on how places make us feel, then maybe this would be possible to create a unique round up for your blog. Whatever you decide to create, I’ll be watching now that I’ve discovered you. Cheers!

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