Our pals over at GoPetFriendly.com have been running the Pet Blogger Challenge for eight years now. 2019 marks our third year of participation. The goal of the post is to reflect back on 2018 and identify goals for the new year.
As you know, 2018 was an incredibly difficult year for us, with the loss of Sora and Dave’s father. We moved to Granada, Spain, which has been great, though it has certainly taken us awhile to feel settled here. It seems like 2018 was a troubling year for many and we’re grateful for the fresh start with 2019. We know there are no guarantees simply because one number in the calendar changed, but we look ahead with anticipation for what will come our way.
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 and our blog is about adventure travel with dogs. This includes anything from tips for traveling with dogs, including by air, bicycle, and boat (coming soon!); outdoor adventures to do with your dog, such as trail running, winter activities, and camping; and we also provide honest reviews of our favorite gear, like dog bike trailers, leashes, and travel beds.
What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018?
This is a hard one to think about. It might be that we hit 21k pageviews in October. Or perhaps that we think we finally got a hang of this SEO thing. We also did a site overhaul and rebranded our logo.
What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it?
Our biggest challenge, as has always been the case for us, has been posting with regularity. Our goal is to reach 25K viewers by the first quarter of 2019 and we realized we would never get there by continuing to do what we have been doing, which was posting erratically.
We’ve created a calendar with twice weekly posts related to several topics, including travel, gear review, storytelling and more. As someone who has never really used calendars, I was skeptical that this would keep me on a schedule, but it been working fabulously. I know what I need to post and when. At the end of each month, we sit down together and come up with topic ideas for the month ahead.
Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why?
My favorite blog post from 2018 was 99 Awesome Things to do with Your Dog in Portland, OR. Coming up with a list of 99 things to do anywhere is hard, especially when they’re very specific items. Creating this list opened my eyes to a ton of places I never knew allowed or expected would allow dogs. It makes me want to go back home this summer to go try some new dog-friendly spots!
Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?
This award goes to Sora. I wrote her obituary after she died and it was by far and away our most popular post. Ever. And for good reason. Sora was an amazing dog who influenced so many others to get out there and go on adventures with their dogs. Sora showed others that dogs make great travel companions and the logistics don’t have to be that difficult.
Putting her life story in one location proved that she lived an incredible life: She traveled to 29 countries, graced the cover of Adventure Cyclist Magazine in April 2018, and served as the face of adoption for an animal rights group in Medellin, Colombia. I hope that her legacy lives on and she continues to inspire others to bring their dogs along.
Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you’re enjoying?
I’ve thought about implementing a new series for the blog, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I have done interviews with people who have adopted street dogs in the past called Street Tails. I loved sharing these stories with my audience. I stopped them essentially because once we got off the road and left our nomadic life, I came across fewer folks who had these stories. I do have some ideas brewing though!
As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers?
In the beginning of my blogging days, I was all about the Facebook sharing groups, but they just took up far too much time. Now, I focus on creating beautiful pins for Pinterest and keeping my Tailwind schedule full. I’ve also been continuing to share on Facebook and Instagram, including sharing my pinned images in my Stories and creating a saved story to keep all the links available at all times.
Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?
Our sights are set in meeting Mediavine requirements this year.
What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?
As I discussed earlier, we’ll be aiming to publish blog posts twice weekly. Additionally, I’ll be sending out a monthly newsletter and I’ve been working on backlinks to our site through collaboration posts.
Now it’s your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?
We’ve always struggled with our very niche niche (yes, I meant to write that twice! We’re that niche!): Travel with dogs. We mostly travel internationally, and we realize that most of our readers do not bring their dogs along when they travel internationally. Since we’re from the PNW, I have several blog posts about that region, which is great, but that’s really the only US location I can create enough of my own content for based on my knowledge and experience.
One thing we’ve been thinking, and which has been suggested to us by travel blogging friends, is that rather than write a post like “A Dog-Friendly Travel Guide to Girona, Spain, for in this post (a post, quite frankly, I find boring because it’s no different from all the other posts out there about the same city), instead, focus our posts on travel destinations and include the dog-friendly bits, just not as part of the SEO, like I did for this post about our visit to Corsica. What are your thoughts?
If our goal is to reach Mediavine by the end of the first quarter, we realize that any new adjustments will only start to bring traffic by the time we wish to meet our goal. I’m curious how others promote their blog posts. Where are you actively finding readers for your blogs?