Pet Blogger Challenge III

If you’re like me then you’re probably just getting into the groove of the new year.  I’ve been gathering reports, reviewing last years numbers, and setting goals for the coming year, but there’s one problem…I’m doing all of that work for my day job, but not for my blog (I must admit I have thought and gotten a few things down on paper for the blog).  Take a peek at A Year In Review.

The Pet Blogger Challenge is the perfect opportunity to focus on some of our accomplishments from last year and set goals for 2013.  If you’re interested in participating in the Pet Blogger Challenge then take a look at Amy’s post over at Go Pet Frienldy.  Questions are a little different if you’re a first timer or a veteran.

Pet Blogger Challenge III
Pet Blogger Challenge III

So let’s get started!

1. How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

I’ve been writing to the Puppy In Training blog for a little over 5 years.  My first blog post was on August 1, 2007 telling the story about how I adopted my first puppy Linus from the animal shelter.  Here’s a link to last years Pet Blogger Challenge post.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

My most important goal was probably the only one I accomplished and that was to “Create and maintain new relationships with other pet bloggers.”  Over the past year I had the opportunity to attend 2 pet blogger conferences: BlogPaws and BarkWorld and got to meet many pet blogging friends in person.  I also was lucky enough to attend the Paw Print Blogger Summit in Knoxville, TN.  Those 3 events were the first times I had ever ventured away from my keyboard to learn more about the Pet Blogosphere!

One experience that I will never forget was winning the PetSmart/BlogPaws Build A Business Blog along with Annette from Snoopy’s Dog Blog.  This not only gave me a chance to learn more about social media and internet marketing from the gurus at PetSmart, but also allowed me to speak in front of other pet bloggers at BlogPaws about how I was growing my blog.  Definitely a great experience!

Toby PetSmart Dog Bed
Toby enjoyed his PetSmart Doggy Bed

Not only did I get a chance to meet many of my pet blogging idols in person, but I also made a concerted effort to foster relationships with other bloggers by visiting blogs and actively commenting on blog posts.  In the past I’ve been more of a lurker, but in 2012 I made it a point to try and add to the discussion.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

I’m sad to say that I listed 4 goals at last years Pet Blogger Challenge and only accomplished 1.  The good news is I did more to build relationships over the past year then I had in the previous 4+ years of blogging.

4. How often do you post?

I just looked back at my stats and in 2012 I had 174 blog posts.  That equates to approximately a post every other day.  However, if you look back on the year you’ll see my blogging fluctuates from every day for two months to weeks without a blog post which brings us to the next question.

5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?

As much as I try to stay on a blogging schedule it appears that my blogging style is more of a “as the spirit moves me”.  Once again, in 2013 I’m going to try and stick to a blogging schedule…we’ll see if it actually does stick

If you publish on a schedule, why?

I like publishing on schedule because it keeps me accountable.  I’m the type of person that finds it very easy to just skip a day of blogging which turns into weeks and could lead to months.  I don’t want that happening.

How strict are you about your publishing deadlines?

This past year I ventured into writing some paid content and when it comes to other people’s money I always stick to the publishing deadlines.

What do you do for inspiration when it feels like you’ve covered every topic?

I don’t have a problem with getting inspired.  I always have something to write about and I never feel like I’ve covered every topic…maybe in about 20 years!

If you don’t publish on a schedule, why?

I always try to post on schedule, but as I mentioned I sometimes go off schedule.  This is usually a problem when one of 2 things get in my way: My day job or life.

How do you think your decision affects your audience?

I’m sure my audience would rather see content on schedule rather than as the spirit moves me, but with other responsibilities in my life I can’t always afford the time for blogging.

How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

After  I click the “Publish” button.

6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs?

I probably spend about 10 hours a week writing to my blog and about 5 hours a week visiting other blogs.  However, these numbers shift a lot.  Sometimes I spend more time reading blogs then writing.  If I have lots of free time I will spend upwards of 40+ hours a week blogging.

Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.

My biggest tip for staying on top of it all is to keep a schedule.  I did my best when I allocated a block of time every night to my blogging.  I plan on getting back to this type of schedule in 2013.

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?  Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

Here’s a look at some of last years numbers which have increased by 32% from the previous year:

2012 Stats
Google Analytics Stats 2012 – 174 Blog Posts

I do keep a close eye on my Google Analytics stats, but for me it’s a combination of traffic and comments.  First of all, without traffic you will not get any comments.  People have to find your content before they can comment.  On the other hand you can have a lot of traffic without discussion.  One of my favorite parts about blogging is building community.  Mine is still small, but I truly enjoy hearing responses from my readers.

Again I think it’s important to have a combination of both.  Not every post is there to foster a quality interaction.  A cute picture of a puppy on Wordless Wednesday will garner many “aww…cute puppy!”  comments, but not a whole lot of quality interaction.  On the other hand an in depth post on crate training puppies can spawn a number of quality comments, questions, and discussion.

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

Just one!?  I probably have about 20 or more!  I have categories of issues: Traffic, Monetization, Social Media, Technical, Design, Organization, Time Management, etc.  A lot of my questions don’t have clear answers as I’ve asked most of them at the Pet Blogging Conferences.  If I only get one then…What do you do to build community around your blog?

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

Unfortunately I only accomplished one of my goals from last year.  This year we’re going to strive to do better.  Here are 5 goals for 2013:

  • Increase and diversify my blog traffic – this blog largely relies on Google for traffic.  This past year in particular I really saw how shifts in the Google Algorithm can effect traffic (Good and Bad).  My goal is to increase my Referral and Direct Traffic by 100% in 2013.
Traffic Sources 2012
Traffic Sources 2012
  • Increase and diversify revenue – I have a goal this year to raise enough money to cover the cost of our next guide/service dog in training.  The cost for a guide dog team is $42,000.
  • Increase Guest Blogging – Since I’ve only written a handful of guest posts and accepted only a few others this should be the easiest goal to accomplish.  Our goal for the year will be to write at least 12 guest posts and accept at least 12 guest posts.  Anyone interested?
  • Weekly Newsletter – I’m doing it this year!  A weekly newsletter!
  • Participate In Forums And Communities – Have you seen that little widget in the BlogPaws sidebar?  My goal is to get on the BlogPaws “Top Community Members” Widget.

That’s a wrap!  If you’re interested in participating in this years Pet Blogger Challenge make sure you visit Amy over at Go Pet Friendly Blog and follow the instruction for this years challenge.  Hope to see you all in the Linky!

So what’s up with you guys?  How was 2012?  What do you have in store for 2013?  I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2013!


  1. says

    Nice to meet you, Colby; found you through the PBChallenge. We have a Guide Dog School where I live too. Such a wonderful job that must be! Am enjoying your website; very well done. Will be keeping up with your posts.

    • says

      Hi Debbie!

      Thanks for dropping by! I left a comment on your site, but I’m not sure if it published. Let me know if you see it in your moderation queue or I can go back and try again.

      Yeah, I really enjoy working with the dogs. I’ve been raising and training the guide dog puppies for 6 years now and before that I used to be a foster dogs and puppies for one of our local rescues.

      Take care,

  2. says

    Hi Colby – stopping by on the PB Challenge! Those are some mighty impressive stats you’ve got there – makes a tiny little pet blogger want to give up and go home (just kidding). I think attending BlogPaws and BarkWorld are great for meeting other pet bloggers and building a support network. We all learn from each other, and I find pet bloggers in general are extremely caring and generous. Best of luck in achieving your goals in 2013.

    • says

      Hi Vicki!

      Thanks! The last couple years I’ve been working on getting more engagement and I’ll continue to do that in 2013.

      I’m not sure if I’m going to make the BlogPaws or BarkWorld this year, but if I do hopefully I’ll get a chance to say hello. I totally agree that pet bloggers are extremely caring and generous. Good luck to you too in 2013!

      Take care,

  3. says

    Hi Colby,
    Wonderful to get to know you better. I love your blog and considering your stats I’m not the only one. Thank so much for sharing, I do like your ideas and I hope one day we’ll get to meet.

    • says

      Hi Maggie!

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I’d love to meet. Are you planning on going to BlogPaws or BarkWorld this year? I’d like to go, but I’m not sure if I will be able to make it to both conferences this year.

      Take care,

  4. says

    BlogPaws has top community members? Obviously I need to get over there more often myself!

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, and meeting you in person. You always have great insight with just the right touch of humor to make your posts highly readable! I don’t think you’ll have much trouble getting guest posts. :)

    • says

      Hi Carrie,

      I always remember seeing the widget in the BloPaws sidebar and recently I’ve been reading through a few of the discussion threads. I’m going to try and do better to add to the discussion.

      Thanks so much for the compliment. I didn’t know I added a touch of humor to my blog posts :) It was great meeting you this past year. Hopefully we’ll get to hang out again in 2013!


  5. says

    We’re dropping by from the PB Challenge. I had never heard of BarkWorld so I learned my something new today. One day it is a goal to make it to Blog Paws though. If I knew anything about training puppies I would volunteer to be a guest blogger :-)

    • says

      I had heard about both BarkWorld and BlogPaws back in 2011, but I wasn’t able to go to either at the time. It’s a great chance to meet up with some of the pet bloggers you only meet virtually. They also have great educational sessions and it gives you a chance to meet some major brands. Not too mention all the loot you end up bringing home.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. says

    For what my two cents is worth, I think you’re doing a fine job! I can’t tell you what I would give to have the numbers you have.

    As for building a sense of community, I think you are doing fine in that area as well. For me it comes from commenting and responding as well as make yourself available to other bloggers. Which you do. Great job!! I can’t thank you enough for all the help you’ve given me.

    Best of luck in meeting your goals in 2013. :-)

    • says

      Hi Jodi,

      Thank you! I’m working on the numbers and getting more community involvement. I’ll be stopping by your blog soon to check out your Pet Blogger Challenge post. It was great getting the chance to talk to you about your blog. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

      Good luck with your goals in 2013!

  7. says

    Wow, Colby, you are sort of a text book example of how to start and grow a blog. I envy your organizational skills and ability to set and measure your goals. I hope you reach all your goals in the next year and you keep blogging about your puppies.

    • says

      Hi Jan!

      I do like setting and measuring my goals, but my organizational skills need some work. Thanks for stopping by I always enjoy visiting the Poodle and the Dog Blog

      Take care,

  8. says

    Hi there! Very impressive stats there. You’re accomplishments are duly noted! Community is a big thing and I believe you’re taking the right steps. Right, who am I to say. You’re big cookies! hehe First time at your blog, I’ve followed via FB page and look forward to reading more from you!

    • says

      Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for stopping by! I think I’ve just gotten lucky with the stats. A lot of my blog posts are just answers to people’s questions when they do a Google search. I can use all the advise I can get on building my blog and community.

      Thanks for following the blog and Facebook!

      Take care,

  9. says

    I am really inspired to get more connected to the pet community. I wish we had some pet blogging congregations even in the same country as me! (Not even in the same state!) But sadly, it seems they’re mostly in the USA and there’s just no financial way of getting there for me at the moment. However, I do realise that conferences are not the be and end of all of getting connected!

    I do accept guest posts on my blog, if you’re interested, but they have to be reviews of peer-reviewed, academic materials. More details are on the contact page of my blog, if you’re interested. :)

    • says

      Hey Tegan!

      They were supposed to live stream some of the educational sessions at the last BlogPaws. Maybe they’ll have it this year. There definitely are other ways to connect.

      I took a peek at your guest posting policy. I’m not sure I’d have a post on peer-reviewed, academic material, but if something crosses my desk I’ll definitely visit your site. Thanks for the offer!

      Best of luck in 2013!

  10. says

    Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge, Colby. It was great meeting you in person this year at BarkWorld and I hope we get the chance to see each other again in 2013. Your stats are really terrific and even though you only met one of your goals from last year, you really knocked the cover off the ball!! I’m sure that you’ll have more success in in the new year and I’ll especially hoping the money comes rolling in so you can get your next puppy! Good luck!

    • says

      Hi Amy!

      I’m glad I found the Pet Blogger Challenge last year. It was nice to meet you in person at BarkWorld too maybe next time we’ll get a little more time to chat. I have a lot planned for this year I just hope I have the time to complete all of my goals.

      I hope the money comes rolling too, but either way I’ll be making a donation for a puppy to train as a service dog whether it’s through the blog or through personal funding (I prefer the blog).

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. says

    I laughed out loud when you said you had “categories of issues”. Holy woof, that is exactly how I feel! I have a list of issues and I’m going to try to tackle one a month and read all the ProBlogger posts on the issue and all that jazz. Maybe, if I work really really hard ALL YEAR LONG I can bring my stats up to like 1/10th of yours. You’re doing awesome!

    We would LOVE to have you guest post over at Kol’s Notes. Drop us a note at kolchakpuggle at gmail dot com and we can set something up!

    • says

      That’s a great idea to try and tackle the issues one a month! Maybe I’ll try doing the same.

      ProBlogger is a great resource the only problem is it can take a while to read all the posts on any one topic plus a lot of the gold can be found in the hundreds of comments after the actual post.

      I think (I know) a lot of the stats have to do with luck. For some reason I’ve had a few viral moments here and there that helped propel my blog forward. Meanwhile some of the things I worked hardest on barely drew a whimper of traffic. Oh well, I guess that’s blogging.

      As soon as I finish up visiting everyone’s Pet Blogger Challenge posts I’ll shoot you an email. I keep seeing the list get longer, but hopefully I’ll be done reading by the end of the weekend.

      Best of luck with your goals in 2013!

  12. says

    I am without a doubt the smallest blogger that has commented here so far. And you are by far the biggest I’ve met! LOL. You’re terribly organized, Colby. Not in a million years could I have your focus and dedication.

    Judging by the effort you’ve made meeting and responding to people here, I would say you’re pretty good at making connections too. Good luck with achieving your goals in 2013! Actually, I don’t think you’ll need luck at all 😉 Hooroo!

    • says

      Thank you so much for the compliment! I like all those words: “organized”, “focus”, and “dedication”, but I’m not so sure they really describe me. I feel more like I’m running around like a chicken with his head cut off. However, I am hoping to get more organized and hopefully it will lead to a more productive year.

      Best of luck to you too in 2013!

  13. says

    I didn’t know that you have been blogging for so long! That is great!

    You are doing a fantastic job here. I love that you know a post is “worthy” when you hit publish! That made me LOL:)

    Best of luck to you this year, and congratulations on your success!

    • says

      My goal was to start blogging when I started volunteering at the guide dog school. I was hoping to get this off the ground in 2006 because I picked up Stetson the beginning of 2007. Unfortunately, the blog missed the first 6 months of Stetson’s training. I’m a little bummed out about that. I love looking back at the old pictures and posts. Hopefully I’ll have another puppy to train in the coming months which means more blog posts!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. says

    Hey Colby,

    So great to read your answers – your insight and your stats are truly impressive! I don’t think I realized just how big of a “blogging fish” you were when we fortuitously bumped into each other at BlogPaws this year :-)

    No, for real, you do great work and I am impressed by the quantity and quality of your content – especially given all the time that I know puppy raising takes! You’re doing a great job of building a community here on your site, and I firmly believe that it will only grow – and likely exponentially – from here.

    I am looking forward to seeing you reach your goals for the year and continue to be happy that we met and got a chance to chat in Salt Lake. I will be trying to make it to BlogPaws again this year, I hope that you will be able to make it as well and I would look forward to chatting more with you if you do.

    As for guest posting, etc. I’d love to contribute a post to your blog, if you’d like. (I’ve got to figure out the time to write it, but I’d be psyched to do so.) I’d also love it if you’d take a peek at, and even review, my forthcoming puppy/dog health and safety tip book once I’ve gotten it back from the printer (we could even do a giveaway on your blog, if you’d like). Let’s chat about this a bit more in the coming weeks/months as we both get the time.

    I hope you’re having a great day and that life is treating you right. Be well.


    • says

      Thanks Jason! I appreciate the compliments. I really don’t feel like a big “blogging fish”

      I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to BlogPaws this year. I’d like to, but I’m not to sure if I can get the funding for another trip. We’ll see when it gets a little bit closer.

      Email me and we can chat about guest posting and book reviews.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • says

      Thank you so much! I hope your website and traffic return back to normal this year. It’s so frustrating the damage hackers can do. I think I mentioned that I had similar issues with hackers at my day job. It’s so frustrating. Why can’t they use their skills for good rather than evil. Best of luck in 2013!

  15. says

    If you’ve only accomplished one blogging goal this year, you’ve certainly picked the most time consuming one. And you’ve done it well. I’ve seen you all over the web.

    I have a suggestion for increasing your engagement at the BlogPaws Community. You have the tech skills many of us desperately lack. If you were willing to take tech questions from other bloggers, you’d become the most popular man in blogville.

    I am currently redesigning my Hands on Home Buyer blog using the Prose child theme on the Genesis framework. I understand why it’s called one of the easiest premium themes for non-developers to work on. But easy to a software developer is different from easy to a true newbie.

    Since you already speak Puppy, it should be easy for you to translate tech advise into blogger. And it might even be a new income stream to help you meet your $42,000 goal. :)

    • says

      Hi Pamela,

      I think I’d have to agree with you that it’s very time consuming, but also very rewarding to connect with all of the pet bloggers out there.

      Yes, I’m definitely willing to take the tech questions although I’m not so sure I’m that far ahead of anyone in that area. I’ll see what I can do.

      I have the developer license for Genesis and all of the StudioPress Child Themes. I played around with the Prose theme a little (actually I have the theme installed on a test server). I’m not sure if I can help at all, but if you have any questions let me know.

      I’m not really sure I want to turn tech advice into an income stream. Hopefully I can find some other sources to cover my 42K goal.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. says

    Woof! Woof! We missed this challenge and wished we joined. Great illustrations on your stats (we are not good on keeping tracks on our stats). We get lots of guest post inquiries (but we are very selective) . If you like we can forward it to you. Mom plans to go to BlogPaws this year, and looking forward to meet other pet bloggers. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

    • says

      Hi Sugar,

      Sorry you missed this years challenge. I know what you mean about the guest post inquiries I get them all the time and I’m selective just like you. In fact, I will not accept a guest post out of the blue. I’m looking for people that I’ve already built a relationship with on my blog. I’ve already contacted a few long time readers who are not bloggers, but are active commenters on the blog. We’re hoping to make it out to BlogPaws again this year too. I’d love to say hello to your mom.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  17. says

    Slowly, slowly I am working through the above list. :) Thanks so much for your suggestion on how I can use my blog’s FB account for more than repeating posts. I am compiling and organizing content to put your suggestion into practice.

    I would say that I have a regular group of readers and commenters who are interested in the training we do with our dogs. It is not a huge number, but I find I get the most comments/page views on those posts. I guess I would say that those types of posts are the way I have built my community (albeit small). I guess I would fail at suggesting how to diversify traffic though. :)

    • says

      I’m glad you found the comments on FB useful. I’ve been doing my best to be active in that space. By the way, if FB sends you a free ad credit make sure you take advantage of it. They sent me one last year and I had great results (thousands of new likes).

      I think your in a great niche. It’s tight, but that’s good. I have a more diverse group, but I think that’s because I often times stray from my main topic.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  18. says

    Colby…Such a pleasure to meet you. I’ve enjoyed the Pet Blogger Challenge very much. It’s so interesting to read everyone’s responses. I suspect that social media may be one (or more) steps higher than my current skill level. One day.

    • says

      Hi Lori!

      Thanks for stopping by! I still feel behind on the social media, but if there’s anything I can help you with please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Take care,

  19. says

    Hi Colby,

    Thanks for visiting our blog! What a great thing you’re doing to raise guide dog pups. I’ll be following you to see how your year goes as well. Let us know if you’re interested in guest posts from the perspective of another working-dog puppy-raiser. :)


    • says

      Thank you for the offer on guest posts. I’m still trying to get through all of the PBC posts and when I’m finally finished I plan on putting together a guest posting plan. I’ll be in touch soon!

  20. says

    Colby – I really enjoyed your post and your honesty. I could definitely relate in many ways to your struggles, but then again I really admire what you have/are able to accomplish. Rock on little puppies!

  21. says

    Wow, you sure have A LOT going on with the blog! This has turned into a pretty big undertaking–congrats. How do you really get it all done, though? I mean, a schedule is one thing, but life always gets in the way. Do you just prioritize the blog over other things in life?

    • says

      Hi Lauren,

      I really don’t get everything done. As you can see I’m pretty late getting back to comments this week. I also went almost 2 weeks without a blog post. However, I do prioritize the blog over other things in life sometimes. Instead of going out some evenings I stay home and manage my blog. Maybe some day I can quit my job or retire and dedicate a little more time to the blog.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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