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
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 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:
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
- 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!
We’re always reading wonderful articles throughout the blogosphere and each week (at least each week we have time) we post our favorite doggy blog articles and post them here at the Puppy In Training blog. If you have an especially awesome blog post coming up please let us know about it and we will consider it for our weekly roundup.
This weeks cute puppy picture:
Derby - Yellow Lab Taking A Nap
Weekly Doggy Blog Post Roundup
Whale Poop Sniffing Dog Is Saving Killer Whales – If you know us then you’ll know over the past couple years we’ve been very interested in sniffer dog training. In fact, our black Labrador Retriever, Stetson loves our K9 Nosework training class and has an unmatched enthusiasm for searching and finding the different odors/scents. Obviously we have not worked on Stetson finding whale poop, but maybe it’s in his future!? Anyhow check out how a whale poop sniffing dog helps save killer whales.
Are Too Many Vaccinations Bad For Dogs – We’ve always wondered about over vaccination and this article discusses some of the things you might want to do when it comes to vaccinating your dog. We plan on visiting our vet and finding out his thoughts on the subject as well. I’ve always been worried that over vaccination could be harmful to my dog and agree with the article that “less is more”.
When Dogs Dig: How To Curb The Digging Habit In Your Canine – We haven’t had a digger in a while, but our old family dog used to love digging to hide his possessions. Anytime we gave him a treat he’d bury it in the side yard when we weren’t looking. If we stared at him for a couple minutes instead of burying his treat he’d just eat it. I wonder if he ever dug up those old treats when he was hungry?
GoPetFriendly.com Pet Blogger Challenge – This year we participated in the 2nd annual Pet Blogger Challenge sponsored by the GoPetFriendly Blog and the WillMyDogHateMe Blog. Lucky for us we barely got our blog entry into the blog hop and we were the 95th blog to participate. Here’s our Pet Blogger Challenge Entry. The challenge asks 8 questions about your blog that was a good exercise in looking at the past and future of our blog. If you’re a dog blogger there’s definitely some gold in these mines!
What’s the Story Behind Your Pet’s Name – I love hearing about how people name their pets…there’s always a story. We’re constantly thinking of new names for our puppies as we always seem to either be picking up new puppies or talking to our friends about their new pups. Here’s our page on puppy names that helps us get started when it’s time to name our next pups.
That’s it for this week. Remember if you ever have some awesome dog or puppy articles please let us know about it through our contact form or just leave us a comment in the comment section below.
So what about you guys? Did you come across any interesting doggy blog posts this week?
The beginning of the new year is a great time to reflect back on what you accomplished over the past year as well as look to the future. I’ve been thinking about this (my goals) a lot over the past few days and although I don’t quite yet have a clear picture of what I’d like to do with my puppy training blog in the upcoming 12 months I do have some general ideas.
This morning after browsing through my RSS Feeds I found a number of dog blogs participating in the Pet Blogger Challenge. After reading through a few Pet Blogger Challenge Posts I decided that this would be a great way to take a quick glimpse at things we’ve done on the blog in the past and what we plan to do in the future.
So we went ahead and visited this post: Pet Blogger Challenge, followed the rules, answered a few questions and voila…we have today’s blog post!
1. When did you begin your blog?
I published my first blog post on PuppyInTraining.com way back on August 1st 2007. My first post was basically the story about how I adopted my puppy, Linus from the animal shelter. I remember being very concerned with my blog design (I used a free WordPress template and made a few customizations) and using a bunch of pictures of my first guide dog puppy in the heading (actually 2 are of Stetson my guide pup and 2 are Linus my rescue pup). In fact I still have my original wordpress theme. Here’s what it looked like:
This is the first Puppy In Training Blog theme
Since then I’ve published over 450 blog posts and changed my theme I believe 4 times. My current theme is using the Genesis Framework (affiliate link).
2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?
My original purpose for starting a blog was to document my journey raising a guide dog puppy in training. I originally set it up to keep friends and family up to date on my first guide pup, Stetson’s progress on his way to becoming a working guide dog.
3. Is your current purpose the same?
Since I started the Puppy In Training Blog I’ve raised 3 guide dog pups and I’m currently raising a 4th. The purpose of my blog has evolved a little bit since it’s beginnings and as technology has changed so has the purposed of my blog.
If not, what’s different?
As I mentioned the blog has evolved. My main purpose and goal today is to offer “Puppy Training Tips From My Experiences As A Guide Dog Puppy Raiser”. As I mentioned as technology has changed so has my blogging. Today, I report a lot of my puppies activities using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube rather than my blog. For instance I post a lot of my pictures from outings on the Puppy In Training Facebook page. I post short little tweets about what we’re doing on our Twitter page. On YouTube we started our Puppy In Training TV channel and also post dog product video reviews.
The blog really brings everything together and as I mentioned today we use it to share our experiences in order to help others with their puppy training problems.
If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?
My friends and family still interact with me on the blog and also now on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube so I guess I did meet my original goals by keeping them up to date on our journey as guide dog puppy raisers. The coolest part are the thousands of other people who also follow along and learn the in’s and out’s of raising a puppy.
4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?
Recently it’s been “as the spirit moves me”, but in the past I’ve tried several different scheduling techniques.
If the former, how often — and what techniques do you use to stick to it?
As I mentioned in the past I’ve tried different scheduling techniques including blogging Monday thru Friday. I also tried posting every day of the month. We’ve even worked on posting only 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). However, in the long run we haven’t stuck to any specific schedule. In my experience I’ve had the best success sticking to a schedule by following this list:
- Decide on a schedule (3 days a week, 5 days a week, every day in a month)
- Brainstorm for ideas on a weekly or monthly basis
- For each idea create an initial topic/title
- Schedule the topics/titles for specific days using your blog software
- Expand each topic/title into a blog post before the scheduled publish date.
- Keep a back log of blog posts for busy days, vacation days, sick days, etc.
- Repeat the following week/month
I’m in the process of putting together a new schedule for my blog for the year.
If the latter, do you worry about… well, whatever you might worry about (e.g. losing traffic, losing momentum)?
I’m not good when I’m not on a schedule which is how I’m currently operating. However, I don’t worry too much about losing traffic (a lot of my traffic comes from Search Engines), but I do worry about losing loyal readers. I took a look at some of my numbers for the past few years and here’s what I found:
Google Analytics Stats 2008 -196 blog posts
Google Analytics Stats 2009 - 106 blog posts
Google Analytics Stats 2010 - 58 blog posts
Google Analytics Stats 2011 - 81 blog posts
My first post was on August 1st 2007 and I received virtually no traffic during those first few months besides the occasional visit from my mom, dad, and a few friends. I didn’t even have Google Analytics installed until February 2008. However, I did have Google AdSense installed during those early months and according to AdSense I received 1,528 page views from 25 blog posts during the time period: August 1st, 2007 – December 31st, 2007.
As you can see over the years my traffic has steadily climbed, but none more than in 2008, my first full year as a blogger. I really stuck to a good schedule in 2008 and produced 196 blog posts and that’s what I’d like to get back to in 2012.
I’m going to try and be an overachiever this year and focus on producing on average 4 blog posts a week. That means I should end the year with 208 blog posts and hopefully my most productive year as a blogger. This goal is definitely attainable especially given the fact that it’s a leap year and I have an extra day to complete the task!
5. Are you generating income from your blog?
Yes, we actually made almost enough money to buy a cup of coffee in our first year of blogging. We feel very lucky that we receive a little bit of money from our Puppy Training blog which helps to cover our hosting costs which shot way up this year thanks to a few traffic spikes back in April 2011 that forced us to move off our shared hosting plan. Bluehost refused to reactivate our account so we moved to a HostGator (affiliate link) Virtual Private Server. However, our income still exceeds our costs and this allows us to make more donations to some of our favorite non-profit organizations including Guide Dogs of America and Cuddly Canines Rescue.
If so, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)?
The Puppy In Training Blog has actually been producing income starting in it’s first year, 2007 (although we didn’t receive an actual check until a few months in to 2008). Way back in 2007 we made just over $1 with Google AdSense. Since then we’ve made a little bit of money every month using mainly Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliates, Chitika, and a few other affiliate programs. We’ve also dabbled in sponsored ads, posts, and text link advertising.
According to our Amazon Affiliates account we’ve sold over $25,000 worth of products since 2007. However, it doesn’t amount to a ton of money since our commission is usually between 4% and 8% (usually closer to 4%).
Our Google AdSense Ads produced some of the highest single day earnings in 2011 and we nearly broke the $100 mark one day. However, on average we receive much less than $100 a day.
None of our other forms of income individually produce more than $50 a month on average. I made a few changes to this section of the post (1/21/2012) and it’s a little more vague then I’d like, but if you’re interested in chatting further on this topic then please feel free to contact me through our contact form.
If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?
We have a few plans to try and diversify our income in 2012 and hopefully should announce a few things in the coming weeks.
6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)?
Some of our favorite things about blogging are:
- Making relationships with other bloggers.
- Helping people with their puppy training issues.
- Being part of an online community.
- Helping some of the organizations we volunteer for with monetary donations produced from the blog.
- Keeping connected with friends and family through the blog.
7. What do you like least?
- Feeling obligated to write a blog post
- Managing the technical aspects of the blog. This seems to get worse as the blog grows.
- Dealing with negative people who visit the blog.
- Not having enough time to read and comment on other people’s pet blogs.
8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?
I’m hoping that 2012 will be a big year for the Puppy In Training blog. A few of my goals off the top of my head are to:
- Create and maintain new relationships with other pet bloggers
- Work on my email newsletter
- Create an e-book
- Create a puppy training membership area for new puppy raisers
Thanks to Edie of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy from the Go Pet Friendly Blog for hosting the 2nd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. We really got a lot out of not only thinking about our own blog, but also reading through the many other blogs participating in this years challenge.
How about you? Did you participate in this years Pet Blogger Challenge? What is the most interesting thing you learned from someone else’s Pet Blogger Challenge post?