Wanna bring your dog to BarkWorld? They even had doggy daycare!
October has been a very busy month! I don’t usually travel all that much, but in October I made two trips back east. You already heard about our trip to Knoxville visiting PetSafe. After visiting Knoxville I had a couple weeks off then flew back to Atlanta for the BarkWorld Expo where I had the opportunity to meet fellow pet bloggers, brands, and learned a little more about how to make the Puppy In Training blog more successful.
BarkWorld Expo 2012
So what the heck is BarkWorld and why was I there? From the BarkWorld Expo website:
Founded in 2009, BarkWorld Expo was created by Denise Quashie, Social Media Strategist for Socially Planned. After putting her dog, Frankie Beans, on Twitter she realized there was a large pet loving community using social media; however there was little education being provided at other pet expositions and conferences for this community. Being an award-winning event & social media producer, Denise thought it only made sense to create a conference for this community. With that, she created BarkWorld Expo and has continued to build strong online support for the cause of sharing and educating pet lovers within social media.
Why was I at BarkWorld? If you remember earlier in the year I put together my goal post for 2012. Unfortunately, several of these goals will go unaccomplished, but after attending BarkWorld I know I’ve at least accomplished one of my blogging goals.
Lets quickly revisit those goals for 2012:
- GOAL: 366 Days of Blogging - Unfortunately, this one is not going to happen. We started strong going about 60 days in a row, but technical difficulties really side tracked us.. I did recently read that Jodi Stone over at Heart Like A Dog is approaching her goal of blogging every day for 2 consecutive years! That’s amazing! Congratulations Jodi!
- GOAL: Write 52 Articles For My Autoresponder - I think I got about six articles into the autoresponder, but I’m not too pleased with them and I’m not too sure I want to build the autoresponder anymore…We’ll take another look at this in 2013.
- GOAL: Attend BlogPaws and Barkworld Expo - Mission Accomplished! I was fortunate enough to attend both BlogPaws and BarkWorld Expo this year. Hopefully I can do the same next year.
- GOAL: Write An eBook - This probably won’t happen this year, but I’ve gotten some great ideas after meeting and attending BlogPaws and BarkWorld.
- GOAL: Build A Membership Site - Something I’m still interested in doing, but it probably will not happen in 2012.
- GOAL: 2,000 Facebook “likes” - Achieved! and then some! We currently sit at 9,207 Facebook Likes! We’ve learned a lot about Facebook in the past 10 months and after receiving a credit from Facebook Ads we decided to give their ad program a shot and had brilliant results. We continue to run Facebook Ad Campaigns and also make sure to update our Facebook status on a regular basis. A lot of our current Facebook success can be attributed to our consultations with PetSmart during our Build A Business Blog case study.
- GOAL: 250K Page Views a Month - unless something miraculous happens like an extreme viral moment this is most likely not going to happen in 2012. However, we did have a record month in October with 82,223 visitors and 123,697 total page views according to Google Analytics. Maybe 2013 will be the year we break the 200K mark.
We’ll revisit these goals sometime around the end of this year or beginning of 2013.
Back To BarkWorld
So what did I do at BarkWorld this year? I made sure to arrive early so I could participate in the Social Petworking Offline Speed Dating for Bloggers. I felt very lucky because only a handful of pet bloggers were allowed to participate in this session.
The speed dating session was an excellent experience. Basically I was given a list with times and brand names. We were given the chance to meet with each brand on our list for 6 minutes. If you’re interested in participating in the speed dating session next year make sure you have your elevator pitch prepped and ready to go. The speed dating session was a great chance to meet one-on-one with several brands in a short period of time.
I did want to mention that Flexi far and away exceeded expectations during the speed dating session as they prepared several custom leashes (you can actually go to the Flexi website and design your own myflexi leash) for each pet blogger. Check out the 3 leashes they gave to us:
Custom pics of my pups (Stetson, Derby, and Linus). Also custom Guide Dogs of America Flexi.
We really like using our Flexi leash during training to work on recalls with our puppies, but we don’t use our Flexi as an every day leash because it can be difficult to control a dog with a Flexi. If you’re interested in using a Flexi leash please make sure and read the precautions and warnings on the back of the package.
BarkWorld’s Education Sessions
Check out the 2012 BarkWorld Schedule. There’s a ton to learn at BarkWorld and while this event was very similar to BlogPaws at also had many differences. One thing I did notice about the educations sessions was that BarkWorld was more focused on blog monetization and the blogger/brand relationship. That was great for me because I was very interested in both subjects.
A few sessions that really stuck out for me were
- Showcase your Influence: How To Make The Most Of The Blogger Brand Relationship – This was a great session that brought together 3 professional and gave the perspective from pet blogger, brand, and public relations. As a pet blogger hearing all 3 representatives speak really helped me understand how the relationship between blogger and brand works. I was especially excited and impressed to hear Jaime Derringer from Dog Milk talk about her experiences. Be prepared and be professional when you speak with brand representatives. While many of us like to speak through our pets voice it’s important to make sure you are professional and use your own voice when talking to a brand.
- Navigating The Pet Lifestyle Landscape: How To Attract Readers And Advertisers With The Hottest Trend In Pet Blogging - This session really focused on product reviews. This was of special interest to me not only because of the blogging aspect, but because I’ve been searching for modern home for about 4 years now in particular I’ve been looking for an Eichler home. While I don’t have a cat any of the furniture from Moderncat.net or Dog-Milk.com would look great in my new home. Paid or unpaid product reviews? That was a questions I had…while I haven’t been offering unpaid reviews mainly because I can’t handle the sheer volume of requests this got me thinking about some alternate ways to still offer product reviews at no charge. I think it was actually Amy Burkert that mentioned she receives products, but doesn’t promise reviews and once a year does a best of review for her favorite products…hmmm…
- Finding And Keeping Sponsors – I was very excited for this educational session because I’m currently looking for sponsors for PuppyInTraining.com. Not only that I was particularly interested in hearing Joanne McGonagle from The Tiniest Tiger and Amy Burkert from GoPetFriendly.com speak. I’m sure we are all trying to figure out how much we should be charging for that 300×250 banner ad in the sidebar above the fold. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a straightforward answer, but it was mentioned that you should think of your number then add 10% because as pet bloggers we are undervaluing ourselves.
- Making Of The Madonna Of The Mills – A Labor Of Love – I nearly missed this session, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’d already seen Madonna of the Mills, but after listening to Andy Nibley talk about the movie I was so impressed I wanted to buy several copies of his DVD and give them to my friends. He was very inspirational and it was great listening to him talk about the Madonna of the Mills project and how he got started. I wish he had a few for sale in the back because I definitely would have bought copies for friends and family.
I really enjoyed almost all of the educational sessions and keynotes, but these 4 really stood out in my opinion. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2013!
Wanna bring your dog to BarkWorld? They even had doggy daycare!
Meet Pet Brands
I already talked about our speed dating experiences where we got to meet with several pet brands for 6 minutes. However, there’s also the exhibitioners hall where you can meet and find out how major brands like to work with bloggers.
I made several great contacts and I’m hoping to build a solid relationship with several brands I met while at BarkWorld.
Meet Pet Bloggers
One of the best parts about BarkWorld was getting the chance to meet my fellow pet bloggers that I only get to chat with online. Meeting people face to face is very important and every pet blogger I’ve met has always been super nice, encouraging, and supportive.
Are you ever chatting with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife watching their eyes glaze over as you talk about your blog? Just think of the same situation, but instead of glazed over eyes the person you talk to is super excited, helpful, and experienced similar situations. That’s what it’s like to meet a fellow pet blogger!
I probably learned just as much or more talking to Jessica at You Did What With Your Weiner, Lorie over at Pet Healthcare Gazette, Nancy at LIPetPlace.com, and Stacy over at PetsWeekly as well as many others throughout the weekend. Everyone has very different experiences in the pet blogging world and are willing to share those experiences. It really exciting to hear about the different opportunities such as building Facebook reach, monetizing with banner ads, monetizing newsletter subscribers, and learning about which pet brands are working extensively within the blogging community.
It All Had To End, But What About the Swag?
If you are a pet blogger and you have the means I highly recommend you attend BarkWorld. It’s a great chance to meet your fellow pet bloggers and pet brands face to face. There’s also the education sessions that teach you how to be a better blogger. Finally, everyone is very friendly so it’s a great chance to make new friends…oh by the way did I mention the swag? I only had so much room in my bag, but here’s what I brought home from BarkWorld:
So what about you guys? Are you planning on going to BarkWorld 2013? Have you been to BarkWorld in the past? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
I know we’re supposed to be talking about puppy training, but every once in a while I like to talk about what’s going on behind the scenes at the your favorite pet blog: PuppyInTraining.com
If you remember way back at the beginning of February I decided to make 366 posts to my pet blog as a
challenge goal for 2012. The goal was about consistency. I wanted to produce content daily for my PuppyInTraining.com dog blog. Unfortunately, my string of consecutive posts ended last Friday night when the internet connection at my hotel went down while I was on vacation
The streak ends at 44 posts, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still reach my goal of 366 blog posts. Even though I was on vacation I was still creating blog entries, but instead of posting to WordPress I saved the posts in a Word Document locally on my computer. So, fortunately I have 2 extra blog posts that I will post this week thus giving me the opportunity to reach my 366 posts.
After this past weekends debacle I wanted to reach out to other pet bloggers to find out what they do with their pet blogs when they travel. In the future these are 5 ways I plan on using to keep my pet blog up to date while on vacation.
5 Ways To Keep Up Your Pet Blog While You Travel
Dublin the Pet Blogger!
This is the first time I made a concerted effort to keep posting to my dog blog while on vacation and unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned. I had time sectioned off during my trip specifically allocated as personal pet blogger time. I was able to stick to this schedule, but internet connectivity did not agree with me and I didn’t have time, vehicle, or motivation to search out other possible internet connections.
So what could I have done differently to keep my string of consecutive blog posts alive?
- Scheduled Blog Posts – I was only gone four days so I could have created a few blog posts beforehand and scheduled them using WordPress to be released on specific times and dates. This was actually the original plan, but I was so busy the week leading up to my vacation I didn’t have time to pre-write my blog posts.
- Blog While On Vacation – My plan was to just allocate some personal pet blogger time while I was off on holiday. Before traveling I made sure I could get an internet connection at my hotel. I then made sure to bring my laptop with a few blog post ideas relating to my trip. Finally, I started pet blogging late Thursday night starting with a post about dog boarding. Things went wrong on day 2…no internet for the next couple days…thus ending my consecutive streak of blog posts
- Guest Pet Bloggers – Bring in guest pet bloggers to write for a few consecutive days. Unfortunately, I don’t have the relationships at this point to pull in pet bloggers I know and trust to create riveting pet blog posts. This is something I’m going to work towards this year.
- Use Your IPhone 4S – Create blog posts using your smartphone. I have the original Droid and it’s gotten to the point where the battery really only lasts about a half day. I actually thought about using my Droid to create blog posts for my Puppy In Training blog while on vacation, but alas it seemed way to difficult especially with my outdated equipment. Now if I had a newer smartphone like the IPhone 4S or maybe some other high end Android smartphone I may have ventured into the world of pet blogging from your phone…definitely a possibility unless I go to option 5…
- Use Your “New” IPad – Create blog posts using an IPad or Android tablet. I don’t have an IPad, but maybe it’s time to get one because if I had the “New” 4G LTE IPad then I could have easily written up a few blog posts and posted them using the built in wireless connection to the internet.
Those are 4 possible options to keep your pet blog alive when you’re on vacation. However, I’m sure many of you out there have other strategies you use to keep your pet blog rolling right along while you’re on vacation. If you’re a pet blogger then please tell me what your do with your pet blog when you go on vacation. Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
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?