Pet Blogger Challenge 2016 Edition

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Pet Blogger Challenge

It’s that time of year again.  Time to look back at 2015 and start planning for 2016!  I’ve been gearing up for the coming year and hopefully it will be a successful one for you, me, and of course the Puppy In Training blog.

To help kick off the new year we are participating in the Pet Blogger Challenge.  A special thank you to Amy Burkert at the Go Pet Friendly Blog for once again hosting the Pet Blogger Challenge.

Okay guys and gals lets get rolling with PBC2016!
Join the Pet Blogger Challenge Jan 9th, 10th and 11th

Pet Blogger Challenge 2016

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog.

The blog was a year in the making before it went live with our first blog post on August 1, 2007.  Hop in the way back machine and take a look at our first blog post: How To Adopt A Puppy.  By the way, a few little known facts about my first blog post:

  • It was one giant block of text.  I’ve since made it more reader friendly by adding white space, headers, and pics.
  • It originally titled it “Dedicated To My Dog Linus”.  I since changed the name to How To Adopt A Puppy since it was adopting my first puppy from the rescue.
  • I started the blog to chronicle the journey of my first guide dog puppy, Stetson, but my first post was about Linus.  I’m not sure why I did that?!?
  • Since first publishing this post has received 5,188 page views.

2. What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud?

I kept the blog alive.  The blog was on life support last February which really derailed my entire year.  My blog has been hacked before, but it’s usually easily fixed within a day or two.  This was the most severe case I’ve seen and after having 4 different consultants try and eradicate the culprit I nearly let the blog go.  However, over a month later we finally got the blog back online.  It took several months before we started to see normalcy on the blog.  Here is the blog post I wrote about my experience with hackers and some tips on how to keep your blog safe.

3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)

I often try to answer reader questions through email or in comment threads, but every once in a while I expand upon those questions and create a blog post.  I took the time to not only answer a readers question, but also created some Pinterest and Facebook friendly images.  Here’s the resulting blog post: My Puppy Pees Outside Then Pees Inside!?!? Please, Stop The Madness!  This post has been one of my better performing posts for the year.  If you’re looking to create evergreen content then this is a very good example.  Here’s a look at the analytics page from the time I wrote the post last April:

Puppy Pee Stats
Pup Pee Stats

4. A common theme from last year’s challenge was that many of us wanted to increase the size of our audiences. Whether or not we intend to monetize our blogs, it seems we’d all like to reach more people. It feels good to know that we’re connecting with others, sharing a laugh or supporting a cause, and it’s motivating to see those numbers grow! What is one thing you’ve done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog?

Search Engine Optimization has always been a main component of my blog.  Writing evergreen content like the Pup Pee post above bring visitors to the blog long after the post was written.  However, one thing I’ve been lacking for a couple years is consistent blogging which brings regular readers to the blog.  Consistency is something I’m going to try to bring back to the blog and guess what…I wrote a blog post about being consistent last year: 3 Traits of Successful Puppy Raisers And Bloggers. I wish I could follow my own advice…maybe I will in 2016 🙂

5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? (Please include a link.)

As far as posts written this year the above post about puppy peeing outside then again inside killed the competition, but here’s my overall top 5 blog posts from last year:

  1. How Can I Get My Puppy To Stop Peeing In Her Crate?
  2. How To Handle Your Puppy’s First Night At Home
  3. The Ultimate Guide: How To Stop Your Puppy From Biting And Nipping
  4. Are Deer Antlers For Dogs A Good Chew Toy?
  5. 5 Nasty Parasites Your Dog May Already Have

6. What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? (Please include a link.)

ThatMutt.com: A Dog Blog – Because Lindsay can read minds!  She writes blog posts I’ve been thinking about writing 🙂  Seriously I love reading her insights on dog training.

7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?

Every once in a while I take courses over at the local community college.  This semester I’m thinking about taking a photography course.  I also take online courses from time to time.  At the moment I have a Lynda.com account.  A few bloggers I like to follow that help me keep up to date on blogging are:

  • Dave Kaminski – Dave’s Web Video University is a great place to go if you want to learn more about video.  Unfortunately, I have seen one of his video logs in a while as he seems to be concentrating more on his paid courses which I will enroll in from time to time.
  • Rand Fishkin – If you’re looking to improve your SEO then follow Rand at Moz.com.  Rand often appears on Whiteboard Fridays which are always a good view.
  • Darren Rowse – Lots of great general blogging advice at Pro Blogger.  He has some great resources including his 31 Days to a Better Blog.
  • Neil Patel – I’ve been following Quick Sprout for quite some time now.  Check out Neil’s Advanced Guides which you can find in the side bar of the Quick Sprout blog.
  • Pat Flynn – Pat started his Smart Passive Income blog around the same time I started this blog.  If you haven’t already check out Pat’s podcasts on blogging.  They are easy to listen to on your drive to work.

8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?

I wrote a blog post about this a few months back when I wrote about 3 Traits of Successful Puppy Raisers And Bloggers.  In case you don’t want to click through to that link here’s the shortened version as it relates to blogging:

  1. Consistent – Consistency is important if you want to build your audience.  I’ve experienced a drop off in regular readers and I can attribute that to the fact that no one knows when my next post will appear…tomorrow, two weeks, two months (yes, it’s been that bad).  My plan for 2016 is 3-4 blog posts a week.
  2. Persistent – Keep at it folks it’s the only way you’ll succeed.
  3. Patient – It can sometimes take time before you really start to see the traffic come in.  I’m pretty sure the only people who read my blog those first 6 months were my mom and girlfriend (thanks for the support).  Take a look at the graph from question #3…you can see the success for that blog post is gradual over an 8 month period of time.

9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?

Keeping it simple I’d like to generate enough revenue to sponsor a guide dog.  According to our guide dog school the total cost for a working guide dog is $42,000.  How I plan on reaching this lofty goals in 2016 can comprise a series of blog posts, but for now I’ll share my 6 month traffic goal:

Reach 200,000 monthly page views by June 30th, 2016.  Is this a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

  • Specific?  Yes, 20oK PageViews is an exact number.  This would be a 90% increase from my December 2015 traffic report
  • Measurable?  Yes, I’ve been tracking traffic on the blog through Google Analytics since 2008.
  • Achievable?  Yes, it’s a lofty goal, but if I follow my plan then 200K PageViews is achievable.  I’ve seen several pet bloggers make larger jumps in traffic.
  • Relevant?  Yes, increasing traffic aligns with my vision to sponsor a guide dog puppy (42K revenue goal).
  • Time-Based?  Yes, my goal is to hit 200K PageViews within the next 6 months.

10. You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there one blogging challenge you’d like help with, or one aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?

I can’t wait to read everyone else’s pet blogger challenge post and I’m sure I’ll glean many great nuggets of information to help improve my own blog.  Hmmm…if I could ask the blog community one question it would be:

What question(s) or problems have you had (do you have) training you puppy (dog)?

I hope to hear from all of you in the comment section below.  Here’s to a successful 2016!

Top Picks For Our Puppies

  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
  2. BEST DOG CHEW
    We Like: Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
  3. BEST DOG TREATS
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
  4. BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
    We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.

Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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51 Comments

  1. Your goal for the coming year is Super S.M.A.R.T. Good luck with that. I’m sure you’ll reach the mark, and more. I have no puppy-raising questions to ask you. I haven’t had a puppy in a long, long time. We had 3 senior dogs pass last year, so we won’t get a new one any time soon. Happy blogging and best wishes.

    1. I’m sorry to here about your losses. A couple of our puppies are now seniors. Linus is 11 and Stetson is 9. We started this blog when Stetson was a puppy to chronicle his journey as a guide dog puppy in training. Six guide/service pups later we’re still going! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for coming by to visit my blog and say hello!

    Hacking – that must be the #1 fear of most bloggers! I know the times my web host has had issues, and my blog was missing, I’d get kind of panicked. I’ll have to go back and read your post to make sure I’ve got everything in place I need to protect myself (I think I do).

    Honestly, our last puppy was kind of a dream as far as housebreaking, etc. However, he’s become a bit less dreamy in some ways as an adult (2 years old now) with his fear issues. We thought we did everything right when he was a puppy, so this might be genetic. Either way he’s keeping us challenged! I am always looking for posts on fear/reactivity issues if that’s anything you know anything about.

    1. It’s good to be proactive when it comes to securing your blog. If I had done a couple simple things differently it wouldn’t have been nearly as big of a deal.

      Linus is our fearful, anxious dog. We’ve been using a Thundershirt and it helps, but not a miracle cure by any means. We’ve heard it’s hit or miss depending on the dog. My posts about Linus and his fear issues seem to always come up around 4th of July. I’m sure I’ll have more fear/anxiety issue posts up in the near future.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. It’s nice to get to know more about our favorite blogs. I wish we could grasp this whole SEO and Evergreen content thing. It’s way over our heads. I love the titles of all your popular posts. They make me curious to go and see what you have to say. Good blog titles do that. Good luck with your 2016 goals.

    1. If you ever want to chat about SEO and evergreen content feel free to shoot me an email. Thanks! blog titles are an important part of SEO since most of the time it’s the first thing searchers see after doing a search query. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. What a terrible ordeal with hackers! I’ve not had my blog hacked (yet) but I’ve had “blips” here and there. One time I lost 4 blog posts I had put a ton of work into. It took the wind right out of me. It took me a couple of months to feel like blogging again.

    Good luck on your lofty traffic goal. You’ve always written useful content – content that appeals to a wide audience and offers good advice. You can do it!

    1. Yes, getting my site hacked was devastating. I’d seen a similar attack before at my day job, but the difference was at my day job I was diligent about backing up our database daily and storing it for the past 6 months. Hopefully I learned my lesson. Thanks for the support and for stopping by!

  5. It is great to read more about you. I believe there is a special place in Hell for hackers ☺ I’ll be checking out some of your recommended blogs too. Thank you for visiting my Pet Bloggers Challenge.

  6. Great post, Colby – and like everyone else, I’m sorry to hear that 2016 started out so bad. Damn hackers!! And good for you for getting things back on track.

    Playing off Pamela’s idea of adding a badge to show the progress toward your monetary goal, why not add a way for your readers to contribute to the “puppy raising fund?” It’s a fantastic idea that people would be happy to get behind, and whether the money comes from advertisers or your readers is irrelevant, as long as a puppy gets to help someone in need!

    The biggest challenge I’ve had training my dogs is getting Buster to stop barking in the car. It’s been 7 years now, and some days are better than others, but my ear drums are still in danger. Any ideas would be appreciated!

    All the best to you in 2016 and thanks for participating in the Challenge!

    1. One way to get people to donate is with a PayPal account. I don’t know if you have a PayPal account but it’s free to set up its link to a checking or savings account and they would provide an icon that says donate to your cause

    2. That’s a great idea Amy! I really need to get working on those sidebar badges 🙂 Is Buster barking in the RV or is it a regular car or both? We have a barker in our group (Linus). I’ve been planning a post on barking…stay tuned…

  7. Great post and I have no doubt that you’ll reach your goals. You already have a great game plan. I’ve found that sticking to my topic and answering questions people have is the best way to increase your traffic and that’s what you’re doing.

  8. Thanks for all the helpful links! I will check them out. And I will definitely share if I find out the magical formula! It’s interesting to know that the most popular posts are common issues that people face – that makes sense. Will try and integrate that into my writing!

    I majored in Geology. So far it has been most useful in helping me find interesting hikes to go on with Alfie so I can check out the cool rock formations. Luckily for me, I currently live on an island that’s full of schist. 😛

    Best of luck to you and it was nice meeting you!

    1. That’s cool that your Geology background is helping you find interesting hikes! Hopefully you find more cool rock formations in 2016. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. I didn’t know about the hack, but then again my reading has been way off this past year. Glad you got it back on track!

    I’m looking forward to watching you achieve your goal this year, you’ll keep us posted, right?

    1. Yes, the hack was terrible, but I as far as I know we’re all back to normal. I’ll make sure and keep everyone updated on our goals. Thanks for stopping by!

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