Pet Bloggers Journey 2020

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Pet Bloggers Journey 2020: Share Your Adventure - Golden Retriever puppy staring to the left.

Welcome to Pet Bloggers Journey 2020!

I’m so happy to be hosting the inaugural Pet Bloggers Journey.

If you haven’t already you’ll want to check out our previous post that includes a little bit of history behind the Pet Bloggers Journey.

Pet Bloggers Journey: Share Your Adventure

Today we put our normal blog topics on hold and celebrate our accomplishments, share the dreams we have for our blogs, talk about goals, and encourage our fellow pet bloggers.

So, let’s get started and begin the Pet Bloggers Journey!

If this is the first you’ve heard of the Pet Bloggers Journey and you’d like to participate, you’ll find all the details and the questions in this post.

Pet Bloggers Journey 2020

Pet Bloggers Journey - Share Your Adventure Badge
Pet Bloggers Journey – Share Your Adventure

1. When did you begin your blog? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

My first post went live on this blog on August 1st, 2007. Yowzers! I’m coming up on my lucky 13th blogiversary!

I started my blog to chronicle the journey of my first Guide Dog puppy in training, Stetson. Since then I’ve trained many Guide and Service dog puppies sharing my training tips and experiences along the way.

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2019, that made you most proud.

This blog is my full time job. Yep, it’s been over a year since I quit my job in corporate America. One of my 2019 goals was to increase my earnings. How did I do this? I asked for more money.

It sounds simple enough, but when put into practice it’s extremely difficult because if you’re like me then you’re full of self doubt. Am I worth that much? Do I do a good job? Is my blog worthy?

In 2019, I pushed aside my self doubt, picked up the phone, and straight out asked for more money. And guess what? They said yes!

3. Which of your 2019 blog posts was your favorite and why? (Please include a link.)

We started this blog because of Stetson. In 2019 we said goodbye to Stetson. Losing a dog after 12+ years is nothing short of devastating. Not a day goes by without me thinking about my buddy.

Stetson, we miss you every day.

Here’s Stetson’s memorial post: Stetson, Our First Guide Dog Puppy In Training

As I answer this question I’m wearing a pair of socks covered with Stetson’s adorable face 🙂

Dog printed socks - Golden Retriever, Raven lying on my Stetson dog printed socks while I work at my desk

4. What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2019, and how did you tackle it?

June 2, 2019 – Google Core Update. It had been a while since I was really smacked down by Google.

On June 2nd…well to be honest it took a day or two, but by the time the dust settled I lost about 25% of my traffic. Yep, pretty significant when blogging is your full time job.

How did I tackle this challenge?

“I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” – Name that movie.

–Actor: T_ _ H_ _ _ _
–Movie: C_ _ _ A_ _ _

Yep, I kept forging forward and now I’m seeing some rebound and hopefully by June 1st 2020 (pre-google slap) my traffic will have increased by 25%.

5. One goal that we all seem to share is we want to reach more people. What is your #1 tip for bringing more traffic to your blog?

I know how to get more traffic to my blog. You’re not going to like my answer:

My #1 tip for bringing more traffic to MY BLOG is to produce more content. I think producing more content is the answer for most of us long time bloggers.

Sure Colby, but what would your #1 tip be for new bloggers, those of us trying to reach that 25K Sessions to join an ad network like Mediavine?

I know a lot of bloggers have found a ton of success with Pinterest (hint, hint maybe you and I should up our Pinterest game). I am not one of those bloggers. I get about 20K sessions a month from Pinterest. Good, but not great.

So, what’s your #1 tip?

Guys, there’s no magic bullet on this one. There’s so much you need to do as a blogger.

Carol Bryant and Maggie Marton’s book Pet Blogging for Love and Money is a great overview with tons of great tips and information. It wasn’t until I read their book that I realized how much you have to know to be a blogger.

That being said if I only get to dispense one tip…

My #1 tip would have to be to solve your reader’s problems.

  1. What problems do your readers tell you over and over again?
  2. Ask yourself: what questions do you have that you’d like solved in a blog post.
  3. Email your readers, create a blog post, or social media post asking what problems are they dealing with right now.

After you collect these questions/problems answer them in excruciating detail.

6. Do you do sponsored posts/reviews? If so, what do you find works best and how do you determine what to charge for a blog post, social media shares, etc.? If not, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

My best advice for sponsored posts/reviews is to not sell yourself short. Make sure you get paid what you deserve.

When I first started out I accepted free products in return for my honest review and I was thrilled that was back in 2008. Today I think all pet bloggers should charge something for a sponsored post/review.

How do I determine what to charge for a sponsored blog post?

First, here are some tools that tell you what they think you should charge:

  • TapInfluence – when I was with their network they had a suggested rate for sponsored posts. I’m not with TapInfluence any longer, but I think their recommendation for my blog was $500 per blog post.
  • Social Bluebook – they have a tool that tells you how much to charge for sponsored work. I just visited their tool and the suggested price was $679.75 per blog post.

These are the five things I think about when deciding how much to charge for a sponsored blog post:

  1. How many hours do I have to invest in this project? – You should get paid for your time.
  2. What premium should I charge for posting to my blog? – Your readers trust you, you get traffic, your blog has history. There is a ton of value in your blog.
  3. Add ons – Shares to social media, email newsletter, etc. Is this included or are you charging an additional fee?
  4. How much does the product cost? – If it’s an expensive product I might consider that when determining what to charge.
  5. Do I want to do it? – Sometimes these projects fit perfectly with your website other times it fits, but feels forced.

I think the elephant in the room is what are pet bloggers charging for sponsored posts? Here’s my answer

Over the past few years I’ve charged anywhere from $300 – $1,500 per sponsored blog post.

7. Looking forward to 2020, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?

Raven is going to have one more litter of puppies. I’d like to continue helping Service Dog Organizations by providing puppies for their programs, but I’m not sure if I will continue raising litters.

I had a series of posts about Raven’s first litter of Golden Retriever puppies, but I haven’t done much since then.

For Raven’s final litter I’d like to put together a video series about raising a litter of puppies.

8. What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?

A litter of puppies is a ton of work and they grow fast! I have a pretty good idea of when the puppies will reach major milestones.

In the past when working with video I found one of the most important things is to have a script for what you want to shoot. I need to write a script for every video I want to produce.

At this moment the plan is daily videos which means I need to write 56 scripts between now and whelping day!

Don’t worry, we’re not planning on having puppies until September 2020.

9. The blogging landscape is constantly changing. What changes in blogging do you see coming in 2020 and beyond? What plans do you have to evolve?

Pretty much since I began blogging people have been predicting video will dominate the internet. I think it’s time to hop on that wagon.

I did a lot of video (by my standards) between 2010 and 2012. Since then I haven’t done too much. 2020 will be the year of video for me.

  1. Beginning in February 2020 I plan on producing one video every week.
  2. Raven will have one more litter in 2020. I’m planning a video series for her final litter.
  3. Another puppy may be joining the family. If so, I’ll have another video series in the works.

Flashbackwhen I did my Puppy In Training TV series my iPhone did not have video and I did everything with a Flip Camcorder. Remember Flip Camcorders?

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

Every year I spend a ton of money on my email service provider, but I don’t think I’m getting very good ROI from my email list.

What is your #1 tip for building a successful email list?

There you have it. My contribution to the 2020 Pet Bloggers Journey.

Now don’t forget to drop us a line in the comment section and hop on over to the next post in the Linky. It’s a great time to chat with old friends, make new ones, share wisdom, and absorb the knowledge of others.

Thank you to everyone for participatinng! Be sure to add the direct link to your post below, and include the Linky code on your blog to make it easy for everyone to hop to your post.

Top Picks For Our Puppies

    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    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.
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
    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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  1. I agree with the “more content” thing. Especially for beginners like me.

    I’m just starting to build my email list. I’m with Mailerlite. It’s free for little lists and I’m just getting started. Hopefully I’ll make enough money before I have to upgrade to ConvertKit or something else.

    1. Honestly, I’m so bad with my email list I should probably look for something more affordable. I’m hoping the high fee I’m paying for Convertkit will help motivate me to get ROI from my email list. We’ll see. I’ll report back at next years Pet Bloggers Journey.

    1. Hi Crystal, thanks for asking. Just answer the 10 questions in a blog post then add your blog to the Linky blog hop at the bottom of the post. Here’s some basic information on the blog hop: Also, the Linky ends tonight at midnight PST so you have still have a little bit of time to include your blog. If you’re not able to enter the blog hop by midnight, you can still answer the questions in a blog post and I’d love to stop by and read your answers. All the best to you!

    1. Thanks for joining the Pet Bloggers Journey Blog Hop! I’m glad you were able to participate. I hope you have a great 2020!

    1. No problem! Thank you for being a part of it. I always enjoy your insights into blogging and reading about what you have in store with your blog.

  2. I’m excited to hear that you quit Corporate America, Colby, and are now a full time blogger! That’s my ultimate goal as well. I couldn’t agree more regarding the video trend – that’s something I’ve heard about quite a bit as well on a variety of Podcasts I listen to (like the Smart Passive Income Podcast by Pat Flynn).

    Thanks for inviting me to this blog hop!

    1. Hi Barbara! My biggest regret about going full time with my blog is that I didn’t do it sooner. I’m sure you’ll get there soon. I’ve listened to a lot of the SPI podcast episodes. The other blogging podcast I’ve been listening to is the Theory of Content.

      I’m glad you were able to join the Blog Hop. I hope you have a great 2020!

  3. I’m so happy that I was able to participate in this event thanks to you! I love that we all have a chance to reflect on the past year together and look towards the future. I can’t wait to do this again!

    1. Hi Erin, Thanks for participating in this years Pet Blogger Journey. I’m glad you were able to reflect back and look forward with all of us. All the best to you in 2020!

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with your tip to answer your reader’s questions. I feel like I can contribute the majority of my success to that. Even if you get into SEO, an your keyword research reveals a search volume of “0”, it’s still worth it to write about the topic. If 3 people have it, there are probably 100 more that do too. At the very least, it keeps you from having to answer the question over and over again. The next time someone asks the question, you can point them to the blog post with answers (saves you time and drives traffic to your blog – win-win).

    As for email provider, I’m looking to switch too. Mailchimp has increased their prices so much that I now pay $100 to maintain my list. And I only sent out 8 newsletters last year. My first step is to unsubscribe the people that didn’t open one last year (I’m doing an reintroduction series first to see if I can reel some of them back in). I may then decide to switch providers. Initially, I thought I would go with Mailerlite but there are some new kids on the block now I’ve heard good things about. One is called Flodesk and the other is Birdsend.

    1. I honestly started answering questions on my blog because I got tired of answering the same questions over and over again responding to emails. Like you said publish the blog post then send the link to whoever asks the questions next.

      I switched to ConvertKit from AWeber. It’s expensive so I want to get return on my investment this year. I wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts on Flodesk and Birdsend if your end up doing a trial or review.

      1. I have been trying different mail services as i am using one for the first time. I loved the graphics on Convertkit but quite honestly could not get the lay of the land on Convertkit, Couldn’t find a tenoirart coach either. I think the people who were coming over the convetkit like you are better candidates for getting the best from them. I ended up using Constant Contact, temporarily cuz I like the free phone support as a newbie. But plan to switch to another soon so love hearing everyone’s experiences.

        1. I actually tested several email service providers several years ago for the company I was working for at the time. We tried AWeber, MailChimp, and Constant Contact. We ended up going with Constant Contact too. They all have their pluses and minuses. I’m hopeful I will get the hang of ConvertKit and get some kind of ROI by the end of the year. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi Colby,

    Thanks for hosting this blog hop 🙂

    Your blog is major goals, and I hope to be where you are some day. Congratulations on all of your hard work and success!

    Re: your question, I know many are against it, but I’ve been able to grow my email list much faster since adding a pop up. It’s worked well for me! I also make sure to send out an email 2 – 4 times a month.

    P.S. I can’t wait for the day when I get 20K sessions a month from Pinterest alone!! 😉

    1. Thank you, Candy! It’s taken many years to get to this point, but it’s been a fun ride.

      We’ve used the pop ups in the past and had great success. I do have another question for you. Have you noticed any difference in open and click through rates from your subscribers through the pop up vs your other subscribers? Also, just in case you didn’t know you probably won’t want to have a popup for your mobile users because Google will penalize you for that or at least that was something they announced a few years ago.

      I wrote a blog post many years back on how service dog puppy raisers are similar to pet bloggers. The key traits I’ve noticed is you have to be persistent, consistent, and patient. As long as you have those traits I’m sure you’ll be successful and hit over 20K sessions via Pinterest too.

      Thanks for joining us on the Journey! I hope you have a great 2020!

  6. Thank you for being such a great host Colby! First, I am so sorry for your loss of Stetson. We all know how hard it is to say goodbye.

    My tip for building a successful email list is to create a few irresistible opt-ins. Meaning give away a simple PDF cheat sheet, checklist, etc. Have places to opt in everywhere on your site. Boxes, text links, home page, about page, every blog post… everywhere!

    Good luck and hope to here next year that your email list was your biggest accomplishment 😉

    1. Thanks Debi! I’m so glad you joined the Journey!

      Saying goodbye is the worst. We lost Linus in 2018 now Stetson in 2019. They were my two buddies for many years.

      Thanks for the awesome email list tip! I actually half started putting some small giveaway type things, but I haven’t really done too much yet. I think I need to take a month and only work on my email list or at least allocating a certain amount of time every day to creating opt-ins and optimizing my site for email.

      Thanks again for participating this year. All the best to you in 2020!

  7. I have no suggestions on managing email as I’m horrendous at nurturing and growing my lists. I keep meaning to do it and it always falls off my radar. Maybe that should be my goal for this year!

    I’m in awe of your goal for video this year. I can’t imagine the tremendous effort it’s going to take to get that many videos done. Good luck!

    1. Hi Angela! I have the same problem with email. It keeps falling off the radar. In the past when I’ve done video it was all a matter of getting into the routine of doing them. As long as I can get the routine down I think I should be able to succeed in meeting my goal. Thanks for stopping by!

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