Neighborhood is a foreign concept when you’re a transient living on a boat. We don’t see the same dog walkers every day, chat with the school crossing guard each morning, or make that weekly visit to the farmer’s market.
But we still have Pet Blogville. And the Annual Pet Blogger Challenge is its big block party.
A Neighborhood By Choice
Six years ago, I still felt raw from losing my beloved Shadow after a two-year bout with cancer.
I was expecting a new puppy. And knowing how potentially brief our time together could be (the vet diagnosed Shadow with osteosarcoma a month after we adopted her), I decided to start a dog blog.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a record of the time I spent with my new puppy?
But I found so much more.
Besides having over 1300 posts and thousands of pictures reflecting my years with Honey and several foster dogs, I’ve made many new dog-loving friends.
My pet-loving buddies are Christian, atheist, athlete, couch potato, gun owning, pacifist, introverted, extroverted, old, young, cranky, upbeat, gay, straight, vegetarian, carnivore people of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Differences that divide people enough to start twitter wars or rages on television talk shows melt away when you spend time, real time, getting to know people who love animals as much as you do.
Reading the work of other bloggers, “chatting” with people who comment on Something Wagging, and seeing pictures and stories of friends and their pets on social media gives me a neighborhood to enjoy when I’m traveling to a new place each day.
Nope, this isn’t my funniest pet blogger challenge post. That would be the Multimedia Extravaganza of 2014.
But it’s certainly the most thankful. Now let’s get to the challenge.
Pet Blogger Challenge 2015
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.
I began blogging on March 2010, the day before my golden retriever Honey came home to live with us.
My tagline is “An Amateur’s Musings on Dogs And Their People” which gives me room to write about any dog related thing I fancy. Most of my posts are reflections on life with dogs.
But I occasionally write “helpful” posts on the best way to dispose of dog poop, how to dine out with a reactive dog, or finding safe places to practice off leash with your dog.
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 guess I’m just glad that I’m blogging at all.
Selling everything we own, quitting our jobs, and moving aboard a small sailboat has been a challenge. And internet is far less reliable on the water than in land-based life.
So that I’m posting most weeks and continuing to attract more readers is a major accomplishment.
3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)
Don’t Say This To Someone Whose Dog is Dying was one favorite. I often find that the comments are better than the original post. And this post is an excellent example of that.
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?
I did nothing this year to increase my audience size. I did start a Something Wagging Pinterest page but have not been very active on it yet.
What has increased my hits the most is having older, “evergreen” content that answers questions people are googling like “is it okay for dogs to sleep outside?”
5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? (Please include a link.)
My most popular posts in 2015 were written in earlier years and get a lot of traffic from google searches.
With over 20,000 hits, the big winner is What Do You Do AFTER You Scoop The Poop? The post showed the pros and cons of different methods of poop disposal from composting to flushing to tossing in the trash or tossing it into the woods.
Because the natural ecosystem can only break down the waste of two dogs per square mile, it’s crucial that we find the best ways to get rid of dog poop before it gets rid of us.
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.)
With sporadic internet access, I can’t read any blog as regularly as I like to. I do more of a hit or miss approach, stopping in on my favorites when I can.
But I’ve been following Jan’s Poodle and Dog Blog since the beginning. It’s kinda like a quick news site on all things dog with some irreverent opinion pieces. And Jan’s been blogging for longer than anyone else I know.
Which make Poodle and Dog kinda like the New York Times of dog blogs.
Not updated as often is A Slightly R-Rated Dog Blog by Jan’s “evil twin Skippy.” It’s more like the tabloid version of the news.
7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?
Well, I have a feed reader full of posts to read about improving my blog. But I haven’t touched a single one.
The one thing I did was buy a better camera so even if my technical skills are still poor, at least my pictures are less blurry.
8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?
Remember that the majority of your readers are not other bloggers. And that they may be stopping by for the very first time.
Nothing makes me crazier than to read a name in a blog post and have no idea who the writer is talking about because it’s my first time there.
Be welcoming to everyone. It’s the best way to make new friends.
9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?
Well, my big goal for 2015 was to redesign the look of the blog. And you can see how far I got with that.
It’s time to see how the blog fits with our new lives aboard. But I’m not making any promises.
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?
My biggest question today is about how I can really know if I’m offering anything worthwhile with Something Wagging.
It’s great to know that my traffic is growing and that people are finding useful information in old posts. But I worry that my writing is less funny and interesting than it has been in the past.
And when none of my most popular posts of 2015 were written in 2015, I start to wonder.
I’d love to know if regular readers miss content I’ve covered in the past. Or what they’d like to see in the future.
Gratitude And Welcome
So that’s my offering to the annual pet blogger block party, or as most people call it, the Pet Blogger Challenge.
Thank you to Amy of Go Pet Friendly for being our block captain for the past 6 years and rallying the bloggers together to take this challenge.
Thank you to non-blogging readers for your patience as we bloggers examine the lint in our belly buttons. And for taking time from your busy days to read and comment here. Even when I don’t have time to reply to your comments, I’m grateful for them and enjoy keeping up with your lives with your pets.
And thank you to all the other bloggers who are a part of my neighborhood, no matter where I may sail.