8th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge (with commentary by Honey)

OMD, it’s that time again! Time to hang with my pet blogging peeps and try to be somewhat amusing for non-blogging readers.

The pressure! The pressure! Can I do it?

Honey the boat dog wants to go to Little River Inlet beach.

This is a pet blogger challenge, eh? I challenge us to go to the beach.

Well, I can only try.

What Is The Pet Blogger Challenge?

Eight years ago, Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly encouraged pet bloggers to gather in what has become the best virtual block party in Blogville.

Amy carries on the tradition to this day, giving pet bloggers a chance to look back on the past year and forward to the next.

I’ve joined the Pet Blogger Challenge every year. And I’m thrilled to be joining again.

If you’re a blogger and want to join the fun, check out Amy’s invitation to join the Pet Blogger Challenge.

Honey the boat dog is ready for fun at the beach.

Did someone say “fun?” I’m in!

Answering The Pet Blogger Challenge

For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic? 

I began blogging in March 2010, the week Honey came to live with us. My goal was to write about our lives together, share our time with foster pups, and to ponder the human canine bond.

Actually, I’ll write about anything that I can relate in some way to dogs. And I can relate anything to dogs. Go ahead. Just try me.

Honey the boat dog takes a sand bath at the beach.

Yep, my person can turn any topic around to the subject of dogs. I’ll just be over here taking a sand bath while you try to stump her.

In August 2015 we moved on board a 34 foot sailboat and started cruising the eastern United States. Now I write about our travels and life on board. I share ideas for adventuring with your dog that I’ve learned on our boat.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2017?

Hmmmm, how about publishing 40 posts over the course of the year?

Given that I used to write over 200 posts annually on two different blogs when I was working full-time, it’s a pretty paltry accomplishment. But everything takes longer on a boat.

Even blogging.

Honey the golden retriever runs on the beach.

Maybe everything wouldn’t take so long if you’d run as fast as me.

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

I love taking two ideas that seem to have little in common and relating them to each other. So my favorite post would have to be What Big Ships Can Teach You About Walking Your Dog.

In terms of your blog, how do you measure success?

Well, I definitely don’t measure it by the number of monthly visitors.

After having record traffic in January 2017, the number of visitors crashed into the cellar. I was terribly discouraged. But I’ve begun addressing technical issues in hopes of figuring out what I did to piss off the Google gods.

So if it’s not numbers, how do I measure success? Well, I think of continuing to blog in the face of technical challenges to be a sign of success.

But even more important are the relationships I’ve formed with my readers. If success can be measured by the people we end up caring about, I’m a freaking master.

Honey the golden retriever loves having fans at Something Wagging.

I know that I love when we meet people who know me through the blog. I love having a fan club.

In what ways has your blog changed during 2017?

I’m trying to fit into a new blog identity that embraces our life on board while not alienating my followers who think I’m crazy for living on a small boat with a big dog.

Is it working?

What was the biggest blogging challenge you overcame in 2017, and what did you learn that could help other bloggers?

The biggest challenge was facing the discouragement of losing so much traffic at the beginning of the year. When I finally got over just feeling bad about a major crash, I got to work trying to figure out how to appease Google.

I tackled a bunch of technical tasks: speeding up my site, changing links, and in the biggest move, getting an SSL certificate.

What did I learn from this? That even someone as technophobic as I am can do technical tasks. It just takes patience. And lots and lots of googling.

Honey the golden retriever on the beach.

Googling, eh? That sounds kinda dirty.

When things get hard, what keeps you blogging? (Question submitted by Pamela Douglas Webster of Something Wagging This Way Comes)

Hey, that’s me.

Well, heck, if I had the answer, I wouldn’t have suggested Amy ask it in the hop. Although I suspect that for me, it’s just plain stubbornness. And hating the risk of losing the wonderful friends I like keeping up with.

Looking forward to 2018, what are you hoping to accomplish on your blog this year?

In 2018 I have two major goals. The first is to settle into a new identity sharing helpful information for people who enjoy adventuring with their dogs, especially, but not exclusively, on boats.

The second is to increase the small income I’ve earned from Something Wagging without annoying everyone. Boat parts are expensive.

Honey and Mike in silhouette.

The gold on a beach doesn’t go very far when you have to buy kibble.

In addition to what you’d like to accomplish, is there one specific skill you’d like to improve or master this year?
(Question submitted by Jodi Chick of Kol’s Notes)

One? ONE? I have tons to learn.

I want to improve my social media mojo. I want to learn more about CSS. I want to become a dog nail trimming ninja (I’m actually taking a class on this).

Although the biggest skill I need to learn is self-management. Perhaps next year Amy will start the Pet Blogger Therapy Challenge.

Honey and Pam say goodbye on the beach.

Farewell to the Pet Blogger Challenge!

Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in the comments!

For years, I’ve thought of Something Wagging mainly as a blog. But most people come here searching for an answer to a specific question. Should I be creating a landing page that directs people toward other content similar to what brought them to Something Wagging to begin with? Do you have a landing page? How has it worked for you?

Comments

  1. I always like when you write, and even though it’s only been 40 times this year……(what??!!) I’m there. I think you’ve done great considering all the challenges you have faced this year. 2018 will be smooth sailing, pun intended, for you and the blog.

    • I have to admit, I was astounded when I saw the post count for the year myself.

      This is the year I try to figure out how to make the boat easier to live and work on. I guess I’ll know if I succeeded when I do my post count at next year’s hop.

  2. Wow! 40 blog posts while living on a boat is awesome! I live in a house and can’t get to that number. I’m going to blame having a baby (human not a puppy) this year for my lack of blogging. I have a “Start Here” page that tries to answer some questions for new readers. I haven’t created any true landing pages, but this year I’m going to try and look more into user experience. If you want to get an idea about what readers do when they get to your site you can try doing a free Peek User Test where they do a screencast of a person visiting your site. All the best to you and Honey in 2018!

    • I think that having a baby gives you a big pass. Everything you accomplish is amazing.

      Thanks for suggesting the Peek User Test. I’ll give it a try.

  3. We think it is a miracle you are able to keep blogging while living on the boat. That alone is a huge challenge in our minds. Even if you don’t post a lot, your posts are always great! They are fun and or informative. Lucky for us our host added the SSL certificate for us, that may have been part of our lack of increase in traffic this year, or perhaps our lack of SEO knowledge!

    • Lack of unlimited electricity and internet has certainly been as big a challenge as the fact that everything takes a lot of time on the boat. But this year I hope to make our life and work on board easier. Heck, I’ll know I’ve succeeded if you start thinking it’s not so hard after all. 🙂

      Now if you can teach me how you do so well at keeping up with so many blogs. You’re amazing as a reader and commenter!

      BTW, when your host added the SSL certificate, did they also create a redirect in your .htaccess file? Because part of the process is telling everyone who visits your http site that they now need to go to your https site.

      That could have a difference in your traffic.

  4. Most people visit my site looking for an answer too, and then they move on when they find it. I use popups to try to get them to join my email list.

    I had a problem at the end of 2013 where my Google traffic dropped. Hang in there! For me, it was because I had removed a forum on my site. This meant thousands of links disappeared (from the forum). Whoops.

    • I’m starting to make infographics for some of my most useful, evergreen posts. It’s hard to remember that we don’t always need to be creating new content. Sometimes the best move is to get old content moving around the internet.

      • Good idea on the infographics for old posts. I’ve been trying to make pins for my old posts that rank, at a minimum. I’ve also considered adding video to those posts but haven’t.

  5. We haven’t done much blogging, but we will definitely be joining in!

    Monty, Harlow, and Ramble

  6. I’m always impressed by how well you can link anything to dogs 🙂 Those unlikely relationships are always my favorite posts of yours, too!

  7. I don’t live on a boat and I still think publishing 40 posts a year is amazing! Sorry about your struggles with google and the drop in traffic. This is not my area of expertise – though I know I should pay more attention to it.

    I fully support your goal to become a nail trimming ninja. Again, not my area of expertise. Ruby’s nails are black and difficult to trim. I tend to run to the vet when she needs a trim because I am just not comfortable trimming them (even after four years). Maybe once you become a ninja perhaps you can write a few posts (0r lead a support group hop) for those of us who are still nervous about nail trimming.

  8. Thank you for the shout out! Working with Amy on the Pet Blogger’s Challenge was one of my favorite things to do; I’m amazed that it was 8 years ago. I still read my favorite pet blogs — including yours, of course — even though I don’t often comment. I am awed that you managed 40 posts; I didn’t manage to write more than 30 on all three blogs, combined, and I don’t have the excuse of living on a boat.

    • Yes, but you’re writing all the time.

      Frankly I’m amazed that you promote your work on the blogs, teach classes, promote your books, write for a variety of publications, and somehow manage to keep Queen Madeleine happy.

  9. We have loved your site and continue to look forward to adventures with Honey girl. Keep up the great work, we are avid readers of yours! As a fellow blogger, I too wonder how to keep visitors and followers and am amazed and inspired by your ability to be successful from a boat. Maybe I can ‘get this social media thing’ figured after all. LOL 😍

  10. Wow! Living on a boat, with a dog, and blogging?! You are impressive! I have only just found your blog through the blog hop, but this has captured my attention. Diego and I travel around New Zealand together a lot, however have never branched out into boat travel. I am excited to read more of your content 😀

    • OMD, I thought everyone in New Zealand was required to know how to sail. 🙂 You and Diego should definitely try to find a way to get onto the water together. For one thing, water sports can be great to enjoy with reactive dogs.

  11. Not to bring up another technical issue, but for some reason your photos aren’t showing up for me. Hopefully it’s just me!
    I agree that keeping going in spite of technical issues is a sign of success (along with keeping going while living on a boat0! I touch on the same subject in my post (going up tomorrow). I also agree that it’s the community that is ultimately the biggest driver for that. While I know I could still keep reading blogs even if I wasn’t writing one, it just wouldn’t be the same.
    I’ve never had a landing page other than my home page. Thanks for giving me something else to think about. 🙂

    • Yesterday, my pictures weren’t showing up for ME. Usually it happens to me because I have slow internet. But I have a caching plugin that may affect people who visit regularly. I don’t quite understand how it works. But thanks for letting me know. I’ll start digging in to see what’s going on.

  12. You could perhaps start a forum thing. I like to my Dog Health Issues FB group, for example.

    • I’ve thought of that several times over the years. I like fora. But I’ve heard enough nasty troll stories that I’m not sure I have a thick enough skin to manage one.

      But maybe it depends on the topic, eh?

      • This is probably a niche thing, but this is my experience with a forum. I had a forum from the beginning on my dog dementia site. It turned out that the people who came there didn’t really want to talk to each other. Basically what they wanted to do was chat with me. Probably because my site was what finally helped them figure out what might be wrong with their dog. I finally deleted the forum. Perhaps now I could figure out how to get people to participate, but back at that time I didn’t have one taker.

  13. I enjoyed reading this immensely. I love reading about how you’ve been training Honey to cope with different aspects of living on a boat. I am a dog training geek – so I enjoy reading about your innovative solutions for training crazy boat-dog related behaviors.

    I’m like Emma, thinking that it’s a miracle that you can keep blogging while living on a boat. When we take our van camping trips, I have a heck of a time keeping up with my blogging. Great job!

    • It’s so nice to hear you find the boat training posts interesting. I worry that non-boaters won’t see the point. But I think there is a lot of overlap between training for one activity or another.

      And yes, blogging is tough to keep up with. There is always something else that needs doing. Like figuring out where the mysterious soapy water came from that showed up in my bilge. But this is more fun.

  14. You wrote 40 posts this year? *aweful gaze* It doesn’t feel like that many, maybe because I find your posts such easy reads. Your ability to link anything to dogs, or rather, your ability to address dog issues in such a thoughtful way by drawing in some lovely and unexpected references, is one of my very favourite things about you.

    • Thank you, my friend.

      BTW, I’m cogitating on a post that references you. You’ll never believe which one of your crafty projects has turned out to be amazingly useful on a boat.

  15. I think you hit the nail on the head with the reason I still blog, even if it is less often…..I don’t want to lose touch with the people and blogs I find special. Obviously yours is one of those! It still remains a highlight of my year getting the opportunity to spend the day with you and Honey and see life aboard the Meander.

    • I find it amazing that people I like online turn out to be even more interesting in person. So glad you worked so hard to come and see us over the summer. And it was so freaking hot.

      I’m not worthy. Honey is worthy. But I am not.

      Your blog has made agility much more sensible to me. I enjoyed watching but had trouble understanding it until reading your posts. So thank you. I’m finding a new interest in dog agility–not for competitive reasons but because so many of the skills translate to living on a boat.

  16. I’ve been thinking of a landing page too, because I’ve had people say, I’m not sure where your humor or health posts are. If you think it will help new readers, and you’re willing to tackle it, I say go for it.

    I won’t give up blogging either because I love the pet blogging community so much, and they’ve been so good to me. That and I hate being called a quitter. 😉

    • You’re definitely no quitter. If you were, Delilah would be walking all over you. And she’d be about 100 pounds heavier. 🙂

      If I go to a new format, I’ll definitely check in with you. Maybe we can do it together.

  17. Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge every year, Pamela. Next year we should have an award for bloggers who’ve posted every year! And starting a therapy group is an excellent idea – I’ll get on that.

    In November of 2016 we did a complete redesign of Take Paws, creating landing pages and treating the blog more like a magazine than a chronological record. It hasn’t increased my page views per visit, but I love the new design and it motivates me to write evergreen content that will do well years from now. I think anytime you can make it easier for your readers to find what they’re looking for, it’s a good thing.

    Personally, I think you’re a hero for writing 40 posts while living on a boat! Just the unpredictable internet is enough to give me heartburn. You’re doing great – and don’t worry about not alienating people from your blog. We all love you. Nothing you could do would get rid of us. I can’t wait to see how the coming year shapes up for you, Mike and Honey!

    • I think the person who hosts the hop and visits every participant should get an award. 🙂

      My little pea brain usually finds magazine formats overwhelming. But I don’t find that on your site. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Take Paws for so many years that old posts are just reminders of things I’ve enjoyed instead of a command to go digging around to see what I’ve missed. (see, now you know why we need a pet blogger therapy team)

      Definitely hope to blog more in 2018 thanks to our new solar panels. And definitely finding all our favorite anchorages with good wifi.

  18. This pet blogging challenge looks like fun! Count me in!

  19. As someone who traveled across a couple continents with their dog on a bike, I feel you with the challenge of appealing to readers about your time on a boat with a big dog. This has been a challenge for us as well. What kind of content appeals to the masses.

    I definitely think landing pages have helped us out. It gives the readers a place to go when they visit your blog and you can direct them to the posts you really want them to see.

  20. I’m relatively new to your content, but I have learned that your sense of humor is my style! And I love seeing the pictures of Honey.

    I use an upside-down landing page as my home page. I can’t remember where I heard about the concept, but I read an overview article about it and liked the upside-down idea. Then I noticed bloggers who used this format and decided to give it a try. I don’t pay to promote that page, but I do get traffic to it from various sources. It acts as a “Start Here” kind of page, so the content is general. I haven’t used a landing page for specific problems people are looking for a solution to. I will say that there have been a few blogs where I knew nothing about the person, but I landed on what was clearly a landing page. I looked around at maybe two or three resources and was impressed enough to give them my email. I am disciplined enough to unsubscribe from emails if they send too many or I’m not finding value, but I’ve also stayed on some email lists for long periods of time because there’s enough relevant content coming to me regularly enough that I do find value.

  21. Happy New Year

    I’m looking forward to where your blog takes us this year. This is my quiet space. The blog I come to that doesn’t have an action item at the end of a long post. It’s a nice break from all of the technical, business, and marketing blogs I read. Thank you.

  22. Oh, wow, that is so cool that you live on a boat! A landing page sounds like a great idea. (And thank you to Honey for that wonderful commentary!) 🙂

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