The following Q&A's are in response to the Fourth Annual Pet Blogger Challenge, sponsored by GoPetFriendly.com and Will My Dog Hate Me? This Challenge attracts folks from across the world and I expect it to be a great forum to learn from and connect with other bloggers. However, my ultimate goal is to get a great jumpstart on the best practices being used by successful sites so that I can provide my readers with great content and resources in 2014!
My answers to the questions posed aren't going to be overly robust since The Savvy Dog Blog is a "newbie" on the blogging scene. However, at the end of this post will be a "Blog Hop", which is a shared list of links to all of the other bloggers participating in the challenge (see, I've learned something new already!) There are some really interesting blogs and websites included here, so please feel free to check any or all of them out!
1. How long have you been blogging? Please tell us why you started blogging, and, for anyone stopping by for the first time, give us a quick description of what your blog is about.
I've had an active Facebook page associated with my training business, Savvy Dog, since February, 2012. I've always loved to write and from the beginning of my business, planned on offering a more robust blog to compliment the business and provide clients and other dog lovers with information and resources that will help inspire great relationships between them and their dogs. After researching and working through all of the technical issues associated with setting up my own website, I'm FINALLY launching the official Savvy Dog Blog this month, January 2014!
2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
I figured out how to pull it all together and have hopefully positioned myself for a successful launch in January, 2014!
3. When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?
Actually having a blog will be my biggest change....:-)
4. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own sites? If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
My lessons learned come from my Facebook experiences as well as research I've done for my business plan, which involved looking at hundreds of websites.
1) Just putting information out into the universe and not responding or interacting with your readers is not enough for most blogs to thrive - your readers need to feel connected. The FB pages and blogs that I keep coming back to are the ones where the authors show up, both in replies to reader comments and by providing future posts that address questions or issues that have come up from their readers.
2) Pictures are a huge draw and can really bring a post and it's point to life.
3) Telling a story is very compelling and can make content real and engaging for the reader.
4) Current posts and timing consistency is key. Long gaps between posts without any explanation as to why the silence can lead to a loss of interest from your readers. If a blog is associated with a business website and has stale content, it can also be a poor reflection on the business - better to not have a blog at all, in my opinion!
5) Posts don't have to be long and involved to make an impact. Keep current by posting a great picture with a caption or a short, funny anecdote. Mix it up and keep it interesting!
5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
I'm expecting a close tie-in with Facebook to have an impact as well as consistently driving clients and prospective clients to the website/blog as a reference and resource for their questions.
6. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
I'd like to make it as automated as possible from a social media standpoint, but overall....TBD!
7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? How do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?
8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
If the content somehow engages or inspires me, I like to acknowledge that to the author. Also, if the author has a history of being responsive and/or appreciate of comments and feedback, that really increases my incentive to participate in the conversation.
9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways? If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?
This is an area I plan on learning more about and exploring in this first year.
10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
In general, I just need to step away from the computer and accomplish some task totally unrelated to writing. Having a productivity "success" in some other area takes the pressure off and opens up my mind for a fresh start.
11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go? Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014
2) Practice all of the items I describe in # 4!
3) Get feedback on at least 50% of my posts that the information was in some way helpful, enjoyable or inspiring to the reader.
Whew! That's the end of the Q&A part of this post! Please check out the list of other blogs below that are participating in this challenge. And if you have any suggestions or requests concerning topics or regular features that you'd like to see on the Savvy Dog Blog, please share them in the comments section!