It’s what you’ve been waiting for — the Pet Blogger Challenge! If you’re here and you’ve already written a post answering the questions that Amy of GoPetFriendly.com and I posted on December 20, simply add the url to the Linky tool, below. If you haven’t written it yet but are inspired to do so, get cracking. You have until 11:59 PM Mountain Time tomorrow (1/11) to add your link. Otherwise, don’t blame us when you have an entire year of coulda shoulda wouldas.
For those who participated last year:
1. Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.
Here you go: The State of the Blog 1/10/12:
2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?
It was pretty much my only goal: To make my blog a vehicle to promote past and future books.
3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?
In some ways I have, although blogging didn’t keep AM I BORING MY DOG from semi-going out of print. On the other hand, I decided that I wanted to write a pet travel book. It seemed like a natural to mix my experience as a travel writer with my experience as a pet writer. To that end, I decided to “brand” myself (ugh — how did that term morph from its association with cattle?) as a pet travel expert by joining the Animal Cafe team as the pet travel correspondent; by starting a regular pet travel feature on Thursday; and most recently, by starting a pet travel book club here and on A Traveler’s Library, which also tied in my literary interests. A trifecta! I was planning to advertise the book club with a badge and a newsletter. I also bought a startlingly good domain name for the new pet travel blog I planned to start.
I even got the impetus to begin the book last fall by enlisting two of my virtual friends, Pamela of Something Wagging This Way Comes and Leo of Kenzo the Hovawart, into an accountability committee. I sent them a chapter outline and the first chapter for comments and they were amazing: Thorough, insightful, helpful, honest and encouraging. I couldn’t have asked for a better accountability committee.
The only thing they couldn’t do was help me to muster real enthusiasm for the book.
4. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? Which are you doing now? Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc?
The affiliation with Animal Cafe meant that I blogged once weekly about the interviews that were posted there — a pleasure, given the quality of the interviews by Dr. Lorie Huston, Kelly Dunbar, and site founder, Mary Haight; with A Traveler’s Library there was the addition of a regular post each month. And I made sure to blog at least four times a week. Over the year, my traffic grew slowly but steadily, and I reached the goal of 10,000 page views a month back in November.
5. Are you generating income from your blog? Has this changed since last year?
I am getting more offers than last year for paid links, hosted content, and for ads. It’s not enough to live on, but it’s always a nice surprise when it works out.
Every now and then I get an offer for an ad that doesn’t make sense (I’m not talking about something offensive, like links to puppy sellers on eBay, though I’ve gotten those too). One time, for example, I got an inquiry from an addiction support site, and I suggested that maybe WMDHM was not really a good fit. Recently, I got an offer for an ad from LaCoste — you know, the French shirts with the little alligators? I decided that if they wanted to put an ad on my site, who was I to argue with them — alligators, dogs, hey, they’re all animals. So I quoted what I thought was a high price and they didn’t bat an eyelash, which made me think I should have quoted an even higher one. But I was excited.
Loading the ad on the special site was a bit complicated, but I did it and waited for final approval, which would accompany payment, from the client… which never came. Finally, I was told that my site had been rejected by LaCoste because they already had enough content for this round of advertising…
I think they discovered WMDHM was a dog blog.
6. Have your likes and dislikes about blogging changed since last year?
Not really. I still find it an obligation that is made worthwhile by my ability to express my opinions, unfettered, as well as by the wonderful community of pet bloggers who provide support and, often, wonderful conversations
7. Overall, are you pleased with the progress you made in 2011?
Yes and no. My blog has succeeded in many ways in spite of the fact that I haven’t treated it as a business or “monetized” it, to use another word I loathe almost as much as “branding” (moo!) But if you make your living as a writer and you are spending a lot of time writing and not getting paid for it and you’re not excited about the goal you claimed for it, i.e., getting established as a pet travel expert, you have to wonder if what you are doing makes a lot of sense.
8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?
When Amy and I decided to co-host the Pet Blogger Challenge again last month, I had no idea I was going to say this, but I’ve decided to wind down Will My Dog Hate Me so I can devote my energies to writing a book that has nothing to do with dogs.
I’ve alluded to the topic in a couple of recent blog posts — the discovery that my great uncle’s butcher shop was part of the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna. I want to research my background, to find out what pre-war life in Vienna was like for my family and maybe even discover some living cousins. For the first time since I started writing AM I BORING MY DOG, I’m really excited about the prospect of a new book. So I’ve got to do it.
I don’t know what winding down means yet. I’m going to finish the Shelter Pet Project series I started. I have a cache of “Pet Adoption Videos that Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself” that I’m going to share. I’m reviewing DOG WALKS MAN on Thursday. And I can’t imagine that I won’t occasionally want to write something about Frankie; he’ll still be the center of my life, and the little publicity hound will not want to stay out of the public eye. And I’m not going to give up having opinions about dogs.
It’ll also free me up to read up my favorite pet blogs and not panic when someone has covered a topic that I wanted to write about.
And who knows… maybe I’ll miss pet blogging so much, I’ll change my mind. Blogs are strict task mistresses but they’re also forgiving. At least I’m hoping mine won’t hate me forever.