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The Pet Blogger Challenge

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Today we’re taking part in the annual Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by GoPetFriendly.com.

How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

We’ve been blogging since 2000 but DogTipper was launched in August 2008. We’ll reach the five-year mark this summer! This is our third Pet Blogger Challenge; here are our links to our 2012 and 2011 posts.

What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post? Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

I think the most important goal I set for us last year was to reduce the number of hours in our work week. Unfortunately, we haven’t made progress on that front. We’ve made progress in our efforts to stay on top of social media changes, and this past year we’ve hosted several very successful Twitter parties with All Things Dog Blog in our Event Barkers partnership. I’m really looking forward to our Super Dog Sunday™ photo contest, a completely charitable event to benefit Petfinder Foundation.

Over the past year, I’d say our goal has remained the reduction of our work hours along with the increase in our income. We’ve made some improvement on that front but primarily by taking on freelance writing assignments.

How often do you post?

We post multiple times per day, every day.

Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?

Since writing is a full-time job for both of us, we really don’t have a choice about blogging on schedule. That stack of bills is always peeking at us from across the room!

If you publish on a schedule, why? How strict are you about your publishing deadlines? What do you do for inspiration when it feels like you’ve covered every topic?

We are very strict about publishing on schedule. We work seven days a week and maintain regular business hours as well as evening hours.

How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your tips for staying on top of it all.

I spend approximately 70 hours a week working on the blogs (as well as our freelance writing work); John typically works about 30-40 hours a week on our writing, since he also handles all maintenance on our home and acreage. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time for visiting other blogs, which I regret. I try to keep up with other blogs on Facebook and Twitter as best I can but, honestly, much of my time is spent researching, interviewing, writing or searching for either advertisers or assignments.

How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)? Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

We don’t rely strictly on any one metric to measure success. We use Google Analytics and measure our traffic through it but we also use social media engagement as a measure of our reach.

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

If I could ask for one thing from the pet blogging community to assist us, it would be to remember your own worth when dealing with companies. The exposure your blog provides has a monetary value. Even if income is not a personal goal for your blog, you have the opportunity to earn money that you could donate to your favorite animal charities. I feel that some pet companies are reluctant to recognize pet blogs as businesses that require an investment for coverage, just as if they were working with a magazine. I know that when you’re first starting out, it’s flattering to attract the attention of a large company that’s offering a product for review but a professional business relationship has to be more valuable than a $10 product.

And, from pet companies themselves, I’d ask that not only they recognize the value of pet blogs but also of pet writing. We’re often asked to write for free or for “exposure,” and we’re also offered very low rates (yes, we’ve been offered rates as low as $5 a post). As professional writers for 20 years, we’ve not seen this in the past in other sectors in which we’ve worked, and it is both surprising and disappointing. We’d love to share company news and new products…but we also have to be mindful that we have bills to pay.

What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

I feel that we’re very much at a crossroads right now with DogTipper so I’m unsure what path we’ll take in 2013. We would like (and need) to take DogTipper to the next level. Right now, we’re trying to decide if that’s a smart financial move. We left the world of travel writing to move into pet writing, and it has been a difficult economic step. I absolutely love working on DogTipper but I know, at the same time, that I have to be realistic about our living expenses. I know what route I’d love to take in terms of growing the site and reaching a wider audience but I think our main goal for 2013 is to decide what route we should take.

 

About 

Paris Permenter is an award-winning author of over 30 pet and travel books. Along with her husband, John Bigley, Paris is the founder and publisher of CatTipper and DogTipper.

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  • KimClune

    Thank you for asking the pet community to better value their space, work and readership. The act of brands taking advantage of this rampant lack of self-worth is my greatest pet blogging peeve. It certainly hurts us all when it’s allowed to happen.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s easy for the average blogger to know what price tag to place on their audience size or the writing invested. At the very least, a standard fee chart seems in order, yet nobody wants to share what fees they’ve been able to charge or how that applies to folks within different tiers of audience numbers. Until a standard is set, we’ll forever be up against the inferiority complex of too many bloggers.

    I’ve heard the murmur of several bloggers discuss forming a union over the years. Pet bloggers have followed the trends of other niches long enough. Why not get out in front lead the charge? It’s time we come together, put our money where our mouths are, and lead every niche of the blogging industry out of this nonsense by creating a set of respectful and fair rules that both bloggers and brands can follow.

    • http://www.facebook.com/parisandjohn Paris Permenter

      I think that’s a great idea, Kim! I’m going to check and see what’s happening in the travel blogging space and see if something comparable could be done for pet bloggers. I think it’s in everyone’s best interests–both brands and blogs–for blogs to receive fair compensation for promotion to help them further their goals.

      • KimClune

        Thank you so much for making this first move. I’m not versed enough in charging rates to start this myself, but I am happy to help compile info from bloggers who are dealing daily in this realm. If there’s anything you’d like me to do, just ask.

  • Vicki Stringfellow Cook

    Hi Paris – I think a lot of people see professional bloggers as living a glamorous life. Your post certainly helps to clarify that. You work hard for your money – with many, many more hours than the average person with a “day job”. In addition, the pay rate is much lower than other sectors. Thank you for sharing – I think a lot of us could use a “reality check” when we’re dreaming of becoming professional bloggers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/parisandjohn Paris Permenter

      Thanks so much, Vicki. It really is fuller than full-time job. John and I absolutely love what we do…but then we look at our 13-year-old cars and our living expenses and realize we’ve got to make some important choices in the coming months. We came to the pet world from the travel writing sector which isn’t terribly lucrative (due to the great trips) but it wasn’t this difficult. Our paws are crossed that our new media kit will help!

  • http://www.puplove.ca/ AJ

    I’m with KimClune! I I would love to see a fee chart… I am consistently undervaluing my services (or so Jodi from Kol’s Notes keeps telling me!) and I’d love to have sort of a guide line to work with.

    • http://www.facebook.com/parisandjohn Paris Permenter

      It’s so difficult, isn’t it, AJ? I wish there were guidelines out there for fee structures. I know with ours, it’s trial and error. We set a price and if we don’t get takers after a reasonable effort, we edge the price down.

  • http://twitter.com/TheFurMom Kimberly Gauthier

    I love what you shared about respecting our value. I learned quickly to say no to companies want free advertising, sponsored posts, and social media promotion. I understand that we’re trying to save money in a tight economy, but I’m also trying to build a business, which won’t happen if I spend my time working for free.

    I was able to develop my fee schedule by looking around at what other blogs were doing; I chose blogs that I felt were comparable with my own. I have sold ad space, but not consistently – YET. But I’m almost there.

    I loved your contribution to the challenge. Thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/parisandjohn Paris Permenter

      Thanks, Kimberly! I love what you said about saying no…that’s a goal for me! I think that’s what I’ve GOT to do to carve a little bit of free time back into our days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/macdogald Tegan Whalan

    Thank-you for your thoughts on bloggers ‘underselling’ their blogs. As I am receiving increasing numbers of requests to review products and otherwise promote businesses, I am having to think more extensively about my responses to these requests. You’ve given me something to think about, and something I’ll continue to mull over.

  • Colby

    I guess being a full time blogger isn’t as glamorous as we all thought. You have a great blog and all of the hard work really shows.

    I think you read my mind…pet bloggers really do undervalue their worth. I’ve been trying to find sponsors for my blog for the past few months and most advertisers really don’t seem all that interested in spending money. I agree with Kim and I would love to see a standard fee chart.

    I think I have a pretty good idea of what I plan on charging for basic banner ads on my site, but I’m hoping to setup partnerships with advertisers that would offer more than just a basic 300×250 ad in the sidebar. We’ll see how it goes. By the way, I don’t plan on undervaluing my worth.

    Thanks so much for bringing up this discussion. I hope you plan to move forward with DogTipper, CatTipper and the pet blogging community.

    Good luck with your goals in 2013!

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