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.