I get asked a lot of questions about starting a pet blog, and I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned over the (almost nine!!!) years. But, when I put all those questions together–excluding detail questions like which platform to use (WordPress) or what comment spam plugin to install (Akismet)–there are a few absolutes for pet bloggers.
- Absolutely anyone can–and should, if they so desire–start and run a blog. That part is simple and really super fun. However, not everyone can–or should–turn it into a business. That part is really freaking hard.
- The technical stuff and all the tips and tricks in the world are nowhere near as important as telling a good story. Learn to tell a story well, then add in tech stuff later if you want.
- You need thick skin.
It’s that third point that’s been on my mind lately, not just because of the you’re-a-bad-mom-and-going-to-hell-to-boot email or the comment that said I’m giving Cooper cancer and turning him into a pill-popping druggie by putting him on Apoquel AND heart worm prevention… It’s not just because of any one specific criticism about any one thing I do (or don’t do) that draws ire, but rather the general discourse in this space.
I honestly believe every space on the internet faces this same problem. It’s universal, I think, but I’m talking pet-specific because that’s where I live.
It’s pretty good, and I definitely recommend it. In it she talks about how we’ve lost the ability to disagree with one another. People have their “side” on absolutely every issue–even, she points out, issues we know little to nothing about–and we dig in with incivility, judgement, and anger.
I don’t care if you feed your dog raw, home cooked, grocery kibble, premium kibble, or, like Cooper, The Honest Kitchen. I don’t care as long as you’re doing your best and doing what you think is best for your dog.
I don’t care if you choose to adopt your dog or purchase your pet from a responsible, reputable breeder. I choose adoption, but it’s not for everyone, and as long as you do your very best to vet the breeder, great.
It’s OK to disagree. It’s not OK to post aggressive, mean, judgmental comments on someone’s YouTube vid, blog, Facebook, etc. Discourse and discussion are fantastic–being exposed to new, different ideas is how we learn and grow. But being an asshole shuts down the conversation and prohibits any growth.
Of course, there are other decisions–like using a shock collar, for instance, or purchasing a dog at a pet store–that don’t need our anger and our judgment. Rather, they could use our compassionate sharing of the data, not the emotion.
Another one of Brené Brown’s lessons is: What is the most generous assumption that can be made about this person/situation?
In truth, among pet owners, the most generous assumption is always: That person is doing what she thinks is the very best for her pet.
We all know that someone’s best isn’t always good enough–think about the shock collar example–but attacking, name calling, and berating would never help that person make a better informed decision. Most likely, it would achieve the opposite. You know when someone attacks you for something and your instinct is not to change your ways but to dig in your heels?
Anyway, after the most recent “you’re killing your dog” comment, I thought to myself: Why can’t people just be kind?
Not necessarily nice, but kind. There’s a way to say the same thing but kindly. Like: Hey, I’ve always thought that type of medication could be harmful long-term, especially combined with this other med. Can you explain why you’ve made the choice to give both?
Or something. No one has to be fake-nice. No one has to say something they don’t believe to placate, but why can’t we bring the conversation back to pet care?
I see friends get slammed in the comments on Facebook pages, and it breaks my heart to think that kind, loving, lovely people are hurt by someone who doesn’t know them, who doesn’t know they bend over backwards to care for their pets.
So, I was thinking the direction of this post was going to be for newbie pet bloggers: If you want to write about your pets, develop that thick skin. Become rubber so it bounces right off.
But, instead, now that I’ve reached the end, how about this: Let’s all be kinder. Before you comment on anyone’s anything, ask yourself those kindergarten THINK questions! Is it: True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
If not, reframe it or move on.
This is a crazy world we’re living in right now full of stressed-out, angry, dug-in people who really are trying to do their best.
Whether you’re a pet blogger, whether you want to start a pet blog, whether you’re a pet owner or an animal lover, the message applies:
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama