Happy New Year, friends! I hope your year ahead is gentler and more joyful than what we’ve faced so far.
I’m here today participating in the 2021 Pet Bloggers Journey blog hop so generously hosted by Colby at PuppyInTraining.com. If you don’t know Colby or his site yet, skip my post and go read his blog! He provides so much inspiration and helpful advice for anyone who loves puppies and for pet bloggers.
If you do stick around, this year’s post provided an interesting challenge for me, but it was a ton of fun to tackle these questions and to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Especially in light of 2020 and all it held and the promises of 2021 holding… well… much the same.
So, without further preamble, let’s dig in, shall we?
- When did you begin your blog and what do you currently write about on your blog?
I began in May 2009. In internet terms, that makes me a dog-blogging Methuselah. When I began, I wrote about my two dogs, Emmett and Lucas, and all we faced: therapy dog work (Em) and reactive dog training (Lukey) served as the backbone, and I mixed in wellness, fun, products, and so on. Eleven years of blogging is a lifetime for many dogs, and during theirs, our family grew to included another dog, Cooper; two cats, Newt and Ripley; and two human girls, Violet and Astrid; and it contracted when we said goodbye to both Emmett and Lucas.
What I write about currently: our family of dogs, cats, and kids, and the intersection of the three. I also cover dog behavior and the animal-human bond. Those are my passion subjects. I devour journal articles and books, try to put the pieces together against my experience, and then write about it here.
- Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2020, that made you most proud.
I had to look back at this post from last year to remember if I had set any goals! (Not usually a good sign with goal setting…) Last year, I posted that my 2020 goal was to write my book–a work of narrative nonfiction that asks the question What makes a dog? I’m pleased to report that I have completed a solid draft of my book. I actually wrote about 40,000 words during Q1 of 2020, then realized it wasn’t the book I wanted to write. I set it aside. Rested. Thought. Read. Then started again. I now have a nearly-complete manuscript that still needs a TON of work. My goal for 2021 is to complete the manuscript and secure an agent!
- Which of your 2020 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?
I wrote this piece about grief. It’s not necessarily performing well in terms of search traffic, but I get emails and DMs about it all the time. I think it continues to do well and resonate with people because grief is such a universal, difficult emotion, and we’re often dismissed for grieving our dogs and cats as deeply as we do. It helps to know you’re not alone.
- What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2020, and how did you tackle it?
Alright, y’all. Let’s be real. This isn’t going to be a unique or imaginative answer. Many of you will have the same one, I’m guessing, but here it is: time. Specifically, none of it. I know the pandemic affected everyone differently, and in many, many ways, our family has been incredibly lucky. However. Managing a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old is already a lot. All day every day, day after day, without any breaks while also trying to work has proven to be impossible. Plus, Astrid has a ton of appointments each week–physical therapy, speech therapy, sign language, audiology, etc.–combined with teething and sleep regressions and all the regular babyhood stuff–and I’m just ragged. (More about that here.)
I’ll add to it that the political discourse and civil unrest, plus the stress of the pandemic and keeping my kids healthy physically and mentally, has all weighed heavily on me all year. (More about that here.)
All that to say, I guess, is that my biggest blogging challenge of 2020 is actually this: I am really freaking tired. With limited time, I had to prioritize. Family first. Paid client work second. Book project third. Blogging fourth. Which meant it didn’t happen as often as I would have liked. However, that’s the perfect segue into the next question…
- Tell us one thing you learned in 2020 that can help us all become better bloggers.
Creating is the ultimate act of hope: In the face of some mighty challenges, this year I’ve seen this community rise up, support one another, support our communities, stay focused, create brilliant content, share each other’s brilliant content, and just be here. At the end of the day, no matter how bad things have gotten or how much worse they could get before we emerge from this darkness, the act of creation is generous. It’s hopeful. It’s counting on a future where everyone is healthy and well, where people want to read blogs, learn how to take better care of their pets, connect with others.
How can this help us become better bloggers? Well, I guess the lesson is to never, ever, ever lose faith that your work matters. YOU matter. What you put out in the world matters. Even if it feels like no one is reading (which, tbh, fewer people ARE right now because many are fighting for their lives or their livelihoods or their health of their family, etc., and it’s hard to read blog posts when you’re worried about where your next paycheck is coming from or if your mom will get out of the hospital or if schools will close again and your boss won’t let you work from home), even if it feels like no one is showing up to read your posts right now, YOU are showing up for them whenever they can make it. Whenever they need a distraction or a connection. Your work makes a difference in the lives of the people and pets who read your writing, so no matter what, keep creating. It spreads hope.
- What are your top three goals for 2021?
Three… seems a bit steep. HA. Honestly, I’m staying hyper-focused on my book project. In fact, I’m taking on fewer clients so I can focus that extra bit of time and energy solely on my book. My only goal for 2021 is to sell the sucker. Breaking it down, that means finishing and polishing the manuscript, putting together a query package to send out to agents, securing an agent, then selling my book to a publisher!
- In the perfect world, where do you see yourself and your blog 1 year from now?
In a perfect world, well, it all goes back to my main goal. A year from now I want to be working with the editors at my publisher to finalize my manuscript. My blog is always the foundation, though. I will always come back to this space to write, to share about our beloved dogs and cats, to hold space for this community of dog and cat lovers. Distilling it down, I guess in a perfect word, this blog continues to fulfill that purpose and I continue to write about dogs and cats! Pretty much as it is now–how lucky am I that I get to do this job?!?!
- If you had a $1,000 to spend on your blog how would you spend it?
I’m torn on this one. I’d really like to hire a VA to help with graphics and social, though I did invest in (referral link –>) CoSchedule to alleviate some of that burden because, as I said earlier, I’m staying off Twitter completely and Facebook mostly. However, I’d also really love to hire someone with expertise in Google Analytics to set up the new tags and organize some of the data for me. I am NOT a data person. Or a numbrs person. Or a graphs person. I’d LOVE to hire someone to make sure I have it all up and running correctly and then show me the data in a way that is useful to me.
- What is one skill you’d like to learn or improve in 2021?
Live video. I’d love to go Live in my Facebook Group or on Instagram a couple times a month.
- If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
I want to make my emails more consistent and valuable. I’ve been sending out free printables every couple months but want to do better. What kinds of things add enough value to you to get on an email list? Do you like printables? Do you like content-heavy emails? What encourages you to subscribe to someone’s list?
Phew. OK. If you made it this far, thank you! 🙂
I’m excited to see what’s ahead for everyone in the coming year. If you’re participating in the hop or interested in reading what others have to say, check out Colby’s post here and don’t miss the comments to see the other bloggers who have answered these questions, too. We all have so much we can learn from one another!
Meanwhile, cheers to a new year, a fresh start, and better things to come!
P.S. I dedicate this post and basically every other post I ever finish to my writing partner, accountability buddy, and all-around badass friend, Jodi of Kol’s Notes. If I can sum up everything I’ve learned in 11 years of blogging, it’s this: Find someone you trust and who trusts you, and keep each other accountable, motivated, and inspired consistently.