For the first time I’m participating in the GoPetFriendly.com pet blogger challenge. Below are my responses
1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.
I’ve been blogging since late 2000. My main focus is enjoying the outdoors with dogs in ways that won’t lose us access to public areas. This includes camping, hiking, and paddling. I also give updates on some of my competitive endeavors—conformation, weight pull, lure coursing, barn hunt, and others.
2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.
I’ve started to resume my posting after a hiatus. I lost one of my dogs to a prolonged illness a few years ago and it took a while to get back on the trail as that’s what we did together (backpacking). My writing got a little rusty during my hiatus, but I’m getting back into my groove.
3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs?
Set a schedule and stick to it. Produce content that is relevant to your readers. Write in a casual voice as this is more enjoyable to read. Proofread, then come back to your post. I always find something I’d like to tweak after I make a post go live. If I followed this advice I’d find those things far less often.
4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
I’ve been slacking lately during both my hiatus and due to a relocation/job change, but in the past it was through social media, going back as far as message boards and email lists. Today I’ve expanded to facebook, G+, and twitter. I’d like to make some video content as well.
5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?
Oddly, the most popular posts are DIY posts from years ago. It’s information that people still want, so it’s clear I need to focus on that type of post more.
6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?
My trip report for my hike on Currahee Mountain. I was excited to do the trip in the first place, but even happier to tell others about it after it was done.
7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year? If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all? If you don’t do reviews, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?
My policy hasn’t changed. I want to give honest reviews about products I’ve used, even when it’s not favorable. What works best for me is what I’ve been doing for years—reviews through BackpackGearTest.org. It’s a great organization. I’d definitely like to review more dog-specific gear whether it’s for backpacking or not. I’m working my way through stacks of books and movies/videos that are relevant to my blog and lifestyle. My biggest hurdle, like most people, is just having the time to read/view/test and review.
8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?
Be honest. Be real. Be you.
I’d rather read a single post a month that has some meat to it (reviews, training tips, trip reports) than a rambling post or ten every day. I also want to hear it in your voice. If you have an opinion about something make it clear and be able to defend it. I may not agree with what you believe about a subject (leash/no leash on the trail, training methods, where to go, etc.) but if you explain why you think this way and give me supporting facts, I’ll understand why you believe what you believe. You might even change my mind.
9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?
I’ve had a lot of changes in my life lately that give me more to write about. My goal for 2015 is at least one post per week. This way my readers know when to expect new content. I have several trip reports ready to go and more trips planned to write about. I’d really like to add some video content and a few more DIY/life hacks.
10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
Engaging my readers. I know from stats that people are reading, but I don’t get much feedback. It’s possible that’s due to the niche market ,and I’d like to expand my audience. I also want to make enjoying the outdoors more accessible for readers who may be leery of venturing beyond the sidewalk.