Hello! Today we are excited to be taking part in the 2016 Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by GoPetFriendly!
This is an opportunity to reflect on the past year and look toward the future. We are participating for the 2nd year, so feel free to take a look at our 2015 post to see what has changed and how far we have come!
- How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog.
We have been blogging for a year and a half now – although the site’s full history is a bit more complicated than that.
Our goal for this site is to highlight anything that will help your dog to live a happy and healthy life. This ranges from products and services to dog friendly parks, places, and events.
- What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud?
The thing that I am most proud of is that MyDogLikes has become a legitimate business.
We formed an LLC last April, opened business banking accounts, and acquired sales tax permits. MyDoglikes, LLC even has a federal tax number so we can hire employees! (Maybe not quite yet, LOL!)
There was quite a bit to learn throughout this process in order to file all the necessary paperwork but it feels great to be real business owners! This is a very important step as you begin to earn money from your blog not only to help protect yourself in a legal sense, but to separate your personal and business assets when tax season rolls around!
If you need any advice or info on the process (not from a lawyer or accountant) feel free to shoot us an email and we would be happy to help point you in the right direction and let you know how to get started!
- Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)
One of our favorite posts from this year is a review and giveaway that we did of PetSafe BusyBuddy Toys. The reason has little to do with the product and more to do with taking a first leap in figuring out how we could use our blog to give back to animals in need. People are so passionate about rescue and we were able to donate $250 in toys to a local shelter and $250 to a shelter of the winner of our giveaway’s choice. It was popular on social media and it was great to see how people responded, sharing stories on the rescues that they adopted their dogs from or regularly volunteer with.
Now, when we get a proposal for a product that doesn’t really fit for us, we think about who else could benefit. Sure, we love getting new toys and food around here, but we know there are so many other dogs in need! This was the first of many shelter collaborations to come!
- A common theme from last year’s challenge was that many of us wanted to increase the size of our audiences. Whether or not we intend to monetize our blogs, it seems we’d all like to reach more people. It feels good to know that we’re connecting with others, sharing a laugh or supporting a cause, and it’s motivating to see those numbers grow! What is one thing you’ve done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog?
Hands down, our Pinterest account has made the biggest difference in growing our traffic and community. The lifespan of a share on other social media typically ranges from minutes on Twitter to hours on Facebook. Pins on the other hand still have relevance and drive traffic 1+ years after we’ve made them. We have also found that our traffic from Pinterest is generally of a higher quality – Meaning a lower bounce rate and higher number of pageviews per visit.
If you aren’t on Pinterest, or using it regularly you need to start! For us it has had the best ROI in terms of time spent of any social media…BY FAR!
- Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? (Please include a link.)
Our highest trafficked post of the year was our Brave Beagle Dog Ear Cleaner review. This surprised me a bit when I looked up the stats, but I think there are several reasons why it did so well:
Along with the product review, we went in depth on how to clean a dog’s ears and why a natural, alcohol-free solution is best. This turns out to be a fairly popular search query and brings in consistent search traffic.
We were also able to put together a pin that really took off. I think it does a good job depicting what you will learn by checking out the article and answers a common question for many dog owners. To this day it brings in a steady stream of traffic.
Finally, the original post was paired with a generous giveaway from our friends at Brave Beagle. I mean who doesn’t like free stuff!?
- What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? (Please include a link.)
In the pet world, we ALWAYS read what the girls (and Cat Bro Bert) are up to over at MyGBGVLife.com. Not only is Joy, Dog Mom and Creator of MyGBGVLife.com, a friend of ours but she has been incredibly helpful to us as we have grown over the last year. Her blog has all of the important elements: its well written, has beautiful and creative photographs, is informative, and is SO entertaining. You really don’t know what you are going to see next!
Rachael – YoungHouseLove.com
While YHL only periodically posts now, they are a great example of creating devoted readers and high quality, evergreen content. I wasn’t always doing the home improvement projects that they chronicled, but they had a great mix of the best information and a little slice of family life. Sherry and John Petersik of YHL were so sincere, dorky-funny, and kind, you felt like you were part of the family, sharing triumphs and tragedies in life and home improvement right along with them. They are also a great example of figuring out what is really important in life and seeking balance. They walked away from their regular (and successful) blogging in order to focus on family after the birth of their second child, but continue to have an extremely engaged and interested social media following. Every time they post you feel like they are one of those friends who you haven’t talked to in a while, but you pick up right were you left off. I don’t know of another blog that has engaged their audience better.
- What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?
I frequent quite a few blogs to stay up to date on the latest in blogging, SEO, and social media including Quicksprout, Neil Patel, Search Engine Land and Moz. All of these sites offer seriously in depth case studies and advanced strategies to take your website to the next level. If you are serious about turning your blog into a career I would highly suggest checking out these blogs!
- What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?
One thing at a time! Consequently, this is the same piece of advice I have been trying to give myself!
Blogging is overwhelming. Between learning your platform, hosting, photography, writing, SEO, social media, emails and marketing it is easy to get distracted. I have spent many a day (and night) bouncing from one thing to the next without really getting anything done.
It is very important to focus and prioritize those precious hours and minimize distractions. I am one of those people guilty of having 10,000,000 tabs open at all times and it really cuts down on productivity. In fact, I have taken to writing more with pen and paper as of late. When you have nothing else vying for your attention it can be easier to get things done.
Work hard, but flex.
For goodness sake, forgive yourself when you cannot do it all. We had plans to grow the blog in different ways this year. While we achieved many of our goals this year, there are some we failed miserably on. I could beat myself up over it or I could realize that we had a lot of stuff going on this year. It’s important to work hard, but you have to remember to live life. I want to enjoy this beautiful life I have been given and sometimes that means flexing as things rise in importance and others fall back a little. I remind myself that I am playing the long game, I cannot do it all now. Take care of yourself. While you should always work hard, be sure that you exercise, eat well, take the dogs for a walk, travel, the list goes on – you will never regret it.
- What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?
We would love to grow our readership to reach more passionate dog owners!
We are also excited about the opening of the MyDogLikes Store where among other items, we have begun to sell personalized dog art – in the form of intricate paper cuts.
Paper cutting is a hobby of mine and after experimenting a bit with dog portraits we decided it may be something other dog lovers are interested in.
Simply upload your favorite photo and we will transform it into a one-of-a-kind Hand Cut portrait of your dog!
Although we just started last month, sales were great in the weeks leading up to Christmas and I worked late every night to get them all out in time! Every piece is a unique challenge and a joy as I try to capture the essence and personality of each beloved pet. Thus far the response from buyers has been overwhelmingly positive and it makes us feel great!
If you are looking for a unique piece of wall art for your home, or a gift for the dog lover in your life you may want to check it out. And if you like what you see we would of course LOVE your help spreading the word!
We have ideas for several other products in the back of our heads as well and an ultimate goal is to write a guidebook of sorts for dog lovers in the Rochester area.
- You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there one blogging challenge you’d like help with, or one aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?
We would really like to expand the local readership of our site. Highlighting dog friendly parks and events is one of our favorite things to do. Unfortunately, I know we aren’t yet reaching the majority of the dog owners in our area who would be especially interested!
What things do you do to help integrate your blog into your local community?