Hello! We are Rachael and Kevin, the humans behind MyDogLikes. If this is your first time here, welcome! If not, welcome back! This is our first time participating in the 5th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by GoPetFriendly.com. Whether you are new to MyDogLikes, or an old friend, we hope that you get to know a little more about us, our boys, Harley & Charlie, and why we do what we do! We can’t wait to learn more about you and from you!
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 first started MyDogLikes in 2009, with the goal of becoming a comprehensive resource for dog owners. It was a standalone website where dog owners could read and share dog product reviews, post photos, and participate in forum discussions. The original site ran for about a year and a half, until we were hacked, corrupted files were implanted, and our host, took down our site. We were left with a pile of files from our site but didn’t have the knowledge to sift through and get it up and running again.
We never stopped thinking about getting the site back up, but with busy careers, a new house, and life in general, it wasn’t until November 2013 that we started the process again. Adopting Charlie in February 2014 was the impetus to really get us going; we knew this was our passion and we knew this was our time! In June 2014 we launched what you see now; the adventures of our product reviewing goldens, Harley & Charlie. Product reviews continue to be the main content that we post, however, we also regularly feature pet friendly events, parks, towns, and family news. It is our hope that sharing our product reviews can help you steer clear of bad or potentially harmful products and toward those that are worthy of your money and the dogs who will enjoy them. Additionally, we want to pass on dog-friendly events, parks, and cities to provide pet parents with the tools needed to create positive experiences for the whole family. Read our full mission here!
We did it! I am so happy to be finally blogging again! Since June we have completely overhauled the look of our blog with a new theme and grown in our writing, photography, and SEO skills.
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?
I learned the importance of having high quality images. It wasn’t until we really immersed ourselves in the pet blogging community that I realized just how important it could be for social media engagement and the overall look of the blog. We saw so many beautiful sites with pictures that amazed us! We had to make a decision at one point-spend money upgrading our look/theme/graphic designs or buy a camera. Hands down, upgrading our camera turned out to be the right choice. We simplified the theme around it and let the photos speak for themselves. I still cringe a little when I see those old camera phone/smart phone images, but hey, it’s a reminder of progress!
I have also learned a tremendous amount from reading other blogs and being an active part of the BlogPaws Community. Other than the actual “how to” items, one of the biggest things I have learned is to take it easy on myself. I tend to be perfectionistic, but I have learned that as badly I want this to work, the internet doesn’t explode and I don’t lose all my friends if I don’t post 4x/week!
4.) What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
As a “new” blog, we still need a lot of help with this. We are often frustrated, feeling like we are writing good content but there are not enough people seeing it! Thus far, engagement on various Social Media platforms (IG, Pinterest, Twitter, G+) have brought us the most traffic. We are finding that as our relationships grow people are more invested in checking out and sharing our content. We definitely look forward to reading other people’s ideas and tips!
5.) What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?
Our most popular post was Love Letter. It talks about getting to know our sweet Charlie after adopting him from GRROWLS. We express our gratitude to all of the people who helped to make our adoption happen, especially the selfless individuals who surrendered him for a chance at a better life. I think our readers enjoyed it because it was heartfelt and sincere. It examined multiple sides of the adoption process including the motivation for people who choose to surrender.
I had a lot of fun writing our recent Ruha Personalized Leather Dog Collar Review post. It was the first time that we wrote a post from Harley’s perspective and it was really fun to take all of those crazy ideas of the things that Harley says and put them to “paper”. Not to mention…Have you seen this guy in a tuxedo?!
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?
Product reviews formed the foundation of our website and remain an important part of our overall mission. We want dog owners to make informed decisions about their purchases and we help by providing them with comprehensive reviews.
As our readership has grown we are afforded the opportunity to work with more brands/companies. The high quality reviews, complete with photos and videos that our readers have come to expect, take a substantial amount of time and effort. What we have found works for us is to be selective and not overburden ourselves. Additionally, we have predetermined standards that we abide by. If we wouldn’t feed it to our boys or if it doesn’t seem practical/wouldn’t fit into our lifestyle, we politely decline. Our purpose is not to pedal products on our readers rather, it is to provide resource so that others can make healthy choices for their pets (and maybe laugh a little along the way)!
8.) What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?
One of my biggest pieces of advice for other bloggers is to have fun with it…stressing out too much takes away the fun. Also, read as much as you can, make relationships, and take risks! Most importantly, don’t forget the reason you started the blog! Sometimes when I am really stressed I catch myself being “too busy” to give a couple of minutes of extra loving to the dogs. I remind myself that they are my motivation and purpose behind all of this. They are SO important and deserve my attention and love.
9.) What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?
One of our original goals was to create a resource for dog owners. Though they work tirelessly, our Senior and Junior Product Testers, couldn’t possibly try all the treats, eats, and toys of the world (though they sure would like to try). While it will always be important that our readers know what “MyDogLikes”, we want to have an engaged group of contributors who share what their dog likes and add to our expanding repertoire of reviews. Additionally, we would like to continue to bring more articles, updates about family life, and find ways to use our blog to give back to our community!
10.) If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
TRAFFIC! We want more people to see what we write!!
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment below!