Thank you to Go Pet Friendly for the Pet Blogger Challenge. I’ve never participated in one of these before, but here goes. I look forward to learning about some blogs that are new to me through this challenge, and I hope my responses here are worth the electrons used to transfer them.
But first, pictures of my wonderful dogs, for those who haven’t seen them.
1. When did you begin your blog?
In July, 2012.
2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?
I want to help dogs and their owners have happier lives together. I wanted to share my successes and failures with dog training with others who might benefit. I’m in an odd existential position, with no credentials yet a moderate amount of knowledge of learning theory and passionate ongoing contact with great trainers. I don’t feel comfortable dishing out a lot of advice on discussion lists, but I have opinions, hopefully fact-based, on so many things, and I’ve got moderately good writing skills and quite a bit of experience writing.
Before I started my blog I went around frustrated a lot of the time with what I read on the Internet, because I had these passionate opinions and nowhere to put them. I don’t deal well with strife and didn’t want to have endless arguments on discussion lists. I would spend way too much time writing a post then either not post it, or post it and be nervous for days about the responses. Having my own home on the Internet gives me a place to flesh out these thoughts, include videos, and bibliographic references.
I have also always had a strong belief that people learn best seeing dogs who do not already know a behavior. I felt like I could do demonstrations of a typical naive dog with a moderately inexperienced trainer (me!), and let people see what both success and failure looked like.
3. Is your current purpose the same?
If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?
Writing has reawakened my passion for teaching. I love having a voice again, and the potential of helping dogs and their owners everywhere. I can say I’ve met my goals because of the feedback I get from readers. I am reaching just the people I hoped to reach, and many report back that my posts have helped them.
4. How often do you post?
I post about six times a month, an average of 1.5 times a week.
5. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?
I don’t keep a schedule. I blog “as fast as I can.” At this moment, for instance, I have 50+ partially written posts and/or just titles saved and ready to be fleshed out. So I don’t have a dearth of material.
If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”
I don’t ever want to compromise quality just to get something out. I know that some readers like the predictability of a schedule, but in this day of RSS feeds and FaceBook promotion, anyone who wants to know when I post has multiple ways of doing that. And I’m thrilled that people actually do!
My posts often have multiple supporting resources, so I can’t just dash them out. One post this year had a blog post, a home-made informational video that took weeks to get right, a resource page with a second by second analysis of 10 minute YouTube video (done with coordinated assistance from other observers), and a resource page with 12 other YouTube videos in contrasting pairs, two of which were made by other trainers (thank you!) specifically for the page. As I recall, I interrupted that work at least twice to publish another post.
As for “post-worthiness,” I post when I feel like I have something unique to offer, and when my writing muse demands it. I don’t write purely instructional posts for the most part, since I don’t have credentials or a lot of experience. So I probably wouldn’t write a post on, for example, resource guarding and what to do about it. But if I have interesting footage of my dogs resource guarding things from each other, I might post it with some commentary, in the interest of promulgating study of dog body language.
I have made one straight-on instructional video which I will blog about sometime. It is on teaching a dog to back up without using body pressure. I did it specifically because at the time I couldn’t find a single video on YouTube that didn’t use body pressure and I felt it really needed to be shown that you don’t have to walk or wave something in your dog’s face to make them back up. That’s the same impetus for my blogging. The strong feeling that “why hasn’t somebody said this?” or “why hasn’t somebody shown how to do it this way?”.
Before I ever studied Search Engine Optimization and discovered the Google Keyword tool, I would search Google and YouTube on the topics that I was interested in before I published, just to make sure that I was presenting valuable information that had not been overworked before. And when I find a niche like that, and feel like I am capable of speaking intelligently on it, I am absolutely driven to do so.
6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your tips for staying on top of it all.
I probably write from 3-10 hours a week, and spend an equal time working on the videos that almost always accompany my posts. I read other blogs from 15-30 minutes a day, but I am a fast reader and can cover quite a bit of ground. I can’t stay on top of it all, but I prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. The one thing I try not to do is slack off on the training of my own dogs.
7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)? Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?
I love big numbers as much as anybody, but when someone writes in and says thank you and that my post really helped, THAT for me, is success. Even if it’s just one person.
8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
Right now I just don’t have any issues. Life is good. How about, “Read mine and I’ll read yours!” I give everything that comes my way a chance.
9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?
To gain more readers through word of mouth, and to maintain the passion I have for the project now. Blogging has given my work with my dogs a focus and a platform, and I absolutely love it.
Thanks for asking!
Copyright Eileen Anderson 2013