Thank you to Go Pet Friendly for the Pet Blogger Challenge. This is the second time I’ve participated. I did the Challenge in 2013 when I had only been blogging for about 6 months. Now that it’s been 3 1/2 years, I feel like doing it again!
I look forward to learning about some blogs that are new to me through this challenge, and perhaps reaching some new readers in my little corner of the dog training world.
1. 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. I started blogging in July 2012, so I have been at it for 3 1/2 years now. My blog is about living with and training dogs, with an emphasis on sharing my experience as a serious amateur positive reinforcement trainer. I love writing about learning theory and spreading the word that we don’t have to hurt or scare our dogs to train them.
2. What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud? That’s easy. I finished my book on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction and got the Kindle version out! Writing and especially publishing the book is a direct result of my experience as a blogger. I have gained confidence in my ability to put my ideas out in public and cope with the very large and sometimes critical audience on the internet. Much of that confidence is a result of interaction with my lovely, loyal readers. Thank you all!
3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? My favorite was probably “But It Worked for MY Dog!” I think it’s so important for people to realize that promoting an idiosyncratic or aversive training method is not good practice.
4. 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? I am curating on Pinterest, and I’ve started to see the beginnings of a nice little referral source. Pinterest works well for me because the boards break things into topics so nicely, and I like having an organized place to stash my stuff for my own benefit as well.
5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? The post in 2015 that got the most views was “Before You Share That “Cute” Dog and Baby Picture.” I think it was popular because 1) the positive reinforcement training community is full of people who are trying to get the message out about the potential dangers of certain kinds of interactions between kids and dogs; and 2) I didn’t single out any particular individual or story. The post was not controversial in that it didn’t criticize any individual, beyond the use of a still from a public domain video.
6. What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? How about three? Dog Charming by Sonya Bevan, Awesome Dogs by Yvette Van Veen, and Fearful Dogs Blog by Debbie Jacobs. I love Sonya Bevan’s writing because she is so gentle and empathetic with dogs without being smug about it. Very understated, yet clear with her message. I fell in love with Yvette Van Veen’s writing a year or two back when she wrote a stunner of a blog about shock and doggedly, tirelessly, and logically answered every commenter who tried to argue with her. For weeks. And Debbie Jacobs has a genius for metaphor and humor and gets the right messages out about fearful dogs in ways that dog owners can understand and implement.
7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog? I’m a techie so I use lots of WordPress plugins and do things like convert popular posts into pages and use canonical tags to send the reader from one to the other while avoiding duplicate content demerits from Google. I read about SEO all the time and title and tag my posts very carefully. I draw the line at seeding in too many keywords–I don’t go beyond what will serve the text. I purposely write on learning theory topics where I can likely shoot to the top of the search engine results. For example, here’s the Google search for What’s an Antecedent Arrangement? I have positions 1, 2, and 8.
8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers? Don’t start off with product promotion and sponsorship. You will never escape. It will mold your attitude, your writing and affect the tons of tiny decisions you make as a writer. Start writing because you have something to say. Sure, you can monetize without compromise, but take a long view. Build your voice and your audience first. Do that well and you will have a loyal following.
9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals? I am going to be “booking a blog,” that is, putting together some similarly themed posts into a book. So I’ll be writing some posts specifically to fill in the blanks. (The topic is a secret for now!) Other than that, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I enjoy it so much.
10. 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? I would love to talk to other people who host their own WordPress sites and talk about our favorite plugins. Am I a nerd or what?
Copyright Eileen Anderson 2016
Credit for 2016 graphic: Freebie from Canstock Photo. Thanks!