Thank you to GoPetFriendly for another opportunity to learn about other pet blogs and to showcase my own. These are my answers to the 2019 Pet Blogger Challenge.
For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic? I started blogging in July of 2012. My main topic is dog training, with a humane, evidence-based approach. I talk about behavior science and I demonstrate things with my dogs. I do not train professionally, so I have the advantage of being able to write about my embarrassing mistakes without affecting my business! My wonderful dogs are Zani, an adorable mostly-black hound mix, and Clara, a tan mixed breed with a black muzzle and tail. Clara was born feral and came to me as a puppy. She and I have many stories to tell. Here’s one of the big ones: Socializing a Formerly Feral Dog.
What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018? My proudest blogging moment was when I retracted a post. That sounds pretty strange, I know. But a post I wrote about some behavior science terminology as used in the dog training world went awry. It was misinterpreted to be a criticism of the use of behavior science in dog training. It was meant to be the opposite of that. My point was that we should use behavior science more fully and accurately. But the post was shared by the very people I was arguing against because they thought it supported their position!
I’d like to say that the fault was theirs because they didn’t read carefully, but I gave it a provocative title, and of course, my writing wasn’t perfect. So I’ll take a good portion of the blame. I took it down after I saw that it was having a damaging effect on the training community. This was difficult because I had spent a lot of time on it and of course my ego and emotions were very invested. But I’m proud of my actions and also proud of the rewritten post: A Quadrant By Any Other Name Is Still a Cornerstone of Operant Learning.
What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it? I retired from my day job in 2018, and am now a full-time writer/ editor/ mentor/ presenter. You’d think that would give me more time for my blog, right? Nope! I have lots more writing projects! So my challenge is a very common one: finding the time to write blog posts.
My blog does not generate income directly. I have always written purely for education and sharing information. But it’s the platform upon which I’ve built my reputation, so it supports the ways I do earn income as a writer.
I don’t really have a plan to tackle time management. I’ve always had a rule that I wouldn’t publish a post just for the sake of keeping a schedule. I post when I have something to say that I feel strongly about and can write clearly about. When I do feel that strongly, I make the time. That will probably continue to be my plan. My blog is still hands down my favorite place to write.
Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why? (Please include a link.) My favorite post was If My Criticism of Someone’s Comment on Facebook Was Punishment, Why Won’t She Shut Up?
This was a post that I had worked on intermittently for a long time. I have always been fascinated by the manner in which people argue and discuss on social media. (Even before social media, I read Usenet groups for entertainment and education.)
Dog trainers who use positive reinforcement are often attacked for being “punishing” when they disagree in a discussion. Sometimes, certainly, it’s all too true that they are being unpleasant or inappropriate. But they also get that accusation from people who disagree with them even when they are being perfectly polite. It’s a cheap shot. And also, technically, it’s usually not true. Punishment is about a decrease in behavior. But usually on Facebook, if someone doesn’t like your tone or your words, they post more to argue with you! I explain what is really happening in the post.
Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it did so well? My most popular post that I wrote in 2018 was Doesn’t Intermittent Reinforcement Create a Stronger Behavior? I have a lot of evergreen content, so this was only my 12th most popular post (or page) overall for 2018, but it was the most popular of my new posts.
I’m not sure why this post was so popular, except that it addressed a very common misconception and perhaps was shared a lot because of that. It’s one of my own favorites besides being my readers’ favorite! I’m also very proud that it was first published in Clean Run magazine in 2017.
Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you’re enjoying? I guess it’s pretty common for bloggers to write about their animals’ medical conditions, but my dogs have had some pretty unusual ones. It’s become a recurring feature without my realizing it. I usually write about medical situations from a husbandry standpoint: how best to care for an animal with certain problems using humane and cooperative care.
This year I had two posts about Zani and her unusual injury: a spinal cord concussion. These were: A Dog with Spinal Cord Concussion: Zani’s Story Part 1 and A Dog with Spinal Cord Concussion: Zani’s Recovery on Video. I also wrote an emotionally challenging post called The Last Trip To the Vet: What If Your Pet’s Last Breath Is On the Operating Table?. That situation has happened to me twice, and in the post, I discuss how to prepare for this awful eventuality so it has a chance of being easier on your pet.
Zani has some more health issues, so stay tuned for more features about how we cope.
As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers? I am not great at promotion. I generally post any new article on Facebook on both my personal page and my blog page (sometimes on separate days). I sometimes post in an appropriate Facebook group with permission, but I don’t overdo that. I don’t want to be that annoying person who only shows up to promote her stuff.
I also post on Twitter (just once for each article—I should do more), Google+ (a dying platform), and LinkedIn. I’ve had an Instagram account for quite a while and need to get into the habit of posting my blogs there! Since almost all my content is evergreen, now and then I pull out an older post that I think deserves some more love, rewrite it, and publish it as new. I make sure to use a 301 redirect from the URL of the old post to the new one so as not to lose any links or rankings.
Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is? I always have the same goal. I want to share good information about dogs and behavior science and change the lives of dogs for the better.
What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal? Continue to research what interests me, observe my dogs, and share what I learn.
Now it’s your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in comments! I’d love to know how other self-hosting WordPress bloggers are dealing with Gutenberg, the new online editor.
Thank you for the Pet Blogger Challenge, Amy. I was glad to see that you are still moving forward with your plagiarism suit. (And sorry to see that you’ve got yet another site stealing your stuff!) I urge all readers to check out your posts on the plagiarism and to give to your fund. You are helping us all by defending copyright for the little guy.
Copyright 2019 Eileen Anderson