2012 Pet Blogger Challenge

Pet Bloggers ChallengeEdie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com are co-hosting the 2nd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge today, inviting all pet bloggers to answer eight questions about their blogs.

I’ve anxiously awaited this day, planning to use the PBC’s questions as a tool to redefine why I blog and what I’d like to either accomplish or abandon here. Please pardon my taking a few liberties in prose form to better explain 2011’s situation.

GOALS: THEN AND NOW

The 2011 Pet Blogger Challenge (my previous post) aimed to explore “how and why” I blog about animals and how that’s working for us as a group. I quote myself as saying then, in reference to goals from my start in 2009, “This One Wild Life still celebrates relationships with all things animal, vegetable and mineral.” I go on to say, “I wanted a way to record and remember favorite moments with these magnificent beings, exploring and sharing the human emotion attached to my animal relationships.” That goal of keeping the human/animal connection at the forefront has held fast, but I feel the execution – or my vision of it – has essentially failed.

SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL

In August, just as my health slammed me through a series of hairpin turns, my blog garnered the attention of an inordinate number of brands. I’d wake up, rub my eyes, ask “Who have I scheduled for review today?” and hammer out some unique and quirky perspective. I convinced myself it was creative and fun, but really, it was easier to promote products than to find some clever way to continue blogging while avoiding my personal drivel and drama (unless you know me on Facebook). And those products [read Bandaids] just kept coming.

I cut my posting schedule down to Mondays and Fridays, tossing an easy Wordless Wednesday in the middle. By September, with few exceptions, there was hardly room for personal reflection, even when I wanted to write. The brands had taken over. And I had let it happen.

A HACK ATTACK

Like sweepstakes? So did the hacker who pointed every one of my posts to a series of them. My hands were in so much pain and I was so deeply rooted in overall fatigue, I was beyond overwhelmed by the issues. A friend of mine and I tag-teamed a patch repair, but I had to design a new theme from scratch. Every post and picture needed reimporting. Then, when I left New York for radiation therapy in November, I was hit with a pingback spam attack. The physical pain of deleting 4000 comments snapped my spirit in two, threw it to the floor, and buried me deep in the pile-on of misfortune.

Nothing exciting or original sprang forth after that. I was reviewing the same products every other blogger did, still adhering to my promise of honesty and integrity, but any unique perspective had been snuffed out. Giveaways stopped drawing entrants. People stopped caring enough to comment, and who could blame them. Even I was bored with what this space had become.

THIS ONE WILD LIFE OR DEATH?

I declared it time to euthanize the blog and put everybody out of their misery. The kind encouragement of Edie Jarolim and Kim Thomas convinced me otherwise, bolstering my will to breathe all the rich color of life back into what became a pathetic and grey PR machine. It was slow and steady work, which I began and abandoned several times since September, but on January 6th, I finally, fully and rather quietly took my blog back.

Now it’s time to rethink it.

MOVED BY SPIRIT OR SCHEDULE?

Amy and Edie ask, in question 4, “Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? Which are you doing now? Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc?”

In 2009, I blogged as the spirit moved me. I was a nobody. It didn’t matter. In 2010, I followed the experts’ rallying cry for daily posting. “Content and consistency are KING!” they cried. Funny thing, that. There sure was a lot of crap suddenly floating around. But, hey, it was consistent. And I should mention that reading all that production was exhausting.

Then, Scott Stratten delivered the 2010 BlogWorld keynote in Vegas preaching “Don’t spread Meh. Spread AWESOME!” The Hallaluja Chorus and trumpets echoed between my ears. That’s it! Blog only when you’re brilliant! That really worked for me… Until the 2011 take-over, when I blogged myself into a creative and intellectual ditch.

Oddly, through it all, traffic kept coming. FatCow web hosting and Amazon affiliate income continued to rise. It seems I have an audience no matter what or when I write. The problem isn’t them. It’s me. I no longer care for my content. I’m going back to awesome whenever it springs forth.

MAY I HAVE YOUR HAND IN … ???

Engagement. This is my more pressing goal for 2012. Comment. More. Share. More. I could love my blog deeply and monogamously again, but I think we should start seeing other people. I’m ready for an open relationship. I spent hours last week stocking Google Reader with blogs I love but rarely read. I’ve followed some of you to the ends of Google Earth. You’ll be seeing me.

That’s right. What I love most about blogging is you. I could do the writing alone, but only you make it a conversation. I look forward to talking with you. Much, much more. I’m so committed, I spent 3 hours typing this with one finger on an iPad.

 

Comments

  1. gopetfriendly says:

    Having some knowledge of what you’ve been struggling with the past few months and picturing you typing this one-fingered on your iPad brings tears to my eyes and makes me smile at the same time. You are a warrior and I look forward to many, many more conversations.

    • @gopetfriendly Don’t get too teary, Amy. I’m not sure I’m a warrior. Probably just a glutton for punishment. 🙂 Thanks for being such a good friend.

    • I could not agree more Amy, and I didn’t know what was going on. Not all of it anyways. I had no idea it was one finger typing (how frustrating!) and I didn’t know how bad the hack attack was for you. What a nightmare!

      I already told you privately today Kim, but my problems mostly had to do with LiveFyre (so glad you switched back!). I am so sorry I didn’t say something sooner. I should have. But, I also miss the old posts that were from the heart. I loved getting your perspective on things. I don’t expect you to write a post everyday, especially knowing how bad your hands are right now, but I really look forward to reading whatever you write whenever it moves you. I realy do.

      So happy you didn’t decide to shut down your blog. I love it.

      • Mel, about the one finger typing… That was just because I had my iPad on the road, not because it’s too painful to type (although that was nearly the case from August through November). Hope I didn’t come off as THAT dramatic! I’m doing so much better now, so don’t you worry. I’m going to have my wedding band resized now since, when it comes to inflammation, I know my new normal. Aside from the meds and radation having such a positive impact, this is my best news yet!

        And thanks for your honesty. I’m happy to be on a better path to making you want to be here without sharing more items to buy… although I will have to write about the Awkward Family Pet Photos book. LOL. That one’s a kicker.

  2. Funny how a blog can be such a direct extension of ourselves, isn’t it? Sometimes I think it’s almost like a mirror, reflecting our current status. You’ve been through such difficult experiences in the past year, go easy on yourself, Kim. After all, we love you and your blog no matter what you do with it! So…”You’ll be seeing me” – threat or promise? 😉

    • @KimT A direct extension of myself is what I used to strive for. I’m happy to move in that direction again. That said, “You’ll be seeing me” could have been perceived as a threat in the past. Now, I hope it reads as a promise.

  3. wantmorepuppies says:

    Typing this entire post with one finger on your iPad? You amaze me. I’m with Amy – the notion makes me smile and get a bit teary all at the same time.

    I do agree – it’s the engagement and the conversations that make this whole blogging thing worthwhile for me. I don’t find blogging in a vacuum that rewarding – it’s the sense of community that keeps me coming back for more. I feel blessed to have met you in person this year at BlogPaws and to count you among my friends. In fact, I think you’re pretty awesome all the time. 🙂

    • @wantmorepuppies AJ, meeting you in person was a true highlight for me this year. Your blog, a reflection of the positively sweet and entertaining person you are, always makes me smile. You offer a lightness of being that I strive toward, and your generosity when sharing what others have written is what I’d like to pattern my next chapter after. Thank you for being who you are.

      • wantmorepuppies says:

        @Kim Clune I am not even sure how to respond – your words are so sweet (and it’s hard to believe they’re about me!). I was struck at BlogPaws by how warm and welcoming you are in person (even encouraging me to be a party crasher… so much fun), and you really are someone I find inspiring in countless ways. 🙂

  4. EdieJarolim says:

    I’m so glad that @KimT and I were able to talk you down from giving up blogging, and that this challenge has helped you refocus on what is important to you in your writing — because it’s the love shines through. The blogosphere is a better place with you in it!

    • @EdieJarolim Thank you, Edie. I hadn’t an ounce of awareness about how much this space has connected with people beyond a hint here and there… Until today. The comments here made me pause with beaming gratitude last night. I had to step back before I replied. It’s humbling, to be sure. You were the first and, had you not spoken up, I don’t know that I’d have worked so hard to restore everything in time for the PBC.

      Thanks to you and @gopetfriendly for lighting that fire in me with a deadline. You both need to know how much impact that had, whether intended or not. You’ve made the endgame exciting and the rewards I’ve reaped during this challenge are yours to share too.

  5. The other commenters know you a LOT better than I do Kim. I can only admire your passion. It shows in everything you do. Your comment on our last challenge post has been one of our driving motto’s during the year and helped us in becoming more successful. We don’t need guru’s to tell us content is king, awesome, or whatever. we just listened to one charismatic person with her heart on the right place to make a difference. And that is just how you touched one little blog.

    • @Kenzo_HW I say we spend 2012 getting to know each other better. Everything I’ve read that comes from your blog is thought provoking, well written and fantastic. I only wish I had spent more time, and commented on days I could only skim through. More Kenzo, that’s what I say!

      And thank you for sharing about what last year’s conversation meant to you. I am dumbfounded. I had no idea. Learning now, your comment washed over me with the realization that writing has the power I always hoped it had, and that makes me hopeful about the unseen impact of BtC4animals.com. Thank you for sharing, Leo.

  6. I thought I knew how tough this year has been for you, but really I only had an inkling. Wrestling with this blog and continuing to lead the BtC4Animals team while dealing with major health issues – is it any wonder you feel like it’s gotten away from you? And yet, here you are – ready to do battle with the blogging dragons once again. You’re a strong woman Kim, and one I greatly admire!

    • @vscook Thank you, Vicki. I couldn’t do it all without the help of you and the team. I’m so grateful for the little family we have become.

      Blogging dragons, oh yes. Little F@#%ers. The thought of losing years of writing to them was infuriating. In the end, I probably would have kicked their butts, encouragement or not. They had it coming.

  7. shivathedog says:

    I am so sorry you’ve had such a rough time of it. Blogging should be a source of joy, especially when you are blogging about your loved ones. It shouldn’t make you want to bang your head against a wall until it all goes away. I am very glad to hear you have decided to continue. I have long enjoyed your blog and everything you have had to say. Some of your posts have moved me to take action in ways I never expected. In fact, when I was putting together my top posts of 2011 article, I had a really hard time narrowing it down when it came to your blog. There were so many that touched me deeply, especially some of the Help Joey posts from earlier in the year. I will never forget the harrowing video. Ever. The pet blogging world wouldn’t be the same without you.

    I hope your health continues to improve and life treats you much kinder this year. If you have to leave, I would understand, but I would be very sad.

    PS. I still want to be you when I grow up.

    • @shivathedog Oh, things will be much better in 2012. Radiation is having a positive affect (I’m in Richmond for my second week of treatment now), auto-immune meds are finally balancing pain relief and inhibiting destruction of tissue, and I have this amazing group of supporting bloggers and readers cheering on my passion. That’s a terrific start!

      Thank you for including my bird adoption story in your annual roundup and for frequenting This One Wild Life often enough to know that story even existed.

      PS: read what I wrote on your post. The admiration is mutual!

  8. CarrieJohnsonBoyko says:

    Even your prelim to the challenge was compelling. And we must compare notes on treatment. I’m a cancer survivor and have Multiple Sclerosis. We probably have some common ground, or maybe not. Who knows!

    I’ll look forward to your networking, engaging, commenting and sharing……all the while wishing I were doing more as well.

    • @CarrieJohnsonBoyko Our diseases may be different, but the coping is likely similar. Sounds like we both have a lot of progress to celebrate. And, your blog’s progress is so impressive too. I know I commented there, but – my goodness – congratulations!

  9. peggyfrezon says:

    I’m sorry it’s been a rough go of it. I know you’ve been dealing with health issues and yet, still keeping up with blogging and be the change and all the other projects you’re involved with. Really, not just keeping up…but mastering them. Because I’m lucky enough to have met you (and your gorgeous dogs!) in person, I know how deeply you care about dogs, and about everything you do. So remember to lean on us when the going gets tough…and here’s to a wonderful new year!

    • @peggyfrezon thanks, Peggy. Believe me. I rely on my best BTC Team (and you’re all like family to me) a whole lot. You’ve helped turn a consuming project into a true pleasure. I’m so grateful to you and all our volunteers.

  10. ElizabethBergesen says:

    First of all, thank you very much for visiting my blog! This challenge has been by far the best that I have ever done. You were on of the first blogs I came across back in 2008 and I have seen your blog go through many changes over the years. I am very sorry that I have never (until this day) introduced myself or have commented. I guess you could say that I was always a bit intimidated by your blog to say hi. No more, that is out of the window!!! I agree with your philology- Don’t spread Meh. Spread AWESOME! I am also finding my way back to awesome whenever it springs forth, and I too am ready for more open relationships!! J

    • @ElizabethBergesen Oh no! Intimidating? I’d love for you to share why you felt that way so I might avoid making others feel that way. Thank you so much for sharing your point of view and for tossing the intimidation out the window! Let’s celebrate the awesome together!

  11. mybrownnewfies says:

    Wow, Kim. I had no idea the struggles that you were going through and I am sorry.

    From what I could see on the outside you certainly did well here.

    I always smile when I visit your site and see Shamus at the top. I bet he helped you through a lot of your struggles. After all that you have been through with your blog and your health issues, I certainly admire you will and desire to continue:)))

    • Fake it ’till you make it, I guess. And cheers to making it once more! You are so right about Shamus, too. All the animals are wonderful, of course, but Shamus is an empath. He somehow understands when hugs are needed.

      We’ll be seeing each other more often, you and I. Looking forward to it!

  12. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such kind comments on my blog earlier. The Pet Blogger Challenge has been a great experience, especially the part where I get to know more about so many other bloggers and inspiring people like you! I’ll confess that I was kind of scared to put myself “out there” and answer the questions, being so new to the blogging community and feeling kind of isolated, but I find everyone to be open and encouraging. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Liz, I’m so glad you did! Who knows how long it would have taken to meet you otherwise. I’ve added you to my Google Reader and I look forward to sharing some of your posts with my Facebook and Twitter followers. It’s an exciting prospect!

  13. As a person with Lupus, I understand your “pain”. When my Lupus was flaring, nothing was fun and everything hurt. For the past five years, my Lupus has thankfully been under control and I haven’t had any issues. The same will happen for you, too. It just might take a little time to find the right combinations of medications.

    Only pussies roll over and die and i KNOW that you ain’t no pussy 😀

    I had a good little giggle when you mentioned the “crap” floating around the blogiverse regarding the “experts” I don’t follow any of the gurus anymore, even Problogger. I’ve done pretty okay on my own.

    • You make me laugh! God, I love ya.

      Thanks for your encouragement back when I was exploring radiation for this ridiculous disease. Learning that Captain Hook was based on the fact that Peter Pan’s author also had Dupuytren’s Contracture? Not so much comfort there. On the other hand, I was so moved that you took the time to read the research abstract and give me your thoughts. I even told my husband about that.

      Of course, the fatigue is pretty heavy now with the radiation, but I’m done on Friday and should have full energy back in a few weeks. The best part? The frst 5 days of treatment two months ago measurably reduced the abnormalities when most say they saw very little result until the second. My local “hand specialist” can shove it for not knowing about this option and for shutting it down when I told him what I found.

      As for the Psoriatic arthritis, Methotrexate is a miracle drug, just like you said. Most days I feel pretty good having built up to my steady dose. I thought of you often on the bad days, wondering if that was how you felt too. I’m so glad it’s not now.

      Cheers, my friend, to better living and better blogging.

  14. Oh Kim, I’m so glad you wrote this post! I was feeling very similar. I started My Tail Hurts for fun, and then it became a rush for sponsors, giveaways and traffic. And, I hated it! It wasn’t me. I felt the same way about The Adirondack Chick.

    And, then sometime in December, it was like a switch flipped. Between Christmas and New Years I decided I wasn’t going to care as much about what other people were doing. I wanted to have fun again doing this.

    Does that mean I’m never going to do product review or such? No. But, I don’t want to feel pressured into doing things or writing about something just because.

    Thanks for writing this 🙂

    • Thanks for validating me in return, Michelle! I’m so glad you’re finding your way back to having fun too. Like you, I’m not signing product reviews off entirely, I just committed to doing everything in moderation, from posting schedules, to the kinds of posting I engage in. Variety is the spice of life, and I’m ready for the tasty and exciting sampler platter! let’s snack on that together!

  15. Yours was one of the first blogs that I subscribed to and there are so many of your posts that really touched me (the 9/11 post, the post about the bird adoption). I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles this past year – I hope your treatments continue to help and you are pain free soon! I can’t even type on my iPad with all of my fingers . .you are an inspiration 🙂 Wishing you all the best!!!

  16. I would say the fact that you sat down and wrote this post with one finger on your Ipad does make you a strong indiviual who knows what she wants to say.

    I hope that 2012 is your year for AWESOME.

    Jo

    • Well, I’m not that easy to shut up… even on the road without a real keyboard. I’m wishing you nothing but AWESOME too, AmyJo! Thanks for the smile!

  17. Funny that, what you felt was a “grey PR machine” I’ve always admired. Your Thanksgiving post about adopting a turkey inspired me to adopt a goat at our local farm rescue. (I sat down on a bench to fill out some paperwork and he climbed right into my lap!) Your post on declawing may have saved a co-worker’s cat from a painful experience. I smile every time I look at the custom labels I had made based on a review I read here. My point is that while you may not have felt your blog added value to YOUR life in 2011, it certainly dded value to mine, for which I am grateful. If that was you “phoning it in” so to speak, I can not WAIT to see what you do this year when you are “re-engaged”. I’m sure it will be brilliant.

  18. I couldn’t even respond to this right away. Sometimes we just can’t believe we have such an influence. Thank you so much for taking the time to say so.

    I am overwhelmed with joy and admiration that you went out in person and adopted that friendly little goat. I can picture the heartwarming scene and it makes me giddy. I ran to my husband with your story, thanking him for not just making the lives of our adopted turkeys better, but for inspiring you to get involved as well. We were both so grateful to know that the energy we felt from taking part had spread in a very real, tangible way.

    Thank you, too, for the reminder about the cat being spared from declawing. I do remember you saying so and feeling so relieved – hoping that others’ had been as well. That you took the time to say so then stuck with me.

    These were the exceptions I spoke of above, posts that were from the heart. What bothered me was having committed to so many product reviews that I left myself no time or energy to share my week-long birthday experience with a very special porcupine, our exhilarating encounter with a feeder-raiding bear, or the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Thanksliving Dinner, an event that changed my entire perspective on what I eat – and I was already a vegetarian.

    More to come, Kolchak and Jodi, that’s for sure. It’s never too late to share a good story and I won’t go down with regret for not doing so. I hope what’s to come rocks your world or, at the very least, makes you smile. You made my year already and it’s only just begun.

    Cheers to a wonderful 2012, a year already showing signs of great promise.

  19. I’m just catching up, reading the posts from the Pet Blogger Challenge and so glad that I found yours. Amazing. I probably would have “packed it up” and called it a day. We’ll be following you, looking forward to the new year!

Trackbacks

  1. […] 2012 Pet Blogger Challenge The Others. They Make Me Sick. When your heart was hacked by a ruthless interloper, I was chronically ill at the time, too sick to rebuild your trust. Still, I spent months devoted to reviving the contents of your soul — only to have you, my love, relentlessly courted by and committed to brands who cared nothing about your true desires the way I did. Engagement with other blogs seemed my only recourse, an open relationship without selling myself out. “I could love my blog deeply and monogamously again, but I think we should start seeing other people,” I said. But that didn’t work for either of us.  […]

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