The Doggone Dirt on Pet Blogging

The Dirt on Pet Blogging

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge. Today, Amy Burkert – our lovely host from GoPetFriendly.com – invites all pet bloggers to explore their purpose for blogging and to share techniques that best achieve their goals.

I’ll be participating in my own way this year, so please forgive me tossing out every question about post scheduling, audience retention, and monitoring success. My 2011 and 2012 posts address these things and my opinions have not changed. Bottom line: Meaningful titles drive traffic to meaningful content which, in turn, drives meaningful engagement and conversation. It’s the communication that I value most, so there you have it.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about something else…

Top 5 Pet Peeves about Pet Blogging

I absolutely hate certain things about this niche. My goal is to avoid – and have you avoid – each of them like H3N2, the rampant flu plague taking 2013 by storm. I’ve presented with several symptoms of blogging disease at one point or another, but I won’t be responsible for the spread of more. So, what exactly do I hate?

#1 – You’ve Forgotten Why I Should Care

I’ve watched pet bloggers fill up page after page, week after week, year after year. These are terrific people who I genuinely like, and you’re probably one of them – but let’s be honest…

I love my animals most. You love your animals most. Who here feels the need to read some day-by-day account of a medical recovery or to watch somebody else’s dog eat a treat and catch a ball? And, as hundreds of new pet bloggers line up to add more of the same, sadly, the question that all-too-often goes unanswered is “Why should I care?”

THE FIX – Write your post to engage me specifically. In return, I promise to never write self-indulgent drivel unless it also demonstrates something helpful, informational or entertaining – something that applies to you and yours.

Loosely formed diary entries are not educational or entertaining. Compiled information collected over time with a strong hypothesis and conclusion? That’s far more useful than your process of getting there. Blog with purpose, even if that purpose is sheer humor or storytelling. In addition to helpful information, everybody can use a good laugh or a well-crafted story to get in touch with our emotions. Always.

#2 – You Rack Up Comments for the Sake of It

Please stop commenting on other’s blogs strictly so they feel obligated to visit you in return.  If you paste the same “Happy to see you on the blog hop!” message here that you’ve posted everywhere else (You know, the one including a spammy signature link to your blog?), I will not waste a single click or keystroke in return. The number of comments I receive isn’t as important as their quality.

THE FIX – Address something I’ve specifically said with your own insightful thoughts and I promise to continue – as I always have – to do the same here and on your blog. Is there a worthy point to doing it any other way? (That question is rhetorical. The answer is NO.)

#3 – Make Product Reviews about More than the Product

I’m stunned that people are still so obviously in this pet blogging game for the free goods. I once saw one blogger comment to another, “You should totally do reviews. You get all kinds of things and you don’t even have to say much.” Yeah. And I don’t have to read what you write much – or ever again. I’ll bet those products stop flowing like your blog traffic, too.

Have I just stopped caring about goods and gadgets because my blog was overrun by product reviews in 2011? (I’m still so sorry. I lost track in a sea of requests and made too many promises.) Or are many reviews truly what I interpret: sucky avenues to get freebies?

THE FIX – In that rare moment when a product is worthy of celebration, and some truly are, offer a uniquely interesting perspective. Think about what people think about YOU when you write – not just the product.

What I love most about my dogs, cats and birds is that I can thoroughly enjoy them without a special product to enhance the experience. Beyond high quality food, a soft bed that lasts, and a strong harness and leash, pets are perfect packages all on their own. If your review can beat that, perhaps it is worthy. My advice? Make it so.

#4 – Pushy Product Review Requests? Lick My Cat.

Pushing me over the edge in 2012 is the author who thought that every favor he asked for was somehow beneficial to me.

1.) Writing his review added value to my blog.
2.) Putting him in touch with a conference founder and friend was a feather in my “connection” cap.
3.) When gift bags were full and he wouldn’t pay to get his product into the conference like every other vendor, it would add value to my session to hand out free copies.

Uh, Dude? Your book might be mildly whimsical, but it isn’t worth all that reading, writing, image editing, promoting across Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Pinterest, reaching out in your name, managing shipments, hauling your product through hotels, and carpetbagging through a conference on your behalf.

THE FIX – For the love of all things respectful, dear promoter, STOP acting like you’re doing ME the favor of riding on MY coattails.

If you want to entice me, here’s a thought. Offer to share my post in front of your audience on every social avenue you have access to – just like I will for you. It helps you by sharing a third party endorsement and it helps me to reach new people. That’s one way I’ll put you in front of my hard earned readers. And, yes. If you can find some other awesome way to make it worth my while, I’m all ears. But I’m not doing it for the mere price of a dog bone or book ever again.

#5 – What’s YOUR Blogging Beef?

It’s hardly fair for me to spout off without asking for thoughts in return. As much as I hate the aformentioned things, I’d like to end on something I love, hearing from you.

THE FIX – School me in what you hate to see. I’ll do my best to make my place in this niche a better space to read and engage based on your feedback.

Ready? Set. GO! Leave your comment below.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth Bergesen says:

    “Meaningful titles drive traffic to meaningful content which, in turn, drives meaningful engagement and conversation.” Well said.

  2. Well, I agree with most of those things. I do think, that detailed description of one’s dog’s recovery or the process people go through with a sick dog can, in fact, be useful to some. I still remember when I was trying to find somebody’s, anybody’s detailed experience with stem cell treatment. Found ONE article. It was very detailed, but I was happy I have found it.

    I do share Jasmine’s medical challenges for that purpose; in case it was going to be helpful to someone. Since I have a purpose behind that, I’ll keep doing it until I’m convinced there is not a one person out there who cares to read it :p

    That said, I try to keep balance between such specific stuff and more generic information.

    My own view of what other bloggers are posting? I have a long list of blogs I follow, there are only a couple where I read every single post. Most of them blog about things that are of interest to me sometimes, sometimes not. So I skim through the list and if I’m not interested, I don’t read it.

    What I really hate the most? Frankly? Capchas. Sometimes one really can’t see what the hell it says. That frustrates the living daylights out of me. Everything else I am happy to cope with.

    Anyway, I start my blog to help people. As long as it seems to be doing that, I don’t think I’ll be changing it.

    • (Sorry Jana. Just pulled your comment out of spam so it was posted late.)

      Yes! Captchas suck! Thank you and Amen!

      Your pet health posts concerning Jasmine, on the other hand, do not. Yours are written to a single reader, reaching out in a way that informs but also speaks to them. You also provide a larger context than your own experience, allowing the information to apply to everybody who wishes to learn about your topic.

      While I’m not one to read pet health posts when my dog isn’t suffering from the ailment written about, yours is NOT a blog I lump in to the suck category. I wouldn’t want you to change a thing!

  3. I tend to be a little anal with product reviews. So many just seem to be an extension of the product description and don’t give me much information to determine if I really want to purchase it.

    I’ve come to realize there is a whole spectrum of blogging that is more about the social aspect. They enjoy reading about the everyday happening of others pets. That’s fine with me, the blogosphere is certainly big enough for all type of blogs. I might not visit those blogs because like you I don’t find them engaging, but there are many people who enjoy them and maybe, just maybe, one of those people might click on a blog in a linky that takes them to a blog where they learn something about animal welfare or pet health or who knows what that makes a difference for an animal somewhere. Maybe first blog didn’t give them that, but it got them started on the journey. That’s what I love about the Internet, you can start and one place and end up somewhere completely different.

    • You’re so right about the sub-niche of strictly social pets, Dawn.

      One of the greatest compliments I could ever have received came from Stephanie Feldstein, a long-time blogger who also works with people creating animal petitions at Change.org. She described exactly what you’re talking about when she said that she’s watched pet blogging develop into a more informative and action oriented form of communication since Be the Change for Animals started educating people. I’ve seen first-hand what bloggers have the power to do, from creating awareness and changing people’s minds about where to get their next pet to rising up in the name of laws passed to protect animals and our environment. Many who once blogged in a strictly social sense stumbled upon that power and embraced it. That’s where the Internet shines best.

      Unfortunately, while I understand that the Internet is big enough to include all kinds of bloggers (well put, by the way), my time to read is far less infinite. Where I like to spend my time may not gel with everybody, but I’m thrilled to know bloggers like Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes who somehow ALWAYS writes posts that make me think, smile or show me something new. My list of favorites is small but consistent. And I need quality talking points to come back time and again.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  4. I’m new and just beginning to think about doing product reviews…I appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience…I’ve gone back and read your 2011 and 2012 challenge posts and thank you for pointing out all the pitfalls that may be ahead for me…you’ve given me much to think about

    • Product reviews can be fun and informative, Gizmo, if well thought out. Thanks for taking the time to mine through my old posts for what I learned the hard way. I hope my experience helps you. Let me balance the load a bit by saying that I also had so much fun writing about many products for some pretty terrific brands. (I’m not always the old crankity-crank this post makes me out to be.) You’ll find your way through with plenty of trial and error and all of it will be a useful learning tool one way or another. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  5. Happy to see you on the Challenge!

    *ducks, covers head for inevitable book thrown by Kim*

    Seriously though, I think you’re right. I see a lot of this stuff when surfing the blogs (and I’m sure I’m occasionally guilty of it too, so feel free to call me out on it). Sometimes it’s so easy to fall into the “loosely formed diary entry” rut – I do find myself doing that from time to time, but I try to keep it limited.

    On an unrelated note, I hope that the “Make it so” comment was a Picard reference.

    • A.J., you would never get a book toss from me. Your posts entertain, inform or both every single time I visit your blog. I am always amazed at the way you actively read and curate collections of links that are also entertaining or insightful. You’ve got your finger on the pulse of giving of yourself and giving back like nobody’s business.

      PS: “Make it so” was sooo Picard, as was “engage.” I think I love you just a little bit more now. The Next Generation box set is an absolute favorite.

    • LOL! That was an awesome opening AJ!

  6. Fantastic post! My blogging beef are the people who send me guest posts that have nothing to do with dogs, that have poor facts, or are badly written just for the sake of a link back to a business that has nothign to do with pets.

    They’re not only wasting their time, but they’re wasting my time too. I work hard for my readership and I won’t subject them to crap content. It really offends me when I explain this and the person comes back with an offer of money instead of writing a better article and linking it to a pet related business.

    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!!!

    • Kimberly, YES!! I don’t even take guests posts here (funny, because I often tell people that this is my sacred “journal” space – not to be confused with haphazard diary entries), and yet I get asked all the time to feature posts that I would never have considered even if I did take entries. I so get ya, and I feel for you even more because you deal with an element that I don’t.

      PS: When I mention the importance of titles, yours are some of the finest. I always know exactly what kind of quality post I’m going to get from you and, after reading them through Triberr so often, I know that your blog is a fabulous resource even though I haven’t had time to visit often.

  7. “For the love of all things respectful, dear promoter, STOP acting like you’re doing ME the favor of riding on MY coattails” Hallelujah! No one could have prepared me for the amount of spam pet bloggers receive.

    You’re right, though: It’s easy to fall into the trap of lazy blogging. One of my pet peeves ties into your #1 pet peeve. If a blog is missing that element of a larger context, I feel like I wasted my time reading it. Maybe this is a little selfish, but… If you’re going to write about a training or health issue that your dog is having, put it into context so that the rest of us can figure out how to apply or interpret it for our own dogs. We all have such little time to devote to blogs that I want to get the most I possibly can out of what I do make time to read!

    • Oh, the SPAM. Yes, Maggie! And nobody tells you how much all that spam costs in terms of time spent deleting, money thrown at spam filters, and the angst of being torn away from actual writing.

      I don’t think it’s selfish to want to get something out of somebody’s post. We are, as you say, investing our all-too-limited time and blogging is designed to become a conversation. If that conversation is simply in our own heads and goes something like “That was 5 minutes of my life wasted,” well, I just don’t think that’s why people want to blog. I would imagine that we all do so to connect. I think that point just gets lost sometimes and it’s so very easy to fix.

  8. I give it to you that those nothing-saying comments and product reviews are annoying, but I can’t see why it is a problem if blogs have a diary-style kind of blogging. We are talking web logs here, and not everybody has a phd. in English so they can make every bone and fetch.into a poetic experience. My point being, what is the harm? I loved your post, shedding a different light on what is “common practice”, show me a retriever that fetches a ball, and I love it too.

    • Kenzo, I hear ya. I’m not asking for a PhD post or poetics from everybody. We’ve all run into blogs when a run of nothingness comes across for apparently no good reason. You and I had a terrific discussion last year about when scheduling takes precedence over quality content. Perhaps using the term diary wasn’t my best word choice. I firmly believe, as I implied to Maggie one comment up, blogging is designed as a communication tool, but if a person is talking just to hear themselves speak rather than engage, I’m probably not going to listen. I just don’t have the time and there are blogs out there that really grab my attention. Those are going to win out.

  9. Much food for thought here. My blog is more eclectic and not strictly about dogs; also, it’s a hobby, rather that a business, although I do plan on changing that for the future. The blog hopping, while enjoyable does take a lot of time, and agree that much of it is self-indulgent. Guilty as charged too, I’m sure, but still, it is a way for a new blogger to become more well-known. Nice to meet you here and I will come back, again.
    Cheers!

    • Debbie, Blog hops are awesome! I’ve run a few in my day and and always made a point to discuss the finer points on every participant’s post. But that’s the key, right? That’s what takes so darn long… the caring.

      And good for you on the eclectic front! I’ve wrestled with that thought countless times. In fact, when Amy asked for input on questions this year, I wrote this to her:

      “After 3 years of writing at This One Wild Life and Be the Change for Animals, I feel quite pigeonholed into – and frankly bored by – repetitive animal topics. If folks aren’t dog blogging for money, fundraising, or to get free review goods, what makes them so strictly confine their interests? It’s choking the life out of me and I’m itching to break beyond the walls of this niche. Since my blog is aptly named to discuss any of life’s topics, I’m seriously considering combining posts from The Brain Drain (my literary blog) as well as Culture Trek (my Ghanian volunteer experience) into a single space, categorizing posts into at least three topics: animals, philanthropy, and literature. Maybe then I’d be interested in blogging once more.”

      I’ve decided against that idea – which was circling the drain when I first started to write this post. If my blog wasn’t so ingrained in various topic-driven tribes and syndicated elsewhere, I’d start over covering everything I love in the way I mention above. At this point, it’s more work to switch gears and so many people would be affected unless I started from scratch.

      That said, give some thought to your goals while you’re fresh. This Pet Blogger Challenge has been superbly instrumental for me to do just that. Even this one, which I rewrote for my own needs, forced me to think about what I’d have to give up to go that rout. It made me see the bits I love so much, the parts I know I need to hang on to. The post I thought about and didn’t write taught me more than what I did.

      Revel in the benefit of reading people’s struggles here after years of making a go of it, something we were all learning together with nobody to highlight the pitfalls when we began.

      Best to you, whatever you decide and welcome to the community!

      • Thank you for that warm welcome, Kim and your good advice. I actually considered splitting my blog into several different ones, with a single subject for each, but then thought of the work involved and decided against it. Reading everyone’s answers has been a great education for me. Wishing you great success for 2013 and beyond!
        P.S. Will be checking out your literary blog, too.

  10. Kim, I LOVE LOVE LOVE you and this blog post is just plain hilarious and funny on serious subjects… I especially appreciated you telling the way it is about the boring droning and promoters… two of my pet peeves. ok, another one, which may get me in trouble is too much cutesy. sorry, but I LOVE my dog and think she is the funniest, sweetest, most adorable dog on the planet but I do NOT (mostly) expect anyone else to think so and if they do, I adore them… but it is plain indulgent and narcisstic to blah blah blah about how great your pets are every day… unlike the Animal Planet’s Too Cute series, some pet blogs make me nauseous with overcute overload.

    • Celia Sue, I just salvaged your comment from the spam bin, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did! (Well, I could, but it would be rampant, self-indulgent and fluffy blah blah blah admiration.)

      It’s so nice to mind meld with you! Thanks for making me laugh. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you too!

  11. Well, since you’ve asked in such a compelling way (with promises of puppy breath and all), I HATE it when blogs are truncated in my reader (you know, when the author sets up the feed [usually with a teaser] so that the reader is forced to click into the blog to read the whole blog post). I especially hate it when that blog belongs to someone who I love to read (because I end up stockpiling their posts for later and then…well, s#@t).

    Clearly, I am lazy. Lazy and really glad I got that off my chest. 😉 Thanks.

    P.S. I hate misleading and/or sensational titles, and that is why I curse The Huffington Post. I do, however, love a clever one – like your dirty doggie one up there. What I’m trying to say is that I really try not to write meaningless blog titles; it’s just hard when much of what I write is completely off the wall anyway. Just saying. [smile]

    • Elizabeth, I could kiss you myself for saying this. YES! I hate feed bait too! I’ve stopped reading blogs for that very reason. I know it’s not fair and I’m probably missing out on my own good time, but I know the reasoning behind it and it’s not about meeting me where I live and breathe. It’s about gaining numbers. Ugh. I hate that.

      You know what else I hate? Captchas. I’ve written about that before so I’ll shut up here, but Grrrrr. They make my skin crawl.

      I’m glad you liked my title. Cliche, I know, but alliteration is my addiction.

      • Wow – I never looked at it that way. A year ago, I felt like I was wasting my time on a lot of posts and I wanted to get accurate numbers of which specific posts were popular, in order to focus on the content people wanted to read and abandon the content that was only interesting to me. It worked and I have a much clearer picture this year of what people actually want to read, but I never considered the annoyance factor. Hmmm, you’ve definitely given me some food for thought.

        • Hi Jodi,

          No matter what anybody’s opinion might offer on any given day, my own included, get to know your audience. I see Amy now voiced her frustration with general feedbait below, but that’s just three of us here. I wonder what your reader reaction would be if you straight-up asked how they feel about your feed’s style. You might be losing people if they read your first paragraph and move on down their Google Reader. If not, you’re good to go. At any rate, thanks for sharing your reasons for the clickback requirement. I’ve been privy to various blog group conversations where intent was less admirable, thus my soured puss.

      • Hate the Captcha’s too. They don’t usually work well on my smart phone which means I am unlikely to comment on someone’s post even though I always aim to write a thoughtful response vs. an innocuous one liner.

        • Good point, Mel. How many bloggers check to see what their theme looks like on a mobile device? I know my header doesn’t display well and I aim to fix that but, more importantly, the posts are readable and my comment system clean. (if you’re reading this and you see something unusable that I can’t, please tell me.) We live in an ever increasingly mobile world, something we should pay attention to.

  12. As always…FABULOUS…….you covered most (but not all lol…but for those I will keep my mouth shut of MY “pet peeves”) One point you mentioned really strikes a chord with me “If you want to entice me, here’s a thought. Offer to share my post in front of your audience on every social avenue you have access to – just like I will for you. It helps you by sharing a third party endorsement and it helps me to reach new people. That’s one way I’ll put you in front of my hard earned readers.”…it sickens me that on nearly every review I do the individual can’t share it with THEIR network. It frankly makes me sick.

    I am not about the freebies for me but I do enjoy doing product reviews that enable my readers to get something for THEM.

    • Well, you know the rule of list posts, Caren. You never want to cover everything, leaving readers nothing left to comment on. Besides, I didn’t want to look like a total raving bitch, just a mildly annoyed one. 🙂

      I honestly don’t know why most brands don’t share our posts. I wish they’d let bloggers in on the secret so we can more effectively work together.

      As for reviews, I’m just cranky about posts that pump out the same old press release directly from the company at the same time every other blogger is reviewing the same product (because the PR people reached out to everybody at the same time). I’ve blogged for goods and gadgets at the start, but I always made the effort to offer my honest opinion in an interesting way. Reviews can be fun and I’ve worked with some pretty terrific brands. I will again. There is no harm or foul in that as long as we escape that dud of a PR blogger trap.

  13. I have had the opportunity to do a couple of product reviews (that I didn’t have to buy or win the item to review) and I make it a point to find the negative in a product simply because I don’t want to sound like an advert. I am and always will be brutally honest. I think it has cost me, and that makes me sad, but I would rather be honest with my readers than get free products. (although i really do like free product!!)

    There was actually one product where there wasn’t a negative, and I made a point to say I can’t say a bad thing about this! 🙂 normally my “negative” is small and petty, but to me it is what keeps it real.

    • It’s pretty great of you to try to see all sides of a product, Connie. In the case where you couldn’t find an imperfection, it’s obvious you aren’t making things up solely to appear unbiased. Honesty and integrity is all we have in this gig.

      I tend to do the same, sometimes comparing items within the same product line in order to determine which is most effective for my use and why. That tends to indirectly highlight weaknesses in the less useful product without saying “I don’t like this because…”

      I also like offering something unique in addition to what would otherwise be a straight up review. Amy and I really like The Honest Kitchen and, as part of their Ally program, we each have done reviews for their food. Once, when we were in the same location for an extended period of time, we made a pet cooking video using the products we love and offered our readers a recipe we created on our own. That was my favorite review to date and that little bit of effort earned us a an Honest Kitchen cooking show at BarkWorld Expo.

      It’s not hard to get creative. In fact, it makes the process far more fun for all… not to mention the perks when it goes wonderfully right.

  14. What a breath of a fresh air it was to hear a pet blogger really lay it on the line. You put yourself out there like no one ever does, and I applaud you for your honesty. I thought I took a risk in mentioning my frustration with bloggers who vocalize their distaste for blogs that choose to monetize. It seems that most of us need to pay our bills, and why not with a few bucks we can earn from our labors over animal welfare, pet problem solving, training, healthcare and other concerns that can be helpful to our readers when well-written and useful. Your point along this line was also well taken. Thanks for all you do to be a guiding light in our community.

    • You get grief about monetizing? That astounds me. Every single blogging conference, pet-centric and otherwise, is filled with sessions about ways to work with brands and make money. Sure, many bloggers attend solely to meet up with friends, but how is this money bit a surprise?

      I’ve just read your PBC post. Well said and I’m with you. (And congrats on all you’ve achieved!) At the very least, we need to cover hosting and domain costs. And it’s not like site ads cost readers anything. They still get great content for free. Hmmm. Monetization complaints are a puzzle, indeed. You of all people, with all the good you do through your blog? You definitely don’t deserve that kind of attitude.

      As for the breath of fresh posting air, I had great fun with the snark because it’s so very different than most of what I write. But if I didn’t make and admit to my own mistakes, what worth would I have? There is plenty of advice in here for myself as much as everybody else. Glass houses and all… mine is not.

  15. I don’t know that I have been as involved in the blogosphere long enough to say what drives me nuts. A lot of your complaints are the same thing I go through in my day job. I have learned to shrug off and ignore those people.

    I would welcome some criticism though. I wrote my first real product review (aside from the Diary of Lulu in a Thundershirt) the other day, and I’d love to know what you think.
    http://www.lifewithbeagle.com/2013/01/product-review-orbee-tuff-mazee.html

    Christie from lifewithbeagle.com

    • Hi, Christie.

      I don’t know what your day job is or how it relates to blogging, but I suppose one can find self-indulgent, inconsiderate people who take advantage pretty much anywhere.

      As for your review, it has all the necessary elements: details about why the Mazee Treat Ball works for you and your dog Lulu, what isn’t so great bout the rubber construction, the made in the US connection, and where to get one if somebody so chooses. The photos are a nice touch too. I can see exactly what this item is and how it works with Lulu demonstrating.

      So how can one improve upon this formula? If you want to stand out from every other reviewing pet blogger using the same exact format, you need to do more. Make it fun, funny, ridiculous even. Wrap the review in a story about how you solved the worldwide human water crisis from your laptop because your dog was no longer nosing you in the elbow every five seconds out of boredom.

      One of the reviews I wrote with the best response was for a deshedding tool. My story involved amping up the typical dust bunny to something worthy of a Newfoundland’s shedding. That story became the challenge of defeating the ever illusive dust buffalo. I added fictional statistics about typical herd size, under-the-table grazing habits and how I wiped out this whole nuisance population with a single brush. Why did it get so many hits? Because I took the time to write a piece like nothing I had ever seen before. Is it wonderful? Nah. It’s okay. It was fun, for sure. But what really sold it is that it was different. That I really enjoyed writing it was a total bonus.

      Give something like that a try. I’ll bet people respond really well.

  16. It’s really nice to see a veteran dishing out some really helpful tips, which the big ones for me at the point I am at are #1 and #2. Also glad to see someone willing to just lay it all bare, something we all need occasionally!

    • Nice to meet you, Charlie! I visited your blog and love that you started it as a school project, loving it so much you just kept going. That’s pretty close to my story too, although I had to keep a literary blog – which I also loved. Thanks for reading and please know my bitchiness here was written in fun (and truth). I’m not always such a snot.

  17. Thanks for being so frank! This post made my smile. 🙂

    I’m sorry to say, but I have a beef with Wordless Wednesday. I am not in blogging circles to see pretty pictures of pets sleeping. Give me something to think about, not something to look at!

    • Hi Tegan,

      Thanks for sharing your peeve!

      In my case, I loved Wordless Wednesday when the trend first started. It was fresh, fun, and I added a little “Caption this” element to the pictures posted. Making sure they were truly caption worthy, the responses I received made me laugh. A lot. But even I ran out of worthy pictures – and I never set my camera down. When that happened, I quit participating.

      Wordless Wednesday has changed so much since then. Just reading through the PBC posts, bloggers admit that Wordless Wednesdays are nothing more than a way to post without having to do much work. To me, that’s when its not worth doing anymore.

      That said, your reaction doesn’t surprise me one bit. The thrill is gone for me too.

      • I loved those caption elements too Kim. Why did you stop? They were a lot of fun.
        I love Wordless Wednesday mostly because i love photography. I love learning from other photographers and I really love a good pictures. I actually spend a lot of time choosing my picture each week, but then I am highly critical of most of my photos (many aren’t good enough). It’s the ones that just post a crappy picture for the sake of posting a picture that bother me.

        • You nailed it, Mel. Many bloggers do put thought into what they post – whether great photographs or events – always. And the photography of your beautiful Jasper tugs my “I wanna get a Sheltie” heartstrings more than any other. But some bloggers don’t pay so much attention.

          As for me, I stopped WW posts when I grew bored with “trying” to capture more photos in order to continue rather than experiencing the element of surprise and happenstance of capturing a perfect moment – just because. Not one for repetitive ritual, I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did.

          That doesn’t mean I won’t post a funny photo ever again, but I’ll likely add more content surrounding it rather than partake in Wordless Wednesday. Changing it up seems good for me right now. Something about my naming WW posts in sequence added too much pressure and sustainability waned.

          Recognizing waning energy is probably key to keeping content fresh for all of us.

  18. I am still trying to figure out just what I want my blog to be 🙂 But the tips are awesome and appreciated. Good stuff to think about

    • I’m glad you found something useful here and that I didn’t scare you off. Best to you in finding your blog goals and I hope to see that you’ve solidified them by next year’s PBC!

  19. Yes…This is exactly what I like…I heard you, it was like you were on my couch telling me your day. I saw your facial expressions, your hands moving, and tone of voice…amazing. You totally inspired me this Friday and I actually got up and said yah, grab that glass of wine and then tell Mr. Will you do a review of my website and book please, because it would be good for you to do it on your own free will and I will just sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour. …well I told him my advertising rates. Yes Maggie does work and does tricks for treats. But don’t treat me with a trick that’s it good for me.
    Fantastic post, being new in blogging it was the best read. Thank you.

    • OMG. You’re in my HOUSE?!?! I know blogging is about connecting but you can SEE me? Ack!

      Seriously, good for you for sharing your advertising rates. We need to be proactive in this regard as a band of bloggers, or we’ll all feel taken advantage of. There’s no need to get angry if we instead focus on educating brands and bloggers. We need some uniformity in this regard.

      I just wrote in response to DogTipper.com’s awesome PBC post that the pet community needs to “better value their space, work and readership. The act of brands taking advantage of this rampant lack of self-worth is my greatest pet blogging peeve. It certainly hurts us all when it’s allowed to happen.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s easy for the average blogger to know what price tag to place on their audience size or the writing invested. At the very least, a standard fee chart seems in order, yet nobody wants to share what fees they’ve been able to charge or how that applies to folks within different tiers of audience numbers. Until a standard is set, we’ll forever be up against the inferiority complex of too many bloggers.

      I’ve heard the murmur of several bloggers discuss forming a union over the years. Pet bloggers have followed the trends of other niches long enough. Why not get out in front lead the charge? It’s time we come together, put our money where our mouths are, and lead every niche of the blogging industry out of this nonsense by creating a set of respectful and fair rules that both bloggers and brands can follow.”

      If I were in-the-know and actively charging for space on this blog, I’d be happy to rally the troops. But I’m not. I’d certainly partake in the conversation though!

  20. I love the angle you took on this and I am sure many heads have been nodding as people read your words. I actually read your post yesterday and wanted so much to contribute something meaningful that I have been struggling to come up with my own irritations to add.

    Mostly my biggest beef is comment systems that make me create a separate log-in or sign away my first born child or learn Chinese just so I can leave some encouraging words. That’s a surefire way to get me to never leave a comment and probably never come back. Interaction with others is such a big part of the blogging experience for me and if a fellow blogger makes it very time consuming for me to do that, I will assume they don’t really want me around.

    I also prefer to read blogs via email and typically unless a blog has an easy to find email subscription box, even if it’s the best blog in the world, I probably won’t be back because I won’t remember to check in for new posts.

    Those are two, anyway! Thanks for making us all reflect. There are ways we could all improve to better reach our audiences. I know I could do better at many things but am not sure I am willing to work hard enough to get there. It’s something I am going to have to think on over the next while.

    Thanks for all of your incredible encouragement. 2012 was a rocky year for me in a lot of ways and 2013 isn’t shaping up to be much easier. Your support has been a definite highlight.

    • I am so with you on the comment captchas, separate login IDs, and triple axle back flips… but the want for an email signup is a new one. What an awesome addition!

      Like you, I love when it’s so easy to say a few words, but I groan when I see the Blogger comment system specifically. It’s Fort Knox up in there. I just lost a lengthy comment to Charlie Thu Hike’s blog from above because the Google’s connection to the WordPress link didn’t like that I was logged in under another account when I posted. Poof. All those words gone. I just don’t have the energy to dig their dying memory out from the dark, folded recesses of my brain.

      As for the email delivery request, that’s not so different from wanting a whole post in our feed readers rather than just feed bait. We want what we want where and when we want it. It only stands to reason that emailed posts be made as available as RSS feeds. It’s so easy using Feedburner. We really should do everything in our power to be where our readers are. Making them come to us clearly isn’t working for a whole bunch of people on this hop.

      Last but not least, I hope you find some ease in 2013, Kristine. That’s as important of an accomplishment as all else that we do. Be well, my friend.

  21. Leave it up to you to break the rules! What can I say? I don’t participate in a lot of blog hops – but I love this one and Blog the Change! I do try to comment on each post because I feel if someone took the time to write a post, then I should at least say thank you. But the weekly blog hops? No – I don’t comment on each and every post.

    • Oooof. Please know I wasn’t suggesting that people comment on each and every blog hop post. All I meant was that, if you do comment, please make it meaningful. (I’m speaking in general, Vicki. I know you do.)

      The only situation when I felt I should comment on everybody’s blog was when I was responsible for hosting Blog the Change. I wanted people to know that I cared about their participation so I reached beyond a mere thank you and spent a great deal of time taking part in the discussion that each blogger created. It was exhausting and often thankless, but I have no regrets for being courteous, engaged and appreciative. I learned a lot and met some great people. That made it worthwhile.

      • I know you were speaking in general. I’m not a big one for leaving comments because what’s the point of saying “Great post!” on every blog. It means nothing. I’d rather just “like” or give +1’s . That’s my way of saying “Thanks!” Then if I have something to add to the conversation, I’ll leave a comment.

  22. runningwithellen says:

    I don’t mind reading about self-indulgent drivel, including ball chasing and treat chewing. It can be fun, cute, and as long as it doesn’t continue past a sentence, with accompanying photos, gives me a small boost for the day, knowing how loved someone’s pets are. Animals and pets are interesting and their relationships are individual with their humans, and I can get past the drivel and enjoy the human’s obsession/love.

    • More power to you. After seeing three years worth of it and having less and less time to simply peruse every day, I’ve grown tired. Actually, thinking back, I’ve never been a fan of entire blogs based on pure fluff when there is so much to learn and to be done. I’m insatiable that way. You don’t have to agree. My aim to was to make people aware of why I won’t drop by their blogs anymore. Many bloggers I’ve talked with have expressed similar beefs. But, hey, my opinion is just one in a sea of many. I’m perfectly willing to exercise my freedom of choice in what I read and leave each to their own devices.

  23. This is my first time here,, and I’m glad to have found you on this blog hop (true story, I’m not just saying that) You certainly have written a passionate piece here, and as a blogging brand-newbie, it is definitely food for thought.
    Best wishes!

  24. I think the posts on the every day lives can be interesting, as long as the writing style is. Every dog has charming stories and unique them cute things they do and sometimes those ordinary day posts can capture so much of why we share our lives with dogs that I can’t help but love them. There are some bloggers I read that have turned it into an art form and brought a new feel to it.

    That being said, I don’t often read the blogs where it’s the humans perspective, rehashing the boring every day details. “Today we went for a walk. The smells were good”. I’ll pass.

    I think I’m probably guilty of some of your pet peeves, but then, I think we might be different types of readers. The fluff doesn’t bother me as much, since it at least showcases someone’s deep love of their dog. I’m not a fan of the blogs that feel like an information download, day after day, week after week, without any spark of life or interest or personal bits to lighten them up. I love an informative blog post, but if I don’t feel a personal connection to the blogger or their pets, I probably won’t be around long.

    • I feel the same. I subscribe to different blogs for different reasons. Some I go to for advice on new techniques, and some I go to for the personal stories.

    • Jodi, I think we’re the same exact kind of reader. A well crafted post on any topic, whether a sentence, a photo, or an essay can make me smile too. You’re right. Some people have it down to a beautiful art form. But art takes thought and requires a sense of purpose. That type of post was crafted specifically to engage us. If it also indulges the author’s enjoyment, awesome. But that’s not their sole purpose or we would feel the disconnect. All I’m asking for is a little thought, something more than a page filler for the sake of pumping out another post on schedule.

      As for the informational post you talk about, I prefer not to read strictly newsy information either. The conversational flow and personality blogging allows for is what has me hooked. Again, I ask authors to give me a way to connect, to think about how to talk with me. That request applies every time.

  25. God I wish I had come to your blog post sooner! (Blame the same H3N2 that wiped you and Tim out over Christmas.)

    I feel like this was the opening salvo on a manifesto (is there one?). To be honest, my first thought was WOW! My second thought was “Right on girlfriend!” I have no idea who the conference leech was, but remind me never to engage him. I have to agree with the specific commenter who stops by but says nothing, and the whole thing with product reviews? Yeah. Agree on that as well. It’s why I rarely do them. In all honesty, I hardly ever respond to the requests I get either. The stuff I want to write about is usually the stuff I bought myself and want to share.

    I don’t know if I have ever engaged you in my blog, but I know you have engaged me. I especially love your photos and videos and the way you bring a story to life.

    My pet peeve? Feeling like I have to comment on everyone’s blog all of the time. Is there a rule that says we have to all of the time? I know it’s a general kindness that we share with one another, but why all the guilt when we just can’t sometimes? Or, is that just internal stuff?

    Anyways, my favorite post so far on the hop. Thanks Kim.

    • I’m SO sorry you’ve been stung by the superbug, Mel. I hope coughing up some pet peeves helps you clear your mind, if not your lungs.

      GREAT question about reciprocal comments. Guilt seems to be killing everybody on this hop. Let’s end that in this space right here and now. You never have to feel obligated to comment here, even if I’ve just commented on your blog. Ever.

      BUT, since I visit bloggers that do comment here before all others, my reciprocity guilt probably stems from my own contradiction to this point. That said, I’d like to go with “internal stuff” for $400, Alex.

      Thank you for your kind words about my posts. I have mutual admiration for you and yours. One I’ve bookmarked from your blog covers what to do when you’ve lost a dog. It’s the inspiration I store in a dog-eared mental file of what I’d like to write about for my rescue when I find time. This was a terrific how-to finale at the end of a frightening journey to find your lost foster, now adoptee… a story you shared from the heart and presented in the context of all reader’s lives. You don’t do many how-to posts so that well thought out piece gathered from your very real experience was a nice switch, but what you do more importantly, so often and so very well, is make people feel – me included, whether you’re writing about rescue, responsible pet ownership, or simply enjoying your pets’ companionship. THIS is why I wanted you on Team BTC.

      Life’s been crazy and I’ve been away from writing and reading for some time, but this January I’ve come back with a vengeance. (Let’s hope it lasts!) I’m guessing you’ll be seeing more of me in your neck of the blogger woods, Mel. And it will be my pleasure.

  26. Love your words. Thank you! I’m newbie myself and hope to learn while skulking around the various pet blogs I stumble upon.

  27. Well, I finally got here … I know, it took a long time! And, my biggest pet peeve is people who participate in a blog hop and then throw out all the questions. BWAAAHAHAHA!!!

    Honestly – you’ve said so many of the the things I think. I’m really tired of posts that feel like they’re put up just to get something up there. Don’t waste my time just to fill up space. And Wordless Wednesday has definitely crossed that line for me.

    I also want to see people making an effort to keep evolving. If you look at what you wrote two years on your blog and you’re not completely embarrassed, maybe it’s time to re-think things. You should be growing, changing, improving.

    I hate the partial post tease in Google Reader. I use that forum to help my time management and organization. Is it important to you that I read your post and occasionally click through to leave a comment? Or would you rather have me ignore you entirely because you’re making it difficult for me to read your posts? Don’t try to force me to do things your way or you’ll lose me.

    I so appreciate your thoughtfulness, honesty, and humor. Your responses to other people’s comments are as entertaining as your post. Thank you so much for participating (such as it was) in the Challenge. I see that you’ve chosen not to combine your blogs, and I understand your reasoning. I’m looking forward to seeing where This One Wild Life takes you in 2013.

    • Wow. You read all the comments too? Way to commit 100% to hosting this Challenge – balls to the wall! (I’m speaking of dog toys. Really.)

      Thanks for sharing your peeves. I was aware of your frustration with Google Reader feed bait but I hadn’t realized Wordless Wednesday dropped from your watch list too. It’s nice to feel validated by somebody else who has grown tired.

      So you know, I tossed your questions just to stir your pot. … Kidding!

      Had I bothered to blog more than 28 times in 2012, I could have answered. Too many pressures kept me not only from writing, but from loving it. And trying to keep up with the growing number of blogs in this niche. Oy. I got overwhelmed and frustrated by the amount of reading that wasn’t feeding my psyche. I guess I just needed to unleash the frustration I felt with myself and with all that unproductive reading before I could pick up and march forward again.

      2012 is the year of embarrassment you speak of for me, not for the quality of my posts, but my lack of genuine commitment to this space. That’s what I want to do better. That’s what I wish for every blogger. At the same time, I refuse to write for the sake of it so I guess I did the best I could and should cut myself some slack. None of us should ever be so committed to a schedule that we prioritize a false need for publishing over a post worthy of entertainment or education. We’re writing for friends. We should respect their time and attention.

      Thanks for reading my bits and pieces here, Amy, and for hosting such a thought provoking Challenge to make us think about how we can do better. I’ll be watching GoPetFriendly.com in 2013 too. I know you have some good things coming!

  28. Regarding point #2: There is another way to look at this: As a reader, what would motivate me to click the spammy link to the commenter’s blog if all the blogger wrote in the comment was “Happy to see you on the blog hop”?

    • Good point, Bev. As with authoring posts, our comments should also be about our reader. If we aren’t building relationships through the sharing of ideas, it looks like sheer self promotion. That doesn’t make me want to click. I’m guessing you aren’t interested in that either.

  29. Hi there! I just got led here from a link on Kol’s Notes and this comment especially intrigued me. I have been blogging for several years but still I’m pretty sure I’m doing everything wrong! When I started blogging I made many friends and finally became overwhelmed with reading all their blogs, much less commenting, so now I only read a few when I have the time and seldom comment, and feel guilty that I can’t keep up. My stats (according to Google Analytics) say I’m getting 50 to 100 hits a day, around 1,000 unique visitors a month, but I have no idea what that *means*. Is that awful? Am I popular? How many of those are robots or spammers? I have no idea how to tell! I know a lot of my readers are not bloggers, they are people in the rescue community in my area, and I want to reach them more than the people who just visit my blog because I left a comment on theirs. But at the same time, it’d be nice to know that there is anyone actually reading, and the few comments I get from other bloggers are the only real verification I have of that! I guess in spite of blogging for over five years, I still don’t feel like a “blogger”, or like I really know what I’m doing!

    • It sounds like have a good grip on who your target audience is and you seem to know that these local rescue folks are coming to see you. The question then is, what do YOU define as success? It doesn’t much matter what others do by comparison.

      Since you’re trying to get the message out to your own real-life community…

      1.) Cover local events and bring a camera. Tell folks at the dog park or adoption clinic that their pup will be featured on your blog, then hand them a business card with the web address.

      2.) List your location on the about page and in your posts (even if just to caption a photo) so Google displays search results to local people.

      3.) Check to see of your newspaper allows for topic-specific bloggers to participate on their website. The Albany Times Union does that, if you’d like to see an example. You write weekly articles and they let you link back to your blog in your author profile.

      By all means, write pieces that have global appeal, but find small ways to tie back to the local angle. “Dog adoption is important because… Watch how Fido delights this couple at the Adoption event in Yourtown, Yourstate.”

      As for comments, the best way to inspire people is to end your post with a question.

      I doubt you’re doing everything wrong. I think we all start somewhere and then find ways to fine tune.

      Best to you and HAVE FUN!

  30. I too share stories of my Pomeranian’s health problems. I hope no one reads it and says who cares? I just feel taking or writing about these things just might help other pet owners who are struggling with the same problems.

    • I doubt you’re the kind of poster I’m talking about, Sue.

      If you’re writing to help other pet owners, you have their best interest in mind before you touch a single key. That tone is very different than the “Today, this happened…. ” post after post for days on end – no conclusions, no real helpful information. As Maggie commented above, it’s far more helpful to put the information within a larger context. What was learned through various tests? How does nutrition play in? What successes did your dog see? How did you cope with unknowns?

      This doesn’t mean personal stories aren’t important. They are. They become the glue that holds your reader long enough to convey the information that can help them too. Personal stories also help to form relationships with your readers and keeps them coming back.

      Strike the perfect balance, and you have nothing to worry about!

  31. Hi Kim. I did not participate in the challenge this year. I wanted to but I ran out of time.

    #2 bothers me too….for the most part. If I get the same “cute, howdy” comment from a blogger every time that gets old. However, we are all short on time and sometimes I leave a one-line comment on someone’s blog just to let them know that I stopped by to say hi. I always try hard to make a comment that ads to the conversation or lets them know that I actually read the post but sometimes my comments are very generic.

    I also dislike #3 – product reviews clearly made for the sake of free product. Product reviews can be a slippery slope though. I have gotten offers, and subsequently wrote a review, for products that intrigued me or I really wanted to try…but not enough to pay for. I DO always try to tie them back into our niche though and where those products fit into our lives. Also, I have a history of gear and product review in the outdoor industry. I try to apply those principles to my product tests and reviews. I don’t just say “hey, you should try this because it sounds good on the website” but instead give pros and cons, talk about how it performed or didn’t and say what kind of user would benefit from it. It IS hard to get that detailed about, say, dog food though.

    I won’t say I take issue with your comment about diary-type posts but I am not sure I agree. It’s mostly because I am not sure where your line is between useful, informative and entertaining and “drivel” is. I think that blogging is about building a community and that sometimes that community wants to know what you have been up do, what a day in your life is like or just look at a cute photo. I guess I am not sure if I fall into the “not-worth-reading-to-you” category with my “diary” of our hiking adventures. Usually those entries are about how our hike went with a little bit about the trail itself thrown in. The purpose of those is to be entertaining while hopefully inspiring others to get active with their small dog through our experiences and photos. Perhaps I am completely missing the mark though.

    • Great points about tying product reviews back to your main niche and drive-by comments, Jessica.

      To me, a quick comment depends on my relationship with the blogger. If I know them well, I too want to let them know I was there, even if I don’t have time to offer a very thoughtful response. (I still make it relevant – not cut and paste.) But they know that I do add to the conversation when I can. I wouldn’t hand a one liner to somebody I’ve just met… first impressions and all. Is it dependent for you too?

      As for your hiking posts, they DO NOT miss any mark. You offer adventure, direction, poignant life observations – all things people can identify with and derive enjoyment from. I’d think envy might even be an end result. The photography alone is worth a visit.

      The drivel of which I speak contains a lot of words and even pictures, yet none of what I find valuable in your posts exists there. There is no meaning on a constant level beyond “my dog licked his bowl clean today.” While that can be a nice little segue with a huorous photo between posts offering great content, for the drivel-makers, that quality content never comes, photos are poor quality, spelling and grammer is lacking, and on and on…

      I wish I could plaster a list of examples here of what I mean by drivel. I refrain because it would be nasty to call people out in a negative way based on my own personal taste. For the record, I do realize that these bloggers are exceptionally happy to entertain themselves, regardless of whether it suits my taste or not. While it’s more than enough to fulfill their own needs, it just won’t draw me in.

      Anybody commenting here who cares enough about my measely opinion certainly cares about what their entire audience thinks. That, right there, already elevates every one of you well beyond drivel status.

      PS: You’ll laugh at this but, when I responded the day you posted this, my comment system locked me out. Yeah, me the complainer about lacking comment systems. Ooooh, the irony. I’ve since found time to fix the two plugins that weren’t playing nicely and I’m back to try again. Thanks for your thoughtful response! It’s time to finally add mine!

  32. After reading your awesome post and all the comments and your replies I’ve totally forgotten how I got here! I’d really like to compliment you on your spelling and grammar. I’m one of those pedantic people who should have been a proof reader:) I’m also guilty of having my feedburner emails for my blog posts in tease mode and try as I might I haven’t been able to change that. But I will keep trying.

    Apart from the Captcha thing, which I have a lot of trouble deciphering and drives me batty, my biggest peeve is with blogs written in ‘animal speak’ or whatever it’s called. I don’t mind if the animal is speaking correctly spelled english but if have to struggle with reading a blog post that looks like it’s all Captcha code then I’m gone. There are so many wonderful blogs that are easy to read and easy on the eyes that I can’t see the point in struggling through one written in a language I don’t understand.

    I could go on and on but I’ve already written more than I usually do in my blog posts 🙂 Hopefully I haven’t made too many spelling or grammatical errors! Keep up the great work.

    P.S. Pamela Douglas Webster is my hero!

    • Your best line? “If have to struggle with reading a blog post that looks like it’s all Captcha code then I’m gone.” Hallelujah, Sister! Speak it!

      For the record, don’t let my spelling and grammar fool you. Like a constant gardener, I often tend my wordy fields long after my seeds of thought cross pollinate and result in crops of comments. The typos spring up like weeds, even after I had squashed plenty of them. The edit button is my most valuable tool, pruning away the unwanted and leaving the rest of my garden to shine – only after the fact.

      Thank you for your thoughts, regardless of how you got here! I hope you found your way back out of this vortex alright!

      PS: Maybe we should start a Pamela Douglas Webster fan club.

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