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.