A Love Letter to My Blog

A Love Letter to My Blog

I Still Love You

Dear Blog, About Our Relationship…

Oh, This One Wild Life, our passions once ran so deep that the story of our love spilled effortlessly over countless pristine white sheets. Hand in hand, we ignited a fire within the hearts of even our most distant of blogging friends. We planned to change the world together, and we did our best to try but, somewhere along the way, that blaze was dampened to a smoldering ember until… I’m sorry, This One Wild Life, but can’t you see? We’ve been losing our spark for some time.

Just look at past letters to the Pet Blogger Challenge, evidence of our dimming light…

2011 Pet Blogger Challenge
Beyond the Honeymoon.
Our relationship once reached toward limitless horizons representing all that life had to offer – until your  animal welfare addictions and product review promises eclipsed my vast and varied interests. I began to resent your commitment to others over your commitment to my desires. I ached to indulge in South American travel logs and fully flesh out Ghanaian volunteer notes into colorful adventures with you by my side. These needs utterly starved for your attention. 

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, struggling through my sickness to rebuild your trust. I devoted months of determination to revive the contents of your soul — only to have you, my love, relentlessly courted by and committed to brands who cared nothing about your true interests the way that 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. I hoped you would notice my wandering eye, but that didn’t work for either of us. 

2013 The Doggone Dirt on Pet Blogging
The Final Throw Down
In a fit of malcontent, I threw out every 2013 Challenge question and threw down my top five bitter blogging gripes. Point #4 was “Pushy Product Review Requests? Lick My Cat.” 83 comments roared up in a chorus that proved I was not alone in my growing frustration. Hallelujah! But somebody was ready for a full-blown time out. I broke from your lackluster embrace, the one I once loved, only casually falling back into bed with you when I needed a good friend to talk to. The heart wants what the heart wants.

It’s difficult to admit but, what one thing made me most proud about my blogging in 2013? 

Abandonment. 

Living my life without reporting back to… who? Who would miss me when I was gone? You? I’m not fishing for kindness here. I celebrate the answer. Nobody. To realize that, I finally felt FREE.

Forgiveness.

In order to move forward with my life, I forgave myself, This One Wild Life, and I hope you can too…

  • for allowing you to dictate the direction of my every thought for years.
  • for pimping out my beautiful animals.
  • for selling products that nobody cares about.
  • for making myself so sick of dog topics, I cringe at all I see.
  • for hogtying myself to a specific niche, neglecting my many other interests.

And I accept your apology, This One Wild Life,

  • for always begging that your insatiable pages be filled, asking for more when I had nothing left to give.
  •  for changing the locks, making me hang my head in shame as I asked the admin for access previously granted.
  • for your shitty response time when I tried to reconcile. (Although, even now, you load with hesitance. We truly must work on this.)
  • for your constant quirks and needy updates.

Reconciliation.

In all honesty, I’ve missed you, my darling blog. I never stopped loving the stories we crafted and shared together. I’m still drawn to the shape of your layout and the bright shade of your accent, the way you caress my words between your borders.

I’ll eagerly meet you half way, freely giving gobs of love toward your animal interests. Please, just tell me you’ll support my non-animal desires, too, entertaining musings from human experience. (I’ve finally started compiling notes this week, six years after visiting Africa. Exciting, no?)

However this happens, if this happens, can we agree to swirl our toes around in these crisp, cool, new waters, drawing in a fresh breath of air as our flirtatious giggling is carried on a light breeze? If this can’t fuel our souls with passion once more, I want no part. We each deserve better than mediocrity, as do those who bear witness to our re-blooming love. We deserve full immersion in amazement at the world around us, our booming, ecstatic voices rising over the dull din of white noise. We deserve all that This One Wild Life has to offer. And we shall take it and claim it as our own or be forever silenced by the golden mean.


Pet Blogger's ChallengeThank you for reading my post in the Fourth Annual Pet Blogger Challenge exploring the community’s hows, whys, what’s working and what’s not as we blog about animals. Hosted by Amy Burkert at GoPetFriendly.com and Edie Jarolim from Will My Dog Hat Me?, together, they organized this project (with a little badge designed by me).

Neil Brogan Dishes on Life With Dogs!

Neil Brogan Dishes on Life With Dogs!

Neil Brogan Still Living Life With Dogs

If you haven’t already heard, the Life With Dogs website is a world leader in dog news and entertainment. You’ll find dogs in the news, reviews and giveaways, fun dog and puppy videos, and the co-home of the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop.

The site, now managed by multiple authors, leaves little to be desired for the dog obsessed pet lover. Except for Life With Dogs’ creator, Neil Brogan. Oh, he’s still around in an advisory capacity, but he’s also shifted focus on life, love, and how to best use his talents to impact dogs’ lives going forward.

I miss Neil’s larger-than-life presence, and I recently caught up with him (interview below). Doing so brought back lots of memories.

Life With Dogs: The Early Years

What I treasured most about Life With Dogs: The Early Years were Neil’s hilarious, shoot-milk-out-your-nose memoirs and comics. If you’re new to the site, you’ve missed spectacular stories about what it meant for Neil and his wife, Mrs. Author, to be pet parents to dogs Nigel, Sola and Truffles – and Cracker, the oft dog-snubbed cat.

One precious gem entitled “Who You Gonna Call?” offers a voyeuristic glimpse into life at the Brogan household. Neil writes:

Got junk? Life With Dogs For some reason not known to me, Nigel, Sola and Truffles share a common goal: complete and utter fruitbowl decimation. Not a day passes without a paw, tail, or deliberately thrown snout making contact with my nether regions. It is not at all uncommon for Mrs. Author to walk around a corner to find me writhing on the floor, cursing one of our critters.

SPOILER ALERT: Mrs. Author crafted this fashion accessory in Neil’s defense. Meet Mr. Strainer … and then go read the whole bit. It’s 100% worth it.

Strained - Life With Dogs

Where in the World is Nigel Buggers?

Dog lovers identified a bit of themselves in Neil’s stories, and a special bond grew. But Neil didn’t stop at storytelling.

Leading greyhound Nigel Buggers appeared in a limited edition print by Kathleen Coy used by the Friends of Buggers Society (FOBS) to raise funds for A Place to Bark animal rescue. The project not only raised a good deal of money, it joined an entire global community in a game of  “Where in the World is Nigel Bugger (WITWINB)?

Nigel’s print appeared around the world – from posing with Elvis and Gene Simmons impersonators in Vegas to crashing tropical island weddings. And Neil shared every picture that came in saying:

This journey continues to astound me, and I am ever so thankful to this gutsy, humorous, dog-crazy group of fun loving people who continue to push the boundaries of good taste in the name of charity.

Nigel and Elvis Nigel and Gene Simmons

The Funtastic Fudge and Friends

Fudge and Friends Stick

The site also became home to Jason Dodge’s Fudge and Friends comic strip, complete with story line competitions that earned winners a comic strip featuring their own dog.

To see our winning entry, visit Our Favorite Dog Word: “Fudge!”. Although our use of fudge is a euphemism for another delicous F-word, Fudge in Life With Dogs’ terms refers to Neil’s beloved dog Truffles who is also nicknamed Fudgepants.

LWD Turned Activist

One of the more difficult shifts for me to watch was the very conscious decision Neil made to raise awareness about the not-so-pretty life of dogs. In 2010, the passion of pet bloggers attending a conference opened Neil’s eyes to the power of online animal welfare education. So moved by the community, he decided to use Life With Dogs to shed a bright light on the dark underbelly of animal abuse.

As an animal advocate often working in the trenches, it is too difficult for me to follow abuse cases of situations that I cannot change, and so I stopped frequenting Life With Dogs but for the fun and funny post that would grab my attention on Facebook. I know many others who felt the same way. But we are clearly in the minority.

Life With Dogs’ popularity rapidly grew and, while dog lovers rallied in anger behind the abuse stories, they also frolicked in the fun stories, cried at the most endearing stories, and laughed out loud at the most silly dog situations. What Neil says he prided himself on was daily care and attention to always mix it up. You never knew what you were going to get at Life With Dogs but you’d often experience every emotion available to humans.

An Interview with Neil Brogan

So, how did Neil manage all this, a career in IT, a marriage, and still remain connected to his 4 pets? I asked him to spill the beans…


TOWL: Neil, what kind of commitment did it take to run Life With Dogs and how did that level of commitment change over the years?

NB: Those are two entirely different questions – because the focus of the site changed so dramatically. Initially, I only worked when inspiration struck. Once it was apparent that an audience was building, I had to reevaluate where my time was best spent. So for the first year or two I had a normal, sane life. Then everything exploded.

When our content focus shifted I felt self-induced pressure to stay on top of all things dog related. That is impossible of course, but holding myself to a high standard benefited the site in the long term. I considered it sweat equity. And for the last two years, LWD ate up my entire existence. There isn’t a single night in that period when I got more than 4 hours of sleep. I worked around the clock.

TOWL: How did two-legger Mrs. Author, survive it – (or has she)?

NB: Just barely. Were she not the most patient woman I know we could have ended up in trouble. She jumped in to help with giveaways, PR and reader relations. And it was still too big for both of us. For the last year, we had no time for non-essential communication. We had a million visitors a month and were receiving 150-300 e-mails a day. So call her a saint…

TOWL: When Life With Dogs eventually became about all things dog, advocacy suddenly and often took center stage. You began to share and track dog abuse stories in order to raise awareness – a move that felt very different from LWD historically. What was the specific impetus for this shift?

NB: I shifted the focus – away from myself and my dogs – because I knew that a large audience could actually impact some of the greater challenges facing this wonderful species that gives us so much more than we were able to give back.

TOWL: How did your readers react?

NB: Surprisingly well. They rolled with it and I did not expect that. But by this time many readers were also friends and were willing to support the change.

TOWL: What was your most popular type of feature?

NB: Given our demo (75-80% female readership) stories that featured women saving dogs or dogs saving women were always a hit. And our features regarding dogs that had languished in shelters for years were shared far and wide. Each ended in success, and those were my personal favorites. Seeing a dog go home after 8 or 10 years in a shelter was a huge relief.

TOWL: Have you been involved with any real-life advocacy projects beyond Life With Dogs?

NB: We were instrumental in getting public support for a bill that outlawed roadside puppy sales. We did news interviews and helped make Vermonters aware of the bad breeders who were coming here from other states to peddle puppy mill dogs.

We celebrated the passage of the bill, and shortly thereafter, three dogs we rescued from a mill breeder (who was selling sick dogs on the side of the road in Vermont) all died in a one year span – and all from complications caused by bad breeding. It was a heartbreaking exclamation point of sorts.

TOWL: What has the latest transition at Life With Dogs been like?

NB: Hard. I am very much a hands-on person and am no longer allowed to be. I am retraining myself. I like to roll up my sleeves and get in the trenches and I have to resist that temptation.

TOWL: How involved are you still?

NB: I remain involved in an advisory capacity. I no longer create daily content. I need time to grow the non-profit I’ve founded and can’t find enough time in a day to do both.

TOWL: What do you like most about Life With Dogs now?

NB: The fact that it has so much reach and impact. It continues to grow to this day, and I’m smart enough to realize that at this point it would probably continue to do so without me. I like that.

TOWL: How are the dogs and cat enjoying semi-retirement? 

NB: That question assumes that they have worked at some point. If they have, I want their jobs!

LWD - Shuffleboard

In all seriousness, this has been great for them. It’s ironic – I created a website for dogs that became so busy I had little time for my own. When I realized that was the case, I knew it was time to step back and reclaim my life. Hence, the merger. Now we have time again, and it’s been a blessing.

TOWL: What does the future hold for the Life With Dogs clan?

NB: We’re getting ready to launch a new non-profit. If all goes well, it will provide millions in charity (on an ongoing basis) for shelters and rescue organizations.

TOWL:Neil, this is all very exciting, and I wish you all the best! I do hope you’ll come back and talk about your launch.


And to you, my dear reader, I suggest you keep a lookout. From everything I’ve learned about Neil’s exciting new non-profit, its grand scope will make an enormous difference for dogs in need – in a way that every pet lover can take part.

While trading in his punchy personal essays for a massive IT challenge, Neil remains dedicated to the many loves of his life (in addition to Mrs. Author, of course)…. dogs. And we’d expect nothing less from the man who brought us that special online community with the grandiose life of its own, Life With Dogs.

What Can Blogging Do for Animal Welfare?

What Can Blogging Do for Animal Welfare?

I had the pleasure of meeting with an inquisitive group of students taking Writing for New Media with Jennifer Marlow at The College of Saint Rose in February. Invited to guest lecture, I spoke with them about how building an online social network has helped to rescue dogs in our immediate area and how social media reaches beyond local boundaries in order to make a difference. 

Anthony Acosta and GidgetAnthony Acosta and Gidget

One student in particular, Anthony Acosta, asked me to be part of his journalism class project and, a month later, my blogging friends and I were being interviewed for his semester’s final piece.

While it feels a bit egotistical to post an article about myself here, I do so proudly. None of what I have achieved has been accomplished alone. This article celebrates all the people I’ve worked with to launch Be the Change for Animals, a national animal activism site asking you to “spend just a minute and never a cent” to help animals in need, and Dog House Adoptions, a dog rescue serving New York’s Capital region. I am beyond grateful for the dedication of every team member on both projects. The successes laid out below belong to us all.

So, without further ado, I present to you…

Anthony AcostaWhat Can Blogging Do for Animal Welfare?

A Guest Post by Anthony Acosta

Blogging has become increasingly popular. Through the democratization of the Web, ordinary everyday people can express their opinions on specified, yet infinite topics. Although personal diaries and other less-than-useful blog entries make up the majority of the blogosphere, Kim Clune has strategically harnessed the power of new media to enhance animal advocacy efforts both domestic and wild.

Clune has a strong online presence in the field of animal advocacy. As the founding member of multiple blogging sites, she promotes events, disseminates information and provides avenues that allow people to participate in these efforts. Recently, Clune has dedicated most of her time toward dog rescue, helping to launch Dog House Adoptions, Inc. in April, 2012. She jointly runs the organization with her husband Tim Clune, Lori Harris and Audra Bentley.

Dog House Adoptions BannerLori Harris, Audra Bentley, Tim Clune and Kim Clune

Lori Harris, Audra Bentley, Tim Clune and Kim Clune 

“We crafted our mission to reach beyond simply rehoming local strays. It is our goal to demonstrate that these dogs are not throwaway items. They have tremendous value in our community,” said Clune. Approximately 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in the United States each year. That’s about 10,000 cats and dogs executed daily.  According to Clune, these are often perfectly healthy animals who were innocent victims of human negligence.

Sarah McLachlan is an avid, well-known supporter of the ASPCA. She produced the popular commercial featuring the song “Angel,” in attempt to muster involvement and monetary donations.

“McLachlan is a fantastic and effective voice fundraising for the ASPCA, but it pains people to watch her commercials. They react out of overwhelming sadness and then look away. The heart can only take so much,” said Clune.

Kim Clune with her adopted dogs

Clune’s tactic for educating the public and making a difference in the community is to highlight the pros rather than the cons. She and her team have chosen a path of sustainability, celebrating their dog’s milestones and adoptions. She tackles the issues with a sense of humor instead of disseminating gory images and graphic storytelling. This has proven to be successful.

“By creating an environment that is hopeful more often than grueling, our long term goal is to keep our volunteers and ourselves energized for the long haul – this all happens by building a relationship with one dog at a time,” said Clune.

Clune wears many different hats in the development and maintenance of Dog House Adoptions, Inc. She is the media liaison, fundraising and event promoter, WordPress tech, theme designer, graphic artist, author, photographer and videographer. “I’m also a real-life community ambassador, dog chauffer and puppy cuddler.” Animals are Clune’s passion and she does everything she can to help them, devoting her life and career to ensure their well-being.

“Kim is truly impressive in everything she does. She’s also a warm, caring, funny and incredibly passionate woman – those very same qualities are what shine through in her blog, drawing so many people to it daily,” said Kim Thomas, one of Clune’s managing editors.

Bristol/Chrystal

The pioneer of Dog House Adoptions, Inc., Bristol is a young black lab mix. She came to Dog House Adoptions pregnant and covered with scars from untreated bite marks. With time, money and compassion, Bristol was fostered for 8 weeks from puppy delivery to puppy rearing with help from Lisa Drury, a reputable Rensselaer County lab breeder.

Lisa Drury and Bristol

Lisa Drury with Bristol/Chrystal

Drury helped transition four puppies from newborns to adolescents, working in conjunction with Dog House Adoptions to secure wonderful homes. Today, all four puppies are fully healthy, loved and recently celebrated their first birthday along with Dog House Adoptions, Inc. April 13, 2013.

Because of Bristol’s prominence in the local community, Drury, Kate O’Hara and O’Hara’s grandmother started a fund to raise money for Bristol’s recovery. After receiving $120, Bristol was spayed, nursed back to health and able to attend The Animal Hospital’s Pet Adoption Day in Slingerlands. There, Bristol met her new family who renamed her Chrystal for being the gem of their lives.

Kate O'Hara

Kate O’Hara with the Friends of Bristol veterinary check.

Along with Dog House Adoptions, Inc. Clune also wears many hats in the creation and maintenance of other successful online organizations including This One Wild Life and Be the Change for Animals.

This One Wild Life & Be the Change for Animals

This One Wild Life logo

This One Wild Life is what spearheaded Clune’s success in media and animal advocacy. In 2009 it started out as her own personal blog discussing her experiences when connecting with domestic animals and encountering wildlife. After her readership blew up, she quickly realized how powerful blogging was in terms of spreading ideas toward social change.

This One Wild Life celebrates the joy humans experience while interacting with animals, whether domestic or wild, advocating for animal health and welfare in both the rescue and pet world. This One Wild Life produces a plethora of multi-media content regarding animal activism and stories regarding adoptive efforts and numerous events.

Be the Change for AnimalsGenerally these organizations work hand in hand to share important information to maximize their impression on the community. Be the Change for Animals provides an avenue for people to help animals in a pace that doesn’t overwhelm. They highlight one cause every week and provide information on how readers can help. Clune’s organizations don’t just ask for donations, calls to action typically involve the signing of petitions, Facebook “like” campaigns or participating in letter-writing campaigns for the protection of voiceless animals.

“We invite the community to share their favorite causes during Blog the Change. During these events, we link participating posts together to build community-driven relationships and promote sharing,” said Clune.

Amy Burkert, Peggy Frezone, and Kim Clune

Amy Burkert, Peggy Frezon, and Kim Clune from BTC4animals.com

Peggy Frezon, an editor for Be the Change for Animals, is working on a project to spread awareness for National Volunteer Month. “We’re blogging about people who volunteer to help animals and encouraging others to blog,” said Frezon. She has also recently created posts about spaying pets, puppy mills, and the illegal ivory trade. “I hope by spreading awareness and compelling writers, we can get others to care enough to act.”

How to strengthen your blog

Back in February, 2013 Clune visited The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY – where Clune received a bachelor’s degree in English literature – as a guest speaker teaching students how to maximize their blogging potential. Below is a set of tactics used by Kim Clune and other established bloggers.

1.)   Interest: Write about something you are passionate about, because maintaining a blog will consume hours of your time. While writing allow yourself to feel something and convey that emotion.

2.)   Simplicity: Don’t try to use fancy words and phrases. Write simple, as if you were talking to your friends. Be concise, people tend to read less online, no one wants to read pages of content.

3.)   Know your audience: What makes them tick? What turns them off? Keep an eye on which posts get the most traffic, likes and comments.

4.)   Multi-media: Written content is important, but providing photos, videos and other visual media will increase your traffic tenfold.

5.)   Socialize: Use all types of social media platforms and connect them to one-another. This way you don’t limit yourself to the people using a single network. Offering multiple ways a reader can receive content is a great way to enhance your impression.

6.)   Cross-posting: Whenever you create new content on your blog, post a status or send out a tweet. Advertise your writing through your social networks.

7.)   Build relationships: Do some research and find people who are interested in the same topic. Have a conversation with them in their own space to lure them into your space.

8.)   Share: After a relationship is established, see if the other blog/online-organization will integrate with your own. That way when you post, it will automatically appear on their page as well.

9.)   Interact: Respond to every comment left on your blog, this engagement sets you apart from your competition. Depending on the magnitude of your readership this might be hard to keep up with, but it’s worth the effort.

———————————-

Thank you, Anthony,  for sharing our story and for taking such an interest in our work being done on behalf of animals in need.

Students of the New Media class, using what they’ve learned, have created their own civic projects. Give them your support with a click and a comment…

Win, Win, Win! Marketing Strategies for Animal Rescues, Shelters and Bloggers

Win, Win, Win! Marketing Strategies for Animal Rescues, Shelters and Bloggers

BarkWorld

“Key Marketing Strategies for Animal Rescues, Shelters, and Bloggers”

Kim Clune

BarkWorld Expo is a friendly and supportive social media marketing conference for the pet industry and pet enthusiasts alike. While fresh, fun pet products were on display last October, plenty of people discussed how rescues, shelters and bloggers greatly benefit animal rescue and welfare every day.

I was honored with an invitation to speak, and my session, The Social Good: Marketing Strategies for Animal Welfare Advocates, aimed to bridge all parties by sharing my real-life experiences with global and local advocacy.

I began as a hobbyist pet blogger, like many of you, looking for ways to make my corner of the internet useful for animals in need. I’ve since experienced wonderful successes as co-founder of Be the Change for Animals, an international animal advocacy site, and Dog House Adoptions, a local rescue.

I am still a blogger who works to help organizations. And now my websites have become organizations that work with bloggers. I’ve learned through a ton of trial and a healthy share of error that, together, we can be a powerful and amplified means for persuasive, life-saving storytelling – once we learn where our pieces fit together.

And our animals’ stories don’t have to be limited by the boundaries of our own small towns. Local rescue efforts can often be funded by people around the globe… if your story packs up nicely and travels well. That’s the beauty of social media.

Below, you’ll find a video of my presentation, slides, notes, and a PDF of online resources. If you’re new to online advocacy work, or want to get involved as a blogger, these tips will get you started. If you’re a seasoned veteran, this material may offer fresh inspiration.

The Social Good: Marketing Strategies for Animal Welfare Advocatees

Session sponsored by: Iams

Takeaways:

  • Ignite your creativity and excite your audience!
  • Spark connections with folks who can help, at home and even abroad.
  • Stock your toolbox with free resources to manage your campaign and increase its reach.

Session Notes

  • Download the PDF.
    Included is my session outline and 2 pages of helpful online resource links.

Presentation

Note: Please pardon the faint sound, the fact that they put li’l ol’ me in this giant conference room where everybody sat at the back, and that I actually cried while talking about one of our awesome rescue dogs. Someday, I will get better at this.

Slides

For Prezi impaired devices, visit Slideshare for a copy.

Cheers to your success. I hope your animal cause gains gobs of support through social media!

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.

Halloween Dog Dream or Real Life Nightmare? #BarkWorld

Halloween Dog Dream or Real Life Nightmare? #BarkWorld

Halloween dog: Emmett Dreams

Our Halloween dog’s body rocked and whimpered as  nightmarish, dirt-nap  fantasies tortured his brain. Vultures circled his limp shell as he screamed “I’m not dead yet!” in a horrific howl that no one but he could hear. Circling closer, the big, black birds screeched the deathly sound of hunting Pterodactyls.

Was it all a dream – or a real life nightmare?

Emmett clearly should have come to BarkWorld Expo, where Halloween is fun, not frightening.

Wet-nosed friends dressed their best for the HOWL-O-Ween Charity Pawty sponsored by The Atlanta Dog Spa. Featured judges were Rick Tamargo from Haute or Not Pets, Brett Chisholm of Life + Dog Magazine, Ed Sayers of the ASPCA, and Kat Smith from Petco.

Here’s one happy little spectator…

Happy Dog

For fabulous photos of furry contestants in costume, visit the Atlanta Dog Spa Facebook Album and My Favorite Pup Jasmine.

Donning our biggest, baddest, badass look as Be the Change for Animals‘ Little Red Riding Hoods, our motto was:

“Save a wolf. Eat Me.”

Little Red Riding Hoods - BarkWorld

L to R: Amy & Buster (GoPetFriendly.com), me, & Kristine Tonks (Rescued Insanity)

Happy Halloween!