This is my take on the Pet Blogger challenge 2014 – a chance to reflect on where we’ve come from and contemplate where we’re going, and hopefully meet some like-minded pet people along the way.
How long have you been blogging? Please tell us why you started blogging, and, for anyone stopping by for the first time, give us a quick description of what your blog is about.
It was less that 12 months ago that I was bitten by the blogging bug. My brother Tom had started one of his own and I thought “hey, I know about stuff… I could maybe do this too!” In all seriousness though, he really inspired me to have a go (and also came up with the name), so thanks bro!
So I’m a veterinarian. When I’m at work, I really wish consultations were more than 15 minutes long, because there is so much to cram into that little window of time. Collecting a history, gaining the trust of the patient, a thorough examination, discussing options, and so on and so forth. I’m often left with an urge to chase people out into the car park waving my stethoscope wildly and shouting “oh and one more thing,” but a little voice inside me says “please stop embarrassing yourself..” So this blog is an outlet for my inherent need to pursue people down the street with further information about their pets. Within it’s posts I can share tips and solutions to general problems that come up frequently in the consult room, like how to introduce your dog to a new baby, how to deal with a cat that pees outside of the litter tray, or tips for socializing a new puppy. Admittedly there are also occasional self-indulgent offerings showcasing my own furkids, Anika and Billy.
Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
I don’t post often, because I put a signifiant number of hours into each post, and am interrupted frequently by two small people I live with who demand to be fed, bathed and occasionally played with. Because of this, each and every time I hit publish I feel a little bit of satisfaction and give myself a furtive high five. There’s no single thing that I am proud of, and I didn’t actually have any specific, measurable goals when I started but I’ve turned over a new leaf I swear, and will be more organised and less chaotic this year. So maybe come Pet Blogger Challenge 2015 my answer will be different.
What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own sites?
I think if I was going to choose one thing I’ve learned, I’d say make sure you are writing about something you’re passionate about rather than trying to anticipate what you think will be popular or make you money. If you don’t love it then a) that will come across loud and clear in your writing and b) you will find it a chore rather than a pleasure to work on, and ain’t nobody got time for that!
If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
I’ve got a mailing list. I’m on social media. But how do I get my posts seen by the people who can benefit from them? I honestly, genuinely, truly am writing because I want to help people and their pets, but I’m stuck with a microscopic readership. I try not to dwell on stats excessively, but mine are abysmal. If the answer is publishing posts every day then I will have to resign myself to having a tiny (but awesome, I love you guys!) community, because the style of posts I write take time and I’m hideously inefficient and easily distracted (ooh, shiny!) Anyway I would have to sacrifice the quality of my content considerably if I wanted to write lots and lots of posts, and that’s not what I’m about.
What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
I’m a total amateur as far as this is concerned and I’m very keen to read everyone else’s answer to this question. I guess Facebook and Twitter are my best ways of engaging with people but Facebook is really sh*t the way it only shows your posts to a fraction of your fans. I’m on google+ as well, but really diving in and getting involved is on my 2014 to-do list.
How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
That’s a tricky question actually, because I spend probably an unhealthy amount of time on social media and online in general, but not that much of it is specifically publicizing as such. Mostly I’m cruising around checking out other blogs and before I know it I’ve been engrossed for some time and in my toddler’s terms “the sun’s gone to bed.” In the coming year I will try a bit harder to make my time online count.
How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?
I have no idea whether my writing appeals to my audience, haha. If anyone would like to give me a heads up I’d sure appreciate it!
When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
I comment mainly for two reasons. The first is if that post has connected with or touched me in some way. The second is if I think I have something of value to add to the discussion. Admittedly I am probably more inclined to comment if people use a good old call to action/ask a question at the end of their post.
Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?
Not yet. My blog is only a baby. It is definitely something I would consider, but there’s no way I would do reviews or giveaways at the expense of my integrity. If I’m going to ‘endorse’ something in some way on my blog, I need to genuinely believe in it. My top priority is that my readers are able to trust me and trust my recommendations.
If not, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?
I would like to, sure. I really need to knuckle down and produce some more content, then I think the key is to make a bigger effort to market myself, which is not my forte.
When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
In no particular order – sleep, exercise, coffee, sleep, have a break, play with the kids (two and four legged) take a nap… Did I mention sleep? Wishful thinking though with a baby and a toddler in the house! Come to think of it, why aren’t I using this opportunity to catch some z’s now??
Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?
I won’t lie, a lot of 2013 was a ‘break from my blog,’ as it just took me a while to develop a feel for it. I’m really enjoying it now though, so stay tuned for plenty more stellar, intelligent, witty posts in the near future
Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
Not so much. I stay because it allows me to feel as though I might be helping someone, somewhere keep their furry family members happy and healthy. As a vet that’s what I’m all about, and if I can reach a few more people via the online community than just those I get to work with face to face then I call that winning.
What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
I’d love to see more lovely people visiting my site and saying hi, leaving a comment, asking a question, dropping me an email. The opinions, ideas and thoughts of my friends in the Creature Clinic community are really important to me so don’t be shy!
Oh, and one more thing… What do you want to know more about as far as pet health and well-being? I’d really love to know!