I’m posting this at 8:20PM Friday evening. I wanted to post it at 10 or 11AM. That’s how busy my day has been, haha.
I’m almost embarrassed to say I’ve never done this before, even though I’ve been blogging almost since this was started. I knew about the last… two? of them, but didn’t participate. Why? I don’t know, there were so many popular blogs participating in it and feeling like I was still a newbie blogger, I guess I felt a little star struck and too shy to do it. I know, I’m silly.
But this year I’m doing it! So… here we go.
1. 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.
I have been blogging for… *consults the archives* DANG, it’ll be 4 years in June! I started blogging because my stringy, almost Webkinz looking, puppy had oh so much personality and sass as she got older.
Petal Puppy. 2010.
Would you believe that Petal was once a very quiet, reserved, sweet little puppy? Neither would I if I hadn’t known her then, but she was, and as she out grew that some seriously hilarious stuff started happening. Stuff I wanted to remember. It got me thinking of all the silly stuff Lassie and Ella did as well and I thought, “These 3 need a blog!” and thus Two Collies and a Mutt was born. I also, admittedly, wanted to have a place to show off my cute dogs and talk nonstop about them. I also wanted to mess around with web design, which is why my blog layout changed so frequently. I had too much fun with Blogger’s template customizer.
Now for those of you who may be new and are now scratching your heads and going, “Two Collies and a Mutt? I thought this was Loved By A Collie?” It is. In August of 2012 Ella, our “Mutt”, passed away very suddenly. I took a blogging break and then went right back to Two Collies and a Mutt, leaving the “and a Mutt” in honor of our Ella mutt.
A year, almost to the very day, after Ella’s passing, Lassie passed away. Lassie was my heart dog, my best friend, my strength. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him, like I did with Ella. His death has been extremely hard to cope with. I stopped blogging, among many other things. Somedays I would think, “I’ll go back to it one day.” but most days I hated my blog and was never going back to it.
One day, while crying over my boy, I had the idea that if I ever were going to blog again, I would start a new one, on WordPress. I would bring all my posts from Two Collies and a Mutt over to the new blog, of course, but I was going to make a huge change. I wanted a new name. A name that would pay tribute to my incredible best friend. I decided on Loved By A Collie (you can read more about that here or here). This blog is dedicated to Lassie and the many ways he changed my life forever. I made this blog to show Lassie that I would do my best to keep going. This blog is about my love for collies, my love for Lassie, for Ella, for Petal and for any future collie or other dog that walks into my life. This blog is for sharing pictures and stories of my loves. It’s about our training successes and life’s adventures and, unfortunately, life’s hard times too.
2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
On the last day of November 2013 I decided that I was going to start blogging again and I was going to get Loved By A Collie up and running on December 8th, mine and Lassie’s 9th anniversary. It took a lot of work and frustration and moments of, “Forget it! I can’t do this!” But I did it. I did it because I wanted to do it for Lassie. That dog could motivate me to do anything. I’m very proud that I stuck with that goal and got all switched over to a whole new blog within a week. I’m proud to say that Lassie is still my motivation.
3. When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?
I didn’t do the Pet Blogger Challenge last year, but thinking back over the past year, a lot of changes have been made. Everything about blogging changed for me. Everything in my life changed after Lassie’s passing. What changed the most for me is two things, one positive and one not positive change, unfortunately. The positive: I found the courage to start again and get a new blog rolling! The negative: I lost my love for blogging. I’m trying to get it back, but I still cannot honestly say that I love it. Hopefully one day I can love it again. I can say that I love my blog itself. I love the name, the layout, WordPress, who this blog is dedicated too and I really love the logo that I made myself out of Lassie’s picture. So hopefully one day I can love the actual blogging part again, but for now I just like it and that’s enough for now.
4. 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 learned/am still learning to be SOCIAL! Comment on other blogs, read other blogs and comment when you do. Ask your readers questions and for advice. Reply to comments left on your blog posts and other social media platforms you may have. Find ways to engage with people.
If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
Darn it. I totally had one in mind a few days ago, I should’ve wrote it down because I completely forgot it! Umm, this wasn’t the question I had, but it’s a good one (and yeah, it’s inspired by the question that’s coming up next). Do you have any suggestions for bringing more traffic to your blog?
5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
I have found that participating in blog hops and commenting on other blogs works well for bringing in traffic. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ work too.
6. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
I share my posts to my Facebook page, Twitter, Google+ and occasionally my Instagram as well. I post photos on Instagram pretty regularly and share them onto Facebook and Twitter. I do my best to reply to every comment my Facebook followers/fans/likers/homies make. Same goes for comments made on my Instagram pictures. I don’t spend much time on Twitter, partly because something about it is a little bit overwhelming for me. I tend to just share my Instagram pictures and follow back anyone who follows me and that’s like… it for Twitter. I share my posts on Google+ and sometimes I “+1” other people’s posts, but Google+ bugs me, so I don’t spend much time on it. I hardly ever get on Pinterest and don’t even have one specifically for the blog because… I have a Pinterest problem. Once I’m on Pinterest, I’m there for hours and that’s not good. Haha!
I should probably spend more time publicizing my blog, but I often get overwhelmed by all the different social media platforms out there! Hey, do any of you awesome people have tips for that? Is it worth having a Pinterest account for your blog?
7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?
…. I don’t. Is that bad? I basically go, “Well I like it, so I’m sure at least two other people might like it too. Maybe. But if not, oh well, I still like it.” If I don’t like it, other people will most likely dislike it as well, because they’ll likely pick up on my lack of enthusiasm.
How do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?
Currently, I don’t have any themes or features of my own. I do like to participate in Wordless Wednesday and Black & White Sunday every week and I recently started participating in others as well. I suppose if I did have a feature or theme of my own that I wrote about on a regular basis, I would know it was time to let it go if I got bored of it or no longer enjoyed it, for whatever reason. If the writer doesn’t enjoy it, neither will the readers.
8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
Good question. I’m HORRIBLE about reading and moving on. I do it way too often and I, personally, think it’s rude of me to do, so I’m working on not doing that anymore. If I took the time to read it, I can take the time to comment on it. But things that inspire me to comment would be if the writer was asking for advice. I love to help so if someone is asking for advice on a subject I know fairly well, I usually can’t resist sharing my advice/tips. I also like it when they ask a question about my dog that goes along with their post. Like, for example, say they posted “My dog LOVES his tennis ball! It’s his favorite toy! What’s your dog’s favorite toy?” I love to comment with an answer because I love to babble about Petal. So any opportunity to do so is awesome. 😉 Also, I’m a huge sucker for photography. Have a pretty photo in your post? I can’t resist commenting to tell you how pretty it is. Whether it’s your dog/pet in a beautiful landscape or a pretty/interesting close up of your dog/pet, I can’t resist the pictures, it’s basically like bribing a child with candy.
9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?
I do! I really enjoy it too. I don’t know why, I guess I just like having an excuse to talk even more about dog stuff. 😉
If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?
I have found that, for giveaways, Rafflecopter makes it soooo much easier to record and keep track of entries and who did what (i.e., so and so Tweeted about this giveaway and liked you on Facebook, earning them 2 (or whatever) entries, while such and such only Tweeted, earning them just 1 entry). Plus it’ll pick a winner, at random, for you and you can set it up to close entry on a certain day and time. It’s just awesome.
For reviews, I try to write my reviews in a way that I, as a reader and pet supply consumer, not a reviewer, would appreciate. For me, personally, I don’t like reviews that are just, “Yeah. We liked it. Buy it!” I like more details. WHY did you like it? HOW does it work? WHERE did it come from? WHO would it work for?
I like to have an idea of the size of the product, especially when it comes to treats or chews, so images of the product next to your pet or coins or a ruler or a pen are very helpful. Something that I, admittedly, forget to do. But it really is nice to have that visual. I like to have pictures of the product. Me likey the pictures.
I also decided that if I don’t feel comfortable about reviewing a certain product, I’m going to just say no. There was one product that I was contacted about reviewing and I did want to review it, but I was a little nervous about it because there was certain information about the product that was withheld from me. I should’ve told them I wasn’t comfortable with that and therefore not interested, but I didn’t want to be rude (I realize now that that wouldn’t have been rude, I could’ve been politely honest about it). I said yes and I have to say, that was the hardest review I’ve ever had to do. I wanted to be honest with my readers, but I didn’t want to bash the product, that just didn’t seem right. I don’t like doing that and I don’t want to write posts that I don’t like.
10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
You guys are going to get sick of this answer, but: PICTURES. Photos inspire me. Taking pictures, looking through my photos, looking at other people’s photos. Instagram is a great source of inspiration for me as are my fellow pet bloggers. Getting out of the house is a great help to. I’ll take Petal out and about and sometimes I come across something that inspires a blog post or sometimes I don’t, instead I just clear my head and that helps too. Or doing something completely unrelated to blogging.
11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?
Yes. I felt I had to after lossing Lassie. For me, it went very well. I needed it more than I realized. For my blog, not so well. But it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I can honestly say it was worth it and I don’t regret the break I took.
Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
Yes. As I said above, I had a hard time even thinking about going back to Two Collies and a Mutt and thought about making my break permanent. What made me come back and start anew was you guys, as totally sappy as that sounds. You guys are seriously incredible and I realized one day that I did not want to remove myself from this amazing community. I want to be a part of it, through the ups and the downs, as hard as they are. You guys have been nothing but kind, supportive, and patient with me. I truly appreciate it and I think the least I can do is be that for you guys in return. That’s why I came back.
12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
To really love it again. I like it, I enjoy it even, but I want to looove it like I use to. I would also love to build a bigger audience. I’m also going to try to participate more in the fun challenges/themes you guys come up with.
I’ll close with another Petal puppy picture, just because.
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