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You guys…It’s navel gazing time!
Every year, ’round about now, Amy from Go Pet Friendly and Edie from Will My Dog Hate Me? invite us pet bloggers to take a bit of time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going and to spend a bit of time dealing with any belly button lint that has built up over the year. As always, I’ve got about a stuffed toy size amount of lint all crammed in there, so you’ll have to forgive me as I drag it all out for you guys to see. (That whole metaphor was written expressly for the purpose of making PupFan queasy. You’re welcome, PupFan.)
So, let’s get down to business.
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.
HOLY WOOF, my blogoversary is in FOUR DAYS. 1 569 600 minutes. 1090 days. 36 months. 3 years. No matter how you put it, the answer is both a really long time and barely that long, all at the same time. I feel light years ahead of where I was that cold day in January and still, I have so much to learn. When I first started Kol’s Notes, I wanted to share nutritional information and help dogs find a better diet. While good food is still a large part of what we do with our treat recipes and the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop, it’s no longer our sole focus.
These days, Kol’s Notes is about my journey to have a dog friendly house that doesn’t look like it’s gone to the dogs and my love of things foodie, crafty & DIY, all with a dog friendly twist.
Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
This was a really huge year for us, I think my proudest (and most surprised) moment was when Kol’s Notes won the BlogPaws Nose to Nose Award for Best Bark Blog. I truly wasn’t expecting it and it was the highlight of my summer.
Another amazing moment was being named a Petties Awards finalist for Best Dog Blog. Though I didn’t win, I was I was so flabbergasted to even be nominated. My cup runneth over.
The BlogPaws Award means so much because it was judged by a panel of experts and the Petties Nomination means so much because it was voted on by YOU. I can not thank you guys enough for all the happiness these awards brought me this year.
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?
You can check out my posts from last year and from the year before, if you’re interested. I went back and read them. I think the major difference for me is that this year I started to take this blog seriously: I moved to a grown up self hosted site with it’s own design, I studied the art of photography, set a blog schedule…I’m like a grown up…maybe, kind of…not really at all. I want to try to regain some of the silly this year, if I can.
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 my best advice to any blogger is to talk to other bloggers. Attending conferences and trade shows has allowed me to get to know some of my fellow pet bloggers a lot better. I am overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of an amazing group of bloggers that I would be lost without. Having close friends who know exactly what you do, why you do it and who can be your cheering section when you need a lift is an incredibly empowering thing. Plus, the collective wisdom of the group is almost always better than my own best thinking (which usually just gets me into trouble).
If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
I really struggle with finding balance. We have a lot of focuses here: treat recipes, craft ideas, DIY projects, green living and pet friendly home tips, dog training and some fun life with Kolchak type stuff and sometimes it’s hard to know when you’re doing too much of one thing and not enough of another. Y’all, what do you want more of? What do you want less of?
What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
I think Pinterest is the best thing to have happened to food and craft bloggers since the invention of the interwebs. Pinterest is my number traffic referrer. Making sure I have at least one good “pinnable” image in most of my posts makes a huge difference.
On a more general level, I’m a huge advocate of choosing a social media outlet to really “own”. You’ll get more traffic by being awesome and engaging on a single social media site than by being mediocre on all of them. (I tell myself this since I keep forgetting the Twitter is a thing. Whoops.)
How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
It’s hard to nail down how much time I spend working on social media and publicizing because it tends to run like an undercurrent to my every day. Have breakfast, check Facebook. Walk the dogs, check email. Put on laundry, spin over to Pinterest. I would like to get better organized with my social media and practice unplugging more often.
How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? 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?
I love it when people comment on posts, because it’s like immediate feedback, but only a very, very small portion of the people who visit leave a note. Instead, I focus on the traffic numbers, how often something is shared or pinned and stuff like that. I think that when I’m having a hard time getting excited about a long term feature or when it doesn’t feel like a natural fit anymore, it’s time to move on. With that in mind, we’ll be making some changes this year and saying good bye to a few things we love, but it’s time. *tear*
When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
I am the WORST lurker ever, you guys! I actually read a lot of blog posts, but I very rarely comment. I tend to comment on posts only if I can add something to the conversation, if the writer has brought up something I never considered in that light before or if it gets me laughing.
You know what inspires me not to comment? CAPTACHA. Ain’t nobody got time for that! If you have CAPATCHA or puzzles on your blog and I leave you a comment, please know that honestly I heart you so hard. It has to be a pretty darn moving post to get me to fuss with that.
Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways? If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?
We do the occasional review and we do a few giveaways a year, most notably our huge Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers event. I like to make each review or giveaway unique in it’s own way and I have to absolutely LOVE the product to review it. I don’t post reviews for things I am lukewarm on. Ever. If I can’t find a way to make a post unique or special, such as using something in a treat recipe or a craft post or something like that, then I have an impossible time writing the post. No more boring sales pitch posts for me!
When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
Writer’s block is my sign that I’ve been writing too much and living too little. It’s time to take a brain break: read non dog books, cook human food, make a craft that has nothing to do with pups…and spend some time just handing out with a pair of furry friends. Live a full life and you’ll always have something to write about.
Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go? Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
Though I don’t count it in the time I’ve been blogging, I originally started Kol’s Notes in 2009, on Kolchak’s Second birthday when I wrote him a letter. I promptly abandoned the place like an old theme park. When I came back I had a better idea of what I wanted Kol’s Notes to be and I had refined my voice a bit.
I think everyone has considered turning the lights off and walking away at some point. Blogging can be hard work, often for little or no money. You have to be doing this because you love it. If you want to make money doing it, you have to learn to love the hustle. Despite the occasional urge to go back to a life of total leisure, I’m always drawn back in by my love for what I do, for the people I get to share this with and the knowledge that I’m only “That Crazy Dog Lady” if I hide my dog love from the world. (Crazy people hide, people who are out in the open are just “passionate”.)
What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
We have a lot going on this year! I’m not one to rest on my laurels, so I’m always striving to make this space better. I’m a big fan of surprise though, so if I told you, I’d have to kill ya! Stay tuned you guys – I have big plans!
That’s it, yo! All my belly button lint, unravelled and on display.
Do you got lint? Join us in the Pet Blogger’s Hop! And hey, don’t forget to tell me what you want more of, OK?