Every year, pet bloggers from ’round the Interwebs gather with their coffee and chat about what makes us tick.
If you’re not a pet blogger, this post might not thrill or chill you or maybe you’re one of those people who can’t understand why someone would give up like 1/3 of their life to do this and you’ll love a peek inside my messy brain. I don’t know you. I don’t know your life. If you have landed here and you’re like “I just wanted to make some crafts/dog treats”, click here to be kicked back to our main page full of project ideas, mkay?
I’ve participated in the PBC every year since Kol’s Notes was new, with the exception of last year.
I’ve always loved this challenge hosted by GoPetFriendly and the chance to reflect on what I’m doing here. It’s so easy to let a year pass without stopping to figure out what you’re really doing. If you’ve been around a while, you’ve probably noticed that 2016 was not the most productive or exciting year for this blog. You guys, I was a little like the Puppy Who Lost His Way. I didn’t know where the blog was going, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it and more than once, I considered walking away, not because I didn’t 110% love this space, but because I had no clue what to keep sharing here.
Heads up, this whole post was a squitch tense to write and I got all up in the emotions about it, so I’m going to cut that tension with more gifs than is actually appropriate.
CONFESSION: I still don’t know what I really want to keep sharing here. I’m just throwing pasta at the wall and seeing what sticks, you guys. That said, I want to throw more pasta in 2017.
Here are the questions for the 2017 Pet Blogger Challenge:
When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience?
Kol’s Notes was created in 2011, but we were journalling on another site since 2009. This will be my eighth year as a writer for the Interwebs and let me tell you, the seven year itch is a real thing. Last year, my blog and I struggled to stay in love. Our tag line says we are here to offer “tips and tricks from the DIY Dog”, but I feel like it should say “I write about dogs and food and crafts and cleaning and house stuff and nerd things and I’m really into planners and I dunno? It’s about, like, stuff…and things.”
We’ve definitely leaned more to the side of providing a resource than telling a story they last few years, but that may change. We are constantly redefining our niche here, so for now, I’ll say we are a home and garden blog specific to dog lovers.
What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016?
110% the blog redesign. I’ve alway relied HEAVILY on AJ, our resident artist and web design extraordinaire to create our blog design. This was the first one I tackled completely on my own and I do really love it. I’m still tweaking and making small changes 6 months later, but I love our landing page and how it better showcases our evergreen content. I always felt sad that our old projects would get buried in the archives. Now they don’t and that makes me really happy.
Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why?
So, this should have been super easy, especially considering I posted less than 15 totally original new posts this year. I know, I fail at blogging and life. The good news is that of what I did post, I am pretty proud of all of them. I legit had to make a list of what I liked/disliked about each of them.
In the end, I settled here: 2016 was the year I cared less what people thought of my opinions. This post was probably my LEAST successful of the year by traditional measures, it got no comments, all three shares were me, the traffic is terrible and I lost 15 Facebook fans when I posted it. (To you folks, I say “don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”) It might be one of my least successful posts ever and my proudest moments. As a blogger and more importantly, as a person, I am aim to do all things with authenticity. I think a lot of my reticence about where to go with Kol’s Notes has been as much about how much of ME to reveal to the world as what content to share.
For 2017, this is gone. I am who I am. I am so weird. I feed raw and embrace natural health, for me and my pets. I curse and drink, possibly too much. I am such a nerd; like so nerdy my family just looks at me and says “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I am friends with artists, actors, people of all faiths, ethnicities and orientations. I am that bleeding heart liberal that believes in public access to health care, gun control and feminism. I can admit my pets are dicks sometimes. This unsuccessful post was so successful in setting me free from my belief of what people expected me to be and who I really am.
Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog?
Oh man, I mentioned I failed at blogging and life this year, right? I, um, didn’t really do much to promote Kol’s Notes. I have to write things and then I have to promote them too? Ugh!
The truth is, this year I marvelled at the fact that our traffic stayed pretty darn steady and even grew whether I hung out here or not. It’s a weird feeling knowing your blog could survive without you.
Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? (Please include a link.) Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts?
Year over year, I have two posts that are my top performers:
I find my posts tend to be a slow burn. Often they don’t reach peak popularity until years after they’re written. While this is truly a gift, it’s also a highway to disappointment. When all your most popular posts are a couple years old, it can be very easy to believe everything you’ve written lately is garbage. Two of the loveliest ladies I know (Maggie and Amy) pointed out that two years from now, one of those “garbage-y” posts could be my most popular. The beautiful thing about evergreen content, how to, resource style content is there’s always another year for it to shine. Maybe I’ll even start promoting some of those old posts 😉
What blog do you find most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog? (Please include a link.)
Gah. I find this one so hard because there are SO MANY amazing blogs out there doing amazing things. It’s not in the dog-o-sphere, but I’m going to say the Bloggess for no other reason that she is who she is and she isn’t afraid to leave it all on the floor. She’s such a glorious weirdo and I admire that so very much. Plus, she seems like she’d be fun as hell to hang out with.
What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them?
Well, um…oh, I am so going to get shanked for this, but Felix is a kind of a dick.
I mean, I love his fluffy butt to the moon and he is HILARIOUS, but like…he’s kind of a spoiled, entitled bully and he makes NO apologies for it. That boy is the original honey badger and yet, there is something about him that is SO ENDEARING.
I know our instagram can make it seem like Koly is a real Grumpus, but he’s actually a very happy go lucky little monster. His cranky faces are just 1000x more adorable than his happy ones.
What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers?
Burn out is real, for you and for your pets. Make time in your life to do things you have no intention of writing about. Learn tricks without sharing the tutorial. Make a craft that’s only for fun. Go to a pet friendly event and don’t take business cards. I know what you’re thinking:
I know this all sounds so counter-intuitive, but if we’re being honest? I forgot to do that for a really long time and it took a toll on me, on my pets and on my relationships. Me, circa, 2013:
Sometimes trying to capture what makes a fun experience fun zaps all the enjoyment right out of it. A day at the dog beach really is more fun if you aren’t lugging around your camera and planning how to best share the moment. You’re probably a better trainer with a clicker and treats in your hand, than you are with the camera and food definitely tastes better hot and fresh than it does after a 20 minute photo shoot. Work hard, love your blog, but play hard too.
What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017?
I’d like to do more. I have no clue what form that will take or what kind of content it will end up being, but I’d like to do more with this blog.
I’m crazy excited about our Best Life Pet Planner Project and I have a few other fun things written in my blog planner, but mostly, I’m leaving room to be kind to myself. I’m not going to get to do everything I’d like. There are 37 items on my list of Valentine’s Day post ideas, so it’s safe to say I won’t be completing them all. That’s one of the nicest thing about being a pet blogger. I’m rarely writing about “current events” so a craft tutorial that would be cool this year will be just as cool next year or the year after. I don’t have to post it all now.
Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?
No seriously, is it crafts? recipes? cleaning and household tips? A never end stream of crabby Kolface pictures? Whatever it is, I’m in. Just let me know. LOL.