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Once a year, all us Pet Bloggers gather ’round the virtual campfire to swap stories, puzzle through the previous year and set some goals for ourselves. Hosted by the amazing and inspiring Amy at Go Pet Friendly, the event started as a reminder to blog veterans not to let their blog bully them, but quickly expanded to serve as encouragement and motivation for bloggers of all types. Grab the challenge prompts and join in.
When does a blog stop being a passion project and become a job?
A job you don’t always want to do, but push through? A job that isn’t as glamorous as it sounds? A job that you still love, but aren’t certain if you love it as much as say, Netflix? These are all questions we asked ourselves at Kol’s Notes this year.
At it’s heart, who we are and what we do hasn’t changed.
For me, blogging has always been an evolution and this blog has grown and changed with me, as the things that make me passionate have changed and I feel like once again, we are right on the edge of a shift. After 7 years of calling kolchakpuggle.com my home on the internet, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to feel a little cramped in this space. I’ve written 1392 posts. Posts I love. Dog lover DIY and art that I still display in my home. Dog treat recipes that I still make for my dogs. Planning, organization and cleaning tips for pet people that remain the backbone of how I run my life. With such a deep archive and some really amazing blogger that I share this pet-friendly DIY niche with, it can feel a little like it’s all been done. So we grow, we change. As deep as my archive is, there are ALWAYS new ideas to explore.
2017 brought some wonderful opportunities.
I think the highlight of the year would be attending BlogPaws as a part of their totes amazeballs ambassador team. Getting to peek behind the curtain was such an amazing experience that made me realize I don’t just want to be a blogger; I would really like to share some of what makes me tick as a blogger. I don’t like to pat myself on the back, but I think one thing I do excel at is using my time effectively. I work a more than full-time management job for a busy company. I’m an expert in a little known technical field. My sales area is excelling in an economic depression. Here on the interwebs, I blog and my success with this blog fills my heart. But, I only have 24 hours in a day just like everyone else. 2017 was the year I started sharing our planning process and some of what makes me productive. It was the year I got to help some of my virtual colleagues start kicking at some of their blogging challenges. Outside of loving creating fun, engaging and exciting content, the chance to mentor other bloggers and small business owners to help them achieve their goals has really been a dream come true.
Vaguely related: we’re supposed to pick a favourite post for this year, but I don’t have a favourite post per se. I will say that I am I’m deeply and passionately in love with our new planner content. I’ve been a closet planner nerd since the fourth grade when I owned a sick Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper style planner. Planning is hot right now and I couldn’t be happier to see my secret love get some time in the sun. Also, planner popularity means that something people used to roll their eyes at is now something they ask me questions about. You guys, I’m cool! I know cool things! I legit never saw this coming, but I love it. This year, I branched out from being all Crazy Dog Lady all the time and started @plan.crush.repeat – an Insta dedicated completely to me as a planner nerd.
I’d be lying if I said dogs didn’t sneak in there from time to time, but I am more than dogs. It *will* share some of my blog planning and content management process, so there’s that. (Don’t be scared off by all the recent creative planner posts! I was off work for a week and had SO MUCH extra time. That’s not how I always plan, lol and frankly, that gorgeous colourful, stamped up, creative extravaganza makes my blog planner look boring.)
While time is (as always) the biggest stumbling block I face, I think this planner content has given me a creative outlet that, while it takes time away from my blog, is making Kol’s Notes better. Well-rounded bloggers create better content and this is something I’ll be reminding myself this year.
Success is a strange and mysterious beast.
It can (and should) mean something different to each of us, depending on what our blog goals are. I had a really eye-opening discussion with Amy (of Go Pet Friendly) and Maggie (of Oh My Dog!) last year. I was feeling really bummed that none of my recent posts had even cracked my Top 20 posts in the blog. I felt like my best work was behind me and maybe what I was sharing just wasn’t any good anymore. They both encouraged me to keep my eye on the long game. DIY content’s greatest gift is that it is an amazing, long-term traffic generator. It’s biggest curse is that it can take years to show the results you want. Particularly seasonal DIY content. Posts that launch soft may very well be your biggest traffic driver a year or two from now. Case in point: if I had reviewed the analytics for our best DIY dehydrator dog treats round up in 2016, it was (by my assessment) a damn flop. With less than 3500 page views in 9 months, almost no social sharing and very few referrals from search. Fast forward a year and it was our most popular post of 2017, unseating the long-reigning champ: DIY Dry Shampoo for Dogs.
What a difference a year makes. With nearly 100 00 page views in 2017 and more than 6000 social shares, it embodies the long-game mindset for me. For me, success is and needs to remain just creating content I am proud of and maintaining an overall pageview count I’m happy with.
All great change is preceded by chaos.
And right now at Kol’s Notes, we’re in the chaos. I can feel my creativity and inspiration bubbling. I have lots of things I want to do this year that I am so excited about, but we’re on the edge of change. 2017 was by and large about maintaining the status quo. We mostly posted what we know. We shared what we knew was helpful and marketable. 2018 will be about attacking a brave new frontier, expanding the limits of our niche. Trying to make DIY more accessible and less daunting. Getting more creative with the basics. And trying to turn some of our practical adulting life skills into coherent content.
2016 was the most challenge year I have ever faced as a blogger. In fact, I came very close to walking away from this space, so 2017 was the year of reigniting the spark. I think the biggest challenge was recognizing and accepting that I didn’t have time to tackle everything I would have liked to. Inspiration is such a rush! I just wanted to do it all. Learning to assess my time, prioritize the projects that fulfilled my goals and nourished my heart was something that I have always prided myself on, but this year, it was more challenging than most. I’m starting the year with 73 post ideas. I will consider this year a success if I achieve 15 of them. It can be a real mind switch to look at all that work you won’t get done and see it as a blessing instead of a curse.
My best advice would be to think about what you find most crushing and demotivating as a blogger and see if you can reframe it in your mind. You only get 24 hours and often, we don’t have the freedom to spend all those hours as we please. (Bills, man. Someone has to pay them. Kol and Fe are shockingly aloof about partaking in that task.) Embrace your limitations, reframe what you dislike about them and try to find the positive. Your brain and your heart will thank you and I swear, you will do so much better at managing how you use that time.
I’m a little like Tinkerbell, I need applause to survive.
In some way, every passion I’ve held in my life is a performance art (many literally). When I don’t feel like blogging, I don’t. 2016 proves that. But, inevitably, if I’m not doing something that triggers a feedback loop and gives me a result-oriented goal, I flounder. I am not the type of person that is content to just enjoy something. I need to feel like I’m improving and excelling at it. (Which is why you will never see me playing a sport. I’m bad at them. All of them, unless competitive snark starts being recognized by some sort of governing body.) I think that recognizing our own motivating factors and being honest with ourselves about what we emotionally need to push through times of writer’s block or lack of inspiration is absolutely key, not just in keeping us going in hard times, but also in defining what work is important to us and what goals we need to achieve. Motivation, productivity and time management usually loop back to the same central emotional roadblocks. Finding that roadblock and planning a way to get around it is key. I’ve also been on the receiving end of a tidal wave of support, inspiration, and motivation from an amazing accountability group. Every one should be so lucky,
This year, my focus is going to be on trying new things, sharing new ideas and exploring the things that I am unsure of their success. While this is wholly and completely outside my comfort zone and I’m sure at least one of these ideal will fail HARD, I think I’ve built in enough things I know will be successful to compensate for that.
I also need to acknowledge that my biggest success of 2016 is likely also my biggest failure of 2017.
A year ago, I was so proud of designing the current blog on my own. You guys, this blog is pretty. I love her. But she is a hot mess. Behind her pretty colours and fun homepage, she’s a trainwreck of bad code, poor load times and organization faux pas. I CAN’T UPLOAD VERTICAL IMAGES. Like, I literally can’t. The site won’t display them. What in the actual woof? How did I code that? *sigh* The skill I’d most like to work on this year is web development. If readers can’t use this site effectively, that kind of defeats the purpose. Whether this will take the form of a complete redesign or just some coding improvements remains to be seen. I probably need some expert advice here and this year, I will seek it out.
We all struggling and I think there’s power in admitting that. So my biggest question this year is what do you struggle with and why?
Oh an super selfishly, does anyone know how to solve my vertical image problem? (Hey, I mean, what if you do and I didn’t ask. #RAGRETS