Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Pet Blogger Challenge

It's time for the Fourth Annual Pet Blogger Challenge!  Below are my answers to the questions provided.  Enjoy!

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.

Technically, I’ve been blogging since January 2012, when I decided to create a blog.  I started blogging mostly because I wanted to share animal-training-related tips, ideas, and thoughts, and partly because I enjoy writing.  The goal of my blog is to help people live more harmoniously with the animals in their lives.
       In case it’s not obvious from the above, my blog focuses on animal training – specifically, science-based animal training.  While my company name is “The Sophisticated Dog,” I have also trained a variety of other species, ranging from cats and rabbits to chickens and horses, and the ideas in my posts can generally be applied to more than one species.

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.

That would be a big N/A.  I did not post at all during 2013 (D’oh!).

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?

N/A (see above).

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 have been following a couple of blogs this year, and I think responding to comments is critical to creating a loyal following.  I also think using humor in posts is highly effective, though that can be a tough challenge, depending on your topic and personality.

4a. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

How do I keep myself on track in terms of publishing regularly?

5. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

Alas, I’m not yet sure what the best plans are.  Facebook seems to under-publish every post I put up that has a link to my blog, which is frustrating.  I am still figuring all of this out.  I’ll get back to you next year.

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 have spent very little time publicizing my blog in the past.  I will probably spend a little more time doing it next year, but I’m also hoping people will find my blog naturally through other avenues (my conference speaking etc.).

7. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience?

I look for likes, plus ones (on Google Plus), etc.  I look for comments.  I have someone read most posts before I publish them, so I know there is at least one other person who agrees the post is worthwhile.  Right now, I don’t really know for sure whether or not I even have an audience, let alone one that likes what I write.

7a. 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 don’t really know yet.  I try to provide a fair amount of information without being tedious about it, but I’m not sure if I succeed.  For now, I probably don’t have enough posts on any one topic to be boring, though.  

8. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?

Usually, something in the post either amused me or particularly interested me.  Sometimes I comment to ask a follow-up question.  I may also comment to indicate agreement or polite disagreement, if the post is on a controversial topic. 

9. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?

I do not.

10. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?

I play with my dog, do a quick training session with him, or take him for a walk.  Sometimes I take a nap.  Sometimes I just put the post aside and get back to it later – though that way lies madness (for “madness” read “failing to post to my blog”).

11. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?

I took a break for all of 2013, basically.  I felt guilty the whole time.  It was no fun!

11a. Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?

I thought about quitting during my “break,” but I felt guilty about a series on leash walking which I would never complete if I quit.  I also sometimes thought of other topics I really wanted to write about (though then I felt guilty about changing topics, so those topics didn’t get posted either).  The bottom line, though, is that I want to share ways to live more happily with animals.  For what it's worth, I am here now.  I just need to find the right rhythm for success.

12. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

My number one goal is to post regularly. Then I hope to build a following.  I’d really like to do an agony-column style “readers send in questions and I answer them” format, eventually, and for that, I need regular readers who will send in questions.

Copyright 2014, The Sophisticated Dog, LLC


  1. Thanks for deciding to take part in this challenge, Irith, the first step towards re-committing to your blog. Or feeling even guiltier about ignoring it ;-)

    1. Thanks for the support, Edie! You know me too well.

  2. Beautiful dog! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you! He's actually one of my client's dogs. He certainly is handsome!

  3. I can relate to " Facebook seems to under-publish every post I put up that has a link to my blog, which is frustrating." That's why I stopped blogging. Glad you're starting up again AND are figuring out the marketing!

    1. And I don't know why I'm unkown...! I signed into my Google account. Technology is frustrating! --Hilary

    2. Thanks so much for the support -- and for clarifying who you are (though I had guessed as much based on our recent FB conversation).

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  5. The remedy for posting regularly depends on why you're not posting regularly to start with... Don't have anything to say? Read more blogs to get inspiration. Unmotivated to post? Hold yourself accountable. Can't find the time? Make time. And then if you don't want to blog, or only want to blog when you want to blog, that's fine too. Do what you want - don't feel guilty about it!

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, Leema! As you can see, I have posted again already this week, and I hope to keep things going -- but you make an excellent point about guilt.

      Have a lovely day!

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