Here are the questions for Pet Blogger Challenge 2014 and my answers:
How long have I been blogging and why did I start? A quick description of what my blog is about.
• I started blogging on December 26, 2006. I really did not even know what blogging was, but I love to write and I thought it was a good way to start. My son helped me set things up, but there was no real plan. When my WordPress blog popped up for the first time and I saw the “Hello World”, I thought that was the title of my site – I loved it.
• I knew my blog would include Fisher, my heart cat, and it took me a few days to figure out how to do that. The “new” title became ‘Ask Fisher’, and the blog focus was pets of all kinds writing letters to her, asking for help with their issues. She actually became a published columnist because of it.
Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
• Twenty-thirteen was a mixed year for me. I was overly serious about learning all the ins and outs of the internet and trying to follow everyone’s directions. I did boost my followers somewhat, and learned enough about Facebook and twitter to keep myself visible. I was using some of the things I learned via webinars and information sites to step up the game. I bookmarked everything! I really cannot say it made me proud, but I did feel good about it.
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 did not enter the challenge last year. I knew about it, but let it slip away. In February, I had some physical problems that were unexpected and troubling.
• In May, my family chipped in to send me to the BlogPaws conference because they knew how much I wanted to go. I loved it! I felt more confident.
• Things took a turn for the dark side with browser problems I had no idea how to correct. I took some time off. It started with iGoogle, and when I had that handled, Blogger was not working for me, and even now in 2014 (how dare they!) my Windows is acting up. Is it me? I have to ask.
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 learned there are pet people out there who are very much like me. They are gentle and kind, they shed mega tears when anyone loses a pet, they are funny, a tad crazy, knowledgeable, and non-combative for the most part – and they are real! None of us is ever alone. Well, I guess that is not really site related.
• Site related lessons include learning how others choose to operate their blogs, and learning there are all sorts of ways to do it. It is not a competition, nor is it a popularity contest. The most important thing is to get your own voice and purpose out there, and then notice you are accepted. That does feel good!
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 you get through the technical problems – or, better yet, do you even have them? This may sound silly, but if I switch my blogs from Google to Internet Explorer, can I still have my Google email and my Google calendar? Seriously, it is scary, and as free-spirited as I like to be, I found paranoia.
What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
• Social networking! Twitter is better for me than Facebook, but I am paying much more attention to them. When my Google site was going in the dumper, I re-started my Blogger site. I got more traffic from that site than my WP site. However, I am going back to my WP site anyway because Blogger was not allowing me to post photos. LinkedIn is wonderful for learning and meeting all sorts of people with like interests beyond the blogging world.
How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
• Probably not enough.
How do you gauge whether or not what your writing is appealing to your audience?
• I think the comments tell a lot. Sometimes just one can be so fabulous it keeps me going. After all these years, I still have a kind of beginner’s mindset. I will work on that.
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?
• That is a very good question. I try to vary things according to how I feel at the time I am writing.
When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
• I do not like the idea of commenting just to comment. I comment when I feel like I have something to say, or if am just touched by the photos or ideas the blogger is offering that day.
Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways? If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all? If not, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?
I love doing reviews. If I see a product I would like to try, I will ask if I can review it. If I am asked to review and have no interest in the product, I will not accept the offer.
When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
• I do not blog daily for that very reason. I have a lot of respect for those who do, though.
Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?
• Yes! The worst was when Fisher passed. I do not even know how many months went by before I could get back in the groove.
Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
• I really did this last year and it shocked me. I had to take a long hard look at what I was doing and what was going on around me. I made some very early resolutions to get back to the fun I used to have. I needed to set myself free to be me, and I think it is working.
What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
• I want to keep working on my writing. I want to be more relaxed about the internet. I want to do some monetizing so I can get “people” to worry about all the things I just do not understand. In my mind, my perfect blog will be funny, informative, and worth the time my friends take to read it.
Thank you for asking and thank you so much Edie and Amy for all the time and work you put into this challenge!
Jobi and Fisher