Traveling Dog Lady: Pet Blogger Challenge 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Pet Blogger Challenge 2017

This is my first time participating in the annual Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com   Following here are the challenge questions: 

1. 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?


I started blogging when blogging was rather new, in 2007. I can hardly believe it's been 10 years! Back then, blogging wasn't monetized. Blogs were a place where writers could show off their work publicly... instantly! No more applying to magazines and newspapers. Just write it yourself, click a button, et voila! Anyone with an internet connection can read what you write. 


My blog focuses on sharing stories with my readers, for sure. My tag line of "This trip called life with dogs and cats" describes the blog. It's sort of a mish-mash -  a "lifestyle" blog by a travel professional who loves dogs (and cats). But I write about other things, as the mood strikes.



The original k2k9.com logo

I have tried to make a go of providing resources (senior pet care; pet loss and grief, for example) but I haven't given that enough attention to make TravelingDogLady into a resource site, yet.

2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016?


Taking the huge, and scary, step of changing the name of my blog. My late husband had named my website k2k9. My nickname is "k2" because there are so many Kathys. And obviously k9 = dogs. It was very clever! But, because he had come up with the name, it was emotionally troubling to make the decision to change. 


I have owned the domain "Travelingdoglady.com" for a few years, but just kept it in my back pocket for "some day".


Recently, some issues cropped up and made me re-think the name of my site. There is a street drug named K2, a reality-TV star named K2, and (the clincher) someone started using the tag K2-K9 in YouTube videos about dog fighting. I wanted no relation or attachment to any of those things, so, I took the plunge and changed the name of the site. Not to mention that my friends and family and followers STILL rarely get it right:  "k292?"  "k922?" "k929?" 


I also convinced myself to put my 32 years of travel industry experience front and center or a change. Up until now, I aimed to downplay my travel career -- to separate it from my dog/cat enthusiasm. 





In 2016, I decided to embrace my travel career background and use it, instead. Thus, travelingdoglady.com was revealed.  I lost some followers and traffic when I changed the name, and made some mistakes that can't be reversed, but the blog is springing back and I feel it was the right decision. [By the way, the domain k2k9.com still redirects here.] 

3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)


18 Steps For A Successful Dog Birthday Party was my favorite blog post of 2016. I hosted Charlie and Cooper's 5th birthday party at our house, and learned a few things about my dogs and their siblings that day. Plus, it was a good experience to have "a pack of dogs" at my house, socializing (something I never do). I made gift bags for everyone, served food, and entertained (again, something I never do). It certainly got me out of my comfort zone. Finally, I got some pretty good photos of the crew, and was able to use those shots in my blog post. The post generated some traffic on my blog, too.



I can't help by re-post this "pile of puppies" photo!
That's Cooper right on top!

4. 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?

In a rather humorous turn of events, the tool I decided to use to increase traffic to my blog ended up being a scam, of sorts. My traffic increased by 300%. It turns out, all the "hits" were from Russia (of all places!). I ended up cancelling my account with that feed-sharing site, after complaining to them about their trickery. So, I am sort of back to square one with traffic. When I began blogging, this stuff did not even exist. However, I am a "computer nerd" from way back, and have a lot of experience in sales and marketing from the travel company. So, I understand HOW to do marketing and traffic-driving... I just don't enjoy it. It's not my favorite thing, even though it's a skill I possess, and I understand how it works. For me, tracking all that stuff is not "the fun part" of this experience.



Maggie the cat, back in the '90s.

5. 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?

A Fond Farewell to Eastham. Other than sponsored posts, which I'm not counting, the post I wrote about selling my vacation home on Cape Cod got the most traffic. It's not pet-related at all!! I do notice that my most popular posts are the ones I write about myself, "from the heart", rather than the ones I THINK are going to get a lot of traffic. In this particular case, I wondered if people were just being nosy.... uh, I mean curious, yeah, yeah....or perhaps it was that fabulous selfie I included! 

6. What blog do you find most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog? (Please include a link.)

Hands down (er.... paws down?) it's Pooch Smooches!  Jackie Bouchard's blog. Jackie and I have similar interests and senses of humor. It was our look-alike three-legged dogs, Abby and Cooper, that more or less connected us. I had the great honor of previewing one of her books before it was published, too. She inspired me to use more photos in my blog posts, and write funny (well, I think they're funny) captions for each photo. Thanks Jackie!

7. What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them?

Gosh, my life is an open book. Pun fully intended. I doubt there's anything people don't know about either me, or my pets. Well, I'll give this a try... I am welcoming my "grand-dog" to our pack in a few weeks. She is very old and has some health issues. I offered to take her to my home where she can live out her remaining years in the way that my dogs Timba, Hobie and Hector did before her. I always dreamed of having a pet sanctuary for senior pets. I think I've had one all this time, and just didn't realize what was at the end of my nose all along!


my "grand-dog", Ana.

Coincidentally, I am (still!) taking classes to become a Certified Canine Training and Behavior Specialist -- something I've been doing for a few years... 
slow-w-w-w-ly. So, having Anabel added to our pack may give me some extra fodder and muse, both for my studies AND my blog. 



Infographic courtesy of doggiedrawings.net


Canine Body Language Infographic - not mine, but love it!


8. What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers?

Watch out for scams and expensive online courses. I got roped into some of each that really were a turn-off. And since I have a marketing and sales background, it made me say, "I could do this MUCH better than they are doing!" (and at little to no expense.) Maybe I should offer them some training ha ha. Thankfully, the scam cost nothing but my time (lots of it!); and the courses were fully refundable.

9. What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017?

All through 2015 and 2016 I focused on monetizing my blog. I have not found it enjoyable, whatsoever. So, in 2017, I'm going to try to have fun with my blog, hopefully move it over to WordPress, and simply try to enjoy doing the "work" rather than trying so hard to make a profit out of it. 

That being said, I already have my ticket for BlogPaws' conference in Myrtle Beach, and that includes the Cat Writers' Association conference (they are combined). I am a member of both organizations, so I'm excited to learn some things at the conferences.  Sounds like I'm talking out both sides of my mouth. Hey, I like to keep all options open.




10. 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?

I have far too many pet-related interests and areas of dog/cat experience, so I keep changing the blog's menu, features and appearance. Sometimes on a weekly basis! I look at other blogs and think, "Darn, I thought of that... why didn't I do it first?" or... "Why didn't I think of that?" I could use some suggestions for how to focus my blog. Or feedback telling me it's just fine the way it is (lol!). 



Since I changed the name of the blog, it's under construction so, "please excuse our appearance". 




24 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge, Kathleen. I, of course, LOVE the new name of your blog, and look forward to seeing how the combination of travel and pets will play out for you. Thank you for sharing your experience with the blog feed and high-priced courses - I've often wondered if I'm missing the boat by not going that direction, but it sounds like I'm better off staying away! I hope that less focus on monetization and more focus on having fun allows you to enjoy blogging more in 2017 - that's what it's really all about, after all!

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    1. Amy, thank YOU for hosting the challenge in the midst of everything else you've got going on! Yes, I hope I will have fun for a change :)

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  2. Just stopping by from the challenge, nice to meet you. Changing the name is a big deal, I did mine 2015. I think you made a wise decision though.

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    1. Glad to know someone else did so successfully! It was pretty scary, but I've gotten through it now.

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  3. I was happy to read about your successful name change. I have considered changing my blog name on and off again for years, but never made the leap. And ugh, I also had all that crazy referral spam from Russia, too.

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    1. Did you? Oh wow, I feel for ya. That Russia spam was awful. I had 300 "hits" per day and was so excited, only to see that they were all coming from Russia. Sigh. :( I love the name the Daily Pip, btw!

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  4. Wow, 10 years is an amazing feat and I like the new name! You're wonderful for embracing your granddog's senior years and giving her lots of TLC. She's a very lucky girl. I hope your 2017 is incredible! 😊

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    1. Thank you! I hope I can do well by her, too. It will be a challenge, but I'm up for it!

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  5. Thanks for stopping by my Little Dog in a Big World blog! Misha appreciates the compliments. (She is very much aware that she is cute.)

    In reading your answers, I noticed that you mentioned having a 3 legged dog. My previous dog, Sierra, was an amputee. When she was 10, she a tumor that was previously tested as fatty tissue tested later as also being cancer. As it was a slow moving form, we opted to have her leg amputated. I am disabled myself (arthritis throughout my body). I can't tell you what an inspiration Sierra was. She woke up missing a leg and just moved on (no pun intended). I found myself thinking that if she could wake up every morning eager for breakfast and to start her day, then so could I. She lived another 3 1/2 years and died just short of her 14th birthday.

    I am also still working on how to best categorize my posts. I can only say that blogs are a work in progress and we just keep fiddling with them until things feel right.

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    1. Hi Melody! I have arthritis, too... throughout my body, and also fibromyalgia. I totally relate to the reaction of seeing the dog just get on with life. He barely notices that he is missing a leg! Aren't Tripawds just awesome!!? He is such a "comfort dog", too.

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  6. Did you have trouble changing your blog name? I'm not considering a change, but I've always wondered about it. I love that you put so much thought into something so personal and important to you.

    And thanks for the tip about the scammers. I get emails all the time from people who want me to add code to my site to "share" my posts and I'm not buying it. They promise all kinds of checks for commission - if it's too good to be true, right?

    And as far as your navigation bar, when I was figuring mine out, I selected areas that people come to my site about so that they could quickly click to reach the information they need. And I try to keep drop down lists minimal.

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    1. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! LOL!

      I had no trouble changing the blog name at all. But I already owned the domain so I just re-pointed it to my existing blogspot site. The only hiccup was that I lost the blogspot site k2k9.blogspot.com because I didn't realize someone would jump on it within HOURS of the change. The next morning, I realized that I still wanted to "own" that site, so I could just put a single page up and say "Go to Travelingdoglady"... well, someone had picked up k2k9 overnight. I managed to track them down and begged them to give it back to me, but no dice. That was disappointing. But other than that, I had no problems at all. It was pretty easy.

      I decided to make my navigation bar "bare bones" for the moment, until I figure out what the focus of my blog is going to be. I had too many things, and they were all blank! Thanks for the great advice, much appreciated! And nice to hear from you again!

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  7. That is so great that you are taking in your aging grand-dog...I have such a soft spot in my heart for senior dogs.

    Leigh @ Campfires & Concierges

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    1. Same here!! I will have a roommate (human) who is really doing the bulk of caring for her. I wasn't sure how it was going to work out until a couple days after I wrote this post! But we are welcoming her with open arms!

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  8. When I first started blogging I was on the free wordpress using my own name. I decided to go self-hosted and change my name. I wanted it to be a surprise, SO, I didn't tell anyone. Put a re-direct on the free blog and switched. I lost all my subscribers. It was a good lesson for me.

    I love traveling with my pets, but often times find hotel stays challenging. Looking forward to seeing where your journey takes you.

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    1. Yikes! That's awful!! I put up announcements on all my social media accounts and wrote a post about the name change. I think I did lose a few, but nothing horrific.

      I've already scoped out hotels part-way between here and Myrtle Beach for our next road trip! Some of the bigger, cheaper chains allow pets. But those places are always right on the highway. OH well, it will be an adventure!

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  9. Congrats on the successful name change. I can't imagine how nerve wracking that was for professional and personal reasons. I like it though... and like that you are going to start incorporating more of your "other life" as a travel writer into it now. In my "other life" I was an environmental scientist. I rarely talk about anything environmental on my blog though. I wrote a couple of posts last year that were successful about enjoying nature but being good stewards. That won't take over my blog but I do hope to weave more of that in going forward. It feels good to bring the two parts of my life together. I hope it does for you too.

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    1. Worse than being a travel writer (which I do sometimes) I am actually the chief accountant!! Talk about using the other side of the brain! LOL!

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  10. Thank you so much for the shout-out! :) That was nice to come across.

    I'm like you - I really don't like to keep track of all the stats and whatnot for my blog. I know monetizing my blog would be no fun for me. I like to keep it as a creative outlet so can't let the fun get sucked out of it. As for your blog - I look forward to you incorporating some travel stories into your posts! And look forward to pics of your grand-dog!

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    1. Your blog posts make me L.O.L. every time!!

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  11. Ok, I can TOTALLY relate to changing the look/features of your blog. I can never seem to leave mine well enough alone. Gah! I have no advice for you on this, lol. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone in that! I also appreciate you sharing what didn't work for you and the mistakes you've made along the way. It is so refreshing for someone to share these things. I know I appreciated reading that someone else had some bumps in the road. Sometimes I feel like everyone else has it together and I'm the only one encountering troubles. :-) Good luck to you in 2017!

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    1. Still ironing out those bumps! I think it'll take a while. I am always changing the look and feel of mine, too. I think I changed it twice this week already! Sigh. Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!

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  12. So 1st off, I'm excited to have found you here. I'm sure we've "seen" each other on Jackie's site as I love her as well. Hopefully we can meet in Myrtle Beach!

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    1. Hi Denise! Thanks for the comment, always appreciated. I'm surprised we didn't know/follow each other already, after all these years.
      Yes, let's make it a point to connect in MB! Looking forward to my first Blog Paws conference. I've been trying to get to one for a long time. Jackie's blog posts make me laugh my head off every week. :)

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