Pet blogging: A challenge to look back and ahead

big white dog at lake agnes near banff

I suck at New Year’s resolutions.

Like a lot of people, I usually make big promises to myself, go hard at it for a few days and then the whole thing falls off the radar.

Like this year.

I came back from our annual holiday at Priest Lake promising to exercise more. I felt like a flump. I needed to move.

So I did. I moved. I got on the bike. I got on the stairstepper. I got on the yoga mat.

And my hip started bothering me.

Then it happened. I was bent over for a cellphone image of Bella for my last blog post, How to take better dog photos with your phone.

I stood up and zing!.

That old sciatic nerve just went zap and I was in bed for two days, out of commission for the last two weeks and only starting back on the yoga mat a couple days ago.

This getting-older body just can’t handle it anymore.

Around the edge of the circle

I’ve also had to skip the last couple of dog photographer blog circle posts. The bad back and other commitments to writing and website clients combined to take me away.

But here I am, making sure I’m writing. I couldn’t get to this week’s blog circle topic of urban but the rainy weather and dirty snow piles didn’t help either.

Instead, I’m participating in the 2020 Pet Bloggers Journey, a challenge initiated by Colby Morita of PuppyinTraining.com.

He takes over the hosting of this challenge from GoPetFriendly.com, which stopped running it after nine years.

Some of the folks playing in this blog journey have done it every year. I found it by happenstance, checking out some of the other writers who belong to the Dog Writers Association of America, of which I am now a member.

My blogging journey

Without further adieu, here are my answers to the challenge questions, giving you a little peak into my thoughts of 2019 and my plans for 2020.

1. When did you begin your blog? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I started this blog almost two years ago when I launched my pet photography business in Spokane Valley to escape a miserable, soul-crushing marketing career.

I knew with my knowledge of websites and search-engine optimization that I could dominate the landscape for the keywords I needed, and I do today. Those skills, along with my social media efforts, have brought me some wonderful clients.

Blog topics focus on the dogs I meet, the locations I love to take you for your portrait sessions, and Bella’s adventures. Bella is my almost-six-year-old Maremma sheepdog and my professional dog model.

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2019, that made you most proud.

This is an easy one … and I’m still so oh em squee about it. The Noses & Toes website, one of the blog posts, and one of my images are finalists in categories of the Dog Writers Association annual competition.

The blog post features Mollie, a boxer mix, who was terminally diagnosed with cancer when I met her. By the time I was able to get the blog post up, Mollie was gone, and her sweet humans, Melissa and Blake, were left to mourn her loss.

woman and man look lovingly at rescue dog at the bowl and pitcher in riverside state park, spokane

Melissa, Mollie and Blake

The image that is a finalist became a 40×30 metal print mounted on my livingroom wall. It features Bella, smiling from ear to ear as she sits on a rock at Lake Agnes in Banff National Park in Alberta. It’s the top image on this blog post, too. The image has such deep meaning for me, since it was created on a trip to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Shep leaving my world.

3. Which of your 2019 blog posts was your favorite and why?

Oh, um … well, I kinda already let that cat out of the bag. It’s the one about my trip to Banff.

If I look at my Google Analytics, the post about Mollie, Melissa and Blake was my most popular in 2019. Second was the one about me and how Shep is the inspiration behind every step I take in this crazy dog photography journey.

maremma sheepdog in alberta grass field

My sweet Shep in High River, Alberta

4. What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2019, and how did you tackle it?

I love the blog circle. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to fit the chosen subject into the way I want to create images or write. That’s why I’ll often take a hard left turn on the subject matter but somehow link the story back.

Keeping up is a big challenge. I love to write and I know how important it is to keep content fresh, but sometimes I just don’t want to. The more emotional posts I take on can be exhausting, no matter how important they are to me to write and share.

One of the worst things I have to do is add an image to Shep’s Memory Wall. On the one hand, I love that clients share updates about their dogs with me. On the other hand, the message I often get is that their beloved pup has joined Shep in whatever lies on the other side.

Those are the days that make this job difficult. However, I have to stress the importance of getting great images of your dog. More importantly, of you and your dog. Your dog with your whole family.

Because dogs are family.

5. One goal that we all seem to share is we want to reach more people. What is your #1 tip for bringing more traffic to your blog?

Be interesting. Or funny. Or informative. Just keep the reader engaged from top to botttom, headline to closer, lede to -30- (there’s some old school newspaper-y stuff for you).

I’m lucky that I don’t have to rely on stock photography for images that make you smile. If anything, I should consider submitting some of my Bella images to stock sites so some of my blogger friends can have big white dog images.

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

snow hiking with Bella at the Rocks of Sharon in Spokane Valley

On the Rocks of Sharon hiking trail

6. Do you do sponsored posts/reviews? If so, what do you find works best and how do you determine what to charge for a blog post, social media shares, etc.? If not, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

I don’t, or at least I haven’t. I wouldn’t say no to the opportunity but it would have to be a brand that aligned with dog photography or life with dogs in the areas around Spokane, Washington, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Is anyone from Nikon reading? Helloooooooooo …

7. Looking forward to 2020, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?

I want to revive the rescue project, telling more stories about rescue dogs around Spokane and North Idaho and how they’ve changed their humans’ lives.

Because Shep changed me. In ways I still don’t always understand or appreciate but, if I hadn’t rescued him, my life would have been very, very different.

8. What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?

Hmmmm … not sure I want to show my hand just yet. I’m plotting and planning and scheming.

9. The blogging landscape is constantly changing. What changes in blogging do you see coming in 2020 and beyond? What plans do you have to evolve?

I believe in content, good content. The writing is often cathartic for me, too. The experts say I should research keywords and search intent. I really just go with what’s interesting to me and what could be interesting to dog lovers in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The experts say I should have video. Yeah, maybe.

The experts say interactive content like quizzes, surveys and infographics. Naw, I want you here to see fun images of dogs and to read good stories.

two dogs playing in the snow at Priest Lake, Idaho

Bella and Mollie having fun in the snow

The experts say …

Ugh, this is one of the reasons why I hated my marketing career. Experts. They all want to tell us what should work but if what I’m doing seems to be working, are they right?

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

Local reach. It’s one thing to blog and participate in blog circles and challenges, but local reach and attention are what matters when you run a location-based service.

Now mind you, if any of y’all visiting from the circle and challenge want to fly me to your destination and have a portrait session with your dog, I’m game. Bella and the Spousal Unit won’t be very thrilled about it but they’ll get over it when I get home.

All around the circle

Welp, there you have it … my thoughts on blogging in 2019 and loose ideas on how 2020 is going to shape up.

Thanks for being along for the ride.

As I mentioned above, I stepped out of the circle this week because I just couldn’t get my brain wrapped around the urban topic.

I’m back in for next week’s topic (hush … it’s a secret) with a more artsy look to my images.

For now, if you want to see what my circle mates are up to, start with Jackie Petersen Pet Photography, serving pet lovers in Northern Utah.

At the bottom of her post, click the link to the next writer. Keep doing that until you end up where you started. There’s no way to get back here this week, so if you’re interested in a pet portrait session in Spokane or Coeur d’Alene, click this button to get to my contact page.

[cs_button btn_style=”a-btn-3″ button=”url:%2Fcontact|title:BOOK%20ME%20NOW|target:%20_blank|”]

Next check out my new friends in the 2020 Pet Bloggers Journey.


22 thoughts on “Pet blogging: A challenge to look back and ahead”

  1. Pingback: Texture: How to add a little grit to dog portraits | Noses & Toes Pet Photography

  2. Great post thank you and I started blogging to speak out against Domestic Violence and the adventures of rescued dog and that is our story

  3. Congratulations on your DWAA finals. Your photos are beautiful and your dogs pretty cute too. Local reach is one of my issues for my grooming business too. What about hooking up with a local rescue, groomers, vets and/or pet stores for local reach?

  4. Hi Angela – I am so looking forward to seeing you at the DWAA event in 12 days! I can totally relate to switching careers from that something that is soul-crushing to something that feeds your soul. You’ve accomplished a lot in 2019 and I look forward to going along for the ride with your 2020 goals!

  5. Wow, I wish I had even a smidgen of your photography skills! And such pretty dogs too.
    My audience is worldwide but I have met a few local people who follow my blog.

  6. Good to meet you Angela! Your Nikon comment cracked me up. My Spousal Unit is a professional photographer who also loves his Nikon gear. He actually suggested we name our first dog Nikon, and I nixed that one.

    As far as local reach goes, do you issue press releases for any big news? I’m thinking you’ve been nominated for THREE awards from the upcoming DWAA Awards Banquet. Get a press release out to your local newspaper and TV channels. Who knows what kind of coverage or mentions you could get. Those are also valuable backlinks. If you win any or all of those awards, be sure to update those media contacts as well. Who wouldn’t want to hear about an award-winning pet photographer who could capture beautiful images of their dogs? Cheers! Irene

  7. Hi Angela, your writing style is very refreshing, I love it!! I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye to Shep. He looked like a big fluffy gentle giant. I’m still coping with the loss of my pup Missy, a Boxer mix whom I lost to cancer in 2018. Just like Shep changed you, Missy changed me. Her legacy is reflected in every single raw dog food post I publish.

    I look forward to following your blog this year 🙂

    1. Losing them is so very hard. I try to do a memorial road trip for Shep every year. He was my soulmate. I hope you’re finding ways to heal from losing Missy.

  8. Hi Angela – I love how you write. And like you it’s cathartic for me too. I love your photography and I think you’re onto a winning formula. Here’s to a great 2020.

  9. Kimberly Gauthier

    I’m a huge fan of photography (that was my first blog eons ago) and miss it daily, especially when I visit a site with gorgeous photography. Thank you for the inspiration and sharing your journey. Happy New Year!!!

  10. Nice to meet you. I’m your “neighbor” in central Washington (Cle Elum). Your photography is beautiful.

    I can definitely be a challenge to get local reach with a blog. I think you are doing the right thing by writing about local places people can take their own photos. It can be done though. I looked at your blog on SEMRush. You rank for quite a few keywords, which is good. You probably already know this based on your most popular posts but you rank for a lot of keywords related to “rainbow bridge”. Since you probably do a lot of those types of sessions, that is good. However, you don’t rank for terms like “dog photographer spokane” and “spokane dog photograher” or “spokane pet photographer”. If it was me, I would be bold and try to target those terms with a blog post or two. For example, “what you can expect if you hire me as your spokane dog photographer.” If you did write one like that, sorry if I missed it. I know this is kind of unsolicited advice but I’m just trying to help 🙂

    1. Thanks! I rechecked my own data this morning – I use Rank Tracker by Link Assistant – and it shows I rank 1, once 2, for the keywords you listed. I know I have to maintain that strength but those aren’t much my concern anymore. The search volume for those strings is so low that I have to generate content that gets me in front of eyes in different ways. That’s all part of the 2020 plan about which I won’t go into too much detail. 🙂

  11. That’s awesome you found this through the DWAA! Congratulations on being a finalist for the DWAA awards. I love your photography and your dogs are beautiful. Your Shep reminds me of my rescue, Linus who passed away a couple years ago. He was my heart dog.

    Sorry, I’m not much help on local reach. I own a book on local search, but it’s over 5 years old now and barely touched.

    Thanks for participating in this years journey. I hope you have a great 2020!

  12. I love your attitude. I know I probably get too caught up in what google “thinks” about what I’m doing. Sometimes we just have to not worry about it and create the best content we can. Clearly you’re doing a great job!

    Local reach … I used to be a professional dog walker so I went to a lot of local pet events like humane society fundraisers and I would set up booths at some events and donate to silent auctions and such. I attended any sort of “pet walk 5K” and similar events. Have to say, I’m really glad I don’t have to go to stuff like that anymore! Haha. But it helped get my business out there.

    1. I do a few local events and I love meeting and getting to know dog lovers that way! I’m putting together two silent auction baskets next week for events. I love the shopping part. 😀

  13. I absolutely loved this Journey!! Thank you for sharing and all you do. You have an amazing ability to capture your audience. I think your photography skills are outstanding! Your site shows you really know what you’re doing when it comes to SEO. Very impressive. For a newbie like me again I find myself learning and it was such a pleasure to get to know you through this post. I wish you the best for 2020 and thankyou again for this inspiring post. I wish I could assist you when it comes to local. but my audience is all across Canada. If you find me on my social networks I would happily share your posts. Great Work!! I can’t wait to see what you have planned for your next post! You definitely perked my interest!

    1. Hi, Canada! I love you and I miss you. <3 I found your Facebook page and I look forward to seeing what you do. I think your site is paw-some!

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