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