To my own fault, I'm not typically very introspective, and I'm trying to improve on that. I decided to participate in the 2016 Pet Blogger Challenge, when the community of pet bloggers reflect on the past year's accomplishments and set goals for the upcoming year. So if you're dying to know a bit about me as a pet blogger, you've come to the right place!
1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog.
I started my first blog as a sort of diary/document of my son, Porter, when he was born almost nine years ago, but I only shared it with family and close friends. I started the Well Minded blog in March of 2013.
As a professional pet sitter for over ten years and a wellness advocate, I try to stay focused on pet lifestyle and wellness.
2. What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud?
I tend to undervalue my work. In 2015, I created a media kit for the first time and provided it when I received inquiries. I also took the initiative to approach brands with my media kit and received favorable results. I feel that by providing a solid outline about what I can offer and what I expect in terms of compensation has not only increased my income, but has also bolstered my self-confidense as a professional blogger. I am still happy to volunteer my time and platform for worthy causes.
3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why?
My favorite post of 2015 was When a Pet Passes Away: A Pet Sitter Perspective. I lost a very special client to cancer this year...that's what it's about.
4. A common theme from last year's challenge was that many of us wanted to increase the size of our audiences. Whether or not we intend to monetize our blogs, it seems we'd all like to reach more people. It feels good to know that we're connecting with others, sharing a laugh or supporting a cause, and it's motivating to see those numbers grow! What is one thing you've done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog?
I've put myself out there on social media more than ever. I used to think that providing links to my posts was egocentric, but when my readership growth stalled out, I realized that I needed to share what I was writing. Each month, I chose one social media platform to focus on, and I'd "work" on that platform for fifteen minutes each day. I set a timer, and I did not allow myself to do anything else for that fifteen minutes (we all know how difficult that can be, especially when it comes to social media). I definitely saw a growth in my platform of focus each month, as well as in my readership and my page views.
5. Which of your blog pots got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular?
My most-read post–by far–is Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Natural Flea Prevention and Control. I think people are looking for more ways to get chemicals out of their lives. It's something that has been important to me for many years, and it's a subject I plan to focus more on in 2016. If I can educate people about the damage we are doing to our bodies and our pets by using everyday seemingly "safe" products and provide natural alternatives to help people and their pets live a healthier lifestyle, I've accomplished something valuable.
6. What is one blog that you read religiously–other than your own–and what makes you such a devoted reader?
If I'm being completely honest, I don't read any blog religiously. There are too many that I love! I will say that I read many of my fellow BlogPaws members' posts regularly. For something un-pet-related, I often check out Scary Mommy. It's real, hilarious, and occasionally crass. I also keep up with Brie Brie Blooms. Aside from being ultra-creative in ways that I am not, the author, Heather, got me started in professional blogging and continues to be my mentor.
7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?
The BlogPaws web site, team, and members have been a great resource to me, as has my mentor, Heather, of Brie Brie Blooms. In 2015, I was accepted as a member of the Social Fabric community (after several attempts), a select group of influencers. They offer valuable courses on all things blog, which I will continue to take advantage of in the coming year.
8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?
Keep learning and embrace change. There is so much to learn when it comes to blogging, and standards and practices on social media change constantly. I try to spend fifteen minutes (yes, again, I set a timer) each day focusing on educating myself about blogging. It doesn't seem like much time, but just committing and setting aside that time to grow and learn has been valuable to me. It's true–you learn something new every day!
9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?
I have two specific goals for 2016. First, I'd like to improve my photography. I'd like to get better equipment and take a photography class. Second, I'd like to try to write more consistently. I tend to be inspired and write a bunch of posts all at once, then I hit a lull and stall out. So I'll publish a bunch of posts in a row, then nothing for a week. If I can publish more consistently, I think my readership will grow.
10. You have the attention of the pet blogging community–is there one blogging challenge you'd like help with, or one aspect of your blog that you'd like input on?
I'm open and grateful for any and all feedback and help! I have come a long way, but I have a long way to go.