the command only a pet blogger's dog knows

One of the great things about being a pet blogger is that we get to try out the latest and greatest pet products. I'm not gonna lie...getting awesome stuff for free is pretty great. Since I'm all about pet lifestyle and wellness and there are so many great options these days as far as food and treats are concerned, it seems like there's always some new something in the house to enjoy. 

N.A.S.H.A. now assumes (correctly) that every package that comes to the door has her name on it. It's getting to the point where opening a box must be done behind closed doors, because she'll immediately start harassing me for the contents. i.e., staring at me incessantly if I'm sitting and giving me repeated dead-legs if I'm standing. She's a conditioned blog-dog.

Once I'm ready to let her try something, I bring it out and take pictures of her with said fabulous unopened delight. Then we go through the legit trial to make sure she loves it...and I take more pictures over several days.

Then I sit down to write.

There is only so much consumption an eleven-pound dog can take and maintain a healthy figure, so by the time I get to writing, she's possibly over-consumed in the name of photo ops. But if I'm talking about a product we love, I like to have the package in front of me, and I like to look at it, read the information on it, and make sure I know the ins and outs. So while I write, I'm doing the crinkle–that tell-tale sound pet packages make when touched by human hands.

The crinkle is torture.

So I've developed a new command: "Nope. Blog post.

I didn't even realize she was understanding me until recently. I must have been saying it for months and months. Dog-gone, I trained my dog!

"Nope. Blog post."  Must...combat...the...crinkle. Will play like a wild wolf with my ducky, instead. The struggle is real. –

"Nope. Blog post." Must...combat...the...crinkle. Will play like a wild wolf with my ducky, instead. The struggle is real.–

So instead of getting all excited at the crinkle, N.A.S.H.A. has become conditioned to the command. Sure, she'll look up when she hears the initial crinkle. But when I see her do that, all I have to say is "Nope. Blog post," and she knows she's not getting anything. And then I can pretty much crinkle away while I complete my research. She'll occupy herself or take a nap.

So, fellow pet bloggers, how do your pets fare with the empty promise of the crinkle? 

want to know a bit about me as a pet blogger? the 2016 pet blogger challenge

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.

Just me and one of my favorite clients.

Just me and one of my favorite clients.

it's here! the super-sized pet blogger summer giveaway

We've been anticipating it for weeks, and it's finally here: The Super-Sized Pet Blogger Summer Giveaway! What the heck is going on, you ask? Well, twenty-four awesome pet bloggers have come together to celebrate the onset of summer by offering our readers the chance to win one of three doggone amazing prizes. 

what can you win?

3rd prize: A PawNosh Cubby Bowl. These bowls are GORGEOUS and made from 100% recycled glass. Safe for the environment, and safe for your pet to eat from. 

2nd prize: Your choice of Italian Leather Collar & Leash set from dogIDs. These beautiful sets come in a variety of colors can be personalized with your pet's information.

GRAND PRIZE: A $400 Visa Gift Card. Lots of moolah. Need we say more? 

how can you win?

Between June 15 and June 21st, just follow the easy steps in the Rafflecopter widget, below. The more you enter, the better your chances! If you want to super-size your chances of winning, visit all of the participating blogs. Since there are 24 pet blogs, that gives you whole bunch of entries (does anyone have a calculator?). 

And the coolest part? You get to check out some fabulous pet blogs you may not have previously discovered. 

participating blogs

Pawsitively Pets

Christy Paws

Daily Dog Tag

Fidose of Reality

Cascadian Nomads

The Lazy Pit Bull

Oh My Shih Tzu

Pet Product Review

Kitty Cat Chronicles

Animal Bliss

Beagles & Bargains

You Did What With Your Wiener

Kol's Notes

Kama Loves Agility

My Life With Pets

It's Dog or Nothing

Confessions of a Rescue Mom

CindyLu's Muse

Mochas, Mysteries and Meows

My Rotten Dogs

Bones and Fishes

Dolly the Doxie

Tails Are Wagging

well minded pets

Please take a moment to visit our friends and enter to win on each of their blogs. 

Be sure to submit all of your entries by next Sunday, June 21st at 11:59 p.m. EST. Come Monday morning, we'll randomly select three winners and officially announce them on The Lazy Pitbull Facebook page. I'll also be sure to give you the scoop on the Well Minded Facebook page. Now that's a way to brighten a Monday morning!

Happy summer, and good luck!

About the giveaway: No purchase necessary. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only, except where prohibited by law. Giveaway will run from June 15 through June 21, 2015 at 11:59pm EST. Three (3) winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prizes; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest do not sponsor, administer, or endorse this promotion. Participants must read and agree to Rafflecopter’s Privacy Policy before entering and participating in this promotion. 

how do pet bloggers utilize social media?

I belong to the BlogPaws Community, a group of writers whose blogs focus on pets. We come together to share ideas and support each other's work. Periodically, BlogPaws will poll our group to capture trends in the pet blogging industry, and they provide us with pretty awesome infographics when they sift through the results. 

We were most recently asked about our social media habits, and the results may be shocking to those outside the industry. To those of us that are a part of the BlogPaws Community, I doubt there are any surprises. So here's an inside look for you on how pet bloggers use social media:

'Pet Bloggers on Social Media

holiday pet pampering: #blogpaws gives us the scoop

As part of the Pet Blogger Influencer Group, we recently participated in a survey conducted by Blogpaws, the premier social media company for pets and their people. BlogPaws wanted to know how much pet pampering bet bloggers do during the holidays, and they created a fantastic infographic to broadcast the results.

Of the pet bloggers surveyed:

• Most have a budget between $25-50 to spend on pet gifts, and 28% have spent more than $100 on a single pet gift.

• There is a fairly even split between online and in-store shopping, with an edge given to the brick-and-mortar stores.

• More than half of pet bloggers produce a holiday gift guide, and almost all refer to them.

• More than half of pet bloggers get their pets involved in holiday card giving.

Check out the BlogPaws graphic, below, for the whole scoop.

Happy holidays from Well Minded and the pet blogging community!