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Eight years ago today, I published my first blog post on a new blog called Keep the Tail Wagging. My goal was to turn this blog into my full-time business and I spun in circles for years until I finally figured out how to make online marketing work and now Keep the Tail Wagging is a business. I have a trademark, I pay taxes, and I have a payroll (one person – me).
8 Lessons Learned in 2019
Once I realized that I'm here to learn and not teach, my blogging took on an entirely new energy that I enjoyed. I will admit that it feels good to have strangers know me, want to talk to me, and buy my books, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to learn how to raise healthier pets and share what I learn to others. And, with that in mind, here are eight things I learned this year.
1 – When it Comes to Raw Feeding, Balance is Bullshit
Okay, so I've known this for a while, but saying it and believing it are two different things. For the past year or so, I've been delving deep into the idea of balancing a raw food diet and every time I thought I figured one thing out, I came up with more questions. The main ones being, “balance according to whom?”
I'm not saying that you're wrong if you want to seek balance when feeding your dog a raw food diet. I'm saying that the stress pet parents are experiencing right now (some people are crying about this) is unnecessary. Feeding our dogs a raw food diet isn't rocket science.
2 – To Save Money, Sacrifices Must Be Made
This year, I made a goal to get my raw feeding budget down to $200/month. I was working my way there, but couldn't quite get there consistently, until we added a fifth dog to our family and I was forced to take a hard look at my budget.
My goal shifted to $300/month and I'm doing a great job. The trick, for me, was to stop buying proteins that cost more than $3/pound. With a dog that has issues with the basic proteins (chicken, turkey, and beef), I have had to make some concessions. For him, I also feed rabbit, emu, elk, wild boar, and venison. All of these cost more than $3/pound and I stock up on them when I get unexpected money.
It's all about my dogs. So what if I have to make one meal for four dogs and another for Rodrigo. Yeah, it's extra work, but the money I'm saving makes it worth the extra time I'm taking.
3 – Cross Breeding Dogs is a HOT TOPIC!
When we added Apollo to our family, I posted an announcement on my Facebook page. What happened that day shocked the hell out of me and by the end of the day, I had banned at least 10 people and unfriended and blocked one. People had issues with Apollo's breed (Siberian Husky / Golden Retriever mix). When I was trying to learn more about this cross (I had never heard of it before) I found that it's called a Goberian, which cracked me up. But sharing that was a mistake, because people accused me of supporting puppy mills.
It was a shit show.
But, of course, I'm here to learn and when I was able to shut down the drama, I turned my focus to learning why people have an issue with cross breeds. Some people are just plain bigots and believe that their special pure bred dog shouldn't have to breath the same air as cross breed dogs and mutts. One of the loudest critics has a pure bred that started as a cross between two dogs, which I enjoyed pointing out.
When it comes down to it, to me, a dog is a dog and we were in a position to help someone out and accept their puppy into our family instead of seeing the dog end up in a shelter or going from home to home (because he's been a challenge). The breed politics don't interest me.
4 – Beams by The Honest Kitchen Have Zero Competition
So, over the past year, I've distanced myself from The Honest Kitchen. I used to be their Number 1 fan (or one of them) until a strange email exchange where they requested a phone call to discuss one of my blog posts. As a blogger, I didn't feel comfortable with the conversation, I felt like I was being called to the principal's office. As a customer and fan, I was livid. Looking back, I probably over reacted – I wasn't THAT offended – but the offer of a coupon when my readers purchased their food was a bit strange to me because I wondered if they paid their staff, publicists, attorneys, and accountants in coupons.
It's sucks when brands don't value bloggers. Not saying that The Honest Kitchen doesn't value bloggers. My point is that many brands don't see us as business people. They see us as pet parents who will do anything in exchange for a bag of treats or a $5 coupon. I can't pay my mortgage with dog treats. It would be convenient if I could, but I can't.
Anyway, I decided to stop buying The Honest Kitchen products but DAMMIT my dogs LOVE their Beams and they do so well on them so I'm stuck buying cases of those damn fish skin treats.
You win THIS round, The Honest Kitchen.
5 – Not All of My Friends are My Friends
This has been a recurring lesson throughout my career as a blogger and recently, I began going through my friend list on Facebook and unfriending people that I never interact with either online or in real life. I've been hesitant to do this in the past because I abhor confrontation and I've had people catch me online or at events to ask why I unfriended them. I'll say “we never interact,” to which they respond “I always love seeing your posts.”
The Facebook algorithm adjusts our news feed based on what we like and interact with. So if they aren't interacting with my posts, then they're not seeing them. If our only comments back and forth are to wish each other a happy birthday because Facebook sent a reminder, then why are we connected? I want to have real connections. No, I can't know all the details of all 1,000+ of my Facebook friends, but I want to at least recognize a name and profile picture.
6 – Everyone Judges Everyone, Even Me
I spent years trying to convince everyone to “get along,” and this year I realized that I was being a hypocrite. What I really was trying to say is that I want everyone to like me, I want trolls to go away, and I want to win this silly popularity contest. And then, one day I realized that we will always judge each other, harshly at times. And sometimes those judgments are warranted.
How did I come to this epiphany?
Earlier this year, I got involved in a discussion to defend a friend. I was stunned at how aggressive people where being as they publicly attacked my friend. The things they were saying about him were awful. Well, that friend dumped me a few months later and since then, I've said some of the same awful things about him.
I judged him harshly and I stand behind many of the things that I had to say. But the point of me sharing this is to say that we're human and we're not always going to connect and like each other just because we love animals and that's okay. I'm lucky, because my time as a blogger has taught me how to engage online and I have the confidence to walk away from a debate that's going no where. Not everyone has these skills. So I've learned to cut everyone a break and worry about my own shit.
7 – My Boyfriend is Grossed Out by Raw Feeding
Okay, so he wasn't a fan when I decided that I was going to feed our dogs raw meat to cure Rodrigo's allergies, joint pain, and digestive issues, but he went along with me because we had a deal – the dogs are my domain. But today, six plus year later, he admitted that he's grossed out that I make dog food in the kitchen, that there is raw dog food in the fridge next to our food, and that he pictures bacteria everywhere.
Yeah, I was shocked too.
Because this is a partnership, instead of making him read blog posts about the safety of raw feeding, instead of giving him the “if you can cook chicken, you can feed raw” lecture, and instead of rolling my eyes (so he could see) and telling him that he was being stupid – I compromised.
This month, I purchased a fridge/freezer for the garage and because he didn't have time to clean up his garage to make room for my new appliance, I did it myself. Now the dogs' food is in a dedicated fridge and I have space to mix up raw in the garage until we can finish my She Shed this summer.
8 – Blogging is a Lot of Work and It Never Ends
This year, traffic to my blog dropped by more than 50%, which means that my plans to give notice at my day job on July 1, 2019 had to be canceled. I would love to blog full time, but I have to have multiple streams of income in order to support myself and the beasts when I walk away from my day job.
Because of that traffic drop, I adjusted my business hours to include learning. When I'm commuting to my day job, I'm watching videos and taking courses on all topics related to having a blogging business.
AND I LOVE IT!!!
I have learned so much and it's been a blast. I needed that reminder that learning never ends. And now I have a second blog – Dog Mom Style – and a game plan for 2020.
Top Blog Posts in 2019
I popped over to my Google Analytics to capture a list of the most visited blogs during 2019. These aren't necessarily blogs written in 2019.
- What Would Cause My Dog's Stomach to Turn Black? – 67,926
- 5 Raw Dog Food Mistakes I Made – 50,868
- What I Learned After I Hit My Dog – 37,586
- 5 Alternatives to Rawhide Chews – 37,275
- Stop Feeding Your Dog Coconut Oil – 35,923
- How I Cured My Dog's Yeast Infection Naturally – 30,424
- What to do When Your Dog Eats Chocolate Cake – 29,853
- How to Remove Anal Gland Scent from Your Sofa – 25,841
- Stop Using Dish Detergent as Dog Shampoo – 24,236
- How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Dog? – 23,509
I find it interesting (and exciting) that for a blogger know for writing about raw feeding, only one of these posts is about raw feeding. This means that I have so much room to grow and explore as I delve more into dog wellness.