December 24, 2015 marked my blog's four year anniversary and I had mixed feelings about it.  Despite the many times when I wanted to give up and walk away from my blog, I've stuck it out and as a result, I've learned so much and made so many great connections and friends.

Happy new year 2016 - The 2016 Pet Blogger Challenge by Keep the Tail Wagging

DepositPhoto/maxmitzu

 

2015 was a year of drama.  I think everyone felt it.  Politics, police, race, guns, violence, and bigotry were in the news all the time and everyone (including myself) was commenting on it regularly.  I finally hit the wall with all that negativity and moved forward.  My resolution this year – stop the whining, complaining, and bitching – and focus on being positive and helpful.

 

In that spirit, I'm excited to join the 2016 Pet Blogger Challenge.  Every year, Go Pet Friendly hosts a challenge where a list of questions are posed that we all respond too.  It's a great way to learn more about the blogger you enjoy following and it's a way for us to learn more about each other.

Happy New Year!

 

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 blogging in 2009 with a pet photography blog.  Keep the Tail Wagging was launched December 24, 2011.  My blog started as a general pet blog about dogs.  Today, I write about raw feeding for dogs, dog nutrition, dog health, and raising dogs naturally.  This is a change I made a year after transitioning our dogs to raw feeding.

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 was published on Dogs Naturally Magazine!!!  My friend, Tina, was kind enough to share her dog's story and I wrote about it for a site I greatly respect.

Also, I was the keynote speaker for WordCamp Seattle 2015.  I started my speaking career at Bloggy Boot Camp Las Vegas.  I was terrified.  I continued on to speak three times at BlogPaws and several times at local Seattle events, including WordCamp Seattle 2014.  Public speaking was one of my biggest fears and I've conquered that fear and made it my bitch!  I love it and I hope to do more.

3. Which of your blog posts was YOUR favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)

There were three that I loved, because they showed my personality as well as how much I've learned about blogging and raw feeding:

My Biased Review of Fresh Pet Raw Patties – although the brand was not happy with my review of their food, I felt that I gave an honest review of their food based on my research and I left the snark that I felt about the product out of the review.  I think any raw dog food that can last up to six months in the fridge can't be natural, but of course, I'm a blogger, not a scientist.

Does Researching Dog Nutrition Make Me a Vapid Moron – this post was written in response to another blogger and her followers who, I felt, made fun of people who want to learn as much as they can about dog health and nutrition.  If I didn't do my own homework, our dogs wouldn't be doing as well as they are today, they'd be receiving unnecessary vaccinations, and unnecessary surgery (in the case of Rodrigo).

9 Ways to Get Kicked Out of a Facebook Raw Feeding Group – I love this post, because raw feeding groups are full of information, drama, and people who think they know everything about your dogs and raw feeding.  I used to get so furious with how high-handed strangers can be about raw feeding.  But today, I just find it humorous and no longer let them get to me.

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?

Networking, definitely.  In 2015, I attended a lot of events (Seattle Pet Expo, BlogPaws, SuperZoo, and more).  I've never traveled so much in one year, but meeting people, especially at SuperZoo, who share my beliefs in the importance of dog nutrition made a huge impact in my traffic.

Rodney Habib purchased my t-shirt - My Dogs Eat Better Than I Do

Rodney Habib purchased my t-shirt – CLICK Image to Order

5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular? (Please include a link.)

Don't Panic When a Dog Eats a Cooked Chicken Bone – this apparently happens all the time and when people Google the problem, they come to this blog post, which was written after Rodrigo devoured cooked chicken bones.  I hope that this post is helping people, butI do find that struggle with being told to contact their vet – they simply want assurance that their dog is going to be okay.

6. What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? (Please include a link.)

This is probably unexpected, because people probably think I'll write Dogs Naturally Magazine, which I do read religiously.  But one blog that I rarely miss is 2 Brown Dawgs Blog.  I love the pictures of the dogs, I love the property, the pond, and the activities.  I would love to have more land so that I can take our dogs on long walks too.  So I've decided to start walking our dogs in the woods on our neighbors property – they don't mind and it'll be fun.  I just need to walk them two at a time; all four is too much. #thanksRodrigo

You'll also regularly find me on Groovy Goldendoodles (because I love the hashtags, the humor, and the dogs – I can't resist a woman who so obviously loves her dogs) and Rubicon Days (because Rodrigo and Zoey are reactive dogs and it's nice to know I'm not alone and Lara offers great advice).

7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?

I listen to a lot of podcasts and follow a lot of bloggers who are a lot smarter than I am and I'm learning how to enhance my blogging skills free of charge.  I created a blogging group (yep, another one) that I use to share everything I find with others: We're Building Kick Ass Blogs.  Check us out on Facebook if you're serious about building a great blog.

8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?

Forget about the money.  Focusing on making money steals the joy of blogging and distracts from your goals and message.  I love making money as much as the next person, but I learned first hand that spending too much time focusing on revenue can change a blog into an infomercial and you lose control of the message that you're trying to send by constantly promoting brands.

Find a nice balance that works for you and your audience. And don't feel bad for working for free; it's your blog, manage it how you see fit.

And then start writing about something you love.  If there's a topic that people can get you to shut up about (for me, it's the benefits of raw feeding), then start with that topic.  Narrowing my niche increased my pageviews by over 500% in a year.  IN ONE YEAR.  I'd love for that to equate to more money, but the satisfaction I get knowing that I'm reaching so many more people and dogs are benefiting from that message feels amazing.

Karen Becker, Me and Rodney at SuperZoo

Meeting Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib at SuperZoo 2015

9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?

In 2016, I plan to write a book or three.  I'm considering hiring a pubic relations representative.  And I'll be doing more videos on raw feeding.

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 would love guests posts by 12 other bloggers who feed raw full time: fresh/frozen, freeze-dried, or dehydrated raw – homemade or premade.  As long as it's raw, I'd love to hear from you.  I've been trying to work on a series for a couple years now and haven't gotten it together.  It would be fun to have a series that shares 12 raw feeding stories that include why the blogger switched to raw, what they feed, and how their dog (or cat) is doing on the diet.  I would also love to share their advice for aspiring raw feeders. 

One post a month for 2016.

Not a blogger? If you're a raw feeder, then we can work together to hash out your story.  Just send me an email through the Contact Me page.

We're Building Kick Ass Blogs

DepositPhoto/prudkov

And I invite you to join We're Building Kick Ass Blogs! We're sharing amazing information that all bloggers will find useful.

Now it's your turn.  What questions do you have for me?  Any question on any topic.  If I can answer it, I will!

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