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Are you interested in starting a blog in the pet space? Do you want to share your experience making food for your pet, making healthier choices, or share dog training tips?  There are an endless number of topics out there and pet parents are hungry for more information because we all want our pets to live longer, healthier lives.  So, do you want to start a pet blog?

In this post, I share a brief introduction to starting a blog - what you'll need to know to get started.  I also share my favorite learning resources about blogging.

Blogging doesn't have to be a business like it is with my blogs, Keep the Tail Wagging and Dog Mom Style.  They can be a fun hobby that still touch many lives.

So, do you want to be a pet blogger?

Although I grew up writing in journals (that my mom read and lectured me about – jeez), I didn’t automatically leap into blogging when it became mainstream.  I started my first blog, My Pet Impressions Photography, when I was trying to build a pet photography business.

Guess what? My business and blog failed, but my love of journaling came alive again and I immediately started two more blogs:

  • Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier – which documented my life as I learned how to use a DSLR camera.
  • Blogging in My Pajamas – which shared blogging tips.

When we adopted Rodrigo and Sydney, I quickly learned that adopting (or buying) littermates was frowned upon by many in the pet lover community and there was a good reason.  However, we were rockin’ the experience and I wanted to share what we did to successfully bring up littermates and that’s one of the reasons why I launched Keep the Tail Wagging (and, later, Dog Mom Style) and closed the doors of my other blogs.

Why You Should Start a Blog

If you’re wondering if you should start a blog, here are a few reasons that drove me to launch my blogs:

  • You have something that you’d like to share – if you find that you have a lot of opinions or a unique take on a topic that people appreciate, then starting a blog may be a way to share your thoughts, positively influence the lives of others, and connect with likeminded people.  This is the reason I launched Dog Mom Style this month.
  • You want to document a journey – with Keep the Tail Wagging, I started in 2011 by documenting my experience raising littermate puppies and transitioned in 2013 to write about learning how to feed my dogs a diet of raw dog food.  What I like about documenting a journey is that you don’t have to be an expert and there is room to be wrong and to change your mind without pressure.
  • To promote a business or hobby – and, finally, a great reason to start a blog is to promote a business (pet store, grooming, dog training) or hobby (poetry, photography, or makeup).  I recently watched a YouTube video about a very popular blog that’s all about growing succulents.

I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to start a blog solely for making money unless you have time and experience because this can be a stressful route to go.  When I realized that blogs could be monetized, I did everything to make money and it almost destroyed my blog and my love of blogging.  Today, I won’t start a blog unless I can envision it making money because Keep the Tail Wagging is now legal entity (I pay taxes, I have a payroll, and it’s legit).  But I don’t recommend that anyone reading this goes this route unless you already have several years of experience in blogging and monetization or you’re ready to devote time to learning how to do this right.

Free Way to Start a Blog

For people who are brand new to blogging, I don’t recommend that you spend a dime (except maybe on a domain) on your new venture because it would suck to drop several hundred dollars only to never write a post.  Therefore, here are a few ways to start a blog that’s free.

1 – What do you want to write about?  And be specific.  For instance, I’ve had people tell me that they want to start a blog about dogs and one day I will roll my eyes so hard at this response that they’ll get stuck.   If you want to start a blog about dogs, then think about what aspect of dogs you want to write about because there are a gazillion blogs about dogs to compete with online. 

Let’s pretend that you want to write about dog training (and, by the way, these examples can be used for any niche, just use your imagination).  Okay, there are about a half-million blogs about dog training (well, honestly, I don’t know how many there are, but let’s pretend that I’m spot-on), you need to now think about how you’re going to write about dog training that is different than anyone else. 

For example, maybe you’ll be breed-specific.  For instance, I’d love to read a blog about training a husky.  Or maybe it’ll be about training large dogs.  I’m a proponent of narrowing down a niche so that you can attract a targeted audience of pet parents who are interested in what you’re sharing.

Some people take it a step further and do keyword research, but that’s not something I’m going to get into because I consider that step a little more advanced than what people reading this post want to tackle, however, if you are saying “Hey, Kim, I’m reading to tackle!!!,” then here is a program that will help you get started:  Income School Project 24

2 – Write 15 blog posts.  Yep, before you set anything up, open up Word (or Pages) and write 15 full blog posts.  When writing blog posts, think about the sites that you like and that you’ll read from top to bottom.  Personally, I don’t like blog posts that don’t have headers or breaks between paragraphs that allow me to skim the page first.  I don’t like blogs that use small fonts.  And I don’t like blogs that ramble on and on until they get to the point.  So I try to do the opposite and create a blog post that I’d like to read.  I may not nail it every time, but this is my guideline. 

Not sure what to write about?  No problem, I have a blog post that lists 101 topics for pet bloggers.

3 – Choose a free blogging platform.  As I stated, it’s not about spending money to get the best of everything.  I know people who spent $1,000 on a website only to do nothing with it. So I suggest starting with a free website and the platforms I recommend are WordPress.com (I use WordPress.org, which is self-hosted) or Wix.

WordPress is probably the most popular and well-known platform in the blogging world.  With WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about design (they have a library of free designs), hosting (which is a monthly or annual fee for self-hosted accounts), or security.  You don’t even have to buy a domain unless you want to (and they will give you the option).

Wix is a service that makes it easy to build a website.  I created one for my boyfriend earlier this year and it took a few hours.  It’s not straight out the box and it may cause some frustration as you’re trying to learn what to do, but I believe they have a free account option and it’s a great place to start if you don’t want to use WordPress. Wix is much easier than Squarespace, in my opinion.

4 – Set up your social media pages.  Once you have your website set up and your blog posts published, go about setting up your social media pages.  Which ones? you ask.  Which ones do you want?  I believe in sticking with what I know so my social media is limited to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.  I have a Twitter account too, but I rarely use it.

Don’t try and take on too much at once because if you get overwhelmed, you may walk away.  So start with one or two social media channels and grow later if you feel that you want to branch out.

5 – Be ready to learn about blogging.  Just because you set up a blog doesn’t mean that you’re finished.  I’ve been blogging for 10 years and I’m still learning.  So join a couple of blogging groups (recommendations below), follow a few YouTube channels, and read a couple of books.  You don’t have to do all of this today, but if you decided that blogging is definitely for you, I have a few recommendations.

Monetizing a Blog

Now, if you’re here because you want to monetize a blog, then I recommend getting a hosted blog.  Yes, you can monetize on a few of the free platforms, but I don’t think that it’s a great idea because if you break one of their rules, you can lose your blog, your work, and your money.  The reason I prefer self-hosted is that it’s MY BLOG, no one else’s.  The only rules I abide by are the FTC and Google. Oh, and my own.

Hosting:  I suggest starting with an inexpensive hosting plan through Namecheap.

Domain:  Before you buy any domain, keep in mind that it’s a good idea that you get a domain that matches what you write about.  For instance, if you decide to start a blog about training huskies, then great domain options are:

  • DogTrainingSiberianHuskies.com
  • TrainingSiberianHuskies.com
  • TrainingHuskies.com

Get what I mean?

This is important for SEO (search engine optimization) and will show Google as well as visitors what you write about.  You can be cute with your domain and call it SnowDogFun.com, but anyone who is interested in learning how to train their new husky puppy is probably going to bypass your domain (unless you’re established with a lot of great content, which can take months to years) and choose one of the domains I listed above because it’s clear what those sites are about.

SEO: You’re going to want to start learning about SEO and I have a few resources below to help. 

Monetization:  And, finally, you’re going to want to understand how you’re going to make money.  I wrote a blog post about how I monetize Keep the Tail Wagging, but the ways you can monetize your blog include:

  • Advertising
  • Affiliate marketing (you earn a commission when you recommend products)
  • Books and ebooks
  • Online courses and workshops
  • Consulting and coaching
  • Products (think Etsy)
  • Services (think meal formulation)
  • Sponsorships (working with brands)

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to monetize on day one unless you already have a business.  To do this right, I believe that this step takes 90-180 days.

Gaining an Audience

In January 2020, I plan to host the first annual Raw Feeder Open House, which is a blog hop for blogs in the fresh food space.

What's a blog hop?

A blog hop is a collaboration between a group of bloggers that allows people to “hop” from blog to blog and discover new influencers to follow. In January's Open House, we will be answering a list of questions to help people get to know us and if it's a success, we'll do this annually with different questions.

This is a fantastic way to introduce your blog to the community. Keep following Keep the Tail Wagging for more information about the upcoming Open House.

Other Ways to Gain an Audience

  • Join communities and groups of like-minded people and start networking. Don't spam groups with your blog post. Instead, add value to the groups by participating in discussions and sharing your experience. People will start to check you out and find your blog.
  • While your social media pages are growing, start sharing blog posts on your personal profile so that friends can find it. When it comes to Facebook, when a friend likes or comments on a post, their friends are notified.
  • And work on the SEO (search engine optimization) to make sure Google is ranking your blog posts. It will take several months for your blog to climb in search engine rankings, but be patient and keep working and learning. You'll get there. I did and I have zero background in technology and internet marketing.

But, What About the Trolls?

One thing that holds many people back from starting a blog are the trolls and, to be honest, while there are jerks out there, the trolls aren't really that big of a deal. Occasionally, you may gain the attention of a particularly nasty individual, but I've found that all trolls are cowards and I have learned to laugh at their attempts to get to me.

1 – Trolls are miserable people who like to spread that misery to make themselves feel better. In the end, they will NEVER be happy, they will never apologize for their nastiness, and our brief experience with them is nothing like what they deal with on a daily basis in their own world. I've done a deep dive into a few of my harshest critiques and found evidence of past arrests, addictions, mental health and depression, and more.

2 – Trolls post hateful things for attention. When I stopped responding, they stopped commenting. When I get a hateful comment that obviously fails to add value to the discussion, I send it to spam and, voila!, I never hear from them again. And social media has gotten so good that many hateful comments are vanishing on their own. I've noticed this on both Facebook and YouTube. In fact, YouTube is great at silencing trolls.

3 – Unfollow, Unfriend, Ban, and Block – in that order. When I get someone who is being an asshat on my blog or social media, I get rid of them. The simple fact of the matter is that these are my platforms that I work hard to build and I'm not going to let some whiny b&^%# ruin it for me and others. I ban them first because I've learned that if you block someone first, it's hard to ban them because they vanish from your social media.

4 – Shut down comments on your blog. Because of my past experience with miserable trolls, I only allow comments for two weeks on new blog posts and then they automatically shut down. It's a lot of work to moderate comments across multiple platforms (blog and social media). So I made it easier for myself to shut them down here. My followers comment on Facebook or Instagram.

If you don't have a thick skin, you're not alone. We're only human and people can hurt us in this social media world. But I always honor one rule – this is My House and if they can't be polite, then I show them the door.

Resources for Aspiring Bloggers

The following are resources I recommend for aspiring bloggers.  Not all of these resources are free and, before I continue, please get the idea of doing everything for free out of your head.  There is free information out there, but it takes a lot of work to find current, accurate information that will work for you.  There is also information that you’ll pay for (courses, books, etc) as you seek to learn more.

And my statement about “free” goes both ways.  When you’re new to blogging, there are brands that will want to take advantage and ask you to do things for free.  It’s up to you if you want to give away your time, but please know that you are valued.  I don’t care if 1,000 people visit your blog a month or 100,000.  Your time is valuable, so keep that in mind when someone wants you to work for them for free (or in exchange for a sample).

I have an hourly rate that I use to calculate fees. If someone can't afford that rate, then they can't afford to work with me. What I find interesting, is most people who can't afford to pay a blogger for their time, have no problem paying a publicist thousands of dollars to find bloggers.

That being said, here are some learning resources that help me with my blogs.

Best of luck!

Are you interested in starting a blog in the pet space? Do you want to share your experience making food for your pet, making healthier choices, or share dog training tips?  There are an endless number of topics out there and pet parents are hungry for more information because we all want our pets to live longer, healthier lives.  So, do you want to start a pet blog?

In this post, I share a brief introduction to starting a blog - what you'll need to know to get started.  I also share my favorite learning resources about blogging.

Blogging doesn't have to be a business like it is with my blogs, Keep the Tail Wagging and Dog Mom Style.  They can be a fun hobby that still touch many lives.

So, do you want to be a pet blogger?

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