To be absolutely honest though, we are, like Viva on the picture, a little hangover when we look at the results. We didn't reach our goals from last year. We didn't even come close.
The thing is we achieved the opposite of what we set out to do. We wanted engagement and put stats aside, what we got was doubled stats while scoring an all time low on the engage-o-meter. What can I say? I am definitely not complaining.
Can you still remember what sparked the whole Pet Blogger Challenge event? In 2010, Amy and Edie had a feeling of being bullied by their blogs - here and here. That's exactly how I now also feel. The blog seems to follow it's own path, despite of what I intend it to do. Maybe this blog is doing more than bullying. Yikes. It is alive. This is creepy.
Let's give the blog a final chance to start listening, so let's go to this years questions:
1. How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.
We have been blogging for 2½ years. As long as there have been Pet Blogger Challenges, last years post is here.
2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?
My secondary goal around travel was a wild-card anyway, as I didn't know how our travels would evolve. And as it turned out, it didn't. But I still had my main goal which was to have fellow Hovawart lovers engaged with the blog. Have them write for the blog, comment and discuss. In short, more engagement.
3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?
I loved the contributions we got from Hovawart lovers for the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardy. I can't thank Kelsey, Nolan, Astrid, Deanne, Marc and Cheryl enough for participating. They are some of the most popular reads on the blog, Kelsey's post even made it to the top 10 of most read posts. Their contributions are so important for people to get to know the Hovawart, based on real-life stories and experiences, and not by the usual fairy tales you hear.
I'd hoped for a lot more though, probably my expectations were too high.
And on the bright side, the engagement was there, it just didn't take place on the blog. I had some controversial posts, like "Why The Hovawart Must Never Become Popular" and "The Forgotten Hovawarts", that were discussed a lot on Facebook, in forums, and got me the highest numbers of private Facebook messages and mails ever
4. How often do you post?
Ah, my weak spot. On average I only post once a week. We really have to remedy that.
5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?
I still blog as the spirits moves me. I try to find a good balance between keeping my readers interested and to continue to enjoy what I do. Although I write as the spirit moves me, I "publish" in what appears to be a more scheduled rhythm. I think some type of schedule is important if you want to keep your readers interested.
I have one - very selfish - measure to determine if a topic is "post-worthy". Would I like to write about it? Have an urge to say something about it? Need to express my opinions? And, would my readers possibly think it is interesting? Other than that, it should be about dogs.
6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your tips for staying on top of it all.
It usually takes me an hour to write a post, and another hour to edit it. Even for the Hovawart TV series, which in itself is just a video and a caption, I spend an hour just to search, watch and select the video. Some posts are tougher though, and need more research. In which case I write them finished in the weekends. A couple of posts even took me the whole weekend to finish.
I have a number of blogs from which I always read every post. They are on my blog roll, so a couple of times a week, I go through them and read what they posted. I have a wider selection in my reader of other blogs I stumbled upon that I skim through once a week. I try to keep the number of blogs below 50 at all times, as that really is my limit.
In all, I think the reading also takes around two hours a week. So in total, I spend at least 4 hours blogging and reading every week.
7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?
Something I always struggle with. The measure of success for us is how much searches on Hovawarts send people to the blog and how long they stay. Or even better, return. And best, if they would contact us with a question, or leave a note they appreciated the blog.
Of course in the end, it all leads to more traffic, and although it is a number you can't draw many conclusions from, it is the strongest indicator of how the blog is doing.
8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
What a great opportunity. What always is nagging me is there tend not to be a lot of focus here. We post in a wide range, like cute pics and video's, write about BSL, puppy mills and of course Hovawarts. And everything in between. Do you think that is positive thing? Or does the lack of focus actually works counter-productive?
9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?
Definitely BSL. July 2013, the BSL laws in Denmark are taken under the loop and there is a danger 13 more breeds are added to the banned breed list. But it also gives an opportunity to have the whole BSL madness repealed. Our goal is to play our part in getting BSL repealed.
The other goal is already decided by you, my readers. I received requests for more frequent and regular Kenzo and Viva updates. You really want me to blog more about them, the actual stars of the blog. And true, I blogged only 31 times about Kenzo, and 29 times about Viva. A very thin harvest for 2½ years of blogging.
And finally, I really have to get my act together and post multiple times a week. Maybe when I start blogging more about Kenzo and Viva, that shouldn't be so difficult after all. They shower me with daily tidbits already.
That should be feasible, even for a creepy blog that is alive. I hope it is listening this time.