Dog trains man

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Has It Really Been 5 Years?

Nothing about Kenzo or Tilde today I am afraid. The annual "Pet Blogger Challenge" is on the menu, where pet bloggers exchange experiences and make plans for the coming year.

But please hang around if you would like a look behind the scenes, or want to discover some new pet blogs on the link-list at the bottom of this post.


Ready? Here we go:

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I have been blogging as long as there have been Pet Blogger Challenges, 5 years!

In short, I write about my relationship with my two dogs, Kenzo and Tilde, and about the Hovawart breed in general - the longer introductory version you'll find on our About us page.

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.

I struggled with the question if the blog would be a place to grieve when we lost Viva, as you might remember from last year's PBC post. I also worried it would eventually mean the end of the blog as I knew it.

Today I am, maybe not proud, but thankful, I continued. I am also equally surprised how it changed the blog and my writing, I think, for the better.

When I reread last years comments on the PBC post, I think Jodi nails it, when she predicts what will happen with my grief, and with my writing:

"Grief has no timeline: it's infinite and eternal. Even long after the sting has gone from the passing, the memory stays on us, like a mark that can't be rubbed away. The gift of grief is that, if we let it, we can carry the remembrances forward with us and let the happy memories and our love permeate our writing and our love of the new dogs in our lives. I can already see Viva doing that for you. Even if you don't write of Viva, Viva will be in your writing. Always."

3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs?

My biggest mistake has always been to neglect my mailing list. I guess we all invest a lot of time in promoting our blogs on social media, SEO, work on designs, readability on different devices, etc. And what happens? Google changes their search algorithm. Facebook changes its timeline. A popular feedreader stops it service. A new design becomes fashionable.

Every time when that happens we lose readers because of it, or at least they have to find us again. But equally frustrating is, we have to redo, have to rethink, reposition, have to listen to the next Yet-Another-Internet-Guru explaining what to do. It drives me crazy.

If I would have nurtured and promoted my mailing list as the highest priority, the continuous changes from all these "channels" wouldn't have affected the readership base of the blog as much as it did. An email address is always solid. And more important ... it would have saved me tons of time I could have spent on blogging instead, or on the dogs for that matter.

Just last month I therefore organized our first giveaway exclusively for our mailing list, which was a great success. A couple of the participants unsubscribed again after the giveaway of course, but I was very happy to see a lot of mail addresses coming through from people I could actually recognize by name from social media, which are exactly the readers I try to reach. I will certainly do a couple more giveaways, and will also try to find other things I could do to add value for our readers to be part of the list.

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

I am more than happy with our traffic counter showing 1,700,000 - plus a bit - pageviews, but hardly have a clue how that happened. My attempts at understanding the how, with tools like Google Analytics, have all miserably failed.

I am therefore probably the last person you should ask about traffic advice. There are so many things I don't do, I almost give the impression I am trying to avoid traffic. Like using click-bait blog titles, oh the horror! ... now that I mentioned click-bait, there is actually one click-bait post that was more than worth the read, written by A.J., "I bet you didn’t think dogs could write headlines. This post will seriously change your mind.". Go and have a look, I know you can't resist to click that link. I promise you won't regret it.

But seriously, looking back at 5 years of blogging, I think the handful of guests-posts I did, together with other bloggers referring to us - like in meaningful, not the occasional link or mention - brought the most sustainable and constant flow of traffic to our blog, other than writing great content. That's based on my feeling entirely though.

5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?

I am glad you asked, because it did actually surprise me it became the most popular one. Although popular might be the wrong word for it, controversial would describe it better, but it was by far the most read, most discussed in FB groups, etc.

The post was about Hovawarts and the Degenerative Myleopathy disease, and if we should worry about the Hovawart's future. What I didn't know was that the same discussion had already been a major topic behind the closed doors of the various breed-clubs, and it of course divided people, and clubs.

Bringing the story, brought that discussion out into the open.

6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?

I never wrote poetry before, although I enjoy reading it occasionally. But I really wanted to climb that mountain for Viva, and write a poem for her on her first death anniversary. It was a long and hard climb, but I finished it.

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year?

As mentioned, we did our first giveaway, of a FITPAWS Giant Balance Disc, at the end of the year.

I don't like writing product reviews, or anything sponsored, I value our independence more. Also the giveaway we paid for ourselves, without sponsoring, or any affiliation whatsoever with FITPAWS, other than that I am raving about their product.

8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?

I recently discovered Scrivener. It's actually a writing tool for book authors, script writers, etc. But I found it to be a great tool for bloggers too. The great thing with Scrivener is, it goes beyond a normal editor, and helps you outline, plan, and organize your posts. I especially like how you can play around with your draft posts as index cards - the corkboard - while keeping everything in one place, including your research. I absolutely love it.

When you are done writing a post, you can just copy/paste the text in your blog editor, or even export as html from Scrivener.

If you are interested, have a look over at Literature and Latte for more info and a trial download - did I mention Scrivener is crazy cheap too? - there are also example template for bloggers, just google for it.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

Now that I am writing a book about the rise and fall of the Hovawart puppy mill in Denmark, I need the blog to be a platform for the book too.

How that would work, or what I have to do exactly, I don't know yet. But I will try to work something out soon on how the blog and the process of writing a book can interact. A real pain for me is, I already realize I will probably have to leave in favor of a more professional paid platform. Which is a shame, we really became best friends though the years, and the last thing I need right now, is blog platform migration.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be

I am not challenged by it yet, but I know I probably will be in the near future, that dreaded migration from to a paid platform I just mentioned.

So. If you have moved from to a paid platform, do you have some great resources that took you through the whole process? Also, were you able to find a solution allowing you to migrate your comments from too?


Last but not least ... thank you for hosting the Challenge again this year, Amy! As always, going pet friendly! Sending good karma for your Ty, that he may soon have restored health.


  1. Oh great answers - I'll have to check out Scrivener. There was also another site for analyzing traffic that was free, but I've lost it! If I find it I'll share on my blog.

    ...and yes, I clicked the click-bait link...

    Monty and Harlow

  2. The book sounds exciting, after doing nano this year I keep meaning to check out Scrivener. Anyway, nice to meet you through the challenge.

  3. So much YES to #2. I have been struggling with the grief issue too, and your blog has definitely been one that has inspired me to keep going during the tough times.

    Also, can we discuss how surprised I was to see a link to one of my posts in here? Thanks for the linky love. :)

    CANNOT wait to see what you do with this book - I just know it's going to be amazing.

    1. You won't believe how much fun I had with that post, and when I was thinking about the traffic question, it came back to mind all over again. What better way was there to ridicule those type of headlines, than your post? :)
      And thanks for your kind words, AJ, it made me glad to hear we at least could help a little during your grief over Bella.

  4. I never really analyzed my traffic. And as for titles and promotion, you're right that it should all flow naturally. You have to be yourself on the blog. By the way, I'm looking forward to learning more about your upcoming book.

  5. Hi Y'all,

    Great info. My blog is my diary so I don't worry about stuff that someone trying to monetize one does.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  6. Jodi's quote was awesome and so true. Thank for including it here. It's a good reminder because all of us who love animals experience grief at some point.

    We've been blogging about the same time. May 5 year anniversary is coming up in March. And you've gotten crazy good page views in that time. Plus you're a truly international gathering place which is very cool.

    All of this bodes well for promoting your book in the future.

    Kim of Cindy Lu's Muse switched from Blogger to WordPress this year. I bet she'd be happy to answer questions for you. I don't remember seeing major problems when she made the switch so hopefully that bodes well for your future too.

    BTW, Honey glanced over my shoulder to see your top picture and wants to know, "What's wrong with a retriever?" :)

    1. Thanks, I just warned Kim, we will be new best friends this year, but she hasn't replied yet :)
      Congrats on that upcoming anniversary too Pamela. I remember how we met on Edie's blog, it's a long time ago, 5 years!
      And say to Honey the "Hovawart - Retriever meme" was only meant to provoke people unaware of Hovawarts, Kenzo is just as glad for retrievers, as we all are :)

    2. Ha! Kim here...sorry I haven't responded to you yet - I've spent all my time going through these awesome posts on the Pet Blogger Challenge! First of all - I second Pamela about including Jodi's quote, those words are truly beautiful and inspirational. You're amazing, what you've accomplished here, I really can't wait for your book! Oh, and I was one of those bloggers you guest-posted for, and I can verify you most certainly must be getting good traffic from that post. It's still one of the top contenders, after all this time! As for switching to WP - I'm all yours, my friend. Whatever you need to know, I'll help you out. It wasn't as bad as I expected; and there's a plugin that migrates your entire blog from Blogger to Wordpress, comments and all. You're going to enjoy WP once you get used to it!
      Here's to a very successful book launch, and an exciting year ahead!

    3. Thanks, Kim, I liked writing it for you too.
      I am relieved to hear there is a plugin that also imports the comments and the whole migration has not been as bad as you expected. I googled the subject and started to worry reading all those negative experiences. It proves once more: Never trust what they write on the Internet :)
      I am going to play around with it in a couple of months from now, thanks for offering help if I run into issues, I know where to find you! Thanks in advance!

  7. I am glad you let your blog evolve instead of wither away after your loss of Viva. Chester and Gretel are huge parts of my blog but Chester is much older. I am not sure what will happen the day there is only one. Thanks for the reminder on the mailing list too. I have a decent subscriber list but my "newsletter" is just an RSS feed of my posts in email form. I want to start adding a small section to each email, or a separate monthly one, that offers something different and special to our subscribers.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. I know when I lost my Brandy I just had no idea which way to turn. I appreciate getting to know you better through your answers. And I am glad you are blogging. Hope to meet you in May at the BlogPaws Conference.

  9. A blog platform migration doesn't sound fun. When we moved to a new host I did a little research and hired someone to assist in the move. It made things much easier and less stressful.

    I've been collecting email subscribers for years, but I still haven't done a good job of leveraging my list. Another problem is because I don't send regular email people get upset and often times don't even remember signing up (even though it's a double option). This year I hope to get a regular email out to my subscribers.

    Best of luck to you in 2015!


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