Oh, Pet Blogger Challenge, you old devil, you. This year, I have to say I’ve been both anticipating and dreading writing you. Anticipating because I get a lot out of reading everyone else’s posts. Dreading because I’m still grappling with all the same old things. I’ve been blogging for almost three years and not a lot has changed. Blah, blah, blah. I just feel a bit older.
Then I went back and re-read my challenge piece from last year. And then I read the one from the year before that. I was struck by how positive I sounded in both posts. I also realized that I’ve actually reached all of my goals! Granted, they were vague in nature but it stands that I accomplished them.
Golly, who’d have guessed that?
1. I wanted to meet some fellow bloggers in person.
2. I wanted to keep the essence and authenticity of my blog intact.
I don’t see any gigantic ads taking up space, nor have I received a dime from sponsors writing posts for me. Not that either of those things are necessarily bad when done right. Apparently I was worried last year about doing them very, very wrong. Fortunately, the only meaningless drivel around these parts is one hundred percent mine.
So clearly a shift in perspective is needed. I don’t know why I get so down about my lack of success when I haven’t defined my version of success in any measurable way. Silly pet blogger. Once again I have fallen into a tangle of over-inflated expectation based on absolutely nothing.
If three words could describe all the mistakes I made last year they would be: Missing! The! Point!
This year I am going to work hard not to do that. How I am going to measure my success at this I don’t know. Maybe see if the permanent dent in my forehead has healed?
ANYWAY… I’m supposed to be answering questions so let’s move this steam engine along!
I still try to post every week-day. Except when I don’t.
This was my hardest blogging year yet. There were times it was grinding to no end. I was getting so stressed out about not having enough time to do anything and about how inane I felt my ideas were that I almost went on hiatus. Permanently. However, I really enjoy the practice of writing. The idea of quitting depressed me. So I pushed through the blockage and you had to put up with some pretty boring posts in the meantime. Thanks for that. Eventually I realized if I was going to have a hope of writing anything decent ever again something needed to change.
That’s when I took the pressure off. I don’t make any money doing this. The only reward I get is a personal one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hefty motivator! But it’s not worth what is left of my sanity. Once I gave myself permission to take a day off if I was too busy or just plain didn’t feel like blogging, I felt a million times better. I found I spent more quality time reading other people’s blogs as opposed to rushing through to get it all done. These days if I don’t get to every blog I follow every day, or even every week, I don’t sweat it. We’re all busy. People understand and don’t hate me for not commenting on every single thing they write. Imagine that. It was a hard lesson for me to learn but a valuable one. The blog-life balance has been restored and I have much more fun!
I guess that’s my long-winded way of answering several questions on the list. I no longer publish on a schedule though I do try to post at least five days a week. If I don’t get to it one day because there was something else going on, I give myself a break. I find it works better for me this way for now. We’ll see if it changes back to something more structured in the future. Right now it’s all about flexibility!
If there have been repercussions for my new relaxed attitude as far as my audience is concerned, I haven’t noticed any. My traffic has remained consistent enough. In fact, I think it has improved. Probably because I now try to write when I have something to say, as opposed to writing for writings’ sake. Although, I am still wrestling with the latter. Inspiration doesn’t hit me nearly as often anymore. I don’t always feel comfortable writing about certain parts of my life and when there is nothing going on I do feel comfortable sharing, it’s difficult to put something “post-worthy” together.
Not that I have any idea of what is truly “post-worthy”. That deserves a whole article of its own! I am really looking forward to seeing how others define this. Is a grainy video of my dog really post-worthy? On a personal blog, does it matter all that much? There are bound to be a few duds, in my opinion. One of the things I love so much about this platform is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I just put it out there and hope for the best.
Ultimately, I am no longer willing to lose sleep over any aspect of my website. I will not stay up until three in the morning replying to comments. I will not turn down invitations to stay home and fiddle with plug-ins. I will not pass up things I enjoy because I have yet to post something that day. I will not spend more time online than I do with my family. If this was my full-time job I would give it a lot more effort. Unfortunately, I have one of those that I need to perform on top of whatever personal responsibilities are on my roster. For now, blogging is just a small part of who I am.
Quite likely if this offends someone, he or she isn’t going to stick around. I am okay with that.
The last three questions are the hardest for me to answer. I don’t know how to measure the success of a post, or even of my website as a whole. Numbers are, I suppose, the most scientific way. I don’t have the digits I probably should. They aren’t that impressive when compared to many, perhaps even all, of you. Again, I am okay with that. I don’t do the work so I can’t expect to get that kind of reward. I don’t know anything about Technorati or Alexa. Rating systems are so completely off my radar they fit right up there with NBA statistics. Heck, I can’t even really tell you how many page views I average a month. It hit me when I went to BarkWorld that I should probably know these things. I should probably care about them and quote them often.
But is that really all that matters when measuring success? Am I missing the point again? Help!
I guess this enables me to answer the penultimate question. If I could ask my fellow bloggers for assistance with just one issue it would be this: how should I measure the success of my website? Should I start looking at numbers? Should I figure out SEO? Do I need to know anything about Alexa? Is a blog worth anything without these things?
My goal for this year is to figure it all out.
I think I am happy with keeping this a personal gig without mucking it up with calculations or competition with other bloggers. That’s not my style. The pet blogging world is a warm, supportive community and I like to think I have something to offer it beyond big, traffic-generating articles. I don’t want to constantly be eyeing up my friends, plotting ways to edge them out of the ratings while putting myself higher. It doesn’t sound like fun, nor does it sound like what pet bloggers are really about.
Not that this is what I think others are doing! One must be clear! But it’s probably what I would turn into – or at least I worry it’s what I would turn into. If I allow myself, if I think I am good at something, I can be overly competitive. I’d rather be on the sidelines, helping others reach their goals. It’s a much kinder, happier place to be.
Now that’s an interesting thought, indeed…
I guess that’s it for my third edition of the Pet Blogger Challenge! My sincerest thanks to Go Pet Friendly for running it again this year and for coming up with some thought-provoking questions. Thanks as well to everyone who participates! I can’t wait to read every single one of your posts!