Every year, our friends at Go Pet Friendly host the Pet Blogger Challenge, where they pose a series of questions to the pet blogging community. This year, the head peep is participating on our behalf, since we kitties have important naps to take care of. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two about what goes on behind the scenes here at the blog, too!
1. How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging here since May of 2011. Hey, that means we’ll have a five-year blogaversary to celebrate this year, doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun with your friends, and I really have made wonderful friends during that time through this blog.
And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog.
Sometimes Cats Herd You’s slogan is “Laugh. Learn. Love cats.” because it’s a site sharing both entertainment and education about all things cat. We like to share some of our adventures around the house with you. Like any other household of three cats, there is always some mischief going on!
We also share information on our weekly Topical Thursdays posts, which cover topics like cat wellness, safety, and animal rescue.
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 think the blog-related thing I’m proudest of accomplishing is being published on someone else’s blog. At the very end of 2015, I became a contributing writer to Catster. It was a great next step for me after writing for my own blog for so many years.
On the blog itself, the thing that makes me proudest is every time someone takes time to comment and tell me, “I didn’t know that.” On days when I feel like I’m writing posts like I’m stating what feels like the obvious because I have known something for a long while, it feels good to know that a reader learned something and that their cat hopefully benefited from it, too.
3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why?
My favorite blog post this year is one I wrote when I got tired of hearing all the misinformation in the press about how your cats are going to give you mental illnesses through toxoplasmosis: Your Cat Isn’t Going to Make You Crazy. It’s one of my favorites because I was able to take frustration that was negative energy and make something positive out of it. Now, when I see someone sharing the same, tired misinformation, I have something handy to share in return that explains not only the correct information but where the misinformation came from in the first place.
I think the cats have had the most fun with the blog posts about Ashton’s Chicken Emporium. Some of the strangest things have come into the house for them to investigate as a result of that series of posts. Big thanks to the readers who have continued to urge Ashton to pursue her dreams.
4. What is one thing you’ve done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog?
Blog traffic is hard because there are a lot of things I won’t do that are good for traffic. My rule of thumb is that if it annoys me to see someone else doing it, I won’t make someone else see me doing it to promote my blog. I am 100% sure this means my site’s traffic could be higher, but it leaves my self-respect intact.
I could give you a list of things I tried in 2015 that didn’t do a thing for my traffic. One thing that did work was posting exclusive content about celebrities or public figures. Both my interview with Jackson Galaxy and the post featuring front-row photos from local the Acro-Cats performance drew a lot of views. I can’t imagine writing an entire blog on the coattails of cat celebrities, but I was surprised at the difference that having some of those posts in the mix made.
5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular?
The most traffic this year by far came from my Q & A with Jackson Galaxy. It was popular because it got shared to his Facebook page, which has an enormous following. That was a quick cluster of traffic that came and went, and that post doesn’t see much traffic now.
The post that sees a lower but surprisingly steady level of traffic is Don’t Eat That: Almonds, which was originally published in 2014. It continues to bring traffic because there’s so little information about whether almonds are toxic to cats or not elsewhere on the internet.
6. What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader?
I read so many blogs, I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one I read all the time. I’m kind of a RSS-aholic, and I have 430 blogs in my feed reader. I enjoy the firehose of information I can fine-tune by setting up my blog reader to pour all of this information over me. This lets me keep track of what’s going on in the world of everything from cats to computers.
7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?
I’m a geek at heart, so if I have time, I enjoy learning about what I need to do to keep my blog humming along. Since they are all technical questions, I find that Google can usually bring me the answers when I run into a head-scratching error, so I haven’t used one definitive source for helping grow those skills. If I was less of a hands-on “let’s try this!” type, I’m sure I would have a bookshelf of things to teach me the basics, but I often don’t look up how to do something until I am halfway through and get lost.
In my incredibly long blogroll are a couple dozen about writing and social media, and I tend to take their advice on a “take it or leave it” basis. As an old-timer on the internet from before this newfangled world wide web, I have a low tolerance for marketing hype, and I won’t do things that would annoy me as a reader.
Photography skills are still very much a work in progress for me. I have learned a lot from the Digital Photography School site, and when I can find time, I want to take some classes on Lynda.com that are more in-depth. PSA: My public library lets me take classes from Lynda for free, so check to see whether your local library has a membership. You could save some money on useful classes.
The biggest resource I have is my fellow bloggers. When I have a question, bouncing them off of a circle of fellow bloggers who have also been there often finds the quickest and most thorough answer of all.
8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?
Don’t blog just to make money. Making money is a great goal, but blogging takes a lot of time. If you’re going to devote that much of your time to something, make sure it’s something you really enjoy. It’s easy to lose track of why you enjoyed blogging in the first place.
9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?
2015 was the year of throwing things at the wall to see if they worked. 2016 will be the year of adjustments based on the things I learned.
One of the things I learned is I’m spending too much time blogging to be able to also pursue outside writing projects. Not if I want to sleep or find time to play with my cats, who are already getting a little impatient with me. This is the year to find the new balance that works better than it is today.
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?
Since I’m struggling with the need find 30 hour days, I’d like to hear how other bloggers manage their time, especially if you’re juggling a demanding day job or other big obligations, too. Did you clone yourself? Seriously, folks, I’d love to know how everyone else makes it look so easy!
Before I wrap up this post and hand the blog back over to the cats, I want to extend a big thanks to Amy at Go Pet Friendly for hosting the Pet Blogger challenge. I met Amy at Global Pet Expo, where she went out of her way to be sure she met me and make me feel included in conversations in the pressroom. It’s no wonder she’s doing the same thing to help bring the pet blogging community at large together. Thanks, Amy!