You know I love any excuse to engage in some omphaloskepsis. (A hat tip to Pamela from Something Wagging for teaching me that fun word.) Luckily, Edie from Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy from Go Pet Friendly created the Pet Blogger Challenge, which means that at least one day of the year, my navel gazing is sanctioned… even encouraged.
I participated last year, so first and foremost – here’s the link to last year’s post (which I also started with a Phil Collins reference … apparently it’s a tradition). The post below builds off of some of the items I discussed in that post.
Now, on to the questions. Amy and Edie have posed a series of questions, which those of us participating in the challenge will be answering on our blogs today. I’ll be answering the questions for those who participated last year. (There’s a separate set of questions for those taking the challenge for the first time – you can find both sets here.)
For some reason, I like to tackle this challenge in a narrative format, rather than in a list. I realize that this preference probably seems odd, especially given my general fondness for all lists. Bear with me – I get pretty wordy ahead…
Assessing my 2011 goals: My goals for last year were simple – I wanted to maintain a consistent posting level, add some photography posts to the blog, and become more involved with local rescue groups. I’m not sure I’d say that any one of these goals was more important than the other – however, I’m fairly pleased with the progress I made, particularly towards the first and second goals.
Last year, I posted 228 times, compared to 123 in 2011. I began to include more posts about photography – in addition to occasional tips, I conducted my first interview with Seth Casteel, a professional photographer who also takes photographs of shelter pets. These photography posts actually informed my volunteer work – I contacted a local rescue group and visited the shelter to take some photos for its website. I plan to make volunteering at the shelter a regular event, and will be sharing my adventures with you along the way.
Moving the goal posts: In addition to the goals above, I do think that my goals changed throughout the year. I set a few new goals for myself along the way – including moving the blog from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress. I did some of the research (with help from some of my blogging pals) and considered my options, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. My new goal is to complete the move sometime before June (although I hope it will be before then). This past year, I also wanted to feature adoptable pets on my blog – I’ve turned it into a weekly feature. Finally, I wanted to make more use of Facebook and Twitter to promote the blog, and I’ve definitely used these on a more regular basis.
How many posts does a blogger post: Last year, I explained that I didn’t have a very strict schedule (other than Wordless Wednesday and No Frown Friday). At the time, I was trying to post three times per week. I still try not to slip below that level – although I’ve now added a regular Sunday post as well (the aforementioned adorable adoptables). So, I’m slightly more schedule-driven than in the past, and I think that these regular posts help me keep my momentum going. However, I’m actually trying something new this month – I’m going to try to post every day in January. I may try to continue daily posting after that, but I wanted to start with a more manageable goal.
(Don’t) show me the money: I still don’t generate income from the blog. I have been approached by various companies, but I’m not quite ready to take that step. I’ll probably reconsider that plan as opportunities come my way, but I don’t feel any pressure to decide right now.
The Good, the Bad & the Furry, revisited: I think my likes about blogging have remained fairly consistent. One of my favorite things about blogging is still the sense of community. My connection to the pet blogger community grew by leaps and bounds this year. I became involved in more events (like K9 Kamp and Social Media for Social Good) and began to correspond with other bloggers through email and other channels. I became a more active member of the BlogPaws Community site and signed up to participate in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Challenge – so many valuable discussions!
However, the biggest change on this front was probably the fact that I finally met several other bloggers in person, thanks to the fact that BlogPaws 2011 happened to be in my ‘hood. Meeting other bloggers and participating in the conference has had a significant effect on my connection to the pet blogger community. Rather than just other bloggers, I now think of many of these wonderful people as my friends. It’s a nice feeling.
My dislikes, on the other hand, have evolved a bit. My least favorite thing at this point is probably the technical side of things. I’d like to become more savvy on this front – if I could increase my skill level, I think my dislike would fade.
Back to the future: I’m fairly pleased with the progress I made in 2011. As for 2012, I see a few changes – including that long-desired move to self-hosted WordPress. I’ve set a goal to volunteer at least monthly, so that work may influence the blog content as well – and now that my eyes have been opened to the possibilities of shelter pet photography, I anticipate future posts on that subject. This past year, I also refined the focus of the blog a bit – humor with a dose of heart – and I hope to continue to find my niche.
I also want to use this year to really think about where I see the blog going in the future – whether it’s to maintain this space as a purely personal one or to take it to another level. I have been tossing around a few ideas, but nothing concrete. Perhaps by the time next year’s Pet Blogger Challenge rolls around, I’ll have a better answer to this final question.