Take a look at me now (yet again)

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I learned the word omphaloskepsis and engaged in some officially-sanctioned navel gazing. (I would say that it had been a year since I engaged in some navel gazing, but let’s get real. It’s one of my hobbies.)

Today’s navel gazing is brought to you as part of the Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by the wonderful Go Pet Friendly. This post marks my third year participating in the challenge, so I’ll be tackling the questions directed towards repeat offenders. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know I love lists (as in my No Frown Friday posts), so it may surprise you to learn that I like to tackle this one in a narrative format instead.

Before I dive in, here’s a link to last year’s post (in case you’re curious). I tried to find a new Phil Collins song to capture the theme of this year’s post, but nothing really fit as well as the one I’ve used in the past. Although it would entertain me to draft a post entitled Sussudio, it wouldn’t make much sense.

Let’s get to it. Apologies in advance for the lengthy post…

Assessing my 2012 goals:  One of my biggest goals for 2012 was to finally make the move to self-hosted WordPress – that was probably the most important one to me. I can happily check it off the list, thanks to the assistance of my live-in tech support. This new platform has been challenging, as I’ve had a lot to learn. However, I’m very glad that I made the move.

There was another goal that I might deem more important (or at least a very close second). I wanted to think about the future of the blog and where I saw it going. I don’t think I spent a great deal of time on that front, but for 2013 I hope to focus some attention here.

Finally, I also set a personal goal for myself – to volunteer at a local shelter at least once per month. I met this goal, volunteering at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA). I began by walking dogs and bringing them to adoption events and became more involved throughout the year. I help out with FOHA’s Twitter account, which has been a fun and unexpected opportunity. I signed up to plan the volunteer holiday social and joined the committee to help plan events for FOHA’s 40th anniversary this year. I’ve also tried to promote FOHA cats and dogs on the blog.

Moving the goal posts:  My goals did not change significantly over the past year (although I have a host of new ones for 2013, as you’ll see below). Moving to WordPress and volunteering were my focus. I also found other ways to increase the “making a difference” part of my blogging experience, doing a little blogging for City Dogs Rescue and pitching in as a Staff Writer for Be the Change for Animals. Finally, although it wasn’t exactly a goal, I did finally live up to the title of the blog and add another dog to the family.

How many posts does a blogger post:  Although I don’t have a strict schedule, I do try to post four to five times per week. (In an ideal world, I would post every day. I try to schedule several posts in advance, but I’m more successful some months than others.) Each week, I do a regular link roundup on Fridays and participate in Wordless Wednesday. Other than that, my schedule is not all that structured, although I often participate in Black & White Sunday or Mischief Monday in addition to my other posts (including posts spotlighting adorable adoptables). So, I have a loose schedule that I follow, but I’m still not very strict about it. I think that a schedule might be more helpful, as not having something already planned allows me to slack off a bit when I get distracted by other things. I think that having some specific features helps keep me on track, however.

If I could turn back time: Well, I’d really like to have more time, but I figure turning back the clock Hermione-style would work too. Honestly though, I’m not sure exactly how much time I spend on blogging per week – it probably depends on the week. My photo posts don’t take a ton of time, although sometimes editing the photos does. (I never have a shortage of photos to choose from, which also helps.) The link roundup posts are the most time-consuming. Finding links, looking for connections, and figuring out themes tends to take a while. I save links that I find interesting as I come across them (and often categorize them when I do), but writing the actual post usually takes a few hours altogether. As for other posts, sometimes inspiration strikes and I draft them in thirty minutes. I think the biggest key for me is to keep a list of ideas and posts so that I have somewhere to start when I’m feeling uninspired.

Visiting other blogs often provides me with inspiration, too. I try to carve out a few hours each week for visiting other blogs too, but sometimes I fall pretty far behind. During 2012, I did a roundup of great posts from other pet blogs each month. Although my monthly roundup was often kind of late, it did give me the drive to stay engaged with other bloggers and to visit their blogs on a fairly regular basis.

The smell of success:  How do I measure success? Not well, honestly. I used to check my stats on the Blogger dashboard. However, once I moved to WordPress, I was lax in learning how to view my stats. I recently learned how to do so, and I intend to be more aware of them in the future. I tend to view success in terms of comments and interactions (perhaps in part because I only recently made myself focus on paying attention to other stats), but I’m curious to hear what others think on this subject. I used to be very focused on how many comments I received, but I know that many people visit and don’t comment. I do have one reliable benchmark of success – if there is some great discussion in the comments, I feel like I’ve done a decent job.

I wanna hold your hand:  If I could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue, I think it would be help in evaluating what I’m doing well and what I need to work on.  I sometimes worry that I’m a bit all over the place, and I’m not always sure where I should focus my energies. So, dear readers – what do you like about my blog? What can I fix? I think that it would be a huge help to get some objective feedback from you guys. I spend a lot of time immersed in this blog, so I have lost any pretense of objectivity.

Back to the future:  I have a few different goals for 2013. First, I want to set aside some dedicated blogging time in my schedule each week. Right now, it’s a bit more haphazard – sometimes things don’t get done or they get done at the very last minute (said the blogger writing this post mere hours before it should be published). I used to schedule most posts in advance, and I’d really like to get back in the habit.

Second, I want to spend some time thinking about the business side of things. Where do I see this blog going? I have toyed with the idea of expanding the photography side of things and possibly selling some items (like greeting cards) on Etsy (or elsewhere). I’m not sure if that’s where things will end up or not, but I do want to sit down and figure out what, if anything, I can do to take the blog to a new level.

My third goal is tangentially related. I came up with an idea for a web comic last year, and I want to get that up and running. Although the initial panels I have drawn are not pet-related, there is definitely room for that in the future (and I obviously have dreamed up enough punny names to do something with as well). So, I’d like to consider how that web comic could integrate with this blog (Synergy!) and how any possible expansion could include both.

Finally, I want to continue to refine the focus of the blog. What I focus on may depend in part on what you guys want to see more of (per my above plea for feedback). The goal has always been to deliver humor with a dose of heart, but this year I want to strive for consistency in my content.

I’ll stop now:  Whew… sorry for being so darn wordy! Such is the danger of navel-gazing – once I get started, I simply cannot stop. When your eyes have recovered from all of that reading, I recommend that you visit Go Pet Friendly to check out the other participants in today’s challenge, most of whom probably edited their posts better than I edited this one.

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59 thoughts on “Take a look at me now (yet again)

  1. Nice post AJ! I loved how you laid it out. Very conversational!

    Congrats on making the leap to your own platform. I am still a coward when it comes to that area (seem too many of my friends hacked this past year so now I am really afraid!). Also, congrats on helping at the local shelter. I’ve taken on a little bit more with my rescue too.
    I think the ETSY cards idea is awesome! I also love the idea of a web comic (my eyes perked up when I read that one). You are so talented! I look forward to seeing more this coming year!
    As far as your blog being all over the place? I don’t think so at all. I love your photography so every picture you share is wonderful to me. I also love your sense of humor. I can always count on one of your posts to perk me up. And, I love the posts where you highlight an adoptable pet. I’m not sure what further direction I would or could give you other than keep being you. I personally think your blog is unique and different and that’s why I like it so much. Chances are I will always find something new, different or interesting on your blog. I love that this is the case. :)
    Melf recently posted..The Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge (2013)

  2. Looking at your list, I suspect petbloggers must have the most hops of any blogging community LOL. I don’t think you’re all over the place. In fact, you and your blog have quite a distinctive style. Finding juicy titbits and putting them all in a nice big bowl for the rest of us too lazy to do so. Thank you for that! And your puns :D

    Good job on your move and the rescue work. As always, I’m gobsmacked at how much some of you manage to fit into a day.
    Georgia Little Pea recently posted..The Repeat Offenders Q&A.

    • You’re so right – we do love the hops, don’t we? Maybe because it reminds us of bunnies? :)

      Thank you for the kind words, although I think I’m fairly lazy and many of the other bloggers I read put me to shame with how much they get done!

  3. I love that you’re volunteering at FOHA. I think I mentioned to you before that they hold a special place in my heart because that’s where my Emmett came from.

    It sounds like you have some great big ideas for 2013. That’s fantastic! I can’t wait to see the comic because I always appreciate your humor. Keep us posted!
    Maggie recently posted..Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

  4. Funny you think you are all over the place. It is what is so interesting to come back, what has AJ found out of this time? :) Those web comic plans sound very intriguing, combined with your puns, you must have a winner.
    Thanks for all your good puns, and being all over the place.
    kenzo recently posted..Yikes, It Is Alive

  5. I don’t think you’re all over the place at all! If I had to describe your blog, I’d say it’s full of humor, great photographs and info about dog rescue. I especially always love your funny posts and I always leave with a smile after a visit. Great goals for this year. Especially love the gift cards idea!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted..Pet-Blogger-Challenge Virgin No More

  6. Hey – I kind of like the “all over the place” focus of your blog – you are never dull, always entertaining and incredibly funny. (I don’t think of it as all over the place, I think of it as varied and interesting.)

    Personally, I’m most impressed by your diving feet first into the rescue arena. It just wouldn’t be you to dip a toe, no, you’ve got to go in full throttle and sign up for various committees, events and activities. Makes the rest of us feel like slackers, you know. ;)

    No, seriously, though, you are an inspiration. Thank you for making that a focus and for doing so much for those animals. Your ‘adorable adoptables’ features is, well, adorable AND helpful. So congrats to you for setting and meeting those goals.

    I’m not surprised to see you thinking of ways to tackle the business side of blogging. It think you have a great product and are a lovely photographer so the idea of cards is a natural. The comic is even more interesting to me. I really hope you continue to flesh out that idea. I can guarantee you at least one follower. :)
    Leslie recently posted..Pet Blogger Challenge 2013

    • Leslie, thank you so much. Your comments are very sweet and I’m touched!

      I’ve always kind of had a problem with jumping in rather than easing in to things. I always schedule far too many things – it can drive those around me a bit crazy at times. I’ll admit though, my volunteering is nothing compared to some of the other people I meet at the shelter. They make me feel like a super slacker!

      I’ll definitely keep you posted on the comic… I just need to figure out the best way to make it work. :)

  7. About that post entitled Sussudio? Picard would say “Make it so,” you know, if he were searching previous captains’ logs for bald drummers.

    Everybody here has already said what I would, that your personality is the consistency people crave. What I have to add is that it’s kind of light and fluffy like a sea foam salad with tons of sweat, fruity goodness mixed inside. I like it. A lot.

    I usually don’t care about details like stats and hours spent, but I’m so glad to know how long your link list posts take and what the process is. It makes me appreciate them even more, as if that were possible. Clearly, it is.

    Thank you for always being so fun, entertaining, and informative. Your blog is one of the greats.
    Kim Clune recently posted..The Doggone Dirt on Pet Blogging

    • I’ll admit… after I typed that I did kind of want to name this post Sussudio. I don’t think I’ll be able to let that idea go, so stay tuned…

      A sea foam salad? I’m kind of intrigued by that description!

      Thank you for the kind comments. It’s encouragement from friends like you (just had a “viewers like you” moment here in the privacy of my home where I became a PBS announcer for a few seconds) that keep me going. I think it’s hard to be objective about your own content, so I’m incredibly touched to hear this positive feedback. (You like me, you really like me… sorry, I can’t stop once I get going. I’ll stop channeling Sally Field now.)

  8. I love your blog, it’s one of the first ones I check when I get into my google reader.

    Your wit and humor shine through in your posts, which is initially what drew me and of course keeps me coming back. :-)

    I loved the way you put your own spin on this post, it’s one of the very things I love about this blog.

    As for blogging, well personally I think it’s an evolution, constantly changing as we change and grow too. What we want from our blog this year, may be totally different next year. For my blog this coming year I will set some goals but will remind myself that they are flexible and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t meet them.
    Jodi recently posted..Pet Blogger Challenge

  9. Love the answers.. and I participated too. So glad others have been doing this a while. Congrats on meeting your goals for last year.. I know the dogs appreciated the walks and love and that is so awesome.

    And… congrats on getting 3 new awards.. I’ve been following your blog and got a chance to get some awards and decided to give them to you and share.

    Please check out my latest post below to claim them
    http://peacelovenwhiskers.com/2013/01/10/good-things-come-in-3s/
    Chris recently posted..Good things come in 3s..

  10. Web comic! That would be awesome. I used to be such a huge fan of multiple comics and would read them every day. And then I started blogging and I haven’t been back to any of them in years. Oh how priorities change. Anyway, I think it’s a great idea and you are the right person to pull it off.

    I think you are right to look at the engagement part of your blog and use that as the measure of your success. It was something that was repeated over and over again at BarkWorld. That as great as numbers and high traffic stats are, community engagement is just as – if not more – important. You definitely have that in spades and it’s obvious why.

    Thank you for dedicating so many hours to entertaining us with your wit and photographs. Your blog is always a highlight of my week.
    Kristine recently posted..My Year of Zoomery is a Wrap

    • Thanks, Kristine for your kind words. And with regard to the comic, I hope that I can put something together that people will be interested in. :)

      It’s cool to hear that engagement was the measure of success discussed at BarkWorld too – that makes me feel better about not being too aware of my other stats!

  11. It’s funny that you think your blog is all over the place, because I think it’s so consistent. You’ve got a great sense of humor and I love that you’re helping adoptable pets both on the blog and in real life. I have to admit, I’ve got my fingers crossed that your web comic idea makes it to the top of your priority list – you’d be fantastic at that, and then you could turn it into a coffee table book and sell it to meet your business goals! If I could make one suggestion, it would be that you change the default to “Don’t Subscribe” when people leave a comment. I always forget to change that, and then I get an email everytime anyone comments on a post that I’ve commented on.

    Thanks so much for taking part in the Challenge, and best of luck in 2013!
    Amy@GoPetFriendly recently posted..Friday Photo Challenge – Now Your Pet Can Be The Star!

    • Thank you so much, Amy! It’s great to hear that people might actually be interested in seeing a webcomic to me. Now I just have to actually get off my butt & figure out how to do it! :)

      That’s a good suggestion about the commenting thing. I will go play with my settings and figure out how to do that. Hehe.

      Thanks for hosting this yet again!

  12. Hi, nice to visit here again. :)

    I do a weekly link round up of sorts called “The Week in Tweets” and, as the name suggests, it just summarises all the good stuff I linked on Twitter during the week. It’s how I try to keep track of good content without losing my head! Maybe a system like that would work for you? I still find the whole process incredibly time consuming, though!
    Tegan recently posted..DO SOMETHING! Make a submission!

  13. Looks like everyone here sees the cohesion in your blog. In the end, it’s all summed up by your name: I still want more puppies. To me the theme of your blog is the joy of pups.

    Some of that is expressed with your puns and songs (although puppies are so much better than Phil Collins). :) But the volunteer work and photos of adoptable dog express the joyful side of a pup finding a new home and a person finding a new pup.

    Thanks for sharing the insider’s look at your link posts. I’m always astounded by how much work goes into creating them. And they are always excellent.

    Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. Hmmm, sounds like BlogPaws in May will be a good chance to touch base on how you’re progressing.
    Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes recently posted..I Blame Canada for Making Me Turn (to) Tricks

  14. I think your blog is a celebration of all things puppy and puppy-related. You take content that might otherwise seem silly and through your wit, sass, smarts & style make it smart and fun at the same time. Your link posts always rock my world. I never realized just how hard they were until I tried to do one in tribute to you. I bow to the master!
    Kolchak, Felix & Jodi recently posted..Fetch Friday: WOOF! There It Is Edition

  15. I think the Etsy idea is a great one and one that I have gone back and forth with too at times!
    You’ve done a great job this year and congrats on moving to WP! It was one of my goals too!
    I don;t think you are all over the place at all, your posts are unique and fun and always bring a smile!
    Best of luck this year!
    Jen recently posted..Cautiously Optimistic. A Sherman Story

  16. I agree with the others who have comment here already – your humor and wit are a great asset to your blogging! I also, generally speaking, like the look and layout of your blog – very clean and very easy to read and navigate (what font style and size do you use?).

    Congrats on your move to self-host AND on the new pup and the volunteer time. All excellent moves :-)

    Have a great day and be well.

    Best,
    Jason
    The Preventive Vet recently posted..Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

    • Thanks!

      I actually use Droid Serif and Droid Sans for the blog. I have to admit, however – I am not sure what size it is. (Bad blogger, I know… but when I set up these fonts I liked the size and just left it. And I’m not the most tech savvy so I’m not sure where to look to figure it out. LOL.)

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