It’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.