I like navel gazing, but I hate belly buttons

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I only like navel gazing (or, as our friend Pamela would call it, omphaloskepsis) when it’s metaphorical. Please keep your abdomens covered or – at a minimum – at a reasonable distance from my eyeballs. I can’t quite explain why, but belly buttons really weird me out.

Now that we’ve established some boundaries, dear reader, let’s move on to the real topic. (Full disclosure: I may have actually directed a few lines of “Take a Look at Me Now” at the mirror in order to psych myself up before writing this post, but let’s just keep that between us, okay?) This bout of self-reflection has been prompted by the annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Go Pet Friendly and Will My Dog Hate Me, two of my favorite blogs.

Now, if you’ll permit me, I’m going to try to forget about real navels while I spend some time gazing at my metaphorical one. Our thoughtful co-hosts have provided a list of questions, but (in spite of my affinity for listing things), I have decided to tackle them in a narrative format. (It’s not too late to join us – check out the questions here!)

Before we get started, two things: (1) Here’s a link to last year’s post; and (2) When I searched for “navel” on Giphy (my usual source for GIFs), here’s one of the six GIFs that appeared for my viewing pleasure:

via giphy.com

It seems kind of appropriate. Also, apparently when the world thinks of navels, they think of David Bowie.

A brief history of (my) time: I’ve been blogging since April 2010, so the fourth anniversary of this little enterprise is just around the corner. If my calculations are correct, I have to send the blog a Carmen Miranda hat or buy it a toaster (preferably one that will do something cool like catapult toast across the kitchen).

via giphy.com

The blog was originally a private affair (and loosely inspired by the fact that my friends were starting to blog about their kids). After a while, I discovered the pet blogging community and was inspired to take it public. (There’s much more to this story, but I won’t repeat it all here.)

If you’re new to the blog, this excerpt from my bio page sums up what I’m all about:

I Still Want More Puppies is a blog about pup culture, pop culture, and anything else that strikes my fancy. I strive for humor with a healthy dose of heart – stop by for a smile, a laugh, or a big virtual hug. There’s no law against having fun while trying to help animals, and this blog is a place to do both.

So, that’s how we got here.

Knowing (yourself) is half the battle: When I look back at 2013, I am pleased with the fact that I think I’ve finally figured out what I want this blog to be and where I want to go with it. Last year, I discussed taking the blog to the next level and thinking more about the business side of things. However, I realized that while I am still interested in expanding into other areas (and I do have a few actual business ideas), I don’t want the spirit to take a backseat to business. For example, I don’t want to do product reviews (aside from the occasional item that really speaks to me).

What I enjoy about this space is that it allows me to be creative, and I want it to remain a place where I feel the freedom to be as kooky and silly as I want. I want my content to be the star. (In an ideal world, I’d be the Bloggess of the pet blogging world. Dream big, right?) So, that’s been the biggest change for me – it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m just going to be me.

via giphy.com

I am but a young grasshopper: I’m constantly learning from other bloggers. I talk to some of my blogger friends almost daily. They’ve taught me by making me think – about things like why I made no appearance on my own blog (and why I should), about what I want from this blog, about cutting myself some slack, and about countless other things. These bloggers inspire me to follow my bliss, and they’ve proved to be a source of support that keeps me going. If I had to offer advice, it would be to spend some time thinking about what you really want and why you do it – and then just do your thing, whatever it may be.

(Feed)back to the future: If I could ask the pet blogging community help with one challenge, I would ask for help in evaluating what I’ve done here so far. Although I’m often mired in self-reflection, I have trouble looking at the blog from an objective perspective. What do you enjoy about this blog? What would you like to see more of? What could I do to make it even better?

Traffic and content and promotion, oh my: I still haven’t discovered the magic formula for bringing more traffic to the blog. It’s increased in a slow and steady fashion, but it’s not something I’ve really focused on. I sincerely hope that the content will draw people in, but I know that it’s more complex than that. I do pay attention to which posts are popular and have staying power. I check my stats to see which posts get a number of views, and I’m mindful of which posts result in a significant number of comments and discussion. In spite of that, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about traffic when I’m drafting a post. I do spend time thinking about my post titles and whether they will inspire someone to click through to read a post.

I don’t spend a ton of time promoting the blog. I share my posts on Facebook (I’d love to know how to maximize its potential) and Twitter (my top source of traffic), but I don’t do much beyond that. That’s something I would like to work on – but I don’t want to let it stress me out.

via giphy.com

When the (commenting) spirit moves me: I’m most likely to comment on a post when it makes me think. Posts that pose questions, raise interesting points, or make me see things in a different way are the ones that will often inspire me to comment. In those cases, I want to engage that blogger and be part of the conversation.

When I can’t find the words (or the energy): When writer’s block strikes me, the only cure sometimes is, well, time. Instead of staring at the empty screen and letting it mock me, I’ve learned that the best thing for me to do is to close the laptop and come back later. I don’t try to force it. I’ll check out my list of ideas and possible topics and hope that inspiration strikes. Sooner or later, the block dissolves and the words start flowing again.

Similarly, when I’m tired, I don’t force myself to blog. I like to post regularly (at least a few times per week), but I have learned to cut myself some slack. The world won’t end if I don’t post as much for a week or two, no matter how much I used to stress out about it. I think this approach reflects where I am with the blog now – I want it to bring me joy. I want it to bring you joy. It won’t do either of those things if I’m just cranking out posts due to some artificial pressure I’m putting on myself.

I’ve never really taken an extended break, but I do allow myself mini-breaks from time to time. I know myself well enough to know that if I lose momentum completely, I might never pick it back up. For me, a blog at rest might just remain at rest. I’ve never thought about quitting, interestingly enough, but I think that is partially due to the fact that this is a creative outlet from my daily life. I’d miss that outlet if it went away.

via giphy.com

When I grow up: So, what are my goals for 2014? I have a few. First, I want to continue feeling the blog love and not get in my own head about what it should be. Second, I want to give the blog a bit of a facelift. I think that it could be more visually appealing and better match the content and tone of my posts. (Improving my knowledge of the technical side of blogging would be useful here too.) Finally, I want to launch the webcomic that I’ve been working on for the past year. I’m pretty excited about this venture – it will be on its own site, but I will be promoting it here as well, of course. That’s all I can say for now, so stay tuned…

Assuming you made it to the bottom of this insanely wordy post with your eyesight intact, check out the other blogs participating in today’s hop and join the fun!

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58 thoughts on “I like navel gazing, but I hate belly buttons

  1. Pingback: Navel Gazing With the Pet Blogger's Challenge | Kol's NotesKol's Notes

  2. You make us all want more puppies– if only for the puns. ;) And you have a gift for gifs.

    I think casual fun is a great blogging goal when you’ve got a demanding day job. This should be the battery charger for your creative juices, and the water cooler for people on break. We can always use a laugh during the day, and readers can count on I Still Want More Puppies to provide us with one. From strength to strength, Pup Fan!
    one person’s view recently posted..The Pet Blogger Challenge – 2014 Edition

  3. Hmmm… a web comic? Alright! Definitely looking forward to that.
    I enjoy your blog any time and all the time, but rely on you for your round ups, where I always find things that I’ve missed, and your humor always picks me up when I’m having a not-so-hot day. I think of you as Princess of the Puns (the Queen of Everything is, of course, Bella.)
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted..Tennessee Tails by Kathryn Primm DVM | Book Review

    • Thanks, Sue! It’s nice to hear that you enjoy the roundups (and especially nice to hear that I can provide a pick-me-up for you sometimes) – they are one of my more time-consuming features. Although I enjoy putting them together, I’ve often wondered whether to keep them going. Hearing from a few people lately has encouraged me to keep it up, as it seems like people do tend to like them. :)

  4. Your blog has always been great fun and it’s gotten even more colorful — literally and metaphorically — in every way. I agree about the navels, though I’m not opposed to navel oranges.

    See, you bring that out in people. Or at least in me. Which I like.

    Thanks for taking part again!

  5. Okay, can I just say that I loathe the crop-top trend that has been gaining momentum and will likely be big this spring/summer. Loathe! I even saw crop-top wedding dresses. Ugh. (Imagine how dated those photos are going to look in 10 years…) Can I blame Miley for this?

    Anyway, now that I’ve got that off my completely-covered chest…

    I share your love for the Bloggess. That sort of sense of humour is definitely what keeps me coming back here – a little offside, sarcastic, hilarious. And it’s uncommon in pet blogging, I think. There are lots of good things about pet blogging, and there’s lots of enjoyment to be had in cute photos, funny stories, training tips and current hot topics, but there’s not a lot of completely uncensored, dry, deadpan, or offside humour (the Dog Snobs are another one).

    I wonder why that is? There should be more of it.
    I know I self-censor because I worry about communicating sarcasm in text, and often people take pet issues very (too) seriously. But it’s my blog, and offense is taken not given, right? Look at me working through something in your comments section.

    Anyway, I admire your candor and your humour and your guts to just put it out there.
    Jen K recently posted..Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

    • Yes. Why are crop-top wedding dresses a thing? No one needs to see your midriff on your wedding day!

      Thanks for the encouraging words – I used to wonder if I was too all over the place to really interest anyone. And then I decided… screw it, it’s my blog and I’ll be as weird and snarky as I want. ;)

      I love the “offense is taken not given” thought. So true!

  6. You are funny, that keeps me coming back. As for Facebook, we just made a conscious effort to spend a lot of time there for a few months to build up on likes. Find big pages you can be friends with, have them share your stuff, engage your fans and thank them as well. We don’t have a million fans, but our fan base has doubled in the past year. Most days it is one or two likes but if someone promotes us on their page we can get 40 or more on a day. We don’t have time to work on it all the time so it is a slow process again, but the more you have, the more you get. We did the same with Twitter in the beginning.
    emma recently posted..The Beauty of Winter | GBGV | {This Moment} See Beautiful

  7. A web comic?! OMG, awesome! I can’t wait to see it! And I’m much happier to know you as PupFan rather than the Dog Bloggess, although I’m willing to call you PupFanness if it makes you feel like you need rollers in your hair and a gritty black and white portrait taken – with dog hair all over your bathrobe. :)

    Hope your blog enjoys the new toaster or, in other words, happy anniversary! Cheers to 2014!

    • You are too sweet, Kim. Thank you for the kind words!

      I’m looking forward to the comic thing a lot – just getting all of my ducks in a row (apparently I have an unruly crowd of ducklings to wrangle) before I get it up and running. I’m glad to hear that people would be interested in seeing it!

      You also now really want me to take a photo of myself in a dog-hair covered bathrobe, but I’ll try to resist the urge. ;)

  8. It’s fascinating to see how many of us in the same generation of blogging have come around in our answers. Time really changes things.

    BTW, don’t become the Blogess. You’re at least as funny and not nearly so mean. :)

    I love making weird connections between seemingly unrelated things. And I love people who love making weird connections between seemingly unrelated things. Sound like anyone you know?

    Yes, your blog is funny. And it’s punny. But it’s those weird bounces your thoughts take off the wall that really make you stand out. I love the thought of giving your blog a Carmen Miranda hat, for instance.

    And besides, where else would I satisfy my Bella and Tavish fixation? They’re just too cute.
    Pamela recently posted..Pet Blogger Challenge 2014 – Something Wagging’s Multimedia Extravaganza

    • We’re all weathering our adolescent growing pains nicely as we figure out what we want to be when we grow up, I think. I’m pretty sure it’s due in part to the awesome company.

      I’ll keep that in mind about the Bloggess. (Although I’m flattered that you think I’m not mean. LOL.)

      “Weird connections between seemingly unrelated things” should probably be my tagline. You’ve just summed up this blog better than I ever have, I think!

      Thanks for the kind words. :)

  9. There is so much that I love about this post. I think deep down we are all more alike than we know and many of us struggle with the same things. I struggle to be humorous in my posts. Like struggle. It seems I’m much funnier in person. :-)

    I think the hardest thing about blogging is taking a look at ourselves objectively. For instance I can look at someone else’s blog and make a suggestion for improvement, I just can’t see it in my own.

    I think if we do something that we love, it will show and others will naturally be attracted to that.
    Jodi recently posted..It’s Only My Opinion

    • I think you’re funny in person AND in your posts… but that’s just my opinion. (See what I did there? ;) )

      I cannot agree with you more about the objectivity and about the fact that loving what you do really shows. :)

  10. “I am but a young grasshopper” Love this so much and I feel the same way!

    I have always just loved your blog and it always give me a smile even when I’m not feeling very smiley!

    Speaking of the Bloggess, did you read her post today? Totally thought of you and a few other people!
    Jen recently posted..The Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

    • LOL… yes, her post was amazing as usual. She kills me.

      Thanks for the kind words – it makes me feel good to know that I can occasionally bring a smile when it’s needed. :)

  11. I appreciate your voice and style – that’s what keeps me coming back! Btw, I love that Mindy Project gif. I’m trying to figure out how to use the Facebooks better, too. I can’t wait to see the webcomic and facelift unfold over 2014.
    Maggie recently posted..Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

  12. It’s interesting to me to hear what social media sites are the top traffic drivers. I think we all use the same ones for the most part but sometimes me top traffic driver (Facebook) is someone else’s third or fourth. I think it has to do the community one has built but also the amount of time one spends on any given channel.
    Jessica @YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner recently posted..2014 Pet Blogger Challenge

  13. I love your blog, your posts, your tone, your personality. YOU really shine through and I love that. The you on your blog is very much the real you and I think that’s just the coolest. I admire your punny writing style. I also admire your list posts. I’ve tried several times to make list posts a regular feature, but I find that a real challenge. I also love how many links to other posts you include in your posts. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but man, that takes some time to do! I am looking SO FORWARD to having coffee with you! We gotta wait ’til it gets warmer because I’d love to sit on a patio somewhere and bask in the warmth and sunshine (because there’s been a real shortage of that around here these days!).
    Laurie Luck – Smart Dog University recently posted..Teach Your Dog: Solving Your Dog Training Problems

    • You’re not doing it wrong – it does take a lot of time! Sometimes, I wonder if it’s worth it, but I generally enjoy putting them together and it seems (at least to me) that other people do too. Thank you for the extremely kind words – you’re very sweet!

      2014 – the year of coffee! It will happen. :)

  14. Yes to the web comic! I am jumping up and down with anticipation. You are so funny and so creative that I know it is going to be awesome.

    I think we have so much in common when it comes to our blogging relationships. Maybe it’s just because we started around the same time but I understand so much of what you are saying here. I want to create better content and I want to reach more people but I don’t want to sacrifice any of my authenticity. Hopefully if I just keep plugging away, writing for writing’s sake, I will land on a formula that can do both. I have no doubt you are on your way to Blogess glory. I am so thrilled to get to watch you achieve it.
    Kristine recently posted..A Belated Homage to the Man Who Plays a Kickass Game of Tug

    • Aw, thank you! That’s sweet of you to say.

      I agree – it seems like we’re kind of in a similar place on a lot of issues right now. I think it’s hard to find that balance, especially when I’d convinced myself for so long that growing traffic and making it into a business was the goal. I think I felt like I *should* want to take the blog that direction without really ever thinking about why. Here’s hoping that we can each find our sweet spot in 2014 and find that formula that works for us… :)

  15. It sounds like you have a great vision for your blog. I am like you with facebook and twitter, I don’t do much with them but add posts and the occasional picture or update. I am glad to read others feel like I do about FB and Twitter. :)
    2 brown dawgs recently posted..The Zax

  16. Great post! I’m so glad you became a blogger. And apparently you and I started our blogs (well, my current biz one) around the same time. Yay! I think you do such a great job with your blog – finding your niche and making it fit with your personality. I think you also have a great community of dog bloggers as well. Keep it up!
    Michelle recently posted..My Organized Office Nook

  17. Oh my gosh – your webcomic is finally coming to fruition?! I’m so excited for you … and for me, really, because what’s better than a good giggle? Really though, I know how long you’ve been thinking of doing this and I couldn’t be happier for you. I love where you are with your blog – doing what you love and focusing on the joy. It seems to be a bit of a theme this year, and I’m glad for it. The year we were all being bullied by our blogs was a drag – this is so much better. Good luck in the next year and thanks for participating in the hop.
    Amy@GoPetFriendly recently posted..Taking A Holiday With My Pet

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