Posts Tagged ‘Pet Blogger Challenge’

Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

For the fourth year, pet bloggers are being challenged to think deeply about and speak honestly about their blog.  I love this challenge!  It is fun to share, and fun to learn about other blogs and get to know other writers!

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2011

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2012

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2013

Thank you so much to Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burkert of Go Pet Friendly for hosting this fun project!

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for a little over seven years.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because my brother Dave told me I might like it.  You were right – thank you Dave!  At the time, I had to ask him what a blog was – I suspected it was one of those trendy, made up words.  I also did not know whether or not I liked writing, and it turns out I LOVE writing.  I can’t imagine NOT writing now.

Give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

Riley and James is named after my brother Dave’s and my Sister-I-Love Sara’s two giant dogs, Riley the Great Dane who is still doing great at age 9 and James the Mastiff who passed away at age 8.  The blog is not about those two awesome dogs – though it features Dave’s rendition of their cartoon likenesses (How cute are they??)

The main focus of Riley and James is the promotion of preventative care in pets from a veterinarian’s perspective, though if you stick around awhile, TANGENTS seem to be as big a theme as preventative care!  I like to write about my family, our own pets, gardening, Christmas, our annual purple tree, our community, my work, and whatever else is going on in our lives!  It often, but not always, is brought back around to pets!

Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you the most proud.

This one is subtle and awesome, and the work of others, not me…which I absolutely love.  Last year I posted as one of my goals that one day soon every cat in Omaha would have a home.

Two years ago, I spent a day with Dr. Horn, one of the veterinarians at Nebraska Humane Society, spaying and neutering cats and dogs.  On a normal work day, I might have a surgery or two, or I might not.  We had dozens of patients that day!  The pace was exhilarating – I loved it.  But the thought of losing puppies and kittens-to-be through spaying every dog or cat – which is the right thing to do – I firmly believe it – just smashed me.

I told Dr. Horn at the end of that day that I supported Nebraska Humane Society 100%, but I knew my role was not to be on the front lines with her.  I said that I would end up curled on in a corner on the floor, and they would have to step over me, and it would just be a pain.  I would be no help.  I was being honest, but I felt like I was letting down our community, Dr. Horn, and the pets that needed me.

I saw Dr. Horn at Central Veterinary Conference this past fall.  She asked me if I remembered that day.  I said that I did.  She said that they had considered how difficult that had been for me, and had improved their technique of juvenile spay and neuter so much that they were able to spay and neuter 1.8 lb. pets whereas before their lowest weight cut off had been 2.0 lbs.  She said that that may not sound like a huge difference, but it meant they could adopt out altered foster kittens and puppies a full week earlier than they could before.  Which meant that they could place more puppies and kittens into foster homes that were now open.  Which meant that they could now house and bring to term many pregnant dogs and cats, whereas before they would need to spay them right as they came in because they just did not have the resources to care for so many newborn puppies and kittens.

Now they do.

They are now rescuing PRE-TERM puppies and kittens by taking in pregnant dogs and cats and waiting to spay them until after they give birth and then adopting out the mamas and all the babies.

I am so proud of our community.  I am so impressed by Dr. Horn and her team.

It is easy to say we should save all the puppies and kittens.  It is almost (but not quite) impossible to be the team that makes that happen.

All I did was cry about it.  And write about it.  The Nebraska Humane Society team took it from there.

In all seriousness, they saw my heart break – they saw a perspective of an outsider who loves baby animals as much as they do – and they brainstormed and worked and made it happen – they save the lives of entire litters all the while saving the lives of the REST of the homeless pets in our community.  I have always been a huge fan of rescuers overall and the Nebraska Humane Society in particular, but this story got to me more than most, and warmed my heart on a very personal level.

I will keep writing.  I will keep hoping for impossible things.  I will try to remember that filling the role that I do is important, while still admiring the awesomeness of and actions of the Rest of the Pet Lovers.

“Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” 1 Corinthians 12:15

Whatever 2

When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?

I have had less time to write this past year than before, but I am hoping that I will find more creative ways to fit in writing in 2014.

What lessons have you learned this year — from other blogs, or through your own experience — that could help us all with our own sites?

Write about what you love.  Post lots of pictures!  Don’t be afraid to go off topic sometimes – everyone will love getting to know the whole you.

Alternatively, if you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re still having with your blog, what would it be?

How do you all find time to write such consistently great stuff?  That – tips on finding time in a busy life – would be so helpful at this stage!

What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

I have not found a better way!

How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog — and do you think you should spend more or less time next year?

I post links on my personal Facebook page and Twitter page and send a link to my Dad.  Yes, I should probably spend more time on this!

How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? And how do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?

Sometimes people will tell me in person what they thought of what I wrote, or send me an email.  I also can gauge how a post resonated by comments – though that is not a huge aspect of the blog.  I LOVE when other bloggers I admire or dvm360 pick up a post – That is such a huge compliment.

When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?

If I really feel strongly about a topic or have a thing to add that has not been said, I will sometimes comment.  I know bloggers’ love language is often comments : ) so I try to comment more  than I normally would – I am more a reader and mover-oner – even of blog posts I love (yours!)

Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?  If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

I very infrequently do product reviews, and those only if I have been asked directly.  I tell people who ask that if I do not absolutely love a product, I will not review it at all.  I review quite a few books here, just for fun, and have the same policy.  My Mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice not to say anything at all, so I try not to!  Great reviews are more fun to read, and people want to hear about products and books you loved, not ones you thought were just ok…or worse!

When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?

I am SUCH an introvert, that I need time alone or with my family to recharge.  Usually I will read or look through the internet or watch a movie.  If I am REALLY tired, I just need to sleep until I am caught up – not always possible to do all at once – but I always do my best work when I am fully rested!

Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?

I will often go several days or a few weeks without posting.  I try to go no more than a month.  If I have not written for a while, I can feel myself getting stressed and out of sorts.  I am not an every day writer – I SO admire those of you who are!  But I do need to write regularly to feel like I am at my best.

Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?

No!  I love it.

What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

My 2014 goals I hope to accomplish through writing on Riley and James are the continued celebration of preventative care resulting in the eradication of illness and injury and death worldwide, a home for every Omaha cat, then a home for every cat and dog in the world and, as always, an end to puppy mills!

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Pet Blogger Challenge 2013

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

Thank you again to Amy of Go Pet Friendly for hosting this, the third annual Pet Blogger Challenge!

And Dr. Edie, I miss your Frankie stories and love your new blog, Freud’s Butcher!

Here are this year’s Pet Blogger Challenge questions, and my responses…

1. How long have you been blogging?  

I have been blogging here on Riley and James since September 2006, so a little over six years.

I have a comic (a blog of sorts I suppose) called “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Vet.”

I have also blogged at Wagging Tail, dvm360, Life with Dogs,, Smart-Pet Guide and CareFRESH and done some guest blog posts.

I am helping start a professional blog in 2013 for the veterinary hospital for which I work, Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals, which I am very excited about!

Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

Here is my Riley and James Pet Blogger Challenge post from last year:

Pet Blogger Challenge 2012

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

The purpose statement of Riley and James is “To Promote Preventative Care of Pets in Order to Enrich the Lives of Pets and Their People.”  THAT is still the most important goal of this blog.

3. Have you made progress toward this goal, or have your goals changed over the past year?

I HAVE made progress toward that goal – more in Real Life lately than through the blog.  I started working at Gentle Doctor part time in September 2011 and moved to full time in May 2012, and that has taken up ALL of the time I used to spend writing!  I love my job and my coworkers and the clients and patients.  I miss writing as much as I used to, but it has definitely been a very positive change.

4. How often do you post?

Currently I am only posting a couple times a month.  Life got busy!

5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the Spirit moves you changed?

Nope, I still do not blog on a schedule, but I love reading blogs of people who do post on a schedule, especially bloggers who post daily or even more often, and I admire their organizational skills!  I will post on a schedule for the hospital blog, and have for professional assignments, but it is fun to keep Riley and James low key.

If you don’t publish on a schedule, why not?

I think my attitude online mirrors how I deal with Real Life – I don’t talk much, but I will if I have an important thing to say, or a fun story, or a picture I want to show someone!

As far as sharing on a schedule, I do great sharing pet specific and general veterinary information with clients every 20 minutes all day, and I love it, but it exhausts me!

Likewise, I am capable of blogging on a rigid schedule, and working hard no matter how I am feeling, but it takes much more energy!  Still rewarding – both in Real Life interactions and online writing –  but a different feel.

How do you think your decision affects your audience? 

Without a schedule, it is probably difficult for readers to know when to check back.  I announce posts on facebook and twitter, and send an email to my Dad whenever I write something, so I know what I write is being read by people I care about :)

How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

My loose and informal post-worthy tests:

  • Do I feel strongly about this?
  • Is this an important pet topic?
  • Do I have a different take on this topic (whether or not it is pet related) than others?
  • Is this a fun or pretty or cute picture? :)
 6. How much time do you spend writing your blog?
Each blog post takes me between two and twenty hours to write.  Medical posts take me the longest.  Picture and story posts take the shortest amount of time (unless they are “Short Stories” – Those actually take me longer to get under 50 words!)  Most of my time is spent revising rough drafts.  I don’t even count anymore, but I usually have over 20 rough drafts of each post.
How much time visiting other blogs?
I spend as much time as I can visiting other blogs, mostly about pets, but also about spiritual topics, gardening, and other things.  Many are written by friends, and those that aren’t written by friends are written by people I feel could become friends.  I love to read, and I love what you write!
Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.
Decide what you want from blogging.  It is very fun, but can become overwhelming.  You can’t read ALL the posts, or even ALL the blogs.  You can’t write ALL the things.  Sometimes you just have to link to excellent things others have written, or trust your readers to find what they need to learn more or save topics for another day.  If it is not fun, back up and figure out why, readjust and continue.  Most of blogging is self-imposed scheduling and direction, so be nice to yourself, and tweak things so it is fun.  It will shine through in your writing.

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?  Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

I have not checked Riley and James statistics over a year, and have loved having this site as an escape of sorts.

When I return to blogging professionally as a part of my work, I will measure blog visits, interactions and learn how to measure return on investment somehow, maybe by new client visits?

Some aspects of blogging – affecting people’s attitudes towards pets, causing someone to think, making someone smile with a cute picture, shaping my reputation online, meeting and getting to know great people – are not measurable but are some of the most rewarding parts about blogging, so…short answer…I don’t know!

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

You guys post great stuff, you show up and support me, you send me fun projects and include me in fun group projects.  You love your own pets, you support other people and their pets and you rescue the pets who are not yet to their forever homes.  You are the best of the best and you already help me more than you could ever know.  So that.  THANK YOU.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

This year, I would like to continue to promote preventative care of pets in order to enrich the lives of pets and their people.  Oh, and home every Omaha cat.  And also shut down puppy mills.

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