The Daily Pip

Life Lessons, resources, and random bits for rescue dogs, cats, bunnies, and their peeps

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017 Pet Blogger Challenge

Ruby leaping into 2017 (favorite photo of 2016)
Happy 2017! To reflect on the year that has ended and look forward to the year ahead, I am participating in the 7th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by GoPetFriendly.com. The challenge is a great way to learn from and support fellow pet bloggers. So here we go ...

1. When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for the first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience?

I have been blogging on and off since 2011. I originally started the blog with my dog Pip as a way to raise money for his rescue shelter. When he passed away in 2013, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue blogging without him. I returned to blogging in 2015 with our new dog Ruby, but kept the original name in Pip's honor.

The Daily Pip provides resources, support, and humor for rescue families. I am a huge advocate for rescue and adoption especially for animals with special needs. I am definitely more of a storyteller and strive to balance serious with funny, but always heartfelt.

2. What was your proudest moment of 2016?

Without a doubt being nominated and then winning two BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose awards for Best Cause Blog and Best Written Blog Post. I was also recently nominated for an award from the Dog Writer's Association of America. For the record, I have never won anything in my life. I am not someone who wins, is nominated or even recognized so all this is pretty crazy and new for me and I am beyond grateful. 

Winning at BlogPaws also forced me to face one of my biggest fears - public speaking. I managed to walk on stage without falling down, throwing up, or passing out. This was huge for me and probably the biggest win of all. 

3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why?

2016 was a great year for me and truthfully, I am not sure I will ever be able to top it. My two favorite posts are A Rescue Dog and His Heart Girl and Fur-Busting: How to Keep Clothing Fur Free (Almost). Although very different (one serious and one funny), both celebrate the human-animal connection and rescue experience at its finest (and funniest).

Biggest 2016 accomplishment - learning to photograph cats

4. Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog?

I am not by nature a planner. I work best at the last minute under deadline and most of my posts are written spontaneously. This year I forced myself to plan ahead, maintain an editorial and social share calendar and it worked. I also learned to be much more strategic and assertive with my social media strategy. I have several segments of my audience and I know what works best for each. 

In the past, I kept my blog life separate from my real life. For example, I never shared blog posts on my personal Facebook page for fear of bothering people with my posts. In 2016, I merged the two and as a result, gained many new followers from my so-called real life. Ironically, my blog self is probably my most real, authentic self, but that's the subject of a future (funny) blog post. 

5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts?

My rescue posts generate the most traffic though not always the most direct engagement (comments). I get the most page views on my rescue posts, but the most comments on my funny/cute posts mostly from regular readers, fellow bloggers, and friends. 

By far, my most popular post was Lessons in Forgiveness from a Rescued Fighting Dog. This post had almost double the traffic of any other post and was a nice way to finish the year. Edwin, the featured dog, is a hero in the dog rescue world in Chicago and as a result, his post received tons of shares. 

6. What blog do you find the most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog?

Too many to list, but here are few: photography, The Broke Dog and Tales and Tails; humor, The Chronicles of Cardigan; mission, Three Chatty Cats and Sarcastic Dog; and training and health information, Pawsome Cats and Chasing Dog Tales


Ruby just being Ruby 
7. What is one thing your readers don't know about you or your pets that would surprise them?

Probably that I have lived a rather weird and unconventional life. I have lived in 10 states, moved about 30 times, and growing up attended five different elementary schools. Although I have lived in the Chicago area for many years, I do not consider it my home. I feel most at ease in New York and San Francisco as well as along the ocean - either one will do!

8. What is something that you have learned this year that could help other bloggers?

For many years (like 20), I put my hopes and goals on the back burner, waiting for the perfect time, my time, to pursue them. I believed that eventually my responsibilities and stress would magically disappear and I would finally be free to pursue what I wanted in life. About two years ago, I faced the cold, hard truth that this was never going to happen. I had to start doing what I wanted to do in spite of the world around me.

I now get up at three or four every morning, even on weekends, and work on my stuff (blog, writing, photography) two to three hours before going to my day job. Pre-dawn hours work for me, but I realize they might not work for everyone. My advice is not to wait - carve out time every single day, no matter what else is going on, for your own work and priorities. It's difficult, takes some sacrifice (and good humor) but it's totally worth it!

9. What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017?

I hope to expand my audience and continue to help change the perception of rescue animals especially those with special needs or those considered less adoptable. I also want to branch into video and eventually some virtual reality stuff - a big dream that will probably not happen this year.

I am also starting a new series on the human animal connection and looking for stories of dogs and cats who guide, comfort and heal those with physical and mental health issues, visual impairment, depression, PTSD, addiction, autism, loneliness, loss, major life change, etc. 

10. Now it's your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community - is there a question you'd like answered, or an aspect of your blog you'd like input on?

I'm thinking about starting a monthly newsletter. For those with newsletters, how does it impact your site and page views and what service do you use?

Thanks to GoPetFriendly.com for another great year and challenge!
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38 comments

  1. I'm so glad you won some awards! Absolutely well deserved!

    All the best for 2017! :)

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  2. Concatulations on your awards ! As we're pretty new to your blog, we enjoyed reading more about you. Purrs

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  3. WE are GLAD fur your Years of Furendship.

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  4. We always enjoy reading the answers to these types of things!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  5. I have thoroughly enjoyed every single post from day one. Pip was my first beau...and you gave him the best voice with the biggest heart ever. I love your answer to #8...although getting up early yikes...Bravo
    Hugs madi and mom!!
    Happy New year too

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  6. Last year was a great year for you with the BlogPaws awards and also the Dog Writer’s award. That’s fantastic and well deserved!

    I’m glad you mentioned how the editorial calendar worked for you, despite you working best at the last minute. I’m the same way and have been toying with the idea of an editorial calendar, so maybe I should really push forward with that and just do it. I’m not sure I can do the 3 or 4 am schedule though, haha!

    I’m so honored you mentioned my blog as inspirational! I’m humbled.😊

    Here's to an even more exciting 2017 for The Daily Pip!

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  7. The Blog Paws awards & the Dog Writers nomination are well deserved. The 'not falling down, throwing up, or passing out' really gets to me though. I couldn't imagine the stress of that. Glad to know I'm not the only one that's slightly more than terrified of public speaking.

    I absolutely love your blog & the important message it sends regarding rescue. There's such a need for a positive voice because of all the misconceptions out there. Looking forward to everything you do in 2017.

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  8. We agree with Madi, we've loved everything you've done and Pip was a blessing to the blogging world.

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  9. We may not always comment, but we always enjoy your posts and find them very inspirational. Keep up the good work.

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing so much about yourself. I really find your blog inspiring and wonderful. I was so happy when you started blogging again with Ruby and love what your blog has become. Looking forward to 2017!!!

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  11. I really enjoyed getting to learn a little more about you.

    Sorry I haven't visited in awhile. I was on facebook last night and saw a link to your blog when I realized that I haven't stopped by recently.

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  12. Happy New Year!

    My newsletter is another way for my readers to reach my blog. Many prefer to get it via email and I'd rather build a mailing list than have them sign up with a feed service who keeps their email. I also use the mailing list to send my readers specials/giveaways/etc. It was awesome for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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  13. That first picture of Ruby is my favorite as well. I couldn't tell you were the slightest bit stressed out by getting in front of the people at the conference ... but it just reminds me that personal fears usually have little merit :) I'm glad to have gotten to know you and your blog better. I might have a story for the animal connection series ... Bear saved my life. He's loved me freely and always makes me laugh ... I started my blog to try to pass it on a little bit :)

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  14. What a great post! Pawgratulations & Happy New Year!
    Wag on,
    Tootsie

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  15. I hope 2017 will be a very good year for all peeps and pets... and I hope you will win an award again... I wish I could be at blogpaws to meet you ...

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  16. Maybe a side note, but I am really impressed by the design and your blogger-template's inner works regarding responsiveness and seo. I might have to "copy" that idea from you :)

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  17. This was really interesting. You have a lot in common with my mom. She too recently realized she was stuck and not where she wanted to be so she made big changes and is now so much happier. We get up by 5 every morning and work on the blog. Mom has moved at least 25 times, and even moved over the ocean twice. Minnesota is her home, though no doubt. We love your blog and think you do a great job in the rescue area. It is not our niche, so we don't always comment, but we do read all your posts.

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  18. Love you post, cute Ruby!!! So happy you won some awards!!! Never stop posting! Have a happy 2017:)
    Kate

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  19. This is such a fantastic post. Not only did I enjoy learning more about you, but these answers just go to show how profound and creative you are as a blogger and writer. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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  20. Such a great read! Enjoying the insights and what a great goal for 2017!

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  21. I love your blog and I've enjoyed learning a little bit more about you! Your awards are well deserved and I can't wait to read your new series!

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  22. Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge, and congratulations on an outstanding 2016! The advice you offered is so spot on - after all, what is the purpose of life, if not to follow our dreams?!

    I do write a monthly newsletter, and I like the MailChimp service. They're really good at what they do, and they're funny and unexpected, which I find cool. The newsletter does generate some traffic back to my blog, but mostly it's a way to keep in touch with that part of my audience who aren't into blog reading. I do a giveaway each month to entice people to open the newsletter, which is a nice treat for my readers, helps my open rate, and gives me a way to work with companies who want an inexpensive way to get in front of my audience. If there's anything I can do to help you get our newsletter off the ground, let me know - and all the best to you in 2017!

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  23. Excellent post, nice to learn more about you. I must look up the post about being fur free , I need that. When I started blogging, I had a newsletter, but other than recapping what I blogged about, I didn't know what to do so I stopped it. I used Mailpoet which is a good service. I admire that you get up early so you can write.

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  24. I remember watching you when the Nose to Nose Awards on video and I started crying. It was so well deserved! I'm so in awe with the wonderful work that you are doing here! We've both been blogging for so long and it's fun to watch things evolve!

    Wishing you all the best this year!

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  25. I loved reading your answers. I was so happy for you when you won the Nose to Nose last year - that post definitely deserved an award. Edwin was one of my favorite posts as well because you really made his beautiful soul shine through your words. All of your early mornings and dedication has really paid off for you. (p.s. yours is my favorite "dog blog" and the only one I visit [semi] regularly. I'm in love with Ruby.)

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  26. Congrats on your awards! I love your advise to carve out time no matter what. It's hard to keep a blog and a full-time job, but you're absolutely right!

    I have not had much success with email captures as of yes, so I'm sorry I can't help there!

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  27. We loved reading your answers, and learning more about you. What a beautiful legacy your blog is to your beloved angel Pip!

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  28. We enjoyed learning more about you!! Thank you for helping promote positive attitudes towards pitties!

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  29. Oh my gosh, your schedule is amazing! I could get so much more done if I could get up even a little earlier in the morning...but in the winter I find that especially tough! I don't think I could even do what I do now if I still worked full time. But following our dreams is so important. I should probably work more, bring in a little more money, but we do OK and life is definitely too short to always put our dreams aside for practical reasons. I wanted to be a writer my whole life, but it wasn't until I was in my 50's and started the blog that I finally got to realize that dream. I refuse to give it up now!

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  30. Congratulations on your BlogPaws awards! That is wonderful! My best hours for writing are early in the am also. It's true, you have to carve out the time. :-)

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  31. Awesome. You guys are wonderful. Really. Hugs.

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  32. Congratulations on winning 2 nose to nose awards! I saw you on the stage and you never would have guessed you had a fear of being on stage. Awesome that you're going to be telling stories about human animal connection. Three of our puppies are working dogs. One is a Guide Dog in AZ. Another is a PTSD Service Dog in OK, and one is a Mobility Assistance Dog in CA.

    I created an autoresponder to highlight past blog posts and I try to get a newsletter out every week. Traffic from email has been gradually rising and last month I got about 2,000 extra visitors from my email list. I use Aweber and overall I've been satisfied with their service. Good luck to you in 2017!

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    1. Sorry, I meant 2,000 extra sessions according to Google Analytics.

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  33. It was such a pleasure to meet you at BlogPaws this year and watch you win! I can't think of a more deserving winner. Your blog is such an inspiration and I can't wait to see what's to come in 2017! (And thanks for the shout out, you're too kind.)

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  34. Congrats on your BlogPaws awards and good luck on your 2017 goals. I have a newsletter. I use Mailchimp and it's RSS based but I add some personal touches and information to it. I pause and un-pause it though so that I control when it goes out (not just on the weekly schedule). Honestly, it sends me some traffic... better than nothing... but sometimes I wonder if it's even worth it. I've been more sporadic lately with sending them out and I haven't noticed a huge impact. It's another way to reach people though. I suspect, a way to reach people that don't spend a lot of time on social media.

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  35. I was so sad to miss out on the Pet Blogger Challenge this year, but it hit on the exact same day that I fell and broke my leg. Talk about ruining your blog goals! But anyway, congratulations on all you have accomplished in 2016. That's an impressive list. And I look forward to all you will do in 2017. I expect great things from you!

    Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

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  36. I enjoy reading the answers to these types of things that you have described in this blog and I am happy on your awards. But I would like to suggest for design the pet driver license id; it will help you to keep them safe.

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