Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
The longer you blog, the more lessons you will learn — I speak of this from hard-knocks experience. Some of those pet blogging lessons have been great and heartwarming while others have had me wanting to run away from the computer and never pen another word for public consumption. Yet, here I am and here I will remain.
Here, though are seven pet blogging lessons to take to heart (if you’re so inclined) that I have learned over my years of blogging:
- You cannot please all the people all the time. You hope that when you write a blog post people will throw roses in your wake but sometimes they will toss rotten tomatoes. You need to have a thick skin (and yes, I still struggle with this at times) and realize you can’t please everyone. If someone leaves a snarky comment for you, it’s up to you how you will want to respond. I suggest a very bland, “Thank you for sharing your thoughts” but for others you may want to duke it out with the commenter — personal preference.
- Be honest. Your readers are very savvy and will know if you’re trying to pull something over on them. Also, FCC rules state that you must be honest in your dealings especially if you are reviewing a product or running a contest. Truly though, don’t sell out for a product. If you would never use XYZ product then don’t write a favorable review about it. If there is a breed of dog or a species of animal that you would never own or can’t find anything good to write about it, then don’t. If you do write a glowing post about a breed or species that your close friends know you don’t harbor warm feelings for, you are not being honest to them or yourself — it’s a bad practice.
- Be open. While I don’t typically go around talking about how I am a breast cancer survivor, I have blogged about it and if it makes sense in a post I will mention it. I am not going to hide that part of my life — it is now part of who I am and it changed how I look at the world and I am willing to be vulnerable and talk about it. You don’t need to tell your readers about every knock down drag out you have with the boss, but you can give them a glimpse of your emotions. After all, they read your posts because they like what you impart and part of that is your personality. Let it shine.
- Being a pet blogger gives you a community. Blogging brings people of the same persuasion together. Cat lovers and dog lovers and guinea pig lovers, etc. can all have a voice and connect with one another. You can share your joys and your sorrows. You can go to your community and ask for help or advice on something that may be happening with your pet that you simply can’t figure out. You build a community through your blogging as well as your social media efforts and connections.
- Free stuff isn’t always free. While it’s nice to get a book to review or a new product to try on my pets, I don’t say yes to everything. For example, if someone offers food for small dogs, I typically have to turn that down because Henrietta, the diva poodle, cannot tolerate changes in her food. A switching of her food means I will be spending countless dollars in paper towels to clean up vomit and poo. Free is not worth my dog’s health. If I am offered a book to review, I will say yes if it makes sense for the areas of expertise in which I am trying to establish myself. If someone offered me a book on “hair salons” for example, I’d say no because the only thing I know about hair salons is that I love my own personal hair dresser.
- If all of your friends jumped off the bridge, would you? My mom used to ask this question when I wanted to follow the crowd. Sometimes the answer was yes, other times it was a no. What does this mean for the pet blogger? Just because everyone is working with XYZ designer for a new site, doesn’t mean you have to if you still love your site. It means you don’t have to toss out your blog’s focus to chase after the latest trend in pet industry news. Be who you are and don’t follow the crowd. Be unique and grow your niche.
- Never stop learning. My family understands that I “know it all” but my pet blog readers appreciate that I am still learning. As a pet blogger and pet business owner you need to be continually learning. You need to budget to attend pet blog conference where you can keep up with best practices in the industry and where you can network with others in your field. If you learn new things that fit in with what you blog about, then by all means share it. If you earn an accreditation or a degree, by all means share that on your site; this is especially helpful if that degree or accreditation enhances what you currently do. Don’t fall into the “but that’s how we’ve always done it” mindset.
What lessons have you learned during the course of your blogging career? I’d love to know!
(Photo Shutterstock: St. Bernard and cat on computer)
(Photo Shutterstock: Cat on computer)