Ruby our dog bloggin’ mascot follows a bunch of other blogs and social media outlets as part of his job. He’s a working breed, like his parents. One of his (and my) particular favorites is the official travel blog of GoPetFriendly.com, THE place to find places to travel with your pets! Ruby gets insulin injections twice a day and needs monitoring so we don’t go anywhere without him. I connected immediately and personally with many aspects of the GoPetFriendly story and spirit…which could only lead to connections on Facebook, Google+, Twitter…of course.
They recently posted about their 3rd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge where all are invited to participate. I read through the questions to be answered in order to take part in the challenge and realized it would force me to look back and look forward and put it all out there. I liked that. I also thought it would be a fantastic way to meet and connect with more folks and their stories that I can relate to. We’ve never done a Challenge or Blog Hop here and it’s also something I thought would be an interesting experiment in terms of what it does for traffic to the blog and social media outlets. We’re not strictly a pet blog, but it still seemed like a good fit. Plus Beth insisted. 😉
Since it was our first time participating in the Challenge they had a specific set of questions geared towards getting to know me/us/the blog. So here we go…
1. When did you begin your blog?
Our first post (which looking back was meh, but hey, I really didn’t know what I was doing!) went up on September 17, 2008. We launched as myrealtorjake.com but have gone through numerous domain names along our journey for which we have taken much grief from Google and other search engines, and some of my geeky buddies. Overall our blog also has a much different look from when we began though you may recognize that handsome pooch in the footer. Ruby hasn’t aged a bit, but I had more hair back then, that’s for sure.
2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?
At the time I was just starting out trying to launch a career in real estate with a hope, a dream and a strong technical background to leverage. Blogging and WordPress were virtual unknowns in that industry so my goal was to use the internet with blogging and social media as my primary marketing tools.
Behind the scenes, I was kind of barely holding it together, frantically trying to reconfigure my life. My precious dog Ruby had been near death and hospitalized for 7 days, out of absolutely nowhere. The experience changed me forever, in every possible way, in ways I didn’t even know I could be changed. My wife and I needed to find a way for one or both of us to gain flexibility in our work schedules so we could be home with him more often than not. And my whole life I had a dream of starting my own business…it seemed like if there was ever going to be a time and the place to take the leap, I had arrived at it.
3. Is your current purpose the same? If not, what’s different?
Our purpose and audience has definitely changed quite a bit along with our URLs. So much so that I’ve deleted hundreds of previous posts, tags, and categories along the way. GASP! I no longer buy and sell real estate and have sort of settled back at my roots in my new company as founder of MyUntangled Media. As a result, I sort of started all over again and we relaunched as myuntangledlife.com. Over the last couple of years the site has been evolving into what most people (including me) term a lifestyle blog. We’ve been purposefully funneling posts into some key categories relating to good living, creative inspirations, yummy food, social media and techy stuff, oh and pets of course (or to be more specific/honest, mostly my pet). Truth be told, if I could do anything in the online world all day long, I’d blog nothing but pictures of this…
4. How often do you post?
Nowhere near often enough. Not even close, I mean forgetaboutit. In the beginning I was out guns blazing, hustling to get my name out there…and then (insert list of excuses). Since we relaunched I’ve been a “do as I say not as I do” blogger. I can’t even tell you how disgusted I am with myself. I don’t wanna talk about it anymore, stop asking me!!!
5. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?
Again, in the beginning when I was blogging for real estate, I had a set schedule of weekly market reports, open houses, etc. and stuck to it. I excel when I have a well thought-out, systematic plan that I simply need to stick to. We’re working towards getting back to that kind of regimen. So far scheduling and sticking to a schedule has been an epic fail as a lifestyle blog.
If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy”?
In the last half of 2012, I really started to take an honest look, or inventory as they say in the buzzword industry, regarding our lack of scheduling and consistent follow-through. I truly believe posting as the spirit moves you sends clear signals to the spirit of the audience or potential audience, a spirit that says “don’t bother coming back here, we don’t even bother to show up!” We’ve been putting in a lot of time pre-planning for 2013 so we can focus on execution.
6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your tips for staying on top of it all.
I’m not really a bookworm at all so I used to think I didn’t enjoy reading that much, but I love reading blogs and from a design and technical standpoint, I love to look at them and poke around a bit. I will admit I’m very bad with judging how much time I spend reading and looking at other blogs but since I do it for my work and my personal life, it’s probably more than I should admit to, let alone track…as in most of the time. Between myself and my wife and the other bloggers, we get around, that’s for sure!
As for how much time I currently spend writing my blog per week, see #4, and I asked you nicely not to bring that up again! One of the things I’m trying to figure out is how much time I realistically have to write consistently, how am I going to time block it in so I can stay on top of it all is a question I am still working on.
In terms of how I stay on top of the blogs I do like, I swear 100% by Google Reader and am one of those folks who will be using it until the bitter end. We’re also nothing without Evernote, nothing. As someone who loves order and structure and technology it just doesn’t get any better. We jam up notebooks full of notes and topics and pictures and links and inspirations and it’s just the bomb.
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?
In the beginning I was focused almost entirely on search engines and based my success on pure numbers from analytics of keywords and traffic. After switching domain names and the focus of the content so drastically, we fell off the good side of rankings for quite awhile after we re-launched. Because of that the focus shifted more towards social media and the MyUntangled brand. I’ve kind of had to start all over again and now that our numbers are starting to creep up in rankings and socially, the focus in 2013 is on a slow build of traffic by increasing quality engagement and interactions, putting ourselves out there more, and being consistent. If we can accomplish all of that in 2013 I’ll be calling us an epic success one year from today!
8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?
I often wonder if folks in the pet community will sort of “accept us” even though we’re not strictly a pet blog. I guess I feel this way regarding all the “communities” we cover in that we’re not just social media or foodies or fitness. I think it’s something that has held us back from participating in something like this and I’m looking forward to seeing if there are other blogs like us out there in the pet blogging community and how folks feel about it.
9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?
Since I’m not alone here, (though that doesn’t stop me from taking most of the credit you’ll notice) since the last half of 2012 we’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming with one another either in person (we call them blog-ups), via email, via evernote, etc. and trying to plan at least a month or two in advance. Recently Kat came across this post on The Graphics Fairy that inspired us to plan out the whole year and our first goal of 2013 is to finish our editorial calendar and start executing and growing. Second goal is to send a thank you note to the folks who made it all the way to the end of this post. I hope you’ll come back for more and welcome your thoughts and shares and pluses and hugs and kisses (from your pets!)