Welcome to our blog!
Maybe it’s your first time visiting or maybe you’ve been visiting for a while but don’t know that much about us. Who we are today is a “travel and outdoor lifestyle blog that focuses being active with your small dog”. Our back-story is so much more than that though.
I had been hiking and traveling through life with Chester for 8 years. I could almost predict the shocked looks and comments when people saw him on top of a mountain. Only having owned one Dachshund in my life, I thought maybe he was unique. Then Gretel came into our lives. You can read more about how that happened here but it was definitely fate that brought us together. We took her on a 5 mile hike the day after we adopted her, she loved it, and this blog was born.
2015 was a great year for our little blog and we just quietly passed a huge milestone.
In May 2015, we won two prestigious awards – Best Dog Blog and Best Pet Blog Design. The BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose awards are extra special because the winners are chosen by our peers. We also won an award for Best Active Living Blog in the Petties. Both awards came with prize money we could donate to the rescue or shelter of our choice. Because of our awards, I am proud to say we were able to donate $2,000 to the rescue that brought me Gretel – Motley Zoo Animal Rescue – this year!
The big milestone we passed without much ado was our FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Bring on the trumpets and confetti! Ha, ha. Seriously though, I can’t believe it’s been that long. I look back at my first few blog posts and I feel like I wrote them yesterday.
Oh yeah…. I guess there were two other huge milestones. I graduated with my Masters of Communication in Digital Media (this blog was the catalyst for pursuing the degree) from the University of Washington and was able to go full-time with my pet-centric social media consulting company – PetTalk Media.
Through PetTalk Media, I help pet-related businesses and bloggers better connect their product, service, or message with pet owners who want to improve their lives and the lives of their pets.
I’ve spend a lot of time coaching bloggers, and aspiring bloggers, about how they can do what I do and better serve their audience. Probably the most important things when you are looking to grow a blog is getting clear on your purpose, niche, and story. Once you know what filter you are viewing the world through, the topics and writing come easy and you’ll attract your tribe.
Another part of having a successful blog is reviewing past blog posts and learning from what worked and what didn’t. Every year, I reflect on what I wrote over the year and look to see which articles were the most popular and which ones flopped.
This year, the most popular hiking related article was 6 “Unknown” Dog Friendly Trails Near Seattle and the most popular travel related article was 9 Lessons Learned While Flying with a Dog In-cabin. I also saw a lot of interest in my Dachshund-specific articles. It’s clear our blog readers are most interested in those topics in relation to what I’m most passionate about sharing. I will be looking for ways I can write more about them.
What is also interesting is what didn’t do so great. While I try to incorporate our personal story and pictures of Chester and Gretel in every blog post I write, blog posts that were short, were merely one or two photos with a description, or solely focused on us and what we weren’t read by a lot of people.
I have a couple of favorite posts I wrote this year. One of my most favorite was about the making of the Most Beautiful Pet Bowl You’ve Seen. As if it wasn’t enough that the owners of the company are wonderful and kind people, the owners of the Fire and Light studio where the bowls are hand-pressed from recycled glass are making the world a better place. Writing about these kind and genuine people seriously almost made me cry.
My other favorite “blog post” was actually a two part series about Gretel and I hiking for 3 days on the Pacific Crest Trail by ourselves. It was the most challenging backpack trip I’ve ever done, and Gretel has ever done, so I was really proud of us. It was a 7-day trip that turned into a 10-day trip that turned into a 4-day trip which ended up being 3. It’s a long story but we’re going to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try for the whole 72 mile stretch of trail this year.I write this blog because I love sharing our adventures and connecting with people. Honestly though, I don’t always feel like writing. What keeps me going on days like those is looking at the number of people that read our blog every day and the conversations I have with your readers here and on social media. It makes me feel like what I do matters.
Every year, I try to get better at balancing the topics you, our readers, care about with what I am most passionate about. What you don’t see is the countless hours I spend researching and “crunching numbers” to figure out what you most like to read. Besides you actually telling me in the comments and on social media, that’s the only way I can know. Even then, there is a fair bit of guessing invloved (hint, hint… so just tell me what you like. Ha, ha).
When it comes down to it though, people won’t read our articles if the information is visually difficult to read and the pictures aren’t interesting and of high-quality. I admit that I haven’t worked to improve my photography much in the last year or two. We see so many amazing places and I want to be able to convey that to you in pictures.
I know the basics of photography so it’s mostly a matter of equipment, giving it more thought, and editing. This Christmas I bought myself a new DSLR camera – a Nikon D7100 – and it’s amazing compared to my old D80. I feel like my photos have improved already. I also invested in Lightroom this year so I can better process my pictures. That will bring a big learning curve for me though so I plan to spend a lot of time on the Adobe Lightroom Tutorials trying to figure it out.
I do a lot of other “work” behind the scenes too (it doesn’t feel like work to me… most of the time anyway).
Part of this “work” is to figure out what and how I want to write about hiking, travelling, and being active with small dogs. I read a lot of other blogs to find out what they are doing with their furry friends and to inspire me.
I admit that I have a blog crush on Just a Colorado Gal. I talk about her blog enough, I hope she doesn’t think I’m some kind of creepy stalker. Ha, ha. Even though I’ve only traveled there twice, her home state of Colorado is near and dear to my heart. I love her writing style and her photos are amazing. Oh, and her dog Tals is pretty darn cute too 🙂
Some of my favorite travel-and-hiking-with-dog blogs you might not know about include Montecristo Travels, Travel Hund, Take Paws by Go Pet Friendly, Dog About Town (Northwest), and Tails from the Trails.
I come up with new goals for this blog at the beginning of every year. In 2016, along with improving my pictures, I want to write more consistently. I only wrote blog posts when I could while I was in school but now I want to write a minimum of two blog posts a week. My goal by the end of the year for my photos is to be happy with the effort I put into them and be happy with the way they look.
I envision that this blog will continue to grow and be a resource for people who hike and travel with their small dogs. We might even create a book or calendar or something! We’re definitely dreaming of a US tour where we can meet our fans and spread our message.
I would love it if you left me a comment letting me know what you want to see more of on this blog in the upcoming year (really, that’s what helps me most). Which are your favorite kinds of dog-friendly adventures to read about? What are your burning questions about hiking with dogs, travelling with dogs, or Dachshunds in general?
We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, our readers,…. so thanks!
This blog post is part of the annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Go Pet Friendly. Last year’s blog hop was exceptional – seventy-one bloggers came together to build relationships, share ideas, and support each other. If you want to get a sneak peek inside some of your favorite pet blogs, or you are interested in becoming a blogger yourself and want to know what it’s like from a blogger’s perspective, click here to read a similar posts from many other bloggers.
Check out posts from other bloggers here:
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.