Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going in 2017
Each year, I like to reflect on what happened the previous year with the blog, and in our lives, and think about where we hope to go.
You can read the end-of-year post I wrote last year HERE.
Our friends over at Go Pet Friendly remind me ever year to take this time to think about my achievements and goals.
They put forth a number of thought-provoking questions to the blogging community.
Many pet bloggers write blog posts and then we put them all in one location so we can read what each blogger has been up to.
Looking Back on 2016
In 2016, this little blog turned 6 years old. My how time flies.
I remember hiking the day after we adopted Gretel and seeing how much she liked it.
I remember exclaiming to my husband that I was “going to start that blog about hiking with Chester and Gretel and call it You Did What With Your Wiener?” like it was yesterday.
What started out as a simple way to share our hiking and camping adventures with friend and family has now turned into a full-time job that, along with some other things, has allowed me to be self employed and focus my life on the health and wellbeing of my dogs.
The blog has grown to become a place where I share tips and advice about hiking, and enjoying the outdoors, with small dogs.
I still love sharing our personal stories too though.
A lot happened in 2016, both personally and for the blog.
As you may know, Gretel suffered a back injury earlier this year and was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD – a disease common in Dachshunds).
I wondered if she would ever hike again and spent a lot of time sharing my advice about her condition and treatment for IVDD.
Chester recently had surgery for an obstruction in his stomach and we discovered he’s been losing weight because he’s not absorbing nutrients, so his health is currently not the best it could be.
Gretel is back to her old adventuring self and Chester is on the mend.
There have been happy times this year too.
Gretel attended the summer Outdoor Retailer Show with me to check out the latest and greatest outdoor gear.
She got better through rehab and is back to her old hiking shape.
I hired my first writer to help me produce content for this blog.
There were some highlights as far as blog posts go.
The most popular blog post for me this year, ironically, wasn’t even related to hiking with dogs… or even Dachshunds.
Old man Chester has been having more accidents in the house.
I was getting super frustrated but them changed my perspective and figured out what to do when your old dog starts peeing in the house.
My most popular post related to Dachshunds was 21 Things About Dachshunds Every Owner Should Know.
The most popular posts related to hiking with dogs were 6 “Unknown” Dog Friendly Trails Near Seattle and A Cautionary Note About Harnesses and Active Dogs.
The most popular one that falls smack dab in the middle of those two topics is my one about dog jackets that fit Dachshunds best.
Probably my favorite one to write though was about my dog friendly glamping adventure with Gretel on the Washington coast.
One of the questions I’m supposed to answer is: What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them?
I feel like I share so much on this blog about Chester and Gretel that there is not much that’s “surprising” about them. Maybe their size?
I know it’s silly but it’s hard to tell their exact size from photos. I get several questions a year about how big they are when readers want to buy the jacket or harness we use.
Chester is 13 lbs and 14.5 inches long from shoulder blades to the base of his tail. Gretel is 11 lbs and about 13.5 inches long.
So what might you find surprising about me? That I actually want to share? Ha, ha. I’m not sure. Here are a few, quick facts though:
- I grew up in Western Washington and have lived here my whole life
- My parents weren’t into the outdoors, and I didn’t hang out with the kids in high school who went to the woods to drink, so I had NO CLUE that I lived within 30 minutes of Olympic National Park until I was out of high school.
- My hiking career started 20 years ago when I took a “Hiking 101” class in college (I’m dating myself a bit here but I didn’t go to college right out of high school).
- My undergraduate degree is in Environmental Geology. My masters degree is completely opposite of that – Communication in Digital Media.
I have a lot of plans for the blog in the new year.
Now that I have help getting my thoughts onto “paper” (published on the blog), I’m making a goal to publish a blog post twice a week.
That was actually a goal last year and it didn’t happen so we’ll see how it goes. There’s no shame in re-comitting and trying again 🙂
I think it will be easier this summer though because Gretel and I will be hiking and camping a lot… because I’m writing a book!
I’ll be writing a guide book for dog friendly hikes in Washington and we’ll have to hike a lot for research.
I plan to publish parts of the book – my trip notes in a sense – on my blog as we go.
In the end, I’ll pull all of those articles together, edit them, and add more information to “beef it up” for the final draft of the book.
For those that are interested, I will now share a slice of what it’s like to be a blogger – the work we put in and the things we think about.
As a bloggers, our primary goal is to share our experiences and knowledge with people.
One way you gauge whether you are “successful” at that or not is by the number of people who visit your blog a day to read your articles. Therefore, since our goal is to reach more people so we can help more, the numbers matter.
Personally, I check how many pageviews I’ve received at the end of every day.
I’m always trying to figure out how to get more people to my blog.
That took a back seat this year to dealing with Gretel and Chester’s medical conditions.
Still, over 90,000 more people visited my blog this year (25% more than last year) and people read almost 140,000 (25%) more articles than in 2015.
Honestly, I think a lot of that has to do with how long my blog has been around.
The longer your articles are around and being indexed by Google, the more likely they are to rank higher in the search results.
A higher search results ranking means people are more likely to read one of your articles.
It’s not like I haven’t made ANY efforts though this year so I guess I should give myself some credit.
I wrote more articles this year.
I think what made the biggest difference though was focusing on creating blog post images optimized for Pinterest and going back to old post to update the Pinterest images and SEO.
Pinterest has become my primary social media referrer.
Another question I’m supposed to answer is: What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers?
The answer is, “I’m not sure?” I guess.
I’m constantly learning and those things just become a part of me… of what I do… so I almost forget that I learned them… or at least when I learned them.
I guess you could say learning is my hobby.
I’m a voracious consumer of information. I guess that leads me to the most important thing I learned this year about myself.
I realized that I spend too much time learning and researching instead of doing.
I would read, take classes, and attend conferences always hoping to find that “golden key” that would unlock my door to success.
While I did learn some great nuggets of information here and there, I was mostly spending a lot of money and time confirming what I already knew.
Now, of course I need to learn about a thing so I can do it. There has to be a point on that journey where I knew enough to start doing though.
I learned is that I need to spend more time taking action – that I shouldn’t let the fear of “not knowing enough” or “looking stupid” hold me back from moving forward.
The truth is, after a certain point, the things one needs to learn will only be discovered through trial and error – from actual experience, not a book or “how to” article.
I don’t think I am alone in this so that is what I learned this year that I think could help other bloggers – learn about something until you feel you have a decent handle on it and then go out and make stuff happen.
People don’t become famous, or ones to look up to, by following in the footsteps of many others.
I look forward to reading what my blogging friends write about their 2016. I’m curious what trends they see emerging, given how social media and blogging is evolving.
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.
Even though you were dealing with Gretel, and her health this year, you got a lot accomplished. And yes, it’s so easy to think we are going to learn some magical piece of info, when in fact, the magic is in our actions and just doing it.
I love your blog and am always excited to see a new post!
Gosh, one health crisis is stressful, but two at once must really be difficult. Sending my best to be Gretel and Chester!
I love what you said about trial and error. I am a bigger believer in trial and error as well – and I’ve made lots of errors in my blogging life, but always learn from them so I’m ok with it.
Good luck and congrats on the book!
I’m totally self taught so I made a TON of blogging mistakes 🙂 I do always work to turn the mistakes into a learning expereince.
Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge again this year. I know it was a rough one with everything that Chester and Gretel have faced, and I’m so glad to hear that they’re both doing well. We have to be grateful for these days with out senior dogs.
I’m so excited that you’re starting your book! This is going to make 2017 such an awesome year for you – and all of us will have a great time hiking along vicariously with you and Gretel.
Finally, I’m exactly the opposite of you – I jump in and then try to figure out what the heck I’m doing as I go along. Finding a middle ground would certainly be best – but it seems part of our humanness to have these tendencies. I guess it makes life more interesting!
I always look forward to the challenge. It’s taking me a bit to get through everybody (I just hit the half-way mark last night) but I plan to. Since I can’t keep up with blogs on a regular basis, it’s a good way for me to get the “year in review” recap from everyone.
I’m waffling on the book. Not whether I want to do it or not, but what exactly I want it to be about. My initial plan was a “specialized” dog-friendly trail guide for Washington. Now I am wondering if I should write a more general book to appeal to more people… first… or do both? Who knows. I’m still in the planning stages. I want to hike as much as I can this summer though.
I jump and do many things before really thinking it through. Not so much with my business and blog though. At least not in the last few years. I guess I need to incorporate more of my “regular life attitude” into it to find the balance 🙂
“I realized that I spend too much time learning and researching instead of doing.” Yes! That’s me too! This is going to be a year of doing for me! That’s awesome your blog continues to grow even when you’re not posting. That is the power of SEO and evergreen content. Good luck with your book this year. By the way, I may be out in Washington later this year as I’m likely partnering with a Service Dog organization in Olympia. Maybe a chance to meetup? All the best to you in 2017!
Me too… doing, doing, doing. This is going to be the year of “fuckits” – I’m just going to have an idea, think about it for juuust long enough to not be dumb about it, and then do it. If you come out to Washington, please get a hold of me for sure. It would be awesome to grab coffee or something. I know a fair amount about SEO but I’m always looking to improve. I would appreciate hearing your experience and insight.
You probably know as much or more than I do about SEO. I do enjoy chatting with knowledgeable people about blogging. Rosalyn from SugarGoldenRetriever.com and Lindsay from ThatMutt.com both moved close to me and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with both of them. Amy from GoPetFriendly.com is passing through this month so I’m going to try and meet up with her as well. Hopefully I can make more face to face connections this year since I probably won’t be going to any blog conferences.
I really enjoy your blog as I am new to dachshund ownership. My little baby had a herniated disk recently as well so I know how you feel! I’m glad both of your babies are getting better and are ready to start your book with you!
Thanks Cassie! As you have probably read, I knew ZERO about Dachshunds (or even owning a dog) when I inherited Chester. Now I get comments from vets all of the time that I’m one of the most informed Dachshund owners they’ve ever seen. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with people.
Awesome post! I have always looked to your site for inspiration to be more active with Bean and Yoda and I am so glad you are around as a helpful resource who has familiarity with the blogging landscape. Thank you for sharing your insight.
Thanks Bryn. I wish I had more time to keep up with your blog but, when I have the time, it’s one I look at for sure 🙂 Congrats on being chosen to speak at BlogPaws!
Oh you’re writing a hiking book! That’s amazing!! So are you self publishing? I will buy it and buy copies for folks for gifts – I’m really glad you’re launching into that project. I’ve been following your blog for so many years – and I remember pitching you when I handled PR for Ruffwear like 100 years ago. I cannot get enough of your sweet munchkins. Enjoy your weekend in the snow – I have to say the novelty of having it here is wearing off quickly. 🙂 I think it’s awesome you took Gretel to OR last year!
Yes, my plan is to self-publish. My plans are still a bit fluid right now. First, I thought it would be a guidebook for trails. I haven’t thrown out that idea but I might write a more general book about hiking with dogs first. I might see if Val is willing to chat with me again about my ideas. Luckily, if I am self-publishing, I know a lot of experienced people that would be willing to share some info. I’m glad we reconnected after all of these years (and in a different capacity even). I would love to pick your brain more about your work and PR experience. Not necessarily as help for the book but just to get to know you better 🙂
That’s awesome and I bet Val would love to talk through her experience. I think folks are always intimidated by “big” hikes so the general theme may be a good start —- for a series maybe? Me too!! I’d love to get together and talk shop -please holler when you’re in town next. I’m bummed but not attending BlogPaws as I have a lot of travel this year and cannot swing it…
I’m not going to BlogPaws either. I just don’t have the time and money. I’m spending those thing on Social Media Marketing World because I learn so much there. I also plan to go to Superzoo and the Outdoor Retailer Show for a couple of days (they overlap so it will be tricky). My first year at BlogPaws was 2012 and this is the first year I haven’t gone since then. I’m really bummed and will be even more once the pre-conference frenzy really gets going.
I’m so excited that your writing a book! Best of luck with that this year!
I have to admit that you were one of my inspirations to start narrowing down my niche and I’m so glad that I did last year. My goal is to post at least twice a week this year too. I’m not stressing about it but it’s my goal.
Thanks for sharing your blogging journey, Jessica. I was particularly inspired by your comments about focusing on experimenting, taking action, and making it happen! Also, congratulations on being selected as a 2017 BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose award finalist. Wishing many more blogging successes!