We love GoPetFriendly – but what we didn’t know was that each year they host a Pet Blogger Challenge. Having just found out about it, I am hopping on the bandwagon to reflect back on the very first year of Go Dog Nashville. I’m looking back to identify what I loved, how I can improve, what steps I have been taking and where I need to go from here.

January 24, 2019

So if you’re curious about the inner-workings of a dog blog, read on for our answers to the Challenge Questions…

For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?

Go Dog Nashville has been online just a little over a year. I launched the website in November of 2017. The name says it all – we’re pretty much a specialty niche blog that endeavors to inspire dog owners in the Nashville and Middle Tennessee region to be more active with their dogs. Basically: grab your pup and go do the things! We cover it all, from local hiking to dog-friendly activities and canine sporting opportunities.

I Believe in Nashville wall mural

I’ll be honest. Go Dog Nashville was born from a heady daydream of building a one-of-a-kind dog training/dog sports facility in Nashville. I wanted to see our city be the most dog-friendly and provide the types of canine activities I wanted to do with my own dog, Chloe. The blog came about as a way to connect with other dog owners and to see what they were thinking about; what their main interests were with their doggos and how we could help them with whatever challenges they were facing. With no training, no knowledge of how to build a website (what the heck was SEO???) or no actual end goal in site, I just jumped in feet first and learned as I went.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018?

Every single time someone clicks on a link and reads a blog post is a big moment for me! But maybe the proudest moments were those times others reached out to see if I would be willing to write a blog post about their organization or give them a mention in a post. To me, it felt very validating that others perceived Go Dog Nashville as a relevant source of information. If I can help or support someone, then I’m satisfied.

What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it?

My biggest challenge has been simply not knowing what I’m doing! Getting enough visitors to the site and authentic engagement seems to be a key issue for so many. Instagram and Facebook pages were having lots of activity – but I am still trying to figure out how to get those Followers to click and read the blog.

Continuing education on my part has helped. I just discovered that combining Pinterest and blogging was a thing. I love designing pins to correlate with my posts and I’m starting to see results.

Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why? (Please include a link.)

The idea for Dog Friendly Haunts in Nashville came to me so quickly – less than a week before Halloween. The idea appealed to me for several reasons – but mostly because I love to do paranormal investigations. Plus, it was a topic I had not seen blogged about often. I felt so inspired to get it finished (photos and all) that we jumped in the van and in two days had covered the locations, shot and edited photos and got the post written and published in time for Halloween. It was simply fun to do. Dogs and haunts – perfect combination!

Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?

Bandana Madness is by far the most popular – especially with the Pinterest crowd. Bandanas are so incredibly popular with dog owners. We all love to spend money on those furbabies! It was fun to feature a brand whose bandanas we love (Hundenfolk) along with our local shops that specialize in them. But the instructions for sewing your own bandana was also popular for the crafty dog moms and dads.

Dog and owner in matching outfits

Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you’re enjoying?

In January, I began a partnership with 52 Hikes Challenge.Not only do we personally support their intentional commitment to improving your life through hiking, but it also aligns perfectly with what Go Dog Nashville is all about! So we started a Go Dog Nashville – 52 Hikes Challengers group on Facebook (linked to the blog.) We are scheduling a “Pack Hike” once a month so Challengers can meet their goals while hiking with their dogs and other dog owners.

Dog and owner on the trail at Grundy Forest

As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers?

Very excited to see how using Pinterest works out for the blog. I’m also wanting…< camera shy>…to do more in the way of Live video.Or vlogging. Collaborating with other Influencers/bloggers feels like a good step to take.

Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?

Only one?!? So hard…!

Obviously I want to have more readers. But most importantly I hope in some way I can make a difference in the lives of dogs and their owners here in the Nashville area. Getting people the information they need, connecting them to resources, inspiring them to look at their relationships with their dogs in a new light, trying new things and sharing their lives together – that’s the best accomplishment I can conceive.

What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?

It sounds obvious, but learning as much as I can about where social media is heading, what trends are on the verge, discovering what it is my readers are looking for – and then implementing ways to get it to them.

It’s also a goal to have one new blog post a week. I am not stuck for ideas, that’s for sure! Budgeting my time and my money are where more organization is needed on my part.

Now it’s your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in comments!

As much as I love this blog and website, in order for me to accomplish all I hope to do with it, monetizing it has to be a priority. I feel stuck in this aspect and want whatever I implement to be super relevant to my readers.

Being an Amazon Influencer is a start; running Adsense is another outlet I’ve been experimenting with – but I think with a larger audience I will have more options

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