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Pet Bloggers Journey 2021: My First Year As A Blogger

When I saw the Pet Bloggers Journey in a Facebook group dedicated to pet entrepreneurs, I was so intrigued. Pet bloggers everywhere were invited to look back on the last year, share their goals and achievements and provide advice by answering 10 questions.

The Pet Bloggers Journey gave me the opportunity to introspect on the last 6 months and feel grateful and proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. Plus, it’s a great way to keep myself accountable.

This is a tradition that has been going on for quite some time now within the pet blogging community, and I’m excited to be taking part in it for the first time.

Special thanks to Colby of Puppy in Training blog for putting this together!

This questionnaire is also a great way for you to come behind the scenes with me and get to know me a little better! If you’re just stopping by, welcome! I’m Cara, Henry’s dog-momager, and this has been my blogging journey over the last 6 months.

Follow @henrythesmol on social media!

Pet Blogger
HENRY THE SMOL

Pet Bloggers Journey 2021

1. When did you begin your blog and what do you currently write about on your blog?

I launched the blog in June 2020. Blogging is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s also something people (like my dad lol) have been telling me I should do for years, now.

Becoming a dog mom and joining the dog community gave me the push I needed to start the blog and find my niche.

Henry The Smol is a pet lifestyle blog born from a passion for being a city dog mom. Topics range anywhere from dog mom life and advice, personal experiences and dog product recommendations—I especially love sharing my opinions on dog apparel and accessories!

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2020, that made you most proud.

I launched it! Taking the leap to put the blog out there is something I’m incredibly proud of—the fact that people actually read it and are interested in what I share is unbelievable! I couldn’t be more grateful.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I had been thinking about it for a whole year. In April 2019, I purchased a domain for another idea I had for a blog, but watching Henry’s Instagram account grow the way it did, it just made sense to launch the blog as an extension of his social media. So, I scrapped the other idea, and went in the direction that things were going organically.

I’m also super proud of the fact that I was able to partner with both local and international brands within the first six months of blogging. This is also something that happened organically with brands that I absolutely love and use daily!

3. Which of your 2020 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?

My most popular post was about a luxury dog resort in Montreal; a one-stop shop for all your dog’s needs. We had such a blast bringing Henry for his first swimming lesson at Doggieville and taking him for his first ever groom!

I think my readers could relate to the genuine joy in this post. We shared lots of pictures of our day, and we’ve been back several times since. We love Doggieville, it’s the only one of its kind; it’s THE place in Montreal to pamper your pet!

4. What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2020, and how did you tackle it?

Planning and consistency were my biggest challenges. I wanted to do so many things at once, because I was so excited about the novelty of the blog.The problem with this was I would start to feel overwhelmed and disconnected from my brand. On top of that, the blogging world is all new to me, and it can feel like there’s constantly something new to learn. I started to doubt what I was doing and became discouraged to post.

However, I learned that by stepping away from my computer and taking a break every once and awhile, I actually become a lot more creative (thanks mom!) Breaks are important, people!

The technical aspects of the website were also pretty challenging for me. Luckily, my boyfriend is a digital marketer/graphic designer so he was able to help me with the little set-up details at the beginning of it all (and whenever it’s just “not working” lol)

5. Tell us one thing you learned in 2020 that can help us all become better bloggers.

So. Much. Stuff.

SEO! The ultimate goal of a blog is to get people to find and read your posts. If you’re not in tune with keyword search, SEO and basically any way to get your posts out there, you need to start! Get yourself a plug-in that helps with SEO (I use Yoast for WordPress) and do lots of research. I’m still working on SEO and learning everything I can about it. It’s a process.

Also, make sure your website loads quickly, or else people just get impatient and leave. This gives your readers a bad first impression. I use WP Rocket for mine!

I also learned a lot about Pinterest! I took a course with the Pinterest Queen, Tori Mistick, of Wear Wag Repeat and I learned A LOT! I’ve also bugged my blogger bestie Lindsey & Coco with lots of questions about Pinterest; she is always a HUGE help!

When it comes down to it: be organized, be consistent, be available, be kind and be HONEST (these are my core values when it comes to the blog—and when it comes to life in general, really)

6. What are your top three goals for 2021?

As with every project I take on, I pour my heart and soul into it and I push it to be the very best I can. With that in mind, here are my top three goals for 2021:

1. Creating long-term partnerships with new brands versus the “product in exchange for posts” format, moving forward.

Here’s why: A lot of work goes into creating content (research, brainstorming ideas, shooting content, editing, hashtag research, SEO, scheduling and posting to multiple platforms, etc.) it can really feel like a full-time job sometimes. It’s totally ok to ask to be compensated for the work that goes into promoting a brand’s product.

2. Get to 10k followers on Instagram.

Here’s why: It seems superficial when read out of context, but hear me out: the whole purpose behind the blog is to give back to the dog community as they’ve given to me, as a first-time dog mom. I want to make things easier for my followers to access my blog posts and the products I recommend with practical the swipe up feature.

3. Increase blog traffic and mailing list subscribers

Here’s why: I want to increase user retention and reader loyalty. This is going to mean that I’m creating valuable content my readers enjoy. This will push me to double down on quality content, be more consistent and be more present for my readers. As well, increasing traffic will allow for greater monetization opportunities.

Stretch goal: Start a YouTube Channel.

I have other goals, but none that I’m ready to reveal to the world just yet! Stay tuned!!!

7. In the perfect world, where do you see yourself and your blog 1 year from now?

In an ideal world, I get to make a living from the blog (and its extensions) and hang out with my dog, all day long!

I see myself working from wherever I want in the world, with my pupper by my side, doing what I love most. 

There’s no simpler way to put it. For me, that’s #goals.

*Be right back, I’m going to go crunch some numbers*

8. If you had a $1,000 to spend on your blog how would you spend it?

I would use it as capital for my top-secret project.

I wish I could say more, you’ll just have to keep following along to find out!

9. What is one skill you’d like to learn or improve in 2021?

Creating new content from my existing content, or in other words, working smarter.

This requires better, more thoughtful planning on my part. I think this will better solidify my brand and create more cohesion throughout my social media and blog.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

I would love to know more (or I guess better!) ways to increase traffic and monetization of the blog. My traffic sources are quite diversified, but I need traffic to grow more consistently, on a daily basis. As a newbie blogger, I would appreciate any tips or tricks!

Voila!

This has been my pet blogger journey for the last six months. I am having such a blast connecting with other pet bloggers within the community. It’s been an exciting learning process so far, and it’s given me so much confidence.

I’m very optimistic about the year ahead, and looking forward to growing the blog as much as I can, in order to reach new dog parents who can benefit from my content!

If you’re new here, take a click around and if you like what you read, help me crush my 2021 goals and subscribe to the mailing list!

15 Comments

  1. Thanks for joining the Pet Bloggers Journey! I’m glad you found our post. Congratulations on launching. After over 13 years of blogging I still have trouble clicking that publish button for new blog posts.

    I’m interested to hear about your top secret project. I’ll have to stop back and see what your up to from time to time.

    The majority of my traffic comes from search engines. Number 2 is Pinterest. It sounds like you’re already learning about those two topics so I want add to that.

    I already left a couple tips about monetization on my PBJ post. I think you already read those.

    One more thing I’d recommend…most bloggers use Amazon Associates as one of their first affiliate programs. If you use amazon affiliate links as I mentioned before you should always test. That being said I’ve tried the Amazon Native Ads, Image links, and text links. By far text links have outperformed the other formats.

    THanks again for participating in this years Journey. Good luck to you in 2021.

  2. Wow, congrats on all your success this year! Especially only for 6 months!! That is very impressive and inspiring! I started my blog before actually even knowing how to use Instagram and Pinterest! Pinterest has helped me drive a lot of traffic to my site this year so far alone. So I agree with you that building a base first on social media can really benefit you. I am definitely going to take your advice and focus more on that this year! Also congrats on your collaborations this year. Your website is stunning and your pup is such a little bundle of cuteness!! If you have done this much in your first 6 months I can not wait to see what this next year brings you! As for your question about traffic, I think your on the right track already! Thanks for sharing such an inspiring journey! Wishing you health and prosperity this coming year!

  3. Thank you so much for your comment! I’ll keep working on my SEO and my Pinterest, and follow the tips on your post! Yes, I am also an Amazon Associate, so I think it’s just a questions of doubling-down on that and getting the hang of it more.

    Thanks and all the best to you as well!

  4. Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m humbled.
    It has been such a fun journey so far, I can’t wait to continue to grow and learn and make new connections!

  5. Congrats on launching your blog. It looks great! I’m trying to think of something useful to tell you as far as traffic … I would say, create long form, evergreen content at least some of the time. And it’s a long game. The posts may not get traction right away (or ever) but some will! Even if it’s a year down the road.

    I see you have a newsletter. I would keep building that too. And of course pinterest. And make sure your most popular posts have an easy way for people to sign up for your newsletter.

    You’re probably already doing all this, just BRAINSTORMING.

  6. Congratulations on everything that you’ve accomplished to date here on the blog. I have been following your posts for quite a while, but I can’t wait to see what will come as we move into 2021 (especially this secret project that you’re eluding to… Curious minds want to know!)

    As for driving traffic, I find that focusing on SEO and Pinterest has been my solution in the past. However, with the new Pinterest algorithm and the struggle that so many people are seeing there coming into play, that plan wasn’t working for Shed Happens when it launched. Instead, I’m focusing mainly on SEO and growing my email list. I am still using Pinterest, but it’s not delivering the way that it did for my other blog in the past. That being said, I did dig into the course Pinterest with Ell and I can’t wait to see if the techniques there are able to turn that around and bring me back to where I once was on that front!

  7. Thank you so much, Lindsay!! That’s so kind of you πŸ™‚ These are great suggestions!
    I’m actually working on doing that, evergreen + building mailing list! I’m definitely in it for the long haul!!
    Thank you!

  8. Thank you so much Britt! Hehe I can’t wait to reveal more (I just don’t want to jinx anything for now!)
    Definitely working on improving my SEO. I’m going back to old posts and constantly updating and refining. You’re right about Pinterest. I use Tailwind and Tailwind Communities really helps in terms of monthly views (so I guess brand awareness) but I want to trigger more clicks. I recently joined the Wear Wag Repeat Society, Tori Mistick’s new membership program, so I’m excited to learn from people in the dog community/pet-preneur space!!!

  9. Congratulations on starting your blog. The layout looks great!

    I too, am interesting in knowing what your top secret project is. Based on everything I see here it should be a great success.

    I also checked out your Instagram account. I can see why it’s growing so fast. I followed you too. I plan to start posting to my Instagram soon.

    As far as traffic you seem to be doing well. When I first started all my traffic came from Pinterest. It’s definitely a good place to start.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi Bonnie! Thank you! I will happily reveal more when the time is right lol
    Thanks for coming to comment, I’m so happy to discover your blog! Can’t wait to see your Insta πŸ™‚
    Going to double-down on the Pinterest to grow that traffic!

  11. Love love loved readinG this post! Such a good idea. I also really appreciated your candid response to what challenged you the most about your blog & i loved hearinG about your future goals. I’m going to have to totally bug you about your super top secret project! Xoxo lindsey

  12. Thank you!!! And I can’t wait to tell you about it!

  13. Hi and nice to meet you. I would say for SEO and that sort of thing, to check out my pet blogging for love and money book i co-authored with maggie marton. also not to overthink it – I did that for a long time and i realized a lot of it is basically asking what readers are looking for and how you can best provide it. i know that sounds like common sense, but it works for me.

    it was great getting to know you, and congrats on your blog and successes. happy 2021!

  14. Thank you so much! I will definitely have to get my hands on your book!
    And yes absolutely, overthinking is an issue of mine. I just put out a survey for my readers, it was very insightful! Looking forward to creating more content πŸ™‚

  15. Welcome to the blogging world! you’ll love it. I’ve been here for nearly 10 years and I’m still having fun. you asked about monetization and I would like to say that what helped me was to start posting detailed reviews about products that I was already buying. I didn’t bother bugging the brand, I just took pictures of what I purchased and wrote a blog. adding affiliate links from chewy.com or amazon (or some brands have their own program) helped me start making a steady income. I stick to brands that I love and never join programs for products I wouldn’t normally buy. this allows me to answer reader questions because I’m already a customer. best of luck!!!

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