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Pet Blogger Journey Challenge 2021

We are interrupting our regular content for a peek behind the green curtain in our pet blogger journey. I’ve been pet blogging for 11 years, and wow what a journey it has been.

Every year, a group of pet bloggers get together and answer the same set of questions. If you’re curious about what I do here at Fidose of Reality or want to start your own blog, stay tuned because there’s a lot to share.

This pet blogger journey is being hosted by my pet blogging pal, Colby Morita of Puppy in Training this year once again. As you all know, 2020 was not an easy year one of the most challenging years in American history. I faced it head-on, but like everyone, there were a few bumps along the way. Fortunately, with a Cocker Spaniel by my side, everything is so much more manageable.

Our Pet Blogger Journey 2021

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

My pet blogging journey began in 2009, where I nudged the owners of a fledgling dog magazine that they needed a blog. I helped create it and they wound up winning awards for it.

In 2009, I took a look at the various dog blogs and realized there wasn’t one dedicated specifically to reality-based dog health and wellness topics. Like everything in my life, I jumped in feet first and created a dog blog, Fidose of Reality.

I’ve since hyper-niched down to a blog about healthy living for Cocker Spaniels and their canine friends. Want to read more about my background, this blog, and my love of Cocker Spaniels?

Click here: === > All About Fidose of Reality

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

Fidose of Reality won the Dog Writers Association of America blog or website of the year. The night was February 9, 2020 and the pandemic was just starting to get some buzz. In a roomful of over 120 people at an in-person event a few miles from New York City, my name was said aloud as the winner of the DWAA’s best blog or website of the year.

I’m accustomed to giving things away (we are pet bloggers, after all, it’s what we do), so I was stunned when my name and blog were said aloud. My dog was by my side, my wife was with me, and my friend Anne Serling (The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling’s daughter) was at the table with me. Here’s my reaction, which I thank my bestie, Christine Aiello, for snapping because I was clearly caught off guard:

pet blogger at dog writers awards
I could not contain my emotions.

I also won a Maxwell medallion and some cash grants for:

Best Article or Blog – Behavioral Training for my post, 8 Easy Fixes for a Fear-Free Veterinary Visit for Dogs

Fear Free Dog Enrichment Award for my post, 8 Easy Fixes for a Fear-Free Veterinary Visit for Dogs

pet blogger with anne serling
L to R: Carol Bryant, Dexter Bryant, Anne Serling

Bonus Proud Moment: I also self-published the DogMinder. I went looking for a health and wellness journal for my dog’s medical stuff since I filled up my old one (Cocker health, what can I say). And I realized the journal I wanted to buy does not exist. So I created it. It’s been selling relatively well, and I put a lot of research, heart, and soul into it. It’s a low-content journal but the feedback has been awesome.

DogMinder is a canine health and wellness medical journal designed to keep a permanent record of your dog’s:

  • Veterinary Visits
  • Daily Observations
  • Medications & Supplements
  • Likes & Dislikes
  • Food & Treats
  • Reactions To Vaccines
  • Emergency Contacts
  • And So Much More!

Grab a copy of the DogMinder for under $10 bucks on Amazon.

prize holiday dog photo contest prize

P.S. I found out in December of 2020 that the pet blogging book I co-authored with Maggie Marton, Pet Blogging for Love & Money, is up for Book of the Year from the Dog Writers Association of America. I will find out next month if we won! What an honor!

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

One of the many ways dog parents find my blog is when their dog is diagnosed with IMT, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. My Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, nearly lost his life to this immune system disease a few years ago.

I blogged our journey in real time, included a video, and I followed up with a post a year later on his progress. My dog survived, but sadly many do not. I cannot begin to count the number of dog moms and dog dads who have written to me to thank me for my well-detailed post. They print it, show it to their vet, take it to the internist, and it opens a conversation for treatment and management of this horrid disease that basically shuts down the dog’s platelets. So a bruise or a slight bump or cut can kill a dog if this is not treated stat.

Read my post and follow-up here:

Help for Dogs Fighting IMT: Immune Mediated Thrombycytopenia

Journey of a Dog with IMT: One Year Later

From a traffic perspective, meaning what Google says is my most popular post of 2020, 101 Best Dog Tattoo Ideas because everyone loves their dog and because many dog parents (present company included) want a dog tattoo. I have five tattoos to date, three are dog-themed, but I digress.

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

My pandemic fears getting in the way of my success and all of the highs and lows of traffic to the blog. I tackled it by talking to my wife and getting through all the uncertainties of the pandemic together.

I made a plan with feasible, doable, small steps. I seriously had no idea what was happening or what would happen, like the rest of the world. Some days I still feel like that, as whoever would have imagined the Capitol would face an insurrection to kick off 2021? I cling to hope and am thankful for new leadership.

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

I learned more about SEO and really took a deep dive into it more than ever. SEO is important…very important…but so is staying true to your readers.

I also learned to follow my niche. As a Cocker Spaniel health and wellness blogger, I booked a road trip with my family to attend ASC (American Spaniel Club) Nationals to go face to face with Cocker breeders, owners, handlers, etc., in Missouri in the summer of 2020. But then, the pandemic and life paused.

I still continued on my path and set up a list of blog posts I planned to write with a Cocker Spaniel focus. I gathered sources, made a Google Sheet, and now I have several hundred references from vets to Cocker experts on it. I am working through my list.

Be willing to pivot and not throw every single egg into one basket. I knew this, I teach this, and 2020 is the year I really applied it. Increasing my SEO knowledge and pivoting have served me well.

Ohhhh p.s. I also learned not everything is about keyword research tools. Just sayin’. Important? Yes. Write for your reader, not a robot.

6. What are your top blogging goals for 2021?

My word for 2021 is simplicity.

Goal 1: To complete the Income School Ultimate Content Warrior Challenge. I won’t be the first place winner, but I love the challenges and plan to complete all of it. I made it through to round four after the initial cuts, and no matter when I get cut, I am doing the challenge to grow and learn.

Goal 2: To increase my blog’s traffic by at least 30 percent by updating older posts and writing new, more laser-focused Cocker Spaniel and some other content.

Goal 3: New server and new theme with a new webmaster. I recently switched over to a new server, hired a new webmaster, and I am booked for my new faster and more user-friendly theme, which should be in place hopefully by March at the latest.

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

Alive and healthy and celebrating my 28th year of marriage to my wife with our Cocker celebrating his 13th birthday. Nothing is more important than family and our friends who are like family. I want us to be able to road trip, not be afraid a grocery store experience is like going into a war zone, and being able to see our friends and their dogs. We are homebodies but we love dog-friendly travel and miss it so much.

In a perfect world, my other business (related to writing) will be launched, and that’s not a fantasy or a dream, but what I am working toward this year. It should be up and running by early summer at the very latest.

In a perfect world, my blog’s traffic and income has increased, I have the manuscript to my first dog fiction book complete, and I’ve grown my mailing list.

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

I never let myself get cash strapped, so I have spent this kind of money on my blog for a new host, new theme, new webmaster, and some classes. I’d love to be able to hire someone part-time to do some task work for me, and that is something I plan to do this year.

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

Email list growth and more video skills. I love speaking in front of a camera and never feel afraid or nervous. I just need some basic video production skills. Darlene and I have invested in some lighting and are converting our guest bedroom into a second home office for filming and video production.

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

  1. If you’ve had success with selling many copies a self-published book, what advice would you be willing to pass on?

2. Fill in the blank: My best SEO tip is: ________.

family is everything
Here we come, 2021!

Summing Up My Pet Blogger 2020 Journey

Working remote is foreign for many, but that is my way of life. I do better in isolation, I am more productive, and I am never alone, as my wife and dog are with me. I’ve been a remote worker since 2001, so I guess that makes me a visionary 😉

That said, I always say working from home doesn’t mean never leaving your home and the pandemic has put a damper on that. So I’ve learned to pivot, invest time with my family, invest time in things I love, and realize that I need to be more of a human being and less of a human doing.

Fidose of Reality is for keeps and I am on this journey for the long haul. Writing is in my soul, and I can help many while making a living, through this blog. Thanks for taking the journey with me all these years.

Learn more about other pet bloggers on this journey with me by visiting the Puppy in Training blog post and scroll down to the bottom to see all the hyperlinks.

Here’s to the next 11 years and pet blogging success for all!

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14 Comments

  1. Concats on all your successes in the past, having goals and knowing how to reach them and just being an overall nice person too. Much success in 2021 and I can’t wait to see your new theme. We can all learn so much from you.

    1. That means a lot to me, Cathy. I feel like we’ve come up as pet bloggers together and I know you understand the journey and how tough it can be. I try to treat others with kindness and respect and that’s what has been my life’s mantra. Big hugs and purrs to you.

  2. Great website! I have followed your accomplishments for some time. I guess you can say I am already a fan 🙂 and as for SEO, I think you already have a great grasp of the direction needed!. I am so amazed at what you have accomplished and hope to one day publish a book myself. Congratulations on all your accomplishments! Wow, that is something to be proud of. I appreciate you sharing your journey and cannot wait to see what you have to bring to the community for this coming year!! Wishing you health and prosperity this new year!

    1. Thanks to much, Bren. I am in the midst of a new theme so I might be in between themes as you set this reply. I love writing the book and have another in the works. It is fun even with all the hard work.
      Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. I am a fan of yours, too!

  3. WOW! Congratulations on all your accomplishments this year. Awards, Books, and of course all the great content on your blog. I’m not sure where you find the time. I plan on completing the Ultimate Content Warrior Challenge too. I see we both got eliminated in round 4 🙁 I still plan on completing all the challenges too.

    I don’t know if this is my best SEO tip, but it’s something I plan on doing. I’m going to create content hubs around the slightly more competitive keyword phrases in my niche. I’ve done this a little in the past and it seems to work well for getting search traffic.

    Congratulations on 11 years of blogging. I can’t imagine what blogging will be like in 11 years from now.

    Thanks for participating in the Pet Bloggers Journey again this year. All the best to you in 2021.

    1. I am so glad you did this again and I appreciate your friendship and expertise. You are one of my go-to people in the pet blogging world and I hope you know you can always pick my brain for your questions, too.

      I am trying so hard not to uber focus on technical SEO stuff and go with what I know works with improvements. I know we recently chatted and that helped me with clarity.

      Onward and upward and here’s to success in 2021 and beyond!

  4. I’m grinning from ear to ear with happiness about all you have accomplished (and are yet to accomplish)!! You accomplished even more (which isn’t mentioned here), but since we have known you a LOOOONG time, we know and we also know about how modest you are! Love the “write for your readers, not a robot”…fantastic advice! As many others have said, you are nice inside AND out and deserve any and all accolades/awards etc that you have received (and are yet to receive!!) You have so much wisdom and love to share with the world and I am so happy you are doing so!! Think the world of you (even if I am NOT the most active on Facebook, Instagram, etc), doesn’t mean I don’t care! Always have, always will! Love to you Darlene and that handsome woofie!!! xoxo

    1. Awww well how awesome to pop into my inbox and see you here. Thank you for responding. Gosh we have known each other for a long time in cat and dog years, haven’t we? Like fur-ever!

      I love that we are friends, that we keep in touch, and that we are in this for the long haul. I wish you all the best and I love following your journey. Big hugs and happy, healthy 2021.

  5. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished! I first came across your blog after multiple people recommended your book to me as a new pet blogger. From there, I found that I really did learn a lot just in scrolling through your blog and your posts. The fact that you’ve been blogging for 11 years and are receiving so many accolades goes to show that you’re a great role model for anyone interested in getting out there in the world of pet blogging.

    As for your questions, my best SEO tip is to not get caught up entirely on traffic numbers during keyword research. Often, the highest performing keywords are also the highest competition keywords. On multiple occasions, I’ve found that I majorly benefitted by choosing something that was lower traffic and dominating it (leading to many more views than the keyword tools predicted I would see). Most SEO courses/recommendations I’ve read talk about not ‘wasting your time’ on these smaller words but they can be highly profitable if you know that they solve a problem being faced by your ideal audience.

    1. I soooo agree with you about not getting caught up on traffic number. And you are so right that choosing something that has lower traffic and then killing it big time is a great strategy. I agree!

      Congrats on all your successes and thanks for your support. Happy 2021 with much success!

  6. Wow, you sure have had a lot of accomplishments this year. You are truly an inspiration.

    Congratulations on winning the Dog Writers Association of America best blog of the year award plus the Maxwell medallion in 2020.

    Best of luck with your new book “Dog Minder.”

    Also I hope your book Pet Blogging for Love and Money wins book of the year this year too. BTW: I bought this book last year.

    I don’t think I could give you a SEO tip since I have been learning from you. Good luck with the Ultimate Content Warrior!

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Bonnie

    1. Hi Bonnie and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you purchasing the book and hope it is helpful. Also thanks for the kind words. I look forward to following your journey, too. All my best for a prosperous 2021!

  7. Congratulations on all your success! I’m inspired. I’ve only been in the blog world for a few months, but I always hear your name come up as a person of reference! I definitely need to read your book.

    It’s always so interesting to read the ‘behind the scenes’ of someone’s success. I’m actually learning about SEO right now; there’s something new to learn every day.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. Aww thanks so much and you just made my day. Happy to see you stop by and keep up the great work. I am always a mouse click away!

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