Blogs are an increasingly popular way to inform and connect with fellow animal lovers online. Creating, maintaining and growing a successful blog takes dedication and hard work, but it’s also fun and rewarding.
Has the internet gone to the dogs (and cats)? It sure seems that way. An internet cat video festival in Milwaukee drew more than 10,000 spectators. A stunning photo of a man cradling his arthritic dog in his arms went viral and touched so many people that he started a foundation in his dog’s name and raised more than $25,000 to help other dogs in need. And if you require more proof that the internet is an animal-friendly place, look no further than the thousands of dog and cat blogs, covering topics ranging from health, nutrition and behavior to rescue, adoption and entertainment.
Animal blogging is a growing trend. Yvonne DiVita is a co-founder of BlogPaws, a company focused on teaching animal enthusiasts how to use social media effectively. BlogPaws’ thriving online community boasts almost 1,700 members and counting, and an annual conference draws hundreds of animal bloggers and enthusiasts from around the world. “Blogging gives pet people a way to connect that supports the love and affection they feel for their pets,” says Yvonne.
People start animal blogs for all kinds of different reasons. Some simply want to share stories about their companions. Others provide information on specific issues such as general health, nutrition, a specific disease or condition, or a particular breed. Some blogs have a mission to help animals in need and effect change in how they are treated. Others are entertainment driven, providing humor, celebrity animal stories, or simply photos of adorable dogs and cats.
Starting your own blog
1. If you’re thinking about launching your own blog, the first thing you need to do is pick a topic. The more unique your topic, the better your chances for success. “Pet blogging by its nature is a niche topic area,” says Yvonne. “If you drill down further and only write about dogs, you have created another niche. If you only write about Corgis, you’ve just started an even more focused niche.” Niche blogs become successful because authors share what they’re passionate about, and they attract like-minded readers.
2. Once you have your topic, the technical aspects of starting a blog are easy. Platforms such as WordPress.com, Blogger and Typepad provide templates and hosting services, often at no cost, and make starting and updating a blog as simple as working with a word processing program.
3. Attracting readership and maintaining and growing a blog takes dedication and hard work. Most new blogs are abandoned within the first 30 days. In order to grow a blog, regular and frequent posting is a must. Blogging experts recommend posting at least once a week. The more you post, the quicker your blog will start showing up in search engines, and the more readers you will attract. Sharing your blog posts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can also help grow your readership, as can interacting with other bloggers by leaving comments on other blogs in your niche.
Secrets of success
• Paris Permenter and John Bigley publish Dogtipper. The blog features product reviews, dog news, celebrity canines, special events and more. Paris and John combined their years of writing and interviewing experience with their determination to help readers save money and save shelter animals. “Leverage your previous experience and combine it with your passion to create a blog that’s authoritative, but also one that fi res up readers about your topic,” says Paris. “We take a very businesslike approach to our blogging. We promote our blogs across many platforms, from our social media channels to press releases to offl ine promotion. Through it all, though, we make time to have fun every day with our rescue dogs and cats; after all, they’re our expert consultants and the inspiration for our work! You have to keep it fun.”
• One of the most successful animal blogs, Moderncat, was launched by Kate Benjamin in 2007 as a resource for cat people with a modern style. Kate features products for cats that not only fit a modern aesthetic, but are also innovative and make living with cats a more enjoyable experience. After about six months, the site was receiving 30,000 page views a month. Five years later, the site gets 350,000 page views per month and is growing exponentially. Kate attributes much of her success to regular participation in social media channels. Additionally, guest blogging on other sites and speaking engagements have helped establish her as a cat style expert and have increased awareness of her blog. “The most important thing is to stay in touch with what your readers want and to stay true to your own mission,” says Kate. “In my case, my mission is to use design as a way to keep cats out of shelters and in loving forever homes.”
Animal guardians are always looking for information on how to make their beloved companions’ lives better. Blogs can be a good way to sort through the often overwhelming amount of information available on any particular topic. They’re also a wonderful way to connect with other animal lovers. With all the choices available, there’s sure to be a blog that meets your needs, and your companion’s. And if you can’t find one you like, why not start your own?