Friday, January 10, 2014

On 2013, Blogging and Polyester-Headed Sourpatch Monsters (Illustrated with Funny Dog Photos)

Because there's no blogger support group that meets on the third Wednesday evening of every month (for example), and I keep most of these "business" things to myself 364 days of the year, I'm grateful for today's opportunity to participate in the (my third) Pet Blogger's Challenge. (Note: I think I just said I have 364 days worth of business to unload. Maybe you should run. Unless, that is, you want to see the PICTURES! Also, hint: I really don't talk all that much. ☺)

Thank you to (role-model) bloggers, Amy Burkert of Take Paws (Go Pet blog), and Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me?, for once again hosting this beloved event.

When I first arrived here, three years ago -- on this exact Blogger blog, only with the "blogspot" still hogging up my URL, and a blog design with distinctly less TV in it -- I couldn't fathom any direction for The Chronicles of Cardigan, beyond showing off photos of my dogs to a group of fellow dog lovers who'd appreciate them. It was just plain old fun.

[pretend Jon Farleigh is me.]
I love my blog! Yay, blog!

Before long, though, I realized there was just as much (maybe more) fun in putting words together on the page than just putting up the photos, so I wrote every day, wringing my brain free of more droplets of creativity than it had given up in decades. And, I got burnt out.

[pretend stuffed corgi is this blog.]
JF: You've changed, blog, and I don't think I like you anymore.

Blog, you are a polyester-headed sourpatch monster! Go sit in time-out!

And, burn out led to ambivalence, which led to struggles with whether or not to monetize, which led to resentment over being "obligated" to do something with this space that could, eventually, take all the fun out of it. So (after some serious soul-searching), I stepped way back. Decided to lose the guilt for not posting, and gave my poor, overwhelmed brain a rest...

My brain is eating cookies in bed, and not taking a nap. 

Last year's Blogger Challenge (for context)...
  On 2012, Blogging and Elephants in the Room

This year's questions and answers...

1. How long have you been blogging? Please tell us why you started blogging, and, for anyone stopping by for the first time, give us a quick description of what your blog is about.
Three years. The reason I started the blog is up there, in the 3rd paragraph from the top. Here's the blog description from my About page: This blog is a disheveled stack of nonsense humorous and (sometimes) unconventional chronicle of my life with Jon Farleigh and Dewi (my two lively Cardigan Welsh Corgis), three (okay, SIX!) rescue cats, a husband and some kids. But really, it's mostly about the dogs. (In fewer words, THERE'S A PARTY GOIN' ON IN HERE, ALL THE TIME!) :)

2. Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you most proud.
I had LOTS of fun! (That was my only goal for 2013.)
3. When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?
I've managed to banish the guilt...for not posting enough, for not participating in enough blogger stuff, for not sounding like someone I'm not. I've also reestablished a posting rhythm, and have gone from publishing only once, to three times a week. And finally, after three years, I got paid* to write!
4. What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?
 Twitter (which encompasses shares) and Facebook, in that order.
Oh, yeah, there you go. Stupid brain cookies tasted terrible anyway.

5. How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog, and do you think you should spend more or less in the coming year?
I only share post links (on Facebook, G+, Twitter and sometimes, Pinterest) when I've recently published one. However, I'm active daily on several social media platforms, where my blog URL is visible. I spend at least one hour a day just showing up in different places. This year, I intend to increase my presence substantially on Twitter and (hopefully) G+ (specifically hangouts).
6. How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? How do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?
They leave a comment? They share it? They don't call me bad names? :) As for the second question, I leave it when I'm no longer inspired to keep writing about it. (Boring does not equal fun.)  
7. When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?
It's usually because I feel compelled to, which -- as with anything I say out loud (being more of a listener) -- happens when I'm passionate about the subject, and think I have something of value to add. Please note that feeling "passionately" about something, sometimes, equals having a burning desire to be a smart@ss. But I try to limit those comments to bloggers who already know what a harmless buffoon I am. :)
Pardon me, cat, would you get me some Grey Poupon and a can of sardines?

8. Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways? If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?
Yes, I will do reviews, when I've found something that's really awesome, and feel like sharing it with my readers. That being said, most of my reviews are unsolicited (meaning no one asked me to review it; I just did it). I will also do paid reviews (for brands who ask me to), but considering what I just said, I wouldn't even do a paid review unless I was certain I could give a sparking one. As for giveaways, they're fun, especially when I can afford to give away a gift card, or something whimsical that I'd buy for myself. I will consider sponsored giveaways only if I truly love the product, wouldn't think twice about buying it myself, and (hugely important) it fits in with my blog theme and writing style. 
9. When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?
For something less chronic than full-on burnout (which I've had, and I talked about last year), I just take a deep breath and post a classic (ahem re-run). (Yay, re-runs!) If I get so tired that I can't even post a re-run, I'm not sure a "recharge" will be what the doctor orders. At least not in the context of this question. 
OK, I'm feelin' groovy again. But, if blog wants to play with me,
some big changes are gonna have to happen. 

10. Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go? Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?
Not an extended break, but I cut back to posting once a week for the first two-thirds of 2013, was glorious! And refreshing! :) And, yes, I've thought about quitting (don't we all?), but I can't. I don't want to quit it. It's just plain old fun. 
11. What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?
Well? I think I'd like to branch out into doing recipes and cooking demos...NOT! (Reminder: I'm a harmless buffoon.) Gosh, I don't like this question! OK, other than continue to have fun, I'm gonna make more money with it (doing exactly the same stuff I've been doing already, just less sporadically). And, I promise you, it'll still be the same happy place it always has been! So, see you next week, OK?! :))
[pretend Lulabelle is me.]
Hey, blog. Long time no talk. Guess what? I always knew you were a cat person, so I made a few changes. I think this is gonna work out just fine, don't you?
 Thanks for reading!

* My first paid writing job was through the BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network

Have you seen all these other awesome posts?


  1. I'm so glad you've found your fun again. Largely for selfish reasons. My own sense of humor has deserted me this past year, so I lurk here and get my fix. Plus, I have a serious love affair (secret, of course) going on with your dogs. (shush, don't tell my dogs)

    1. Hi, Sue! Thank you. :) It's elusive sometimes, the humor, even here. That's what silly friends are for though, right? Also, you're not the only lurker - so, let's agree that it's OK (the lurking).
      Whatever has stolen your humor though, Sue, I hope it gives it back, expeditiously. If not, let me know if I can go get it back for you. I'm not above strong-arm tactics.

  2. Confession: this took me forever to read because once I got to the picture of JF after question 4 I lost it. I laughed so hard I nearly cried and every time I tried to read on I started giggling again.
    Thanks for making me look insane, but mostly thanks for the laugh. ;)

    Your answers were great and I'm glad you're once again enjoying yourself while blogging, I have found that that is really important. Keep enjoying it and having fun with it! I love your blog. :)

    1. Want to know a secret, Marquie? I deliberately put those pictures in there to trip people up. I was (still am) hoping that the pictures and captions left more of an impression than my answers (because that's my shtick). ;) I'm SO glad you got a belly laugh out of Jon Farleigh's deformed looking face (he looks like a sourpatch monster, doesn't he?)!

      Thank you coming by and for being such an awesome person (hugs to Petal)!

  3. This has always been one of my favorite blogs :) I could not talk my hubby into a Corgi puppy - but I WANTED one because of your blog (I puffy heart your two boys!). Now we are being tortured by our new puppy . . .what were we thinking? Wait - this is supposed to be about YOU. So glad you are having fun again and congrats on getting paid - you totally deserve it!!

    1. Thanks so much, Julie. :) And I'd have been totally fine with you writing a page on the new puppy (she's so adorable). I already know more about myself than I care to admit.

  4. We look forward to some cooking etc. That will be fun. We think that as long as you enjoy what you do, you are winning. Have a serene Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly
    Get some big easy on today.

  5. I'm SO glad I discovered your blog. It always makes me laugh, and reading your goals and your guilt-free admission, I can see why! Being authentically you, true to your voice and to yourself is such an admirable quality in a blog. Something I strive for but you manage to achieve! I'm looking forward to seeing where you go in 2014!

    1. Oh, gosh, Maggie, it's not easy being me, and I still have regular moments when I feel bad for not being someone else. :/ Human nature is kinda stupid sometimes, no? Plus, I read your blog and if you're not being authentic, you are *really* good at faking it. And if you're faking it, who the heck are you? I want to know! :))

  6. OK, Jon Farleigh is just too cute.

    Blogging should be fun. It does take a lot of time and effort.Yes, you need to be true to your self when blogging.

    I just took off most of last week on my blog to enjoy life a bit and recharge. Came back with a few posts and feel so much better! Sometimes we all need a break.

  7. The most important thing about our blogs is to indeed enjoy doing it! Otherwise, it just becomes a drudge. Your pups and humor is fun and engaging. I'm hoping we both continue our adventures in pet blogging with a smile on our face and dogs at our feet (or in our face!). I didn't get to add my post to the linky list, so here's my 'challenge' post:

    1. How right you are, Jenny! Keep on smiling! And if you can't, a dog on the face will probably do the trick. (But watch out for tongues in all the wrong places.) ;) Thanks for the link; I will check it out!


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