Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pet Blogger Challenge

It's time for the 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge, hosted by Go Pet Friendly. Once a year pet bloggers set aside their normal blog topics to honor their accomplishments from the past year, and make plans for the new year. Go Pet Friendly hosts a Linky List so it’s easy to find everyone who’s participating. Participants comment on each other’s sites, offering congratulations and encouragement. 
Brulee and Truffle share their accomplishments from 2018

Each participant provides answers to the following questions provided by Go Pet Friendly on their blog post and then joins the hop so all can share their accomplishments from 2018 and goals/challenges for 2019. We hope you have fun and will join the Pet Blogger Challenge.

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

This June will be 11 years since I began blogging. The first Blog was Sweet Praline and was about my Tortoiseshell Persian Cat, Praline. Sweet Praline was basically a daily diary of the my life living with Praline. I shared photos and stories, mostly from her voice. This blog was active for 3 years and I stopped blogging on it when I lost Praline to cancer in 2011. I took about a month break before beginning a new blog. I wanted a blog that wasn't specifically focused to a cat name because of the loss of Praline. 
In July 2011, I began Sweet Purrfections, which is my current blog. The first post was a tease about Future Kittens for Mom Paula. I recently rebranded to “Living and Learning with Persian Cats” in July. The focus of the blog is characteristics, personalities, health, and nutritional needs of Persian Cats (and cats in general). I am also a pet influencer and write research-based posts related to the daily lives of Persian Cats, sponsored content, and product reviews.

2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018?
Truffle in her favorite location of the Sleepypod

Getting our first sponsor for the blog – Sleepypod! I'd admired the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Beds for several years and actually purchased the first one three years ago. I was able to meet the representatives from Sleepypod at Global Pet Expo and began reviewing their products and sharing photos of the girls with Sleepypod products on social media as well as the blog. We were able to work together in developing a partnership/sponsorship to write about evergreen content that relates to cats the integration of the Sleepypod into the daily lives of Living and Learning with Persian Cats. I'm happy to announce that Sleepypod is a sponsor for 2019!

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

Previous and current headers

Restructuring and rebranding the blog. I worked with a graphic artist who has designed graphics for me for the past 10+ years. She had Persian cats in the past and understands their personalities and how they relate to my brand. I've always liked the pastel colors because they remind me of the softness and sweetness of the Persian breed and of living in the South. When everyone else was going with bold and bright colors, I insisted on keeping the pastel colors in the pink family. We worked on the redesign and branding for two years! Part of the rebranding was the development of a caricature of the girls to include as a logo and as part of the header. This way, the blog wouldn't be totally limited to individual cats. I'd also been advised that my previous header was too large and readers couldn't see any of the content when the first visited the page. We worked on reducing the height of the header and incorporating the new tagline.  I now have specific "brand colors and font" that are used for all graphics. There are still a few areas I want to adjust with the rebranding and design, but am very happy with the outcome. 

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

Truffle giving Brulee a bath when they were kittens in 2011.

I had two favorites: Just the Two of Us and National Crème Brulee Day. I loved these posts because I was able to share in photos the past 7 years with my beautiful girls. I especially loved Just the Two of Us because the photos showed the connection the girls have to each other, even if they don’t always show it. National Crème Brulee Day was fun and informative because I was able to share the unique qualities of a Silver Shaded Persian and the quirky personality of my sweet Brulee.

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

Truffle and Brulee showing their backs

Interestingly, the most favorite post in 2018 was a post from 2017 – Who’s Who? Silver ShadedPersians. This post was about the unique characteristics of the Silver Shaded Persian and I was able to show photos of the similarities and differences between Truffle and Brulee. The most popular post that was written in 2018 was On the Go with theSleepypod® Go Bag. This is a new product from Sleepypod (who is a sponsor for Sweet Purrfections) and both dog and cat parents were interested because it’s applicable for either. There was also a giveaway for this new item, which always encourages engagement with our readers.

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

Brulee with Dr. Keisler

Approximately 1-3 times a month, we are featuring a researched-based informative article about the health, behavior, characteristics, or nutritional needs of cats. We also integrate the fact with stories about how this information is connected to our daily lives. One post we shared was the importance of taking your cat to the vet and how to choose a vet. I'm very happy with the veterinary hospital where the girls are treated and shared several photos of the vets with them.

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

The major way is through development of posts and connections with brands that interest other cat owners. I participate in boosts on the BlogPaws Facebook page and The Cat Blogosphere webpage with other pet bloggers. I post frequently to the Sweet Purrfections Facebook page because I can include a link where people can go to the blog. I’m slowly using Instagram more, but find it doesn’t really bring people to the blog because of the inability to post links directly to a post. Having a good working relationship with brands who are willing to let me review products and host giveaways continues to be a way to bring new visitors to the website. I had over 7,000 new visitors last year.

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

Certificate of Achievement for the Nose-to-Nose Finalist for a blog post written in 2018

I’d love to win a national/international award that recognizes the work I’ve done with the blog. To me, this supports my belief that my hard work is both appreciated by cat lovers and experts in the field. I was thrilled to receive a Certificate of Excellence from both BlogPaws and the Cat Writers’ Association last year, which meant I was a finalist for a couple of awards. Unfortunately, there isn’t the opportunity for BlogPaws anytime in the near future (which is sad), but I’ve submitted several posts for consideration for the Cat Writers’ Association Communication Awards.

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

Truffle and Brulee relaxing before beginning an exciting 2019

I’ve already submitted the entries, so now it’s a “wait and see” until the awards ceremony in May. I am continuing to work on research-based articles on cat behavior, health, nutrition, and characteristics this year. I have plans for detailed posts on Feline Herpes Virus, bladder stones, and Vaccine Associated Sarcomas (VAS)/Feline Injection Site Sarcomas (FISS) because these topics are personal as they relate to situations with my cats. Truffle and Brulee provide me plenty of opportunities for photos and stories to share with our readers.

10. 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!

Truffle and Brulee looking forward to 2019

I’m always open to input. I worked hard for 2 years to get the blog redesigned where it is easier to read and cleaner. I talked with bloggers and professionals I respect when I was working on the rebranding of “Living and Learning with Persian Cats.” I could always use assistance in taking better photos of cats indoors when there is little natural light. I’d also like to know what people think about the blog and what topics they’d like to read about.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Happy 2019! Congrats on your blog sponsorship AND rebrand! What a great company to be sponsoring your blog AND your blog looks amazing! We will keep our fingers and paws crossed that you win an award in May - you certainly deserve it!

  2. Congratulations on such a wonderful year. We enjoyed this so much and we remember the "Just the two of us" post. We think you blog looks great and hope in May you can win that award. Thanks for the share. We wish for your 2019 blog to get bigger and better. Because we always love coming here to see Truffle and Brulee.
    World of Animals

  3. We always enjoy reading your blog and of course we enjoy seeing those beautiful girls!

  4. Congrats on the Sleepypod sponsorship!

  5. Congratulations on the blog sponsorship with SleepyPod! I've always tried, but never really successfully built a long term relationship with a brand. I'm reading your blog from my desktop and for me it's very clean and easy to follow. However, if your blog is anything like mine where the majority of traffic comes from mobile you should really take a close look at how it appears on your phone. As we speak I'm looking at your mobile design and it also looks clean and is easy to follow. Awesome job with the new design!

  6. I enjoyed reading your post for 2018 because you have so many accomplishments I wondered what you had left to do! Ii also got a chance to see some adorable pictures of I'd not seen before, especially "the Two of Us." I especially like the photos of both together in different positions.I have concern as you did re naming my blog for my specific cats, so your comments really struck home. Congrats on the Sleepypod sponsorship! BTW you forgot to mention your amazing accomplishments of the blogging calendar, secret paws and your integral role on Cat Blogosphere! Re taking pictures in low light I have that challenge too. There are special lenses you can buy for your camera that let in more light. I'm not sure what kind of camera you have but if there's a local camera store, suggest paying them a visit and voicing this need. Alternative (if no camera store nearby), you can call B & H Photo, who ships everywhere in 1 day and is great with advice, (212) 615-8820. Cost is much less than the camera stores. Over and out for now and congrats on all you've done.and will do!

  7. You've done a great job with your blog, and with establishing leadership within CWA. Paws up to you!

  8. You are my inspiration. Seriously. Congratulations on all you accomplished this year. The rebrand looks amazing! I feel you on photographing Persians in low light - extra fun if said Persian is black! My days of just saying I'm rubbish with photography are going to have to be over if I want to move to the next level (and I do.) I'd love to find a sponsor.

  9. Congratulations for all the outstanding achievements!!

    Rose the Adult kitten

  10. Congratulations Paula, you've had such an amazing year. Wow 11 years, that's incredible to have a blog with such longevity but when it's a passion it's not that hard to see how you're still going strong. Sounds like you have a solid plan for the future and you're headed in the right direction. Best of luck with it all. I must be the only pet blogger that wasn't aware of this challenge!!

  11. Awesome to see some familiar faces also joining the blog challenge! We joined for the first year this year too. The graphics on your site are awesome! Redesigning my blog/the graphics is something I've been thinking about for awhile but I haven't actually done it yet. Here's to an awesome 2019!

  12. What a great year! I love the idea of posting a researched-based informative article about the health, behavior, characteristics, or nutritional needs of cats. I'm looking forward to continuing to read this information.

  13. We missed some of these posts ... thank you for bringing them to our attention. You have much to be proud of ... beyond being the proud Momma to two silver-shaded Persians.

  14. Happy 2019. I think my best blog was my first one and then a couple along the way. I have never thought about a blog being special as in my eyes they are all special in their own way and had never heard about the challenge till I saw it popping up this week. Now going to put my thinking cap on again, thank you

  15. Sweet Purrfections has grown into an amazing blog with a wonderful cat look that makes it distinctive and fun to read. I have found that longer, well researched posts have had such an impact on my readers and I am continuing with them fortnightly. Good luck and enjoy.

    Your girls are so inspiring and beautiful to see.

    Good luck for a wonderful 2019.

  16. That's a lot to be proud of! well done! For us #3 would be the big one. We took a solid 6+ months off the blog after 9 years. Blog fatigue. Slowly getting back at it but not sure for how long. Not certain I want to get sucked into the whole minimization/make it a business push that's the norm now. Many say "just don't then - just blog" but then you get lost in the crowd. It's a tough call. Ah well .... Keep up the good work!

  17. Your redesign is fabulous! I think the colors represent you and the girls so well. I love all of your posts, and I love that you're doing more evergreen content and research based articles that have great information. I'm so proud of you!

  18. Your rework on your blog really payed off, it's gorgeous! Congratulations on getting the Certificate of Excellence from BlogPaws and the Cat Writers’ Association - it definitely helps to get recognized for the hard work you do! So happy for you and look forward to reading more from you in 2019!

  19. We have our paws crossed that you will win a much-deserved award! I love reading about Truffle and Brulee. They are my dream cats. ♥

  20. Concatulations on your accomplishments ! We enjoyed reading your answers, and wish you best of luck for your goals in 2019 ! Purrs

  21. I still need to try and land a sponsor. Can't even make up my mind what company it should be, though.

  22. Thanks so much for joining the challenge and congratulations on your relationship with Sleepypod! They're a great company and I absolutely love their products. And you did a great job with the redesign of your blog - it's very distinctive.

    Taking photos indoors can be tricky and a big variable is the camera you're using. Cameras on phones are getting better and better and I think Google is bringing out a phone with a camera that supposed to do really well in low light. But it might be easier to invest in an entry level digital camera with a lens that allows you to manually set the camera for the light conditions. That's what I did, then signed up for a basic digital camera course at the community college, which helped a lot!

    I hope you have a great 2019 - good luck!

  23. Loved reading your blogger challenge post! Best of luck this year, and I love your redesign!

  24. I enjoyed reading your answers & I aspire to your rebrand. Best of luck this year!


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