Six Big Changes in Blogging on our Sixth Anniversary

Our six year blogging anniversary came and went quietly this year (Nov 21). It wasn’t because we don’t want to celebrate — we certainly do and did. After all it’s a time to review our just completed year, celebrate our wins, and look forward with you, Dear Reader, to what may lie ahead.

BUT! This year, for our 6th anniversary post, instead of talking about what we’ve learned in just the last year, I thought I would chat a little bit about the 6 big changes we’ve noticed since we started in 2010. These shifts in the world of blogging will unavoidably impact how we blog in order to remain relevant. Adapt or die, right?

Now, just in case you’re thinking that a different anniversary post is a sign that we don’t have much from the year to celebrate, allow me to indulge for a paragraph or two and say that it was an exceptional year! We started off with a double bang with nominations in TWO categories for BlogPaws and won one!

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Oh this? yeah THIS!!

We implemented a few changes too. We put a lot of energy into finding new ways to write about with-pet-travel that isn’t quite so location specific — not so guide-bookish — and found great success there. We also started the new (and popular) series of interviews with wonderful like-minded people who travel all over the globe with their pets. It was nice to show that we aren’t the only ones on this journey of journeys, and plan to continue that series this year. We also climbed on the Instagram bandwagon and met some wonderful new fans that way.

And of course there was the huge and happy announcement: the bipeds are engaged! And the EPIC proposal that made its way around the internet and was featured in In Style, the Huffington Post, Travel and Leisure, and many other magazines and sites. Yes, it’s been a fun year!

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Best engagement pic EVER!?

It’s also been a year of evolution. It should come as no surprise really since one thing you can count on in the world of blogging is that it will change. Continuously. Perpetually. And all that change … well … I will not lie to you, Dear Reader, there have been times when we’ve felt a bit of blogger’s fatigue this year. It’s the fatigue of trying to follow the changes that keep coming at us at neck-breaking speed, forcing us to perpetually adapt. It’s exciting, and fun, and challenging, and whew … it IS exhausting.

1) The pressure to monetize the blog and why we haven’t … yet.

This will ruffle some feathers …. but here goes.  For many bloggers, success = $. But blogging started as a stage for people who love words and writing. It was a place to meet like-minded people and share a passion. Those who wrote well gained the best followings and created wonderful online communities. Those bloggers were funny, engaging, creative, and compelling. But in the last two to three years, we have stopped following many of our favourite bloggers, for one reason and one reason alone:

They stopped writing and started advertising.

To me it feels like they sold out. Call me old-fashioned, Dear Reader, but I am not a fan of product reviews or sponsored posts. I’m not a fan of linkbacks and advertising banners and more. It annoys me. It’s just like watching your favourite TV show when suddenly, the characters are talking about the new features of the named brand car they are driving. Sure, they try to make it sound natural and just part of the script, but we see what they did and we are annoyed. It’s enough to make me stop watching. It makes me cringe. Do it enough and … well, just like we stopped getting cable because of the constant string of adverts, well … I unfollow.

If a blogger we enjoy is featuring a product, we want it to be because it’s something they really love and have used for a long time. That is my biggest pet peeve with most product placement-type posts and advertisements: they are not sharing with me a product that has REALLY stood the test of time. And, frankly, as minimalists, it’s the only thing that matters to us. I don’t really care what the flavour du jour is. I want to know if I am likely to still be using the item five years from now. A paid review will not provide that context. And don’t get me started on this whole “influencer” thing … sigh. I don’t want to sell things to you; I want to help you, Dear Reader. That is us coming to you from a very different head space, don’t you think? And because we feel that way about other blogs, well, we really don’t want to go down that path with our own blog. How long will we hold out do you think?

If we do review a product, it’s because we have used it and liked it, and continue to use it — a lot. So far, none of our reviews are paid or sponsored in any way. Why? Because no one will pay you for a shitty review. And we basically say to those who ask if we would do a review, “We will review it, but we will be 100% honest. If we hate it, that is what we will say. And WE WILL post no  matter what, there is no opt out if we don’t like the product.” And they back off. AND that, right there, happens multiple times a week, so it makes me question every single paid review I see online. Where is the honesty in this? If I am looking to someone as an expert in something, I want to know what product the person truly loves and hates. Both! What does the expert enjoy and return to over and over again, and what product stopped being something they liked and why. That is what I want to know.

For us, the products we would love to see advertised on our site are things like our airline-approved carrier, or my sling bag, which I’ve used non-stop for over 6 years, or Flytographer, whom we fell in love with over 2 years ago and we can truly see ourselves using for years to come. So, if you do one day see an ad on our blog, you can rest assured it’s not there just to make $. It’s there because we have a LONG history with the product; it has stood the TEST.OF.TIME. And so far, six years in, there are still no ads or paid product reviews on our blog, social media, or videos.

2) Overwhelming social media platforms.

News flash — our blog is NOT how people find us! I know, crazy right? Now, you could blame bad search engine optimization (SEO), but I have it on good authority that we aren’t actually doing that badly on that front. Nope. The truth is, people look for content where they are. And that means, where its convenient. So that means that bloggers now have to spend an enormous amount of time finding out where their niche market is hanging out. Are they on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Vimeo? YouTube? Amazon? Some new platform we haven’t yet heard of? Early adoption of these social media platforms is key. Come in too late and you’ve nearly lost your chance to go viral within that platform. Having to be everywhere, all at once, and all the time is exciting. It can feed an obsessive-like compulsion to be online, all the time. And it’s exhausting.

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This year we started a new thing: UNPLUG for the WEEKEND. It has been bliss.

Managing multiple social media platforms may be fine if your blog is your job. Those of us on passion projects or who are hobbyist bloggers can’t keep up. The result is a two-tiered system. And that is truly unfortunate. Some of the best blogs out there are not by professional bloggers but by those pouring their hearts and souls into their content. Multiple social media platforms may provide a chance to reach more people, but it’s a catch–22: you have to be creative, not just in writing your post, but also in spreading that content on multiple platforms … which drains your energy for writing the blog in the first place. Sometimes, I really wish we could afford to pay someone to do this for us.

3) Photos are “Queen” but video is “King.”

For those of us who love words and language, the greatest and biggest change to blogging is, by far, the need for visual impact. This is such a huge shift that it has even launched V-blogs. Video Blogs. No more words; just video. For many, this has meant the end of their blogs. We followed several bloggers who were incredible writers but had no skill in photography or video. Some just didn’t have a talent for it or weren’t engaged with it; some were just too shy — introverts who liked to hide behind their beautifully written words and had no desire to be in the limelight.

I’ll be honest, Dear Reader: I do think that to some degree, this change is a double-edged sword.

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Take video – and a photo – and post them on different platforms!

When we started in 2010, we were ahead of the curve because we didn’t use stock photography. We were creating our own. We’d embed small photos in our posts. Not the big ones you see today, but small ones, like doodles on the page. Now, that’s not even enough anymore. People expect a polished online magazine-like level of professionalism from their bloggers. Although that has meant a fun new challenge for us, we’ve also seen some beloved bloggers disappear under that pressure to conform. Not everyone can take Condé Nast or National Geographic-like travel photos, but these bloggers still have vast knowledge and fantastic story-telling capabilities. But the world of blogging has kicked them out — made them feel like there is no room for them. Today, top blogs are polished web magazines rather than online diaries. People want the infographics, the slideshares, fancy quotes, videos … as well as great content. Luckily, we enjoy video and photo-taking but we do wonder, where will this end? Ultimately, I think blogging has become more polished and professional as it has evolved into a viable platform for businesses. But the thing is, not all of us are looking for a business platform.

4) The paradox between content and short reader-attention span.

Paradoxically, despite the early emphasis on words, the average blog post in 2010 was about 200–300 words. Short and sweet was the way to go. Now, with a shift to more visual content, the average post has grown and hovers around 800–1000 words. We’ve had a lot of trouble understanding the shift. But what we do know is that Google favours content. Lots of it. Want to be found near the top of internet search results? Pump out that content. And make it quality content. That means longer and well written posts! My guess is that great photos on Pinterest or Instagram will grab someone’s attention, but if a fan is going to take the time to click and find your blog post, then they actually want information. In a world geared toward Twitter-sized news bites, I truly believe that this paradox is a sign that readers are secretly craving something they can chew on.

So although all the peripherals will help you get noticed in the enormous sea of social media shouting, a well written blog, with thoughtful and complete, well researched posts, will give you street cred. That’s what keeps people on your page and has them coming back. It also helps engagement go beyond a quick share and an easy like to leaving comments and gasp sending an email! That is how a community is built, Dear Reader.

5) The dark and painful path to understanding SEO and why I’ll never be an expert!

Seriously? On this, I have no idea what to tell you, Dear Reader. The level of frustration that comes from trying to be noticed at all by Google or any other search engine is exasperating. I am convinced that even those who do this for a living don’t fully understand what is really going on. I bet it’s like finding those hotspots in New York City. Half of it is luck! We’ve spoken to some experts and we still have a very thin grasp on this element. And it’s likely why we aren’t more popular, why we don’t have a gazillion followers and have never gone viral.

This year, we finally learned to be okay with that. “We may not be big, but we’re small” — and being small means we get to remain personal and intimate. We CAN answer your questions, Dear Reader. Your voice isn’t lost in a sea of comments. Ironic, isn’t it, how that goes both ways: Would we love to be internet famous? Sure, who wouldn’t. But that would happen at the cost of those who keep us on the internet — You! Dear Reader!

6) The Yuck of Content Promotion.

I’ve never really believed in that adage, “Build it and they will come.” I don’t think that has ever been true. There has always been some sort of marketing out there. Sure, content marketing has become easier in many ways thanks to social media, but unfortunately, the sheer volume of stuff being tossed onto the web means you are hard pressed to be seen at all anymore. Standing out has become a game of luck to some degree. One great viral hit and off you go, riding that wave for a while. But the sad thing is that a viral hit isn’t always going to the most deserving. And that can be heartbreaking.

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You don’t even have a dog!!! DAMN IT!! ARGH!!!

As we have seen time and time again, folks who aren’t even walking the talk have written about with-pet-travel. We’ve seen everything from incorrect information being shared, to people just telling others not to bother, undermining years of effort from those of us trying to get pets included in holiday plans. As an example, humans would never ask their family doctor for travel advice, and yet we regularly see vets being asked to talk about with-pet-travel. Or a travel blogger who has no pet of their own but does have a huge following, will write about with-pet-travel, reinventing what they read in blog posts like ours. And, wham! They are the #1 resource for search engines. It’s a tad irritating.

Lucky Number 7

So what does that mean for the future of Montecristo Travels as we face our seventh year on the internet? Well, it means that we are aware that we are facing a lot of challenges and changes in our future. But we also firmly believe that there will always be room for our blog, and so long as there’s room, we will continue to provide great content. All this change (and ongoing, continuous change) means that we can never get comfortable and complacent. And that is good for you, Dear reader. It means we are always having to shake things up and keep things interesting for you.

It also means that our voice is no longer just on this blog, and maybe that is all for the better. You can follow us in real time now as we travel by hooking up with us on Facebook and Instagram, for example. Ask us questions while we are still on location and can find the answers! The internet is constantly expanding and offering new outlets to people who want to communicate and connect. Do these changes mean we have to do every new thing that comes our way? No. But it does mean that technology and increasingly savvy online readers (YOU!) are giving us new ways to express ourselves, along with the ability to change that expression when we see fit.

So, we look into the eyes of this upcoming seventh year with excitement and some trepidation. What will be the biggest change? What losses will we feel? What gains will be made? We shall see, Dear Reader! The one thing I do know is this: we are thankful. Thank you, Dear Reader, for your presence and engagement. Thank you especially to those who have been with us from the start. Thank you to those who take the time to be a part of a community here on the blog and on our social media platforms. Thank you. Without you there really is no us.

46 Comments on “Six Big Changes in Blogging on our Sixth Anniversary

  1. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!! Number 1 resonated so strongly with me, I cannot even tell you. As a new blogger, I’ve struggled with all the same things, and to know that you, after 6 years of this, are seeing the same things and experiencing the same struggles was reassuring. Hurray for all the things and being brave enough to voice them! I love your work, your purpose, and your values. Brava!! 😀

    • Wow thank you!! I debated a LONG time about doing this one. But it had to be said I think. Feel free to share… 🙂 And thank you for the support. I found it Stunning that when I googled NOT monetizing a blog I got … nothing. Not one thing. I thought …Hmmmmm…. interesting.

  2. Happy Anniversary. Every blogger has to find their own way. I remember the conversation we had last year (or so) where you were frustrated that you had been working hard for a long time but just weren’t seeing the blog traffic you hoped. It seems that now you have determined that’s not what is important to you anymore. I am sure that feels like a load off and allows you to continue pouring your heart and soul into this blog. Even though you might not reach as many people, you can have more meaningful conversations with the ones that do discover your little gem 🙂

    Some people blog for a living, or decide to turn it into a living, so achieving that goal is not “selling out”. I disagree with you there for sure. Applying that term really has more to do with YOUR perspective than the blogger’s actions. Going from “for fun” blogger to getting paid is more like a job promotion to me. Not everyone likes the kind of blog that talks about products and that’s ok. For every person who doesn’t like it, there are people who love hearing about the latest and greatest, and the trends, from “industry experts”. The average pet owner doesn’t see the stuff that we do as bloggers at the same rate. There is a whole spectrum in regards to the way people “advertise” stuff on their blogs. Some of it turns me off too. The thing is, it was easier for me to criticize other bloggers for those things that turned me off when I had a good paying job to support me. Although I spent an obscene amount of time on my blog, it was just a passion hobby. Now, by my own choice, I’ve turned it into one of my income streams. I’ve stopped getting so frustrated with other blogger’s choices because we all just have to “do us” to make ourselves happy and get by.

    We all do what we like best and follow what we like best. I appreciate a variety of blogs for different reasons. I won’t travel to most of the places you’ve been, and maybe never with my dog, but I enjoy seeing the beautiful places from your perspective. I appreciate knowing you as a friend too.

    • Thank you so much friend for your very thoughtful and – as always – eloquent response. I believe that my frustration comes from the creation of that two tier blogger world. Full disclosure: I hate it.

      Now that blogging can be a revenue stream and people do just that, it has and does shove those of us on passion projects (for lack of better term) to the side. We can’t compete with the time and energy “professional” bloggers have. And I get it – certainly that time and effort (and yes the advertising) should be rewarded. But with the enormity of the web that means sadly that passion bloggers literally disappear. We can’t be found. We no longer have a voice. We don’t reach the people. And I think that it IS a shame.

      I don’t know that I am ok with not being more visible more than I am resigned to the fact that given the current blog culture I have no choice and that’s just the way it is. I also don’t see my bog as a hobby.

      And … the thing I find the saddest of all is that the story telling blogs? They are actually disappearing.

      • I think there is a full spectrum between sell, sell, sell bloggers and those that just want to use it as a journal for a few friends and family members to read. There is a lot of grey in between. Your blog definitely falls in the middle somewhere the way I see it.

        You want to help people. Your “flavor” of helping people doesn’t involve helping them to find the latest and greatest “trendy” product. It seems you need people to see your blog to help as many people as you can. I’m just not clear how much getting that traffic means to you. To me, getting traffic and making money are two mutually exclusive goals… or rather you can work to bring more traffic without a goal of making money (However, it’s IS hard to make money with no traffic). Not everyone is able to separate those two things in their mind though and the majority of the conversation out there around blogs DOES involve making money. I understand how that can make some bloggers feel “lesser than” when they really are not in terms of value. It is likely true that, as you said, now that people know one can make money blogging, there are more bloggers out there trying to “make it big” than there are not. It is definitely true that the conversations around blogging are dominated by people with that kind of goal.

        Anyway, I wish success for you – however that looks to you – and will help you any way I can 🙂 I’m also only a phone call away if you want to talk through your thoughts about blogging. Your voice is just as valuable in this community as anyone elses <3

  3. At least you know what you want Montecristo Travels to be even if it’s a struggle to be heard a lot of the time. I haven’t even figured that out yet for Boomeresque. However, one indisputable great thing about blogging is that it introduced me to some wonderful bipeds (and their canine, of course).

    • yes. That is a HUGE benefit of blogging — the amazing connections that can be made. Ours being WAY up there on our “AWESOME” list! Can’t wait to see you next year. 🙂

  4. Happy bloggiversary! I agree with all your points. I’d rather read a blog about someone’s passion anyway. Sometimes that person has made the monetization work, but I find that people trying to make their blog their main source of income lose something along the way.

    I’m happy I discovered your site!

  5. It was very interesting to read your opinion on all that, Sonja, and I see there’s some learnings there even though you didn’t say this would be a learnings post! 😉 I hope I’m not in your dislikable category as a blog though since I’ve done almost everything you said you didn’t want to do lol! But seems you’re at a bit of a crossroads as to how you want to take this further. So, here are a few thoughts of my own to add perspective as someone who has gone through everything you’re going through and more, as someone who’s made this my full time career for the past two years, and has done the debate as to how to monetize and accept that and still be proud of it.

    Firstly to share my own challenge, which is finding time to write on my actual blog since I’m so busy making videos and feeding the social media beast. Writing was and still is my core passion out of everything I’m doing, and I wish I could do more of it. At a point I essentially had to make a decision; focus on blogging and keeping weekly frequency, or prioritize social media at the sacrifice of lowering blogging frequency. That’s what I did, because I knew at the end of the day, I would grow my audience faster and quicker on social media which would ultimately benefit the blog more. That was the right decision for me, and may not be for everyone, but can’t deny it’s the fastest way to grow an audience.. My focus is still social media, but down the road if I want to transition back to a more regular blogging schedule, I have that option with even more readers..

    Monetization seems to be a big pain point for you. But there’s a simple answer, or question, rather. Do you want to do this as a hobby, or do you want to make a living with it? Hobbies don’t make money, but you can do whatever you like with it. If you want to make money, it becomes a business and you have to start making some business decisions. Obviously the goal would be to make it feel as much like a hobby while making it a business as you can, but you get my point..

    There’s some tradeoffs with each, but if you want to be able to dedicate more resources to the blog to create better content, update your website, travel more places, invest in better cameras, buy more outfits, etc, etc (ie. Dedicate more time & money), you need to get paid for that time. The exception is unless of course you won the lotto or are super comfortable in finances and thus get to blog purely for fun for the rest of your life (which would be awesome!).

    I’ve gone through many steps of the monetization evolution.. from simple google adsense to calendars/books to merchandising to influencer contracts. I do try my best to limit and regulate the advertising (even tho I’m doing more than ususal right now with the holidays approaching). I’m still very picky about what brands we work with, the quality of products we put out, and how promotional content is done. Although I’ll admit sometimes it can get tedious, but for me, a good little contract means I have more money to invest in my next video or adventure..

    And you know what, our followers – our core followers anyway, don’t mind that we sell stuff (to a point of course). They think we deserve it after all the hard work we’ve put in for 5 years writing a blog every week, putting in hours and hours of time into silly videos, constructing elaborate outfits for a single photo, etc. and I know this because I’ve read many comments about it. And I think you deserve to be paid too! So, I know you feel this way, but I don’t think advertising will automatically turn people off. In this world people understand that you need to be paid for your hard work (albeit, not everyone understands that, I know lol). In fact, some of my best content was made because of something I did for a brand (Crusoe’s barkbox robbery video is definitely a fan fave), so working with brands will lead to new things.. I mean, for you, doing something like review posts will right away give you more to write about; more content and pages out there; and ultimately more ways people can find your blog and become a reader. So I don’t consider it selling out if you maintain your values and ultimately keep reinvesting in what you’re doing.

    Of course you need to do it carefully though. I haven’t and wouldn’t endorse a product that I don’t stand behind. But to be honest I think you’re making it a bit difficult for yourself by telling advertisers you’ll rip apart their product online if you hate it.. lol. If you don’t like it, you just don’t post, and no harm done – unless you’re really the Robin Hood of the petnet and must educate every consumer to every potential pitfall! Which is good! But, Robin Hood doesn’t make a salary either.. The bottom line is, you need to stay true to your values and that of which your readers appreciate, but also reasonable to ways in which you can monetize. I think monetizing is inevitable if you want to make it a career, so it’s something you’ll have to come to terms with on your own. But don’t think about it as selling out. On the contrary, it’ll give you more resources to grow and reach more people and ultimately do more good.

    Don’t give up! The hardest part of all this is keeping the passion and as long as you do that, everything else will come together.

    • Hi Ryan –

      I appreciate reading your thoughts and I agree. I’ve incorporated promotions into my blog (I would like to think “successfully”) too and, as you said, I DO see it as genuine because I would never promote a product I couldn’t stand behind… that I don’t feel good about. I won’t accept a product for review in the first place if I don’t think I will like it. There have been some products that just don’t work out for me though and I don’t feature those. I do wonder if some people interpret this as “dishonesty” by omission though. In other words, I’m not writing about “the bad” and only highlighting the good stuff out there. In my case, I know my readers like to hear pros and cons of a product but they would not be interested in hearing me go on and on about not liking something.

      As you said, hobby or not, choosing to monetize can actually be good for your blog because it can fund trips, adventures, classes, equipment so you can BETTER serve your audience. I do admit that my blog was less “work” back when I didn’t treat it like a business though 🙂

      • And funding would be great…. it would. I would love to travel. Heck I would travel 3-4 months a year happily. But the very very very few products I would feel happy to advertise with have never approached me. And as an introvert well… approaching them is not a happy place. So there IS that. I just have not yet found a way where I can marry forms of making money that I find bring real value to my Readers not just $ to me.

        You know your audience! That is the super important part.If you feel that giving a product a negative or at least ambivalent review is not something they want then don’t – totally get that!:) Don’t by ANY stretch let the fact that some weirdos like me see a sort of subversive dishonesty in the “by omission” part.

        In the travel blogging world I know that I trust those that do give the bad and ugly far far more. Even when I disagree with them. When I read 5 blogs on a location and 3 of them say “be super cautious or don’t go if you are a solo female traveller it’s horrific” I’m like “well that’s honest! I am with my guy so likely less an issue but so good to know.” I gave Cape May on the Jersey shore a thumbs down for not having pet friendly patios for dining or a pet friendly beach… and food and beach is what they DO. Some say it was good I called them out on the fact that they do all sorts of “pet lovers pay more” type stuff in their high season. I can’t as a travel blogger, specializing in dog travel NOT say that. now …. what if Cape May tourist office had sponsored the post? Maybe even paid for the trip? Do I now … skip over that? I just … can’t. You know?

    • Wow I can’t believe the Ryan from the OH SO VERY famous Crusoe is commenting on my blog! I wanted to take the time to respond because you were so kind to give such a fulsome comment. So I took it paragraph by paragraph to keep my ideas straight.

      Your blog: I read your travel related posts. Is that weird? It’s the only ones on your blog I read. It’s my interest I guess. I do however follow you on multiple social media platforms. It’s good to know that someone that is FAR more successful than I am – or ever likely to be – struggled with the same issues. Even if in the end we choose a different path, there is solace in knowing ‘we are not alone”.

      Time to write: I am already terribly resentful (to some degree) at how much time the social media aspect is taking away from my writing. I resent having to make the choice. Write and remain small, go social media and maybe maybe maybe you might just maybe get noticed more. Is it a leap I want to take? I don’t’ know if I have the personality for it. Fundamentally I’m an introvert. Not anti-social or even shy but an introvert. I love writing. Social media to me is more like “going out” and “networking” and “trying to be one of the cool kids” and I think that’s part of why I feel so tired all the time now. It’s SO draining for an introvert. Like I have said before – if I could I’d outsource that. But I can’t. Same for SEO (as you know).

      The term Hobby blogger. I’ll be honest — Gods I hate that. LOL I know we have arrived at a time in the world of blogging where it is necessary to make the distinction but again the $ versus no $ is the key to that distinction and I think that bothers me. I may not make money but I am putting in a full weeks’ worth of “job hours” into the blog. A passion project to me isn’t a hobby. But to many this is merely semantics. I just hate that “value” is in direct correlation to profit. I love that I have helped a total of 237 people travel with their pets THIS year alone. That to me is real value. Not profit, not followers… but … I find myself tortured by the world I am in that requires me to be a business in order to reach those people that need me and can’t find me under the blogs done by airlines, and the likes of Cesar. In order to just be heard in a sea of much much too loud noise. I do get your point. I just don’t like it. I really really don’t like it. I’m not built for it. I can do it but it’s very unnatural.
      I need a patron. HA!

      If I could honestly make money without feeling like I was selling out (regardless of if my fans feel that way – but you know … the voice in my head….) maybe I would. If I could do it well, invisibly and quietly… but quiet isn’t where the money is either. Am I right? And I don’t want more content is I am struggling to find how it is relevant. I will use your super cool Bark Box example. There are no such boxes that are dog travel related. We are minimalists and don’t like to acquire stuff. Monte doesn’t eat dog food and that includes factory treats, he’s absolutely tiny and nothing ever fits…. You see where I am going with this? How do I make that offer to “review” work and …. Not say in my post “Honestly Dear Reader while I could see many people enjoying it from our point of view there was little to nothing of value in the box.” I’m not being Robin Hood here (although I kinda love the analogy! There’s a video there!) I just want to be able to be honest. I’m not saying I will rip it apart, but I DO think that as bloggers we are ignoring our responsibility to let people know why a product isn’t good. Yes, I am a BIG believer in independent reviews. I would love to see a blog post where the person says “To be honest, the product is ok, but this product XYZ is and remains our preferred choice”. It’s like travel bloggers that only ever tell you about how great a place is. I follow Gigi Griffiths’ travel blog precisely because she’ll be blunt. She’ll say things like “I didn’t fall in love with (destination) and here is why”. In fact she totally wrote the most honest review on female solo travel in Columbia I think I’ve ever seen. And got shit for it. And damn it I respect her for that honesty.

      As for giving up … not there … just yet. But between you and me? It’s getting hard. I feel like I am always JUST keeping my head above water. Hopefully this “bloggers fatigue” will pass as I plunge into the joys of writing about our recent trip to the Czech Republic (SO AWESOME) Vienna and Budapest. And I have lined up some great travel dog interviews … SO much fun, cool and CUTENESS ahead (maybe I need to interview Crusoe actually…)…. Because writing is my happy place, even if I’m not paid for it I guess LOL. I am hoping it will light the fire again and give me that second, third, fourth wind.

  6. Wow, lots to think about here. I’ve been a pet journalist and writer for over 2 decades. And while it’s lovely to measure “success” with a following and an audience that appreciates my work, ata-boys don’t pay for my cat and dog food. *s*

    I agree, that I no longer follow some blogs because of the overwhelming adverts/sponsored material. Doing it vs doing it well are very different things. Each of us must choose what works best for our situation, and I’m glad you’ve found what is the best fit for you.

    • Thank you Amy …for now … naturally I would like to travel more so I can … well write more. So making money off the blog isn’t 100% out of the question. Big struggle is how to do it in the most invisible way possible and I have yet to find something that doesn’t make me feel … “meh” or bad about the decision.

  7. Congratulations! I’m with you about reviews. Although I do offer reviews, I’m so picking in what I review and provide a FULL review of the product, including every ingredient inside and things I don’t like (if there are those). Needless to say, big companies aren’t knocking on my door. 😉 Great job with your successful blog.

    • I think we owe it to readers and fans to be 100% honest. If that makes me a “Robin Hood” then so be it! LOL I look at it like Rotten Tomatoes – you see a rating but you can also read why people gave it a tomato or a rotten tomato. I think there is value. I may still watch a 58% rated movie if the comments are stuff that I don’t care about. But I do want to know.

  8. I have to agree that competing, growing a blog, social media, SEO, Monetization, and creating different content can be overwhelming and sometimes disappointing or frustrating. I held off doing reviews for quite a few years except one local treat sponsor and I went and inspected their factory and met the family and checked that Kilo loved their products before that one. Now I do a few select ones if I really like the products and it can be fun to collaborate and share and get goods or cash. I have said no to quite a few opportunities even though more $ would be lovely. I love the freedom and independence to be able to create and to share my work and thoughts and adventures. I think niche passion projects will be discovered by people interested. I have loved learning about social networks and media and best practices and connecting with such a range of people around the world. I have loved the support of people like Jessica and others through BlogPaws. Diving into all the platforms has allowed me to reinvent myself and keep myself a little more relevant. Congrats on the biped engagement and on the success of your blog (I love travel too and hope to have a project we can collaborate on next year). S

    • Absolutely. I think that anyone who wants to blog today is going to be obligated to learn all these things and BlogPaws is a great resource for all of that. It’s a shame there isn’ more affordable help out there for “non” business bloggers to at the very least show up in a search engine search … 🙂 I think doing a select few is the best way to do it.

  9. Happy anniversary! SIX years — that’s great! That engagement photo is incredibly magical, as well. Congrats on that, too!

    I am definitely fall into the “advertise-y” category. I am fully aware — and, really, it’s how I’ve chosen to evolve the blog. I work full-time in fashion and have a doggie bow tie business and the blog on the side, and have also worked several years as a photographer. A magazine-y (or so I try!) blog with big photos and lots of product and company highlights is really just a combination of a bunch of my interests: exciting new products, photography, and DOGS of course! Ever since I was a little girl, I loved shopping for dog products, so it’s kind of a dream come true. I haven’t been paid for most of my reviews (except in products) and do feature fellow small business owners without any compensation because I just love to help out fellow entrepreneurs and artisans. Sure, this might change one day — I would love to make the blog a bigger income stream in the future so I won’t have to work full time and can have more time to create non-review/business feature content like my new DIY post (which I had so much fun doing!). If I had more time, I could cover so many more topics. For now, I feel good knowing that I am helping out smaller businesses as well as helping readers pick the right products for their pups (I do try to include both good and bad points in the reviews so they aren’t just advertisements).

    I really thing your blog is great and a wonderful source of information. I agree that it’s ridiculous that a non-doggie travel blogger can just write something based off of experiences they’ve never had and rank in Google and make a ton of money off of it. That drives me nuts and I’m sorry. I — and the Nose to Nose Committee! 😉 — think you’re great!

    Congrats again on six greats years!

    • Thank you Rochelle for so kindly sharing. And I am totally cool with all that. It works and makes 100% sense for you. And it’s needed too. There are people who DO want that. Heck even I do from time to time. My main concern at this point is that I feel like there is only really room for that “flavour”. If you don’t go that way – you don’t exist. Your …. invisible. So many amazing bloggers that because they had no talent for photography … are gone. SO sad. no? To me it would be like loosing books because we now have TV or something.

      • I agree that just because you don’t fit in a certain narrow box (or don’t have a talent for photography), you should still exist! I feel guilty sometimes because I know I have that particular background that is trendy now (and, of course, happen to live in a trendy city…) and that I have almost an unfair advantage of sorts without meaning to 🙁 You know? Also, I’m a total introvert as well and social media is hard for me too. I just focus on one main one (Instagram) because I just don’t have energy for all that. I also don’t have energy for all of the traveling you do! 🙂

        • I’m an introvert and love the anonymity of travel! LOL Plus I like the small towns, coastal villages and sailing … you know? Just a new place and my boys. Love that.

          As for having an unfair advantage do NOT feel bad seriously damn it use it to the max!! Take FULL advantage. We are turning more and more to video too … luckily my man is actually – it turns out – good at editing so there is hope. Never feel bad for being great you hear me?!

  10. Happy 6th Blogiversary! I just love this post…very thought provoking. I, too, have not stepped into the monetizing arena much. I am very picky about affiliates, and will review products only that we use, and have skipped many a blog when I feel like I’m suddenly visiting an online Vegas boulevard with signs and pop-ups and ads trying to grab my attention. I’m happy for folks who are happy doing that, and understand it is part of daily business for some, but it’s not my particular cup of coffee. Although if it’s to help pets in need, ads and flashy things and all, that’s for a good cause, then I’m all in for it. For me, I blog because I love to write and share my Huskies’ adventures, news about healthcare or a product I found, love & use, and to share my own writing and photography with others; it’s an extension of my being a photojournalist. So to hear there are folks who don’t even have a dog in their family to be writing as an expert…ummm…no! So deceptive and wrong! I do believe we all have a responsibility to be truthful in our writing, unless we are writing fiction. I like to be able to feel confident that the folks who are writing about specific areas are actually experienced in those areas! It’s so refreshing to read this! I thought I was the odd-girl out feeling a bit put-off about all the sponsored ads nowadays in blogging (and it has crossed platforms, even Instagram is now all about large followers, attracting sponsors, etc.) I’ve actually also reassessed my goals and have pulled back on some areas as well, to sharpen my focus on other areas that mean the most to me. Here’s to a wonderful 7th year for you! Cheers and happy blogging!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I had to write this because I needed to know if it was “just me” I see … that no. What I find sad is that there is a creation of a two tier of sorts. Those that do the “full in” as I call it (Vegas boulevard I really love that) do get more visibility. It’s almost a damned if you do damned if you don’t. am i wrong?

  11. Happy six years of blogging, we wish you much success in the future. Blogging has brought so many friendships our way that we would never have had. It has also helped us through tough medical issues with our dogs and for that we wouldn’t change it for the world! Many wishes for safe travels in your future! 🙂

    • Some of the best friends we have now – and some of the best trips and travel guides we have had – have come from our life of blogging. We would not give that up for the world.

  12. Found myself nodding my head over and over while reading!
    So many things to consider as well. You made some good strong points!
    Most things I am right there with you on.
    Thanks for the insight into your feelings and thoughts and congrats on 6 years!
    I do enjoy your blog very much.

    • Sometimes you have to just say to yourself “well …let’s be honest here…” I hear so many people wanting to start a blog and I don’t discourage them – not at all – I do however, feel that after 6+ years I now have a much better grasp on what it really takes … and even more so what is needed to make a living doing this. It’s not easy. It’s really not. And I think we as bloggers need to make that clear. For those starting out, but also for those wanting us to promote their products and do reviews etc. I will not work for free. I don’t work for product either. There really needs to be “so much more” to the relationship than that for us.

  13. Yes, yes, and so much of this yes. I am so conflicted on the reviews. I am a passion blogger as well – I would love to do it full time (and make some money), but I’m not a huge fan of what it would take to make money. I want to write about what I want to write about. I’m a decent photographer which definitely helps. Though I am also one of those introverts who likes to hide my words and photos. I will absolutely never be comfortable being in front of the camera or doing live video. Unfortunately, if that’s what blogging becomes, I will move on.

    • I think that there will always be room for the written. I just think that – those blogs will in time become harder to be found with SEO etc. SO in the end we – who love to write – will have to approach this knowing that ours will not be the easiest voice to find on the web. And I think that’s a real shame. I think to some degree my fatigue comes from everything having to be “twitter size” first – in order to grab. But like I said – adapt or die right? I do fear video will take over.

  14. I know what you mean. I’ve been blogging for 8 1/2 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes. I do participate in some product reviews, but the majority of my posts involve photos and stories of my beautiful girls

    • indeed … I wonder if a bunch of small passion bloggers got together – if we could all pitch in to hire someone to manage all that for us. LOL

  15. Congratulations on 6 years of blogging! I’ve enjoyed reading this post as well as all the comments!

  16. Pingback: Five Places to Look for Inspiration for With-Pet Travellers

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