2016 pet blogger challenge

2016 Pet Blogger Challenge

Welcome to my input to the 2016 Pet Blogger Challenge!

I just recently learned about the wonderful pet travel website over at GoPetFriendly.com and their annual pet blogger blog hop they’re hosting.

Thank you, Elaine from ChasingDogTales for pointing us in this direction, and welcome fellow pet blogger or valued reader!

Enjoy the little peak behind the scenes at K9sOverCoffee!

2016 Pet Blogger Challenge

Pet Blogger Challenge 2016 - Behind The Scenes At K9sOverCoffee

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone who is visiting for the first time, please give a quick description of the subject of your blog.

Dogs became my favorite topic to talk about since my pups Missy & Buzz came into my life in September of 2011.

Add my must have dosage of morning caffeine to the equation as well as a fondness for writing ~ and pawlà, my blog K9sOverCoffee was born in August of 2014.

I first wrote about a plethora of different subjects within the dog world, but have been niching down to writing about how my pups stay healthy using raw dog food & daily exercise.

The catalyst for narrowing my focus on dog health was Missy’s diagnosis with AND overcoming of thyroid cancer.

Missy after her tumor removal surgery at the VSH in Cary, NC

I learned that only 5% of K9 cancer rates are due to genetics, and a whopping 95% are a result of environmental factors.

As a direct consequence of this piece of information, I began transitioning the pups from a highly processed kibble/wet food diet to a more natural, raw one.

I’ve also become more aware of our lifestyle choices. For instance, I no longer use chemical topical pest preventatives and have reduced the amount of vaccinations the pups receive – I am now also looking into titer testing.

2. What is the one thing that you accomplished during 2015, either on your blog or because of it, that made you most proud?

I remember getting my first product review opportunity from BestBullySticks in February of 2015 – only 6 months into my blogging adventure.

I was totally stoked about it and have thoroughly enjoyed the various review opportunities that have come  our way over the course of the year.

I’m equally proud of having stuck to my mission of only featuring products I truly believe in.

Throughout this process, I have actually turned down several opportunities because they didn’t convince me at all!

3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)

I’ve learned so much about dog health in 2015 and shared it with my readers, that it’s hard to pick one post in particular.

The topic of garlic being good for dogs after all when it’s fed in moderation was probably the one that surprised me the most. So I consider that one my favorite post of 2015 – check it out below:

Myth Buster: Garlic IS good for dogs, after all!

4. What is one thing you’ve done in the past year that has brought more traffic to your blog?

My traffic has increased since I started participating in blog hops and implementing one automation tool for social media (Twitter & FaceBook) – it’s called MeetEdgar.

It came highly recommended from Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Podcast (I LOVE his podcast and blog – DO check it out!).  

5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Why do you think it was so popular?

I wrote several posts for the brand Dr. Harvey’s – all of them received a decent amount of traffic, but the one post that clearly got the most traffic of all was my Coconut Smiles post.

It was probably a mix of using the right type of SEO (coconut was a trending superfood last year!!) combined with quite a bit of shares on Dr. Harvey’s side.

Update 2023: Dr. Harvey’s discontinued their coconut smiles, which is why I ended up deleting that post.

6. What is one blog that you read religiously – other than your own – and what makes you such a devoted reader? (Please include a link.)

ThatMutt and KeepTheTailWagging are my favorite blogs in the two respective niches I focus on: Exercise/Training (ThatMutt) and Raw Dog Food (KeepTheTailWagging).

I appreciate both blog’s dedication to keeping our pups healthy, and I LOVE their down to earth blogging style.

7. What resources do you rely on to enhance your technical, writing, photography, social media, or other skills that improve your blog?

I write my blog posts in WordPress and started dabbling with Canva for graphic design help.

Until recently I took all of my photos with the iPhone 5s, but had to upgrade to an iPhone 6s because my camera stopped working!!

I already mentioned the social media automation tool MeetEdgar in question 4 – this tool currently costs me the most with a monthly charge of $49, but it does have nice results (I also got the first 6 weeks for free)!!

I especially love using it for my Twitter feed – after all, content published on there dies so quickly, and I just don’t have the time to manually post the majority of my Twitter content several times per day.

8. What is the best piece of advice you can offer other bloggers?

Stay authentic and don’t review every single product you get an opportunity for. If it doesn’t fit into your blog’s mission statement, it’ll just feel fake to your readers.

I get that we all have bills to pay and that blogging professionally is a wonderful way of making an income from the comfort of our home offices.

But quality content should trump quantity content.

Things that keep me from coming back to a blog on a regular basis are grammatical mistakes and tons of typos.

It may be a fine tuning detail, but it ruins the reading experience and therefore is a deal breaker for me.

9. What is your vision for your blog in 2016? Do you have specific goals?

I’m happy to have found my niche in 2015: Dog health achieved through raw dog food & dog exercise.

I’m excited to take my blog to the next level with more niche-specific content in 2016.

I also want to participate in live blogging events, attend Global Pet Expo, and network with fellow bloggers and brands.

10. You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there one blogging challenge you’d like help with, or one aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?

I do need to focus more on building an email subscriber list – any input on how to build a strong email following is much appreciated!

Thank you for any advice you may have!

Thank you for sticking around until the end! Did you learn anything new about me if you’re a regular reader?

If you’re new to K9sOverCoffee: Welcome and I’d love to see you on the blog again! As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section at the end of this blog post.

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






46 responses to “2016 Pet Blogger Challenge”

  1. Kathleen Pirro Avatar

    Thanks for sharing! Can I ask what do you use for fleas? I am in agreement with you about the dangers of chemicals for our pets and I do not use topical flea treatments any longer. But thanks to a mild winter so far, and a cat who refuses to stay inside, fleas are a concern. (just one flea and my collies begin chewing themselves raw.)

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Absolutely! The freshly minced garlic is a natural flea repellent and really seems to be working – we have not had a single flea. I also use Anicura’s natural insect repellent (wrote a blog post about them last year). Dr. Harvey’s Herbal Protection Spray is another great alternative.

      Other than that I vacuum at least every other day, wash all dog bedding once a week, and make sure there’s no piles of dead leaves in the yard at all (those make perfect flea breeding grounds).

      I think it also really helps that both pups have a strong immune system – pests tend to prefer pets with weak immune systems as hosts.

      1. Travel Hund Avatar
        Travel Hund

        I have tried diatomaceous earth and a raw amber collar and both seemed to work for us! Any tips for ticks?

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          I have heard of but not yet tried the diatomaceous earth – but I definitely hadn’t heard of the raw amber collar, so I just read up on it a little. Very interesting!

          Garlic & the natural insect repellent sprays also help repel ticks – although if you’re going to walk through brush and tall grass, chances are pretty high of still bringing home some ticks. I like to think in a preventative way and avoid tall grass – definitely won’t have it in our backyard, and won’t walk in it either (with or without the pups).

  2. Kimberly Morris Gauthier Avatar

    Thanks for the mention. I so appreciate it! About the mailing list – create a giveaway that people get in exchange for their email. You can pull together a series of blog posts on a topic, you can do a long list of products you recommend, or you can create a guide to help people. I used to think these would be hard to do, but they’re not hard. You don’t need anything complicated or detailed – just a few pages.

    I’m going to share examples in the Kick Ass blogging group this weekend 🙂

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks so much for those ideas!! I’ve thought about creating checklists on different topics, but I have no idea how to go about creating visually appealing ones – I’ll be looking very much forward to your examples in the Kick Ass blogging group! Super awesome that you created that group 🙂

  3. Pamela | Something Wagging Avatar

    It’s fun to report and read about every one else, isn’t it? 🙂

    Sounds like you’ve had a great year. I can hardly wait to see what you have in store for us in 2016.

    I’ve tried creating infographics with Piktochart but found it kinda tough. Lots of people have been recommending Canva lately so maybe it will help you create checklists and graphs that pop.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Oh, it is a lot of fun and I’ll be spending the rest of today reading everyone’s answers!! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about your sailing adventure this year – I have the utmost respect for you, your hubby, and Miss Honey for following through with your plan.

      It’s interesting and great to hear you mention Canva – that’s twice now since yesterday! Thank you for sharing that platform – I’ll be using it!!

  4. joann stancer Avatar
    joann stancer

    Was great to read more about you!! Great post and good luck for 2016.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Joann – I’m looking forward to reading more about your hunting adventures with your pack and possibly seeing new puppy pics 😉

  5. Beth Avatar

    I love your advice–you said what I was trying to say in a much more eloquent way 🙂 I can’t wait for another year of reading about Missy and Buzz’s adventures.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      BOL – thanks, Beth 😉 I’ve enjoyed your FitDog Friday posts with Miss Barley and am deeply impressed by your monthly mileage log!! I’m headed over your way now to enjoy your answers – I am so looking forward to doing this all day today! Along with a healthy dosage of coffee, of course!!

  6. Julie Smith Avatar
    Julie Smith

    I am so happy I found your blog and am excited to learn more this year about raw feeding and health!!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      The feeling is mutual, Julie! I’ll be looking forward to many more posts about Miss Cocoa this year 🙂

  7. Elaine Avatar

    Yes, your garlic post was one of my favorites last year too! I love how many new things I learn here and even though I haven’t made the raw transition yet, I’m taking lots of notes, lol!

    I hadn’t heard that statistic before, about 95% of canine cancers being environmental, that’s an eye opening statistic. We’ve made a lot of changes around here in the last few years to create a more natural (less chemical) based environment and I’m hoping it will keep all of us more healthy going forward.

    You have so many things to be proud of with your business and blog and I hope 2016 proves to be even more spectacular!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yay, so awesome that you remember it, Elaine, and thank you so much for coming over on a regular basis :-)) I’m looking forward to your blogging adventures this year!

      I came across that statistic on one of Pet Nutrition Blogger Rodney Habib’s social media platforms – I can’t remember the exact one, but he shared the same information in a FB post at the end of last year:

      Oh, he also mentioned it in an article he wrote for Dogs Naturally Magazine:

      Reading that number made me wonder if Missy’s cancer might have been caused by harmful environmental factors around her…processed food, chemical topical pest treatments, vaccinations…and helped me follow through with my decision to change the pups’ lifestyle! I am keeping all fingers and paws crossed that her cancer won’t return, and that Buzz will never have to suffer from it!!!

  8. MyDogLikes Avatar

    I think the niche you have found is a great fit for you. It is easy to see how passionate you are about raw feeding and dog health in each article. You prompted us to check out Dr. Harvey’s and we now feed a mixture of their food and homemade meals. Our boys are both thriving because of it!

    Glad to hear your thoughts on MeetEdgar – I checked it our after hearing about it from Pat Flynn as well but was a bit reluctant due to the cost. Maybe we will give it a go this year!

    We are really hoping to grow our email list as well. The biggest driver for us so far has been giveaways, but sometimes the quality of subscribers is not great. They are only interested in free stuff, not other dog health or informational articles we send! We are hoping to participate in some local events this year to get more emails from people in our area. I think that they would be much more engaged. Perhaps you can utilize your in-person client list to help you spread the word?

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      That’s so cool that you ended up going with Dr. Harvey’s – they’re a wonderful brand! The right (or wrong, for that matter) nutrition really makes all the difference.

      That’s a great idea to look into my dog walking clients to spread the word. I have found that most aren’t too keen on a different perspective other than the one of their traditional vet though. Sigh. One new client however DID end up ordering some tripe for their new rescue pup through my Raw Paws affiliate link, so that was a start 😉

      I have to say that it took me several months to finally decide to give MeetEdgar a try – the monthly cost kept me from doing it earlier, but I figured if I want to grow my Twitter audience, I need a little help (and I can’t afford a VA quite yet!) and tried it out for free for 2 weeks. That’s the offer that MeetEdgar provides. I was then able to get another 4 weeks for free with Pat Flynn’s discount code- so all in all I had 6 weeks to try it out, and I was convinced after that time frame.

      Here’s a screenshot of what my schedule looks like – and you can customize it however you want. The creators of MeetEdgar had a hell of an idea when they came up with it!!

      1. MyDogLikes Avatar

        OK, you’ve convinced me! I’m going to sign up for the free trial tomorrow!

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          Good for you – you’ll appreciate it 😉

  9. Colby Avatar

    Wow! That’s a crazy stat…95% of canine cancer rates due to environmental factors. I’ve been trying to do the same thing with my dogs over the past few years like cutting back on vaccinations (hopefully you’ll have a post on titer testing soon), flea meds, heartworm, etc. I’ve heard lots of great things about MeetEdgar and I think I’m going to give it a whirl. As far as what to use for checklists and graphics I’ve been using Adobe Fireworks for the past ten years, but that’s not a good answer since the software was discontinued 🙁 I haven’t created an incentive for my email list yet, but it’s on the top of my to do list and something that I’ve heard helps to build lists. All the best to you in 2016!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Isn’t it? It really set a lot into motion for me and I’m so glad I incorporated all of the nutritional changes so far.

      Thank you for the titer reminder – I have yet to talk to our traditional vet about it and have been procrastinating on that topic. I suppose I’m a bit afraid of what her reply might be. I would love to start seeing a holistic vet, but the closest one to our rural NC location is about an hour away.

      After trying MeetEdgar for free for 6 weeks I was convinced 😉 The first 2 weeks are a free offer from Edgar, and the other 4 weeks were free with a discount code from Pat Flynn (PATFANS is the discount code): http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/resources/

      I JUST, FINALLY created an incentive for my email list on Canva.com. I had been wanting to create something that’s visually appealing, but didn’t know how to go about it. Until I heard about Canva this weekend 😉 Now I just need to work it into my email list sign up link. That’ll be on my to-do list for tomorrow!

      Nice meeting you virtually and all the best to you in 2016 as well – and thank you for signing up for my newsletter 😉

      1. Colby Avatar

        Thanks for sharing Pat’s coupon code. I was just going through his site to find his review of MeetEdgar. Congratulations on finishing your incentive! I need to get working on mine.

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          No problem – thanks, and I’ll be looking forward to yours.

  10. Pip Avatar

    I had no idea the canine cancer was 95% environmental. That is truly mind-blowing! I knew about the connection with vaccinations and cats, but not with dogs. Also, absolutely agree about staying true to yourself and turning town some review opportunities if they don’t work for your vision.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      It really is a scary fact.
      I’m glad that you agree about authenticity – that seems to be a common feeling among this blog hop. Refreshing!

  11. Travel Hund Avatar
    Travel Hund

    Great blog! I love health-oriented stuff, for dogs or people! I like your suggestion about the Edgar tool; that’s a great idea. I wanted to mention some things that are similar and free that might help people – I use Hootsuite for social media, which is free for 3 accounts (and they have instagram!). It doesn’t repeat things, but it does store a library of past posts, so you can copy them yourself relatively quickly to reuse them. And it has an auto-scheduler.
    For putting text on photos, I use Canva. It’s free and you can add tons of interesting stuff to the photos.
    Keep up the good work! I will be browsing your blog for more healthy suggestions!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Elena – I love your travel blog. I’ll have to catch up on all the locations you’ve visited with Alfie. Thank you also so much for mentioning those free tools – I’ll have to check them out for sure! I could use some help with keeping up on Instagram.

      All hail to Canva, lol! I’m already in love with it and I only learned about it over the course of last weekend. One infographic down 😉

      1. Travel Hund Avatar
        Travel Hund

        I’m glad! I will be posting more info about them soon. Instagram seems rather tricky. I haven’t quite figured out the secret to it yet, but I’m testing to see what works.
        Canva is amazing. If I’m not careful, I could end up spending way too much time on there. Graphic design stuff is fun!

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          I just figured out that I enjoy that graphic design stuff as well 😉 Hootsuite looks pretty promising – but it says that it starts at $9.99 per month after a free 30 day trial?

  12. Travel Hund Avatar
    Travel Hund

    I also had a question for you about the titer tests. Many doggy daycares require that the dogs are up to date on shots. Do you know if many accept titer tests instead? Any advice on this would be helpful.
    I’m also very thankful that many countries only require the rabies vaccination for dog travel. I hate pumping Alfie full of shots. :/

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      I’m right there with you – I also don’t want to pump the pups full of shots.

      Yes, unfortunately the Dog Spa where I’ve taken the pups swimming before requires the bordetella vaccination. I’m really thinking about whether or not to refresh it because it’s not very effective to begin with, but the pups love to go swimming. Ugh. I’ll have to call and ask if they accept titer test results – I have a feeling they won’t though.

      1. Travel Hund Avatar
        Travel Hund

        :/. Dog Spa though…that sounds lovely…

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          Yes, it is quite the treat 😉

  13. Lindsay // The Flynnigans Avatar

    I’m so sad that I missed out on this fun challenge, so much so that I already wrote a reminder down for next January so I don’t miss that one.
    Loved reading yours and I wish you all the best for 2016 Barbara! 🙂 xo

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, Lindsay! All the best to you, your hubby & fluffies as well 🙂
      LOL, I love that you already wrote down a reminder for next year – so much so that I just did the same, too!!

  14. Walks With Rama Avatar
    Walks With Rama

    Loved your answers! Your blog is a favorite of mine. And I love the look and logo! Congrats on a great year! I look forward to reading more great posts in 2016!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      🙂 Thank you so much!!! I’m looking forward to reading more about your fitness posts & hikes! If you’re ever in the NC Sandhills, I’d love to get together. I should also be in FL a few times, so maybe we’ll manage to meet up. Would LOVE to see your Corsos!!!

  15. Emma Avatar

    Garlic is one of those controversial things! We were just talking about it the other day! We use it in moderation. So glad you have found your niche, it takes some time, but it really makes life easier and a blog better. It may change over time, and that is okay too. Glad to have found your blog and good luck in 2016!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Moderation is key with so many things in life, isn’t it?!
      Thank you – I’m looking forward to this blogging year and can’t wait to see what it has in store for us. I didn’t understand the concept of niching down until I noticed that I enjoy writing about nutrition & exercise the most.

      Can’t wait to read all about your GBGV adventures this year!

  16. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

    Congrats on a great year. I do very limited product reviews and they have to be something I am interested in or I think my readers might be interested in. But then again my blog is purely a hobby so I don’t feel pressure to earn money. Don’t most blogs interested in email lists offer a newsletter these days? Years ago it seemed like most people subscribed via email, but these days I get the most traffic from Facebook which surprised me.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, 2 Brown Dawgs! Yes, I started offering a newsletter along with a free infographic incentive to sign up 🙂 I have yet to figure out Facebook. I get the majority of my traffic from Twitter.

  17. Kristen Avatar

    Great to get to know you through the challenge. Congratulations on your success this year. I, too, need to work on my email list…I really haven’t paid much attention to it at all. I wish you the best in 2016 and hope to see you at the conference!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Kristen, great to get to know you & your blog as well! May this year be our best blogging year yet 😉

      I just read your post about Sonoran Toad poisoning – holy cow, amazing how much harm such a little critter can do!

      1. Kristen Avatar

        Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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