2017 Pet Blogger Challenge

It’s that time of year again!  Time for the 2017 Pet Blogger Challenge, brought to you by Go Pet Friendly.  This is one of our favorite blogger challenges, as it centers around pet bloggers and what we dream for the future of our blogs.  Bloggers answer a series of questions about their blogs and get to know other blogs in the process.

Let’s get right to it!

1. When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience?

I started Walks With Rama in 2014.  It was a continuation of my previous blog, Raising Rama, which chronicled the life of my first Cane Corso.  Walks With Rama was born out of the life changes that occurred when Rama came to me and shortly thereafter (personal difficulties and health issues).  I discovered that through the simple act of walking with this dog, my life began to improve and my outlook on things changed.  I discovered hiking and the restorative power of being active with your dog in the woods; how immersing yourself in nature literally improves your mental as well as your physical health.

While initially the blog did begin as a storytelling tool, it has slowly morphed into a resource for those who may be finding themselves in the same life struggles or share the same passions.  We underwent a re-branding not long ago, choosing to focus more on the positive aspects of getting outside and moving with your dog, on my own search for wellness and better physical and mental health, and ways that we can promote these ideas and help others.

2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016?

My proudest blogging moment of 2016 was when we were able to take the blog overseas.  We went to several different countries and were blessed to hike in some stunningly beautiful places.  I still have so much material from that trip that I haven’t even published yet!

A treasure we happened across on our way up #mountsnowden in #wales was this beautiful #castle #ruin called #dolbadarncastle #travel #blogger #historicwales

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

My favorite blog post of 2016 was Serenity In The Hillsbecause it was about a trip I took to one of my favorite places on Earth with all 3 of my children.  When time-sharing with another parent, it’s hard to get everyone together sometimes.  With my oldest son graduating high school, I saw future family vacations differently.  I wanted one last trip with all of my kids together before the oldest went out into the world.  This post was about that trip and sharing my favorite city and the inspiring natural beauty that surrounds it.



4. Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog? 

I narrowed my niche.  I worked hard at distinguishing myself as more of a lifestyle blogger than a pet blogger.  Obviously Rama is a huge part of the package (the blog is in fact named after her), but I began to focus more on the original idea for the blog rather than being a blog that only covered dogs and dog-related products and issues.  It was originally so much more and I returned to that and saw quite a bit of growth.

5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? (Please include a link.) Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts?

The post that got the most traffic was the aforementioned post which also happened to be my favorite of the year.  Serenity In The Hills got the most traffic (though not necessarily the most comments).  As of late the most popular posts seem to have something to do with wellness.

6. What blog do you find most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog? (Please include a link.)

This is a difficult one.  There are so many blogs that I admire greatly.  It was difficult to narrow the list to just one.  I think I would have to say it is You Did What With Your Weiner.  Jessica is an avid hiker who hikes with her small dogs in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.  Obviously the hiking with dogs aspect first attracted me to her blog, but she is also trying to dispel stereotypes about what makes a hiking dog, and perhaps without knowing it, women who hike and backpack alone in the wilderness.

Having dogs that are often discriminated against because of their size and appearance, I can relate to a lot of what she writes about with regard to people questioning her decision to hike with the dogs she chose.  As someone who also likes hiking and backpacking alone, I enjoy reading her posts about her solo experiences in a landscape that is nothing like my own.  Through reading her blog, I have been inspired to seek out different environments in which to hike with my own dogs.

7. What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them?

I think it might surprise people to learn that despite loving the outdoors, I was not always the outdoorsy type.

8. What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers?

To have confidence in yourself and your value.  To not be afraid to put yourself out there.  Try new things and be brave.

9. What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017?

I would like to grow the blog.  I know this might sound cliche and everyone says it, but I experienced some lulls this year and really had to re-discover my motivation.  I am going to treat the blog more like the full-time job I want it to become.  I’d like to reach a point where the blog brings in a livable income.  I also want to get more serious about video content and raise more awareness of the benefits of movement and nature in managing depression.

10. Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?

My biggest challenge has been to put together my newsletter.  I am not particularly tech savvy and I have as of yet been able to successfully get one going.  How do you generate a newsletter?  Do you have to literally piece one together, or is there a plug-in or service the will auto-generate one for you?  I have Mailchimp and SumoMe and so far can’t figure out on either one how the newsletter stuff works.  Anyone who can shed some light on this, please email me!

That sums up our 2017 Pet Blogger Challenge!  Click on the badge below to visit GoPetFriendly and see all the wonderful bloggers who have participated in this challenge.  I’m so excited to re-connect with so many blogging friends I’ve not visited in a while!  Thank you to GoPetFriendly and all the participants!

Join the Pet Blogger Challenge Jan 7th, 8th and 9th

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  1. The Daily Pip January 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    I love how you have re-branded the blog to take on a more holistic approach to your life, quest for wellness, etc. I am off to read Serenity in the Hills next.

    Unfortunately, I can’t be much help in the newsletter department. I’m looking for help with the same thing!

    1. Shannon Adams January 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks so much! 🙂 I hope you enjoy the post! And I hope we both get some help with the newsletter situation! 🙂

  2. Beth January 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I was never an outdoorsy person before I met Barley (and I’m still not really an outdoorsy person solo–but as long as I’ve got my best girl with me, there’s no place I’d rather be!). Good luck with the newsletter–I’ve got nothing on that!

    1. Shannon Adams January 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Isn’t it amazing how dogs can make such a difference? 🙂 Thanks Beth!

  3. Lola The Rescued Cat January 9, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I’m so glad Rama brought you healing, and that you decided to share it with the world. I wish I had insight on a newsletter, but I’m struggling with that as well.

    1. Shannon Adams January 9, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Newsletters seem to be a tough one for a lot of bloggers. I hope we all get it figured out! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. 🙂

  4. Elaine January 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I love how you focus on the health and wellness of hiking and walking with your dog. I see so many people walking in our neighborhood, talking on their phones, struggling with a pulling dog or looking like the daily walk is a boring chore. I hope many of your readers discover the joy of getting out in nature with their pups. I think the rebranding is a great idea and I hope your success in 2017 is phenomenal!

    1. Shannon Adams January 9, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you so much! I wish the same for you! 🙂

  5. Colby January 9, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Congratulations on taking your blog overseas! Like you I have a backlog of material I need to start turning into blog posts. I wish mine was about traveling, but I guess posts about puppies is not bad as a runner up. My question to the pet blogosphere was about email and newsletters also 🙂 I’ve been working on mine for years and here’s what I’ve done so far. I put together an autoresponder that sends out a weekly email that contains my older content. At the moment it contains 25 emails/weeks. I also try to send a second weekly newsletter with new content. The problem is I’m not creating new content 🙁 Hopefully that changes this year. Oh and I have a template that I reuse for my email newsletters. Here’s to a great 2017!

    1. Shannon Adams January 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Posts about puppies is definitely a good thing! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing what you have done regarding email content. I wish you luck with creating new content and achieving all of your blogging goals this year!

  6. Dachshund Nola January 9, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I love the rebranding thing you’ve done. Your passion for it shines through!

    I so agree about loving the outdoors but not being an outdoorsy person.

    1. Shannon Adams January 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you so much. I hope it does. I still have a long way to go, I think, before I can look at the blog and say that I’m completely happy with it. But yeah, my being willing to immerse myself in the outdoors and pursue fitness happened relatively late in my life. But it’s never too late and people change, right? 🙂

  7. Dz Dogs January 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    We really enjoy your blog and reading about your life and personal struggles, thank you for being an inspiration!

    1. Shannon Adams January 10, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Aw, thank YOU for reading!

  8. Bailey January 10, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing with us all your adventures. Keep up the great posts! 🙂
    Take care,

    1. Shannon Adams January 11, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you for coming by and commenting! Have a great 2017!

  9. Amy@GoPetFriendly January 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Wow – what a year you had, Shannon! Re-focusing on the blog to share what you’re learning from personal experience makes perfect sense. It gives you credibility and authenticity, and will allow you to help other people who are struggling to overcome their own challenges. It might even help get some dogs adopted – woo-hoo!

    I use MailChimp for my newsletter, and I like it a lot. My advice would be to hire someone (on Fivrr or something similar) to set up a template for you. Then you’ll just be able to go in and type, very much like WordPress. MailChimp also has some great video tutorials, but don’t get in too deep. Stick to the basics – that’s really all you need. Good luck, and thanks for participating in the Challenge again this year!

    1. Shannon Adams January 11, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment, Amy! And thanks for hosting this great challenge! Many thanks for your insight into my newsletter situation. I have a Mailchimp account and am trying to learn more about using it. I think I will definitely stick to the basics. That’s great advice! Have a great 2017!

  10. Jan K January 12, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    You have had an exciting year, and I’m so glad your re-branding and re-focusing has worked out for you. I think it’s totally natural that our blogs might evolve into something different than we thought when we started, and we should just go with the flow!
    I never thought too much about it, but loving the outdoors and being outdoorsy are definitely two different things! I always thought I was the latter, but time has shown me I’m really the former. I love being outdoors but prefer to keep it close to home. I admire the bravery of those of you who set out into it on your own though!
    I’m no help on the newsletter either – it’s something I just haven’t had the time and ambition to tackle. Good luck!

    1. Shannon Adams January 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Thanks Jan! After posting about my newsletter I actually figured out how to make one and sent out my first one! I use MaiChimp. I had a girlfriend sit down with me and walk me through using it, but I think there are also videos available online. I feel such a huge weight lifted since I finally got past this!

  11. Kimberly Gauthier January 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Yayyy! I can leave a comment. For the longest time, the comment box would disappear when I started typing.

    I didn’t know the story behind Walks with Rama and I love it. It’s beautiful. When it comes to a newsletter, I use MailChimp and I have it set up to send my RSS feed 2x a month and I have a recurring reminder 2x a month to update the newsletter before it’s automatically sent out. I also send one off emails when I discover a giveaway or a sale. And annually I blow up the email list and start from scratch, purging people who don’t open the email.

    1. Shannon Adams January 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      I cleaned out some stuff and tweaked a few things and hopefully I fixed whatever it was that was causing comments to be hard for some folks. I’m glad you were finally able to leave one! Yay! THANK YOU for the newsletter tips. Oh my goodness, it has been such a thorn in my side. Gah! I have learned so much from you, bless your heart. Thanks for being such an inspiration and for sharing knowledge. Oh the purging thing is a great idea.

  12. M. K. Clinton January 12, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing more about you and your blog. I think you are amazing! We should work together on starting a newsletter It is one of the things on my to-do list. I am also planning on starting a new lifestyle blog for baby boomers.

    1. Shannon Adams January 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind comment! I agree, I plan on doing a newsletter post soon. There seem to be a lot of folks who are struggling with it. Are you really starting a new blog? Yay! I can’t wait to read it!

  13. Jessica @YouDidWhatWithYourWiener January 12, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Awww…. thanks for the mention. I feel like we’ve been “connected” online for years but this year I feel like we really got to know each other more. I really enjoy reading your take on things and – even though you may not know it – I’m a closet 4-wheeler chick (Ha, ha) so I like seeing you doing stuff in your Jeep. If you want to do a guest post on my blog about nature in managing depression, let me know. I’ve kind of wanted to write about that but it’s low on my list. I think you would have a great perspective though and I think my readers would like it.

    1. Shannon Adams January 14, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      I have so appreciated and enjoyed our conversations. 🙂 And thank you so much for the guest post offer! I’d love to do that! I would love to have you do a post for my blog as well. I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while now. 😀 Oh, you love 4 wheeling?! Oh my gosh, if you ever come this way we MUST go! I’m dying to get back out there. My recent surgery will keep me from it for a while, but I’m dying to get back out on the trails in the Jeep. Yay for girls who love wheeling!

  14. Leo January 13, 2017 at 5:43 am

    The restorative power of simply hiking and walking with your dog resonates to me. It is what we did in the last half year before Kenzo passed and he healed me before he left his world. “The serenity of the hills” is a beautiful post about how you made memories for the whole family to last. Good luck with your blog and the next steps to switch from a dog to a more lifestyle-type of blog. I think you have a winner here.

    1. Shannon Adams January 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind comments, Leo. I am so glad you had that special time with Kenzo before he passed. I’m glad you liked the Serenity In The Hills post. It was an emotional post for me. I’m so glad you liked it. Thanks again!

  15. GROOVY GOLDENDOODLES January 25, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    So nice to get to know you a little better. I look forward to following your 2017 blogging year.

    1. Shannon Adams January 28, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Thank you Cathy! I look forward to seeing what those Doodles do this year! 🙂