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Stand Out in the Popular Pet Blogging Niche

This guest post is by Kimberly Gauthier of Keep the Tail Wagging.

When I was planning the launch of Keep the Tail Wagging, I heard the question “Do you know how many pet blogs are out there?” As John pointed out yesterday, this is a big niche, with a lot of competition.

But when I was asked this question, I would simply smile politely, while thinking, “Who cares?!” I’m not one to run away from a challenge; I’d been blogging since 2009 and planned to put everything I’d learned into practice on my new site.

Keep the Tail Wagging launched January 1, 2012.  In less than six months, I had a page rank of 2 (I’m convinced I deserve a 3 or 4), over 5,000 likes on Facebook and over 5,000 followers on Twitter.

Succeeding as a small fish in a big pond

To anyone looking to start a blog in a popular niche, don’t let the crowds discourage you.  It is possible to carve out your own section of the pond.  I get emails daily asking how I’ve managed to build Keep the Tail Wagging’s following and it was actually pretty easy. I’ve boiled my success down to five things that I do consistently.

1. Keyword research

Before Keep the Tail Wagging was launched, I downloaded a free version of Market Samurai to help me find an opening within the niche that could be monetized. I didn’t find the opening I was looking for.

But, using the free Google Keyword tool, I did find keywords with the right combination of competition and searches, and I apply these to each blog post I wrtie.

Keyword research

It’s a thrill to know, for example, that a dog owner researching her dog food options found my site through a Google search; this let me know that I was choosing the correct keywords for my audience.

2. Simple SEO

I remember the “Of course” moment that struck when I realized that I could put keywords in the captions and meta-tags of my images.  I’m not an expert in search engine optimization, but I do comprehend the basics and use the plugin WordPress SEO, and I invested in an SEO-friendly, premium WordPress theme.

SEO doesn’t have to stop on our sites; I send those keywords to every site that uses my content—Flickr (as in the image below), Pinterest, and Stumble Upon to name a few.  Any content or site that’s going to be indexed by the search engines is another opportunity for someone to find my site.

Not only is this great for Keep the Tail Wagging; properly tagging on social networks also benefits the pet companies that send me products to review.

Flickr Walk in Sync Image for ProBlogger

3. Promote like hell

I spent the first two months after launch on a PR campaign to make my site stand out.  To start, I told friends and family, handing out business cards, hung flyers, wrote press releases, and added links to my email and forum signatures.

I paid for a Facebook advertising campaign during the first month my site was live. It asked people to click Like if they’re tired of long commercials showing abused animals.  My first few hundred likes came from that campaign—and those clicks led to more referrals.

Facebook Ad

Then I discovered Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which I used along with Reporter Connection as unexpected PR sources. People became curious about Keep the Tail Wagging after seeing my regular inquiries and began to check the blog out.  During my second month, a PR professional was promoting my site to friends for free.

I landed several interviews and, most recently, a monthly feature on a local podcast about pets through these sources.

4. Interact with fans

I focus most of my time on the fans that liked my Facebook page, encouraging interaction, and getting feedback and article ideas.  Word of mouth is big on social networking sites and each week, friends of fans stop by to like my page.

Creating that back-and-forth made people feel comfortable to email me with questions about their dogs, which inspired articles I wrote for Keep the Tail Wagging.  We’re told to become authorities in our niche. Well, what better way to do that than to answer questions asked by our fans?

Leave Dog At Home

Over time, I got over my shyness and started asking people to tell their friends about my blog, share a post, and comment on an article or status update.

What makes a blog stand out is the blogger

I chose to be more personable with Keep the Tail Wagging followers by sharing my daily life with them (pictures, stories, frustrations).  My followers came with me when we fostered our first dog, when we lost our puppy to Canine Parvovirus, and when Blue joined our family.

Sometimes it’s the person, their writing style, or their short and sweet posts that makes a blog sing. There’s a reason why we choose to read some social media or photography blogs instead of others.

I’m not the most popular pet blogger.  I need to work on my bounce rate and I’m on the lookout for regular guest contributors.  But as to my success in the first six months of blogging in this niche, I’d have to say “Not bad.”

That said, we’re all learning every day. Do you spend any time on pet blogs? Do you operate in a similar niche? Share your tips for success with us in the comments.

Kimberly Gauthier is the Editor in Chief of Keep the Tail Wagging, an online magazine for dog lovers.  She’s also featured on Girl Power Hour as The Fur Mom and the podcast Your Pets, My Dogs.

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Comments

  1. Ben Troy says:

    there are over 78.2 million owned pets, just within the United States? That means 39% of all U.S. households own at least one dog, while 28% of these owners own two dogs. I really like the pet niche. I myself, own 3 dogs and believe me, i spend a lot of money on them. I also believe that people will continue to buy pet products online as a way of convenience

    • Absolutely, Ben

      I live in Marysville WA, a town 35 minutes north of Seattle (on a good day) and we have 4 pet stores, loads of thriving pet related businesses, a dog park, and two dog related festivals. This isn’t uncommon and such an amazing opportunity for a pet blogger.

      Kimberly

  2. I couldn’t think to blog on that niche even when I’d nothing to blog. :D

    • It’s important to know your limits, Irfan

      By knowing yourself, you save yourself a lot of time and you can turn your focus on something that you’re passionate about.

      Kimberly

  3. Morgan says:

    GREAT advice, Kimberly!

    You’re absolutely right that it’s the blogger that truly makes the blog. It’s the personality, the journey and the overall style of how it’s all presented. We choose to read certain blogs over others because of the blogger, not the blog.

    Thanks for this awesome advice. :)

    • Thanks, Morgan

      It took me a while to get that too. I used to just follow loads of blogs that I never read and I realized that I needed to find blogs where I loved what the writer had to say and how they said it. Those blogs I can’t wait to read and I hope that Keep the Tail Wagging is that for people too!

      Kimberly

  4. Binny oinam says:

    Hi Kimberly,
    That’s pretty impressive, 5000 facebook likes and an equal number of followers on twitter only in 6 months! I really like your blog name ” Keep the tail wagging” it’s kind of unique and interest-arousing. Thanks for the great write-up, I am heading right to your blog.

    • Thanks, Binny

      I think the trick for successful social media for a blogger is to interact with your followers. It’s fun sharing thoughts, stories, deals on dog products. My followers have done a great job of helping me shape my site by sharing what they like (fun stories, tips, my cat’s column) and what they don’t like (sad stories). That feedback is really helpful.

      Kimberly

  5. The Reporter Connection is not working. Outside of that I liked the article overall, being a pet blogger in a smaller niche of the pet industry (reptiles) it’s refreshing to actually read someones success regarding blogging in the niche. One thing I have found incredibly useful is Darren’s posts on Amazon Affiliates. Also for anyone who is blogging using WordPress please do not make the mistake I did and not be aware of SEO use the plugin Kimberley mentioned! After almost two years and hundreds of posts I am still going back and doing SEO with the plugin and the results are nothing less than amazing. Something else to be very aware of is using Google Alerts or watching the media for stories which might impact your niche such as recall of foods etc. as this is a great way to become invaluable to your readers.

  6. Girl awesome post ;)! So excited to see you here and sharing your info with the Problogger community great job Kim!

  7. So simple and so true! I like that you boiled down the ability to have a successful blog into the basics and then work the hell out of the things that work! Score! Love your blog and this is a great post!

  8. I admire your dedication and grasp of how SEO can help your blog. I struggle greatly with marrying my conversational writing style with effective SEO. Based on my search results, I’m doing it wrong! It’s funny, when I started my pet blog, I just did it with no idea just how many pet blog were out there – or really any idea what I was doing, but ‘ve been learning and plugging along at it ever since! I appreciate your tips.

    • My pleasure. We all have to start someplace. I started in 2009 with a photography blog and used everything I learned with that blog to apply to Keep the Tail Wagging. SEO wasn’t easy for me to grasp, but once I started getting it and seeing results, then I was able to find my way.

      Even now, I’ve just started looking at the titles of my posts to make sure they’re clickable. *eye roll* – the learning never ends. It can be frustrating, but it’s fun too, because we’ll never get bored!

      Kimberly

  9. Tom Clark says:

    This post is inspiring even though I am not in this niche, this makes this a really good piece. I am in the guitar tuition niche and wanting to focus on the keyword research as my site is growing and building online presence. Is the Google tool the best one for keyword research in your opinion?

  10. Tom Clark says:

    Also, would anyone have any thoughts on the stats produced in the google keyword tool? By this is mean the competition and noticing opportunities. Many thanks.

  11. Saad says:

    Pet is a great niche and easy to generate traffic on :)

  12. don says:

    this is a fantastic post – very inspiring!

  13. Sandor Benko says:

    Great advice. Congratulations on succeeding in a very competitive niche!

  14. Bryan Murphy says:

    The truth about Blogging and SEO is to deliver true value that people stay on your site, use it as a resource and continually come back to it.. Good stuff my firend!

  15. Albert says:

    I apply all tips that you and other experimental bloggers post, but my blogs still have a very low traffic; I don’t know what the issue is

    • It also depends on the age of your blog and how consistent you are with posting and promoting. I promote Keep the Tail Wagging for at least 2 hours a day and I publish new articles 3-4 times a week. You have to give every idea some time to work for you too. Some things need a few weeks or even longer to show you if they’re working or not.

      Best of luck, Albert – don’t give up – just keep plugging away.

  16. Psffirm says:

    Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

  17. Now a days websites are making lot of business through online. To make more business online, every website need SEO.

  18. DylanC says:

    Great to hear of your pet blog’s success. Much to learn about your promotion techniques.

  19. Congratulations, Kimberly! I enjoy your blog and definitely look to us as a leader in the niche. It’s inspiring to hear you acknowledge that one doesn’t have to be an SEO whiz in order to gain some traction – you just have to make a few of the right strategic moves.
    I’m in the pet blogging niche, as well, and I have also found that one-to-one personal interaction online and in real life is the most powerful way to generate interest. A fellow dog blogger in my city and I actually created a dog walking community loosely associated with our blogs that helps us build authority and connect with the kind of people who are already interested in the thing we write about.
    Keep up the good work – and the tail wags!

    • Thanks, Crystal
      You are so right. Focusing on and appreciating our followers is a fantastic way to gain new followers through word of mouth. I love the idea of creating a dog walking group. I love that you’ve connected with another local pet blogger. I recently connected with a group of pet business owners and I’m so excited!!!

      Kimberly

  20. barry says:

    GREAT advice, Kimberly!

  21. Brandie says:

    Kimberly, I don’t have plans on starting a pet blog, but I gotta say that I learned quite a bit from this post for my own blogging niches. Great tips, looking forward to more blogging “how to’s” from you.

  22. Hi,nice pet blog Kimberly

  23. Lisa Ladrido says:

    Great information Kimberly. I think you chose the perfect niche and your advice about the tools you use to promote were very helpful. Continued success, you are truly a Woman Entrepreneur! Lisa

  24. Ann Staub says:

    What great information to share. I decided to start blogging a little over a month ago. I’m also a pet blogger with experience in the veterinary field. I am managing to get the hang of all the little things, I think. I’ve managed to gain an average of about 200 facebook and twitter followers in that time. I haven’t paid for any advertising on facebook. It is quite motivational to see what you have done in such a short amount of time. Plus, I do truly feel like I am connecting with people and making new friends.