Pet Blogger Challenge Coming January 6-8th | GoPetFriendly.comHappy New Year, and welcome to the 8th annual Pet Blogger Challenge!

2017 is in the rearview mirror, and it’s time to get 2018 started on the right foot. Over the past seven years, it’s become a tradition to reflect on last year’s victories and share my aspirations for the coming twelve months with this wonderful community of pet bloggers. What started as a personal exercise has become a heartwarming event, and I’m deeply grateful to you for joining me to connect, celebrate, and support each other as we continue to learn and grow.

For those who may be wondering what the heck this is all about, once a year we pet bloggers set aside our normal blog topics to honor our achievements and make our plans for the new year. We incorporate a Linky List into our posts, so it’s easy to find everyone who’s participating. And we comment on each other’s sites, offering congratulations and encouragement. It’s my favorite post of the year, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

If this is the first you’ve heard of the Pet Blogger Challenge and you’d like to participate, you’ll find all the details and the questions in this post.

And now, without further ado … let the 2018 Pet Blogger Challenge begin!

  1. For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?
    We started Take Paws 8 1/2 years ago to promote our pet travel website,, and to inspire other people to travel with their pets. The blog compliments our database of 65,000 pet friendly locations by providing resources pet travelers need, “paws-on-the-ground” reporting on pet friendly vacation destinations, and tips for making trips with pets go smoothly.
  2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2017?
    Without question, completing the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip was my biggest accomplishment of 2017 – and of my entire blogging career! We visited the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states with Ty and Buster, blogged about each stop, and co-hosted 17 events with animal shelters and rescues along the way. But most importantly, we truly enjoyed the adventure. We shared so many precious moments and collected some of the best memories of our lives … it was a dream come true.
  3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)
    My favorite post wasHappy Golden Birthday to our Golden Boy,” which I published on Ty’s 13th birthday. The post documents Ty’s adventures over the previous year and fills me with gratitude for having another year with our little guy.
  4. In terms of your blog, how do you measure success?
    The blog’s success is reflected in the traffic. My posts are intended to help make traveling with pets easy, safe and fun, and inspire people to take their pets along when they travel, so the goal is to reach as many people as possible. Visits to the website increased by 43% this year, so that’s a good indication we’re on the right track.
  5. In what ways has your blog changed during 2017?
    The biggest change to the blog in 2017 was incorporating Mediavine ads on the site. I’ve wrestled with this decision for a long time and when Jessica at took the plunge, I was motivated to follow. It’s been about 6 weeks since the installation, and I haven’t received any complaints or noticed any decreases in activity … but I’ll wait a bit longer before chalking it up as a success.
  6. What was the biggest blogging challenge you overcame in 2017, and what did you learn that could help other bloggers?
    Time. Most of us struggle finding the time it takes to write our blogs and promote them on social media, but being on tour this year really pushed me to the max. There was no way to keep all the balls in the air, so I hired help. Pamela Douglas Webster from Something Wagging This Way Comes bailed me out of various projects and completely knocked it out of the park managing my Pinterest boards! And Julie Melfi from Leg Up Creative was my graphics guru that kept everything looking beautiful. 

    What I learned is that it’s hard to turn over control, but the sleepless nights and anxiety attacks that Pam and Julie saved me were priceless – and their work was far better than I could have done! With new projects on my plate, I’ll be continuing to rely on them in 2018. 

  7. When things get hard, what keeps you blogging?
    (Question submitted by Pamela Douglas Webster of Something Wagging This Way Comes)
    When it comes right down to it, I love what I do. Traveling and exploring new places with Ty and Buster is a ball, but what really drives me is knowing that we’re helping other people make memories with their pets, too. When blogging starts to feel hard, I take a break for a week, and that usually does the trick to get the creative juices flowing again. 
  8. Looking forward to 2018, what are you hoping to accomplish on your blog?
    2018 is shaping up to be a big year! I’m writing a book about the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, and hoping to do a book tour to help with the promotion. At the same time, Ty and Buster are easing into their senior years and looking forward to a less hectic schedule, so I’m putting together a small team of bloggers to write for Take Paws. Like us, they’ll be people who travel with their pets and are excited to share their experiences. Making the transition from full-time blogger to editor and author is a challenge I’m looking forward to!
  9. In addition to what you’d like to accomplish, is here one specific skill you’d like to improve or master this year?(Question submitted by Jodi Chick of Kol’s Notes)
    Yes, I’m going to improve my SEO skills. It’s embarrassing how little I know about SEO, but now that I’m going to be leading a team and collaborating on the topics that will be covered on the site, I need to sharpen my skills. Does anyone know of a good “SEO for Dummies” course?
  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? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in the comments!
    Adding new bloggers to the Take Paws team will give us the opportunity provide different perspectives on pet travel. What new areas would you like to see us cover?

And there you have it  – my contribution to the 2018 Pet Blogger Challenge! Now, get comfy and hop your way through all of these wonderful pet blogs! You’re sure to make some new friends, reconnect with old friends, and learn something new along the way.

Thanks to everyone who’s participating! Be sure to add the direct link to your post below, and include the Linky code on your blog to make it easy for everyone to hop along.

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  • Thank you, Alison – I think your road trip sounds like a blast! It would be so wonderful to pair up those successful shelters with the ones that are struggling. Just think of all the animals that would help! I will absultely do a search and see if Google is still offering classes – that’s a great idea! Have a wonderful 2018.

  • The annual pet blogger challenge is one of my favorite activities each year and I thank you so much for hosting and for the road trip inspiration! One of my bucket list items is to someday hop in an RV – not that I have figured out exactly where said RV will come from ;-) – with all three of my dogs and do a shelter and rescue tour of the United States with a goal of identifying means by which those shelters and rescues that are doing well can connect to and collaborate with those that are struggling. I wish I could offer some sage advice on SEO. I did take a free Google class online about three years ago. It was a digital marketing course and I believe it covered a fair amount of SEO. Might be worth a quick Google search. Looking forward to reading your book!

  • Thank you for hosting this every year! I look forward to it in January. If you would like help with SEO, please feel free to reach out. This is something that I love doing and I nearly changed professions this year, but I don’t think I want to do SEO for others – just me. I’d love to share the tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years that is helping me build Keep the Tail Wagging®.

  • Thanks so much, Janet. I consider myself very lucky to be doing what I’m doing, and to have the success I’ve had. It seems we’re approaching a new level with the business, and it’s both exciting and a little scary to be facing so much change this year. But I have faith that the Universe has something bigger and better headed our way, and these are the steps we need to take to move ahead … so I’m fastening my seatbelt and looking forward to seeing what’s next. At the very least, it should make for a very interesting Challenge post next year! =D Thank you so much for passing along our website as a resource to others who travel with their pets, and remember, you’re always invited to travel vicariously with us from the comfort of your very own sofa. Waggin’ trails!

  • Knowing almost nothing about SEO is my dirty little secret, Kristin. ;-) I’ve always just written what I’ve wanted, how I’ve wanted, and hoped for the best. I’m lucky that the pet travel industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, because people seem to be searching for the things I’ve been writing about. Now that I’m going to be paying people to write, I need to start thinking about how we can get the most bang for our buck.What a wonderful trip! I grew up in Wisconsin, and my parents took us to South Dakota a couple of times when I was a kid. I absolutly love it now. Rod and I have had the boys there several times, and we’re booked back in the Black Hills in June and I can’t wait to go! You’ve also got some really cool options right there in the midwest to check out. If you’re looking for pet friendly vacation ideas for this summer, hit me up … I have a list a mile long!

  • Thank you for your note, and for supporting the Challenge again this year, Jana. It’s so wonderful to see your helpful contributions on the posts – and you’ve made it to most of them before me! =DThe great thing about my blog is that you don’t have to go anywhere … you’re always invited to travel vicariously with us! =) Waggin’ trails!

  • That’s a fantastic idea, Pam – thank you for sharing! I’m excited to get the team rolling – we’re going to be able to provide so many more helpful article for people traveling with their pets. There’s a limit to what we can cover from the RV each year, and it’s time to start spreading our wings! Thank you for all your help and support in 2017 – I couldn’t have done this without you. Here’s to a terrific 2018 for us both!

  • Awwe, thanks my dear one! The tour was a huge undertaking, and fortunately the payoffs have been very rewarding. Now to capitalize on that momentum! It’s going to be an exciting year for us both. =)

  • Your enthusiasm is contageous, Denise! Thank you for your note of support. I’m a little nervous loosening my grip on the reigns after all these years, but at some point the baby has to learn to walk … and the time has come! =)

  • Thanks so much, Jen! The road trip was a huge undertaking, but the payoff has also been pretty impressive. And yes, continuing to have Ty along for the ride is such a joy. Here’s to our senior dogs having a wonderful travel season in 2018. Waggin’ trails to you guys and Sora!

  • This is always a hightlight of my year too, Jodi – and especially given how busy 2017 was for us, it’s great to be able to catch up with everyone and see what’s changed while I was scampering around. =)Good – I’ll know who to call when I’m pulling my hair out and crying over keyword searches and page authority. And you got it! Having a team in place should give us the ability to provide a lot more coverage on dog friendly locations. Ty and Buster can only cover so much each travel season, after all. Getting a whole pack out there doing research will certainly beef up our destination guides! Thanks again for all your support, and a wonderful 2018 to you!

  • Hosting this Challenge brings me so much joy – it’s one of my favorite posts every year! Yes, traveling with reactive dogs does make things a bit more tricky. I’ve made a note to encourage the team to discuss any issues they face with their pets and how they overcome them. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • That makes perfect sense – Emma has quite the personality, and some dedicated fans who want to know what she has to say. is more of a resource, so I think if we provide good, current content on places to travel with pets, people won’t care too much who’s writing it. I’m excited and a little nervous about the transition to editor, but there are other aspects of the business that need my attention, so I’m hoping for the best. I guess at the very least it will make an interesting Challenge post for next year! =D Thanks again for participating, and all the best to you in 2018!

  • Excellent ideas, Irene! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I’m going to do my best to find writers from different parts of the country so we can get good coverage in a variety of regions – Rod, the boys, and I can’t cover the entire US every year, so the team is going to make the blog even better! Have a great 2018!

  • Thanks so much, Colby! It was so much fun getting to meet up with you last year – I hope we cross paths again, soon. You had a few big changes this year – including adding a little one to your pack! I’m glad to hear that MediaVine is working out well for you, too. It’s been less than 2 months for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things go over the summer when traffic on my site really starts to pick up. I really appreciate you for joining in the Challenge again this year, and for your excellent recommendation. I know so little about SEO that MOZ feels intimidating – but I’m not going to learn if I don’t dig in! All the best to you in 2018 – I can’t wait to see where the new year takes you.

  • Thank you do much for hosting this challenge. I am so grateful I found it just in time to join. I have really enjoyed meeting so many awesome bloggers. I look forward to this year! I am also looking forward to your book!

  • I love hearing that you also have your golden boy traveling along. Sora also turns 13 in a couple weeks and we’ve really been enjoying her senior years. Good for you for relinquishing some of the more busy work and relegating it to your team. We bloggers really take on so much and divying up the work only frees us to continue creating great content. I mean, your traffic grew 43% — that’s huge! Congratulations!

  • We are always traveling with our dog and LOVE LOVE LOVE your site! I love the idea of so many bloggers talking about things in their hometown areas. I’ve been collecting things from the Central Valley in California because there was no great guide to find pet friendly areas when we moved here. You have so many readers, the reach of geographic locations would be spectacular!

  • Loving the hop once again. It is giving me things to think about for the next week.Big newspapers with travel sections will often do posts on 3 Day Weekends from various large cities. I think it would be cool to read different writers creating a dream, dog-friendly, 3 day weekend froom their city. It might even attract some homebodies who are less able or not willing to do long trips with their pets.

  • I loved following your journey this year! So inspiring and fun! Congrats on the book – looking forward to reading it!How funny that you (like many of us) are interested in learning more about SEO this year! With all your success, I would think you had that down pretty well! I just left my full time job in July and one of my goals now that I have more time is to travel more with Ruby (our dog) and human daughter as well. We took a road trip to South Dakota (from Chicago) in August and Ruby, our city dog, loved it!

  • You are amazing! All you’ve accomplished and the big changes you are making are very impressive. You’ve really figured out how to make blogging a career. Honestly, I don’t travel with my dogs, we’re homebodies, so we wouldn’t know what to suggest! But if that ever changes, I love knowing exactly where I would go for advice, and to have a place I can suggest to others as a resource.

  • Thank you for hosting this again, I love looking back on my blog and taking a good look at it, and I love getting the input from other bloggers.You had an amazing year, and it’s something to be very proud of. You are a shining example to me of someone taking their passion and turning it into a business. I hope you had Rod give you a good pat on the back. :-DI think I have a tentative handle on SEO, but that remains to be seen. :-)As for what I’d like to see, I like reading about places I can take my dogs, and knowing what restrictions there might be.

  • Thanks for hosting another year of reflection! We’re always interested in reading about good places to travel with reactive dogs–I spend a lot of time doing research to make sure trails aren’t off-leash trails and that restaurants have large outdoor spaces where we can have the space we need before choosing a location to visit. Sometimes it can be hard to find that type of information easily, so I’d love more on that type of travel.

  • Love this challenge! I was looking for it, but must have missed the original post and luckily have found it in time to get our post up and running on Monday. You have built up an excellent business with your blog. I hope the transition to having writers goes well. I know we gave up letting anyone else write posts for our blog because people only wanted to hear from Emma, but every blog is different.

  • My favorite content here is pretty consistently about different places I can take my dogs. Since you’ll be expanding your team, those writers will know their city, state, and maybe even region. Or they would be willing to travel to get-to-know their area. Finding those small town or obscure pet-friendly places and/or events would be fun to read about. Maybe even suggested itineraries for certain cities, states, or regions. Thank you for hosting this blog hop. Cheers!

  • Congratulations on completing the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip! That was quite an accomplishment. One of my highlights last year was getting the chance to meet you and Rod in Palm Springs right before you embarked on your journey. Our big change was incorporating MediaVine as well. At the time I wasn’t sure if I should go with AdThrive or MediaVine. Jessica recommended MediaVine so I took the plunge and I’ve been very satisfied with the results. I haven’t taken an SEO course recently, but a good resource is As far as what I’d like to see on the blog? I’m always a big fan of training articles. All the best to you in 2018!

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