You know when you meet someone new, one of you will ask the other, “So, what do you do?” and that will spark a dozen or so minutes of chatter about each other’s professions…
I’ve found that the second the word “pet” comes out of my mouth (“I’m a pet writer.”) the other person invariably dives into stories about their beloved dog or cat. Even if someone doesn’t currently have a pet, they often share stories of childhood pets or pets who’ve passed away. I can count on one hand the number of times someone’s said something like, “Oh.” Or, even less frequently that disinterest, “I’m not an animal person.”
People. love. pets.
Or maybe I just somehow gravitate toward animal lovers… either way, the next stage in the conversation is always a whipped-out cell phone and tons of shared photos. “Here she is asleep. Here she is playing. Here she is sleeping again.”
It’s a true joy that I’ve been able to cobble together a living by sharing this love for pets.
Now, lest you think that because it’s a joy, it’s easy. Nope. It’s hard. Some days it’s really hard. I’ve cried a lot of tears over this work this past decade, but because I love it so much, well, it’s pretty easy to keep moving forward and making progress, to recover from the hard times, to persevere.
Once I mention writing about pets, the question I sometimes get is: Can you really make a living writing about pets?
When I started this site 10 years ago (aside: GAH! How is that possible?) it was a side project. I toiled away in a job I hated, and I wanted to write about something I loved. So, I wrote about Emmett and Lucas. They gave me endless material, too! From there, it evolved pretty naturally as I picked up freelance work in the pet space until, in February 2010–on my birthday, actually–the job I hated laid me off in the ultimate blessing-in-disguise. (I shared a bit more detail about that evolution in this post from 2015.)
At that time, blogging wasn’t an industry like it is now. It was mostly people who were passionate about a topic creating content to help others (in all sorts of niches, not just pet) but that was about it. Then, over the last decade, the industry sprang up. Marketers and big brands realized that speaking directly to a potential customer through an actual person rather than through traditional advertising might be super effective. So, brands started asking bloggers to share about their product or service in exchange for compensation. This was HUGE for bloggers because, prior to this, we could maybe make a few cents here and there with ads, but nothing that would buy the dog food.
I think folks online take it a smidge for granted–I know I do–that there’s so much information available 24 hours a day for free. The reality is that, on a blog, there’s a single person or maybe a tiny team toiling away in the background doing everything… the writing, the photography, the web design, the social media, the marketing, the accounting, the business development, and any other task that’s needed as it arises. Being compensated for that time feels, well, valuable. Like we as bloggers are valued.
But, of course, the industry ballooned up really quickly and some people (on both brand sides and blog sides) were unscrupulous and so some of that initial trust dissipated. The industry will right itself. It’s doing it now. The FTC is helping.
Meanwhile, we keep writing. We keep photographing and web designing and troubleshooting and warding off hackers and all the things that come from running a blog.
Now that I’ve done this for 10 years, I can honestly say: I’ve seen it all.
The good, the bad, the hacks. The rises, the falls, the algorithms.
Over those 10 years, I studied and learned as much as I could, applied what was relevant and dismissed what wasn’t. I think I’ve come up with a pretty good formula for this little corner of the web.
Meanwhile, in another part of this country, my friend Carol has been doing the same with her site for the past 10 years.
We’ve worked together often over the years, and about a year and a half ago we decided to put our heads together on a big project.
We wanted to serve other pet bloggers, those just starting out and those who have been at it for a while, by providing all of the tools and resources we wished we had. We wanted to create a comprehensive guide to help anyone who loves their pets as much as we do and who loves sharing and connecting with other pet-loving humans, so… we wrote a book!
And it’s out now! Today, in fact!
It’s available in paperback or Kindle (and if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, I believe it’s free).
If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog or maybe creating an Instagram for your dog or cat, or if you’re curious about how to turn a website into a business, we’ve got you! We put our experience to work with this one, plus we interviewed 15+ superstars in the space and included their brilliant inspiration and insights throughout.
If you pick up a copy, not only will I be ever-so-grateful, but I also want to hear what you think, AND I want to send you some extra goodies. Carol and I put together a Google Drive folder with lotsa bonus materials, and there’s a live workshop, available to anyone who purchases the book between today, Monday, October 21, and midnight (eastern) on Sunday, November 3. To claim your freebies, just email a screenshot of your receipt to maggieandcarol (at) gmail (dot) com, and we’ll get the special links on over to you!
So, what do pet bloggers do?
Well, they write. They take pictures. They do web design and content marketing and social media marketing and advertising and HTML coding and… they write books!
Thanks so much for all your love and support over the years. This book literally would never have happened without you!