Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pet Blogger Challenge 2015

Today I'm excited to be participating in the Fifth Annual Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I started blogging in August 2011. Mochas, Mysteries and Meows is for everyone who enjoys the cozy things in life: curled up on the couch with your hot beverage of choice, a great book, and a cat (or three) on your lap! I call it a cat blog with literary flair and a book blog with a pet-centric twist.

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.

2014 was a year of change for our blog! At the beginning of the year I made the decision to transition from a book blog with cats included to a cat blog with books included. It started with a name change: Mochas, Mysteries and Meows (previously Mochas, Mysteries and More) along with the purchase of a custom domain name. It was Truffles' first full year with me and I was more than happy to have her "take over". I still write about books, particularly the cozy mysteries that I love so much, but if a book doesn't include cats or I can't involve Truffles in some way, I most likely won't feature it. It was also an exciting opportunity to start profiling some of the adoptable cats at Truffles' Alma Mater, Franklin County Animal Rescue.

3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs?

Take advice and learn from fellow bloggers, but at the same time find out what works for you. Everybody needs to chart their own path and what works for one person might not necessarily work for you. Find out where your talents lie and take it from there.

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

Comment, comment, comment on other blogs. People won't know about your blog until you get out there and be social! Pet blogging is such an awesome, supportive community and through it I have formed the most wonderful online friendships.

5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?

My most popular blog post was 5 Reasons We Purr for #BlogPaws. It was written in the wake of being chosen as the BlogPaws Blogger of the Month for January and was such an incredible honor for me. I had just barely made the leap of changing my blog name to Mochas, Mysteries and Meows, a move that I felt sealed my identity as a cat blogger, so this was just icing on the cake.

6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?

Sorry, I have to pick more than one. I love our "Truffles Interviews" series and I think our readers do too. A Love Letter to Truffles: One Year Together and Feline Diabetes: Tara's Story are both incredibly special to me as well. And I had so much fun with my very first foray into fiction: Truffles' Halloween Tail: Part 1 and Part 2.

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year?

If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

If you don’t do reviews, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

Yes, Truffles and I *love* doing product reviews and giveaways. I enjoy informing pet parents about new products on the market and at the same time giving Truffles the chance to have fun trying them out! Our favorites are toys and treats...Truffles is a treat junkie!

8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?

Blogging is a lot of work and a big commitment, so write about what you love. The two things in life that I could never live without are cats and books, so writing about them both comes as natural to me as breathing.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?

I hope to continue to gain readers by writing posts that appeal to my book loving, cat lover friends. I also want to build relationships with large and small pet brands.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

Same as #9, I would really appreciate advice on how to build relationships with both large and small pet brands.


Unknown said...

Nice meeting you and good tips. Now I'll be hopping along...

Unknown said...

Nice to meet you. I wish I had some advice on relationships with brands but I'm pretty new at this, and I don't know a darn thing about it. I couldn't agree more with the commenting aspect. It's amazing how awesome the pet blogging community is, and how large. Every single day I'm still finding new blogs, it's an awesome community to be a part of.

jen said...

That was awesome! And what an exciting year for you and love your question. I wish I had some solid advice but I think others on this challenge might be able to offer something better than me :)

pilch92 said...

Very nice to learn more about you.

Mary Hone said...

That was great to learn a little more about you. Advice...keep doing what you are doing. Writing what you feel, and enjoying it will bring more readers your way.

My GBGV Life said...

You aren't bad for a cat blog ;) Being a dog, I do sometimes read cat blogs and you have a nice one. You are so right about doing what is right for you because doing what everyone else does doesn't usually work.

Cathy Keisha said...

I just found out about this last night after I had my blog all written. I would have loved to participate. Did I miss this on the CWB or something? BTW, I didn’t know you’ve been blogging that long.

Amy said...

Melissa, I love your description of your blog. It makes me want to pour a cup of tea and move in! =)
"Find out where your talent lies and take it from there" is a great piece of advice. Each of our blogs reflects our own personalities, and they should be unique, because we all are! Learning from each other is important, but I agree with you that we each need to take in the advice and then figure out what fits for us.

My advice for building relationships with brands is to begin reaching out. Write a brief proposal (2 or 3 short paragraphs would be plenty) that lays out 1. what you'd like to do for the brand (write a review, feature a giveaway, etc.), 2. the benefit they can expect to receive (usually traffic they can expect to receive), and 3. what you're requesting in terms of product and/or compensation. If you get turned down, revise #3 and try again with a different brand - you may need to be extra generous in the beginning to get the relationship started. When you get your first "yes," remember that this is your chance to make a great impression! Do what you said you would as soon as possible, and then follow up with the brand by email telling them the number of page views and comments on the post. Businesses look at relationships with bloggers in terms of return on investment - make sure when they work with you they see that their getting a good value for their investment. If you do that, you'll gain their respect and things will blossom from there. Good luck, and thanks for joining the Challenge!

Anonymous said...

Always nice to learn a bit more about the blogs we love - thanks for sharing! Keep up the great work, you are really doing a wonderful job! :)

Seville at Nerissa's Life said...

I really loved your Hallowe'en posts, too.


Unknown said...

Really LOVED your answers! And the posts you talk about are ones that we remember from the last year! We LOVE your blog and read your posts regularly in our email, although we have not been able to comment because of our circumstances this year.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful answers, Melissa. It's obvious you love what you do. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and keeping up with you and Truffles. Best wishes for 2015!


Excellent! We really enjoyed reading your post. You are right the way to build traffic is to comment and be social. Let others know you're here!

Mickey's Musings said...

We liked the Q & A, especially your answers.
We do enjoy your blog and Mom enjoys the book reviews.
Purrs Georgia and Julie,
Treasure and JJ

Vanessa Morgan said...

That's weird. I've never really noticed your name change until you mentioned it. As for working with pet brands, you could contact them directly, but there are many different companies that offer sponsored posts and that will do the hard work for you.

Life Student said...

I really need to catch up on your blog, and connect to another book-loving cat owner (or cat-loving book lover?). All the best for 2015!!

KimT said...

I know, I know, I have a dog featured on my blog - but shh, until my life drastically changed in the past year, I was up to my eyeballs in cats. And loving it! You know how to write a great blog, and how to live well ;) Keep doing what you're doing, wishing you much success and happiness in the coming year!

Athena Cat Goddess Wise Kitty said...

Great post! We love your blog :)

Purrs xx
Athena and Marie

Pamela said...

I agree with Amy. Your blog description is absolutely perfect and it might be the best one I've read so far in this challenge.

Great job in knowing who you are and expressing it so well.

I used to write book reviews for A Traveler's Library on books that featured pet travel. I always struggled to find books that included cats since fewer people travel with cats than dogs. But the few I found were real gems. It got me thinking we might need to adopt a boat cat. :)

Unknown said...

It's been fun reading everyone's answers to this challenge. Is this your first time taking the challenge? If so, you will enjoy going back next year and looking at your answers to see how you've grown.

I was delighted you chose to share Tara's diabetes story and add it to the Caring for Critters hop.

As to your question, (I haven't read all the comments so forgive me if I'm repeating something) my thoughts would be 1) Blog Paws as the sponsors are there specifically to connect with bloggers and I'm pretty sure I read there is a session specifically about this. 2) Find a company you want to work with and ask around if any of your blogging friends has a contact there. Two of the four product reviews I did this year came from a fellow blogger passing my name along.

I think your doing great and well on your way to accomplishing your goals.

Marty the Manx said...

WONDERFUL answers!!! Your blog has been wonderful :)

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

Loved your answers and you know that we LOVE YOU! Our advice for working with brands? Start with the products that you already use at home, that YOU actually BUY. Reach out to those brands and let them know about your love of their products and that you actually USE their products. Tweet to them, comment to them on Facebook, etc. If you speak about the products you actually use, your voice will always be authentic! xoxo

Dz Dog Mom said...

What a fun blog!! I love your cartoon kitty at the top of your page! :-)

Nice to meet you! Keep up the great work!

~DZ Dogs

A Tonl said...

We're so glad you participated in the blog hop! It was great to read your responses - and we can't agree more about commenting! (ugh, we wish our mom had more time to DO it, though...!)

FidoseofReality said...

Great answers and I hope to see you in May in Nashville!

Colby, Raven, Elsa said...

I thought I stopped by earlier, but maybe my comment didn't take. Commenting is a great way to attract more readers. It's also not a bad way to spark up conversations with your fellow pet bloggers.

Unfortunately, I don't know too much about engaging brands. So far my best luck has come at the big pet blogging conferences like BlogPaws and BarkWorld Expo. If you've participated in BarkWorld Expo in the past they have a speed dating session where you get to talk to several different brands in a short period of time.

All the best in 2015!

Unknown said...

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