Carol Bryant’s blog, FidoseofReality.com, is dedicated to dog lovers, specifically people who love cocker spaniels.
Carol started her blog for two reasons. She was working at a fledging dog magazine that didn’t have a blogging presence. Carol saw the need and asked the company if she could help them create one. They agreed, and the blog ended up winning awards. So Carol knew that she had the skill to create a blog of her own.
And then she saw a gap in information on the internet. There was a need for solid, research-based health and wellness content for dog owners.
“If I was unable to find that information when researching topics for my own dog’s health, I knew I wasn’t alone.”
These two factors — proof of concept and a space that needed filling — led Carol to take the leap.
But it was more than that. Carol has a genuine passion for helping pet owners keep their dogs healthy. She explained, “You have to love what you blog because you will be doing it for a long time. Success doesn’t happen overnight. I always advise those who are considering pet blogging to really think long and hard on topic and niche.”
Writers often receive the advice to write what they know. But Carol firmly believes you must also love what you write about: “Imagine what you’d want to talk about every day when your feet hit the floor. For me, that’s dog health, with a primary focus on Cocker Spaniels.”
Figure out what you love to read about, write about, think about, talk about… and you’ll be on a good path toward finding a blog topic that will suit you.
When Carol first started her blog, one of the hardest things was finding credible resources to help her get set up and off the ground.
Once the launch issues were handled, the next hurdle was keeping up with what her audience wanted to read, what their pain points and questions were… and also what they needed to know but hadn’t even thought about yet.
While that was a struggle, Carol didn’t mind it.
“Those were and are some of my greatest challenges. In the same token, those are also some of my greatest joys.”
To keep up with her industry Carol reads, attends classes, takes webinars, talks to experts, and connects with pros in the pet industry and in veterinary medicine. Keeping up with an industry is a time commitment, to be sure.
But it’s been worth it. Carol’s blog has opened a lot of doors.
“One of my fondest and proudest moments is that Gayle King introduced me as a dog lover of the highest order when I appeared with my Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King Show to dish dogs.”
Carol has landed many writing gigs and television appearances over the years because of her blog. She’s appeared in Dogster, Paw Culture, Dog Fancy, Fido Friendly, Pet360, AKC Family Dog, Today.com, and Hamptons Pet.
These opportunities happen in part because of the popularity of Carol’s blog. When asked about her main methods of bringing the traffic needed to build up that kind of notoriety, Carol said, “SEO has always been the mainstay of blogging, but only if coupled with blog posts that solve a problem, entertain, or educate. Some of my favorite and most time-consuming pieces of content may not rank as high as I’d hoped. It’s an ever-changing landscape with the algorithms.”
Once upon a time, getting good rankings with the search engines was all about having lots of content and making generous use of keywords, but things have changed. Now it’s all about relevant blog content that serves a purpose for readers.
Carol finds SEO strategy to be pivotal, but underscores that fresh, targeted content people want to read is equally, if not more, important.
Writing is of course the mainstay of blogging, so creating content is a natural fit. But Carol suggests bloggers also study up on content marketing, social media, and photography.
Networking and planning are important, too. Carol emphasized discipline as essential for a blogger, which makes sense, because if you want your blog to succeed, publishing on a regular schedule is key.
And learning. Carol suggests that bloggers have a willingness to learn as they go because things change rapidly online.
Your outlook is important, as well. Carol mentioned the dangers of comparing yourself to the competition.
“Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s an easy trap to fall into, so don’t go there. You do you.”
She also reminds aspiring bloggers to keep their eye on the long game. It takes a while to build a steady income from blogging— and requires a willingness to vary your monetization strategies and try new opportunities.
When it comes to diverse strategies for monetization, Carol puts her money where her mouth is, so to speak. She’s earned income through
- Sponsored posts with brands
- Being a brand ambassador
- Writing for others because of her blog
- Doing PR for others because of her blog
- Managing social media
- Ad networks (She loves Mediavine – it’s a game changer)
- Selling products
- And writing a book on pet blogging with her co-author, Maggie Marton of Oh My Dog blog.
Carol believes in using some of what she earns to support the causes she’s passionate about.
“I’ve also been able to give back to dogs in need. Together with my wife, Darlene, we’ve formed Wigglebutt Warriors, the fundraiser arm of Fidose of Reality. We have raised over $75,000 for homeless dogs to date.”
Carol also talked about the importance of a sense of humor.
“You must be able to laugh at yourself and others and take things with a grain of salt. And strong nerves! You must not back down from trolls and the haters of the online world. Choose to ignore or block them and have a plan in place for dealing with them.”
Once you start growing an audience, you need a plan for keeping your followers coming back for more. Carol said being real and authentic are the most important ways to do this.
“I engage in real time and I take the time to get to know people.”
Carol mentioned that she spends most of her time marketing, networking, and building relationships.
“I genuinely care about dog parents and the dogs I write to and for, so it helps to love your audience.”
Carol talked about some bloggers she knows who gave up before building a steady income.
“They didn’t take the time to foster relationships.”
And remember, relationships aren’t one-sided. Give as much as you get.
Carol takes pains to meet her audience where they’re at. She uses Google Analytics to figure out where her social engagement comes from, and then focuses her social media marketing efforts on those platforms. About sharing content, Carol said, “You must share your content in meaningful ways and multiple times to the audience on the platform you are sharing.”
She also noted the importance of tailored your posts to the platform.
“I would phrase my language and tone differently on Instagram than I would on Facebook, and I wouldn’t bombard each channel with the exact same content.”
Regarding the difficulty of earning a full-time income blogging, Carol has been pragmatic.
“I believe it’s much easier to launch a blog nowadays. Growing it and being successful takes time, and that is the work part. If you want something in life, you need to work for it and not just wish for it. Blogging is the same way.”
Carol has seen firsthand how tenacity and persistence pay off, and how blogging opens doors to new opportunities and to new ways to earn an income. It’s played out that way for her, and it can play out that way for you, too.
Editor’s Note: If you want to write your own blogging success story, AWAI now has a program to help you do that. It walks you through picking a topic, coming up with ideas, writing excellent blog entries, building your audience, and earning money from your efforts. You can find all the details here.
This article is part of the Blogging Stories series.
Series Table of Contents:
- A Serial Entrepreneur Shares His Story of Blogging Success
- A Blog – The Ultimate Writer’s Tool
- Blogging Your Way to a Life of Adventure
- Blogging and Business: Harnessing the Power of Attention
- How Jon Morrow Launched His Blog with 13,000 Subscribers – and Other Blogging Stories
- Living a Beautiful Life – Blogging Success with Sal O’Neill
- Follow Your Passion – A Blogging Success Story with Carol Bryant (This Article)
- Building the Life You Want – Holly Reisem Hanna’s Blogging Success Story
- From $700 a month to $3.5 million a year – Sarah Titus and Blogging Success