The one year mark for A Dog Walks into a Bar snuck by me with little fanfare. I knew it was on the horizon since we received renewal reminders from our site host but it happened to coincide with Thanksgiving, and I let the day slip by without formally acknowledging its arrival.
One full year of curating a website may not seem like much to some, but it is an accomplishment that I am incredibly proud of. I have zero technical skill, but somehow managed to make something that looks pretty darn good which I attribute to sheer stubbornness.
The past year has been full of some pretty amazing experiences. Join me as I explore the year on this slightly belated blogiversary. I would also like to share some of the tidbits I’ve learned along the way and things I wish I had known.
If you stick around to the end of my post, you can enter to win a A Dog Walks into a Bar shirt of your own to rock around town and a $50 donation to a shelter or animal rescue group of your choice.
It all began when…
This whole crazy adventure began while we were standing in line at our favorite brewery in Connecticut called Beer’d Brewing . They are dog friendly, so we had Yoda in tow, to help bide the time while we waited to have growlers filled. There was a sizable line, which I never really mind, since that means the brewery is successful. While we waited, we were literally flocked by other brewery patrons. “Hey, can I say hi to your dog?” “I have a dog named x, here, let me show you 800,000 photos!”
BAM! That’s when I connected that people are as passionate about their pups as they were about their beer. That’s where A Dog Walks Into a Bar was born.
I floundered, you might too.
Just because you come up with an idea, doesn’t mean you also immediately know what that means, what the plan is, and how to get there. Technically the blog started just over a year ago, in that I purchased a domain and created the skeleton of the site. I didn’t actually find a voice until, probably close to three months after that point. I wrote a single post introducing “my readers” (also known as, my mom and some friends), to Bean and Yoda and then the site festered for awhile. I was serving as my own worst enemy by telling myself “no one will want to read what you say, so why bother?”
At some point, and I don’t know what the trigger was, I came to the realization “no one will read what I have to say, if I don’t actually write something!” So I started to write, and it helped to flex a muscle that had been dormant for a very long time.
We’ve seen and done some amazing things!
Since the writing began to occur with regularity, I started to develop relationships with breweries and dog brands. My photos were getting noticed on Instagram, and I think we helped to make folks smile! Doors began to open for us.
We have had the opportunity to visit an incredible series of dog friendly breweries in the past year. Some of those events have been written about in prior posts that you might like to check out. For example, we helped to raise funds for our local animal shelter at an event called Barks & Brews at Fort Hill Brewery. We also visited and wrote about a series of dog friendly breweries in Tampa, Florida (we were lucky enough to have a personalized tour of Cigar City Brewing and interviewed their resident dog “Egg.”).
Along the way, we’ve been able to receive a variety of pet products from incredibly generous brands that have helped to introduce us to items we likely wouldn’t know about otherwise. Those same generous brands have helped us to be able to donate a variety of products, supplies, food, treats to our local shelter, Being able to give to animals (and their humans) in need has always been a focus, so I’m happy we’ve had the chance to give as much as we have. Bean is shown below surrounded by toys that were donated to Dakin Humane Society.
They like us, they really like us!
The site was legitimized when I received an email informing me that I had been nominated for a Nose-to-Nose Award from BlogPaws for the “Best New Pet Blog,” category. The nomination helped me to feel like my site was on the right track, and that it was making an influence, even if my reader base was still small. While I didn’t win, I am still so very thankful for the opportunity as it most certainly served as a spark of inspiration and drive for continuing forward. I wrote a piece about how amazing it was to “lose” at BlogPaws, which you can read through this link.
I was also chosen as a finalist for a book pitch through a conference called BarkWorld. Being forced to find a way to encapsulate the who, what, where, when, why and how of a book into a five minute presentation was an exciting challenge. Having to stand in front of a panel of judges to answer tough questions was also exhilarating. I may have come close to vomiting in a fake hotel lobby plant, but in the end it was an amazing experience which also helped me to realize that I’m on the right track. Do you have some free time? Want to watch a video of someone talking to a group of captive audience conference attendees? Here’s a video linking to my pitch. It’s not an amazing quality video, but I assure you I shaved my legs that day and remembered how to apply eyeliner.
What I’ve Learned
People can’t read if you don’t write something
It’s okay to not know what your plan is, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to develop a plan
It’s okay for that plan to change with time
You won’t make everyone happy all the time, but if you shared something with the best of intentions or because it was important, you did the best you could
Beer makes everything better
Dogs also make everything better
The key to good photos is understanding how to use light to your advantage (and to take away clutter)
Being willing to accept constructive criticism will help you to grow exponentially
The people you “meet” (some folks I’ve never actually met in person) are out of this universe amazing, and will help you to realize there’s still good in this world
Where do we go from here?
Well, there’s definitely a book that will be worked on in the coming months. We will also try to make a concerted effort to share information on the beer end of the blog as that has been a bit more difficult from a brand relationship standpoint to establish. We will continue to collaborate with dog/pet brands that have products we love that we know our readers will enjoy.
Beyond that, I’m not sure, but I’m excited to see where the next year will take us! THANK YOU for spending a sliver of your time to visit us, no matter how frequently or infrequently that may be. I recognize everyone is incredibly busy, and to know that folks are stopping by to read what I have to say is humbling and will always be appreciated.
Cheers to a new year, to dogs, to beer, and to you!
ENTER TO WIN: $50 Donation to a Shelter or Animal Rescue Organization of your Choice & A T Shirt with our Logo on it!