A letter to readers and Scottish Terrier lovers

Dear Scottish Terrier and Dog News readers,

First of all, Happy New Year to all of you and I look forward to hearing from you in 2009.

My New Year’s resolution was to write this letter and give you some background on the Scottie News in order to generate money, ideas and advice. Not very selfless, that’s true, but necessary as I feel I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut with this site and I want to get out and make Scottie News the best it can be.

I originally started the Scottish Terrier and Dog News for three reasons:

  1. Because I couldn’t find the type of dog information I wanted online.
  2. Because I wanted to see what the potential market was for breed-specific dog news, or, in other words, what the so-called long tail of canine media looked like.
  3. Because as a journalist and communications consultant, I wanted to test potential revenue-generating models for online news and information. In other words, what do you have to do to make a decent living from online media? Or to be more pessimistic, is it possible to make a living from online media?

Just over a year and a half later, I can tell you that it’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun — and a lot of disappointments as well. I’ve learned much about online media and all things Google from AdSense to AdWords to Analytics to Webmaster tools and more, but there is still a whole lot I don’t understand.

My original target for unique visits per month was 10,000 to 20,000 which I achieved in October and November of October 2008 only to fall back below it in December.

Even though part of the decline was likely due to the holiday season, it’s still discouraging to see a drop. And what’s even more of a downer is that for months, the Scottie News has no longer appeared on page one of the Google search results for the term Scottish Terrier as it did back in February.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out the reason for the page-rank drop. I get more unique visits and page views than the page one-ranked Scottish Terrier Club of America. And visitors spend almost double the time on my site, which must surely be a testament to its quality, something Google definitely pays attention to, yet Scottie News is still way down on the charts for the search term, Scottish Terrier. (Click on the stats directly below if you’re interested in this type of stuff)

Of course, I also know that Google works in mysterious ways, the main driver for page ranking being how many high-quality websites link to you, but that doesn’t explain why I’m doing well for a term like Scottish News, which I don’t cover, and not even registering for Scottish Terrier, which is what my site is all about.

From my stats, I can now see what I didn’t know when I started out – that there are a whole lot more potential readers out there. The problem is that I can’t figure out how to reach them without buying more Google AdWords or just waiting. And I’m tired of waiting and pouring hours into the site when I can’t figure out why the results are the way they are. It feels a bit like throwing good money after bad.

If any of you know about this field and have any ideas or insights, I’d be most grateful for your help. Please, either post a comment or contact me via email at ann.brocklehurst@gmail.com. If you can enlighten me, I’ll be forever in your debt.

In the mean time, I feel I need to try some alternate methods to climb the Google ranks and generate more readers. I need to add more original reporting work including original video and photos. But to do that I need money, which is why, as of today, the Scottish Terrier and Dog News is accepting donations as you can see from the top left hand corner. If you enjoy this site, I hope you will consider making a donation so that I can keep on providing you with the highest-possible-quality content.

Whether or not you choose to make a donation, I’d also be interested in hearing from you about dog and Scottie topics you want to see covered. What is the Scottish Terrier and Dog News missing?

Although I want to give readers more original articles, that doesn’t mean simply recreating strong content that already exists on the web. Rather, I would like to also create aggregator pages that point readers to the best sites for Scottie topics. So if you have any favourite sources of Scottie information, please let me know and I will link to them.

Finally, I would like to apologize for anyone who has written to the Scottie News and who hasn’t gotten a response. I try very hard to answer all my email and follow through on all commitments, but as a single parent with a full time job and a Scottish Terrier, it’s not always easy. The spam filter is only responsible for a small minority of the unanswered mail. For, the rest it’s me and those DVD series I get hooked on every few months like the Wire and Damages and Entourage, which if you’re interested in such things I can highly recommend.

Please if you haven’t heard back from me, never ever take it personally and don’t hesitate to get in touch again or pester. As a reporter, I can tell you that pestering works.

For now, Happy New Year to all of you and I hope you’ll keep reading, commenting, linking and everything else in 2009. And, yeah, I hope you make a donation too even in these tough economic times.

Ann Brocklehurst
Aspiring Dog Media Magnate

11 thoughts on “A letter to readers and Scottish Terrier lovers

  1. Hi,
    I’m not a ‘lurker’, I’ve only just discovered you in my Christmas holidays and YOU ARE COOL!
    This post has highlighted problems with me… I’ve tried lot’s of times to log-on to you over Christmas, but I’m afraid your site has ‘crashed’ me twice and only managed to get on tonight due to the late hour … even then you are taking 3 mins to download homepage… this may-be the reason why you are loosing hits?
    I would like to join and will send a fee… do you do ‘Pay-pal’ for us brits?
    Tegan

  2. Hmmm, thanks for that. I had some major freeze-up problems when I tried to put together the Best Scottie Stories of 2008, which is why there’s no Best Scottie Stories of 2008. It was time for a beer.

    I had the problems when I accessed the archives using month links in the right column.

    Is anyone else having freeze or crash issues? Please let me know.

    Re Paypal, the button in the top left should work but I’m new to this so, again, please let me know if it doesn’t work or you find complications you don’t get when you use Paypal elsewhere.

    And thanks in advance for your donation.

  3. I just found your site over the hols, too, AND i’m a journalist, a single mom, and i’m owned by Scotties as well. How’s that for niche marketing?

    I’m in the same boat with figuring out the web stuff — well, in the dingy behind you, actually. my new job is all about trying to drive web traffic, and man, am i on the low end of the learning curve.

    haven’t had any technical probs with your site, and you’re bookmarked high on my blog list. looking forward to reading more …

  4. I have 2 blogs I read every day…and I apologize if your site is not really a blog. I’m not techy enuff to know the diff. I read yours or more to the point, look at photos of scotties. Cuz sometimes that is all there is. You do have a LOT of useful links and I’m ever so grateful for you compiling all this scotty info in one conveinient place. The other blog I read is ThePioneerWoman.com. ..i think it’s blog but it might be a website. Again, I wouldn’t know the diff. I enjoy both sites but they are totally different. Hers contains a lot of personal stories…along the line of a daily column? I know she gets tons of hits everday from the number of comments posted. What I would like to see on your site is more about your scottie. Where she walks and what other doggies she plays with and that sort of thing. More photos of your dog.
    Anyways…I will continue to be a loyal fan, whatever the content turns out to be in the future.
    Thanks for all your hard work.
    Pam…owned by Bonnie the wheaten scotty

  5. The first thing to understand is that 10 to 20 thousand uniques is nothing to sneeze at for a blog. I would encourage you to try amazon’s affiliate program for a way to generate a little extra income. I do not do a whole lot with it, but most of the books I have sold have been Scottie related. Scottie owners do read and collect books.
    For more traffic I experimented with Stumble upon’s ad program last year and the days I ran ads it really did boost my traffic.

    Also I agree with scrapsofme, I would not only like to see some pics of your Scott, but would love to hear you write from a more personal viewpoint. The blogs I am most loyal to are the ones where I feel I know the writer personally. Tell us about when you babysit for other dogs, tell us what your Scottie is doing as you type out your posts. You are a great writer and reporter, but I would love to know you better.

  6. I work for a technology company, but in the non-technology portion and I visit your site about 5x a week. I send friends links- Tink and Pink probably being THE STORY of 2008- and was lucky enough to have my Cleveland/Pittsburgh Scottie featured on Halloween. I made a small donation because I love this site lots more than I love NPR with none of the guilt. I don’t have a Google/Blogger identity- because I don’t want to get sucked into the web any more than I already am- it’s just too much overhead and I have a Scottie and his tormented Tabby-cat sister to entertain!
    I’m going to mention the Google stuff to one of my colleagues who is a developer and also to another friend who is a communications consultant and if they can help- I will send them your way.
    Thanks for posting this quirky and hip site. I am a devotee- and a happy New Year!

    Sincerely,
    Heidi

  7. Thank you all very much for the tips, suggestions and contributions so far.

    I will definitely write more about Bridget in the coming year.

    Heidi, it would be great if your geeks have some insights.

    I will be writing everyone who contributes a personal thank you note.

    This comment is just a temporary measure.

  8. Hi Ann –
    The holidays did get in the way of my regular web reading…ya know all that nog and cheer. But, I digress: I’m on dial-up and often the site is long in loading. I used to crash but found that to be impatient user error – I’ve learned to let it load totally and then click around.

    Love the quality photo art and your humor. I, too, would like to see your personal observations of Scottiedom with Bridget. Have you considered accepting or inviting outside reporting on Scottie specific topics? I can’t imagine it would be easy to find information on, say, the big Scottie Specialty last fall, or updates on CA and TCC research without having a reporter there to – well – report it. Just thoughts.

    Hmmm – when will the book be out? “Building News on the Web – a Scotties’ Story”. Until such a time: you’re in our February budget.

    Thanks,
    Wanda

  9. Hi
    your regular Australian reader here (probable one of many!) I have absolutely no experience with ads and things on the web, but a blog I read regularly is run by a lady in Scotland who runs a ring of blogs, as her full time job. If you email her, I know she would have some advice for you. Worth a try anyway! Here is her personal blog, you can link to the others from there http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/ (Unfortunately she is a bichon owner, not a Scottie owner.)
    Keep up the good work!

  10. Ann,
    I was very moved by your letter. As you know, I am an avid reader of your column/blog. Being a relatively new “terrier mom” (Angus the Scottie and Ozzie the Westie), your blog has given me much needed information and advice. I enjoy all of the articles, videos, reader input, and everything else on your blog. You do a terrific job and I do hope you continue. I, too, have budgeted a donation to keep the Scottish Terrier News alive and well. Happy new year!

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