Toronto dog photographerI am amazed by how much my dogs, Rory and Lucy, have influenced my work and my blogging habits. So today I thought I would draw from my fur monsters’ wisdom and my own experiences to share with you some blogging tips and tricks that have helped Pawsh.

1.  Live in the present
When it comes to blogging — especially blogging professionally — it is important to be present. Yes, planning ahead, working ahead and thinking about what comes next are vitally important to any project’s long term success, but equally so is the ability to focus on what is at hand.

In the past I have been notoriously known for getting ahead of myself. I would get excited about a new idea, a new blog column or a new photoshoot and start trying to coordinate it all before a prior project had completely wrapped. The result? Stress, a little bit of sorrow and a horrible feeling that I was stretching myself too thin.

Now, thanks to a dog’s example of always being present and alert to the present, I have slowed down. I relish each aspect of Pawsh that I am working on as I work on it. I focus, I give it my all and as a result, I get more done. Of course I still get excited about new concepts, but I write them down and store them for the future, when I can give them 100% of my attention.

Blogging, above all, is about making sure that you put your best work forward at all times and the only way to do that is to be present for what you are creating.

2. To thine own self be true
If you watch dogs interact at the park you’ll notice that each comes with its own distinct personality. The fetch-crazed pup will always tear after a Frisbee. The quiet, docile dog will always saunter around searching for smells. And the bouncy, boisterous dogs will rough and tumble until the sun goes down. Each dog is itself and does not compare itself to others.

Similarly, as a blogger you have to be yourself. Nobody else is like you, so allow your work to be infused with your thoughts, feelings, perspective and opinions. It’s the only way to truly stand out — and yes, it’s not as easy as it sounds. What I find helps is to simply allow a little quietness into your life on a regular basis.

As much as I love the thousands of gorgeous blogs that are out there, I personally avoid  reading a ga-zillion other blogs every day, because I worry it will taint my own inspiration and ideas. I also try to limit my online time outside of office hours.

Instead in my spare time I love to read good old-fashioned books, take long meandering walks (with Rory of course!), listen to music, exercise and allow my imagination the peace and quiet to wander and dream freely. I find doing those things helps me stay connected with myself and my voice. As a result, it helps my work to be a more genuine extension of myself and allows me a greater opportunity to be fulfilled by it.
blogging-tips-how-to-start-a-blog-13.  Try new things
Whenever something new comes into Rory or Lucy’s life she is utterly enthralled. Whether it’s a cardboard box, a waddling pigeon, a new toy, person or place, she is always completely gung-ho to say hello and give it a whirl. It is a boldness and an enthusiasm that I try to bring to blogging on a daily basis.

The beautiful thing about the online world is that it is literally always changing. New trends emerge overnight, new voices add to the conversation every day, new technologies bring us greater opportunities to share, interact and connect. It is, in a word, amazing!

But all of that wonder can be intimidating and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times. My best advice is to follow your dog’s lead and don’t be afraid to try new things. Not sure where to start with graphic design? Sign up for a class or Google some free online tutorials. Not sure how to take better photographs? Consult a book, pick up a camera and practice. Have no idea where to start with social media? Reach out to other individuals who might have some insights.

At the end of the day ‘something new’ is merely something you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with. So dive in, give it a try and see what you respond well to. Of course, nobody can be amazing at everything — it’s impossible. But we can all be brave and live beyond our comfort zones with excitement. Trust me, you’ll be so surprised how just doing that can change everything you thought you knew and infuse your blogging with a refreshed energy.

4. Have fun — ridiculous, unfettered fun
Truth: Blogging is a lot of work. From creating editorial calendars, coordinating with sponsors, generating compelling content and managing social media channels (to name a few daily tasks), blogging takes a lot of time and energy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun with it — in fact, I would say blogging should only be a task that is undertaken with fun in mind.

Again, I’m going to ask you to think of your dogs. They have an uncanny ability to make almost everything fun from bathtime to helping you put away laundry. Their zest for experiencing life is incredible and a mentality that should be translated to your blogging life.

There is no way I would have survived blogging here on Pawsh if it wasn’t fun for me. So remember to check in with yourself regularly and ask, “Am I having fun with this?” If the answer is no, reevaluate and think of how you can make it more fun. Perhaps you need to branch out into new subject matter? Perhaps you want to be writing more and photographing less? Maybe you have too much happening at once and need to refocus?

Your blog is just that — yours. You can take it in any direction you like. Just remember to make it fun for yourself.
blogging-tips-how-to-start-a-blog-25.  Establish a routine
Any pup parent will tell you that establishing a regular routine will help to make a dog’s life happier and more fulfilled. It is important for our canine companions to have a consistent idea of when they are going out, when they are going to eat and when they are going to play. Structure helps them to live happily and helps us to provide all that they need.

Likewise running a successful blog requires a certain degree of routine. Whether you like to establish editorial calendars, regular columns or regular posting times, routine allows your audience to know when to expect what and helps to keep you organized. I find that setting aside designated ‘office hours’ for blogging helps me to stay focused and efficient with my time.

Do I stick to those hours 100% of the time? Of course not — I’m only human. Over the past few years Pawsh has at times ‘gone dark’ due to illness, personal matters or simply due to a lack of inspiration. And you know what? Going ‘dark’ once in a while is okay! We all need breaks, we all need time away from work. And sometimes, life has a plan all of its own.

However, I do try to keep my blogging routine as much as possible so that I can make the most of my time and keep things running smoothly.

6.  Know when to take a break
Rory and Lucy are monster nappers. Although they love to be on-the-go as much as possible, the girls have no problem taking over a lap and collapsing for a moment of shut-eye. In other words, dogs knows their limits, something that I frequently have trouble discerning for myself.

I can easily allow myself be overburdened. I am a classic workaholic, which is great most of the time, but it can quickly become a problem when scheduling breaks down or inevitable fatigue sets in.

So my last piece of advice would be to know when to take a break from it all. Plan vacations and social events — even the casual ones — into your calendar so you don’t miss that downtime. Keep the computer in a separate work designated area, away from your living space and your emotional zen. Allow yourself a guilt-free evening of watching Netflix and eating popcorn. Don’t think of relaxing as a luxury, think of it as a necessity — because it is.


So that, my friends, is a little bit of advice gleaned from a dog’s natural state of being that I find has helped to take my blogging from fun hobby to the next level.

Do you have a blog? If yes I would love to see it, so please feel free to leave a link and brief description of what it’s all about below in the comments section.

{NOTE: This article was originally published in April 2013, but has since been modified to include our newest thoughts and reflections about blogging.}