This blog has been a labour of love since I started writing it over a decade ago. My mission in life is to spread good quality information about animals and pet care, and my own blog has been at the epicentre of my efforts. I write it because it’s important to me, and I don’t expect praise or accolades. So it was a huge surprise this week when my blog hit the big time at the national blog awards.
“Pete the Vet” had nearly won a prize before
The blog awards have become a highlight of the calendar for Irish bloggers. This was its seventh year, with over 2,000 nominations received for both personal and corporate bloggers. I’ve regularly entered the awards, although winning has never been one of my goals: I always thought it would be a happy accident if I happened to win something. This year, an outstanding 1200 blogs were submitted for the prestigious awards, with a total of 800 blogs making the longlist which was then whittled down to 600 for the shortlist and finally, just 300 made it to the finalist round. The judging included three rounds; the first two which were judged by their peers and the final round was judged by media/journalism and PR professionals.
Two years ago, my blog was second in the “Science and Education” category. I was very pleased about this, and I decided that I should really try to do better. Up until then, my blog had been a home made creation, done by myself with limited training and skill. So I engaged a team of web designers to help me to rejig my website completely.
My blog was completely redesigned two years ago
The web design team seemed custom made for me: Sabrina is an utter dog enthusiast, who now runs a dog bakery in Cork, and Katherine is a vet who took a career break from vetting to design websites, and she’s been kept busy doing this ever since. They worked with me to produce a blog design that was more professional, easier on the eye, with a more contemporary feel and an easier, more intuitive way of navigating around it.
I was very happy with the new design, but as before, I was doing it for myself, not aiming at any wider recognition. So when I entered the blog awards this year, my expectations were low. If I won something, great. If I didn’t, that was OK too.
The Blogger Awards ceremony clashed in my diary
As the awards approached, I had a dilemma. My blog had done well, moving from the long list to the short list, and it had then entered the finalists. I really wanted to be at the awards to see if I could be in the top three again.
Meanwhile, I had been asked to visit London for a 48 hour trip that included some really interesting journalistic work, including visiting the UK’s biggest cat rescue centre. This was a rare opportunity that I didn’t want to turn down. The only problem was that the UK trip meant that I wouldn’t get back to Dublin till late in the evening on the night of the awards.
I contact the organisers to let them know, and they suggested that I could send someone else along on my behalf. My daughter Ella and her friend were delighted at the opportunity to attend, so they went along on the night, and I kept in touch by WhatsApp as I travelled home.
Delight at winning first prize in the “Science and Education” Category
Ella sent me a message at 8pm, as I was about to take off homewards at Gatwick Airport. My blog had won first prize in the Science and Education Category! I was thrilled to hear this, and Ella happily collected the award on my behalf. I sat at the front of the plane, ready to dash off as soon as I landed so that I could join her. Then there was “radio silence” as my phone went onto “airplane mode” for the flight home.
When I landed in Dublin, there was more news: it was now 9.15pm and Ella told me that she had had to head off: she had collected my award and she had to be up early the following morning for college. So I headed on in to the awards as soon as I could, to join the celebrations.
After all, it isn’t often that your blog wins first prize in the category of your choice.
A huge surprise awaited me when I reached the awards ceremony
As I drove in from the airport, my phone rang. It was Amy, from the Blog Awards team. Was I nearly there?
I told her I was ten minutes away, thinking that this must just be about putting myself in a formal photo as winner of my category.
I apologised when I arrived; Ella had taken the actual Blogger Award home with her so I couldn’t hold it in the photo. “That’s OK”, Amy told me. “There are two more over here”. I presumed that she meant she had some spare awards so that I could hold one for the photo, but then she told me the full story.
My Pete the Vet blog had somehow managed to win, win, win at this year’s awards.
The Pete the Vet Blog swept the boards at the 2018 Blogger Awards
As well as winning the top prize in the Science and Education (Business) category, my blog had won first prize in the Lifestyle (Business) category. And to cap this, my blog had gone on to top everything, by winning the overall top prize, as Blog of the Year.
I was almost overwhelmed with delight and surprise. For a blog, accolades and awards really can’t get any higher.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped, from my website designers to those of you out there who read my blog and give me helpful feedback. And particular thanks are due to my assistant, Jen, who calmly and efficiently helps to manage blog postings behind the scenes.
It’s a great honour to achieve recognition like this, and it’s all the more thrilling because it was so unexpected.
A full list of the winners of the Irish Blog Awards can be found at www.blogawardsireland.com