A lifelong love of horses inspires the popular blog ‘The Gallop Report’
“I’m laughing a little because I don’t know that I’m an expert in the horse industry. My twin passions have always been riding and writing. My degree is in journalism-news communication, and I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor before coming to the American Quarter Horse Association in 2000, where I was able to combine my two loves.” – Holly Clanahan
Holly Clanahan has been around horses her entire life, she says she was a ‘horse-crazy kid’. Clanahan is the editor of America’s Horse magazine, which goes to all AQHA members. Since December 2008 she’s been writing The Gallop Report, a blog about her life with horses. Their goal with the blog is to help readers relate to her as “one of them” — just another horse lover who struggles, as they do, to balance work, family and horses, while maintaining a sense of humor about it all.
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Mequoda – Which CMS (ie: WordPress, Typo) are you using? What do you like about it?
HC – WordPress. It’s very easy for me, a non-techie, to use.
Mequoda – Are you blogging for your company as part of you job (ie: corporate) or is this a personal passion?
HC – As I noted above, I’m very lucky in that my work and personal passion are one and the same.
Mequoda – Has your blog enhanced your professional reputation? How?
HC – It is my hope that the blog helps enhance the reputations of AQHA and America’s Horse (not just my own). Too often, members think of our association as a sort of ivory tower, and social media/blogs are helping us break down that wall. Really, we’re not a bunch of faceless administrators. We’re horse lovers, too, who are, yes, brushing the alfalfa hay crumbs off our clothes as we walk into the office. We understand what issues horse owners are facing, because we’re facing them, too. The blog helps drive that point home.
Mequoda – How often do you post a new blog? Are you the only one posting on your blog?
HC – The Gallop Report is updated roughly once a week. However, it is a part of a larger site, AmericasHorseDaily.com, that has other blogs and posts on a variety of educational topics: recreational riding, training, showing, horse health, breeding, AQHA customer service FAQs, event coverage and more. There is at least one new post — and usually more — every business day and occasionally on weekends if there’s a big event going on.
Mequoda – Who is your target audience?
HC – Our target audience is largely new horsemen. Research shows us what beginner horse enthusiasts are Googling, so we try to get in front of them with keyword-rich blog topics.
Mequoda – What are you doing to grow your audience and to create customer loyalty?
HC – We make sure The Gallop Report gets promoted on Facebook, Twitter, other e-mail newsletters, websites, the magazines, etc., to encourage folks to stay connected. We also know it’s important to keep the blog at least weekly to keep readers engaged.
Mequoda – How are using social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to promote your blog? Has that changed the way you blog?
HC – AmericasHorseDaily.com has an autofeed to our Facebook page, which then feeds to our Twitter account. I’ve found that we get more feedback on Facebook than on our own site. Perhaps people are just more accustomed to using the “comment” function there? Regardless, the reader interaction is very much appreciated.
Mequoda – What is your main source of revenue: ads, sponsorships, products sales, or donations?
HC – We drive revenue through product sales and advertising.
Mequoda – What is your source of referrals?
HC – America’s Horse magazine, Facebook and word of mouth.
Mequoda – How many sites have you linked to in the last 30 days?
HC – Oh, gosh, too many to count. We have almost 30 corporate partners and dozens of alliances that we try to incorporate into all our stories and blogs wherever possible. That’s in addition to our regular network of sites that we cross promote on a regular basis.
Mequoda – What changes have you seen in your market since you began blogging?
HC – Increased traffic, increased comments, increased questions about beginner horse issues, and increased social media numbers.
Mequoda – Any interesting experience you’d like to share?
HC – The blog has proven to be a great two-way street. As readers get to know me, I likewise have gotten to know a lot of them. A couple of times, comments on the blog or on Facebook have resulted in story leads that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. We recently had a great cover story on driving (American Quarter Horses who pull carriages), which came via the blog. And through a Facebook comment on a blog post, I met a reader who has had experience with a rare equine medical condition — one which has afflicted one of my own horses and which I’ll be doing a story on in the near future.
Mequoda – What advice would you give a new blogger?
HC – When I was first asked to start blogging, I was very hesitant. After all, what on earth was I going to say? And who would find it of interest? But what I’ve found is that when you’re passionate about your topic, the ideas come pretty easily. And when it’s a topic your readers are passionate about, they’ll keep coming back for more.
Mequoda – What ways are you planning to expand over the next year?
HC – As we redesign our main website, aqha.com, we hope to incorporate the tactics we’ve learned on America’s Horse Daily and our blogs into the recreational riding section of aqha.com. We hope to bring a friendly atmosphere and foster the same type of environment that we’ve created with The Gallop Report that encourages participation in horse activities and ultimately leads to AQHA membership, product sales and enrollment in our programs.