The BlogPaws Conference is a three-day conference for pet bloggers, with educational sessions, networking opportunities and an exhibition hall full of brands showcasing and giving out samples of the latest products in the pet industry.
The Little Dog Tips family attended this year for the first time, and I learned a lot about, not just blogging, but also my dog, and even myself!
What I Learned About Blogging & Social Media
My favorite session was “Social Media Track: Beginner Blogging” with speakers Amanda Yantos & Bernard Lima-Chavez. I really enjoyed hearing how they started out and the progress they’ve each made this past year, and how to set realistic goals with intention. They covered quality brand photography, and what you need to know to write posts that are both good for brands and the audience.
I can’t take everything I learned from the speakers and apply them at once. On one hand, keynote speaker Pamela Wilson showed us her 3-day process for creating amazing Copyblogger-quality blog posts. On the other, Kathleen Gage advised to blog every day for 30 days, then compile the content into an opt-in ebook.
I’ve decided to try blogging daily here at Little Dog Tips. As a freelance blogger, I need to write lots of blog posts every month, so I need to sharpen my process and stop overthinking my blog posts, while still creating quality content that my clients have come to expect from me.
Just three days in, I’m starting to feel more strongly about the voice of my blog. I’m writing more about chihuahuas, even though I don’t have a purebred chihuahua. I want to branch out to more people who also have small, chihuahua-ish dogs. Even though mixed breed, chihuahua-types are not as predictable as purebred dogs, I know I can still help other owners through my writing.
When I’m ready, I may work on my branding to be more consistent, as I learned from speaker Aimee Beltran at her Irresistible Branding session.
There’s still so many training topics I need to cover – tricks that Matilda knows, that I have not yet written about. Once the blog posts are published, I can go back and add resources and edit them to make them the best possible quality, and even rework them into guest posts.
It’s actually pretty easy to collect blogging knowledge and social media know-how. The hard part is putting it all to action!
What I Learned About My Dog
I saw BlogPaws 2016 as a learning experience for me and Matilda. She has never been around dozens of dogs and humans all at once. I didn’t know how she would react.
Within the first few hours of our arrival at BlogPaws, a dog snapped at her while we were walking past. There was no warning, not even a growl, but I wish I had been more careful. Immediately after, Matilda peed on the rug, maybe out of fear.
For both safety and potty reasons, we took turns carrying her for much of the weekend. That lead me to learn something else.
When Matilda is in my arms, it’s easy for people to reach over and pet her, or let her sniff their hand. Everyone at BlogPaws was considerate of dogs and was gentle with her, but she is not used to so much attention. She’d often lower her ears and look away, so I found myself saying, “She’s stressed out, poor thing,” and that’s all I had to say to get people to leave her alone.
Now I know, introducing her to people while I’m holding her is a bad idea. She’s unable to get away if she doesn’t want to be touched.
On the floor, she was a different dog.
She loved running through the long corridors, and we played a few games of Stop N’ Go. This is where we run with the leash dragging, then I say, “stop!” and stop, call her back to me if she’s ahead, and give her a treat, or reward her with another sprint. She was her waggy self when we ran throughout the hotel.
Matilda is hot and cold with people. She walks up to them, might sniff their leg, and then runs away when they try to pet her. She may also start up a series of short, loud alert barks.
In one session, Matilda was sitting on the table when the speaker came to say hello. I gave him a treat to offer her, and she accepted it – then starting barking at him.
Luckily, experienced dog trainer Robin Bennett attended that session, so I had a chance to ask her why my dog was reacting that way, and what I should do.
Bennett told me that, by the third day of BlogPaws, many of the other dogs were feeling stressed too, like children who haven’t had their naps. The crowded room was not a good place to start training to work on Matilda’s fear of people – she was “over threshold” and would need slower introductions with more distance, plenty of positive reinforcement, and possibly help from a professional trainer.
She also noted that it was not unusual for a dog to not want to make friends with everyone, just as people don’t want to hug everyone they meet.
What I Learned About Myself
I dread networking events, they usually feel so unnatural. But BlogPaws was different. Since we all have the same mission, to help animals, getting connected to one another is mutually beneficial. I felt I knew a lot of people personally because they are open about themselves in their blogs.
It was so easy to walk up to people I wanted to speak to, introduce myself, and start a conversation. There was no pressure to know exactly what to say, or to keep the conversation going. I could always ask people about their pets, their blog or their business, and every time, they engaged me with a great story.
The confidence I gained from networking at BlogPaws can carry over to other events. I realize the importance of asking the other person about themselves, listening and learning, and I can use that skill everywhere I go.
Registration is already open for next year’s BlogPaws in Myrtle Beach.
I haven’t decided yet if I’ll go. Either way, I’m proud to be part of the BlogPaws community. I still have to catch up on sorting through business cards and following up with new friends and interesting companies.