How to Prepare for Your First BlogPaws Conference: The Newbie Perspective

 

 

How does a new blogger get ready to attend her first BlogPaws Conference?

With a lot of prep work and planning. But is it enough?

A Little About Me and My Blog

2016 was a year of firsts for me. My twins started Kindergarten, I started Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC with my friend Danelle Stukas, and I launched this blog, Bridle & Bone. One could say I’ve really hit the ground running…..and they would be right. When I am passionate about something, I am all in. And I’m extremely passionate about animals. The good news is if you are reading this, we probably have a lot in common.

I launched Bridle & Bone in response to questions and comments from our equine and canine massage clients (yup, I massage animals!). Of course while my blog touches a lot on animal health and wellness, it also serves as a personal diary of sorts. Although I’ve been writing my whole life, I’ve never written, edited, and marketed a blog until recently.

 

I began to follow equestrian blogger, Saddle Seeks Horse, on Instagram. As a result, I visited Susan’s blog (which you should check out!) and read posts about this group of pet bloggers where she was a member. Intrigued, I looked into it and I’m so glad I did. BlogPaws is a network of pet bloggers around the world. It’s membership is free and they hold online courses, groups, and social media boosts all with one purpose in mind……to provide a network of like-minded individuals advice on how to run a successful pet blog. Every year they hold a conference and this year it will be held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from May 18-20, 2017.

So I took the leap I decided I NEEDED to go to the BlogPaws conference this year. But how does a new blogger and a new conference goer prepare for a blogger’s conference?

There is so much to do!

As a new blogger and never having attended a BlogPaws conference before, I joined every group I could and really put myself out there. I reached out on social media to a few of the veterans and ambassadors. I’m so glad that I did! I can be shy in new situations. Everyone has been supportive, friendly, and frankly I am very excited to meet them and their furry friends in person. Did I mention the conference is pet friendly??????!!!!!!! I think most of us feel more comfortable around animals than people, and who can be shy around furry faces? Certainly not me.

 

Conference Preparation Tips

Join the BlogPaws Newbies Course

BlogPaws has an amazing team and great ambassadors. This year, Elizabeth Tucker Keene of Chronicles of Cardigan fame is the Newbie Ambassador and has led the charge to make us feel comfortable and prepared. The first I did was join the Newbies Course on BlogPaws.  It has provided me so much information on what to pack, how to prepare to meet sponsors, and much more.

For example, did you know that there is a Newbie table at breakfast on Friday and Saturday? We can all sit together with our ambassador and talk about what sponsors and speakers we’d like to meet, ask questions of each other regarding our blogs, and have someone to sit with during sessions. No sitting in the back by myself. I’m also reading anything and everything the ambassadors post about the conference. There are too many to list, so visit BlogPaws to learn more!

Register for the Conference

1. The BlogPaws 2017 Conference is being held in Myrtle Beach, May 18-20, 2017. I have my tickets. Haven’t signed up yet? Register now. *Hint. Make sure BlogPaws is added to your contacts so that you receive your important conference emails. Don’t let them wind up as spam. It’s scary in the Junk folder.

2. Accommodations: Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel. BlogPaws has a special rate through their website but rooms are filling fast! There is less than a month until the conference. So book your hotel room today.

3. Looking for a roommate to split the costs? Go back to that BlogPaws Newbies Course to find what you are looking for!

Engage with Other Pet Bloggers

Chances are if you are on the BlogPaws Social Learning Community (SLC) you have interacted with other conference attendees. But don’t limit yourself. Use other social media platforms to engage with people you will be meeting at the conference, or who have attended in the past and have advice to share. And remember just because other “Newbies” are new to the conference, does not mean they are new to blogging.

  1. I joined the BlogPaws Twitter Chat, most Tuesdays from 8-10 PM. Use the hashtag #BlogPawsChat.
  2. Request to join the BlogPaws Community News and Boost Group on Facebook. There is some amazing interaction here on multiple platforms and I’ve gotten important feedback on my social media accounts and my blog.
  3. First BlogPaws conference this year? Haven’t gotten the hint yet? Make sure to join the Newbies Course on BlogPaws as well for all the important conference tips, tricks, and information. You can also request to join the BlogPaws 2017 Newbies group on Facebook to get to know each other before the conference, and plan meet ups during the conference.

Have a Conference Goal

Looking at the different sessions it’s hard to pick just a few. It can be overwhelming and they all look important. So for me as a brand new blogger is to focus on my content, branding, and meeting other bloggers. Next year my goal is probably be different and the sessions I choose will reflect that. What are your goals for this year?

Evaluate Your Blog

One of the recommendations given by Cathy Armato of Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them, is to evaluate our blogs in preparation for the conference. We are going to learn a lot of information. But sponsors meeting us for the first time are going to look at our websites. We don’t want bad links, poor spelling, or other errors.

 

Take a look at your Google Analytics. If you haven’t installed the tracking code on your site yet do so now. Don’t wait. It’s free and is an exceptional tool. It lets me track the page views trending monthly and my most popular blog posts to date. Hint, they are mostly personal.

My 5 Most Popular Posts

Want more tips on how to prepare your blog for the conference? Read this post by Aimee Beltran on How To Prep For A Blogger Conference.

Make a Packing Checklist

Okay, I know we’re a few weeks out but I’m already planning what to bring. With three kids and two jobs I’m going to be doing this last minute. Still, I have given it some thought. What can I say? I’m a planner.

  • Business Cards.
  • Camera.
  • Laptop/ phone/ chargers.
  • Your conference schedule containing the sessions you have chosen to attend.
  • Pen and paper to jot down notes to myself.
  • An elevator pitch. In just a few words, who are you and what is your blog about? What sets you apart?
  • Your pet and all their accessories. Sadly Gonzo and Beau are unable to attend, but I want to meet all your animals!
  • List of the sessions, speakers, and sponsors in attendance. (With notes on who I’m most interested in meeting.)
  • Names and contact info/social media handles for the friends you made through BlogPaws so you can meet up while at the conference!
  • The weather will be warm outside (hopefully) and cool in the conference center. So lots of layers!

Plan for Fun

Okay, I doubt this is just me. From doing the above and engaging with other bloggers and attendees, I know it won’t be all sessions and business. The best thing about pet blogging is that it is fun! And we all share a similar passion. I am definitely attending the Happy Hours, Nose-to-Nose Awards, and Sip & Paint sponsored by pet-friendly Red Roof Inn. After all, we can’t work all the time. (If you are lucky, I’ll post photos of my “painting”. I’m sure it will be a good laugh!)

A Final Note

All in, I feel much better about attending an event where I don’t know anyone with a blog that I’ve only been writing for a few months.  If anything I am looking forward to making new friends with the same passions and learning all I can. After all, there’s always next year!

I hope this helps you prepare for your first blog conference and look forward to seeing you in Myrtle Beach. More questions? Read the Essential BlogPaws 2017 Conference Everything Post.

Are you attending the BlogPaws conference for the first time? What are you doing to prepare?

*Disclosure: this post has not been sponsored by BlogPaws nor does it contain affiliate links. These are my honest and unsolicited comments as I prepare for the blogger’s conference. Note, I use the term “prepare” loosely.

 

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35 thoughts on “How to Prepare for Your First BlogPaws Conference: The Newbie Perspective

  1. Heather! This is an exceptional article on conference prep! You have an uncanny ability to write like you’ve already done it 1,000 times. You should add one more bullet to your prep list: Bookmark and/or print this article. ☺

    So excited to meet you in person! And hope you can meet Susan (Saddle Seeks Horse) in person one day. I got to at the conference last year, and she’s the nicest, smartest ever. Y’all would get along great.

    P.S. I’m getting ready to share this article everywhere. If you go to #blogpawschat tonight, be sure you share it there!

    1. Wow. I am blown away, thank you so much! I’m excited to meet you too. This conference is going to be amazing.

      Susan of Saddle Seeks Horse and I have chatted over social media and it would be absolutely wonderful to meet her one day. We have so much in common.

      I would love for you to share my post and I do hope it provides a newbie perspective about preparing for the conference. I am so thankful to Blog Paws for all the information you have all provided. It has really eased my mind.

      Talk to you at the #BlogPawsChat tonight and thank you again. 🙂

  2. First time I have visited your blog and now have another blogger I just have to meet at this conference! This will be my 8th conference, and I still learn new things from ‘Newbies"!

    1. Thanks Teri! I’m looking forward to meeting you as well. I love that no matter how many conferences (8 wow!) you always feel there is something more to learn. I couldn’t agree more. I love to learn new things.

  3. Love this post and your blog; sounds like you’re super organized too! It’s hard to pick the sessions because I want to attend ALL of them. But you’re right, one has to have a goal in mind and choose them accordingly.
    What I’m grappling with right now is which of my ten cats will be coming as a flat pet! 🙂 Decisions, decisions!
    Looking forward to meeting you in person at the newbies table!

    Yasaar from Chirpy Cats

    1. It’s a newbie date Yasaar! And thank you for your kind words. Be careful or your other 9 cats may get jealous. I’m having a similar problem and I only have two dogs. We’re hoping to have a system where we can share notes on the sessions that we attend for the other newbies in other sessions. Trying to get the most out our time there. I will need a Time Turner, and probably a nap…..

  4. mom will be there….can’t wait to see everyone!

  5. This is a great post. I did a lit of what you suggested for my first BlogPaws conference, and it really helped. I’m insanely jealous that you massage animals! I’m a Massage Therapist in NY, but under our licensure we cannot massage animals. I’d love to meet up with you and hear more about it.

    1. I would love that. Animals massage laws vary by state, and I’m lucky that in New Jersey I am able to help these animals. I’ve actually had a few NYC pups come visit me for massage. Would love to chat with you about it and I’m sure you have great stories as a human massage therapist!

  6. What a wonderful treat to read this post. I am so excited to meet you and I feel your enthusiasm. You are going to learn, network, have fun, and come away with so much to do and put into action. I love your story and happy that you shared it with us. See you soon!

    1. Thank you so much, Carol. I really appreciate your kind words and I’m looking forward to meeting you and Dexter soon.

  7. This will be my first year attending BlogPaws conference, even though I have been blogging for 5 years. I am really looking forward to it, but I feel like I’ll just be a total fangirl when I recognize bloggers and/or their pets. Hopefully, everyone will understand. It sounds like you are very well organized!

    1. Beth, I love it! Well I’ll be excited to finally meet you in person, as well as all the other amazing bloggers who are attending. I can’t wait to hear more about Wagtown.

  8. This year is my 5th BlogPaws conference. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I think you covered pretty much everything in this post. My biggest regret is always that I don’t take enough photos, so TAKE PICTURES LIKE CRAZY. Can’t wait to meet you there!

    1. Great suggestions on the photos! Sometimes I get so caught up in the moment that I do tend to forget. I hope everyone reads this and benefits. Looking forward to meeting you in person. Is Luna coming with her new pet stroller?

  9. One thing I didn’t see on your list. A lot of the bloggers will bring "flat pets (paper renditions of their pets on a stick or something)." It’s always fun to see them and makes them more recognizable lol!

    1. Great suggestion, April. Now will Mr. N be joining in person or as a flat pet? Are you attending?

  10. Welcome to blogging…you’re doing great. This is an awesome post for newbies and I’m sure us news will find if very helpful because I did! I so need to figure out what I’m wearing…

    1. Hey girl hey! Thank you so much. I haven’t even started on the clothing items yet…..and accessories……and shoes……oh the choices!

  11. Excellent post! One would never know you’d never been to a BlogPaws conference before or that you were new to blogging. Even though I’ve been blogging for almost 9 years, I’ve only been to 2 conferences. You will learn so much and meet so many wonderful people. I look forward to meeting you. If you see me, please stop me and say hello!

    Paula Gregg

    1. Paula thank you so much for your kind words and I look forward to meeting you in Myrtle Beach! I’m expecting this to be my first of many BlogPaws conferences.

  12. Wish we could go. Can’t get the time off work sadly. SUCKS. You look like you will be well prepared! Have a blast and report back.

    1. Sonja I’m sorry you can’t make it. Sadly I will be unable to attend until Thursday afternoon so I know I’m going to miss some good things. I’ll be sure to keep everyone up to date (from my perspective anyway!)

  13. wow you are prepared and that is awesome. I will not be attending for many reasons but one being I teach till the middle of June so cannot get away (I tutor on weekends) so have fun and hope you learn a lot

    1. Ahh yes, teaching does make it hard. My brother-in-law is a teacher and does SAT prep. You don’t get enough credit! I’m sure the BlogPaws team will be just as informative after the conference as they have been before. Thanks for reading.

  14. Sounds like you are well prepared for the conference. I’m a newbie too however no going to the conference but I’m learning so much joining the FB groups and other Blogging forums. Have fun at the conference next month. Enjoy. Love to hear how it goes in a future blog post! 🙂

    1. Hi Kamira, I’m loving the groups and forums as well! They have been so helpful and hopefully I will have some things to share here when I return. Congratulations on starting your blog!

  15. I love that you massage dogs and horses! That’s amazing. I’ve been thinking about looking for someone to massage our dog Roxie while she rebuilds her muslces after her surgery a few months ago. I think it could be really beneficial. Anywho.. I hope you have a great time at the conference and congrats on all of your firsts last year. It was a big year for me too. 🙂

    1. Congratulations to you then as well Debbie! Roxie would absolutely benefit from muscle and it’s not too late. Feel free to message me privately and I would be happy to help you find a certified massage therapist in your area.

  16. I won’t be attending the conference, but I hope everyone who will be reads this post. It’s filled with very helpful tips, and the items to pack is a nice touch! I especially like you mentioning the shyness factor. Even with my outspoken manner I can be quite shy, but you’re right about it being impossible to feel that way around animals. I hope you enjoy the experience and I look forward to reading all about it.

    1. Thanks Hindy! I appreciate your comments so much. There is always a little anxiety when doing something new and meeting new people, so I hope others can relate and find this useful. I can only speak from my perspective as a new blogger.

  17. What a great recap of tips! I need to get my furry list together, too. I know you’ll have a fantastic time at your first BlogPaws (I did). It’s like a big reunion where everyone gathers each year to catch up in person.

    1. Thank you so much. There is so much information that I wanted to condense it into what stuck the most with me. I’m excited!

  18. Great tips – having been to a few I know that one of the most important things is to define the 3 top things you want to learn/take away from the conference. One goal could be as easy as meeting other bloggers, but it’s important to know prior to the conference because as a newbie it can be overwhelming and you’ll want to learn everything! Have a fun time!

    1. Great suggestions Rebecca! And thank you. 🙂

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