April 17-20, 2018, marked my 10th Anniversary for attending BlogPaws Pet Conference, the international conference held by the amazing BlogPaws organization which “provides an inclusive, global community of pet enthusiasts who write about and support pets via social media.”
“BlogPaws (blogpaws.com) connects brands with pet parents and pet parents with each other, 24/7/365.”
I discovered BlogPaws quite by accident. Or, was it? I tend to lean towards not much in this life is by accident; that we fall where we are supposed to in order to help make our mark in this world.
Started by three individuals, I’ve watched the idea for a pet bloggers conference grow from a small event (Columbus, Ohio, 2010) to the mega-conference it is today, hosting 500 pet bloggers and writers from all over the globe at different venues across the country each year. This year’s conference was held at the most hospitable Sheraton at Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri.
While the blogging community is growing by leaps, organizers cap conference attendance in order to keep the sense of ‘community’ in the event. People come from all over to reunite with those they have met previous years and online throughout the year. Long-lasting friendships are forged, as are many business partnerships.
One common denominator is shared by all – a love for pets and the desire to improve the life of every pet and pet parent.
This year’s conference was no exception. Days were spent in educational sessions where we learned everything from tips on improving our social media goals and connections to how to start a podcast. We also spent hours with dozens of pet brands learning about their products and how they fit with us and our unique audiences.
The learning that attendees do from each other is incomparable at the conference. Time spent together one-on-one and in sessions amplifies the learning curve tenfold.
Many of the conference attendees bring their pets which is the highlight for so many fellow guests, especially those of us who could not travel with our own. Everywhere you turn there is a dog chilling out in the lobby or cat in a stroller relaxing as its owner hobnobs with friends and business associates.
As always it was so great to see the familiar faces of team members Carol Bryant (marketing and social media manager), Chloe Divita, Maggie Marton, Bernard Lima Chavez, and Aimee Beltran throughout the week and speaking at the Awards Ceremony.
Recognizing the best bloggers and writers for their work each year at the Annual Awards Ceremony is the perfect way to close the conference on Friday night – celebrating excellence, talent and diversity.
While this year marks a big anniversary for the event, it also marks changes taking place as Chewy.com takes hold of the reigns. Change is a part of life, and life is always changing. Change is one thing that remains a constant. Chewy will have big shoes to fill when it comes to the original team members who started BlogPaws. The one constant that must persevere is the passion with which the entire event evolved around. The passion that each member holds for the BlogPaws concept, events, and conference is by far bar none.
It was because of Carol Bryant that I found my niche with Blogpaws after the first year and found a home covering the event as a media guest each year after. Like so many of the friends I have made through BlogPaws, Carol’s and my friendship blossomed well beyond the walls of BlogPaws and we were able to continue to learn from each other throughout the years as her social media presence exploded and my pet blog, column, expo, and magazine ventures blossomed.
I have never been surrounded by a group so supportive and helpful as that of the BlogPaws team and membership. Everyone is selflessly there for each other and ecstatic about each other’s achievements. It’s a built in cheerleading section as well as a mentoring group who go above and beyond to help one another grow and achieve their desired goals.
Finding your niche is one success in life. Finding people who support your goals and initiatives and are open to mentoring you might be the greatest. With Blogpaws, for those of us who write about pets, we couldn’t have found a greater inspiration than we have in this organization.
Here is to many more BlogPaws conferences and to the many ideas and friendships yet to be formed.