BlogPaws 2013 Pro Sessions

The BlogPaws 2013 pet conference had a wide range of talks and sessions. There were 3 separate categories of talks that were given: Beginner, Intermediate, and Pro in which you could attend. These accommodated the different skill levels and needs of different BlogPaws attendees and you were allowed to jump around to different session as you saw fit.  In addition there were was a “Be the Change for Pets” set of talks, Special Topics, and Law sessions available as well.

For the most part we decided that the Pro sessions were the best ones to go to.  These seemed to be the most useful for what I wanted to get out of BlogPaws and the theater room, where the talks were being held, was much more comfortable compared to where the rooms the other sessions were being held in.  You had a table and could set down your laptop or notebook to take notes and write down anything you found useful.  The seats were also a lot more comfortable and were spaced apart which was great since we had Cody and Sierra.

Anyway, here is what I thought of the different Pro BlogPaws sessions I attended.

Intro to Google Analytics

On the first day I decided to go attend “Intro to Google Analytics.”  Even though I familiar with Google Analytics, the capabilities  and customization options I thought I could learn something since the session was being taught be Blerina Sanocki, a Senior Account Manager from Google.  Who better to learn something Google Analytics from than Google?

I got into the session a little late and it was packed.  I had to stand in the back with Cody since the all the seats in the room were taken.  It was quite a popular session as they were others standing in the room as well.    As the session continued for about 15 minutes I was a little bit bored since Blerina Sanocki was just going over the basics of what Google Analytics offers and how you can use it.

I was getting a little bored until she mentioned Kaushik.net, run by Avinash Kaushik, which is a site all about utilizing data and web analytics.  Since I have never heard of the blog I decided to check it out.  Some of the articles and posts are quite useful and have started to make me think a little differently about how to analyze web data to my advantage.

So I got something out of “Intro to Google Analytics” but not quite as must as I would have hoped for.  If you were a beginner I assume the session was useful.

Anatomy of a Video

Kenn Bell lead this session on how to format and construct videos so they have a story arc, convey a message, and generally come out more professional.  He used examples from his own Dog Files episodes and showed a short documentary he did of 9/11 dogs (meaning dogs that went into the debris and rubble to search for people) which was quite moving.

He talked a little about equipment and how easy it is nowadays with inexpensive camcorders that can shoot in Full 1080 high definition (HD) available on the market now.  (Sony showcased some of their newest camera models at BlogPaws by the way.)

Bell showed people how to conduct on camera interviews with Tom Collins, one of the co-founders of BlogPaws, which I found interesting and useful.  He mentioned that the interview wasn't supposed to be a 60 Minutes hard hitting journalist type of expose but should be casual interview.  The objective was to get info from Tom and not put him on the spot.  Kenn said it was fine to ask the interviewee to elaborate, ask for more details, and shape the direction of  the conversation.  This was useful for me to see and observe as I it's good to know how to interview people properly in different situations.

My only complaint was that I wish Kenn Bell talked more about the technical aspects of making videos.  Such as what would be good free video editing software and resources for learning to use them.

I thought it was a useful session and would definitely like to see more video content creation sessions at next year's BlogPaws.  Video is big nowadays and I think a lot of bloggers are interested in learning how to make videos.

Note: I got to this session late because of “Intro to Google Analytics” but was filled in by Mom and Sierra who were in attendance.  

So You Want to Write a Book Proposal

This session was Fantastic!  Darlene Arden was a lot of fun and offered insightful tips and advice for those who want to get a book published.  She didn't pull any punches, was straightforward, and was quite honest about how the publishing industry works (or doesn't).  Darlene gave us great advice and said quite frankly, “You want a lawyer that will eat their own kids!” since publishing house can screw you over.

It was good to hear from an established author the realities of the industry since it ain't easy.  Her slides were not that well done and were a bit hard to see though.  I am sure that could be fixed easily if she had some help for next year.  Also I would have liked the session to be longer to her talk about getting an agent, which is an important factor.

BlogPaws should definitely have Darlene Arden back again next year and I will attend any of her sessions again, happily.

SEO: Getting Ahead in Search

Matt Beswick hosted this session to a packed crowd.  Clearly showing that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something a lot of people want to learn about.  Despite the fact that a lot of focus nowadays is on social media marketing and tactics.

Matt gave a nice concise talk and his slides were well prepared.  I learned about two sweet SEO tools from this talk actually.  The first is a site called UberSuggest.org which shows you what keywords Google will automatically suggest when typing in certain keywords.  Technically the Google Keyword Tool will show you suggestions for other similar keywords but the nice thing about Ubersuggest is that you can select different verticals such as Video, News, Images, etc.  (It will not show monthly searches but you can import lists.)  The second one is the Schema Markup Plugin that can be used for adding additional information, such as reviews and ratings, to your content in Google searches.  Just like apps, there is a WordPress plugin for everything.  (I don't remember if he actually mentioned the plugin but he posted the URL where I found the plugin.)

Matt demonstrated how he used oDesk to help gather information contact info for sites for sites that he might be interested in getting a link from. Never really occurred to me to do this and since a lot of people on oDesk are from low-wage countries you don't need to spend a lot to do it.  It also give you valuable data quickly and easily while you can spend your time doing other things.

One topic in the session was the growing importance of Google Authorship and Author Rank.  I 100% agreed with this and felt validated that I got on the Google+ bandwagon early.  Since a lot of people at BlogPaws were professional bloggers I was a bit surprised that most were not aware of Google Authorship or assume Google+ is going away.  If you have a blog or doing writing online you NEED to start using authorship and therefore Google+.

There were also other topics covered during the talk such as the power of relationships, building cool content, and fixing orphaned (dead) links.

Since I am pretty familiar with SEO techniques and terms the talk made sense to me.  If you didn't have basic SEO knowledge and skills I am pretty sure you were lost but I obviously don't know what other people were thinking.  I still got a lot out of the talk and the information was presently in an easy to understand, concise, and clear way.

Matt Beswick did make the presentation available online on Slideshare for people to review by the way.

I'm Building a Blog: Do I Need to Form a Company?

Wondering if you should form a business entity around you blogging empire?  Then this was the session you should have attended at BlogPaws.  Lyvonne Brittingham conducted this session and I found it useful since I have thought about forming a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).

Lyvonne covered forming an LLC and covered a lot of concerns and questions I have had about it.  In addition she covered the advantages and disadvantages and what you should be aware of.  She also covered sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and different types of corporations.  As well as the different pros and cons with these as well.

I thought Lyvonne prepared the talk well and the presentation slides were clear to understand.  In addition she gave handouts with all the slides in the talk.  Next to each slide on the paper was lines which enabled you to talk notes easily.  I thought this was very smart and it is something I will probably utilize if I ever give a talk at a blog conference.

Forming a business probably isn't something that a lot of bloggers want to think about since it isn't cool and flashy, like the social media talks.  I will admit anything to do with law can be a little dry but I found it informative and hope BlogPaws will have a similar session next year.  Bloggers need to be ware of legal implication of what they do and how to protect their assets (if you have any!) if they want to take their blog to the next level.

The Professional Product Review

Rebecca Pollard, a Pet360 marketing specialist and blogger, moderated this panel discussion with:

  • Rose Hamilton – Chief Markeing Officer of Pet360
  • Carol Bryant – PR and Marketing Director for BlogPaws and Blogger
  • Jeff Davis – Senior Manager of Public Relations & Social Media for PetSmart

The panel discussion was on creating products reviews that resonated with customers and provides value to brands.  Other things that were discussed was how to conduct yourself and communicate with brands that you receive products from and how to standout from other bloggers.

It was great to hear how Carol, a seasoned pet blogger, handles getting products to review.  She mentioned it takes her less time to make video reviews.   Carol also mentioned to be careful not to “brand brash” as that can turn off potential companies and brands that want to work with you.

On the flipside it was nice hearing from Jeff Davis about what PetSmart does and does not like to see when searching for bloggers and communicating with them.  For instance they don't mind getting phone calls and feedback.  Also that the little things matter such as “PetSmart” and not “Petsmart!”

The panel discussion format is something that BlogPaws should utilize more since you get different takes and opinions, which is really useful to hear.  Everyone who attended this season learned a lot (unless you were sleeping).

WordPress 201

Ryan Hughes led this session which was supposed to be for people who are experienced with WordPress but want to take it to a next level.  I thought some of the topics he covered are not what I would say are “WordPress 201” but I still learned a few things in the talk.  Ryan recommended Gravity Forms, a WordPress plugin, that creates custom post types which I didn't know about.

Since WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) it is a good idea for BlogPaws to continue to do more sessions on WordPress.

The Key to Social Media Marketing

I assumed this talk was going to be on ways to truly expand and enhance social media marketing skills.  While hearing Kimanzi Constable's story was motivational, that's really all I got out of the session.  A motivational speech and more specifically one to get everyone to buy his books.

This would have been fine if I had paid to go to a motivational conference but that wasn't the case.  Kimanzi really didn't go over many social media marketing tactics which were applicable and judging from the questions afterwards from rescue groups felt the same way.  I am not really sure his advice was good either as he recommended giving away products for free.  Since rescue groups have limited resources that's is shitty advice.

I overheard some other people complaining that they liked the talk, but didn't feel he had enough substantive info about social media marketing as well.  Checking out Kimanzi Constable's website I realized that he runs what I call “Selling the Dream” businesses.  While he might have made ok money selling ebooks and books Kimanzi really makes good money traveling and speaking at conferences about social media and blogging.  (He even said he travels a lot of conferences.)  He “Sells the Dream” instead of actually having accomplished what he is advising about and doesn't know anything about getting a massive social media following or truly improving engagement.

While I don't have a problem with people making money talking at conferences, I don't like “Selling the Dream” type of people.  The like to promise a lot but deliver little real value to what you are trying to accomplish with your blog or web business.  They just tell you good things you want to hear.  There wasn't a lot of information about how to improve my blog's social media presence or increase followers.  It was mostly what I already know.  Also it annoyed me that for a large duration of the presentation he kept up the cover to one of his books.  I guess that is sly but well placed advertising.

Considering my traffic on my personal blog is equal to (or most likely better) than Kimanzi's I seriously wonder why he was invited to give a talk at BlogPaws.  Since the talk didn't accomplish the intended goals and was essentially a sales pitch I would have to rate it a serious failure.

Get More Blog Readers with Email Marekting

Think Email is Dead? Think again!  Email returns better results than search and social media.  (Yeah, I learned that during the talk.)  If you are serious about building a successful business around your blog than you need to spend some time thinking about an email list and newsletter.

Crystal Gouldey hosted this talk and I learned a lot since she is a marketing manager with Awever, an email newsletter provider.  Good tidbits of information I learned during the talk included;

  • 65% of people open emails based upon the subject line.
  • Clear emails had 500% more responses.
  • Personal tones in emails have a 130% increase in response.

Crystal also had a lot of information in the session about how to build an email list, the best practices, and what you should do to make people actually sign-up for the list.  The best way is to offer someone something for free, like an eBook, or content they can't get anywhere else besides signing up for that list.

While SEO and social media are important getting a successful email newsletter going is a great way to connect you with your most loyal fan base and help grow you blog too.

The Future of Blogging

Dino Dogan is an amazing speaker.  Something about his presence makes you want to part of whatever he is doing.  I guess that makes sense since Dino starter Triberr, a platform where bloggers can connect and help share content.

Dino started off his talk saying, “Blogging will save the world.” which was definitely preaching to his audience well.  Probably the three takeaways I got from the talk was that attention is good, people need to interact with content, and trust is worth a lot online.

The debate and discussion sparked during the Q&A was telling that everyone else was engaged in the room and listened to what Dino Dogan was saying.  I guess that's the mark of a good blog conference speaker.

Conclusion

I want to make it clear that even though I didn't enjoy all of the talks and sessions I still got a lot out of attending BlogPaws 2013. The BlogPaws and Pet360 staff did a great job organizing the 3 day event but I do wish the “Pro” sessions were a little more advanced.  I am planning on trying to make it out to Las Vegas for BlogPaws 2014.  Maybe I can make some money while in Las Vegas to cover the cost of attending! 🙂

 

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I am an auto journalist, blogger, writer, artist, and most of all dog lover. I like playing music with both my dogs, Cody and Sierra. I also love sharing quality content with the world.

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Adam Yamada-Hanff

I am an auto journalist, blogger, writer, artist, and most of all dog lover. I like playing music with both my dogs, Cody and Sierra. I also love sharing quality content with the world.

15 thoughts on “BlogPaws 2013 Pro Sessions”

  1. I agree with a lot of this, though we attended some different sessions. I skipped out on the Google session, mostly because I had been up for 32 hours at that point and any potential learning would have been so lost on me. It’s good to hear most of the value can be found in a single link, so thanks for sharing that!

    I attended Ken’s session last year and I got SO MUCH out of it. I don’t think it applied much to what I’m doing, but he’s a great speaker and I loved seeing his process.

    I got a whole lot out of Matt Beswick’s SEO session, even though I’m not terribly well versed in SEO. I like that his was a “go do this” type presentation, as opposed to an “SEO theory” session. I know the idea behind SEO, I just suck at implementation ;0)

    I’m glad someone got something good out of the business talk because it wasn’t on my fav. list. The presenter was super thorough, but I was expecting more of a when you SHOULD form a company and less of a here are the TYPES of companies. 15 minutes in, I realized that as a Canadian, the session probably had little value to me, but I was too polite to walk out. I spent most of it tweeting.

    I do feel like WordPress 201 was a 2nd level course. (ie. first level would be the basics). I learned a few things I might not have figured out on my own (such as the schema and the custom page types, which rock my world. Look for that in a Kol’s Notes post coming soon). I do think though that while it was a “201” level course, it definitely wasn’t a “pro blogger” level course.

    I loved Kimanzi’s talk, but it was in no way useful to me. I do enjoy talks like that, as I sometimes need a reminder that this CAN be bigger than just me, in my basement, blogging in my “spare” time, but I really was expecting some sort of Social Media revelation and some idea of how to do it better. Not at all what I got.

    The email talk was super informative and FULL of great info – if you’re just starting out or need some help taking your basic RSS newsletter to another level. Sadly, we’ve been defining our news letter for a while and only learned one or two new ideas in it. I would strongly recommend it to anyone new to newsletters though.

    Dino was (as always) awesome. I got more out of this one session (and the chats with Dino outside this session) than I did most of the other workshops.

    I also enjoyed the Pinterest session, mostly because Dorothea gave me permission to get drunk and pin for as long as I like. She’s good folk. (I this I think was more “pro-level” than the Social Media lecture.)

    At the end of the day, I also found the “problogger” track a little disappointing for me. I do try to remember though that the bulk of the BP attendees are hobby bloggers and it was probably quite advance for most people. A few of the more “technical” bloggers and I got to chatting and we all agreed that for us, a dedicated tech & social media conference might have more learning potential. The real value of BlogPaws is having all of our tribe in the same place, the connections we make and those relationships we build all year long. For me, next year in Vegas, knowing the tech sessions are of limited benefit, I might focus on the “Be the Change” track – something I won’t find at any other conference.

    1. Adam Yamada-Hanff says:

      Hey Jodi,

      I was also a little disappointed with the Pro track this year. Were the sessions at BlogPaws last year better or more advanced?

      It surprised me a little bit that some of the Intermediate sessions actually seemed like they could have been “Pro” but since I didn’t attend them it is hard to know. I thought the Pinterest session looked interesting actually. Since it is so new a lot of even seasoned bloggers and web veterans don’t know how to use it well. (Ok, me!) Hopefully BlogPaws will put the sessions online soon or have sessions at different times next year.

      Matt Beswick’s session was well prepared and I learned some things I would not have even with a good SEO knowledge. Something to keep in mind is that it takes awhile to learn how to really implement good SEO tactics and Google is always updating their search algorithms. You need to always need to be talking with people and learning new skills with SEO or really anything to do with the internet.

      By the business talk I assume you are referring to the session on how to form companies? I already knew a little bit about LLC’s and corporations but it was nice to have a session on it as Lyvonne Brittingham covered aspects I didn’t know. Few people in the room would really consider filing as a corporation though and I agree it would be nice if she went over when a blogger should consider filing an LLC. Maybe next year the similar session could help people get on their way to filing an LLC.

      A majority of people that I know that make their living online usually form LLC’s in Wyoming or other low tax states that are business-friendly. I guess if you live in Canada it would have been useless if you plan to file for a business entity there as the laws will be completely different. A lot of states will allow people living abroad to setup companies but I am not entirely sure.

      I enjoyed Kimazni Constable’s talk initially but as he got more into it I didn’t like it as much since the whole talk was basically a sales pitch for his book. There was no good info on how to use Social Media in ways I didn’t already know or grow an audience, therefore the session didn’t accomplish the goals it was supposed and was bad. I could have gone to another talk if I had known it was going to be a sales pitch and not have wasted my time. Talking with other people who attended later I wasn’t the only person who was lackluster about the talk. Since he is getting paid to give the session, and I paid to go to BlogPaws, it annoyed me. I don’t need a motivational speech I need real info I can’t get anywhere else. If you are at BlogPaws you are probably motivated enough I assume.

      I know a little bit about email marketing but thought Crystal Gouldey had some great advice and tips. I am working on building an email newsletter for another joint site I am developing with other people. We will likely implement some of the tactics that I picked up from the session.

      The main value for the conference was connecting with other dog people, blogger, and brands. A lot these offline relationships will help us gain a better presence online. It also made us realize there are lots of people that are just as crazy about their dogs as we are! 🙂

      Even though BlogPaws wasn’t everything I was hoping for I still enjoyed it. I will likely try to attend Vegas if it isn’t too cost prohibitive next year.

      Thanks for leaving such a detail comment Jodi.

      -Adam, Cody, and Sierra

    2. Adam Yamada-Hanff says:

      My definition of an advanced WordPress course would be learning plugin and theme development. I guess that is a little too advanced for a majority of BlogPaws attendees.

      One advantage to being a little disappointed with some of the Pro BlogPaws sessions was that it made me feel like my technical capabilities and knowledge is above average. Maybe I could go teach people! 🙂

      While you could get more out of a Tech focused or Social Media conference, keep in mind a lot of the same people might give talks at those conferences too. Typically the same speakers get invited to speak at several different conferences.

  2. Very thorough evaluation, and while I was so busy with my 3 cats that I only attended 4 sessions and then really only got something out of 2 of them…I wish I’d chosen more wisely, too.

    As I only live an hour from Tyson’s, at least I didn’t have to factor airfare into my expenses and next year, I wil only be bringing one cat and hopefully will come away feeling like I learned more.

    In spite of my failings, it is a wonderful experience to spend time with so many people who are committed to the ‘Paws’ of blogging!

    1. Adam Yamada-Hanff says:

      We live in Baltimore so we didn’t spend money on airfare either. We didn’t stay in the hotel either and drove back and forth everyday. If I had spent money to fly and 4 nights on a hotel room though I would have been a more annoyed.

      If I was to attend next year I wouldn’t bring Cody and Sierra. It will be easier to get more out of BlogPawas without the Singing Dogs. Of course a lot of people came up to us since we had Cody and Sierra and to ask what type of dogs they are. We wouldn’t have met some people unless we had them with us.

      Luckily flights to Las Vegas are quite inexpensive since casinos help fund flights to get you out there to gamble your money. Ahh, sin city should be fun though! 🙂

  3. WOW thanks for the great review. It was a pleasure to meet you. And thanks for the nice comments on the presentation on which I was a panelist. We really appreciate hearing from you and your feedback helps us up our game and provide the best content and best presentations.

    1. Adam Yamada-Hanff says:

      It was great meeting you as well Carol. I thought your session was well done and appreciated the different view points of how to do a product review and communicated with brands. I think for BlogPaws 2014 there could definitely be more panel discussions.

      Hope you can use these session reviews to make next year even better! 🙂

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your review. It was a very honest review. I attended some of the sessions that you mentioned but they didn’t hold my attention so I moved on to others. Some that I went to was already full so we had to stand for a while which was not easy for my ma so we moved on again. I think I learned more from the product people and the people who were outside giving potty breaks to their pets. The lunch with Sandy Robins was fantastic. I learned so much from her and I am working hard to apply what she said to my product reviews. I am really sad that I did miss the product review by Carol Bryant because ma had to go to the room to rest at that time but so many were talking about it and how great it was. I do look forward to watching the sessions online that I had missed and at least ma and I aren’t rushing around to get a seat at one of them.

    1. Adam Yamada-Hanff says:

      Glad you enjoyed my review of the sessions Carma Poodle. I felt like I missed a lot of great sessions too and I am hoping BlogPaws will make them available online to view soon. Maybe at BlogPaws 2014 I can better manage my time and get more out of the sessions and talks since I won’t have Cody and Sierra.

  5. I was so bummed to miss the Google Analytics session. I hope they have a training session in 2014.

    1. I didn’t find it that helpful, at least the part I was in the session for. I was hoping BlogPaws would post all the talks online but I don’t think they have yet.

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